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

Posts Tagged ‘Garstor’

More LEGO Architecture

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

imageBack in the middle of May, I posted about my newest Lego Architecture sets. The Louvre Museum was one of those and I still have not built it yet!

I have now added the Sydney and London skylines to my collection. I love how these skyline sets captures the essence of each world famous city.

I only lack the Chicago skyline set now.

I’ll acquire the Buckingham Palace and U.S. Capitol sets in the near future too. First, I need to get these three sets built and on display somewhere.

Dundas Street West Photowalk

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Last week I managed to spend a few hours in the neighbourhood with my new 50mm f/1.8 prime lens attached to the camera. But I screwed up!

Sadly, my brain became locked on the idea that the lens would always be at f/1.8. I have no idea how that notion formed in my brain. So all the photos that I took were at about f/22 and had the deep field depth it produces.

I put the worthy photos into my Toronto, Ontario Flickr album. Here are some of the better shots.

2017-06-25 Photowalk

This footbridge crosses Mimico Creek. I had my first photowalk with the 80D here after some excessive rain. So this time the water levels were much closer to their normal levels.

Timer Priority Test

I have long wanted to try some longer exposure photos with running water. This one came out alright considering that it was darn close to being hand-held. In the large version you can see that the rocks are not tack-sharp. Next time I will use the tripod and the cable-release.

Dundas Street West

I walked down Dundas Street West almost all the way to Royal York before turning around. This shot was a fast, hand-held shot while the street was uncharacteristically void of cars. I did edit out one car and a couple of compost bags by the nearby trees. This probably would look better with the shallower depth of field that the lens can produce.

Random Garden Along Dundas Street 02

This one was an off-the-hip shot of a small garden in front of a house that I was walking past. It was while looking at this photo afterward that I realized the f-stop had been set incorrectly.

As always, this is a learning experience.

Happy Sesquicentennial Canada!

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

The Constitution Act (aka. the British North America Act) was signed 150 years ago today. It essentially formed Canada.

I am very proud to be Canadian. We are not a perfect country by any means; however we get the gist of it correct and we are always trying to move in the right direction.

There is an odd sense to it this year. I can hear the fireworks outside and the country has made a big deal of this anniversary. But the world seems to be spiraling downward. I’ve mostly kept politics from this blog and most generations feel that theirs is the worst.

But I look forward to Canada continuing to set an example for the world.

Thank-you.

New Lenses For The Camera

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

There was a serious combination of inspiration and envy on my part in The Netherlands. Zakhia and Dax had some amazing lenses for their cameras. As impressed as I am with the EOS 80D kit lens, these pieces of glass were jaw-dropping.

My new Canon lensesZakhia uses a Nikon and had a 70-300 mm telephoto. He was bringing objects at the end of a street into frame-filling glory. Similarly, Dax used a 70-200 mm on his Canon as well as a 50 mm Prime lens.

Once I got back home; I consulted with Dax on what lenses I should add to my camera bag. As you might expect, I essentially copied him. The EF 70-200 mm USM is really nice and I fully expect this to be the lens that stays on the camera body most often.

This lens was less expensive since I opted not to get image stabilization. That would have doubled the price.

At the recommendation of the clerk at Henry’s camera store, I also picked up the EF 50mm STM. This will make a great portrait lens since it has a shallow depth-of-field at f/1.8. Dax uses this to great effect with his street photography.

I’m still exploring the various types of photography to see where I want to focus (hahaha!!). I like the results of street photography but I can’t quite get over the voyeuristic aspects of it. I took a few pictures like that in Vondelpark but did not put them up on the Flickr album.

Hopefully the weather today is co-operative – there are thunderstorms forecast – and I can get outside to try these new toys out.

The Netherlands & End User Event 2017

Monday, June 19th, 2017

Two weeks ago – late in the evening – I left Toronto Pearson airport on an Airbus A330-300 for Amsterdam. This would be my first time visiting Europe.

Several months back, Dax Pandhi of Quadspinner had posted on Facebook that he would be giving a talk at End User Event 2017. I had not heard of EUE before and none of the other talks covered technologies that I use. But it was in The Netherlands! In a bar! How cool is that? I decided to make this my major vacation.

Flying overnight, we landed at Schiphol airport around noon on Tuesday. I made my to Utrecht via the excellent train system. EUE didn’t start until Thursday; but there was to be a Wednesday night pre-conference drink-up. It was raining on and off Tuesday afternoon; I walked to the hotel from Utrecht Centraal station. I nearly got lost – a portend of things to come – but managed to arrive damp and tired.

In spite of more drizzle and rain on Wednesday morning, I set out with my camera to explore Utrecht. My passport was stowed into one of the camera bag pouches for safe keeping…

The adventure begins! I got lost. In the rain. It was all in fun though and I eventually found the hotel again. That evening, I had a really nice dinner with Dax and Cynthia at the hotel restaurant. If you visit Utrecht, be sure to stop into Luden Restaurant & Brasserie for a meal and a few bottles of Bastaard. We became instant friends. Very cool.

