I was able to find Uranus this past Saturday evening because the sky wasn’t as hazy as it had been. I keep daydreaming about buying a Celestron telescope the next time I’m down in Bangkok, possibly a six-incher, the popular NexStar 6SE. But, then I start thinking about how often I would use it: probably not much.
At this time of year the skies are at their clearest, but even now there’s a large amount of haze from pollution that destroys the possibility of seeing faint objects. Later, the rainy season sets in and most nights are very cloudy or overcast. I don’t think I’d get much use of a telescope. For now I’ll stay with my binocs (but, you never know).
Saturday night, the sky was fairly transparent, so I was able to see 6th magnitude Uranus with the binoculars, even though I didn’t wait for my eyes to become dark-adapted. Right now, it’s above Venus in the evening sky and fairly easy to find by star-hopping from the brighter planet. Here’s the evening sky, using a screen capture from my planetarium software, Stellarium.
And here’s a closeup of the view in my binocs. The star at the bottom of the triangle, to the right of Uranus is 7th mag., and I was able to make it out also, so the clarity was pretty good.
Here’s hoping for more clear skies.
Here’s a shot taken way back in 2004 in Andong, South Korea, of my taekwando master, Mr. Kim, chopping his way through 9 or 10 slabs of marble. He did this in front of a large group of younger students and their parents, and he was quite nervous. He had never attempted to do this many slabs before. As you can see, he was successful! I created this with the Sandstorm action from the set of Artistry4 actions I recently bought from PhotographyBB. Again, I did some tweaking to the overall effect.
Here’s a new finger exercise I’m calling “Boy Power” that I created with the help of Grungeart Glow from Artistry4 Actions, a new set of actions I bought from PhotographyBB. The tweaks you can make with this action are endless. Fascinating to work with. (The boy is my partner’s grand-nephew, Leo.) In this one, I changed the background color to black and tweaked some of the scratches and splatters.
Living the Photo Artistic Life Magazine
Featuring the extraordinary digital artwork of the artists in our internationally celebrated “AWAKE” group …
Maybe you’d like to take a look at some of the awesome artwork that can be created in Photoshop. Check out the magazine at the top of the post. There are some truly creative efforts by some awesome Awake members. Unfortunately, I’m not in the magazine yet, but that’s definitely one of my goals. Someday . . .
A quick finger exercise this morning, called Life is Beautiful. It combines a couple of murals from downtown Las Vegas with a color lookup and a texture from the Photoshop Artistry course.
Life is Beautiful
I’m a big fan of Photoshop (PS). I’ve been using it for a number of years, mostly doing basic photo retouching with earlier versions of the software. Lately, though, I’ve been learning much more about PS through enrolling in the various digital art courses I’ve been taking under the umbrella of Photoshop Artistry. Our founder and digital art mentor, Sebastian Michaels, states that you don’t need to learn all the intricacies of PS to create digital art, that the basics will do, but it is fun learning PS in depth and learning the awesome techniques that other artists use. I also enjoy using Lightroom, another Adobe product I’ve had for quite a while. It’s great for post-processing photos and for storing and cataloging those photos; I’ve got around 20,000 of them.
So, I don’t mind paying, along with many others, the $10 monthly subscription fee for being able to use the two products (that’s $10 for both, not each). Some folks, though, have always been and still are up in arms about the subscription model that Adobe has adopted. You can read two points of view, one from a photographer who doesn’t mind the fee and one who does.
Photoshop Artistry is the basic course that got me started doing photo art in PS. If you want to learn more about it straight from Sebastian, he was interviewed recently on PS Guru Dave Cross’s weekly podcast (Episode 41). Give it a listen.
If you’d like to get into PS in more depth, you don’t have to pay to enroll in a course, as there are a large number of websites where you can learn more about the software. I recommend Colin Smith’s Photoshop Cafe or Adobe’s Daily Creative Challenge (scroll down the page for past challenges). And, of course, there are plenty of Youtube tutorials. I do, however, highly recommend Photoshop Artistry.
