[ Beneath the Waves ]
The Mirror's Surface Breaks

For the last year or so, I've been working on a secret project related to my multispectral photography hobby. I didn't want to post any photos I'd created during that time, because it would have given away the surprise of the new capabilities that this project allows. Finally, the first version of that project is ready for release.

I call the software The Mirror's Surface Breaks, after a line from the song "Waser", by Nimpf. You can read more about it in that article, which includes numerous sample images. I've been using it to process quite a few of my photos, and so over the next few months, you can expect to see a lot more show up on this site - in particular, from the trip I went on to Texas and the Southeastern US in the summer of 2010.

There are numerous new articles (and updated articles) linked from that page which describe in detail other types of imagery that can be produced from raw multispectral exposures.

In particular:

I finally have some examples of real-world uses for multispectral photos in the Uses of Multispectral Photography article.

A series of in-depth articles in various types of multispectral imagery: Basic Greyscale Images, Calculated Greyscale Images, Statistical Greyscale Images, Three-Channel False Colour, Gradient-Mapped False Colour Images, Luminance/Colour Images, Decorrelation Stretch Images, and False Colour From Filters (and Simulated Filters).

Various updates to the equipment articles in the Photography section, and two new articles: Lighting, and Ultraviolet Safety.

I half-suspect that TMSB is so specific to the way I work with images that I'll be the only one to ever use it, but hopefully it is valuable to at least a couple of other people in the world.

In any case, now that it's done (or at least, the first version is done), I finally have some free time again to get back to (among other things) the photography that inspired me to write it in the first place.

I've also added a few pieces of non-photography-related content:

  • Statistical Audio Synthesis, which is an extremely brief writeup (with example audio files) on an experimental digital synthesis method I started working on as an outgrowth of some of the functionality I built into TMSB.
  • A script I wrote for use at work, to make it possible to run X Window applications on a remote Linux system from Cygwin-X using sudo (is that specific enough of a special case for you?) - XSudo.

Unfortunately, I did have to leave a handful of "Coming soon!" messages scattered around in place of some of the more specialized articles (none of which are linked from the main page - everything mentioned above should be readable). I will have those available as soon as I can, but didn't want to delay the release of the rest of the content any further.

TMSB Bug Fix

I've posted a version of The Mirror's Surface Breaks which corrects an issue that would cause it to generate errors when run on a PC configured to use a character other than a period as the decimal separator (e.g. the way a lot of European PCs are set up). The same type of issue affected the utility in the Statistical Audio Synthesis article, so I've added a corrected version of that as well.

There have also been a few corrections and changes/additions to the various pieces of new content.

Updated Statistical Function Synthesis Utility

I've made a big update to the Statistical Audio Synthesis article, including a new (probably final) release of the utility used to generate the sounds. There are a lot more mp3s that can be downloaded now.

I'd hoped to include the remaining The Mirror's Surface Breaks "how-to" articles in this update, but ran out of time over the weekend. In other TMSB-related news, some members of the Mono project partially fixed the bug that was preventing it from running under Mono (and therefore on Linux/BSD/MacOS, et cetera), but unfortunately it looks like the same problem is still cropping up elsewhere. I will investigate this further in the coming weeks.

New TMSB Tutorials

Most of the tutorials for how to use The Mirror's Surface Breaks in more advanced/customized ways are now online:

The only one I still have on my list to write is the one about completely custom scripts, and I'm not sure anyone other than me actually wants to do that (which is why I saved it for last).

There is a minor update to TMSB available as well (version 1.2). This update includes a few new features, and comes closer to working on Linux, but still isn't quite there. I implemented a workaround for the remaining XML-handling bug(s) in Mono, but discovered that:

  • The TIFF-handling code in DaVinci doesn't compile to a usable form under OpenSUSE (even without my modifications) - it segfaults when an attempt is made to read the source images - so I'm going to need to spend some time figuring out why that is.
  • The version of Mono available in the Ubuntu/Kubuntu repositories is ancient and doesn't run TMSB correctly, meaning I'm going to have to put together some instructions for building the current version of Mono from source for that platform.

