Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When the Moon Hits Your Eye...

Click to visit LROC moon viewer

Have you ever wanted to get a nice close-up view of the moon? Well then, you're in luck! The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera was programmed to photograph 1300 separate images of the lunar surface during December 2010. The images were then compiled to produce a lunar mosaic that comes in at a jaw-dropping 24,000 X 24,000 pixels.

For more information, visit Discover Magazine's Bad Astronomy blog.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Paintmap: Innovative Geolocation-oriented Painting Sharing Website

Paintmap is a website that corrolates a painting with the location it was created on a Google map. The project appears to still be in its infancy, but show a lot of potential. As the database of submitted artwork grows, Paintmap could easily become a great site for browsing paintings by both location and the artwork.

From the website:
Paintmap is a geolocation-oriented painting sharing website with the following goals: on one hand, it allows painters all around the World to locate physically the subject painted by others and learn about the artistic activity at a given area. On the other hand, Paintmap allows Google Earth users to complement the physical and photographic knowledge of a given area with the artistic descriptions provided by users. Last but not least, Paintmap will contribute to the capture of our nature and human heritage through the artistic work of users as a record for future generations.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Simple Line Copied 500 Times = Entropy

A Sequence of Lines Consecutively Traced by Five Hundred Individuals
is an interesting visualization of what happens when a drawn line is carefully traced over and over by multiple individuals.

Each individual was given only the previously traced line to in turn trace. Each tracing introduces small errors resulting in an imperfect copy of the previous copied line. The result is a gradual degradation of the line. This video provides a visually interesting animation of the 500 tracings as they are sequentially played back.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interpreting Photography into Painting Webinar - March 10

I am giving a webinar as a part of the the Winter Digital Art Summit. The summit is running now through March 11. Fifteen artists will be giving webinars covering a wide range of topics.

My session is described below:

Visual Vocabularies: Interpreting Photography into Painting
Thursday, March 10, 1:00 PM Central Standard Time

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I like to think of various art forms as each having a unique visual vocabulary. Painting, for example, has a unique visual vocabulary: brush strokes, canvas weave, and oil paint’s color range are attributes unique to a painting. Likewise, photographs have a unique vocabulary. Key elements of the photograph include sharp focus, depth-of-field, and high detail.

The appearance of software such as Painter and Photoshop —coupled with the phenomenal growth of digital photography— offers photographers and artists even more expressive choices with regard to the photograph. A current trend is the interpretation of a photographic source into a traditional painted appearance. This session describes the implementation of visual vocabularies to expressively interpret your photographs into successful paintings.

I'll be giving a live demonstration of my techniques during this approximately 2-hour session.

All of webinars are being recorded, so you can either attend the session or download the video at a later time. Each webinar is $47; there are also multiple-webinar package deals available on the Digital Art Summit web site.

The sign-up page for my webinar is here.

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Droste Effect: Mise en Abyme

I've been experimenting recently with the Droste effect. When applied to a source image, it is recursively repeated, resulting in a fractal of the original.

Below is the source image:

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Below is the Droste effect applied to various iterations of the above source imagery:

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I used Tom Beddard's excellent—free—Adobe Pixel Bender Droste Effect plug-in filter for Photoshop CS4/CS5 and After Effects. Full directions for installation is available here.

John's Artists' Brushes & Dry Media User: David Reid

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Artist and photographer David Reid created this surreal landscape using a combination of John's Artists' Brushes and John's Dry Media. I first profiled David's work last June.

David writes, "I just thought you'd like to see another one of my paintings created from your fantastic brushes. This one was created from a mixture of the dry and media brushes.

I added some depth to the brush strokes to give it a more 3D approach. It too about 3 hours in total, though am still not sure of the hat and scarf though the umbrella seems to work well.

The brushes I like the best are the the flat blenders and chalk dry brushes as the texture they give is fantastic. Many thanks for creating the lovely brushes."

You can see more of David's work at his website.

John's Artists' Brushes and Dry Media for Photoshop CS are each available for $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5

John's Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5

If you have an image created with my brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nomad Brush Offers iPad New Stylus Option

Artist and architect Don Lee has come up with a new entry in tablet styluses, the Nomad Brush. The concept behind the Nomad Brush is to offer users of the iPad and other capacitive touchscreen devices a more natural mark-making stylus.

