Musings on Minutiae

Call me Siegfried



Silk purse, sow’s ear?

OK this post is on the back of the comment of a friendly Vancouverite who, on seeing the last photos I posted (see blog entry below), said:-

“either you are the most blemish/wrinkle-free person I’ve ever met, or you polished these to perfection! Tell us your secrets!”

My secrets, old stick, are:

  • drink at least 3 litres of water a day
  • avoid the sun
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • never smoke
  • live a chaste life
  • become a vegan

OK so that’s all lies (haha and I don’t follow any of those, well not by choice… nuff said).

Anyway. This raises an interesting subject as I do tend to edit photos before putting them online (of everything – places, locations, people, basically – whatever the subject). To me, the PP (post processing of photos) is as important as the photo itself. This is a ‘new school’ way of thinking and I’m sure the old masters didn’t think like this. I just love the whole ‘digital darkroom’ and there is so much you can do (including using free applications – it doesn’t all involve esoteric high-end software).

Anyway, back on topic. Below is the before/after of the pics I posted earlier. Hmmm. In retrospect, quite a difference I think you’ll agree! This didn’t take hours of painstaking editing, it was done very quickly with a few clicks in Lightroom.

Personally I prefer the edited ones! hehe. That said, bear in mind that the lighting is totally wrong on the originals (well, underexposed I mean) and if that were fixed (easy enough) the difference between that and the edited one wouldn’t be quite so pronounced.

If you want to do similar:

Download the new Adobe Lightroom 2 Beta (this is on free trial)

Download the presets from this page. They’re called LR Promo and there is a whole load of them zipped. Some of them have some very cool effects. The preset I used for the above is called ‘Outstanding’.

Now for the subject of blemish-free skin. I don’t believe in getting the subject to have plasticky/fake looking skin. My current favourite way of doing it is to go for the ‘degrunge’ look. Grunge in this context means blotches/blemishes (as opposed to repetitive detail like pores which we wish to keep in the picture).

I’m using this de-grunge method for Photoshop at the moment and it’s very effective and very easy. Scroll right to the bottom and start at ‘The Quick Degrunge Technique’ unless you want to read all the detail behind the technique which isn’t necessary. It takes this to this VERY quickly:

The best thing is that it’s quick, really quite easy when you get the hang of it, doesn’t look too fake and doesn’t require any expensive 3rd party plug-ins (the downside is that it does require photoshop but any old version will do). If I posted it higher res you’d see that detail is intact and it hasn’t gone plasticky (which is always the sign of a cheap and crappy retouch). The key thing is that, like with any retouching, the effect is made on a new layer and you just turn down the opacity of this layer to water-down the result making it blend-in and look far more realistic.

I should add – as an aside – that as I like doing this kind of thing, if anyone ever wants me to edit a picture or ‘glamourise’ them, just let me know.

Date me?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m close to wanting to start the online dating thing again. Has been 5 years since I last did it. You see, I need a companion / significant-other / special friend / partner / boyfriend.

I had gone right off online dating but am now prepared to give it another try. I hate writing profiles and I hate doing pictures (for such sites).

Took these today in front of the window (I love the natural light you get taking portraits in front of a window, side-on). Thoughts… ?

I look kind of ‘brown’ in the second one…

Pic 1

ISO200 – 35mm – f3.2 – 1/13sec – toned in Lightroom
Larger size by clicking here (link fixed)

Pic 2

ISO200 – 35mm – f3.2 – 1/13sec – toned in Lightroom
Larger size by clicking here

PS Rest assured that I am fully aware this blog should be renamed “Call me a narcissist” as I post too many pictures of myself. I love portrait pics and have sod all else to take pics of (macro isn’t really my thing).

A me-me

Long time since I’ve been tagged to do a ‘me me’ but there we go. Came from Hen (who else, hehe). The Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 (or more) pages.

“Notes from an Exhibition” by Patrick Gale. As yet unread, but was sitting on my chest of drawers. Not sure when I will read it, have a lot to read before getting to it that’s for sure.

2. Open the book to page 123 and find the 5th sentence.

The young man in the photograph was handsome enough but it was hard to see him as a serial seducer.

3. Post the next 3 sentences.

Perhaps he had simply been the passive-manipulative sort, adept at projecting a veneer of helplessness so that women couldn’t help responding to him. He thought instinctively of Lizzy and her insistent baby hunger. Perhaps Rachel and the others had been decades ahead of their time in coolly appraising Simeon Shepherd as the ideal oblivious donor, his cheekbones almost as high as his IQ.

4. Tag 5 people.

London mayoral elections looming

It’s 28 days until I get out there and vote. I have never not voted for any election I’ve been eligible to vote in in my life. I’m appalled when people say they “can’t be bothered” and that it “won’t make a difference”. Our forebears fought wars to give us the right to vote and live in a free democracy.

Anyway. I am in a slight pickle this year. Do I placate my naturally Conservative tendencies (you’ve by now realised that I despise the charade that is the modern day Labour party) or do I support Brian Paddick, the most high profile gay police officer we’ve ever had in this country and – from what I can tell – sensible and all round Mr Nice Guy. But that little something extra is missing.

