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How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

07 Nov

Having spent the past several months traveling extensively to some pretty exciting places, coming back home to small-town suburbia was a rude awakening for me to say the least. I was so used to having interesting subjects – be it people, landscapes, flora and fauna – at my doorstep everyday. I didn’t have to think much about what I wanted to photograph, I could just step outside and find something new and interesting every time.

But once I got home and settled into my routine, I started to experience PW (photographer withdrawal). There really was nothing for me to photograph, right? How many times can I photograph the same bush, the same tree, the same pond and the same ducks?

You see being smack-dab in the middle of American suburbia, this is the extent of my daily views. But then I realized that there are some simple ways to make an uninteresting location a bit more interesting! Here are six tips to help you do that.

#1 Change the way you look at things

Sometimes it’s just about changing perspective. Literally. Let’s say you have pine trees in your neighborhood. Nothing fancy – simple pine trees that are quite abundant in most areas.

Have you ever tried to look at one through a macro lens? Maybe you can capture individual blades of pine needles. How does the tree look when it snows? Can you isolate the snow on the pine needles? How do pine cones look under a macro lens? All of these things provide a potential for interesting photographs. Just change your perspective a complete 360 from what you normally do!

Get in close

Try looking at the same boring thing with a new or different lens. A macro lens or even a close-up filter is a nice way to get up close and personal to an otherwise boring subject.

Pine Tree in ice rain winter - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

The image on the left is the neighborhood pond in winter. Nothing exciting ever happens there. But this past winter we had an ice storm and the pine tree was covered in ice. It made for some interesting compositions and also very cool macro shots!

Try wide-angle

The opposite of close is to try something that encompasses the whole scene. Using a wide-angle or ultra-wide angle lens to change your perspective of the scene in front of you.

Pine Tree in ice - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

Here I used a wider angle to try and encompass the whole extent of ice on the tree. I quite like how the ice is hanging off the branches. I almost got frostbite from being outside in this cold but quite worth the shot, don’t you think?

Get the details/textures

Textures are a wonderful way to look at the details in and around an object. The play of color, age and grain make for great abstract imagery.

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

#2 Experiment with different light

Light is one of the most important elements in photography. Sometimes boring doesn’t have anything to do with the location, but with the quality of the light at the time that you are shooting. If you feel that what you have around you is really uninteresting, try photographing the scene or subject in lighting that is different from what you usually do.

Get your tripod out and try photographing at night with a flash or a long exposure (slow shutter speed) combined with some light painting. Try early morning or golden hour light when the light is softer and the shadows are longer. Or go completely against the norm and try photographing in the harsh midday sun and embrace the play of light and shadows.

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

Sometimes when the light is just right, I don’t have a model handy, so my dog is the one who poses for me. I just loved the way he was sitting in the light basking in the warmth of the setting sun.

Portraits in shadows - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

This was a little bit more staged but she just happened to be sitting there when the setting sun entered the house from the left. I positioned her a bit so she was half in the light and half in the shade. No props needed at all – just a willing model and looking for the right or different kind of light.

photos of the setting sun - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

Sunsets and sunrises are perfect to spruce up your boring location. You just need get outside and photograph that great light!

#3 Simple special effects

This ties into the point above. Using simple tools like a tripod, off-camera flash, gels, etc., can add an element of interest and change to your otherwise boring images.

Some other ideas to try are motion-blur with a really low shutter speed and a fast-moving subject, intentionally missing focus to create an artistic image, panning while tracking a moving object, double exposures, free-lensing, etc.

double exposure photography - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

I absolutely love double exposures. When all else fails and there is nothing of interest to photograph, I try to combine nature and portraits to create some cool double exposure effect. More often than not, my pet is the only willing and able model!!

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

#4 Break photography composition rules

We all know the basic rules of compositions such as; the rule of thirds, filling the frame, cropping effectively without cutting body parts, using leading lines and shapes, symmetry and patterns, pay attention to the background, etc. But sometimes when you are not quite feeling motivated and inspired or when you are dealing with an uninteresting background, try breaking some or all these rules to add some interest and drama to your images.

Dramatic Light Food Photos - How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

Most food photographs are always in perfect light on perfect white backdrops. I decided to break some rules and photograph my morning smoothie in the hard afternoon light that was streaming through my kitchen window to get some shadows in the frame and also give a more imperfect look to the blackberries.

