how to tame your hard drive of travel photography before it grows a robot brain and destroys you

hold on to your pants, guys.  this is a long one.

i had promised in an early post re: travel tchotchkes to describe a clever tool for showcasing travel photos in a design-conscious way without defaulting to black & white prints.

chowmahalla palace / hyderabad india / dec 2009

don’t be timid about manipulating your prints.  exploit them like a corporate pig, because digital photography is probably ruining your life anyway.

consider this:

1.  in the era of purchasing film, you were selective about using the 24 available exposures on the roll.

2.  you strolled up to the fontana di trevi in your fly new tevas.  you gasped at the realism of its carefully sculpted figures.  your friend pointed out triton’s awkward expression and you all shared a laugh.

3.  you pulled out your camera and thoughtfully chose a few frames:

first, a group shot of you and your friends with the fountain behind you, taken by a fellow tourist.

next, a view facing the fountain head-on and capturing the full extent of the building in all its glory.

finally, a close-up with a beam of sunlight graphically cutting across neptune’s face with a vibrant blue sky as the backdrop.

boom.  three pictures: one for documenting your presence, one for capturing the moment at a macro level, and one for artistic value.  you drop off the film on your way home from the airport and have trevi’s neptune on your wall a week later.

fast-forward fifteen years.  you walk up to the fountain, SLR hanging around your neck.  you say, ooOOoo!  then you pull the camera to your face and start snapping.

a week later, you’re sitting on your couch staring at a folder of 86 fontana di trevi pictures.  you think, shit.  i don’t feel like doing this now.

a year later, those pics are still prisoner in your laptop.

i am SO guilty here.

it’s no wonder that i hestitate to take photographs at all anymore.  photography management is a full time job requiring a mechanically cooled data center and paid interns.  i don’t deny the value of digital photography… i just balk at the time commitment forced on me by this tyranny of choice.

so.  in the rare moment when i do get around to printing photographs, i like to take advantage of their digital-ness to the fullest extent i know.

remember these guys above my tv?

my place

they’re 14×11 prints of trips to playa del carmen, istanbul, and hyderabad.

my place

looks all right, yeah?  the mexican palm tree on my honeymoon beach went from standard:

royal hideaway playacar / playa del carmen mexico / aug 2008

to epic:

all it takes is a single filter in GIMP, the free open source equivalent of photoshop, to turn a typical photograph into dramatic – and meaningful – artwork.

choose an image with the most eye-catching silhouette and adjust the frame and tilt until the composition of your photo is to your liking.

blue mosque / istanbul turkey / nov 2009

apply the posterize color tool.

set posterize level to 2.

zing:

red-pill-or-blue-pill?-like awesomeness.

manipulating a digital image doesn’t imply that the original is a crappy photograph.  no, the goal in using this GIMP filter is to unify your best pictures so that their most stunning qualities do the following:

a) fit cohesively in the color story of your room, and

b) leap off the wall onto the innocent guest sipping chai on your couch

your friends shouldn’t have to walk up to your travel photos and stare closely as if analyzing a museum piece.  your travels DEMAND attention, damnit.  force them on people.

i haven’t printed this one yet, but i intend to replace chowmahalla palace with these south american beach cliffs which are pretty like so:

miraflores / lima peru / dec 2011

and badass like so:

as i inch forward in developing the home office gallery wall, i’m using GIMP to toy with the prints.  my personal favorite?  a shot i grabbed of the opera house while riding a ferry through sydney harbor.

opera house / sydney australia / sept 2012

after a little GIMP massage, check it:

rad.

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