Cairo, Egypt – a Food Market

Cairo Egypt, December 11, 2002. Note the meat hanging in front of the Butcher Shop. A few blocks away from this market, a bloated carcass floated in the water of a drainage canal.

This photo is from my post Foreign Street Scenes.

The next photos were altered with filters in the program Topaz Studio.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
– Mark Twain –

Some of my friends claimed that they received a mail from the famous Prince of Nigeria and even I too got one from an Egyptian Pharaoh. Only I found out that this was all a part of the pyramid scheme.
– Author Unknown –

After discovering the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, the archaeologist opened it to find that the entire mummy was covered in chocolate. Later they named it the Pharaoh Roche.
– Author Unknown –

Deep within the Great Pyramid, Pharaoh Khufu gazed at the walls of what would eventually be his burial chamber, asking himself what he had been thinking in entrusting its adornment to the teenaged Prince and Princess, but comforting himself with the certainty that the younger generation would soon tire of these annoying “emoticons” and return to the rich thirty-character Egyptian alphabet.
– G. Andrew Lundberg, Los Angeles, CA –
(see my post Bulwer-Lytton Quotations for other suggested opening sentences for the worst possible novel that was never written.

Rounding out this post about Egypt:  this is from my February post This and That:

Northern Leopard Frog

The Amphibian Notes
Name: Northern Leopard Frog
Species: Lithobates pipiens
Native to :  Canada and the United States. Only isolated populations in the southern grass and wetlands of Alberta. The grandchildren used to find them in the creek and the golf course water hazards near where our cabin was. Hard to say where the frogs ended up after the area was flooded out in 2013.
Date Seen: September 2009
Location: South Eastern Alberta near the Bow River

Notes: One of the largest frog species found in Alberta, they vary in size between 2 and 5 in (5-13 cm); green or brown in colour with numerous dark spots. Fairly easily caught by young boys – who release them a short time later.

Photos: Northern Leopard Frog in a bucket of water with photo filters applied in the program Topaz Studio:

After the flood:

Digital Marble – Desert Chicory

I was going to do a blog post called ‘Circle Quotations’‘ but funny or interesting quotes about a mathematical concept are few and far between. Then I found this one-

Why is a polar bear never lost in the Arctic Circle?
Because it uses Polar Coordinates.

I think you have to be a math person to appreciate the wit, and that isn’t normally me, except I know that the ‘Digital Marbles’ I make in my photo program use a polar coordinate filter to turn square photos into circles.

I don’t know how the polar coordinate  filter works, but I like the result. The circles remind me of the marbles I played with as a child.

Are you old enough to remember when marbles and jacks were popular games? How about skipping and hop scotch; tag, hide and seek, leap frog, and yo-yos? Hula hoops! In the winter, fox and hounds, red rover (skating version), crack the whip, snowball fights and tobogganing!

I made the following two ‘marbles’ from photos of Desert Chicory.

How many degrees does a circle have?
Depends on how long it’s been in school.
-Author Unknown –

These is the original photo. Desert Chicory is a wild flower growing in Arizona.

 

Here are some of the other ‘marbles’ I’ve made:

Lady’s Slipper Orchids

I’m not really finished my ‘Time Off Break’ – I just forgot that this post was scheduled. The timing is good though. These orchids, which grow in a rural ditch, were ready to bloom in the next few days – but the county mower came through yesterday and chopped off their heads.

I know it is probably not the best time of year to transplant them, but I picked out two small clumps and dug them out of the ditch. Hopefully they will survive in my yard! If yes, I’ll post pictures!

Photo altered with an HDR filter in Topaz Studio
Photo altered with a Fine Wine filter in Topaz Studio
Photo altered with a Contrast filter in Topaz Studio

My Story about these Alberta wildflowers is at Lady’s Slipper Orchid – No Match for the Mower

Bald Eagle – Canada – Filters

Bald eagles are not really bald; the name comes from an older meaning of the word – “white headed”.
The largest eagles are in Alaska. Large females may weigh more than 7 kg (15 lb) and have a wing span of 2.44 m (8 ft 0 in).
The average lifespan of bald eagles in the wild is about 20 years.

