Friday, January 19, 2007

The World on Fire

Yesterday evening I was just sitting at my desk when I happened to glance out the window across from me. From my desk I can see straight across and down the street to the apartment complex where I live, Regal Court. The building is quite odd looking and all the towers have this bowl type thing on top of them. It was around 5.45pm, dusk. I looked over and saw a glowing cloud floating right over the bowl on one of the towers. It was as if there was a fire burning in the bowl. I had my camera next to me so I managed to catch a picture before the cloud moved on. My picture did not really capture the splendor of the image I could see with my naked eyes, but this is the best my Canon IXUS 50 could do. I am not a photographer either and I was leaning out a narrow window trying to catch this moment before it was lost forever, so this is also the best I could do behind the Canon. I saw something in my head and this is my effort to turn the picture below into what I saw.

I don’t really have any experience messing with photographs on any programs but I took a shot at the photo with Corel Photo 13. I cropped the picture down and rotated it a bit. The original was a bit crooked I think. I also converted the picture to grayscale. I tried to take a shot in black & white but the cloud had moved on while I was working out my camera settings. I think a real B&W photo would have brought out the brightness of the cloud and made it look white against a gray sky. That is what I would have liked to achieve. Like a glow amongst shadows. I do not think grey scale does justice.

I cropped the photo again keeping a bit more of the other building around Regal Court in the picture. I also gave it a little more rotation because the last one looked a little off to me still. I tweaked the colors a bit trying to get more yellow into the picture hoping it would give the cloud more radiance. I am not familiar with all the terms on Corel so I can’t really even explain what I did but after much trial and error I think I did get just a bit of a glow on the photo. Not what I was gunning for but at this stage it was worth a save.

I figured if I can’t make the cloud brighter I should try and make the sky darker. Once again it is not as easy as one would think to get Corel to do what you want it too. There are a shit load of functions available but I do not know what does what. The cloud in this picture got more glow and maybe even looks a bit fiery but the whole thing looks too red to me. It’s like I am using a tinted lens or something. Once again, not what I was going for but interesting nonetheless.

I tried getting the image into B&W again like I envisioned it but this is still not exactly what I had in mind. I used a higher BIT grayscale so maybe in a print it would look a lot different. I also thought the lines were a bit too sharp so I dulled them a bit and I think the shape of a cloud now has a more radiant effect. The sky also looks smoother to me in this picture and the surrounding buildings in lighted and darker shades bring about some depth. At least that is what I was going for.

Finally frustrated with not getting what I had in my head onto the screen in front of me, I gave up using photo adjustments and started fucking with the artistic effects. Corel has loads of effects to play with and you can turn a normal photograph of yourself into something that would be hard to recognize. Some of the effects are just cheesy and others quite cool. I started playing around with some of the stuff I thought sounded interesting, undoing a lot of the moves along the way and leaving some done. I also jumped back and forth to the adjustments making minor changes in the color along the way. I masked and converted certain areas of the picture using various effects leaving other areas untouched. I finally ended up with this.

I particularly like the outcome of this last picture although it is nothing like I imagined it would be. I usually do not go for the art effects on Corel because they just look cheesy to me, like when a picture is turned into a sketch or charcoal drawing. But a combination of effects seems to have brought this picture to an almost surreal level. To me it looks like a picture of Regal Court 50 years from now, when the sky is filled with toxic pollution. Some of the windows are black and other blue which looks to me like the building has been on fire. Some people are still living there but other units are dark hollow shells. Now the buildings looked lived in, used, and worn. Sureal, but at the same time more real. Somehow I still managed to retain the glowing cloud through all these enhancements. This image reminds me of something I would see in a graphic novel, but from a first hand point of view I am lacking objectivism. I would like to know what anyone else thinks.


AmitD said...

I like that last one the best. Sorry dude, I am just not seeing what you envisioned in the earlier pictures. That last one does give the building a sort of timeless quality.

Anonymous said...

Playing with digital imaging i prefer Photoshop 7.0, give less pain in the ass for giving a good result.
It also has patches as wizard to get an instant result,
if you wanna check it out, this is the link for the patches,

Happy image digitizing ;)


Anonymous said...

methinks u is trippin' hardcore!

Avi said...

Thanks Gaby.

You guys really cant see the glowing cloud over the building? It is so clear in the red picture.

AmitD said...

Oh ok, I see the cloud. My bad...