May 1 2010

The misguided war on Photoshop

Facts:

Film negatives are processed using chemicals.

Digital negatives are processed using computers.

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I’ll start by admitting to never having shot and processed using film and chemicals myself. My first SLR was a digital one. I did, however, grow up with a father who ran his own little dark room in the guest toilet. So the concepts of what is needed and used in film processing is not entirely alien to me after all.

Right now, I only shot digital and I digitally process all my real photos.

Digital photography has been around for year and years now and it amazes me how people STILL think that post-editing is somehow cheating and proves that you’re a bad photographer. I highly disagree with this and here’s why:

If you think that people, before the days of digital processing and post editing, didn’t process their photos, think again. Strictly logical, there would only be rolls of negatives sitting around and no actual photographs at all.

If you think photographers just used to press the shutter in a moment in time and space, having no say in the result other than the focus. This is absolutely WRONG. I could even argue that this is impossible using a film camera, but more so in digital photography. *

Color adjustments, contrast, even dodging, and some much more were not introduced with Photoshop, but photographers have been doing just this for eons. This is not new!

My claim is this: Digital images makes post editing more important and this has mainly to do with the camera’s sensor. When using a film, there are lots of different films to choose from (remember, the sensor in you DSLR, is basically what the film is in a SLR), and these different choices can yield different results, of course. However, with DSLR the sensor you have is well, the sensor you have.

The difference between digital and analogue capturing, which I won’t get into, also contributes, as digital images usually comes out more flat compared to film which usually gives a more 3D feel, especially in B&W. The flat, linearly captured digital images in my opinion almost always need more postproduction to even come close to the depth of an analogue photograph.

Oh, and one more thing, technical aspects of photography has been a subject for debate since day one. I believe I dealt with what’s art and what’s not in my previous post. Photography has always been very driven by technology, and some people always have and always will struggle with adapting and/or embracing, whereas others like being in the front and help photography evolve.

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* With film you always pick the film, no matter how this choice is made, but also have to process it somehow. With a digital camera, all setting can usually be set to auto, letting the camera completely process a picture as it pleases (when it comes to jpg) or you could let an image program do the same, as you convert the RAW file in the software. This is fine by me, if that’s what people want, but one shouldn’t confuse it with a more purist type of photography. Just because you’re not doing it yourself, doesn’t mean someone or something else is not doing it either.


Apr 26 2010

Lots of LUSH. Yay!

After a lot of waiting thanks to the stupid ash cloud, my Lush forum party, my Lush forum swap and my ebay winnings all arrived at the same time. It was like Christmas!

The Comforter Shower gel has the same scent as Lush’s You Snap the Whip and The Comforter Bubble bar – a really berry, black currant smell. The smell when you use it in the shower is so strong, I can’t feel the fruity part at all, but once out of the shower your skin get that nice comforter smell. So it’s not so bad. It has a lovely deep pinkish red color. Very pretty

I’ve never been a huge Snow Fairy person, but during the forum party the 500 ml bottle was offered £5.95 (I think) with a complimentary Snow Fairy solid perfume. I couldn’t resist the deal and I’d never smelled Snow Fairy out of the store (Lush products usually smell very different at home) so I figured it was worth a shot. And it was! While the smell is very pink, fluffy and artificial, it does smell nice both in and out of the shower. It’s the sort of smell that definitely grows on you, although it will never be a favorite of mine. Snow Fairy has enough fans anyway! I did find the shower gel a little drying, so it’s not something that I would use every day.

I got the Honey Bee Have dust powder to alternate my Silky Underwear, the Bee Have has more of a ylang ylang scent than honey and I think it smells a little like daffodils. It actually covers up the scent of Aromaco quite nicely, but smells a little too much on it’s own, so I ended up mixing it up with equal parts of Silky Underwear, which worked splendidly.

I got Vanilla Dee-Lite Lotion, Vanillary perfume and Shimmy Shimmy from the Lush forum Swap Shop, and I’m very happy with all three products. Shimmy Shimmy was one of the first Lush things I ever got, if not the first, and it’s a small massage bar with loads of tiny gold colored glitters in it. I got the Vanilla Dee-Lite lotion in the 20/20 offer at Lush last summer and while I liked it once I got it, I didn’t love it. I tried the Vanillary perfume in store a while ago, I gladly sprayed it on my wrist and I thought it smelled like barf and it was really strong smelling too. It did seattle in to the skin after a while and it did smell better, but I was too horrified by the barf experience to really consider the final smell. Anyway, to make a not so long story shorter, I started liking the vanilla lotion I got from the 20/20 offer and thought I should give the lotion and perfume a second chance, got a good price (£19, retail price is £40) and bought them. I think me and Vanillary will get along great. This time there was no barf smell. Something must have been wrong with the tester at the store.

