Thursday, 31 December 2009

Goodbye 2009

Always looking towards the future these days, aren't ya NC?

--

As 2009 draws to a close, I'm gonna look back and thank about what I could possibly remember about it. All clichés aside, there's quite a bit. So I'm going to share it in the viral "ten things" format.

Ten things to remember:

17-foot-long multi-octave PVC foghorn.

^atrophy / ^dystrophy, "NC" and instantgib CTF pwnage.

Bruleé blowtorch = everyday lighter.

7-month "infection"

Multimedia lab "networking."

What the hell is Jimmy dressed up as? ...oh...

A candle that looks like it lights from both ends.

Chinese vice leniency.

1,680 days of inactivity and then back to the old RSC grind.

A broken shutter doesn't mean it won't take pictures.

Ten quotes:

"I can't build a wall on a wall."

"Hold on! We're home!"

"Belief in fate is only failure to realize all our actions have a purpose."

"Out here, even lumberjacks use hand cream."

"Serena Williams' serve is the hardest in women's tennis." "How hard are men?" "Oh, men are much harder."

"Some people fear God, some people fear gays, but only hypocrites fear both."

"Call me Marlboro Frankenstein."

"Friday will fix everything."

"There is little comfort in success, little satisfaction in victory, and little happiness in compromise."

"Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain."

Ten things I learned:

Sometimes, being polarizing is a good thing.

Guard rails are there for a reason; it doesn't matter if they're in the way of your picture.

It's okay to cry.

Not cutting one's hair for over two years proves nothing.

Semantics cause more problems than one person can solve.

Taking charge is more important than taking breaks.

Food is only optional to a certain degree.

I can do math.

Knowing the language makes the experience in a foreign country just amazing.

I'm not suppressing my normal state of mind or view of the world; I am removing mental blocks that would otherwise prevent normal mindset, outlook, and function.

Ten life lessons:

Sometimes, titles hold no power and authority garners no respect.

Self-esteem is not naturally manifest.

One will always be judged by the company he keeps, no matter by whom.

Adversity is a social construct, not innate belief. Obstacles to acceptance must be combat through education rather than punishment.

Chances are good your rear bumper extends out a lot further than you think.

If you have just shaved your face, and you know you got a few little cuts, don't apply salicylic-acid facial wash.

Finding your comfort zone is a great accomplishment, but learning to expand it is a great challenge...

Five years of a foreign language will allow you to converse easily with adults, but doesn't guarantee you the ability to read children's storybooks.

Always aspire to be remembered for more than just your aspirations.

There is always somebody.

--

I have compiled an album (on short notice, so it's a little skimpy) of the photos I believe best represent 2009; you can view it here.

My plans for 2010 include, in no particular order, setting up a website, getting a job/car, and keeping my academic performance consistent...post on my forums to share yours.

Hope you all had a great year - here's to many more! (that sounds a little strange, doesn't it...)

:)

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

College, Cafés, and Cramming

I am going to Dickinson College.

I found out last night as I was sitting in the auditorium waiting for my brother's concert to start. There's a long story behind this, so I think I'll share: I was at a café and on my computer; I'd gotten an email from Dickinson saying they'd made a decision and the letter had been mailed. The e-mail also said I could check online.

My parents had been nervous for awhile, having resolved to not check the mail until both were home and could go through it with me. They weren't at the café with me - they were at the concert, so I had to drive all the way there, find my parents, get on my mom's iPhone, and check out the decision.

I only had to read "It is with great pleasure that..." and they did fist pumps and cheers and I was in a great mood the rest of the night.

-

Well, I'm still in a good mood - but that's my silly little college story.

I do have big plans for the future, of course. This month sees the completion of a great deal of school work, which has me really excited even though a lot of that work has yet to be done. Break begins on the 19th, so I've til the 18th to work. Yippee.

I will be working to solidify the photos I will be putting in exhibits, though, since I keep taking more and now essentially have a backlog. I've been given the great opportunity for another exhibit, this time at an actual art gallery, so I'll be working pretty hard on planning that out as well.

It won't be until March, and it will only last twenty days, but that's plenty of time - especially since it's almost guaranteed everyone I know will come. See, the exhibit is at my school, in the art gallery of our performing arts center Centennial Hall. Anyone going in can and will see my work, so I really need to get some more stuff together, organize my framing, make sure I'm ready to sell my work, etc. I have a lot more time than I think...

-

Meanwhile, the café at which I'd previously displayed my artwork has re-opened under new management and a fresh coat of paint. I like it so far, but they haven't quite gotten their menu down - I'll probably like it even more once they do. The new owner made me a bit skeptical at first - seemed like a young guy who wanted a coffee shop in Wayne just to profit, knowing we don't really have anywhere else to go. He filled me in on his big plans for the place, and I was a little dubious as to whether or not it could be done, but lo and behold the café was closed the next week and we relocated to Starbucks for a time. I heard about the renovations but I didn't actually get over there until the 11th, and now I definitely don't have any doubts - this new manager is pretty serious. There's new paint, yeah, but he also moved stuff around and removed a lot of the clutter. It actually looks pretty bare now, but he said he's working on filling up the display cases with new menu items and then turning his attention to décor.

Décor, you say? Yes, they'll hang my photos again, no there won't necessarily be more, yes of course I can sell them, etc. Same deal, only he's a little swamped at the moment and my photos aren't really a priority. Needless to say, I've already planned out where to hang what.

-

This is going to be a hectic week since I've got a Yearbook deadline, an English essay, a Latin project, and several gift ideas I need to follow through on. But the afternoon/evening of the 18th...gonna have a good time. ^_^

-

If you aren't a fan of me on Facebook, become one! I post updates time to time, photos here and there, and generally just try to foster appreciation of my work. Of course, checking out my DeviantArt doesn't hurt either...

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hello December, Hello Future

Well, it’s here. The last month of 2009 has arrived in a flurry of late-departed leaves and a few snowflakes.

It’s getting colder around here, with temperatures hovering around 40ºF; I’m gonna break out the gloves, scarves, and faux fur coat pretty soon.

This ought to prove that yes, I am alive, and quite active! ...just not on the internet. I have not submitted anything to DeviantArt or indeed really made any artwork at all in nearly a month. I don’t feel as though I’ve accomplished much in the creative field lately, to be honest. Rather, I’ve been working on a bunch of other things. I think, once again, this merits an explanation.

I’ve been asked many times if I am considering art as a career. Some people were confused when I told them I applied to a small liberal-arts school rather than a school with a noted fine-arts program. Fellow students are surprised when I tell them that no, I have never taken an art elective in high school and no, I do not plan to enroll in one next semester. In fact, art is a hobby! I gave a 20-minute speech on this, and meant every word. Art is not the career for me. Working in a portrait studio is something I could do, or working part-time for a newspaper as a sports photographer, perhaps. In the spring, I might cover local high-school games for the Main Line Today or even the Inquirer - I’ve been thinking about that. But that’s a job, not a career.

One thing I’ve been pursuing with ravenous new interest, however, is photo-restoration. It’s very satisfying to tackle a seemingly impossible task and then get it done, and done well. Nearly-destroyed old photos seem impossible to restore to anything close to their original appearance, but it isn’t impossible. It is hard, and kind of a pain in the ass sometimes, but totally possible. The worse the condition, the more time it takes. Here is an example of a photo I quickly fixed up (click for full view - they aren't actually this blurry!)



