Pastasaurus and friends

Continuing in my quest to process more photos, I’ve started aiming to do the Active Assignment Weekly challenges on Flickr. I think some of my favourite photos came from doing their challenges, but I hadn’t participated in a long time.

Here’s this week’s, the Pastasaurus:

He normally lives on our microwave so he’s ready whenever pasta needs stirring!

And here’s some from last week, the robots that make our neutral-toned rental less boring:

Robot blast off!  +100Robot light switch

I also uploaded some older photos from the Flock and Fiber festival, as part of my campaign to get old photos processed, but frankly I wasn’t that thrilled with them. Still, I got to experiment with some processing tricks I wanted to try, so that was cool!

Experiments in Starry Sky Photography

I’m not much of a night photographer for a variety of reasons, such as “wandering around in dark, isolated places with expensive gear and when you are a smallish woman is not recommended” and “I never carry my tripod because it’s awkward and extra weight” but thankfully I have friends who mitigate the first and cars that mitigate the second, so then it all works out.

My photographer excursion to Crater Lake is one of those rare times it worked out. We had a “wait, it’s too nice to go to bed” bit of folly, given that our plan was to get up at 4am to catch the sunrise. Alas, the lake was in cloud at sunrise, so those photos never happened, but the night ones totally did.

Here they are before editing:
The view from our "hotel" at Crater Lake (original)Our "hotel" at crater lake (original)

This was 30s exposure at ISO 3200, which is still rather noisy for my tastes, even with some post-processing to clean it up a bit. I think in future I might have to try cranking that down a fair bit.

Below is my first attempt at processing the photos base on what I knew to do off the top of my head. They’re not bad, but as I said, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to practice night photography, and that includes processing as well as the physical taking of photos. You can definitely see some more colour and definition even in the small versions I’ve put here so you can see them all at once:

The view from our "hotel" at Crater LakeOur "hotel" at crater lake

So I read through a night photography tutorial and these are the images that resulted:

Our "hotel" at crater lake

The view from our "hotel" at Crater Lake

The first one’s maybe not that different from my own attempt, but the second one really pops, no? I guess I need to spend more time reading photo processing tutorials. Processing has been my weak point in terms of just getting it done, but it’s pretty impressive to see how much more I got out of that last image with a little help, I think.

[Note: I somehow failed to schedule this post when I was written, so that’s why you’re getting it so late after the photos were uploaded, in case anyone who follows my flickr stream was wondering, but I doubt anyone actually pays that much attention.]

Photos of Portland

I take a lot of photos, but haven’t been sharing them much because I never seem to get time to process them. But my friend K is out visiting the area for a photo expedition, so we did some meandering around. He’s much more disciplined as a photographer than I am, so he sensibly carved some time out of the weekend to process some photos, and made me do the same. Thank you!

I reduced my original 230 photos to a much more manageable 37, but that’s still a bit much for a post and I haven’t got my greasemonkey script that gives me a thumbnail photo gallery from flickr working again, so here’s just a few:

Portland's Hawthorne Bridge
Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge

Something about this bridge and the pattern of clouds in the sky was just calling to me. We were wondering how heavy those counterweights are, and thankfully it turns out there’s a whole information page about Hawthorne Bridge. The answer is 450 tons! The bridge also opens a lot more frequently than I would have guessed: they claim 200 times per month. It doesn’t answer the last question I had, though, which is “why would they put the control hut on top of the part of the bridge that moves?” I’m guessing it makes it easier to see the clearance, but that seems like a bunch of extra weight to lift!

Portland central library
Portland Central Library

Since moving out of the desert, I find myself constantly amazed by trees, but actually, we were there to take a gander at the library:

Public Library (Portland Central Library)
Public Library (Portland Central Library)

Alas, it was closed by the time we went by, but still photogenic! There’s lots of cute details like the author names on each bench:

Ken on the Charles Dickens bench
K on the Charles Dickens bench

From there, we visited Washington Park. Alas, it turns out the bus doesn’t run very late, so we wound up at Hoyt Arboretum instead of the rose garden, but turns out holly is pretty fun to photograph. The holly garden has some really lovely varieties — much prettier than I’d seen prior to moving here, so I was glad to get some pictures. Look at those tricolour leaves!

Tricolor Holly

… although some of it is a bit terrifying at macro distances:
Very Spiky Holly
Very Spiky Holly

I got to try out one of K’s extension tubes, which were something I’d never really thought about using. They’re much lighter than carrying my actual macro lens, and while I’ve been managing ok with carrying heavy gear and not pinching that nerve in my leg again, it’s definitely a nicer lightweight option for me to consider. I’m trying to force myself to work on better processing habits before I start buying more equipment, though.

It was pretty cool, though it makes my focal distance so very short that I was a tad concerned about how far I was sticking my face into those spikes. I definitely got my hair stuck on some holly a few times.

