Scavenger Hunt #31 – Window

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

One of the words was “Window” and, while it may seem hard to have a board game themed image for that, there are two games that I know of that use the theme “let’s build stained window panels”: Sagrada, and this one, Azul Stained Glass of Sintra. Since I own the second one and not the first one, that’s the one I went for 🙂 Azul Stained Glass of Sintra is the second game of the Azul series (there’s currently, I think, three of them). They are abstract games that have the same core mechanics: tiles are randomly put into groups in the middle of the table. Players take turns taking all the tiles of the same color in a group and placing them on their board. Full lines give points; extra tiles count for the line count negative points. It’s a game we enjoy a lot… probably because it’s exactly our level of “cutthroat” 😉

I ran through a quick simulation between two players before taking a picture around what would be roughly early-mid-game, and this was the original picture, which didn’t require much edit work:

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro
Focal length50 mm
F-NumberF/8
Exposure time1/30s
ISO800

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

Scavenger Hunt #31 – Tea

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

Tea was… not easy. There exists a few board games that have tea as a theme, but I don’t own any of these. There’s a Tea card in Sushi Go, but that felt like a bit of a stretch. I finally decided that it was “my theme, my rules” 😉 When it comes to tea and games, my strongest association is role-playing games; the teapot that’s used in this shot is actually a gift from one of my game masters who really wanted a proper device to make tea (and that teapot is called Le Device 🙂 ).

I went for a bit of creative license, though, because the game I represent here is Dungeons & Dragons (the character sheet is 5th ed, the rest is 4th ed :P), and we didn’t drink much tea during D&D 🙂 D&D (and many role-playing games) is a narrative game where the players get to interact with a story, set in a high fantasy setting, under the guidance of a game master who knows and controls the setting and the obstacles of the story.

There’s been a lot of takes for this image, because I wanted the setup and angles to be just right; and I recruited my husband to give the impression that there were other players around the table too 😉 For this shot I used my Platypod, which may be one of the first times it gets used “for real”, and it helped a lot getting low enough on the table for the shot I wanted.

That’s the original shot – edits were pretty light on this one.

CameraPentax K-1 II
LensPentax D FA 24-70mm F2.8
Focal length36 mm
F-NumberF/10
Exposure time1/60s
ISO1250

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

52Frames – 2021-19 – ISO100

The theme for 52Frames this week was “ISO100”, with an extra credit for “fully manual”, which I claimed. “ISO100” is typically the kind of theme that doesn’t give me enough constraints to breed creativity; add to it that my motivation this week was pretty low, and this yields a fully uninspired shot, mostly taken to Not Break The Streak.

So here, you get a shot of the clouds over the Uetliberg.

And, consequently, I did not break the streak, and I’ll try to have a better shot next week 😉

Scavenger Hunt #31 – Sparkle

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

One of the word was “Sparkle” – and what’s more sparkling than diamonds? Hence, I had a pretty straightforward theme with the game Diamant. Diamant is a push-your-luck game where players collect gemstones in a dangerous (think Indiana Jones-dangerous) mine. The more they dig, the more they’ll bring home – but if they fall into a trap they don’t bring anything back!

Here’s my original picture:

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro
Focal length50 mm
F-NumberF/8
Exposure time1/80s
ISO1000

This was most definitely not sparkly enough! Which meant that I need to add some sparkles to my diamonds… which meant that I created my first ever Photoshop brush. I mostly followed this video: Photoshop Tutorial: How to create a Star Brush Set. So I played with that for a while, and then I added a few (okay, a lot) of not-at-all-subtle digital glitter on my gems.

It was a lot of fun, and I’m actually quite happy with the final image!

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

Scavenger Hunt #31 – Float

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

For “Float”, I was first playing with the idea of boat/ship themed board games. I could find a few ideas, but nothing necessarily very convincing. Instead, I got out a game that doesn’t see much light these days, namely “Hey, that’s my fish!”, where the ice sheets on which the penguins stand are definitely floating.