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

I loved the way my neighbor’s tree burst into flowers over the spring. So after much coercion and bribing, my daughter agreed to pose – but she refused to look at the camera. So I covered her eyes, cropped off her arms and create a different kind of portrait with the florals that I loved.

#5 Try some street photography

Street photography is an interesting genre of photography because it involves people and people watching is always fun and entertaining, no matter where you are.

#6 Experiment in post-processing

If none of these ideas inspire you, try to create something fun and interesting in post-processing. My post-processing software of choice is Lightroom. Perhaps you want to try HDR processing for your images, or a black and white theme. You can also use selective blur, gradient filters, and other tools to try sprucing up your images to create something interesting and fun.

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

If you have been following my work for a while, you know that my style is very light, bright and airy. My images are clean and give a sense of freshness even in my processing. The image on the left is more of my normal style. But for this article and also to show that experimenting with post-processing is another way to overcome boredom, I edited all the images in a more dark and moody style throughout.

How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places

Left is how I would normally process this image, and the image on the right is just experimenting with darker, moodier tones. I quite like them both and spend hours playing around with editing styles for this article.

Your turn

I hope these ideas get your creative juices flowing in terms of things to try and experiment with in your photography when you feel your location is uninteresting and boring. Remember, memorable images don’t always happen in cool, popular places – they happen when something simple or mundane tells an interesting story.

The post How to Take Interesting Photos in Uninteresting Places by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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5 Tips for Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

06 Oct

If the thought of being away from all your camera equipment stresses you out, this article is exactly what you need! I can safely say that being on the road for over two and a half months teaches you a thing or two about need and necessity versus wants.

Road trip

For the longest time, one of my dreams has been to live away from home and travel with my family for an extended period of time. I used to dream about all the places I could travel to, and how much fun I would have living a nomadic life. Of course, then I would wake up and the realities of my responsibilities would take over.

However, earlier this year after suffering a big life setback with the loss of my mom to cancer, I decided that my life was too short to not make my dreams come true. After several months of discussion and planning, my husband and I decided that our little family would spend our summer in India – traveling and visiting family. Somewhere along the way a trip to Ladakh, London, Zurich and Rome got added to my roster and pretty soon I was in charge of planning and packing for a life on the road for two and a half months living out of just four suitcases – one for each one of us. Being a photographer, I knew that somewhere in there I had to pack my camera equipment along with my essentials.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

Sunsets along Lake Zurich were magical – one of my favorite cities that I have ever visited!

Here are a few things that really helped me make the most of my time away from home. It is very likely that I have missed some key photographic opportunities but overall I am very happy with my time away, the opportunities that my family has experienced, and the images that I have created. And as an added bonus, all the camera equipment I did take made it back without any major mishaps along the way.

#1 – Gear Choices

Let’s face the reality of life as a photographer – we all love and want all the gear that we think we need wherever we go. When I was packing I realized that as a photographer I had so many things I wanted to bring, but as a mom, the need for gear was quickly overruled by the need for practical things like clothes, shoes, books, toys, etc. I had to make some very hard choices on the camera equipment that I could take, versus the gear I wanted to take. I narrowed down my list based on where my travels would take me and what gear I could realistically carry and transport safely without any damage.

So, in the end, I settled for this kit:

  • A wide zoom lens – Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8.
  • A simple point and shoot camera (yes, this was my backup as weight was a concern when flying to and from Asia with layovers on the way there and back).
  • One telephoto lens – Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L.
  • One camera body – Canon 5D MK III.
  • Four camera batteries.
  • One battery charger.
  • A small travel tripod – just a generic brand – mine fits in my carry-on bag.
  • A remote trigger.
  • Five camera CF cards ranging from 8GB to 32GB.
  • Two 2TB External Hard drives ( primary photo storage and a backup photo storage).
  • Two generic lens and camera cleaner kits.

All of these things comfortably fit into my REI brand hiking backpack. I use this bag for everything and store my gear in individual soft-cover bags inside the pack. This is what I have done since day one and something that has worked well for me.

The one thing I wish I had taken with me was a rain cover for my camera. My backpack had its own rain cover which I used numerous times during the trip because we got caught in sudden downpours in the mountains. But without a separate rain over my camera, I was not able to use my gear in the rain.

