The Best Pictures from 2010

12/31/2010 at 12:40 PM (Bays and Beaches, Landscapes, National Parks, Photography, Travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Photography has been a hobby of mine for almost five years now once I got my Nikon D-40 for my 21st birthday. This hobby has become a staple of my holidays since my family is into taking rigorous walks in National Parks and State Reserves to various Lookout Points and I regularly attended the photo camps held by my camera club. So I figured I might share some of my favourite snaps from 2010.

The Boathouse at Cradle Mountain © Sarasi Peiris

This photograph was obtained after walking the 6 km Dove Lake circuit in Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. A goal definitely worth attaining after sore legs since a 10 minute walk would have sufficed from the other direction.

The Dam Bridge at Maroondah Reservoir Park © Sarasi Peiris

This was taken during a camp trip to the Yarra Valley. The flight of stairs and then the additional track to the lookout point is recommended for the view from above. Just be fit or you’ll be panting.

Yering Winery © Sarasi Peiris

After being treated to a wine tasting, I explored Yering Winery. This view from their expansive balcony  large enough to hold over a hundred people caught my attention because of the stunning colours.

Dingo at Healesville Sanctuary © Sarasi Peiris

Wildlife photography is something I usually shy away from because my basic lens cannot do it  justice. However this dingo was so cute  I couldn’t resist. Given their appearance, it is hard to believe these are wild dogs.

Apollo Bay © Sarasi Peiris

This picture appears very generic thanks to the countless reproductions of scenery taken from the drive on Great Ocean Road. However this picture I took during the Easter photo club camp appeals to me as one of my best.

Blue Lake at Mt Gambier © Sarasi Peiris

During the return trip from our April vacation, we had a stopover in Mt Gambier. After waking up at sunrise we went on a walk around the perimeters of Blue Lake. What’s one night of missed beauty sleep for a view like this?

Glenelg Beach © Sarasi Peiris

This lovely expanse of ocean was the view from my hotel balcony on Easter Sunday. Located in the South Australian seaside town of Glenelg, this beach is a great sight to behold.

Wineglass Bay © Sarasi Peiris

This was a day I was particularly thankful for good weather because the 3 hour walk  to Wineglass Bay is not what anyone would dismiss as easy. Though if  you feel able to  handle it , some great photo opportunities abound.

Erskine Falls © Sarasi Peiris

I was feeling far too cold and wet to go down to the bottom of the falls and at 6.30 pm on a cold autumn day, it was not really enticing. But I love the contrast between the waterfall and surrounding foliage.

Victor Harbour © Sarasi Peiris

This photo is of Victor Harbour in the Fleurieu Peninsula on the way to Adelaide and this causeway is the route the horse-drawn tram uses to carry passengers from the mainland to Granite Island.

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Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales – Part II

12/08/2010 at 10:34 AM (Art, Fairy Tales, Movies) (, , , , , , , )

So as I was saying ….

4. Beauty and the Beast.

In this tale of Beauty and the Beast , the narrative deviates from the usual damsel in distress stereotype since Beauty in effect tames the Beast and that distances her from the women who need rescuing from heroes. Belle is actually one of the foremost independent, wilful and resourceful Disney characters. Notice that she is not a princess – she comes from a working class background.  Sometimes I feel this is one reason for the universal appeal of this story and as it is so adaptable to numerous situations , it has spawned into other manisfestations in several guises.

Within the exhibition, it was interesting to note the designs the artists originally created to portray the Beast. The first resembled a wildebeest/warthog/swine-like combination or a bigger, nastier looking version of Pumbaa from The Lion King. It had protrudring tusks and long teeth with furrowed bases. Even I felt inclined to agree when my friend commented, “Kids wouldn’t have liked that one. He’s too ugly looking. ”

The second illustration was based on an orangutan and possessed distinctive simian features. But the monkey like appearance made it difficult to conceive the creature in a non-humorous, brooding aspect. It just felt too much like he should have belonged in the accumulations of Dr. Doolittle.

The third beast was the one they went with. He was actually an assortment of animals but the big mane of hair, in my view, gives him a lion-like aspect. All the designs however had stuck to the ponytail with the bow. The fact he looks like a big cat  with soft, haunting eyes I feel contributes to make him an appealing beast.

6.  The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid, another perennial favourite of many, was in the adjacent exhibit. A video installation consisting of the scene where Ursula forces to Ariel to sign a contract which states she will exchange her melodious voice for the ability to be human played interchanging with the tunnel scene where human Ariel and Prince Eric enjoyed their boat ride to the accompaniment of Kiss the Girl by Peter Andre.

The artist who designed Ariel’s hair which moved and flowed along with her in the water modeled it on the view of a female astronaut’s hair in space.

7. The Princess and The Frog

This was a fim that was mired in controversy as soon as Disney thought it would be nice to have an African-American princess. Even though it bears little relation to the princess who lost her golden ball in the original story, it is an interesting take on an old classic. Then there’s the issue of Tiana tying the knot with Latin American prince Naveen and the outcry about her not doing so with someone of the same race.