It’s not actually “old” - it’s from 1995 - but it certainly is “damaged.” This photo was one of a set of my baby brother (who’s 14 now) that my mother meticulously cropped, matted, framed, and sent off to my relatives so they’d have a piece of baby memories. She did this for me as well, only mine are all in good condition. Someone, at some point, 1) broke the glass, 2) spilled something sticky on the matting/photos, and 3) crunched up the broken glass...which wound up stuck to the physical photo prints. It’s a mystery. There’s this one room of my house I recently started cleaning up...it’s full of little treasures like this. :)

Enough about that - believe me, I’ll be talking about photo-restoration more in a later post.

-

This time of year, people are rife with ideas about what they want to do or get for others. Not being at all religious, I see the Christmas season as a time of reflection on our own situations and of empathy for those of others. I see it as a time to surround oneself with family and friends, to share gifts, good food, and good times.

As the Christmas season gets underway, though, I find myself almost totally at a loss as far as presents are concerned! I know what to get my dad and I know what to get my brother. But that leaves my mom and two siblings, one of whom is a girl (it’s hard to buy presents for a 9-year-old girl). It’s dilemmas like this that make me sit back and think about why I’ve got to get them stuff. Sure, it’s not written anywhere that I’ve got to buy something - I could just make something - but it is kind of expected that I get them gifts. And that’s just my immediate family. My maternal grandmother and aunt live around me, and the rest of my relatives are scattered about in Vermont, California, Georgia, and Illinois (lots in Illinois). Some of them send me stuff; I feel a little bad I rarely send stuff back. This year I’ll definitely make cards, probably those cliché ones with a family photo and a “heartwarming” caption, and everyone’s signature and a couple of paw prints from the cats, etc.

On a slightly more serious note (as I have plenty of time to ramble about Christmas shopping dilemmas), I have been thinking about a website more and more. I want something fully customizable, but knowing little about advanced HTML and/or CSS design, I’d need someone to lend a hand. I don’t want to host it on some free hosting site that limits content and puts their name in the domain (ie www.freewebsitecompany.com/nullcoding) but I also don’t want to pay too much. Registering a domain is the first step (nullcoding.com, anyone?) but then there’s the whole deal with indexing everything and laying it out and making sure I pay for enough storage space wherever so I can upload plenty of images (and maybe videos), making sure I actually make some small change from ads, finding possible affiliates, etc, etc, etc.

It almost seems like making a website will be more complicated than my planned graduation project...

In the near future, my plans are limited by the fact I’ll be heading out to Denver really early Wednesday morning and returning at around 12:45 AM on Sunday the 6th. I’ll be going to the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a large meeting of representatives from independent schools around the nation to promote diversity and acceptance within their school communities. I'm the only senior from my school who's going (along with four faculty members and five other students) and as I was chosen to go, all expenses paid, I feel pretty honored about the whole thing. I'm going to take plenty of pictures, yes, and I'll also probably post about the experiences I had there. But if you're wondering where I've been the next couple days...

There’s your December update. :)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Electronic Expectancy

Sometimes, I have a hard time understanding others' bad luck with electronics and gadgets.

The idea for this particular post stems from something I did about ten minutes ago when I dropped my iPod into a full glass of Coca-Cola. This iPod is a first-generation, 4GB Nano that I got for Christmas in 2005. It holds exactly 14.64% of my music library and has a battery life of about 90 minutes (maximum). Since I inadvertantly submerged it, there have been no problems. The only weird thing is that now, it says it's "charging" all the time.

This iPod has been to several beaches, a swamp, and China. I've dropped it way too much by anyone's standards, and the screen is only readable with the backlight. Yet it's the only one I've ever had, and it still works just fine.

So, I'll share details of my other gadgets etc:

My first and only cell phone (an LG VX5200) came free with my parents' new wireless plan in late summer 2006. Since then, it's been everywhere my iPod has; it's also been in sand and mud and has a strip of duct tape on the back and I don't remember why. The original battery broke because I dropped the phone too much (I replaced it with my mom's when she got an iPhone). My phone has outlasted both said iPhone and the Bluetooth system in my dad's car. Its battery lasts about 20 hours.

My Canon PowerShot A550 (gift, 2008) has been to China as well, where I got a bit too careless and nearly dropped it off HuangShan (to join my sunglasses). It's been to South Carolina as well, where it was mauled by a wave as I was recording a movie and/or shooting the neat storm clouds offshore. The lens cover will not open all the way and needs to be helped with a fingernail. It has no problems that impact performance. I use it daily.

My second-gen MacBook (Christmas present, 2006) has not been to China, but has been just about everywhere else. At this point, I don't think there's much original to it, as I've replaced the RAM chips and had a new hard drive installed when the old one suddenly committed suicide. The Apple people also replaced the outer casing and (I'm fairly sure) the screen. The only issue with the computer is the audio-out stereo mini jack, which is very temperamental and will not be fixed by me because I think the machine is still under warranty. I have paid $0 on repairs for the computer in the nearly-three years I have had it.

I have had the same electric guitar since 6th grade and have replaced only strings. It's a basic Dean stratocaster; I also have and use the same Kustom Solo 16DFX amp I got with it back in 2003.

My first-ever electric guitar, a red Fender Squier, was run over by my mom's Suburban in 2003. It is still playable.

The headphones I currently use have been bent and squished in many ways since I started using them in early 2007. They work fine.

I have an old 3.2MP Canon PowerShot A75 that I acquired in October. According to the person who gave it to me, "the shutter is broken." I have taken a bunch of pictures with it with few problems.

The 2.0MP PowerShot A60 I gave my brother has been dropped onto concrete multiple times to the point where the lens casing is severely cracked and the cover is long gone; it went to Vermont with him and spent five weeks on a farm. It eats AA batteries but takes perfectly fine (albeit very small) pictures.

My father's first computer is the clear winner, though. Although it has not sustained any kind of severe damage, it has seen the upbringing of all four of his children and has been a feature in his office since it was introduced to the market in 1993 at a cost of well over $1,000. It's an Apple Centris 660 AV, and has no operating defects whatsoever, running Mac OS 7.5.3 flawlessly; it features such classics as Castle Wolfenstien, Word Munchers, and Space Invaders. It's outlasted every electronic thingy in the house except our 22-year-old RCA TV.

So, the next time someone goes on complaining about how they need a(nother) new phone/iPod/computer because theirs broke/got broken, think about this...

Am I just different? I'm sitting in front of my Frankenstein-Macbook, listening to a Coked iPod through abused headphones and editing pictures taken with a camera that's been in(to) the ocean...and I can't help but feel as though I've got something on these people who seem to get a new something-or-other every month. :)

Saturday, 31 October 2009

End of October - State of Affairs

It has been a long couple of weeks.

As of right now, my exhibit has been taken down because Café Procopio is remodelling their interior. This is a prime opportunity for you to buy my prints without me having to go immediately to get more. :) Contact information is all over - drop me a line sometime.

I'll post the currently available pictures soon, be patient.

As far as non-photography-related stuff is concerned, I'm very busy. At the moment I'm writing a front-page article for the newspaper and polishing the essay I'll be submitting to Dickinson College in a matter of days. I'm almost finished remodelling my room and once that's done I'll glean some sort of great self-satisfaction from the task that will hopefully help me do just about everything else. :P

I was accepted to the University of Pittsburgh in the beginning of October - didn't mention it but then again wasn't really surprised. If I end up having to go there I'l be perfectly happy - they have a great Chinese program. I love Dickinson though, and it's only two and a half hours away (which is even better).

In fact, I drove out to visit on Monday the 26th. That was fun - I woke up at 5 AM and was on the highway by 5:40, 24oz of coffee in the cupholder and a PowerBar to keep me going. The sun didn't rise until I was out of Berks County and the rest of my family left for school when I was driving through Harrisburg. I felt special because I arrived at 8:15, 45 minutes before they told me to. I then found out that I didn't actually have to do anything until 9:30. Earliness - it's a great impression to make!

