Graphic & Photo Manipulation

Littering – A Study in Still Life

I was recently inspired to write this post by a blogging acquaintance who resides at her blog, PiedType, who just in the last few days featured a post titled “Haute couture made of Senegalese garbage” which highlights the human pollution that is a very serious issue in areas of Africa and features photography as a means of exposing this growing problem.

I was reminded as I read the associated article from her post and viewed the associated photographs of my own endeavors somewhat along those lines although to a much, much lesser extent for sure. Nevertheless, my intent was similar in nature regarding our own attitudes here in the United States regarding litter and garbage.

Certainly our issues here are far less critical than those in Africa but nonetheless, constantly they deserve our attention. Our landfills are certainly of concern and have been for some time now but on a better note, our efforts to eliminate littering have much improved. Not solved by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly improved over what we were dealing with a generation ago.

I have submitted a few samples my own photography work in the area of littering and thought I would share them here today on my latest blog post….

Chicken Noodle Soup Can(Chicken Noodle Still Life)

Spam Can - 01(Spam Still Life)

Gold Medal Flour Bag with Flowers(Recycled Flour Bag & Flowers)

Tomato Soup Can(Portrait of a Soup Can)

The only confession I suppose I should make with regard to the subjects of my photographs is that there may be noted a palatable influence by some of Andy Warhol’s work if the soup can subjects were to somehow catch your eye.

Other than that, I figured that if we as a society enjoy littering so much that surely there is also a place in our culture for the art that celebrates such things…. 🙂

Playing with Paint Shop Pro….

I have been spending a lot of time lately tinkering with graphic projects over the past few weeks. I have been an ardent user of Paint Shop Pro for a number of years while many others choose Adobe Photoshop as their graphics program of choice. Lately I have been creating “picture frames” which are actually “graphic” picture frames that can be used to frame your digital photographs and other images of choice.

For example, below is a sample frame I created….

Custom Frame - 030(Click on image to enlarge)

Now, here is a painting of an owl framed with my created frame….

Custom Frame - Owl(Click on image to enlarge)

Then when you get really, really bored, you can always take a graphic and do something silly with one of your frame designs….

Custom Frame - OOB(Click on image to enlarge)

That’s it from here! I’m back off to the drawing ‘board’…..no pun intended! 😀

A first for me – the “Panorama” photograph….

I began experimenting this week with “panorama” photographs. These type photos are primarily desired if you want to take an all-encompassing landscape or cityscape photo which cannot be captured in one photo. If you do an image search on Google and use “panorama photos” for your search term you can see some excellent examples.

The panorama shot I have inserted at the bottom of this post is a photograph of what is referred to here in the Greater Little Rock area as “The Big Dam Bridge”. It is a foot bridge that was built across the Arkansas River to allow walkers and bikers to transverse the river between Little Rock and North Little Rock and is part of an extensive “river trail” that runs along both sides of the river. Currently it is touted as the longest foot bridge in the country. Much more info on this bridge and the river trail can be found here if you have an interest. Below is an aerial photo I found that will give you a sense of size.

Aerial Photo - Big Dam Bridge(Click on image to enlarge)

In the aerial photo note that the lower bridge is the foot bridge traversing the ‘lock and dam’ while the upper bridge is a vehicle interstate bridge crossing the river.

Anyway….so I thought I would share this endeavor along with showing off the “Big Dam Bridge”! My ‘panoramic” photo is below.

Big Dam Bridge(Click on image to enlarge)

The right side of the photo is where you enter the foot bridge on the North Little Rock side and you can follow it as it crosses the river. It was actually built on top of an existing lock and dam. I continued to take photographs until reaching the river bank on my left side. This panorama photo actually contains ten (10) separate photographs which have been “stitched” together to form one single photograph. They actually have software these days that pretty much handles the whole process for you. All you have to do is pretty much take the photos although there are some specific techniques best to employ when doing so.

An “Out-of-Border” Experience….

I had my first ever “out-of-border” experience several months ago. And what is that you might ask? Well, it’s a technique that revolves around the manipulation of a graphic image, usually a photograph, using a software program such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel’s Paint Shop Pro. Via the process you create an image where a portion of the image appears to be outside a frame or border which you also add to the original image. It gives the illusion of being a 3-D photograph if you will. Since, as always, a picture is worth a thousand words below you will note an original photograph and then directly below the same image where the technique has been applied. I secured permission to use the original photo shown below from photographer Igor Siwanowicz because I thought it would lend itself so well for the application of the technique.