#2 – Be Prepared and Organized

For me, being prepared and organized included having a rough idea of where I was going and the kind of environment I was going to expose myself and my gear to. Before I left, I jotted down all the serial numbers, make, and brand for my camera equipment and stored them in a document on my cloud-based Dropbox account. All my external hard drives were stored off-site at a friend’s place as well as the remainder of my gear.

Now, obviously, this is a friend I trust. But another option would be to lock it in off-site storage facility. As part of your research, another good thing to keep in your back pocket is the name, address, and contact information of authorized service dealers for your gear in the country you are visiting. Sometimes things just go wrong no matter how prepared you are. Being prepared with this information about services centers and authorized dealers for your gear is a time saver especially when you are traveling in areas where the internet connection is not very reliable.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

An hour’s hike from our campsite in the Himalayas got us to this beautiful alpine lake. But by the time I could get the camera and tripod out, the fog set it…and it was magical!

During my travels, my gear choices on the road would depend on the activities that were planned for the day and the fact that this was a family travel trip, not just a photography expedition. In Rome and Zurich we traveled everywhere either on foot or used public transportation. So I just carried my camera body and the 24-70mm lens among other daily necessities in my backpack. The rest of my camera equipment was either packed away in the hotel room safe or locked away in my suitcase.

When we hiked and camped in the Himalayas, my camera along with both my lenses were always on my person, and the tripod was handed off to the porters that were carrying our camping gear. For my camping trip, I just carried all my CF cards and ditched the charger and external hard drive at the house where we were staying because it was highly unlikely I’d find a charging port on that journey.

All these choices were possible because of the research I had done ahead of time.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

Much of Ladakh is dry and barren and upwards of 10,000 feet above sea level. Altitude sickness is very real and sometimes your gear also acts up. Of course, these dramatic views almost make up for any hardships.

Additionally, a good mindset to have when you travel to far-off exotic locations is one of acceptance of physical and mental limitations – both for yourself and your camera gear. I experienced some altitude sickness in Ladakh as we were traveling on roads at almost 17,000 feet above sea level. I also found my gear did not function as efficiently at that altitude. My batteries did not last as long and the camera also did not shoot as fast. The first few times it happened I freaked out. But then I just accepted it as something beyond my control and gave myself some extra time to be patient in getting the shot that I wanted.

#3 – Know Your Gear

This one is too basic to include here but it is amazing how many of us don’t follow this simple tip. We are so enamored with the latest and greatest gear available, but yet don’t quite know how to use the stuff that we do own.

The best way to get over this is to really limit yourself to a few key pieces of camera equipment for an extended period of time. One of my goals for this trip was to try and capture star trails and The Milky Way when I traveled to Ladakh. After all, I was going to be in a remote part of the country at an altitude of almost 15,000-17,000 feet above sea level. Barring any bad weather, I should be able to get relatively clear shots of The Milky Way and star trails.

Now astrophotography is not my thing. I always limited myself from trying it out because I don’t usually travel with a tripod, nor do I own an intervalometer. So this time I actually downloaded the camera manual on my phone and studied it before I left. With that information, I was able to comfortably and confidently use the B (a.k.a Bulb mode) on my camera to capture star trails in Ladahk. It was quite a thrilling experience for my maiden attempt.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

A 26-minute exposure while sleeping in the car near Jisp along the drive to Leh was one of the highlights of my trip. This is one of my first star trails shot and now I find myself looking out for stars every night! This would have been impossible without a tripod and proper remote trigger.

Another good thing to practice before you head out is gear maintenance. I had to routinely clean my lens and camera throughout this trip. I made the decision to carry two camera cleaning kits just because I knew my gear would get a lot of use. Before every major outing, I spent the time to clean out the dirt and dust from the camera and the lens. The dust pen was kept in my camera bag just in case I needed it while I was out and about photographing.

#4 – Be Local and Think Like a Local

I have to include this one in any travel photography related article because it does relate indirectly to taking care of yourself and your gear. Often times I find photographers I meet along my journeys have a fake sense of entitlement. When you are a guest in someone’s house, are you not on your best behavior? Why is it that when you are a guest in another country, common sense and basic manners seem to fly out the window.

Locals are still people who deserve the same amount of respect and courtesy as anyone. Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what they experience when someone shoves a camera in their face without so much as a hello or a smile.

