Monday, December 28, 2009

Experiment in Altering Somebody's Images

I'm refining my technique on how to alter somebody's images. The first image was originally from a museum brochure. I use a holga splitzer to get the faux double exposure effect. then I imported the digital image to Elements and added some noise to mask the grain from the brochure.

In here, I added some noise and texture, which seems to add character to Mr. Music Monkey.

This was from a TV ad. I positioned the camera on an angle to get that skewed perspective. I could not get rid of the texture from the TV screen -- so i decided to enhance it. It's similar to how I learned to play blues and jazz -- if you make a mistake, repeat it. In this case, I enhanced the aberration by pushing the contrast and the levels.

All taken with Rose's Canon a590is set to BW iso 80.

Friday, December 04, 2009

just the way you are bears

 I would not leave you in times of trouble,
We never could have come this far.
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times,
I take you just the way you are.

[b. joel, just the way you are]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stacey revealed

To get this shot, I placed Stacey on a glass table so I could also shoot a partial reflection. The background is a canvas. I pointed a desk lamp on the canvas so the light would bounce back. The film was black and white, and scanned as a colored film. The scanned image was printed on textured paper. To get the texture, I pour drops of coffee on the paper and let it dry. Then the photo was scanned as a colored print.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

trees above the clouds

this was an experiment on split image... i taped a black mask on the bottom half of the lens of my holga (which is btw falling apart now), click, then double exposed with the tape on the upper half, click...advanced the film and repeated the process several times to get a panoramic, click, click...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How Kodak BW400CN Got My Mojo Back

Although I’ve always been fond of B&W photos, I’ve avoided shooting with B&W film because there aren’t that many photo labs that can process the negatives in my area. The ones that do – they want my arm, leg and my birth right. So one day I decided I would develop my own B&W films. But first I needed a film. So I got this film from the local drugstore. Test shot some subjects. Bought the photo processing chemicals. And I was ready, right? Not quite… because I found out that I’ve shot with a Kodak Professional BW400CN film. Upon reading the instructions on the film box, I realized that it should be processed as a C-41 film. Whoops. Well, no problem... because C-41 films are the ones we bring to 1-day photo labs for processing our 35mm color negatives. How more fortunate can that be?
The BW400CN is rated at iso 400, which is ideal for indoor photography. It also provides the fine grain, highlight and shadow detail that traditional B&W films are known to deliver. Additionally, I find this to be forgiving when used for outdoor photo ops. I test shot this film with my Holga 120N at various settings and conditions, and I was able to get fairly consistent results.
The challenge I faced with this film was when I tried to match the color tones when scanning panoramic negatives in stages. For instance, the first half of the scanned image may turn greenish, and the second half may be reddish (see Photo 1). This is not a bad thing if that is what you are aiming for. But for seamless panoramas, scanning the negative in stages may not be the best approach. Not to be hindered, I used this peculiarity to my advantage. On one photo, I was pleased with the dissimilar tones on each quarter of a non-panoramic image when I scanned it in stages (see Photo 2). Cool, huh?
My conclusion? This film rules. It simplifies the way photographers shoot with B&W films, which can be developed in any professional lab or retail establishment running a C-41 process. Try it, and you’ll see how simple it is. Lomo on, baby!
Article appeared on Film Review of

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

this image was originally underexposed but i was able to salvage it by bringing the levels up during scanning. the resulting image came out grainy and the dust and scratches were obvious -- that it looks cool.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

my first holga images

i'm so excited about this holga. it's a cheap toy camera... ridiculously lo-fi. the brackets and cover plate began falling apart when i got it brand new. i had to tape them up to prevent light leaks on the exposed film. yes, it's a film camera. you remember what a film is, don't you? to advance the film you have to wind it manually, and you need to make sure you advance it far enough for the next shot -- otherwise you'll get an overlap or a double exposure, which could be cool too.

