What the heck is that?!

I’m a person who loves scary stories – I like ghost stories, stories about weird creatures, and stories about hearing a tap-tap-tap on the window but no one is there. I love them even though they scare the living daylights out of me. Usually after a spooky-show-bender, I have to watch a few episodes of something light-hearted like Bob’s Burgers or The Office to get rid of the thought that there’s a super scary ghost waiting for me outside my window right now!!!

I wrote on my about me page that I’m terrified of bigfoot. I don’t know why, but I just am. He may very well be a super chill dude, but I’m not about that bigfoot life. For the Are We There Yet? design assignment, I thought I’d poke some fun at myself for being so scared of something that probably isn’t even real. Probably. It better not be. Inspired by the iconic Patterson-Gimlin filmspooky trailcam pictures (this was the only site I could find whose list of photos didn’t include animal death, so fair warning if you’re thinking about googling 🙁 ), and clickbait YouTube thumbnails, I present to you…

hmm

A while ago, I was in a bookstore with a friend of mine when she sent me the following picture of myself. It’s already horrifying on its own. My posture! Add in the creepy factor of receiving a picture of yourself when you’re in public. What the heck, man? Here I am, wandering aimlessly, holding a Totoro plush that I never bought, looking like Gollum in a wig, completely unaware that there is a candid picture of myself waiting to be opened. Not cool, but it sets the mood for my creepy Are We There Yet design challenge.

snap

I needed a good forested background, so I hit Creative Commons to search for one. Mr. Loren Kerns‘ photo was perfect for what I wanted, and allowed adaptations.  Woo! Here’s how I spookified myself.

Having made this, I don’t feel any less afraid of Bigfoot, but it does make me want to run past someone else’s trailcam.

The background photo that I used, “Forest,” by Loren Kerns is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

 

Edited 6/1/17 to give proper photo credit.

Sorry Zelda, I’m busy. Cooking.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at video games. Sometimes I just play them the exact opposite of how they’re meant to be played, like taking a Mario Kart route backwards just to see how everything looks like going the wrong way. When there’s a boss fight, or any inkling of confrontation, my hands get kinda sweaty and my heart rate goes up. I get too nervous to play anything where you have to be constantly watching your back. I do, however, like the new Legend of Zelda game! Big confession: it’s the first LoZ I’ve ever played, except for the 10 minutes I spent wandering around in Ocarina of Time on the N64, not knowing what the heck I was doing. I love open world games, and hoo-boy this is a slam dunk. I’ve gotten lost, gotten my butt kicked, gotten the life scared out of me by those octo-dudes throwing rocks at me from the river (RUDE!), but mostly, I’ve wasted a lot… and I mean a lot… of Zelda’s time.

That poor girl has been waiting for me to come destroy Ganon, but here’s an honest look at how I’m playing the game:

lozfinal

I can’t help it. I take on every quest that people give me. I’ve always been that way. All these people need my help! Plus, who knows what kind of awesome thing they might give me. If I play a game, I want to play it as close to 100% completion as I can, so you bet your Hylian butts I’m going to do all these quests for you. And Zelda… well, she’s been holding up fine for the past hundred years. She can wait while I pick up some freaking mushrooms. And flowers. And gems. And fairies. And collect weapons… sorry Zelda.

For this cover, I snagged the original photo from a Eurogamer article comparing the American and European covers for the game. I chose the American version. I think it looks more dramatic, and I liked how the pale color of the title contrasted with the dark grassy rock in the foreground. The font I used is The Wild Breath of Zelda from dafont.com. (I guess she hasn’t had time to brush her teeth.) Click on through the gallery for the steps I went through to remake the cover.

I did end up moving my text around to even out the space between each line of text, as well as adding an ellipsis on the second line. Afterward, I cropped the picture so that only the actual game cover was left – no more keep case.

That’s not something that props can fix… that’s gonna be a little harder to fix!

For my second ever gif (I really like making them, even if my computer doesn’t!) I went with the Goof Gif assignment. I love blooper reels and if I could, I’d buy box sets of all of my favorite shows just for blooper reels, deleted scenes, and commentary. I had a hard time choosing whether I wanted to gif a blooper from the Office or from Parks and Rec – two of my absolute favorites, but I decided to go with Parks and Rec. Andy (Chris Pratt) is a wealth of physical comedy that doesn’t require a lot of context or dialogue to know when something funny is happening, especially when he does something that wasn’t supposed to happen. Here is the moment from the season 4 episode of Parks and Recreation Born & Raised when Andy throws the stolen briefcase back over the reception desk at the County Records office in Eagleton, but breaks the set lightswitch on accident. Oops.

