Oh, yes, I’m still involved in digital art, though somewhat infrequently, for whatever reasons. Here’s a preview of one I’ve been working on, though I still want to do more with it, so it’s not final yet. The tentative title I have for it is “Ladies Night in at La Boutique Paris.” Hope to have it finished soon. Enjoy the preview.
You might think that recognizing Pride Month in a somewhat repressive, but mostly benign, communist country would be a no-go. That’s not true, though. First, there is an LGBTQI group in Laos with a presence on Facebook, Proud to Be Us Laos, that participates in quite a few public events (see the Facebook page above), and recently the government allowed for the celebration of International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT Day) for the first time during Pride Month this year.
Also, the U.S. Embassy showed its recognition of Pride Month by decking out part of their outside wall with the Pride colors. Here’s a photo I took when riding my motorbike to school last Saturday (sorry, it isn’t the sharpest of shots).
In addition, Vientiane College is also celebrating Pride Month with colorful streamers adorning our reception area. Here are a few shots I took on Saturday morning after classes had finished.
So, it appears that things are looking up for the gay, lesbian, etc. population of Laos. Let’s hope that more acceptance is forthcoming!
Here’s my latest piece, entitle “Dragon Sorceress.” It’s by no means finished; I have some other ideas I want to add to the composition. When it’s completed to my satisfaction, I’ll post it on a separate blog entry. None of the images that make up this piece are mine. They all come from various bonus content that I receive from one of my digital art courses (the Kaizen course). I think there are around 30 layers, so far, in this creation, but I could have done it with fewer, so I have to work on being more efficient. Still, it’s fun to play around with various effects.
Here’s the final post about my recent trip to Thailand, including some photos of Bangkok and Nongkhai.
In Bangkok we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which I highly recommend. It’s right on Silom Road and not too far from a Skytrain station, so going elsewhere in the city is convenient. There is a good breakfast buffet and the staff are very helpful and courteous. We also stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Phuket, which is about a five-minute walk to the beach. Again, they had a great staff, but the breakfast buffet, though decent, wasn’t quite as good as the one in Bangkok. I recommend it, however, but I didn’t take any photos of it.
The Bangkok Holiday Inn was all spruced up for Christmas and there was this nice tree just outside the restaurant.
There is a beautiful lobby area at the hotel and checking in at reception was quick and easy, and, again, the hotel staff were wonderful.
Here’s a nice reflection I captured on the short walk (about ten minutes) to the Skytrain station.
Bangkok’s lungs, Lumphini Park, is in the Silom area and it’s a great place just to hang out. The citizenry use it for jogging, aerobics, tai chi, free concerts and walking around, enjoying the greenery. I’ve got quite a few other photos of Lumphini on the blog, which you can see here and here during a protest.
This is a night shot of one of the skylines surrounding the park.
Not far from the hotel, we found this little hole-in-the-wall bar that had some live music on this night, a solo singer/guitar player who was quite good. Here, Nai enjoys a beer (or two).
After several nights in The City of Angels, we headed back for Laos, but first we spent some time in Nongkhai, staying in a small hotel on the river walk. A ways down from the hotel, the town had set up some New Year’s decorations. Here are a few.
There are several places along the river where you can walk down to restaurants that are set up on boats. Here’s a nice one.
Along the river walk are numerous sculptures of the various fish that can be found in the Mekong River. Here are a couple of the fish out of water that could be seen from our room.
And finally, there was an elephant strolling down the walk, with its handler, of course. He was selling tidbits of some kind that you could feed the animal. Elephants are probably my favorite animal, but this is not the place for them. You could see them quite often down in Bangkok in the Sukhumvit area, but the city outlawed their presence in the concrete jungle quite a number of years ago. It’s not a good environment for the poor creatures and their handlers, who probably come in from the forest where they work helping loggers, but are now jobless.
That’s the last of my Thailand photos from the vacation I had. I didn’t take that many photos of Bangkok because I have numerous other photos of the city posted on the blog. Just use the search function if you wish to see more.
