Music vs. Images

\’A picture is worth a thousand words\’ we hear again and again. But how much is a picture worth compared to music?

Just this morning, I was listening to some glorious opera music. And I was transported away to some place of soaring and moving and emotion. That made me wonder – For every person, there is a kind of music which makes them happy, makes them sad, cheers them up, inspires them, moves them to tears..

What is the equivalent of this in images? Does everyone have images which also makes them happy? sad? provides inspiration? calms them down? If so do we recognize that this is what the picture does – or does it get acknowledged only in the sub-conscious?

Is this because of all the visuals we are bombarded with everyday? What does this mean for us photographers who want to pour our emotions out into photographs? Will it be seen?

More questions than answers today, I\’m afraid!

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Make it Glow – In Lightroom?

Have you heard about luminosity masks? These are masks or selections, in Photoshop or other image editing programs, based on the brightness of the pixels. So we can have a selection of all the \’light\’ pixels only, or all the \’dark\’ pixels only or all the \’dark shadow\’ pixels only … you get the point. Then you can use these selections to improve on certain selective parts of your image.

I was introduced to this concept of \’Luminosity Masking\’ sometime back – and found Tony Kuyper – Luminosity masking and Tony Kuyper are almost synonymous with each other. Tony has some excellent tutorials on Photoshop at his website, and here is the link to his Luminosity Masking explanation.

After going through the tutorial, making my masks, and using the masks, I was sold on them. I ended up buying Tony\’s set of actions (as a way to support him for all the excellent tutorials he writes for free). With that package of actions, I got a \’Make it Glow\’ action .

Tony recommends it for sandstone images and other southwest us landscapes. I used it on my photos of Lower Calf Creek Falls – and wow!, I love the way it looks!

Here\’s an excerpt of how the \’Make it Glow\’ action works from this blog post by Tony:

\”It simultaneously increases contrast and saturation in a smooth manner across the entire image. It essentially imparts a glow to the image that looks pretty natural. A low-contrast, low-saturation image that has lots of texture is a good place to try it. ”

And another excerpt from the same post
\”Since it makes a pretty dramatic change, lowering the opacity of the layer it’s on can help decrease the effect if it goes too far. Also, a vibrance mask on the layer can help restrict the effect to less-saturated areas of the image.”

This action is really awesome – but now, I\’m wondering, how I can create a similar effect in the develop module in Lightroom 4? Where do I start? I found this link on how to create the \’Orton Effect\’ in Lightroom ” by Helen Bradley. By playing with her technique and applying the concept behind the \’make it Glow\’ action, I\’m trying to figure out if I can actually create a \’Make it Glow\’ effect. So that is one of my new projects – making a \’Make it Glow\’ preset for Lightroom 4.

If you know of someone who has already done this, can you pretty please send me a link to their website / preset so I don’t have to figure this out by myself? Please?

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My way out of the Rut

Are of course, writing the morning pages. I don’t know who pointed me to \’The Artist\’s Way\’ by Julia Cameron – a friend? a random blog post or an article? The who is lost in my memory – though I am eternally grateful that I came across the suggestion to read the book

I remember borrowing the book from the library, and reading it well past the due date while accruing enough fines to buy half the book. Then I actually went and bought the book too, and since then have recommended this to some people whom I though would benefit from it – you see, one need not be the artistic type to get something out of this book – one just needs to want to know oneself better and change their current status quo…

So what are these morning pages? In \’The Artist\’s Way\’, morning pages are one of the exercises which the author asks everyone to do – everyday – first thing in the morning. Here is the explanation from the author herself:
\”Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Occasionally colorful, more often than not Morning Pages are negative, fragmented, repetitive or bland. Good!  Worrying about your job, the laundry, the weird look your friend gave you – all that stuff distracts you from your creativity. It eddies through your subconsciousness and muddies your day. Get it on the page first thing in the morning and move on with your day with a freer spirit. \”

For me, the morning pages work to bring some sanity in me – they help me if I\’m fighting with the people in my life or I\’m frustrated at work or if I\’m generally unhappy and cant figure out why or if I\’m in a creative rut. The list goes on. The morning pages help me clear my mind. And inspire me and motivate me to do what I need to do. It\’s almost like I\’m a better person overall when I write the morning pages.

So do I write them everyday? I try to but I mostly go in cycles with these (as much as anything else in my life). I\’ll write them with dedication for a month, maybe two…by then my mental state stabilizes, inspiration flows and I start working… then I get lazy and stop writing …then something happens – I fall into a rut or am upset or am depleted or a life-changing incident(or what feels like it) happens – and I get back to writing again…

One thing is for sure though – I may write the morning pages for a couple of days or for a couple of months – either ways, the changes in myself and my mental clarity on those days is amazing.

If you have actually read this post till here, as a reward for your persistence, I suggest you try writing the morning pages. Go to this link and check out what Julia says about morning pages, and watch the video.

It would be great if you would support Julia and buy her book – but even if you don\’t buy the book, try writing the morning pages for just two days! After all, all you need is a pen, paper and about 30-40 minutes in the morning. :).

And if you do feel like it, I would love to hear your experience on writing the morning pages. Do you feel any different after writing them? Am I deluded or are they really that amazing?

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What do I want from my photography?

This is a question which I\’ve been thinking about for a while… what is it that I want from my photography?

I used to think I wanted my photographs to make me famous, like Ansel Adams or Anne Geddes – and be known as a great master photographer. Turns out, I don’t really care about the fame… I don’t deny my ego boost whenever someone looks at my photos and says something nice. But photographs making me famous – if it happens, sure…but I\’m not losing any sleep over it.

I used to think that what I want is for my photographs to spread joy – to uplift people when they look at my photos. Hmm..that\’s a lofty goal isnt it?

Well, turns out, I don’t really care….its good if people do find joy in a photo or two, or a photo or two makes them think…but if they don’t, doesn’t mean I\’m going to stop photographing.

I used to think that I want my photographs to make me a lot of money …but because they don’t, doesn\’t mean I \’m going to give up photography!

So what is it that I want out of photography? Well, I\’m still in search of an answer to that one…

Meanwhile, here is what I know now, as of now, my current truth: I photograph because I need to , and I post photographs here because I want to – and that’s about it…

Aargh! My muse is dead!

So I think I\’ve killed my muse. My fire to go out and photograph seems to be totally doused. When did this happen? Why did this happen? I don’t know… Was it because I decided to move camera systems? Don’t think so… because I still have my canon and my lovely little Olympus.

I just seem to have no drive to go to places to photograph anymore. And the fact that my drive\’s vanished is driving me crazy… I do still have the desire to go out and shoot – but when push comes to shove, I just sit on the couch! So what is this happening to me?

Just another boring yearly or bi-annual rut? Will I ever recover from this? Should I just find a corner and sit and cry?

Luckily over the weekend, I got my copy of Hugh Mc Leod\’s Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity. Recommended by Derek Sivers of here. And the book kicked my butt… did something for me. Now instead of just sitting around and watching TV or reading Google News or other blog posts interminably, I am at least working on photographs … taken long ago, which are still in my \”To be Processed ” bucket and learning about post processing and photography again.

So maybe, once I slowly start working again on my photos, maybe the itch and the vision will come back? Maybe the muse will rise from the ashes ala Phoenix, and will bring the photographs along again?