52Frames – 2020-48 – Nature

Another early-ish submission for 52Frames this week – I’m getting surgery tomorrow, and while I should be back home the day after that, I’m not risking my 48-week streak ๐Ÿ˜‰

The theme was “Nature”; my initial plan was to go on a walk, but the combination of gloomy weather and a new World of Warcraft expansion foiled that plan ๐Ÿ˜‰ Luckily, despite living on the 5th floor with a concrete balcony, “life…. finds a way”, and I have more than a few things growing between the stone slabs of said balcony.

It was also an opportunity to test my brand new Platypod setup – I did need a support considering the late hour and low light, and the flower was definitely too low to be able to get something with a standard tripod – Platypod to the rescue! It worked well, but turning the knobs of the tripod head was kind of awkward, and I had messed up the place of a screw, which made putting the fourth foot of the plate impossible without getting tools (and I got lazy). So this was actually a real tripod ๐Ÿ˜‰ And that’s a good thing too, since the extra-credit was for “Use a tripod”, so, there, check ๐Ÿ™‚

52Frames – 2020-47 – Circle

I was in Winterthur for a German certification exam this week and, since I had a very large break between the written and the spoken part, I took my camera with me. I didn’t take many pictures, but I knew I wanted to try to get something for the “Circle” challenge.

The building first caught my eye because it had circular reliefs – which, upon approach, ended up being disappointing. But there was also a traffic light with a circular mirror that reflected said building, and I was very happy to catch that!

I must have looked a bit awkward, taking pictures of a traffic light – but I don’t care, I actually like the picture very much ๐Ÿ™‚

52Frames – 2020-46 – Mobile Phone

The theme for 52Frames last week was “Mobile Phone”. My camera was in service for most of the week – great timing ;), but I snagged that one on my way back from fetching it from the shop after it got repaired. The contrats between the green traffic lights and the red cars (and their reflections on the tunnel walls) was what initially caught my eye, but I like how there’s multiple, very different sources of light on this picture ๐Ÿ™‚

In a sense, this is not a picture that showcases where a phone camera may be particularly strong; in another, well, I did have my DSLR with me, but no lens or memory card, and my eye did get caught by the lights – so it was a case of “the best camera is the one you have with you” ๐Ÿ™‚

52Frames – 2020-45 – Signs

Two things happened:

  • I broke the viewfinder on my DSLR, which means it’s currently in service (and that’s going to last for at least a few more weeks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ) (But it should come back with a clean sensor to, so there’s that!)
  • I got a very, VERY busy week at work, leaving me with no time and very little creative energy.

Hence: for “Signs”, you get a phone picture of the LEGO signs from my husband’s collection ๐Ÿ™‚ And I broke one ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The plastic is old and brittle…. and it never was the sturdiest LEGO part either…

52Frames – 2020-43 – Reflections

I knew I wouldn’t have much opportunity to take my 52Frames picture this week, so this one is kind of placeholder. The theme was Reflections, with “Mirror” as extra credit – which I claimed. We were traveling by car earlier this week (a fairly rare thing), and I snapped this on the Autobahn. And, for a phone snapshot without edit, I think I got lucky. The electric lines that lead to the mirror feel PARTICULARLY lucky.

It’s not a great or even a good shot, but it’s a shot, I still have my streak, and getting closer and closer to get the full streak for 2020, which would be nice ๐Ÿ™‚

#balisebooks – Wine Dark Deep: Book One – R. Peter Keith

I got intrigued by the pitch of Wine Dark Deep: “Equal parts The Martian, Star Trek, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and The Expanse”. Of these four, I love 3, and I’m neutral about the fourth (I probably read it at some point, but I don’t remember anything about it). That, plus an intriguing title, made me ask for a review copy on NetGalley, and be happy when I got it.

In Wine Dark Deep, some parts of the solar system are somewhat settled; Ceres is used as a refueling base for ships that go for a longer journey. The Ulysses is such a ship – destination Jupiter, for a scientific mission, and gets quite annoyed when the Ceres base refuses their refueling, for reasons that are initially unclear. A tug of war ensues between the two factions and we follow in particular Cal Scott, the captain of the Ulysses, and Helen Donovan, who’s part of the Ceres colony.

I usually see myself as someone who loves all the “space details” that make me feel like a book is believable and well-researched – that go beyond the handwavy “yeah, we have cool engines and we can go to space today”. I will admit that the level of these details in Wine Dark Deep was too much for me, especially since it seemed to come at the detriment of character development. I had a very hard time caring for any of these characters and what they were doing, and no amount of nerdy details could compensate for that.

Wine Deep Dark is the first part of a three-part story, and it’s possible that the following parts alleviate the issues that I have with the first part, but I also regret to say that I will not try to find out by reading them.

