Focus on auto-focus

Having finally found the time (and good weather) to do my proper photoshoot of my subject Meg, I thought that my project would be at the 75% mark: get the photos that I want, then it’s off to creation.

I had a whole list of photos that I wanted based on the rough scripts that I’d outlined for the different strips that I wanted. I’d purposefully written them simple and repetitive, using poses that I’ve seen Meg do before.

On the day, I brought my 50mm prime lens. They have manual focus only. I’d been predominantly using this lens for all my previous photos, including the photo project that I’d uploaded earlier.

I also have shortsightedness, and can’t take photos with my glasses on.

What I’m building towards is that, for my first photoshoot, 70% of the images were nearly unusable because they were out of focus.

Nonetheless, I did manage to get some gems. which are usable:

DSC_0324

So the next time, I brought along my 18-55mm, and was able to use its autofocus to take many better photos.

DSC_0517

The only issue is, I hardly managed to get any of the photos that I’d planned for, meaning that most of the scripts that I’d written are entirely un-executable.

This leaves me with a conundrum, which I think I can solve rather easily.

Most of the photos that I took are still natural poses for dogs, so now it becomes a fact of writing a script around the material that I’d procured. Perhaps this should have been my plan from the very start, which would have freed me up to many more photos during the photoshoot.

In the next few days I’ll create a mock up of one of them comics, based on the first image that I uploaded. I’ll also attempt to create it with my publishing format in mind – Tumblr and Medium – to see and troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

Here, have another Meg:

DSC_0572

Alex.

Lately I’ve Been

[Counting Stars – OneRepublic]

It’s April, I’m 6 weeks into the graduate course that I told myself should change how I approach my career, and this is it!

INTRODUCING….

ALEX DOES A THING

One thing that I was always told to do when starting out: write what you know. What do I know? I know blogging. I’ve been blogging for years, and I’ve gone from good, to frequent, to intermittent to bad, and back around again. If I know anything, it’s to write in a way that gets other people to enjoy it, so boom, that’s one thing.

And the other is the topic – what are you gonna write about? Again, sticking to my knowledge guns, I’m going to write about stuff I an interested in – namely, something that I would do. Don’t worry, I won’t bog myself down in my comfort zone – the new site is as much about me getting in touch with what I know, as well as moving outwards to bigger things.

So, yeah, do me a huge favor, and if you’re already following this blog, follow the other one too! If you get in early, you’ll be witness to my slowly getting better at it – or crash and burn. Hey, a new project is a new project, and it could go either way. But with a bit of audience support, some social clicking, maybe I can appear on the front page of something one day soon.

Alex.

Hosting Issues

A project goes through many iterations when execution, and my CMWP comic idea has morphed to something else. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of Meg for you to see. However, instead of a big comic book (such as a 20-ish page issue that I was originally planning), I’ve changed it to be several, shorter ‘strips’, of 4-8 panels each, with each ‘strip’ taking up 1-page, or double-page. That also means I’ll be writing several, shorter stories on Meg, which is great, because I can explore that curiously silly dog a lot more.

Another reason for my doing so, is due to considerations in distribution: namely, how I’m going to disseminate the final products on the Internet.

TUMBLR:

My first, obvious choice, was Tumblr. Apart from being a network already sprawling with an audience – younger people who love animals, and are savvy to the style of story-telling, while not too young to not get the medium of comic itself –  who’d most likely be the best recipients of the project, Tumblr also provides an interesting format of consumption in terms of images.

Furthermore, Tumblr offers an unique form of image display: Photoset. As you can see, the photoset layout has given me an automatic comic gutter, meaning I can feasibly simply create the panels, size them appropriately to the dimensions of each photoset panel as required, and upload them. It cuts out the need for me to make a template with gutters for my comic.

Image taken from cynicalidealist on Tumblr.

The photoset layout also means each individual image can be viewed separately, which is an interesting workabout to achieve the panel-by-panel view that would stop large comics being unreadable on small portable devices.

