Movie Review: Hereafter

Yesterday, I saw the movie Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood.  In terms of pure entertainment, it succeeded. The acting and photography were excellent. Each actor performed beautifully, to the extent that that they didn’t seem like actors at all, but real people, and here is where the line lies between fantasy and documentary.

I expected a serious examination of how the Near Death Experience occurs, and how it affects those who experience it and those who study it. I expected a serious inquiry into the idea of personal consciousness beyond death, and I expected it from at least a quasi-scientific viewpoint, but no, I didn’t get that.

Instead, I got great entertainment, made better by the omission of even a single naked boob, and barely one “f” word stuck quickly between the words “hocus-pocus.” Additionally, no sadistic behavior or masochistic pathology afflicted any of the characters.

The visual highlight of the film occurs in the beginning, when character Marie Lelay gets swept into a tsunami. That scene alone mimics what really happens in a tsunami. We compare what we see in the film to tsunami footage seen a few years ago of Indonesia; we come away with a renewed appreciation for the breadth of such a catastrophe.

The bulk of the movie narrates the unrelated stories of three people who experience encounters with death. Eventually, the three connect and influence each other. None of the three stories is totally convincing, but since the acting is so good, one goes with the flow, so to speak.

Nothing new is on offer here. People have been fascinated with the death experience, life after death, the hereafter, and communicating with the dead, for eons. This movie deals with all of that, but in a generic way, almost a trite way, and certainly not from any religious viewpoint.

If this movie is nominated for awards, it will be for cinematography, and perhaps acting. See it for diversion, but not much else.

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 ?

Creative Photography


Creative Photography

Recently I bought a new camera.  While learning how to use it I took dozens of photos that were out of focus, badly composed, underexposed, and not worthy of holding  space on my hard drive. I deleted a dozen of them before I realized I could edit them, play with them, apply filters and distortions, change color saturation, lighting, etc., and end up with something totally different from the original, and much nicer to view! Here is one of my creations:

Gardens, Greens, and Yasmeen, July 2008 003  This started out as a green vine against a tree stump. 







Here’s another:

This one started out as a tree trunk with some plants growing around it.


I’ve got lots of photos of my grandkids. They are very hard to photograph because they move around constantly, and when they see the camera, they close their eyes because they know a flash is coming! 

The kid photos make for interesting creative effects. Here’s one that started out too ordinary to keep:

My daughter is sitting with her daughter on a swing. My daughter refused to smile. She she made an ugly face and thought she ruined the photograph, but she didn’t!

Gardens, Greens, and Yasmeen, July 2008 042

 I’ve done some realistic ones, too. This is one of my favorite flowers, the fuchsia:

Gardens, Greens, and Yasmeen, July 2008 001 

Last week, a thunderstorm approached mid-morning. The sky became dark as night, yet the sunlight still shone in the distance. I went outside and took a few photos to capture the effect. Here is my favorite:

Gardens, Greens, and Yasmeen, July 2008 011

I suppose I’ll have to start a Flickr account now, like those of you who have inspired me to try creative photography.  You know who you are:  ~W~, Unique, Aafke, Shahrzad, Susie! I’ve already got nearly one hundred photos, and they’re all different, some of them not even in purple or green!