Road trips are awesome, but so are the experiences you'll have in your destination. I found it really hard to get back in my car and leave Dickinson's campus that afternoon. You know that's a good thing.

Not only that, but Pennsylvania's subpar road system threw me off and brought me into north Philly at about 7:30 PM when I should, in fact, have gotten off at Willow Grove at 7. The exit numbers were both 343, and both roads were called 76. Apparently, though, they aren't the same thing. So as for that random big EZ-pass charge...well, it's not an anomaly...

I haven't submitted anything new in weeks. I've been so busy with other things that I haven't even been taking pictures, let alone editing/uploading them. If I have a camera, it's for the Yearbook. If I'm in the multimedia lab, it's because I work better in there. I'm actually quite productive and proud of my 4.3 GPA. It's worth it in the end.

My plans for the near future involve finishing my college apps and finally buying a car. Closer to home, I do have a lot of schoolwork and that will take up a considerable amount of time. I also have a bunch of photos I took at Dickinson I'll be sure to upload. And just when you thought I might be getting some free time, it's close to production week for A Midsummer Night's Dream here, and I'm staying til 6 PM every day to work on the set. It's a badass set though. 9-foot-tall, 24-foot-long bridge made of 2x and reinforced with steel beams. I've always wanted to build a set with big steel beams. And there's a rock on wheels. And it takes place in Central Park.

Our coffee grinder broke earlier today. My dad informed me that he had opened it up and cleaned it out best he could and it still didn't work. My mom came home and cleaned it out best she could, finding roughly 3 tablespoons of coffee packed into the area between the grounds exit and the receiving can. Lulz were had. So was coffee...but not until 2:30 PM. It's going to be an interesting day/evening (and if necessary, night).

On that note, I don't know what I'm doing tonight. It's Halloween, and in the past I haven't been much for it. Honestly, the last time I actually went trick or treating was eighth grade, and that was just with some friends for fun. I did dress up yesterday, though, because seniors are allowed to. I told people I was a weaboo. Two people in the school understood it. One liked it. I then went to hang out with gay people at the café. Everyone liked the costume and 90% understood it. Hmmmm. I have to post a picture...

If I do go out somewhere tonight, I'll have a picture taken. I may just dress up again for a pic just because, even if I do just end up sitting home handing out candy to all three kids who will come to our house. See, we live on top of a hill in the quiet part of our neighborhood. The quiet, hilly part, where all the houses have long driveways. As opposed to the populated, flat part of the neighborhood where all the families live. We do have neighbors with kids, but they're probably at the age where they'd rather go be with their friends on Halloween. That's cool by me. I'm certainly trying to do that...

I feel as though my blogging habits are a bit erratic. That, and no other contributors to this blog have posted (at all) lately. This merits an explanation. Nate is busy as well, mainly with school stuff, and has told me that his artistic stuff is all but on hold (whatever that means!). Scott will not be posting because he's going through some personal issues, and I haven't talked with him in a long time so can't/won't say more. Tom probably forgot the blog exists. And Jimmy, if you hadn't figured out, is me...

That's all for now. Contact me somehow, however you want, about whatever. The best way is by email (nullcoding@gmail.com), but I am occasionally on Adium (so that's AIM, MSN, GTalk, and ICQ taken care of) and I do respond to Facebook messages. :)

J.B.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mystic Invasion

Time is passing by whether I want it to or not.

Lately, I haven't been doing too much work as far as photography and related stuff is concerned. I lent out my spare camera and so now don't have one to carry around with me, and my SLR is sitting at home getting little to no use - too much school work.

So, in the meantime, I've been doing more stuff with silly digital manips.

But there's a backstory.

Sunday the 11th was OutFest in Philadelphia - National Coming Out Day. It was a lot of fun, although I had to leave early. I've never been surrounded by more gays, and it was awesome. I got a button and a bumper sticker ^_^

But as we were trying to find the Gayborhood (roughly 12th and Spruce) we got a bit lost. So, from Market East, we wound up at Suburban Station and the area surrounding City Hall. For all the 13 years I've lived here, I don't know the city itself well enough to say exactly where we were, but I do know we circumnavigated City Hall (twice).

My camera was in Photojournalism mode - as point-and-shoot as an SLR can get. I set it to no-flash mode and that was it. I got some good shots of the festival itself (wish I took more) but also got some interesting shots of the city itself. I need to go back, just because I didn't quite have enough time for actual photography of the city. I do have some good ones, but only like...3.

So, back to what I mentioned about digital manips.


"Mystic Invasion" - you tell me. I don't quite know what was going through my head when I edited in some kind of planetary supernova...


...then made it BW...


...and infrared.

Not sure what exactly to do with that.

Um...

-

I'm Jimmy and I can't blog for my life :)

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Mind Dynamic, College, and Cars

This is a rather long post because I have to make up for simply not being able to make consistent updates lately. After working 18 hours this past weekend I feel as though I just never left school (as I work at school). Anyway, rewind to last Friday the 2nd.

My exhibit is totally set up! :)

It took awhile, but I got 11 of my photos printed (at Costco) and framed (by me) and hung at the café. It's great. If I could remember AA batteries (or my D60) one of these days I'll post photos of the setup. I do have a car...sometimes. When next I can get over there, I'll be hanging some more 8x10s up and photographing the exhibit itself. Below is the poster for my exhibit; click it for the full size.



The exhibit will actually be there for several months, I hope. :) I can print nearly unlimited 8x10s on laser paper (great quality) and, time allowing, frame them as well. That all depends on demand. I'll be rotating the photos out and hopefully selling some. If you are in the Philadelphia area or know a photography appreciator who is, please come check it out. The prints are for sale. Details are in the guestbook (the image below is the cover). E-mailing is the best way to reach me.



The café is located at 1 West Avenue, Wayne Pennsylvania. It is across the street from the SEPTA R5 Wayne station and the Great American Pub. The café closes at 3 PM weekdays except Friday, when it's open 'til 11. They're great people; I know them and that's how I got this all set up. Food's good and so's the coffee...

-

Dickinson college visited my school yesterday. It was great. The meeting turned into a one-on-one conversation between the admissions representative and me. I love the school. I gave her a flyer for my exhibit and a copy of the school paper (I wrote the front page article) to add to the "portfolio" I'm building with the school. I've all but finished my essays, filled out 90% of the Common App online, and only need to submit my essay to Pitt and supplement to Haverford to be done with this whole college thing! Yippee...

-

Also, as part of an ongoing story, I still do not have a car. No one will e-mail me back. If you know someone who's selling an 80's-era Mercedes diesel let me know. If you even know someone who has one, let me know. Mercedes is ideal, but I can do Volvo if necessary. My price range is not relevant because of my somewhat narrow stipulations (at least, compared to most first-time buyers). The car needs to at least run...and have working windows. There's a pet peeve of mine. At any rate, I really want an old diesel sedan/wagon and I guess I'll have to explain THAT one in the future...

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Law

It is improper for the law of the government or other local legislative authority to interfere in the affairs of two consenting persons, or to regulate the actions of one person, except when those actions cause unnecessary or avoidable harm or damage to another person or group of persons.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Note - 9/11, Forums, and School

In this brief note, I'd like to ask that we all remember the shocking attacks on American soil that occurred eight years ago today. In light of the events following the attacks on the World Trade Center (and ongoing the last eight years), I believe we all ought to realize there are some things around which we should gather, as a nation, and stand united against those who oppose us and what we stand for.

