Withdraw and Entrances

(A man in a suit, fedora, holding a large hatchet as a cane stands before you)

Good Evening.

As you may have realized from my last appearance, the usual writer of this blog is…not present. As he has decided to shirk his responsibility for this post, I have taken the…liberty of filling in for him. As someone who has granted me temporary sanctuary, I suppose I can do at least this much for him. Certainly you agree I am qualified to communicate his thoughts and actions over the past week.

During the week, the primary resident here worked on “daily assignments” and attempting to connect with the community. He is a very private man, indeed, he even sometimes begrudges my presence, though I make myself as unobtrusive as possible. As a result, his success at the latter was, less than stellar. I will let you be the judge of that. He did learn several things however. Others admit in their posts they are as unfamiliar with “media editing software” as he is. This observation makes him feel slightly less embarrassed (what a funny thought) of his own lack of knowledge on the topic.

newsweek

Author: Michael Young

Source

Upon seeing the results of these others’ work, however, he questioned whether he might be exceedingly ignorant of media editing software.

Of course, he also learned something educational as well, as per the objectives of this class. No idea here needs flawless execution. As the above shows, surprising the mind is often the purpose of these creations. When making…creations in the time allotted, it is often sufficient merely to focus on the main goal.

This brings us to the first of his…or should I say my accomplishments I would like to bring to your attention. As part of the “weekly showcase”, the resident gave me enough screen time to present some of my own discoveries in my wanderings. I for one enjoy presenting the bare truth of what you do today. The superstitions of yesteryear have been replaced. Where you are horrified of tortures performed hundreds of years ago, you revel and laugh for torments and tortures given in the modern day. Of course, it is impolite today to say as such, that is why I am one of the few who say it.

I have stayed on this aside long enough. If I am to do this properly, I must also present some work of the resident author. It turns out he has an… adolescent fascination with giant robots. When he heard modern, that was the topic he settled on. It was purely coincidental that his topic of interest happened to align with a Japanese stereotype, or perhaps it was a subconscious suggestion. I may reside here, but I can only be expected to be so observant, yes?

mechy

 

The description of the picture is the Japanese army crossing a river, but he thought it looked more like a general leading his army to battle. At that point, he simply found a robot from Pacific Rim with an appropriate orientation, and cropped off the legs to make it appear to be rising out of the water.

He still has a stubborn inclination against going too far out of his comfort zone. He used the background trimming tool from Microsoft Powerpoint, and kept pasting the picture back and forth between powerpoint and paint, cropping as needed, until he obtained a result he was happy with.

He accomplished a similar goal with…hijacking The Beetle’s cover album. His primitive method is more convincing here, if but because it was easier for him to crop out the background of the overlayed image.

Turtle Sequel

I would say there is still much to be desired here. The perspective of the background completely clashes with the perspective of the figures. The differing pixel quality of the background and overlay images is also a cause for concern. Perhaps I will tell him this when he returns…

As a final note, the resident author had mixed reactions towards the Talk like a Pirate Day assignment. At first, he balked at it because, to his shame, he cannot stand the sound of his voice in a recording *low chuckle*. However, the prompt itself sent thoughts and scripts streaming through his mind, I was quite taken aback by it mind you, and the only way he could properly satisfy himself was to share one of them.

In this case, he actually did do something suggested by the course, in that he downloaded audacity and recorded in the speech.

 

As I bring this post to a conclusion I would like to say that I look forward to presenting my own views on the quirks and ideas of your world in the future.

 

I am not here to judge, only to state what is.

 

Morlium Presents: The Loop of Destruction

Good Evening.

The usual writer of this blog is…otherwise detained. Because he has seen fit to shirk from his duties and responsibilities, I have decided to…borrow his reputation to present to you that which is…disturbing to a twisted mind.

A man wandering through the woods of time and space sees many things. From the moments of great joy to the moments of great sorrow. I however, am at least free to wander. Not all souls are granted even that.

In your online world, you trap the souls of others in endless loops. You call them gifs to confound yourself as to the act you have done. Sometimes, you trap these moments in a selfish attempt to remember them, you steal the essence of another to evoke an emotion in yourself. For some people though, this selfish action takes on an air of cruelty, trapping a soul in a perpetual state of horror, forcing the person to endlessly witness the events leading to their demise until their prison is broken by the demise of your internet.

I bring to your attention, the Loop of Destruction

When you “think” the universe is on your side…

Author: durdygirdy

Source:(clickable link, for a change!)

What do we see in this unfortunate soul’s 3 part demise? We see the man, at the moment of triumph, torn from that moment by fate. As he attempts to save his broken body from the accident, the very fabric of existence cheats him of his hope. Like a bad dream, before he hits the ground, he wakes up only to find himself in the same nightmare.

