Finger Pointing-January 11th

Happy New Year everyone! I love fresh beginnings with all kinds of hopes, dreams and possibilities. I also love starting with fresh new ideas and inspiration for “digiscrapping” our lives and memories. I’m delighted to be back in the galleries and to share with you my first picks of 2017. Enjoy!

What a great way to Ring in the New Year by DivaMom96! These 2 sisters are definitely having a great time celebrating together! Those 2017 glasses are so festive and fun.  Everything on this page screams sparkles, shimmers and glitz and I just love it all! The background is a beautifully blended and all of the glows bring it to life. Great title too. Glamorous standout!

I love the message in this title and journaling-Exits and Entrances by musicmom3. Seems very fitting for the new year. The blended photo in the background is a wonderful compliment to the framed focal photo. The colors are gorgeous and the layers are chalk full of textures, brushes and even a wise, little owl. Fabulous standout!

Who doesn’t love children’s art work? I adore this layout, Little Artist by mrivas, highlighting her son’s darling drawings! I’m pretty sure this will be added into his baby album. The white brick background provides a nice canvas and the black and white accents are perfect here. It makes the photos really pop. The little string and series of 3 buttons all work together to help draw the eye in. Great title word art too! Artsy standout!

Take a look at this fabulous page, Dress-up by zwyck. Any photo taken from behind creates a wonderful visual interest. I think the edits and textures on this one is super! The use of white space is brilliant along with the text path that connects the focal point to the cute element across the page. I adore the little red tag, balloons and hearts that complete this page. Beautiful standout!

Here’s another beautiful new beginnings page. Anew by alannabanana is a gorgeous, non-traditional wedding page! Lots of paint layers and brush work adorn this photo and I love the pastel colors. The little frame and clustered elements surround the new couple and they completely draw attention to this focal point. Fresh and lovely standout!

I leave you today with one of my favorite artists and fellow GSO blogger. Take a look at her page and you’ll know why. Spark something really good by Margie is a beautiful example of artistic creativity. She always knows just how to edit a photo with PS filters for special effects. I admire all of the layers, textures and brush work and how she cropped and framed this photo. The title adds to the artsy look and the overlay ties it all in. Exemplary standout!

It’s a brand new year full of possibilities! What will your dreams prove to be? Let these layouts give you a jumpstart into your own scrapping and I hope to see you in the galleries soon. Don’t forget to leave some love for these artists when you click on the links for more details. Thank you and have a fantabulous rest of the week!

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A Month of Minimalism / Aja from Minimalism & Co.


During this series you will be hearing from others and their perspective on Minimalism with some of the same questions, allowing each person’s perspective to add color and variation. Here, I speak with Aja Edmond from Minmalism & Co. to gain her thoughts on Minimalism and moderation.

What does Minimalism mean to you?

Minimalism is an ubiquitous term so when I decided it was a principle I wanted to adopt, I went through the exercise of defining it for myself (vs. automatically adhering to the perceptions and definitions of others).

To me it means three things: awareness, clarity, and focus.

First you need to have an awareness about yourself and how you perceive the world we live in (some may call this consciousness). From there comes clarity — about who you are, what you believe in, what you do and do not care about, etc. Clarity, then, allows you to have focus so you can prioritize and efficiently allocate your time, effort, and resources to what matters most.

Since the world turns and we all evolve, I regularly go through this exercise then apply it to every area of life, from work and finances to my style and relationships.

The result is that I’ve developed an incredible ability to simplify decision-making in most areas of life.

Is there a mental process you go through before buying or bringing something home?

Most of my purchases are made during set times a year (once at the beginning of each quarter) which helps check impulse shopping. I go through a thoughtful process of eliminating things I don’t want or need, determining new things I want or need, and prioritizing based on what I have available to spend.

I don’t own many things and rarely covet or yearn for things, so when I do I know it must be special. Therefore, if a few unexpected needs (or desires) come up I usually indulge them if I they work within my budget and the confines of my space.

I have a lot of respect for my few possessions. I think the one question I ask before making a purchase is: will I cherish this for years to come?

It’s clear that minimalism is a way of life for you, would you agree that it effects all of your choices or just some?

My ability to simplify decision-making, as mentioned, is the most important and consistent benefit of my way of life.

Sometimes I may choose to overindulge or be excessive in different areas or at different times in life. However, it’s the ease at which I’m able to make that choice that I care most about.

I love the quote by Oscar Wilde "everything in moderation — even moderation." In my quest for simplicity, I don’t want to become too idealistic. So, yes, it’s a way of thinking that’s very apparent in almost every area of my life (but I have no qualms about contradicting it ever so often).

