Photography Scavenger Hunt – Round 26

The Round 26 of the Photography Scavenger Hunt took place in the past couple of months, and the reveals are all done. We had 10 words for this Hunt, all related to the Wizard of Oz… which I haven’t seen! But oh well, the words could be interpreted in any way, as usual, so that was not a big issue. I only submitted 4 this round – lack of inspiration conspired with lack of time… or more precisely with time used in other ways. To compensate, someone in the Scavenger community gave me the idea of doing a “behind the scenes” type of post, with “this is the original picture, this is the picture I submitted”, so here we go!

Selective Color

The first word that was revealed was the first one I shot, coincidentally πŸ™‚ Here’s the picture I submitted:

The idea came by chance – Pierre made some chocolate meeples to start experimenting with making his own chocolate molds (with ComposiMold), and he had put a red plastic one in the bowl as a joke. I played with a lot different configurations and structures before settling on this – which I took quite some time setting up in my lightbox with a ruler and everything! And then I spent quite some time experimenting with the lights and the different angles and so on, until I ended up with this in camera (that’s the RAW exported in Darktable as JPG without any extra processing):

The physical setup was my lightbox with my seamless background paper and a couple of LumeCubes to illuminate the scene. Post-processing was essentially cropping, fixing the light levels, and quite a lot of detail clean-up (turns out, chocolate on paper tends to leave some traces…).

Courage

For this one, I had a very clear image in my head of what I wanted, which is VERY rare, and I actually managed to pull it off, which I’m very proud of. This is what I submitted:

This is one of the most personal images I ever made, especially associated to that word – I wanted to convey the courage that comes with showing vulnerability and offering/opening one’s heart to another person.

And this is the main part of the image:

The photography setup was, well, me, a tripod, a remote (I don’t remember what I did there, I’m assuming I put a delay and put it back in my pocket before posing, or something), and a LumeCube with a red filter and a barn door to orient the light where I wanted it. One of my fellow Scavengers had made a talk during the Meetup about his Ghostrider image (you can see a speed edit here) and I definitely had that talk in mind when I got the idea of using the cube as a placeholder for the heart to give it a glowing aspect. I got the heart from PixelSquid, another resource I heard of during the Meetup. And then the final image was essentially finding the right image in the gazillion I took with that light, editing it to my liking in Darktable (crop, levels, that sort of things), adding the heart in GIMP, and adding a bit of shadows on the heart so that it looked reasonable – which is ALSO something I learnt about during the Meetup. All in all, I find it funny and kind of wonderful that I call this one of my most personal pictures ever, and it’s all assembling things that I learnt/saw during that meetup πŸ˜€ (Oh, the LumeCubes were also a post-meetup addition to my collection :D)

Sepia

I believe my Sepia submission is the weakest of the four I submitted, but eh, better a weak submission than no submission, so THERE.

I started playing around with calligraphy recently, and I do own a bottle of sepia ink, so that kind of felt like a natural fit (and it suited me better than trying to do a sepia post-processing of something else). And then I also looked for inspiration on what to write, I looked for quotes, and I quite liked this one (which also has the advantage of ending with the word sepia, which I liked for “making things obvious” reasons). The longest part of making this image was to write the quote – I made multiple drafts on lined paper before I felt confident on this one – and still ended up hyphenating a word, which I would have preferred avoiding, but oh well. I also ended up needing to thicken my ink before I was able to do something reasonable with it (note: arabic gum works really well πŸ™‚ ). And it’s a Nikko G nib and Rhodia white paper, if you’re wondering. And that’s the picture out of camera:

As you can see, pretty minimal edits on this.

Rainbow

Rainbow is probably the picture that took me the most time for this Hunt. Here’s what I submitted:

I was first thinking along the lines of playing with a prism, or doing SOME variation of the well-known Pink Floyd album cover, until I got a flash of “ooooooh, I know how to get rainbows!”. I started playing around without much success, until I called The Internet to the rescue and read this: How to Make and Photograph Rainbow Water Droplets on a CD.

