In an interesting temporal coincidence, I ran across this post on Jay Kinghorn’s blog today, where he talks about Seadragon , which is Microsoft’s tool for creating deep-zoom images on-line. This looks like it would be one way to present high res images that you can zoom into and experience the sensation I described. Another link in his article leads to the Zoomify website .
Since I don’t think I can do everything I need to with Seadragon on my Mac, I took a look at Zoomify.
Zoomify Express seems to offer the capability I think we need to show photographic level of detail. It is a free zoom and pan authoring, publishing and viewing application and has downloads for both Mac and Windows available. It also makes it difficult to download the high res version of the photo. I didn’t have time tonight to figure out how to embed the Zoomify window directly into my posts, but that is something I want to do.
Here’s the result (sorry – no longer available), using the same photograph of a gator that I posted before.
I haven’t seen this discussed in the photographic blogosphere so I thought I’d comment on it. One reason may be that it is difficult to illustrate given the photo posting resolution that we often limit ourselves to on the web.
You can experience a very good example of what I’m trying to write about here when you visit an Ansel Adams print exhibition in person. For instance, viewing his "Winter Sunrise " from across the room, the print looks well composed and shows the overall scene of some mountains with areas of light and dark. Depending on how far away you are, most details are obscured by distance. As you slowly come closer, the details start to emerge. The closer you come, the greater the detail, until when you are standing right next to the print, you can see all sorts of things you didn’t see from across the room – subtle clouds, interesting light on the horse and trees, etc. The emergence of detail draws you into his photographs.
This experience – the discovery and exploration of a photograph is quite interesting and pleasant and is hardly ever possible on the web. On the web, we get one look at a photo – the low res "across the room look". The high res, up close version, where the subtle details emerge, is saved away on our hard drives, mostly due to worries about theft of our copyrighted, intellectual property (photographs).
The "level of detail" effect is something we all should strive for in our captures, prints and displays. When we do this well, there are a myriad of things for the viewer to discover as they view our prints. And while it is easiest to observe in a well made print, we should also try to make it an interesting thing on the web. When we achieve a good "level of detail" capture, how do we show it off? Here’s a couple of recommendations:
1. Study examples by the masters and and use them as we strive for this effect. Use it to draw in our viewers and keep them coming in for more. Print our work and hang it up where people can see it.
2. When we have a nice photo with some good detail and want to present it on the web, present the normal low res web version, along with a high res detail insert or two, like this:
Gator photo: "Across the room view"
Gator photo: "Middle of the room view"
Gator photo: Close in detail view.
3. I haven’t tried this, but another solution might be a video of the photo using a "Ken Burns" type of special effect. A "zoom in" motion video seems like an ideal way to showcase this type of photo and protect the intellectual property that everyone seems so worried about losing. Does anyone know of a ready made solution already out there?
P.S. There is also a very interesting inverse effect to what I’m talking about here. You will really enjoy visiting an exhibition of Ansel Adams prints at the same gallery with paintings by Monet . Monet understood the human mind’s ability to "fill in the details". If you approach many of his paintings from across the room they will look very real at first and they gradually dissolve into impressions in the middle distance and paint strokes when you are very close! This is a wonderful contrast to Ansel Adams prints, don’t you think?
I was at Orlando Wetlands Park again this morning with a few friends and saw a bird that I hadn’t seen before, there or anywhere else that I remember. Here’s a photograph:
These birds were different from other ducks I’ve seen in that when we first saw them they were perched in trees. Fortunately, I have a copy of iBird Plus loaded on my iPhone. iBird is an interactive field guide to the birds of North America. It has a search function and by entering the location (Florida), the shape (Duck-like) and the Color Primary (Brown) iBird presented me with a list of 16 possible birds out of the 914 birds in its North American Database that match these criteria.
Scrolling through the list, I read descriptions, and looked at drawings and three photos of the Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck that pretty much clinched the ID for me. There’s also other info like range, similar birds, and links to Birdpedia. If you are interested in birds or bird photography, you should take a look at this app. I enjoy using it.
Here’s a few more photos from this morning. First we had the bird, now here’s the bee:
And of course, what would Orlando Wetlands Park be without a gator photo:
I drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park last Friday morning and walked around the 2.5 mile ‘Birding Route’ foot path. I arrived around 9 am and didn’t expect to see much wildlife. But once again this urban oasis didn’t disappoint me. I saw the usual alligators, including one that posed with some flowers, as well as many herons, egrets, ducks, etc. (Note: you can go to my gallery to see larger versions of these photos).
New for me this visit were some Sandhill Cranes, and a raccoon. I was walking quietly down the middle of the path taking pictures when the raccoon came around the corner. It had it’s head down and I took several photos before it looked up.
It did a double take, decided it didn’t like what it saw, and took off pretty quickly.
There were also a tremendous number of dragonflies out there. I’m worried that this means the lovebug season will be especially bad for us here in Florida this year.
The highlight of this trip was the many varieties of flowers in bloom. It made for a very colorful stroll.
