Tag Archives: photoshop

A Robert Fuller Banner

I’m still a member of Robert Fuller’s official fan group, even though I’m busy with other interests these days. A recent contest to create a new banner for the Fandom Facebook page presented a fun challenge. I got to use some newly-learned Photoshop tools, and I teamed up with my friend Jan. She provided some photos and some lively debate. We submitted several banners, none of which were chosen. That’s okay, because I get to share the best one here. A big thank you to my friend Pam for allowing me to use her recent photo of Fuller.

The biggest challenge was finding the best color photos with the different heads at just the right angle, and I wasn’t completely successful. At least one important role is not represented—I didn’t realize before that Fuller never once takes his hat off in Return of the Magnificent Seven, and the brim is almost always cut off at the top. The ears in the center photos of the banner were also a problem, and the end result is not as satisfying as I’d hoped.

Today is Robert Fuller’s 84th birthday, and he’s still going strong! Wishing him a happy birthday, with many more to come.

(l to r) Wagon Train, Emergency, Wagon Train again, Incident at Phantom Hill, Laramie, The Hard Ride, and Fuller now

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I’m Back!

After a 3+ year break, I’ve decided to start posting again.

Why?

The same reason I started this blog in 2010. Instead of driving friends crazy with my obsessions, I can share them here and find other fans with the same interests. Even when I’m the only one here, the blog keeps me open and searching for new things to post.

Why did I stop?

When I first began this site, I was doing lots of writing, which doesn’t come easy. I got better at it, but it’s less effort to play in Photoshop—enhancing screen captures, making memes, restoring old photos, etc. Unfortunately, when you share those online, you end up providing free content for Pinterest and Tumblr, not to mention the folks who think “google search” is some kind of a public domain free-for-all. (“I didn’t steal your photo. I got it on google!”) I also learned to edit videos, which sucked up all my free time. Finally, I became too singularly focused on one actor who already had websites devoted to him, so he didn’t need another one.

And now?

I’m trying to keep the focus wide. No more singular obsessions! (Until the next one.) I also want to focus more on local entertainment. I’ve missed some great stuff here in San Francisco, just because I was too busy moaning about where I’m not. The plan is to write more, Photoshop less, and watermark everything!

What’s new?

These days, I’m watching four different foreign soaps: EastEnders from the UK, Neighbours and Home and Away from Australia, and Shortland Street from New Zealand. That’s 19 episodes each week, but thankfully they’re only 20-30 minutes long. I love A Place To Call Home, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Janet King, Please Like Me, and Jack Irish (all Australian TV series). I’m also watching Poldark, Victoria, Outlander, Quarry, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Code Black, Lucifer, and Mercy Street.

I’ve added some new actors to my “favorites watch list,” and they include Marta Dusseldorp, Anna McGahan, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Tveit, Jesse Lee Soffer, Christian Kane, Michael Fassbender, George MacKay, Ben Schnetzer, Nick Robinson, Alden Ehrenreich, and Matthew James Thomas.

I recently got a 7″ Kindle Fire, so that’s been a small revolution. Before now I resisted touch screens, tablets, and electronic readers. I’ve played a few games on the Kindle, watched a few videos, sampled all the features, and hey, I’m even reading books.

So, I’m finding my way around the blog again, trying to learn all the changes that WordPress has made to the platform since 2013. Let’s see how this goes.

One more thing.

If you’re a subscriber and you’ve forgotten why you’re getting this in your inbox, well, who can blame you?! If what entertains me now no longer entertains you, don’t feel bad about unsubscribing. Otherwise, thanks for sticking around, and be sure to let me know what’s new with you. We have a lot of catching up to do!

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Photoshop: Before and After

I’m always mentioning what I do in photoshop.  It’s time for a little demonstration.  Here are some before and after versions.  I don’t usually save the originals once I’ve done corrections, so putting this together was a challenge!  I use version 7, which is old but effective.  How these look on your computer will depend on your screen and how it is balanced, but hopefully the “afters” will be much improved.

