Garstor's World, My realm of 3D art, LEGO and atheism

New Lego Architecture Sets

Posted on Sunday, May 14th, 2017 at 2:37 PM in Lego by Garstor

It has been awhile since I bought any new Lego sets. In Texas, I had an entire bedroom dedicated to my Lego and my games. I lost that room in Hamilton. Here in Etobicoke, I might get some of it back; but for the time being, I am displaying several Lego Architecture sets on my desk at work.

imageMy little-used Visa card finally built-up enough points for an Amazon gift card. So I added the Berlin skyline, the Venice skyline, and The Louvre Museum to my brick collection.

I still need to acquire the Chicago, London, and Sydney skyline sets. The Burj Khalifa has been redesigned and re-released. Buckingham Palace, a redesigned Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum  and The United States Capitol Building are also new models.

I’d better add these sets soon too! Before Lego decides to discontinue them.

I’ll upload pictures once I have built these models.

Book Reading Update

Posted on Sunday, April 30th, 2017 at 2:13 PM in Atheism, Books by Garstor

imageThis morning I finished reading Aron Ra’s book The Foundational Falsehoods Of Creationism. Much of this was read during bus trips into Dundas to visit my grandmother – otherwise I might have finished it sooner.

A book such as this might have helped me reach my atheism conclusion faster since I had clung on to creationist ideas long after I had stopped attending church or praying. This is a good read and provides a solid primer on the notion of clades – indeed, Ra has sometimes referred to himself as The Ace Of Clades as a nod toward Motörhead.

The writing is very approachable, which is appreciated. It is based on Aron Ra’s YouTube videos and the conversational nature of that shines through.

Although it is not likely that a creationist will read this; since they love to hide behind lies. The book makes very clear the correct definitions and uses of words like “theory” and “evolution.” By providing demonstrations of how these terms are misused in creationism, Ra tears away at the already flimsy shielding they have.

Goodness knows I was guilty of the same such abuse of language back in the day!

imageSpeaking of language; I am now getting embroiled in Steven Pinker’s The Sense Of Style.

I began reading this on my trip to Florida for Photoshop World. So far so good. I cannot add much else to this until I am further into it; so I will certainly post about it again.

Photoshop World 2017 On Flickr

Posted on Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at 4:41 PM in Photoshop by Garstor

Here is the album for Photoshop World 2017 on my Flickr site.

These are the live and still-life models that were available to photograph. I have more of the “princess” (I couldn’t think of a better description for her) and a WWII vet to work on still. I hope to get those uploaded to the album tonight.

Unfortunately, most of the spy photos were very blurry – if I had been more careful, I could have gotten some cool shots of him.

Still Life - wine & flowers 02Some of these have been processed with the Topaz Labs tools that I bought – usually adding a vignette. Some vignettes I made myself; you can tell, they look like crap! Sarcastic smile

This is my favourite still-life shot. The star flares were added in Topaz Star Effects. Normally flares are over-done and cliché; but I think these turned out alright.

So, I’ve added to my ever-growing list of things to learn. But it will be worth it.

Photoshop World 2017

Posted on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 at 4:54 AM in Photoshop, Travel by Garstor

Alright, today is not Sunday as originally promised. I arrived home at about 1 AM Sunday morning and spent that day in a daze. Then it was back to work.

However, Photoshop World 2017 was absolutely awesome! I cannot wait for the next one! Photoshop World and the FFRF National Conventions are going to be my annual rituals from now on.

I met some wonderful fellow Canadians as well as some of my Photoshop heroes (Corey Barker, Glyn Dewis, Scott Kelby). Most of the talks were spectacular and I learned a lot. I tried to balance between photography talks and Photoshop talks – there was so much though and often it was tough to pick between talks when they were being held at the same time.

KelbyOne opened PSW with a hilarious TV show spoof, “Photoshop Cops.” Be sure to watch the blooper reel afterward. That link also includes the keynote address by Adobe’s Julieanne Kost.

Canon is at every single PSW and offers free camera cleaning and minor repairs. There were professional models posing – for hours! – so that people can walk up and take photos. I still have to edit my photos; however, I will write another post once I have them on Flickr.

Stacy Pearsall’s talk would tear your heart out – this was definitely a show highlight and worth the price of admission. The photos and videos that she shared were just incredible. I had to keep checking myself that this stuff is not Hollywood and that it really happened. Really powerful.

Stacy made jokes throughout her talk but we rarely laughed – not because they were bad jokes; but rather the emotional weight of her story kept us silent. She had to remind the audience that it was okay to laugh!

Stacy is now working on the Veterans Portrait Project – she started taking photos of vets while waiting in the VA hospitals. That turned into emotional/psychological therapy for her own healing.

