I Solved My Sci-Fi 3D Art Issue – Happy Friday The Thirteenth!

First, Happy Friday…, the Thirteenth. I know, for those of you who are supper superstitious, I feel for you. I really do. But it is all psychological. Trust me. Now that we got that out of the way, I finally solved my 3D art issue with masking 3D objects onto a photograph, or movie clip. Actually, I am kind of embarrassed about it because I learned this a long time ago, but completely forgot. So I had to relearn how to use the compositor all over again. My argument, 3D Blender has a very steep learning curve, and you just do not pick it up in one day–it is that huge!

So, here is my image. Obviously it is a composite, or as they say in the U.S., a fake image. But I think if we had a large planet, with rings, very close to us, this is what it would look like. So I was going for as “real” as I thought it would be like, as possible.

My issue with 3D Blender was getting the 3D image, the planet, behind the mountain, which I shot in Rosswood, BC. I had the Mask working, but I could not figure out how to get it work properly. My solution was to use the Alpha on the background, or Alpha out the World View, making the background fully transparent. It worked, and it worked even better then I would have expected it would. I am happy with this.

Now I just need to work on better textures and colours for the planet, and get some better stock photos that I have on my hard drive. Hope you like the photo.

As the Bubble Expands, Again

With news of the LNG project getting its second life at becoming reality once again, here in Terrace, BC, the real estate market seems to be erupting again right along with it, like it did when Reo Tinto brought wealth and prosperity to the valley. In fact, old properties that were once on the market, that I thought had sold, were being re-listed, but at slightly higher prices. It seems that Kitimat is once again the hot bed for the housing market, as speculators move in to take advantage.

My question is, “will the bubble burst, or is this the next wave of the markets moving to even higher house prices”? In hind sight, will this be like it is now in Vancouver, as million dollar homes become the norm? Will criminals take advantage of the boom and start flipping up here, to launder their ill gotten money, as reported on the CBC News in Vancouver this year. Will this be, or added to, a full blown housing crises? Will this be the boom-bust cycle that happens normally up here in the North Coast? So many questions, with no answers.

By comparison, the housing market is very reasonable, compared to the Lower Mainland. The average detached free hold house sells for about three hundred thousand here in Terrace today. I also noticed that hardly anyone is touching the mobile homes and condos, as much as the houses with property, as those inventories move more slowly.  I am starting to see more vacant land up for sale too.

I am holding back, as I wanted to buy in, but seeing what is going on, I may wait longer before I buy. The one property I wanted, did sell, but I herd that they got it for ten thousand less than what was asking. But that was a couple of months ago. And I still have a few conditions left to full fill with my Bank before we can start talking borrowing money. My down payment pile is growing in the mean time.

I am seeing a lot more out of province vehicles too. The majority are from Alberta, but I saw a few from Ontario and Quebec in the mix as well.There are more cars on the roads in the morning and afternoon–a good sign.

So this means that our little town in the Skeena Valley is growing again, as we help Kitimat absorb the boom. Good for the economy, but bad if you are looking to get into the housing market. Great news if you are looking to sell for your retirement nest-egg, but not so good for the low income class who cannot find a home, and afford to rent any more. When will the bubble burst?

The Weekend Rapped Up, Including a Stop at the Aiyansh Hot Springs.

Since the accident, things have been going all right, with some slight headaches and disorientation that Suzette has, for the most part, we are good. Her vehicle is back on the road, and the ICBC insurance seems to be going good, and the parts are on order. So, we did some more driving around, even going up to the Nass Valley on our Sunday trip. So, we kept busy.

As you enter the Nass, you have to go through Rosswood, just passed Kitsumkalum Lake, and then onto Lava Lake, along the highway. We stopped off at Lava Lake, at the park when you first meet the Lava Beds, on the North end of the lake. It is about an hour’s drive from Terrace, BC. I found this rose flower, the only one in bloom along the rose bushes in the park.

I wanted to check out the hot spring in the Nass Valley, so off we went.

