From the sky.
This was my shot of the day:
And here’s a bunch of other photos. It was absolutely magical (find more blithering about it at that first link).
Hella-cold, but I really kind of wish I’d had my running gear with me.
Ramblings (and music) of a guitar-playing shrink
Here’s the photo that I almost chose as my photo of the day today. A close-up of a young king parrot won me over in the end (and will soon be online at my blipfoto journal), but I really like this wee moment with what I’m guessing is (as titled) a mother and son – given that its a female and an immature male.
Artists are bad enough. Art critics – and art collectors – are worse. Andreas Gursky just had a photograph sold for $4.3 million.
Oh, and this is the photograph:
I could whine about how aesthetically bland and completely devoid of meaning or interest it is (indeed I have done so), but that’s not what I’m going to do today.
I could blither on about idiots with more money than sense buying crap because some other nong tells them it’ll be arty (indeed again, I have done so), but that’s not my purpose today.
Today I’m going to whinge about art critics. The piece that really got me annoyed was this piece of navel-gazing tripe. These twits simply make up crap in order to sound cleverer than the rest of us, and justify their positions. I know, because I’ve done it.
… In. High. School.
I still remember well: we had to do a “creative response” to the poetry of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Most of the class were planning frakking dioramas and posters and crap. Though I liked the poetry – especially Sexton’s – I was totally turned off by the assignment. So what did I do? I wrote and recorded a piece of music.
First, I threw together a bunch of riffs and fragments I had lying around in my head, in whatever order seemed to work. Then I went to my guitar teacher,s house and recorded them. While there, I played around with his guitar synth, and found some cool patches (a koto, a breathy flute thing, a weird chaotic mess of crashes and bangs and thumps…) and added those in. Just because.
Then, someone pointed out, or I realised, that I would have to link the music to the assignment for which I had supposedly produced it. So…
The opening section with its unconventional and dissonant harmony recalls the challenging – and at first read, abrasive – nature of Sexton’s and Plath’s poetry.
The second section is more melodic, demonstrating the beauty that can be found in their poetry, but its 7/8 time signature recognises that even then their work is unconventional. I probably said the descant lines of the koto and flute reflect the hidden meanings or something.
Following that the heavy, distorted, dissonant riff represents again the aggressive and challenging – and yes, unconventional – nature of some of their work. It then goes into a melodic harmony line which reflects the many-layered meanings in their poetry.
The final section, dissolving into the chaotic crashing and banging, without discernible rhythm or sustained melody, reflects the apparent chaos and aggression, buts fades out leaving a final haunting note on the guitar echoing the final beauty and sadness of these poets’ work.
I threw together a bunch of disconnected musical fragments, added in synth bits when I stumbled across a patch I thought was cool, and then made up some complete crap about it.
And got an A+.
Because the teacher could “clearly see…” how I had represented the blah de blah blah…
Art critics do the same damn thing – except I suspect many of them have actually bought into their own bullshit, and actually believe it. And then you get artistes who go around spouting all the same crap – that’s of course how they get critics to say “wonderful, daaaahhhhhling”, and sell their work for exorbitant amounts of money.
Bollocks to that. My mother has a simple criterion for whether she likes a bit of music: does it make you want to dance? Broadened a bit, and thinking about the likely origins and purpose of music, I think that makes a lot of sense. At least music should make you feel “moved” – physically and/or emotionally.
Similarly the visual arts: it either looks good, and connects with you, or it doesn’t. Gursky’s photo looks like utter crap to me, but I don’t feel the need to go into it in any more depth. It’s art, and I like it or I don’t. In this case I don’t; then I move on.
I’m not arguing against thoughtful photography (or any other art). Of course we should be mindful of what we are doing and why, and be thoughtful about our composition. But all of this navel gazing arse gets on my nerves.
Just go and create. Have fun. Make nice things. Share them with others. Have more fun.
I thought, since I’ve used it pretty much every single day since I got it, and since I would count it one of the absolutely indispensable apps on my iPad, that I should probably write a “sort of review” of Filterstorm (I now have the Pro version, but most of what I’ll be saying applies equally to Filterstorm 3). I say “sort of review” because I expected (correctly, it has turned out) that I would simply blither on about my experience of Filterstorm.
As you might have noticed, I post a daily photo on Blipfoto, and have done so for well over a year – and for two months before that I was posting a daily photo to Flickr (I’m setting about adding those two months’ photos to my archive on Blipfoto, but 60 photos, uploaded individually, will take me a few hours ).
Anyway, for the first wee while I was stuck with mostly my iPhone, and that led me to exploring the various camera apps and filter-based editors. I mostly used Camera+ both to take and to edit photos. I dabbled in the adjustments offered by iPhoto with some of the photos I took with my wife’s FinePix compact, but that was basically it – even after I got my Lumix G10.
Then, earlier this year, I got my iPad2.
I then set about looking at the photography applications available for the iPad. Photoshop Express, despite the association by name, was disappointing, though it remains on my iPad for those occasions when all I want to do is crop a screenshot.
I used Camerabag a lot. This is filter/preset-based, like the apps I had been using on my iPhone. There are some very cool filters, but it’s quite limited – and I’m not sure if it handles high-resolution images, or image metadata.
Photogene was one I had used on my iPhone, and I found that the new iPad version was great. It has some great presets, but also allows some excellent manual adjustments. In fact it led me into the world of curves adjustments – at first by simple blind experimentation, en by reading about curves and trying to apply what I had read.
