VFL17 In Review!

I have now published my project on the View from Leicester website under the VFL17 section as A Mini Tour of Leicester. Before publishing it I went out again to take two photos, one of which I’d use in the final post an another to use in a promotional post on the VFL Facebook page.

The photo I used at the start of my final post on the VFL site can be seen below and was taken as a teaser to put next to the introduction with Lego man out of focus in the foreground and Leicester Cathedral in focus in the background:

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The photo I used for the promotional post of the VFL Facebook page can be seen below. For this I used the same teaser style as the previous photo with the Lego man out of focus in the foreground. I edited the image in Adobe Photoshop to apply the VFL17 text over the image and blended it in by lowering the opacity and using the eraser tool. This promotional post can be seen here.

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To see all the posts visit the Instagram account here!

Overall the account and photo posts have received quite a good response online in the couple of weeks since it was created with the account getting more interaction through followers, likes and comments than I initially thought it would. One follower commented that on their recent trip to Leicester they did’t get a lot of time to look around and so was enjoying exploring the city through looking at the photos. This is exactly the response I wanted from the posts to make viewers want to visit these locations and if not to give them a virtual tour of these places to see what they’re missing out on. Another commenter simply said that they liked the idea behind the account. I also received a few messages on the account with one of my good friends saying how the photos had made the city look interesting and completely different to what he’d thought/seen of it before. Another message I received to my surprise was from the De Montfort University account saying that the university press office loved the idea behind the account and would like to know more about it. So overall I am pleased with the outcome of the account and still have quite a few images to use in posts which I may still upload in the remaining couple of days until the deadline and may even continue on with this account afterwards as it’s quite fun to do.

(Click the image thumbnails to view a larger version)

 

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The @LeicesterLegoMan Instagram account at the time of posting.

 

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With the photos I was posting on the Leicester Lego Man Instagram account I decided it could be improved by making use of the new “Gallery Feature” in Instagram that allows you to upload more than 1 photo in a post which the viewer can simply scroll right/left through the images.

I had therefore thought that it would be good to have the first image the same as before with the Lego man in front of the significant location/place and then following images in the gallery being a mix of other photos of the location or other shots of the Lego man in the location. This would show a wider perspective of the place, explain/show the caption information more and generally make the place more “advertising” or interesting to the viewer of the media. With more than one image each post is also potentially retaining the viewer’s attention for a longer period of time.

The first implementation of this gallery feature was when I posted about one of my favourite streets in Leicester that is probably not well known about. As seen below this post was about a Graffiti Street in the city centre called Short Street and includes 4 images; 3 of which show the Lego man in front of different locations down the street and then the fourth showing of a piece of the graffiti. This gallery was also to reposted by another Leicester related Instagram page as shown here. This Instagram gallery can be seen below:

I then continued to use this gallery feature in the following posts as I felt it worked well to give a wider perspective of the location being shown and talked about in the caption. The following few posts contained a varied number of images within the gallery depending on what there was to take photos of at the location. The most was 5 images in this gallery post of Abbey Park.

Like with the previous King Richard III post I decided to customize the Lego man again when visiting the National Space Centre to create another photo with this fun/funny effect by changing it to look like an astronaut. I think this again worked quite well to make the photo more interesting and engaging for the viewers drawing them in to look through the other photos.

Since posting these galleries up to this point the profile has again grown faster than I’d have thought with continually more followers and more interaction as I post photos more.

Having covered quite a lot of the major attractions/sights around Leicester now the profile photos show to some extent a “mini tour” of the city as you scroll through them. I also still have quite a few photos/photos galleries prepared to post which I will try to upload over the last few days up until the deadline but may not appear on any blog posts due to the timing.

To view all the posts and the most recent ones check out the account here!

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Account Setup & First Posts

To start I firstly created the account I would use to post these images on Instagram.

After a little thought I decided to go for the username “@LeicesterLegoMan” as this was fairly self explanatory as to what the account content would revolve around. The inclusion of Leicester in the name would be a benefit as it would ensure the account appears when anyone searches Leicester and also provides an immediate connection with anyone from Leicester as the account is primarily linked to this city through this name and the content that would be made.