OK, these are local names, which I believe are spelled “Higu Isgwit,” but I could be wrong. I have always called them the “Aiyansh Hot Springs.” Anyway, you cannot miss it, the signs are obvious, and the park lot is awesome, you could fit eight to twelve cars there. There is a half kilometre hike to the hot springs. There is a small creek that you follow, and the path is somewhat maintained with board walks and little bridges. Once you get there you can smell the sulphur, no doubt volcanic.

The water is hot. I touched one of the pipes that run from the hill side, and it is enough to make me cautious touching it. You mixed the water with the creek water to get that right temperature. There is a main pool, the old one that sits in the ground, and two newer hot tub style pools that seem very new and are on raised platforms. There were people in the bigger of the two, so I never took photos of it. The above photo is the smallest of them.

We did not go in for a dip. Between not bringing a bathing suite and the swarms of mosquitoes, we stayed dry. However, the people in the pools did not seem to be getting bitten by them. We were only there for a few minutes, but in that time another family arrived, so we left them be. This is a popular place.

Another great day trip!


The Upgrades on Greig Avenue

It is so nice to finally see work being done to Greig Avenue, in the down town area of Terrace, British Columbia. The way the road was before was pretty bad. There were pot-holes and cracks everywhere on the road, and it looked like it had not seen any maintenance in years. Work started on it a few days ago, and appears that they still may have several more days to go before we get pass through it with our vehicles on brand new pavement.

Speaking about car accidents (from my last post), Terrace has seen quite a bit of motor vehicle accidents over the last three days. Yesterday, while I was on my to the barber shop for a much needed hair cut, over one block from where I was, a car was hit by another, and caused it to flip over on its roof at Lakesle and Kalum Street. That one will be in next week’s paper. There were a few others around town too. Must be the hot weather?

Anyway, Greig Avenue will be awesome once the construction is finished, and we can drive on it once again. I think that it will pick up business in the area once finished becuase drivers will prefer to use it now as a route through town. I know some new buildings are scheduled to be built in the next while on the old Co-op site, so they will be happy with the improvements to the roads. It will be nice once again.

We Had a Little Fender-Bender, But All is Good!

Imagen driving down a very dark highway, and you are going from 80km/h to 100km/h, and way out in front of you, you see a vehicle, then from behind it, sparks at random places on the road, and they are getting closer and closer. Then an object bouncing towards you that you can hardly see becuase of its dark colour. What would you do? The quick thinking Suzette did what most of us would have done: stop to avoid the object. She safely came to a stop, just metres from the object, and this is what we saw.

The object was a metal picnic bench, painted dark green, that was being transported on the back of someone’s pick-up truck, and they never bothered to properly secured it to the deck. It fell off as they accelerated in the 100km/h speed zone, so when it hit the road, it was already travelling a 80km/h. So what we saw from behind were sparks, as it bounced along the surface of the pavement then came to rest.

An emergency stop was initiated. The vehicle behind us also had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting us, and as we heard it brake–at that moment I was happy. But then a second later, a third vehicle was not so quick, and collided into the back of the car behind us, then the car behind us was pushed into us. So now we have a three vehicle accident, and loose objects on the road. We waited, and after a ten second pause, we assessed ourselves, and looked outside. There seemed to be no other sounds of crashing cars–it was safe to go outside.

I will not go into the specifics of what happened to all three vehicles, but I will say this, no one was physically injured. All three vehicles had to be towed away, and the metal bench was taken off the road, so we were thankful that it was just our vehicles that were damaged, not anyone else. However, a few things need to be addressed here.

Let me quote Suzette’s Face Book post, using her words:

This piece of metal lawn furniture fell out of a vehicle last night on Kitimat highway just Terrace side of Hirsch Creek. It caused a 3 car fender bender, no major injuries thankfully. I stopped in time to miss hitting it. The woman behind managed to stop in time to not hit me, but the third car hit her, pushing her into my driver side back quarter. So, all 3 had to be towed. PEOPLE! tie down your loads! If I had not seen the sparks when this fell out of the vehicle, I would have had less notice of something wrong ahead, could have hit it, into my windshield and could have caused a major accident. Now my car is heading to the shop…

Two points. First, the owner of the park bench was the cause of this accident. You never move items on your vehicle without first properly securing them to the vehicle to prevent them from falling off and causing damage to the road, property, and people. This is the law.

