Jango Fett on Safari

I have been doing digital photography of action figures for many years now.  I do it for fun.  It’s a nice creative outlet that tends to cheer me up when I am feeling down.  I actually did an online comic series with action figures called Landsknechts Gone Wild!  It was a story about office frustration and what would happen if 1500’s mercenaries showed up and how they were not like the modern world.  It was silly, but I had fun doing it.  My husband helped me with some of the set creation.  http://www.observationpost42.com/html/year_2008.php  I did this for five years until we moved and had no space for the massive setup process.

So I have a love for Star Wars and my husband likes to collect action figures, so we started collecting the 6 inch Hasbro Black Series.  These figures are nicely made.  Some have better posing powers than others, and I think that is natural considering all the different types of clothing and gear that the characters wear.  Some figures I tend to use more often than others.

So the other day I took Jango Fett with me on a hike.  I will do this once and awhile for fun to encourage me to think….there is a problem solving process that happens when one stages these figures for photos.  The goal is to make them look realistic like these fit in with the natural setting.  I think this is a process that every movie director must go through to create an illusion of certain events.  So, one needs to be mindful of objects that will break the illusion.  This may require proper placement and angle or sometimes simply cropping out the offending object, but sometimes that’s impossible.  Planning ahead is better.  It’s part of the composition process that all artists have to do to make good artwork.

So I thought I would share some of the photos that I got of Jango Fett.

Jango looks pretty good on this rock, the background is blurred so that helps to take the attention away from recognizable plants such as sagebrush, which could ruin the illusion. His shadow looks nice and in this photo his pose makes you wonder what he is focusing upon.

 

Different angles are useful for creating that illusion and feeling of telling a story.  The photo turned out nice and clear.  Even for pictures of real people the lessons I have learned while working with the toys has been helpful.  But I can seldom get my “human models” to behave so perfectly for me. 🙂

 

Don’t be afraid of closeup shots.   So often we take family photos that are too far away.

 

I like this shot, but…. the helmet seems a bit blurry and the angle and lighting of his gun hand completely hides the weapon.  These strange things happen that are not always noticeable out in the field.  It made a great picture into an okay picture.  At least in my opinion.

 

I really like this shot and I did it on purpose….but can you see that Jango has a little visitor?  I had to be really quick.  And I am not the best photographer with my cell phone.

 

Everything looks pretty believable in this photo, and he has a fun action ready posture.  You can see all his gear clearly and the small blades of growing grass seem plausible.

 

Still trying to get that facing forward shot but the gun and helmet seem blurry or perhaps washed out.  Maybe some work in Photoshop would help….tried lowering the brightness level and increasing the contrast….it did not make it any better.  Professional photographers will take many multiple shoots of the same view to try and get that perfect moment right.  Also action figures can act like tiny drunks and fall over a lot!

 

One more try…and the laser pistol is still blurry.  Oh well.  I can’t let this get me down.  I can always try again some other time.  This is part of the journey of learning how to take good images of objects or people.

Now I have been doing this a long time and I started because my husband some years ago showed me an online comic that did digital photography, and I was inspired.  There is another group of people who do amazing photos with this series of toys.  They are known as the Chip Monsters on Twitter as well as facebook and Instragram.  I discovered them on Twitter.  Their work makes my photos look ridiculous.  I think they are some of the best out there.  Here is a link to their Twitter page, so you can check them out. https://twitter.com/thechipmonsters?lang=en

Well, I hope you have enjoyed my photos of my hobby.  And yes, I took all these pictures with a cell phone camera.  Perhaps you will find something that inspires you to take fun little photos to share with friends.

G. Winkler  ©2018

 

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Posted in Art, Digital Photography, Inspiration, Star Wars, Toys

Back to Arrowcreek trail

It’s been a while since I lasted did a post.  I have been busy working on several novels.  I am in one of those break periods when an author should spend some time away from the manuscript, so that later, one can edit the project with keener vision.

So I took a hike back to a spot that I photographed some years ago.  It was back on May 13, 2014 and was called Lower Thomas Creek Trail.  I tend to call it Arrowcreek because of the housing development that is in that area.  Looking back to the photos that I took then….not much has changed.  I think it is a little greener due to the better water conditions.  Some of the vegetation is denser, but there were less flowers.  I also think the old car had aged more and it had more vegetation growing up close to it.  If I wait another four years to see it again, I may not be able to find it.