In “Hey, that’s my fish”, players control a few penguins that try to feed themselves. They start on an hexagonal grid made of tiles and can move to other tiles in a straight line to arrive on tiles that have 1, 2 or 3 fish. When a penguin leaves a tile, their controlling player picks the tile in their reserve, making the board emptier and emptier… and the penguins’ situation more and more precarious! It’s a fun game, except for two things: 1/ I *always* lose because I suck at it 2/ the setup time is way too long for the game time.

To make the picture, I setup the game and played a few rounds quickly until I got a situation making clear that the penguins are floating on some small pieces of ice. I had setup the game over a sheet of blue gift paper to symbolize some water, and I played around a lot with the different penguins to avoid seeing all the same figures everywhere and whatnot.

This was my original picture:

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro
Focal length50mm
F-NumberF/8
Exposure time1/25 s
ISO500

I wanted to give more texture to the “blue sea” – so that was my next step after the basic edits. I separated the blue background from the game pieces and played around with Photoshop creative filters until I got what I wanted. I’m somewhat unhappy with the blur because it’s not aligning with the DOF blur of the pieces; I considered fixing it after I noticed it, but I got lazy. Bah, room for improvement for the next ones!

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

Scavenger Hunt #31 – Fairy Tales

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

“Fairy Tales” ended up being a surprisingly hard concept to come to: I had a few games that I could make work with a bit of a stretch on the word, but nothing super convincing. There exists also a game called Fairy Tale, but it’s, as far as I know, out of print, and I do not own a copy. I knew where to borrow one, so it was definitely a backup plan. With the “I don’t have anything that obviously fits” out of the way, I looked at the board game shelves and went through the games one by one. That’s when the Dixit concept hit me.

Dixit is a party/social game that contains a lot of very pretty cards. In a round of Dixit, the current player (the “story teller”) gives a word or a story about a card she has in her hand. All other players provide cards from their hands that fit that word; the goal for them is to find the card that the story teller chose in the collected cards. The goal of the story teller is to have at least one player find her card, but not all of them. The challenge then becomes, for the story teller as well as for the guessers, to find the one card that’s “guessable, but not obvious”… or that has a common enough interpretation to be able to play on the luck factor.

It turns out that “fairy tale” is a fairly common theme in Dixit – I wouldn’t say that it’s a theme that comes at every game, but not far from it. Surprisingly enough, the number of cards that not only evoke, but strongly evoke the word in the whole deck of cards is fairly low. Still, I found a dozen of them, and arranged them around the scoring/guessing board. To represent the scores of the 12 imaginary players, I… threw a die 12 times and put a random bunny on each of the obtained scores 😉

It took me a few attempts to get an angle that I found pleasing, while not displaying too much empty space around the cards, and finding an arrangement of the cards that would make them all at least somewhat visible. This is the original picture (which is significantly messier out of the cropped frame, as you can see 🙂 ), with no particular edits except what was needed to make it presentable 😉

CameraPentax K-1 II
LensPentax D FA 24-70mm F2.8
Focal length27mm
F-NumberF/14
Exposure time1/13 s
ISO800

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Fairy Tales album.

Scavenger Hunt #31 – Ink

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of “Board games” – and maybe take the opportunity to talk about said games during this post.

“Ink” would have been a slam dunk word a couple of Hunts ago – I do have a (now somewhat on the side) calligraphy hobby, and I would have gone that way and taken the opportunity to get my nibs wet, or something like that 😉 If not for the desire to go for an overarching theme, I would probably have done that, or experimented with ink-in-water shots. Instead, I do own a game called Railroad Ink, for which, at least, I have the expectation of having the only picture with that interpretation in the album.

Railroad Ink is essentially a “multiplayer solo game”, in that there is absolutely no interaction between the players during the game. It’s a “roll & write”: a set of dice is rolled every round, and players write stuff on their sheet, and repeat until the game is over (in this case for a set number of rounds.) In this instance of roll & write, the dice represent roads and rails (and lakes and volcanoes with the expansions), and the players compete in making whatever the dice throws at them build the best road & rail network.

For this picture, I played the whole game and counted my score. I had initially managed to mess up the sum and given myself 10 extra points, oops… had to retake the shot after that ;). Then I setup things to show the box, to make the relation to the theme crystal clear, and another player mat to fill in the picture and have a bit more interesting stuff than my table.