While in Ladhak, we visited a lot of beautiful monasteries. Most of them are still in use and we saw many temples where the monks were in prayer. Even if there is no sign discouraging photography, please use common sense to not invade their private space especially when they are chanting. I cannot tell you how many times I came across tourists that almost jumped over each other or hanging out of moving cars just to take pictures of them chanting and praying. Seeing this rude behavior almost made me embarrassed to take my camera out.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

The infamous cable cars in Lucern, Switzerland…the clouds adds a certain mystery and aura to these engineering marvels!

Additionally flashing your fancy gear around is almost begging for the wrong kind of attention. I remember this one evening in Rome, I was out with my kids taking photos around some of the beautiful horse-drawn carriages. We lost track of time and soon found ourselves in a fairly deserted alley. I quickly put my gear away in my backpack, stuffed it with our jackets, grabbed my kids, and sprinted towards a more crowded piazza.

#5 – Make Friends with Local Photographers

The internet is an amazing tool for almost anything. It is such a great resource to find and connect with other photographers, especially if you are traveling to areas that are new and foreign to you. I was able to connect with some photographers in India as well as in Rome this summer. We chatted on the phone, met for dinner and just became friends.

They even gave me advice on some of the local, non-touristy spots to photograph as well as offered to lend me gear if I needed it. We tried to plan a shoot in India but the timing was not right, I know that the next time around we are going to create some magic, though.

Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places

I met up with another photographer and we attempted to do night photography in Mumbai. But the moisture in the air because of the monsoons was causing some weird light trails against all the lights. So we went for ice cream instead! But it was a cool experience none the less.

Conclusion

I hope these tips are helpful as you plan your next vacation in a far-off destination. If you have other tips and tricks that worked for you, please share them with the community so we may all learn new ways to have an exciting and creatively satisfying vacation.

The post 5 Tips for Taking and Caring for Your Camera Equipment in Far Away Places by Karthika Gupta appeared first on Digital Photography School.


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Apple is releasing its Live Photos API, which means more moving photos in more places

21 Apr

Apple has revealed the API for its Live Photos feature, meaning more app and web developers will be able to support the company’s short 1.5 second video ‘moving photo’ video clips. Apps like Facebook are already able to display Live Photos for users running iOS 9, but making the API available will allow any developer who wants to put a Live Photos viewer on their website or in their iOS app to do so.

Live Photos debuted in 2015 with the iPhone 6S. Owners of recent iPhones including the 7 and 7 Plus can capture the moving images in the stock camera app, and anyone running iOS 9 or later can play the video clip by pressing and holding the image.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Extreme Architecture: 15 Structures Built to Withstand the World’s Coldest Places

05 Jan

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

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You might say that the kinds of built structures you find in either Antarctic research stations or the coldest permanently inhabited place on Earth (located in Russia) are polar opposites: some are high-tech, capable of elevating themselves above the accumulating snow or departing to warmer climes via helicopter, while others are as humble as it gets. But people have learned how to survive in these harsh places, whether by keeping coal fires burning around the clock or burrowing into the earth for warmth, and even polar bears have some secrets to share with architects on surviving amidst all that ice.

Monte Rosa Hut, Switzerland

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This five-story wooden structure on Switzerland’s Corner Glacier by Bearth & Deplazes Architekten has an exterior look befitting its environment, making it seem morel like a research facility than an ‘alpine hut’ for adventurers.

Memu Meadows Experimental House, Hokkaido, Japan

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An experiment by architect Kengo Kuma, the translucent ‘Memu Meadows’ house was designed to test the limits of domestic architecture in extreme cold conditions. It’s a modern spin on the traditional homes of the indigenous Ainu, whose buildings used bamboo grass exteriors to hold in the heat of a central fireplace that remains burning all the time. Kuma’s version replaces grass with insulation and polycarbonate cladding but remains cheap and accessible, and allows the house to glow like a lantern after dark.

Halley VI, World’s First Mobile Research Station, Antarctica

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Ocean Waves Crashing on Seawall

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Halley VI by Hugh Broughton Architects stands up to some of the most extreme conditions on earth, serving as a mobile home base for Antarctic expeditions. It’s located on the floating Brunt Ice Shelf and can be transported on its ski-like feet, while hydraluic rams allow it to be raised above the snow as it accumulates. Seven interlinking blue modules offer offices, bedrooms, labs and energy plants while the central two-story red module contains social space for 16-32 crew members.

