Doing Some 3D Work at Home

It has been a while, leaving my rendering and animation hobby sit on the shelf for nearly a couple of months now. I was not too busy for it, but I did have other “likes” I wanted to pursue first before I jumped back into doing 3D art work. So, being I was talking a one week holiday, this week, from my “real job,” I made it a week of rendering on my 3D software. And rendering I did.

So I completely recreated it from scratch, again, my Egg Head character, but this time making it as a female. So, her she is, Ms Egg Head.

Those first few steps were hard. 3D Blender is not an easy piece of software to learn on. Setting up the rigging for the mesh, I had to go right back to my help files to relearn the process, as I completely got stuck with the Inverse Kinematics settings on the armature. The other issue I had was setting up the mesh, so it matched the armature the way I wanted it to–that took a day to get it the way I wanted it to go. But, I was pretty happy with my results. The mesh, and rigging, took less that an day, and I was doing basic animating the next day. The stuff I am doing here is “kindergarten” stuff to what the software can do. You can do Motion Picture grade work with 3D Blender–it is everywhere.

Anyway, I am currently rendering out a small “Dance” video. We will see how well that goes. More to come.

Instead We Did a Hike Along Howe Creek, In Terrace.

It was a spur of the moment switch up from our past routine, so after Mochas and Coffees, we headed up to the Howe Creek park at Sparks Street, and do the trail from there over to the Howe Creek Tree park. Since it was fall, and the trees looked so awesome with their fall colours, I took the camera along. I was not disappointed, becuase at every turn, hill and field, the trees were stunning. It was a great hike becuase it took all the worries that were on my mind, and allowed me to focus on the beauty that was around us. Hey, this might sound cheep and tacky to you, if you have lived here all of your life, but for someone who lived far away from this, it is like coming to a whole new world. I will let the photo speak for themselves. Anyway, I shot 152 photos, and it was hard to choose what to post from them. I would say about 60 of them turned out as keepers, and out of that 60, choosing these ones were hard. I might do an album, and post that too. We will see.

The above shot is looking at the Bench, just below Skeenaview Drive, from Sparks Street, using a 300mm lens. Sadly, power lines fill the horizon, so I used the telephoto lens to try and see through them. It is hard, but if you look closely, I missed a set running right up against the tree line. And just a short walk to the tree line, you will hit the creek itself. And once you are in the among the trees, you are blown away at the colours as you stand underneath the tree canopy.

Once we started walking down the trail, we met several people, some jogging, some walking their dogs, and a few were on bikes, and yes, we stopped at one time, talked, and then started walking again. Terrace is a small town, so you are bound to know half of the town, sooner or later. And many also like to hike the trail too.

Over the last couple of days, rain had fallen. The creek had some volume to it, but you could see the signs that it was almost running dry during the summer months. This pond was almost transparent, with the clear water from the springs that feed it. The leaves dotted the water’s surface, and were slowly sinking to the bottom, making the water look really dark. I call this the black mirror effect.

SQUIRREL! Yes, you will see squirrels here. This little guy was not happy to meet us on the trail. He scurried around, from tree to tree, like Tarzan on speed, so we figured that we were close to his nest. He chirped and squeaked until we moved on, but not until I got about ten shots of him right above me.

And then for the grand finale, the tree park. Almost at the end of the trail, you meet the bottom of Lanfear Drive, and on the Western side of the road, lays the Howe Creek Tree Park. It is here that you are blown away by the colours of the trees at this time of the year. With just the right amount of Sun light, with some clouds to diffuse the light with, in the right position in the sky, shafts of light illuminate the trees in a stunning, and breath taking, show that even a camera cannot duplicate. You have to be there to see it.

The Hills Look Bright Today

A little tongue and cheek with the photo I chose for this post–a shot of down town Terrace, BC looking North East at Terrace Mountain, all lit up by the setting Sun. In the for ground is Lakelse Ave., and Emerson Street; pretty much the down town centre at the old mall parking lot. But anyway, let me get on with the post. It is Thanksgiving day, Monday, a holiday for us here in Western Canada. Me and Suz., did get out for the afternoon. There was a drive down the Prince Rupert Highway, to Ackers Point Telegraph Point, then a romp around town before we called it a day. I did get lots done at home; more or less cleaning and organizing. Oh, then there was the awesome dinner over at Suz., place, totally yummy! You could say it was a great day overall.

