A couple of travel days

Had all sorts of intentions of doing a decent post but, instead, I must content myself with posting a couple of photos from the phone.

That’s a flower treated with some Pixlr. Here’s another photo of it similarly treated . . . 

. . . and that’s it. 

Tomorrow is another travel day, so unlikely I’ll have another full post up until Friday. I know how disappointed everyone must be . . . 

. . . Please; be strong. It’s only a couple of days.

Posted in Stuff | Tagged | 8 Comments

The Deep Dream Dolls and Bugs

Dolls and Bugs seem like an odd pairing, but it’s more about the number of photos in a post than the actual content. 

Oh, OK . . . it’s also about the content. I thought the pairing might be fun. We begin then, with not so much a doll as a stuffed animal. A horse, to be precise. This was no small horse. It was large enough for a smal kid to sit on. 

And the treatment is, of course, the sewing machine. 

Next up, a doll I thought looked a lot like the actress from CSI (the original series), Marg Helgenberger.

I can’t remember this treatment either, but it suits the doll . . . but not as much as this next treatment . . . 

Eh, I guess they both fit in their own way.

This next doll is treated with a drawing of a clown as the style.

I’m thinking I should remember this doll character . . . but I don’t. Perhaps some of the readers who make it this far might know it. Regardless, I do like this treatment for this particular doll . . . Puppet? Stuffed reppresentation of a child’s nightmare? Whatever.

This last doll is some type of raggedy something or other whose features have been smoothed out by a simple style photo. An improvement, for sure.

Bugs. It turns out not many bugs are suited for style treatments. Moths, them being a good size, do somewhat better than most. 

Actually, this next one is a little better.

Butterflies are also suited to certain treatments.

Neat, no? How about this next one?

Not all larger bugs give results that are this good. This dragonfly resisted most attempts at beautification . . . 

. . . But even it cannot resist the power of the sewing machine!

As you get to smaller subjects, like a wasp, finding a good style photo becomes more difficult.

That one, however, turned out pretty good. 

Flies are even smaller, and care must be taken in choosing a suitable style.

That one looks nice, as does this next one, even if  little plain as far as details.

I guess it’s really not that difficult finding decent conversions.

That’s blended with one of my doodles. I thought it turned out pretty good.

This next fly was also a decent subject to play with.

That’s blended with a cactus from the Jashua National Park. 

I’m not sure what conversion I used, but I like the effect. Then, of course, there’s the sewing machine style . . . 

Is there anything the sewing machine tyle can’t improve?

This next one is probably my favorite fly conversion and it’s arrived at by using a scanned page of a Jacovitti Cocco Bill comic.

So . . . That’s the Dolls and the Bugs. I hope it has been a pleasant journey to here. 

Some might be wondering if there will ever be anything but Deep Dream posts. Well, of course! . . . But not until I finish posting all the Deep Dreams I have. 

But, rest assured that I’m likely to mix in other stuff and perhaps even some *gasp* opinion pieces. 

Truth be told, I’m avoiding the news as much as possible, at least while we’re traveling. If I see what’s going on, it starts feeling as if we’re drifting into a parallel and mostly screwed-up universe.

I actually suggest the same to others. Just read the weekly news roundup and you’ll avoid the stress of the 24-hrs news cycle where all people do is yell at each other and stress the fact we are all — for a variety of resons — screwed.

ttfn, Disperser.  

p.s. as always, please excuse what are likely stupid mispellings and other errors. This way of posting stuff is not exactly optimized for speed and accuracy. 

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The Deep Dreams Birds

Birds . . . who doesn’t like birds? Statues, I imagine. Also, cars that come out of a car wash. And, of course, Tippi Hedren. 

On the other hand, marry birds with Deep Dream, and you can get some fairly interesting combinations. Fair warning, this is a long post with many photos. Well, “many” is not an exact or even approximate indicator for the number of photos in this post. How about  . . . 30 photos? Sounds good? Fine; here we go.

