Photowalk – Return To Mimico Creek

Yesterday, after clicking my personal odometer up a notch, I went on a photowalk. It was a short one but I wanted to try out a few things.

Yours Truly – Sir Dumb-Ass here – forgot to bring along the cable to connect the Pluto Trigger to my camera. So that cut my try out list down a bit.

Kipling Station 01I started out with a quick hop over to Kipling Subway station. I figured that the Sigma 10-20mm lens and the Platypod could still create some interesting images.

The lighting in the subway station sucks. I find that the fluorescents always blow out. But I walked as far on the of the platform as I could and set the Platypod near the edge. The 10mm focal length nicely captured the flooring in front of me along with the waiting train. The colours were all over the place; so I made it a B&W image.

I also experimented with shutter priority to get blurred trains. The aforementioned fluorescent blow out made that extra tricky. I don’t have a neutral density filter that will fit on the Sigma lens.

My other plan was to get a self-portrait in front a blurred train. But not having the Pluto Trigger hooked up keeps that idea on the To-Do list.

Mimico Creek 03After the subway, I wandered back to Tom Riley Park and Mimico Creek. This was where I took my first photowalk when my Canon 80D was brand-new.

This time, the Platypod let me get down low to the water’s surface. That change in perspective can make a big difference.

Mimico Creek is only a few centimeters deep through the park – I’m sure it gets deeper elsewhere and I should more of the creek in the future. Some shutter priority work when the water is flowing faster would be cool too.

I think my mojo is nearly back. This week, I have to make the return to 3D work. I feel like I’ve forgotten everything about modeling and rendering…

Forty-Six

16,801 days ago, Garstor was sent to this world.

He still has no idea why…if you have any ideas, let him know…he could use them.

Sarcastic smile

Canadian International Air Show 2018

The Labour Day weekend traditionally marks the end of the Canadian National Exhibition – known locally as The Ex. It also means the Canadian International Air Show plays out over Lake Ontario.

I haven’t been to an air show in over 30 years. With a passion for photography, I ended that too-long dry spell on Saturday.

USAF Thunderbirds - flyby 2It was a hot, humid day and the haze was heavy all morning. Only the noon sun was able to burn that away for the aerial displays overhead.

The show opened with the jaw-dropping performance of the USAF Thunderbirds in their F-16 Fighting Falcons. This weekend is their only performance outside of the United States. All I can say is, “Wow!”

CF-18 about to climbThe Canadian Forces showed off their own prowess with the CF-18 Hornet demonstrator. She was painted in the colours of NORAD to mark the 60th anniversary of that partnership.

I’m always proud of our forces and their global reputation.

The amazing F-35 Lightning II followed the Canadian Forces and it darn near made the Hornet seem quiet. What a beast that plane is; with a roar to match!

I couldn’t stay for the entire three hours of the show unfortunately. I followed the Thunderbirds’ formation into the sun with my camera. My eyes still hurt from that – I hope I haven’t damaged them any more than they already are. Sadly, this means that I missed the Canadian Forces Snowbirds performance.

Next year!

My Flickr album for the air show is available here.

Hello September!

Here is hoping that with the new month I can get out of this funk. I accomplished very little during August – the one exception being the Lego Big Ben model.

Big Ben - progress 3That build was my one Zen-like escape from the rest of the three-ring shit-show.

I am glad that a model called “Big Ben” actually included the Big Ben bell. I still cannot explain why the misnaming bothers me so much. Ah well!

One neat feature of this build is the ability to rotate the clock hands with a small knob on the back of the building. The gearing for this is basic, but I always love how Lego implements things like this. I ended up skipping this feature though – I found it too tricky to get the main shaft through the tower connected. I kept breaking parts of the model while fighting this, so I decided to stop trying and finish the build.

Big Ben - complete 1Speaking of finishing…

I put the model on the edge of my table and used my new wide-angle Sigma lens to get this shot. One neat idea for this would be compositing in a London sky instead of my living room ceiling.

All in all, this is a great model to build. Well worth the time investment.

Remembering Code

Twelve years ago this morning, my cat Code did not jump on my shoulder to wake me.

It turned out that she had fallen from the balcony – in spite of the anti-pigeon netting. It was a particularly sucky day for me. I guess August, cats and I are not a good mix.

I’m still missing Debug a lot.

My life is getting to be as normal as a cat-less life can be.

August In Idle…

I’ve been on a blah kind of cruise control this month.

Of course, it all started with losing Debug. The first couple of weeks were really hard; especially at night. I missed how she would always climb onto my chest and sit there purring for awhile before settling in beside my leg. Now the palpable loss is more like a dull throbbing headache. I think of her often and wish she was still here.

I stopped working on 3D stuff. I haven’t really gone out for a proper photowalk even though I keep thinking about it. Work has been grating my patience. It feels like everything sucks.

LEGO Big Ben progress - 1The only progressive work I’ve managed is working on my Lego models. The mis-named Big Ben model is taking some shape.

I took this handheld shot with my 50mm prime lens so that I could ensure the depth of field blurring.