Arctic Adaptations: Concepts Reflecting Indigenous Canadian Traditions

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Canada commissioned Lateral Office to curate its Nunavut-inspired exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale, entitled ‘Arctic Adaptations: Nunavut at 15.’ The project proposes how architecture could improve the development of cohesive communities even as the environment and the world around them rapidly changes.

Trollstigen Tourist Route, Norway

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Set along the Trollstigen national tourist route in Norway, this visitor center and overlook by Reiulf Ramstad Architects gazes out onto a mountain pass that’s lush and green in the summer and formidably snowy in the winter. The overlook is particularly dramatic when the snow starts to accumulate.

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Extreme Architecture 15 Structures Built To Withstand The Worlds Coldest Places

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2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

30 Dec

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Fred Gunnerson

Every Spring people come from all over to view and photograph the orchards in bloom. It only lasts a few weeks so you have to be ready when the rain stops. The bottom half of the photo is Oregon and the top half is Washington. That’s Mt. Adams in the background.

Hood River, Oregon, USA

Picking your favorite image is never an easy task. Nevertheless, our readers were up to the challenge when we asked them to submit their best shots of 2016. We received a huge number of submissions, and it was no small job picking favorites. We didn’t need the reminder, but it underscored just how talented our readership is. Photos were divided into three categories and we settled on a small selection to feature in each.

The category featured here is ‘Places’. We tried to include a variety of our favorite landscapes and cityscapes to feature. A huge thanks to everyone that participated and gave us a chance to see your work! You can find all of the submitted images here, here and here.

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Michele Palazzo

New York City’s iconic Flatiron building emerges from the blizzard like the bow of a giant ship plowing through the wind and the snow. Taken during the historic coastal storm “Jonas” on January 23rd, 2016. Shot January 23rd, 2016 in New York City with a Ricoh GR.

New York City, NY, USA

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Hans Kruse

Morning sun at the Quiraing on Isle of Skye shot during a photo workshop I was leading on Isle of Skye, Scotland in September 2016.

Isle of Skye, Scotland

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by George Fowler

This picture was taken a few weeks ago in Shiobara, an area about two and a half hours north of Tokyo in the countryside. The fall colors were at their peak and the footbridge across the small river was absent of any people.

Shiobara, Japan

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Mike Sandman

Designed by the architect Frank Gehry, inspired perhaps by an Escher woodcut. Magnetically attractive to the eye, but the roof leaks.

Stata Center, MIT, Cambridge, Mass. USA 

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Derek Dammann

An early spring dawn breaks at the Dark Hedges in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

County Antrim, Northern Ireland

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Morten Smedsrud

Sunrise over the Troll Wall from Store Trolltind, the highest peak in the Trolltindene mountain ridge, Romsdal Norway.

Romsdal, Norway

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Peter Alessandria

Photo of Harvest Full Moon (Oct 2016) rising behind the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. This shot was planned weeks in advance to align the trajectory of the moon with Lady Liberty.

Statue of Liberty, New York, NY, USA

2016 DPReview Readers’ Best Shots: Places

Photo by Maurice J Byatt

Crater Lake National Park, OR, USA

2016 DPReview Reader’s Best Shots: Places

Photo by Damjan Sirca

Taken on 28/10/16 in Yosemite valley – a bad weather forecast is not always bad news.

Yosemite Valley, CA, USA

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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The Red Line: Moody Neon Light Installations in Remote Places

26 Nov

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

La Linea Roja

Red neon lights arranged in geometric shapes or casting eerie illumination onto darkened trees almost seem like a natural phenomenon in the vein of the aurora borealis, captured by photographers who manage to be in the right place at the right time. A glow coming from a slit in a snowy landscape or just under the surface of the sea hints at the presence of life forms just out of sight.

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‘La Linea Roja’ by photographer Nicolas RIVALS carries on a longstanding tradition of introducing artificial lights to natural spaces for high-impact temporary art installations, but adds a little something extra in the form of a strikingly limited color palette, moody skies, black lines of tree silhouettes and surprisingly natural-looking compositions.

La Linea Roja

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La Linea Roja

La Linea Roja

The Paris-based photographer installed the lights in various landscapes while on a trip through Spain, capturing the effect using long-exposure photographs.

