Image Transformation

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.

Copy (42) of Copy of Italy 2004 007_edited-2


Tagged: Bedroom Art

Tagged: Bedroom Art

imuslim tagged me:

Here are my bedroom shots, but I must confess, the photos look better than the real thing!

These peacock feathers came from a cousin who keeps peacocks and llamas on her farm. I’ve always loved these feathers, maybe because they showcase my two favorite colors, “peacock” blue and emerald green.


This plant stays in the house over winter, and I nurse it along, though it does not like staying inside. In two months I’ll be able to put it outside.


This lamp is next to my bed. What you do not see is a messy pile of books on the table. The object hanging from the lamp is a wooden shoe horn that belonged to my father. It seems to belong there; I haven’t moved it since my father died, and I actually use it to help me slip on new shoes.


This is my bedroom door. I close it at night, and I can see the clock from my bed. It makes a lot of tick-tock noise, but I don’t mind. I love the Arabic numbers. I brought this clock, and seven others (which I distributed to siblings) from Saudi Arabia.


Well, now I have the pleasure of tagging a few other people, and they are:

Hning, who might want to try picture taking as a viable alternative to writing, when she feels the need to “to say something”:

Susie, though she probably has better photos to take, of sculptures, sandstorms, and life on the streets of Jeddah,

Carol, though there’s a good chance she doesn’t have time for the frivolities of bedroom art,

and Aafke, from whom I expect the most charming, engaging photos of all!),

The rules are simple:
* Post one or more photos that were taken from within your own bedroom. The more interesting and artistic, the better!
* Then tag at least three others to do the same.
* Don’t forget to link back to the person who tagged you.

Amazing Circles and Other Oddities

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: 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:


became this:IMG_1221_edited-1

became this:IMG_1221_edited-6

became this:IMG_1221_edited-8 ?

Days at the Lake

Days at the Lake

The lake environment is unlike anything one sees in the Middle East, except perhaps for the tawny ridges of sand at the shoreline. Here in the American Mid-West, hundreds of lakes and trees and wildlife characterize the northern areas of the states bordering Canada, and people go there for back-to-nature vacations.

Thirty years ago, the cottages were small and square, without air-conditioning, TV, or even telephone. Now, full size homes sit where some of the old cottages housed vacationers. Many residents live there year round, and a decent size city has grown up around a central tourist district. My family’s place is located half an hour’s drive from the city, on a tiny peninsula bounded by two large lakes.

We got no publicity whatsoever for the tornado damage. We’re too small! We feel insulted. Well, nature offers many wonders, most of which are more attractive than downed trees, so I’d like to share some of it with you here.

This is my view of the lovely shore, with its sand and plants and rippling water. I never saw the perfection of water lilies until I started photographing them.

I spent most of my time taking pictures, and playing with Photoshop Elements. I brought an instruction book with me, a thick manual on how to use Elements. It’s a big program; I can’t imagine using the full version of Photoshop!

Shoreline Lily PadsThe shore at our place is shallow and full of of plants. Mom alerted me that the lilies had opened; this lily is the most photographed flower on the entire lake, I am sure!

  Cottage, Morning Around the House 056_edited-3   1     

  Cottage, Morning Around the House 053_edited-2 2        Cottage, Morning Around the House 058_edited-2 3

I couldn’t decide which lily photo to post, so I posted the best of the two dozen. Which one do you like best? I’ve numbered them.

I was surprised to discover large, live snails swaying back and forth with the movement of the water.

   Cottage, Morning Around the House 057_edited-2 4       Cottage, Morning Around the House 066_edited-2 

Now that the deck is not available, we found another lovely place to sit– in the shade of this huge evergreen tree, overlooking the lake.  We never considered sitting there before, but I must admit I like it better than the deck. That’s the surprise behind unfortunate events– you sometimes discover new delights.

 Cottage, Morning Around the House 001_edited-1     Cottage, Morning Around the House 054_edited-2 5

The green moss grows in a dense patch along the shore, between the sandy land and the watery grasses. It feels soft under bare feet. The original photograph called for playfulness; the uniform mass of moss seemed boring.

                       Cottage, Morning Around the House 002_edited-10                    Cottage, Morning Around the House 059_edited-2  6

I don’t know where this reddish color came from– probably a reflection of the sun off the sandy bottom. I love to discover new perspectives, unexpected colors, and remarkable shapes that stand out in photos. Now, after working with these photos, I can go back and view the lake with a more appreciative eye, and a greater sense of thankfulness for Allah’s creation.

Tornado– Up Close and Personal

 Tornado– Up  Close and Personal

Our neighborhood looked like a junk yard, with trees and branches strewn about, splinters poking up at odd angles. stones and leaves and underbrush underfoot and across the roads. These are just a few of the hundred photos I took, all on and around our property:

   Copy of Transfered from Compaq 079IMG_0561Copy of Transfered from Compaq 075

   Transfered from Compaq 086

Electrical power lines that had fallen still lay mangled where they fell. The ground bore tire prints of a bulldozer that had entered and retreated, entered and retreated. Huge cylinders of tree trunks that had already been cut lay next to each other, moved just off the road so that cars could pass.  The scent of raw wood hung everywhere.   Tornado and Dawn on Lake Shish 018

We did not recognize our own road, except by our mangled mailbox on the corner:   IMG_0520 Copy of Transfered from Compaq 081

Our property suffered less damage than the dozen other properties along our little penninsula. An immense oak tree had fallen on our deck, the deck my father built eighteen years ago. Another  tree dug into  the edge of the garage roof. Our pier was intact and only our boat cover was damaged. The second picture (of the house) was taken from the pier.

 Tornado and Dawn on Lake Shish 003 Transfered from Compaq 098

Most of our neighbors had trees through roofs, boats overturned or missing, and/or piers ripped out of the shore. 

Some people had been sleeping when the trees fell on their houses, and they slept through it! Some people had awakened, terrified, and  listened to trees falling around them. The sound was like “a barrage of gunshots.”

The wind seemed to haved dug into the ground and ripped the trees out from below their roots:

After we got over the shock, Mom and I worked like donkeys, raking and gathering debris and scattering it deep into the woods. Then, we ran around the city getting estimates for tree removal, deck reconstruction, and boat cover replacement.

The work took three full days. Between teardrops and sore muscles, we gave thanks to Allah for the blessings He’d given us all these years– the lovely summer days, the family gatherings, the friends and relatives who’d shared it all with us, and the hope of more such blessings.

The landscape has been profoundly altered, and cannot be restored except by time and nature. Still, much beauty remains: