Huh? iPhone application development?

Things a-changing.  There haven’t been new posts in a couple of years.

Some of you might have known all along that my passion for photography aside, I’ve been a software developer since the time my grandfather explained what variables were to me at age 6 or so using strawberry containers back in Palermo (Italy).

For those who didn’t…  well yes, I liked strawberries but I found Grandpa’s chit chat far more fascinating than the fruit.  My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-80.   The specs on that thing were amazing… a Z-80 processor, 4K of ram… we’re talking supercomputer here LOL.  That first sinclair was followed by a Spectrum and later a QL … a computer with Motorola’s 68000 series processor that cost FAR less than that OTHER computer with he 68000 processor – the Apple Macintosh.

The QL got me into assembly programming.  If you don’t know what assembly programming is, it’s nutty stuff where you write lines upon lines of code just to get the computer to do the simplest things… with the side benefit of getting every last bit of power out of the device.  I wrote all sorts of stuff on that QL… a Tetris Clone that I actually sold to a few people through a computer club, a triangle evaluator program for my father to use in order to calculate the surface area of irregularly shaped locations his asphalt business needed to quote, and a variety of other things.

Later I followed the rest of the world onto the x86 platform, which is what I’ve been programming for years.  In C, C++, Pascal, Delphi and Visual Basic .net (Don’t laugh… it’s actually a very powerful language!).  That’s part of what I still do in my day job.

I do less programming in my day job these days and the itch continues to need to be scratched.  A few years back when PalmPilots were “a thing” I wrote and released a few apps for Palm.  One I’m particularly proud of was WW Buddy… a digital calculator that emulated the formula used by the Weight Watchers slide calculator that Weight Watchers was providing members at the time.  I reverse-engineered the formula behind the slide and wrote the app.  Released it for free and a few months later was contacted by Weight Watchers’ attorneys with a request I take it down as they felt it violated their copyright (even though it didn’t even mention Weight Watchers).  That was fun.  I tried to get Weight Watchers to buy the app but no go there.

Palm died a few years ago, and with that my non-work programming hobby.

Until now.  I’ve had a few ideas for apps I’d like to have on my iPhone for some time.  I’ve grown tired of waiting for someone else to write them… so here we are.

A few days ago I started taking a Udacity course on Swift, Apple’s new programming language for the iPhone.  I’m a noob again… at least in terms of this new (to me) platform.  They suggest that the students keep notes on what they learn… so I figured why not make those notes public so that they might help someone else?

We’ll see how and if I keep this up.  The idea is to document what I learn while I’m learning… and eventually I’d like the idea of documenting from start to finish everything I do to write, debug, release a couple of apps I want to put on the app store.

Let’s see how this goes!

The Photos on our walls

I don’t do a lot of personal posting here, though I’ve been told I should.

I’m sitting at this desk taking a break from packing boxes.  I’ve already packed at least 40 boxes, half of which I’ve actually had to somewhat reassemble thanks to the incredible skill of the stock people at Publix who swiftly turn them into flat squares of cardboard.

I don’t mind reassembling them.  I’ve been doing it for days and I actually like the fact that every box is different because I can then find the perfect things to go inside.  It’s almost as if… as we prepare to move into a new home that will better fit our families, so our stuff goes inside little temporary homes that better fit them.

We’ve been shopping for a new house for almost two years.  Sure we were probably pickier than most (thank you Raquel, you’re a Saint for putting up with us) but we were also at times unlucky… dealing with people who were either crazy or batshit crazy in their absurd expectations or simply in not even returning a phone call.

We’ve both been dying to move.  This place I sit in right now is entirely too small.  Comically small.

