ABOUT ME

I live in a camper van with a couple of West Highland Terriers for company.
My passion is photography but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN
ALL IMAGES WILL ENLARGE WITH A LEFT CLICK

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR. (31/12/14)

newyear0001-0131                          Happy New year to you all.

This is as good as the fireworks are going to get unless I spend another week. Perhaps I could get it sorted for the Chinese New Year. I’ll have a go as I’m not happy myself.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

A COMPLICATED LIFE. (30/12/14)

For some reason things start to get on top of me at this time of year. The dogs started the rot on Boxing day when they organised their own impromptu hunt and were missing for an hour in pursuit of Red Deer.

I have been spending the odd hour now and again trying to create my own firework display for tomorrow. It is going in splutters rather than the big bang and shower of sparks I’m aiming for. Not to worry I have another twenty four hours or so. The firework exploding bit is keyframed and exploding roughly as I would like it to. It zooms up into my virtual sky and I have altered the graph curve so that it slows as it reaches it’s zenith. Took me ages and as it only takes a second no one will notice. I want it to emit a trail of sparks and smoke as it ascends. This is causing me no end of grief. I am doing it with a separate particle system on a new layer. I was going to have the fireworks light up A New Year Greeting but will now do that bit in Photoshop. I have three windows open in Blender, four if I count the Timeline. I could do with a much bigger monitor. It is giving me eyeache to add to brainache. The good thing is I am getting my head round the use of Nodes and have now learnt to open and close windows. The latter, simple operation, took me an hour to master. The key strokes have to become instinctive for one to enjoy using it. Then I switch to Photoshop or Fusion and have to remember to use different ones for some things and the same ones for others. A bit of standardisation would not go amiss.

I still haven’t managed to get close enough to the Goldeneye Ducks._MG_1262    On the bright side the Long Tailed Tits continue to make me smile.

This morning my new DVD arrived. It was delivered in a plain brown parcel and so it should be. It is not suitable for young children or adults of sensitive disposition. I am slightly embarrassed to reveal it to you as I learnt all about this sort of thing forty five years ago but have forgotten most of it. I only realised the depths of my ignorance when I was trying to help a teenage girl out a few weeks ago. _V0G7658I bet you would never have guessed what it was. Eighteen hours of lectures by a chap in Florida and a big book posted free for the grand sum of £52.00p. I’ll try and absorb it all and then there is part two for next winter. After a quick perusal it seems excellent as most American text books are.

Have fun, I’ll be back tomorrow with a greeting of some sort.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

ALMOST THERE. (27/12/14)

There hasn’t been much going on today. It’s cold and dry with plenty of sunshine. I’ve been messing around in Blender with a conspicuous lack of success. I have managed to get some more little birds. I have only a Siskin to snap and then it’s onto the ground feeders and ducks. I am putting them off as it’s a recipe for getting frozen.

_MG_1228     Greenfinch, it’s a bit twiggy but it may have to do.

_MG_1235       Great Tit., again a bit cluttered but it is very shy.

_MG_1239        Female Chaffinch, she was good and used my perch.

The feeders have taken a real hammering today as they have been found by half a dozen Starlings.

_MG_1221          They are pretty, noisy and very entertaining but they can eat like nothing else. I wouldn’t mind if most of it didn’t end up on the floor.

Enjoy what is left of the weekend.

Friday, 26 December 2014

HAPPY WEATHER. (26/12/14)

It doesn’t get light here till just before nine in the morning. I take the dogs a wander in the twilight at around the back of eight. It was really frosty this morning and I noticed what I thought was a fungus. It looked like cotton wool growing on dead sticks in the woods. Some of it was about two inches thick. It was like spun ice and not a fungus at all. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ll try for a photograph tomorrow.

A few snaps from todays wanders but first one from last night._V0G7657  Sunset over Loch Ness. I don’t usually bother with sunrise and sunset but this was different enough to be worth a picture.

Mid morning today I was out again, I found the Goldeneye ducks but couldn’t get close.

_MG_1185

_MG_1187    I did get closer than last time. I don’t think they are tempted by bread which is a pity as it would save a lot of tramping this way and that.

_MG_1219     The Goldfinch or one of the many decided that the perch was acceptable.

_MG_1220         This is a new one for me. I think it is Yellow Brain Fungus. It is frozen solid as the temperature only managed to reach the dizzy heights of –3oC.

I have nothing planned for tomorrow but may go out looking for the Wild Goats. They are about but the very devil to find in a hundred acres of woodland. 

I have an unpaid job. I have to get snaps of as much wildlife as I can and present them something like this. They are going in a guide for Grockles to borrow. It could be quite a big job as they are all going for high resolution print at 200mm2.

