Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
01-13-2020, 02:21 AM - 6 Likes   #1
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
cprobertson1's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
Posts: 200
Random photography-subject generator

I got into photography a few years ago, back in 2017, and by the end of 2018 I had learned enough about my camera to want to expand my horizons and start "dabbling" in different subjects.

While I do love just going for a walk and photographing whatever takes my fancy... I find that this approach can sometimes be unintentionally limiting! I enjoy it, but sometimes I find myself wanting to work outside my comfort zone, and not really knowing where to start.

So, towards the end of 2018, I wrote a "random subject generator" script which generates a number of text files using a few sets of keywords, which are fully customisable.

It's fairly simple in operation: you choose how many files to generate, and it automatically runs the script once for each file, and numbers them sequentially in a dated folder (and the folder itself will be numbered as well, so you can have more than one folder per date).

For each file, the script picks a "subject", a "modifier", and a "genre" from separate lists of keyword, and if chosen, a "challenge" too - everything is chosen randomly.

Because it is a random affair, the subjects picked may not make a lot of sense: I could actually use a technique called "Markov chaining" to fix that, but I have deliberately left the program stupid in order to get more interesting results.

For instance, it might suggest a subject like "water" and a modifier of "dryness" - at first glance, these might be contradictory - but to me, it encourages me to look at the contrast between these opposing concepts: it reminds me of a fond memory from long ago - two lovers huddled in a doorway from the rain.

It then assembles these random bits and bobs into a file with a simple header, a quick description of what to do, and an optional challenge.




I've included some example files below.

I would usually use this by telling the script to generate 2-3 files, and then I'd pick my favourite - this allows me to pick one that seems interesting - like a "macro landscape" (I'll let you guys figure out how to accomplish that! I succeeded in creating a macro landscape shot; can you?...). Other times I'll generate a single file that "must" be used, regardless of how weird it is: like "pebbles-weirdness".




For now I'll get a copy of the script put up on github for anybody who might like a copy. It's written in python with a few config text-files sitting at the side, so it's very customisable and easily readable.

At some point in the future, I'd like to look at getting it put up on the interweb as a single-serving-site - but I'd need to figure out some low-traffic hosting solution for that. I'd also need to program it again!



I hope somebody might have found that interesting - I might start a thread where I post up random files periodically for people to have fun with: I also considered making a "weekly challenge" series based around it, where I generate a whole bunch of them as a batch and make a calendar out of it!

If anybody wants more info, feel free to enquire

Attached Files
File Type: txt 0-ARCHITECTURE-MATTE-ABSTRACT.txt (820 Bytes, 33 views)
File Type: txt 1-SUMMER-DIAGONALS-ABSTRACT.txt (728 Bytes, 17 views)
File Type: txt 2-WILDLIFE-ORGANIC SHAPES-SIMPLE.txt (732 Bytes, 15 views)
File Type: txt 3-PLANTS-RULE-OF-ODDS-SIMPLE.txt (818 Bytes, 16 views)
File Type: txt 4-STRANGERS-POLLUTION-MACRO.txt (722 Bytes, 15 views)
01-13-2020, 04:20 AM - 2 Likes   #2
Senior Moderator
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
BigMackCam's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: North-East of England
Posts: 14,129
QuoteOriginally posted by Bassat Quote
Let me get this right. You thought of all the input data for this script. You thought of all the output for this script. You thought of all the modifiers for this script. You spent time coding this script. You spent time typing this post for PF. I am beginning to get a feel for what is holding you back photographically. Push away from the computer. Grab a camera. Do your thinking while holding the camera, not the keyboard. Let us know how that goes.
I agree that there's a lot of time and effort involved in what the OP has done here, but perhaps he got just as much enjoyment from this technology exercise, as he does from his photography?

I think the idea is pretty cool, actually... and there's plenty of thinking required to produce photos that match the suggested themes

Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-13-2020 at 08:33 AM.
01-13-2020, 04:57 AM - 2 Likes   #3
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
cprobertson1's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
Posts: 200
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Bassat Quote
Let me get this right. You thought of all the input data for this script. You thought of all the output for this script. You thought of all the modifiers for this script. You spent time coding this script. You spent time typing this post for PF. I am beginning to get a feel for what is holding you back photographically. Push away from the computer. Grab a camera. Do your thinking while holding the camera, not the keyboard. Let us know how that goes.

