Category Archives: Techniques

A World in a Drop of Water

I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine : I have a Pinterest board dedicated to Water Drops. Seriously, I do. I find water photography fascinating, particularly Macro and Liquid Splash photos. With Macro water drop photography, you can often really see an entire World reflected in just that one drop of clear, sparkling water. I really admire photographers who are able to capture that drop at precisely the right moment, or find that perfect necklace of spider’s web dew, or present a perfect flower within a tiny raindrop.

The other day I was looking through my collection of Pins, and I’ve decided to share with you some of my favourite Water Drop Pins. I stand in awe of the many superlative Macro photographers out there, as reflected by the following images; some of the photos are not Macros, instead I’ve chosen them for their sense of otherworldly beauty, or for their beautiful Zen stillness. I love being a Pinterest curator!

Here are some of my favourite water drops (courtesy of Pinterest and all credits to the photographers, naturally):
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Artist Inspiration : Eiko Jones

I came across this startling image whilst browsing Pinterest the other day, and immediately went “Whoa! What on earth is that?” Well, not exactly in those words, lol, but if you see the image yourself, you’ll know why it got that reaction from me.

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It’s of tadpoles swimming underwater through water lily stalks in Cedar Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada. The photographer extraordinaire is Eiko Jones. National Geographic Magazine featured this shot in its “Photo of the Day” page online on January 2, 2013, and again in its Editor’s Choice section in its magazine, in April 2013.

Check out Eiko’s photography website for more information about his work.  He specialises in predominantly underwater photography, although he does occasionally undertake above water work too.

http://www.eikojonesphotography.com

More photos of Eiko’s superb work here, courtesy of Google Images and of course copyrighted to Eiko Jones:

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Artist Inspiration : Ruud Van Empel

Chances are you’ve already seen this wonderfully iconic piece of photographic art:

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I’ll bet anything that you then wondered whether it’s a real photo, or whether it’s the result of meticulous Photoshopping? Well, wonder no more. This is indeed a digitally manipulated photo collage by Dutch artist Ruud Van Empel, whose surrealistic yet entirely plausible photographs straddle the genre between photography and art. A real genre-bender.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruud_van_Empel

http://www.ruudvanempel.nl

The Wikipedia entry on Ruud describes his photographic techniques thus:

“Van Empel’s working method is a complex one. He photographs 4 or 5 professional models in his studio and takes many detailed photographs of leaves, flowers, plants and animals. The models pictures are mixed with these images using the Photoshop program and with clothes photographed separately on a tailor’s dummy. In this way he creates new images of mainly children, in black and white, set in a paradisiacal environment”.

The image above is titled “Fern Forest in Jamaica”. Why this is so, I’m not sure, because those are not ferns. Regardless, this is surely one of the most famous “Is it a photo or a painting?” images around.

I love the crystal-clear clarity and sharpness of Ruud’s images, the almost illustrative look that one might perhaps see in a fantasy comic book, the brilliant contrast between the colours he uses. You know the people are real, yet Ruud has managed to make them look surreal and out-of-this-world. Such is his mastery of his medium, and his genius.

Here are more examples of Ruud’s work, taken from Google Images:

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A couple of examples showing Ruud’s images in situ, just to give you a sense of scale:

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And finally, a photo of the great man himself:

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Pixite’s New Apps : MATTER and UNION

I wrote about 2 of Pixite’s other Apps, FRAGMENT and TANGENT, previously here. Fragment has now been released on the Android market, hurray, but the others are still only available on iOS. Hopefully they’ll follow Fragment onto the Android platform soon.

Rather than creating hyperlinks to Pixite’s Apps, here is the link to Pixite LLC‘s website itself, where you can see ALL of their Apps.

Pixite’s 2 newest additions to their stable of Apps are MATTER and UNION. Both Apps contain all manner of blending, juxtaposing and layering of objects, shapes, colours, textures.

Each of Pixite’s 4 Apps I’ve mentioned above have a facility for transferring your edited images from one App to another easily. Therefore you’ll be able to process your image in one App, move it over to another whilst in-App, process that, then transfer it back to the first App or even to a third App. Very nifty!

The User Interface of all 4 Apps is pretty uniform and intuitive. I was so excited about trying out MATTER and UNION that I didn’t bother to read the instructions or watch any video tutorials. I jumped right in and had a good play. So I won’t tell you what each button does on the Apps, or how to tweak the effects. The fun lies in making it your own hands-on experience. Go play!

Here are some of my experiments. Some were done purely using MATTER, others purely with UNION, but most of them were the product of both Apps. I’ll be experimenting more with these 2 Apps as well as the older 2, so watch this space! ;)

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Fun with FRAGMENT and TANGENT

Fragment and Tangent by the same App developer Pixite, are 2 iOS-only (Apple) Apps that I have on my iPad2. My Samsung Galaxy S4 is my workhorse for artistic creativity. But good what I call “Geometrical Art” Apps are hard to find on the Google Play Store. Fragment and Tangent are 2 of the best in their class. And so sometimes, when I Just have to have some aspect of geometry in my artwork, I turn to my iPad2.