My best guess is that I am about 33% complete. The roofing on the Houses Of Parliament façade should come next. Then the rest of the model will be focused on the Elizabeth Tower.

The newest Lego Architecture sets are ready to be built after this one.

First Light – The New Sigma 10-20mm Lens

I mentioned last week that I had bought a highly recommended Sigma wide-angle lens. Here are the first photos taken with that new glass.

First Light - Sigma 10-20mmNext door, three new condominium towers are being built.

This photo consisted of me mounting the lens on my EOS-80D, stepping out on to my balcony and taking this photo at 10mm. I am impressed that that focal length captures the construction in the foreground (which will become a smaller tower) and the crane on the top of the main tower.

I tried to keep post-processing to a minimum here. I kept to the basics with some straightening and sharpening. My goal was to preserve what the lens “saw” as much as possible.

A few hours after that first shot was taken, a storm came rumbling over Etobicoke. There wasn’t a lot of rain – but it was a welcome relief from the day’s heat. I grabbed the camera again.

First Light - A Coming StormThis time, I was aiming across Mabelle Avenue. The sun was not quite ready to set, but some orange colour was on the horizon.

As before, I primarily straighten and sharpened in Photoshop. I did tweak a little bit to emphasize the clouds.

I am going to enjoy shooting with this focal range. I can’t wait to find more interesting subjects for it.

Keeping My Mind Busy

In an effort to keep my thinking away from the event of Friday afternoon, I am going to delve into building the long-procrastinated, big LEGO project I have here. Big Ben.

I am one of those pedantic types that rankles at this structure being called Big Ben. The bell is called “Big Ben,” while the tower is “The Elizabeth Tower.” I’m not sure why that annoys me so much…

Another major London landmark that is available in LEGO is the Tower Bridge. I will very likely acquire that one next.

Yesterday, I also went over to Henry’s Camera Store and bought the wide-angle Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 lens. This lens was highly recommended to me at Photoshop World. Even with the cropped sensor factor of my EOS 80D, this lens is wider than any of my other lenses.

I’m looking forward to finding some magnificent ceilings to photograph. Wide-angle lenses give the sense of epic grandeur to cathedrals and museums when the camera is angled upward. So that could be fun.

Over in the digital art world, I am very close to finishing up the unwrapping of my bell tower model.

I will probably make a video introducing RizomUV in the near future. I am not sure if I will aim for creating a tutorial series though.

R.I.P. Debug (2006–2018)

Thank-you Debug for twelve wonderful years. Years of love, purring, cuddles and wake-ups better than any alarm clock.

We’ve been through a lot together. Four apartments, a house, two continental moves.

You were just a kitten at my first apartment in Etobicoke. Code had fallen from the balcony and left a void that you quickly filled.

Debug and boxesWe were not there very long; Microsoft had hired me and we moved to the apartment in Irving, Texas. I bought an inflatable mattress to sleep on and you immediately punctured it. I slept at a weird angle for weeks until the rest of my stuff arrived from Canada.

A couple of years later, I was able to buy the house on Raton Pass. What a great place that was! You loved the extra room. There were so many places where you could sleep in a beam of sunlight. We spent nearly 8 years down there until my visa expired.

After returning to Canada, we spent a year in Hamilton while I endured the commute from hell. I often came home grumpy and tired. But you always made me feel better. We’d chill on the couch watching Game Of Thrones.

Debug - July 31 2018Then we came full-circle and moved back to Etobicoke. Several blocks south of where we started.

Today I have to let you go. I’m going to miss you so damn much.

Peace Sweetie. You deserve it.

Saying Good-bye To Debug

I am devastated.

It’s the decision that no pet owner wants to make about their furry family member. But it is out of love and consideration that it must be made.

The vet has been treating Debug’s sores as an allergic reaction. A test showed that she was allergic to beef and milk. But nothing seemed to help; so last week, we did a biopsy. The lab reported “squamous cell carcinoma.”

Although the large growth on Debug’s neck would be fairly easy to remove, the vet also wants to remove the sore spot by her lip. The skin is so thin there that that would entail removing the lip and surrounding cheek completely. I cannot bear that.

This week, I am spoiling her as much as I possibly can. The treats that she was previously denied due to the allergy are back. I’m doling them out frequently. We cuddle as much as she wants to cuddle.

On Friday afternoon, I will have to say my final good-bye to my baby.

Broken heart Cat face

Re-upping The Beard Colour

Beard colour?

beard-dye-07-07-2018Yeah, didn’t I mention that earlier? No, I didn’t. My bad.

A week before Photoshop World 2018, I had my beard dyed with the KelbyOne orange and its opposite blue shade. I have never done something like this before, but I rather liked how it turned out.

I have received many compliments about it too. Nice ego boost.

Since it has been more than a month, the colours had faded and my usual salt-and-pepper was growing back in. So yesterday, I had the dye work re-done.

My Poor Little Debug – An Update

It has been a little rough financially since coming back from Photoshop World. I took advantage of a conference special and paid for next year’s PSW at a super-low price. Still, that was an unplanned expense. Normally these things would not bother me since life happens…

d1Debug’s on-going health issues really threw me a curve ball though. Her mouth sore (which is often scabbed over from her scratching at it) and her chest … growth or something, it has the texture of cauliflower … have not alleviated. So another vet check-up cost about $140. There was some pills to give her and the neck shield to stop her scratching. During this regimen, the other growth began to recur.