And yet, you have mercifully kept him from repeating the agonizing pain of having his body broken a second time. Why, when being so cruel to this soul have you shown mercy here? Perhaps your prison is not big enough to contain all the suffering that would entail. Perhaps you relish the power of controlling what this man experiences, and the very thought that you could include it “if you wanted to” fills you with sadistic glee.

 

I am not here to judge, only to state what is.

Photography and Failure

Well, I will admit it. I ran out of time plain and simple. One part underestimating how easy it would be to procure a camera and two (or three) parts procrastination. Still, the week wasn’t a full waste. I obtained a good amount of knowledge if not a large amount of experience. I enjoyed analyzing The Bride of Frankenstein (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/the-light-of-frankenstein/). Interestingly enough, this movie seems to be on a local channel every month, but I have never watched it until now, since the time slot it is shown on is usually reserved for campy movies. My experience with it was like that of Jaws, it has its campy moments, but the movie as a whole is a decent work worthy of having survived all these years.

Of greater interest was attempting to get a paranormal photo going http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/legos-scared-yet-i-thought-not-but-a-guy-can-hope/. I usually prefer electronics for improving photos, and after messing around with different electronic features, I can;t say that my opinion on the matter has changed much. Still, the end result is interesting enough, if but for the fact that the objective is to peel off of reality.

My photoblitz went great, and I realized late Friday Afternoon that I had absolutely nothing to show for it, unless you like reading long and wordy articles (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/of-photoblitzing-and-photoflopping/). If there is on thing it taught me, it is how much time must go into finding a great photograph. To be in the right place at the right time, let alone with decent enough equipment to capture the picture, is quite the triumph over probability. My number one issue I need to work with (well, number two, the paranormal activity shows filling the frame is number one), is lighting. In the evening, it was impossible to find good natural lighting, and extremely difficult to make good artificial lighting.

So, here we are at the end of the week. After the comedy of errors, and a lot of stuff irrelevant to this blog, I am glad it is over. I ill see you next week!

Legos…scared yet? (I thought not….but a guy can hope)

Paranormal…hmmmmm. Dark and scary? unnatural? It is a very broad topic, so I settled with dark.

Being extremely low tech, I eventually realized I could add some darkness to a photo by putting a tuft of hair (i.e. from a comb or brush) up against the lens. I wanted to see what it would look like, so I set up a scene in a deserted corner of my room and gave it a stab.

pre skeleton

The scene in hindsight is terrible. Lego skeletons have always freaked me out just a little what with the goofy smile and all, but I did not have enough materials handy to make the scene work. I tried upping the creepiness by making sure the faces of the people were not visible, but I am not so sure you could see them even if they were facing the viewer. There is far short of a third of anything in the scene, and it feels kinda empty, but not in an “inspiring emptiness in the viewer” sort of way. I couldn’t crop it down more because the pixel quality was already at an acceptable level of sketchy, and I didn’t want to cross the line to terrible. Furthermore, I would end up cropping out the effect of the hair. The hair idea worked quite well, as the loops in the hair allowed me to almost frame the scene. I then uploaded he photo to “Be Funky” and used their sharpness tool to up the sharpness as much as possible. Thankfully, this has a very interesting effect on blurry strands of hair, and gives the photo a slight “darkness closing in” sort of feel.

skeleton

Last note is the lighting. I just pointed my lamp directly across the scene. I wanted the scene to be light to emphasize the contrast with the hair. Unintentionally, only the standing skeleton is projecting any real shadow, which is a nice plus to the scene.

Of Photoblitzing and Photoflopping

This was a particularly difficult assignment for me, largely due to the circumstances. As mentioned earlier, I have very little photography experience, and no portable photography device. To compound difficulties, my work+school keeps me busy during the day, so I had to complete the challenge at night with a borrowed smartphone. This limited somewhat my ability to choose scenes, as I had to take the photos in sufficient light. This meant most of them had to be taken inside.

In preparation, I moved over to the Catholic Student Center to complete the challenge, as the sights there are much more varied than those in my own room, and I know the area well enough to have a chance at finding photos in 20 minutes. The list I did was as follows:

-Take a picture of anger, or something that makes you angry.

-Take a photo of something that makes you sick.

-Take a photo that expresses a human emotion

-If only shoes could talk. Tell their story in a photo, either on or off someone.

-Wood has a lot of character and variety. A photo of something wooden.

-Take a photo that includes repeating geometric shapes.

-Make an image that represents hope.

So I emailed them to myself from my friends home, pulled up my e-mail and found that all the picture files were corrupted. Since I put off the writing about the process for a little while, it is too late to recreate the photos. Fortunately, but not sufficiently, I have a good memory. Below are some descriptions of what they would have been, for what it is worth.