I hope you enjoy some of the images I took on this little hike.

There were more of these back in 2014…

Mt Rose looks pretty in the distance

The water was running more aggressively this time, which is good for the area in general.

Here is the old car. My Mom thinks this got lodged here during a flash flood that happened during the mid sixties. There were no houses in this area during that time.

Trail comes back to a nice little park good for kids.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

G.Winkler ©2018

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Posted in Digital Photography, Flowers, Nevada, Photography, Travel

Thistles

These are probably some of the most unapproachable plants in the area.  They kinda remind me of a Sarlacc pit with all those pointy things poking out towards the sky.  But they do have a lovely color and an interesting yet prickly construction.  So this morning when I saw a bunch of the dreadful things while taking a walk, I thought…..Oh hey, I should take pictures of these.  And here are my results.  These thistles do lend themselves as being great for photographic subjects.   I left the images large you you can enjoy the detail that I was able to capture.  I hope you enjoy my little collection here.

G. Winkler  ©2017

This one especially made me think of the Sarlacc Pit on Tatooine because of all the center point inside.

 

 

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Posted in Art, Flowers, Nevada, Photography

Fake Calls for Help

This morning my elderly Mom just got a call for help from a young female that sounded like one of my nieces.  The sobbing female said she was in jail after being in a car accident.  This woman skillfully got my Mom to ask if she was one of my niece’s and say the name.  My Mom said that she didn’t sound  like herself and the sobbing female instantly said that she had broken her nose and could not talk correctly.  There was a great deal of “I’m so sorry to ask you this,” “I need money for bail,” “I only have one phone call,” and she wasn’t very clear about where she was calling from only that it was a jail in California.  She said a man would call back who had been assigned as her public defender.  Now mind you, her crime is being in a car accident without a driver’s license….hmm.

Needless to say is that this is a fraudulent call for help.  This type of scammer wants to victimize people who want to do good for their family and friends.  After getting off the phone, my first inclination was to call my niece’s mother and truly determine if she was indeed missing.  It was discovered that my niece was at her work and perfectly fine.  The message here is double check everything.  Depending upon your family or your friend, there are a number of avenues that you should take before believing such a call.  What gets me is that this upset my elderly mother and these people direct these type of scams at seniors.

So if you have elderly people in your life, sit down with them and discuss these types of phone calls and make them aware.  Make plans to have a secret password or series of questions that should be answered to prove you are indeed their loved one.  This could also affect younger people as well wishing to help friends in emergencies.  This person on the phone was a good actor and highly skilled at keeping the situation at a heightened level of distress.  When I got on the phone I attempted to calm her down and re-assure her, which strangely enough didn’t work.  I also tried to get a location of where she was supposed to be and she skillfully started crying and changed the subject to not wanting to tell her father.  She could not concentrate enough to tell me where she was, but was able to give me a case number using very clear language to make sure that I didn’t get confused on that number.

We later checked the phone ID number and it was a series of zeros.  I don’t answer blocked phone numbers or numbers that don’t give a proper ID.  This is something else that should be discussed with family members as well.    There have been scams like this before on facebook with someone trapped in a foreign country needing help.  These are not new, but when they happen to you personally, they take you by surprise, and that is why I am blogging about this so others will be able to recognize this as a scam more readily.

Remember double check these kind of stories or else you may be taken in by a good actor, who someday will find that karma has a way of finding them.

G. Winkler ©2017

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Posted in Consumer alert, fraud

Star Wars X-Wing Game Pieces

Last December my husband bought me the Star Wars X-Wing TIE Advanced ship as a gift.  I love the Darth Vader character from Star Wars and have a fondness for the cool TIE fighter that he flew.  So needless to say these cool little ships are eye catching items.  I recently bought my husband the Slave I ship that was flown by the Boba Fett Star Wars character.  So now we have two of these ships from this game set, so the next natural question is…..what is the game like and would it be fun to play?

