Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oh, Free Scanner

Sometimes my capacity for ingratitude makes me lose faith in myself. A friend of mine gave me a flatbed scanner. Free. No charge, not even a favor. Hardly an expensive one, but she had another, better scanner, and no need of this one, so she gave it to me.

I had some trouble installing it, thanks to Windows' inability to find the correct driver, and the correct driver's inability to operate the hardware without some tweaking (note to self, when actually purchasing a scanner for myself, do not buy Lexmark). That trouble frustrated me. Then, when scanning a couple of pencil drawings rife with delicate shading, I found that the scanner simply couldn't pick up the finer marks, regardless of how I changed the settings. Rather than immediately accepting this as the limitations of a free scanner, I actually had the gall to get mad. I'm over it now, though, and I must say I feel a little silly about it.

On to the image:

And now, the story behind it:

My wife and I attend the Pittsburgh Comicon every year (military duty permitting). This year, while wandering artists' alley, she laughed about the outfits worn by 95% of female action stars in comic books, and asked me if I could draw a monthly series she first called "women with clothes on" to differentiate it from the comic book norm. Now, almost exactly one month later, I've finally gotten around to drawing the first one of these Sharply Dressed Heroines. I'll try to post one picture a month of an action girl or heroine wearing reasonable or practical clothes for their professed activity or expertise. No guarantees.

Also, let me pause to link Scott McDaniel's web site. He's one of the best artists in the comic book business, and a fantastic person to know. His home page could use some work (frames are so 2001, amirite?), but his art is 1st rate and he's taught me a lot in the time I've known him. Do him a favor and pick up a copy of DC's Great Ten mini-series.

Friday, May 14, 2010

On Photography

Let's face it. I'm a dying breed. I shoot on film. I like all the imperfections that come with it, and I even like having to wait to see my images.

While we're on the subject of waiting, here's a picture I took in the summer of 2008, while enjoying the sun and waves on Cocoa Beach for the Army.

Don't get me wrong. I've got no problem with digital, and I even shoot with digital most of the time - because it is easier (though getting a good picture is just as hard and the creativity is the same, you get to see if you messed up and you can try again immediately if you did).

This picture illustrates just what it is I love about film. Maybe this small size won't do it justice, and JPEG compression certainly does a number on the vividness of the colors, but the rays of the sun and the little film spot balancing them down at the bottom make this image what it is for me, and that film spot is exactly that - it would not exist like that in a digital camera.

This last picture would likely have been just fine with a digital SLR, or any camera in which I could precisely control the exposure as I did. I do think the colors are a bit more vivid than most digital cameras produce, but again, some of it was lost in the JPEG conversion (I've got the 23.7 MB tiff files if you want them...). Finally, though, digital cameras just don't quite do film grain, which is a feature of film images I've come to love - the "grain" that occasionally crops up in high-ISO digital photography is too perfectly regular, occurring as it does from a perfect grid of pixels. The alignment of particles on film is almost truly random, so the grain is never quite the same picture to picture, and I love that individuality of image.

Long story short, I like digital photography... but I love film.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bivouac of the Dead

Well, my wife and I just returned from a weekend in Gettysburg, PA, and I wanted to update my computer's desktop with one of the fantastic photos she took (mine are still in film form waiting to be developed because I'm stuck in the last century). I had to resize the photo to fit my desktop, but then, of course, I got carried away. Here is the result. Click to embiggen and make the text readable.