52Frames – 2022-03 – Complementary colors

Bromeliad seen from above, on a black background

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Complementary colors”. It turns out that I have a beautiful new house plant that has red and green leaves – so let’s go!

After trying to get a properly sharp picture by hand-holding the camera, as usual I gave up and got the tripod out, and even had to set up the electronic shutter on top of the remote because that thing is NOT stable when the camera is looking down – I have a tripod whose central column can be turned horizontal, but it’s very wiggly in that position. It took a bit of processing to get a clean black background, to remove a couple of sadder leaves, and to get rid of the (white) plant pot. But there, I have a shot 🙂

52Frames – 2022-02 – Hello from…

Night photography of a row of trees in the fog. The street light give a yellow hue to the tree "tunnel".

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Hello from…”, which is usually interpreted as “take a picture from around where you are this week”. I titled mine “Hello from… the fog!” – we had glorious fog yesterday evening, and I went for a short walk to clear my head fairly late in the evening. When I left home, I considered taking a camera with me, and decided against it: it felt like my phone and the gigantic amount of automatic processing would do a better work than I would trying to stabilize things in these kind of circumstances. I think it was the right call: I played around with and without the night mode, and I got a few cool shots, including this one – taken with the night mode.

52Frames – 2022-01 – Self-portrait

Self-portrait; a woman wearing a Doctor Who swirly t-shirt standing in front of a black background.

It’s a tradition: the first week of the year in the 52Frames project is “Self-portrait”. This year, the extra challenge (which I claimed) was to use Rembrandt lighting. So, for once, I knew I had to setup proper studio lights before I started, so I did that:

A photography setup showing a camera on a tripod, a high bright light on the left and a lower dimmer light on the right.

The setup didn’t require much adjustment / takes: I did raise the camera more than it was in the first takes, and I also dimmed the left light compared to what it initially was. I also learnt to pose myself by facing slightly the dimmer light, which worked better than the initial takes where I didn’t have that consideration.

Edits were somewhat less straightforward than desired, because the black background (… the curtains in that room 😉 ) are slightly reflective, and the initial version was a bit distracting.)

And, there we go, first shot of the year – we’ll see where that goes 🙂

52Frames – 2021-52 & 2021-53

Close-up of popcorn

For the two last challenges of year 2021, I went for the “lazy” option – not being home and not having my proper computer to edit decided that for me, essentially.

For the 2021-52 challenge, the theme was “Combine Three Challenges” – I went for three themes that went well together, namely Details, Texture and Fill the Frame, and made a picture of the bowl of popcorn in the kitchen.

A green field, blue sky with a lot of plane trails and light clouds, bright sun.

The 2021-53 theme was “Break the rules”. My first idea was to do a tongue-in-cheek picture of a “No photography allowed” sign, but it would have meant actually making and setting up the sign, and I got a case of the lazies. We went for an afternoon walk, and I purposely snagged that snapshot – breaking both the rule of “don’t shoot directly at the sun” and “don’t put your horizon line in the middle of the picture”; I also broke the meta-rule of “don’t upload 52Frames from your phone” 😉

And with that, I have finished 53 out of 53 pictures in 2021, finishing 52Frames for the second year in a row – let’s see if we can get a third year in a row!

52Frames – 2021-51 – In The Middle

Two hands pulling on a green therapy band held by a pull-up bar in front of a door.

It’s Sunday evening and I have two things to do: my 52Frames, and my physio. I decided to combine both and take a picture of my physio; obviously, I got taken by “but I need more light” and “but the composition is not right” – which means I have now done my 52Frames, but not my physio yet.

The theme was “In The Middle”, so I went for a centered, hopefully reasonably symmetrical composition. It turns out that the lamps in our corridor are NOT centered compared to the door, which was making the shadow (even) more awkward than it is on this picture. Hence, I present you the “behind the scenes” of this shot, also called “The Things You Do For Art”:

Selfie with a Lume cube held on my head thanks to a Gorillapod.

For a “quick shot”, this still involved a tripod, a timer, two lights (including the one on my head – the other one to light my arms from below). I’m not entirely satisfied with the composition, which is sloppier than I’d like, nor with the focus, which could have a longer depth and probably a better focal point. But, it’s 22.30 on a school night, and trying to get a completely clean shot under the conditions of being both the photographer and the model is… probably the best I can do for this shot at this time 🙂

52Frames – 2021-50 – Black&White Minimalism

The theme for this week’s 52Frames was “Black&White minimalism”, with an extra credit for “Portrait”. When putting these two things together, I knew I wanted to go for something where only the face/elements of the face would be visible. My initial concept was to try to have something where the only visible elements would be a few face features, blurring the rest to white – but it felt kind of hard to pull off. (I might still play with that idea later, but that was not for today!).

Conversely, adding the hands to the portrait feels like it adds something to the composition, compared to not seeing them at all, while keeping with the “minimalist” theme.

Anyway, I took pictures of myself in front of a dark curtain, with a single right pointing at my face (I’ll admit that editing the picture was a bit tough as long as I still had remanent spots in my eyes ;)) and that’s the picture for this week.

52Frames – 2021-48 – Inspired By A Photographer – and 100 52Frames!

