Cool Only Your Test images

A few nice only your test images I found:

London Big Ben inverted – London on its head
only your test
Image by @Doug88888
London Big Ben – Another treatment of the Big Ben tower at the Houses of Parliament in London. Trying to find a new angle on a familiar London topic.

London set l See my Most Interesting l Getty l Faves l On Black l Explore My Stream

How I took this London Big Ben inverted picture

In the current climate, I think turning Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the House of Commons on their head might not be too bad an idea. This picture of Big Ben was taken on an overcast day in Spring in London, in the run up to the 2010 UK elections.

I took a few standard shots of Big Ben and then started to wander around the central square trying to pick a new angle on the famous tower with its bell that chimes every hour. I spotted the murky puddle and by shuffling my position, found that it reflected Big Ben quite nicely. It was also a convenient horizontal shape to it, reflecting Big Ben’s tower.

After some test pictures, I was excited to find that there were some lines leading straight towards the Big Ben tower created naturally from the grass verge to one side. More challenging, I couldn’t work out how to fit both Big Ben and its reflection into one photograph. I tried tilting the camera, but I couldn’t cram it all in and keep the reflection in my lens. I decided to compromise by cutting off the top of the real Big Ben tower. I went down as far as the Churchill statue.

I realised that there were intermittent London Red Buses trawling along Parliament Square, so timed my shot to get one of these splitting the frame. If I had a tripod I would have gone for a bit more motion blur here but I will have to live with the bit I took.

Despite the overcast sky, I managed to find a tiny bit of blue in the sky, which I positioned by the reflected clock face of Big Ben. Some branches help remind me that this is a puddle rather than a fancy photoshop effect.

Then I took the picture.

Back at home, in Aperture, I realised that by flipping the picture 180 degrees, your eye would recognise Big Ben, and run down the page trying to make sense of what it was seeing. A bit of fun for a most iconic of buildings – Big Ben in London.


Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and is often extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well. Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2009 (the clock itself first ticking on 31 May 1859), during which celebratory events took place.

To learn more about Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London, visit Big Ben on Wikipedia.

London is a city the really rocks for photography. London has so many iconic buildings and locations. I Love London. You can see my London set for more London.

2012-03-17 – 001-007 – HDR
only your test
Image by vmax137
Update 2015-07-11: CitiesXL isn’t for me but Cities Skylines by Colossal Order and published by Paradox Interactive is the spiritual successor to Simcity 4.

A view of South Lake Union and Queen Anne Hill after inspired by the official announcement that SimCity 5 has been under development with a February 2013 release date. This is one of those games that I would get without a second thought if it weren’t for the number of questionable incidents involving Electronic Arts’ Origin content delivery system. That aside SimCity 5 will feature curved roads, zoning, and a rigid-body dynamics physics engine. After almost a decade of waiting it’s great to see the continuation of a classic game series.

SimCity Announce Trailer Insider’s Look :…
SimCity 5 developers Q&A on Reddit:…

Even though a robust multi-player SimCity is something a lot of people wanted, the game series was always single player-centric where mobile users with no internet connection can play anytime. Additionally Electronic Arts is well-known for shutting down game servers after a few years rendering games to become partially functional or not at all. SimCity 4 was released in 2003 and I and many others up until the last few years have been playing it on and off. It’s unrealistic to expect companies to run servers indefinitely to begin with so gamers as well as fans have good reasons to believe that SimCity 5’s lifespan will be significantly less than its predecessors.…

Update – 2013-03-08:
It’s almost a year later and SimCity 5 has been released. From what I’ve seen the game discourages exploration by not allowing loading from an earlier save point which limits the educational aspect and fun in a sandbox simulator. I can see a hardcore game mode where decisions are permanent so emotional connections with cities are stronger, but this ain’t Fire Emblem. SC5 also traded scale for detail. It’s not the game that I wanted but parts of it looks like serious fun. Unfortunately just about everyone who’s not playing are on a SimCity Disaster Watch.

Maxis and Electronic Arts still make great games but EA as a publisher and distributor has the dubious distinction of being responsible for the worst roll-out in gaming history so far. An EA Korea Facebook manager’s accusation of piracy in Asian countries as a factor of server outages is a reminder that CEO or intern, anyone in a position dealing with the public are required to do their homework on the products and services they’re representing.

I still play Diablo 3 and while it’s annoying when servers are down I bought into the constant connection because I play public games often and sometimes the auction house can be played as a separate game in of itself. SimCity 5 offers regional play which is great but in single player mode the lack of reverting to a previous save and a saved city can only be loaded from their associated server aren’t compelling enough to require a constant internet connection.

While most people don’t care the digital rights management or DRM issue is a real and major reason for the constant internet connection, but not the only one. The elimination of the secondary used-games market and planned obsolescence by shutting down servers and forcing people to move to the next game iteration are also business strategies being tested.

