Interstellar Exoplanet Ekistics

Lego Astronaut visits Exoplanet surface
Yuri Volkovnikov an ISEE Astronaut visits Exoplanet Gliese 3293 b surface to study Ekistics of the environment.

Yesterday morning I took my boys to school early before the sunrise here.  I drove over to a dirt road area near their school and found some puddles from recent rain storms.  This setting of puddles in a dirt road transformed into the surface of the Exoplanet Gleise 3293 b which is located approximately 59 lightyears from our own solar system.

I am amazed at the amount of exoplanets being discovered in our time.  Detection methods have made it possible to find planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy to the tune of trillions.  From NASA Exoplanet news: “A recent statistical estimate places, on average, at least one planet around every star in the galaxy. That means there’s something on the order of a trillion planets in our galaxy alone, many of them in Earth’s size range.”

While contemplating the commentary of the above image I came up with a new space agency, Interstellar Exoplanet Ekistics.  Ekistics was a new word for me and it perfectly fit my acronym of ISEE.  Ekistics is the study of human settlements.  What better way to explore an Exoplanet than to be looking for future possible settlements in space? The possibility of this future is very exiting to me.  I have always been a fan of space movies and shows including Star Trek: the Next Generation as well as the recent movie Interstellar.  Space really is the final frontier and I feel if we would focus more on the vast exploration potential of space our own planetary political issues would seem infinitesimally insignificant.

Interstellar Star-Rise; the harsh light comes from a brighter star than our own sun. It burns white and is located further from Gliese 3293 b than earth is to our sun.

When editing these shots I really wanted to give a sense of movement and other worldly reality.

I used the Plotagraph app for iPhone.  It uses an intuitive interface of arrows and anchor points to make your image come alive.

Selecting animation points
Selecting animation points

The movement added to this image created a new narrative.  I loved the bokeh but I didn’t necessarily want the surface of this exoplanet to have liquid water.  This bokeh was created  from the sunrise reflecting off a puddle of water.  Adding movement of the bokeh changed the narrative to a landscape unheard of on our earth.  A moving, shifting, magnetized surface of loose polished crystal.  Islands of solid land floating upon the maglev flowing surface.  It really painted an awesome image in my mind.

The flowing technonics on the surface of  Gliese 3293 b can be very dangerous.
The flowing technonics on the surface of Gliese 3293 b can be very dangerous.

In my shooting I did include some alien robots that sneak up on Yuri – but it just did not seem to fit the narrative well so I included them below just for a fun possible scenario.

Life on exoplanet
Yuri detected no life… at least not as we define it on earth.
An angle from the front
Side detail and focus

Overall I love the storyline that anything space entails – it really opens up possibilities in the imagination to create unlimited ideas!

~ Joecow

What do you think about space? About the discovery of trillions of exoplanets?  Do you believe in life besides ours in the vastness of the cosmos? Comment below – I would love to hear your input.

Using Old Glass in Toy Photography

Old Glass
Old Glass

Old Glass

Swirls of light bend and transpose
Stretched and tangled, bokeh galore
Changing perception
Warps the view
Deciding the factors of focus anew
Gathered inception
Sketched and revised, blur adore
Whirls of bright mend and expose

~ Joseph Cowlishaw

Using old glass in toy photography

I love the look of old glass.  It has  unique imperfections that really make the feeling of a photo.  The newer glass is almost too perfect.  They have successfully eliminated the character of uniqueness through perfected manufacturing processes.

I recently purchased a mint copy of the Jupiter 37a lens from a Russian auction.  It shipped from Moscow and arrived to my home only a little over a week later.  I purchased this lens for its uniqueness in creating creamy smooth bokeh.  My brother Nathan Arizona recommended it and after seeing many example of excellent bokeh swirls I decided to get one.

I have also added an old macro lens to my collection – the Minolta Rokkor 50mm.  It has added more dimension to my toy photography with its imperfections and it’s perfect focus at close range.

I recently found an old video lens at a local thrift store – it was only a video telephoto 2x lens and was made during the age of videotape.  It was $10 so I decided to pick it up.  Obviously, the poor quality of this cheap lens hampered my photos by destroying to look of some of my higher end old lenses.  I tried attaching it to the end of my Russian Jupiter 37a lens and the results were horrible.  So I decided to disassemble this video lens and use the inner elements.  I liked how big the glass was and it looked relatively unscathed.  The front element had a bit of coating on it which allowed for some interesting colors and reflections while photographing it.

Coated front lens
I disassembled this lens to use the glass elements!

Charlie saves an old friend

About the same time that I acquired this cheaply built old lens I also received a Charlie Chaplin figure in the mail from

I was trying to figure out how to use him in a shot, and these elements lent me some ideas!

Interdimensional portal
Charlie Chaplin finds and reaches for a blur in time and space…

I thought how cool it would be for Charlie to stumble into unknown territory.  Unknown even to us in all our futuristic grandeur.  The lens worked perfectly for this setting.

Panda Sucked into interdimensional vortex
Charlie’s old friend Panda was inadvertently sucked into the interdimensional vortex
Old Glass lens
It looks as if Charlie is trapped in the old Glass…

I love using my old glass to create new feeling mixed with a retro feel and look.  Plus it has the added benefit of being super affordable. Old glass on a newer camera body means it has to be manually focused and controlled.  Using manual focus has taught me so much about the technical side of photography.  I love being able to change every little detail and setting to get that perfect feel that I am looking for.

Old glass does not mean poor quality.  I have found that some of my old lenses rival my newer autofocus lenses.  And they have the added benefit of character that is hard to reproduce.

I also find it interesting that there are now so many new applications that allow the user to “add” character to their shots.  I guess we miss that feel that comes from character and glass.  It is fun to add these details to the image while composing.  Even more fun than in post processing!