Ready, Set, Edit!

I wrote about why I wouldn’t manipulate my photos beyond the simple edit before. I wrote about how the perfectionist in me would still see me in front of my computer hours later if I embarked down this road.

However, I’ve established a middle ground. And this medium is thanks to my old friend, time.

I’ve set the stopwatch. I’ve set a self-imposed constraint of 20-minutes for photo manipulations. Once the countdown stops at zero, Photoshop stops too!

Setting a limit puts a stop to the procrastination, the over finessing, and wasting away hours at the computer. Who’s got the time to spend hours and hours editing one photo? Not me!

Rest your head on me
I’ll smooth it nicely
Rub it better ’til it bleeds
And, and you’ll believe me
P J Harvey – Rub ‘Til It Bleeds

A shot from April this year was the latest to get the 20-minute edit treatment. Another aspect of manipulating photos I’ve found is the original capture has to lend itself to such treatment. Photos need to be shot with what they are going to endure in mind. I’ve found dark backgrounds lend themselves to this treatment better than light. Sure, we can engineer the background colours and tones, but when we’re working to a deadline, the less editing we have to do, the more time we have for the effects we’re wanting to achieve.

Edit: Original
“Monday” Originally shot 30 Apr 2017

A dark background is great, but it often needs a little work in order for the subsequent layers of editing to stand out. By highlighting areas where the following effects will reside, it’ll save us coming back to do it later, if the alarm hasn’t already rung!

Edit: Background Enhancement
Background Enhancement

With sections of the background lightened, it’s then time to edit pops of colour for the effects to be overlaid upon.

Edit: Background Colour Enhancement
Background Colour Enhancement

Mist and smoke brushes are then used to create these effects, including some feathered erasing to simulate the smoke wafting through the skeleton’s ribs.

Edit: Mist and Smoke Addition
Mist and Smoke Addition

And debris brushes are used to add dust and debris being stirred up with the mist and the smoke.

Edit: Dust and Debris Addition
Dust and Debris Addition

But now I gotta listen to a 20 minute story that’s just a rumor
And I’m sorry but this nicotine and caffeine don’t gimme the same rush
NOFX – California Drought 

Now that we’ve looked at all the components of the edit, let’s see them as they’re layered upon to the original in the slider below.

  • Original

 

*puffs* “And here’s the result of the 20 minute edit.” *pants*

Edit: The 20 Minute Edit
The 20 Minute Edit

Setting a limit to how much time I can spend, I usually end up with something similar to what I would’ve if I’d spent far longer editing. It forces me to focus on the task at hand rather than finessing a blade of grass that no one will ever notice anyway! Spending a fixed time on an edit frees up time for the other things that are demanding some.

– Brett

Have you ever set a time restriction on what you do? Have you limited the number of photos you shoot, or set an alarm when you’re at the computer editing your photos?

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

The return of the pebble

At the start of this year I made a resolution. So what did I want from the year? A pebble in my shoe!

I wanted a pebble in my shoe to keep me shifting, keep me squirming, and keep me uncomfortable. I hoped that this would keep me shifting until I found my style, or until I became comfortable enough to realise my style would never be constant and it’d always need to be changing; just like my stance with a pebble in my shoe.

I don’t want a career, I got enough to deal with here
Screeching Weasel – Ashtray

I’ve still got that pebble in my shoe. Actually, I’ve now got two of those pesky nuisances in there.

The other pebble that’s making me uncomfortable isn’t igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic; it’s temporal.

It’s the pebble of time that’s causing me to squirm and fidget uneasily.

Thanks to James’ reminder that November is upon us, I’ve remembered that there are quite a few toy projects of varying sizes that I need to begin, progress, or finish in the ensuing weeks!

Time: Busy bee
Busy bee

To Do List

There are the regular video hangouts that Shelly and I have to discuss the running of the blog, upcoming events, LEGO news and planning for the future.

There’s the Brickography LEGO fan exhibition this weekend.

There’s the Toy Photographers podcasts that James is championing. I won’t ruin the big reveal, I’ll leave that to the brains behind it, but there’s work to be done for that.

And there’s work to be done for the Toy Photographers book too. A book? Yes, there are plans for a book too!