Original Photo – Bald Eagle – west coast British Columbia, 2014

You can’t hoot with the owls and then soar with the eagles
– Hubert H. Humphrey –

Black and White Filter
HDR Filter

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
– Carl Sandburg –

Grunge Filter

All filters can be found in the Topaz Studio program.

More eagle pictures and information: Arizona Bald Eagle

Digital Marble – Christmas Tree Ornaments

A Digital Marble (Amazing Circle) made from a photo of a decorated Christmas Tree.

Original photo

Photo manipulating programs have a polar coordinate filter that can turn a photo into a circular shape that is reminiscent of a fortune teller’s orb or marble – or a Christmas Tree ornament! They are also commonly called Amazing Circles. I found a post by Russel Ray with full directions and illustrations for how to create An orb in Photoshop. Be sure to go to his post to see his intriguing results!

I’m very excited with my marble photos, though I will soon have so many of them that I expect the novelty will wear off – for you. I don’t think I will tire of it soon because each one is so unpredictable. I never know what will be inside the marble photo until it is complete! Here are the directions for making these using one purchased program and one freeware program.

1. Photoshop Elements 10:

a. Open your picture in Photoshop Elements or Photoshop and enhance it as desired. I usually adjust the lighting levels and sharpen.

b. Crop it to a square, or a ratio of 1:1

c. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Polar to Rectangular – OK

d. Click on Image – Rotate – Flip Vertical

e. Click on Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates – Rectangular to Polar – OK. Then I opened FastStone Image Viewer to add borders and text, and also to resize it to fit my blog. This finished marble is 778X778 pixels.   (photo above)

2. GIMP: is a freely distributed program.

The technique for making Amazing Circles is similar to above.

a. Enhance the photo as desired.
b. Choose the Crop Tool (looks like a knife, sort of). Select a Fixed Aspect ratio of 1:1 and select the area you want to use.
c. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates. Uncheck the “To Polar” button. Okay.
d. From the menu bar, choose Image- Transform- Flip Vertically.
e. From the menu bar, choose Filters- Distorts- Polar Coordinates again. Check the “To Polar” button. OK.
f. The resulting circle may not have the background color you desire. Use the Color Picker Tool to select a color from the image. Then use the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the background.

Darla-Amazing Circles

GIMP also has a plug-in that you can download and use – it automates most of the task for you. It is called Darla-Amazing Circles. You crop the photo as before, then select the Script-Fu Darla-Amazing Circles script. I use these settings:

a. set to the maximum size of 2000 or whatever setting is closest to the original
b. set border size to 10
c. set border % to 10
d. set edges: border growth 1; border feather 1
e. run script
f. add color to background – use paint fill on the white section
g. save as jpg

This isn’t a new technique. It has been around for a few years. Click on this link to see a large number of Amazing Circles that have been submitted to flickr.

Santa Claus – About the Reindeer

The Original Eight Reindeer

Santa Claus began his association with Reindeer in 1821 – an event that was chronicled in a narrative published by a New York printer in a booklet called ‘A New Year’s Present’:

Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night.
O’er chimneytops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

This rather sketchy introduction became the legend we know today in the 1823 poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”. Written by American writer Clement Clarke Moore, the poem is now better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Mr. Moore not only described what Santa looks like, he gave names to all the Reindeer:

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.

Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on Dunder and Blixem!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now, dash away! dash away! dash away all!

In later years, Dunder and Blixem were renamed Donner and Blitzen in some countries.

Enter Rudolph

Rudolph was introduced in 1939 in a booklet for the Montgomery Ward department stores. It was written by Robert L. May.

Rudolph’s story was made famous in a song written by Johnny Marks. Sung by Gene Autry in 1949, it became a No. 1 hit that year.

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
They day if you ever saw it
You would even say it glows…

Why do some people say there are Twelve Reindeer?