La Linea Roja

La Linea Roja

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Here’s what RIVALS has to say about the series:

“A red line woven over a journey through Spain, to connect Man with nature. A red line to fix a moment of poetry. Unreal scenes which existed for a night to disappear in the morning. An installation left as a proposition to the natural world. A luminous harmony between will and chance. Between tribute and sacrilege. Between the beautiful and the range. An aesthetic research on shapes engaging in dialogue with an asymmetrical nature.”

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Beauty in Decay: Moody Murals Bring Human Faces Back to Abandoned Places

25 Oct

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

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Abandoned places are often steeped in a mixture of emotional impressions, commingling a sense of loss and a confrontation of our own mortality with slivers of hopefulness for a new future, as nature begins to take over what we’ve left behind. As we move through these deteriorating spaces, strewn with the belongings of former inhabitants who seem to have simply disappeared, we wonder who they were and why the spaces that once sheltered them as they went about their lives have come to this. It’s these emotional qualities that make a new series of murals by Australian street artist Rone all the more poignant and powerful.

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rone

Entitled ‘Empty,’ the series places the artist’s signature portraits of women on the walls of abandoned interiors, deepening their emotional weight. Much of the subjects’ glamour is stripped away as their skin takes on the texture of peeling paint, the lines of their faces are interrupted by fallen tiles and their gazes are pointed down at the destruction of their environments.

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For the Melbourne-based artist, this series represents a shift from the smooth, clean surfaces of his canvases and even the more clear-cut exterior walls upon which his murals are typically painted. But Rone has always found meaning in the temporary nature of these installations, as the artworks are gradually worn away by the elements or painted over by vandals and other artists.

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Rone exhibited ‘Empty’ at the soon-to-be-demolished Star Lyric Theatre building in Melbourne, presenting photographs of the murals in situ along with works on canvas and paper. The artist also painted a new mural directly onto the back wall of the theater, stretching nearly 33 feet from floor to ceiling. It’s a fitting way for the decaying Art Nouveau building to go out, with Rone’s canvases lining its blackened and stained surfaces. See more photos of the installation at Street Art News.

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Park Places: 10 Paved Painted & Personalized Driveways

03 Oct

[ By Steve in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

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Do you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? These unusual painted driveways prove that when it comes to painted pavement, nobody’s really asphalt.

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The Milne Boys Home in Gentilly, a neighborhood in New Orleans, LA was built in 1933 to house “orphans and troubled children” – an all too common social phenomenon in the Great Depression. Featuring a cluster of seven antebellum-style buildings, the facility closed in 1986 and was used only sporadically thereafter. Fast-forward to 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused enough damage to make the campus completely unusable unless one was a squatter or drag-addict – or both.

In 2008, however, things began to change at the old Mllne Boys Home thanks to a multimillion-dollar injection of funding from the state, the city and FEMA. One of the site improvements concerned the campus’s winding driveway, contracted out to AORTA Projects.

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“With the help of a crew of approximately 20 volunteers,” explains lead artist Jacqueline Bishop, “I painted the asphalt driveway of the Milne Boys Home with approximately 5,000 simple black bird silhouettes that were individually cut from original drawings and applied with Industrial Zone and Marking paint. Considering there are approximately 460 bird species in Louisiana, we stenciled a variety of these species in an effort to celebrate and raise consciousness about our unique and fragile environment.”

Bishop titled the finished work “Field Guide”. “After experiencing the power of Katrina while sitting in my house, the most immediate, haunting memory after the storm was the deafening silence. There were no birds for ages. It seems appropriate that this project can bring attention to birds who in turn bring life to abandoned areas in post-K New Orleans.”

Tile Of The Century

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There’s not much we can tell you about the dazzling, impressionistic tiled driveway above, other than the fact it was photographed on April 1st of 2011… no foolin’! Kudos to Betty Broccoli of Betty’s Fashion Corner page at Tumblr for bringing some much-needed color into the gray monotony that is the pervue of far too many driveways.

Shock & Oz

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Alas, there’s no Emerald City at the end of this yellow brick, er, asphalt road though the homeowner must be a wizard of sorts. Located just off Hwy 28 in Bailieboro, north of Port Hope, Ontario, this “brilliant” idea makes a weird sort of sense being there aren’t any visible road signs in the vicinity, so this is one way to attract notice (and alert the pizza delivery guy). On the other hand, the lemon-yellow laneway leads not just TO the highway but oozes over a significant portion of the soft shoulder… Mr Wizard can expect a visit from the Wicked Witch, er, the local county mountie sometime soon.

