Category Archives: Lensbaby

1912 – Mixed-Up Confusion

So, this was an old version of the blog, but why? When I tried to call up the server control panel, a web application that lets you do all sorts of administrative things, I couldn’t log in. It accepted my password, but then timed out. Great!

The thing I tried was to back-resolve my domain. I looked up the IP address of “manessinger.com”, and then I looked up the canonical name of that IP address. Interesting: my domain was running on some host “cx24.justhost.com”.

This was weird, because since my purchase of the “Faster Server” option (which was never faster, but that’s another story), I had been on “fsx04.justhost.com”. Could this be the original server where I had been before the upgrade? What did that mean?

I checked the date when I had purchased the “Faster Server”, and really, it was at just that time in September! There were two possibilities now: they could have messed up the DNS record and I could be on the old server, although the new server was just fine, or else “fsx04” could have crashed and they could have restored the backup that they had used in September to move my account.

I had no way to find out but to contact their help desk. I did, I described my dilemma and asked what to do. The answer I got was

Dear Customer,

There are some temporary problems with our fsx04.justhost.com
We are resolving this issue and are doing our best.
Sorry for the inconveniences.
Please update this ticket in a few hours.

Great. Great? Not. I still didn’t know what was wrong, if my data was still there on “fsx04”, how long it would take, etc, but nevertheless, they knew about it and were working on it. Maybe.

Story to be continued – Image made with my Lensbaby 2.0 – Hear the Song of the Day, “Mixed-Up Confusion” by Bob Dylan, on YouTube.

1911 – Really The Blues

What happened? Well, sometime on Tuesday I found out that my blog had radically changed. The last entry was from September 11. Pretty ironic, huh?

122 blog entries made since then were gone.

The funny thing is, at first I didn’t even notice. I got a comment on an old post and tried to find out why. After all, since SPAM has increased so much lately, I have change my blog settings to automatically close commenting on posts older than a week. But here it was, a comment on a post made in early September.

In the WordPress dashboard I was notified of a new WordPress version and a few updated plugins as well. Funny. I had really thought I was already on 3.3.1, but then, upgrading WordPress is only a click these days, so I could have been wrong. I did the upgrade, and when I called up the blog to inspect the upgraded theme, I suddenly realized the whole mess. JustHost seemed to have restored an old backup!

This is one of those Oh Expletive moments, and it really didn’t help that I had no current backup myself 🙂

Story to be continued – Image made with my Lensbaby 2.0 – Hear the Song of the Day, “Really The Blues” by Sidney Bechet, on YouTube.

459 – How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around

Today’s image is technically quite the same as yesterday’s. Small wonder, I processed them in the same session on the train. Again the image was shot with the Lensbaby, and this time I have used two images from a series of eight. In the morning I saw this dog waiting in front of a bakery. He was so cute and at the same time seemed so helpless, I simply had to take some images. Finally none of them was particularly good, thus I combined two of them with different areas of relative sharpness, and then I did the edge finding game again, once more with two layers, one of them for rough contours, one for texture.

The Song of the Day is “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around” from Dr. John’s 1992 album “Goin’ Back to New Orleans“. Hear it sung live on YouTube. Nice performance.

The Good Thing: I go to sleep now. The Bad Thing: I have to get up in less than three hours. Oh my!

458 – The Long And Winding Road

This is the image of yesterday, Monday. I’m treading a bit on Bill Birch‘s turf here. The image was shot at night and again with the Lensbaby. What the camera saw is pretty noisy, and worse, it’s flat and not terribly sharp. Hey, have you ever tried focusing a Lensbaby at f2.0 in darkness while bending it? Good luck!

What I did in post-processing, was a variant of the technique for inventing detail that I’ve recently described, only this time I used two layers with edges, a rough one derived from the “Glowing Edges” filter and the usual one from “Find Edges”. The rough one is applied in “Soft Light”, the fine one in “Multiply” mode, both with reduced opacity, and there is a blur involved as well.

I’m writing this as I’m on the train, on my way from Vienna to Carinthia. I carry one last image for the show with me, along with more paper for matting. Tomorrow evening I need to hang the images, so there is still much to do and I’m incredibly tired. Hmm … I guess I won’t work till late, but instead rise very early 🙂

The Song of the Day is of course “The Long And Winding Road” from the 1970 Beatles album “Let It Be“. You know it anyway, but hear it on YouTube.

457 – The Voodoo Shack

I’m still preparing the images for my show on Thursday. This is REAL work! Matting and framing six images took me hours, and there are still 18 more to go. On the other hand, there is hardly anything that beats a real print. I have printed Super B format (the maximum my printer will do) and left a small white border around the image. On that border I title and sign the image. Then I use a passepartout in one of three colors, dark red, sunflower yellow and medium gray, and on the passepartout I title and sign again, as the other writing is now covered. The art is, to cut the window as precisely as possible, in order to not obscure the image but completly cover the white border. It’s work. Real work. And it looks damn good 🙂

Weather today was like yesterday, i.e. rainy, but I didn’t have time to take photos anyway. I took some halfhearted Lensbaby shots of the rainy landscape down from our garden, but I guess I spare you these.