What’s the difference between street art and graffiti? To me, graffiti is just random scribbles that take little time to do with no real purpose in mind, except to let everyone know that so-and-so was here. Street Art, however, has a purpose–the artist pretty much has an idea of what he wants to draw–and takes some time to complete.
There is an area just off the beach where a good amount of street art is present, along with some graffiti. Here are a few examples:
This one shows street art and graffiti, at least as far as my interpretation goes.
Did the artist who drew this one visit one of the “pharmacies” I referred to in the previous post?
So, those are a few examples of street art near Patong Beach. Vientiane has a bit of street art, but I’m pretty sure you have to get permission from the authorities before decorating a blank wall. Graffiti abounds, though, in many areas. More later.
Patong Weed Shops
Thailand has recently legalized the use of cannabis (marijuana, ganja, etc.) for medical purposes, though it’s unclear if anyone will be prosecuted for recreational use. See this Lonely Planet article which attempts to clear up the rules.
If it’s for medical use only, well, there must be quite a few people with medical problems because there are “weed shops” everywhere on the Patong Beach main road and side roads, sometimes with three or four shops in the same block. So, here are a few photos of some of the creative advertising of the shops. If you’re traveling to Patong for the lovely beach, great! But if you’re going for “medical” reasons, you shouldn’t have any problem finding “relief” for your symptoms.
There is outdoor seating at Weedland. Their motto is “Weed Be Good Together.” Also, while you’re there, have a cocktail or a beer.
It’s my way or the “High Way.” No seating at this nook on Bangla Road.
You might be in “Heaven” at this one, and you can enjoy a Smirnoff with Coke. Yum!
You’ll be happy here, not only for the cannabis, but you can satisfy your munchies right next door at Burger King!
“Juicy,” and get fitted for a suit after you feel better. You never know what kind of unusual clothing you might end up with.
Great exterior at “Weedly Wonka,” and I really wonder what it’s like inside. Chocolate pot, anyone? Also, after you’re high enough, why not get that exotic, strange tattoo you’ve always wanted–right next door!
Only the best here, and you can partake of Smirnoff again.
So, those are just some of the many weed shops at Patong. If you’re tired and run down and ill after soaking up the sun at the beach, give one of these “medical” entrepreneurs a try. You’ll feel better in no time.
The next post, coming soon, will look at a few examples of the street art, not to be confused with graffiti, near the beach. Some of it looks like it was done after the artists had patronized a few of the weed shops.
My partner, Nai, and I spent a couple of weeks in Thailand last month, spending six days at Patong Beach in Phuket, four days in Bangkok, and four days in Nongkhai. Here are some photos from the Patong Beach part of the vacation. One caveat, though. I didn’t bring my Canon DSLR camera along; I only brought my Samsung A52 phone, which has a decent camera, and an old Canon pocket cam. I have to admit I’m not that impressed with the photos the A52 takes compared to the DSLR.
This is the colorful welcome to Phuket Patong Beach sign. One of my favorite things to do was to walk along the beach in the early morning, the best time of day. There are very few people out and about at that time and the vendors haven’t set up their chairs yet.
However, the first day we arrived, the weather was cool and rainy. Not the best conditions to spend time on a beach, but I’d seen that the forecast called for warmer, sunnier days to follow.
It was much nicer the next day. This is looking towards the northern part of the beach with several resorts on the side of a hill.
Here’s another nice day, viewing one of the bars in the background. Notice the “weed” sign. I’ll have a separate post on that.
Here’s one of my early morning walks. Quite peaceful compared to the previous two photos.
There are a few surf schools along the beach, though the surf was nothing to speak of here. The owners probably take surfers to other beaches on the island where the waves are better.
Looking towards the beach from the back of the school.
Among other beach activities, you can get a massage. Here’s Nai enjoying one.
As nice as the mornings are, so too are the evenings. This is one of several gorgeous sunsets.
And another beautiful evening.
How about a few moments of parasailing to enjoy the sunset?
Nai and I enjoying a sunny day.
I’ll have another post up shortly about the trip, so stay tuned for more later.
Here’s another finger exercise. For an explanation of what that is, click on this link to go to an earlier post about the subject.