This growth is just above her lip with the sore. It is like a pinkish pea and about the same size. This had been removed a few months ago and a test declared it to be a benign tumour. Apparently, it has a high-likelihood of returning. Just so…

The initial sores have been declared allergic reactions by the vet. But allergic to what?

d2A $600 blood work test has revealed that Debug is allergic to beef and milk.

I already feed her kangaroo meat; but the kibble-like treats that I give her in the evening have a beef and a milk flavour. So no more snacks! She hates that and complains nightly about it.

Now I have a new medicinal regimen to follow for the next month. Hopefully, this will clear up the reaction and once the irritant is out of her system, she will be back to her old self.

Happy 151st Birthday Canada!

See the source imageHappy 151st birthday to the best country on Earth!

I am very grateful to live in Canada. It’s not perfect, but we are usually moving in the right directions.

My only regret is that I am on-call at work right now; so I won’t be able to get out to photograph a fireworks celebration!

Cleaning The Blog Categories

imageJust like the Flickr albums and images, I really need to clean up my blog categories. Many of these I rarely use or do not use at all.

I suspect that the Entertainment and Music categories can be removed. Although my background is programming, SQL Server and a smattering of SharePoint; I simply do not blog about these topics. So those can be removed.

I’ve never liked the name of Ray-Tracing as a category for my 3D work. I will likely change that to Digital Art to reflect the change on Flickr. Perhaps breaking it out into multiple categories – Modeling, Texturing, Rendering – could work?

Skepticism can be combined with the Atheism category. Perhaps a Photography category that is distinct from Photoshop is in order?

Hopefully, I can get into the mySQL database that powers this blog. I could write a query to show what categories I have used most often. I’m reasonably certain that I have the skill to do that… Sarcastic smile

Cleaning Up My Flickr Albums

I have used Flickr for a very long time now. Much of that has been not knowing anything at all about how to take a good photograph. I was a point-and-shoot guy with no thought to subject or composition or camera settings.

I think it is high time that I cleaned out all the garbage shots from my albums.

The exception will be my various travel albums and photo walks. There may be poor quality pictures in there, but they are my memories and so those will stay.

I’m going to get rid of my Fitness album completely. Sadly, I’ve lost all those gains and cannot seem to get myself wanting to be in shape again.

I am undecided about the Dungeons & Dragons album. I have made a considerable investment in the plastic miniatures of heroes and monsters as well as the cardboard Dungeon Tiles sets. When I first moved to Texas, I tried playing Dungeons & Dragons remotely over instant messaging applications. It was a miserable failure. Some of those photos were meant to represent the player characters in that failed game.

The Ray-Traces album will be renamed to Digital Art and only put in quality renders. The Work-In-Progress or test renders album will be removed. The Photoshop album will get merged into the Digital Art album.

The Atheism album will be deleted. I made one photo as a memorial for Christopher Hitchens. I had intended to share collected irreverent memes but I was unsure of copyright. Also, there could be nasty reactions from the ultra-sensitive snowflake crowd. Those who get their knickers in a twist whenever somebody

Slipping Gears On Blog Posting Again

Here we are, half-way through the month of June and this is my second post. Before that, my last post was the middle of May. Let’s get caught-up on the stuff in my world.

I was going to evaluate BlogJet as replacement for Windows Live Writer. I abandoned that idea when I saw that BlogJet is nearly as old as WLW and has been just as long without any update to its software. Why would I pay for that when WLW is free?

Another piece of software that I began evaluating is RizomUV. It turned out that most of my evaluation period was being done on an older version. So the author graciously extended my evaluation period so that I could use the latest version. As previously mentioned, this tool has many features that make it superior to UV Layout; I am almost certainly going to switch. I did hit a few technical oddities but that might be caused by issues with my bell tower mesh.

NPS_TorontoBefore Photoshop World, Canada celebrated Victoria Day. I took the opportunity for a long overdue photowalk at Nathan Phillips Square, Roundhouse Park and Ripley’s Aquarium. I must confess, Nathan Phillips Square was much smaller than I had envisioned.

I arrived very early in the morning, so the square was empty of people. Occasionally, buses would arrive and about 30 Asian tourists would tumble out and take cellphone pictures for a few minutes before moving on to the next site. Since I had my tripod and other gear with me, I was deemed to be an expert (how little they knew! Sarcastic smile). Several people asked me to take pictures for them. I happily obliged – it was fun.

Islington_Subway_BWOne of my favourite photos was the first one of the day. I thought to take a photo of the train arriving at Islington station. This one screamed at me to be done in black & white.

I also took a photo of the connecting tunnel at Spadina station that links the east-west and north-south subway lines. The early morning holiday hours saw this normally crowded area devoid of people. So I liked how that came out.

This has inspired me to make a major (for me) photography project based on the subway lines. I’m still considering what my precise approach will be.