So we decided to do an “unboxing” of the Slave I ship for a podcast.  We thought this would be fun since the box listed all sorts of pieces.  The packaging itself showed a great deal of care into making sure that these somewhat expensive little ships were not damaged along with the other pieces that were included.  Tiny zip bags held the plastic stand and its pieces along with the cards that were included.  As you can see the artwork is pretty nice and the printing is well done as well.

The only real problem I encountered while doing the podcast was trying to get the tiny plastic stand pieces together.  I actually broke both of the tiny plastic stand pieces, which upset me.  I am pretty careful with things and this was an unpleasant  surprise.  After some careful examination later while setting up the parts for photos, I discovered that the tiny posts were not the standard round peg going into a round hole.  They appeared to be a triangular shape, so one has to be very careful when trying to put them together.  I had no idea since we were filming an “unboxing” and wanted our reactions to be genuine.  You can see how the parts broke in the picture to the right.  I felt bad.  I broke my husband’s birthday present.

Another thing we learned is that we need an additional part to the game.  There is a starter’s package that has all the rules and instructions on how the game is played, so we shall have to obtain one of these before we can actually figure out how to play.  And you may be wondering why we didn’t just offer to show you the podcast?  Well, one of our crew members who was acting as the cameraman did an “Amy Farrah Fowler” and forgot to turn the camera on.  So, hopefully when we get the actual instruction box to the game, we will get that on film.

That will be for the User Friendly Podcast that you can catch on the User Friendly website.   Please feel free to check out what we currently have.

G. Winkler  ©2017

 

 

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Posted in Culture, Games, Star Wars

Darth Nihilus is here to stay

darth_nihilus-500wI just realized I never posted the results of the Darth Nihilus gear.  I did my best to be true to what the video game character looked like.  So very often video game characters as well as cartoon characters are difficult to reproduce.  Why?  Because the artist doesn’t have to worry about the actor being uncomfortable or being able to move in what is designed.  I am still in the process of getting the Kage Warrior from The Clone Wars series completed.  That is a much more complicated build.

So here is my Darth Nihilus – my first and only Sith character.  And I have no construction photos to share, which is really odd.  I previously posted photos of the progress on the mask, which was the only piece I ordered from a vendor.  I did the sanding, painting, engineering for how to make the mask work.  I also purchased a black faceless Halloween mask since I decided that I would not be able to wear the all black contact lenses and paint my face and neck black.  The black hood was a better solution and provided better coverage to retain that mysterious presence that Darth Nihilus has.  Then there was the choice of which design of clothing do I create for my Nihilus.  There appears to be two.  I opted for the one that looks like it came straight out of the video game, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), which is shown below.

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I constructed a foam framework to create the correct shape for the hood to drape from and a breast plate.  The most difficult part was attaching the cloak, which is very heavy and has a curious style of attachment, which I did my best to emulate.  I also had to do some engineering to make sure that the whole thing stayed together and allowed me to walk about and actually use the lightsaber.  The lightsaber was the most expensive part since I had to order one that was all silver in color and had a shape that was closest to the style of Nihilus’s blade.  The pictures below were taken by Jay Hayden, a professional photographer.  My next plan is to get some kind of film footage of me in this gear – it already has people unnerved when they see me and they have no idea that I am female.  🙂

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Gretchen Winkler ©2017

 

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Posted in Costume, Star Wars

Online Chinese Clothing

 

Okay, I normally don’t buy clothing online unless I already have seen the item before in person and have a good idea of what I am getting.  Just before Christmas season  I saw a red shirt that I thought would be perfect for New Year’s celebrations.  It was something that was not offered in my local area because I live in an economically depressed ……@$#&^$* place.  The shirt was pretty and looked like it was made of a soft t-shirt jersey, which is a knit fabric.  It was going to be a treat for myself.  There are pictures of it below.  So why am I sharing this with you?  Because I don’t want others to be disappointed like I am.  It is a website called Rotita.com.

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It looks like a pretty solid red that would go well with just about anything with nice long sleeves semi loose fitting towards the hips and waist yet form fitting at the shoulders and neck area and long enough to be a tunic usable with leggings or yoga pants.  Please note the statement about easy to return and the shipping time.