On Thursday morning I registered for EUE and attended the first talk, followed immediately by Dax’s talk. Awesome stuff. Things were off to a great start!

This is where the sound of a record player needle scratching across your favourite vinyl album should play in your mind. Over lunch I realized something awful. My passport was gone.

not really a pouchThe zippered camera bag pouch was not a pouch. There was a second zipper along the bottom – this was actually meant as a way to secure the camera bag on an extended luggage handle. My passport had fallen out while I was exploring Utrecht.

I had a few things in my favour; I had made copies of the passport bio page and the hotel staff was super helpful. So much for attending the other EUE talks though!

I had to file a police report and got lost again while walking to the station. Me getting lost would become a recurring joke with my new EUE friends. With the police report in hand, I had to take the train to The Hague and deal with the Canadian consulate.

There was a ton of paperwork and they wanted four non-family contacts who had known me for at least three years. I also had to provide my ticket home to prove that this was an emergency. Since I only had my cellphone with me, I had come back on Friday to complete the forms and provide them with new passport photos. That wiped out attending the morning EUE talks.

Your whole life is an application errorWhen I returned to the pub where EUE was being held, it was just after the lunch meal. They had provided chocolate fortune cookies. Being a mite bit peckish, I ate one and looked at the fortune inside.

I wish I were making this up! “Your whole life is an application error.”

Indeed…

EUE wrapped up that evening. Dax and I “stole” the flags that had been flying outside of The Florin pub during the conference.

I spent Saturday in Utrecht, walking around with my new friends and taking a ton of pictures. Roman lives in Russia, Zakhia is in Lebanon, Barry lives in England, Daniel is in Germany – and all of us were immediate friends. United by the common threads of digital art and drinking beer. The perfect way to achieve peace on earth!

Amsterdam 05 - VondelparkOn Sunday I went to Amsterdam for the rest of my vacation. I had to wait several hours for my hotel room to be ready but Vondelpark was only a block away. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon, so the park was packed with people. Lots of trees and walking/biking paths and large ponds.

Monday was the hop-on / hop-off city bus tour. I also visited Gassan Diamonds. I don’t really have decent photos from that – but it was interesting and I learned quite a bit about diamond cutting and polishing.

Tuesday was the canal boat tour in the morning. I was supposed to have a day trip to Bruges, Belgium on Wednesday but my temporary passport was ready – so I had to make a third trip to The Hague. The tour company swapped the Bruges trip with the Windmill / Volendam tour on Tuesday afternoon.

Windmill Tour 01If you visit The Netherlands, be sure to take the Windmill and Volendam tour. The windmills are fascinating and you tour a cheese factory and a bakery in Volendam.

It is a quaint and quiet town with a long fishing heritage. A new dyke has all but eliminated fishing as a livelihood; so they have had to re-make themselves for the 21st century.

You won’t want to miss out on the Amsterdam Icebar either. It is a small venue and a steady flow of patrons is kept flowing in and out of the place. It is themed on the Dutch explorer Willem Barents’ search for the Northwest Passage.

My Flickr album for this trip is located here. I will add more photos to it over the next few days.

Here is the official EUE photos on Facebook.

I strongly recommend visiting The Netherlands. They are a very friendly people. They love bicycles more than you can know. There is a vast history here and plenty of things to see and do.

I will have to return – probably for End User Event 2018. With my passport secured nine ways to Sunday this time.

Dearth

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Weeks have marched past without a post once more.

It has been crazy busy – and annoyingly frustrating – at work lately. The WannaCry emergency patching was brutal; even though it really did not require the DBA team, we were on-hand and gathering overtime pay.

Other work-related items have been equally draining.

But things are looking up! Tonight is the start of Imagine No Religion 7! It will be held near the Toronto airport, so I can take the bus to the event instead of flying to another city and staying at a hotel. The line-up of speakers is going to be awesome.

I have already heard Professors Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne and Lawrence Krauss speak at FFRF Conventions before. But it will be nice to see them again. Seth Andrews will be speaking, I hope to meet him and get another book signed. I am looking forward to hear an update on Gretta Vosper’s story too.

Ali Rizvi and Matt Dillahunty will be there too. There are many other speakers, so I am totally stoked for this weekend.

Monday night, I’m off for my first trip to Europe! I’ll be attending the End User Event in Utrecht. This was triggered by Dax Pandhi from Quadspinner speaking about his latest terrain tools work. So I turned this into a major holiday for me.

I’ll be spending a few days in Amsterdam. I’m really excited about the photographic opportunities.

Phew! Hopefully all this generates a lot more blog posts this month.

The Bad News About The Gym

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

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

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

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

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

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.

Getting Caught Up On Stuff

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

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!