My eBay deal include everybody’s favorite (but new to me) Sweet Japanese Girl for the bargain price 25 SEK. (£2.20/$3.50) A steal compared to what this discontinued cleansing bar usually goes for. It’s lovely too, I didn’t think I would, but I totally get what all the fuss was about.

I also got:

Glitterbug – similar to Shimmy Shimmy but different smell and larger purple glitter. Nice.

Rub Rub Rub shower gel - haven’t used yet. Contains salt to scrub with and smells lovely, so I think I’ll like it.

Happy Hippy shower gel - haven’t used yet. Smells really citrusy. I think I’ll like it.

5 bottles of The Olive Branch shower gel (they were sold in a package) – Love this shower gel, it has a fabuloous unisex smell. It smells almost of sweet male cologne. I’m giving one to my boyfriend and I can’t wait to smell it on him. It’s gonna be hot! Haha. It’s more liquid than gel though and don’t forget to shake the bottle before use to mix the oils.

Soft shampoo bar – I got this before I knew it was going to be discontinued, and I sort of wish I hadn’t because the preliminary rapport after one use is that my hair really agrees with it, which sucks, because now I’m all sad that it’s getting discontinued and need to stock up. And I wasn’t going to get any more Lush stuff in a while now. Oh well.

Oh, and although not in the picture I also got Whipstick lipbalm – chocolate heaven which tints your lips a little. It’s yummy.


Apr 25 2010

My take realism vs. formalism in photography. Does snap shots capture the world as we see it?

Earlier today I came across an aspiring photographer in one of the photography communities I belong to. While this particular community rarely feature really good photos his set were particularly… thoughtless and thus extremely badly composed. Questioning his thought on a crocked subject and a very distracting background he replied:

“That’s kinda my intent.
Just simple snap shot type style with not much thought if any.
Sometimes I prefer to do that so that I can also capture everyday life in ways that people see it.”

His reply got me thinking: He want to capture the world just as it is and the way we see it everyday, is a snap shot really the way to go? How can you best capture the world just as we see it?

My answer is no, not even close, and this is my take on it all:

In the history of cinema studies formalist and realists have long debated whether cinema is art or strictly a technological process. My personal take on this is film is always art, even if there is no apparent thought behind the images they always consist of different choices. When framing a shoot you not only chose what they contain but also, obvious, but easy to over look, what to leave out. The same must be true for photography.

The camera’s lens is not equal to the human eye and its sensor does not equal our perception. This changes the rules for composing a picture to look as naturalistic as possible. The photographer previously mentioned stated that his goal is to capture everyday life in the way people see it. He claimed to do so by snap shots without thought or sense of composition. However, this is not the way humans see the world or in this case, that particular subject.

The human mind is arbitrary to say the least, this is why, just to mention one example, police witnesses’ memories aren’t entirely reliable. The mind see what it wants to see, every second of everyday it’s constantly selecting sensory information needed to create an entirety. What it sees is not in anyway the universal truth, a yellow car driving by can in hindsight turn blue, four passenger can easily be confused with two, no problem. Your mind simply did not think the other two were important enough to register and remember. The camera captures everything and does not in any way sort or highlight specific information. That’s the photographer’s job. Many great photographers work hard to capture everyday life just as we see it. It is not the same as point and shoot without thought or sense of composition. If fact it’s the complete opposite. Tricking the human perception to see a subject in a photograph the same way as you would in reality is not an easy task.

Just as a mind highlight some information and hide other, the same must be done by the photographer. S/he must decide what to highlight and what to not draw attention to, and take necessary steps to achieve the desired result. In reality we live in a frameless environment but photographs are not and this must be accounted for in the compositioning. All information visually needed has to be available within the frame. The information within the frame can (and maybe even should) stimulate the imagination beyond the picture shown and this without leaving unintentional loose threads (compare with plot holes in movies). Seeing a photo should never make you notice the background, for example, and think: I wonder what that is, if that’s not the effect you’re looking for (but then I’m going to argue that the photo is not meant to resemble real life perception either). Considering all this, it becomes obvious that a snap shot is not the way to go if you want match human perception.