To finish the account setup I also took the photo below of the Lego Minifigure I would use for the profile photo:

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This Leicester Lego Man Instagram can be seen here!

The first posts of the account were single images focused on the Lego man in the foreground with the significant places in Leicester featuring in the background. These started off being edited camera photos but then changed to mainly be more convenient “Instagram edited” phone photos. The captions to these images were largely informative telling the history or other information of the places with occasionally more personal thoughts/opinions captions. On each photo I used a few appropriate/relevant hashtags and the Leicester location tag to help promote the photos so they could be seen by the highest number of people possible while not coming across as “spamming” hashtags since I didn’t use anywhere near the limit of 30 allowed on one post. For one of the photos I even tried to link into an event that was currently happening too since I posted a photo of the Lego man in front of the DMU sign while it was a university open day.

A good example of one of the starting camera photos includes:

Just after starting the account I had to go to London for a day in which I posted two photos on the day of the Lego Man during the trip to London like the accounts I took inspiration from did when they travel anywhere. One was a more artistic edited camera photo of the Lego Man on some of the Santander Cycles while the other was a photo taken with my phone camera and uploaded while waiting for a train. I found this quite fun taking photos with my phone, editing them in Instagram and instantly uploading them since I usually spend a long time editing photos during my other photography work.

For one photo I tried to be a bit more creative by mimicking the popular statue of King Richard III with the Lego man I would take a photo of in front of it. I did this by adding Lego minifigure parts to  man to make it look like the statue by holding up a sword and crown and wearing some armour. I then posed the man in a similar way and took a photo of it in front of the real statue. As you can see in the image below I think that this created quite an eye catching and funny post:

As you can see by the screenshots below up to this point the account was doing fairly well since it had only been running a short while. The number of followers and likes was improving with every post and there had been some positive interaction from other users such as one that said they loved the idea behind the account and another that replied answering something I had written in the caption.

Final Idea

My final idea for the group project will be to create some spreadable media in the form of some unique photos based around Leicester that would likely catch the attention of other social media users and be used to tell a story in the captions by “advertising” the locations, being informative about the locations, tell the story of my experience of that location or the story of what I was doing while taking the photo.

I got my inspiration for the idea from other social media accounts like the following:

  •  Kowalski The Traveller – This Instagram account is mainly for fun and based around the creator taking photos of a McDonalds Toy Penguin in various iconic/popular locations around the world that they travel to or just in front of things that they do at those places. I quite like the idea that they take this item (the penguin) wherever they go and use it to tell a story of their travels and “advertise/promote” the places that they go to.
  • Travelling Cars – This Instagram account is more artistic in it’s approach and revolves around the creator taking photos of a couple of toy cars at various locations that they travel to. With the captions they give information about the places or a story of what they’re doing there. This creator has interestingly also previously done some sort of paid advertising where they used realistic toy vehicles to advertise the manufacturer of the real things.
  • PopBangColour – This Instagram account is mainly car art based but the account owner also often takes photos of a mini Lego version of himself with other items/scenes relating to what he is doing that day. For example a recent one is this photo of his Lego character with a Fiat badge and other mini Fiat toy cars since he is working on a project with them.

 

I wanted to do a similar thing to these inspiration accounts using a Lego mini-figure character where I would take photos of it around the City of Leicester at key locations (E.g. Cathedral, Clock Tower etc..) or other less well known places I find interesting and then post them to Instagram on a dedicated account.

I would then in the captions tell a story about the place’s history, information about the place and/or about my experience/thoughts of the location. So the images and their captions would serve a “touristic advertisement” and informative purpose showing off the city online to potential visitors and to those who already live here. They may also in a wider extent show a story the places I as the content creator travel to and the things I do if they’re recorded in these photos/captions.

Like the inspiration accounts I will also take photos of this “character” at other locations around the UK where I may travel to within the project time span.

This project should allow me to use both real time posting by taking photos with my phone of the Lego character and also more polished media by taking camera photos to edit and post at a later time. It will be an interesting challenge within the remaining few weeks to see what interaction/engagement the photos get online since I will try to post at least 1 photo a day until the deadline.

 

 

 

Idea Testing

I started to test one of the original group project ideas that I came up with to see what it would look like when actually created.

