Thursday, October 30, 2014

The First Art Quest - Real Magic Deck

The First Art Quest

Over the last two years I've been attending a lot of Magic: the Gathering Grand Prix events (basically a large 3-day gaming convention for those of you don’t know/play M:tG).  As much fun as I have playing main event (even made day 2 a couple of times), I really enjoy a lot of the “side action” stuff – such as browsing the dealer tables, playing casual and side events, and chatting with the artist (of course)!  Many times I've considered purchasing art from these incredibly talented folks, but I never really “pulled the trigger”, mostly because I really didn't have a way to transport the work home – I really don’t trust airlines.  So, for the last few months I began to think of some sort of way I could not only help support these artist (even if just a little), but actually get an awesome piece of art.  

At first, I thought “prints”, but I’d have to roll them and they would have to be small enough to fit in the carry-on luggage.  I’d have to frame and mount each as well, and I have a bit of a limited wall space for that kind of display.  

Secondly, I though “alters” (“alters” are basically cards from Magic: the Gathering that the artist will alter for you – such as altering a card of a giant demon into a picture of Bill Nye, the Science Guy (I've never seen this, but that would be awesome!)).  Alters certainly remove the transportation restriction because I can basically put them into a card box/binder.  The problem is, I like card alters, I just don't love them.  Once it’s been altered I’d never play with the card again and it, in my opinion, becomes more of an art piece.  And while I've seen some EPIC awesome alters, I still feel it’s just a Magic card.  I really wanted something more than just a Magic card to collect – something more “me”.  

Then it hit me, as inspiration is wont to do, that there is a way to totally have “me” in an art quest!  It needs to hit all of these bullets:
1. I love games
2. I love art with character and uniqueness
3. I love cards
4. I love things with a story/history

With those criteria, I know exactly what I wanted to do – A “Real Magic Deck”.  My quest is to commission as many Magic artist as I have the ability to meet over the next few Grand Prix’s and have each of them create 2 playing cards using some of their more famous art as a guideline.  For example, I requested Steve Argyle create Chandra as the Queen of Hearts and Liliana as the Queen of Spades.  I will also commission four jokers to make a complete deck of 56 cards (2-10, J, Q, K, A of each suit and each suit will get a joker).  I was able to acquire some professional playing cards that were un-printed on the face, but they still have the regular playing-card back, so in theory I could play a game of poker with these – but that is never going to happen! 

I've already designed the framing and mounting for the entire deck (four rows, one for each suit and joker).  When complete, it should measure approximately 3’ by 5’.  

I will be posting pictures of the cards that I currently have and the remaining as I acquire them!  

The Quest Begins!

Anthony Francisco

Christopher Rush

James Paick

Jung Park

Karla Ortiz

Lucas Graciano

RK Post

Steve Argyle

Thomas Baxa

Tyler Jacobson

Wesley Burt

Yeong-Hao Han

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project 50 - Week 15 - The New Toy!

Project 50 - Week 15
Title: The New Toy!

Well, I've finally done it - I've been saving every penny and nickle I could get a hold of - and I finally purchased a professional-grade, full-frame digital SLR.  Now, don't get me wrong, I loved my 40D, it's been used (and slightly abused) for years and never once complained.  I've gotten some great photos out of it, and it will still be with me in my bag whenever I go out shooting (true, as my backup camera, but still in there!), but I realized I really needed a higher-end camera and since Canon just released their newest uber-camera, the 5D Mark III (yeah, I know they released the 1D-X as well, but that's like $11k) and I bit the bullet and got it.

This project is about my first impressions with my new toy and my first "real" photo I took with it.  Once I ripped open the package and threw the battery in I was amp'ed to get shooting - but that's when I remembered that the batteries are always shipped uncharged.  So, 2.5 hours later - I was amp'ed to get shooting!  I took hundreds of just "play" shots around the house; books, the wall, legos, my ironing, a wife who was amused at first but then gave me the look of "I'm going to put that camera someplace very uncomfortable if you don't get out of my office", and just about everything else that I could. 

After completing my "shoot everything insanity", I decided that I needed to actually take a picture of something "artsy" and on purpose.  Unfortunately, it was nearly dark, cold, windy and raining outside - not what you would call "prime" shooting environment.  I decided, hey, this is a 5D - it's the Mr. T of cameras - I pity da foo' who uses a Nikon! (I'm kidding!  Nikon people don't get all crazy!)  I poked my head out the front door and I saw nothing that was very interesting until I looked up and spied a ton of birds just hanging out on the power lines.  They were just all standing around chirping at each other, and every once and a while, one would "quawrk" loudly and chase one off the wire (who would just fly/hop down the line a bit to continue his conversation with another, hopefully less angry companion).  I wasn't particularly looking to get a specific shot of two birds having an argument, but I think I got quite lucky with this photo.

I'm going to show this photo in a few different ways to show what the Canon 5D Mk 3 can do.  Again, one of the amazing aspects of this photo is the environment it was shot in - it was raining quite hard, it was nearly dark (it was taken at 7:11pm), it was very windy, and these birds were quite far away. I shot handheld with my longest telephoto lens (70-300mm at 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320th, ISO 2500).  So, lets take a look at some birds!

Note: on all of these photos, to really see the detail you need to click on them to enlarge.

