How to get started in stamp collecting?

My Stamp Treks photographs are inspired by the postage stamps that I collect. As any philatelist (aka stamp collector) knows, many of these gems are miniature works of art. Given the limitation of such a small size, its amazing how intricate and diverse the subjects depicted on the stamps can be. There’s rich national heritage embodied in these works – its fascinating to learn about people, places, and events commemorated on our stamps.

Stamp collecting supplies

Stamp collecting supplies

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What is waymarking?

In my Stamp Treks posts, I include a link in the resource list that lists waymarks in the area related to the article post. If you are wondering what these are, read on…

Waymarks are similar to geocaches, but rather than finding a box of trinkets, the destination itself is the find. Waymarks are often associated with specific types of places – buildings such as libraries, museums, monuments. Or they could be scenic places like parks, lakes, and mountains.

The waymarking.com website acts as a registry of millions of waymarks entered by fellow waymarkers. You search the website for a particular location and/or category of waymark (eg firehouses, castles, etc) near a street or town. The site lists all the matching waymarks. Similar to a geocache, you select the entries of interest and load their GPS coordinates into your GPS device or smartphone app and then find the location.

Website waymarking.com search page

Website waymarking.com search page

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What is geocaching?

In my Stamp Treks posts, I include a link in the resource list that lists geocaches in the area related to the article post. If you are wondering what these are, read on…

Geocaching is like a high-tech treasure hunt. Its popularity has risen dramatically the last few years due to the geocaching.com website which acts as a registry of millions of geocaches worldwide. A cache is typically a small waterproof box that contains a logbook and some small trinkets – the contents aren’t the prize, the fun of the hunt is.

Website geocaching.com search page and a Garmin GPS device

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What are artistic filters?

I often use  software programs that alter my photographs to give them a “painterly” look. Many photo editing programs, such as Picasa, Photoshop, and others offer built-in artistic filters. There are also more sophisticated  programs which are often plug-ins (or extensions) to advanced editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. These programs change the image in such a way as to make brush-strokes appear or accentuate outlines like line drawings.

I use a plugin called Simplify from Topaz LabsAs the name suggests, this plugin simplifies the image by removing details, giving objects a more “blocky” appearance where color transitions are more pronounced and outlines can be made more crisp. There are a variety of effects that can be applied, including oil painting, watercolor, pastel, and line drawing to name just a few. All these can be adjusted to create unique effects that dramatically change the look of a photograph. The resulting image may even accentuate certain colors that would otherwise be hidden in an object, similar to how a painter’s brush often contains a variety of colors in a single brushstroke.

The sample below shows the original photo on the left transformed using the program to achieve a watercolor-like effect that worked well for this subject, a wave breaking on the rocky shore of Prout’s Neck in Maine.

art-filter-technique

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