I was nine years old at the time of the attack, and remember sitting in my fourth grade class early in the morning when my teacher came into the room, sat down on a chair in front of our desks, and asked us if we knew what it meant when something was "hijacked." I believe there was a strong element of the "loss of innocence" in that moment, the same kind of concept William Golding emulated in Lord of the Flies and JD Salinger in Catcher in the Rye. I remember watching footage of people jumping out of buildings, reruns of planes hitting the towers, and an endless stream of people going through the debris. For several days afterward, that's what was on the news, and although my memory of it is hazy, I know it happened and I know the effect it had on my nine-year-old self.

--

Changing gears quite a bit, my forums are back up and running. I closed them back in late May because no one was posting (which in retrospect was a silly way to try and make people post more). I'd like it very much if people new and old were to go and post there. I don't really know what kind of discussion ought to be had there, on the whole, but there are sections for political debate, music discussion, and general chat. Read this post to get the whole story on the re-starting of my forums.

--

School started again, I love it, and I'm thrilled with my schedule. Some rare days I don't have class until noon and other days I'm done with classes at 1:30. I set up my computer in the multimedia lab and have my workstation all set up - awesome. There are a bunch of iMacs in there (24 of them) and they've all got the full student-licensed version of CS3...they have Final Cut too, so I'll see what I can and can't do with that.

Anyway, that's the blog-note. In the near future, I can't promise any new images (at least not anything dramatic). Sorry. If I upload anything, it'll be from awhile ago and I'll have just edited it in my free time, most likely.

-J.B

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Routine of Life

Last blog post of the summer!

On that note, I can't wait for school to start...it starts tomorrow. I'll be a senior, which is surreal and awesome and a little intimidating.

At any rate, it's been a crazy hectic week. I've been working a lot recently at the theatre; everyone else decided to go on vacation, but I got that out of the way the week prior, so now I'm back and available to work...it's a lot of fun, and not even that much hard work. Perhaps it's made that much more enjoyable by the fact my girlfriend is working with me. I run the sound mixer and she works spotlight. It's a good deal...

As a photographer, I'm oddly fascinated with the theatrical lights we use and have so so many of up in the catwalk. I'll have to post scraps or something. It's insane. I'd love to be able to make some kind of crazy huge lens out of one. A guy can dream. :D

I don't actually know if that would be possible. I'd have to rig an adapter for Nikon's F-mount, which is probably against a lot of patent laws and would forbid me from profiting off any images I'd make with such a lens. Oh well.

All of my recent pictures have been (somewhat chronologically) from my vacation in South Carolina. I'm currently working on a huge backlog - this is what happens when you have an 8GB memory card and never empty it or even bother to remember what you've uploaded, what you've backed up, and what pictures are just sitting on the card...ugh. I'm almost done though. I'm just trying to find something to make this last day of summer last and be worth it.

My next bunch of pictures will be miscellaneous shots from South Carolina and plenty from my trip on our boat yesterday. It was a nice Labor Day (there was no one at the marina whatsoever) and Sabrina and I got a bunch of cool pictures. Now the question is who took what...

-

For a long time now, I've been trying to get my photography displayed at a local coffee house or something of the sort. There's one I frequent at which photography is displayed; just yesterday I talked for about 45 minutes with the person who co-ordinates all that. He is the head of a local camera club I knew nothing about. While I have no intention of joining (as it would conflict majorly with school), I was thrilled when he informed me that my work is comparable, if not better, than some of the work the professionals there are turning out. I'd never received critique from a professional before - that meant a lot.

I'll definitely keep an update on this exhibit, when, where, how much, etc. I'm probably gonna be printing my 12x18s at Costco for $3 apiece - I know that much. :P

The title of this journal reflects my recent boredom with summer. Yeah, it flew by...June was China, July was two weeks of sitting in my room doing nothing (fun :)) and visiting colleges and going to OC and the Poconos, and August was a lot of relaxing, being bored, fixing computers, and going to SC. But I'm ready for a routine now. I need something to keep me sane. I'm looking forward to the school year. I recently got my i-ADHD under control and can't wait to find out how my treatment will affect my grades in school. I am more alert, attentive, awake, energetic, personable, friendly even. It's great. I'm happy. The only issue is the side effects - I'm somewhat more short-tempered and a lot more edgy (but the latter is probably just the coffee). We'll see how senior year goes.

Fingers crossed.

Last first day of school ever tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Ten things - an experiment

Hello!

First off, there is a video on the Youtube page now. I thought I'd mention it because otherwise I'm not sure anyone would notice. :|

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Remember those Facebook notes "25 things about me" where everyone was being tagged? That whole ordeal? It was fun while it lasted, but it blossomed into those stupid picture things and more notes (100 things? are you serious?) and eventually got really old. Now, to the best of my knowledge, that all has died down.

But I wanted to try my own thing - ten things, all rather personal and none false, nothing I wouldn't want anyone to know, and nothing I'm particularly ashamed of. This is "an experiment" because knowing the nature of most people out there, I'm not sure how or if such a concept will catch on.

There're actually sixty things here (sixty bullet points) in groups of ten under a general heading; I made the format myself so it's basically styled after how I think (linear, big-picture, single-track). I was originally considering just posting one group at a time, but decided I'd rather post the whole thing at once and then do more "ten things lists" on later dates, just because the below six lists all have a bit in common.

So...here goes. Comments welcome.

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Ten things you probably didn't know about me:

I am allergic to grass.
I play seven musical instruments.
I am a neat freak, but don't mind crowded spaces.
I have failed my driver's license test twice.
I used dial-up internet until two years ago.
Most of my friends aren't straight.
The first time I was out of the country was June 2009.
I like kreteks.
I've had the same phone for three years. It's 100% functional.
I'm somewhat agoraphobic, and prefer small rooms.

Ten things about my lifestyle, beliefs, and/or morals:

I don't party.
There is no God.
I never, ever drink alcohol.
Abstinence is the best contraceptive.
Your clothes don't make you cool.
Mainstream pop and rap are horrible influences on kids.
Sex is the highest form of human interaction, not a matter to be taken lightly; it is exploited, not valued, by society.
Caffeine and Adderall go great together. But sugar kinda sucks.
Forcing your tastes in cultural matters onto others is a sign of immaturity and insecurity.
Knowing yourself is more important than knowing others.

Ten things I think and/or believe that others don't:

Breakfast is important!
Body rhythms DO change with age, naturally.
Global warming isn't human-induced.
Smoking weed causes lung cancer and heightens the risk of mental illness significantly.
Religion is a business just like any other.
Apple vs. Windows arguments are stupid.
The government has no business in our personal lives.
People are frequently happier alone.
If a mental/physical condition can be treated with medication, there is no excuse not to.
Alcohol ought to be regulated as strictly as firearms.

Ten things that people don't like about me:

I'm very open about my beliefs.
The music I listen to is way different than theirs.
It's sometimes hard to earn my respect (I admit it...)
I'm not afraid to speak my mind, even if it offends people. Suck it up.
I dress differently than they do.
I don't see grades in school as a vital means of judging academic potential and ability.
I always read into a situation or action - sometimes a bit too much.
I'm not straight.
I have no tolerance for naïve or ignorant people, and assault them with logic ad nauseam.
I use words longer than three syllables that aren't found in a sixth-grade vocab book.

Ten weaknesses of mine:

I lose my temper at stupid or ignorant people.
Motion sickness.
I don't deal with strong emotion very well.
Personal attacks make me flip out aggressively.
I'm over-modest and avoid performing or showing off my talents.
IT-AD/HD
I'm terrible at abstract reasoning unless it's perception-based.
I don't relate well to people my age.
I'm terribly out of shape.
I talk about my flaws too much.

