Love Wins And Rainbow Colours Abound

This is a rare natural phenomenon known as a rainbow cloud or fire cloud. I photographed it last July from Bukit Beruntung near Federal Route 1. It was my second time seeing and photographing this beautiful weather phenomenon. The first time was from the old Bentong road.

I discovered something new when I re-opened the image in the updated Photoshop software today. Rainbows and cloud rainbows benefit greatly from the new Dehaze filter in Photoshop CC 2015. The rainbows colours became more vivid and clearer when Dehaze was deployed under Camera Raw Filter.

With another image of a regular rainbow arc, I was able to bring out the so-called double arc or secondary rainbow that was otherwise invisible. There is payload though. It is at the cost of noise increasing in the blue spectrum, especially that of the sky.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f11, 1/1000 sec.

Scam Alert: Luxury Car Giveaway On Facebook

At last count, there are over 100 thousand people hoping to win a luxury car from an anonymous and overnight Facebook page.

You got to say it is a very successful promotion targeted at a special market of people who ask or suspect nothing.

Why is there no website or link or T&C? That’s the first red flag.

You can say it cost you nothing. It also cost nothing to set up a Facebook page to do mining.

The scam usually goes like this and was busted by Snopes as early as December 2014:

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“For the FIRST time in facebook history we are giving away 2 [insert Audi, Mercedes, Range Rover, etc] to two winners that we will select on [insert date] completely at random.

Would you like to join this amazing giveaway for a chance to own a brand new AUDI? Simply follow the steps below to enter the competition :

Step 1) Likes this Page
Step 2) Like this Post
Step 3) Comment which color you want. (BLACK OR WHITE)
Step 4) Share on your wall

The winners will be messaged via inbox message”
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The current “Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 2015 Giveaway” is a “Like(s) Farming” scam at best. A page with many likes can be recycled to scam even more people later as the accumulated likes gives it some seeming credibility.

At worst, it is mining of personal data from stupid people. The gullible people opt in for permission spamming by liking the page. The perpetrators gained a list of idiots to spam via PM or to con in future.

For the spammers and scammers, it is a free and easy way of building a database of greedy people most likely to fall for a scam. What could be better? Brilliant, indeed.

Further (simple) investigation, revealed it is an old scam on Twitter and Facebook.

It works especially well here because Malaysians are suckers for anything free.

Is Adobe Photoshop CC 2015’s New Dehaze Made For Us?

Adobe announced a major update to its Creative Cloud subscription service last night. Photoshop CC 2014 became Photoshop CC 2015, and included with it are several useful new features.

One of the new features that caught my attention was Dehaze. I downloaded the new version immediately to try out Dehaze. Well, not as immediate as I wanted; for the update process was a bit clunky and took a while.

You have to update the Creative Cloud Services first, Then download the big install of Photoshop CC 2015 (and Lightroom). Copy all your plugins to the new folder and download, reinstall the latest Camera Raw.

Yes it can get ugly; so here’s a quick and dirty demo for those who don’t have the patience, time or a fast internet connection. Haze can now be easily removed or reduced with a simple slider in the Camera Raw Filter. It can add haze too, if desired.

As you know, Malaysia has one of the worst haze occurrences thanks to a leaky neighbour. So the true test of the Dehaze slider, for me, is whether it can fix a picture fogged up by the transboundary haze or smog.

I ran a picture from the last bad haze day which that was captured in October 2014. The original picture was photographed in RAW and I opened it directly in Photoshop.

For a different comparison, I included another picture with organic haze or mountain mist photographed at the Genting Highlands resort.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4, 1/800 sec (city scene)
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f7.1, 1/100 sec (mountain scene)

Laundry Day In Slim River

When I saw this house from across the road, I knew the dark planks will play tricks on the camera’s exposure reading. It will overexpose the picture if there is no manual intervention.

Photography Tip: Make your brain an important part of the exposure metering process with street photography. I anticipated a -1 EV compensation. I was already rolling the EV compensation dial before bringing the camera to eye level.

This is where the high-resolution WYSIWYG electronic viewfinder of the Sony A7R (or any good mirrorless camera) is superior to an optical viewfinder.

You can fine tune the exposure (and white balance) precisely without bracketing, firing several shots or chimping by the roadside.

Judging via the viewfinder alone, I dialed it further down to -1.7 EV. The pre-estimation saved time as the road where I walked was narrow, the traffic busy and therefore dangerous. I must get it right with one take and as quickly as possible.

On the road and without a calibrated monitor, I don’t like to mess around with RAW. As such, it is important the JPEG is spot on and ready for upload from location, without further adjustments.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f9, 1/250 sec.