Scavenger Hunt #32 – Leaf

Wooden manikin sitting on a leaf, levitating, seemingly zooming through the image in front of a stone wall.

For the 32nd Scavenger Hunt, I had decided (even before the Hunt words were public!) to try to make a series with wooden manikins. We had the Leaf theme some rounds ago – which yielded one of my favorite images ever from a fellow Scavenger (hi Dave!). I considered, somewhat in the same directions, to play around the Adam and Eve theme, and ended up deciding against that. Instead, I made a “leafitation” picture! It’s a pretty straightforward levitation composite. First step, background:

Stone wall and paved floor

Second step, levitating object.

Wooden manikin, sitting on a leaf, propped by a couple of plastic cans, in front of a stone wall.
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
Exposure time1/8 s

And third step, editing the composite, adding a shadow, etc. I also added a movement blur on the background to give an impression of panning.

I’m not entirely happy with this composite. Adding the shadow on the ground helped selling it, but I think I overdid it and that it’s too dark. I also have no idea how the shadow and the background blur should have played together, and I’m not convinced I made the right choices there. The manikin/wall delimitation also feels too sharp at places, especially around the leaf. I also have no idea if I did the blur in the right direction and, well, if I can’t make the difference, does it matter? (yes, yes it does 😉 )

I’m still very happy with the idea, which I find whimsical and funny. Adding the panning was definitely a good idea because it adds to the story-telling. I was also quite happy with the idea of using the stem of the leaf as a “navigating stick” of some sort!

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Leaf album.

Scavenger Hunt #32 – Kitchen Utensil

Wooden manikin stirring a bright green liquid with a giant spoon.

For the 32nd Scavenger Hunt, I had decided (even before the Hunt words were public!) to try to make a series with wooden manikins. For the “Kitchen utensil” word, my first idea was to have my manikins chasing each other with a rolling pin, but I decided against it because this actually not an image I want to make, as pervasive in the social imaginary as it may be. I also considered bathing one in a pot, or something like that, but I didn’t want to sacrifice one just yet, and I had little hopes of being able to recover it after that.

I eventually settled on the idea that I could use the kitchen utensil as a prop and not necessarily as the main focus in that picture. I have an overly large cocktail spoon, whose scale is interesting compared to the manikin’s size, and a cocktail mixing glass – there we go, I had my idea! I wanted to make something akin to a cauldron, which obviously meant something green and vaguely shiny.

I got the idea of preparing the green mixture with some water, a bit of green coloring, and a few drops of milk to give it some opacity. I then took several pictures in a dark room, illuminated by a single Lume cube. I ended up having a few more pictures of that type, moving the cube further or closer:

Wooden manikin stirring a bright green liquid with a giant spoon.
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
Exposure time0.8 s
Wooden manikin stirring a milky green liquid with a giant spoon.
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
Exposure time0.8 s

I loaded them all into Lightroom, told it “make me an HDR out of these”, and it resulted in the above image, give or take a few edits on the fabric and the like.

I kind of regret not giving more thought/ideas to the background: it might have been better with a bit more flair. I am, however, exceedingly happy with how the bright green liquid turned out, and I’m also very happy with the light in this image. All in all, I like it a lot!

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Kitchen utensil album.

Scavenger Hunt #32 – Broccoli

Wooden manikin standing in front of a yellow background. The manikin is green and its head is replaced by a broccoli.

For the 32nd Scavenger Hunt, I had decided (even before the Hunt words were public!) to try to make a series with wooden manikins. That made things Interesting when I saw that one of the words was “broccoli” – how was I supposed to make that work? Thankfully, I got the idea of Broccoli-Man pretty quickly and, once I had the idea, the implementation was…. almost straightforward.

I first shot my manikin in a “super-hero pose” and a broccoli at a reasonable height (that took a few attempts).

Broccoli sitting on a kitchen paper roll in front of a white wall.
Wooden manikin standing in front of a white wall.
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
Exposure time1/25s
Camera settings for both pictures

And then, Photoshop to the rescue – blend in the images, play with the color toning, done, right? Eeeh. The processing was less straightforward than I would have liked, for a few reasons.

  • The removal of the metallic stand ended up being more annoying than expected.
  • I should really invest in a small green screen to make its removal easier, that would make my life significantly easier.
  • Relatedly to that point, I “fixed” the issue of the background by blurring the wall behind… and not realizing that my selection was far from perfect, which meant going back for more, more awkward edits.
  • My Lightroom-to-Photoshop-to-Lightroom process is dubious at best and my handling of Photoshop files is laughable (it seems my layers and whatnot are actually stored in a TIF file, which is highly suspicious and probably WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS…) – I’ll need to see how to properly do that for the next Hunt.
  • The merge of the broccoli and the manikin texture at the neck level took me a long time, and is still not up to what I would have liked to get (which may be… difficult! 🙂 ).

