Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Model

As I wrote the other day, I decided to finally finish off my Lego Architecture models. To my knowledge, I have every Lego Architecture model that has been released.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum ModelThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was first offered several years ago. It was only 204 pieces and it captured the artistic feel of the building – which is something that I love about the Architecture series. The Lego Group re-released a new version last year that more than tripled the brick count at 774 pieces.

The new model is a closer representation of the real structure.

Here are the two models side-by-side. New on the left and older version on the right.

If you click through to my Lego Models Flickr album, you can also see my photo of the new model in greater detail.

I want to move to a better apartment in the near future, so I probably won’t embark on any new construction for awhile.

So Long 2017!

Well, the world survived the first year of President Orange Dumbfuck. For the sake of my American friends and the rest of the world, I certainly hope that early 2018 sees special counsel Robert Mueller file charges of treason. Cheeto Hitler has done incalculable damage to the United States; it will be interesting to see if their system of checks and balances can self-correct.

The only good thing to come from this presidency is the exposure of the hypocrisy of evangelical Christianity. Much (but not all) of this crowd supports the Painted Shit-Stain in the White House. The USA is moving on culturally and leaving these fossils behind though. I am hoping that this is their death throes.

imageI’ll aim to spend today building my last – for now – Lego Architecture model. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. For the time being, I have all of the Architecture sets.

Intriguingly, I snipped this image from the Lego website navigation menu. This shows a skyline set – Shanghai I think – that is not available. This might be coming soon.

I will keep my eyes peeled for that.

I did acquire the Lego Creator set for Big Ben to compliment the Architecture set. This a huge set and I think it will make for a wonderful juxtaposition.

In just a few hours time, LightWave 2018 will be available! I cannot wait to start playing with it and learning the new physically-based rendering system. I’m really hoping that it makes for a seamless transition between Allegorithmic Substance and LightWave.

I had a new boss start during 2017 and I enjoy working with her. Hopefully 2018 sees some solid improvements with my employment. The DBA team works well together and Elena is a champion manager.

Lastly, Photoshop World 2018 is coming along with the 41st FFRF National Convention in San Francisco. There is much to look forward to.

Lego Architecture: Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe Lego modelI finally built this model yesterday after much procrastination.

As usual, I used the 50mm prime lens to get a shallow depth of field. The fake sunset light was done by turning off the overhead ceiling light and using the LED floor lamp. I also included a diffused Lume Cube.

Apologies for the bottle of Southern Comfort in the background, but I am running out of suitable display space for these models.

Arc de Triomphe Lego modelThank-goodness for the tripod! I had to fully extend the legs to get this angle.

There was much that I did not know about the Arc de Triomphe. This is another aspect of the Lego Architecture that I really enjoy – the instruction booklets are filled with interesting facts about the history and construction of each real-world building.

The re-designed Solomon Guggenheim Museum is still in its box. But I’ll try to begin that build this week.

I have a really big Lego model on the way. More on that later…

The Women Of NASA Lego Set

Women Of NASAI got way ahead of myself this time. Although this set suffered a shipping delay, once it arrived here two days ago, I built it right away. I have yet to build the new Guggenheim Museum or the Arc de Triomphe model!

But I could hardly help myself. I’m a space geek as well as a Lego geek. The idea of this set is a really wonderful one too.

I am sincerely hoping that Lego produces more commemorative sets like this. I love the idea of honouring pioneers in various fields or the unsung heroes that few people know about.

U.S. Capitol Building Model Finished

US Capitol 2I completed the model on Friday night, ahead of an expected busy weekend.

But I’m only getting to writing this now.

In spite of its size, it was a fairly simple model to build. The symmetric nature of the structure leant itself to fast building. The slowest aspect to the build was the large number of 1×1 flat pieces making up the surrounding property and parts of the walls.

The central dome can be removed. Beneath it is a nice representation of the National Statuary Hall. That’s a nice touch of detail I think.

I’ll have to buy the remaining two Lego Architecture sets soon.

1,032 Pieces Of Political Dysfunction

I finally started work on the U.S. Capitol Building model. I’ve had this set for a few months now but the Thanksgiving long weekend is what gave me the kick that I needed.