And here’s the “out of camera” RAW-to-JPG conversion:

For this one, I have an extra picture, which is the “studio setup”:

So: CD, white table, room that can be darkened, tripod with a tilting center column (<3 Manfrotto), a way to make water drops and to remove dust, and a LumeCube. Also to be noted: there is a SOCK on top of my camera, because the very white PENTAX logo was reflecting in the CD on my first attempts (which sucked). The idea for the rainbow CD picture is to have a fairly long exposition (I had 20 seconds there), and to move around the CD with a light to create the rainbow effect. It took me A LOT of experimentation and A LOT of shots to get the one I finally decided for. And then it took me A LOT of time to get a clean image. It turns out that CDs tend to be slightly scratchy, slightly dusty, and even if you don’t see it on naked eye, that’s ALL YOU CAN SEE when you have an enlarged picture of them on your screen. So I spent a lot of time in Darktable to clean up the image.

All in all, it’s nothing much more than a very “technical” image – I’m still quite happy with it, and I feel it was worth the effort, because I quite like it πŸ™‚ Funny coincidence, though: the day after the deadline for the Hunt, I took a double take on that wall in the office:

I must admit it made me smile (and then hunt down HOW that rainbow actually appeared – I think the bottom of one of the glass doors was hit by the sun in just the right way at the right time πŸ™‚

The other words!

As mentioned, we did have ten words, although I only submitted four – but here’s the full list, with links to the albums of pictures submitted by my fellow Scavengers!

Cool stuff

Here’s a question you should ask about every climate change plan [text] – an article about the carbon dioxide emissions of the production of steel, concrete and other building material. I learnt stuff πŸ™‚

How Cameras and Light LIE About Food [medium-length video] – a neat video about the impact of light temperature on food aspect (and the impact on food photography).

Scott’s Supreme Quantum Supremacy FAQ! – Aaronson is my primary source of information when it comes to quantum computing – and this might be the first time I see him carefully optimistic (with a lot of “hypothetically” :P) about something that went into the general press, so there’s that.

23rd September 2019: Making the Mandelbrot prettier – Alun is back to his Mandelbrot generator, which means I’m probably going to go back to mine Soonβ„’ (but right now my pet project is a Kotlin ray tracer)

Makes a mandelbrot test pattern video – relatedly, I just learnt that there’s a way to generate a Mandelbrot zoom video from FFMPEG.

How to Send a File – Randall Munroe (the guy from XKCD) is publishing a new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. How to Send a File is a sample chapter, and it made me giggle more than once.

How to Boil the Perfect Egg – SCIENCE! involving peeling and double-blind testing 700 eggs.

Microsoft Flight Simulator – E3 2019 – Announce Trailer – Microsoft is releasing a new Flight Simulator. I’ve never played it much, and I probably won’t play this one because of time, patience, and platform. But it’s SO PRETTY.

Le Creuset x Star Wars – now THAT’S a mashup I was NOT expecting. That’s also a mashup I didn’t know I NEEDED until now. Dammit.

Catching up on #balisebooks

Well look at that, summer went and came and it’s been a while since I wrote a #balisebooks post… let’s fix that, shall we? The good thing is that I didn’t read that much during these past three months, so it’s still a reasonable-sized #balisebooks πŸ™‚ I do have, like, four longer/more time consuming books still in progress in parallel, so the next one may also either be short or delayed πŸ™‚

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding – Jennifer Robson

A historical novel that follows the story of embroiderers working for Norman Hartnell, designer of the wedding gown of (future) Queen Elizabeth II. I reaaaaally wanted to love everything about that book, and I almost did, except for a particularly unpleasant plot point that felt… avoidable. And it is a pity, really, because if not for that plot point, that book would probably have ended up in the (tiny) list of “to re-read when I need something comforting” books. I still really liked a lot of things about that book, and in particular all the details about the embroidery work!

