Shimmering views

Today was another busy day for me and my fledgling photography business. My Etsy shop is going okay – I’ve had a dozen or so orders for greetings cards and have been mailing them out. But as I said yesterday, I want to expand my range and start offering matted prints ready to frame.

So today I went down to the garage and grabbed some of the stock I have printed for market stalls, and took some photos to set up some new items on Etsy. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because taking product photos requires good lighting, and it was a grey day here, and we don’t get a lot of natural light inside because of large trees near the windows – and indoor artificial lighting is often odd colour temperatures and very directional and harsh.

I ended up taking my stock outside and placing it on the ground under the open sky, and standing over it to take the photos looking straight down. Even then the results weren’t brilliant, because taking a photo of a photo naturally ends up with reduced image quality. So I took to Photoshop and made some mock-ups using a combination of photos of the matting boards that I’d taken outside and the original photos.

I ended up with something I could display and created a new item on Etsy. But given what I said yesterday about shipping to Australia versus internationally, at the moment it’s only available (and hence only visible, I believe) within Australia. I’m going to think about using a drop-shipping printer in the US and/or Europe to make these sort of prints available there too, but that’s a job for another day.

While I had my printed stock out, I took a bunch of photos of one of them for another purpose. Back when I was working for CiSRA (Canon Information Systems Research Australia), the last project I worked on was one to create 3D lighting effects of material surfaces. Some of my former team members decided to take their knowledge of the technology and form a start-up company to commercialise it (by re-implementing the systems from scratch in a non-intellectual-property-infringing manner). The company they’ve formed is Bandicoot Imaging. Check out in particular their demos of the Shimmer View technology and the materials gallery. This is imaging technology that I worked on!

What you need to do is take a bunch of photos from different angles, which are then combined into a material appearance model, which can be illuminated by a simulated light source from any angle. So I took some photos and uploaded them to their server, and produced a Shimmer View of one of my photos:

Mouse over it and you can control the motion, and also zoom in and out a bit. You can see the faint sheen of the semi-gloss satin finish of the photo paper, but there isn’t very much going on, unlike some of the fabric and leather textures in the demo gallery. But still, a nice effect.

New content today:

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