The biggest problem this time of year is that our weather is turning very hot. By the time I left the park to head home around 11 am the temperature was approaching 90 degrees. Get out early and get back inside while it’s still cool!
My summer vacation – Day 1 : A visit to Wekiwa State Park and a solo canoe trip down the Wekiwa river where I attempt to paddle, navigate and make photographs, all at the same time, and where success is measured by returning without once falling overboard, with all the gear I left with, and with all my body parts still attached and undamaged (although somewhat sore).
I’ve been to many of the springs in the Central Florida area, but just never got around to going to Wekiwa, so with a few days off, I thought it was about time. I’ve heard a lot about this park and there is a lot of info on the web. You can find out plenty at their main web page . I had visions of capturing “The Shot”. My vision was this: The camera half in the water as a massive gator swims toward me and I make photos from the safety of my canoe. To prepare, I purchased a WP-DC21 underwater housing to protect my Canon G9. See the results below of my search for “The Shot” (go to the galleries to see higher resolution versions of these photos).
What happened you ask? Well, life is a journey, not a destination, and so is photography. I’ll try again for “The Shot” another time. I haven’t been in a canoe for many years – paddling while handling the camera and staying out of the trees is trickier than I thought. And I forgot my raw chicken to lure the gators within camera range. Wekiwa is a great place. Photo tips: Bring an assistant to help paddle. Take sunscreen, you’ll need it. Get there early of course for the best light and to avoid the crowds. Going on a week day will help avoid crowds too. I didn’t see anyone when I got on the river at 9 on a Monday morning, but by the time I came back around 10 or 10:30 there were a few people in canoes and kayaks. You’ll see lots of birds, turtles, gators, fish, and river otters. The river otters move pretty fast so be alert – I almost fell out of the canoe trying to get a photo of them. Here are more of my photos from day 1 .
My summer vacation – Day 2 : Another day break hike through Orlando Wetlands Park
When I made a return visit to this wilderness located 20 miles from downtown Orlando, Florida I was the only human there and once again I felt like I was in a different world far away from everyday concerns. Just what I was looking for. I strolled through a primitive Florida landscape and visited with some varied wildlife including possum, deer, gators, and various birds including herons, hawks, and egrets. It’s close enough to my home so that I can get there by dawn, even in the summer and the sunrise can be very pretty. Here is a link to the first blog post I did about this park. It has some more information and photos.
My summer vacation – Day 3a : A return visit to Black Point Wildlife Drive in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
I’ve been to Black Point Wildlife several times, and although spring time seems to be the best time of the year for viewing wildlife, it is still very pretty in the summer time as long as you go early in the day. I was a bit disappointed at first since I didn’t see much, but to make up for it there were no other people there at all. Toward the end of the drive there were a lot of birds including a flock of spoonbills, although they were far away. Mike Thomas has a blog entry (no longer available) about this place and he mentions gators big enough to eat a Volvo. That should be enough to motivate you to go over there, even if gas is $4! I haven’t seen those particular gators (although I was driving a pickup truck, not a Volvo), but I have seen their little brothers. Here’s a link to a map of the drive.
My summer vacation – Day 3b : A drive down Bio Lab road along Indian River lagoon, where I survive repeated attacks by bloodthirsty monsters!
This is a really pretty drive along the Indian River north of the cape. Lots of birds, gators, and mosquitos here. Make sure you take insect repellent – I didn’t have any and I never even set up my tripod because I couldn’t stay out of my truck long enough. I was swarmed by mosquitos and bitten within a minute or two whenever I got out of the truck. This is a dirt road, but it is pretty well maintained although I did get my truck muddy! Here is a link to a map of the area.
I used to drive on I-75 near Gainesville, Florida and see the marsh area just a bit south of the rest stop. From the interstate, it looked so picturesque that I always wanted to explore it and make some photographs. When my daughter went to UF, I made quite a few trips up there and discovered Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park . In addition to the state web page for this park, you can find some very good background information here and here .
This is an absolutely wonderful place – and there are certainly many photo ops in the park. More than 200 species of birds can be seen there, along with many, many alligators and other large animals such as deer, bison, and wild horses.
To really explore this park, be ready to take time and cover some distance – it’s very large (21,000 acres). If you only have a short time, you can start at the visitor’s center, climb the observation tower and hike out on Cone’s Dike Trail in an hour or two. If you have a bit longer, the La Chua Trail could easily consume a whole day.
Get out on the La Chua trail in the early morning and you will quickly be far away from any civilization. Please be very cautious, the alligators are everywhere, and if you don’t pay attention you can be right on top of them before you know it. The photo I made below shows a mama gator guarding her nest with her (out of focus) baby gators behind her. I made this photo with a 300mm equivalent focal length and didn’t want to get any closer.
Momma gator guarding nest and 4 (blurry) babies
Take a long lens so you can stay away from the gators too and to help you with bird photos. A wide-angle lens and a tripod will be good for scenic shots. I’ve been there several times most often late in the year, which seems to be a good time to go to avoid insects.