Welcome!

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With nearly 20k followers on Twitter, and over 3000 subs on various blogs and music sites, it is impossible for me to welcome each person individually. Of course, I wish I could. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories! Until I find a way of cloning myself a few hundred times, this will have to do. 🙂

A brief summary about myself. I have been writing since I was 12. I love the horror genre and that is what I read and write mostly.I also write fantasy and mystery.You can learn more about my writing just by surfing this site, if you so desire. I have been singing and playing guitar since I was 15. All of my music is FREE. (who actually sells music these days?) The music I create embodies Rock, Blues, Chill, EDM, and Downtempo. Give it a listen if you like.

I have only recently started doing photography, but I studied the craft very carefully before beginning, and spent the money required, to do it justice. I am unhealthy and trying to build a legacy, before I die from all of the health problems I have. Everything I create is with that in mind.

I currently live in a new RV in Texas, with my wife and a majikal cat named appropriately, Jinxy. If you want to learn more about me, or just seek something to discover, here is a complete list of all my websites-

http://jb-thomas.pixels.com-My main photos site. You can buy prints, cards, iPhone cases, tote bags, towels, shower curtains, and much more with my best photos on them.

https://www.facebook.com/jbthomasphotography– This is only place I will be discussing photos and art. Come join us!

http://licensing.pixels.com/profiles/jb-thomas.html– If you would like to license my photos for books, online ads, TV, or many other things, go here.

axewielderx.wordpress.com -Main blog with jokes, funny pics and music.

authorjbthomas.wordpress.com– This is where ALL of my writings are. Poetry, prose, short stories, Novel chapters, and more.

amazon.com/author/jbthomas– My amazon author page where you can buy both e-book and paperback versions of my books. There are more book links, in the My Books” section of this site.

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5251326.J_B_Thomas-My Goodreads profile.

http://www.reverbnation.com/lucidchaos– My reverbnation website. All music here is in mp3 format only.

http://lucidchaos.bandcamp.com– Any format, lossless or mp3, is here. For those who like the best sound!:)

http://soundcloud.com/lucid-chaos– I only put sneak peeks of music WIPs here. I don’t care for soundcloud’s limitations.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Axewielderx– Various videos ranging from music videos to gaming casts.

http://www.facebook.com/authorjbthomas– My FB author page. This is strickly for the fans. I hate FB and self iced my personal account there.

http://axewielderx.tumblr.com/-Tumblr– It catches most of my posts from nearly every blog.

https://twitter.com/JB_Thomas– My twitter account where I do most of my daily posting.

I want to thank each and every person who has followed, subbed, or become a fan. I hope you enjoy the ride you just climbed aboard, and tell your friends, before the train has left the station for good. Take care and feel free to contact me anytime. I will answer as time allows. 😎  If you would like to connect on any of these sites, just send me your info via the contact page.

JB

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What’s this?

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I posted this to Twitter today and some may be wondering is this just a random Tweet or is there something more to this little innocuous post?

So let’s just clear the air on that question…it is the opening to my new book. Yes, I have begun writing again. What does this mean? What is the book about? Well, those are good questions and perfectly valid questions but I am unwilling to state an answer for either of those questions at this point. What I will say is this…

This book is a book that most of you will regret not buying the second it comes out and will be angry that I did not write it sooner. This book can and will change your life, if you let it and lastly, this book will never be cheap.

Do I sound like I am quite confident in this book’s value to people? I sure hope so because that is the truth of the matter. The truth is not evil or good…it is just the truth.

Until next I type…

JB

The Art Of Creative Photography: Chapter 6

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                   Not all photos need advanced editing. Sometimes nature helps us out! 🙂

 

The Art Of Creative Photography: Chapter 6

I considered not even bothering with this chapter, since many of the people that seemed to be reading stopped, at my last chapter. Why they would stop at basic editing is beyond me. Either they could not see the benefit of basic editing skills or egotistically thought they were above learning the basics. Why even bother reading at all, if you are so smart? You should not even bother picking up a camera, if you think you are above learning. I can think of no other profession on the planet, that is more of a constant learning process, than creative photography. It is a career path that is always evolving and never stale.