Getting Those Sprocket Holes with a 35mm Film Scanner

I’m fascinated with photos that have sprocket holes. But such images are very difficult to scan using a 35mm film scanner. On a single pass, it will scan the entire image except for the holes. I’ve discovered that to get around this limitation is to scan in fragments, and then piece them all together. As I’m scanning, I would save each fragment as individual tiff file. Once I have all the fragments, I then export them to a photo stitching software. Most photo editors (like Photoshop) have some kind of photo stitching feature. I use Canon’s Photo Stitch, which came bundled with my EOS Camera. Any similar product should work as well. Usually the color tone of each fragment would vary but that gets normalized once the software process is done. If I was careful in scanning all of the fragments, I would end up with a seamless image like the one below.
But usually I’m not that careful – so instead the result is a distorted image, which could be a good thing depending on what I’m trying to achieve like this one.
If I’m not satisfied with the processed image, I’ll go manual. I’ll open the files in a photo editor (usually I’ll use Corel Paint Shop Pro), and layer each fragment manually – just as one would put together pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Now I know that each fragment has a slightly different color tone. I can fix that by matching the colors but that would take forever. And some fragments are crooked, and so they would not align well. I can also fix that by rotating any crooked fragment—but that is too much work for me. So I leave them that way, and tell people that the final image is supposed to look that way – “it’s art, you know.” Anyway, I think most of the time the final image looks cool. Don’t you think so?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

i love my bicycle

taken using polaroid
vintage letter added as overlay
and it's not even my bicycle
but i love it... actually i just love the picture
because it's a polaroid
and because i took it

[polaroid 600 film at $2 a pop, old town pasadena, while waiting for my wife's car from the shop]

Saturday, September 12, 2009


In memory of the Hoochie-coochie man

i forgot to bring my umbrella...

"sometime ago... it was wet... cold... and gray... and cold... and i forgot to bring my umbrella..."

Laguna Volleyball Nerfs

Last Monday was Labor day here at the States. Rose and I brought Mimi to the beach -- Laguna Beach to be exact. I was able to play around with my Holga and the converted Canon a590is, which I used to shoot this scene -- a bunch of suave young volleyball nerfs playing at the court. Okay, that was not fair... I shouldn't call them nerfs. They were merely bums. How's that?

Monday, September 07, 2009

An Evangelical Disaster

too many churches sprouting on the urban landscape... too many fading fast...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Return of the Strawman

The Strawman was one of the first pictures I posted on this blog. Sometime ago, I decided to texturize the photo. This was before I've heard of the technique using Photoshop or some other computer software. It might have already been done but I was just not aware of it. So I did the texturizing the old way. Yes, I painted on the printed photo using acrylic paints.

When a computer graphic artist saw this displayed in my house, he asked what kind of software I used. LOL... When I told him that I didn't use any, he couldn't believe it.

Goes to show that old-school approach still rocks.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

blue botanica

i'm not sure if i posted this before. if i have, then i apologize for the redundancy.

don't know what the botanical name for this. rose, mimi and i were up the hill behind our lot, and rose found this. i did multiple shots of it using a canon a590is point and shoot, and rendered the jpeg images (the camera can only shoot jpeg) on picturenaut as an hdr image. the final image was tone-mapped to get that blue saturation.

the photo is not tack sharp because the images would not align perfectly. i think it's still a good shot. don't you think? hey, are you still there?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

the pooch with the cute nose and ...

Mimi is the hardest to take picture. She moves every second and there is no way I could get her to stay still. I believe that this was taken as Rose gave her a treat as I tried to compose her picture. Shot taken with Rose's point and shoot. Not bad, I say. A bit blurry but I think it sort of adds to some character, don't you think?

Mimi would like to hear from you :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

h on time

herAclitus: on time... he was named after the pre-socratic philosopher because the dude's smart, and feisty.

the original photo ofthe cat was taken with the nikon fe. later on scanned and exported to PS Elements. the concrete andthe big ben cloack were added during post-processing. does h think he's cool?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

a chair is still a chair

Here's another using my modified semi-fish eye set up. About a quarter of the image was cropped -- so you can say that this is a 3/4 shot :)

I really like the way this came out -- kinda like a post-modern still life -- you know like how the great photographers would capture a chair and call the image art. I know mine does not compare well but if you use your imagination you'll know what I mean. No? Okay I tired. But you have to admit that this little image is cool. Right?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Give peace a chance

Art for Art's Sake has been renamed to Observations. I decided to change it because everytime I google Art for Art's Sake, I get million hits... none of them about this blog. The direction too somewhat changed.