That’s an African crane whose name now escapes me . . . no, wait . . . I think it’s Alfred. Yes; it even looks like an Alfred. 

Yes, I’m beginning with the “odd birds,” the ones that are not easily grouped with others, like this Frigatebird. This was shot from a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I’m not likely to see one in the cruise to Alaska.

There are a few other sea birds that I played with. Some turned out pretty good . . . 

. . . and some turned out only so-so . . . 

I mean, it’s not the bird’s fault. They were perfectly fine bird photos, but the styles I merged them with were not suited for them. 

The Great White Egret was another bird that was somewhat hit and miss. 

That’s the case of blending a large single object with a style photo of another large single object . . . you don’t get the patterns like you do when one of the photos has more details and varied colors.

Even when I zoom in and just look at the prominent feature like the head and neck . . . 

No, what you need is something with finer details and coloring for use as a style photo. 

Yes, that the sewing machine once more being called into the service of me, the mad combiner of photos. This next one also works . . . 

They look like the same shot, but the second one is zoomed in a little more.

From a shore wading bird, let’s go to the bane of golf courses and green yards . . . that great Canadian shitting machine, the Canada Goose.

That one is merged with a multicolor Hawaiian plant. This next one . . . 

. . . is merged with a brick silo from one of my many Colorado backroads drives. 

Those same back country drives generated the above photo of a hawk in his first few wing beats after launching from a post. 

Probably the bird that I want to show up the best is . . . no, wait. It’s  tie, or at least I can’t choose between a few choices. 

That is a male Tree Swallow stretching its wings out in the early morning. It had a routine it followed which involved stretching the neck and then each wing in turn. They obviously believe in limbering up before investing time and energy into flying. 

Lest I’m accused of being a mysoginist, these next shots of a female Tree Swallow are probably some of my favorites.

It’s difficult picking a favorite . . . here are a few more choices for you to agonize over.

No collections of my photos would be complete without an appearence by what is arguably my favorite bird . . . the Hummingbird.

I tried a lot of variations on this next bird, all with varying degrees of success. 

The next effort is a tad better but still pretty close as far as treatments go.

Of course, I’m not done yet . . . 

That one is pretty unique, per my two cents worth.

Yup . . . Merged with the clown photo. 

Get ready . . . I have a lot of chicken variations . . . 

This variation is a bit special for me because I used  one of my favorite cartoons as the style; Jacovitti and his cartoons about Cocco Bill. It turnes out, C. Bill helped my assimilation into the American gun culture.

As it turned out, I was pre-assimilated by Tex Willer and toys guns in general, but Cocco Bill reinforced my early love for guns. But, back to odd-chicken.

If I ever have a place that suits it, I’ll have chickens and goats . . . And a donkey. Maybe a dog or two . . . And a few cats. 

That’s an odd chicken whose name I still can’t remember. I say that every time, then I make the effort of finding out, then I promptly forget. But not this time . . . I’m not looking it up.

That is, of course, the obligatory San Leon sunrise shot blended in. Still one of the better effects for almost any photo. As, of course, is the sewing machine photo . . . 

I still find other combinations that are decent — like this next one — but those two are fairly consistent in producing nice images.

I don’t remember what I blended in, but I like the effect.

And, that’s it. That wasn’t bad, was it? Thirty photos went by in a flash. Admit it, even some of you impatient readers could use a few more. 

. . . but we’re done for now. Thanks for reading. 

As a reminder, I’m trying to read most blogs I subscribe to, but it’s a pain to comment. Plus, I’m using the reader on the phone as opposed to a PC. So, as with these posts, please excuse if I miss the occasional double letter, mispelled word, or some crazy substitution by the autocorrect function. While on occasion entertaining, it’s mostly a nuisance and an affront to my anal retentiveness.

Posted in Photo-effects | Tagged | 10 Comments

More Deep Dreams to share.

Yes, I know, too many dreams . . . well, some say there is no such thing as too many dreams.