Here’s an example of cropping and improving contrast:

Hadley Fraser and cast in The Phantom of the Opera

Hadley Fraser and cast in The Phantom of the Opera

No matter how good a movie looks on DVD, the stills can always be better.  The original here was a few seconds before the one I used in my post for A Little Princess:

Liam Cunningham in A Little Princess

Liam Cunningham as Prince Rama in A Little Princess

I enjoy working with images from The Rifleman, because there’s no worry about color balancing.  It’s fun to restore the contrast, but I have to be careful not to wash out the lighter parts.  It’s also fun to remove unwanted elements using my favorite tool, the clone stamp:

Johnny Crawford in The Rifleman (The Pet, season 1)

Johnny Crawford in The Rifleman (The Pet, season 1)

Old family photos fade.  With my Epson scanner, I can scan them and restore the color and contrast quite a bit:

Christmas Party, 1970

Christmas Party, 1970 (I'm on the far right in red)

I’m certainly no expert at photoshop, but I have a great time learning new tools and techniques.  As I learn, I’m tempted to go back and fix the images in older posts, especially since getting a new laptop with a different screen.  I just have to resist the urge!

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Happy Birthday, Ramin Karimloo

To celebrate Ramin Karimloo’s birthday today, some student revolutionaries throw a party for him.  Hadley Fraser collapses in a drunken stupor, but he still manages to raise his bottle. 

 (Okay, so this is very silly, but it was a heck of a lot of fun to make!)

Ramin's Les Miserables Birthday Party
A Les Mis Party: Do You Hear The People Sing Happy Birthday? (click to see larger)

 Best birthday wishes, Mr. Karimloo!

(Sorry, Mr. Fraser.)

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One Year Old

Reflections on my first year of blogging

Today is the one year anniversary of The Ugly Bug Ball.  I wasn’t sure I could keep it going, but here we are on post number 95.  100 would have been a nicer number, but I’m not complaining.  Honestly, my only goal a year ago was to find a way to stop driving my boss crazy.  She was tired of all my entertainment chitchat, so I took it online. 

A year ago, I was obsessing over Matthew Goode and Michael Sheen, and I was mourning the cancellation of EastEnders on my local PBS station.  I think I can be forgiven for neglecting Matthew Goode, since he hasn’t released any new movies.  Michael Sheen has been very busy, but I have to confess, I didn’t finish watching A Special Relationship.  All the politics went right over my head.  I still miss Albert Square.

A year ago, I’d never heard of Jonathan Jackson or his band Enation.  I didn’t know I’d be spending every weekday afternoon watching General Hospital to see Jackson as Lucky Spencer.   I was so excited when Enation tweeted links to my blog and even commented on one of my posts.  Now my current obsession is the Les Misérables 25th anniversary concert and some of the West End actors who performed in it.   Who knows what will entertain me next.  I try to “spread the love” by having lots of favorites, so there is always something new just around the corner.

I wish I didn’t feel compelled to check my blog stats so often.  I’m fascinated by how many visitors I get, and what brings them here.  It took me a long time to figure out that a portion of my “visitors” weren’t real, but spam referrers and creepy link posters.  Once I got over that disappointment, I soldiered on.  A dramatic change came a few months after I started, when the UK dating site with the same name was launched.   Suddenly, I had a dramatic increase in visits, but it wasn’t my Bug Ball they wanted.  Google soon sorted them out, although I still get a few strays.  My other wish?  That more people would leave comments.   Even after a year, it’s a thrill to know that people from all over the world are looking at my pages.

 I never really planned to be “Ugly Bug,”  but that’s become my username in various forums and sites that I visit, and when I leave comments on other blogs.  My gravatar photo is a damselfly, and I quite like that for a name, but I never got around to trying it.  It amuses me how some folks are uncomfortable with the word ugly.  I’m usually addressed as UB or Bug, which is fine, too.  I’m fond 0f that old saying, call me anything except late for dinner!

My most popular post this first year is  A Silent Scream, which talks about silent film.  Lots of folks out there are googling “Louise Brooks.”  A surprisingly popular one is All Thumbs, simply because of the photo of Hrithik Roshan’s double thumb.   Another entry that gets a lot of visits is In Remembrance: Armistice Day due to the WWI art.   My Les Mis posts have brought in a lot of new people, too.  I’m not sure how many more screencaps I will add, but at least my photoshop skills keep improving. 

New technology has brought big changes to my blog and what entertains me.  Last summer I got my first mp3 player.  Then my brother gave me my first digital camera, so I was able to start adding fresh photos.  I got a new Epson scanner, so old photos and slides were resurrected and added to these pages.  I learned how to make screencaps using Paint and Photoshop, and I learned that YouTube videos could be converted into mp3s.   Speaking of YouTube, I had no idea until last summer what treasures could be found there.  

Another big blogging milestone was when I started writing about personal subjects.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there.   Writing about my favorite uncle, Dennis Severs, was a wonderful way to share a few memories, and I found it deeply satisfying.   I’ve been neglecting my Stage Door Encounter series, but it’s been a fun way to combine personal experiences with my interest in actors.  

