August 21st 2012

Kong: Do they have shopping trolleys in Britain?

Me: Yeah, we do. . . No, actually we use horse-drawn carriages instead.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
The photo editing app I use the most on my iPhone – Mei Tu Xiu Xiu – has had an update. One of the new features is the decorating of images with speech bubbles! The photo above was taken in Costco earlier this afternoon, the speech bubble something I made up entirely. (I didn’t hear anything the customer or shop assistant said.) But it is one hell of a bloody long cleaning apparatus. I noticed when we approached the checkout, the woman had been charmed into buying it – the handle towering above her trolley.

Shortly after seeing the tallest ever roof/window cleaner, I was also introduced to this gigantic bear.

Price: $29.99

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Costco isn’t a familiar store in Britain. I think there are a few in the country but I’ve never paid a visit. Traditionally, one goes to standard supermarkets or local produce sellers, looking for size alternatives to 40 x 1 packs of toilet roll or plastic cauldrons of sour cream.

Two friends had invited me to a barbecue they were hosting – I accompanied them to Costco for their grocery buying.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

No plastic bags. Just boxes:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

We stopped by my friend’s workplace: a lighting store. From the outside, the shop appears to be collapsing, the chandeliers and light shades drooping everywhere. I know he’ll laugh and smile if he reads what I’ve written about this place; it’s such a standard place for him, going there three times a week for a normal job. And here I am, blogging about this suburban store as if it’s got some sort of symbolic purpose to it.

It’s a magical sight. There, I said it.

There are light shades, lampshades, mirrors of every kind. Even dangling skateboards and vintage planes and rockets! (Not shown here, sorry.) It feels expensive to walk around, despite the actual shopping complex itself being rather plain and red-brick. Weird, what light can do to what you think of a place? The store is like a room where the King couldn’t decide what he wanted; a store containing fragments from all the houses of the world. Or it’s like some sort of disturbing experiment: an obsessive scientist dangling his newfound substances within dangerous proximity of each other.

See what my inventive, pre-set photo editing ‘looks’ can do to make this image come alive…

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Are these door handles or light handles (i.e. you pull them)? Too interested in the details, I didn’t even read of their function in a house.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Even though I never seem to speak fondly of my photo editing app, I use it constantly to make my mediocre quality images appear slightly more unique and eye-catching. Out of all the 5 that I have downloaded onto my iPhone, Mei Tu Xiu Xiu is my favourite. If offers straightening, sharpening, cute/girly frames, and an ample supply of ‘vintage’ looks. I don’t have any specific tastes, I just choose what suits the photo best. I must say, a childish frame can be rather fun.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

What is it with the vintage look fad? I use it all the time and I don’t even know the answer. Perhaps it accentuates certain colours/shades we don’t see with our own human eyes; as everyone has noticed, this becomes very cool. But I still don’t find it more appealing than an image taken with a state-of-the-art new model DSLR camera, with the colours and lighting retained at the normal levels.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

(They have everything! A giraffe lamp?)

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
I’ve flicked through magazines, online clothes stores and other articles which have touched upon this commonly discussed topic – I can see that anything from the past is cool now. Eighties, nineties, forties, grungy, hippy, medieval whatever. The 18th century; time to reveal your inner gothic soul. Lace, gold for that Royal look; caveman bearskins – you know you’ve always wanted to look like a rugged animal. Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Anyway, I’m not experienced enough to talk about the social circumstances which shape fashion.

With Mei Tu Xiu Xiu being a Chinese app, I can hardly read any of the characters beneath each setting – my Chinese reading skills are unbelievably appalling. But from my shallow experience in photo-editing and simple guesswork, I can find myself around. Another new feature in the software update: airbrushing. I decided to have a go, picking a photo of myself which I considered kind of fine, but rather scary and unflattering:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

A friend took this of me…

If unsatisfied with an image of a human, you can:

  1. Adjust highlights, warmth/coolness of colours and shadows.
  2. Remove blemishes.
  3. Make yourself look skinnier.
  4. Remove under-eye circles.
  5. Maximise the size of your eyes. (I know, it sounds crazy.)

Numbers 1-4 are familiar enough. But number 5?! This feature is what sets this app apart from others. Clearly influenced by the image of girls in China/Japan/Korea. See the difference:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I made my nose a little more poreless, my under-eye bags lighter and my eyes enlarged.
And behold, an alien. It doesn’t help that I am holding a ‘peace’ sign; a standard Asian photographic pose is suddenly transformed into something a little more threatening (I wasn’t being serious). I look like some sort of cartoon/Manga demon girl. I terrify myself.

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