Is that “dramatic” enough?

For today’s Digital Storytelling Daily Create, there were endless possibilities…but I didn’t have time to come up with any of them because I was busy with my other assignments/otherwise busy life. Then it didn’t matter because the clouds came out anyway. So I settled for “making” an old photo of mine turn into the perfect sunset photo. Like when I found out one of my neighbors (apparently a felon with multiple convictions) shot and killed a police officer, still hasn’t been caught, and intimidated all witnesses out of talking…so maybe I shouldn’t go out in my neighborhood as it grows dark. Its funny what you can learn from spending a long time in the car with someone you didn’t know well.

Anyway, the assignment, called “Into the Sun”, stated simply that we should “Make a dramatic photo at sunrise or sunset.” Sounds simple enough. But I actually think the openness of the prompt is part of what made it so challenging for me creatively. “Dramatic” can also be interpreted a number of ways. As defined by this entry on Dictionary.com, “dramatic” is an adjective that can mean…

1. of or relating to the drama.
2. employing the form or manner of the drama.
3. characteristic of or appropriate to the drama, especially in involving conflict or contrast; vivid; moving:
4. highly effective; striking:.
Furthermore, its origin comes from the Ancient Greek word drāmatikós (N.B. the Greek has been transliterated into Roman script, with vowel length and accent noted), a term related to theater itself. Maybe my boyfriend was right to suggest I make the photo dramatic with a menacing clown in the background.
So to make a long, nerdy story short, I decided that the sunset itself is naturally dramatic by virtue of definition number 4 and possibly definition number 3. After all, sunset used to signal the end of the day’s activities and the beginning of the mysterious and possibly dangerous period of darkness that nighttime brings. Its also a time of visual contrast, with different colors, cloud formations, and interesting shadows.
With a little basic enhancement through my phone’s camera app, I managed to make the colors pop, highlighting the contrast between the trailing bits of cloud and half of the sky in cooler, darker greyish purple and the peachy tones of the polluted atmosphere. I actually like that the trees came out looking so dark, since that also helps to give the feeling of a gradient, the left and bottom corners in darkness while the moon draws the eye into the center of the composition (I cropped it a little for this purpose, but not much actually) and the soft light of the sky trails off to the right. I can imagine it being a book cover for one of those novels about redeeming oneself (or alternatively, being corrupted…the important part is the transitional bit) and the little moon on the book’s spine, right about the effusive title.
Is that dramatic enough?
P.S. I didn’t use a source for the Ancient Greek because I am actually studying Ancient Greek as a hobby.

I Am Clearly Jim Groom: Adventures in Old Fashioned Photshopping

My response to the Daily Create challenge to “Morph Into Jim Groom”. At first I thought it was a little bit of an odd challenge, but it grew on me. He’s a pretty cool looking guy. And interesting too. If you’re too lazy to Google who he is, let me just say he sounds pretty darn cool. Even though he doesn’t seem to have his own Wikipedia page, Wikipedia’s page on “edupunk” (yes, that’s a portmanteau “education” and “punk”) credits him with coining the term. Need I say more?

In case you don’t know what he looks like, here’s the picture of him that was used on the page:

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From http://daily.ds106.us/tdc1627/

I loved this photo so much I spent a long time trying to remember where my plaid flannel shirt was and figuring who to borrow a hat from, before I realized the easiest way to become Jim Groom! After all, before Photoshop there was always cutting out faces and pasting them onto your body.

But before I could do that, I had to find the right picture of myself to paste Jim Groom’s face onto, and get them the print approximately the same size (although I wanted Jim’s head to be a little bigger for comical effect, which I think was achieved); I also thought it would be a little funnier (hopefully? maybe?) if I were in a comical position already, like, say, waving a magic wand while a friend stands awkwardly in the background. Like this:

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For this project, I decided to do black and white partly because that cool photo of Jim Groom on the Daily Create page was in black and white, but also because I’m starting to have a thing for the aesthetic of black and white photography in general. It really does accentuate the human figure in my opinion.

To recolor it, I simply re-scanned it in black and white, and chose the black and white version over the colored one.  I would screenshot it for tutorial purposes, but unfortunately this option probably differs between computers, scanners, and software, so its best to avoid the confusion that could bring about. Finally, I cropped the picture, figuring it was unnecessarily large, taking away from the focus on me being Jim Groom.

