Walking in the Woods

 And Minding the Mushrooms

So the last post was … what, March? Well. … I have been busy working on my book, albeit with one hand, which means slow typing. The good news is, about three weeks ago, I started typing with two hands. Yes, two. Count ’em, two hands.

Huzzah.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t like I’m suddenly back to normal. There are errors galore, I type at a mere fraction of the speed I used to and my arm gets tired after awhile. Still, there is progress: the other day I did 1,000 words or so in about three hours (with breaks and whatnot). I remember when it used to take much longer with one hand typing, so once again, huzzah.

Why now? Well my right arm is slowly but consistently getting stronger; about once a month I would test it. This time, about three weeks ago, I figured it could hang with the two armed typing and away I went.

Then there is a new — as opposed to old, heh — over-use injury to my peroneal tendons in my right foot. That meant some time off from the gym; when I finally got to where I could walk without a limp and started taking long walks, I thought I should take along my new camera gear and make some pretty pictures, which is why I’m here: to post a few of thede said pictures,

Don’t worry; I’ve got that old box sitting right here; I’ll get to it one of there days.

In the meantime, I’ve posted a new album on Flickr and my photo blog; I’ve got a few outtakes and whatnot to post here.

First off, at the north end of Burnet Woods, where I took my camera for a stroll, I encountered this character:

shroom head

At first I thought there something pornographic about his/her/its nose — i.e., he had a dick nose. You know, a dick where his nose should be — or a nose shaped like a dick, at any rate. But no, upon further reflection — and figuring out what it said underneath, I figured it must be a ‘shroom, as in a mushroom-shaped nose.

Am I reading too much into this?

Then, all the way at the south end of the woods, above a little platform at the end of the lake, I encountered said artiste once again.

shroom head too

Then on the way back home I encountered this warning:

watch out: shrooms

Is that to watch out for ‘shrooms, if the sign is any indication? Or is it to watch out for the log itself, which is laying across my path? In any event, the last time I had any ‘shrooms, Bush the Elder was president, so I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs — or ‘shrooms — lie and be on my merry way.

And last but not least, here is what apparently is a sex log.

sex log?

Well then.

Pseudo Soi Dog

Soi Dog’s Gotta Eat

So as mentioned before, some soi dogs enjoy a gray area; they don’t necessarily have a home, but they do have someone that looks after them — motorbike taxi drivers, various street food vendors, etc. One of the many benefits of being a stray dog in a Buddhist country, I suppose.

I’ve seen this hefty girl on Pattaya Second Road at all hours of the day and night, so I’m assuming she doesn’t have a permanent roof over her head. On the other hand, she has a collar and looks reasonably healthy. And  as you can see, she’s not hurting for eats.

Some soi dogs are looked after ... sometimes looked after too much.

 

Photo a Day: Fallen Idol?

Or Impromptu Buddhist Altar?

I was strolling through an overgrown vacant lot in Pattaya the other day on my way to the Friday afternoon market to buy a shirt — a garish red one, as it turns out — when I spotted this. Not sure what it’s all about, but it struck me as a … er, rather striking image.

A fallen idol on an impromptu Buddhist altar ...

The Slack Has Been Picked Up

And This Really Isn’t a an SEO Worthy Healine (Or Subhead)

But sometimes you just can’t be arsed. Been busy this past week, as I had my third and final test in level one of my Thai language class. This is actually the second time I’ve taken the test. The last time I took it, I got a borderline score; the instructor testing me said that she would pass me so I could move onto level two if I really wanted to, but she advised against it. I decided to give it a few months and try again.

This time, the result was satisfactory; passed with flying colors. Anyway, I neglected ye olde Photo a Day project for the past several days. I’m here to rectify that.

The view as I ascend the escalator to get on the skytrain outside my school in Phloen Chit (in Bangkok) has always struck me for its … perpendicularity, I guess we’ll say. Not sure if that’s a word, but it is now.

Gotta come clean: I actually had to merge two different thresholds to achieve the desired image:

A threshold version of an urban landscape of converging perpendicular lines at Phloen Chit BTS station, Bangkok

Tomorrow I’ll post the non-threshold version.

Remember the Thai gargoyle? It resides just out of the lower left-hand corner of the frame in this photo.

Portrait Professional for a Dummy

What Does Portrait Professional
Do to a Dirty (Wo)manikin Head?

So I just invested in Portrait Professional, after playing around with the free trial. It doesn’t do anything you can’t do natively in Photoshop, in terms of cleaning up a portrait subject’s skin — fixing blemishes, skin tones, etc. — but it definitely cuts out the number of steps involved and thereby simplifies the process (and provides a considerable time reduction).

Plus it gives you fully manual control, so you don’t end up with some ridiculous looking alien-skin image. The big thing for me was being able to turn off the default settings which actually manipulate the shape/proportions of the subject’s face  and skull (which you can do). That’s going a bit too far in my opinion; in fact the examples on the company’s website I find to be a bit extreme — some even to the point of grotesque. I’m not above tightening a chin or a tummy a little bit, or tucking in a protruding ear. But changing the dimensions of a subject’s skull — that’s too much for me.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Anyway, I just wanted to simplify cleaning up blemishes and evening out/softening skin tones — basically trying to achieve an image of someone as they would look on a near-perfect day with near-perfect lighting, etc. Portrait Pro does with aplomb. I’m still playing around with it and learning the finer points, but I’ll eventually post some examples here.

