Adding & Editing My Header

Original unedited base image via Wikimedia Commons
Original unedited base image via Wikimedia Commons

So unfortunately, I was out sick for the class that we learned hands-on about image-editing. But fortunately, I’ve had some experience over the last decade with various lite image editing software like Jasc Paint Shop Pro, among others. So I was relieved to launch Pixlr and find a similar, user-intuitive interface that I was already comfortable navigating.

The first thing I did was find two complementary images on Google Image Search that I would be happy using. This was probably most challenging due to the need to find two images that I liked that were licensed properly for free, non-commercial, editable use. I’m very picky when it comes to aesthetics, and really wanted to keep my cactus theme since cacti have a personal meaning to me (as a unique flora they are beautiful, strong, resilient, contradictory and enigmatic). Also, I didn’t want two very different images since visually, for me at least, I really prefer thematic consistency. (Which is probably my OCD kicking in!) Luckily, I found some images I was happy with – even more so later when I got to editing!

The editing part came fairly naturally. I opened my base photo first, edited the brightness, contrasts (to make it pop), saturation, and hue (to make it more green and mystical-looking), and set the size to the necessary dimensions for my WordPress theme. Then I opened the additional image of a single round cactus, tinkered with the saturation, hue, and contrast again, and free-hand cut the image to make it rounder around certain edges, finally placing (pasting) it atop the right side of my base image.

Edited, un-cropped base image with altered hue, saturation, contrast, etc.; original photo via Wikimedia Commons
Edited, un-cropped base image with altered hue, saturation, contrast, etc.; original photo via Wikimedia Commons

Before this assignment, however, I hadn’t actually known of Pixlr, but I think I can now use this in my everyday life to make my social media more visually interesting, as well as use the software to edit images for some sites and blogs I run or work for. Since it’s an open online software, too, I am definitely happy to know I can use it anywhere, not just on my laptop or desktop at home!

In “Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls,” Coleman talks about the emergence, cultural implications, and popularity of Internet memes, noting that these are always “under constant modification by users (p. 109).” This got me thinking about image editing and remixing, since most Web users, I think anyway, are always saving and taking images they find that they like and editing or altering them into something new and valuable in their own right, adding their own spin or perspective on it. I think that’s what this assignment had us do, as well.

Getting Started: Creating This Blog

Via Brains on Fire
Via Brains on Fire

I found creating this blog to be incredibly easy and user-intuitive. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, first on LiveJournal, then on Blogspot, and currently on WordPress for a number of other personal and work-related projects, so creating this blog was very familiar for me.

I began by selecting my theme and customizing it visually to feel “right” for me, and then moved on to creating the core pages as well as adding content to them. Finally, I selected general blog widgets and settings in order to meet class requirements.

According to Ciotti’s article, “a ‘clean’ site is an inviting site that is easy to read, easy to navigate, but that still has some personality.” I tried to keep this idea in mind when customizing my blog, keeping the user interface minimalist and appropriate for class, while still injecting some of my personality into the colors of the theme as well as the more personal content, such as my “Meet the Editor” page and header.

Via TechGYD
Via TechGYD

In addition, in Turner’s article, “Where the Counterculture Met the New Economy,” the author discusses the emergence of virtual communities, and speaks of these communities as hearkening back to tribal, social communities. Since this blog is a place for discussion and conversation, I tried to create a comfortable and simple space for my peers to contribute, a place that would be easy to navigate, feel friendly, and welcome feedback and commentary.

So, welcome!