I've seen quite a few Flickr API mash-ups, but this has got to be one of the most creative. Idée Inc. has created the "Multicolr Search Lab" that uses a collection of 10 million Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr to match photographs to a user-selected color palette.

As the user selects up to ten colors from the palette on the right, the mash-up searches an index of matched colors and pulls up results in the form of thumbnails, each linked to the image's Flickr page. Not only is this just plain fun, but because of Creative Commons licensing, an artist can quickly find images to use in a project (as long as he/she gives credit and shares alike). Idée's Piximilar, the engine behind this app, seems to be a very powerful and groundbreaking image analysis system. It will be interesting to see how this algorithm is incorporated into future projects. For now, you can check out Multicolr at

Poladroid Simplifies Retro Photography

Veronica Belmont wrote on her personal blog yesterday about a new application called Poladroid. The software, a simple program offered in French and English, is currently available in beta for Mac OS 10.4 or later on So what does this little 10mb program do? One thing, and one thing only. Polaroid.

Polaroid Corporation, makers of the retro instant-developing photo products we all love[d], actually filed for bankruptcy in 2001. Since then, all products branded "Polaroid" have merely licensed the name, and were most likely cheaply made in China (read: avoid anything with the name "Polaroid" on it). With the advent of digital photography, Polaroid cameras and film slowly entered into obscurity. Their simple nature and slow shot-to-shot speed made them a staple of urban street photography and contemporary vintage art movements. With digital, though, consumers could take shot after shot without much thought (rhyme zing!). Poladroid's purpose is to take those shots and turn them into the much-loved Polaroid-esque images of the past.

So why not just use a Photoshop plugin or batch script? Well, Poladroid is free, simple and fun. In order to process an image, all you do is drag the jpeg onto the program. A few seconds later, the "undeveloped" Polaroid is spit out, and begins slowly developing. Then you wait. And wait. And even though there's absolutely no reason for you to wait, you wait some more. And this is what makes Poladroid so charming. It's just like using a Polaroid camera, in a sense. You can only process up to 10 images too, just like a Polaroid film cartridge. And if you ask me, the results look pretty cool.

You can check out some of the images I've processed below, or you can find more on the program's official Flickr group.

The Dari

As much as I love the city and all its urban goodness, I have an immense longing to explore the natural world. I dream of someday photographing the untouched natural beauty of places like Guyana, Borneo (what's left of it), and the Patagonia ice fields. But a new location caught my attention a few days ago, when I came across this article on Dark Roasted Blend.

Photograph by Flickr user Student Charity

Photograph by Flickr user Student Charity

The fact that I can barely find any suitable photographs of the Darién Gap for this post is a good indicator of its remoteness. The Darién Gap is a 160km long by 50km wide area of undeveloped land separating Panama from Columbia. It is a geological barrier between Central and South America, and is a land entirely devoid of roads. Because it is the only way to pass between the two Americas by land, the Darién Gap serves as the single missing link in the again. Thus, transcontinental journeys have been forced to use four-wheel-drive trucks and similar vehicles to complete their passage.

Photograph by Flickr user Student Charity

Photograph by Flickr user Student Charity

Though the gap itself lacks any roadways, life still exists within its boundaries. The Embera-Wounaan and Kuna Indians live within the region, often traveling by dugout canoe. Geographically speaking, the gap is divided. On the Colombian side, a flat marshland and swampland dominates the scene. Panama's share, however, is a lush and green mountainous rain forest. At one time, the gap's forests had immense cedrela and mahogany cover, but logging efforts have all but removed these trees.

It is the prospect of largely undeveloped geographical contrasts that draws me to this region, but because of external conflicts, I doubt I will ever be able to experience the gap's offerings. Kidnappings are common in the region due to the heavy presence of three Colombian rebel groups. Travelers and explorers, if lucky, are released within a reasonable amount of time. But ten documented murders of U.S. citizens exist, which is enough to deter me for now.

Street Photography: Motorcyclist

I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but street photography is one of my favorite "genres." There's something about seeing individuals in their daily urban lives that I find fascinating. Too bad I live in the suburbs, right? This photograph was taken in Georgetown, Washington D.C. when I spent a few days there this last April. The photograph was converted to black and white, and was burned and dodged in Adobe Lightroom Online Pokies 2 (as usual). I'm not really into cars/trucks/anything with an engine, but I have a soft spot for motorcycles. Not those Harly-Davidson biker gang type motorcycles, but those modern, hip and trendy ones. You all know what I'm talking about, don't deny it. Back to the photograph, it's not really unique from a compositional standpoint. But because it combines elements that I view as interesting, I can't help but like this photo.

