Archives for posts with tag: steampunk

In April, my husband and I honeymooned (thank you, Hollingsworth v. Perry) for two weeks in the south of England and Wales. We spent a few days in London on our own, based at St. Ermin’s Hotel just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, doing Tourist Things (theatre, the Tower, the British Museum, the British Library, Westminster Abbey, the fabulously old and author-frequented Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a gaslight tour of the neighborhood around Parliament et cetera, et cetera), but the bulk of our time was spent being ferried about by our private guide, Michael Osborne (operating as Unique British Tours).

The great thing about engaging Michael was that we saw a whole different England than we would have seen on our own. Oh sure he took us to Stonehenge and Bath and Oxford, but we also drove off-highway along winding country roads that took us through alarmingly lovely little villages, complete with thatched-roofed houses in which real people actually live. He arranged overnights for us in assorted Wolsey Lodges (unique “luxury” bed-and-breakfasts that were mostly repurposed olde manor homes–including a horse farm in the country, a village great house, and (by far the best one) a converted 12th century mill) and a modern four-star hotel overlooking Cardiff Bay. He showed us things we hadn’t expected to see, like Avebury, a World Heritage Site with aged and worn monoliths that–unlike the more popular Stonehenge–visitors can actually wander up to and touch. He hosted us for beer at local village pubs and for a fancy-pants (and delicious) afternoon tea at the stately Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe.

Hazeland Mill in Wiltshire

Hazeland Mill, Bremhill, Calne, Wiltshire–the best of the places we stayed!

Of course pictures were taken, and since that’s what this blog is supposed to be about, let’s get to it. I hope some of these come off as something somewhat north of vacation snaps (for all our sakes). So Let the Travel Photography Begin!

For more travel and other photography, click here: www.ebutterfieldphotography.com

Big Ben at Night

Big Ben at Night

Tower Bridge viewed through a window

Tower Bridge viewed from the Tower of London

Gaslit street in Westminster, London

Gaslit street at night in Westminster, London

Gears in a mill in Wiltshire

Mill gears in a 12th-century mill in Wiltshire

Oxford Street

Street in Oxford

Avebury monoliths

Avebury monoliths

Close-up view of Lewis Chessmen in the British Museum

12th-century Lewis Chessmen, British Museum, London

Fan vaulting in the nave of Bath Abbey, Bath

Fan vaulting in the nave of Bath Abbey, Bath

Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, Wales

Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire, Wales

Cardiff Bay, viewed from the St David's hotel

Cardiff Bay, viewed from the St David’s Hotel

Exeter College, Oxford

Exeter College, Oxford

Raven in the Tower of London

Raven in the Tower of London

Interior of the clock tower at Bath Abbey

Interior of the clock tower at Bath Abbey

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

 

For more travel and other photography, click here: www.ebutterfieldphotography.com

There are, quantum physics tells us (or so I choose to understand what little I can decipher of quantum physics, given my fuzzy-headed liberal-artsishness) multiple universes nestled all over each other; multiple realities generated by choices taken and untaken, each as real and tangible to itself (and presumably to those inhabiting it) as this particular one that our combined and interacting series of choices and accidents and consequences has created for us.

In one of those realities, the 19th Century never ended. Charles Babbage’s theoretical difference engine, funded in 1823, launched the digital age 150 years earlier than in our timeline. The power of steam was harnessed and perfected in unique and imaginative ways, resulting in a cacophonous proliferation of gears and pipes and flywheels powering everything from toasters and teapots to dirigibles and high-speed locomotives. With an inexhaustible supply of fuel, the Victorian Age ushered in a high-tech utopia of gleaming brass and steaming iron rather than today’s cold wasteland of silicon and plastics. Driven by a meritocratic devotion to the triplet goddesses Curiosity, Progress, and Science, unique new understandings evolved that discovered the realities underlying alchemy and magick, that, tamed and flavored by the Victorians’ cool-headed intellectualism, became just more aspects of Science herself.

My vision of that alternative world is Steampunk.

There is a sizeable popular culture built around various aspects, permutations, interpretations, and definitions of “steampunk,” including a diverse array of conventions and convention-attenders, costume-makers and -wearers , musicians, jewelry-crafters, accessory-makers, vehicle-designers, cosplayers, artists, and photographers. Diverse, yes, but almost all of them include some elements of Victoriana, gears, clockwork, a bit of leather, and a fair dollop of darkness. (For a flavor both of Steampunk and its diversity, visit the Facebook page of Steampunk Tendencies; the Steampunk Emporium; or the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrances.)

Personally, I’m having way too much fun with my new obsession, most recently evidenced by a series of photoshoots with models willing to play dress-up and adopt the characters of Victorian professors, scientists, and adventurers sporting some lovely clothing items I purchased along with an assortment of props, accessories, and gadgets I’ve created myself with a little spray paint, gears, and superglue. And as much as I enjoy these shoots for themselves, the real appeal for me is in manipulating the photographs in Photoshop to look like they’re Steampunk themselves: old, faded, and battered relics of a fabulous bygone, steam-driven Empire…

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

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Model: Aaron Avila

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

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Model: Ivan Bohman

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

In these “antiqued” photos, the process in Photoshop was relatively simple, if many-stepped and a bit time-consuming. Basically, I initially reduce the original image’s vibrancy, creating a faded, hand-tinted look. I then proceed to use soft overlay to combine the original image with images, colors, and textures of wrinkled paper, parchment, rusty metal, and peeled paint, making adjustments to the different layers to reduce or enhance vibrancy, opacity, and contrast to achieve the effect of an old daguerreotype that’s been left in a desk drawer for a century, or a rare color photo that’s faded with age, or a valuable antique image thoughtlessly mistreated and used as scrap paper by misguided previous owners. Sometimes I overlay bits of handwriting, ink splashes, or other signs of exposure to the years. I really kinda like the results.

