Month: January 2008

LOST SHOES, Edit C: Finding Subjects to shoot, Even in Bad Situations.

LOST SHOES, Edit C, by Nawfal Nur


Creation Year: 2008
Original Photograph:  2000
Camera:  NIKON F90X
Time of Day:  Mid-Day, High Sun – Harsh Lighting.
Scanner:  UMAX ASTRA 5600

There’s an interesting story behind the photograph, “LOST SHOES, Edit C,” at least I think so, because I experienced it; and in addition to that, I learned that some bad situations offer good opportunities…for photography at least.

In the year 2000, I went on a very long bus ride to Kelantan, a state in Malaysia that borders Thailand.  It was like a 10-hour trip…Did I mentioned that it was quite a long, long bus ride!  I had never been to Kelantan before, but welcomed the opportunity.  I was the semi-official photographer for the Penang Bola (Soccer) Club on this trip.  I thought that I could also work on some cultural photographs while in Kelantan:  The trip was a win-win situation!  ;^)

About 6-hours into the bus ride, the tour bus starts chugging up the hill, hot steam and black smoke coming out of every orifice that a bus has, and it basically dies, right there, in the middle of Nowhere, Kelantan! 

It’s mid-day, hot like crazy, no-one around, and the nearest bathroom, more like an ancient outhouse, was the only facilities available anywhere near to the breakdown site.

We were going to be there awhile…tick-tock, tick-tock, tick tock…2-Hours Later!  It was that kind of a wait.  I was bored…I wanted to use my time properly and find a subject to photograph to commemorate the breakdown.  The only touristy thing to do was visit the outhouse, and that was checked off my list of things to do in Nowhere, Kelantan.  What else?

The scorching sun had dried up the red clay that flanked both sides of the two lane highway.  And, there wasn’t much in the way of subject matter to hold my attention, that was, until I noticed these two shoes.  The shoes were just sitting there in the hot clay…teenager’s basketball shoes, but there were no kids around.  It’s almost like the person got plucked right out of the shoes, and the shoes were left behind. 

The shoes had been abandoned, they were LOST!  I was starting to put a connection between the LOST SHOES, and the poor broken down bus.  Maybe, that spot was some sort of mysterious zone where things go wrong, haywire, lost, and just stop working and are abandoned.  Don’t know….it was a mystery.  I didn’t bring my CSI kit with me to do a thorough going over, but I definitely smelled a mystery brewing.

At least my camera was still functioning, and I got a shot to celebrate the experience of the broken down bus and my long journey to Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia. 

Remember to keep your eyes open for interesting subjects, especially when you find yourself lost, in a bad situation, or even stuck out in nowhere, and waiting for a bus to be fixed!  What you find may amaze you.

Resizing Photographs!

Resizing photographs can be a tricky business.

The key is to re-size without *interpolating the digital file to a new, “bigger-better” size. When you interpolate upward by adding digital data to a photograph, the quality of your photographs start to degrade.

*”In computer graphics, image scaling is the process of resizing a digital image. Scaling is a non-trivial process that involves a trade-off between efficiency, smoothness and sharpness. As the size of an image is increased, so the pixels which comprise the image become increasingly visible, making the image appear “soft”. Conversely, reducing an image will tend to enhance its smoothness and apparent sharpness.” [Source: ]

“So how can you re-size a photo and still keep the quality the same?”

Perhaps a better question is: “If I need to make a print of my original TIFF file, and the print has to be ‘huge’, what can I do to increase the size of the photograph, while keeping the quality of the printed photograph at very respectable Pixels Per Inch (Resolution)?”

OK, now that a more definite question has been artificially raised, I’ll tell you what my Professional Printer has advised me on more than one occasion; and after working with this Printer for some time, I can tell you that what she has advised is very good advice, and it works.

With my own eyes (yes, but of course), I’ve seen the difference in the printout from digital files I gave her from jpegs, compared to much better quality digital files in the tiff format.

Large printouts from tiffs are superior! (IMHO). TIFF is a ‘lossless’ file format: “Unlike standard JPEG, TIFF files using lossless compression (or no compression at all) can be edited and re-saved without suffering a compression loss. Other TIFF file options include multiple layers or pages.” [Source:]

The File from the Camera:

The files from my camera come out as JPEG files at 180ppi.