Yes, it did rain. We needed it. According to the forestry website, we are still in a level-four drought classification for the North Coast. Even Suz., admitted that in all of her life, she has not seen it this dry here in the Skeena Valley. Climate Change, or what! Last year, at this time, the mountains were completely white with snow. Today, they look like are in the middle of summer: dry and bare. Even with what little rain we got over these last few days, it is not even close to what we need.

Holidays, you gotta love them! Need more of them. This working life it sometimes to tough on a guy.

The Day of Getting Stuffed

The start of day was like any other on a long weekend, I slept in a little, and got up, then laid back in bed for an extra few minutes. Just the way I like it. Tonight we had the Thanksgiving dinner over at Suz’s parents place, but before all that, we drove around town, did a little shopping, spending time with each other. Before we hooked up together, we started our day with getting our personal chores done around our homes. She has a lot of yard work, and I had more unpacking and sorting at my compartment. But first, I checked the Real Estate listings on-line in the Terrace area, for that morning routine and amusement.

With shock, and awe, the listings I kept on a favourite’s list, were gone: sold. The news on the 40 billion dollar LNG plant really hit–homes were being scooped up. I checked the Kitimat, BC listings, and was equally shocked to find that their housing inventory was next to sold out too. I got in my car, and drove into town because I wanted to see one of the listings for myself, just to see if this was real. It was, as the “Sold” sticker gleamed under the rainy sky; the realization that this was very real, hit me. I just got out-priced of the market!

I was a little sad, but in away I was grateful at the same time. I have a great job, and for now, a great place to live, where I can save without scarfaces. However, having my own home would be the security I crave, in other words; no landlord to renovict you when times start to roar forward in the economic landscape.

The dinner was awesome! We stiffed ourselves with turkey, and yams, and enjoyed the atmosphere of the family environment. The feast was just that, a feast. and I cannot leave out the load of leftovers I took home with me. Yes, a weeks worth of turkey sandwiches are in my future. I love it!

The day was awesome. And with the official holiday tomorrow, sleeping in tomorrow will be equally as awesome. I will stay up for a little whale longer, then slither off to bed, hopefully keeping my mind off the housing markets. Good night!

The Long Weekend is here: We Made it for Another One!

I have been basically preparing for it, getting as much done ahead of time as I can, here at my work, so the short week coming up will be a smooth one. Normally, I get the “Friday Rush,” as everyone else from other businesses, that I deal with, are trying to do the some thing. My Friday was filing up with just the little items of work that normally precede a long weekend. October 8th, will be Thanksgiving Day, here in our neck of the world, so most of the country will honour it; there are few places that are hold-outs, but I am sure the people will stand and demand it too as a statutory holiday. And finally, rain, it is happening, the clouds have moved in above, and there is the odd sprinkle when I drove home. The badly needed moisture could, once again, soak us, giving the forest the rain it needs. All of this is making the next seventy-two hours looking great!

So, work, I was feeling great when I locked the doors for the weekend. As you know, I deal a lot with logistics, so getting all my shipments out to their destinations, is a big part of my day. But I received stuff too, and the normal rhythm of every long weekend is getting hit with an extra amount of incoming goods to process. Hey, I do it too, as I go through the shipping flurry, on long weekends too, no doubt causing extra grief to my counter parts in the valley. Today, was different. My receivings was just like any other normal work day–just a few items, taking only a small part of my day them processed. I will say that this is just part of the season, though my experience is still short, comparing to last year, it was a slow time too. Nonetheless, I was happy knowing that I have no loose ends to deal with when I come back on Tuesday.

Apparently not all of Canada celebrates Thanksgiving Day with a stat. holiday. I was, some what shocked, to learn that there are provinces that only “observe” it: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. But we are also several weeks early from our neighbours down South too, from when they celebrate it, but my point is, it is nice to have it off from work. I do believe we will be having turkey also on Saturday, so Monday is just a day for getting rested up, and doing lots of household cleaning chores.