Not all of my Steampunk work is manipulated in post-production to that extent, of course. The clothes and props are really quite lovely, and sometimes a color photo shows that best:

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

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Model: Andre Chambers
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Model: Ivan Bohman

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Model: Jeremiah Hein

So this is fun, and pretty, and affords me quite the creative outlet for my overactive, fevered imagination (and what some might refer to as a pathetic case of arrested development and a failure to act my age). It’s also multidisciplinary, since I frequently write captions for these photos in the style of passages from 19th-century publications, utterly taken out of context. In the case of photo above, for instance, this caption from The Quarterly Sociological Review:

Today’s modern Gentleman, whether of the landed, learned, mercantile, or military classes–and whether or not associated in any case with one of the several esoteric neo-scientific academies which open their doors to virtually any class — or even, these days, any gender!–is always equipped with the three essentials: a Mechanickal Walking Stick that features a variety of miniaturized personal and professional conveniences that we have come to expect (here a Phletzer-Spetzingham  “Artemisian” with complete C.I.L. equippage for accurate communications, inspections, and locationary activities); a set of bespoke Aetheric or Select-Dimension Goggles that provide both enhanced observational technology as well as vital protection from the elements (and stray elementals); and of course a Weapon for the protection of himself and others. In this case, our Gentleman is equipped with a new model of Ransom & Mellidew’s Mark III Multicannon: a prodigious, effective, and highly persuasive piece of impressive Personal Armament. 

Welcome to my (other) world.

[Thanks to my models for their patience and creativity: Jeremiah Hein, Ivan Bohman, Aaron Avila, and Andre Chambers)

It’s holiday time, and that means it’s time for the shameless shilling of stuff folks can spend their hard-earned on, as part of the general giving-and-receiving frenzy driven by the awesome power of marketing and celebrating some vaguely religio-pagan festival now buried deep beneath several cubic tons of stringlights, plastic Santas, snowflakes, animatronic elves, tinsel, Internet banners, and catalogs. In the spirit of the holiday, and not being above a bit of shameless shilling myself, I’ve partnered with a website that offers my photos in the form of various-sized prints, greeting cards, phone cases (and presumably t-shits, mousepads, tea cozies, and festive personalized facial tattoos).

In my defense, at least I’m telling you right off the bat that this post is a blatantly self-promotional advertisement, so you can ignore it at your leisure.

Actually, beyond that, there’s not much else to say that wouldn’t come across as Home Shopping Network filler bloviation (“Oh I seriously can’t say enough about all the wonderful things you can do with a print of this photo of a duck: why, you can hang it on your wall–and not just one wall, mind you, but virtually, literally any wall in your house, and I don’t mean just tastefully cookie-cuttered single-family detached homes on cul-de-sacs  in the suburbs, no: you can hang this on a living room wall, or a kitchen wall, or a bathroom wall, or a hall wall in any sort of house at all, from the tiniest New York studio to the most magnificent hundred-thousand square-foot beachfront palace in Malibu, and every trailer house, walk-up, duplex, condo, rent-controlled apartment, or barracks in between; and if you don’t like ducks at all that won’t make any difference either, since we also have photographs of mountains, flowers, grasshoppers, shirtless men, and people in vaguely Victorian costume wearing goggles and looking menacing…”) so it’s best I don’t say anything at all.

Here’s the site: Fine Art America. More photos will be uploaded over time.

Here are the direct links to some of the site categories, and some samples of my photos in each category, because the holiday time is all about giving.

steampunk prints

antiqued steampunk image

aerial photos

Aerial View, Great Salt Lake, Utah

bird photos

blue jay on a fence rail

nature photos

Wet Water Avens

close-up photos

Close-up view of a snail

male photos / nude photos

Nude male model with black censoring bars

travel photos

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<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/steampunk/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>steampunk art</a>, <a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/male/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>male photos</a>,<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/aerial/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>aerial photos</a>,<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/bird/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>bird photos</a>,<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/nude/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>nude photos</a>,<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/nature/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>nature photos</a>,<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/travel/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>travel art</a>, <a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/close-up/all&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>close-up photos</a>

Sometimes a dark and disturbing idea for a photo gets lodged in my skull and won’t go away. Fortunately for me, there are some highly professional and amenable models in the world with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. So when I got a dark and antiquated steampunk idea, coupled with a slightly nightmare-y mask thing, I was lucky to have model Jeremiah Hein around. Here are a couple photos from that shoot. (Both images were taken with my Nikon D7000 in a studio setting.)

The first is steampunk-inspired, and includes a conglomeration of props, jewelry, and costume pieces I’ve collected over some time. There’s also an antique drill (outfitted here with a medical syringe, of course) and some of my own clothing (tweed and wool seemed called for, under the creepy Victorian circumstances). In Photoshop, I processed the photo to look faded and used a warming filter to for an antique sepia tone. I applied a “soft light” overlay of an existing image of a rusty wall to provide the look of an image exposed to a century of damage, and added an image of nineteenth-century script pulled from the Web to complete the look.

antiqued steampunk image

The second includes a mask that Jeremiah brought to the shoot himself, and which worked far better than what I’d planned, so we used it. (One thing I love about working with professional and semi-professional models, by the way, is the unique ideas and perspectives they bring to the shoot.) Here, I wanted an image of the model covering his eyes, holding a mask that was actually looking at the viewer. In this image, I took a separate photo of Jeremiah making “big eyes” and then carefully Photoshopped them into the mask’s eyeholes. (I could have used a photo of Jeremiah wearing the mask, and then cut-and-pasted it into this image, but doing the eyes separately allowed me to make them more visible, without–I think–losing verisimilitude.)

Model holding a mask

 

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