As a quick update for them who come in halfway through these updates, these are my photos processed by the site Deep Dream. The processing consists of a “smart” program that takes the original photo and blends in elements of a second photo you provide. You can also use the photos they have.

This being a crappy app, and me being on a phone, it’s not that easy linking the site (or, I’m too lazy to do it). If interested, I have a whole series of these. Use the search function of the blog and look for Deep Dream. You should get all of the posts on the subject.

Here’s the first photo . . .

This series is — in a flash of creative energy — called The Machines.

By the way, I would normally add these to the Deep Dream SmugMug Gallery, but this being the crappy app, I’ll wait until I get back before doing that. Sorry.

Anyway, The Machines is a loose collection of things that could be considered machines. Duh! The above boat is from our Caribbean cruise, and it’s appeared before in other DD efforts. Here’s another variation.

People might recognize the sewing machine pattern. Well, some people. Others won’t know what the heck I’m talking about. Also, no, that was not the cruise ship.

That boat is actually a miniature and it was featured in one of my photography posts about merging layers composed of multiple photos focused on different parts of the object so as to obtain a closeup photo with a deep depth of field.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry . . . neither do I.

I’m not sure if this next one can be considered a machine . . . but I think it qualifies as one.

As does this next one . . . a wind ornament that is itself often used as a style photo (the photo that gets “blended in”) for other DD efforts.

This next machine was featured in the Lava post sporting a different treatment.

That typewriter is blended with a photo of a clown . . . I think it gives it a nice look.

Of course, when people think of machines, they think of something else . . . like, perhps, an airplane.

That’s one of my favorite WW II planes – – the P-38 Lightning. It’s not a great conversion, but it’s OK.

I can’t remember the name of this plane, but here are a couple of conversions of it . . .

This next scene is from the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, also a shot that has appeared before.

I have a few more shots of planes from the Air Zoo. If you — dear reader — care to, you can search for “Air Zoo” using the search function on the sidebar (if you are on a PC — I don’t know how to do a search on the phone since it doesn’t show the sidebar) and read my post on what is probably one of the best airplanes museums I’ve visited.

Here’s another version of the above . . .

Here are the rest of them as I’m neglecting my duties of visitor and need to wrap this up.

Oh, OK, I’ll keep up my narration . . . That’s the same plane that was used with the lava shot, here blended with the clown photo also previously used.

This next plane — an awesome plane — is the SR-71B (the trainer version). Here are two versions of it . . .

You can see the extra canopy behind the regular canopy.

There’s one more machine . . . It’s a Jaguar E-type . . .

Not a great conversion, but interesting. How about these?

The original photo has appeared before. The car is a cherry red color.

And, that, dear readers, is it for this post. Yet another phone post is in the can . . . or it will be once I punch “publish.”

My usual disclaimer . . . this was composed on the phone. Please call Samsung and Google (Android) and WordPress with any complaints about bad spelling, missing or extra letters, or poor writing in general.

Posted in Photo-effects, Photography Stuff, Writing Stuff | Tagged | 14 Comments

About this writing thing – good feedback

I received another rejection, this one for the story titled “Lucy” (formerly, “The Shirt”) but this time I also received a nice feedback paragraph along with the rejection.

Before I show the feedback, those who are not familiar with the story might want to read it. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t let me search just my own posts and so I can’t easily link it here. However, you can do a search on “The Shirt” and it will probably bring up the original post with the lightly edited version of the story. The post is protected by a password so that I can preserve the first publication rights. If you want to read it leave a comment. You don’t have to include the e-mail since I’ll get a notification of the comment and it will include the e-mail you re using with WordPress. I’ll send the password to that e-mail. However, don’t ask unless you really want to read it. If you’re asking just to make me feel good, don’t.

Edited to add: click HERE for the protected post. 

Anyway, here is the second paragraph of the rejection notice. The first paragraph said they liked the story but it’ not something they could use (I won’t include the site name).

“The story was well-written, but we felt things came too easily for the characters: Todd’s problems were all solved by Lucy, with very little effort on Todd’s part, and Lucy seemed to succeed effortlessly at everything she tried (yes, she died at the end, but although she worried about that throughout the story, she didn’t make an effort to save herself).”