So many things can be done with a photo to take it outside of the norms. From small little things like fuzzy, hazy, and soft focus to drastic shifts in color and hue. Removing items, inserting items, background swaps, texture changes, the list just never ends. Once the basic editing is done, the direction a photo can be taken is never ending…indeed.

Obviously, I cannot discuss every single type of creative effect that can be done in one small guide like this. I would have to write a very long book and that was never the goal in this guided series. The goal was to get you started down the path. To get you started in looking at photography in a entirely different way. To accomplish that goal, I will discuss in this chapter some of the more common creative edits. Shall we begin?

This is a great example of fuzzy being used to great effect. The scene lends itself to this effect because it already features old buildings.

Soft focus, fuzzy, dreamy, glowing edits- It should be noted, that these can be done to the entire picture or just part of the photo. Using either the adjustment brush in Lightroom or selecting a portion of the photo in Photoshop using the selection brush. For the purpose of this section, we will just discuss applying the the effect to the entire image, as this is what is most commonly done.

Once the basic editing is done, we can then add some softness to the image. The reason we do the basic editing first, is because even though the image will be out of focus we still want the overall tone of the photo to be correct. In Lightroom, softness is easily done by taking the Clarity slider and going in the negative direction(slide it left). Be careful doing this, we don’t want to lose all details. We want to just add softness. A negative 20-40 will usually accomplish this while still leaving details. In Photoshop, we reduce the sharpness or add a transparent blank white layer, being careful to not make it overly opaque. We can also accomplish this using the soft focus filter found in Color Effects Pro 4.0 by Nik Collection. Further more, there are other filters in Analog Effects By Nik Collection, specifically the choice of lens. Just keep in mind when doing any of these things we want to keep the main subject still prominent in the photo, or the whole photo has no guidance for the viewers.

Split-toning was used on this in a way that is not obvious. I used it to enhanced the colors already present and thus created a storybook view.

Color changes, hue shifts, Split toning- There are so many methods of doing these that it would futile for me to list all of them. Instead I will point you in the general direction and hope you find what you are wanting.

In Lightroom, there are several methods for doing this. There is the tone slider at top, the hue slider, the HSL control panel and lastly there the Split Toning panel. In Photoshop there are some controls such as hue, color change and replacement, inverse, etc. but no Split toning. In Nik Collection there are more filters for doing this. In fact, there are more than I can list here. The point I am trying to make is there are many options and you should take your time to explore them. I, personally, only use Lightroom to do most of these kinds of changes simply because it is easy to isolate the colors I want to change using HSL panel. I also like to use the Split Toning module. It allows me to change the feel of the shadows and highlights. Sometimes I will do that just create a total different look for something in the photo such as water. The tone slider I often use to change how the sky appears, and hue I rarely change, but it can useful in creating a different feel. Most of these adjustments can be used selectively and I suggest you give it a try. These kind of adjustments are endless, thus the only reasonable thing I can suggest is experimentation. The best advice I can give you, is never to settle. Keep trying and you will find the look you are after.

In this photo black and white was used to add dimension by bringing out the details od all the cracks in the old building. The picture was actually boring in color.

Black and White, Sepia, Faded- All of these are easily done with any of the previous programs I have discussed. From just reducing the color saturation to zero in Lightroom or Photoshop to using committed programs in Nik Collection such as Silver Effects Pro, Analog Effects, and Color Effects Pro. The options are nearly endless for this. Thus I am going to give you a few pointers to keep in mind when doing these kind of effects to point you in the right direction.

