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Tag Archives: gimp

A few weeks back, Yuv posted a how-to on MathMap, a Gimp plugin that allows distortion of images specified in a simple programming language. Yuv’s instruction on compiling from source work fine but you can also grab .deb and .rpm binaries from the MathMap homepage. What made me want to try MathMap was this image I found on FlickR, generated using the Pierce Quincuncial projection – a conformal map projection that presents a sphere as a square. It also has the mind bending recursive Droste effect for maximum weirdness. If you want to play with this projection, copy and paste the script from here. I used fpsurgeon’s version, though I had to comment out two lines at the end to get it to wrap properly (starting imagex= and imagey=).

To get started, load up an equirectangular panorama (aspect ratio must be 2:1) then go to Filters -> Generic -> MathMap and paste in the Quincuncial script. By setting imageH to 1, adjusting the number of tiles and equator level, I quickly came up with this (click for a bigger version).


This one works quite well with multiple tiles as they seem to be interconnected by the Millennium bridge.


Click ‘Drostify’ to apply the Escher-esque effect to the tiles. ‘DrosteP1’ is the number of  strands spiraling in, and ‘DrosteP2’ is the number of repetitions of the basic element per cycle. The effect of the Quincuncial projection is lost a little in this image of Brighton Pier but the Droste effect is fairly insane.


And by playing around with some of the other options you can really go to town. These effects are all so abstract that the problem is knowing when to stop tweaking – it really is quite addictive. Here’s St. Paul’s Cathedral disappearing into a vortex.


Over the weekend I spent about an hour wandering around Canary Wharf in the freezing cold. I would have hung about for longer but my fingers stopped working and I gradually lost the ability to control my camera. I did however manage to capture this rather bizarre image from Cabot Square in the shadow of the UK’s three tallest skyscrapers. Only after I’d stitched these shots together did I realise how symmetrical the place was, and that Cabot Square was in fact a robot in disguise.

cabot place planet

I’ve started playing around with some of the plugins for Gimp from the plugin registry. On Ubuntu you’ll probably need to install libgimp, then you can compile and install from source pretty easily. I find that HDR tends to result in quite ‘noisy’ patches of sky, despite the best efforts of Dynamic Photo HDR to reduce this unwanted effect. I used the magic tool to select the sky then applied a touch of wavelet denoise to reduce this. It works well and in this case also emphasises the rigid buildings against a cleaner, softer sky.

Some of the architecture around Canary Wharf is really impressive. I particularly like the tube station – designed by Sir Norman Foster – which consists of two curved glass canopies at the east and west ends of the station that cover the entrances and refract daylight into the ticket hall below.

canary wharf station

Combining high ISO setting and a fast shutter speed, I was able to get some pretty good hand-held HDR results. Even without the HDR, the lighting, materials and sheer scale of the station create a really futuristic atmosphere – maybe one of the reasons it was used in the post-apocalyptic science fiction zombie film 28 Days Weeks Later.