EA has decided to give out a free game as an apology which is nice. But eating the transaction costs and giving a full refund to those who paid for a SC5 license would have been nicer, and a SC5 single player offline mode would have been the best solution. Voting with your wallet by itself is ineffective since it can be misinterpreted or even be invisible. There has to be communication, sometimes very emotional communication before large organizations can be motivated to change their course of action. I do feel bad for many of the developers and other creatives that worked hard on SC5 and hope their future projects will avoid everything that’s happening here.

Update – 2013-03-20:
Pretty much everything that’s happened so far:…

SC5 has been mostly stabilized so people are busy trying to break it to see its inner workings. Obviously all simulations require a certain amount of abstraction but investigations revealed that the simulation itself is broken where sims take the shortest path regardless of traffic and go to the first home or work they see each day. The reasons given for the constant internet connection were found to be less than truthful as well.

Partly because of this and various other reasons, EA’s CEO has been sacrificed and Origin is holding a gamer appreciation sale for PR damage control. Large publicly traded corporations are beholden to its investors and EA can’t revert back to when Trip Hawkins first founded it to help game developers so a change in culture can’t be expected to occur overnight. Still, there’s a lot of companies that don’t have the financial strength to ride out a bad Costa Concordia PR disaster so maybe this will deter them from making similar decisions.

SC5 is a great looking game but I can’t and won’t even pirate it. Security or ethical issues aside there’s no reason to because my limited game time and finances should be used to support good games, with the occasional sale. I’ll approach the next SimCity with a skeptical but still open mind though. Keep the art and audio assets, allow online as optional, fix the simulation engine and I just might be there.

Space Needle and Pacific Science Center
only your test
Image by ttstam
This print is now for sale. 100 print run, on archival ink / semigloss finish, .00 print only, 12" x 18". Contact me via Flickrmail if you’re interested.

Testing my newly gained understanding of HDR and photoshop skills.

7-shot RAW HDR tonemapped via PhotoMatix 3, then imported into Photoshop for artifact correction. Final color balance tweaks, cropping and rotation in Lightroom.

This is another step forward to where I want to be, as far as techniques and workflow ability goes. The next step will be getting panorama tools setup correctly to shoot this as a ultra-high resolution panorama.

During post-processing, all 3Gb of RAM was taken up by Photoshop and Lightroom (mostly Photoshop). I will need a computer upgrade to be processing things this way when I get my 5D Mk II. (Along with monitor calibration hardware if I’m serious about selling prints).


Someone had FlickrMailed me about the post processing on this photo. I’ll share the technique here.

I read through StuckInCustom’s excellent tutorial here – before I headed out into the field. The enlightenment moment for me is realizing that when I first started doing HDRs, I wanted to capture that magical glow in the scene, and typically I go for the overexposures. However, I’ve always neglected the underexposed frames and as a result I don’t have the data to fix the blown out light sources.

I think this scene works, because the arches in the pac sci center, and the neon signs on top of Key Arena, is very readable and not blown out / blurry due to overexposure. If this scene had a body of water in front of it I would have shot the long exposure shots to capture the glow off the water, but longer exposures here just blow out the scene and doesn’t give me any more usable data to work with.

Now that you understand my reasoning going into taking this picture, the rest of the technique / workflow:

* I shot a series of shots in manual mode, ISO50 on the 5D, on a tripod with mirror lockup and self-timer (did not have cable release).
* The shots were bought into Photomatix, combined and tone mapped for detail enchancement. I up the white and black points to spread the histogram out and make the scene brighter and I played with the smoothing of the luminosity until I got something I liked.
* I then tone map this into a 16 bit TIFF, and send this TIFF into Photoshop
* I exported the RAW files for the darkest and a medium exposure out of Lightroom into Photoshop. I should play with this as a smart object, but I didn’t have a lot of time editing this.
* The exposures are stacked top to bottom: HDRed TIFF, darkest exposure, normal exposure. Note that despite careful use of tripod and mirror lockup the camera still shifts between shots. I used the auto-align feature (layers, autoalign) to correct for the camera movement. I thought it was pretty cool… (I’m a photoshop n00b).
* Mostly I just use a layer mask, 30% transparency brush to brush away the blown / artifacts from the neon to expose the lowest exposure (middle layer) to repair the neon signs.
* I did some blending of the lowest and median exposure layers to try to give a better result with the neons.
* The result is saved into a flattened TIFF and bought back into Lightroom.
* I applied a white balance correction on the *final* product. I shot this on RAW, tungsten balance and found it too warm for my liking, so I decreased the color temperature until I got something I liked.
* Cropped and rotated it so that the buildings are actually vertical. I need to buy a new bubble level 🙂

That’s it! 🙂

Thanks for all the comments, guys!

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