To transfer a feeling, or a perception if you will, it’s especially important for the photographer to analyze why he sees an object the way he does. The information that makes up his visual image of the subject must be accounted for in the photograph. If the subject is crocked, for example, how do you know? It may seem trivial to ponder over, but it’s essential to the result. Maybe you compared it to objects nearby, maybe you could tell because of the horizon. Leaving that information out from the frame of the picture, how will it affect the viewers’ perception of the object? In most cases here, the viewer will find the tilt of the object unnatural and distracting, as they have nothing to relate it too. Maybe, in this case it’s better to shoot at an unnatural angle to get the object to appear more true to life for the viewer, even though it’s not the way it looks in reality. In short, a naturalistic image is not equal to reality, which brings us back to the question about art or technological process. It takes an artist to identify and compose information that makes up the illusion of reality whereas the technical process of snap shooting without thought hardly gives you the desirable result. Preferably, if this illusion is well executed, it will make the viewer forget the medium. The way I see this is that the image is so well composed the viewer won’t feel a need to visually expand the frame, but could (and might even should) be able to do so in his or her imagination. A snap shot not concerned with composition, for example, often have elements in the frame that gives an incomplete illusion and therefore points to the shortcomings of the medium. But I think I will save those aspects for later.


Apr 21 2010

B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful

My package of foundations, tinted moisturizer and cream eye shadow finally arrived, only one day late, despite the closed air traffic. Woho!

The second one is Bambi, clearly way too dark for me

I got 1 eye shadow in the color Bramble. It has the tip brush of an eyeliner, but it’s supposed to be an eye shadow. I tested it as a liner and it was a really pretty, high pigmented color.

The tinted moisturizer and one of the foundations was in the color Biscuit, which seemed to blend into my skin color pretty well. I expect it to work fine during summer at least. The other bottle is in the color Bambi, which is way to dark for my skin. I guess I’ll just have to sell it, swap it or give it to a friend. :)

Out of what I got, I suspect that the tinted moisturizer will be my favorite. It’s almost as covering as a normal foundation but much more forgiving when it comes to application. Perfect for the summer!

Now if my LUSH forum party order would only arrive…


Apr 19 2010

When every detail counts

While cramming for my cell biology test on Monday, I’m keeping myself entertained by watching the best mini series of all times. The BBC dramatization of Pride and Prejudice from 1995. Colin Firth is too yummy as Mr. Darcy and the UST (Unresolved Sexual Tension, for those out of the loop) makes my shipper heart happy happy! Every look between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet matters and the whole love story is told mostly through very subtle details. Like this:

Guess what hand belongs to Lizzy.


Apr 14 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Music video director Marc Webb’s first feature film. A story about love told through two characters with a very different outlook on it.

[SPOILERS] What I enjoyed about the movie was its fresh feeling and the way it utilized so many techniques in an inspirational way and without making it feel forced. The non linear storytelling worked fabulously throughout the story, which for me had two highlights. First, the use of The Graduate (Micheal Nichols, 1967). I always have a soft spot for movies which use other movies either in the story of its own movie-universe or as part of the characterization. (500) Days of Summer incorporate The Graduate in both of these ways very cleverly. It also requires something extra from the viewer, who need to be familiar with The Graduate to fully understand its significance to the story. I really appreciated the touch of using the same movie to shape Tom’s idea of love in his childhood as well as to carry the story forward by giving Summer the light bulb moment she needed to let Tom go. Second was the great juxtaposing, especially in the reality/expectation scene. I’d heard from others that (500) Days of Summer had a more realistic approach to love compared to other romantic comedies, and I have to admit that throughout the film I did not get this feeling at all, until towards the end when the illusions about Summer in Tom’s head is throughly reveled.

All in all when the credits started rolling, I found myself lacking interest in the future of Tom and Autumn, but deeply curious about how Summer is seen through the eyes of the man she did end up marrying.


Apr 13 2010

Personal Eels favorites 1 – Beautiful Freak

I will gladly make the following statement, because I believe it’s one hundred percent true, Mr E is the best song writer today. Hands down. (Benny Andersson is the best composer!)

Most of Eels’ songs are beyond melancholic. The lyrics are often dark, and even give the sense of clinical depression, but at the same time the music is completely void of all emo-feeling. Stories told in the lyrics are often quirky, but always sincere, without giving any sense of audience courtship. Despite this, whenever I play their music, my mood always improves. It’s just something with the music together with the lyrics that is so ill fitting that it’s just… right. The songs are like short little stories more than traditional songs, making them meaningful from start to finish.

Beautiful Freak

I was 12 years old and this song stole my heart away and me and Eels has had a love affair ever since.

Too good for this world
But I hope you will stay
And I’ll be here to see
That you don’t fade away

My Beloved Monster (Live version)

My beloved monster and me
We go everywhere together
Wearing a raincoat that has four sleeves
Gets us through all kinds of weather

Guest List

Are you one of the beautiful people
Is my name on the list
Wanna be of the beautiful people
Wanna feel like i’m missed

Manchild

Hold me in your arms
And let me be the one
Who can feel like I am a child in love


These are all from their well-not-really-debut album Beautiful Freak. Update on more Eels will follow.