And yet a couple of nights ago as we finished watching a movie, my wife and I looked at each other and both welled up with tears.  We’re thrilled to move into a new home that will better fit the outrageous enormity of little ones we’ve created… but at the same time this is the home I brought her into as my wife, this is the home all four of our adorable little monsters came to from the hospital, where they all learned how to crawl and where all of the most amazing memories of our lives so far were made.  This is the home that when Lisette and I would say “it’s too small” our daughter, our eldest, answered “our home is perfect, it’s a castle!”

I’d like to think that the new house will allow us to create new amazing memories, and I’m sure it will… but the realist inside me knows that at least from the pure wonderment of it all… nothing compares to the incredible feelings we experienced when we first brought those delicate little bundles of … yeah spit-up and diapers… into our home.

Oh yes, the photos.

you often hear how people who are in a fire save their loved ones and pets and then the next thing they save is their photographs.  As a professional photographer I even have a vested interest in repeating that  you often hear how people who are in a fire save… LOL … the reason is obvious of course… pretty much everything else could easily be replaced with a big enough credit card, but in many cases nothing will bring back those prints if they are lost.

But we haven’t had a fire, and yet the photos on our walls are haunting me.

I’ve packed the whole living room already and am well on my weay to be done with every other room.  Twice already Lisette has said “hey if you want you can put the photos in boxes too”

I’ve put the books, the candles, the wrought iron objects, things we’ve picked up along the way.  They’re in boxes, carefully packed, carefully labeled, ready to be moved.

Not the photos.

I’ve tried, but can’t

I never thought of this before but I’m starting to think that there’s another reason why people in a fire grab their photos.  Maybe other than the soft “things” made of flesh and blood and warm and cuddly, maybe the photos themselves are what make this house our home.  Maybe that’s why when starting at a new job, often the first thing we place on the new desk is a photo of a loved one.

I will have to take them down.  We close in 7 days.

Patricia and Alex – Miami Engagement Photographers – Sneak Peak

It’s not often that I start off an engagement session sneak peak with a ring shot. However this is for sure one of my favorite ring shots to date. The ring is freakin’ aweseome and I’m thrilled about how it looked wedged in a an old train’s mechanical joint.

engagement photography of Patricia and Alex in Miami, FL from Lisette and Alessandro Di Sciascio of Di Sciascio Photography, South Florida wedding photography from Fort Lauderdale wedding photographers.

Patricia and Alex, thank you so much for sharing a fun couple of hours with us at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. I’d never been there before and now that I have I want to go back! You guys were lots of fun and I was thrilled with a lot of what we got. Here are a couple of shots from the engagement session, I’ll have a few more up in a couple of days… and of course you’ll be able to see the full blog post soon on the Acromatico Blog.

No more words.  Ladies and Gentlemen…. Patricia and Alex!

engagement photography of Patricia and Alex in Miami, FL from Lisette and Alessandro Di Sciascio of Di Sciascio Photography, South Florida wedding photography from Fort Lauderdale wedding photographers.

engagement photography of Patricia and Alex in Miami, FL from Lisette and Alessandro Di Sciascio of Di Sciascio Photography, South Florida wedding photography from Fort Lauderdale wedding photographers.

engagement photography of Patricia and Alex in Miami, FL from Lisette and Alessandro Di Sciascio of Di Sciascio Photography, South Florida wedding photography from Fort Lauderdale wedding photographers.

Tutorial – The Impossible Reflection Technique – a Photoshop How To

A wedding photographer friend posted yesterday asking how some images he’s seen could possibly be done.

The images essentially look as if you are looking at a reflection on a glass showing a subject that is blocking the light from the sky and causing the part of the glass where their reflection blocks the light, to reflect some background image.. for instance a cityscape, or in the example someone posted in response – from Davina + Daniel’s site, a landscape with a volcano in it… presumably the backdrop for the couple’s wedding.

Please note that I am in no way representing that Davina+Daniel or any other photographer used this technique or any photoshop technique to create their art.  This is a tutorial for accomplishing a similar result, no more, no less.