In some exciting news (for me) two other people are actively using TMSB. You can some of Klaus Schmitt's images here, and some great desert flower images by Oleksandr Holovachov here.

Based on some feedback, I've added a few additional illustrations to the Statistical Audio Synthesis article, to help give a better idea of what the software is doing. They're the ones with green lines on a black background.

Colour Isolation, New UV Filter, Corrections

I've just added a writeup and software for an experimental image-processing method I'm referring to as Colour Isolation. This is a method I came up with to improve the colours in standard (red/green/blue) digital photos, and can lead to improvements when those photos are used in multispectral composites as well. It can also be used to create special effects. It is experimental, so if you are an expert in image processing and have feedback, I'd definitely be interested in hearing it.

Right now, the software is available in Pixel Bender format (for use with most Adobe software), and a DaVinci script library (for use with The Mirror's Surface Breaks and DaVinci's Shadow). If there's enough interest, I will see about creating e.g. a GIMP plugin.

A few weeks ago, UVR Defense Tech, Ltd. released a new UV-bandpass filter named the "Andrea-U". I've only had time for a few test sessions, but it seems like a really interesting alternative to other UV filter options. It is not a replacement for e.g. the Baader U-Filter, but can provide a completely different false colour palette, so I recommend giving it a look.

Some corrections:

Secrets of Photoshop®'s Colour Blend Mode Fully Revealed

An email discussion (thanks, Andrew!) prompted me to investigate the colour blend mode in Photoshop® one more time, and as a result, the Secrets of Photoshop's Colour Blend Mode Revealed (Sort Of) article is now misnamed - it describes very accurately how to mimic the Photoshop® functionality.

A small patch/update is available for The Mirror's Surface Breaks that enables this improved colour blending.

Colour Isolation/Perception and Other Topics

Based on a discussion I had regarding the Colour Isolation article, I decided to do a test of the concept using real filters. The results - which I present in Colour Isolation Using Filters - were quite surprising to me. Changing the spectral range for the red, green, and blue channels of an image can have dramatic effects on the final image.

Other changes:

  • Added a side discussion on how Your Eyes Are Terrible At Seeing Blue as a result of some of the test images from the colour isolation experiment.
  • Added Omega Filters and Robert Cairns as recommended sources for Filters.
Drive 2010 Photos

Work has been really busy, but I finally found time to finish going through the photos from my drive through the Gulf Coast states in July of 2010. If you want to see virtually every picture I took (including tourist photos in addition to the multispectral sets), you can start with the Drive 2010 - Introduction and Day 1 article. Otherwise, here are some of the highlights, with only selected photos and no commentary:

  • Big Bend National Park - this was my favourite part of the trip, and where I used my camera the most.
  • Long Key State Park - one of the Florida Keys which has been mostly devoted to a nature preserve.
  • Everglades National Park - a few photos from the biggest swamp you are likely to ever see.
  • Various Trees - this is a new catch-all article where I've included one-off tree photo sets that I thought were pretty good.

I didn't have time to go on a long trip this summer, but I did collect a lot of photos locally, including numerous flowers. For now, here are a few examples of things to come: Blackberries and Poppies (Papaver). In the process of putting together that poppy image set, I discovered a new use for the Colour Isolation software - enhancing details like veins and pollen grains in some flower photos. A dramatic example of that has been added to that article, near the end in the new More Uses section.

Finally, I made a minor correction to one of the graphs in the Colour Isolation Using Filters article: originally, it showed the curve for an older version of Baader's UV-bandpass filter, and I had switched the labels for the LDP BPR and BPB.

TMSB 1.2.2

Steve Smeed ran into some issues with The Mirror's Surface Breaks related to memory use for source images of larger size than the ones I've been working with (since my D70 only outputs 6MP images).

I made some improvements to a few key functions, and so TMSB should now be able to process luminance/colour and statistical images for source image sets up to about 13MP. The limit for other types of image should be much higher. The 1.2.2 patch is another simple "replace dshadow.dvrc with the new version" update, like 1.2.1 was. You can download it at the bottom of the "The Mirror's Surface Breaks" article.

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