Scavenger Hunt #31 – Sparkle

For the 31st Scavenger Hunt, I decided to create all my images within an overarching theme of โ€œBoard gamesโ€ โ€“ 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
Exposure time1/80s

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:ย 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
Exposure time1/25 s

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ™‚ ), with no particular edits except what was needed to make it presentable ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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 โ€œBoard gamesโ€ โ€“ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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
Exposure time1/40s

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 ๐Ÿ˜› )

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 ๐Ÿ˜› ). 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜›

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!

52Frames – 2021-12 – Window light

The theme for 52Frames this week was “Window Light”, with an extra credit for “Use a mirror”. I went to the kitchen trying to have a look at where I could setup a small mirror to try to get something that’s unmistakably inside, but that would reflect the world outside the window. And I ran into… my Kenwood, which happens to have a very nicely reflective metallic bowl.

And it’s doubly great: because of the curved surface, there’s actually A Lot of angle in that picture, and the majority of my windows in that room are actually visible!

52Frames catchup

I’ve had a few weeks where I took and submitted my 52Frames picture, but I didn’t make a blog post here – so I’m going to do that now to catch up ๐Ÿ™‚

2021-07 – Golden Hour

I snagged this one with my phone during a short walk that happened, well, close enough to Golden Hour to make it work for the theme – I liked the light on top of the Uetliberg ๐Ÿ™‚

2021-08 – Roll Credits

I wasn’t particularly inspired by the “Roll Credits” prompt; my husband made some almond cakes that week, and I took a few shots as we were eating them (with my phone as well); and I processed it with a strong vignette to give the idea of a gradual radial fade to black.

2021-09 – Details

Looking for details, my eyes fell on the bookmarks of my journal, and I thought it would be a nice detail – I still have a fair amount of white pages in this one!

2021-10 – Negative Space

When it comes to negative space, having something with an interesting shape feels key for me; I zeroed in on the idea of the bread knife pretty quickly. I used a strong light to reflect on the blade to get a sharp (pun intended, of course) contrast – it took a few attempts, and significant processing to get the background black – it was more reflective than I expected… but I ended up being happy with the result.

52Frames – 2021-11 – Color Relationship

This week’s 52Frames had the theme “Color Relationship”, and an extra credit for “Harris Shutter Effect”. I had no idea what that was – so I looked into that ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Harris Shutter Effect is obtained by multiple exposures taken through multiple color filters. In today’s world, it’s easier to achieve that in post-processing – I took multiple pictures, and combined three of them after having extracted the red, green and blue channels. (And then I processed the resulting shot.)

This was a super fun thing to experiment with – and it allowed me to play a bit with my external flash, which is not seeing a lot of action in general ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I find the result pretty fun too! I kind of want to experiment more with it now ๐Ÿ˜‰