Scavenger Hunt #29 – Round

CameraPentax K-1 II
LensPentax DA 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 AL
Focal length18 mm
Exposure time1/8s

Round is the last image I got for this Hunt, and it’s my favorite one! It’s weird, it’s nerdy (there was a strong HAL 9000 inspiration.) And I could take bets on people having no idea how I made that image, and…. that makes me weirdly happy ๐Ÿ˜›

The whole process started, funnily enough, with the lens. It kind of popped in my mind that my camera is a full-frame camera, and that I do have a couple of lenses that do not cover the whole sensor. Hence: very strong, round, black vignetting. I started playing with what I had, and came to the conclusion that the strongest vignetting I could get was with the 18-55 at 18mm. This made things a bit awkward, because it’s a wide aperture… and at this point, I also had vaguely in the idea that I wanted to use my crystal ball – which is not that large (but which is round) too.

I then rummaged into my collection of random stuff, and I ended up with the following props:

A tube that’s a bit bigger than my crystal ball, a couple of tape rolls that are EXACTLY the right width to serve as crystal ball support, and one of my faithful Lume cubes with color filters. Well. It actually started with no filter, and then a green filter, and when I looked into the first images, I excitedly went “WAIT IF I TAKE A RED FILTER I CAN DO HAL”, so from there I had a precise direction.

It also took me a few attempts to setup everything in a way that made sense (I initially didn’t have the tape supports either) and to finally just plop the camera on top of the tube to make a tunnel and see what I would get there.

The final hurdle was the strong magenta reflection that’s still a bit visible in the image I submitted, but that I decided I could live with. I tried to fixed that one by trying to orient things differently and playing with the white balance, but without much success.

I had a lot of fun making this image; and it might actually only completely make sense in the context of a SOOC challenge! Still, I couldn’t resist the temptation to do an edit from RAW to see what I can get from my image source ๐Ÿ˜‰ And to see that that stupid magenta fringe was an artifact of processing of my camera! I hadn’t expected that. And if you think I wouldn’t take the opportunity of the postprocessing to edit a brighter spot in the middle, think, think again ๐Ÿ˜‰

And for the final album of the reveals on the Scavenger side: Round.

Scavenger Hunt #29 – Boats

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA MACRO 100mm F2.8 WR
Focal length100 mm
Exposure time1/100 s

I’m lucky enough to live near a lake that sees a fair amount of boat traffic, so I was not too worried about the Boats theme – I knew it wouldn’t be the most original shot, but I knew I could probably get a decent shot at least. I went on a walk during the Hunt time specifically to get a few shots that I knew I could get along the way. I ended up walking more than I thought I would, but it was a very pleasant walk, so win-win.

I ended up with A Lot of candidates for my Boats shot. For the SOOC constraint, I liked this one best: it’s colorful, there’s a nice reflection, the framing is… reasonable – although I don’t like that I see a bit of the nearby Badi on the top-left corner, and I think cropping would have helped getting the shot I wanted.

If not for the SOOC constraint, I probably would have tried to get a “cropable” image of this one with a shorter focal length and hoped for the best. As it is, it is still one of my favorite shots in the multiple that I have for this theme; I would either have gone back to get a better framing or more probably gone for a tighter crop in post, and probably been somewhat unsatisfied with the shot in general ๐Ÿ˜€

And the Scavenger album is here: Boats.

Scavenger Hunt #29 – Metal

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA MACRO 100mmF2.8 WR
Focal length100 mm
Exposure time1/50 s

Metal is an instance of a picture that’s somewhat weak on the theme, but that I couldn’t resist including in my Hunt set because I loved it so much. I’m not even sure WHY I love it so much – but when I reviewed the set for that day, there was definitely an audible “oh!”.

The annoying thing is that I had a FANTASTIC find for the theme, but none of the pictures were remotely as good, at least in SOOC. There’s a botanical collection of succulent plants in Zรผrich, and this picture was taken behind that building. And a few meters away, there’s a bunch of metallic cactus sculptures. I spent a significant amount of time trying to get a good shot of these – but they’re stuck in an awkard place not far from a fairly busy road, so I didn’t manage to make a SOOC image work ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Not to mention that it was a very bright day and that there was literally no shade around at all, which didn’t help either.

If not for the SOOC constraint, I may have submitted this one:

I think it’s a better fit, but the non-edited version felt fairly bland. I also think that I may have shot differently without the SOOC constraint: I would have trusted that I could crop and turn things around, and I would probably have gotten larger angle shots with the hope of getting SOMETHING that I could use. I might go back to that place at some point, because these were fun to photograph!

And, for more pictures of the same word, the Scavenger album: Metal.