_MG_1214           For the booklet to be any use to numpties like me then it will have to show front back and side views. It could be an interesting project. Fortunately many birds look and act the same despite them being male and female. I find it similar to Homo sapiens in certain areas of southern England.

Have a good weekend. This cold weather is forecast to last for a few days. It is Happy Weather.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

CHEATING. (25/12/14)

It is the day and it’s a beautiful sunny one. Two much breeze for good reflections in the loch and though there is a bit of inversion mist it is too high to make for either good landscapes or lochscapes.

Yesterday I moved the van a bit. I now have a bush next to the feeders and the van window has a grand view of the bush. I know it’s cheating but it does mean I can take snaps of the birds without getting frozen. It’s a little Christmas present to myself. I think I have now got all the visiting birds with the exception of a Greenfinch, Siskin and Great Tit. _MG_1133    Dunnock, there are at least two of these but they are either gay or I can’t tell the male from the female. Not to worry it’s a miracle I know it’s a Dunnock.

_MG_1134     Male House Sparrow. There are dozens of these and they are eating me out of house and home.

_MG_1143      Robin, there are at least three but if they aren’t bullying each other they are chasing the Dunnocks away.

_MG_1146       Male House Sparrow. I trimmed this bit of twig and it works a treat. It is uncluttered and the little darlings sit on it.

_MG_1159       Well some do. The Goldfinch refuses to pose out in the open. There are about a dozen of these and again I can’t tell the sexes apart.

_MG_1166        Coal Tit. There is only one I suspect but again they all look the same to me.

_MG_1170      The light looked grand on this Robin and it was a good bird it sat on my trimmed off perch.

_MG_1171     Longtailed Tit. I can set my clocks to these they come in droves at 1010h GMT and 1425h GMT. I don’t know how many there are but they are little beauties.

_MG_1178       This one was so good it used the perch. I suspect because the bush and feeders were full of it’s fellow LTTs.

It is cool here and the cloud is clinging to the snow. That is a sign of higher than average avalanche probability. Maybe not but I’m sure someone told me it was.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

GORGEOUS. (23/12/14)

I woke this morning at three thirty, the rain was lashing down but even before daylight a friend was banging on the van. “Walkies time get up and out; Oh herbal tea man.”

We did a quick hour lap of the lake shore, the new cemetery and the woods. Not a drop of rain assaulted my person. The dogs had fun but couldn’t find Deer to annoy so after breakfast I went out birding. We sat for an hour or two; well I did the dogs buggered off with a couple of bearded collies for half an hour. Came back blathered they did and have both been under the tap for their trouble. Black they were.

_MG_1104    Foyers is a swamp. But it is 3oC so middling warm.

_V0G7646   See it is sunny. It doesn’t get better.

Now for my birding……I realized years ago that I am not a very good birder. I don’t do it often.

_MG_1130     This is a Dunnock. I think it is a Hedge Sparra. That’s what I was told they were. It could well be something else.

_MG_1117      This is a normal Tree Sparrow. Totally different.

_MG_1113       This is a Blue Tit much brighter.

_MG_1108           Mr Chaffinch. It wasn’t a bad morning to early afternoon. I saw a flock of Goldfinch and some Longtailed Tits.

_MG_1106        No Partridge no Pear trees but a couple of Tufted Duck. Mr and Mrs almost in the same shot.

Last night I spent hours learning what others know instinctively. I have to turn this logo into a 3D graphic before the year ends.

lnsblog orig      I snapped it. I deleted the rubbish , I polished it up by converting to B&W in Photoshop. I inverted as white backgrounds are good for vectors.I can colour it in again if I ever get as far as extruding all it’s bits.

lnsblog         I then sharpened to within an inch of it’s life and bunged it in Inkscape. Inkscape is a free Adobe Illustrator. It’s a vector programme. I then went to Paths> convert to a BIT MAP thingy. Fine so far. I saved it to my desktop as an SVG extension. I went back to blender and File>User Preferences and hunted and seeked everywhere for SVG. It was looking me in the face. I’m not used to a lack of Bells, I am on Ginger, lemon, nettle, whenlock, harlot and Manlku tea or some such hippy rubbish. Eventually I  found it. Loaded it and it wasn’t there. It was but I only found out because I accidentally twiddled the scroll wheel and zoomed. It was really tiny. I then got a file in Blender which had a million vertices. I got rid of loads of them by asking Blender to rid them. This morning I have found ALT C which converts curves to meshes. It’s only a month ago I wanted to do the opposite but I had forgotten. If I live long enough I’ll sort both birding and digital imaging. Maybe not the birding.