As well as Shelly and I regularly meeting to discuss the blog, we also spend a lot of time searching for and inviting guests to write for the blog. They don’t approach us, unfortunately. But, if you’re interested in writing for the blog, please let us know!

Brickvention is coming early next year and there’s the fan art silent auction to coordinate, organise and set up again.

And finally, there’s some secret LEGO business that needs to be done too. I can’t say anything about this now, but hopefully we’ll able to shed some light on this exciting opportunity soon.

We’ll be kickin’ ass we’ll be takin’ names
When we’re bigger than Kiss
Teenage Bottlerocket – Bigger than Kiss

And, as well as all this, I’m expected to write a blog post for this week?

As if I’ve got time for that with all this other stuff going on?

– Brett

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

Numbers Slumber

I love numbers

Did you know 2 and 5 are the only prime numbers that end with a 2 or a 5?

And did you know, 40 when written “forty” is the only number with letters in alphabetical order, while “one” is the only one with letters in reverse order when written in English? And “four” is the only number in the English language that is spelt with the same number of letters as the number itself?

I love maths

111,111,111 × 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321. In fact, multiplying ones will always give you a palindromic result. 11 x 11 = 121

Maths and palindromes? So many dynamos! *read that backwards

I even love math rock bands like Nomeansno and Shellac, and mathcore bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Locust.

Yep, I’m a delight be have a beer with! I’ll bore you with numbers facts whilst The Locust blast their complex, aggressive weirdness from the stereo.

A week of number fun

This past week has been an intriguing one regrading numbers.

On Monday LEGO shared an image of mine on their social media channels, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The featured posts collected 34k Instagram likes, 1.6k Facebook likes and 512 Twitter likes in the first 24 hours.

And what did all these numbers mean for my numbers?

In the 24 hours following I amassed a total of 78 more Instagram followers. Sure, this number doesn’t take into account the average daily follower losses I’ve experienced since the algorithm screwed things up and I renounced my Instagram allegiance.

This is a picture
Of things going a little out of hand.
This is a sculpture
Of a couple of things we gotta get straight
Shellac – This Is A Picture

I’m not disparaging my appreciation that LEGO chose to share one of my photos. Not at all! I’m incredibly grateful that LEGO wanted to share my junk. I’m not questioning the gesture; it’s the platform on which it occurred I’m questioning.

As someone who loves numbers I was curious to explore these numbers a little more.

I remember when LEGO followed me on Instagram in 2014. I woke that morning and thought something was broken; overnight my follower count had exploded. Yet, now LEGO share a photo of mine and the impact on my account is barely noticeable.

Coincidentally, on the same day last week Google+ promoted my account in their G+ Create community. This feature resulted in 30 new followers.

Let’s look at some numbers. Yay!

An Instagram account with 2.3million followers shares my photo and I end up with a percentage gain of 0.26%.

(30030 – 29952) / 29952 x 100 = 0.26

Google+ feature me in a community of 730 members and the result is a 14.6% gain in followers.

(227 – 198) / 198 x 100 = 14.6

And what percentage of those community’s members or followers chose to pursue the features? Well, 4.11% of the G+ community, compared with 0.003% from Instagram.

(30 / 730) x 100 = 4.11%

(78 / 2300000) x 100 = 0.003%

Yeah, I get that the number changes on these days may have been shaped from outside these two events. And yes, I get that there may have been fluctuations in these numbers that weren’t direct result of the features. I understand that the mathematical outcomes aren’t purely the result of the features I’ve mentioned. And yeah, I get that lower base numbers require lower number additions or subtractions to impact on the results proportionately.

Out with the old.
This is the new.
The minor details have been overlooked.
Plastic people making plastic trees grow out of concrete,
This landscape lacks intellectual quality.
Emergency.
The Locust – Stucco Obelisiks Labelled as Trees

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

However, I still say that these numbers illustrate how broken Instagram is now. I’d argue that the gap between the numbers from these two platforms wouldn’t have been so great a few years ago. In fact, the Instagram numbers would’ve overshadowed those from G+. But they don’t now!

Numbers: Broken Clown
Broken Clown

When a new following, that’s only discovered by a user checking through a following list or checking through the activity of those they follow, results in a bigger gain than a feature in a feed, something doesn’t compute. Perhaps it’s because that post is now buried below advertising, stories and the algorithm, requiring greater digging to unearth than mining through the activities of a feed you follow?

