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.

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.


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.

Happy Summer Everyone: My First Year On the North Coast!

First, happy summer everyone. Hard to believe that it is here, being that most of May and the last half of June already felt like summer. Second, today marks my first anniversary living back in the Skeena Valley, on the North Coast of British Columbia. And lastly, and this might as well be a tradition now, my photos of around my home and work, on the first day summer, the summer Solstice. Yes, it feels like it was yesterday when I moved here. But anyway….

I started today with a bang, literally, like thunder and lightening kind of “bang.” As I was driving to work, I saw a flash of light, way off in the distance. Looking towards the West, along the valley, going towards Prince Rupert, I saw this was rather looking darker than usual set of clouds. It was a small bunch of storm clouds, and from it produced the odd flash of lightening, about ten to twenty strikes per hour. Now before you get all, “So big deal, yeah, I seen way more than that…” let me point out that getting thunderstorms in Terrace is rare. This place is almost void of lightening, and one may see this, maybe once or twice a year. So forgive me if I sound too excited about this. *smile* But it was awesome to look at. I just wish I had brought my tripod so I could have photographed it.

So, back to the Solstice… Today is the longest day of the year. This is cool, as up here, it never gets even close to dark, for twenty-four hours it just gets twilight. Yes, it is hard on sleeping, but a good set of black-out blinds on your windows will fix that. At my place, sleeping is not a problem from this. But the heat has been an issue over the last couple of days. Being the first day summer, sort of makes me wonder if this is just the beginning of our heat-wave.

Here is what outside looked like this morning at first light. I took this around 5:45am, just behind my work. As the storm clouds were coming in from the West, the East was almost void of them. Already at 16C, the day was starting out real muggy, and the A/C in the building had already started. Anyway, the morning light was awesome to photograph in, really nice light was getting in.

I put the camera away around 9:00am, as it started to rain, though it was just a sprinkle that fell, and that quickly dried up, but I was at work, and work needed to be done, why I get paid the big dollars. But the clouds were awesome, as the little mini storm cells were popping up everywhere overhead. With the right light, the clouds had a real dynamic feel to them, so I had to get some shots of them as the storm system rolled on by (on my break, of course).

Well, here I am, my first year back in Terrace behind me, and I feel great, well planed. And I have to give all my gratitude to my awesome friend Suz., who makes living here the best place on Earth. I thank you! Happy First Day of Sumner! May we have many more years together here in the Skeena Valley.

The 75th Anniversary and Grand Opening of the New Section of the Terrace-Kitimat Airport

We headed out to the airport today to catch the Grand Opening of the newly refurbished Northwest Regional Airport. Suz., wanted to go their becuase she worked there for a few years, and I too, having great memoires of the place from youth and as a passenger going in and out of the facility. The new section of the airport is quite impressive, with a brand new Departure area that holds a lot more people than is did before. And you cannot beat that brand new smell of new building.

So this was a dual event, both being the seventy-fifth anniversary of the airport from it’s beginnings as a World War Two air base during the Pacific Campaign, and as a civilian facility, with a newly expanded terminal to deal with the ever growing numbers choosing to fly in and out of the region. We were here mostly for seeing the new section of the airport terminal.

We just spent our time walking around the airport, not really taking part in some of the events, like luggage throwing, free fire truck ride, the bouncy castle, and so on. We just walked around, me taking photos, and Suz., trying to stay out of them as much as possible. When we got there, I estimated about 100 people were there, but we arrived a little late, so we probably missed the ribbon cutting, and the crowds that wanted to see that. It was a family event, as the kids seemed to love it too. Sadly, there was a huge line-up for the free fire truck ride.

The kermode Bear is the mascot and symbol of the City of Terrace, British Columbia, so it would make sense to have a stuffed version here at the airport. These are really black bears, just with white hear instead of black. They are also referred to as Spirit Bears around these parts. I am OK seeing a stuffed one up close like this, but not a real one out in the wild. 

