Mortality, a life threatening condition.

MORTALITY

I posted this earlier in the year and didn’t tag the post, so it remained buried in the archives since then. I’m reposting as a response to ‘Versatility’ anxiety (see here and here).

MORTALITY
The sweltering heat at hand
and along a stretch of beach
made hard the shadows
and the imperfections on her skin,
footprints on sand,
far from its reach
and its bathwater flows
erasing all but Adam’s sin
lapping at the edge of land.

The above picture is a combination of photography and digital painting. The text is part of the picture and I have included it in the event you cannot read it in the picture.
Its a comment on modern society. Especially the obsession with physical appearance which we see everywhere today. Films, TV, advertising, its everywhere. The human form is presented, flawless as a classical statue. The feeling of being physically inadequate must haunt the susceptible. Especially the young.
Even though we know that photographs can be ‘Photoshopped’ we subconsciously accept the image as real. I think this media was appropriate for this ‘painting’.

The elements in the picture are:
the beach – where the D-Day scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan was shot (Curracloe, Co. Wexford, Ireland)
the statue – Venus de Milo, even she suffered from the ravages of time
the beach litter – Leonardo’s da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture (Wikipedia).

The computer application used was Photoshop, appropriately.

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Correcting verticals

Duckett's Grove - verticals corrected

When photographing buildings it is sometimes necessary to use a wide angle lens or the wide angle end of a zoom lens. This allows you to include much more of the scene than is possible with a standard focal length. The problem with this is that the verticals are distorted making the building look as if it is falling inwards.

I corrected the verticals in Photoshop using the distort feature in the edit/transform/distort menu. This is a correction which is best done ‘by eye’. Stretching horizontally of the upper parts of the photo alone appears to lower the height of the building so stretching upwards as well will give a more natural look. Leaving a little ‘leaning’ in the building also looks more natural because we expect this in a photo. Before the arrival of Photoshop a  special camera with a lens on a bellows was used to correct verticals. This was done by tilting the lens but not the camera body so the correction was ‘in camera’.

Photo before correction

The building is what is left of Duckett’ Grove. After extensive and sensitive restoration, by Carlow County Council, the revived walled gardens and wooded pleasure grounds are now open to the public.

In his book A Guide to Irish Country Houses Mark Bence-Jones describes Duckett’s Grove as a “square house of two and three storeys, transformed into a spectacular castellated Gothic fantasy by Thomas A. Cobden, of Carlow, for J.D. Duckett 1830. Numerous towers and turrets, round, square and octagonal. The walls enlivened with oriels and many canopied niches sheltering statues; more statues and busts in niches along the battlemented wall joining the house to a massive feudal yard gateway. The house was burnt in 1933 and is now a ruin”.

http://www.carlowtourism.com/userfiles/file/Duckett’s%20Grove%20brochure%20final.pdf

Cinerama

Do you remember the experiment, about 40 years ago, in cinematic projection which was called Cinerama. The recent efforts to introduce 3D in cinemas reminded me of this. Cinerama involved projecting the movie on a wide curved screen. 3 projectors were used, side by side, to produce the effect. Depending on where you were sitting in the cinema your entire vision was filled with the screen image. This, of course, was the problem – where you were sitting. Very few of those in the cinema got the full effect. If you were to the side of centre the screen was distorted. Why somebody didn’t think of this before the millions were spent converting cinemas and producing films for same, is a mystery. Of course the whole project was abandoned after a few years. I wonder will the same happen with 3D.

We were in Glenbeigh, a few years ago, looking north across the bay towards the Dingle Peninsula. The vastness of the scene reminded me of a Cinerama scene. Of course I took loads of photos but none captured the scene the way I would have liked. It needed a Cinerama treatment. The above photo was the result of my ‘experiment’ (Click on the photo to enlarge it).

The original photo

This was the original photo with a Photoshop ‘Watercolour’ filter applied. By sampling the image I painted in the extra width rather than stretching the scene. When printed at about 4 feet wide it looks good as the ‘curved’ effect gives the feeling of been in the scene.

(Printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 9600 on matt paper)

The Lighthouse and the Sea

2 mediocre photos were used to produce this digital painting. The application used was Photoshop. I was thinking about the lighthouse keepers and the loneliness of their lives usually in isolated places and separated from their families and friends. The ferocity of the sea and the power of nature is very much in the news lately as these forces destroy the works of men.

The text which runs around the edge of the painting is as follows:

The howling gale
has forced the sea birds
down upon the tower
lonely and windswept
cylindrical with power
full of watchful nights
and card playing.

Nature is shown as contorted and angry, twisted into monstrous shapes while the Lighthouse is rigid, hard and resilient.

The photos used.

Mortality, a life threatening condition.

MORTALITY

MORTALITY

The sweltering heat at hand
and along a stretch of beach
made hard the shadows
and the imperfections on her skin,
footprints on sand,
far from its reach
and its bathwater flows
erasing all but Adam’s sin
lapping at the edge of land.

The above picture is a combination of photography and digital painting. The text is part of the picture and I have included it in the event you cannot read it in the picture.
Its a comment on modern society. Especially the obsession with physical appearance which we see everywhere today. Films, TV, advertising, its everywhere. The human form is presented, flawless as a classical statue. The feeling of being physically inadequate must haunt the susceptible. Especially the young.
Even though we know that photographs can be ‘Photoshopped’ we subconsciously accept the image as real. I think this media was appropriate for this ‘painting’.

The elements in the picture are:
the beach – where the D-Day scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan was shot (Curracloe, Co. Wexford, Ireland)
the statue – Venus de Milo, even she suffered from the ravages of time
the beach litter – Leonardo’s da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) described the human figure as being the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture (Wikipedia).

The computer application used was Photoshop, appropriately.

The under / over exposure problems in photos

The eye is a marvelous piece of equipment. Working away making adjustments to the image in front of us without us even been aware of it. When we look at a sunset, with the naked eye, we see all parts of the scene in most cases. The iris closes when we look at the setting sun and clouds allowing us to appreciate the fantastic colours. The iris then opens when we lower our gaze and we see the details of the landscape.

Yet the limitations of photography over the last 100 years has established the representation of sunsets in photographs and even paintings as silhouettes against a brilliantly lit sky. We accept it without question.

Digital photography can change all this. We can now represent a sunset in a picture as we would see it in real life. It means a bit of work afterwards in the computer but its well within the scope of the amateur photographer.

Sunset, Inis Oir (the smallest of the Aran Islands off the coast of County Galway).
When photographing a scene which has a very bright part and a very dark part the camera’s automatic exposure control will compromise. For example, the sky will be slightly overexposed and the ground underexposed. If the photo is opened in Photoshop the ‘Highlight/Shadow’ control can correct this and it does a great job. But it can have the ‘digitally altered’ look which is OK most of the time and I suppose is a good ‘quick fix’.

This photo had a great sky which was ‘burnt out’ when I adjusted the camera’s exposure to show the details in the foreground. When I reduced the exposure to correctly expose the sky the ground was a black featureless mass.

The solution was to take 2 photos at almost the same time. One to correctly expose the sky and the other to correctly expose the ground. Take the 2 correctly exposed bits and fit them together. Simple, if  you have Photoshop or similar. Happily, there are loads of inexpensive applications available nowadays, because of the popularity of digital photography, that are capable of doing this.

If you give it a try, remember, as you will be a little out repositioning the scene after you adjust for the second shot take more of the scene than you want at the start (wider lens setting) with the intension of cropping back when finished.

Sandwich the 2 photos in Photoshop with the white sky photo on top. You can easily select this white sky bit with the magic wand tool. Delete the sky. The sky in the under photo will now be seen. Slide the upper photo around till the horizons match up. A little bit of fiddling around the edges might be needed.

P.S. Some of the more sophisticated cameras have a feature called ‘bracketing’. This allows you to specify a range of photos each side of the ‘correct exposure’. With this setting enabled, as you press the shutter the camera takes the photo at the ‘correct exposure’, then will continue to take photos at progressively darker and lighter exposures. Depending on your settings and camera you could have 3, 5 or 7 photos going from light to dark. In many cases this range is sufficient to allow you to have the best of 2 of these photos. The advantage of this is it all happens in 1 or 2 seconds without you having to made adjustments between the shots.