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The bows appear to be made of the same solid looking fabric – not ribbed- knit fabric.  Note how the tunic hangs in the back nicely off the shoulders and the neck is not overly open and the sleeve fits correctly into the bodice of the garment.  The other pictures show how the sleeve can be worn long or pushed up on the arm.  Fabric in this shot does not appear to be ribbed either.

First of all, I had no idea I was ordering an item from China.  I don’t care for the lack of quality of items from China plus the length of time that it takes to arrive.  So I was surprised when after I paid for the item and received my tracking number that it showed it was coming out of China.   I was unhappy about this but I thought I would keep an open mind.  Perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised.  The website said it would take about two weeks to arrive, which would have been in time for the New Year.  It took over three weeks to arrive with very slow customer service to respond to my questions concerning the item sitting in Shanghai for two weeks.

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Bleh!

 

When it did arrive, I was pleased until I opened the package.  The fabric appears to be a solid smooth knit in the photos online, but the actual fabric is a ribbed knit.  The bows in the back of the garment appear to be made of a solid knit fabric, but they are actually made of flimsy sheer fabric.  I don’t think these bows will last past three washing and three wearing of the garment.  The size proportions are all wrong unless your body is designed like a big fat potato with short skinny sticks for arms.  Needless to say, I would be ashamed and embarrassed to go out the door in this garment.  I will never wear this garment.  So what to do next?  Return it.  The website says “30 days easy return.”  So in order to do this you have to go through a bizarre process of contacting their customer service for an address to ship the item back to.  Then they grill you about why you want to return the item in hopes of making it your fault somehow.  This is not customer service.  This is not an easy return.  Buyer beware!

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Look how the shoulders do not fit correctly and how wide the garment actually is and the sleeves were kinda tight making my arms feel like sausages unlike the girl in the photo, hence one of the the reasons for ordering a large.  There is also a strange lining inside the garment that is polyester? and has a lot of static electricity.

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I am holding the sides to show how much excess fabric there is compared to me.  There is supposed to be a V shaped flap in the back, and you can see by the way the garment hangs underneath my armpits that this is made for a person twice my size, but with very skinny arms.

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Here’s a close up.  Please note the large loose stitches and weird lining that seems to buckle at the upper neckline seam.

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Poor stitching that will easy come apart after wearing and washing.

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Here’s me in a shirt that is a large that is made and designed properly.

I ordered a large since I have long arms and I don’t like really tight fitting clothing.  I am no teenager or fashion model.  Sometimes I wear a medium depending upon the design and fabric type.  I am a regular gal with a pretty average shaped body.  If you buy the right size that has a good design, then just about any woman can look nice.  I am just clarifying that I didn’t expect to look as good as the models in the photos.  The photos pretty much show how awful the shirt looks and how huge the neck area is on me. I could have gotten another girl in the shirt with me because it was so wide.

 

 

 

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Here’s proof that the grey shirt is a large.

I am still in the process of trying to get an address to return the item and get my money back.  I actually don’t know if I will get my money back.  Some of you may be saying that $25.92 isn’t much to lose, but if you live where I do and suffer from the lack of good employment opportunities, then $25.92 is a big deal.  I could have gotten something nice from Kohls or something on sale from Macys.  I am not impressed with online shopping.  It is not worth the risk unless you are buying brand name items and even then, if it is coming from China, it may be a knock off of poor quality.  I don’t need a lot of stuff, and what I do buy, I want to have last for many years to come.  That’s just the way I am.

So in my opinion, please be warned about purchasing garments from this online website – Rotita.com – the clothes may look pretty, but the reality is that they are a third rate mess.

G. Winkler ©2017

UPDATE: 01/09/2017

It is evident that this company does not believe in customer service or guarantee their products quality.  Below is an exchange between myself and the customer service and it shows how they do not want to refund my money and do not want their product back.  The document also stated that the item was shipped for free, but now they want to take back money for the shipping costs and expect me to pay for the item being shipped back as well.  They also want to try and get me to buy from them again.  Why would I want to do that after such bad customer service and poor quality products?  Once again, please think twice before buying anything from  Rotita.com .  I would hate for you to get screwed like me.

Support Center - Rotita.com

 

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Posted in Consumer alert, Online Shopping