MEDIUM:

The other choice for me, was Medium. WordPress was never really a choice, however I am exploring the possibilities of hosting comics on WordPress.

Medium offers a very simple model of creating and reading. There is no fiddling with various themes and HTML – it s your page, and your feed. You tag your work, you submit it to a collection of similar topics, and others read it and/or share it. This appeals to me, because the one shortcoming of Tumblr is this: Themes. While most of the audience will consume the comic via the Dashboard – a completely differently themed layout, much like a Facebook news feed – the fact is, any external audience who follows a permalink will be coming to the page that sits within my actual blog – my themed blog. Therefore, the way that my blog theme displays the work is paramount when it comes to a medium as important as comics.

Medium will cut all of that hassle out for me.

This is a web comic on Medium – unfortunately you’d have to click on the hyperlink, because I can’t in good conscience steal the Frogman’s comic and put it on here!

The simple layout means that I do lose the natural gutters of the Tumblr photoset, but instead I get a fantastic, fluid reading experience, uncluttered by anything else except for my username and comic title up the very top, and a recommended further section at the bottom.

COMPARISON:

The two sites bring me to this consideration:

Gutters.

I am incredibly interested in gutters (the white spaces between panels) in comics, because that’s what separates a COMIC from a SERIES OF IMAGES, at least for me. Looking at a lot of print comics post 90s, however, it’s obvious that the actual white strip itself is not paramount in defining a comic as such – but a relationship between panels is.

Tumblr would give me this in ample readiness – it’s there, and all I have to do is to make sure my panels will sit in each spot perfectly.

Medum, on the other hand, gives me the freedom of simplicity – I can always manually create gutters for each strip on my computer, OR I can create a comic that doesn’t require gutters at all.

This is something which I can only really decide on after experimenting on both mediums (ha). Furthermore, I do want to look at what WordPress can offer me in terms of image hosting.

Issues to consider for further along: viewing on portable devices.

There is no App for Medium, however the streamlined reading style seen on browsers carries over beautifully on mobile browsers. Having said that, it doesn’t let you select and zoom in on each individual ‘panel’ when on mobile.

The App for Tumblr, on the other hand, is temperamental at best, especially with displaying images in Dashboard. The actual blog page itself (ie, my themed blog), is accessed through the browser anyway, and depending on the theme I choose, it could either take me to a full-HTML website (completely unreadable on a mobile device), or a vertical, mobile version, which is still extremely cluttered with buttons and links that are separate to the theme of the blog.

Right now, I’m definitely leaning towards Medium more. With more exploration and testing, I’m sure that I’ll find an answer soon.

Alex.

P.S. I started using sub headings!

ATTN: Jenny and James

Sorry to all those who subscribed and are starting to become annoyed at the constant shopkeeping posts!

As you have already marked a few of my posts, this is to let you both know that I now have new categories for my submission posts. Posts submitted under ‘CMWP Submission’ are those that I send you links to, and those to be considered for grading. They will be under the ‘RMIT’ category as well. There will be posts categorised under ‘RMIT’ but not submission. They are simply work that I’ve done that are not part of the criteria, but I thought I’d do a little brown-nosing anyway.

The tags are not restricted to these: they will all be tagged with RMIT, grad dip, and cmwp.

Alex

Creatively Creative Commons License

For this blog, I chose the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons License, because there are some original creative work which are published on the blog.

The license essentially allows others to share the posts that I make, and/or adapt it into any form or medium, provided they attribute the work to me and give me proper due credit. It does not allow commercial use of any of my posts, as I do not want anyone to make money off of my creative ideas without my expressed and explicit permission and/or involvement in the project.

What this means is, anyone who reads a blog post I make about a certain topic is more than welcome to copy and paste and excerpt from the post, attach it to their own and engage with it, provided of course they link back to my blog post, instead of passing the idea off as their own. Similarly, the small (and sub-par) pieces of fiction that were published here (they’re hidden now, but if they hadn’t been, it was easily accessible) would not be allowed to be adapted for commercial purposes in any way or form.