Chillax, m'man! This was a fun script for having fun times - have fun with it! I certainly am! That's why I shared it here!



It was written entirely for fun, with the added bonus of giving me a nudge in directions I wouldn't usually try on my usual forays.

It took about ten minutes to kludge together, at a time when I didn't have a camera to-hand. Looking at the logs, the code has been modified three times in the last year, plus seven list-edits to add new keywords. The total time-spent is 45 minutes, over the course of a-little-over a year.

It has more than adequately completed it's goal of giving me more diverse things to look for - it has done an admirable job of getting me "thinking while holding the camera" because it regularly takes me to the same places but searching for different things each time!

I have been down the exactly same riverside path by my house about twenty times. It's less than a kilometre long - and each time I've gone down it I've been looking at something different - appreciating new things - how the mist rolls down the banks - how the leaves lie on the path - how the sun beats its way through the canopy - how the rain floods the path and runs in rivulets down the trunk - how the freaky mushrooms grow to ridonkulous sizes after it rains and the fruiting bodies die off hours later, their purpose spent. I've met deer there - I've been blown around by the wind as I tried to express its force in pictorial form - I've been soaked to the bone trying to capture on the sensor what that feels like - I've done things I've never done before and would never have even thought of doing with a camera.

It's got me looking at the world in ways I could never have imagined: and it has had me out looking at that world multiple times each week - well worth the 30 minutes I invested in it! Most importantly, however, I've had fun doing it - which is why I posted it up here - so that others may join in on my fun!


On the note of having fun: lunchbreak's over - back to the grindstone!

Once I'm done at the grindstone, I'm going out to capture "straightness" in a landscape style while focusing on an "extremely long exposure". I have no idea where Im going to find straightness in my landscape - at night, because that is when I finish work - but I reckon the nearby motorway would be a good place to start - I would have actively avoided it otherwise!

Last edited by cprobertson1; 01-13-2020 at 05:41 AM.
01-13-2020, 05:06 AM - 1 Like   #4
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Feb 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 7,473
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
Random photography-subject generator
That's not bad, some of the random combinations selected by the photographer can help produce artistic shots. On the practical side however, my main problem with photography is that it's not an additive process like painting. With photography we have to observe our surrounding and frame in a way that make sense graphically. Starting with a constrained challenge makes it harder to create good looking photographs. Sometimes you'll find the subject and can't fit with the challenge, while you can work on the framing and rules that make the subject worth a photograph. So every time I went out with a fixed idea of the photograph I want to take, I came back with nothing. And when I went out with a vague idea but unconstrained by framing & exposure details, I got more luck and came back with pleasing images.

01-13-2020, 06:11 AM - 1 Like   #5
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
cprobertson1's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
Posts: 200
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
Chillax, m'man! This was a fun script for having fun times - have fun with it! I certainly am! That's why I shared it here!

It was written entirely for fun, with the added bonus of giving me a nudge in directions I wouldn't usually try on my usual forays.

...bla-bla-bla-bla-bla...

- I would have actively avoided it otherwise!
Sorry, btw, I was sitting thinking and I realised I may have sounded a bit snippy - sorry! I was trying to sound excited and chipper and bouncy and bubbly while describing my thoughts - I didn't mean it to come across as a harsh rebuke!