When I do, it’s usually for hour-long sessions, as I must make the most of my time on my iPad2. So I generally use these “random generator” Apps to generate dozens of random images, which I afterwards transfer to my S4 for future use. Did I say already that I love Randomness? :D

Anyhow, this session was particularly fruitful. I’d already got a folder of previously randomly generated images using 2 more of my favourite iOS Apps, AddLib S and AddLib U. So this time, all I had to do was run some of them through Fragment and Tangent.

Et voila! Instant gratification! These are just a few of the images I generated. They will be used in conjunction with other Apps on my S4, to create new pieces of artwork.

Enjoy!

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ADDENDUM:
As of 23rd August 2014, the App “Fragment” is now available on Android. Yay, Happy Days! Also, Pixite have a couple more new Apps that I’m interested in, namely “Union” and “Matter”. I am just playing with these 2 on my iPad2 now, I’ll write about them next.

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Carpe Diem

Well, actually, no. Take away the last letters of each word in the title above, and you’ll have a fair idea of what I’m talking about.

We have about 17 Japanese Koi (or carp) and goldfish in a large, square pond out the back of our house. I say 17 because they never stay still long enough for me to do a proper headcount.

Make that 16.

I found one this morning, not swimming like its friends, but just floating and occasionally zipping out of the water all aflutter, before sinking back into the water. Most strange. I dosed the water with green multi-ailment liquid, added tap water conditioner, algicide, aquarium salt, cleaned out the sponge filter, topped up the pond with fresh water. I even held the poor fish in my hands and willed it to get better.

All to no avail. The poor thing carried on for half an hour more, with its friends gathering round and nudging it, either to encourage it to rally round, or to say good bye. It was quite touching watching them. I left it in the pond for 15 minutes more, in case it was just playing dead.

When I was truly convinced it was dead, I went into the house to get a sheet of butcher paper to wrap it in (it was a big fish, about 15 inches long). It was then I got the idea of preserving the memory of the fish on paper. It was, after all, the largest fish in our pond, and one of my favourites. :'(

Now, my cousin HM loves to fish, and he’s had some very good results with the art of Gyotaku, or fish rubbing. In fact, I wrote about him not too long ago, here.

So I decided I’d follow my cousin’s example and do my own Gyotaku with my carp before burying it. It would be a way of remembering it, and honouring it in a manner of speaking. One last dance together.

And here is how we did it.

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I quickly learnt that it’s better and easier to rub the paper over the fish, instead of placing the fish on the paper. My cousin HM used Japanese handmade rice paper, but all I had was butcher paper. My hands got stained with the food dye because I was handling the fish rather than the paper at first.
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(Anyone want to read my palms? Go ahead! 😄)

My studio is awash with fish! Some came out good, others too watery to capture much detail. Below are some of the clearer imprints. Not as good as my cousin’s, but they will serve as memorials to my fish.

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Carpe Diem!

P/S: Due to one reader’s rather insensitive remarks to me, about the fish ending up all covered in “blicky food colouring” and “smashed up in butcher paper” to become “fish fertiliser for roses”, I think I should explain what happened to my fish friend afterwards. I washed all the food dye off, then wrapped it in a fresh sheet of butcher paper. Then I dug a hole in the plant trough by our swimming pool and buried it there. I put an old log and a pot of hen & chicks over the grave, to prevent any cats from getting at it. It’s right next to Valiant, my baby Japanese quail with splayed legs that I tried to help but that drowned in its water bowl back in November last year.

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My Favourite Tangles

A little while ago, in my Artist Inspiration series, I wrote about a Zentangle artist, DiAnne Ferrer.

If you’re not familiar with the Art of Zentangle, take a look at this webpage which explains what it is, how it started, and how to get started in it yourself.

I’ve read discussions on several Art Forums debating whether Zentangles are considered an Art form or not. To me, there is no need to even consider the question. Of course it is an Art form. It’s still in its infancy, and many established artists may feel threatened by it, and that is only natural, for it’s only human to fear Change.

A similar type of discussion was held only a few years ago, about whether mobile photography should be considered “real” photography, or simply as trick photography for partygoers or for fun.

Today’s post is simply to showcase my favourite Zentangles, that I’ve come across on my travels on Google Images. It just goes to prove how very popular Zentangle is and how many excellent exponents of it there are. Zentangles come in a vast array of variety, from the very simple yet effective to the very complex.

All credit goes to the original Zentangle artists, of which there are too many to name. Enjoy!

And, if you enjoyed looking at Zentangles, why ever not give it a whirl yourself? ;)

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Oracle Cards

Today’s post is about Oracle Cards. Some of you may be religious and consider them the devil’s work; I would ask that everyone please read this post with an open mind. The angle I’m coming from here is not a religious one, but a mixture of spirituality, affirmation and artistic creativity.