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We’ve all probably done something like this. Maybe you’ve tossed your phone onto your bed, but it bounced and hit the floor. That instant feeling of, “oh, sshhhhh–ffffriiiiick,” knowing there’s nothing you can do to stop your phone from landing face down… all you can do is stand there dumbly and watch it happen. You Andy’d it when you should have been Bert Macklin-ing it the whole time. Then you have to assess the damage.

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NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! 

Something as improbable and unlucky as this has happened to me once before. I was vacuuming and apparently had forgotten my own strength – that or I gained Andy-like destructive abilities – and while trying to press the pedal that makes the vacuum recline, I stomped it off. It literally snapped off. That was not a good day.  It’s pretty easy for me to relate to Chris Pratt/Andy in this gif, since I’ve accidentally demolished something when I was only trying to help. It’s also just really, really funny.

The process of making these gifs was similar to that from what I did last week. I began with a youtube video of P&R bloopers. In the URL of the video, I inserted “magic” between the “you” and “tube” so it would read “youmagictube.com/blahblahblah” and hit enter. I was redirected to a save-video.com page for that particular video and followed the instructions to download.

Once I had the video downloaded, I opened it in MPEG Streamclip and trimmed it until it was the length I wanted. I think I’m getting a little better at trimming videos – I still follow the directions from the DS106 wiki, but I think I’m learning to memorize the steps on my own. The trimming process began here:

Once I had the video trimmed just right, I had to export it as individual frames. This was done by going to File -> Export to Other Formats. It brought up this window, and I chose the options I wanted and where I wanted my frames saved.

Like in my previous GIF post, my computer refuses to export more than 51 individual frames at a time. I don’t know why it chose this arbitrary number, but I had to suffer through it and repeat the trimming process twice just to add about 8 more frames to the gif I was trying to create. I was not a happy camper.

Grrr. Once I was finally able to get all my frames, I opened up GIMP. It’s gif-makin’ time.

Go to File -> Open Image as Layers, then select every single frame of the gif. Every last one. Even the ones my computer refused to export. Then click OK!

Now to Filters -> Playback. Opens up a window where you can play all the frames together. Neat.

Finally, save that darn gif. But DON’T click Save As. You gotta click EXPORT AS…! Choose .gif as the filetype in the dropdown bar, and give it whatever name you want. I went for something incredible, clearly. Then hit export, and export again. On my computer, it was looking like GIMP was about to crash while exporting the gif. Praise be to Li’l Sebastian that everything turned out fine.

 

Cat feet

The daily create today was all about pink appreciation and there are quite a few pink things in my life that I love. This morning one of my cats was sleeping and her tongue was hanging out of her mouth (shoutout to r/blep and other blep collections) but I wasn’t able to get a picture without her getting grumpy, as cats are wont to do.

Luckily I still had this baby photo of our other cat, Tiger, who we had to lead across the rainbow bridge last October. He was 14 – still young, but he had a big life and a big heart (literally, he had an enlarged heart. Poor baby!). Happy Pink Appreciation Day to you, Tiger the gray cat! Miss those BEANS!

 

Week in review… did I live up to my blog title?

Spoiler: I don’t think so. It’s been more like “I’ll show you a picture, and leave you confused.” Aaah!

It’s been a long week. Setting up the blog itself and connecting everything was something of a logistical nightmare… I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so many tabs open. I was hesitant at first to sign up for so many things and to have a bigger web presence. I’m not even active on Facebook, so suddenly registering for flickr and Soundcloud and making a Gravatar and connecting them all was a huge mental block that I had to get over. I hope I have everything connected correctly. My posts show up on the DS106 Blogs feed, so maybe I’m safe! The hardest part of it all was picking a URL. I like to think I got creative with mine.

I spent quite a long time working on customizing my blog. I’ve used WordPress before for a few other classes, so it wasn’t too bad. I’m just very picky! I’m happy with the theme, the background, and the colors. The font will be the death of me, though. Do you see how huge this font is? I tried to edit the CSS and everything to change the font size, but I’m no coder. I’m just a dingdong with a huge font.

What I’ve realized (through Prof. Polack’s comments) is that in my work, I’ve been spending more time looking at the how did I do this? rather than why did I do this?, and it’s the why that is the crucial point of storytelling. Storytelling is communication, and as it’s mentioned in this week’s video courtesy of the Toledo Museum of Art, we’re in a new age of communication. The digital world is prime for storytelling, even if the conduit for the story is a 16x16px sprite of a weird looking purple cat.