Of course, a small gathering of pixels isn’t the police. Nor can it stop spammers from rudely making this blog ugly.

As this was also mostly my personal blog until recently, spam hadn’t been a major issue in my comments area: that is, I have received the odd spam comment from either a spambot or a troll. In the past, if I saw one of these comments, I would either manually delete them, or sarcastically respond to it, but that was when the traffic I gained were mostly from people who personally knew me.

Let’s pretend for a second that I was running a professional or interest-themed blog (which, for the next Semester, I actually am). There is the option with WordPress to automatically moderate and delete any comments that involve more than two hyperlinks. In fact, WordPress offers bloggers varying degrees of spam and comment control.

To begin with, users could turn off “anyone can comment, as long as they have an email address”, because many times fake emails are accepted. By restricting it to “only someone with a WordPress account”, it means often the comment maker could be traced back to their account. I was also given the option to moderate comments, and only allow comments through automatically if they had been allowed by me before. Finally, I was given the choice to simply disallow all comments until I’d moderated each and every single one of them.

I feel that the last choice is anti-constructive to a blog which is inviting people to comment and discuss. For now, I’ve kept the setting at WordPress accounts only, but as my posts reach further into the deep corners of worldly topics, I may have to turn on light moderation. Especially if I begin to touch on sensitive topics which may be triggers for certain readers, in order to prevent insensitive comment makers from hurting potential victims.

Alex.

Mark Me Up, Jenny!

When I signed up for a Graduate Diploma in Media with RMIT, it was inevitable that, again, I will be faced with a task where I create my own blog. Thus, all posts categorized by the tag “grad dip”, and categorized under “RMIT” will be posts for marking consideration. Of course, I’ll be adding other appropriate and relevant tags and categories, however, the ones mentioned above are the main ones to look out for. Considering my lack of frequently blogging, there shouldn’t be any confusion when reading from my home page.

And, needless to say, my use of language will be much more formal, and my use of song titles will be noticeably zero.

Currently, I am to share a link to something that interests me. This seems like a very broad requirement, because I can feasibly send a link to tv.com and call it a day. But here is something that really interests me, and may be of interest for the reader, too.

One of my favorite pastimes is to read comics. My favorite series – and the only one which I make sure to buy hard-copy tradebacks for – is Saga, by Brian K Vaughan (also known as that guy who’s writing the television adaptation of Under the Dome), with art by Fiona Staples.

It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite thing – or the “why you should read it too” – of Saga. At a glance, the covers should tell you of Fiona Staples’ prowess in illustrating an expansive and fantastical world. Her mastery over color, even with an art style which calls on more flat colors than gradients, enhances the myriad of species and lights that BKV’s Saga-verse has to offer. When I read the first issue, I was immediately sucked into the dramatic and intricate history of the characters. Despite the slightly obvious Romeo-and-Juliet overtones, that the narrator’s voice comes from the infant child of the main characters denotes a certain “A long, long time ago” feel.

No, I can in fact point at my favorite aspect of Saga: Lying Cat. An interesting creature, the Lying Cat is an unerring lie detector, but also a useful and loyal weapon. Sidekick to the antagonist apparent, a merc named The Will, Lying Cat plays host to many humorous and even tender moments, when the truth – or the absence thereof – is the only thing you can rely on.

So, this is my initial post on something I an interested in, posted on my blog which I set up. What. A. Conclusion.

Alex.

I do not reserve the rights to any of the pages or works to which I’ve linked. Contrary to my wishes, I do not own television, nor do I wish to encroach upon Fiona Staples’ amazing art. I do, however, wish I owned a Lying Cat.

Don’t Listen To A Word I Say

[Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men]

This post is a few days late because of a sudden influx of LIFE that happened over the last few days. And by that, I mean Amelia’s and Melody‘s party. (By the way, Melody is kinda in a blog clique kind of thing, so my tacking on of her link is me trying to integrate myself.)