Dandelion seeds, half gone with the wind
Dandelion seeds, half gone with the wind

Dandelions are much safer.

And finally, one photo that I don’t think is technically very good, but I love the way bokeh makes the flowers look like they’re sparkling:

White Blossoms & Bokeh
White Blossoms & Bokeh

Want to see the rest? They’re in my “Portlandia” gallery here, along with a couple of older photos.

We did eventually make it to the rose garden on Monday after work, but I haven’t even pulled those ones off the camera yet. I’d better start working on those soon!

Pictures of knitting in sunlight (a work in progress)

I don’t tend to share work-in-progress shots for a few reasons:

1. I knit a lot on the go, where it’s not too convenient to take pictures.
2. I am really really bad at processing all my photos, and more of them just adds to the laod.
3. I just don’t think of it.

But I did think of it today, and it’s gotten me thinking a bit about useful general photography tips I need to remember when knitting:

Knit photography #1: Be careful of focus and depth of field

I love small depths of field in general photography and beautiful bokeh (aka the blurry bits) and all, but when taking pictures of my knitting, I need to make sure that the focus is where I want to be, and covers enough of the area around where I’m trying to draw the eye:

My very sparkly stitch marker

So here, I’m taking a picture of my pretty little stitch marker, and I’ve only left a small row of knitting in focus.

Since this is a maker blog, I’ll say that I made the stitch marker myself, for values of “made” that include “I bought a bunch of beads that had rings through them and separated them then re-closed the circles.” My project *sparkles* in the sun right now thanks to the beads, which is fun when I’m actually knitting in the sunbeam.

The narrow depth of field actually works well for something that small, but when I’m showing a series of stitches, I have to remember to adjust my photography style so that people can see the stitches well.

That can mean making sure the section is really flat:

Triangle lace stitch thing

Or it can mean just making sure the depth of field is big enough for the area in question:

Sweater Neckline with simple lace holes

Knit photography #2: Yarn has weird light properties

Colour Whorl

When you look up close at yarn, you can usually see that it’s at least a little bit fuzzy. This helps make it warm and soft, but also means it has some weird light properties where it will seriously glow given enough light. This can be awesome, or it can be really irritating, but the important thing to remember is that photographing knit/crocheted fabrics in bright light can be challenging in different ways, and each yarn is going to be a little different.

The extreme contrast isn’t always a bad thing: it can help you showcase lace. In theory. In reality, I always seem to end up with hyper-real photos, or ones with huge dark patches that just don’t look right:

Trying (and failing) to showcase some lace

And the sun is pretty bright already, so even if the yarn didn’t pick up the light so well, it could be a mess:
Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging

You can fix these things, of course, with some messing around in lightroom/photoshop, but then you lose out using the extreme contrast to show stitch definition, and you can make the project look a little dull:

Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging (2)

I suspect it’s going to take a lot more experimentation before I can quickly snap off a few photos in sunlight! But for now, I’ll be thinking critically about what I do and practicing doing it until I feel like I’ve got the kind of photos I want for matching with my patterns.

And with that, I give you one more photo where I’m proud of the light. This one showcases the rainbow nature of my stitch markers:

Rainbow stitch marker

So pretty!

Knitted Finger Moustache

Today’s project does double-duty as both a knitting project and a photo assignment: a knitted finger moustache and a self portrait for Active Assignment Weekly.

Knitted Finger Moustache Triptych

Taken for AAW: 20 – 27 May: You look Marvelous (and Ravelry)

I found this project on Ravelry late one evening when I was trying to find errata for another pattern which was totally not working for me, and this seemed like the perfect antidote to the frustration. I was debating doing some photos with some inanimate objects like the link above shows, but I happened to check AAW and noticed today’s deadline on the self-portrait assignment for this week hadn’t hit yet, so… self-portrait time!

This being a self portrait assignment that I had an hour and a half to shoot, process and submit, it’s sans-makeup or even a hairbrush. That’s pretty much me on a lazy holiday Monday anyhow — silly knitting project, a camera, a book, and a computer.

What it took (photo-wise):

These are pretty much straight out of camera aside from stitching them together for a triptych, although I admit to photoshopping the scratch on my forehead and removing a stray hair that looked weird. I didn’t plan for a triptych or the eye thing, these just happened to be among the best of my “let’s goof off with my silly knitting project in front of my camera with a remote” shots.

Things I learned:

– Putting all the photos on one layer, moving them around, then doing image->reveal all in photoshop makes triptyches *waaaay* easier. No more figuring out canvas size!
– you can resize just one layer by using ^T in photoshop, just don’t forget to tell it when you’re done or it acts all locked.

The knitting pattern:

It’s a moustache, for your fingers! by Megan Death (It’s free!)