by Catriona Mills

Articles in “Random Photographs”

Witch-Finger Biscuits Are Not For The Faint-Hearted

Posted 31 October 2010 in by Catriona

While the brilliant Heather was carving pumpkins, the equally brilliant Michelle (also of the live-blogging peanut gallery) was making witch-finger biscuits (which—hee!—I warn you are not for the faint hearted):

The biscuits themselves are shortbread, or something very like it, which makes them just about my favourite type of biscuit in the world.

But delicious shortbread or not, I definitely had to close my eyes before biting off the bit with the fingernail on it.

Pumpkin Carving

Posted 30 October 2010 in by Catriona

Last night was our Hallowe’en Party—well, actually a combination Hallowe’en, Oktoberfest, up-coming anniversary, and friend’s birthday party, which really just meant quite a lot of alcohol with a fringe of cake.

But since it was Hallowe’en adjacent, the brilliant Heather (well known on the blog as one of the live-blogging peanut gallery) carved us some pumpkins:

Now the scary jack o’lantern is brilliant. Nothing like triangle eyes here:

But this was most definitely the pièce de résistance:

Eric Northman pumpkin. Isn’t he marvellous? All night, people were saying, “That pumpkin’s a bit sexy. How can a pumpkin be sexy?”

Magnolia With Attendant Bees

Posted 28 October 2010 in by Catriona

Phases of the Moon

Posted 25 October 2010 in by Catriona

HipstaJacaranda

Posted 20 October 2010 in by Catriona

This Spring's Lizard

Posted 7 October 2010 in by Catriona

This spring’s lizard is digging on the totally unusable BBQ at the end of the garden. All day, every day, the lizard is pressed as flat as he can get on what must be lovely hot bricks, too relaxed even to worry about his little dangling limbs or about the odd woman taking his picture.

Our lizards live the life of Riley, bless their little scaly feet.

A Strange Obsession With Dogs and Lamps

Posted 5 October 2010 in by Catriona

I found, while pulling down this afternoon’s photos of the lizard, that I’d not pulled any of the Sydney photos off my main camera. If the photographs on this camera were my only legacy, then I would go down to posterity as the woman with a strange obsession with dogs and lamps.

But that’s no reason why I shouldn’t put them on the blog, is it?

In Defence of Phone Photography

Posted 4 October 2010 in by Catriona

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about photography and my phone. Most of the truly extraordinary phone photography is—like non-phone photography—done by people who know what they’re doing.

Does that mean the rest of us are simply pretenders, jumping on apps that do the work for us, to achieve results that used to be far more arduous?

I think not, myself. I think that’s a little like saying you can’t be a mathematician if you don’t know how to use an abacus—especially if you never wanted to be a mathematician in the first place.

The increasingly sophisticated cameras on smart phones and the increasingly funky camera apps just mean that we can have a little fun and maybe record events and meetings that we would otherwise have let slip by. You still need an eye for the composition and a sense of how the technology is working for you to take something that isn’t, well, just a camera-phone snap.

I myself am not much of a photographer. I enjoy it, I learnt the basics in high school (including dark-room development), and I very much enjoy it. But I’m just an enthusiastic amateur and not even the best of those. I don’t pretend to anything else.

But I do think that what phones are allowing us to do with photographs these days is rather amazing.

I’ll give you an example, in this picture of a bauhinia I took while walking home from work one day:

(I stopped so long waiting for Hipstamatic to load for this one that a student stopped behind me to ask if I was okay, which I thought nice of her. Mind, she gave me a very odd look when I said I was just waiting for my camera to warm up so I could photograph a bauhinia.)

Now, I happen to think this isn’t a bad picture: it was bright, midday sunshine when I took it, and I’m enough of an amateur to think “crisp” = “good.” But that’s not the point right now. The point is what I can do with this photo before it even leaves my phone.

Example One:

Through the app Retro Camera: a retro coloured film (unfortunately, the app doesn’t name or describe its films, but this one had kind of a ’70s vibe, lots of bright blues and reds) and then a maroon-coloured filter over the top. This is hands down the least successful, because overlaying the maroon filter destroyed the crispness of the original photo. But I still like the colour effects.

Example Two:

Through the app Tilt Shift Gen, which you’d normally use (as with other tilt shift processes) to make photographs of real places look like little models of themselves. But what I love about Tilt Shift Gen is the blur function, which I’ve used here on its narrowest setting.

Example Three:

Through a free and extremely cut-down Photoshop app: Sharpen and then a “Warm Retro” filter.

Example Four:

Through Swankolab: I wish I could remember which of the pre-mixed developing formulas I used to get this effect, but I can’t. I believe it might have been the one with “Beige” in the title, which would explain this lovely washed-out effect.

Is any of this great art? Oh, certainly not. But I do think it’s extraordinary that we can do this to a photograph (which wasn’t a bad photograph itself, to begin with) without it ever leaving the phone.

Experts and highly skilled artists will keep pushing the boundaries of new technologies. Amateurs? We’re just having fun, and that neither harms nor helps.

Uncanny

Posted 3 October 2010 in by Catriona

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