Some people say there are actually 12 Reindeer, but these people simply misheard the lyrics of Rudolph’s song:
‘All of the other reindeer is NOT ‘Olive the other reindeer’,
‘Then how all the reindeer loved him’ is NOT ‘Howe the reindeer loved him’,
‘As they shouted out’ is NOT ‘Andy shouted out’.

Are the Reindeer male or female?

A viral factoid (circulating since the year 2000) suggests that Santa’s reindeer are all female because male reindeer lose their antlers by December. Reindeer experts say that while most male reindeer do drop their antlers by early December, some younger bulls keep theirs well into spring. Of course, a discussion about the gender of normal reindeer is probably a waste of time. Santa’s reindeer can fly and that suggests they are an entirely different species.

A Bit of Photoshopping

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
– Twas the Night Before Christmas –

I like taking photos of the moon. Sadly, Santa and the Reindeer have never crossed over the moon when I was looking at it. Happily, a bit of ‘photoshopping’ fixed that! I took a photo of the moon on a slightly overcast night, then created a new layer in Photoshop Elements to superimpose Santa and his reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph.

What would Santa say as he disappeared into the night!? Happy Christmas to All and to All a Good-night!

For the Young and the Young at Heart

If you want to see Santa and his Reindeer in action on Christmas Eve, visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website. The long history of this excellent outreach program is told in the story here: North American Aerospace Defense Command Tracks Santa.

Photographs and the Right to Privacy

When you snap a picture of another person, two fundamental rights often come into play: the right of the photographer to free expression and the right of the subject to privacy (the right to be left alone).
– Lien Verbauwhede, 2006 –

On my blogs, the right of personal privacy always outweighs my right as a photographer. It is my personal preference and has nothing to do with the law of the land. This does pose a dilemma (which I always thought was spelled dilemna) for me, because sometimes the story I am telling is best illustrated with a photo of people.

I use two solutions – sometimes I crop the photo to remove faces, in addition to using filters to alter the photo. This was an effective way to treat this photo, because the topic was hands, and the photo was called ‘Card Sharks’.

The second solution is to simply experiment with filters until I find one that disguises the faces. This photo of the ‘Card Sharks’ was not as effective as the first photo, though it did a good job of ensuring privacy.

Sometimes, the photo is so old that identification isn’t an issue. This was a photo of my 5th birthday party. I’ve aged about *&#@ years since then and my mom passed away many years ago – but  I thought the cross-hatch effect improved the photo!

If you take photographs of people and publish them on your blog, do you get their permission to do so?

How Truthful are Photos? My Altered Cars

The Age of Information. The internet has given us the keys to an almost limitless resource. Bias is unlimited too, making the search for something resembling the truth almost as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Of course, the manipulation of words and photos is not new. History shows that photojournalists have been doctoring images and altering the story for a long time. Altered Images: 150 Years of Posed and Manipulated Documentary Photography  shows “images that broke the basic rules of photojournalism.”

Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.
– Walter Cronkite –

While it is easy to digitally doctor images, it is hard to do it really well. I found that out when I altered these Car Photos!

I created these ‘Toy Cars’ with the photo editing program GIMP (a program that lets you work with layers.) I started with a Corvette that the The Car Guy owned for a few years.

Basically it involves cutting the photo of the car into five vertical strips that extend from the top to the bottom of the photo, making a layer out of each strip. Then, starting at the front of the car, some of the strips are left full width (the front and back wheel sections), while the rest of them are made narrower (highlight the layer, and drag the arrow from the front to the back or use whatever method your program uses).

I did this several times until I had reduced the front, middle and back strips by about 50%. When the strips are moved into place, the car is shortened into a ‘Toy’ car. If you want to include some landscape on either end of the car, cut those into strips too, but don’t alter them.

This all sounds much easier than it is… it is tricky to get the narrowed strips to match up properly with the unaltered ones. This technique worked very well with the Corvette, since it is such a long car.

I also shortened my PT Cruiser.

1-ptcruiser

PT Cruiser

If you saw either of these photos in an article about, say, customized cars, would you be able to tell they had been digitally altered?

The truth is out there. Anyone know the URL?
– Author Unknown –