I started this blog to showcase my artwork (mostly photographic, although there are some other mediums I have also used). The intent was for friends and family to see what I was up to concerning new art projects. I think that has not changed. But lately I have this desire to reach out to more people -- maybe artists like me. Frustrated, disappointed, sometimes manic, other times depressed, fascinated about the arts, happy and sad, sometimes encouraged, but always looking forward for better days.

The extent I now want is to blog ideas. Not just techniques. But iDeas. This is a quantum leap in terms of epistemology. [For those who may not know this big word, it's only a hi-fuh for "why we think the way we think?"] I plan to elaborate more on this later.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, all we are saying is "give peace a chance."

Friday, August 07, 2009

How to make your own vintage postcard

This appeared in my previous post at the LensBaby Studio Forum back in July. why on earth should I post this again? well y'know, my friend -- after several glasses of cheap wine, everything seems to make sense. So here goes -- How to make your own vintage postcard:

1. Go out on the street and take a picture of your fancy with your Lensbaby. This will be your main postcard image.

2. Take a picture of that concrete you are standing on. You will need this later on for texture.

3. Download the pictures on your PC or Mac. Open pictures in your Photo Editor (I still use the original version of Adobe Photoshop Elements because I refuse to upgrade – but that’s another story.)

4. Layer the two pictures together. Choose “Normal” for the image you wish to be the postcard. Choose “Overlay” for the image of the concrete. Play around with the slider until it starts to look like a texture. Make sure you’re happy with the result. Flatten the layers and save as either tiff or jpeg. This is now your postcard image composite.

5. Wait we’re not done. Scan an old photo with a border. It does not matter what it is as long as it has a border. Grandpa’s graduation photo that has been gathering dust and cobweb would make a good one. Download that old photo and open it in the same Photo Editor.

6. Resize this image so it’s a bit larger than the postcard image. All you need is the border.

7. Copy the composite postcard image that you just saved and paste it as a layer on the old photo. Re-align the image until it covers Grandpa’s face. Make sure you don’t cover the borders.

8. Flatten the image, save and you’re done. Print the image and send it to Grandpa. Tell him that his portrait is underneath the postcard :)
[Canon 5d, LBC, f4]

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My Latest Fave Shot

I took this one a few days using my modified fish-eye set up (mentioned in previous posts) after Rose's b-day. She had the Friday off because our Governator here in California decided it would be good for the Kuh-leef-or-nee-yahh vood-jet actung die ziegheil. Anyway, Rose and I tried out this japanese restaurant for the first time.
The image was texturized using an old negative I dug out from my mom's photo album. I think this really works, which make this picture my latest fave. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Poster Collage: Semi-Fisheye

The images are from my cubicle's wall at the office.

Lately, I discovered I could use my LensBaby Wide Angle extension Lens on Rose's Canon a590is Point and Shoot. The lens converts everything to 0.6x. It works effectively on this camera if I don't use the zoom. I beleieve the corresponding focal length drops down to about 18mm -- very close to fisheye. Hence, this collage will show semi-fisheye quality. Pretty cool, I think. I'll be posting some more uisng this set-up soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Copying Amelia

I recently posted some information on non-conventional approach to copying photographs and/or paintings. Sadly, the post did not receive many responses. I still think it’s a cool idea so I decided to post it here. No need to use a scanner and fix the image in a photo editor. The use of the zone plate (ZP) lens tends to eliminate all those unwanted blemishes on the original image. No need to worry about glares or lighting problems. The zone plate seems to work better with such aberrations. YMMV.

One commentator pointed out the ZP is definitely a tool for hiding the flaws, however, its effect gets applied across the entire image wiping off the desired details. For some images it does not work. For this particular image the details on her eyes are washed out. Hence there is a caveat. As in all cases, one would need a very good capture of the original image to begin with. Sometimes, that’s not the case with the older photos. Even with convention method, decent copying of photos that have degraded through time is very difficult as the result could be too much unwanted information. Oh, well :o

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering okay this is wild but “what’s the point?” I realized as I’m typing away that not everybody who visits this site owns a ZP lens let alone knows how to take a photo. Well, you can send me your old photos, and I’ll copy them using the ZP. I promise I’ll send back the original but I can’t promise that you will like the copied version. My compensation is negotiable.