Ten things I want to do with my life:

Go to a good college and hold a job at the same time.
Become totally fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
Publish something.
Release an album of original music.
Live overseas for a period of time.
Find a profession I thoroughly love.
Live past 50.
Achieve financial security.
Never break up, separate, or divorce.
Have a kid who won't turn out like me.

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J.B

Monday, 17 August 2009

Shooting and Grooving

Celtic music is awesome.

I recently went to Muzikfest, in Bethlehem, PA, a week-long festival showcasing all sorts of bands from pretty much everywhere. I still remember that eccentric Polish polka band I saw one year. And how about that 40s-style big band/swing outfit comprised of college students who look more like indie rockers? And of course, there's the features: last year, the Moody Blues played for $25 a ticket; this year featured Crosby, Stills, and Nash on the main stage.

I went more for the lower-profile bands: Blackwater, Butterjive, Music from China (a group from the Met), and an interesting-looking outfit called Scythian. "I think you'd like this; they look interesting," my mom said.

Scythian was awesome.

I'd highly recommend you check them out if you're into fast-paced, technically impressive, and lyrically amusing Celtic rock!

Shooting them was a bit of a problem, though. Even though I was REALLY up close and personal in the Celtic version of a mosh pit, I was using my 70-300 lens because I was kind of off to the side. The problem with this lens (which I bought in Beijing) is that it is an AF G. That's it. No ED glass, no motor, and most annoyingly, no VR. Even on a tripod, the slightest movement will cause ghosting artifact and ripples in the finished product - in other words, they're fuzzy. Naturally, at close ranges, this depends more on the shutter speed and flash which were fast and on, respectively, while I was shooting Scythian's great performance.

Here's one of the pictures that I love from the ones that turned out well, and here's a Facebook album I made of all the good ones.

Because Celtic music is so awesome, I just HAD to have more. Enter the Haggis is a band I found through iTunes when I was downloading Blaggards' album "Standards." iTunes recommended I check out "Soapbox Heroes," so I did, and loved it. To my surprise and delight, they were playing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival this past Saturday night. I left the 70-300 lens at home and drove the hour and a half to Lansdale with just the D60 and basic 18-55 lens, and got some pictures with which I am well pleased.

I was right in front of them this time, practically in the press box. However, the lighting was such that I'd have to use a long shutter to get the picture to look like the real thing (which of course wasn't possible, being a genre where the musicians move A LOT). It took awhile to get things just right, but cutting the f-stop and ISO waayy down and coupling it with +2 exposure compensation yielded workable results.

Here's the energetic frontman Brian Buchanon. Doesn't he just look like the kind of guy I'd like to meet?

And yeah, their music is amazing. They only played five or six songs, which made me sad. They did, however, sound exactly like they do on the albums - they gave a flawless live performance.

I took fewer pictures of ETH than I did of Scythian, mostly because of the lighting and short set (and I'd rather watch them play anyway.)

Here's the Facebook album of my Enter the Haggis pictures.

This is definitely something I'd enjoy doing...maybe not for a living, but for some money here and there, getting paid to see concerts and photograph the musicians would really be right up my ally...wouldnt't it...

J.B

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Note - RSS, YT, FB...

A note about this blog -

This blog is an RSS feed that's imported to various places. So, if you are reading this post as a note on Facebook, remember to check and see who wrote it! We sign at the bottom (I, that is, Jimmy, am/is the only one who forgets). I'm just posting that so that no one gets confused when a post made by Nate shows up on Jimmy's Facebook and people start commenting on it as though Jimmy knows what's going on. That's just what happens. So...check the signature.

NullCoding is on Youtube! We have been for awhile, but in a short while I'm gonna start uploading what I guess you'd call video blogs. We'll see how THAT goes...

Also, a note about my Facebook page...until I'm 18 I don't think you can get to the page...you might get a "page not found" error. So, for now, click on the Facebook badge on the right of this blog and become a fan of me (:S?). I know, I know...but I might post special stuff there!

Or I might just let it sit there and do nothing. Eh.



J.B

Friday, 31 July 2009

What is eternity?

...and how can it be captured?

There's a proverb out that informs us that only two things are certain: death and taxes.

I may have a problem with the latter and hold a blithe indifference towards the former, but I believe that more than simple human interaction with the system of life is both certain and perpetual.

As a photographer, I need to look for more than simply composition in a shot - it needs to speak to me. Moreover, I have to be able to infer the thoughts and perceptions of those who will eventually see the finished product. I've said this before - there's no point in taking a picture and giving it a status that says, "This has meaning" when no one can understand it. Although not all meanings are apparent, there must be at least some faint aspect of a message or meeting to cause people to search a little more, look a little deeper.

Love is a powerful emotion - those who haven't experienced it can't relate and those who have can't describe it. Although my primary purpose in visiting China back in June was as a student, I also intended to find great photographic opportunities as much as possible.

It is a tradition for those who live near - or even not so near - to the Yellow Mountains (Huang Shan) to put a padlock on the chains between the fence posts up there.

The tradition started some time ago, and symbolizes the perpetuity of love in a committed relationship. China, with a divorce rate nowhere near ours here in America, views the social life of married couples much differently. Once one has found love, it "binds" him to the other for eternity.



This photo is in honor of my girlfriend's and my six-month anniversary.

The meaning behind a photo is important. I loved the way this was set up and loved what it stood for. It's not even folklore or a legend (which account for the reasons behind most of China's little rituals and customs), just an idea - the idea that love endures forever.

As it should.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Shanghai revisited

The river tour I took in Shanghai was probably the best overall photographic experience of the trip.

The 45 minutes we spent on the river observing the city at night was great. In that space of time, the sun set dramatically over the city. It looked like this:



My computer decided it ought to look like this:



But really, it looks like this:



Currently, I'm in the mountains with internet filtered to block deviantART. I'll be uploading again on Monday.

I got my picture DVDs from China in the mail on Monday, so I'll be going through them for a while and posting the best ones all over.

That's all for now.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Casual Modelling and Human HDR

Before I say anything artsy at all, I feel as though I should apologize for not making the weekly posts I'd promised. I'd also like to apologize for the absence of every single other contributor, but I won't. They'll be back soon, I hope.

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Glamour modelling isn't as hard as it's made out to be. For a lot of my teenage years, I was told I ought to be a model. And no, it wasn't just my mother, it was anyone: people in clothing stores, people in coffee shops (the most awkward conversation starter EVER)...I never followed up on that suggestion; as someone so perpetually self-conscious and not always confident in my appearance, I found it hard to accept that I could model clothing. I know I wear clothes well - modesty aside, I tend to be a well-dressed person (generally). As an artist, I know about color co-ordination and complementation, what clashes and what doesn't; not walking in a straight line tends to contribute to my fashion choices and consciousness anyway. It stands to reason I'd be willing, if not eager, to intern at a portrait studio of some sort.

I've always hated the typical female model figure. The pencil-thin body, artificial tan, professionally done hair, fake boobs, all that crap - hated it. That sort of image has become a false idol for young girls everywhere - they see some perceived reason to aspire to that kind of skin-deep view of themselves and their peers, and aspire to emulate every aspect of the typical mainstream female fashion model.

I'm of the opinion that anyone can look good if they put their mind to it. With the value our society places on appearance, it's important to at least try. And come on, you know we all do a bit of camera-whoring when we get bored.




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"Human HDR" is in the title because I was always fascinated with the possibilities of HDR imaging, but never was able to make a human look good with higher-dynamic highlight processing. I decided to link the possibilities of human HDR imaging with the possibilities of casual modelling.