(SCENE: Looking down the street, on the right side is a massive monolith of a well lit building, the University Center at the University of Mary Washington. On the left side of the street is a small house with a small porch light, with a wall of trees in the background. The rest of the background features distorted street and car lights)

My first photo was for something that inspired anger. I am not an angry person, and there is not much at a building like a Catholic Student Center that would fit the bill (unless you hate Catholics…). Fortunately, the University the University just built a massive building right on college avenue, a building which most returning students found…less than satisfactory. Throw in the amount of money spent, and there are some very unhappy students, if not angry. I wanted to try and contrast the building with the small-time neighborhood immediately across the street, but I really did not have the stomach to stand in the middle of the street. Because of the lack of natural light, the photo was less than satisfactory, but  I could not think of anything else to fit the bill.

(SCENE: On serving bowl of mashed potatoes on a steel counter. Overhead lighting insures little to no shadows.)

Weird fact about me, raw potatoes make me sick. They activate my gag reflex, and my body rejects it (tmi yet?). It is not so much the taste as the consistency. It turns out that cold mashed potatoes have a similar consistency.

(SCENE: A picture of a friend sitting in a metal folding chair)

It was late at night, my options for human emotion were limited. I tried to go with surprise, but everyone in the vicinity was too familiar with me to bring out that emotion in the time allotted.

(SCENE: Two shoes sitting on the pedals of a baby organ, one shoe appears to be heal down-toe up ready to strike a pedal.)

It turns out shoes are quite musical, always hitting the ground on the beat, feeling the bass of a car through the ground, or in this case, being the base line on a baby organ. Wanna know why there is always creepy low-pitched music in horror scenes? Maybe you had better use some foot spray next time. The foot appears raised because there is a paper cup beneath the toe.

(SCENE: Two wooden folding chairs and a bench surrounding an empty area, as if people conversed there).

Giving Metal Folding chairs a run for their money.

(SCENE: An air vent, featuring rectangles via the white of the painted grate and the black of the dark air duct behind it. The picture is taken from one side, looking across the grate.)

In hindsight, I wish I had gotten a straight on photo of this, but I didn’t have a light source to brighten up the shadow I was casting over it. There are a lot of repeating geometric shapes everywhere, but as a real mathy person, there is an unhealthy mix of “been there done that” and “that pattern is not good enough for display” snobbery. I don;t think I could have taken any picture of this description and been happy.

(SCENE: A corner of the room, a baptismal font, thurible hook with thurible, and depiction of Jesus with the Sacred Heart on the wall)

I am in a Catholic Student Center, so there has to be something like this. We have a lot of pictures and objects around, but I didn’t want to just take a picture of a picture, because that just feels weird. Everything in the place represents something, but it is a lengthy process to convincingly explain it if you don;t already know what they are.

In the end, I finished in about 15 minutes instead of 20. Since I was not explicitly forbidden to take multiple photos, I did as per my strategy of getting ones that might look half decent. The inability to do this outside was killer, since UMW is a big and varied place.

The Light of Frankenstein

The Bride of Frankenstein has several good examples of lighting throughout.

The bride of Frankenstein does a fairly good job at deliberately utilizing depth, light, and the lack thereof for keeping the scenes engaging. To complement the deliberate choices, the relatively poor quality of the black and white cinematography contributes to the eerie connotations of the scenes.

There is a major difference between how indoor and outdoor scenes are treated in the movie. I will start with the indoor scenes.

I will first note that the vast majority of the scenes take place at night. (quick aside, this means no terrible scenes of people being scared of stuff in the dark when all they had to do was open their blinds) As a result, all the rooms are completely interiorly lit. However, the only light source is always from the perspective of the viewer. Furthermore, the light source is always quite strong. This serves the purpose of strongly illuminating the characters in a scene, but also allows the background to fill up with shadows (since there is a single light source) or for a character to turn away and hide partly in shadow. The important thing that this accomplishes is contrast. We don;t need the characters to be in the dark, we just need them to be in a dark room, which doesn’t have to be dark, but rather just darker than the characters. Furthermore, the movie obeys the rule of thirds almost to a T. From the very beginning, during the intro, we see a blank floor, a blank wall, and a modest amount of furnishings when the people are conversing. This keeps the scene in character without drawing it off topic.