Have fun I hope you are ready. I’m not but Christmas will pass me by while I’m Blundering and birding.

PS. I didn’t know that you had to be in cycles render to use your GPU. It is pretty obvious but I am a Muppet. I have spent a week thinking my computer was getting buggered. I even priced up a new GPU when for some brain lag or Muppetry I hadn’t activated the one I had…….Silly me or silly Blender.

Monday, 22 December 2014

A WILD JOURNEY. (22/12/14)

Yesterday was not one of the better days for driving the seventy five miles from Glencoe to Foyers. The rain was torrential and with the snow melt it meant most roads were an inch deep in water. We arrived safely and went a quick walk in the rain. A horrible day it was.

Today is much better but it is not photography weather.

_V0G7642        Loch Ness.

_V0G7641         Loch Ness.

_V0G7636         There is light but not much.

The forecast is looking much brighter so tomorrow I’m hoping to get some video of the falls. I’ll have an early night as for some reason I feel very lethargic.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

HAPPY CHRISTMAS. (20/12/14)

Happy Christmas everyone.

HAPPYXMAS60001-0130     This is the final card. It isn’t perfect but it is better and as good as I can get it.

I am moving to Foyers tomorrow and not before time it’s pouring with rain here and very windy and cold.

Have a great holiday. Normal service will now resume or as normal as this blog gets.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

ARTIST AT WORK. (18/12/14)

Here is an update. At last I have decided on the sort of scene I would like to create. This is draft number……Lord knows how many bits I’ve done but my desktop is a real mess…..It is still not anything like good enough. It looks as if a drunken Muppet has been let loose on it. Nearer the truth than I am in the mood for pondering. My head hurts so in case I can’t improve. Here is my Christmas card to you all.

ADRIANSMOUNTXMAS0001-0100

It is still running far too fast as I forgot which channel to pick on the Dope Sheet. Dope sheet is an aptly named description for that box of spiders. The text is skipping but next time I’ll keyframe much closer together. The lighting is crap but it is casting a shadow on my mountain. The mountain is a work of art. Most artists have RA after their names, some have Graphic in front. I’m different I have Piss Artist before my name and Crap Artist after. I will have another go but just in case I fail then please accept this as my Christmas card to you all. It says “MERRY CHRISTMAS” for those that have trouble reading fast and skippy. I can’t help those that can’t read as my attempts to introduce audio to my blog failed totally. Shouting doesn’t help.

18-12-2014 11-37-55           This is my Blender window during render. The Dope sheet is on the left. I think I’m a keyframe missing for frame zero and had I clicked Channel in the bit underneath and ploughed through all the sub menus I would have found Linear which had I selected x-axis then I would have a red line to tilt and slow the job up. It is akin to living in a loony bin, lots of irrelevant, relevant but interesting things going on at the same time. The trouble I have is which to pick and how to use it once I’ve chosen.

I do look online for tutorials but the buggers doing them go too fast for me. They assume I know tens times more than I do and that I’m not daft. It is possible to make it sing and dance to ones own tune as the experts prove over and over again. I have trouble with it all, I am thick I need ‘Special Needs’ tutorials.

The mountain looks okay in 2D. It is as it’s rendered but I made it in 3D. It could do with a bit of snow on. I did try that but I couldn’t get snow on the top bit and filling the dark bits lower down. It looked like a mountain with a white hat on. Silly. Very silly, even by my standards.

18-12-2014 11-55-26       Not a bad mountain. I had several that came out looking like giant breasts, some were even saggy ones. Kept me amused for a while till I learnt to deform the mesh on the Z-axis. Then they came out like Katie Price’s when she is aligned along the x-axis and viewed from the Y- axis or the zenith if you prefer. I am getting used to thinking in 3D but would be happy if I never saw Katie Price again.

Now I must go and learn to adjust textures light and all the other solutions to the problems of Blender and my imaginary world by getting a grip on the Node editing system. Node editors are…I am assured…..The solution to everything.

It is raining here but will turn to snow and gales soon. Plenty of time for a more polished job before the winter solstice.

All the very best to you all. I’ll keep Blundering on.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

WHY? (16/12/14)

Sometimes I despair. Why did I start such a complicated GIF card for Christmas? I have three days to complete the job and the biggest problem is that I am going to have to use a Nodes editor as I can’t get the control over the materials in either Cycles render or Blender Render. I have managed to get along a bit further but it is very hard going.