Lee says, "I love to sketch and paint, and like many of you, I found the iPad to be a great digital sketchbook and canvas. However, I found that drawing with my finger was awkward. After trying out many styluses, I failed to find a suitable one…so I invented the Nomad Brush. Each Nomad Brush is carefully handcrafted and made with exceptionally conductive materials. This allows the brush to be extremely responsive, making brushstrokes immediate and effortless on any capacitive touchscreen device."

The Nomad Brush works with any painting or illustration app, acting to provide the user with a more natural mark-making experience. Note that this stylus does not automatically create strokes that appear to have come from a natural-bristle brush. This capability must come from an app's mark-making capabilities.

For example, if the user chooses a thin pencil-like stroke in the host app, the Nomad Brush will then create thin pencil-like strokes. What the Nomad Brush does offer is a more tactile drawing/painting experience via the feel of a brush-like stylus in the hand.

The Nomad Brush is now available for $24.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Watching Time Pass at 2,564 FPS

Cool super slow motion video accompanied by some nice editing by Tom Guilmette:

View Michelangelo's Masterpiece Interactively

The Vatican has a nice interactive VR panorama online that lets you zoom in and view Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel masterpiece...and you don't even have to crane your neck! (Flash required)

Click to view interactive display

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Viewing Distance Changes the Reading of a Painting

In the painting below, the viewer's distance from the image dramatically affects how the image is interpreted. Viewed from afar, this painting almost resembles a photograph:

As the painting is approached, the brushwork begins to emerge:

At close range, the imagery becomes almost abstract:

Click on the thumbnail below to view the entire painting at full resolution:

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This painting is an interpretation of a photographic source I did using my Artists' Brushes for Photoshop CS5.

John's Artists' Brushes for Photoshop CS5 and John's Dry Media are each available for just $19.95. If you have Photoshop CS5 and are into painting, this will be the best investment you can make!

John's Artists' Brushes for Adobe Photoshop CS5

John's Dry Media for Adobe Photoshop CS5

If you have an image created using my brushes, send me a JPEG and I'll feature it here on the PixlBlog!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HDR Steam

Omaha is headquarters to the Union Pacific railroad. As such, we get treated to outings of the company's two operating steam engines. Below are a few more pseudo-HDR images processed with Photoshop CS5's HDR Toning filter highlighting this 20th century technology. I use Alien Skin Exposure 3 for the B/W conversions.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crystal Still life

I've been experimenting with getting the most out of the iPhone 4's camera. This is a shot of some crystal samples I have: amethyst (front), quartz (middle), fluorite (left rear), and calcite (right rear). The initial shot was brought into Photoshop CS5 and further processed.

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Architectural Decay in HDR

We grew up near where Interstate 80 now cuts through Omaha. As a result, there were many old houses and structures that were tagged for removal in advance of the interstate. As kids, we spent a lot of time exploring these curiosities. This fascination remains with me to this day.

Whenever I'm on the road, I keep an eye out for abandoned structures. In the midwest, there is a continued elimination of small farms by corporate agri-business. Many of these mega-farms have abandoned farmhouses and out-buildings on the property. When I find one, I'll make a point of documenting these decaying structures.

I usually don't have a tripod with me when these opportunities knock. As such, I've never played around with combining multiple exposures into HDR images. HDR (High Dynamic Range) tools utilize multiple bracketed exposures, combining both highlight and shadow information to arrive at a final image with greater tonal range than an individual exposure is capable of.

A few months ago, I began playing with the HDR Toning filter in Photoshop CS5 and was pleasantly surprised to find that this filter is great at pulling HDR-like tonality out of single exposure images. The result is an enhanced textural quality not prominent in the original image.

Below are several of my architectural decay images that I've run through the HDR Toning filter.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cell Phone Cameras Come of Age

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I've been experimenting recently with the iPhone 4's camera capabilities. This technology is a great image acquisition device for multiple reasons. In this age of digital cameras, there are several options when it comes to what level of device you choose to carry. For specific subjects, a full-sized DSLR is often necessary. A less-cumbersome point-and-shoot can often fill the bill. And then there is the everyday, I've-got-no-photography-planned time we tend to exist in.