The new section of the airport has that look of a larger metropolitan feel to it now, but above all, badly needed space and expanded areas to handle the flow of people going in and out now. And I should point out, the bathrooms are in a great location too, and are large enough to handle a plane load of guests. The is smart thinking!

To Fill a Lake, One Grain of Sand at a Time

They say if you throw enough rocks into a lake, it will become just a flat field. If you keep throwing rocks at the same place, a mountain will appear. On one side, after a long time, and with enough rocks, you could build a mountain in your life time where the lake once lay. On the other, if you just leave it to the countless generation of rock throwers, the lake will get filled, and then a mountain, if they kept on throwing rocks. You could also just let it be, and enjoy the lake as it is. You have choices, goals (and survival) whether to throw the rocks or not into the lake. Metaphorical speaking, or physically applied, replacing anything with something else, is something we do really well.

While I was sitting on the beach, I was contemplating these thoughts as I saw a family throwing rocks into the lake, skipping them along the water’s surface. Oh what silly things the mind ponders on a hot spring day as the ripple of the water dances along the shore in the Sun’s light. I challenged my thought experiment by adding in that the possibility of another Ice Age creeping in, and carving out the valley again, before we could get the last stone that fills the lake in, is vary likely.

A Day Out at the Lake After a Long Rest

It was a long week due to the stomach flu, but I got through it. Actually, I was well enough by Thursday, but I had to play catch-up on the all my chores that I neglected while I was under the flu’s spell. So, once caught up, me and Suz. went out into town, and off to the lake to bask in the sunshine, to work on our tan. But it was cool out, with a threat of showers, depending on where you were in the valley. But in all, a very nice day to spend at the lake, on a Sunday afternoon–the place was all most void of people–it was awesome!

This was almost the shot I waited for, our feet planted in the sand by the lake, but as you can see, it was cool, so we wore our shoes–better than nothing I guess. Nonetheless, It was a warm sunny day, so we sat by the water’s edge, collecting the Sun’s rays, perhaps working on our skin cancer, but it felt good. There was a bit of wind too, which made for chilly moments, but still just nice enough to sit and enjoy the lake side. So here is the shot of our feet in the sand. Oh, and that is Furlong Beach Sand at our feet!

Work went well to, although I had some over-time towards the end of the week, but nothing too drastic. It seems to be getting busier, in terms of more appointments and orders, but nothing I could not complain about. I can still manage everything by myself, with time to spare at the end of the day. My work is going well, and I must say, I enjoy it. I wish I found this employment years ago. Maybe I found Utopia?

Anyway, back to the day at the lake. In the morning, there was a few rainy periods in some areas in the Skeena Valley, so I guess everyone though it would be a bummer day at the lake. When we got there, around three o’clock in the afternoon, Furlong Beach had only a few people around it, so we were almost alone where we were. It was great–sunshine and beach–it was almost perfect. But this month has been cool, especially when we just came out of an awesome May with above average temperature. Rest assured, most times in June around here are filled with rain, it is normal up here on the North Coast. SO when the cloud part, you take advantage of it.

We sat on Furlong Beach for a while, then walked around, over the docks. There were some sail boats out on the lake. The sail boaters seemed like they were having a great time too, as there was lots of wind to sail with. Lakelse Lake has some good winds on it–even the para-sailors (people riding on water skies being pulled by a para shoot) were out enjoying it as they zipped along with lots of speed.

Yes, it was a great day for dogs too, as these boaters launched away with their dog happily sitting in the middle getting a free ride. I am sure if they could get their dog to paddle, they would have. They moved quite fast in the plastic boat too–I was surprised. And the dog never flinched as they moved through the waves.

It was a great day. Glad I got out with Suz. We are counting down the days as summer nears, officially.

Singing the Big Buggy Blues

The result are the chopping carts strewn all over the parking lot, and the issue is that it one less parking space you can use until the carts are placed back into their designated areas, but the problem is in the hundreds of customers who are too lazy to take their carts back to the staging area so they can be collected. I can only compare beautiful Terrace to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, so my sample group is very small, but nonetheless, I believe there is a trend here. 