 

The outside scenes share a lot in common with the indoor scenes, especially their contrast and foreground lighting (though there is also a good amount of side lighting to highlight outside shadows). The outside scenes however, tended to do a little worse with the rule of thirds if but for the reason that town scenes have a lot of detail going on because actual towns are detailed.In fact, some of the forest scenes that tried to keep a balance fell a little flat because I expect a forest to be more “crowded” than the ones they showed. What was superb about the outside scenes however, were the backgrounds, or namely the lack thereof. Most outdoor scenes were shot using a bottom up perspective. This meant that you could not see much ground further than 30 feet away if only because you were looking up. The skies however, were believably dull and dreary. It looks like they should be plain colored, but thanks to the fuzzy camera, it looks like a foggy night. It legitimately creeps me out more than the pitch black backgrounds of other horror movies.

In conclusion, the movie got most of the ambiance right. Part of it I feel is because if they got it wrong, there was no editing to get it right other than to re-shoot it and splice it in. Since they were constrained to these methods, the movie is quite tautological.

Picture Week! (…)

I have theoretical knowledge of a lot of random things in life. Photography however, is not one of them. I can explain how light interacts with the chemicals on camera film, but not what specific ordering makes the image appealing to the average viewer.

I do not take photos. I do not own any handheld device capable of taking photos. Indeed, the only camera I have is on my laptop. When I do happen to be holding a camera (say, when taking photos for a friend), my usual approach is to just snap as many photos as possible (the miracle of digital storage!), and let the interested party decide. When I do, I try to capture people in movement. That is, at the exact moment immediately after or immediately before they pose for the camera, or right when they are adjusting a head angle or some other detail, so long as they are looking at the camera. I can usually tell when someone is posing, and it is at these moments that a person can pose without looking the part. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

After reading the resources, my approach has improved slightly, though I am concerned not enough to make a significant improvement in the end product. Part of it is that my standard of photo is much lower than the average person’s. The first photo tip in the list was to be picky, and frankly that is something I have a very hard time doing. I can do normal or repeat until perfection, but I have a hard time settling on anything in between. I can pay more attention to the proportion (I tend to try to fill the picture with the subject), and to shapes. I already minded shadow to a certain extent, and am not sure that I can do much improvement there. This is going to be a rough week…

Food and Revulsion (unrelated…..)

This week featured the subtle, whether it be horror hosts (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/morliums-storied-mausoleum/) or old stories (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/wand-the-enemy-is-us/). We are what we consume, and when we consume this material over a length of time, sometimes we surprise ourselves.

Despite the horror theme, I must always go to my roots when doing free form assignments, which means I often end up choosing assignments with the opportunity to be comedic, as in the teaching antics of the Count of Mountjoy (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/schoolyard-politics/). When does a situation become so absurd that it becomes scary? All I will say is that I wouldn’t want my 6-year-old child sitting in on such a lesson.

I promised that there would be food also, and indeed writing of lunch was a highlight of the week (http://ds106.emorelleum.com/uncategorized/morliums-lunch/). As with most of my posts, I try to write from my experiences and/or brutal honesty. I will spare you my diet over the Summer, but I will simply say that the situation described is not too far off, everything except the juicy piece of meat, which would cost an arm and a leg if I ate one every meal.

Since Morlium is likely to make future appearances, I feel I should spend some extra time discussing him. Every horror show host I have seen wore a suit. I haven’t reflected on why they would do such a thing. Perhaps it is to further the contrast between the two worlds on the boundary of which they stand. Perhaps it is because they mean to provide an invitation rather than a warning. Needless to say, it simply works, and thus Morlium will be joining a long line of suit-wearing hosts.

Shadows on a Graph

Vonnegut’s story curves all share one thing in common, by the time the story reaches “electricity” the character is in high heaven. That is where horror often deviates from the typical story.

Shadows on the wall starts with a Cinderella beginning, that is,  life is horrible for the main characters, but things get steadily worse for them. There is hardly any positive velocity, and certainly no positive acceleration. If there is any positive velocity for the characters, it is only for the most morbid of reasons. Things start badly, and end worse. The story is merely a downward plunge, a death spiral if a spiral was a function of two variables. Ill brings ill, and that is the demonstration of the story.

And the Enemy is Us

For this post, I read Last Respects and the Lottery, figuring I could not simply ride my way through the week with my preference of old thrillers. Both stories share a lot of similarities.  Neither one really brings the supernatural to play, only bona-fide just slightly over the edge human. The fact that these stories are only slightly over the edge is what makes the stories truly disturbing. The first 80% of the stories is quite innocent (though not necessarily ordinary). They are things that you could see ordinary people doing. It is for that reason that these stories fall under the category of revulsion. The majority of the stories are spent getting the audience into the thick of things. They work to get the reader to empathize with the characters, to put themselves in their shoes. Then, at the end, the reader finds that he/she is a monster. The revulsion of realizing that the actions taken by the characters in the story seem almost reasonable, the fact that we have to abruptly hit the eject button from stirring in the characters’ minds, the shock of seeing ourselves perform such actions is revolting.