Persepolis Rising / Tiamat’s Wrath – James S.A. Corey

Those are the books #7 and #8 of The Expanse, and they happen after a 30-ish-year leap after the end of #6. And there is not much more than I can say without the context of the first six books, soooo… I was a bit afraid at the “ah. 30 years later. Okayyyyy” bit, because I was afraid of “losing” something, in a way. But this was still very enjoyable, very emotional at times, and I cannot wait for book #9, planned for next year. And in the meantime, I have a few short stories/novellas from the universe that I haven’t read yet, which I’m looking forward to.

Beyond Addiction – Kit Rocha

Book #5 of the Beyond post-apo romance series. Finn and Trix knew each other when they both lived in Sector Five and were both addicts; Trix got out (and ended up with the O’Kanes in Sector Four), Finn thinks she’s dead… until she get kidnapped back to Sector Five. The backstory is still great, I liked the couple of this book, the steamy scenes are, well, exactly that (although I have some reservations about a specific one, but eh), what more do you want? πŸ™‚

Radicalized – Cory Doctorow

These are four novellas set in societies that are juuuust different enough from ours to call them dystopias, and definitely close enough that they’re scary. In Unauthorized Bread, Salima, who’s a refugee, finds ends up needing to hack her toaster oven, because the company that makes it gets bankrupt. Trouble ensue. Model Minority is a re-take on Superman (vs police racism and brutality) – I must say I don’t remember much of that story, actually. In Radicalized, the lack of universal health care leads to people organizing and planning terrorist attacks. And The Masque of the Red Death is a story about a post-apocalyptic bunker community. All in all, four very solid stories – with enough humor that they are not thoroughly depressing. The politics are Not Subtle, but then you don’t read Doctorow if you have something against Not Subtle Politics πŸ˜‰

The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness – Andy Puddicombe

Headspace is one of the meditation apps I use (less often than I want to these days, but oh well), and Andy Puddicombe is the face (and voice) of that app. That book explains the approach and sprinkles it with a number of anecdotes, making it very approachable and funny. I probably would have benefited from this book more if not after hours of Headspace-the-app. Still – good reminders, pleasantry written, some funny anecdotes πŸ™‚

To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

A chronicle about a long-term space mission – 4 people on a starship, exploring 4 very different planets. It has a solid, competent crew, and science, and feels, and it feels so much longer (in a good way!!) than the small amount of pages, and it’s lovely, and am I fangirling a little bit too hard here? naaaahhh…

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

That one is a (re-)re-read; Becky Chambers got a Hugo for the Wayfarers series, so I re-read that one for celebration. This is the third time I read it in less than three years (which is very rare in these days of book abundance), and I still love it a little bit more every time. I expect I’ll re-read the two others of the series before the end of the year.

And since apparently I haven’t talked about this book here yet, and it’s one of my favorite books of all times, let’s fix that! This is the story of the crew of the Wayfarer, a tunneling ship: they punch holes in space-time to make space travel shorter. And they get hired to go punch in a place that doesn’t have a tunnel yet, for a trip that’s roughly a year long. The whole thing reads like a VERY wholesome Firefly, and is my personal own equivalent of a cup of thick, hot chocolate in a pillow fort.

Lake Silence – Anne Bishop

I discovered Anne Bishop with her Others series – a urban fantasy series with shapeshifters and vampires and the like, but where the “usual” dynamics is flipped: the Others own the lands, the humans are barely tolerated, and they’d better not misbehave, unless they really want to end up Deceased, Location Unknown.

Lake Silence’s world is the same as the one from The Others, which I quite liked, but in a different community and with a different set of characters. And… I was not convinced. I still like the idea of the world, but I didn’t manage to get enthusiastic about that installment – I was actually quite bored (it felt repetitive), considered several times to not finish it, and all in all that was a disappointment.

