It’s Wednesdog!

Spooky! WordPress has a mind of its own today. This picture posted without me writing about it.

Meet Cinderella.

Cinderella was one of the dogs we shot last year during a fundraiser. Her owners, a man with his daughter, wouldn’t allow Cinderella off leash. They were afraid she would run of immediately.

But Cinderella did well after we convinced them to hang back a little and let us contribute calm energy toward her.

I have very little other information about her.

I know I’m late today with Wednesdog, and I always imagine regular reader Jude stomping around his house/office hitting walls with his fist screaming, “Why hasn’t Jeremy posted Wednesdog! WHY WHY WHY!!!”

And then after I post it, his thumb goes immediately in his mouth and he cuddles up with a blanket, Sam and Anna and stares dreamily into the dog’s eyes.

Honk.

On Photoshop … continued

Only a few of you read my response to Lousy Canuck and Biodork’s take on how Photoshop contributes to ruining people’s perception of beauty. I don’t mind. It was long. And I got a little snarky. Okay a lot snarky.

The long and short of my “argument” is that techniques predating Photoshop have been used since long before Photography was invented to enhance photography. Photoshop is not the enemy of beauty or our perception of beauty. Ignorance is the enemy of what’s beautiful. Often, as adults, we need to be shown and taught was is and is not attractive. And often, what’s considered “ugly” is considered “ugly” based on a lack of knowledge.

A couple points came up while Tina and I were discussing the topic:

  • Our grandparents’ wedding photography used techniques that smooth the skin and create illusions of better images.
  • To further one point, a baby doesn’t need to be taught to groove to music. A baby will “dance” to music at early ages. A baby isn’t taught to know what is beautiful, but you can tell that babies are attracted to certain people and not others. These mechanisms are evolutionary based. You’ve seen babies flirt. The Point: we “know” from an early age what is and isn’t attractive. Children have no filter and can easily distinguish — quite vocally — what they approve of and do not.
  • In the cases of commercial photography/Photoshop, everyone needs to become educated about techniques used and to meet models. It really helps.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a female image that I wanted to show at the moment, so Aaron gets to be my guinea pig today. I was looking at some work I did to the above photo of regular reader and my best and oldest friend Aaron. I’ve known the guy since we were five or six. The above image is different than the one I posted here.

Click on the image above to enlarge.

I’m not saying the work on the image is stellar or amazing, but it shows a point or two. I like where it went. But like all art, it’s subjective.

The first image is straight out of the camera. I used my flash with dome diffusion. I didn’t have a stand with me, so I had Tina hold the flash. I didn’t mind the shadow on this shot, because it mimicked the line from the staircase. The image isn’t bad out of camera. But it needs some sharpening and color enhancing.

Another aspect of the original image is that Aaron’s jeans were a bit baggy. He’s been running his ass off … literally. And if I didn’t have him stand the way he is, you’d tilt your head and wonder. It was our job to take Aaron’s person and adjust it on set. You wouldn’t know it if I didn’t tell you (maybe). My point is that it’s the photographer’s job to enhance, to trick you, to add, not take away.

And then Photoshop comes in

I’ve been using a variation of a set of steps I learned from an Adam Elmakias technique that Bill Whitmire introduced me to. You can see that by the time you get to the Photoshopped dodge and burn step that the textures in Aaron’s clothing are popping. The contrast is starting to give Aaron an edge, and it’s bringing out the graffiti as well. Aaron’s skin is a little more smoothed out.

But if you start looking closer, check the gravel on the ground. Trash never looked so cool as it does in this photo. The art isn’t great, but it works. The depth in the brickwork is more pronounced. Hopefully it’s more subtle than abrupt, which is key to image enhancement. But I don’t want this image to be completely “subtle.” I want it to smack you in the face, whether you like it or not.

Last step, I like to play in Lightroom with some presets once I’ve done a few steps in Photoshop. The preset I used above is a variation of one I found called, “Wet Chrome.” I like the edges vignetted and how it alters the color to a cooler version of the original’s warmth.

I promise I’ll put together a version with a woman soon. I had an image of Tina that I recently worked.

I’m a little more sensitive about the work I do to women’s images, though, so it’s a bit harder.

Thanks, Aaron. I didn’t have permission to do this, but I hope (and pray) that he’ll understand.

Photography that inspires me

Do yourself a favor and take a look at this. It’s in motion, which is where we’re all going … so get used to it. Still photography as we know it is likely going to die within the decade.

And the guy used music his brother wrote and produced. So cool.

About the video:

17 Countries. 343 Days. 6237 Photographs. One incredible journey. Follow the adventure at http://kienlam.net/around-the-world and http://kienlam.net

After I quit my job last year, I packed a bag, grabbed my camera and bought a one way ticket to London. 17 countries later, I compiled this time lapse of the many amazing places I came across.

Original Music: “Places and Faces” by William Lam. Will is an extremely talented musical composer whose range is barely touched in this composition he wrote specifically for the video. He’s also my little brother. Visithttp://kienlam.net to download the MP3. If you want to commission William to write music, email him at MetaphysikaSounds@gmail.com

No prayer and pledge will destroy America

Lately I’ve heard more people claim that no prayer in school and no pledge of allegiance are responsible for America’s problems.

I was wondering if anyone wanted to take a stab at explaining why this is so. I know what I was taught as a kid and teenager, but we stopped the pledge at an evangelical Christian school by the sixth grade.

Prayer definitely played a huge roll in daily routines through graduation, but it also showed how much prayers don’t work. We prayed so much it became a joke. Besides, Jesus’ opposition to public prayer is a direct commandment.

I’m not sure anymore how anyone associates the absence of these things as a destructive device on America’s strength.

What’s your take?

Atheist raising fundie kids turns 180

If you’re an atheist and you don’t know the name Phil Ferguson, go ahead and store it in your memory bank. This won’t be the last time you’ve heard his name.

Phil Ferguson is the brain behind Skeptic Money, an atheist blog that covers all kinds of topics, including how to be skeptical about where to invest your hard-earned money.

He is also responsible for organizing a lot of atheist get togethers, like the trip to the Creation Museum, a great big student secular group in Champaign, Illinois.

Phil is one of those behind the scenes guys who when you’re in the industry you know they’re there. But a lot of times, they get overlooked because there are people stealing the limelight for some reason or another. Like, their blog is bigger. Or their celebrity status is more … um, celebrity.

Kid you not, Phil is one of the leaders of the atheist movement.

I met Phil because he organized the debate between Dinesh D’Souza and John Loftus. We bonded over the trip, and I remember him opening up to me that his kids were getting a religious upbringing. But before a recent post over at his blog, I didn’t realize the enormity of his kids’ religious upbringings.

Go check out his post where he outs himself as a, well, a hypocrite. Initially, he wanted his kids to be well-rounded with a decent understanding of religion. He probably wanted his kids to be accepted in a place where religion is paramount to social acceptance. But religion can grapple a tight, ugly hold on kids. And it was better that he realized it sooner than later.

He writes:

I have been an atheist since I was 13 but shortly after having kids I spent 5 years pretending to be a christian – a fundamentalist christian.  The kids were going to church and Sunday school every week, sometimes more than once a week.  I was a methodist as a kid and was not worried.  I thought that it would be nice for them to know about religion and never thought that it would take over their minds.  Everyone told them that the crazy was true and I kept silent.  I was an atheist raising fundamentalist kids.  Just a few short years after I stopped pretending they have both come out as atheists.

Go read the rest.