US_Capitol_progressThis is a huge set as far as Lego Architecture goes. I’m not sure if it is bigger than Robie House or not. Those two models are definitely the two largest in the series.

Although not an ideal location, I am typically building these at my small kitchen table. Usually, this table is reserved for my work laptop and monitor. And yes, I do often drop pieces on the floor.

Here is a cellphone shot of the progress thus far. Sorry about the overhead glare from the ceiling light.

Buckingham Palace Model Finished

Buckingham Palace Model #1Yesterday, I finished up the remaining work on the Buckingham Palace Lego model.

As is my custom, I took a few photographs of the completed model and experimented a little bit with the lighting and lenses. The first photo was face-on and I used both Lume Cubes here.

I balanced a diffusion bulb modifier against a Lume Cube off to the photo’s right side. I only have a single mounting bracket for the Cubes, I’ll have to remedy that oversight. The second Cube used the mounting bracket to hold the hexagon grid and a flat diffusion modifier. That was probably redundant on my part, but that is what experimentation is for.

I used the kit lens, so I could only get f/5.6 focal depth. Aperture priority mode caused for a rather high ISO. Because of that, I had to use Topaz Labs De-noise to clean up the image noise.

Buckingham Palace Model #3I switched to the 50mm prime so that I could get a shallower focal depth and moved the camera higher. I specifically reduced the ISO value so that it would not be noisy.

There was only one Lume Cube plus the ambient room light illuminating this shot. I used Topaz Labs Lens Effects to create a heavy vignette.

My friend Cris suggested using card stock to create backdrops for these photos. That’s a good idea and one worth exploring. If nothing else, I could use them as mattes and do things like sky replacement in Photoshop.

Next up in my collection is the U.S. Capitol Building model. That will take quite a long time to build I expect; it appears to be nearly as large as the Robie House model.

I still need to buy the re-designed Guggenheim Museum and the new Arc De Triomphe models. I will probably end up getting those and finishing them before the Capitol.

Re-Designed Burj Khalifa Model Finished

Both Burj Khalifa Lego ModelsLast night I finished building the re-designed Burj Khalifa Lego model. Even before starting the build process, I knew that my photo would have to be both models side-by-side.

The original Burj Khalifa primarily used the 1×1 cylinder pieces. It was released in June 2011 and captured the essence of the building. This essence or artistic impression is what draws me into the Lego Architecture series. The first designer in this series – Adam Reed Tucker – calls himself an artist. Lego is simply his medium.

I had mixed feelings when I saw that Lego had re-designed Burj Khalifa. They also re-designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum model. In both cases, the models are bigger and more detailed than the original release. I felt like this was taking away from the artistic impression of the series.

Having built this model, my misgivings have vanished. I love both models for what they are.

A note about this picture. This marks my first use of my Lume Cubes to light the scene. The light is brighter and whiter than when I depended on my two, weak, apartment lights. Also, the Lume Cube is a tough sucker!

I had the camera setup with the cable-release. I switched on the Lume Cube and was holding it in a position that I liked… When it slipped from my fingers and tumbled about five feet to the floor. A naughty word escaped my lips. The impact sound made reminded me of glass cracking.

The Lume Cube stayed illuminated. I don’t see any obvious damage to it at all. Phew!

New Toys!

I’ve been on quite the Lego kick lately. After finishing the Chicago Skyline model I only waited a few days to buy the re-designed Burj Khalifa model and the Buckingham Palace model.

I have the first Burj Khalifa model. It is rather tiny and uses the 1×1 cylinder pieces primarily. It captures the essence of the structure – which is what I love about the Lego Architecture series. This new model is the tallest Lego Architecture and uses pieces that more accurately reflect the look of the real building.

After work today, I rushed over to Henry’s to see if they had any Lume Cubes. They had the lights but none of the accessories. So I bought a two-pack – they are charging up now.

I’ll have to get a proper hot-shoe flash kit for the camera eventually. I hope these Lume Cubes tide me over in the mean time and let me get a little more creative with lighting.

Chicago Skyline Model Finished

This marks the completion of all my Lego Architecture models. Some of my earlier models are still boxed away since I moved from Texas.