The rain has come. So far, just overcast skies with the odd sprinkle here and there, but we are scheduled for some significant rain showers throughout the long weekend. The Skeena River is super low, and many here in the valley are noting that too–finally. And the mountains all look like the Southern mountains becuase they have no snow on the tops of them yet, just dry and dusty looking. This is not normal to go so long into the fall season without seeing snow covered mountain tops here in the Skeena Valley.

Well, I must go and get organized for the day. I am doing laundry right now, having a few issues with the washing machine–dealing with that right now. Everyone, have an awesome, super great, long weekend, (you to on East Coast) and Happy Thanksgiving!

Hiking Pine Lake, Just North of Terrace, BC

If you are in the Skeena/Kitsumkalum Valley, and you are looking for something to do, then I suggest taking the 15km drive out to Pine Lake, on the Old Kitsumkalum Service Road. You will not be disappointed, unless it is pouring down rain. For us, it was an awesome sun filled day, with near 30C heat, and not a rain cloud to worry about. The 6.1 to 7km trail, and the lake, are worth the trip. There are some places for setting up for camping, and there is a small boat launch, but ideally, the trail around the lake and kayaking are the two best ways to enjoy the place.

We sort of did the trail backwards, we headed North first, around the lake, but all was good. Everyone we passed, were coming towards us. The trail is easy going, but then a little steep in one spot, but this should be very manageable, even for the novelist hiker. There are foot bridges and board-walks for the marsh areas, and the trail is well marked.

Even Suzette with her sore ankle, found the hike not to terribly taxing on her foot. You just need to take it slow in some spots. We also met a few families, who brought there young children, and the kids looked like they loved the place–even the dog.

SQUIRREL! Yup, we found a family of them, scurrying through the forest, and when we walked by, they ran up a tree right along the path. Easy shooting with a 28 to 300mm telephoto lens to capture the wildlife here. We also saw a family of Loons too.

Next time, I want to paddle my way around this lake. I was admiring the Kayakers, as they glided by on the water. The lake seems to have a bunch of little islands and outlets to explore. You will not see those on the trail.

The hike took about an hour and bit, only becuase we were talking our time. This was my first time here in over thirty years, so a lot has changes since for me. I use to go here a lot when I was still in school. The trail is in great conditions, but some of the board-walks and bridges are showing their age. Just remember to really watch your step, and look out for the holes on the trail too. We found a few of them.

This was a great hike, and I highly recommend it. You are close enough from town that we were getting some cell signal, and there seemed to be lot of people around too. So you are not to far off the beaten path for a day trip in the wilderness. The road is a little rough, so take that slow, but you can get to the lake in a small car. I rate the trail as easy to intermediate, becuase it is over 6 km long, so bring some water on a hot day. Enjoy it!

Day Two of Riverboat Days 2018

Day two of River Boat Days, and lots of places to be and lots of thing to do, and it is another screaming hot day out. Our time is limited because we decided to change it up a little differently as compared to last year, but more or less, we started the day off early. We noticed that the town was a little bit less active as compared to last year, but this could be from all the heat, and possibly from more people leaving town for road trips. Hard to tell, but the town was busy enough. So, our first stop: Soap Box Races.

So the Soap Box Racing course was in the Skeena Mall parking lot, at the West Side of it. It was not a large course, but good enough for the soap box racers to glide by down. This was one event that we should have stayed a lot long to watch becuase apparently they had some famous locals racing each other. That would have been fun to see. Anyway, the cute thing I saw while we were there was an RCMP Officer using his photo radar gun to clock the speeds the drivers were doing through the race. We only stayed for a couple of races before we moved one to the next events.

It is no secret that Suz loves purple. She has many garments, and items with that colour, and even on this hot summer day, she showed her both inner and outer colour–purple. This was her favourite soap box racer, obviously. Sadly, she could not take it for a test drive, and I am sure the owner would not let her take it home. Yes, a match made in heaven.