Does sustainability play a role in minimalism for you?

Increasingly so and I have to credit my partner for his insistence on us being mindful of the impact we are having on the earth. Right now our focus is on leaving a minimal footprint by not being wasteful or using resources unnecessarily.

Though, my partner is more adamant about this than I am. For instance, he doesn’t want to get a dryer so we are rack hanging our clothes — and it drives me crazy. I definitely see some cultural differences (he’s German, I’m American) in how far we’re willing to adjust our lifestyles for this cause.

On my radar is the ethical fashion trend as well as some of the advancements in materials and production techniques being used across the consumer goods industry in general. If I must buy something new, I’ll attempt to at least consider brands that are serious about the environment.

Overall, I don’t think I’m doing as much as I could but I’m trying!

What goals do you have for yourself in the new year to make sure you continue to adhere to your minimalist values?

I haven’t set any new major goals or resolutions other than allocating time to walk through the awareness, clarity, and focus process — and making a few adjustments in each area of life as needed.

To add more color to this process it may be helpful to skim an essay I recently wrote called the Soul-Searching Strategy. Every year (plus during times of significant life changes) I think through these steps.

When you feel your life becomes too cluttered with unnecessary things, maybe not only objects but also commitments, what are some practical things or rituals you do to refocus on the essentials?

Oh I am ruthless about cutting things out of my life that don’t need to be there — be it things, people, activities, or ideas.

I tune in to my gut because there’s this nagging uneasy feeling that I get when something is out of balance. If I feel this for too long then I hone in on the culprit.

If it’s an object I give it away without a second thought. However, some things (like people) can’t just be cut at whim without causing damage. So I’m thoughtful about my approach (but once I make the decision they still have to go).
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Flooring ideas from bamboo to pastellone

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Old parquet flooring on one side, pastel long flooring on the other.

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We are planning a small flooring change at home this month, a fun collaborative project that will change the look of our bedroom and I’m excited to see how it turns out. Our pale, white washed floors have been a part of the house since before Elin was born and I’m ready for a change and love exploring different flooring options. In our next home I want a mixture of tile or stone with soft wood or hardwood bamboo flooring like above in this bathroom which I’ve read can tolerate more moisture than traditional wood.
In one room I’d like to continue the flooring up the wall for a wrapped look, which I’ve always found to feel very comforting even womb like and a little unexpected.

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Concrete floors have become very popular lately but unless they’re heated from beneath, I’d don’t know that I’d like them outside of a showroom setting. Anyone have experience with this in a residential setting?

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Examples of vintage flooring, refinished in a more natural and deeper stained options. The natural washed wood feels very soft and light while a darker tone, especially with a high sheen finish feels more formal and polished.

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Above are new floors that feel old in the Kinfolk showroom in CPH, greyed-brown tones with a matte surface that serve as inspiration for our own floor update. They sort of capture light rather than reflect it giving a completely different feeling than very bright, white floors.
Find these and more in my collection of flooring Pins.

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Redesigned Family Retreat Built Around a Forest Glade

How do you create a contemporary, scenery-led home within an existing building? This forest-hidden gem by architect Rado Iliev and photographer Assen Emilov splits the original exterior in two, creating a wide-windowed corridor that brings the outside in. Flowing from north to south, the corridor feature is built around a compass, ensuring North, South, East and West face the right areas, at the right time. The interior folds the forest in with views permeating the lounge and simple black, white and wooden elements that let nature be the hero. Take a tour with us to see this contemporary forest retreat.

The two-storey plaster home opens with an aluminium corridor, letting in the forest with stunning tinted-glass panels. Extending and enlarging the home, it juts out at just the right angle, affording a lounge view that soaks in the sunlight and sunset.

As the dining room looks over the forest, the lounge beside uses green to penetrate three of its four walls. Muted grey block couches sit on simple, dark wooden floors that echo the landscape. A copper grasshopper lamp leans over a black glass table, while a textured black ceiling adds interest. A partition wall behind acts as a sleek bookcase in black and grey, holding colourful ornaments that dot themselves around the room. Based on a silver stand, the TV functions for night-time while blending into the background, letting the scenic forest location shine.

Just past the inbuilt fireplace, the dining room catches the eye with a bright bouquet of flowers. Led in by a deerskin rug and the black-panelled ceiling, it acts as a sophisticated setting for dinner, and a relaxed location for morning coffee. Stark black and white tones in the chairs, hanging light and table provide a classic look set apart from the pop-of-colour lounge.

A look through the corridor shows a hint of the kitchen, another monochrome dream. Lining one wall with a full-white bench, a landscape window focuses the gaze on the outside view. Its dark wooden floors hold glass-and-white cabinetry to the other side, as greenery peeks in from the dining room. A central panel in an extractor fan and stove make a design feature muted, classic, and complementary.

Back through the lounge, a set of monochrome stairs lead the way down. Framed by glass banisters and white walls, their almost-floating appearance looks light, contemporary and ultra-modern. The colour contrast between the stairs, iron railing and white wall makes a statement, a statement further deepened as two wooden block stairs lead to stone patios. The journey obscures the forest view only momentarily.

The view from the patio shows two storeys of levelling. As stone leads on to a grass lawn, steps lead up to another dark-wooden deck. The central fireplace from the living room reappears on the outside, while glass railings show its many levels from the top floor.

The ground floor too holds beauties up its sleeve. Using thick, black-framed windows, an office uses a wall to hold books and a desk in charcoal wood. A mustard-hued bedroom sits on lighter-wooden flooring, as a large window illuminates yellow-golden bedding and a panelled feature wall. The bathroom hides away in white and beige tones, as a striking agate feature wall and floor bring nature’s elements inside.

Leading down from thick-framed sliding doors, the path away from the home shows its easy-play front lawn and unique sloped location. Enveloped in a tree-laden thicket, its green, scenic attributes are a sight for sore eyes.

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Hackers Help: Height extension for PAX system?

Pax system

We are looking at buying the PAX system for our master bedroom.  However we have very high ceilings and we want the storage to go all the way to the ceiling.  The Pax is only 236 cm tall so we are thinking of adding extra storage on top of the Pax wardrobe – either by purchasing separate shelving such as LACK or BESTÅ (but depth will not match) or getting extra Pax carcass and putting it on horizontally on top of the wardrobe.  But then we will struggle to get doors to work as they will be upside down!

Has anyone here added storage on top of their Pax wardrobe?  Any advice?

Thanks

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Blurrrr.

“How do I get a blurry background?”, asks a student.

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OK… so if you want a blurred background, as in a portrait:

  • Focus accurately (using one focus point?) on what should be sharp. The eye of your subject, for example.

Then, use some combination of:

  • Get close to your subject.
  • Zoom in on your subject.
  • Use a longer rather than wider lens.
  • Use a lens with a large maximum aperture, i.e. a low minimum “f-number”. (Most prime lenses and most pro lenses are like this).
  • Use a low f-number
  • Use “portrait mode” (which uses… a low f-number!).
  • Have a distant background

And that’s how you do that. As my students at Sheridan College are learning this semester.

 

 

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53rd CAS Awards: Nominations For Outstanding Achievement In Sound Mixing Announced

The Cinema Audio Society (CAS) announced the nominations for for outstanding achievement in sound mixing.

We are proud to congratulate all our well deserving nominees for their stellar work. We also have the good news of announcing for the first time nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Motion Picture Documentary.
— Mark Ulano, CAS President

The full list of nominees is available on the official announcement.

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Beyond La La Land: the top ten toe-tapping film musicals

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land. Black Label Media

In the Great Depression, movies were an escape from life, and musicals gave audiences hope that things would get better. The recent release of La La Land – a contemporary twist on a classic formula – has reignited interest in the musical genre. At the Golden Globes this week, the film won Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Original Score, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song (City of Stars), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling) and Best Actress (Emma Stone).

I enjoyed the escapism of La La Land, and appreciated the bravery of both director and cast as they stepped into a challenging field. But there are other musicals that qualify as greats.

As a musical tragic, here is my list of the ten most memorable musicals. It’s not conclusive. It excludes silent films like The Jazz Singer (1927); the first official Hollywood musical The Broadway Melody (1929); ground-breaking films like Grease (1978) and Fiddler on the Roof (1971); cult musicals like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and jukebox musicals like Mamma Mia! (2008). Credit should also be given to shows that reference classic music theatre, for example, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a made for television musical comedy-drama series.

However, the following musicals continue to influence today’s world of music theatre. Each has a unique quality that lends to its iconic status.

42nd Street (1933)


The plot of 42nd Street, based on the creation of a musical show during the Depression, launched the career of Ruby Keeler, a name synonymous with early musicals. The film showcases the visual imagery of choreographer Busby Berkeley, whose method is still unrivalled today. Berkeley was famous for his filming from above. It meant that his choreography was not only visually stunning for a seated audience, but when viewed from above, each step helped illustrate an image. For instance, a series of dancing girls might spin in a circle in flowing gowns. A dancer in the centre would spin in the other direction and the viewer would see a beautiful, spinning flower.

Top Hat (1935)


Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the leading dancing duo of the 1930’s, starring in 10 films. Their pairing happened by accident, when they were brought together for the first time on the set of Flying Down To Rio (1933), as support characters. The production team was stunned by the chemistry between the pair – as the saying goes, Ginger could do everything that Fred did, but backwards and in heels. This was the first film written specifically for them as leading characters, and as The Oxford History of World Cinema puts it, in a Fred & Ginger musical, “boy meets girl; boy dances with girl; boy gets girl”. In the film’s classic song and dance scene, Cheek to Cheek, Rogers wore a dress swathed in feathers, which kept floating off during filming. If you look very closely, you can see one errant feather that fell on the set and was missed in the post-production editing.

An American in Paris (1951)


This Oscar-winning film brought together dancers Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly. The tale of an American painter living in Paris who falls in love is fairly straightforward. But the dance sequences are sumptuous. One of them, An American in Paris ballet, is a 17-minute extravaganza choreographed by Kelly. It features costumes inspired by a smattering of French painters (including Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec) and a beautiful George Gershwin score.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952)


With the recent passing of Debbie Reynolds, this film has a new poignancy. Reynolds was just 20 when she made it, starring alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. One of the most successful musicals ever filmed, it is filled with memorable songs, lavish dance routines and of course, that scene-stealing title song. This film is a light-hearted look at Hollywood, at the time when silent films gave way to “talkies”. Amongst surveys of the greatest American films, Singin’ in the Rain inevitably ranks in the top ten. Several stage revivals have appeared in recent years. And everyone I know is able to sing (or hum) along to Good Morning.

Oklahoma (1955)


This first collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Lynn Riggs’ play Green Grow the Lilacs (1931), explores the love story between a cowboy (Gordon MacRae) and a farm girl (Shirley Jones). It develops the idea of the “book musical” – a musical play where the songs and dances are an integral part of the narrative, emerging from the story to evoke profound emotional responses.
There is a darker side to this story, with the secondary character Jud, a farmhand, in love with the leading lady. Some classic numbers from this production include Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and the title song.

My Fair Lady (1964)


This Lerner & Loewe adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion is a tale of transformation. A cockney flower girl wants to “better” herself, so she can work in a flower shop. An arrogant phonetics professor wagers that he can teach her to speak “proper” English, and training ensues. Audrey Hepburn charmed as the wayward Eliza – although her singing was dubbed by another. Her partner in musical crime was Rex Harrison, who, strangely enough, doesn’t sing, but is completely convincing as Higgins. Eliza’s father was entertainer Stanley Holloway, who delighted audiences with the classic I’m Getting Married in The Morning, sung in a pub, his favourite place on earth. The film ends with hope, unlike the play that inspired it, and won eight Academy Awards.

The Sound of Music (1965)


Adapted from the Broadway musical of 1959, this Oscar-winning film introduced audiences to Julie Andrews. As Maria (Andrews) and the Von Trapp children sang and danced their way across the Austrian Alps, songs such as Do-Re-Mi and My Favourite Things became classics. Though not a dance musical, per se, it is still one of the most commercially successful films of all time, and has continued to enjoy revivals throughout the world.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)


This rock opera began as a concept album, before launching on Broadway in 1971. There is no spoken dialogue, hence the term “opera”. It is a loose depiction of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, with added struggles between the key protagonists. This musical was the launching pad for singers, such as the late Jon English, Marcia Hines, and more recently, in the West End, Tim Minchin. Again known for its singing rather than the dancing, the title song, and Mary Magdalene’s I Don’t Know How to Love Him, were softer moments in an intense score. The film of the show was released in 1973 and is a leading work in the rock opera genre.

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)


Lloyd-Webber’s composition is based on Leroux’s novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. The plot focuses on a soprano ingénue who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius. This musical is surprisingly popular, because its main hero is an anti-hero. He is unbalanced, unattractive and his only saving grace is a God-given talent for composing. Which, I must say, holds him in very good stead. If the Phantom is well cast, one sympathizes with this sad creature. The opening sequence with the chandelier suspended above the stage reduces my sister to tears each time, and is truly a spectacle to behold. And who can resist an overacting opera singer with a dodgy Italian accent and musical spectacles such as the amazing choreography of Masquerade, or the simplicity of Christine’s singing to her father’s grave, in Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again? The 2004 film featured Gerard Butler in his first singing role, which, as an accomplished actor, he performed very creditably, alongside Emmy Rossum as Christine. The standout however, as the obnoxious opera singer, was Minnie Driver, who put in a sterling performance, evoking much laughter.

Les Misérables (2012)


Based on Victor Hugo’s novel, this Tony Award winner is another sung-through musical, having run continuously in the West End since 1985. This story of love, freedom and morality, set within the tragedy of the French revolution, evokes great emotion and composers Schönberg and Boublil manage to sustain the intensity throughout. The 2012 film was a vision of cinematic brilliance, with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe as Valjean and Javert respectively. Jackman has sung with great artistry in other productions, but I felt that in making himself physically portray the struggles and weakness of Valjean, his vocal performance suffered. However, Crowe’s portrayal of Javert showed his moral compass swaying, and he sang with technical proficiency and artistic expression. There are so many pieces of note within this score, but Do You Hear the People Sing?, as the revolutionaries face their death, is perhaps for me, the most touching moment. This is a classic piece of music theatre history. It will bring you emotionally to your knees.

If I had to choose one of these as my favourite, I’d be hard pressed. However, Oklahoma stands out as a performance full of love and laughter, where something good can come out of something bad. I like hope in my musicals – as Rosie O’Donnell said to Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle: “You don’t want to be in love – you want to be in love in a movie”. Well, I want to be in love in a musical.

The Conversation

Nicole Thomson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond the academic appointment above.

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Powerful Photos of the Body After Death

When photographer Patrik Budenz first requested permission to document the work at Berlin’s Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences in 2007, the answer was no. When he wrote a proposal to the head of the institute, he was told to wait two weeks for a response. Twenty minutes later, he got the phone call. He was invited to bring his camera into the autopsy room, labs, and after some time, onto crime scenes.

Before he set foot in the Institute, Budenz had never been around death, with the exception of his grandparents, who passed away when he was too little to process what had happened. He admits to being nervous prior to those first visits, but the professionals calmly walked him through the autopsy process.

Budenz has now been dealing on and off with the forensic aspects of crime, medicine, and death for almost a decade, beginning with his documentary series Search for Evidence. He’s become accustomed to the things that used to frighten him, like the cracking sound the ribs make when they’re opened. His book Post Mortem, now in its second edition, is a step-by-step chronicle of the process that follows after a heart stops beating.

He started directly after the body leaves a hospital or a crime scene, moved forward to the labs and the crematorium, then to the undertakers.

All the bodies in Post Mortem are kept unidentified, though Budenz was able to overhear bits and pieces of their stories, including the age and cause of death of the deceased. The personal details, he says, were often the hardest part.

He struggled most with young people who had been killed by disease or accident. When asked whether he’s mourned for any of the strangers whose bodies he’s photographed, Budenz says “mourning” is too strong a word, but yes, he does get sad.

Though the professionals encouraged the photographer not to take the work home with him, the people he’d seen did sometimes follow.

He confided in his girlfriend without revealing anything confidential. “If you were really alone with this, I can imagine it would be hard,” he admits, “I was lucky to have someone to talk to.”

Still, coming into contact with the technical details of death hasn’t made him more afraid. In some ways, it’s been a comfort to him. In Western culture, he suggests, we keep death hidden from view, and that’s what makes it frightening.

He’s had people tell him they’re afraid of feeling pain when they’re dead. They are worried someone might make a mistake and cremate or bury them alive, but seeing it firsthand, Budenz can assure them this never happens. When you die, you’re left in good hands.

He’s no longer nervous to arrive at an autopsy. He feels safe: “People don’t want to deal with it, but if you get to know it a little bit more, it can be less scary.”

Budenz isn’t a religious person. He thinks that once someone dies, he or she stops existing. “The idea that my soul dies with my body is something that doesn’t scare me,” the photographer says, “Life is over, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I can sleep knowing that.”

Since the original publication of the images eight years ago, the photographer estimates he receives anywhere from two to five emails from a grieving stranger per year. One of them, from a woman who had lost her grandfather, is included as the only text in the book. She told him that after seeing the pictures, for the first time since the death, she was able to sleep alone.

He responds to every single letter like this one. “If people write something like this, I have to respond. They give me something very personal. I can’t ignore it.”

Occasionally, he flips back through the book when he has free time. “Sometimes, I have the feeling I have to look at them.”

Budenz does understand why people would want to take refuge in the idea of the afterlife, but for him personally, the most meaningful thing to be found in death is what it tells us about being alive. “You see how fast a life can end,” he says, “and you really start to value things a little bit more.”

Post Mortem is available on Amazon and via the photo-eye bookstore.

All images © Patrik Budenz

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