There's definitely some kind of message in the fact that two self-conscious people wind up with each other. There's a moral there. maybe it's the kind of problem that needs worked out together.

The raw camera file is below. I used full manual on my D60, 18-55 DX VR G ED basic lens.

There are several problems with this shot that become apparent. One of them was the wall of the house to the left, now cropped out. The other is the radio antenna going through her right arm. The sky's also pretty flat but that's alright when our subject is wearing such a busy outfit. I'm not a fan of flat, boring skies, but I can learn to deal. The last problem is those tan lines...kidding...


Photomatix Pro 3 allows the user to, instead of generating a full HDR with detail enhancing and tonal range compression, simply combine exposures of two or more images with S/H processing ranging from basic to intensive. I did a simple gamma pull on the raw file (after I removed the antenna with a brush tool - flat sky comes in handy for once!) and then combined them.

Technically, this is not "Human HDR" but it's close. Skin highlights are always interesting to deal with because the computer registers the skin as mainly reds and oranges - the same colors most often highlighted in direct-natural-light images. Notice the roof behind her - it got really vivid, which was a necessary sacrifice because those same settings brought out her natural skin glow so well.

Such circumstances make people look so pale. Can't have that. (In the raw file, she appears much paler than she is. The processed image is almost true-to-life!)

The final image is not only a great study in spontaneous modelling, but also great practice at achieving more realistic, higher-dynamic images.

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Feel free to contact me through any link on the right side of this page. My images are my property and are licensed under Creative Commons licenses. I welcome your feedback/criticism/comments!

J.B

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

5-Star hotel, 3-Star room

I will let you make your own judgment on this one, but let's just say that my personal experiences left a bit to be desired.

The Grand Hotel, in Taipei, Taiwan, is an authentic Chinese palace-styled five-star hotel originally built to accommodate visiting dignitaries. It's a nice place, although the campus itself is a bit sketchy and getting there involves a fair bit of walking up hills and watching out for poisonous snakes and stray dogs.

On the whole, I was unsatisfied with the experience I had there...I was fully expecting a five-star hotel, with all the amenities, although in all fairness I'd never actually stayed at one before.

All the other hotels we stayed at were three- and four-star hotels that provided us with a great deal of amenities and services we weren't expecting: complimentary slippers and bathrobes, inexpensive laundry services, soap, lotion, and bodywash dispensers in the showers, nice views of the city/countyside, and low-priced food and drink in the lobby shop.

The Grand Hotel had none of the above for us. There were no bathrobes, and the single pair of feminine, sandal-like leather "slippers" in the room cost NT$250 (about US$8) to use. The bathroom had no dispensers; rather, they provided us with two little bottles, one of shampoo and the other of bodywash, akin to the type you'd find in a Holiday Inn Express here in the States. There was no lotion. The paint in the bathroom was poorly applied and could not disguise the aging and cracked woodwork. Oh, and the unappealing wallpaper in the bathroom was - get this! - moldy.



The laundry service there, should I have decided to throw in all my dirty clothes at the time, would have run me a ridiculous NT$500 in total (about US$15) compared to the ¥50 I could have spent on laundry in our 3-star in Beijing (approx. US$8).

There was a mini-fridge in the room, of course (it wasn't cold), that contained cans of Coca-Cola and three types of beer, as well as mini bottles of whiskey and Johnny Walker, and a bottle of water. The Coke was the cheapest thing there, costing a mere NT$150 (US$4.50). The next cheapest was the bottle of water, with a price of NT$200 (US$6).

Paradoxically, there was a vending machine on the campus of the hotel, down near what I presumed was the maintenance shed, where one could get an identical can of Coke for NT$20 (US 60¢).

Did I mention how small the room was? There was only a single light in the ceiling (the others were above the bed and the table). Notice the two lamps in the picture of our room below? The one on the right had a broken switch so it didn't work. We ended up using the tiny spotlight in the ceiling instead. The far wall, as in most hotels, was all windows, but they didn't open as far as I could tell. And how about this view?


So much for a pleasant view of Shanghai at night, or overlooking the campus of Peking University, or a panorama of Hangzhou - this five-star hotel gives you a concrete wall and a jungle!

I was lucky to snap that picture, too, as the windows had a nasty habit of accumulating condensation to the point where we couldn't see out of them.


I didn't take a picture of the room until my roommate and I were packing in prep to check out. I am standing in front of the door, the bathroom is to my left and a desk with a light is to the right.

The beds were smaller than what we'd had at other hotels, but they were by far the most comfortable, which definitely made up for the moldy bathroom, at least a little bit.

Unfortunately, the lights were positioned in such a way that we couldn't reach them from the bed, as we could in all the other hotels. They had to be turned off before one gets in bed, which resulted in my tripping not once, but twice...

The walls had been spackled over and over in attempts to hide what upon closer inspection appeared to be dents or even holes. Tacky. Just like the conspicuous lack of décor.

Luckily, the breakfast at The Grand Hotel reminded me that we were indeed in a five-star hotel.


It wasn't all that easy to remember that little fact, though. I presume this is a side of The Grand Hotel that people rarely see or hear about. I didn't have a very satisfying experience there, let's say.

Just thought I'd share that. Again, make your own judgment.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Triumphant Return

I am back from China.

Although my primary purpose in going was to hone my language skills, I also used the last three weeks overseas as an ideal opportunity to hone my photography skills. Having never actually owned an SLR camera, much less a passport, I found the trip eye-opening. Pun not intended, I have been awake for quite a long while as I write this post recounting the trip in vague detail.

From a Philadelphia suburb, I and the 29 others on the trip departed by bus for NYC's JFK airport at 2015 hours and arrived at 2345; our flight for Shanghai Pudong International Airport departed on schedule at 0100 and touched down in Shanghai at 0513 local time. That's where keeping track of things gets a little confusing. According to our bodies, it was actually 1713 but naturally, we'd slept on the plane - in prep for getting on another one, which we did, at 0830, en route to Beijing. I think we landed at about 1030 hours. We spent the following hours on a bus, on foot touring the campus of 北京大學 (Peking University), and getting settled at 中館圜(Zhongguanyuan Global Village at PKU), our temporary home for about a week.

Rather than reiterate the time spent in Beijing, I think I'll instead talk about the pictures I took on the trip as a whole.

I returned with about 1,300 pictures between my D60 and Powershot. It'll take me weeks to go through them all and sort them into Facebook albums and DeviantArt-worthy shots and whatnot. This one that I've posted on dA is the last of the trip, as we were all waiting for our delayed return flight home.

I plan on making maybe ten albums on Facebook and uploading many more to dA and this blog.

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While I'm in an informative mood, I think I'll post an update on what exactly happened to everyone else here.

Nate is on vacation in California until July 8th; though he can use the internet he hasn't been, really. Tom is in Australia visiting family, and Scott is off dealing with some issues he hopes will be resolved soon.

My personal schedule for the rest of the summer involves hopping around the US East Coast and photographing the places I go with an approach I would ambitiously label "passive photojournalism," in which little unique details, frequently overlooked, serve to describe the "bigger picture." In areas such as rural Vermont, the Pocono Mountains, and beachfront South Carolina, the possibilities are fascinating and barely limited.

A postless month merits at least some attempt at an explanation, so there you have it.

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By popular request, the itinerary of my visit to China:

Beijing
Tunxi (Hongcun Village)
Huangshan
Shanghai
Hangzhou
Taipei

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-JB

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Horizon Holds Infinity

How many times in history have we, as humans, simply stared off into the distance, towards the horizon, imagining the innumerable things that were to come?