Aaaaaand 100 in a row. It shows here: all time streak, 100. I almost gave up a few time this year, and I almost accidentally broke my streak (had an upload snafu earlier this year), but it got maintained by the kindness of the Powers That Be at 52Frames 🙂

I must say that, for a 100th week theme, I groaned a bit when I saw the theme. I’m not too fond of that kind of “inspired by”: it makes me feel like crap, because I feel that anyone I’d be “inspired by” may actually feel insulted that my meager attempt may try to emulate them. I did consider getting the inspiration from a fellow Scavenger (I had several people in mind 😉 ) and decided against that for that reason because I *know* these people. (Although, considering the average Scavenger, I’m pretty sure I would have found nothing but support there!).

Anyway, I looked at the problem from the other direction. I considered what I wanted to experiment with, looked for someone working in that direction, and tried to emulate their style as best as I could. And, trying to play with still life and light and that sort of things appeals to me greatly these days. I searched for that kind of thing, and stumbled upon the work of Sharon Core. In particular, I liked the light visibly coming from a diagonal in one of the upper corners; I tried to emulate that. To the best of my ability, I also tried to take more care than usual in my whole setup (subject, tripod, light, background) – it was also the first time I used the background-holding tripod I bought a couple of months ago! – and ended up with the picture above.

I’m actually happy with it, although I still have significant progress to do to light my subject: as it is, I didn’t get what I was going for, although I don’t hate the result. It also feels “right” to have celebrated my 100th week on this project by taking a bit more time to think about what I wanted to do and how to do it, instead of half-baking something at the last minute – as it has happened more often than not in the past few months.

Anyway, now that I have the 100… I can’t leave it like that, now, can I? Here’s to a hundred more!

Scavenger Hunt #33 – Sheet

Collage of 10 pictures over a grey background. From left to right and top to bottom: close up of green bird feathers, top of three tin cans, see-through slice of lime, abstract image of small bubbles, bunch of screwdriver tips, star confettis, five resistors on a white background, close up of cow-pattern fabric, close-up of a collection of dice, close up of melted chocolate.

As for Hunt #32, there was, for this Scavenger Hunt, an “extra credit” for the people submitting all 10 pictures: presenting all the pictures on a single image – the exact formulation was “contact sheet”, but the constraints were “don’t overlap, don’t re-crop, don’t add borders; if the background is visible, black, white, or grey.

The first image I took was the one with the tin cans, and it has a fairly awkward size ratio, so I felt like I was in trouble. So, I planned.

Handwritten notes assembling 10 words into a single rectangle, with image ratios. The notes are visibly modified after the first version.

I was super proud of myself: I had created an extra constraint for the pictures because for my rectangle to work, I needed precise ratios, but that was FINE, right? Right. Best plans of mice and men. For one thing, as you can see, there’s been a significant reshuffling of dimensions… and images! as I was getting the pictures 🙂

And then I put together the image, it was pretty bad. It became very apparent that I did need a neutral background to separate the pictures; the initial plan didn’t work at all. This was pretty disheartening, because the whole geometry worked well with these ratios, but adding borders to them wouldn’t work easily 😦 I considered re-cropping the images to make them work within the ratios, and gave up on the idea: it felt like re-editing the pictures to be able to add them to a “contact sheet”-type of image would kind of defeat the purpose. So, instead, I moved things around, I aligned images as I could, and I tried to get something as pleasantly looking as I could.

It means that the 3×2 images have far more grey space around them than I would have liked – but it ended up being the best I could do – otherwise I had more space in height, and that was worse. I was quite disappointed, to be honest – when I realized I had overlooked the space for the borders. But oh well, that’s how you learn. I still believe that trying to get the constraint first and shoot within these constraints was the right move – but I didn’t get the right constraints at the beginning 🙂

The complete Scavenger album is available here – along with its winners!: the Sheet album.

Scavenger Hunt #33 – Backlight

Close-up of a slice of lime with back lighting displaying transluscent details of the lime structure.

While I used the previous Hunt to experiment with composites and story-telling, I wanted to go “back to basics” for this Hunt, and try to get maybe closer from my comfort zone, but also closer to pictures that feel like “me”. But, for the personal challenge, I shot everything with my 100mm macro lens!

The “Backlight” theme was an occasion to experiment with something I wanted to do for quite some time, namely see-through photography that would enable to see greater details and colors – it’s a fairly common exercise in macro and food photography. For all its commonality, thought, finding a (written) tutorial on the matter proved difficult, if not impossible – so it was time for me to put the thinking hat on! We almost always have limes home for, err, mixology reasons, so my subject was pretty much a given (I did consider buying a kiwi – another popular fruit to photograph that way!)

It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize I didn’t have to prop my slice of lime vertically to photograph it. Instead, I came up with the following contraption, starring my faithful piece of black fabric, a makeshift light tripod holding a Lume cube with a funnel, two chairs holding a transparent dish (with the help of a little masking tape)… and the slice of lime.

Photography setup: a black piece of fabric, a support for a funneled light, two chairs propping a transparent dish containing a slice of lemon. The setup enables for lemon slice to be lit from below.

Once the setup was done, it was mostly a matter of tuning the alignment of the light and the slice of lime, tune the exposure to avoid blowing whites, and taking a bunch of pictures to get one that was sharp.

Unprocessed version of the lime slice picture above. It has a larger black border, a reflection at the bottom, it's far less colorful and it has distracting light showing around it.
CameraPentax K-1 II
Lenssmc PENTAX-D FA MACRO 100mm F2.8 WR
Focal length100 mm
Exposure time1/500

Editing required a bit of Photoshop to get better masks so that I could get rid of the distracting light leaks; if not for that, it would have been “crop + color correction + removing a few dots and dust”.

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