Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Photography (Page 2 of 11)

Timey-wimey Time

I’m absolutely digging this GoPro HERO9. I did another session outside, because I cannot get enough of watching clouds go ‘vroom’.

And yes, I learned how to “blur” out sections of video in Hitfilm Express for the neighbors’ sake.

I also wanted to play a bit with slow-motion video, and this afternoon I got that chance. I put together the light tent (as all advice I’ve read about doing 240fps video emphasized the need for good lighting), I gathered some handy duckies, Vyx had the bright idea of putting cling-wrap onto a small mixing bowl, and I found a pillow with a nice bit of “bounce” to it. The results are… modestly amusing:

We got some good hang time out of this method.
This was the 2nd pillow test, where I dropped a couple more ducks in more rapid succession instead of one at a time with pauses between.

My original plan was to do “speed ramping” in Hitfilm Express, but I learned today that the software is kind of… actually terrible at that. (Speed ramping is that moderately-overused “things are going fast then they slllloooooowwww doooooowwwnn and then go fast again” visual effect you see in a lot of action shows/movies lately.) So I just loaded up VirtualDub and said “yeah, take this 240fps thing and make it 30fps for me” and here we are.

Look, if nothing else I’ve found a fun new thing to do with duckies. Can’t go wrong, there.

All Sticker, No Shock

Every year, Vyx does some kind of advent-calendar-y thing, because she’s creative and such that way. For Yuletime 2021, this took the form of a series of small envelopes with stickers inside.

Here’s all 24, in order top to bottom, left to right. (There was no 25th.)

I want to use all of them. I want to use none of them. This is the eternal struggle of someone who likes stickers.

At some point I’m going to need a sticker storage device, aren’t I?

The Summer of Our Discount Tent

I bought a “light tent” some time ago in order to get portraits of the various duckies (as well as, potentially, anything else we want a Very Nice Picture of) but I noticed something after the first couple of sessions that bothered me a bit. Due to various circumstances mostly having to do with living in a pandemic and not wanting to deal with much of anything, I didn’t get around to trying a solution until this week.

The problem? The LEDs at the top of the tent leave a bright glare in the photographs of any smooth, shiny subject. The solution? Buy some kind of light-diffusing material and find a way to “mount” it in the tent.

Let’s see how that went, shall we?

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Winter Weather and My Superpower

In January, we had a couple hours of snowfall. Not snowstick, mind you, it just fell and melted. I went out on the balcony and took a short video with my phone, saying on the record that “this is it, this is all the winter we’re getting.”

Content Warning: My Droning Voice

So of course here we are a couple weeks later and the Portland Oregon metro area is blanketed in ice and snow, with more coming down this morning.

We got a bit more snow this time around. And it definitely stuck to the ground.

My superpower, as I may have noted before, is Being Wrong. As soon as I state something with absolute certainty, the universe will bend over backwards to prove me wrong as soon as physically possible. Usually this happens within minutes, but apparently entire weather systems take a while to move into place.

I’m glad that we finally got some winter in our winter, but I can’t help but feel like the programmers and management of this Matrix-y simulation we inhabit are laughing at me every chance that they get, and I’m a bit tired of it.

Two Moons In The Morning

A few years ago I took a picture of the Moon with my then-new Coolpix camera, and it didn’t turn out too badly. Today, thanks to some lovely weather and excellent timing, the opportunity to try that shot with the Lumix FZ80 came up and I couldn’t pass it up. How did the new camera do?

The Moon over Hillsboro Oregon – Taken with the Lumix FZ80 at max physical zoom, no digital zoom

Not too badly, if I’m honest. Mind you, I wish I’d been able to get the remote control app for my camera (yes, such a thing exists) to work properly so I could snap the picture without actually touching the device. Despite the camera being mounted on the tripod, I still introduced a bit of wobble to the results. More’s the pity.

If you compare the two I think the Lumix did a better job, though the Coolpix result was entirely handheld, which is some kind of miracle considering how unsteady my hands are.

A Cavalcade Of Duckies

As noted, I have my new camera (and it’s great). I have a bin full o’ duckies. I have a tripod. And now, as of this afternoon, I have a light tent (or whatever it’s supposed to be called, I dunno, I’m not a pro photographer or anything like that).

So how about some duck pics?

Tolo makes a great “test” duck for photo shoots. It’s so iconic in shape and color, and so very photogenic.

The “tent” is… larger than I originally wanted, but the size I wanted wasn’t in stock and I didn’t feel like waiting even longer to start this project, so here we are. It’s a 60x60x60cm cube with a big ring of tiny bright white LEDs up top for illumination and reflective surfaces on two sides. It gets bright in there, is what I’m saying.

Yes, this is a big improvement over the rickety setup from the last photo shoot attempt.

During the process of figuring out this test shoot I discovered that my camera has an aspect ratio setting. Hooray for the 16:9 option, but this means I need to be more careful about vertical composition since I won’t be slicing selected bits off the top & bottom anymore. A new learning curve to ascend, I suppose.

Those LEDs might be just a skosh too bright, actually…

I figured out how to lock the camera to an ISO of 100 to keep the graininess to the absolute minimum that I can with this rig. The aperture’s set to give me just a wee bit more than the minimum available depth of field as well. What I might need to do before embarking on the final photo shoot is to find a way to account for just how dingdanged bright it is inside the light tent. We’ll see, I suppose.

It’s so nice to get some of the Quacked Panes stalwarts out for some fresh air. Hello, Rei!

At first I wanted set dressing that wouldn’t distract or detract from the look of the ducks, but as I went through a variety of test shots I noticed something: While the gray blanket works great for the more traditionally (and less-traditionally) colorful ducks, the monochromatic ones have a harder time, like so:

I know it looks like Score, but this is the evil (?) twin, the one without the damaged beak.

We have a polyester throw blanket similar to the gray one you see in these pictures but in purple, and I think that might do the trick. Otherwise, we’ll figure something else out.

Poe manages to stand out while also nearly blending in. Neat trick there, pal.

Of course, the perennial problem of taking high-resolution pictures of plastic toys is that they get so dusty and dingy so very easily. And some of them are rather hard to clean due to the specific formulation of the plastic. I’ll do the best I can with what I have, I suppose.

I couldn’t leave Rusty out of this session, now could I?

There’s a long vacation-like stretch coming up next week, and that’s when I’ll try to get this project done properly. Wish me luck!

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