On Thursday, I went to Amelia’s house early to help her clean her house and set up for her party. She’d gotten her Ps just the day before, so I got picked up from my door and drive to her door, and let me say, having spent the past two years taking two different buses for an hour each time just to get to her house, I think I will enjoy this new freedom!

We washed up some dirty dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and then she vacuumed the house while Meg tried to fight off the noise monster. Then we had a bit of a rest, had Nandos for lunch (also, another perk of having her drive: instead of having to order expensive pizza in, or making instant noodles, we can now go out for lunch if we want) then a snooze. When it was nearly time, we went downstairs to blow up some balloons and that’s when people started arriving.

You may not be able to tell, but I’m not a fan of recounting in deep detail everything that happened, so here’s a quick run-down.

Most people were well over an hour late, and so when the pizza finally came, everyone was dead hungry, and demolished the first round. We had to go order more. The alcohol began to  flow as well, albeit in little amounts, because her parents are still home. Everyone was hanging out and listening to some guitar playing, and then for some reason some people wanted to watch UP, so we put that on as well.

It was nearing 11pm, and poor Meg had been up for hours and hours (with a tiny nap in the middle). We’d taken her for a big walkies in the afternoon so she’d empty her bowels outside and not be too excited when people come and pee on them. As a result, she was exhausted. When UP was finishing, her eyes were watering, and she was getting quite grumpy. Thankfully, there were three people at the party apart from Amelia and myself that Meg suddenly took a liking to, and those three people took turns hugging Meg until she became docile and just dozed off.

Anyway, that was Meg. I was worried she’d be badly behaved, but Amelia hugged her every now and then which made her happy, and mostly she was friendly to the twenty odd strangers in the house.

Serena made a caramel cheesecake, which she was paranoid over, because she felt like it wasn’t good/sweet/cold enough. Now, I’ve seen her make many cakes in the past, but I’ve never gotten to try a single bite. But, IT WAS AMAZING. I don’t even like cheesecake or caramel and I loved it. I hope she makes me more. Serena, are you reading still? Make me MORE!

Now, we talk about Cindy.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Cindy is one of Amelia’s closest friends and, if I divide everything down to the most common denominator, probably the reason I got together with Amelia in the first place. The way that Cindy and I met isn’t exactly the best example of my ability to “stay cool”.

But that night, it was Cindy’s turn to not be cool! She accidentally forgot she didn’t eat much (accidentally), and did a few shorts in quick succession. As a result, she became extremely friendly with everyone, and ample hugs were abound. Then, the high wore off, and the head-stuck-in-the-toilet era rolled in. By the end of the night…at around 2:30 am, we had the last stragglers of the party (namely Amelia, myself and three others who were staying over, Nico – Cind’s boyfriend and who now on I will call Naochi because that’s what I call him – and Ash, who was getting a ride from Nico) holding plastic bags up to her face, telling her to just throw up to feel better (horrible phrase to take out of context, I know). In all, it was an amusing but tiring way to finish off what was otherwise a really amazing party.

I had to bring that up, sorry, because it was a fond memory that I’m sure I’ll appreciate to read about a few years later.

I went home early Friday morning because Amelia had work first thing. I had my day of rest, and then another half day of rest on Saturday, before Amelia picked me up for Melody’s. She held it at Ondergrounds on Russell St, which was a pretty cool venue, but because I had to leave really early due to work Sunday, I only really stayed for a few shots and left. But, from what I saw, everyone was in for a crazy night (and I’m pretty sure Melody will supplement and blog more about it on her fancy dotcom page, so do check it out! LIKE SHE NEEDS PLUGGING), and I was sorry I missed it.

And, to finally catch up, I worked all Sunday and all today.

PS Here’s Meg

Camera 360She’s having a nap while hugging her decimated Pikachu toy. It no longer has a face, but boy is it her favorite.