But I like Boris. He’s unapologetically eccentric. The media love him. He can laugh at himself. But he means well and he understands London and the issues we face as well as anyone else. I think he’s much cleverer than he lets on and he knows the political game well enough. Perhaps, most importantly, I agree with the majority of his policies.

Red Ken hasn’t done too bad a job but it’s time for change.

Should you have an interest you can see all of the candidates here.

“Bright Side”

ISO200 – 35mm – f2.5 – 1/125sec
Toned in Lightroom – Preset ‘Faded Elegance’

Government immigration policy damned

Record levels of immigration have had “little or no impact” on the economic well-being of Britons, an influential House of Lords committee has said.It says competition from immigrants has had a negative impact on the low paid and training for young UK workers, and has contributed to high house prices. Source: BBC

Why does this not surprise me in the slightest? Anyone with half a brain knows that uncontrolled inward migration was going to cause problems and now, finally, a high level 8 month report by the House of Lords has damned the government’s immigration policy and more importantly – entirely discredited the government’s pretence and longheld view that “immigration is good for Britain”. There is so much already wrong with this country: huge and ever-growing inequality between the rich and the poor, significant existing tension between the classes, between ethnic groups and between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, enormous problems with the lack of affordable housing (which cannot be over-stated), enormous problems with the cost of living – and still the New Labour government looked to use unlimited immigration as the panacea to all our problems (immigrants would do the jobs we lazy Brits wouldn’t do ourselves; immigrants would pay for our future pensions, etc, etc, etc, etc). Bullshit.

Of course, the most unfortunate thing about the whole immigration debate is that anyone who spoke out against it (of whom there were legions) was sidelined as ‘probably inherently racist’ or ‘old fashioned’ or ‘backward looking’ or ‘right wing’. This too, was bullshit.

This country isn’t like America where immigration has (or was) the lifeblood of its expansion. There, migrants (generally) settled and integrated and at the very least – adopted US values. That is not the case here. And I don’t blame immigrants who come here. The model here is different but those halfwits in Whitehall (and so help me God, they are halfwits) still thought they could take their orders from the CBI / City (of course more immigrants = a greater workforce = more competition for jobs = lower wage bill = more profit for business = the rich get richer) and so it goes, on and on.

I am so, so, so tired of this despicable, awful, useless, inept, self-serving New Labour government and everything it stands for. The (invariably self-serving) lemmings and gullible yes-men that follow and support New Labour need their heads read. Were it properly socialist and a party of the people for the people, instead of being a front for the dark masters of ‘spin’ and ‘lies’ that is totally self-serving (yes, I’ve used that term 3 times) to itself and to its cronies – I would have some sympathy.

Yes, I feel better for ranting.

More on the Telegraph website and also the BBC.

Post holiday blues

What is it about the end of a 2 week holiday, you always come down with a bang. Inevitable I suppose. I got home at about 6.45pm yesterday evening. We’d touched down around 4.30pm at LHR. I always dread LHR as when I came back from Cairo a year ago, we had a hellish time. Even though we’d been in a 747 (BA) we were dumped on the tarmac and bussed to the terminal. Then we had to queue to go through immigration (I remember hearing English people in the queue saying “this is an absolute bloody disgrace!”) and then there was a delay at baggage reclaim. All in all, a nightmare.

This time, however, it was relatively painless. We were in a holding pattern over London for 15 mins or so but you expect that at the world’s busiest international airport (worst luck). I saw a HUGE queue in immigration and started to feel my blood pressure go up, only to be told by my brother that that queue was for non-EU passport holders and it transpired that for EU passport holders there was no queue, so that was a relief. Baggage came fast enough and we then tubed it to Central London and our respective ways home.

I’ve been exhausted ever since. ‘A’ is away this weekend but very kindly left my car for me near the station. The wheels are f****d on my suitcase so that was fun dragging it several hundred yards along the pavement (it was bloody heavy too, the 2 litres of duty-free Bombay Sapphire not having helped), but I got home OK.

I’m still tired. I went to bed not long before midnight but woke EARLY this morning, about 6.30am. The clocks also went forward at midnight which I could have done without.

Today I have pottered around doing not much. Did do some laundry, did cook up my ‘meat sauce special’. But I’m on that ‘trough’ you end up in after a nice holiday when the fun and action are all over.

I have a sense of impending dread about going to work tomorrow (I always do with this employer when I’ve had time off). What s**t will have landed on my desk, who will have quit, what other s****y politics will be going down, etc, etc.

I did think about work a bit on holiday (a tiny bit) and am still ADAMANT that I will get out of there asap.

Anyway, I need to go to bed soon and try and have a decent night’s sleep. I appear to have something of a tan (it developed over 2 weeks so was hard to say for sure when ‘A’ asked me by phone last night). I have a pronounced tan line on my body (nope, never wore the skimpy shorts in the end) but I think I tanned all over. Didn’t burn either as was sensible with the suncream. Oh how I wish I was still on the coast enjoying those balmy evenings under the stars and an all-inclusive bar at my fingertips. The fact I didn’t smoke (as I’m a non-smoker!) was also good, as temptation was very strong, but I no longer want one so it wasn’t a big deal.

I digress. I must go to bed.


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