In the meantime, I was curious to see what it would do with the manikin head on the beach. Here’s the unretouched photo straight out of the camera (other than converting from raw to jpeg):

20130602_181214

And here it is after being processed in Portrait Professional, using the default settings (although I did adjust the placement of the facial recognition lines):

20130602_181214-ppro

Remarkably subtle; in fact I don’t think you can really tell the shape of the head has been changed (unlike when you flip between the before and after images within the program itself). But then I suppose a manikin head is already an idealized version of human.

Anyway, as I say, more later with Portrait Professional. But I will add that I sprang for the 64 bit edition (which also comes with a Photoshop plugin, which works great) and so far so good; I’m pretty happy with it.

Soi Dogs? What About Cafe Cats?

Cat: The Definition of Nonchalance

A cat takes a bath on a sidewalk cafe table in  Pattaya, Thailand

So I was strolling down Pattaya Tai to catch the mini-van back to Bangkok this morning for a meeting when I spied this lovely creature perched atop a cafe table cleaning herself. It was such a non sequitur, that I stopped, continued on, thought to myself  “How am I not photographing that cat?” and went back and busted out the N8.

Now most stray cats are a bit skittish around humans, unless they have been fed frequently by them. Soi cats in particular. This one though did not give a tinker’s damn in the least little bit that I was standing only a few feet away with my phone pointed in its general direction. It continued to clean itself and then settled down for a nap.

A cat naps on a sidewalk cafe table in  Pattaya, Thailand

Judging by the collar and its overall healthy appearance — not to mention its feline nonchalance — that it is well looked after. But then notice its tail, or lack thereof. It may very well be an adopted soi cat; usually a busted up or otherwise missing tail is a sure sign of stray critters here in Thailand.

Are you a dog person? Then check out these soi dogs.

An (Old) Boy and His Dog

A Quiet Day On the Beach for a Man and His Best Friend

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

Spied this gentleman on Beach Road in Pattaya today with his wee lil’ pooch in his lap, and took a surreptitious photo with my phone. It’s rather silly of me, but when I’m out and about with my DSLR around my neck and a pack with lenses and whatnot, I don’t feel particularly shy about asking interesting folks to take their picture.

But when I don’t have the gear with me, just my phone, it seems kinda strange. I suppose when I have all my photography kit with me, I guess I feel it’s clear I’m a photographer of some sort, and taking pictures of people is my bag. But just my phone … then I’m some kinda weirdo. I know I’m a bit weirded out when random people want to take my picture.

It does happen sometimes though, especially if you are a foreigner in a place where foreigners are infrequent — the locals like to get a shot with the foreigner. That doesn’t particularly bother me anymore, to be honest.

But then other day some Russian guy and his girlfriend came up to me on the street in Bangkok and asked me to take their picture, to which I obliged. Then he wanted me to get a photo of me with his girlfriend. “Er, Why?” I couldn’t help but wonder. I was a bit nonplussed, but obliged just the same.

Anyway, didn’t want to pester this old boy relaxing this afternoon, so snapped off a surreptitious shot from a comfortable distance. The subject actually calls for a tighter crop, but as you can see, even the N8 ends up producing a bit of grain when cropped that tightly/viewed at 100 percent (click the images to see ’em full size). A proper camera/lens would have been best, of course, but then it would have been more difficult to shoot incognito — and get a shot where the subject is acting natural, and not looking at the camera.

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

Of course being a photographer, I snapped off several shots; here’s another one:

An old boy and his dog on Beach Road, Pattaya, Thailand

Rest Your Weary Bones

A Martini for What Ails Ye

Okay, a rainy day spent indoors catching up on some oft-delayed work meant nothing interesting caught my photographic eye. So I’m dipping way back into the archives for the Photo a Day today. Here’s something from an assignment for a photography class — don’t remember what the assignment was for or what the class was — strobe class or what?

I’ll let it speak for itself.

Rest your weary bones with a martini ...

Incidentally, the film grain is for real; this is a scanned image of a negative. The toning is of course, Photoshop.  Here’s another image from the same set.

Kick back and rest your weary bones ...

Sala Keoku: Sewer Bass Feeding Frenzy

We’re (Not) Going to Need a Bigger Boat

And so my last image from my archive of Sala Keoku images taken in 2010 has nothing to do with enormous statuary inspired by Buddhist and/or Hindu mythology/cosmology.

Nope. Like all good tourist attractions, you can feed the fish in the ponds about the place, at Sala Keoku. Fish being carp — or, as my father liked to call them, sewer bass (Dad was a consummate fisherman, you know). Despite the ethical implications — adults always have to over think things (well, this one does, anyway) — the child in me (who is alive and well) can’t help but be amused by the resultant feeding frenzy.

So enjoy this image of said frenzy, and the ensuing closeups. The closeups are actually just tighter crops of the original image, incidentally. As always, click to make ’em big.

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Sewer bass feeding frenzy at Sala Keoku, Nong Khai, Thailand

Even just looking at these photographs now, I can’t help but be amused. That’s probably worth a few demerit points on the ole’ Buddhist ledger.