Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Peak Miata!

Mr Miata has finally reached 'peak Miata'. I had a vision of what I wanted him to be when I bought him, and over the past few years I have slowly achieved that goal - turning him into a modern rat rod for reliably bombing around town.

Most important to me was using stuff I would have used on a '90 Miata back in the day - the Racing Beat hardboot cover, the genuine Mazda tail, and +1 wheels - Cragar lacy wheels, no less!

Inside I've got handmade red vinyl door panels, a plastidipped center console and tombstone, and igge seatcovers. Oh yeah, and a pool ball shift knob! And a lighted rearview mirror salvaged out of a camaro convertible. I also gave it an upgraded set of door mirrors off a newer Miata.

Under the hardboot cover is a cloth soft top with a glass rear window. A big improvement from the torn top it came with when I bought it.

Most important is that almost all the parts I put on it, were scrounged up on craigslist or in junkyards, or trading with other Miata club members. Second-hand parts for my second-hand Miata! I've also done all the work on it, fixing little things as they came up, most recently replacing the alternator all by my little self. After someone stole my iPod and garage door opener out of it last summer I wired in a secret garage door opener button I soldered together myself and installed in the console.

It's a fun little ride, with 212k miles and still going strong, but it's been overshadowed lately by the Challenger, which is also a lot of fun to drive, and much more civilized. And as you can see in the garage, the Mustang is still waiting for me to get down to business and finish it up. So much to do. I'm tempted to sell the Miata before I spend any more money on it, but Dave says I would just go buy another one later. This is #4, after all.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Digital Artwork

I started out this year with a weekly photo project, but at about the same time I discovered, thanks to another photographer I follow, The Daily Texture. The Daily Texture is a site made by a lady named Jai in Tennessee, who paints beautiful backgrounds and then scans them in and sells them for use in creating other digital artworks. I hadn't really thought of doing anything like this before, in fact I was barely getting a grip on Photoshop layers and masking, when I decided to give it a go with one of her sample background sets.

I had taken this picture of Navi in the snow, and it was a nice picture of her (which is hard to get because she never sits still), but it had all that crap in the background. Just another nice snap, but certainly nothing I would put on the wall.

But, I masked away all that chain link fence and weeds, and applied a background, and found a snow texture to lay over the whole thing, and...

Wow! For my first try, in about ten minutes, I was pretty impressed!

So I ordered several of her background collections, and have since ordered a few more, in fact it's kind of addicting every time she comes out with a new set, I think of something I'd like to do with them. Her hand-painted backgrounds, combined with my photos, turns pictures that were ok, into something amazing.

So this lighthouse, which I thought was nice before:

Is suddenly a work of art which I think would look fabulous on a canvas hanging in anyone's house.

This is one of my favorites. I just entered The Lighthouse into a digital contest at http://digitallymadechallenges.blogspot.com/2017/05/challenge-1-anything-goes.html  We shall see how it does!

And these sailboats put up for the winter, which I photographed on a trip to Port Angeles a couple years ago, which were interesting, but the photo was certainly nothing to write home about...

Every time I take a picture it's because something in the scene grabbed me. But maybe the light or the background, or the sky wasn't what I'd like, something isn't quite right straight out of the camera. This gives me a chance to fix it to be just the way I want it. And while mixing and matching layers, sometimes even I am surprised by the results I get.

The other secret to making these fun artworks is applying filters to give the original a more 'painted' look so it will mesh with the painted backgrounds. I do some work on them by hand as well, working with my Wacom tablet and pen to add highlights and get the light to come in the way I want it. I also bought Topaz Impressions, which is a very nice editing tool that I think does a much better job than photoshop filters, and it does it way easier for me. The amazing part of Topaz is that you get to watch it 'paint' the photo, and adjust brush size and shape, stroke size, amount of paint, etc, and then watch the program actually paint it (quickly) stroke by stroke. 

So with the help of a few tools and layers of artwork and textures, I can take something like this goat from the zoo:

And turn him into something I am proud to share.

That is my direction for this year. I am really enjoying doing these, I love saving old photos that were not really something I would share before, and I am enjoying taking photos knowing if the backgrounds or sky isn't right, I will still be able to make something with them. I am enjoying the actual work of creating these so much, I just get wrapped up in them, and when I'm not working on them I'll be thinking about the next one I want to do! As I do more of these I'm learning more and more techniques in Photoshop so I can see my skills improving. This is just a fabulous direction to go with my photography, and I'm so happy I discovered it, and so grateful to Jai at The Daily Texture for sharing her skills in so many tutorial videos to help get folks like me started in using her backgrounds.