So here’s to one year and counting, and hopefully the best is yet to come!

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Playing With Photoshop

Enation performing Eyes of Grace

Enation performing Eyes of Grace (click to see larger)

Enation just posted a new video on YouTube, performing Eyes of Grace in concert.  My friend recently taught me how to make screencaps, so I had some fun putting this together in photoshop.

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My YouTube Summer

I wish I could be clever and write this like an anthropologist studying a newly discovered culture.  I can’t pull it off, so I won’t even try.  Still, I feel like I’ve spent this summer exploring several subcultures, so this is a field report of sorts.

I’ve spent most of my summer on YouTube.  Doing the math, I think I’ve watched over 800 clips since the beginning of July.  My netflix DVDs sit unwatched, my library books sit unread, and the TV sits neglected with the mute on.  Before July, I thought YouTube was a random collection of videos that were too short to give you any kind of meaningful viewing experience.  My computer was never fast enough to watch the videos without a pause to reload every few seconds.   Then I got obsessed with General Hospital and found out that almost every scene with my favorite actor could be found somewhere on YouTube, dating back all the way to his first appearance in 1993.  Of course, the soap opera videos go back further than that—I would guess as far back as the earliest VCR recordings made by fans.   I used to think once a soap episode aired, it was history.  It’s not as if old episodes of soaps get released on DVD like other TV series.  I knew devoted fans taped their soaps, but I couldn’t believe people saved all those tapes, since I always ended up taping over my favorite programs or losing my tapes when I moved.  Besides, soaps are on five hours a week!  (That’s 43 tapes a year if you record on slow play.)  The other thing I don’t really understand is why the clips are allowed on YouTube, with all the copyright violations that are involved.  Music seems to be the only copyright that gets strenuously enforced on the site.  I feel bad that the actor I like doesn’t get any royalties from these clips, and I feel like I ought to send him a few bucks every time I watch.

I’m still a little unclear on how all these videos get uploaded to YouTube.  I guess people transfer the tapes to DVDs first and then rip them onto their computers.  Ten minutes used to the the maximum clip length, but YouTube has just announced a new 15 minute upload maximum.  My favorite features are the queue and the playlist.  I can login to my free account, search for a bunch of clips, quickly add them to my queue, and then build a permanent playlist of my selected clips.  The autoplay feature means my queue or playlist just keeps on rolling until I need a break.  Queues and playlists are crucial when watching YouTube on  TV with a blu-ray player.  Without them, you’d be wasting all your time trying to type into the search field with the remote control.  With all these great features, I wish YouTube didn’t bury the instructions for using them on their website.  I stumbled across these features by accident and learned to use them by trial and error. 

Ironically, it’s the new technology that creates my biggest YouTube headache.  Television used to broadcast programs in a square format (sorry, I don’t know all the technical terms here) but now there is the rectangular format of high-definition.  When an older recording is uploaded in the HD format, without the aspect ratio being adjusted, the image gets stretched sideways and distorted.  This does really strange things to faces, and it makes me a little seasick when I’m watching.  The quality of the clips also varies a lot depending on the source material; night scenes are a muddle, blue eyes look black, and you can’t adjust the brightness/contrast or color balance on the computer media player.  

There’s a nice little community of YouTube folks, and they’ve been very friendly and helpful.  I have a growing list of subscriptions to different “channels, ” and I swap private messages with a couple of people who share some of my interests.  One lady in Canada helps me find specific General Hospital clips and fills me in on background information. 

Speaking of soaps and community, I’ve also been “hanging out” at a General Hospital fan forum, and it’s a genuine subculture.  They have their own private lingo, which I’ve had to learn just to follow the conversations.  They post fan fiction and fan art, and they take part in campaigns and online polls, trying to influence the guy who writes the soap.  (The poor fellow seems universally despised for turning this daytime soap into a Sopranos ripoff.)  They are passionate about their commitment to their favorite “ship” (a couple in a relationship, or two characters who they want to see get together as a couple.  “Ship” can also be used as a verb, but I can’t manage that yet!).   I’m a real lightweight, since I’m a new fan who enjoys the show without many years of history with the characters.  I’m not into fan fiction at this point, but I have been making banners for my forum signature in photoshop.   I’m getting pretty good at it, too.

Soon, a new season of television begins, and perhaps I will turn off the computer more often.  If the weather ever improves here in San Francisco, I may even go outside to play.  Until then, you’ll find me at YouTube.

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