Now that I’m writing this behind-the-scenes post, I also realize that there’s a bit of a “halo” (coming from the blur effect) around the manikin, but not around the broccoli head, which is a bit sad. I’m also a bit annoyed that I didn’t think of giving him a cape too – but oh well – next time, maybe!

I’m still happy with a number of things in this picture:

  • The concept amuses me greatly.
  • I really like the posing of the manikin.
  • I made my life easy for the composite taking pictures at the right level and with the same light and whatnot.
  • I’m very happy with the color toning (and I discovered how to do the wood coloring in PS, which makes me happy!).

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Broccoli album.

52Frames – 2021-30 – Distorted

Escalators in a mall, where the reflection in the side panel is very distorted and yields interesting curves.

The theme for last week’s 52Frames was “Distorted”. I didn’t have much time to devote to 52Frames this week, but I went to the local mall which happens to host my doctor’s practice. They are currently redoing the whole thing, and the way the mirror below the escalator reflected the lines grabbed my attention. I only had my phone with me, but I snapped a few pictures, and… well, I feel like I’ve submitted worse images to this 52Frames project 🙂

52Frames – 2021-29 – Product photography

The prompt for this week’s 52Frames was “Product photography” – which is definitely an excuse for me to go back to geometry, minimalism, and trying to get a shot as clean as I can get it. Which means that for all the simplicity of this shot, it took a significant amount of trial and error before I got something I was remotely satisfied with!

Also, the pen is my new Stilform fountain pen and it’s pretty and awesome. And pink.

52Frames – 2021-28 – Transportation

Well, that was in extremis. The theme for 52Frames this week was “Transportation”. We were away this week – which, considering the theme, was an unfortunate coincidence, considering the amount of transportation in this city!

But I knew that on our way back there was a way to get at least an unusual shot – even if not a great one, possibly: there’s a Mirage IIIS that’s used as a decoration on one of the freeway rest areas; so I asked that we stopped there explicitly on the way home. We went there, I took a few phone snapshots, we had lunch, and we went home.

And then… I forgot to submit. Thankfully, the Powers That Be were nice enough to allow me a late submission – which means my 80-week streak is not broken. I probably would have edited it if not for that hiccup (I don’t know how, but eh), but as it is, well, it’s straight out of my phone. But, well, I have a Mirage picture 🙂

52Frames – 2021-27 – Black&White

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Black&White”. I’m a bit in a hurry this week because I have other projects I want to progress on, and I have other plans for the week-end too! So I was looking around for a “quick shot” when I realized that the light on the jigsaw puzzle made the pieces much brighter than the mat they were on. So I grabbed my camera, took a few shots, processed one, and TADA! One more week! And that’s halfway through 2021 already… with a streak still going strong (79th week this week!)

52Frames – 2021-25 – Macro and 2021-26 – Just Breathe

Two pretty uninspired weeks for the “Macro” and “Just Breathe” themes – I’ve been busy with another project, which makes 52Frames take the backseat for a while – especially since I don’t want to spoil the other project! And getting out of the mindset of the other one to get something in a completely different context is fairly challenging.

For the “Macro” shot, I was lucky: we made fresh spring rolls last week-end, and the cross-section felt like it looked pretty enough to warrant a macro shot.

For the “Just Breathe” theme, I’ll admit this is somewhat of a placeholder shot. We got an advisory of heavy rain, and this was taken a few minutes before the thunder started rolling, at the moment where the air starts to feel colder/lighter and where you can smell the storm arrive – I have a fondness for these moments!

52Frames – 2021-24 – Door

For this week’s 52Frames, the theme was “Door”, with an extra credit for “Tell a story”. I liked playing with the mannikin last week, so I tried that again for this week (hint: this is not the last one you see there 😉 ). I shot in our TV room, placing the mannikin as if she were opening the door just enough to see what’s happening in the room. The major difficulty there was to pose the mannikin – but since she’s, by definition, pretty well articulated, it worked out! I also left her on her stand to take the picture – it’s hidden by her leg, but it kind of dictated the crop… which in retrospect I actually quite like!

52Frames – 2021-23 – Music

Beware, fancy picture! I got a couple of wooden manikins (for my french readers: DES BONHOMMES OCÉDAR) specifically for photographic prop purposes, and I thought it would be a good idea to have a trial run with one of them!

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Music”. My first impulse was to have the manikin sitting at the piano somehow – but then I thought it’s be funnier if it were running on it instead. This required some major ‘shopping though, so let me present to you the various steps 🙂

First, get a piano.

Also get a picture of a piano with a key pressed.

Composite these two to get an image of a piano with a key pressed without a finger.

Then, get a manikin.

Fight like hell to get a proper extraction of the manikin from the background. Note to self: next time, reshoot with better background separation, spending that much time on that was definitely avoidable.

Finally, composite, add shadow under the mannikin, crop, color tone the whole thing, be happy. Grumble a bit because Lightroom doesn’t seem to have settings for my lens deformation; play around with the settings, end up with the happy accident of having an overly curved piano, like it, SHIP IT!