Sunday, October 24, 2010

Picnik on a lazy day

Sometimes I need a totally wasted day, doing nothing, going nowhere, reading, watching the birds outside my window and the bugs in a jar on my desk, napping. If I do any work, it's useless work. I call it "catching up to myself."

Yesterday ... ( I never know whether to call it yesterday or today; I'm not in bed yet, but it's already tomorrow. And the date on this post will be the 24th, "tomorrow", by my reckoning.) ... so, yesterday, Saturday, was one of those days. I finished off a Terry Pratchett book and started a Ruth Rendell. I ate leftovers. Had a good nap.

After supper, I downloaded the upgrade for Picasa (3.8), the program I use for tweaking photos. It came with a link to Picnik built in, so I took another look at it.

I haven't liked Picnik before; it always seemed so slow, and didn't do much more than Picasa does. It's faster now, and it has a few more options, fun stuff. I spent some time putting Hallowe'en fangs on a spider, and changing colours, getting purple water or green, red and blue geese, replacing backgrounds with geometric designs. (Hard work, but pointless; perfect!)

Down at the very bottom of "Effects", I found the Sandbox and played there for a couple of hours. Here are two photos that I worked on:

Coming up the hill from Kwomais Point the other day, I stopped to catch my breath and whiled away a few minutes taking photos of the ravine. It's urban-fringe forest; straggly weeds, blackberries, broken branches, half-grown trees fighting for the light; it's always dark under there, even when the sun shines on the treetops. I have never been able to get a photo that made any sense.

This time, I set the camera on the handrail of the walkway, and set the shutter to 1 whole second. I didn't exactly aim, because I was too weary to crouch down to see the screen; it was just an experiment, after all.

The photos came out more or less OK, except flat and lifeless, without proper colour. I fed one into Picnik.

Here's the photo, as it went in. Under the trees, the walkway crosses the ravine, before it starts up the last half of the ascent.

I added a blue Vignette, and used "Ripple Blocks" from the Sandbox, and got this. I sort of like it; in spite of the wavy lines, it looks more like what I see than the untouched photo. More messy, darker under the trees, with more texture. (Click on it to see it full-size; this little one doesn't really show the effect.)

And there was a spider at the top of the stairs, hanging in front of a No Parking sign:

Another Sandbox tool, "Hypnotic", gave me this:

And with about 2 minutes work, too!

I won't be using the program much; I try to get most of our photos to show what we actually see. But there will be more lazy days ...


  1. The spider photo is great! Very suitable with Halloween coming up and whatnot.

  2. I love picnic, most times the autofocus changes the picture to what you really are seeing.

  3. I love, love that Spider...what an awesome image!! That would be one I would print out, blow up...the Spider and the circle of babies is gorgeous!!

    I tried picnik years ago...I'll give it another try. I mostly use Adobe...just too lazy to figure out something else, I guess.

    I really like what you produced during your "totally wasted day"!


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