Bibliophile that I am, I bought a bunch of books. Glyn Dewis signed his new book Photograph Like A Thief for me. I also picked up Scott Kelby’s newest Photoshop CC For Photographers and Corey Barker’s How To Create Bad-Ass Effects In Photoshop.

Since they offered a great deal, I bought all of Topaz Labs’ software.

Phew! My AmEx card is still twitching from all of that. But so very worth it!

Time For Photoshop World!

Posted on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 at 5:19 AM in Photoshop by Garstor

It is finally here!

At 10 AM, I leave for Orlando, Florida to attend my first Photoshop World conference.

On Sunday, I’ll blog about the experience.

The Bad News About The Gym

Posted on Sunday, April 16th, 2017 at 10:27 AM in Fitness, Personal by Garstor

Last week was brutally stressful. Even with the “Good” Friday Christian-torture-porn day off…

Friday afternoon, I was in the local Good Life Fitness to begin getting myself back into shape. I learned that I have a long row to hoe ahead of me. I am basically right back to my worst condition. I am about the same weight and body fat percentage as when I met my first personal trainer – the very cool Patrick – back in Texas.

I tipped the scales at 262 pounds and about 32% body fat!

Ugh!

Getting Back To The Gym

Posted on Sunday, April 9th, 2017 at 5:49 PM in Fitness, Personal by Garstor

At last!

It has been a long time and all the work that I put into my body with Patrick, Isaac and Josh has been lost. But that does not need to be a permanent situation.

I’m going to get it back.

On Friday, I signed up for Good Life Fitness. The gym takes up the entire second floor of the building where I work.

I’m on-call this week, so I start working out this coming Friday.

Staying Caught Up Is Difficult

Posted on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017 at 7:52 PM in Personal by Garstor

I’ve been blogging about the new camera and figuring my way around it. Currently, I’m working through a KelbyOne tutorial on focusing techniques. I’ll review their video about the EOS 80D so that I can make more effective use of it.

Although it has been slow, I have not completely neglected working in 3D. Right now, my big experiment is using the DP_Verdue tree creation plugin for LightWave and taking the results into ZBrush for tweaking. So far, this has not borne fruit (pun only slightly intended). The ZBrush Dynamesh and ZRemesher features are not kind to the thin polygons that make up the smallest twigs at the branch tips.

I have one more idea to try out. I hope it works.

Poser work has stagnated though. I’ll have to find time to get back to that. Also, I am behind on the latest versions of Substance Painter and Designer. Finally, I have not played with World Machine and GeoGlyph in a long time either!

Phew. I’m tired just thinking about it all.

March 25th Photowalk – Mimico Creek

Posted on Monday, March 27th, 2017 at 7:02 AM in Photoshop by Garstor

I created a Flickr album for Toronto images. The shots from Saturday’s photowalk are in there.

Line Two TrainThe very first set of photos turned out one of my favourites.

Close to the park entrance off Bloor Street is the TTC Line Two subway. Islington Station is a few hundred meters to the left. I wanted to capture a train leaving and this did not disappoint.

The black & white conversion was done inside Adobe Camera Raw.

I think this really captured the essence of the walk; even better than the pictures of Mimico Creek itself.

The other black & white shots were done with the Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro. As I mentioned in my last post, the drizzling rain and overcast clouds really helped with creating black & white shots.

Mimico Creek 06Last week’s snow is melting and combined with the rain, really had the creek deep and flowing fast. It’s not as impressive as the flooded canals around Irving – I don’t think it will ever get that bad except in the most extreme circumstances.

This photo was close to the end of the walk, by the Etobicoke Lawn Bowling Club. Not much further ahead is the Islington Avenue and Dundas Street intersection.

I am definitely looking forward to nicer Spring weather now. My photowalks will extend beyond the Islington neighbourhood – High Park and the Lake Ontario beach areas will be good starts.

Getting Caught Up On Stuff

Posted on Saturday, March 25th, 2017 at 6:35 PM in Personal by Garstor

Well, the last couple of weeks didn’t exactly turn out the way I wanted…

No sooner do I have a new camera to learn, when it is my turn to be on-call at work. That’s part and parcel of working in I.T. I accept that. But as my week came to an end, I started getting sick again. I don’t think I’ve ever been as sick as often as I have during 2016.

Today, a few sniffles aside, I’m finally able to head outside with the 80D!

I spent about two hours along the Mimico Creek in Tom Riley Park. This is behind the Moneris building; my colleagues and I sometimes walk there for a short break.

It is a grey and rainy day. But I’m hoping that can make for some compelling black & white shots.

We’ll see!