My_brother__s_1st_blade_by_Blepharopsis(Before….) (click on image to enlarge)

My_brother__s_1st_blade_by_Blepharopsis - OOB(….After) (click on image to enlarge)

But let me address an issue of some concern to me personally. As it turns out, most folks use an acronym when referring to the technique which is “OOB”. To further complicate my original search on information about the technique, I found that some folks refer to the acronym as standing for “out-of-bounds” while others refer to it as meaning “out-of-border”. Go to one of the more popular photo-hosting sites such as Flickr or PBase and do a search on ‘OOB’, ‘out-of-bounds’, or ‘out-of-border’ and in all three cases you will come up with photos that have had the subject technique applied. I fail to understand why there can not be one name – one technique! I love to invent words as much as the next person, but at least I check and see if one already exists. Yea, I know….”Bitch, bitch, bitch!” But that is one of my pet peeves.

I can only imagine the ensuing debate and/or discussion should one decide to take it upon themselves to try and resolve this “double definition” of the same technique. But for me it is quite simple I’m afraid. In all my experience with graphics and photography, I have never, ever heard the term “bounds” used to describe some part of a photograph. I have, on the other hand, heard thousands of times the term “border” used with regard to the same.

And while I am up here on my soap box just one more brief word about techniques in general….any technique. Most have appropriate applications but then they also have their inappropriate applications. I have from time to time heard an artist or craftsman say that such-and-such a technique is really nice….but it is “over used” in the particular application. I think “misused” rather than “over used” is the more definitive word. In photography especially with the advent of digital cameras and associated software, numerous manipulative techniques have come into being but the large majority are used on subjects just for the sake of using the technique. Certainly such is the case with the out-of-border technique. With most of the “OOB” photos I have encountered the majority have had the technique applied for the sake of the technique and not because of the artistic enhancement it adds to the original.

In closing let me share yet one more image if I may. I also took one of my favorite “Petography” photos and applied to technique also and was relative pleased with the results.

German Shepard 02(click on image to enlarge)

This one’s for you Andy… wherever you are!

A few months ago I had, at best, only heard of Andy Warhol from time to time and even at that, it seemed to always be with regard to some rather strange or alien form of so-called art being aired in some matter of media. And then this past July Cowtown Pattie of Texas Trifles published a post which addressed a few unbelievable, if not outrageous, prices being paid for some particular pieces of art. Nothing however that I had not been exposed to before, with the exception of one item in particular. A rather simple drawing/painting of a Campbells soup can which had been rendered on paper as all but destroyed. It sold for almost a measly 11.8 million dollars at an auction held by Christie’s in New York City. And the artist….? Well it was the infamous, if not notorious by some opinions, Andy Warhol.

And what of the piece of art that all the fuss is about….here you go!

Warhol Pepper Pot Soup(Selling Price – $11,776,000)

Very quickly….here are a couple of links regarding the auction and subsequent sale that will bring you up to speed on this matter if you have any interest.

Art Auction Catalogue Excerpts: “Christie’s Contemporary Art Auction of May 9, 2006”

Bloomburg Cultural News and Commentary: “Eli Broad Buys Warhol ‘Soup Can’ in 143 Million Christie’s Auction”

Continuing…..it took at least a few days for me to render myself to a reasonable conscious state after dealing with the shock of such a price….for such a piece of art. But the more I kept looking at this apparently ridiculous artistic impression, the more and more intrigued I became. And then I began reading and researching more and more on the life and times of Mr. Warhol. After all….he was the cause of this agony I was putting myself through.

It was during this research and subsequent self-imposed contemplative thinking that I began to have deep concern as to why Andy chose the Campbells soup can as his subject. I mean if I were going to pick some innocent can to paint why not the infamous “SPAM can”. Nothing has taken such abuse over the years as has the American delicacy of Spam. But then as I proceeded through the educational process of getting to know more about Andy I found that his endeavors were actually directed toward something he was endeared to in a sense. He actually really liked Campbells soup and often ate it for lunch as a child. He did many varying renditions of this favorite subject of his.