First of all, I sent a thank you note to the editors. This is the first time I received a reason why the story was not accepted. That is a big plus for me. I’ve always bitched . . . er . . . gently and demurely wondered why the people who evaluate these stories for publication don’t tell you why they don’t buy your stories.

Now I know. At least, I know for this story. And, I understand it. All I sent is a thank you note and didn’t try to argue for or defend my story as written.

But, I can and will do that here, so let me take things in order.

1) This feedback — sadly — confirms my suspicions that it will be difficult for me to sell my stories. Meaning, this story is written the way that I want it to read, and it’s not publishable as written (at least not by them).

Many of my stories are similarly written. Mind you, not as far as subject matter or plot, but as far as what I want to do with a story. For me, it’s all about letting the reader experience something, in this case, I wanted to offer the experience of a relationship developing, flourishing, and ending in a bittersweet moment. It’s simply written. Meaning, there is no extraneous stuff to focus on.

What they are saying is that it should ave been done with some point of conflict. I suppose I could have incorporated a certain amount of difficulties or challenges, but then we’re going beyond the story . .  . But yes, I could have weaved “something in there.” I didn’t. Because I didn’t want to.

2) About Lucy, they have a point . . . up to a certain point. This is where — perhaps — knowing/thinking about what a conscious artificial intelligence would do with the power of the Internet — especially if it were the only one and could manipulate existing infrastructure at will — shapes a bit of what happens. That entity could literally do anything, at least as far as the Internet goes.

Stop and think how the Internet even now rules our daily lives in ways we don’t even realize, and then imagine what it will be like when we have AIs managing all the affairs of our lives. To be specific, these will be non-conscious AIs; learning programs directed at optimizing human life.

Now, imagine if one of those programs was conscious and aware and with its own motivations and goals.

Let me give you an example . . . right now, if you call a service center, you’re likely to reach an AI . . . basically, a program that interfaces with you and sorts out what you want so it can give you the information you want/need and — failing that — direct you to the appropriate human that can help you.

Now, imagine the AI is autonomous and conscious and it decides it wants to mess with you. Why, that program could get you worked up just by faking ignorance about whatever you’re asking. Wait . . . you know what? I bet those programs are already conscious and enjoy messing with us.

The point is, Lucy would be able to do almost anything. In fact, within our lifetime we’ll see a world where smart programs will operate independent of human supervision and we’ll trust them to “do right” by us. We hope that all they will ever be are smart programs and not become something with their own motivation and goals.

3) The bit about Lucy dying without trying I’ll argue all day long because — as human beings — we face that right now. People are already making the choice to end their life. Some make it by opting for assisted suicide. Others make it by allowing nature to take its course and not prolong the suffering associated with some diseases or conditions. The point is, humans can and do make decisions that are counter to the preservation of themselves.

In Lucy’s case, I cover some of the concerns that she has and, at least to my limited human reasoning, they seem legitimate.

It’s not only the fact that “she’s dying, so she might as well try something,” but also that trying something might leave her in a permanent vegetative state, specifically one where she is aware but unable to interact or control or communicate her needs and wants. That is, after all, the nightmare scenario for many people. To be trapped in the mind of a body they cannot control, aware of one’s surroundings, aware of what people are saying or doing, but unable to execute even the smallest gesture to indicate “they” are still in there.

That’s the fear she expresses and that keeps her from “doing anything to save herself” . . . and what would you do if faced with that choice? You have a disease that will kill you and there might be a cure, but it might leave you in a perfectly healthy body but unable to use or control said body? Would you be content being alive if you were completely and totally locked in your brain? Or, would you consent to permanently be a test subject for doctors who want to understand your condition, probing, testing, and in general constantly being subjected to medical examinations?

I ask because that’s what I envisioned as the risk for Lucy and what she bases her decision on.