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language – Gretchen McCulloch

A very neat book about the internet, as viewed by a linguist. It has chapters about the tone of writing, punctuation, emojis, memes, conversations… and it’s generally delightful, I learnt a ton of things, it made me giggle more than a few times, and it was all in all a great, informative read.

Cool stuff

This epic recreation of Deep Space Nine is so huge, I can practically fit inside! [text with images]- what it says: a huge LEGO Star Trek DS9 model πŸ™‚

Swearing: attempts to ban it are a waste of time – wherever there is language, people cuss [text] – an article about swearing that touches its function, and a few factoids. As an unrepentant swearer, I cannot not share this πŸ™‚

Version Museum – a visual history of your favorite technology [images]- if you really wanted to see how Apple’s website looked in 1996 or want a hit of nostalgia at the look of Word 2.0. It’s actually pretty neat πŸ™‚

Raytracing – in Excel!! [short video] – someone made a raytracer in Excel, and that just made me laugh in delight πŸ˜€

New Proof Settles How to Approximate Numbers Like Pi [text] – a cool result in number theory, explained in a way that makes sense to non-number theorists. I probably would have liked a tiny bit more detail about the graph theory tools involved, but still, the writing is neat.

A very wholesome Twitter thread about someone talking about his grandmother’s love of D&D – it has gnomes and jewelry.

A couple of videos about a custom pick-up on a Tesla base: the “fake commercial” video TRUCKLA: The world’s first Tesla pickup truck [short video], and the “making of”: I TURNED MY TESLA INTO A PICKUP TRUCK [long video]. I thought I had posted that already, apparently not, let’s fix it.

Kerbal Space Program 2 has been announced – to be honest, KSP is one of “those games that sound so very cool but that I just can’t manage to play”, whether it’s a matter of interest or of general skill or learning curve; I’m definitely curious about what they’ll do with KSP2.

A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision – vision is complicated and not that well understood, and so anything that gives more idea about how it works is, to me, fascinating πŸ™‚

Cool stuff

Short one this week, and late on top of that, but oh well πŸ™‚

This problem seems hard, then it doesn’t, but it really is. (2011 IMO, P2) – a video solving a problem from the International Math Olympiads that stuck a lot of the students. The problem is pretty fun and the solution is very pretty πŸ™‚

Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 Takes The Intense Restaurant Sim On The Road – Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 has just been announced and I’m ready for it. I’ve played the first one A Lot, the second one a lot (that’s a bit less than A Lot :P), and I’m looking forward to the third one πŸ™‚

The Best Way to Thaw Meat – my husband showed me a few of Adam Ragusea’s videos, and they’re indeed very enjoyable and informative. As for this specific one, since my microwave oven decided to die on me probably for good this time (and I’m waiting for its replacement to be delivered), I actually tested what he’s saying, and it indeed works pretty well. Not as fast, but less risky too… so definitely something to keep in mind if I’m not in a hurry πŸ™‚

iamthemorning – The Bell – iamthemorning has a new album πŸ™‚ And since I’m even more useless a music critic than a book critic, I’ll just say I like it a lot.

Alternative non-spherical Earth theories – I will admit I have personal (and non-explainable in polite society) reasons for laughing a lot at this one, but it’s still good πŸ™‚

Baba Is You – a VERY neat puzzle game (available for many platforms) where the rules of interaction with the world are part of said world (and hence can be interacted with as well). Beware: melting brain.

Cool stuff

Japanese D&D Rules Cyclopedia – this is not the kind of illustrations that come to mind first when talking about Dungeons&Dragons around here these days πŸ™‚

Around the World in 125 Melons – a short article about a book about melons. I don’t even like melon much (and watermelon is basically pink cucumber, so it’s awful), but the pictures are cool.

