I’ve mentioned my obsession with spirals, so I put a few more on offer here. I admit that a few of these are more circle-within-circles, but when my eye is drawn in further into a circle, that suggests a spiral. Today’s tip: look for graphic shapes in ordinary objects.
In spite of the inordinate amount of time I spend having manicures, pedicures and the like, I don’t particularly enjoy it and spend the time drumming my fingers waiting for the accupressure massage to be finished, instead of enjoying it. So this time, I resolved to make the time fly by, by spending it on photography and blogging.
Manicurists are usually young Vietnamese women who are not fluent in English, often shy with customers, and avoid looking at you, perhaps so you will not engage them in a conversation they cannot follow. This makes it challenging to take their pictures, but by pretending to read email, eventually I was able to get a few pictures, and edit them while waiting for my polish to dry.
So never tell me “I don’t have time to do photography”. Another excuse gone!
I’ve wanted to do a post about Decim8 for a while now. This is a fascinating iPhone app that is fun just to use and play with. You start with a photograph, and apply any number of filters that scramble, enhance, and otherwise mess with the pixels of your picture. Sometime stunning, sometimes ugly or puzzling, you can get mesmerized by trying different combinations of settings.
The image above was created with Decim8. I started with a photo of some fancy paper, taken while wandering around a crafts store, then layered on a picture of a plastic toy dragon, from the same store. Finally, I applied Decim8 to the superimposed image. After about 20 iterations of Decim8, I came up with the above.
Here I show first the un-Decim8-ed image, and the two quick snapshots that I started with. The way I chose them was totally random; just flipping around through my pictures while waiting for an appointment. I chose a background-ish picture, the paper, and for no reason at all, the dragon to go on top. Then I just played with it until I saw this, above, and quickly saved it. And, all together now, you faithful readers: STOPPED EDITING. When it’s done it’s done, so walk away.
Superimposed, before Decim8
The foreground pic
the background pic
I was sitting in my kitchen trying to wake up this morning, and caught sight of a spoon lying on the black granite counter, with the stainless steel refrigerator door in the background. Sometimes I pretend that my eye is a camera and if I see something I like, I mentally say “click” to pretend I’m taking a picture. And I did that here, but then woke up enough to say “I need a REAL picture of this” and picked up the iPhone and snapped this. Amazing as it sounds, this is not touched up or edited AT ALL, other than a crop. No apps, no editing. Some of my best pictures are the ones that are perfect right off the camera.
I noticed after taking the pic that the bottom of the handle of the frig door lines up almost exactly with the line of the counter, so the reflection starts exactly at that point, making a criss-cross affect that was unintentional, but makes it a stronger shot.
Pretend that your eye is a camera, but don’t forget, as I almost did, that you can also pick up your phone and take the picture. You will do a lot of deleting if you do this, but as I’ve said over and over, that’s a good thing. You will, at some point I guarantee, find a gem amongst the chaff.
P.S. I showed this image to a friend, whose comment was “it’s not grungy”. If that’s the worst that someone says about this image, I’m happy.
Another couple of my Friedlander-esque window self-portraits. Reflectivity in all its possible meanings is fodder for creativity.These are a window of a thrift store in Pittsboro, North Carolina. I love these little stores with their worn-out textures, indistinct colors and the sheer randomness of the objects.
I never go inside, because the detritus of human lives seems sad to me. Things that people once valued but are now reduced to little more than junk, desirable chiefly because they can be had for a tiny fraction of what they cost originally. This American pastime of valuing objects BECAUSE they are inexpensive is fascinating. I think I understand it — when someone cannot afford really high-quality things, they buy cheap things. LOTS of cheap things, to make up for their ordinariness.
Makes me sad, but also makes for interesting photography.
I can’t decide if I like this or not. The power tower is nicely geometric, sure, but it looked ordinary, so I added the 1980s print effect, because it looks as though there’s a forest fire in the background. That part is really cool actually. And I like the strong diagonals, which usually lends a stronger focal point to a picture.
But is this a good picture? Or just my overactive imagination running away with me again?
Since 9/11, I’ve wanted to do a photo of a city melting into the air and dissolving. At the time, I lived in a city right outside Boston and there was a big hill I could climb and look out over the city. I did this every day, because for this first time it occurred to me that the city might not always be there, that the cityscape that I loved so much might change suddenly, it wasn’t a constant in the world.
I was still working with film then and spent many hours in the darkroom trying to create an effect of the skyline dissolving into mist, but never got it even close to what I wanted. I’ve never forgotten that vision though, and will work on it with my iPhoneography. This image here is my first attempt at a surreal skyline, based on some pictures of the Longfellow Bridge over the Charles River, looking out a window at the buildings.
This is not what I originally imagined, but it’s about an evolving vision of what cities mean to me, particularly now that I don’t live in one any more.
Sometimes I can’t stop myself. I’ve never walked away from a spiral. Wheels, I like too. Round things. Black and white round things in spirals. Why fight it?
I took a picture of the inside of a ribbed water tumbler. Nice spiral, looks like the Time Tunnel (remember that awful show from the 70s?). Then, superimposed the outline of a dump truck wheel. Wheels within wheels.
This is one of the things I love most about having a blog: it’s a bully pulpit. If it totally expressed my vision, I can post as many variations as I want. If nobody besides me likes it or thinks it’s good, that’s ok too, because it’s not about impressing someone. And I really, really like creating pictures like the one above. Sometimes when I’m editing, I try a setting and instantly know that it’s just right. When I saw this, I pumped my fist and said “yesssss” and immediately saved it and — here’s the key — STOPPED EDITING. Didn’t “just try one more thing”. If it’s right you know it.
I have what is pretty much an iron-clad rule: no iPhones in bed. Beside the fact that it needs to be plugged in at night, using the iPhone is STIMULATING, and makes you WAKE UP more, instead of getting sleepy.
But last night I broke my rule and started playing with an app called “CamWow”, which is a camera app that stretches the subject into all kinds of funhouse mirror shapes. You can point it at your face and make yourself look incredibly funny, with two noses, one eye and a pinhead. Exactly why I thought this would make me sleepy is unknown, but one of my pictures actually had a fascinating spray of rainbow lights shining from the side, which I realized would make an excellent background. Scrolling quickly through my phone’s camera roll, I found this detail pic of a Steve Cote sculpture (see my post “City Tap”).
Superimposing that pic on top of the CamWow radiating lines of light produced a picture that I love. And it was only a few hours of sleep I missed because of it. Now the rule goes back in place.
I went to hear some free live music at a local watering hole and it was so bad that I had to leave. A drunken harmonica player in a loud hawaiian shirt, clapping his hands over his head while singing a Roger Miller song … you get the picture.
So instead, I moved on down the road a few miles to the City Tap, a pub owned by ace jewelry maker and yoga teacher Roberta Marasca and her husband Steve Cote, a sculptor. His work is displayed all over the inside.
From the outside, this is the kind of place that I never go into, for fear of being the yuppy yankee upstart with the designer handbag and the attitude drinking San Pellegrino water, but in fact, persons such as myself mixed with the local clientele without friction. Steve’s sculptures are perfect photographic subjects, all welded faces and twisted bodies. You can see one above in a niche over the bar. The place has such a downtown feel, but if you close your eyes, you hear the good ol’ boys and you might as well be at the Agway Feed Store.
Oh yes, the picture, I almost forgot. So I took lots of pictures, nobody seemed to mind, and started posting right there from my seat at the bar. This one above, did a little saturation, minor crop, and nothing else was needed.