Chicago & NYC skylinesHere is the Chicago and New York City skyline models together. I cannot think of two more iconic American cities – indeed, these are the only two American cities in the skyline series.

The model showcases Big Red, the Willis Tower, the Wrigley Building and the John Hancock Tower. Also featured is the Cloud Gate (aka The Chicago Bean) and the Michigan Avenue bridge – I’ll guarantee that you have seen that bridge in movies.

I am not sure if Lego is going to release more skyline models. I hope that they do. Maybe they could re-create Toronto?

The newest Architecture model is the Arc De Triomphe. But I have older models to acquire first.

London Skyline Model Finished

I’ve been on-call at work this past week. Normally that ends on Friday at noon; however, I am covering my colleague until Sunday at noon. And a lot of stuff has been breaking at work…after hours…

Ah well. It’s what I signed up for. At least I was able to finish the London skyline Lego model!

London Skyline ModelThe main features are obviously the Tower Bridge and The London Eye ferris wheel. But the National Gallery and Nelson’s Column are there, nestled behind and beside the Elizabeth Tower  – aka “Big Ben” which is actually the name of the main bell in the tower.

The London Eye isn’t quite a nice circle. The plastic tubing frame doesn’t play nicely with physics!

I used a shallow depth-of-field again; the 50mm prime lens at f/2.5. There was some minor straightening with Camera Raw and then I used Topaz Clarity for some final sharpening adjustments.

So the Chicago Skyline remains. That looks to be a fairly simple model to build. I’ll probably buy the Buckingham Palace and U.S. Capitol models soon as a birthday present to myself.

Now if the on-call system stays quiet for the next 24 hours…

Skylines Together

Sydney, Venice & Berline skylinesI put my three newest Lego skylines under my booze shelf. I finished the Sydney skyline a few days ago but the photos I had taken didn’t turn out as I wanted. So I opted for this.

My Lego Models Flickr group also includes the New York City skyline. That image is not properly white balanced though.

I bought the Chicago model. That completes the skylines series (so far anyway). I still need to get Buckingham Palace, the U.S. Capitol and the two re-designed Burj Khalifa and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum models.

The Louvre Museum Completed

The_LouvreI finally built it!

I finished this model on Sunday evening, but waited until now to blog about it. Maybe I can set a personal record with blog posts this month!

The image was taken with the 50mm f/1.8 lens using f/2.0. I focused on the pyramid in manual mode – the first time that I have not used auto-focus actually.

As previously mentioned, the next builds will be the Sydney and London skylines. The Chicago skyline will be acquired in the near future.

More LEGO Architecture

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.

New Lego Architecture Sets

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.

Another Book Finished & Another Started

SavingCapitalismLast Friday night, just before nodding off to sleep, I finished Robert Reich’s excellent book Saving Capitalism: For The Many Not The Few.

My first encounter with Reich’s ideas was in the documentary Inequality For All. You can think of this book as an expansion or companion to that film. Although one might think economics to be a dry subject; Reich’s writing is very approachable. The first several chapters break down the causes for today’s chasm between the Haves and the Have-Nots.

The final chapters then explore the steps that are necessary to correct the imbalance.

What struck me the most was how Mr. Reich repeatedly stressed that this is not about some conspiracy theory. The ultra-rich have not gathered in secret somewhere to pull the political strings to create this situation. They have behaved as any rational actor would. Rather like the death by 10,000 papercuts, no one person or action is responsible. Instead, many discrete events over the course of a few decades have brought this about.

Both the documentary and this book emphasizes that we have been here before. The Great Depression of the 30s and the height of the Robber Barons of the late 19th Century have close parallels with what is happening today. Corrective action was taken in order to fix what had gone wrong. We need to take corrective actions again and make capitalism work for everyone instead of just a handful of ultra-rich.

ExtremeBricksMy next book is a bit of a unicorn-chaser.

Extreme Bricks is about the LEGO fans and Master Builders who build huge models. These are often on display at LEGOLand parks or at toy conventions.

The chapters cover some biographical information about the builder and then discuss the model and challenges behind its creation. Fascinating stuff.

As much as I love LEGO and dream of having millions of bricks, I know that I do have the patience to build at scales like these. But I profoundly appreciate the passion that these people have.