This photo started out as my infant grandson in the bathtub. It was a cute photo but with one major flaw —his pose did not conform to Islamic standards of modesty. I had to camoflauge things.
Well, six months have passed since my last post. I guess I’m in hibernation from blogging, but only because I delved more deeply into other interests, among them photography.
Following my last post– in which I related my discomfort with the local photography group– I studied their images of that railroad station, and I gained a decent respect for their knowledge and talent. I learned from them, without having to speak a word. Just studying their images taught me so much that I decided to walk with them again.
I not only walked with them again, I actually volunteered to organize one of the walks, which attracted quite a few people and yielded a wonderful variety of images. I met many new people, as each walk attracts people that did not attend the previous walk, and they accepted me as part of the group.
I still learn from them by studying their images, and my own work has improved as a result. I haven’t formed any new friendships, however– perhaps that’s asking too much– but I am eager to continue the activity.
Photography is a passion I couldn’t indulge when I lived in Riyadh. Back in the eighties, photography was considered “haraam”– forbidden!– and may still be considered forbidden by many Muslims. I didn’t dare take pictures of buildings or even landscapes, much less people, and I miss those photos I never took. We didn’t even have cell phones that could take the surreptitious image, and no Interenet on which to post the nonexistent pictures.
Bloggers, however, have taken up the slack, and have enhanced their blogs with lovely images of the places and people of the Middle East. I can only surmise that photography is somewhat allowed these days. Even Flickr offers quite a few groups dedicated to Middle Eastern and Muslim photography. I adore perusing these sights, and I send a silent, “Thank you,” to all people who are now allowed to photograph the scenes I was not allowed to photograph when I lived there.
My bucket list includes another trip to the Middle East, next time with my camera.
July 10, 2010
I’ve done several thousands of creative transformations of ordinary photos, but I never get tired of making them. They live squarely at the center of my metaphorical Riyadh.These days, I am experimenting with combining two or more transformations to make even newer transformations. The following are two creative images I made last year. I don’t even know how they originated, but I’ve recently combined them and played with them to make the image I now use as my blog header.
It won’t last. A few weeks or months from now, I’ll choose another one to use on the header.
From time to time, and by popular request, I will post “before” and “after” images. The mystery of transformation is as enticing as the final image itself, therefore I hesitate to spoil it!
However, you are my friends, and will not think less of me for revealing a sliver of my secret. So, here is a rather straightforward transformation. My grandson was playing “hide and seek” with a blanket, and I shot this photo:
I was pleased with this, and decided to go one step further, and I ended up with an image that seemed to have potential, so I saved the image, and then adjusted it for light, shadow, hue, levels, saturation, etc. I burned and dodged various points, and ended up with this:
I love using dull, ordinary snapshots to transform into stunning, colorful, abstract images. Of course, photo-editing software is a must, but I have learned only a part of what can be done. I have lots more to learn about digital image-making, but it’s fun, and cheap, and I can do it anywhere and anytime, and it serves as an avenue to express my artistic nature.
Some of you have expressed interest in trying your hand at digital image-making. The software is easy to learn, and not expensive (if you buy Photoshop Elements). You’ll need the plug-in called Plugin Gallaxy, and you’ll need a few ordinary snapshots. That’s it! Have at it! And post your images!
Amazing Circles and Other Oddities
Several of my readers, most recently ~W~ and Safiyyah, have asked me how I make my circles and other creative images. Honestly, I do not know. I can tell you how to start, but you must allow the image to take shape of its own accord. You must lose technique in the art. When I finally post an image, I cannot remember the sequence of steps that produced it.
However, with practice, I’m getting better at controlling the technique, choosing filters, effects, and colors to produce remarkable images. Here is how anyone can start:
A good photo editing program is essential. I use Photoshop Elements 6 and Microsoft Digital Imaging Suite.
A base photo is not so important. Any photo will do. A photo with good color and contrast will be easier to transform, but the most interesting images result from poor photos that I would otherwise delete.
The easy way to get started is by making an Amazing Circle using dumpr’s automated technique:
http://www.dumpr.net/. You don’t need any software to use this technique; just plug in your photo.
When you tire of that, use the manual technique found on Flickr’s Amazing Circles group:
The resulting circles are delightful, but you’ll soon tire of them, so then you must plug them into your photo editing software, and subject them to random filters and transformations, until you land on one you’d like to keep. The key here is to continue subjecting the resulting image to repeated filters and transformations, until you have an image that is far removed from its origin.
Then, you must adjust properties such as shadows, lighting, levels, brightness and color, on the Enhance menu of PSE. Then, think up a title and post the image to your Flickr account. That’s all there is to it!
Would you believe, that this:
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