Strangely enough, Wikipedia does not have an entry for Oracle Cards. But I found one that doesn’t self-promote or advertise products, which a lot of other sites do.

From e-How:
Oracle cards are types of cards that when used together form a card deck that provides individuals with answers to their innermost questions. These questions and answers are generally prophetic in nature and are thought to provide a glimpse or outlook into the future. An individual can buy and use her own set of cards for gathering insight, or may choose to seek the services of a psychic or medium who professionally reads oracle cards.

Oracle Card Meanings

You can find many types of oracle card decks. There are also many types of oracle cards within each deck. Each of these cards has its own meaning. As an example, “Amethyst” is a card found in the Crystal oracle deck. When this card is selected in a reading, you are being told to embrace your “shadow side.” This means that you must learn to love all parts of yourself. By comparison, the “Tiger” card in the Creature Teacher oracle deck suggests that an individual learn to face all fears head on.

History

Although you may think the use of oracle cards for divination is relatively new, it might surprise you to learn that they have been in existence for over 200 years. One of the most popular decks of oracle cards is the Lenormand Oracle cards. These cards are named after famed fortuneteller Madame Marie Lenormand. While there is no certainty as to whether she created the very first oracle deck or not, she is noted as having devised her own deck of oracle cards to give readings. Today, while still not as well known as tarot cards, the cards bearing her name continue to remain popular in certain parts of Europe.

Oracle versus Tarot

While the decks of tarot cards were originally created for playing games, the oracle card was created as more of an inspirational tool. Unlike tarot cards that have the darker images of the “Hanged Man” and “Death,” oracle cards typically stick with more positive images and many decks are based on angels or healing themes. There are 78 cards in tarot decks; however, the number of cards in an oracle deck can vary from about 44 cards to as high as 55 or more, since each card deck is unique.

Oracle Card Readings

The reading of oracle cards is quite similar to that of tarot cards. The person performing the reading focuses on the question at hand before shuffling the deck of cards. The card reader then selects a card and notes any impressions that are immediately apparent when she sees the card. Additional cards are then chosen as needed. Each card offers insight into the answer to the original question. The number of cards chosen generally depends on the reader and the type of spread she prefers. Some readers find that three cards can offer a past, present, future explanation, while other card readers may prefer 12 or more cards pulled out of the deck. These cards are then placed in a card spread for a more detailed reading.

In my personal photographic art projects, I like to do a Series of 100 images. Or at least 50. (I like round numbers). My first big project was my Madhatter’s Teaparty project, which I have placed under license with Kess InHouse now. My 2nd big project, and an ongoing one, is the 100 Butterflies project, of which I’ve done 45.

Most recently, due to a personal spiritual awakening in my life, I’ve decided to embark on another project, that of creating my own Oracle Card deck. I figure I have the artistic means to create the artwork, literally at my fingertips, so why not explore the spiritual world too. I won’t pretend to know much about clairvoyancy or psychic powers, but I do know I can at least write positive sayings or affirmations to go with the cards I create. Even “negative” cards will have a positive spin on it.

So that is my plan.

I’ve been experimenting with the layout and themes for my Oracle Cards, using Apps like PicsArt and Pixlr Express. The first one I did was to accompany a Haiku “The Lesson” I wrote, which I posted up a few days ago. That was just an image, without any text on it. It was titled “As Above, So Below”.
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The feedback I’ve received from friends has been very encouraging.

So I created another image, this time with text on it.
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And here is another one.
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And a third.

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I like how the latter 3 turned out, and I think that’s the way I’ll be going with this project.

I’m not sure yet about the text or explanatory notes to accompany my cards, but I’m fairly certain that when the time is right, the words will flow. :)

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Take One Old Garden Bench

Take one old garden bench.
Add one found bookcase, minus the shelves.
Add 30 litres of potting compost. Scrounge around the house and gather together various succulent plants and what not.
Plant in bookcase planter.
Add smooth pebbles from old pond. Tamp down.
Water with watering can.
Add various plastic toy animals.
Stand back and admire.
Enjoy!

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Artist Inspiration : Dušan Beňo

Dušan Beňo is an amazing Slovakian photographer specialising in Macros of insects. Enter his microcosmos here.

Dušan’s photographic skills are not limited to Macros; he is also a dab hand at human portraits, animals and flowers, as evidenced on his site.

Here is what I managed to glean about Dušan, from various searches online:

He is a student of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.  He’s 27 years old and has been shooting and specializing in macro for over 7 years. Dušan loves the details of his insect subjects and finds their bright colours and characteristics charming. His favourite camera is the Canon MP-E, which he considers the best universal lens for macro shooting.

Here are some examples of Dušan’s magnificent insect Macros:
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Here’s a photo of Dušan, the photographer, himself. Keep up the wonderful work!

Dusan Beno

I also found a YouTube video by Dušan himself which showcases his wonderful insect Macros: