52Frames – 2020-21 – Symmetry

The theme for 52Frames this week was Symmetry.

I was initially considering taking pictures of two halves of that eggplant; at the last moment I recruited Pierre to hold the knife while I was taking pictures, using the knife to emphasize an axis of symmetry… which is not perfect, but I think pretty interesting still (you can play “spot the differences” ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I did take pictures of the two halves, but they were far less satisfying.

This one is not perfect (I would have had liked to have a better alignment of my camera vertically on the knife, which would also probably have helped with the imbalance of the eggplant halves); I still somehow don’t hate it. And my eggplant was cut anyway, so there’s that.

My initial picture was without the purple border; I started adding a border to get a square image in Instagram, wondered if my usual “white” was best, ran into the purple, and ended up liking it more that way. It also re-emphasizes the symmetry and the centering, in my opinion.

52Frames – 2020-20 – Not What You See

This week, the theme for 52Frames was “Not What You See”, with an extra-credit for “Levitation” (which I claimed).

I had learnt a little while ago how to do that sort of things, and it’s fairly straightforward, assuming you have a tripod and manage to take pictures with similar-enough light – take two pictures, one with your subject, one without, and play with GIMP layers and masks to remove all the supporting elements (here I’m sitting on a chair and my feet are on a stool in front of me because I’m not flexible enough to handle doing that with a single chair :P).

It does feel like degree 0 (okay, 0.5) of creativity – which is the mood I was in today, I’ll admit; however, I did submit, I did not break my streak, and I did post 2020-20!

Thunderstorm

The day before yesterday there was a bit of distant thunderstorm – distant enough that there was no rain (and essentially no sound). So I got the camera out and I started playing around with it. I had never tried my hand at that, and the thunderstorm was fairly quiet (for a thunderstorm), which means I got a meager 4 reasonable pictures out of 106 exposures ๐Ÿ˜›

I enjoyed editing them and trying to get well-defined bolts on these skies. I particularly like the last one – there’s no bolt, but I really like the light and the clouds ๐Ÿ™‚

52Frames – 2020-19 – One Roll of Film

For the 52Frames theme this week, the challenge was to submit a picture with a maximum of 24 takes (or 12, or… 1 ๐Ÿ™‚ ). In all fairness, this is not necessarily much of a challenge for me, since… there’s probably more pictures than not where I take less than 24 takes.

That kind of theme/constraint doesn’t really steer my creativity – I still went through 24 shots of a slice of agate, playing with a pair of lumecubes to illuminate it in different ways. This one was my favorite – I particularly liked the golden reflection on the border on top.

And just for fun, the full roll of 24 photos in Darktable:

52Frames – 2020-18 – Low-key

The theme for 52Frames this week was “low-key”. I kind of wanted to take a low-key portrait of myself – it would have been a nice complement to last week’s high-key portrait; but my regular black curtain currently has a desk in front of it (so that makes it more awkward to work with), and….. I got lazy.

Thankfully, my husband is NOT lazy, and he made some delicious peanut butter chocolates today. And is there anything better than dark chocolate for a low-key theme? I don’t think so. So, there: chocolate.

52Frames – 2020-17 – Soft

The theme for 52Frames this week was “Soft“, with an extra credit for “High-key”. Since I can’t remember doing much high-key photography, and probably roughly 0 high-key portraits, that was a nice occasion to experiment.

I kind of knew I wanted to do that today, so I did wash my hair this morning so that they’d be lighter and more fluffy/electric if I brushed them just before I took the pictures – which I did. Definitely playing the long con here.

Anyway, this afternoon I setup my tripod, my camera, my lights, the diffusers for the lights, my remote, and I took a few self-portraits. Or, you know, casual quick selfies ๐Ÿ˜‰

I normally expose to the left of what I actually want, which means that for this one I exposed center ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s my original picture, with the same crop as the final one, for comparison:

The processing was pretty fast because I also knew what I wanted to do there – both in terms of exposure and colors, and in terms of softness. I played with the corresponding Darktable modules (mostly filmic rgb, soften, local contrast, color zones to decrease the read component, white balance) until I got a result I was happy with.

All in all, from “start of setup” until “picture processed and everything back in its place”, this was a fairly short endeavour – an hour and a half, roughly. It was made easier by the fact that the “photography” side of it was actually fairly limited: once the lights were setup and I was happy with the camera framing, I did a single sequence of shots, and I didn’t have to go back to the camera once that first sequence was taken – the first results were “good enough” as they were.

52Frames – 2020-16 – Fast Shutter Speed

Well, I think this one may hold the record for “number of shots taken for a single image” – I currently have more than 300 pictures on my drive for this theme (with a LOT of them actually not showing anything).

The 52Frames theme this week was Fast Shutter Speed, with an extra credit for Drip Water Photography. I kind of always wanted to experiment with drops and liquids and so on, so it was actually the right opportunity for that. I first vaguely looked on the Internet to try and get an idea of how to achieve that, enough to get me started, experiment, experiment again, experiment again, and eventually make images I liked ๐Ÿ™‚

The very beginning of the experiments looked like this:

I hadn’t colored water yet, and I was trying to setup focus in a reasonable way, by using a small red thing (technically the plastic brush for the garlic press :P) where I would expect water to drop when I’d drop it. I had set up a couple of lights too, because for sure I needed MOAR LIGHT to be able to increase the shutter speed at a level I wanted.

The final setup ended up with the water plate set on a higher plane (actually, the yellow kitchen trolley behind me, minus the yellow cover), the same set of lamps, and a bit of ink in the water to get a more colorful shot.

What ended up working, generally speaking:

  • After a few experiments at both slower and more rapid shutter speeds, this one was taken at 1/500s – anything from 1/250 to 1/2000 seemed to work okay to get at least SOME images.
  • This means: Light. More light. Even more light. Seriously: never enough light. The reason for me to move the plate higher up was to get more of these precious photons, considering the fairly high tripods that my LED panels were mounted onto (I could have played it differently, but in the end that worked out as I wanted).
  • Pushing the aperture as much as possible DOES help making sure that more things are in focus – this one was taken at f/10 (on a 50mm with a full-frame camera). Even if that meant underexposing a fair amount, I think that eventually paid off.
  • ISO 100 was a must, because that was the only way I didn’t get a picture that was essentially noise – especially since I did tend to underexpose (mostly by lack of available light and trying to cheat on focus more than creative choice)
  • I removed the remote quite quickly because I got lazy when it came to check exactly I could get repeating shots with that thing – I ended up setting up delay + burst of 10 pictures directly on the camera, and timing the water drops in the time where the camera was bursting, and hope for the best
  • Experimenting with different ways of dropping water (from more or less high, more or less quickly) was actually pretty fun. I think this one was shot with drops coming from fairly high above, fairly quickly: the water is fairly disturbed.
  • I only played with a little plastic bottle that had a drip opening – I’d like to play with different sizes of drops, I think.
  • Better having a fairly low angle on the water surface – that might require handling the background, but the results are in my opinion just more interesting.

So, yeah, that’s how I spent most of my Easter Monday. And it was a ton of fun, and I think I’ll re-experiment with that sort of things later, because I’m very far from having any kind of mastery on the process, and it’s a nice, fairly low-tech thing to experiment with (with the exception of the lights, I’ll admit).