I took the idea I had of combining several posted photos from social media of the same location posted by other people/users into a single “collage” photo. These different perspective photos would be sourced from Instagram tags or location tags and then blended together as whole images. These images would show the story of different people’s perspectives on the world and how we each see the world around us. Since we all see and capture images in different ways/styles.

I originally planned to create this collage as just a static image but on consultation with others was convinced to make it animated or a video to make it more interesting to the viewer.

I set about downloading some images of Leicester Clock Tower using the Instagram Location Tag and then imported them into Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop I used the Transform too to rotate and position these images over one another and then used the timeline tool to add in the different image layers over a set period of the animation. These frames were also set to loop.

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This Photoshop file was then exported as an animated GIF image as seen below:

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I think the final animated image looks good and is definitely more interesting than if it would have been a static image and also allows the use of more images that overlap. However I am not fully keen on this idea and so might work on another new idea relating to photos of significant landmarks or places around Leicester.

The final photos used in the above animated image are by Instagram users:

Background image – https://www.instagram.com/real__lbj/

Overlaid images:

https://www.instagram.com/ranj82/

https://www.instagram.com/pandorapink/

https://www.instagram.com/pablodabrowski/

https://www.instagram.com/my_random_makes/

https://www.instagram.com/mehzabin___/

https://www.instagram.com/carpediememmie/

https://www.instagram.com/anitaremek/

 

Gold Squad

For this assignment the task was to create a “find the difference” picture with at least 6 differences by editing things out of a photo.

My inspiration for this was my photography work in which I edit objects and things out of photos all the time to get a polished “perfect photo” look. For example this piece of previous work below comparing a “before and after” of the editing of a photo:

I therefore decided to take a twist on the assignment by editing a photo that I had taken beforehand. I would remove some bigger elements to create differences like the assignment asked and then would go on to do my “perfection” editing where I remove everything I find annoying or distracting within the image to create the best/cleanest photo I can.

I started using Adobe Lightroom to edit the image using Spot Removal Tool which works by specifying a source circle and then a destination circle for the source to be pasted over. You can also speicify “Heal” or “Clone” to determine how the source is pasted over it; whether it is just copied identically or healed/merged into place. The Spot Healing Tool view with my edited circles can be seen in the image below:

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To perfect the image I also used Adobe Photoshop to finalize some of the editing that I started in Lightroom and to remove some other parts that wasn’t possible with the Spot Removal Tool. I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool to get rid of minor parts since it fills them in automatically and then used the Healing Brush Tool to specify appropriate areas of the photo, position these copied areas over the parts to edit out and then blend them in using the Eraser Tool. My Photoshop Editing screen can be seen below:

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Here’s the final “Spot the Differences” or “Before and After” photos:

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As you can see there are quite a few big differences in the photos as well as the small minor “polishing” changes. The big changes include the guy in front of the door on the right, the guy by the Range Rover on the left, the red car/line in the bottom left and all of the Michael Kors and Dior branding on the shop fronts.

I was very happy with how this photo turned out since I edited it to the point where it is as good as it can be that I actually decided to post it online. For this I re-imported it into Lightroom, square cropped it and re-watermarked it in the new crop before posting it to Instagram as seen below:

I think my finished “before editing” and “after editing” photos shows some of the power of modern computer image editing and manipulation. There has been quite a lot of controversy online over this sort of “extreme editing” with relation to pictures of models/people edited by businesses or the media which set unrealistic standards/goals to society. For example this recent story demonstrates a magazine possibly trying to make a model on the cover look slimmer than she actually is. Another example of Photoshop editing being caught out which I find particularly funny is these North Korean state-published images which most are quite blatantly not real.

Enter Destination…

For this assignment the task was to create a story using Google Maps about a trip that you have taken. This would be done using the directions tool on Google Maps by entering the start location and then 1 or more destination locations.

My inspiration for this was from one of the other examples where someone had previously completed this assignment. Their blog post as seen here detailed the journeys they completed over a short period of time while travelling over their summer holiday and was very interesting to read with the added maps and photos to illustrate the adventure. This inspired me to want to do this assignment about my summer holiday in 2016 since it was probably the most travelling around I’ve done while in another country. I also wanted to be sure to use quite a few maps and photos to illustrate the journey to make the story engaging like in the example.