There's a dram of whisky by way of apology here with your name with on it next time you're in my neighbourhood
01-13-2020, 06:17 AM - 1 Like   #6
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
sergysergy's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,599
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I might start a thread where I post up random files periodically for people to have fun with: I also considered making a "weekly challenge" series based around it, where I generate a whole bunch of them as a batch and make a calendar out of it!
I was reading the whole thing and thinking of a weekly challenge; then I saw your last paragraph
01-13-2020, 06:27 AM - 1 Like   #7
Veteran Member
Kobayashi.K's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 328
If you like combining photography with programming, another experiment could be to write a random sequencer using the Ricoh SDK (taking photo's at random moments). Put the camera on a tripod, connect to the computer via USB and point the camera at a street scene from your home. Press the button in your app and walk away doing something else. At the end of the day you have a collection of surprising pictures, perhaps some of them even brilliant (tell nobody of the method).
01-13-2020, 06:38 AM   #8
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
cprobertson1's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
Posts: 200
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Kobayashi.K Quote
If you like combining photography with programming, another experiment could be to write a random sequencer using the Ricoh SDK (taking photo's at random moments). Put the camera on a tripod, connect to the computer via USB and point the camera at a street scene from your home. Press the button in your app and walk away doing something else. At the end of the day you have a collection of surprising pictures, perhaps some of them even brilliant (tell nobody of the method).
I've actually done something similar with one of my old Canon point-and-shoot cameras... see, you can actually program them with scripts using the Canon CHDK - pretty sure most of them used LUA.

I've not put one outside yet, but I do have one ready-to-go with a low-energy mode and a motion-trigger (I was going to use it for birds but never got round to it).

It could certainly be fun with the pentax cameras too - longer focal length (and better quality) - I'll need to look into it! It could be as simple as a little microcontroller and a 2.5mm jack for the shutter release or as complex as full handshaking with a computer over the USB - depends on what I want to accomplish, I suppose!

01-13-2020, 07:08 AM - 1 Like   #9
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
MossyRocks's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Minnesota
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,212
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I also considered making a "weekly challenge" series based around it, where I generate a whole bunch of them as a batch and make a calendar out of it!
That sounds like a fun thing but I think Otis would have to be included in the possible subjects list.
01-13-2020, 07:44 AM   #10
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
cprobertson1's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: Irvine, Ayrshire
Posts: 200
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by MossyRocks Quote
That sounds like a fun thing but I think Otis would have to be included in the possible subjects list.
Totally! "A story" is already one of the modifiers - but I think it'd be worth adding "Rupertian collage (a photographic story featuring a critter)" in there as well!
01-13-2020, 09:59 AM   #11
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Feb 2015
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 7,473
Challenge is one way that yield a certain kind of photographs, but not all, for landscape I have another way I can't share my secret here.
01-13-2020, 10:08 AM   #12
Otis Memorial Pentaxian
Loyal Site Supporter
stevebrot's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 34,743
QuoteOriginally posted by Bassat Quote
Let me get this right. You thought of all the input data for this script. You thought of all the output for this script. You thought of all the modifiers for this script. You spent time coding this script. You spent time typing this post for PF. I am beginning to get a feel for what is holding you back photographically.
One might note that the effort need only be done once and that additional "choices" may be added at any time. That said, this is not a chore I would do, but might be the basis for a fun game here on the forums.

I was sort of hoping that this thread might discuss some sort of magic where subjects and good light might appear at the push of a button. Sadly, this is not the case.


Steve
01-13-2020, 10:13 AM   #13
Pentaxian
35mmfilmfan's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Norfolk, UK
Posts: 964
I've only skimmed this thread, so forgive me if I've missed something, but however 'random' you feel your selections are, surely most of them will be within your comfort zone, or at least close to it ? Then you say that out of the choices offered you 'pick your favourite' - doesn't that tend to negate the random factor to an extent ?

My idea of 'random' (and probably mathematically unquantifiable) would be to take a book of images by another photographer (I assume that like, many of us, you have a few around the house ?), open it with your eyes closed, look at the image revealed, then try your own approach to that particular subject - macro, landscape, portrait - whatever turns up.

