52Frames – 2019 Week 07 – City at Night

The theme for 52Frames this week was “City by Night” with an extra credit “5 seconds or longer”. So I took my tripod outside of the apartment for the first time – which made me conclude that, although I do love my Manfrotto for studio work, I definitely need a more portable tripod if I want to move around with it.

I started my walk at Lindenhof to get a view of the Limmat, the University and ETH.

I also got a picture of a rare ghost tram!

On the other side, Grossmünster and the colorful lights from the Kantonspolizei building.

Then, I strolled along the Limmat, taking the picture that’s on top of this post (and that I submitted for 52Frames), as well as this more accidental one (I probably shot in the tripod in the middle of the exposure, although I don’t remember it…), that I ended up liking quite a lot 🙂

I ended my stroll at the lake, looked at the pier…

… as well at the other side of the view in direction of the Opera.

I believe that, for a first try at tripod night photography, it was pretty good. The pictures I got are not very original, but they’re from a technical point of view not bad, and I’m even happy with them 🙂

All of these were exposed at 30 seconds on ISO 100 and with a f/stop that would allow me to get a reasonable exposure (f/13, f/14 for these ones, although I experimented a bit more than that). Hardware-wise, my Pentax K-1, mounted with my 24-70/2.8, my Manfrotto 055 tripod with a ball head. I had a neutral density filter in my backpack because I didn’t know what would be the conditions for “long exposures” (which I wanted), but I didn’t need it. Oh, and a cable release – I wouldn’t have expected to use the remote and the cable release as much as I do when I bought them 🙂

The full album (which I posted in its entirety here) is available here: Zürich by Night – February 2019.

52Frames – 2019 Week 06 – Your Desk!

The theme for last week’s 52Frames was “Your Desk!“.

My first idea for the theme was to go for a very literal interpretation of the theme – I have made pictures of my desk in the past, mostly as “before/after” from my usual messy desk to a desk that stays way too ephemerally clean.

Instead, I used my new-ish journaling habit as a source of photographic inspiration: that’s my journal, my color pencils to color “trackers”, my pens to actually write things (I’m a bit in love with the Sign on the right, although it’s maybe a bit thick for my page size), and some brush pens for titles and decoration.

My goal there was to get as close as possible to “that picture makes my brain tingle in a nice way”: turns out, it’s incredibly difficult to achieve perfectly with round pens that tend to roll >_< Maybe I should have called some blu-tack to the rescue.

It must be said that the previous version of this picture was less brain-tingly: the pencils and brush pens were not in the same color order, and the crop was less satisfying. The friend to whom I had shown the first version of the picture noticed the color discrepancy (which was due to a re-ordering of pens according to numbers but not aligning the pencils order :P), so I re-shot and decided for another crop.

Also, I got to use my tripod in horizontal mode, which is always fun 😛

(And yes, the attentive reader will have noticed that this is indeed my gaming table and not my desk. Does that mean I cheated? I think I’m fine 🙂 )

52frames – 2019 Week 05 – Dirty

Now 52Frames had a pretty tough theme – “Dirty“… I had a few ideas before this one, but I ended up liking the idea of the running mascara (which actually never happened to me, because… I rarely wear mascara :P)

I started experimenting in front of the mirror by putting some mascara on and dropping some water from above my eye. I actually got a half-decent result, realized I hadn’t set up my equipment yet (oops), ended up setting up a tripod (including screwing the fast release plate on the camera) with one eye closed because it was stinging a bit by then…

I repeated the “mascara + water” operation a few times and took a fair amount of shots before I decided for that one – I’m not necessarily super-happy with the mascara run itself there, but I liked it better than the others when it came to expression and sharpness.