Treads On Me

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You’ll find this patriotic piece of roadwork in Spafford, NY, fronting a home at the intersection of routes 41 and 174. Something tells us the jacked pickup that probably gets parked here sports a Confederate flag on its rear window, because freedom.

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Park Places 10 Paved Painted Personalized Driveways

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Park Like a Girl: Women Frustrated with Pink “Ladies” Parking Places

19 Sep

[ By Steve in Culture & History & Travel. ]

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Sexism or security – why not both? Pretty pink women-only parking spaces show once again that best intentions can bring about unintentional consequences.

A curious fact about designated women-only parking is that many of the most obvious examples can be found in developing nations – societies not exactly known for egalitarianism and women’s rights. Travelers from First World countries who notice these “pink paradises” are often bemused by both the concept and the location, as is the case with Canadian blogger Maiya of Hungry Woman Eats who snapped the Ladies Parking section at the Gandaria City Mall in Djakarta, Indonesia.

Shanghai Surprise

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Women-only parking has come under fire, however, from (among others) women’s rights groups who are offended by the pink paint, cutesy signage and (in some cases) the extra width allotted to each space. Some men are peeved as well, including a netizen who posted on xinmin.cn “Isn’t it a kind of discrimination against men drivers? Some men may be less skilled at parking than women.” Hurt feelings aside, who’s taking the fall for the glossy floors of these women-only parking spaces at the Wandu Center in Shanghai, China? You try navigating that slick expanse on a rainy day, loaded down with shopping bags, and wearing stilletto heels.

One Tire Over The Line

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Without the benefit of a distance-shot, we’ll just have to assume this rather stark and (mainly) sexism-free Ladies’ Parking sign at a Brescia, Italy rest area denotes at least two parking spaces reserved for the fairer sex. We’ll refrain from commenting on the above driver’s parking technique, however, and make no allusions to their gender. Kudos to photographer Stefano Bolognini, who visited the location – that may even be HIS poorly parked car – in 2007.

Turkish Delight

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Why did ladies’ parking get the works? That’s nobody’s business but the Turks’… and business must be very good indeed at the MarkAntalya Mall in Antalya, Turkey. Not content with working up a couple of pink parking spots just for show, the mall has designated a whopping 450 parking spots for women, most of them selected for their convenient location to mall entrances. It’s “positive discrimination” in action – their words, not ours.

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Park Like A Girl Women Frustrated With Pink Ladies Parking Places

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Devoted: 12 Weird & Unusual Election Polling Places

12 Sep

[ By Steve in Culture & History & Travel. ]

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Voting in elections is one of our most cherished democratic rights but where we vote – and who the candidates are – can leave a lot to be desired.

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Polling places (or “polling stations”, as they’re known in the UK) are by their nature temporary establishments typically situated in schools or community centers. Sometimes, however, alternative voting locations must be set up when conveniently located suitable buildings are not available. Take the example above – the Urbanimal Pet Store in Chicago, IL – where local resident Barbara Hunter exercises her democratic rights while Oreo the cat exercises his legs.

A Grave Matter

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OK, so Chicago is notorious for its “deceased voters” but it’s not the only pace where those who’ve passed on can pass judgement on candidates. Here’s a polling station sign in the Wimbledon Church graveyard that looks eerily like the nearby tombstones. We wouldn’t be surprised if some nearsighted oldster leaves a bouquet of flowers at its base.

Election Re-Turns

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Sure, most politicians are full of hot air and most voters are fed up with the windbags by the time election day finally rolls around. Well, what goes around comes around in Brighton, UK where returning officer Ahmed Jamee and volunteer assistants open a polling station set up inside the historic West Blatchington Windmill.

Political Life Finds A Way

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One would hope the owner of this slapdash voting station in Mitrovica-North, Kosovo doesn’t have “Free Candy” scrawled on the other side of his van. Kudos to Flickr user Mitra Nazar for showcasing this small and conveniently mobile Balkan polling station in December of 2010.

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Devoted 12 Weird Unusual Election Polling Places

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