Monday, September 18, 2006


Do you ever do something obsessively?

I stayed home from work today, not feeling too well. But not feeling bad enough to lie flat in bed. So, I’m sitting on the couch with my laptop.

This means multi-tasking. (“Multi-tasking” is what we who have dial-up do so we don’t go insane. Sometimes we go plow an acre while waiting for a site to load.)

  • Read through my blogroll
  • Read email
  • Read newspapers online
  • Start composing my next blog post
  • Look at the new photo hunt season first week challenge at JorgDotOrg
  • Organize photographs and look for something appropriate for the photo hunt

And that leads me to the next task. The photo hunt challenge this week is “something new.” I thought of the sumac trees out back that are just turning orange, which has been quite a theme for me this week after all (orange, that is). The newly orange leaves might be a nice seasonal subject.

I have a photo from under the sumac, looking up at the sky. But the sky is white, the photo taken on a cloudy day. Not very interesting.

Before photoshopping:

Hmm, maybe I can photoshop the sky blue! That’s where the obsessive behavior comes in. I’ve been photoshopping blue into the sky for hours now. (There must be a quick way to fill all the white with blue at once! But no, every white area goes like this: select tiny area with magic wand tool, edit, fill, ok, select, edit, fill, ok, select . . .you get the idea. If there is a quick way, and you know it, I don’t know if I want you to tell me now. Wait a few weeks. I have too much time invested in this photo. It might break my heart.) It’s like coloring, or finding puzzle pieces. It’s like playing a game. It’s mindless and when you’re not feeling well, mindless is good. It’s fun to do in between multiple tasks.

Wouldn’t it be easier just to wait for a sunny day and take another photo, you ask? Well, maybe. But then, I may have to wait several days, and by then the sumac will be entirely orange, which is fine. But I like how the leaves are part green and part orange in the photo.

Well, while photo-shopping the sumac, I opened an email from my brother Nelson saying that his son Dave in Sydney watches this site on wiki: hyperreality. Dave’s a smart guy, works in artificial intelligence, and I don’t have a clue, but I read the piece anyway.

Here are some examples of hyperreality from the wiki site:

Examples of hyperreality

  • a sports drink of a flavour that doesn't exist ("wild ice zest berry")
  • pornography ("sexier than sex itself")
  • a plastic Christmas tree that looks better than a real Christmas tree ever could
  • a magazine photo of a model that has been touched up with a computer
  • a well manicured garden (nature as hyperreal)
  • any massively promoted versions of historical or present "facts"
  • the Gulf War, to the extent that America understood it: Baudrillard, in fact, claims that the Gulf War never even happened
  • Many world cities and places which did not evolve as functional places with some basis in reality, as if they were creatio ex nihilo (literally 'creation out of nothing' - 'creatio' is a noun) : Disney World, Celebration, Florida; and Las Vegas
  • TV and film in general, due to its creation of a world of fantasy and its dependence that the viewer will engage with these fantasy worlds

How about that! I was photoshopping a fake blue sky into a photograph while reading an article about hyperreality! I encourage you to read the piece and think about what you think reality is, and isn’t.

So, the photo. It seems obvious that the photo with blue is more appealing (maybe the blue is too dark though). But it’s a “lie.”

But then, as Nelson and I discussed, what photograph isn’t a lie? You can’t feel the breeze in your hair as you did when you took the picture, he said.

After photoshopping:


rachel said...

Honestly, when i saw the first image with the white sky, it took my breath away! After seeing the first one, the blue didn't have nearly the same affect on me. Would it have had the opposite affect if I'd seen them in the reverse order? Not sure. I like the white background best:)

Also, yes, there is a tool- it's called the "wand" tool. You just click the wand on the color you want to select, and keep clicking on other areas that have the same color and it will automatically select all area that has that color. In a high contrast picture like yours, it would have worked like a charm.

Ruth said...

Rachel, I wonder too now which I like better.

Well, I'll have to practice with that wand tool. Maybe just hold down alt or ctrl or something while clicking on multiple spots?

David said...

I think you'll like Tokyo Gotham and the discussion of HDR (high dynamic range) imaging.

Rauf said...

Hope you are feeling better Ruth

I normally touch the portraits for a design, other pictures are left untouched, sometimes i increase brightness and nothing more.
Now I have less and less patience with graphics. You seem to develop a passion for it. Good work on the Gulliver picture.

Rauf said...

Sorry Ruth My page takes too long to load

Ginnie said...

So sorry you weren't feeling well yesterday, Ruth, but then again, sometimes we need down days like that to just BE. And BE you were, I see. I love your creativity. I hadn't learned that wand trick either, so now we have a niece to go to when we need help, I see! (Lots of nieces and nephews, I'm sure!) It sounds like you had an interesting discussion with Nelson.

And BTW, is that our David who commented about the HDR? One of my blogger friends,
, is doing a lot with HDR these days. Very interesting!

ruth said...

David, the site looks interesting. Thank you! I am thinking you ARE our David, although when I clicked on your name link I got only an error message. :) Thanks for stopping by.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Rauf. I think I got some of the passion for graphics out of my system yesterday. The mushroom shot could be better, but it was fun. What I like most about doing these things is the practice. Now I have to try Rachel's advice.

No problem about your site. Usually I don't load it at home on dial-up but at work on lunch hour over high speed. No matter how long it takes though, it's always worth it. I actually had to click "show picture" for the last half of the photos. But no worries, I got the house clean in between. :)

Ruth said...

Ginnie, as you see, I'm guessing it is our David. I'm feeling better this morning and will go to work today, thank you.

We'll have to compare PS notes next time we're together and teach each other a few things.

Ginnie said...


lesleyanne said...

i can't even imagine how long that took!

amazing entry. seriously. i love thinking about hyperactivity. how everything is so extreme in this day and age.

Ruth said...

Les, I know this has interested you for a while.

The photoshopping took me a good part of a day. :)

jack said...

what was wrong with the white sky?
it was more natural
after all blue is an illusion the sky has no color it’s created by dust catching the suns rays which in turn makes a colorless sea blue [questions of reality ]

the image you have captured is decorative
but with white brown red yellow and off gray you have arabesque image
this places you in the territory of Matisse
don’t walk away from it


Ruth said...

Jack, it was obsessive stupidity. I wouldn't do it in a million years now. Hard to believe this was almost two years ago. Am I that different?

jack said...

I consider that in each and every artist’s life
are those works which provide clues?- as to the very identity of our art
more often or not we push forward and forget to track back and reexamine
revalue -and therefore lose something we should be carrying forward or experimenting with
something alek and I constantly done much to our annoyance or loss -
the odd thing is- whilst I may have improved over the years- gained knowledge
or skills -I have also lost something -which is the innocence of my early work-
that’s is to say work without artifice -
in this work you were experimenting -that’s is good what you also had in this work -
was perhaps the eye -love for a period in French art that can also be seen in the lake shots -thoselike Monet –that may have appeared unconsciously – which is why every so often it is wise to track back and reexamine ones work
obsessive behavior in art is never stupid it strips the flesh reveals the bone


Ruth said...


Thank you, Teacher-Artist-Friend. Those are terrific points: to re-explore innocence of the early work, to re-examine from where we have come, and to accept obsession as finding our soul.