When a community of 730 is alerted to someone, and it results in 30 new followers, whereas an account with 2.3 million followers results in 78, those maths don’t add up. No matter what type of trickery I try to apply!

I’ve never made a fuss about follower numbers. I truly appreciate those that do follow, but it’s not why I do what I do, or why I started.

This post is neither a gloat nor a grumble; it’s just some curious maths!

– Brett

If you’ve made through all my blathering and ended up here, you should sign up to our weekly email round up where you’ll get a recap of all the babbling from the week.

And while you’re doing things, you should definitely join our G+ Community where we hold monthly contests with prizes and lots of other cool stuff too.

Photo or Faux Tow

When is a photo a faux tow? Is photo editing a false pull; drawing people to an artificial interpretation of reality? Or, is reality already blurred when we’re taking photos of toys?

I used to try to capture all I could in camera. Sure, I’d tweak and enhance what was captured, but I steered clear of opening Photoshop to add anything. If I did open Photoshop, it was to take away dust, dirt and imperfections. My reasoning for avoiding Photoshop was I didn’t want to unleash the perfectionist in me. Continue reading Photo or Faux Tow

Fundamentally Fun

Things have been pretty heavy on the blog of late. There have been some meaty subjects to sink our teeth into, which is cool. But, as I vegetarian, I thought it time to step away from all this meaty content, and get back to my roots. Fun.

Essentially Entertaining

I started posting LEGO photos back in 2012, with simple photos accompanied by silly captions and puns. Scouring the interwebs for puns was the source of inspiration for my photos. If a pun made me giggle, I’d then create a LEGO version of it.

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
– Dr. Seuss

This was back in my early days on Instagram. It was before Instagram was flooded with users hell-bent on chasing numbers and fixated on follower counts. I think most of my early photos ended up in the feeds of 100 followers. But that was cool, I wasn’t doing it for numbers; I was doing it for fun. Continue reading Fundamentally Fun

Request Inquest

Allow me to paint a cautionary tale of a request for artwork and some unforeseen pitfalls that I encountered. Pitfalls that you might avoid after I’m done babbling.

A cautionary tale is a tale told in folklore, to warn of a danger. There are essentially three parts to a cautionary tale.

  1. Firstly, a taboo or prohibition is stated
  2. Then, the narrative itself is told
  3. And finally, the one who disregards the forewarning of taboo comes to an unpleasant fate, which is commonly told in grisly detail

Continue reading Request Inquest

Taking on Tips

I don’t just write posts. I also read them. And then I write about reading them. Today I put some of Shelly’s tips into practice. And wrote about it!

Beating Baader-Meinhof to the punch!

I’ve written about Baader-Meinhof before, the term coined to describe a concept or a thing you just found out about, suddenly popping up everywhere. When I did, it was about a photo I took that I noticed a lot of Shelly’s “the basics” contained in it when I was editing.

Shelly has recently shared her tips about photographing toys in water, and written about turning any lens into a macro with close-up filters.

So, before I weirded myself out by discovering Shelly’s tips jumping out at me from my photos again, I decided to take some of her recent tips and purposely go out and put them into practice. Take that Baader-Meinhof! Continue reading Taking on Tips

While the cat’s away, the mice will play

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…hooky!

With Shelly’s away catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, taking photos of LEGO, taking about LEGO, and attending the LEGO House opening, I’ve decided to take a week off from posting. Shhh! Don’t tell her!

While the cat’s away, the mice will play…music!

While I’m here, I’ll just remind you that there’s a music themed challenge happening over at the G+ community. Continue reading While the cat’s away, the mice will play

A Busman’s Holiday

I’d never heard of a busman’s holiday before? Nor had I thought I’d ever been on one!

 noun: busman’s holiday

  1. a holiday or form of recreation that involves doing the same thing that one does at work.
    “a fire crew’s Christmas outing turned into a busman’s holiday when their coach caught fire”

While Shelly is away, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take some time off from shooting to take the wheel of the good ship Toy Photographers. I’d been running low on motivation and inspiration and thought this would be the perfect chance to recharge and reenergise. And while I thought I’d relish the break, I found myself doing what I usually do, a busman’s holiday. Continue reading A Busman’s Holiday