Just my half-groat's worth.
01-13-2020, 12:37 PM   #14
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
MossyRocks's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Minnesota
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,212
QuoteOriginally posted by 35mmfilmfan Quote
My idea of 'random' (and probably mathematically unquantifiable) would be to take a book of images by another photographer (I assume that like, many of us, you have a few around the house ?), open it with your eyes closed, look at the image revealed, then try your own approach to that particular subject - macro, landscape, portrait - whatever turns up.
I do that, but not by opening to a random page but with images that I stumble upon. The latest one I want to take a stab at is one like this, now if the weather would just cooperate. If I get the chance and can get it all framed up nicely with a 50mm I would run 2 bodies with astrotracer, one with the SMC A 50/1.2 and one with the S-M-C 50/1.4 Takumar to maximize the amount I can capture. I usually do deep sky objects, not wide astro, so most of the time I have a 300mm or 400mm lens on and not a short little 50mm.
01-13-2020, 01:47 PM   #15
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
brewmaster15's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: CT
Posts: 836
QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
I got into photography a few years ago, back in 2017, and by the end of 2018 I had learned enough about my camera to want to expand my horizons and start "dabbling" in different subjects.

While I do love just going for a walk and photographing whatever takes my fancy... I find that this approach can sometimes be unintentionally limiting! I enjoy it, but sometimes I find myself wanting to work outside my comfort zone, and not really knowing where to start.

So, towards the end of 2018, I wrote a "random subject generator" script which generates a number of text files using a few sets of keywords, which are fully customisable.

It's fairly simple in operation: you choose how many files to generate, and it automatically runs the script once for each file, and numbers them sequentially in a dated folder (and the folder itself will be numbered as well, so you can have more than one folder per date).

For each file, the script picks a "subject", a "modifier", and a "genre" from separate lists of keyword, and if chosen, a "challenge" too - everything is chosen randomly.

Because it is a random affair, the subjects picked may not make a lot of sense: I could actually use a technique called "Markov chaining" to fix that, but I have deliberately left the program stupid in order to get more interesting results.

For instance, it might suggest a subject like "water" and a modifier of "dryness" - at first glance, these might be contradictory - but to me, it encourages me to look at the contrast between these opposing concepts: it reminds me of a fond memory from long ago - two lovers huddled in a doorway from the rain.

It then assembles these random bits and bobs into a file with a simple header, a quick description of what to do, and an optional challenge.




I've included some example files below.

I would usually use this by telling the script to generate 2-3 files, and then I'd pick my favourite - this allows me to pick one that seems interesting - like a "macro landscape" (I'll let you guys figure out how to accomplish that! I succeeded in creating a macro landscape shot; can you?...). Other times I'll generate a single file that "must" be used, regardless of how weird it is: like "pebbles-weirdness".




For now I'll get a copy of the script put up on github for anybody who might like a copy. It's written in python with a few config text-files sitting at the side, so it's very customisable and easily readable.

At some point in the future, I'd like to look at getting it put up on the interweb as a single-serving-site - but I'd need to figure out some low-traffic hosting solution for that. I'd also need to program it again!



I hope somebody might have found that interesting - I might start a thread where I post up random files periodically for people to have fun with: I also considered making a "weekly challenge" series based around it, where I generate a whole bunch of them as a batch and make a calendar out of it!

If anybody wants more info, feel free to enquire
That sounds like a great project... one that could easily be expanded as well by you and others if you opted to open source it. I can see applications also for a phone ap.

I cant tell you how many times I have gone out and asked myself .. what do I want to shoot today. Inevitably I find myself falling back on my favorite wildlife/birds and parks etc. By far though I find I am most creative when I start off with thought like.."old"metal, ferns, boats. I think thats because I have to then remember where I saw these things or do some basic search.. and this focuses me. Might be nice to have something like this to get me motivated to shoot other things.

Of course I would still just grab the gear and head out in search of photo opts.. but nothing wrong with narrowing the search once.in awhile.

AL
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
challenge, copy, figure, file, files, focus, folder, fun, hand, idea, macro, photograph, photography, program, script, style, subject, subjects
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Abstract Deep Dream Generator boriscleto Post Your Photos! 67 10-30-2019 01:39 PM
Machinery The old generator MossyRocks Photo Critique 8 08-30-2018 09:51 AM
Night Black Hole Generator + few others MJKoski Post Your Photos! 8 03-31-2017 01:33 AM
Free TiltShift Generator (Adobe Air app) cheekygeek Digital Processing, Software, and Printing 6 01-31-2010 12:13 AM
You don't see this every day - wind generator on fire markf79 Post Your Photos! 14 11-13-2008 04:57 PM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 02:33 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top