Sunday, February 21, 2016

The standards of beauty

The standards of beauty in society today are... Overrated. I mean beauty itself, is a misguided priority. It has become something that we hold fundamental, even paramount, to attractiveness, when in reality, it should be something worth considering, but nothing more. It's not more important than being a good person, not more important than inspiring trust. There are even things about how we look that are more important than how beautiful we are. Like having a contagious smile, or kind eyes. These things are just as important to attractiveness, which for us in this day has become synonymous to beauty. 

Something can definitely be attractive without being beautiful, is what I'm getting at. Even on a superficial, visual level. For example, I've been doing some sowing lately, fixing broken shoes and a leather wallet. The stitching isn't nice, but it has a rugged, repaired look. The heavy black thread at almost-even intervals tells a story. And I think this enhances the attractiveness of that wallet and those once pristine shoes.

Wearing these things would only heighten my confidence, another thing that can't be seen in itself, but is attractive nonetheless. If I were more confident, maybe I had the strength to be nicer as well. Or might that I just set my mind to being a more agreeable person, I would for sure be a more attractive person for it. You know, hypothetically. This goes for all of us.

And that's important. There are really so many things about how liked we will be, how attractive we are as friends and partners, that are within our control. Such a shame then, that society and the media reduces our appeal as individuals into only a matter of the smoothness of our skin, the prices of our apparel and, uh, BMI. Things so out of our control.

The media, mostly thanks to feminism, has been awakening to this reality. The media challenges itself and it's projection of what constitutes beauty. It makes fair attempts at separating round from ugly, literally widening the image of what is good and beautiful. I've even seen articles about how we're supposed to change our ideas about what constitutes beauty to encompass stretch marks, pregnant bellies and, well, normal human things.

While I see how this is a valiant fight, I don't think it's the right fight. Ideal beauty is a changing thing, uncontrollably so. Maybe we could instead focus on reducing the importance of bodily beauty in attractiveness, and promote healthier ideals of appeal, other ways for us to feel good about ourselves. Much like the ruggedness of my wallet, stretch marks tell a story. Maybe we shouldn't feel so bad about that.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exciting photography!

Wow, properly artsy photography for once!

Photography is so much less artsy. It's hard to argue against that. Taking photos has become such a trivial thing, that it now takes something more to make it art. Photos themselves become trivial things, quite mundane. A drawing, to me, always contains an element of art. Photos used to be the same way, once, when snapping a picture in itself was an event. But now, we just point and shoot with our phones or digital DSLR:s. It's not difficult to take a photo that has absolutely no artistic value, and it takes more work for your photos to reach a standard of what can be classified as creative photography.

So I don't take a lot of photos. That's not to say I don't like it, because it can be very rewarding at times, but I often find it not as creative as drawing. I don't think photographers have any reason to be offended, though. Everyone has their own favourite medium. I'm just one of those people who dislikes the outdoors and would rather stay inside and scribble on paper. Even basically all of my photography happens indoors.

As I've written before, the creative process of dealing with limitations in photography is what appeals to me the most. There really is a strong methodical process to photography, unlike say, pencil art, where you just... Well, you just draw. In photography, you'd set up lights, tweak your camera settings, take the actual shot (read: struggle to get a shot of yourself where you don't look like a fool (Only applies to those of us too shy to photograph others, and too stubborn to ask anyone for help)), then maybe a bit of postprocessing. Sometimes, a lot of postprocessing. Which can also be exciting.

One of the things I found most thrilling about this picture is that I was able to compose it using only freeware editing environments. As those who have been reading this blog for a long time might remember, I use GIMP instead of Photoshop. That basically just boils down to habit and what I'm used to. I feel there isn't a lot you can not do in GIMP. Well, there is one thing, and that is editing RAW files.

I used to use Lightroom, which is really a quite splendidly powerful photo editing suite. Though I always thought it was too complicated for it's own good. I guess I might not be saying that, if I just knew how to use it better. But nevertheless, Lightrooms seemingly gratuitous complexities we're a always a bit of a turnoff.

So I scoured the web and almost right away I stumbled upon this free RAW image editor called Photivo. Great fun. It feels and looks like a true image editing tool. A lot of sliders, nothing fancy. The editing process in Photivo is in no way as refined as Lightroom's, but it made me feel right at home. It seems I have a thing for using the underdogs of image editing software. I'm not going to go out and say Photivo is great software that everyone should have installed, I'm saying it does everything that I need it to. And that's not bad.

Here are some snapshots of my so-called creative process. For a backdrop, I used a black bedding sheet hung over some cabinet doors. For creating the "glasses", which by the way is just a macro photo of the LED-flash on my phone, I used my classic trick of flipping the lens over. What I also did was cover the lens opening with a piece of paper with a tiny hole in it. Photographing a bright light, I gladly sacrificed some exposure for the practicality of deeper depth of field. I had to do this because when the lens is free from the body, it always shoots at the widest aperture. I'll admit this method is quite fiddly, but I can't afford some fancy macro-lens. I set my camera up on my bed, and used my DIY Aux-cable shutter release to take the shot. For light, I used a lamp on a stick. Literally just a bulb taped to a scrap aluminium foil packet. Hey, what works, works. That's how I find excitement in photography.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

20% of my life

Today is a special day. It marks the fourth anniversary of one of my most adored projects. An undertaking that has collectively cost me hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work, and somehow rewarded me for every one of them. It has done more for me than I can express in words. When I look back, I'm filled with pride, wonder, and sometimes, shame. But that is the natural way of things. Embarrassment is a side-effect of progress.

I'm talking, of course, about this blog. Four years is a long time. A lot can and will happen in that time. And it's all here. My thoughts, my values, my art, the ups and the downs, it's all beautifully preserved here. I think that's wonderful. Even if this blog would never amount to anything tangible, it would still be important to me. Because, well, it is me! This blog is part of my identity, and my growth as a person.

I've composed a short list of entries that I really like and remember well (that are also so far back no one will read em unless I put them out there..). In no particular order:

the spectrum of happiness

endorphins and blogger stuff

with big spaghetti comes great confidence

Nostalgic egoboost

implications of life

None of them are among my most read entries, but I almost think they deserve to be. Well, to me, they just bring back memories. Drawing, writing past bedtime. Late evenings are what built this blog.

To you, my readers, I say only...