After uploading the JPEG files to my computer, before editing anything, I save them as TIFF files (NO compression). I prefer using XnView ( ) to make this file format change to my photo files – right from the beginning.

I’ll use ‘resizing/resampling‘ to mean increasing or decreasing the print or dimension size of an image file. ‘Editing‘ would mean adding special effects, cleaning up dust, etc., from an image.

  • THE POINT IS: Save your Original JPEG files to TIFF BEFORE ‘Editing’ or ‘Resizing’ an image.

After saving the original JPEG files, which are 3 or 4MB in size, the same TIFF files automatically become 20 or 21MB in size (this is what I get with my camera & files – you will likely get something different).

The key is NOT to edit your digital files in the JPEG format. From what I understand, each time you edit from a JPEG file, and then save it, the quality gradually decreases as well. Maybe the degrading of the file is minute, but when making a print from these ‘overly edited and saved JPEG image files, defects may start to become noticeable.

The Digital File & the PPI Standard:

The next thing to keep in mind is that the PPI (Pixels Per Inch) Standard of your files should not dip below 150 as you adjust for your print output size.

According to my Printer, the quality of the printed photo starts looking ‘pixely‘ if the PPI drops below 150. The printout will also show pixels/jaggies if the image is interpolated to ridiculous proportions (to what degree of up-sampling an image becomes ‘ridiculous’, that is a judgment call – you may have a differing opinion).

  • You see, the method explained here is NOT about adding pixels to increase image size: We are simply decreasing the PPI, while keeping the image size (XnView’s “Screen Size”) at 100%. This in turn, increases the length and width of the photograph dimensions. When you decrease, and reach that 150PPI Standard, that is the LARGEST Print Size, in my opinion, that will look fantastic (in most cases). Any lower PPI, and you risk image quality. But then again, everyone will have different expectations, right!

PPI can also describe the resolution in pixels, of an image to be printed within a specified space. For instance, a 100×100-pixel image that is printed in a 1-inch square could be said to have 100 pixels per inch, regardless of the printer’s DPI capability. Used in this way, the measurement is only meaningful when printing an image.” [Source:]

You may often hear that a digital file MUST be 300PPI for a “good” printout. Well, I’ll be the last person in the world to say “I know” it all. However, from my own experience and seeing my images printed using an EPSON Stylus Pro 9600, on Textured Fine Art Paper, at 1440 dpi (dots per inch), with a resolution of 150ppi, from a TIFF file, and as big as 46-inches in the longest print dimension – well, this printing combination makes for one very fine high-quality and detailed printout. Other printers, dpi and paper may cause other results, of course!

How to save as TIFF & Increase Print Dimensions Using XnView:

1) Upload images to your computer.

2) Start XnView.

3) Locate the JPEG image file you want to work with and double click on it.

4) Go to FILE, SAVE AS. Select TIFF Revision 6.

5) Click on the OPTIONS button. See the image below for my settings:

tiff options in XnView

6) Click on OK, and then SAVE.

7) Now, you have your TIFF File. You should see that the file extension of the image is now, .tif.

Eight – 8) At this point, you can work with and edit the image, and in this case, we want to increase the size of the image dimension to get a bigger printout, but keep the resolution at the ‘acceptable’ 150ppi. Let’s just assume that the original image file was 300ppi, and then go from there.

9) Click on IMAGE and then RE-SIZE (or use SHIFT S hotkey) – see image below.

Resizing using XnView300ppi

9) The Units (resolution) is 300, Print Out size would be 7.68 x 10.24 inches (roughly less than A4 Sized), and the W & H are at 100% (Screen Size). Make sure the Keep Ratio square is checked, and I usually use the Hanning Resample Method. Lanczos is also very good.

10) At this point, you want to change the settings to get the largest print size you can get, while keeping the Units at 150 (minimum) and the W & H staying at 100% in the “Screen Size” section. (see the image below).

Resizing using XnView150ppi at 50percent

11) Look at the screen shot above: You see what has happened? When you decrease the Units to 150, the W & H changes to 50% in “Screen Size”. At this point you need to change the W & H to 100 (see the image below)

Resizing using XnView150ppi at 100percent

12) Once you have changed the Screen Size W & H to 100%, the W & H of the Print Size increases to 15.36 x 20.48 inches. At these settings, you can still create a very good print, at a larger dimension size, and without image quality compromise.

