Monday, July 4, 2011

Say (Processed) Cheese!

When I took on this project almost a year ago, I was a purist at heart. I wanted to make it about me and the camera, nothing more. I needed to learn more about how my Canon worked and I wanted to train my eye to notice the world around me. I never intended to process my photos whatsoever. I spend too much time on the computer as it is; the last thing I wanted was more fiddling with a mouse. Aside from a few crops here and there, I really haven't toyed with my images at all. This week, I gave myself permission to play. The only image processing software I own is the freeware GIMP that replicates most of the functions of Photoshop. Here are my shots of the day for the last week. The first picture in each pair is how the camera saw it. The second image is the processed one. For each, I explain what I did to the image and why.

338 before

This wasn't the best picture of the day by a long shot but I thought M's attitude had potential. She's been seriously into cats all spring and summer and she wears this kitty T-shirt like a badge. I wanted to make sure her obsession was represented in my 365 when all was said and done. To make the shot work, first I cropped out the blurred eyes in order put the focus on the spots in the image that mattered. I then manipulated the curves on the picture's histogram so that it looked Warhol-esque. Her attitude felt iconic to me so that's how I wanted to represent it. The result:


338:265 Jungle cat

On Canada Day we went downtown with friends. M refers to our friends' son as her honourary little brother. He is quite photogenic as these two shots show.

Canada eh!

339 before

I processed both these shots even though I was pretty happy with them as is--because I am nothing if not a slave to a prompt. For the first shot, I wanted to highlight his gorgeous red-headed colouring. To do this, I just upped the yellow in the colour balance. Doing so brought out his highlights without muddying the Canada Day message.

Canada eh! after

For the other shot, I wanted to create a look that tapped into Canada's artistic heritage, it being Canada Day and all. By posterizing the image, I achieved an effect that is reminiscent of Charles Pachter (this image to be precise) who, himself, gives a contemporary spin to the legacy of the Group of Seven, particularly Lawren Harris. My results are more keen and less satirically humourous than Pachter's, but then again that's me all over. I particularly like how the highlights on his face take on the shape of hearts to echo the heart in the tattoo.



I didn't do much to this next image other that try to fix it by adjusting the curves.

340 before

The moment was fleeting and my original photo didn't do justice to the exchange depicted. I get frustrated at the way my camera creates colour balance based on my focal point for the shot. When I am rushed or when I am shooting scenes with little to no mid-tones, I find that either the shot is too dark or that my skin tones are glaring rather than nuanced as was the case with this shot.

This is my fix:



By the way, this picture is very meaningful to me and my family. Mike, the actor in the picture, is the only person to have acted in each of my husband's six Shakespeare in the park productions. For each performance six summers running he has picked a bouquet of wild flowers and then given it to our daughter. She first started receiving these bouquets when she was under 18 months old. This might be Mike's last year living in our town. There was no way in hell I wasn't including a glimpse of their floral arrangement in my 365.

And this was the exchange on the final night of the show:

the floral arrangement

Sunday was the last performance of my husband's production of King Lear which meant that cast photos were in order. This picture is of Lear with his three daughters:

341 before

The production itself was set in Edwardian England in an attempt to capture the pre-WWI climate of Europe. When I processed this image, I decided to make it look as if the photo was authentic. To do so, I used the GIMP "Old Photo" filter found on the "Decor" filter menu. This is the result:



I am happy with this photo because of the way it represents a continuum of time and generations. It uses 21st C technology to render contemporary actors in Edwardian dress as if they really did live in the 19-teens. The actors are, of course, performing in a play that was actually written in the 16th century. King Lear, with its themes of aging, fading power, generational upheaval, sight and blindness seems a perfect fit for this kind of photographic treatment.

And now for something completely different. I couldn't set a prompt of processed cheese and not include a bit o' milk fat. Wills and Kate were in the region so I focused mainly on British cheese at the Sobeys. The OKA must be a gesture to the two solitudes or some other pan-cultural tip of the hat:

342 before

And then, like Kraft, I processed my cheese into:


Cheese Cube(ism)! (342:365)

OK, so by the end of the week I had descended into outright silliness. There's one more image, today's shot:

343 before

which became



I have no compelling reason for putting this edge filter on the photo other than the fact that I was feeling very silly today and the crazy-busy lines on this rendering of the shot appealed to me. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I would make art by colouring with brightly coloured crayon on white paper and then colouring over top with black crayon, only to scratch out an image with my fingernail.

And with that, I've left all notion of photography behind. Demon computer. This week's prompt: au naturel.


  1. I totally love this sequence of photos!!

  2. Oh yes! Processing is fun. I was doing it way back, before I fell by the wayside. Love, love the edge filter!
    You could put more contrast in the sepia shot and still keep the daughereotype (? spelling) feel.
    The cubed cheese is the Mad Hatter at her maddest. Love it. A lot.
    I wish I could have kept up. It's been marvellous.

  3. love. the iconic M and the oldschool Lear but especially the subtle but beautiful flower exchanges.

  4. Fiona had a pink t-shirt with an illustrated kitten and the caption "I'm the Cat's Meow" which she wore almost daily right around the time Lorenzo was born. I'm partial to a certain photo of her wearing it because it elicits such strong memories of that emotional time.

  5. Cheese cubism made me laugh out loud.