Secondly, As a driver, you must drive in a safe manner. This means driving with enough space between you and the driver ahead to stop safely, in case of an emergency. Driving too close is not only bad driving, but in the case of an emergency, you are not going to stop in time to avoid the driver ahead of you. This is the only time, that you are one hundred per cent at fault if you cause the accident.

Anyway, we are all good.

On a side note, I told Suzette today, “we were partly responsible of closing down the Kitimat to Terrace Highway for an hour, yesterday”!



Fireworks at Kitimat BC for Canada Day 2018

We drove back to Kitimat, BC to see the Canada Day fireworks that started at 11:00pm. They lasted about twenty minutes, and were pretty impressive. Other than the mosquitoes, it was an awesome night. The sky cleared up, with very little clouds to threaten us with rain, and it fairly warm too. We parked away from the main parking lot and park to get better shots, and I think it paid off as far as the photos go.

Perhaps we will come back next year!

Happy Canada Day 2018!

“Let the good times roll,” as they say, whisking off first thing this morning to Kitimat, BC to see the parade and other events there. We left around 9:30ish but did not get there until well after 10:00am, as we took our time on the roads–safety first you know. We found a very good parking spot and chose our spot to see the parade, mingled around a bit, everything we great, except for the threat of rain. We brought rain gear and jackets, so we were prepared!

Oddly enough, once the parade started, the Sun poked through the clouds and only sprinkled a couple of times, until the parade was finished, then it let go with a good shower that soaked everything. Oh Mother Nature! So we went from jackets, to shirts, then to rain jackets, in twenty minutes. This is North Coast living in June and July. The great things was the wind (or breeze as we call it here) seem to drive the mosquitoes away–not one bite.

The above image is a City West person in a “Bucket” on a truck, about ten metres in the air, waving the flag along the parade. City West, is the local Cable and Phone company for the North Coast area. They usually hit every event in the North Coast, and as always, they are usually the ones with the most flags on their floats. But there were lots of flags around!

This was my very first time in Kitimat, BC at the Canada Day parade, so all of this was awesome to see. For a small town, they put on a nice event. The Mall had lots of vendors and displays to visit, and tonight we are going back, to see the fireworks, which are huge here. Kitimat is only a fifty-eight kilometre drive away, so we can do it in about forty minutes.


Scored “Awesome” On My Work Audit!

I scored unbelievably well on my work audit. I passed my first year on the job with flying colours, according to my Supervisor. In fact, he told me that he does not like giving out perfect scores, he had to deduct a few points on some over-stock issues I had, but those were minor. Needless to say, I had a near perfect score over-all. He was very pleased.

On Tuesday morning, my supervisor appeared at the office door, totally unannounced, and yelled, “surprise.” He mentioned a few months back that our annual audits were coming up, and that we should be ready for an unexpected visit, by him, to be audited. As promised, he made good on his word. He caught me in the middle of receiving a huge order that just came in, so he saw me in action, in the middle of a chaotic moment, which was good, but shocked the heck out of me. He came in, sat down, and made himself at home on the spare desk. The audit started. 

He checked everything. From my filing, to the placement of the welcome mat at the front door, it all was checked off. Then he went through one year’s worth of inventory, plus the paperwork that came with it, he looked at everything. Nothing was left unturned. Even my email (over twelve months worth) was checked, more of less, to see if I was following up, and replying to everyone.

Today at 3:30pm, it ended. He smiled and said, “you scored ninety-nine per-cent, but I have not given out out a perfect score yet, but I had to dock you on the over-stock issue you have in two places.” So my actual score is 99.5 per cent. In my book, that is an A+!

