Monday, October 21, 2019

Scavenger Hunt Round 26: Welcome To Oz

These are my entries for the 26th round of the Scavenger Hunt.  It was a bit of an unusual round as I won the last time, and therefore was a judge this round. This means I wasn't eligible for the competition this time around (conflicts of interest and all).  However I was still able to have work in the reveal albums, which is the best part anyway.

These are the images I came up with:

Courage

What else are teddy bears for than to defend us from monsters while we sleep?  Thanks to my daughter for modeling as the sleeping child.
Coward
One of two shots taken at Moses Cone on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Thanks to @harri.hawk for lending me the Jason figure.
Curtain

A lover watching his love shower, or a creepy stalker.  You decide! (for the record I was going for the lover bit)
Home

There ain't no place like home (and by home I mean sewer). I made the sewer grate on the Glowforge at work.
Monkey

Hit-Monkey is a little known Marvel character.  I decided to go back in time to Round 23 to resurrect my comic book cover theme for this one.
Rainbow

Even tough guys have a tender side.
Road

The second shot to come from Moses Cone.  I built the road out of LEGO.  Really fun to make and shoot.
Selective Colour

The tricky thing about words like this is that the picture can be anything. So I decided to find the most interesting action figure I hadn't shot yet and make that my Selective Colour.  This is the awesome samurai themed line of figures from Bandai.
 Sepia

Again, the image could be anything, so its hard to narrow down ideas.  I decided to shoot one of my first figures I got as an adult, Optimus Prime, but have never shot, and put him in an interesting scene. The Very Large Array, often used for SETI also makes a good background for the transformers, who are trying to get back to their home planet.
Wizard

This may be slightly autobiographical.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Trümmelbach falls

During my recent Swiss adventures I visted Trümmelbach falls. These falls are unique due being located inside a mountain.  

 There is actually a series of falls, all inside a mountain and accessible via tunnels and stairs built both on the outside and inside of the mountain.

Trümmelbach falls is located in the valley of Lauterbrunnen.  Since Lauterbrunnen was J R R Tolkiens inspiration for Rivendell, it would not surprise me if these falls served as the inspiration for the Mines of Moria (tho I have no reason to believe this is true - it just reminded me of Moria).

See what I mean?

The power of the falls is quite intense.  Each one would be a tourist draw in and of itself. 10 in a row is quite spectacular.  You can sense the power in the falling water, and I visited at a pretty dry time of year where glacier runoff (the source of the falls) was not at peak.

I could also envision Gollum crawling over these rocks.

Some of the stairs were quite long.  This one is at least 2 storeys worth of stairs, all at once.

This is the pool at the top of the falls (at least at the top of the tunnel system). It is a long way back from here.
So that is Trümmelbach falls.  If you are every in the region, this is a must-stop destination.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Lauterbrunnen

Go back in time 10 weeks with your minds eye when I was talking to my co-worker Joel about our upcoming trip to Switzerland, and imagine the look on my face when he mentioned that there is a valley that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien to create Rivendell, the valley of the elves.

Do you have that mental picture of my face?

If it was complete joy, you know me well.  Congratulations! (if you thought otherwise, we have some bonding to do).

During that trip to Switzerland, just a few shorts days ago, I went to that valley. Yep, I visited Rivendell (tho the locals call it Lauterbrunnen).
Lauterbrunnen is a valley in the Alps known for its waterfalls, and one of the highest peaks in Europe.  Some of these waterfalls allow one to climb up behind them.  At least one is actually contained inside a mountain (but thats next post, this is about the outside stuff).
One of the first things we did (we, cause there was 4 of us) was climb up a steep hill, through a tunnel, and walk behind the waterfall.  If you look up and then down in this post you will see the start and ending point of this adventure.
 One of the things I love about wandering thru Swiss countrysides is that there are cows everywhere.  They all (mostly) have bells around their necks (so farmers can locate em on the mountainside) and often paths go right by their fields.   It gives the whole country a folksy "down on the farm" feel.
 Since it is October, and the climate is quite cool - high in the low 60s - I was quite surprised to see that there were a lot of flowers in full bloom in the valley. 

 This cow became my friend.  I call her Ermine The Devine Bovine.
 Since I knew I was going to visit Rivendell, I brought along a Gandalf action figure.  I took this shot while crossing a creek:
My creative muse complete, we went to the place where the waterfall falls inside the mountain (yeah, I know, next post!) then kept moving down the valley.

We then took a cable car up the mountain to a nice town at its peak, where the views were spectacular.
 I particularly enjoyed how the peaks caused the clouds to form interesting and unique shapes that one doesn't see a lot of in my home country.
 We finished off our day of hiking with a nice beer on a patio overlooking some of the most spectacular mountains I have ever seen.
After this we took a train back to Zurich.  Another awesome adventure in the books.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The Swiss Chronicles: Feelin' The Bern

Disclaimer:  This post has nothing to do with US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, nor his (I presume) crazy relative, Colonel Sanders.

During the past few weeks I have been in Switzerland for work.  During the week I was based in Zurich, but during the weekend I was free to wander and roam. 

I have been to Switzerland a couple times now, and had explored around Zurich a fair bit, so this time I decided to cast my net a little farther away and check out the city of Bern.

This is the view that greeted me when I got off the train.

Bern is an old looking city.  Partly because (and you may find this shocking), it is old. However some old cities modernize over time, while Bern has maintained its old timey charms, with lots of old architecture, statues, and Stormtroopers.
 So I spent the morning walking the ancient streets, and looking around at the swiss-y things.  Naturally, being an avid and experienced photographer, I didn't take many pictures, but this view inspired me.  I bet you can guess why.
 I did have a goal for this trip, which was to see the Barengraben... which is where the Bernists graben the baren (naturally).

So the official animal of Bern is the noble bear.  Since the days of yore (not sure when, but many moons ago... like a large number of moons... a bakers dozen of a bakers dozen at least) they have kept bears (the baren) in a pit (the graben) at the edge of town. 

So I made my way that direction, got to the pit, and saw... nothing.  No baren.  The graben was barren of baren.

Disappointment set in, and I looked about in vain.  Was I too late?  Did the bears go to bear heaven?  I was full of questions, but no answers. However there was a river, so I went to sit beside it and contemplate the situation.
 The river held no answers, so I left to ask a hamburger. 

But before I did I went back to the graben to find it remained bare of bears.  So I went to chew on a cow.

As I chewed I did some research and learned that (of course) the bears hibernate in winter, and often went to sleep for the season in October or November.  This being October, it was possible the bears were simply napping.

However when I was done chewing, I went back to the graben and found, much to my delight, that the bears were graben'd! 
 Yay!

I stayed to watch the baren for a while, then started my way back up the historic streets to the train station to go back to the hotel.  I remembered to take a photo this time.  It looked like this.

I kept on going, when suddenly I got run over by climate change.

More specifically, a march to (I presume, I don't speak swiss German), encourage reform to help stop climate change.

It turns out Bern is the nations capitol, so the good earth lovin' Swiss folk descended on the city to encourage the leadership to stop being capitalist ass-hats and do something to help the earth, instead of their own wallets, for a change.

I joined in and marched for a bit, cause it seems worth it to have a place to live that isn't melted.

After a bit, when my feet threatened to disown me from all the walking, I finally headed to the train station and went back to Zurich.

Thus ended my trip to Bern.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Father Son Model Building: AT-ST

This is Zeke and his finished AT-ST model.


Since my last foray into model building went so well I figured my 9 year old, Zeke, may enjoy building his own model.

So I let him pick out a model from Amazon, bought two, and over the past week or so we've been building them together.

It wasn't until we were 5 steps away from being completed that I realized the model was labelled as "15 years or older."   Didn't seem to matter tho as he managed to get everything together nicely.

This afternoon we finished the build.  Happiness ensued.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Foray into Model Building: Star Wars AT-AT

For a project over Labour Day I decided to try my hand at model building.  I haven't build a model since my childhood. It dovetails with my toy photography hobby, so it seemed like a thing to do.

I picked up a Bandai 1/144 scale Star Wars AT-AT kit. It looks like this:
When I was but a wee lad and engaged in model building, I always got stuck up on the glue(no pun intended) and I could never get it all attached correctly.  So I was happy to see this model didn't require any - win!  Also it doesn't have any decals, which is also a bonus.

So I spent a few hours putting together the model.  It ended up looking like this:


It turned out pretty good, but of course it has that flat grey plastic look to it.  I have become accustomed to a better looking model (standards increase when one gets into toy photography), so I knew I needed to do some painting.

Now an AT-AT is naturally grey, so what I really needed to do was to grunge it up a bit - something called "weathering".   Before I started I needed to decide the history of this machine.  Most of the time AT-ATs are thought of as being on the ice planet Hoth, and are shown in snowy weather.  However they went other places as well - there was an AT-AT guarding the force field generator on Endor for example.  I decided to make an AT-AT that has spent its lifetime trudging in a forrest environment.

