Build yourself a planet

-- BNSF Planet --

Photography is largely a solitary sport. It is rarely done in a team setting. There is the photographer, a camera and object that is being photographed. Occasionally, there is an assistant.

It can also be very serious, after all, if we aren’t just making snapshots, we are trying to create Art, with a capital “A.”

Traditionally, what has been missing from many photographers’ lives is the opportunity to share images with others of like mind. A slide show of your latest vacation does not count. And it is rare that the hobby shooter has an public exhibition of their latest 500 photos.

Sharing means the possibility of growth as an artist and how does one do that when there is limited interaction with other artists.

The huge expansion of the Internet has changed all of that and one of the most successful photo-sharing sites, Flickr, allows photographers worldwide to share and talk about their images — their art. It can also be a huge time waster!

I find myself surfing through hundreds of images in the wee hours of the morning, fascinated by the quantity if not quality of what is out there. There is a group for every subject: Trains, planes and automobiles, the desert, the jungle, open doors and closed, angels and demons, surrealism and painful reality.

Route 66 Planet

People are taking photographs to places they have never been before and some are having fun doing it.

Art does not always have to be serious!

One day while playing on Flickr and uploading my own stuff I discovered polar landscapes and Amazing Circles.

These look like photographs of miniatures planets or those beautiful blown-glass paperweights. They are regular photos distorted by any imaging software that has a distortion filter called polar coordinates.

How intriguing, how ingenious, how fabulous to play with!

Users call them miniature planets or planetoids — panorama landscapes distorted into a circle with the building or objects sticking out around the edges. Some artists are using more than 50 images in a circular panorama to make their planets.

I decided to try it with just one shot cropped to panoramic dimensions to see if it would work.

I used an image of a train crossing under a signal bridge way out in the East Mojave. I call it BNSF Planet. Another is called Route 66 Planet which shows Route 66 heading into Ludlow, Calif. And they were so easy to create! The links to directions and/or tutorials are readily available on Flickr.

Amazing Circle

Or do a Google search for “Amazing Circles” to see how many wonderful images people are sharing out there in the ether.

After spending a couple of hours contorting and distorting my pics into planets I found another circular distortion that users call “Amazing Circles.” People are so very creative in working outside the box of traditional image making.

Amazing Circles are also easy to make. In fact, there is a Web site where you can upload a photo and just like magic an Amazing Circle pops out. You don’t even have to do it yourself. How great is that!

Flickrite Claude Edwards says, “All the photo art editing programs can make circular patterns. I started making them (accidentally at first) in the mid 1990s with a program called Micrografx Picture publisher. I still use it a bit. They were one of the first to have an option to square a photo, then use the effects filters of distortion/polar coordinates to produce what has been lately called ‘amazing circles.’ Now Paint Shop Pro is at least equal to Photoshop in the work and even open source Gimp has the Polar Cords to do the work.

This is the original image use to make the Amazing Circle above left.
This is the original image use to make the Amazing Circle above left.

“The latest development is to take the work produced as a sphere and further develop it with the layers that are now also in most editing programs. The first step is always something of a surprise, the development of that (image) uses much creative ability and is eminently satisfying and fun.”

You have to check out — the possibilities are endless. But don’t blame me if you stay up all night playing in the dumpr.

3 thoughts on “Build yourself a planet”

  1. Thank you Lara for this and all your other articles. Especially that of “Lens Baby.” Goodness, as we step into the art-vortex, we start to see endless possibilites, all leading to … “Who knows where?” I so enjoyed talking with you this afternoon at “Mother Roads” Route-66 Museum. Looking forward to another chat soon.

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