13) Let’s say now that you want to use this same digital file to create a 72-inch printout on the longest side, and you are curious about what the Units would be at that size, as well as, keeping the Screen Size at roughly 100% (see the images below). But first, let’s back up the truck and try something ridiculous…

72inches at 352percent

Enter 72-inches in the Height box (Print Size Section). This increases the Screen Size (interpolated %/resampling %) to 352%. Your Units (Resolution) have stayed the same, at 150PPI, but other things have changed.

If you hit the OK button using these settings, you will end up with an interpolated digital file that is HUGE, and has a whole bunch of artificially added pixels just to accommodate the pushed/enlarged image size! (the new file data is in the strip below)

OM interp 352 percent stats

The new file size is 250.98MB!!! And the new file dimensions (Print Size) are 8,110 x 10,813 pixels!!! Outrageous! Did I mention that this file is HUGE!

Now, look at a section of this image at 100%.

Oyster Mushroom interp at 352Percent

Sure, it’s big, but the image is soft, is not very clear, and has “jaggies”. It would have been much worse if increased from the JPEG original.

Now, have a look a 100% section of the 20MB TIFF file that has NOT been interpolated. Remember, the PPI was just adjusted from 300 to 150ppi. This image is very clean because it has NOT be interpolated in any way.

Oyster Mushroom no interp at 100Percent

Of course, you can’t print this one out at 72-inches, but who cares! It will look great at 20.48 inches.

If you try printing the other one, the huge interpolated one, you will more than likely see quite a quality decrease when printed at a large size, AND MAYBE, it won’t look as good at 20.48-inches because the pixels were screwed around with.

And yet, someone may still say: “You can make a 20.48 inch photograph from the 8,110 x 10,813 pixel file!”

Oyster Mushroom interp at 526ppi

“Ah, yeah, that’s interesting!” However, why waste 250MB of hard drive space to make a printout, for which you can make the same sized printout (of better quality because it has NOT been tampered with/interpolated/resampled), from a 20MB TIFF file? And, isn’t 526PPI a little overkill? (see the number details in the image above)

Resizing using XnView72inches43ppi at 101percent

14) JUST FOR KICKS! What if you want to see what the Units will be while keeping the Screen Size at roughly 100% (101% in this case) and making a print at 72-inches? The screen shot above shows what settings you would end up working with to make a 72-inch print. The resolution (Units) of the image is reduced to 43ppi: The resolution falls way below the 150PPI Standard for which we’ve been using as our minimum. In other words, at 43PPI the printout could end up being horrible!

  • DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Try it yourself, take the image file to your printer, have them blow up, and printout a small section of the photograph with settings at 72-inches (longest side), and set the “Units” smaller than 150PPI. If it meets your requirements, then by all means, make the print. If not, however, then try making a smaller print by reducing the “Print Size.”


In my humble opinion, there are limits to the size of a good printout, and it depends on working with a very good TIFF file, setting a minimum PPI ‘Standard’ (minimum at 150PPI), and NOT interpolating/resampling the file – if possible.

This is where the bigger sized Mega Pixels Cameras come in handy – you get bigger sized originals to work with.

Good Luck!

Happy New Year – 2008!

Well, it’s 2008! How was it…ah, I mean 2007? Time for a postmortem, or shall we just let 2007 be? I am so, so positive that 2008 is already great – and it rhymes too! So it’s got to be great!

Just wanting to wish all my readers and visitors to my Photo-Journals, a VERY Happy and Prosperous New Years – Make it Great because no one else will for you! Right!

OK then…Now the photo below (if it shows up…LOLOL). Just as in the previous entry, I said, “give shooting in the rain a try”…so, “give shooting at nighttime a try too.” What’s the worst that can happen? Well, OK, let’s back up the truck…lots could happen, so bring someone you trust to “Watch Yer 6!” That will allow you to concentrate on photographing.

Door & Window at Nighttime, v.1, Jalan Kajang

Be Safe! Have Fun! Enjoy 2008! Door & Window, Exterior Photograph taken at nighttime, along Jalan Kajang, Penang, by Nawfal Nur

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