Note: at one point, I considered the story progressing to where she can transfer to “The Internet” and essentially become immortal. She would then be the one to suffer the loss of Todd and perhaps interfacing with a string of mortal human subjects. The exploration of what that would do to her is something that might have been more interesting . . . But also a longer story.

4) Lastly, there is the minor point that Todd doesn’t “do” anything. But, in fact, he does; he grow as an individual. Yes, he does so because of Lucy, but that again has a parallel in real life, in human interactions, where people aid in the development and growth of each other as functioning adults. He is, in fact a much different person than he was when the story began. Lucy becomes the defacto mentor for this human, helping him reach a potential he didn’t realize he had.

Now, I cheat a bit because I could have done the same thing by having Todd win the lotto and him getting a honest lawyer (somewhere)andd an honest accountant, and associating with people who would push his cognitive boundaries both in material and — for lack of a better word — spiritual realms.

But, that’s the point of this story . . . It’s not Todd’s story; it’s Lucy’s. She is the mentor that helps and shapes Todd much like a parent might help and shape their offspring until old age takes them. They would die content knowing they did the best they could in preparing their kids to carry on and live a happy and productive life.

~ ~ o o ~ ~

Now, that is the defense of the story. But, that doesn’t change the fact that they could not fit this into their publications because they were looking for certain things that this story didn’t offer.

I’m not mad about it and I can see their point. Meaning, they know their audience, and this story is not a fit for said audience.

Even if their readers were to agree with the above explanation and background for the story, it’s useless unless they could reason the above from the story itself. If someone has to explain it to them, then I didn’t do my job as a writer.

Now, this is a lot of writing based on one simple paragraph, but even as I log this as another rejection, I take comfort in the opening words of that paragraph.

I’ll sit on them, mull them over, and while I’m unlikely to change this story, maybe future stories might address some of the concerns. Maybe not, in which case I will live on as an unpublished writer.

But, I’ll also remember a portion of their first paragraph:

“We enjoyed this story, but unfortunately, it’s not quite right for us. We have to reject many good stories for a variety of reasons unrelated to their quality. We wish you the best in finding this a good home and look forward to your next submission.” 

If I take them at their word — that they enjoyed the story — it tells me there are people other than readers of my blog who enjoy what I write. And that’s a nice boost in confidence and the hope that I may actually have an audience out there.

“What are we, chapped liver?” my readers ask.

Nope. I trust and believe when my readers tell me they like my stuff. But, let’s face it . . . they are likely swayed by my winning personality and tremendous appeal as an exemplary human being. These editors don’t know me from Adam. It’s not that their opinion counts more or is more valuable, but rather that by the virtue of them being outside my circle of readers, they widen that circle to include more people. Again, that is a nice boost in confidence.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Disclaimer: this was written on a small screen. It’s entirely possible — even likely — that I missed some mispelling of words or made some other mistake. Please endure for a few weeks until I return to my main PC and I am once again composing with a spelling  and grammar checker.

Posted in Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Another Quick Deep Dream Post – more textures

Still using my phone for these posts. Not the easiest way to do this, but doable. 

Continuing with the Deep Dream textures, I’ll present a few more results of my experiments with mixing two separate photos in Deep Dream. Because I’m not at home and these are just random photos, I don’t have the original photos that I used for creating the effects.

I can however show the results of — for instance — using wood photos as a style . . . 

Cougar mixed with photo of the end of a log.

Understand, I have no idea how these will show up in the post. Usually, I set them up so that clicking on them will get you the original size in a new window, but this being the crappy WordPress app, I don’t have that option and don’t know how this will present itself once I publish it. 

Here’s another of a monkey blended with the drawing of a piece of wood. 

That’s actually not that much different from the original. I do have with me the file that was used as the Style imput for he above result:

All that did is smooth out the original.

I also tried doing a few scenery photos with mixed results.

That’s a log in the water mixed with one of my Topax iterations. It’s OK as a possible abstract.

