November 26, 2014

Collage: Fog Diptych

Recipe for my monthly desktop picture collage:
- choose a word or phrase
- search on that word in Flickr
- select a few of the resulting images
- mix & mash in Photoshop

This month's word is "fog."

While working on the first collage, I had an idea for a variation on it and decided to make this a diptych, or set of two images. Since I use two monitors both at home and at work, now I have a separate background image for each screen.

The photos I used for these collages were taken by Patrick Strandberg, Ingrid Taylar, and Phil McIver.

What really excites me about these pieces is that I was able to use a databending technique that I've never managed to get to work before. I saved one photo in RAW format, opened it in Audacity, ran an echo filter over the middle of the image data, then exported the file back out. Here's the result:

I love the shapes that resulted, the circles and crossed diagonal lines. You can clearly see where I used this image in both collages.

One odd thing about this month's theme: As I worked with the picture of fog that had been glitched in audio software, a phrase kept popping into my head, "the noise of the fog." Those words carried a sense of apprehension, and I wondered why. Then I remembered that I once wrote something with that title. I think it's probably a poem. I vaguely remember seeing the title on my computer and having the sense that it was a Pandora's Box of sorts and I shouldn't leave it sitting around for anyone to open.

After I remembered all this, I looked for the file. I haven't found it yet, which means it's in some really old archives, if it hasn't been deleted. If I find it, I will post about it, with the caveat that my life isn't that interesting, so the mystery probably isn't going to live up to the hype.

October 31, 2014

Annual Scary Collage: Paranoia

I couldn't think of one individual person right now who's notably scary. Instead, it's the pervasive atmosphere of paranoia right now - in large part thanks to the media, both social and mainstream - that's scaring me. This paranoia creeps into the minds of otherwise normal people, turning them  irrational, unpredictable, and sometimes dangerous.

As always, I did an advanced search on Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed photos using the word "paranoia." I got a lot of great results, but ended up using only three.

This photo of a (Swedish?) report from Anders Samberg:


This photo from a dance called "Paranoia" from Vivadança Festival Internacional:


And this photo of a peacock feather from Jordi Cucurull:


I tried to make the peacock feather into a set of creepy, inhuman eyes. I used the Sketch: Graphic Pen filter to make them look like they're on a screen or in a hologram. I used the wave filter on different parts of the image and layered them with layer masks of varying sizes to make it look like the electronic interference is spilling out of the "eyes" onto the people.

I had a lot of fun working with the text. I used the Distort: Spherize filter on one layer of text, then made another layer with larger text flipped around backwards to make the letters less recognizable.

At one point while working with this collage, I had to completely stop and start over. That's always a hard thing to do with any piece of art. If your original vision isn't working out, do you keep pushing or abandon it? I ended up backtracking almost to the beginning and heading in a completely different direction, letting the medium guide my vision instead of trying to forcibly create the image I had in my head. I'm glad I was willing to trash hours of work and start over. I think the resulting collage is exactly the sort of creepy, dystopian image I had in mind.

October 29, 2014


A Ridiculously Simple Nonpartisan Social Media GOTV Effort

photo by Tim Ebbs

 Here's how it works:

  1. On Tuesday, November 4, vote as early as possible
  2. After you've voted, take a picture of yourself outside the polling place 
  3. Share it on the social media of your choice, along with this message:


    #VoteTag I just voted! @tweep1 @tweep2 @tweep3 it's your turn! Vote then tag 3 ppl


    #VoteTag I just voted! Friend1, Friend2, Friend3 it's your turn! Vote, take a pic, & tag 3 more people.
Can we surprise and shock the jaded political class with a record turnout? Here's hoping!


Q: What if I voted early or absentee?
A: Then you're ahead of the game! You can tag 3 people as soon as you wake up on November 4.

Q: What do I take a picture of if I voted early or absentee?
A: An envelope, a "V" for victory or voting... Be creative!

Q: What if I don't know 3 people I'm willing to tag?
A: Then just tag one.

Q: Can I tag 20 people?
A: Please don't, that's kind of spammy. Keep it small and personal so people are more likely to respond.

Q: Can I use Instagram/Vine/ello/Google+/Yammer instead of Facebook or Twitter?
A: Sure!

Q: Why do you say to take a picture outside the polling place?
A: In some states, it's illegal to take pictures inside. Better safe than sorry!

Q: What if I can't vote until 6pm or later?
A: You can still tag your friends who live in a later time zone.

Q: What if I'm voting at 6:55pm in Hawaii?
A: Then you have to be "it" until November 2015. Sorry!

Have any questions not answered here? Ask them in the comments.