Serenity

As Summer slips into memory and the cool winds of Fall begin to blast our bones in preparation for Winter’s deep freeze, I share with you this photo I took a few months ago.

Feel Summer’s warmth linger for yet a moment before we plunge into Fall’s chill.

Carbonmade Portfolios

I’ve just started experimenting with carbonmade, an online portfolio site, to expose some of my photography. Compared to DeviantArt, it is far simpler to upload imagery, and it provides an elegant way to organize your material, whether a static image or a video. Storage is far more limited than with DA, and appears to be more difficult to link the images to other sites (I was only able to get the image above displayed by digging through the page source), so it isn’t ideal to host images. It is really intended to be a focused tool to expose your very best work

If you’re a visual artist, and you’re looking for a means to expose your work online, this is an option worth looking into.

A great primer on Film Noir lighting from FilmakerIQ.com

Many thanks to my brother for finding this primer on the basics of lighting film noir by filmmakerIQ.com.

There are 92 other videos on the site at this time, with more being regularly added, so if you’re a movie buff, it will be worth your time to take a wander down there.

Whew! I just uploaded 40 photos to deviantArt.com, and boy is my modem tired. http://maxshields.deviantart.com/

A brave new horizon

I’ve got an unfortunate habit of taking zillions of pictures. This used to cause my parents great consternation, since I got my first camera back in the day of film. With a little hindsight, I now realize that they must have made a few sacrifices to feed my habit. This may explain why I never saw an Aston Martin in the driveway, but rather why they could only afford a beat up Gremlin. Mom, Dad, so sorry. If only I knew.

On the other hand, now that digital has risen to take up an omnipresent place in our lives, knocking the likes of Kodak from their vaunted position on top of the photographic world, I tend to take more pictures than I ever have the ability to go through. I’ve cycled through the photo count on a few of my cameras now, so the file names have stared duplicating on occasion, making the tracking down of images a little more complicated than it should be. If I were properly disciplined, I should erase the bad pictures in camera and only keep the cream of the crop. However, I’ve found that a few of my bad photos serve as good backdrops for other art projects, so I guess I’m still coming up with solid rationalization for my pixel hoarding habit.

A short while after starting this blog, I opened a deviantArt account to store a few pictures that I could link into as needed. I never got around to placing more than a single picture on the site. My wife happened upon it a few days ago and poked fun at me.

Don’t let my brilliance dazzle you.

“You’re wasting space.” She sternly announced. It’s not like the few megabytes that the image takes up on the deviantArt server are taking up much physical space. She just seemed somehow put off by the vacuum I had created in cyberspace by not adding anything more to accompany such a lonely image.

In response, I decided to go through some of the thousands of pictures I’ve taken over the years, and have started the process of uploading them to the site. Thankfully, the process on the server’s side is smooth and relatively painless. Unfortunately, my ancient (well, not so much, but it’s pushing past seven years) iMac is starting to feel the burden of its increasingly-full storage. I’ve taken the precaution of backing up my most precious files on external drives, which also slows things down, since I’m now having to stomp all of that data through these tiny little cables (that’s how it works, doesn’t it?) and then usher it out of my home which is inconveniently located at the very end of a high speed network connection. If the bandwidth reaches too high, my connection is knocked out of action as the pipeline tries to gulp for air. When it’s done catching its breath a few minutes later, the process continues.

All this to say that I’m now sprawling out on the internet. I hope I don’t make it look like an overfull coffee table from which no one wants to pry away a jelly doughnut-stained photo book.

Caution! You may find weird and wonderful things at http://maxshields.deviantart.com/

Leave it to the French to mix diving, surrealism, and giraffes.

I cannot help but wonder at this beautifully shot piece. The level of technical achievement is impressive, and the camera work is great. However, where the team failed completely was with using giraffes as the main characters. What were they thinking? Everyone knows that if you are going to make a synchronized diving short in Les Halles, it had better be with elephants, or maybe hippos in a pinch.

Suddenly Chewie realized he was in big trouble

In the process of organizing some of the thousands of photographs I’ve taken over the years, I’ve come across a few gems, products of my early attempts at creativity with Photoshop. They are so cheesy, I may have no choice but to share them for all to be stuck with something they can’t unsee.

In this case, back in 2004 I put to work my inner Star Wars and Warhammer 40K fanboy to experiment with merging photographs, creating masks, and using the software’s different color functions to color in a black and white photo I had taken of an unpainted Space Marine miniature. I had completely forgotten about this picture, so this is kind of like finding that twenty dollar bill you forgot in a pair of pants two years ago. Mind you, that bill is a little beat up, some moths have taken some chunks out of it, and it probably needs to be washed, but you’re still a little further ahead than before you put your pants on.

Suddenly Chewie in Trouble

Now that I think about it, this probably planted the seed for this image I submitted for a gamecareerguide game design challenge last November.

Game design challenge: Crossing Over entry

It’s all about taking baby steps and working away at things to keep improving. Few people have the raw natural talent to excel at first. But stick to it, work hard, work smart, and you’ll get there. When it comes to inspiration, an idea can take years to fully develop. Give it time.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ll sign off. I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I excel!

Rummaging through old memories – how The Genius Crucible’s cover was born

Nissigoboro and Nala

Nissigoboro and Nala

Many years ago, my parents lived in Papua New Guinea (PNG). I will not go into detail the reasons for which they were there, but suffice to say that my head was filled at a young age with stories of exotic jungles, villages of rugged tribesmen, and exhausting scientific expeditions through some of the world’s most rugged terrain.

My parents took a few memorable pictures. Back in the 70’s, film was expensive and hard to store adequately in the humid jungle. Since they could only carry so much, only a few pictures remain of their treks. My father had turned some into slides that he used during classroom presentations to his students. Thankfully, a few years ago he made the effort to scan those slides. I now have a selection of the images stored for posterity. They are beautiful and open a window of insight on a world that had remained largely untouched by the progress of history. I will share some of these images here from time to time.

The first to make its appearance is a photo of Nissigoboro and his son, Nala. Nala served as my father’s interpreter in the Karimui, a remote district in PNG. They worked together for several years over many expeditions, developing a close friendship. My brother and I were fortunate enough to meet Nala back in the ’80s when we accompanied our father on his last expedition to the island’s jungles.

It was therefore fitting for the pair to figure prominently on the cover of The Genius Crucible, since they are inspirations for some of the book’s major characters. Thanks to the magic of digitization and a little help from photoshop, a forty year old picture became a central component for a science fiction book dealing with many cutting edge artificial intelligence and environmental issues. Does it work? I’ll let you be the judge.

The Genius Crucible (available at Amazon.com)

Follow @GeniusCrucible if you are interested in science, the environment, artificial intelligence, and the disappearance of genius.

A thought for Mother’s Day

We’ve all been here at one point. ©2010 Max Shields

I want to take a moment to thank all women who have brought life to this world. Without you, none of us would be here. In particular, I want to highlight my mother and my wife on this special day.  You have have been gentle guides, making me what I am today, and your graceful patience allows you to put up with the crazy schemes that I concoct routinely and doubtless have caused you to shake your head or roll your eyes on more than one occasion.

Thank you, merci, I love you, je vous aime!

Here’s to many, many more Mother’s Days to come.