So I spent a few hours putting on various washes of acrylic paint, and wiping off the excess.

After a few layers of build up, the finished product looks like this:

I tried to get the feet to look worn from mud and forrest detritus.

And I tried to make the vents look rusted from the moist forrest air.

I am pleased with how this turned out, for a first attempt at model making and aging.  In fact I liked it so much I have an X-Wing on order for next weekend.

I may have found a new dimension to my toy photography. I can't wait to get this in front of my lens.  Exciting!

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Blast From The Past: Geoacaching Travel Bug Comes Home

Here is a little blast from the past!

On June 5, 2012 I started a global travel bug race. I sent out 8 alien drone travel bugs to 4 countries on 3 continents, and the race was to see which bug would get back to my hometown of Lenoir NC first.

Now, since then I had burnt out on geocaching.  Really I burned out on everything (Depression will do that to you), and geocaching was an innocent bystander.  I had forgotten about this race, until a week or so ago when I got notified that the bug was in a cache near Lenoir.

Today I went to retrieve it.  Here it is:

This bug, drone #5,  was the first to get released, in the south-eastern part of England.  Since then it has travelled around the UK, hopped the pond to Oregon, then made its way to Texas, Ohio, Tennesee, and finally North Carolina.  It has travelled almost 8500 miles, and been in the hands of 115 people.  Here is a map:


Now its back, and will live out its life in my big box of treasures.  A rather nice way to mark Labour Day weekend.

Cache on!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Whistle and Xylophone

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

I must confess that both of these words gave me a lot of trouble.  I didn't have good ideas for either one of these words for the longest time.  I did manage to pull things together at the last minute, however, that I am decently happy with.

Word:  Whistle

The concept I finally came up with was an homage to a trope from old style cartoons where a very angry character would steam from the ears.

Since anger was involved, Hulk was the obvious choice as a model.

To get the steam effect I used a can of air, and turned it upside down, then shot it lit with some Lume Cubes against a black background, then comp'd them into the image.  Note: if you try this, the air from an upside down can of compressed air gets super cold.

As a final touch I added a bit of red colour to the sides of Hulks face to sell the flushed skin angry look.

Word: Xylophone

The idea that finally sprung to mind after several brainstorming sessions was the Michael Jackson Billy Jean video, where the sidewalk lights up where Michael steps on them.

I grabbed a xylophone image from Pixel Squid, and copied it a couple times to` create a sidewalk. Then I grabbed my Baby Groot figure, as he is famous for dancing, and has that happy expression on his face, and shot him in my lightbox.  Then I merged the two together, and tossed in some light effects, and some light leak textures.

The final result makes me smile.

So thats the end of my deep dive images.  I'll see you after the next round!

If you are interested in joining the Hunt, sign up to the mailing list at http://scavengerhunt.photography to stay in the loop and find out when the next sign ups will be.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Vase

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt

Todays word is vase.

I am not much of a flowery vasey sort of person, so initially I had no ideas for this that I liked.  Then the idea of using a bottle of poison as a vase, and making a scene that was based on the end of life sprung to mine.

A few years ago I purchased some old bottles with labels like strychnine, and sulphuric acid on them.    I bought them as props but I never found a use for them, but they were perfect for this.

So around a bottle of sulphuric acid I shall build this scene.

I put dead flowers (the same flowers as used in my Olive shot - so bonus!) in the bottle, added in a skull, and a candle.  To simulate the end of things I wanted the candle to be burnt out with left over drippy wax.  I didn't have an old candle, so I had to make my own.  It was actually quite fun.

I tossed in some fallen petals, and added some smoke to the candle to give it a sense that whatever bad thing happened had happened recently.

I found out this style of image is called momento mori.  For me it is just a unique take on a vase.

I was quite pleased with how it all turned out.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Round 25 Deep Dive: Pencil

This series of posts is a deep dive into the images I created for the 25th round of the Photography Scavenger Hunt.

Todays world is pencil.
During the promotions for the Deadpool 2, I saw an image of Cable sketching Deadpool.  I decided to recreate that, but since I didn't have a Cable figure, I decided to use Iron Man.

I made a scale pencil out of dowel, and set up the figures.


Then I took another shot of Deadpool from Tony's perspective, and made it look like a sketch.

Then the rest is basic composite work to add in stools and an easel.  I was pretty pleased with how this came out.