Friday, December 28, 2012

Mistakes Aren't Always Bad

The other day I had a little time on my hands and I decided to go check out this Prague Metronome thing I've heard about. If you look for it you can see it from the Charles Bridge. I misread my map and thought it was just across the Charles Bridge, not overlooking it. Oops.
The story about it is that were the metronome is there was once a GIANT statue of Stalin. The statue was destroyed, blown up, and nothing sat in it's place for a long time. Then someone put up this metronome. Really if you want to know more about it read this. I understand it is a great place for skateboarders now.

Upon closer inspection, this thing looks like a repurposed oil derrick to me. It is good for something else too.

If you have an old pair of shoes you don't want anymore you can just hang them from the power line that feeds the metronome. The park where the metronome is is a very large park on a hill and affords some pretty great panoramic views of the city.

Anyway, like I said. I misread the map and was trying to get across the river on the wrong bridge. I thought the thing was across the Charles Bridge and I was wrong, but to avoid the tourists on the bridge I took a bridge in between the Charles and the one I was supposed to take. Sounds complicated, I know. It's not really. Maybe a map will help.

So, as you can see, I was not even close by any calculation; unless you count that I was in the same city. As I started walking across the square I felt a few drops of rain. "No big deal," I thought I'm sure it will be light and over soon. I was telling myself this because this was the first time I left the house without my umbrella. Well, I was wrong.
I made it all the way to the other side of the river and was now making my way back to where I thought the metronome was. Of course I was incorrectly going in the wrong direction. I thought this might be a nice time to walk without crowds and find the thing. I walked past several groups of tourists cowering under bridge arches and awnings etc. It was also pretty cold and I was pretty wet. It was of couse pouring now. My jeans were soaked, which really wasn't so bad as long as I didn't have to lift my legs up too high to do anything practical, like walking up stairs. If you haven't been here, Prague is not really ADA compliant. If you're in a wheelchair you are pretty much screwed. The jeans being wet really was the worst part. My wool jacket wasn't going to be a problem and my synthetic watch cap fortunately works a lot like wool. So, other than freezing when I lifted my legs up I was just a bit heavier than normal. I could stand to pack on a few pounds anyway, but we all know about water weight.
By the time I made it to the Charles Bridge I had decided that it was going to be dark soon and it was going to get colder then and having soggy britches was going to really be annoying. So I said to myself, "forget the metronome for today. I'm going to go home and change pants." Off I headed home, over the Charles Bridge because it was the fastest way, and it had thinned out just a bit. Well, by the time I made it to the other side of the bridge, the rain had stopped and I got to see the first thing I would call a sunset since I arrived here. Now, the sun didn't come out mind you but enough of the clouds parted to make things pretty. So, since I wasn't getting any wetter I decided to photograph the sunset.

See, I told you it was pretty. I shot from a few places on the bridge and these two were my favorite. I also took a photo of a statue with some nice clouds behind it.

I stopped for a little bit to listed to a song by this jazz band that plays on the bridge and in the square and tries to sell CDs. They are pretty good. I grabbed a frame of the singer/percussionist with the castle in the background and then I went home to change my pants and then go to the store.

Later I decided to look at the sunset photos from the bridge and make them the pretty ones up above there. All my photo buddies will notice that these images are worked a bit. Really, they aren't that bad. "Nothing you couldn't do in a darkroom," as they say and I'll have you know I only used one RAW frame to make these photos. So really, it's just a crapload of burning and dodging. Granted it took me a while to process these and I like them, possibly the tighter one the best but that isn't the exciting part.
After I finished making these I said to myself, "wow, these are really pretty. I'm going to make a wallpaper picture out of them." I do that a lot with photos I take a really like. Maybe not A LOT, I've done it 20 or so times. Well, I've been messing around this week with Photoshop CS6 and I remembered it has a new feature called "Content Aware Scaling." This is a scary thing for serious documentary-style photographers because it is advertised to make a photo fit a given size frame without removing anything from the photo.
I thought to myself, "these photos are just for my wallpaper. I'll give Content Aware Scaling a try since I don't want to crop." Well, I forgot to resize the photos at all and just did some of the CAS steps. It's really quite simple. The result was very encouraging for me.
If you've read my post about going to Washington D.C. you remember that I really liked viewing impressionist paintings when I was there. I loved them and I had been thinking a little about how to make my photography more impressionist. That is a tricky thing considering that some impressionists were in part rebelling against pure realism. Then when you consider that the camera is a pretty powerful pure-realist tool change gets tough. But when I looked at my wallpaper and saw this:

I got really really excited. This is pretty much EXACTLY what I have wanted to do. Which I suppose is more post impressionism or surrealism, but whatever. This photo will fit the screen on your 17" macbook perfectly by the way. This one is my favorite. It was a complete mistake and I can't wait to make it again. I am pretty excited about experimenting with this mistake and seeing what I can come up with.
The same effect applied to the first photo has a bit too much foreground in it for my tastes, but I'll put is up anyway so you can see. I have a lot to learn about how the computer makes calculations about what it keeps, it will be interesting to learn for sure.

So, if you're keeping score that is four mistakes for the day. They all combined to make me really happy with myself. I went back to the metronome the next day and took some photos of it. There were many skateboarders near it as well, just like the Wikipedia entry said.

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