The Image of the Day is from a shop that I passed by after having arrived in Vienna. Still the Lensbaby, still at f2.0, still twisting like mad 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Voodoo” from Chris Isaak’s 1985 debut album “Silvertone“.

456 – La vida es rosa

We had snow in the night and then rain. When I drove into town it was just the right mixture for disaster, and though I could avoid any trouble, two people have died on the streets that morning.

I had to buy paper for passepartouts, a metal ruler, a sharp knife, all for the show next week. Did I mention that I have an exhibition in a café in Villach, starting next Thursday? Well, I have printed 24 images last Tuesday, and now I only need to frame them. A lot of work, but what did I do? I slept the whole afternoon, and when I woke up I had to create an image.

This is the Lensbaby again, but this time with a macro lens attached. Post-processing was done in Photoshop.

The Song of the Day is “La vida es rosa”, Ana Salazar’s 2005 Flamenco rendition of Edith Piaf’s unforgettable “La vie en rose”. It’s from the album “Un Himno Al Amor“. Amazon’s German division has a sound sample.

455 – Baby, Why not

I’m sorry, I’m a bit late. This is the image of yesterday, Friday. I began taking images on the train from Vienna, while waiting for its departure, but they did not turn out too well. This one is from a series that I shot after having arrived in Velden, Carinthia. It’s a pillar on the terrace of a café, just opposite of Velden’s casino. They have still Christmas decorations on, and the small point lights are a good match for the Lensbaby’s distortions.

It’s been a long time since I last used the Lensbaby. The Lensbaby is a very simple 50/2.0, but instead of a normal lens barrel, it has a flexible tube. Additionally the lens has very strong natural distortions, throwing everything but the center out of focus. That’s what we call the “sweet spot”. By bending the lens you can move the sweet spot, but it’s not only that. The more you bend the lens, the more you increase the distortions. A characteristic of the Lensbaby is the egg-shaped rendition of out-of-focus point lights, and the art now is, to bend the lens in a way that these highlights create meaningful or aesthetic patterns.

In this case I have tried to let shadows point into the corners, have a stone there on the lower right, and let the lights point into the last corner. This is the image right out of the camera. 1/30s at ISO 1000.

The Song of the Day is “Baby, Why not” from Marcia Ball’s 2003 album “So Many Rivers“.

267 – Gloria

We have been here. This is the church of Maria Saal, and you’ve seen it in “29 – At the Church“.

This time we were there for a concert. Again the Trigonale festival, and today The Hilliard Ensemble sang Guillaume De Machaut’s “Messe de Notre Dame“, one of the best known masterpieces of the 14th century Ars Nova, a music style that readily used the new possibilities of musical notation. For the first time it was possible to write down rhythm. At the same time this is the earliest surviving example of a full mass where we know the composer.

Hearing Ars Nova may be an interesting experience for the uninitiated, because this is not about musical harmony. It’s serial music and similar techniques can be found 600 years later in our Minimal Music, e.g. in the works of Steve Reich and Terry Riley.

As this mass is too short to fill a whole concert evening, they interspersed the parts with motets also by Machaut. For sound samples see here, but neither the samples of the mass nor those of the motets can give a real impression of this music. 14th century composers simply did not yet see the need to show off within the first 30 seconds 🙂

Thank Goodness, in contrast to the 1993 record that I’ve linked to, they have changed their Latin from French style to German/English style. I really can’t stand French style Latin. It always sounds like a bad parody on homosexuals.

You expected a Song of the Day? Well, take any track of these two CDs, and why not the Gloria?

210 – Leaf in the Fountain

Friday at noon I went to the nearby Rathauspark to enjoy the warm weather and make some photos. There is a small fountain meant for drinking that often catches my eye. In its small basin, cast of brass and only slightly more than a foot in diameter, I found this leaf.

The Song of the Day is “Fallen Leaves” (the only place I found the lyrics was on Simon Telford’s blog, scroll all way down) from Norma Waterson’s fantastic album “The Very Thought of You“. For a sound sample I have to direct you to Amazon in Germany. They have it readily available as import from Canada, Amazon.ca has it only via marketplace dealers, and Amazon in the US does not have it at all. Isn’t globalization a wonderful thing 🙂

209 – Liquid Days

The Lensbaby is great for abstracting parts of an image that would look busy with an ordinary lens. You simply bend the lens and throw these parts out of focus. At least that’s what one normally does, but nobody says that you have to stop at that. What about bending the lens so much that everything is wildly distorted and more or less out of focus? What about using the linear distortions and aligning them with lines of strong contrast in the scene?

That’s what happened here. This is Trautsongasse, a short street in Vienna’s 8th district that is frequently used as location in movies. Well, on Thursday I was out to lunch and when returning I shot this image. I was mainly interested in using and accentuating the strong contrasting lines in the center. Bending the lens so strongly, made the whole scene look somehow liquid, like melting, and this is another thing that fits, because it was an unusually hot day.

The Song of the Day is “In Liquid Days” from Philip Glass’ 1986 album “Songs from Liquid Days“, a collaboration with Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, the Kronos Quartet, Linda Ronstadt and others. And not only that, it’s even good 🙂