Here’s a quick finger exercise I did this morning, though I’m still not quick at these things. I explained finger exercises in an earlier post. They’re not supposed to be anything special nor perfect. Their purpose is to get the creative juices flowing before working on a more elaborate composition.
This is a photo of my partner, Nai, as we head back to Laos on the overnight train from Bangkok. This was taken almost 14 years ago, in the summer of ’06. Time flies.
Finger Exercise-Nai on Train
I usually only read one book at a time, but I’m currently reading four, switching around from time to time. I’ve been reading a biography of Titian, the famous Venetian painter of the 16th century, by Sheila Hale. It’s not only about the painter, but it’s a good read about life in Venice at that time. I’m also reading “Inspiration in Photography” by Brooke Haden, whom I’ve mentioned in a previous post, “Mastering Composition” by Andrew Gibson, and “The Feast of the Goat,” a novel by the Peruvian Nobel Prize winner, Mario Vargas Llosa. It’s a fictional account of the last day in the life of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.
I suppose along with my newly energized (re-)motivation to plunge into my digital artwork, I’ve also been motivated to take a look at art in general. It can only help with the digital side of art. I’d like to take a non-online drawing class, but I’ve seen nothing being offered at the time here. There was a colleague at the school last year who had a class, but she’s since left–I should have taken the class while she was here. I’ll keep looking. More later.
I did a photo walk yesterday (Saturday), looking for shots of temples, trees, fountains and a few other items that I want to add to “Midnight Garden” that I mentioned in my previous post. I found a few decent temple and tree possibilities, though I haven’t tried putting them into the composition yet. The one fountain I looked at was completely unsuitable. There’s a large structure in the middle of it and there was no water in it yesterday afternoon. At night, however, it’s quite beautiful.
Namphou Fountain, Vientiane. Not my photo. Got it from Freemages.com under a Creative Commons license (free).
I’ll probably have to find some photos of a fountain online, though I’d rather use my own photos, which kind of make me feel more like I “own” the composition, so to speak. However, I won’t look online right away, because, with the various courses I’m taking and for which I paid a fairly hefty price, I have royalty-free access to literally many gigabytes of resources–textures, frames, overlays, backgrounds, photo shoots of models, and many, many more items, including a wealth of high-res photos, all included in the price of the courses. I spent much of the morning downloading some of these resources and I noticed, in passing, a photo of a fountain that might work out OK, but I’ll have to take another look at it. I dare say that there are other fountains somewhere in the piles of stuff I’ve downloaded already. They’re sitting in Lightroom just waiting to be given keywords for search purposes. Gotta get on that one of these days. (HA!)
For now, though, I’ll get several more gigs of “stuff” downloaded while Nai’s brother-in-law is fixing a few of the doors in the house. The most important one is the front door lock. You can lock it from the inside (push-button style), but all someone has to do is yank on the outside handle and the lock opens. Not good.
The latest piece of digital art I’ve been working on is also the most complex I’ve undertaken. I’m tentatively entitling it “Midnight in the Oriental Garden: Reflections.”
I’ve been working on it for a while now and it’s not nearly finished; I have to do the lighting and toning in the piece, but before I start on that, I want to take out the present background, a silhouette of the Bangkok skyline at night, and put a Buddhist temple in its place. I’m also going to add a tree to the side of the bench with some overhanging branches to which are attached some more lanterns. I’m thinking of putting in a small fountain or a small pond (or part of one), some more vegetation and flowers, some other odds and ends, and someone sitting on the bench.
I’ve got some temple photos I’ve taken in the past, but none that I like, and in my latest iteration I’ve got part of a tree next to the bench, but I’m not really enamored of it, so I need another tree. I also need a fountain or pond. Because I need some photos of these, I’m going to do a photo walk in Vientiane on Saturday afternoon to see if I can find some suitable subjects. As far as finding a bench-sitter, well, I’ve got that figured out–me. I’m going to take a series of self portraits, probably Sunday afternoon in my house, with me in various poses. That oughta be fun! Wish me luck.