Post-processing was mainly cropping, de-saturating a bit and playing with various cursors here and there 😛

52Frames – 2019 Week 04 – Macro

The theme for 52Frames last week was “Macro” with an extra credit “Focus stacking”. I’ve been wanting to experiment with focus stacking for a while, so this was a good opportunity 🙂

I also knew I wanted to go for a somewhat “technical” shot – since I was experimenting with new post-processing, I wanted to make my life as easy as possible. But still – it took me a while to decide what interesting subject I could use, until my husband pointed out my hatching dragon figurine 🙂

I first did a round of a dozen pictures or so with my 50mm, ended up missing some focus points in some places, and with pictures that didn’t align well automatically (I’m suspecting that my 50mm lens’ focale is moving quite a lot when focusing). But at least it allowed me to set things up in a satisfying way, including using board game boxes to fiddle with the height of my pile 😉

I finally took a bunch (28, I believe) with my telephoto lens, which happens to have a macro setting. The “macro” thing may be pushing it a little, because the magnification factor is smaller than 1:1 (actually, the lens spec says 0.5 max magnification, sooo…), but oh well, I have a large sensor, I’m allowed large macros 😛

I first tried fiddling with Hugin and Enfuse, but I didn’t manage to make it work (I’ll try that again at some point, probably), and I finally dumped the whole thing into ZereneStacker, which gave me the above result with minimal fiddling (okay, fine, I did a bit of re-retouching of the image after the fact).

I hesitated on the crop – I did consider a tighter crop on one of the heads, for instance, but I decided that I quite liked the full figurine as it was. Also, this way, it doesn’t show as much how much this figurine needs dusting 😛

52 Frames – 2019 Week 03 – Hello from…

The theme for 52Frames last week was “Hello from…”. And it so happened that we’ve had very good weather – to the point that I said “YESS” when arriving on top of Lindenhof and seeing the Alps in the background. I wanted to go for a very “classical” shot of the city, and the one from Lindenhof is my favorite, because you see Grossmünster very well (and, on that day, it had flags!), there’s a tram line on the road, and on clear days you see the Alps.

So I did that, I took the opportunity to take a few more shots – mostly with a crystal ball – and all in all it was a great afternoon in my favorite city – in which I happen to live 🙂

52 Frames – 2019 Week 02 – Rule of Thirds

The theme for the second week of the 52Frames project was “Rule of Thirds“. I’ll admit my motivation for this theme was not very high – I considered going the “cheeky” route and take a picture of a third of a pie, but eh. And since it’s the second week, NOT submitting is inconceivable 😉

I knew motivation was going to be low, so when I went for lunch on Thursday and ran into that very pretty snowy tree, I took a bit of time to frame it within the constraints of said rule of thirds with my phone camera, thinking I’d have a backup shot in all cases.

I spent a bit of time doing some post-processing – cleaning up a few spots, removing a piece of road that was a bit ugly, and generally speaking bending the reality a little bit to get a better picture. Re-considering it right now, I’m thinking that maybe I should have removed more snow in the middle and compressed a bit the distances more – so that I would have better “horizontal” thirds.

I can’t say I’m particularly proud of that one – I do find it quite boring; but it’s submitted, it’s within the constraints of the challenge, and that’s all that matters!

52Frames – 2019 Week 01 – Self-portrait

The first assignment of the year for the 52Frames project was, as it is traditional, “Self-Portrait“. I got a crystal ball for Christmas that I needed to take for a first spin, so that’s what I did.

I did want to have a fairly neutral background – which is pretty hard when you do have a crystal ball that gives you a huge field of view – so I ended up taking pictures on the floor, below my camera set on my beloved tripod that can rotate the central column 90°. Even there, I’m a bit annoyed at the reflection from the window – but oh well. (I tried to post-process them away and failed miserably :P)

I played quite a bit with different ways of getting a proper focus – increasing the f-stop to get more “probability of being in focus”, trying to let the camera do its thing with autofocus and pray for the best, setting the camera at “this seems like a pretty good distance” manually and moving the ball up and down, taking multiple pictures as I went… In the end, the one I eventually chose was one of the earlier in the set. I like the hand position, and I also like the curl of hair that happened to go behind it.

The conclusion of that whole setup was that focusing on a crystal ball is not necessarily trivial, and it’s so much worse when trying to do it blindly while controlling the shutter with a remote 😉

Also worth mentioning: my t-shirt is the t-shirt for Slingshot by Tobias Klausmann, and if you haven’t read it yet you should 😉