My journey begins on the 15th of September 2016 with a short drive to Luton Airport to begin my summer holiday with my family. From here it was just a short wait before boarding the 2 hour flight to Venice Marco Polo Airport. I spent most of the 2 hours looking out of the window (I don’t like flying if I can’t see the beautiful views outside).

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On arrival after stepping out into the surprisingly moderate weather (I was expecting it to be hotter!) we then had to set about getting from the airport which is just on the mainland (right on the edge with water each side of the runway) to the city of Venice. This is slightly more difficult and unusual than it sounds as there are only 2 ways to get to the city (or 3 if you count swimming but I wouldn’t advise that). These are over the road/rail bridge which stops right on the edge of the city or via a boat.

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We got the bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma which is the bus station in a square on the edge of the city. In this square at the end of the road/rail bridge the roads simply stop with this being as far as wheeled vehicles can physically go into Venice.

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The journey from Piazzale Roma to the Flat we were staying at near Fondamente Nove was quite eye opening catching the bus (which was a boat) around part of the city to the bus stop there. As obvious that it is that everything which we have in normal “on land life”  is a boat in Venice it is quite crazy actually seeing it in person! E.g. you have Police boats, Ambulance boats, Fire boats, Bus boats, Taxi boats, even rubbish removal boats and the list goes on! (Even the bus stops are just floating pontoons parked off the edge of the land).

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That evening after unpacking in the flat we went for a walk to St Marks Square which is the iconic big square in the centre of the main Venice Islands. Even a simple task such as this of going on a walk is more complicated in Venice because not every path you go down leads you to somewhere with often them just being dead ends with the water “road” at the end. Therefore it was necessary to use a map to ensure we went down the right paths with the necessary bridges. You often have to take a loop to get to where you want as there are few straight paths to get to places. That evening we also discovered that we’d come to Venice just before the city flooding starts in the winter months where the water just rises up through the drains in the ground covering most of the paths in the city used to get around. Thankfully since we were there in the weeks just before the water only rose a few inches in certain areas around St Marks Square.

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Over the next few days we explored various places around the main Islands including  the Rialto Bridge, St Marks Square again, accidentally finding the Venetian Arsenal and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. One day we also took a bus trip to the Island of Murano which is a bit further out from the main group of islands and is where all of the Venetian glass factories are. A particular highlight for me was going up St Mark’s Campanile with the stunning views you can get of the whole of Venice from the top. You can literally see the water around most of the main Venice Islands where they just stop!

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The next part of the holiday involved moving from Venice to Bologna where we would stay for another couple of days. First we had to walk to the station across Venice at the end of the road/rail bridge and then catch a train from there to Bologna which is a bit further south. The journey was quite interesting looking at all the towns and countryside out of the window. After arriving in Bologna we walked from the station to the hotel and went out that evening to explore a bit.

The next day we went to the Lamborghini Factory and Museum which involved getting a taxi to there in order to be on time and catching a bus back quite a few hours later. The day was amazing as I finally got to visit Lamborghini which I’ve always wanted to do (and was actually how the whole holiday came about when I half jokingly said we should go there). I must have taken nearly if not more than 1000 photos on the day, saw the latest cars being produced and saw many rare limited edition cars that I never thought I’d see.

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The following couple of days we explored various places around the centre of Bologna including Basilica di San Petronio, the window in a wall overlooking the old canals that run under the city and climbed up one of the iconic olden towers (Asinelli Tower). This tower climbing was a very scary experience seeing as the tower leans quite a lot and the staircases are wooden with low hand rails, narrow , have uneven steps and also lean.

bologna-various-places

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After the few days in Bologna it was time to begin the journey home which involved retracing our steps by walking back to the train station and then catching the train back to Venice.

Once back in Venice we decided to get a boat to the airport which turned out to be quite interesting arriving by water having sailed down the side of the runway.  It was then waiting for our flight and arriving back at Luton Airport in the early evening. A short drive home then completed the return journey having traveled on Foot, Train, Bus, Boat, Plane and Car all in a single day!! Probably the most interesting and fun holiday I’ve been on!

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