Here’s the ending image for this tutorial, so you have an idea of what I’m talking about.  I would stronly suggest you do take a look at the photo on Davina+Daniel’s site above, unlike my photo below that one was clearly shot with the purpose of creating that final image and it therefore works significantly better than the example below as it meets more of the “suggested requirements” I’ll mention.

how to do reflection couple with city in the background.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

Ok, so my fellow wedding photographers (and other photographers of course)… how could that be done?

Well my friend’s question resulted in a number of possible answers…  a few of which were:

1.  a complex combination of glass and possibly mirrors

2. the cityscape is actually a transparency print placed near a glass upon which the couple is reflecting

3. done using the multiple exposure feature found in most Nikon cameras available during the past decade and newly introduced by Canon on the 5D Mark III

That last answer is the one that got most support and it may indeed be how these images were created.  One thing is for (almost) sure… there’s probalby no way that these images can be done in camera with just a single exposure… though the jury may still be out on that.  The problem lies mostly with the fact that the portraits all appear to be shot with long lenses… and yet we have depth of field such that the couple reflected in the mirror is in perfect focus… as are buildings half a mile away.

Ok, enough of the “how did they do it” stuff… I don’t really know how THEY did it.  But I can tell you how YOU can do it, easily and consistently out of camera.

Ok, one more thing about the multiple exposure hypothesis… there are two problems with that approach:

1. When you use the feature you snap the first shot and then you have to snap the second… just like with multiple exposures in film…  so you cant’ be as creative as you can with the technique because if you decide you want the backround to be something that’s a 5 minute walk away… that camera is useless for those 5 minutes.

2. If you shoot the couple and then after you take the shot they change their expression to a much better one… you’re screwed.  Same if you grab a fantastic shot of the couple but then find a less than ideal background… only to find a perfect background 4 seconds later.

Ok, so on to the technique.

Here is what the two source images for the above looked like:

how to do reflection couple with city in the background.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

how to do reflection couple with city in the background.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

The technique is pretty easy once you have suitable images.

Simply place the couple’s image over the background image, in Photoshop, and set the couple image’s blend mode to “SCREEN”

how to do reflection couple with city in the background.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

Where the couple image is pure white the end image will be pure white showing none of the background.  Where the couple image is black the ending image will show the background image fully… and in between the two images will blend.

Ideally your source images should meet these criteria:

The couple (or subject) image should:

1.  Be a silohuette or near silohuette… with a blown out or nearly blown out sky and your subjects probably exposed for the highlights along the edge of their profiles (this is where my image fails, and Davina+Daniel’s doesn’t their subjects are exposed much more dark)

2.  Preferably only include the subjects with no other background elements as the geometry of reflection will then start falling apart if there’s other stuff in the image

The background image should:

1.  Make sense as a background image in terms of scale and angle (this is hard to explain in words but basically you need the background to work as a believable reflection in a window when shot with whatever lens you’re shooting the subject…  in fact it couldn’t hurt to actually SHOOT the background as a reflection off a surface if one is available… shooting with the same lens used for the subject … at a similar height angle…

2.  Probably consist of something that is randomish and texturish enough to not cause your brain to melt down when looking at the image… cityscape – yes…  mountainscape – yes… forest yes… group of 200 people… yes… 4 dudes, probably not.  Though these aren’t rules, just suggestions.

Anyway, before I mention some “refinement” things you probably will want to do… and show you the step by step, let me point out that there’s at least one pro shooter who I totally respect who insists this can be done without photoshop trickery…  I’ll prolly find out at some point but won’t post about it… I guess it’ll be one of those things where you’ll have to pay the price of admission (I attended his workshop) … I can decide to give away what I figure out but it’d be crass to give away someone else’s gift to me.

Ok, so on to the refinements…

here’s what my image looked like with just the couple over the cityscape in SCREEN mode.

