Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

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When designing and wearing jewelry, I like to go with selected statement pieces.  Same seems to be true with graphic design work, or even interior decoration. One big bold piece with lot of negative space keeps it clear and simple. However, when I mean bold, I really mean bold. So, no wonder I ended up experimenting with  a statement bumper sticker.

Although I try to keep my bumper stickers to bare minimum, I enjoy reading them. Sometimes political,  often funny and occasionally outrageously obnoxious, they reflect car owner’s personality and provide infinite entertainment on long car rides.  But really, are these people being paid for advertising ski resorts or local coffee shops? I thought your own car (and bumper) should remain the free zone for expressing yourself, not promoting some random business.

If it wasn’t clear to everyone who’s reading my blog, I row. I row competitively. I love rowing. Rowing is now build into my core with such force that being out of the water for longer than a day causes physical withdrawal symptoms. One big bold statement word on my bumper should naturally be ROW.

The bold statement sticker (or in my case, magnet) should of course be in-your-face, metallic and 3D.  I modeled it with Rhino and got it printed in strong nylon. After adding the magnets and giving it many (many, many) coats of spray paint, it was done. The material turned out to be rather porous and the final color wasn’t as chrome-like as I would have liked. The next step will be to experiment with different materials to achieve better finish.

PS:  Adding a little bit of gangsta bling to my preferred sleek European car definitely appeals to my screwed sense of humor that I so proudly nurse and cultivate.

What make nature beautiful are its little flaws: a wrinkled petal or crooked tree trunk. That’s why fashion models, with their perfectly symmetrical faces and a fully checked list of culturally agreed  beauty requirements, seem like plastic clothes hangers. Adding glimpses of personality would take attention away from clothing, I guess.

With little effort, my trusted Nikon SLR delivers perfectly lit, sharp and color balanced photos. Sometimes, almost too perfect. I found myself missing the grittiness of old photos. So, I went a little Snapseed crazy. Snapseed, just like Instagram or Hipstamatic, is an app that allows you to grittify images with just few clicks. Adding blur or vignettes transforms those perfectly composed images to something much more fun and interesting.

What is Snapseed?
Snapseed, originally an amateur cousin for the pro photo manipulation software from Nik Software, was purchased by Google in 2012. It used to be available as a Mac app, but if you want to use it now with your desktop system, you’ll have to go through Chrome browser, powered by the Native Client technology. It is currently available for iOS and Android mobile platforms for free and has more options compared to the original. However, this makes workflow a bit cumbersome because non-mobile photos have to be imported to your device. 
 

Some years ago, photographers went to great lenghts recreating a tilt shift look that you were only able to get with vintage large format cameras, special lenses or with a camera which is manipulated so that a life-sized location or subject looks like a miniature-scale model. Previously I have also used multiple Photoshop steps to achieve the same effect, but the picture above was done with Snapseeds’s tilt-shift filter. Colors were also saturated to make the town (Jerome, AZ) look more like a toy

 

Above, see the before and after images of a trailer and a cable car, I photographed in California. I have only ran these through Snapseed, no Photoshop used.

 

Snapseed does an especially good job adding vintage details; light leaks, paper wear and tear and film grain. I am fascinated with the old tableaus in the natural history museums. These displays of taxidermy animals can only be considered entertaining with a thick coating of irony. However, I make sure to photograph them when I see one. They’ll be most likely gone soon. Running these photos through Snapseed gives the photos depth and mystery.

 

I liked this old photo of my son already before the Snapseed treatment, but somehow a vignette, blur and B&W transformation brought his face alive.

 

SLS-AMG-E-Cell

There are cars, and then there are fantasies on wheels. The new SLS AMG E-Cell  from Mercede-Benz is a fantasy. Imagine a Prius soul in the ultimate sports car body. Yes, an all electric drive eco friendly road monster. What's not to love!?! Well, apparently the maximum speed is limited to only 155 mph. A little disappointing since it does accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under four seconds.

The documentation is all in German, so I can only guess what finer points of engine design, I would like to change to make it fit my specific needs. Design looks very spiffy, though. Not too muscular and kind of retro.

Baby, will you fly with me

Baby, will you fly with me

Unlike his cousins in the new SLS AMG Coupé Black Series, SLS AMG E-Cell apparently doesn't come with a spoiler ,which of course is a must item for those moments when you are zooming on the I-95 and your car just suddenly takes off and flies. Mercedes-Benz wants to separate the special people from the usual hormonal teen age car enthusiast and calls the spoiler  aerofoil.  This specialty wing also extends automatically at speeds of over 120 km/h. Really, I need one of those.

Obviously the only other thing missing is the real sports cars sound. You know, the kind of power engine roar that scares small children and  makes old ladies seek solace behind trees that have matching ages. Fortunately, I don't have to feel like I'm traveling with the usual electric car crowd. 2XL Games has developed and app for the rescue. XLR8 uses the accelerometers of your smart phone to realistically respond to acceleration, braking and cornering forces.

Just kidding. I really don't want this car. And those who know me, already guessed that. Although...How cool would I look on my travels to local grocery store. And I would definitely make an impression flipping my yoga-pant covered legs out of this vehicle at the local YMCA.

I used to subscribe to Wallpaper Magazine, the ultimate in cool for a while. I let the subscription go, however. Somehow I didn't fit to the highly specific target audience which seemed to consist of the leisure class of European hipsters. They had the money and time to, on the whim, check out some cool architectural detail of a mid century building in a village outside of Zürich. Or maybe they felt like spending a weekend in Istanbul just to sample some menu items of a restaurant that was so new it didn't even have a phone number yet. Avid Wallpaper readers were provided discreet directions, of course.

Bitterness aside, I'm now old, and not hip, and have two kids. I will never be part of that group (even though I would like to be and maybe was pretending to be at some point). And yes, I have done my share of interesting travel. As I desperately try to hold on to that life and plan ambitious vacations to Costa Rica, I may just have to fly to a family resort in Florida instead. Trekking in Kirgistan, or paragliding in Venezuela, or mountain biking in Thailand was great at the time, but not feasible any longer.

Every once in the while, I surf onto Wallpaper site to feel nostalgic, secretly cool and not so suburban. To my surprise Wallaper and I found a common interest: Helsinki! It was shortlisted for the best city category at their 2013 Design Awards. Wallpaper praised Helsinki's restaurant scene, design projects and future transportation plans. I have of course loved Helsinki for most of my life and seen its development from a provincial town to a more cosmopolitan design city that has great food. I have experienced one of my best meals ever at Luomo, for example. I didn't use the word eaten on purpose. Meal at Luomo is definitely an experience.

So, maybe this time I' managed to be a bit ahead of the hipster curve.