Right across the street (Lakeles Avenue) was the men’s and women’s beach volleyball tournaments. Just like last year, sand was laid down on the parking lot, so the players had a nice 30cm layer of it to play on. The shot above are a couple of teams of the women’s three on three team playing. We stayed and watched this for a while before we moved to our next stop.

We drove into Thornhill, on the West side of the Skeena River, where I live, and stopped at the Northern Motor Inn, who were hosting the Slinger’s Races. The idea is teams from different restaurants complete against each other by going through an obstacle course, slinging a try full of glasses and bottles filled with water. Just like servers in real life, you have to navigate as you would in a real life bar. And yes, there were many spills! In the shot above, I just caught this server loosing her glasses full of water on the ground,costing her points as she approached the finish line. It was fun to watch. The Northern Motor Inn came in second place.

As we wrapped up the day, we drove out to Onion Lake around midnight, and on a very clear star-lit night sky, to see the shooting stars. I also wanted to do some night sky photography, being the night was so clear. I got some incredible shots of the Milky Way! Yes, we lots of shooting stars too–no disappointments here. The perfect ending to an awesome day!

Looking Back: My Photos, the Day After the Fireworks

I thought I would share may photography experience with you in regards to shooting fireworks. I tried about three different techniques last night, seeing what would work on my camera, and what does not. So I tried several different combinations with my Sony A77ii, and found some really weird issues. Remember, your are shooting at night, so longer exposures, are kind of what you are going for.

So, what worked: Setting the camera into Manual Mode, adjusting the focus to infinity, and shoot with an ISO of 100, at f1.4, using a wide lens, like 28mm. With this set up, I found that anything from 1.5 to 4 seconds worked great for the actual fireworks. Anything longer, you just get a bunch white light with little detail. The low ISO gives me little noise, and the wide open shutter lets in as much light as possible, and focusing to infinity, makes sure everything is in focus. And the most important piece of equipment, besides the camera, is a good sturdy tripod. I more or less played around with the exposure times, by programming it, and then using my 2 sec. timer for the shutter release, so to avoid camera shake.

What did not work: Using an high ISO, and setting the camera to Auto. None of the camera’s Auto functions would give my anything close to what I wanted. Even in Aperture Priority Mode, the camera was unable to focus and set the correct exposure as the fireworks were going off.

So setting everything to Manual Mode, including the Focusing, is obvious, but playing around with the exposure seemed to yield me a best verity of results. To long if an exposure, you get white light and too much “busy” in the shot, and to short, you seem to lose the brilliance/volume of each explosion. And fireworks are really unpredictable, unless you are the one setting them off. So every shot is basically a surprise. Also, every camera seems to be different too, I noticed. The guy across from me (Canon) was shooting in manual mode too, but his exposures times were a lot longer than mine, but getting somewhat the same results.

Anyway, I hope this helps you.

The Riverboat Days 2018 Photos Are Up!

I uploaded over 200 photos from the 1200 that I took of the parade (Aug 4, 2018) and a lot of them turned out awesome in my opinion. I had to be picky-choosy because of the time and size restraints, but mostly time, as it took me about two hours to get everything sorted, and another half hour to upload everything to the website. So, enjoy the slide-show. You can see them at you own time by clicking the photo links on the right hand side of this page.

If you look to the right side of this Post, look under the “Pages” menu, and click on “North Coast Terrace, BC” link, to view the galleries. The 2018 parade link is towards the bottom of the list–at this time. 

Sea of Yellow

Just after the River Boat Parade, me and Suz took off to her work so she could deal with one of the pilots who was looking for keys over at the helicopter hanger, so I took off into the field near by to shoot the yellow flowers.  Everywhere you look, in the Skeena Valley, you see these yellow flowers. They are everywhere. I am not to sure what they are called, but it is crazy how well they do in this hot dry season.

I wanted to get some shots of them. I thought it would look neat how the yellows and greens looks in contrast to one another. I only had time to shoot a few photos, but almost everyone of them turned out great. It was hard to choose what ones to post, so I went with these two.

I used my 28 to 300mm zoom lens for these shots. It only goes to F3.6 wide open, but the depth of field was good enough for my taste. Anyway, enjoy. It was a screaming hot afternoon, and still more summer left to go!