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.



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...