There is a stark contrast between the two areas that I have shopped at between the customers, the workers, and environment. For the customers, I call this the “level of aptitude,” as the main difference, in general terms. And to be honest, I know that there are differences in the structure of the Northern facility, as compared to the Southern ones, so I am taking the availability of labour into account. So mainly it is the customers’ attitude that I believe is the focus of this issue. There are signs posted in numerous locations, and the drop-off sites are numerous also, so there are plenty of opportunities for customers to deposit their carts at these locations. One would believe that abandon carts in the middle of parking stalls would be few and in-between. Sadly this is not case.

But between the Terrace and the Lower Mainland areas, the environmental differences are huge. Apart from the weather, there are a quarter of a million people in the Langley Township area alone, compared to Terrace, with just  twelve thousand inhabitance. One would be lead to believe that the level of deviance would be higher in the Lower Mainland: no it is not. My experience, having lived there for Twenty-five years, has been that customers embraced returning their carts, and of course there are a handful of holdouts–it is not perfect. Here on the North Coast, the non-returned carts are numerous, significant higher. I call this the “high level of apathy,” among shoppers here in the Skeena Valley. For the newly arrived customer, this posses a problem of finding a parking spot that is not inhabited with an abandon shopping buggy, here in Terrace.

Maybe the answer is in applying more shopping cart return sites in the parking lot. I would suggest policing it, but that would be a huge cost to the proprietor who operates this facility. In large part, I believe the answer lays in education, perhaps a more rigorous level of enlightenment, geared towards the customer with incentives, could be created. Something like coin returns on the buggies? Money is a great motivator, why not use it.

A Warm and Quiet Weekend

I finished up a bunch of clean-up and resets on my website, so much fun, spent nearly three hours doing that this morning. The last few days I have spent with my nose in over-drive as the lilac bushes spew their pollen in the air. After a short-week, the workload at my work had dropped again significantly, I am happy once again. The biggest change for this weekend has been the weather, the last couple of days have been overcast with a bit of drizzle, but I am not complaining–we needed it badly.

Outside it is raining in the form of a light misty drizzle. It feels nice, although it is cool out, a mere 12C, but still nice to be in. After such a great month of May, people here are saying that we started spring with a bang, and with the forest fire risk rising up to “High,” the last couple of days, it dropped down to “Medium” adding relief back to the land. Even the Skeena River never got that high, as far as the spring time floods goes; this year it only rose up a few metres, hardly measuring that much of a significant change overall. But around here, on the North Coast, weather can change from one extreme to another, so no one can honestly predict it with long term accuracy.

I was happy with the long weekend last week, but sadly I knew the shorter week meant cramming five days into four, and that is what happened. I got through it, and the week did fly by in terms of time, but my rest and relaxing levels were back into “normal,” throwing out all the gains from during the long weekend. Yes, what is “normal” anyway? 

Last night, me and Suz., saw the New Hans Solo film. It was great, but I was not too happy with the 3D, I felt it lacked. But the plot was good, and (as all Star Wars movies go) the eye candy was awesome. The local cinema, The Tillicum Twin Theatres, was almost over half full, being that the film had been out for three days already. It was so it nice see the turnout, I think going to cinemas is not going out of style any time soon.

Allergy season is upon me. With the flowering of the lilac bushes, spewing their pollen out into the air, my nose drips with rage, as I spend my time blowing it to keep the snot levels from plugging it up. With the running nose comes headaches and dizziness, making sleep time difficult, and daytime activities tiring. It is comforting to know this time is short, but I dread this time of year as the annual cycle renews itself. The lilac flowers look pretty, but it is a love-hate thing with me.

