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Fun with plastic bags and flash

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I only have my inbuilt flash to work with. That does not mean one cannot get creative. So the other night I got out my camera, some plastic bags and started experimenting. First I took a picture of myself w/o flash setting the white balance to tungsten light. As you can see, my ceiling light makes bad lighting for portraits, my face is in shadow.


With the inbuilt flash alone, there are hard shadows (look under my chin) and reflection from my glasses.Not really a good portrait.


Then I took the white plastic bag, blew it op and put it around the inbuilt flash. Viola, instant diffuser.


My portrait is now much better, the light is softer and more equal



But of course I did not stop there! I got the blue plastic bag and took a picture of it, using it to set custom white balance


Basically I told my camera that the blue of the bag is actually neutral grey, so when I took a picture with the setting everything had a red tinge


Now I set up my camera with the blue plastic bag as a diffuser (it was bigger and thicker than the white one and really hard to blow up)


Now my portrait has normal light while the background is red. Not really interesting with my closet as the background, but a proof of concept for now. I'm going to collect a lot of plastic bags and find a nice spot outside.



Snarky Star Wars thoughts

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My friend and me went to see Star Wars over Christmas and both thought it was fun, though we giggled more than we should at certain "dramatic" moments.

Some thoughts (Spoilers)


  • They still do the reading thing, it was clunky exposition back than and still is

  • I will call the movie "An improved New Hope" as it has a LOT of plot elements from that movie
    - Droid escaping to desert planet with important info for rebels
    - Orphan main character lives on above planet (though she was way more affected by the loss of her parents than Luke by seeing the burned remains of his aunt and uncle ever was)
    - Surrogate father figure who dies in battle with baddie
    - Surprising father - son connection revealed
    - Blowing up a death star yet again (3rd time now)
    I would call it improved because the characters were more three dimensional and the acting was less stilted

  • The Empire - Nazi references were strong in this one

  • The main, main baddie appeared and both me and my friend were like "Is that Voldemort?" and then the under-baddie (who until then I had called Darth Vader 2.0) took his helmet off and we went "Snape!"

  • I sincerely hope the under-baddie was supposed to be a ridiculous, whiny character, because after he took his helmet off, that is what he became.



Unrelated thoughts: Star Trek trailer, I look forward to Star Trek...
There was a live size figure of Toothless in the lobby! I hugged Toothless!


Anne of Green Gables

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Last Monday was Lucy Maud Montgomery 141st birthday. She is the author of the "Anne of Green Gables" books. Anne was one of my childhood heroines, probably the one I identified the most with (getting lost in fantasy worlds and a temper).

I have read and reread the books several time as well as seen several adaptations. My favourite ones are below.

Akage no An - anime (1979)
The first anime and the first adaptation of "Anne of Green Gables" I saw. It is beautifully drawn and follows the book faithfully. Most of the narration is straight out of the book. I like it when things are not dumbed down, because they are for kids and it makes the anime enjoyable to watch even as a grown up. When I re-watched it recently I was surprised to notice a lot of subtle characterisation of Marilla, which I had missed of a kid.

TV mini series Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Avonlea (1987)
Megan follows is a wonderful Anne. The first series adopts the "Anne of Green Gables" book and the second is a mix of the books "Anne of Avonlea", "Anne of the Island" and "Anne of Windy Poplars". "Anne of Avonlea" and "Anne of Windy Poplars" are both very episodic and the series takes incidences and characters from both books and incorporates them into the Anne's character development arc from "Anne of the Island". Both series are perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Web series Green Gables Fables and Project Green Gables
Green Gables Fables is now it its second season. The first followed "Anne of Green Gables", in between seasons some stories from "Anne of Avonlea" were adopted/mentioned on the social media sites of the characters and the second season is now adopting "Anne of the Island".
Project Green Gables is currently in it's first season and adopting "Anne of Green Gables".
It is very interesting to view both series side by side. Both are very faithful to the book(s), have an excellent cast for both the main and side characters and the love for the characters and story from everyone involved shines through. In Green Gables Fables Anne's character flaws, such as her stubbornness and temper or unrealistic expectation (wanting her first published story to be in the New Yorker) and subsequent character development are emphasized (and Matthews story is heartbreakingly well adopted) while in Project Green Gables conflicts of the book are ingeniously brought to modern times, from Anne being sad about wearing clothes from the Salvation Army flea market, Ruby Gillis talking about slut shaming or Anne being a girl of colour with natural hair, giving her issues with it and the fight with Mrs Lynde and Gilbert about their comments on it a new and interesting interpretation.





Pictures of the week - running in Central Park

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My first gif!


Bonus: running past the Statue of Liberty:



Fun with flags - and gimp

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During one of the many protests this spring I took a picture of our union flag. The following was the result of rainy afternoons.

Background removed

To remove the background you add an alpha layer under "layers". You can use the fuzzy select or colour to alpha / select by colour. Colour to alpha can go wrong (things with the same colour which are not in the background being removed) but here it means that the semi transparent quality of the flag fabric got preserved, which comes in handy in the last picture.

Blurs

I followed this tutorial, but instead of rendering plasma clouds and map -> displace I used a simple horizontal motion blur. I set a black background and added some flare ray gradients.

Threshholds and comics

I followed this tutorial, but used for the last layer I inverted the colours and then set white to alpha, ending up with the black areas seen in the flag. I played around with available patterns until I had the stripes I liked.

Add a sun and blue sky

Here the semi-transparency of the flag comes into play. I used a supernova effect below the flag layer, added a blue background and a radial flare gradient in the corners.


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