I know you’re stunned to find out that is not Jim Groom himself, standing next to my bff who is awkwardly smiling and hoping this photo never makes it onto Facebook! Little did she know it would end up on a public blog…oh, and my Twitter

Here’s the beautiful finished product once again, and this time not cut off by WordPress:jimgroom

King of the Dogs

My take (no pun intended) on the Selfie With Your Pet Assignment from the Digital Storytelling Assignment Bank  involves my gorgeous hunk of dog, Arthur. Originally he was named for the lovable aardvark Arthur from a children’s book and TV series of the same name. But almost every time I mention his name, someone suggests he must be named for the legendary King Arthur.

To be fair, he is pretty royal. At about 200 lbs., he is twice the upper size limit for his breed, the Alaskan Malamute. They are all supposed to be known for being loyal, friendly, and sweet-tempered creatures, bred for centuries by the Alaska’s indigenous peoples as sled dogs, and yes, quite possibly bred back with wolves, hence the appearance and tendency to howl. Unlike Huskies, they are known for being larger and more muscular, as well as for superior endurance as opposed to speed. But they were not just kept for dog sledding! Malamutes also kept watch over Inuit children while parents hunted and traveled. I wasn’t surprised to find that out, considering my dog loves children. He also has royal tastes. He won’t drink water without ice cubes and cream added (yes, we tried, but there’s only so long you can let your dog go without water). Arthur will also take his food outside and lay out a full picnic before actually eating. I still can’t think of any other reason he would be carrying his food outside and arranging it.

And, of course, he’s more popular than most dogs, especially in the neighborhood. And especially with the lady dogs!

I wanted to capture him as an equal partner in the selfie, so I tried my best to take the photo from his eye level instead of my own with my phone. He looked right into the camera the first time, but lost patience afterward, so I decided to just go with the blurry but otherwise perfect first shot. I decided not to alter anything because I liked the way it turned out so much. Its not often that one manages a candid selfie, and one with a unique perspective. I think I’ll try more selfies from unusual perspectives and angles, as per the photography suggestions in TEN: Ten Ways to Improve Your Craft. None of Them Involve Buying Gear, an ebook by David duChemin. Its a great resource, available here at Craft & Vision.

I also have this up on Flickr of course.

Rock counts as poetry, right?

I made this for my first visual assignment of Digital Storytelling, called Poetry Art, which can be found here in the ds106 Assignment Bank, in which you make a posters of a poem you like. 

I started to conceive of the idea when I saw this example of the assignment, which can be found at http://janellegelino.com/assignments/visual-assignment-poetry-art-3-pts-do-not-stand-at-my-grave-and-weep-sebastian-crane-and-lawrence-spitler/. The black and white color scheme caught my eye instantly. I knew that I wanted to do the same. I went rifling through favorite poems of mine (conveniently listed in an old journal), but to no avail. Then I stumbled onto the page of favorite lyrics, and I suddenly knew what to do. 

The way I see it, songs are just poems with music, while poems are merely songs that don’t have music yet. After all, our generation turns to the rhythms of music the same way those in past sought the rhythms of poetry, both following the tendency of contemporary works toward free form and individual expression, and our rock stars hold the same status that poets of the past held in society. Not to say that music has replaced poetry, but I certainly find them close enough to use lyrics for this purpose.

I quoted a few lines from Lithium (see full lyrics here via AZLyrics), a song by the ‘90s rock band Nirvana. They epitomize the sub-genre of grunge, music that (according to Wikipedia) has lyrics that are often “angst-filled, often addressing themes such as social alienationapathy, confinement, and a desire for freedom.” Which in turn means that grunge lyrics are often a perfect background to the way I have viewed life since middle school or so, just as other people’s poems and poets of choice speak to how their perspective. 

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I made the background with a free stock photo from Pexels, under the tag depressed; they offer some excellent photos here, many of which I may use for my next assignment if I can incorporate them, or just Pin on my Pinterest boards for art and human expressions.

But I clearly didn’t think it was depressing enough by itself, so I shrunk it and recolored it with the “Black & White” theme via Google Drawings on Google Drive (the free word processing, presentation, and image editing service that goes with every Google email account). Then I overlayed the lyrics that inspired me in the first place, in the kind of font that felt appropriate for the words. It took a lot of adjusting to get the words to be fairly visible and positioned in a way that made sense, but finally I got it to the point where it looked perfect. I just love that I got “…I’m so ugly” to trail after the man’s image, suggesting that the thought naturally completes what he was saying earlier when he looks at his reflection. Just like Kurt did when he said “I’m so happy, ’cause today I found my friends, they’re in my head…I’m so ugly, but that’s okay ’cause so are you. We broke our mirrors.”

But of course, there’s nothing like the song itself. Listen here on Soundcloud or below.