Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Beauty is only skin deep - part II

Earlier I talked about how the media was defining what is beautiful. Media in every country tries to define what is beautiful, and also tries to 'create' people who match its fantasy. It is a well known fact that photoshop is a very oft used tool in the media circles. Look here for a recent example which became public.

We need our younger generations to be confident and self assured. And the media is not helping us here. Nothing is flawless. In fact, the flaws and imperfections are what add color and variety to the nature. We should realize that it is the whole personality and not just the looks that matter. We should strive to build self esteem and a positive image in our children.

I am happy to see that at least somebody is making an effort in this regard. Check out Campaign for Real beauty, and while you are there check out the cool short film 'evolution'. It paints a good picture of how 'beautiful' images are created.

If you ask me, the model looks much more beautiful before the neck elongation and eye enlargement. Well, that is my opinion.

Until later, appreciate natural beauty.

PS: All art (photos, sketches, etc.) on this blog are my creations.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Smart car?

I am talking about "the smart car". The one Mercedes Benz is planning on introducing in the US. A few years ago I saw this car in France and I was impressed by its cuteness and compact design. I have seen people use it on city streets. Parking it is a breeze. In fact, you can park two in a single car garage. It is like a motorbike, but you get protection from the weather as well as the road hazards. It is a great solution for city driving, especially in congested places. This would be a great solution to the crowded streets of India.

Today, I saw a smart car on I-90 while driving home. I was almost shocked that someone had the nerve to take it on a freeway. I know they talk about the 'tridion safety cell' and all that, but seeing a smart car on a freeway along with an 18-wheeler is scary. In accidents, people get crushed to pulp in much bigger cars. One of the selling points of vans and SUVs is their safety factor. Imagine driving along on a freeway in this puny car, and when the time to merge comes, you floor the gas pedal, and nothing happens!

It is a great car for city driving. Its gas mileage, its compactness and ease of maneurability should be a boon for congested cities. But, the other issue is with capacity. In places like Bangalore (where I see this car as being a perfect fit), it isn't uncommon to see a family (couple and two kids) riding in a scooter or motorcycle. So, a two seater car would be a hard sell. Unless, they modify it for Asian markets to accommodate at least one more (small) person.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Passport photography

I have always created my own passport photographs. Who wants to pay anywhere from $8 to $20 for a pair of passport photos, when they can be had for as little as $0.20. I used to figure out the ratio of the size in the image finder in my camera to the printed image. And determined, using a template, where the head should be so that I get the correct sized picture for a passport photograph. This was cumbersome, and involved a fair amount of trial and error. And, to top it all, I had to wait until I shot the whole roll of film to get my passport photos. But, once I got a good negative, it was good for a year.

Recently I had the need for a passport photo and I tried using my tried and trusted formula with my digital camera. It worked fairly well, and then I found this site which details how one can create an accurate passport photograph from a digital image. This was awesome. I had not thought of resizing the image at all, duh. This works great, but I would make a minor modification to the steps in order to get awesome photos that meet the standards:
  • After the step where you do a fixed size marquee, instead of just copying the image, crop it.
  • Choose the lasso selection tool and click on the background.
  • Select as much of the background as accurately as possible using the +- selection.
  • Use a Feather value of 5 - 15 depending on how the picture is.
  • Now, adjust the Levels such that the background fades to white.
  • Continue to the step of creating a 4x6 template in the original tutorial.

This will yield a professional looking passport photo. Print the digital image on your own photo printer or at any convenient store photo printer for as little as $0.20 for a pair! It always pays to learn new tricks in Photoshop.

Of course, this assumes that you have Adobe Photoshop, and good scissors wielding skills.