The major difficulty was to get proper angles and setup so that the image would look good (and avoid unfortunate @#! reflections); but with this initial picture, the edits were completely straightforward.

CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA 50mm F2.8 Macro
Focal length50 mm
F-NumberF/11
Exposure time1/40s
ISO400

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

52Frames – 2021-18 – Fabric

The theme for 52Frames this week was “Fabric”. I somehow knew exactly what I wanted to do for this topic – I was not expecting that this picture would be so challenging to work with – this was literally headachy! (Don’t stare at it for too long 😛 )

I’ve been wanting to experiment with backgrounds that I could re-use in other pictures and/or play with for different purposes – the “Fabric” topic seemed like a nice fit for that. I took a picture of a striped t-shirt and swirled it in postprocessing; it worked… better than expected, I must say (despite the headache 😛 ). I’m keeping this in mind for future psychedelic backgrounds!

We like the Moon!

Taking pictures of the Moon is probably Astrophotography 101 in any book – but hey, look at that, I’m a beginner!

I think the first pictures of the Moon that I took were during the lunar eclipse of 2018. Turns out – it’s not a GREAT idea to start there, because, well, it’s significantly harder (because it’s less bright, which makes light problematic, and focus even more so). Still, I did get SOMETHING.

I tried again a month later, and there was only a half-moon up, so again – not making my life easier.

But it felt pretty satisfying, still, and I let that one be for roughly a year. Then, we had the “Moon” theme in the Scavenger Hunt – a good way to revisit the subject! That’s what I had submitted for the Hunt:

This was obviously less in the pure “astrophotography” category and more in the “trying stuff out” category – and I still like that image a lot, for what it’s worth. I still have one cropped shot from this time (that’d be February 2019):

Those were all shots that I did with only my DSLR, a tripod, and a telelens.

Fast-forward a couple of years to, well, now – and it so happens that we have a telescope and a friend who knows how to setup that thing and I have a Pierre who’s interested enough in the whole “so, how does that thing actually WORK” to make it work for me. A few weeks ago, we set it up on the balcony, and I was actually quite impressed with what I was able to get from my phone aligned by my shaky hands on the eyepiece (there’s absolutely zero processing there apart from whatever the phone camera does – which is A LOT and TOO MUCH in other contexts, but that’s another story).

Since that night, I procured a so-called T-ring for my Pentax which allows me to basically use the telescope as a gigantic lens. I did an half-assed attempt on Friday evening; I had focus issues because the live view of my camera was completely blown out, but I still managed to get this one.

And finally, last night, I figured out how to not blow the live view of my camera (the secret was to set the exposure detection as “spot” and not “whole picture”). Pierre also managed to setup the lunar tracking on the telescope mount, which helped tremendously. I took several pictures, and I played around with their stacking/processing in Planetary system Stacker (and Lightroom for the final image).

And, I must say, I’m quite happy with the end result. I definitely want to try to experiment a bit more with that setup (and probably shoot at 1/400 instead of 1/500, 1/500 is a bit dark) and try to stack a bit more images (this one is a stack of 8 out of 20), but this pleases me 🙂

Next step is to try to find another interesting, deeper space object that’s visible from my balcony, both in terms of “angle” and “luminosity considering I’m, well, still in a city 😉 The Orion nebula was an option earlier in the month, but I think it’s now too bright outside when it would be visible/not hidden by the building 😛

52Frames – 2021-17 – Nature

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Nature”, with an extra credit for “Use a tripod”. We setup the telescope a few weeks ago, but there’s been a conjunction of “not having the correct adapter” and “weather is stupid” that meant that I had not tried to take pictures with my DSLR on the telescope yet.

Yesterday evening, I had the correct adapter and the weather was nice – so I tried to fiddle a bit with the equipment. It’s far from perfect – for one thing, the focus was a lot of click&pray (I need to see how to do that properly – I have the theory, I miss a crucial part on my camera interface, and it was dark last night); still, this is my best shot of the moon so far, I think.

And, well, astrophotography was explicitly in theme, and the scope mount definitely counts as “tripod”, so there, I have a picture for this week!