Tiny robot leaps around carrying its own battery, electronics – what the title says, essentially. Small robots a few centimeter high, that can be combinable as groups, and that are pretty fun to watch moving πŸ™‚ The video in the article is worth a watch.

Plant Parenthood – an opinion piece about caring for plants – possibly the first time in a long while I got the impulse of getting house plants πŸ™‚

Shooting and Seeing Art in Automobiles – nice article, cool pictures.

XKCD: Spreadsheets – well, that was a surprisingly educational XKCD (with regards to Google Spreadsheets capabilities) πŸ˜›

The French Bastards – if you’re up for some bakery porn (and who wouldn’t be?)

What the #@*% Is a β€˜Grawlix’? – because I use them a lot, and I never know they had a name.

User Inyerface – A worst-practice UI experiment – if you ever wondered how bad UI can get, this is probably a fairly good example. It’s hilarious, but you might die a little bit inside too – consider yourself warned. And the level of detail is actually quite impressive πŸ˜€

Cool stuff

β€˜Botanical Sexism’ Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies – apparently, at least in the US, planting male trees (when the trees themselves don’t have male and female flowers on the same plant) is a thing, mostly to avoid the littering of seeds. But then, male trees send more pollen in the air. I find both the reasoning and the consequences quite interesting – and I wonder if it’s also the case in Europe πŸ™‚

Cooking for Engineers…recipe infographics! (and interview) – a short interview of Michael Chu, who runs (ran?) Cooking for Engineers, where he talks about his recipe format. I had seen that recipe format a (long) while ago, and I was looking for it on Monday evening (because Pierre was asking if I had ever seen recipes written as a schema/graph/tree). And on Tuesday morning, I saw a reference to it on my Twitter feed via a romance author I follow. I’m very amused by the coincidence – and I really like the recipe representation πŸ™‚

AIs named by AIs – what happens when you feed a neural network with Culture ship names? Hilarity, that’s what happens.

Mighty Networks Live Interview with Host Lauri Novak, Host of The Photography Scavenger Hunt – when Google+ shutdown, the Photography Scavenger Hunt had to move, and we moved to Mighty Networks. Lauri talks about the move, our community, and the community building that goes behind the scenes, and it’s pretty neat. Also, there’s a sign-up for the 26th round tomorrow (July 12th 2019), so if you feel inclined to join… join us! πŸ™‚

Wizards Unite – if you remember (or still play!) Ingress or Pokemon Go, that’s the third iteration of that principle of “playing in the real world” from Niantic. The general idea is that you’re part of the Ministry of Magic and your goal is to avoid weird stuff being seen by the Muggles – and so you need to send that back to where it belongs using spells. It’s thematically strong, there’s more mechanics than Pokemon Go (at least at the time I played it), and it’s cooperative (so far). It’s free to play, there’s a bunch of stuff you can buy there of course, but I resisted so far, which for a week+ of play shows that they’re not pushing that too much.

Magic The Gathering Arena – uh-oh, another rabbit hole πŸ˜‰ It’s a free-to-play implementation of Magic The Gathering, it’s pretty well done on the “keeping you playing” front (this is a nice way of saying “they’re pushing the right buttons to get you hooked” :P), and they’re up-to-date with the set that gets available for play today, Core Set 2020. There’s also ways of giving them monies, but I have also resisted that so far, so it’s definitely not essential for newb players to have fun. (People who know what they’re doing may want to be able to get specific cards faster, though.) I also believe that you can unlock everything by grinding the rewards and by playing well enough (a few modes are only available through a currency that I don’t have yet, for instance), but I would have to double-check that. I may or may not have physical cards on order right now. Oops.

A few cool announcements on the LEGO side: a Harley Davidson which looks gorgeous, an Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (sad: not at the same scale as the Saturn V; cool: at a larger scale than the Saturn V), and a T-Rex.

BU researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound – using the shape of objects to get noise-cancelling effects of lightweight structures, that definitely enters the “cool stuff” realm.