I made the mistake in that post of not explaining why I made the sprite and instead choosing to detail only how it was done. I made the sprite because Animal Crossing is important to me. It’s something comforting, like putting on pajamas and having some hot cocoa. Bob is one of the most recognizable characters and one of the most popular villagers to have, and I’ve been his “neighbor” for years. We’re like friends, except he’s not real. Other people have other favorite villagers, and when they move away it’s kind of like losing a best buddy. In making the pixel art of Bob being Bob-ish, I think I was trying to communicate how important that game is to me. I’ve made a lot of friends because of it, and when I get to play with them it makes me feel like throwing my arms up and relaxing like that cool cat.

The same is true for my Crappy Font post. Why did I choose to redo the Washington Post as Neopets? I regret making it, because swapping WaPo with Neopets makes it seem like I think the Washington Post is as credible a news source as Neopets. I literally only made it because I thought it would be funny to see the title in the goofy Neopets font. There was no underlying “it’s fake news” agenda here. Just good old, “haha, remember Neopets?” The things that I make need to be explained. They have a story, or rather, the visuals are the story, but I’m the only one that knows the full context of why they exist.

One of the Daily Creates that I made this week referenced political events in its center panel. I do think that as we move forward in the class, some of the things I create might be more influenced by or reflective of current events. The Crappy Font post could be interpreted as political, but I’d really rather it not be. (The intent should have been made clear.) There are opinions of mine that have come through in my work, but obviously that hasn’t happened in the majority of the assignments. Many of them are context-free mysteries, and I need to fix that.

Overall, I feel like I probably didn’t meet the requirements for the week. My writeups for the Visual Assignments were lacking. As proud as I was of the things I made, I neglected to explain why I made them and what effect I wanted them to have. Some of them may have the opposite effect that I wanted, and the effect that I did want was never articulated. I do have trouble explaining why I made something that I’ve made, which will probably dog me for the duration of this class. I sometimes expect that people will just get the story or the message that I’m trying to send, and this week it’s been clear that that isn’t the case.

 

Reflection on a photoblitz

I think that of all the things this week, the photoblitz is what I was most nervous about doing. The time limit made me anxious, and rightly so. I didn’t finish in time! I began at 11:13am and went three minutes over the limit. I think I’d blame that on my location choice (way too large) and the story that I tried to tell using the pictures. For some photos, perfectionism got in the way of just getting the picture and wasted a lot of my time.

I chose to do the safari in and around my house (including outside), starting in the basement. The story I wanted to tell was that the Pikachu plush woke up late, slowly and groggily started getting ready (looking out the window and being shocked by how bright it was, putting on a shoe that didn’t belong to it) and then headed outside. It was on the front porch that the day was supposed to pick up for Pikachu. There I played with the lines of the wooden floor (converging lines photo) and the plastic slats of the railing (repeating patterns) before heading to the backyard where Pikachu was to do his “work” as an electrician at the meter before playing around again.

The photos of the fence-climbing (make an inanimate object look alive) and particularly the falling off photo (illusion of motion) were the biggest time wasters. Here’s a dud picture of the fence fall.

fence fall bad

It looks like I pushed him. I did, but I don’t want that on my permanent record. There were about five other photos where I dropped him in front of the camera but I wasn’t able to take the picture in time, so all I have is a picture of a fence.

Additionally, the photo overlooking the creek through the plush’s ears was particularly difficult to take. I didn’t know if I wanted both the ears and the creek to be in focus, or just one or the other. I ended up choosing the creek, but here are a few outtakes.

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My favorite pictures are probably the ones I took on our front porch. I just wish I’d swept the floor and hosed off the railings first. Yikes!

For the converging lines photo, I wish I had lined my camera up better so that the planks of wood were at least coming from each corner of the photo. That was one of the earlier photos that I took and I was feeling rushed, so it got sloppy. The photo of Pikachu peeking out from the slats is just cute. Too bad they’re so grimy! Don’t zoom in!!!

I’m really happy with the way my clock photos turned out. I was originally going to take them with the lights on, but the clock’s face was so bright and I think it lent to the “blech” feeling of waking up late, feeling dazed, and having the day staring you down.

Someone woke up late.

It’s obvious there’s one photo in the safari that doesn’t go with my theme – the “two things that don’t belong together” photo. Meta, right? I didn’t mean for that to happen, I just saw it along the way and snapped a picture of it. The Killer Bunny and the Black Knight have nothing to do with Pokemon, but they made a guest appearance doing what they do best: not going together. They didn’t go together with this safari either.