But then if you consider the union in the Little Mermaid , Prince Eric was a far cry away from Ariel’s species! So I  fail to understand what this hullaballoo regarding interracial marriage is about …

The artwork of New Orleans and Louisiana bayou is beautifully done and the vibrant colours have a decidedly different aesthetic from other Disney films. Perhaps it is a result of the new territory they explore with this feature.

8. Tangled

I cannot pass any judgement on the film’s merit as it is not yet released but I have heard awestruck exclamations about the painstaking artwork required Rapunzel’s 3D hair for which they assigned an artist singularly responsible for that particular part of her anatomy. Her  hair  movement was based on the gliding mechanism of a slithering snake which seems to have made it easier for looping, coiling and tying actions.

Rapunzel and Flynn in Tangled

It was with delight I noted her rescue in Tangled would steer away from the tried and tested forms by Disney. The hero Flynn seems to possess a lot of the features of John Smith from Pocohontas although he’s a brunette rather than a blonde. It is probably for the best since who would want to compete with Rapunzel’s locks?

By its conclusion, I realised strangely a lot of my favourite members of the Disney canon were missing. Esmeralda, Mulan, Pocohontas – these ladies did not make an appearance which was disappointing. Is it something to do with race? One is most likely Eastern European since she is a Gypsy, the next is from the Far East and  from an oriental background while the last is a Native American.

Nevertheless for an exhibition titled Dreams Come True, it  did a unique job of transporting me into Disney’s classic art.

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Dreams Come True : The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales – Part 1

12/07/2010 at 11:57 AM (Art, Books, Fable, Family, Movies, Romance) (, , , , , )

Everybody seems to know Disney as the maker of animated films which end in happily ever after. The exhibition at ACMI that I attended on the weekend offered fascinating insight into the concept artwork , creative process and the final creation of well-known and much loved Disney animated characters that was categorised into eight separate areas.  It is apparent even the animation industry is going through a significant shift from 2D to 3D as the digital world becomes all pervasive as it ranged from Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme based animation to the new Tangled movie that is loosely based on the tale of Rapunzel.

1. The Introduction












This area was devoted to explaining who Walt Disney was and illuminating us as to what his vision was when he decided to use old folk tales, legends, mythology and European fairy tales as inspiration for his animated artwork. Even though he lacked any formal education , visits to the public library  where he read books on animation turned out to be immensely useful as they imparted the knowledge he desired. As he expressed, ” all our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

This is where the audience is introduced to Mickey Mouse who happens to be an original character created by Disney to rival Felix the Cat , created by Pat Sullivan, and who arrived ahead of  the full length fairy tale features. Within the exhibition area, we are treated to a film clip about Mickey that uses the concept of Jack and the Beanstalk. This was during the time he created features like The Three Little Pigs, The Ugly Duckling and The Country Cousin.

2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White, the original tale which derives from the Brother Grimm version from Germany, has a special place in motion picture history.

  • It was the first full length cel animated feature in the world of movies.
  • It was the first animated feature film produced in America.
  • It was the first animated feature that was produced in full colour.
  • It was the first animated full length feature produced by Walt Disney.

The transformation of the Wicked Queen from her usual appearance to ugly hag in her underground laboratory was the most complex level of animation undertaken at that stage. To achieve the voice changes, the actress Lucille La Verne who voiced the Queen removed her false teeth was an interesting tidbit I picked up.

3. Cinderella

Cinderella was in the next section of the exhibit and as inspiration was taken from the narrative popularised by French writer Charles Perrault, the story is very similar. Interestingly, live action models were used for this film and they were responsible for heavily influencing many of Cinderella’s mannerisms, especially Helene Stanley.

She had an even larger influence on Aurora (Briar Rose), who is otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. The earliest Cinderella story however comes from China and actually originated during the  Tang dynasty.

4. Sleeping Beauty

This is a favourite Disney film of mine as it has a magnificent villain in the form of Maleficent (which aptly means evil-doer). So perhaps those who believe these classic animations are simply  kiddie films and lack symbolism are in the wrong. Much of the Disney canon utilises myth and metaphor to a deeper extent if you look beyond the surface.

Aurora also happens to be my favourite princess although not my best loved Disney character . That title goes to the lovely Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame based on the novel of Victor Hugo, also the author of Les Miserables. The artwork in Sleeping Beauty happens to be amazing which comes as no surprise as it was influenced by medieval European history  especially in dress design with a touch of 1950s glamour (think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday) and then topped off with a dash of Persian design in background illustration.

What I noticed from most of these were that the villains were mostly older women who had issues with other women being younger or prettier or more resourceful. If symbolism is present, what does that mean?

But then we come to the story of Beauty and the Beast which is a different affair completely.

To be Continued…

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