Thursday, September 25, 2008

Life as a Wallbanger: The Brats

The three characters in the wallpaper are Abbigale, Victoria and Elizabeth — The Brats in a four panel cartoon I'm developing called Life as a Wallbanger. It's about a dysfunctional family and centers around the life of the two-year-old, Harvey. Harvey's mission in life is to evade his evil sister, Victoria, rule his daycare and force the square peg into the round hole.

Victoria was the first character in the Wallbangers I designed. Her life ambition is to torment her brothers, bamboozle her parents and to use her friends in nefarious plots to rule middle school. Victoria always refers to herself in the third person and has two friends, Abbigale and Elizabeth, that follow her every order.

Abbigale and Elizabeth were designed to closely resemble Victoria and are really Victoria Wannabees, that's why all three characters look so similar. I wanted to focus on the wannabe aspect of Abbigale and Elizabeth, so their clothes will always match Victoria's exactly. They play a very minor role in the Wallabngers, so they don't appear very often. They apear early in the comic for introduction, After that, they appear mainly in support of Victoria's plans to rule middle school with an iron fist.

Victoria is the only character in the Wallbangers that has two versions. The evil version is shown in the wallpaper. Whenever Voctorial appears in the presence of her parents, she's drawn as a sweet little girl. In that version, her face is more round and her pony-tails are rounded and not drawn with sharp angles. She also has big doey eyes and there are no sharp angles anywhere on the character.

However, when she appears with other adults, she always appears in the evil version because other adults see her for what she really is, a spoiled little brat.

The three brats are the first characters introduced in the comic. They're bored and decide to take Harvey "Baby Bowling."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Magnolia Cemetery at Sunset

Sunday, I had to go in and do some work at The Greenville Advocate. I was leaving about 6:15 p.m. and saw some beautiful cloud formations. I decided to shoot some silhouettes of the grave markers in Magnolia Cemetery. The oldest part of the cemetery is tucked away in a wooded area, so the opportunity to shoot a silhouette is rare. There are only a couple of graves in a clearing overlooking the remainder of the cemetery that are clear of the treeline.

The cemetery is one of my favorite places to shoot in Greenville. The older section of the cemetery dates back to the Civil War era, possibly earlier. There was one particular grave marker that I'd wanted to shoot for a while. I was just waiting for a good sunset.

I shot around the cemetery while I waited for the sun to begin setting. When the sun started getting close to the top of the tree line, I set up my tripod and waited. After about 20 minutes, I started shooting. This shot was near the end of a sequence of about 40 shots spaced about 30 seconds apart.

The image is a tone-mapped RAW file. I had to boost the saturation a little more than normal because Picasa tends to flatten out images when they're uploaded to blogger.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Commerce Street, Greenville

As I was leaving work last Monday I noticed a heavy thunder could was moving in over Commerce Street in Downtown Greenville. I managed to shoot off six or seven sets of bracketed exposures (-2/0/+2 Stops) and then used FDR Tools to merge everything into a HDR image.

That didn't work too well. The wind was blowing really bad and I got a lot of ghosting in the clouds and bushes on the left side of the frame. In the end, I ended up tone-mapping the middle exposure in one of the brackets to expose the buildings and bushes. I used the under exposed frame and tone-mapped the sky.

After that, I created a mask around the buildings and shrubs and erased the sky from the exposure with the building and shrubs. That allowed the sky on the layer below to show through.

After that I cleaned up some dust spots and removed a traffic light that was sticking up out of the middle of the bushes. It was a really distracting element because it went right through the middle of the dark cloud.

Overall, it took about three hours to finish the post processing on the merged photograph.

(Note: HDR imaging, DRI imaging and Tone Mapping require RAW image format. You can't technically create a HDR, DRI or tone-mapped image from a JPEG or any other file type. Only RAW format keeps all of the luminosity data when the image was taken. Other file types have algorithms that determine how much of the captured data is saved in order to compress the file before saving.)