In the eye of the storm. Wait, wrong weather metaphor

It’s been a wild year. I think a lot of people would agree. Sometimes there’s so much going on it’s like being caught in a tornado of unending crappiness, and all the debris keeps hitting you in the face and saying, “you thought that was the worst it could get? Look at THIS!” Smack! I’d definitely say the past year has been rough. Maybe the past two years. Who knows when it started? We’re all stuck in this crapnado now!

There are some things that are sort of nice though, when you stop to look around. I saw a cardinal on my front porch today, and there’s a new swath of honeysuckle growing along the fence. The very chubby black and white cat that stopped coming around our house after our own cat’s passing has started coming by again and sunning himself on the wooden bridge that crosses over our creek. I got to see a lot of my family two weeks ago, despite some rather unfortunate circumstances! It almost feels like..

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I chose to take the Contradiction Creation assignment in this direction because sometimes I feel like it’s easy for me to come up with a negative thought to slap onto a nice photo. I think a tornado best encapsulates the feeling I get from checking the news or talking to people about anything other than silly things. It’s just overwhelming, terrifying, and it can change at the drop of a hat. I remember as a kid, I would be watching cartoons and the audio on the TV would cut out for a few seconds to play that loud, unforgettable BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! and there would be a red ticker at the bottom of the screen telling me which counties were affected by the tornado warning. I would bag up my stuffed animals and hide in the basement. That’s what I feel like doing sometimes, but I just gotta remember… some things actually seem pretty okay.

For this assignment, I started by searching for images of tornadoes on flickr through Creative Commons. The final image above is an edited version of “nssl0054” by NOAA Photo Library and is licensed under CC BY 2.0. The gallery below details the steps I took to create my version of the image. This is all done in Paint.net, and the colors chosen for the text and details were provided by DeGraeve’s Color Palette Generator.

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.

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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:

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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.

 

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.

Back to your roots, Bob

I really like pixel art, but I’m no pro. I decided to do 256 Points anyway. I used to spend a lot of time editing Pokemon sprites and making Frankenstein’s monster-esque trainers and Pokemon, but I thought I’d stick with today’s theme and go Animal Crossing. So here’s my boy Bob the cat.

Bob 2400x Zoom

Continue reading Back to your roots, Bob

Would you buy this paper? Or join this hoity toity community?

For my second visual assignment, I chose to do “What a Crappy Font Will Do” not just because the title made me chuckle, but because I do get some sick kicks out of seeing serious companies use comic sans or papyrus. It’s always spas that use papyrus. What’s up with that? Here’s the first of two font-swaps I did:

wapo

Continue reading Would you buy this paper? Or join this hoity toity community?