The horizon is the proverbial representation of our everlasting anticipation of the future. We like to contemplate the future without really considering what will bring it about. The horizon is a natural occurrence - the Earth is round, so the sky meets the land somewhere off in the distance because we're standing on a uniformly curved plane. Nothing brings about the horizon; it's a constant. The horizon, while it may stand for the future in some philosophical sense, is completely different than what is yet to come.

Everything we do determines our future. Our actions, our words, and our choices all shape and ultimately bring about the events we so constantly anticipate. It's been said that "the past is past." It's been said that we ought to "live in the now." In fact, the true way to live is to look towards the future. There is no way to know where you're going if you don't know where you are or where you've been, so being future-oriented is ultimately fulfilling in every way possible.

I consider myself a goal-oriented person. Although I have a fairly profound learning disability, I view the extent to which I accomplish my goals as the sum of my efforts. This is a priori. The horizon is a constant. We don't know what exactly is beyond it, but we know it's there. Similarly, there will always be a future. We don't know what exactly it will hold for us, for our goals, or for our dreams, but we know it will happen one way or another.

There are few things that we have power over in this world. Our future is one of them. We always have had free will - sometimes, we just forget how to use it. The horizon holds infinite possibilities simply because we have the power to choose them. An extrapolation of this would be to hold the belief that the unknowable unseen is the very essence of free will itself.

I'm going to China for three weeks in June. From the 7th to the 28th, I'll be travelling all over, from Beijing to Shanghai and many little places in between. Saying China is photogenic is like saying they speak Chinese. Saying it will be an educational experience is like saying that China is in Asia. I know these things; they're objective facts, and I know they're in my future, just over the horizon. Can I predict the kinds of pictures I'll take, where I'll take them, and how people will like them? No, not at all. Can I even begin to wrap my head around how much I'll learn about the culture and language of China? Sort of. But I'll have to wait to find out.

At any rate, the future holds a great deal. We know that. However, the fact that we know it exists matters less than how we expereince it when we get there. Objective realities are pointless to the contemplative mind because they're simply there. Completely objective and rationalizable - just like everything else. The unexamined life is not worth living - so the future itself, as some sort of "entity," means nothing. It's the experiences we'll have, the things we'll accomplish, and the circumstances that dictate those experiences and accomplishments yet to come. We have the free will to determine our future before we get there. The horizon holds infinity - the future is much, much more than we know.


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J.B.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Here is a Something

I decided that, since the school year is nearly over, and this is the last day of classes, I should make a Something during my copious (two+ hours) of free time.

To make this Something, which happens to be a fractalized overlay-collage, I first took three shots of Philadelphia from the Expressway at night. Given that they were taken with a PAS and were blurry, this created a very interesting effect.

That building near the highway going into the city, with all the blue lights? That's a cool subject. The other blue bar is the dashboard of the friend's car in which I was being driven. The third picture is an Else that was probably just light graffiti. Who cares.

The original, before fractalization, looked like this.



After fractalization, we have this.


And after HDRifying, we finally have this.


This was a fun little Something to do. As usual, click to get the full-size image. I called this Something "The City Glows at Night" because, well, the city glows at night. And it's also a fractal trace so it looks cool. I think. I like it, at least.

Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

That's all for now. There are more on a Facebook album...but the average blog reader probably isn't my FB-friend.

Have a nice weekend.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

There's Only So Much

Really, there is.

Help Jimmy out, he's in a creative rut and can't think of anything to do except fractals and light graffiti. You know someone is bored when he finds fractals utterly fascinating...

As the title of this little memo suggests, the team has come to the realization that there's really only so much that one can photograph in his daily encounters. Short of going miles and miles away, post creative ideas for shooting (Jimmy alone, or a whole team project kind of thing).

With summer approaching and NullCoding going to China for all of June, probably with a shiny new SLR (sigh of relief), we'll be busy and hopefully a great deal more creative.

In other news, feel free to drop by our old forums! There's usually a nice little discussion you can read and contribute to, registration is free, and moderation is loose.

In the near future there will probably be more fractal light graffiti stuff, as well as a possible Facebook album of whatever that will be referenced here, and then much much later, whatever NullCoding decides to shoot in China.

Nate E

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Listen With Your Eyes

I'm not much of a dancer.

In fact, I don't do well at all in situations such as dances, raves, hardcore parties, mosh pits, and the like. It therefore stands to reason that I'm a huge fan of hardcore electro, freeform hardcore, hardstyle trance, death metal, and grindcore.

Rather than dance to this music, I enjoy it from afar. I'm the type of person who would close his eyes and drift off into whatever Dark Nebula can kick out of a two hundred watt subwoofer, or let himself be assaulted by Aaron Funk's ceaseless Venetian Snares. I'm both a photographer and a musician, but not an art critic or a dancer. I certainly know people who love dancing to music - I'm dating one - but I'm not one of them.

Can you dance to a picture?



Sometimes my senses get the better of me. Colors and sounds can merge - tactile sensations blend with visual perceptions. It's not always a particularly enjoyable or even expected situation, but intriguing irrespective of circumstance.

Sometimes my eyes like to do things independent of what I wish. Sometimes they like to dance to pictures, and I go along with it. I hear what the picture is saying to me, and I listen.

I tend to approach art, namely photography, as an uncarved block, and observe it until I believe the block has been adequately whittled into a relatable representation of ideas. It's neither a fresh approach nor an ignorant one. Rather, it's the welcoming of the pure mindset that is the proverbial "blank slate."

A friend once told me that he saw things in the intricate latticework of Celt-Arabia that he was not entirely sure were intended. The Islamo-Celtic style of interlaced inkwork fascinated me but did not speak to me in the same way. To my friend, the crisscrossing, intersecting, bisecting, triangle-forming lines said things and stood for things that only he could quite understand. They decided to tell me something quite different. It was an amazing experience.

Art isn't seeing, it's listening. Anyone can look at a picture and see what it contains or represents. Art is being able to listen to what it tells you.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Fractal Light Graffiti

Fractals are fun.

Here I've taken some light graffiti and used a Mandelbrot algorithm in Gimp to render a fractal out of it. (Map > Fractal Trace)

Click for full view.

Just thought I'd share that. It was fun to make and kind of makes a trippy desktop background kind of thing.

Monday, 4 May 2009

True Tonal Range with Photomatix Pro

Scott thinks that 5-minute Photoshop job counts as HDR.

No, I'll show you HDR. However amateur, the point stands that the imaging and post-processing method results in aesthetically beautiful photography.

We'll start out with three pictures that look like this.

One of these is the original. The top one has been adjusted for S/H and the bottom for B/C.

Combining them in Photomatix Pro 3 results in a crappy looking HDR render. It's exactly the same as the finished product but has not been processed to be displayed on a computer monitor or viewed by a person with normal vision. Imagine the bottom photo up there, only more washed out.

This is why we have tone-mapping. This tool gives you full control over what the final image will look like, from gamma and S/H to microsmoothing and highlight render density. Playing around with this program for the first time was the most fun I'd had on a computer for quite some time.

The finished product will not only have amazing tonal range and density, but also surreal color and perfect contrast. Think of it as a photographic compromise of sorts. It takes three (or more, but in this case three) images and draws from them all the detail, S/H, B/C, color balance, and gamma value, and then merges them to create something beautiful.

The final image looks like this.

It's this image.

Photomatix Pro can be downloaded as a free demo here. The full version costs $99. The trial doesn't expire but it does watermark your images, which a lot of people probably find very annoying. If you want to play around with it though, not for anything professional, go ahead and download it.