This one is a photo of the Blackfoot River in western Montana (or a tributary of the Blackfoot-I seem to have forgotten) that I shot back in 2007. Here’s the original photo:
And here’s the quick exercise I did, along with the layer stack in Photoshop:
Layer Stack, from bottom to top:
1. Original image, which I duplicated and made into a Smart Object. Then I ran it through the Filter Gallery—Palette Knife.
2. Added an orange colored Overlay and lowered the opacity to 51% with a soft light blend mode
3. Added an orange colored Texture and lowered the opacity to 50% with a lighten blend mode.
4. Then I merged all the layers (CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-E) and ran the composition through Boris FX and used a neutral density filter at the bottom of the comp.
5. Back in PS, I merged the layers again and ran the comp through ON1 Effects, but I didn’t care for the results, so I came back into PS and added a Color Lookup adjustment, using the Filmstock look.
And that was it. The whole thing took about 30 minutes and though the result certainly isn’t great, finger exercises don’t have to have a professionally perfect (whatever that is) look. They just have to get the creative juices flowing and they should be fun to do. I’ll put up some more of these exercises later.
I’ve done a few photowalks around Vientiane lately, mainly down by the Mekong, and found a few new signs outside various businesses that I haven’t photographed before. I also found some new, interesting night life spots that were interesting, so here are some of the shots that I took.
“Weed” spray painted on a door leading into . . . hmm. No idea. I didn’t try to open it. Marijuana is, of course, illegal in Laos, so this is probably a statement of some kind.
There is quite a lot of graffiti in Vientiane, but never on walls that are part of businesses, only on abandoned buildings, and there are a lot of abandoned buildings if you look for them. Here’s one; I’ve got more graffiti photos which I’ll put in another post soon.
“Oh My God.” Quite a name for a bar. I looked for it on Facebook, and there was a nighttime video of the goings on there. It was quite busy with a good number of patrons partaking of their favorite beverage. It looked like a fun spot, so let me know if you give it a try.
Another view of “Oh My God.”
Here are a couple of shots of another establishment near the river. I couldn’t get the whole place in because of security bars, as I recall, so I had to shoot between the bars. Looks like another fun place. Again, let me know if you visit it.
And the other half:
Here’s my potential favorite spot. This reminds me of what an improvised beach bar might look like, except there are no beaches in Vientiane that I know of, but I suppose you could find a small, sandy spot along the Mekong that might be a poor substitute.
Finally, here are a few business signs that I find interesting. I’ve got many more that, again, I’ll post later. Don’t want to inundate a single post with too many photos.
Sticky Fingers is a good restaurant near the river, but their name is rather evocative of other activities. Maybe this sign would go well with the “weed” door above.
This is part of the signage around “Tully’s Irish Pub,” a now-abandoned building since Tully’s moved to a new location. I don’t think I’ve ever drunk stout, so I looked it up. Wikipedia states that one of the variations is oatmeal stout. Hmmm, maybe it’s OK to drink for breakfast. What do you think?
I haven’t bought any bread from here. Wonder if it’s really good. I like the bread “emojis.”
Lastly, this text on the wall near the entrance to 2sister restaurant and bar. Words to live by? More later.
Here’s a piece that I’ve worked on that reflects some ideas I learned in one of my Photoshop Artistry courses. The key takeaway on this one is that the artist, Doris Seybold of Austria, goes through her enhancement of a piece by not adding any additional elements and having to go back to keep adjusting them, and adding more and readjusting, etc. It is a straightforward approach, going from one step to the next, not worrying about going back to adjust all the different elements. This is supposed to help foster a speedier workflow. You can read an interview with Doris by Sebastian of Photoshop Artistry, and you can check out her work on Behance. She’s really a wonderful artist, so give her a look.
I tried it with this piece, which probably could have used a bit more work, and mostly embraced the concept, but I “cheated” a little by going back to make some adjustments. So, below is the original photo, unenhanced, that I took of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, finished around 1540 and the first cathedral in the Americas. The second image is my final version of the cathedral.
P.S. I did add an additional element, sort of, by replacing the sky of the original with something a bit more dramatic.