Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Longest Week

The second last week of my stay in Chicago and there were no jobs to be shot. Leasha decided to take a trip to Mexico for a much needed break. I thought that this week would be smooth, but it turned out to be the longest week.

Just like any business, there needs to be maintenance. Jason spent the week backing up all the digital files that have been shot and scanned over the last 3 months or more that I have been here. Paul decided to copy pages from books that he had shot to go onto his new web site. That little project was much more difficult than I anticipated. We had to set up a copy stand and Paul used the 1DS MK II. I messed up on the first day, not confirming the sharpness of the images and a day of shooting went down the drain. Paul was pissed off with me. I had a pretty good run over 2 and a half months, just when the end was near, I stumbled.

So we started to reshoot the books much sharper by stopping down and Moire patterns started appearing over the images. We tried changing the shooting distance and using a anti-moire program in photoshop, no luck there. I was really stumped there for a while. There was a book that we had shot twice already and we were stuck again. Eventually, I suggested using his 5D to do the copy work because the sensor size was different from that of the 1DS MKII. It was not perfect, but we managed to make it better by 80% in the worst cases and in many cases eliminating the Moire. On the 1DS Mk II, the Moire was very obvious and had color shifts as well. On the 5D, the Moire was more like a ripple pattern, not wanted but looking more natural.

And if you are asking why there is Moire when copying books? It is because images in books are made up of a grid of dots varying in size. To our normal eyes, this is not a problem. Shoot it with a sensor with a regular grid pattern and bang! The shit hits the fan.

We finally get the books shot sharp and without Moire. It took hours for me to touch up the images. Don't get me wrong, we were careful with the copy stand and there was not much to touch up on each image, but I had about 60 images to touch up. Last night was a long night.

It was a good experience for me too. Facing a task and fighting it down. Paul wanted this task to be done as fast as possible, but he wanted it done right. He was willing to shoot again and pushed me to get it right. When doing it right meant it took a little more time, he was willing to wait. For example, the files had to be renamed with the page of the book and his copyright information inserted into the images, he was cool with that.

My main lessons were to communicate with the people I am working with and to do things right.


Anonymous said...

Yea, really sucks when stuff like that happens. I sympathise...

So, what did you eventually do to shoot the pages so that moire doesn't happen? Micro-angle-adjustment? Thanks for bringing that up, it never occured to me that it would be such a problem using digital for copywork, yet it's so obvious!

Also how do you remove moire in photoshop?


Heng said...

We finally lived with the images from the 5D. The Moire did not really shot up except in a handful of pictures. And then it was 'natural' looking.

There are several filters from the net that remove moire. The one in the studio is from Capture One.

pfong said...


I was wondering whether it might be possible to shoot this type of studio work with the camera tethered to a laptop so that you have a live 100% preview. That might help pick up the softness or moire issues early before too much work has gone into the shoot.

Heng said...

Yes, Paul, exactly what I thought, just after the shoot. :) Things don't always happen the way they should.