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.

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.

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.

Saturn V Model Finished

Earlier this afternoon, I put the last few pieces of the Saturn V LEGO model together.

Saturn VThis is a big, beautiful model from the Ideas series. Ideas are fan submissions that get voted on with the hope that they are turned into a shipping product. The wonderful Women Of NASA set is also in the Ideas series.

I will upload a better image to my Flickr album later – for now, here is a crappy cell phone camera shot. Note the re-designed Burj Khalifa model for scale. The Saturn V is nearly one meter tall – by far my tallest model.

The third stage is sitting in place and thus easily lifted off. A lunar lander model is held inside the cone of the stage. At the base of the rocket is the crew capsule with water floatation balloons deployed.

This means I have to move on to building the Big Ben tower now.

Building The Saturn V In LEGO

Back at the end of April, I bought the Saturn V rocket in LEGO. I already had the Big Ben model. Both of these have yet to be built primarily due to my concern about building space.

I usually build on the small table that also serves as where I use my work laptop when I work from home. Flat surfaces typically become storage places for me…books, papers, miscellany…it all builds up rather quickly.

Needing some incentive, I put out a Facebook poll to my friends. After 10 votes in a couple of days, the Saturn V has the lead. So I am calling the decision made and will commence the build this week!

Newest LEGO Model

LEGO Saturn VI made another bit of a splurge purchase last weekend. After visiting with my grandmother, I walked over to a nearby toy store (Turtle Pond Toys inside University Plaza for those of you who know the town of Dundas).

This is going to be about one meter tall when built.

Here’s the rub though. I now have two rather large models that remain in their boxes. The Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben) and this one. I simply do not have suitable room to build them or display them. There are other large models that I’d like to buy (Tower Bridge for one) but that only exacerbates the problem of space.

It is times like this that I miss my house in Texas and the bedroom dedicated solely to LEGO models…

Shanghai Skyline Model Complete

Shanghai SkylineProcrastination got the better of me (again). I didn’t take a photo of the finished model until this past Sunday.

As usual, I used my 50mm Prime lens but I don’t have any depth of field on this one. Truth be told, I am running out of room here to display these models. I’ll have to invest in a decent bookcase or shelving unit – but that would have to wait until I move some place better.

Moving is something else that I am procrastinating! I hate moving nearly as much as I hate this building I am in. But I digress.

This was an interesting model to assemble. The twisting Shanghai Tower is the most eye-catching and the way it goes together in Lego is just as cool. Ingenious!

Shanghai Skyline Model

A month ago, I sensed that the next Lego Architecture model would be the Shanghai skyline since that was being used in the website navigation graphics. Not exactly The Amazing Kreskin there with my clairvoyance! Sure enough, Shanghai is the newest in the Architecture series.

Just as sure, I bought it as soon as I saw it! Hopefully I’ll get it assembled before the weekend (it has been crazy busy this week).

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!