Aloha! During a recent 40% off mugs sale on Zazzle, I bought a few holiday gifts for my family and friends, with my own photography from my Zazzle store on the mugs. I was extremely impressed with how beautiful the mugs turned out to be – the quality was even better than I expected. The photos were all rendered in exquisite high resolution, and were set off nicely by the shimmer of the high gloss finish.
‘Tis the season for many a Kodak moment, as joyous times are spent with family and friends. Particularly for people who have to travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to see their loved ones for the holidays, this often poses a rare opportunity for group photographs. Traditionally this has involved film cameras, and later digital cameras, but recently more and more people have foregone the use of real cameras, instead relying merely on photos taken on their phones. But what are they missing out on?
Cell phones do not have the same quality of light sensors as cameras, which results in images with less clarity and more grain. While some people consider the quality to be a trade-off for the ease of phone portability and social media sharing, the photos they produce will not stand the test of time. Here is a well-illustrated article that compares photos taken by a smart phone and a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera side by side. It is easy to spot the detail that is lost by the camera-phone, and the difference becomes even more pronounced when displayed in high resolution. Even phone photos that might seem “good enough” now in 2012 might seem lackluster come time to show the grandkids what life was like “back in the day.” Just as current generations look back on old family photos and wish they had the clarity of today, future generations may look back on family photos of the 2010s and wonder why they were grainier than photos from the 2000s, just a few years before.
This holiday season I’m capturing the magic with my DSLR camera. What will you use?
The gentle afternoon sun filters through the trees, setting the garden suddenly ablaze with light and color. The luminous glow of the sunrays is almost surreal as it shimmers across the rocks, bamboo, trees, and other plants – even on the cute little bird peeking out between the rocks.
I was actually working on a different photo shoot when the sun suddenly started peeking through the trees at just the right angle and lit up the whole area with this heavenly glow. It was a nice change from getting sprinkled on just a few minutes before, but perhaps that was part of why the remaining moisture in the atmosphere seemed to catch the light so beautifully.
Benten and Attendant Riding a Dragon by Seas Reflecting Starlight
This piece was inspired by an ivory carving from Japan’s Meiji period entitled “Benten and Attendant Riding a Dragon,” which is currently owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Florida. In Japan she is considered to be one of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune (七福神). Benten (also called Benzaiten 辯才天/弁財天) represents knowledge, beauty, art, poetry, and music. She is often depicted playing a biwa (琵琶), a type of Japanese stringed instrument, and she is included in both Buddhism and Shintoism. Her origin is in the Hindu goddess Saraswati, who came to Japan with the spread of Buddhism.
This is actually an old sketch of mine that I created 7 years ago, and only recently rediscovered. The original sketch was done in pencil while viewing the statue on display. After rediscovering the old sketch, I decided to add color to it. Since the original was ivory, all of the colors are of my own design.
Candlescape Reflections by Seas Reflecting Starlight
A vast landscape in miniature, this red candle has towering piles of brightly colored wax surrounding a still pool of molten wax with a very clear reflection. This photograph was taken at Daci Buddhist Monastery (大慈寺) in Chengdu, China, where eminent monk Xuanzang (玄奘, also known as Tripitaka) of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) was initiated.
The reflection in the peaceful pool in the middle of the candle mirrors one common type of use of candles in monasteries and temples: meditation and inner reflection. Just as the candle literally reflects the monastery’s sleepy little retreat away from the hustle of the streets of Chengdu, it can also reflect a search for that same kind of peace within the eye of the beholder.
I also created a tiled version of this photo,which reflects this week’s theme of reflection, in that each candle is a reflection of the others:
Candlescape Reflections tiles by Seas Reflecting Starlight
There are multiple ways to create such tiled effects using photo editing programs like GIMP.
To prepare the image:
Make sure that the image content is close to the center, and that there aren’t any important details around the outer rim of the image. Details not in the center may be lost or obscured.
Method 1 (used above): Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Make Seamless
Method 2 (does not work well for all images): Using GIMP, go to Filters > Blur > Tileable Blur – set the blur radius to something that is relatively large in comparison to the size of your image for the most seamless results.
After using either method, there are multiples ways to make copies of the image in a tiled pattern:/li>
Option 1: Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Tile – make sure the height and width are linked, set the units to “%”, and input multiples of 100 for best results
Option 2: Using GIMP, go to Filters > Map > Small Tiles – this will shrink the size of your tiles to fit within the boundaries of the current image, but includes the ability to flip alternating tiles