Apr 12 2010

My favorite: LUSH bath ballistics

Avobath

A really refreshing lemongrass and citrusy/lime smelling bath ballistic which turns the water into a lovely shade of green. Because it contains olive oil and mashed avocado it’s a little more moisturizing compared to most other ballistics. It’s mean to get you up in the morning, but I usually need a little something to keep me moving no matter the time of day, so this is just perfect for me!

Honey Bee

This ballistic has the same scent as LUSH best selling soap Honey, I Washed the Kids, which smells so delicious! If you’re looking for a honey and toffee treat in the bath, look no further. It’s supposed to smell of oranges too, but to me it doesn’t smell of oranges at all. Honey Bee contains Moroccan rhassoul mud that’s supposed to deep cleanse and soften your skin, and your skin does get soft after you use it. However, even though this ballistic is one of faves, it does have some down sides. It makes the color a pretty dull yellow color and I don’t know if it’s because of the honey it contains but it stains my tub like CRAZY. Additionally, while it smells sooo good the scent is not very strong. But all things considered: it’s totally worth it!

Ne Worry Pas

I love violet scented things and I worry a lot. This ballistic smells of violets and is composed to take all your worries away. What could be more perfect! Just whisper your worries into the hole in the Ne Worry Pas and drop into the bath and see your troubles dissolve. This ballistic creates a lovely milky water, smells heavenly and the scent will linger on your skin until your next shower/bath and unlike many other ballistics it doesn’t leave a hint of reside in your tub. That must be premeditated because it really gives you one less thing to worry about! Saddest part of this ballistic is that it’s been discontinued, fortunately it’s still available in the retro section through mail order by phone and online. Hurrah!

Runner ups:

Fairy Jasmine

With the same scent as dusting power Silky Underwear, Fairy Jasmine is the ultimate party ballistic becasue it’s PACKED with glitter. Always fun on a friday night, but hardly a ballistic for weekday use. I used half of mine and found glitter everywhere for weeks. If you’re anal but keeping your house glitter free – this is not for you. Lush do however carry All That Jas, a retro product like Fairy Jasmine, which is the same but without the glitters. But where is the fun in that?

Think Pink

First ballistic I ever bought, maybe even the first LUSH product? I don’t remember. This ballistic smells super girly and sweet. I prefer the scents in the above mention ballistics to this one, but this ballistic makes your bath water hot pink and sprinkles you bath with candy and soap hearts! For this, it deserves to be a runner up on my list. Think Pink was remodeled into tiny size this year and I have yet to try the new one, but since, even considering the price drop, you’re essentially is getting less product for more money, I probably won’t buy it. I  always use half a ballistic per bath and the small ones are usually too small to be potent if split into two, making some of the smaller ballistics less value for your money if you’re cheap like me.


Apr 11 2010

Why LUSH Cosmetics?

I love LUSH! It’s the store which sells soaps cut like cheese from huge blocks, that you can smell from 30 meters away.

Why is LUSH so great? I’m glad you asked! The answer is lots of reasons!

The simple answer (for me) is that their products really truly work, and not only on my skin.

Packaging: For me there are two aspects to LUSH nude product reasoning.

Number 1: Less packaging equals less unnecessary waste. Products like the shampoo bar, shower jellies and massage bars have been invented to require as little packaging as possible. Each bar equals 3 bottles of regular shampoo. The solid shampoo bars amount to 2 million less bottles every year. For just one relatively small company. Think about the waste we’d all save if regular drug store shampoo came bottle-less instead. My current favorite is New!

Number 2: For the non nekkid products plain bottles and tubs are used. Whereas most other cosmetic companies in many ways are packing companies who spend most of their products budget on the package, LUSH keeps them simple and let the product inside steal the spotlight. The fact that I really like the black pots are completely beside the point here.

The ingredients are fresh and organic – and has been since before it went hip! They use natural, often vegan, ingredients and as few preservatives as possible. the actually put real made on and use by dates, like on food, instead of the “use within x months no matter when the products was actually made” which is the norm in the beauty industry. LUSH products makes me appreciate the luxury of really fresh products, and all that that entails. After using mostly naturally scented products, it really brings out the synthetic smell in other brands’ products.

No animal testing, at all. Many companies state that they don’t test their products on animals, but more often than not they still use the same factory and ingredients as other companies which do test on animals. While the intentions of these against animal testing companies might be good, the difference between them and animal testing one makes no difference to the animals. What LUSH do, however, is to boycott any supplier who test on animals for any purpose or for any company. How do they make sure the products are safe without testing them, you might wonder? They do test them – on humans! Human test subjects for human products, which makes perfect sense.

Apart form the ethical side of using LUSH products – they actually work on your body, and they might seem expensive at a first glance, although while not cheap they do actually offer great value for what you pay.