By this time, and I can not under any reason of logic tell you why, I had been totally captivated by this whole thing. It began to remind me of that scene from “As Good As It Gets” where Jack Nicholson’s gay neighbor has returned from the hospital from his injuries suffered in his apartment robbery and Jack has to return the little dog whom he had been forced to watch after and at one point he hated and now he is totally in love with. As he sits at his piano and softly plays the keys tears begin to swell in his eyes from the loss of his little canine friend and he utters those famous words with a subdued grimace among the tears….”I don’t even like dogs”!

Holy soup cans Batman….I had been transformed and could actually relate to this form of art and the paintings and drawings of Andy Warhol. In fact, thoughts began to race through my mind that if I were indeed a wealthy man, would I have actually tried to out bid the billionaire who actually purchased this painting. Seriously, I am now thinking I might have given it a go.

I had become determined to somehow put forth a rendition now of a Spam Can by the fire within started by Mr. Warhol. But I can not paint but wait….I do have some measure of abilities when it comes to creating artistic graphics. But first I need a reasonably good camera to supply a base for my project. I do want to do justice to my inspiration. And as many of you know, I did purchase a new camera. What you had no way of knowing was the specific reason behind that decision. Yes, I know this is perhaps the point where you think I am expecting you to chuckle perhaps and then me tell you I was only joking but I kid you not. The primary reason behind the purchase of the camera was to do the Spam Can. Actually, it is now going to be a “Spam Can Series” but that will all come later as my project proceeds.

In between other photographic endeavors that I have previously subjected my visitors to, I have been totally obsessed to a degree with my new passion. And yes, passion would adequately describe my feelings. First, I wanted to try and capture my impression of Andy’s favorite subject so the following is my completed impression of my Campbells soup can I have simply titled “The Chicken Noodle Doodle”.

Chicken Noodle Doodle(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)Secondly, I wanted to do a soup can impression that I would hope would in some manner please the artistic nature of Mr. Warhol. This one is titled “My Andy Warhol Tribute”.

An Andy Warhol Tribute(Click to Enlarge)

And then of course there comes the infamous ‘Spam Can’ impression. So below is the first in what I hope is an extended series of Spam cans. This one is simply titled “The Spam Can”.

The Spam Can(Click to Enlarge)

I have continued to expand my realm of interest and applications to include cars and houses. The photo below shows some completed prints ready to pack, crate and ship to New York City at a moments notification should Christie’s ever call. That is assuming that you think I continue to jest. As to the seriousness of all this….I leave it to you to decide.

Processed & Enlarged PhotographsClick to Enlarge)

There you have it. There is a new passion in my life – for better or worse. So for my frequent visitors, your greatest fear should be that if I disappear from my blog for days on end that I have embarked on yet another project which in the end will probably return to these pages to punish you for your daring to return for a visit.

Some final words in closing…..I wrote Cowtown Pattie a personal email informing her last week that I was about to use her name in vain on my blog but one of the things I said to her with regard to the subject matter that I would like to share is the following:

“I suppose this may all sound a bit strange but we never know what affect, either directly or indirectly, little unassuming things we do or say on our blogs may inspire in others. In the end I surely won’t be seeing any of my artistic endeavors being offered at Christies but my life has been more fulfilled, enjoyable and fun since then for whatever reason.”

So Pattie… Thank you for your inspirational posts on your blog. And if and when I have my first show and sell my first Spam Can print for some large sum of money which is surely inevitable, please know that I do not forget those like yourself who have been so inspirational in my life. Immediately after said sale and auction I will be sending you and your entire family free tickets to “Six Flags Over Texas”. That’s right….you can believe it! I don’t kid about things like this. Especially if my “Spam Can” sells for $11.8 million.

For more links and information on Andy Warhol check out the following if interested:

Wikipedia: “Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans”

With regard to the following links the associated audio is very insightful biographically speaking….

National Public Radio: “Warhol Signed Soup Can – Art or Memento?”

National Public Radio: “I Bought Andy Warhol”

National Public Radio: “A Warhol Retrospective”

National Public Radio: “Illustrator and Writer James Warhola”