Davina plus Daniel reflection photo.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

It kind of works already, but the couple is more washed out than I’d like.  So I decided to darken the couple by creating a Curves adjustment layer, not making any changes to the curve but setting the adjustment layer mode to MULTIPLY (this is a neat trick to just darken an image).  Of course the adjustment layer is “clipped” (applied only to) the couple photo.

Here are the layers:

Davina plus Daniel reflection photo.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

and here is the resulting image:

Davina plus Daniel reflection photo.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

That’s A LOT more like it.  And yeah I know I say A LOT but the change is subtle… well yeah I don’t do the crazy editing stuff… so subtle can be A LOT for me :)

Ok, there’s one more issue.  We want to really give the illusion that there’s a reflection going on.   Under most circumstances if you were to see this kind of thing happening in real life, the blown out areas would be FAR LESS REFLECTANT than the dark areas, but some reflectivity would probably be retained.

So we need to have some of the background show even through where the couple image is pure white.

Many ways to skin that cat, I chose to create a levels adjustment layer and use it to essentially slightly darken the highlights of the couple photo (note the output levels set to 0-235 rather than 0-255) and also tweak the shadows and midtones (notice the adjustments to the input levels)

Davina plus Daniel reflection photo.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

and again, the final image… showing some reflectance even in the bright areas.

how to do reflection couple with city in the background.  Di Sciascio Wedding Photography

If you found this useful or interesting please let me know in the comments.

Ciao!

Alessandro

P.S.  And yes I do realize that doing this in Photoshop lacks all of the elegance that you might get from doing it in camera… I have no answer to that.  I agree, but at the same time if the end result is a fantastic image your clients love… I find it hard to criticize the artist for using more than just one paintbrush.

Ashley and Brian – South Florida Wedding Photographer – Sneak Peek

We’ve been looking forward to this wedding for a long time. I remember clearly meeting Ashley and Brian and Brian’s mom at our consultation nearly a year ago. It may be a coincidence but I think I’m seeing this pattern where the more likely one of our brides is to have her mom or her fiancee’s mom come to the consultation… the more likely the bride will be to effortlessly dodge the inevitable curve balls on the wedding day.  That observation nonwithstanding, we love it when we meet with brides who are being helped by mothers or future mothers in law – I guess we find those clients to be the most aligned with our very strong emphasis on family in our coverage priorities.

The wedding, at the gorgeous Addison location did present Ashley with plenty of opportunities to panick due to schedule issues serious enough to force us to split the family portrait sessions into THREE chunks… yet Ashley was the image of calm.  Brian is indeed a lucky man…  he got himself a gorgeous bride with nerves of steel!

Here’s a sneak peek of the wedding.  Enjoy those photos.








I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. The full set will be ready within the next 5 or 6 weeks.

Massimo ten days old – South Florida Baby Photographer

On September 14th 2011 our family welcomed Massimo into our home. In a complete rebuttal of the assumption that the later children are denied the photographic attention of the siblings that came before, we spent an obscene amount of time playing with him and our camera.

This post shows only a small portion of what we did, we’ll post more later.

I lead this post with an image I’m absolutely in love with:

For those terrified at the sight of the little one on that shelf, be sure to read the rest of the post after the images.

We hope you enjoyed these photos documenting what our little one looked like just before turning 10 days old. If you enjoyed these be sure to come back and check out the rest… there are a few that are absolutely hilarious!

Ok, and finally about that first image at the beginning of the post. I’m sure some of you are wondering “how could he possibly endanger his son for a shot?!”

Well… let’s just say David Copperfield would be proud.

Of course I would NEVER endanger anyone for the sake of a photo. Cameras can tell the truth but they can be used to tell lies… in this case I purposely positioned the camera to fool your eye into thinking the shelf Massimo was on is much narrower than it really is and that it’s positioned in the same way as the others. it isn’t. And thanks to the magic of photoshop you can’t see that Mommy’s hands are much closer to Massimo’s butt than you might ever imagine by looking at the image.