Full size version (reduced by 75% from original size)

Cropped version (for ascetics, size reduced by ~60% from original size)

Now the amazing part, close-up of Angry Bird Quawrking (this is approximately 13% of the full image).  Notice you can even see his little claw/toes holding onto the wire and separation of his tail feathers!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Project 50 - Week 14 - Cookie Time!

Project 50 - Week 14
Title: Cookie Time!

Well, I finally had a free Saturday and I decided that one of things I needed to do today was take some pictures!  Course, the problem was, since it was a "free" Saturday, I decided I needed to create a giant list of things that I needed to do (of which, I've gotten nearly nothing done so far, except "Create 'Free Saturday To-Do' List".  Doh.)  One of the items on the list, that was critical to do (mostly because my wife comes home tomorrow and if isn't done, I'm going to be sleeping outside on the lawn) is wash all of the dishes.  Now clearly, when I say "wash all the dishes", the first step is of course, getting them all dirty by making cookies.  Which I did.  A lot.

As soon as I started getting my "Mize En Place" (that's French for: Soon your kitchen will be a total disaster and you will wonder why you didn't just go to the store and by a box of Pop-Tarts - the French language is strange), I realized it might be kinda fun to take some macro shots of the cookie-making process!  Mostly I thought this because I needed a better justification for making the kitchen a mess making cookies than: I wanted to get every dish dirty before having to wash anything.  And a photo project is always a good reason!

These aren't exactly the best shots, mostly because I didn't really do any setup specifically for taking the pictures (lights, reflectors, etc).  Strangely our kitchen isn't setup with high-powered photography lights (lame!), but I think some of them came out interestingly.  The flour shots were, to put it plainly, very boring.  I mean, it's white dust!  Not very photogenic.  So, I played around with them a bit in photoshop to make them "pop" a bit more.

Enjoy!  And please don't lick your monitor.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Project 50 - Week 13 - The Rise of Fruithulhu!

Project 50 - Week 13
Title: The Rise of Fruithulhu!

Yeah, I know its been a bit since last post - but I've been hidden in a dark, mysterious laboratory studying the dark arts of Fruithulhu!  I'm sure you've all heard of the Great Old One, Cthulhu - but did you know he had an equally evil Fruit Bowl!  It is this Fruit Bowl of Evilosity that I've been exploring.  After month of laborious work and consumption of many (delicious) fruity minions, Fruithulhu has finally risen! 

His tartness knows no bounds!  His citrusiness will blind the whole world! 



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free Stuff Reminder

This is just a short little reminder, that the October Free Prints contest only has one week left.  If you want to try and win a free print, all you need to do is comment on any of the facebook posts I've made in October.  For each post you make a comment on, you'll get an entry to win a print.

Our facebook page is located at:


Monday, October 24, 2011

Project 50 - Week 12 - SteamRay

Project 50 - Week 12
Concept: SteamRay

While working on this weeks project, I had a sudden "gear change" (pun very much intended) after I saw some photos of Man Ray.  He created a few photos of gears and clockwork items (quite a bit before "steampunk" was considered it's own art-form), using a method  known as photogram.  A photogram is, simply, a photograph created without a camera.  Man Ray (and countless film students) placed objects directly onto unexposed photo paper and then exposed them to light.  After exposing the paper, he would develop the paper (as you would normally do after exposing a negative onto photo paper) and create unique images.  Man Ray used fruit, toys, trinkets, flowers, and more to create photograms, many of which would be impossible to create using "normal" photographic methods. 

Originally I was going to try and take more macro photos of watch parts (ala Steampunk), using different methods than last week, but after seeing Man Ray's "pre-punk" work, I decided to do some digital photograms.  Rather than using photographic paper, I decided to use my scanner bed as my medium.  I placed the different parts directly onto the scanner bed and then covered them with different materials (to limit the light overflow and add contrast).  I used black cloth and black cardstock as my blocking material, but I was pleased more with the cloth than the paper - the cloth had less light leakage and wrapped around the objects better. 

This weeks change just reminded me that you never know when/where inspiration will come from, but when it does just grab on and go with it. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Proejct 50 - Week 12 - Concept

Project 50 - Week 12
Concept: Broken Clock

This week, I'm continuing with my "Steampunk" theme, but changing is slightly.  Last week photos were macro/abstract shots of small pocket watches, in one piece.  This week, I'm shooting even more abstract by only taking photos of the individual watch parts (cogs, gears, springs, etc).  I'm not sure if having the parts in context of the watch will be better or worse than just having them separate. 

One thing that makes this pictures so tricky, is the scale of how small these parts are (see photos).  The whole watch is about the size of a quarter and there are 40-50 parts inside that watch!  The gears and cogs are only about 5-8mm (some are as small as 2-3mm)!  Because of how small they are, even using a macro lens (such as a 1:1 ratio) they don't appear that large.  I've had to tinker together components to get a higher-powered macro.  Last week I tried using a 2x and 4x ring filter adapter on my 100mm macro lens, and while they magnification was better, the photos were blurry and had a nearly non-existent depth of field.  For this weeks project, I'm going to try a different method, using extension tubes rather than magnification filters.


Ps: Here are some shots to show the scale of what I've been working with.