I like to use Silver Effects Pro for all Black and White, Sepia, Monochrome, etc. effects. I find it just gives more control over your adjustments. It has several adjustments not present in anything else I have found. There are several things to keep in mind when doing these kinds of creative adjustments. The first and foremost is that these kind of photos lack regular color. In the absence of color, we must do something else to create interest. Specifically, we must overdo the contrast. It is the separation of lights and darks, that is going to create interest, in these photo adjustments. A good example of this can be found in the works of the late, great photographer Ansel Adams. Go do your research on him and you will soon discover he used a lot of contrast in his photos and he did it all on film to boot. Quite amazing really! The second thing we need to keep in mind is the subject of the photo. If the photo is of something old, classic, retro, it lends itself to a period piece. This simply means making the photo look like it was shoot in the same time frame, that the object was being used. These photos you will want to run through Analog Effects to add some dust, dirt, grime, and noise, that would have been appropriate to a camera used during the era.
Lastly, the faded photos are a bit different. In these we are going for a classic look with color, thus contrast should actually be lowered in them, instead of increased. It also would not hurt to ease the focus down a little. Faded color pics usually came from the earlier color cameras of the 60s-80s. They were often slightly off focus and flat. Thus lowering the contrast fits the camera profile of the era. However, we are speaking of creative, so you are more than welcome to try anything you desire.

In this photo not only were distracting elements such as electric wires and debris removed from the photo, also split-toning was used to change the sky color and the angle the photo was shot at even played an important part in how this turned out. I just love the multi-colored tracks!

Removing items, Adding items, background changes- I won’t go too far into this one. The description pretty much says what this is about. There is no trusty mechanism for doing this in Lightroom(Lightroom does have a brush for this, but it does not work well) or Nik Collection and there is a reason for it. This is going beyond the realm of photo editing and into the area of photo altering. However, sometimes it must be done. We cannot always control who or what may be in the photo. Although we can do many things to try to avoid this, it is not always possible. Thus we have to take the photo out of our photo editing programs and into photo altering programs such as Affinity Photo or Photoshop.
In either of these programs removing items is done by using the in-painting brush or by cloning a nearby area over the offending object. For in-painting you simply select the in-painting brush and brush over the offending object you want removed. For cloning, you select the cloning brush, select the area you want to clone, then click over the offending object you want hidden. Another method is if an object is near the border of the image you can simply crop it out. Common things I remove from photos are telephone lines, signs, cars, people, fences, and distant birds. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Any element you feel is distracting from the overall beauty of a photo, can and should be removed.
Adding things into a image is also not hard to do. I generally avoid doing this, because I do not want to create distractions. However, in the interest of showing you options I have included it. Simply select the object you want to add to the photo from your source and paste it into your photo. Then using the transform tool make it the appropriate size. Lastly, while it is still selected, you will have to adjust the tonality of it to fit the photo. It needs to look like it belongs inside that photo, obviously.
Changing the background is sometimes desired. We cannot always get perfect days with great clouds so replacing those skies is desired. Nor can we expect to always have our models/people standing in front of the best backgrounds, so again, replacing the background for something better is desirable.
To change the background we can use the quick selection tool in either program to select the background area we want to remove, then use the refine tool to make sure we get everything selected we want removed. Then select from another image the area we want to insert. copy this selection, then in our original image, paste. Again, while the background is still selected, adjust size and tonality. I only do this in photos where the sky is just so boring it completely ruins the photo or when I have a model that wants a different background to make the photo look like it was taken in a studio.

As always these types of adjustments are left up to you and your best judgement. If you feel it will really improve the photo, go for it!

I have tried to keep this section as brief as possible, while still covering the major things that are commonly done to creatively edit your photos. The point was to give you ideas. To point you in the right direction and get those creative juices flowing. The main ingredient needed for creative editing is experimentation. You must be willing to ruin a photo, in order to make it magnificent! Certainly, some experiments will require you to backtrack(Control+Z) but ultimately you will learn from it and find what you really seek in any given photo. There is no replacement for experience, but a willingness to experiment and discover, will take you in the right direction towards that experience.
I hope you found this chapter helpful. Please like, share, or comment! I hope you join me on the final chapter. The next chapter we will discuss my final thoughts on creative photography. Please do join me and take care!

JB

Hurricane Harvey: The Hidden Death Toll

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In the days, weeks, months and years to come, there will remain a death toll that will never be revealed. This is not some conspiracy theory or purely fictional proposition that I have deemed would make for a good story. This is a fact-based story, grounded upon a simple premise. I will be one of those deaths and since I know this storm affected more than 6 million people, there will be others who, like me, will find themselves in the same situation.

I suppose a little backstory is in order for full understanding of the situation and how it will go unnoticed.

A couple of months ago my wife came home with her pink slip, told her company no longer needed her after 13 yrs. of loyal hard work. Exactly 2 days later, I developed new symptoms of a serious problem. I began to get dizzy, lightheaded and sweated profusely, for having done little to no exertion. I ended up in the hospital within a week and nothing was done to fix the problem. I was referred to a doctor who saw me and referred me to a cardiologist, who I had to wait a month to see, because I obviously have no financial means to pay for anything given my wife lost her job, and I have had nothing but 8 yrs. of medical issues ranging from chest pains to an ablated thyroid. I finally got to see this cardiologist on Friday, the day Harvey landed.

By this point, it should be noted most people with any brains and the financial resources to do so, had left the area. Needless to say, the tests the cardiologist wanted me to do could not be done. The person who was required to do the paperwork for people needing financial assistance was gone. Can you blame them? After 8 yrs. of needing to see a cardiologist, it has now been delayed even further by a hurricane. What are the odds?

When will I get to do these tests needed to determine the problem? Who knows? It won’t happen anytime soon, I am certain. With the focus being on all the victims of the hurricane, and the damage done to many buildings and businesses, it may be a year or more before this is even considered. I know for a fact that the cardiologist I saw was located in an area of Sugar Land, TX (Sienna Plantation) that was inundated with water and had several tornadoes to boot. In fact, the very building I saw the cardiologist in may no longer exist.

In all likelihood, I will probably never get any of those tests done. How long do you think a person can live with chest pains before dying? My guess is I already exceeded any normal expectations.

If I am experiencing delays because of this hurricane, as the focus will surely remain on flood victims and destroyed property, how many of the other millions of people with existing health problems will also face a similar situation? Surely, a guess of thousands is not outrageous.

Fear not my friends, for death is a blessing in disguise. The years of misery and pain are over. The frustration of watching others live beautiful lives while you drown in ill health, unpaid bills and constant stress have ended.

We will remain the unspoken ones. Never whispered or remembered.

I do realize many will not suffer the same fate as I, but at the same time see that there must be others out there going through the same thing. I could wish nothing worse on another, but simple common sense says it must be so. Those with existing healthcare issues will be cast aside as the latest issues of the day are focused on.

I can rest easy in my fate though. I have learned over the years that a world that cares not for its people does not deserve the gifts of those it ignores. It is a hard thing to say and have to believe. Yet evidence yields no other choice. I tried to make people care about my blight once.

I set up a gofundme campaign and was criticized and bullied for my efforts. It was in that moment that I fully realized the depravity of this planet. I won’t waste the few precious moments left in my life to do so again. I will die quietly and peacefully, without the hatred, tyvm.

Instead, I will ask that you, each and every one of you, try not to forget those who have existing health conditions and need more than just material possessions replaced. They are out there! There are many! Please do not let them die too!

The media and others will ignore this post. They never want to reveal the true nature of themselves and humanity. They don’t want you to see that other people don’t matter. They prefer to paint gold on crap rather than try to remove it. If you have read this story and don’t share it, you are part of the problem. You are one of those people I am speaking about. If this bothers you, I do not care. If you do not care about the plight of others, why should I care about your feelings? The world does not rotate around you, nor me. The minute you see this, the world is a better place. I have spoken my mind on this, can you do the same? Here is your chance to actually do something that matters. Will you do it?