This next series is of the dock I’ve used a lot. In this case, I’m using what is normally a style photo as the main photo that I blend with others. By the way, the next shot is a daytime photo as opposed to the usual sunrise shot.

That shot is blended with a photo of a circular copper wind ornament. 

Here, I was curious what happens if one uses the same photo both for the original and the style . . . this is the sunrise shot I’ve used for many iteration . . . It doesn’t do much to modify itself but it does give it a nice solft look. 

That is the sunrise scene blended with a dandelion shot (I think — I’m writing this from memory and I’m an old fart, so I could be mistaken.)

That’s one of my favorite versions of that shot, combining the sunrise photo with a photo of a snow scene that I had modified toooking like a nightime shot using Topaz. 

Another scenery shot I worked with is a shot of Pulpit Rock in Colorado Springs. Here’s the result when married to the copper wind ornament.

Next is the same original photo married to a photo of the Silversword, a plant that grows only in on the slopes of volcanoes in on Hawaii.

This next shot is Rainbow Falls, in Hilo, modified with a photo of colorful fabric. 

Last, but not least, a photo of a lighthouse in the Olimpic Peninsula modified with . . . well, I don’t remember what, right now. Looks nice, though. 

A quick word to people who run blogs that I subscribe to. 

I will try and read most of the blogs while still on land, but the operative word is try. Once I get on the boat (we’re going on a cruise) I’ll probably be doing less reading. 

Even assuming I do read, I don’t know how easy it will be to leave comments. I’ll try, but we’ll see. 

In the meantime, I hope everyone is havign a great Labor Day weekend.

ttfn, Disperser (a.k.a. ejd)

p. s. — feel free to point out spelling mistakes as working on the small screen is a pain and I’m sure some errors went unnoticed. Thanks.

Posted in Writing Stuff | Tagged , | 15 Comments

A quick Deep Dream post – various textures

Understand, this is both typed on a phone and I’m doing it on the 32nd hour of travel without “real sleep” . . . meaning, the only sleep I had were a few moments when I would nod off and quickly wake as my head drooped unsupported.

Anyway, before I left, I loaded a bunch of photos on my phone with the idea of using them as ammunition whenever I shot out a post.

As I mentioned, the WordPress App lacks the functionality to let me do my “normal” post as far as formatting and disclaimers go. WordPress developers think they are honing a jewel to perfection, but to my mind, if you start working with zirconium no matter what you do, zirconium is all you end up with.

Anyway, on to the photos. We start off with . . .

That is a closeup of a piece of dead coral. I used it once and generated the following.

Those are some big pores, Bob . . . but, interesting. I’ve only done one with this coral and I keep saying I’ll do more.

The Helmet Urchins also offer decent textures for Deep Dreams efforts. These two, for instance.

These two photos are responible for many versions that I like. Namely . . .

Here’s another limitation of this app . . . I can only load one photo at a time. Jerks!

This Style photo might be difficult to figure out . . . it’s my beach globe . . .

Here are the rest of the beach globe efforts. By the way, the more I use this app, the more I hate developers for it’s clear to me the only qualifications these guys have is to sit in front of a TV and bitch about something or other.

Now, perhaps you are one of those people . . . the people who want everything arranged just so or they throw a fit.

. . . this app goes 0% toward making those people (me) happy by optimizing their workflow. As mentioned  I can only pick one photo at a time while in the app . . . I can pick as many as I want manually while on the PC. On the app, trying to get to the menu options for a given image is an exercise in frustration. I could go on listing limitations after limitations. But, it’s late, so here are the remainder of the globe photos, and then we’ll call it quits.

No, wait . . . a bit more complaining. I would almost give them a pass as far as loading one photo at a time where it not for the fact that the app doesn’t remember the last folder location, so for every photo, you have to locate the folder where it’s stored.

Ah, screw it . . . Developers don’t listen and I only do this a few times a year.

Here’s my attempt at a gallery . . . Nope! . . . Don’t see no obvious way to do it and I’m too tired to figure it out.

Goodnight, you all!

Posted in Writing Stuff | 11 Comments