Sunrise in the Desert

This photograph is another one of my former rejects. In its original color form, this photo suffered from the awkward lighting of the moment. It was morning in the desert, and the foreground of this image was in shadow due to the mountains behind me blocking the sun. The resulting file looked more like a snapshot than what I had originally seen in my mind's eye. After converting the photo to black and white, I burned and dodged various parts of the image using Adobe Lightroom. I brought out much of what was in shadow before, and intensified the sky. Though most perceive the desert as dull and dead, an entire world of beauty awaits for those who are patient enough to find it.

Stunning Press Photographs From Afghanistan

I absolutely love great photojournalism. I've always believed that photographs should tell a story, and photojournalists are often masters of this skill. Most individuals only know photojournalism as the photos that appear alongside news stories. In reality, a larger, and much deeper, world of phenomenal photography exists beyond this realm. Often times, truly remarkable photography is displayed by major magazines and news agencies in the form of photoessays. The Big Picture, however, brings to light wonderful works of photojournalistic art that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. I've written about The Big Picture before, and their content never fails to impress me.

A pair of ISAF soldiers stand on a hillside overlooking Kabul, Afghanistan on the night of January 11, 2008 (ISAF Photos)

A pair of ISAF soldiers stand on a hillside overlooking Kabul, Afghanistan on the night of January 11, 2008 (ISAF Photos)

In one of their most recent postings, The Big Picture highlights photographs taken by and of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is the UN Security Council's mission in Afghanistan that works separate from the United State's "Operation Enduring Freedom." The task force is "presently made up of over 53,000 troops from 43 different nations," which represents a large cross-section of world cultures. Living in the United States, one usually only hears about American troops overseas, which is a direct result of domestic ethnocentricity preached to the nation on both a local and national level. It is great to see these foreign troops appreciated, especially through these wonderful photographs. One thing that really jumped out at me in the image above is the landscape of the city at night. Anyone familiar with San Diego county knows that the climate and landscape of East County has much in common with the geography found in the Middle East. This photograph, complete with the illuminated antennas on the distant mountaintop, could have easily been taken in El Cajon or Santee.

German Bundeswehr army soldiers of the ISAF monitor a valley during a mission near Kunduz, Afghanistan on September 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

German Bundeswehr army soldiers of the ISAF monitor a valley during a mission near Kunduz, Afghanistan on September 26, 2008. (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)

Though I am not an advocate of war, and I strongly believe in peaceful diplomacy abroad, a large part of me wishes to become a war photographer. The emotional intensity involved with any conflict or war provides many opportunities for great photography and storytelling. As with any art form, I have seen many lackluster war photographs. But truly great photojournalists can take a simple subject--such as a soldier standing on a hillside--and create a feeling of wonder and awe. In addition to this, war photographers stand alone in their ability to truly capture the human side of war. Through their work, direct human emotion can be conveyed. Stories can be told, and lives can be touched. Photographs can inspire hope, and alternately fuel sadness and rage. The images I have posted here are only a sample of the truly great works of art found in The Big Picture's post on the ISAF efforts in Afghanistan, and I encourage everyone to click through explore this great photojournalism resource.

Photographs courtesy of The Big Picture, posted without commercial intent and solely for the purpose of increasing awareness of their blog.

Capitol Hill Police

If you've been following my recent bloggeries, you probably know that I tend to post images in trends. A couple weeks ago, it was images edited using Corel Painter X. Now, it'll be photos edited in Lightroom to bring out detail and tonal depth. The image above was taken during a protest in Washington D.C. back in April of this year. I initially rejected the source photograph because the composition seemed off, but I was drawn back to it by the contrast between the center officer's bright orange sunglasses, and the greys of the surrounding men. Ironically, halfway through the editing process, I converted the image to black and white. Nonetheless, I think this photograph shows great depth of field and decent visual focus. Oh, and it was shot using a 70-300mm lens I picked up on eBay for $5. That's always a plus!