Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Fun Flickr Game

Here's a fun game to play on Flickr.  This mosaic was made using FD Flickr Toys by searching on Flickr with the answers to questions below and then using a photo from the first page of the search results to form each tile of the mosaic.  Here are the questions:
1) First name 2) Favorite Food 3) Your high school 4) Favorite Color 5) Current celebrity crush 6) Favorite drink 7) Dream vacation 8) Favorite dessert 9) What to be when you grow up 10) What do you love most in life 11) One word to describe you 12) Your flickr name  Go to the photo page to see a better description of the steps to make it and the url's of the pictures that make up the mosaic.  See if you guess what my search terms were...some are easy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

More on Posterization

This image shows how you can improve and change an image with Photoshop, especially with posterization to hide a lot of sins.  This shot was taken at a wedding with available light (didn't want to disrupt the wedding with my flash) and from my pew with a 200mm zoom (120 mm for this shot).  The original image exposure was 1/30 sec, F 4.8 at ISO 450.    As you can see, it was too dark, had a lot of distractions, and had a lot of motion artifact.  I processed the raw image by increasing the exposure, cropping out the unwanted parts to concentrate on her action, adjusted the curves, and then added a posterizing filter.  A pretty good save of an image that otherwise would have ended up in the trash, I think.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Promise of Spring

Let the gardening begin.  This is a collage of a number of flowers, mostly from home, but a few from travels.  I've used an effect in Photoshop called posterization to make them more distinct when viewed from a distance.  The distortion can help when your image is a little blurry, but making it look like you intended it that way.  :)  Click on the top flower to get a magnified view of posterization.  Posterization reduces the number of color tones to "simplify" the image.  Too much of it, like most things, goes beyond being a good thing (unless you want to mimic Andy Warhol).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Our Iberian Odyssey, Day 1: Madrid

Parque de Madrid  

Our journey began in Madrid.  After arriving early morning from a red-eye flight, we checked in at the Room-Mate Alicia Hotel and headed to the Retiro Park.  Despite being February, it was unusually warm and with beautiful blue skies.  We chose the Room-Mate chain for both Madrid legs of the hotel for their upscale, quirky hotels in good locations and the best value that we could find for our weak dollars.   
The hotel was off Plaza Santa Ana which had a lot of charm and was in the theater district.  Along the perimeter of the plaza were outdoor cafes and sports bars.  It's my favorite area to stay in Madrid, easy access to everything else and enough off the beaten path that it's not too busy.  It's tourist friendly, but with a nice mix of Madrilenos.  At one point, while a soccer match (I guess I should say football) was being broadcast from a bar, a group of men and boys started playing soccer in the plaza, as cabs sped around them.  We ate tapas at the Cafe Miaw (yes, their logo is a cat) across the street and then collapsed for an early bedtime in prep for our next morning's flight to La Palma.
Both of these photos are from Retiro Park, more correctly known as Jardines del Buen Retiro.  It's a very Central Park type park in the middle of the upscale section of Madrid, down the street from the Ritz Hotel and La Prada, near the Puerto Espana.  The park is almost 400 years old and was originally part of royal estates, but has been open to the public since the mid-nineteenth century.  We entered the park through the gateway in the second shot and walked up the path, Avenida de Argentina.  The plants that are blooming look like mums from a distance but were more like ornamental cabbage on closer examination.  At the end of the walkway, we could see a monument in the distance, but to our surprise when we reached the wall in front of it, there was a lake that was filled with boaters.  I call the first shot "Oarplay" because all the teens were in single sex boats and manuvering around eachother in a very elaborate dating ritual.  The "older" folks got to mix genders, but the teens were clearly segregated and courting.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Day 2: La Palma (Canary Islands)

Town Square
Canarian House
La Palma is the furthest west of the Canary Islands.  The climate is "forever spring" with the northern end most influenced by the colder, wetter Atlantic and the southern end by the more arid Africa.  The island is basically a large (mostly extinct) island, so there is a 5,000 foot mountain in the center and the rest of the island sloping down to the sea, ending in most places as cliffs.  The mid-point of the island is mountain ranges and a caldera (from the oldest volcanic area).  The soil layer is fairly thin over black lava rock.  Throughout the entire island are walls, fountains, buildings constructed out of chunks of the rock crafted into puzzle pieces to form smooth even surfaces (as is shown in the top picture).

This building, in the town of El Paso, mid-point on the island, is typically canarian architecture.  Bright colors, white trim, and lots of small porches, railings, shutters, and other ornaments.  The fountain is in the town square.

On La Palma, we stayed at the H10 Costa Salinas in Los Cancajos.  The main tourist area on the east coast of La Palma is between the airport and Santa Cruz de la Palma (the capital).  The entire island is only 70 miles long and 30 miles wide but has a 5,000 foot peak in the middle.  One road bisects the island (through El Paso) while most of the roads snake along the cliffs on the edge.