Then … Dun dun duunnnnnnnnn… I found Filterstorm. I forget how, actually, but I’m really extremely glad I did. I now have the Pro version (for two reasons: it has its own in-app photo library; and more importantly for me, you can use iTunes file sharing to import full-resolution photos from your computer to edit in Filterstorm), but the editing side of things is identical (except batch editing in Filterstorm Pro only), and that’s what I’ll focus on.
At first I found myself a little intimidated or perplexed by Filterstorm, and kept going back to Photogene. If memory serves, FS3 improved that substantially over FS2. Unfortunately, memory does not serve adequately to describe what I found perplexing – though as I think about it now, and open Photogene for a look, the sheer wealth of options and adjustments in Filterstorm might have had something to do with it. So, not really a bad thing.
Again at first, I had trouble getting as good results with Filterstorm’s curves as with Photogene’s (just what I was used to, I guess), but after more practice – and more reading – it started to fall into place. One of the first Filterstorm-edited images I posted was this evening shot, where I used its masking ability (though I didn’t know that’s what it was) to selectively colour the mirrored windows (and shopping bags):
This next photo marks when, for me, Filterstorm really came into its own, as this was the point I discovered its masking abilities:
Instead of just cropping, sharpening, and adjusting contrast and/or curves, I found I could sharpen just the lorikeet, and I could apply one curves adjustment to the lorikeet and another, completely different one (even adjusting the RGB curve of one and luminance of another, for example) to the background. From that point I was utterly hooked. To slightly darken the background without darkening a person in the foreground, or to make everything more contrasty but keep a face looking soft, was just fabulous. To darken a sky in an evening scene in order to bring out its drama, while keeping the darker foreground objects visible instead of silhouetted …
… made me extremely happy.
Since then, I’d say the majority of my posted photos, and many that I haven’t posted, have gone through Filterstorm. Mostly I’ve made pretty subtle adjustments, but sometimes something more obvious like selective colouring.
For the most part, I’ve painted on the masks with my finger, or more recently a stylus. There are other masking options though, and the colour match one was absolutely brilliant in this pic of the Moon, where I was completely unable, despite a lot of trying and experimenting, to modify the luminance curve on the Moon without giving it a horrible false edge with the sky, leaving it looking superimposed. Eventually I tried the colour match tool, and instantly I got this:
The latest thing that’s grabbing my attention is black and white conversions. Surely one just reduces the saturation, right? Ohhhhhh no. That often gives a greyish photo rather lacking in drama. Filterstorm’s B&W conversion confused me for ages, because it has sliders for red, green, and blue. That seemed to me contradictory – it being a B&W conversion we were doing. Once again, reading saved the day. I found that what it was doing was akin to a B&W photographer using a coloured filter on their lens. Photos accompanying the explanations I found, made it quite clear the different looks that could result from changing those colours (and of course digitally one is not limited to just one filter, but can mix and match different amounts of them).
Most recently, I got Snapseed on my iPad. Because it was free at the time. After I found out that it was by Nik Software (the company that does Silver Efex), I decided to have a closer look … well, any look, to be honest … at it. While it is more preset-based than I’ve got used to, it does some lovely B&W conversions. One in particular really grabbed me, and when applied to some pics of my children gave a result very like the look I have admired in some B&W portraits.
I didn’t like to abandon Filterstorm and more to the point, found that Snapseed halves my file resolution and strips out the exif data – so its not the most useful editor in the world for me. However, what was useful, was trying to duplicate in Filterstorm the results of that Snapseed preset I liked so much. I thought, after a lot of tweaking of the RGB filters, and some contrast, that I had it. However, after applying those adjustments (that I saved as an automation in Filterstorm) to another photo and comparing the result (middle image in the triptych below) with that from Snapseed, I did not. Cue further tweaking, resulting in the right hand image in the triptych, as well as much happiness, as I now think that I’ve cracked it.
So although I’m not big on preset-based apps … I’ve just gone and created a preset (automation, in Filterstorm). In Filterstorm you can do that by a long press on an image you’ve adjusted to your liking. This brings up the option to save everything you did to that photo as an automation – so you can then apply it to other photos.
Anyway, the main point is that Filterstorm, for a few dollars, can
do be used to do absolutely amazing things to photographs. While nothing is going to make a terrible photo into a great one, there’s a lot that can be done to enhance a photo, to make it more like what one saw either in reality, or with the mind’s eye. So far I’ve not run into anything much that I’ve wanted to do, but been unable to do in Filterstorm (except for rescuing totally bollixed photos).
The other thing to say is that the developer is responsive and quick. When iOS 5 came out, Filterstorm could no longer see the exif data in my photos, and there was no exif in the photos I saved from Filterstorm. I sent the developer one tweet. He replied, and within a few days there was an update in the App Store that fixed the issue.
Oh, and it seems layers are a planned inclusion for the next version (due soonish, apparently), so I’ll have more to learn again.
I had a nice surprise today, spying a few lorikeets having a nibble in some trees as I was walking between the emergency department and outpatients. While I didn’t have my Lumix, I have taken to carrying my wife’s Fuji FinePix compact in my jacket pocket, so I took a few photos. My favourite was the one I put on Blipfoto: of an apparent lovers’ tiff or at least on one side
But there were number of others I also really liked, so I thought I’d post them here.
There’s something about the outstretched wing here that I really like:
I took a few shots of this little one – it didn’t seem particularly bothered by me:
Lots of motion blur, but I still think this looks quite cool:
And the last shot I got, as they all left: