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48 hours in Paris

Most of the places we ate, drank, window-shopped, and explored within 48 hours last weekend.

E.Dehillerin · Loup · Epices Rœllinger · Empreintes · Galerie Perrotin · Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle · Une Glace à Paris · Caffè Jadis · Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves · Rue des Martyrs · Lepic Assiette · Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre · Galeries Lafayette · Centre Pompidou

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Semi-transparent “real” shadows in Photoshop

[This is an ancient draft note I forgot to publish. Had to dig it out for a current task so figured it was time to press go.]

Struck upon a good way to isolate a semi-transparent, real shadow in Photoshop CC when trying to remove the background of an image. This can be appropriate for things such as package or portfolio shots.

This technique seems to work well so long as the shadow is against a fairly even background. An example of where I’ve found this useful is with some scans of booklet spreads. A false shadow wouldn’t look right because it wouldn’t have the variable character of the original shadow.

  1. Draw path around object throwing the shadow (omitting the shadow).
  2. Copy/paste object on to new layer. cmd + J
  3. Select layer w/ full image.
  4. Use Color Range to select the shadows. Switch the dropdown to “Shadows”. The fuzziness and range will really depend on your image, so start in the middle for each and it out a few times to see what works best. Usually fuzziness = 100% and range = 70 works well for me.
  5. With the shadows selected, create a new empty layer above the full image layer.
  6. In the new empty layer, fill the selection with black or a similar dark colour.
  7. Turn off the full image layer visibility to remove the background, and adjust the opacity of the shadow layer. I found that 80% works well.

The downside of this technique is that the replicated shadow ends up being a flat colour and is missing the natural hue nuances, but overall this worked well for my purposes.

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Documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming in Finland from the BBC documentary Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson

Screenshot of Tove Jansson swimming from the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, around 1:20 mark. View the trailer here.

Until I watched the BBC documentary “Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson”, I had never really known about the artist and author Tove Jansson nor the context for her work. I’m so glad to have come across the film. She was an impressive and talented woman that lived through some devastating times. The documentary is enhanced by quite a bit of original footage, images, and quotes from her journals and other writings. It also includes interviews of her friends and family. My only criticism would be that the tilt-shift effect on some of the shots of contemporary Helsinki and the Finnish countryside felt a little heavy-handed.

The scene above was likely filmed by Tove Jansson’s partner and great love Tuulikki Pietilä, a Finnish graphic artist. Her nickname was Tooti. For nearly 30 summers, Tove and Tooti lived and worked in a cottage that they built together on a little remote island called Klovharu. It sounds like they were quite the independent adventurers, and their time on the island seemed idyllic. This moment was rather heart-wrenching.

Last summer something unforgivable happened: I started to fear the sea. The giant waves no longer signified adventure but fear. Fear and worry, for the boat and all the other boats that were sailing around in bad weather. We knew it was time to give the cottage away.

Once they had left, they never wanted to come back. They didn’t even want to talk about it. It was the end, and that was it.

A side note: Sophia Jansson’s comment reminded me of a moment in a recent episode of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me when Peter Sagal asked Norman Lear if he had any tips “for those of us who would like to arrive at 93 as spry and as successful and happy as you are”.

What occurred to me first is two simple words, maybe as simple as any two words in the English language – over and next. We don’t pay enough attention to them. When something is over, it is over, and we are on to next.

I’m looking forward to discovering Tove Jansson’s work. I’ll probably start with the original two Moomins books, then move to The Summer Book and A Winter Book.

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Proposal with Mobile Studio for RIBA’s Constructing Communitites

Photo of the Constructing Communities wall vinyl

I enjoyed working on a proposal with Mobile Studio recently for Constructing Communities. This evening at the RIBA building on Great Portland Street, Julie Cormie is giving a pecha kucha on ‘Flipping Bricks’, our proposal for an architectural intervention driven by real-time train data.

The photos above and below are from the opening of the exhibition of shortlisted proposals in Peckham Levels, on from 2-30 June 2016. The exhibition graphics are by Matias Clottu.

Panoramic photo of Constructing Communities

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Making tamales

Though it’s become a lot easier to find good Mexican food in London since I moved here in 2010, it’s still pretty hard to find tamales. I was in the mood for them over the weekend so tried making them for the first time.

Edit 14.05.16 — I’ve changed my mind, I’m not really that pleased with how these turned out. They’re too dry, and I definitely didn’t fill them with enough cheese. Also, I don’t know where the heck Sainsbury’s gets their jalapeños from but they were just about the hottest ones I’ve ever had! I think that the main issue was the fine cornmeal, so will definitely wait until I find some masa before making these again. I’ve found a good way of eating too-dry tamales though; they’re really good reheated in the oven with a spicy tomato sauce and plenty of cheese (kind of like enchiladas).

Edit 30.10.18 — A shop in Brixton Village sells masa and corn husks!!! I think it was Faiz Latin & Carribean (corner of 1st and 5th). Time for tamales v2.0.

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Graph paper used by Chana Horwitz

Chana Horwitz seems to have frequently used Keuffel & Esser Co. 8 × 8 to the inch graph paper. There were a few pieces in the Raven Row exhibition on 10 × 15 inch sheets with an orange grid. It looks like K&E was acquired in ‘87, wonder if she stockpiled a bunch of it. Also, food for thought: how do you mount+frame mylar in such a pristine way without any show-through?