That's all for now, but my dabbling in this field of photography has only just begun...

Friday, 1 May 2009

Cloud Conceptualization (HDR)

HDR, or "high dynamic range" images have amazing color, shadows, and highlights compared to an ordinary image.

The effect is achieved through combining multiple shots of different exposures and then tone-mapping them.

In this post, NullCoding showed how simple color balancing and highlight adjustment in Photoshop can bring out details you couldn't even see otherwise. The original picture and its result after processing can be viewed in that post.

However, using the program Photomatix, the two images can be combined to create an HDR image. Since they will be read as being of different exposures, the highlights and shadows will be combined. While this isn't really the best example, it shows what tone-mapping can do.

It took about five minutes for this. The only problem is that the more involved the job is, the more processing power it will take...

Here is the image obtained by processing the original.


























Now here is the image obtained by generating an HDR of the washed-out original AND the Photoshopped one.



There will be more of these in the near future. Until then expect more from NullCoding while the rest of the "team" waits around...

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Collages

I will be doing some more collages in the next week.

Photo-collage is an art that typically uses splicing and fusing rather than blunt superposition. I plan to utilize the latter technique.

This involves placing a tripod and (ideally) spiking it, then taking pictures of a subject or subjects as it/they move or change. This can be compared to super-long exposure night shots in which you observe moving of the stars, or time-lapse movie making.

In this case, however, I plan on using Gimp and Photoshop in conjunction with each other to open individual photos as layers, crop out superfluous (in this case, identical) pieces, and wind up with interesting collage-like results.

Some of my recent experiments have come out varying ways; the previous post here included the picture "Rush Hour," my personal favorite from this small series. The only real reason they were posted was to see initial reactions and reception. It was understandably less than expected.

The first subject will be a play rehearsal. Results may not be processed and finished until the end of the week due to a busy schedule, but I shall have another post detailing exactly what I see in superposition and collage.

Friday, 24 April 2009

New Obsession

I've been doing manips :)

A combination of long-exposure shots in Gimp (layered and opacity-altered) that are then imported into Photoshop and processed for highlighting, shadows, and contrast balance looks like this:


There are others, but it's a strange kind of thing to make and to look at. These have to have significance to someone.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Churches

Now, I am no fan of churches, or cathedrals, or anything representing organized religion, but they can be some very architecturally pleasant buildings.

In fact, it almost seems as though the churches around here adopt some kind of "holier-than-thou" attitude towards their physical structures, with the hopes that people will think their God is more present in a more formidable and impressive structure.

This is the church seen in this and this. This one was taken across the street; I really liked the Gothic-style belfry and windows. There's some pretty cool stained-glass work, as well.

There will also be some pictures of another church later on, but at the time of this (somewhat overdue) post, nothing at all is centralized, and I have memory cards and data files lying all over the place. Flash drives, SD cards, laptop, iMac at the school lab, several cameras, two iPhoto libraries, and two DeviantArt folders on two computers make it difficult to keep up...

Friday, 17 April 2009

Nullcoding on Youtube

There may not be much of a point at the moment but we're on YouTube now.

The username is NullCoding, what a surprise.

Currently there are a couple blog posts in the works, for instance one about the crappy old PowerShot A60 Jimmy has been shooting with (and fixed, as well) and his experiments with the A550.

Why can't that kid just get a nice SLR and be done with it? :D

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

E5600 update

It broke now.

Here's the parts of it.

I think it's that orange bus cable sticking out that is bent and therefore won't work. Oh well. It served me well - for an obsolete little point-and-shoot - it took hundreds of pictures and now a lot of them are up here.

Time for a new camera.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Snag

So here's a small problem I seem to have run into.


Yes, I dropped it. This after it was more or less totally unscrewed.



Believe it or not, the screen actually looked exactly like that (sans strange angle) prior to the unwanted bodywork.


Power button still works, lens is just peachy, and yes, that's packing tape holding it together up there.


It's considerably more difficult to change the batteries now, though still possible. It'll also mount to a tripod just fine.

That's the SD slot, but it doesn't go anywhere now. The actual slot is exposed now, slightly to the right of the flip-up lid.

Everything still works just fine. There are no problems other than the fact the camera is now essentially in two pieces. Oh, and the screen is set off at a jaunty angle, making it a pain to preview pictures.

Thought I'd share... :|

Saturday, 11 April 2009

I like Canon

The Canon vs. Nikon battle tends to be fought on the premise that even though both are superb camera manufacturers, they each have defining features that make them more desirable, period. There are people who stick with Canon because "Nikon's menus are too hard to read" and people who use only Nikon because "Canons aren't as feature-rich."

So I have a Nikon E8700 and I'm looking at a D40, but lately I've been using almost predominantly Canon - Canon point-and-shoots, that is.



So this picture was taken with a 6 second shutter time and looks great. The lighting and color were near perfect coming right off the camera; the only thing that really needed done was minor contrast enhancement to correct light overflow (six seconds of light from a sodium-compound-based streetlight would cause significant glare with any camera).



This was a 2-second shutter and was barely tweaked. In fact, I tend to have to tweak my daylight photos A LOT more than my nighttime ones. I think it has a lot to do with how much easier it can be to control the lighting at night. Not only can I choose an exposure time that makes for a completely different picture, but the light is minimal enough to begin with that if I see a scene that looks good to my eye, it will be very easy to make it look like that to my camera.

Anyway, just an update. I really like this Canon PowerShot A550. 7.1 megapixels, which is lower resolution than my Nikon E8700, but with half the zoom and a smaller fstop range and focal range - in fact, smaller everything...but I love it for day to day shooting. It isn't even the most recent model; it's several years old.

Time for more nightshot editing. :)

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Cloud Conceptualization II

In the first of this little series, I showed how in-camera settings can dramatically change how a picture looks. Now for some after-processing.

Photoshop can be useful for attaining deeper and more complicated photos. Naturally, it's a great show of talent if one gets a shot where little to no after-processing is necessary at all. After-processing only makes a good shot look better, after all.

Of course, sometimes a photo is taken with distinct intentions of processing to gain a more vivid and occasionally surreal appearance. For instance, look at the shot below. I took my E8700, set it to "Auto", put it on a tripod, pointed it straight up, and pressed the shutter button. The resulting picture looked like this:


(click to see full-size)

But that isn't at all interesting. This picture may look washed out, but it doesn't have to be. The texture of the clouds should in fact be the focus of the photo as the comparatively plain trees are super-imposed, but it's not apparent. In fact, it's there but barely visible. Thus, it's necessary to do a fair bit of color balancing and level adjustment to bring it out. Thus:


(click to see full-size)
Link
Notice that the entire picture has gotten darker. It was necessary to bring out the darker colors and the neutrals while keeping the lighter colors at their present levels. This has distinguished the texture, which is here essentially created by differing shades of gray.

This involves playing with the color balance and contrast. The blue was brought up and the contrast was raised. Additionally, I raised the neutrals and the level of darker (black-derived) colors. The trees are only there to provide context; they are not the picture's subject. This is why the fact they are now darker and more super-imposed (and less detailed) isn't a big deal at all.

This picture turned out quite well. Now, it is my deviation called "Incoming".

Perhaps in the future, we'll have more on this little cloud fetish of mine. In the meantime, check out this, this, and this - all pictures of mine in which the clouds are not processed beyond simple contrast adjustment to correct for camera weakness. However, the epic clouds in this photo are color-enhanced about as much as "Incoming" (above).

Photoshop isn't everything, though. Here's an example of a really good picture in which nothing has been after-processed.

So, that's all for now. Have fun pursuing your own cloud stuff - the possibilities are practically endless.

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