 

JB(AXE)

From my heart to yours…

I have spent most of the last 17 yrs. online. I have spoken too and litterly met 1000s of people. I never once in a all that time, dreamed this world was filled with people who possessed stone hearts. I guess as they hide behind their glass screens they are able to deceive with perfection.

Funny thing is, with all those people I met and spoke to individually, not one thought it was worth $5.00 to keep me around. Yep, that is all any one would have had to donate to fulfill the goal I set for the gofundme campaign. Actually, it is not really funny. I suppose it just heart breaking to find out that EVERYONE was this cold toward another human being.

I am usually moved towards large speeches in times like this but find myself unwilling to project those words to you. Instead, I will keep it simple.

I will be suspending ALL internet activity until further notice. I have to process if getting online and spending time with people, who clearly do not want to be my friends, is in my best interest. It is taking me back down into a darkness that I had thought I’d left behind.

Until forever ends…

JB

It’s not about me…it is about her!

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This entire gofundme campaign was not something she asked me to do. It was entirely my idea. Why would I do such a thing without asking? The answer is quite simple…really!

My wife suffered a stroke less than 2 yrs. ago. While it is debatable whether the stroke was caused by her working a lot of overtime at the time or just something meant to happen. It is still a fact! This entire situation has her stressed to the max and who could blame her. In losing her job, she lost all income AND all hopes of having any kind of retirement outside of poverty. All benefits are gone! All ability to pay bills is gone. All hope is gone!

This is not something anyone deserves, especially someone who has worked their ass off for more than 30+ yrs. to provide for her family. Whatever problems occurred, she arose to the challenge, and made sure everything was taken care of, no matter how many hours of work it required. She gave her lifeblood to being responsible.

Furthermore, she is just a downright good person. EVERYONE and I do actually mean everyone who has met her always speaks about how “nice” my wife is.  Frankly, it sometimes makes me sick. But it does beg the question, do truly good people deserve to be punished, for doing nothing, but being good to others?

I don’t believe so and I doubt you do either. However, if we do not get some help, she is going to continue stressing over this, until she is hospitalized or dead. This I cannot just sit idly by and watch. The Gofundme campaign was to help avoid this altogether.

You can believe me when I say this, my wife most certainly would rather have a job, than have me ask total strangers for money. She has been looking every single night, hours upon hours, until she litterly falls asleep at the kitchen table in her searches. She does not want to lose our home, go bankrupt, or live on the streets.

Sadly all 3 of those thing are likely to happen without help. I understand and get that some people can’t or won’t help for whatever reason, however, anyone can share this. The power is within your grasp. This campaign is not just about her though. It is also about YOU. What kind of person are you? Would you turn your back on an old lady who was crying in the street or would you offer some kind of assistance? Only you know the answer to this question! If you choose to ignore this cry for help, then you most certainly need to take a look in the mirror, and live with what you see.

I have done my part. I have created this campaign and when to vast lengths to get the word out and offer everyone an opportunity, to either be a good and caring person, or to be an uncaring jerk. The choice is yours!

As a final note, I have never created any of the music, writings, and photographs because I desired money. Sure, that was a side benefit, but it was not my main goal. I have always sought, first and foremost, to enrich peoples lives with my words and actions. I can look in the mirror this night knowing, I have given much and received very little in return. Can you say the same?

If you wish to contribute to the gofundme campaign, just go to this link-http://tw.gofund.me/fight-against-cooperate-america&pc=tw_co_share_m&rcid=r01-149978880781-8dfa28a6b2d64103

If you can’t contribute, for whatever reason, please at least share the link with anyone and everyone. I don’t want you to have to look in the mirror and not like what you see. Believe me, I have been there and would not wish that on anyone. Furthermore, I don’t want to lose my wife because cooperate American decided to throw her away. Please help in one way or another. The goal is set for one year’s salary. I would not ask for anything more than is actually needed. Thank you for your time and my God or whatever higher power you believe in, bless your life for helping!

JB