I have been neglecting my website. Normally I am on top of it, checking it daily, weekly, performing update, tweaking and configuring the software, but lately I have been focusing my life on other things. Today I decided that I needed to roll up my sleeves and dive in. Some software were already badly in need of attention. My spam filters were in need of updating, and spammers were already by-passing some of my earlier hacks, so this was high on my list. I only had a couple of plug-in that need the update treatment too, but those were minor. But the biggest fix came with my hosting provider which did a lot of changes to my overall website. Let just say, the upgrade are awesome. The great news, it is all up to date now–making my happy once again.

Woah, the Sun popped through the clouds, this could be another great day. And I got a free car wash too from Mother Nature! Praise Nature! It looks so clean and sparkly in the gleam of the sunlight.

The photo is my growing rock and crystal garden on top of my PC. I bought another quarts crystal yesterday at the Gypsy Lady, in Thornhill, BC, just down the road from me. Among the quarts crystals, I have a chunk (95g) of Galena (Lead Sulphide), and a few pieces of Bornite (Copper sulphide, or Peacock Ore) mixed in too. I went “black and white” for that artistic licence with the image.

That Small Town Feel

I am getting towards my first full year here, back living on the North Coast, where I grew up, but then moved back after nearly thirty years of big city living. Hard to believe that this June will mark my first full year in my new home. I guess you could say the homey moon period is over, but then again, is it? I like to weigh the pros and cons of my achievements, along with what is still on my List of Goals. It really depends on how deep you want to dig, or just scratch the surface of this last year, but today I am feeling kind of lazy, so just a little scratching will be done.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of moving up here has been my change of employment. On one hand I thought that I would leave the world of warehousing and supply management for good when I left the Lower mainland; boy was I wrong. On the other, I had no foresight into what I was getting myself into. instead, as luck would have it, I joined a company that was literally looking for people right next door from my old neighbourhood back in Fort Langley, BC. As the story goes, the position was left vacant for a few weeks, and replacement staff were sent up here to Terrace to fill in from Vancouver, BC. They searched the local community, but were having little success, then moved the search down to the Lower Mainland where a larger pool of qualified hopefuls could be found. The employment ad was still running in Terrace, so I threw in my name. “The rest is history,” as they say. So just three weeks into my stay in Terrace, I found the job that I can retire with. Not bad, eh?

Driving a newer vehicle has to be another one, a close second on list of achievements. Within just four months after moving up here, my beloved ’95 Nisan Pathfinder was rendered useless after a series of mechanical breakdowns that left me to permanently ground it to the driveway. I left it, thinking that I would try and fix it, but so many issues were popping up, scrapping it was probably my only course of action left. The awesome Suz., made the suggestion of selling it on Facebook as parts, and it sold within days after posting it. I went to my local financial institution, and was able to secure a loan for a small car with them. The little car performed beyond all my expectations going into the North Coast winter. The newer car is nice to drive, and is by far more reliable to drive–and cheaper on fuel. 

The number one achievement since moving up here has been, and still is, the lovely Suz. After all, that is why I moved here in the first place. It was one thing to have that long distant relationship, but it is quiet another to actually spend with her, together, in the same town. It is awesome to physically spend time with her, instead of doing virtually. But on top of being with her, the need to get out of the Lower Mainland served to be my medicine for keeping my sanity intact. You can throw saving money too with that, as living here on the North Coast is far cheaper than Metro Vancouver was. But by far, being here with Suz., equals, priceless. The time it took me to decide, trading Vancouver, to be here, with her, was less than a heartbeat, and that was only amplified by the sounds of train horns blasting in the background. Actually, I knew I needed to move long before, and was looking at Terrace, but meeting Suz., again solidified my need to move back to Terrace.

So this June 21, the First Day of Summer, will mark my first year of being here. I thought that would be a symbolic gesture of timing my move on that day, last year, and an easy date to remember it by.  What better way to mark the move with, then knowing that three months of summer lay ahead, right? Anyway, my first year here in Terrace, BC has been an awesome one. I look forward to many more years here.