We carry a cell phone almost constantly, so it is not an additional item to bring along like the aforementioned dedicated cameras. Fortunately, the quality level of cell-phone cameras has steadily increased to the point that it can capture serviceable imagery. What makes the iPhone unique, however, is that—besides the fact that it is primarily a telecommunications device—its functionality can be enhanced by downloaded apps. This expanded capability makes it both a sophisticated camera and digital darkroom in one compact form factor.

There is another interesting trait this device possesses: Its very immediacy via its portability and limited features imbues the cell phone camera with a nonchalance of use that I don't sense with dedicated cameras. If you're toting a dedicated camera around, it's likely that your image-capturing perception is purposely focused. An iPhone camera is a constant companion that can be utilized as simply as making a phone call. As a result, I find myself shooting imagery that I never would have considered in the past. In other words, it frees you up to casually capture the world around you.

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I'm not tied to doing all of my image adjustment with the iPhone's apps. I frequently download the images to my desktop machine and perform further refinement in Photoshop. However, there are apps that can massage the initial images to take them beyond the iPhone camera's native specifications. For example, the 5-megapixel iPhone camera captures images at 2592x1936 resolution.

This native resolution can be increased via stitching multiple shots together with apps like Cloudburst Research's Autostitch. Autostitch allows you to shoot multiple overlapping images in any any order or arrangement. Autostitch's intelligent algorithms analyze the selected photos and create a seamless result. Images of up to 18 megapixels are possible. Below are a few examples. I've left the unfinished edges on some examples to show how Autostitch composites multiple overlapping photos:

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Another panorama app with a twist is Boinx Software's You Gotta See This. YGST creates a David Hockney-style overlapping collage by having the user point the iPhone camera at the intended scene and wave the camera during exposure:

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For low-light situations, I've been using Pictional LLC's TrueHDR. This app takes 2 photos in quick succession, capturing one exposure for shadows and one for highlights. The images are then merged, providing a wider tonal range than an individual exposure is capable of:

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Yet another app I've been having fun with is Dominik Seibold's Average Camera Pro. This app automatically takes multiple pictures (immediately or after a timer expires), calculates the average picture out of these and normalizes the result, to make the lightest pixel become white. The result is a highly noise-reduced image. It's great for low-light situations containing non-moving subjects.

I decided that I'd go outside the box of this app's intent and used it to capture the traffic and roadside lighting in a moving vehicle (my wife was driving). I even waved the camera in front of the LCD-lit display of the car radio during a couple of the exposures. Average Camera is capable of up to 32 successive exposures:

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Even when an image has visible noise, it is the perfect starting point for expressive interpretation with painting apps like Photoshop CS5 or Painter. Photography sensation Chase Jarvis coined the phrase, "The best camera is the one you have with you". Cell phone cameras certainly fit this definition.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Google Art Project provides Gigapixel Views of the World's Art

Google's Street View has been put to a new—and exciting—use: viewing the great art of the world's museums. Some of the famous works are available to peruse at extremely high resolution—some seven-thousand megapixels big! If you've ever visited a museum and examined a painting at close view to take in the individual brush strokes, then you'll love the Google Art Project. From the prese release:
Over the last 18 months Google has worked with 17 art museums including, Altes Nationalgalerie, The Freer Gallery of Art Smithsonian, National Gallery (London), The Frick Collection, Gemäldegalerie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museo Reina Sofia, Museo Thyseen - Bornemisza, Museum Kampa, Palace of Versailles, Rijksmuseum, The State Hermitage Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Tate, Uffizi and Van Gogh Museum. The results of this partnership, which can be explored at www.googleartproject.com involved taking a selection of super high resolution images of famous artworks, as well as collating more than a thousand other images into one place. It also included building 360 degree tours of individual galleries using Street View 'indoor' technology.

Nothing can match the experience of actually visiting a museum and viewing art in person, but the Google Art Project comes pretty close.