I will not find out until he has completed all the remote warehouses to see if I scored the highest, or not. He was very pleased, and told me that he was happy that he hired me from all the applicants from last year, when the position came available. He will be with me for a couple of hours tomorrow, until his flight leaves for his next Audit. So maybe five or six more weeks I will know where I stand overall with my score out of all the other warehouses.

Crazy Camera Effects (Shooting at Lakelse Lake, BC)

We had left town (Terrace, BC) for a trip out to the lake to walk the beach. We head to Furlong Beach, on Lakelse Lake, one of the usual spots we like to go. I brought the camera, thinking that I would try and get some shots of the water lilly that grown near the shore, but noticed that the “Function” button started working on my Sony A77. Now, for the record, the A77 is a nice camera, and with its faults, the shutter button breaking, I still keep using it. The reason why I never got it fixed was that Sony charges half of the camera is worth to fix it, so I just use it as a general use camera. Last year, while shooting fireworks, the shutter button broke, and the focussing set-up stopped working working, so I had to use the manual focus instead. Then that started working, but the camera itself is not working at one hundred per cent.

When I was noticing that I could get into the Function settings on the camera, I started re-exploring all the different filters and effects I had on it. The first one I wanted to shoot with was the “Miniature” mode, of fake Tilt-Shift lens effects. Even the way my camera was handicapped, the images were nothing short of awesome. None of these images were given any post production, other than the digital water mark I added.

The above shot was actually a mistake, as I was trying to adjust the colour filter in the Miniature settings, so I had to point at different light sources to see if histogram was reading right. Right-a-way when I opened this image on my Desktop, it screamed out, Mermaids (jokingly of course)! Like I said, this shot was just one of the test shots I made while setting up the camera.

Here is where the power of the filters shines. Once I got all the filters and effects set-up the way I wanted, this was first shot. This is one of the “cottages” that dot along the lake that you can see from the beach. It does look like a miniature hose inside a model country side.

So I was getting very creative–layering the filters settings , and adding the miniature effects with it. Remember, this was al done with the camera alone. What I really like is the way I could bring out the various colours, like the reds and greens and blues at specific wavelengths.

Anyway, it was a great at the beach, and I did get lots of shots of the water lilly, but I sort of lost track of time when I saw I got all my functions back on the camera working. After all it has been nearly a year since the shutter button broke on the A77, and it seems to be working again. I just will not press the shutter button so hard from now on.

National Aboriginal Day in Terrace BC

Today was the celebration of the 2018 National Aboriginal Day here in Terrace, BC, and the event we went to was sponsored by the Kermode Friendship Society held in the George Little Park down town. There were a good number of people out enjoying the start of the summer season, listing to the live music, and the many vendors and food trucks there. It was hard to pin a number, but I would say there were a few hundred people there when we were. And with the weather, even the water park was getting a good turnout. For National Aboriginal Day, the start is on the summer Solstice, or June 21, but becuase that was on a Thursday, today was the first Saturday of this summer, so everyone can get out and enjoy the fun.

Even lots of bubbles, as I got chased by a bunch of them. Actually, I was shooting this set of bubbles, when I felt a splash on my neck, and when I looked around to see what it was, another bubble popped on my forehead. Next thing I knew, there were fifty bubbles headed for me–time to leave. It was all fun! I got lots of bubble shots too, I might post some later on Twitter or here on the Blog in the photo gallery.

The festivities were sponsored by the Kermode Friendship Society, so a shout-out to them for putting this altogether. They did a great job. Lots of people turned out for this, along with a good number of vendors. A great family event.

Sadly we never stayed that long, perhaps about an hour, but the events lasted most of the day. From what we saw on stage, the music was great, and we saw some dancing too. I think the kids were having a blast along with most of the adults.

The weather was very good too. As Suz., put, “it’s like Goldylock’s weather,” …. not to hot, not to cold, but just right. The breeze was nice as well, keeping the pesky mosquitoes away from us and not biting.

Next year, I will put this on my calendar as a must go-to event.