Overall, I’d say it was a pretty big mistake to make a safari plan that involved running around the house and having to double back on a lot of places. I’d say that I’m satisfied with how my safari “story” unfolded, though. Pikachu got up late, played around, did his work, got in some trouble, saw his buddies, and went right back to bed. Living the dream (except for the trouble).

Fat Pikachu’s photo safari

I played this one with a handicap I think. I took an old Pikachu plush around as a prop and tried to tell a story through the safari. I definitely wish I had done it on the day I had intended to, because I wanted to use sunlight liberally. Huge mistake on my part for waiting til Sunday morning.

Photo op!

I’ve been trying out the photography tips from this week’s ongoing assignment and yesterday I think I caught something really cool using some of the tips. I had gone outside with my dogs (both are very clingy and like company, even when doing their business… and one can’t be trusted not to jump the fence) and decided to just keep my phone’s camera up and running in case I found a moment. I wanted to try to take a photo that used a natural frame, like the wood of the fence or tree trunks or, if I got low to the ground, some particularly tall weeds. I also wanted to try getting something that was timed just perfectly, even if I had to wait a while and get eaten up by mosquitos.

Right now I should mention that there is a wooded lot next door to our house. We purchased it a few years ago as soon as it went up for sale. This was 80% an investment, 10% because we didn’t want neighbors on both sides of our house, and 10% because there is a family of deer that live on that lot, and we adore them. Whenever I mention to people that deer come into my yard, they tell me “shoot it! Dinner!” as a joke, since this is Virginia and all. I think they catch enough trouble from the cars that speed down the road late at night.

This year, there are about five deer that I’ve seen. They’ve come really close, too, but every time I’ve tried to Snow White my way close to them, they’ve been startled off. I was more lucky today!

After trying to perfectly frame some kind of bug through the chain-link, I heard leaves crunching. I waited for a moment and it came. I was able to make my way toward it without spooking it, and I caught this moment between my dog and the deer.

I’m still quite far away and taking the photo from a crouching position. The deer is to the right of my dog behind the second section of fencing. I know that this photo isn’t framed like I’d hoped and it’s not exactly the most aesthetically pleasing. The lighting is bland, there’s nothing special in the way of balance or overall composition. But this is the photo I liked the best because of the moment that I waited for and captured. The wild deer, who I like to say “lives here too” really looks like it’s connecting with my curious little dog, who is staring intently and standing stiff as a board. However, I think what’s actually going on is a psychic conversation wherein my dog is asking, “please jump to this side and do some ‘business’ here that I can roll in.”

In that shot, I feel like I got tip #6: “Pay Attention to the Moment.” I think I may have gotten an interesting foreground/background interplay in this next shot, but it might be a stretch.

Here is the same deer after it wandered uphill to keep eating. Running diagonally through the photo is our fence, and bisecting that is the neighbor’s fence further in the background. The deer is near the center of the photo and looking toward the camera. I think that, if someone didn’t tell you that I was standing inside a fenced area when I took the picture, it might seem like the deer was the one inside a fence. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to call it a perspective switch (tip #3), but you never know. It could be a zoo deer and I purposefully the “White-tailed Deer” info sign. It could be a regular old backyard deer. Maybe we’re the ones in the cages, maaaaaan!!!

Here’s a third photo where I tried to use the foreground to emphasize something in the background (tip #10).

Unfortunately, there’s a dog head in the very foremost area. Some models are so unpredictable. The intrusion creates some distracting visual clutter I think. Her head is white and sticks out like a sore thumb in front of the brown and green. I tried to make the deer the focal point of the photo by “framing” it between the top two slats of wood. I do hope that is at least vaguely communicated here.

I think I was really lucky to be able to get these photos – they were definitely a case of “paying attention to the moment,” but I think I sacrificed most of the other tips in order to get a few pictures of the deer without making it run away. If I could have gotten closer, I definitely would have liked to create a better foreground/background interplay using overhanging tree branches or fence posts. The “Architect’s Dream” painting in the “What is Visual Literacy?” made me really want to try taking a photo with a foreground that emphasized the background, but I don’t think these photos lived up to that aspiration.

A horrified spubble.

I got my first spam comment from a porn blog today, y’all. I was holding off on making a spubble because I just didn’t know what I would caption, but holy moly, this was nasty. The bot wasn’t even trying to hide it. It literally had “pornblog” in the URL. I got online and saw that Akismet had blocked its first spam comment and I thought, “oh, I’ll check to see what it is, maybe it’s a real person’s comment that got blocked for some reason!” Nope.

My spubble is gonna be under the continue reading link, because the picture is extremely goofy looking.

Continue reading A horrified spubble.