This is as far as I’ve got in blender I have the sphere and star on one layer and the Merry Christmas on another. I can get the orb and star to rotate one way and the text to rotate another but it still isn’t right. It is 3D as you can see from these screen grabs.16-12-2014 11-46-30

16-12-2014 11-45-14

16-12-2014 11-48-38 Ignore the big flat thing that is just a big softbox and won’t render, nor will the circle which is a Bezier curve to lock the text to so it rotates and doesn’t bugger off to who knows where.

XMASNUMBER 1 This is quick render. It needs considerably more experimentation both with texture and lighting. 

XMASNUMBER 4  This is a mock up of the sort of thing I’m trying to achieve. I will try the 3D bit on White and pop blend mode to Multiply. This is blended to Lighten or screen but it isn’t what I imagined.

I wanted to get rid of the ball and star and have the rotating lettering orbit the mountain but that is beyond me. I may make the mountain much smaller and have the 3D bit perform in the sky. I don’t have anything too weird on the lettering which is always a problem. The letter ‘M’ had a few odd artefacts but they haven’t rendered so that is a bonus.

I wish I’d just settled for something simple like a few twinkling lights. I spent ages animating light swirls but now can’t think what to do with them. I have also popped the tiny particle emitters on the star to one side. If I have a good day tomorrow I may give them another go. I will sleep on it. I could always get rid of the mountain or cut it out and pop it on a mesh. It won’t be 3D but if I’m cunning with the camera angle and lighting perhaps no one will notice.

Have fun.

 

Monday, 15 December 2014

ALMOST PERFECT. (15/12/14)

It has been a beautiful morning so after collecting the dogs from a bit of deer annoying which took them half a mile uphill, buggered I was. I made my way to the new CO-OP in Ballachulish I stopped several times to take some pictures. I got back up the hill with enough food to last until Sunday and some sunny images.

I am having a day off from blundering in Blender. Last night I created a tiny emitter to incorporate into my star but it isn’t right it looks like a shower of sparks and not the blurry, diffused, gentle glow I want. It also tried to render using the CPU and not the GPU. It meant render time was horrendous. I’ll sleep on this little conundrum. I was thinking of getting an upgraded graphics card but having looked into the matter I think mine is still fine for what I do. I have a Nvidia 660 2GB one and though there are much faster cards they cost an arm and a leg and generate a lot of heat. I can get a newer version but it is only 10% quicker and costs £300.00p. Not worth it. AMD do cheap fast ones but Apple Pro users have experienced problems. They may work fine in proper computers. I guess that these days GPUs are plug in and play. I hope so.

I have a somewhat cavalier attitude to life and also computing. I should have been a politician.

I know a bit about a lot but understand nowt. A few years ago I thought Dithery Dave was unique. Now they are all the same. I would like Blair to return or even the ‘One Eyed Free’ Gordon Brown. John Major even. I would think about voting for Boris as he writes well and makes me look up words. He is an entertaining chap but not someone I would leave in charge of a Hotdog Cart. I would vote for him were he on X-Dancing- Stars- Be Tomorrows News- Celebrity- Get Me in Here. I can not believe the crap that television producers make. Does anyone watch it?

The silly sods just issue policy statements. Then while I, in my ignorance, think they are policy, they regard their words as expedient to keep them in a job. I want a republic. Out with inbred posh and in with the new breed. Only trouble is there are no well educated poor young folk to fight the cause. Thatcher saw to that.

I get the Daily Telegraph, left wing newspapers are shite. I love the Crossword and Sudoku in the Telegraph. It is biased to the right of right centre but not really silly. If you want really, side splitting, silly then you only have to look at America and the Tea party. Fox News is a comedy show.

Enough, this is about images and here they are.

_V0G7621       Stob a’ Ghlais Choire and in front of it Creag Dhubh.

_V0G7622        Glencoe and to the left Buachaille Etive Mor.

_V0G7624        Buachaille Etive Mor from further down the road. This is my sort of photography. I can’t have walked more than a hundred yards for snaps today.

_V0G7625       Glencoe.

_V0G7630      Loch Leven.

_V0G7631     Loch Leven again these were both taken from the Boat Club jetty at Ballachulish. They accounted for half my walking yardage today. It’s twenty steps from the layby.

I did stop for some video of wispy cloud rolling around Stob Dearg on the end of Buachaille Etive Mor but just as I got set up the cloud stopped rolling around and completely obliterated it. It then started snowing so I thought blow it and retreated to the warmth of the van.

I am spoilt for choice for a meal today. It is really good the CO-OP has opened. It is a twenty mile round trip but that is half the distance to Fort William and back.

That’s all for today. Nice. Have you seen pictures of Georgy the seventhy ( Thanks Bob)? If you haven’t then he looks good.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

GRANDMA SAID. (14/12/14)

I do live in a contrary climate. Yesterday the skies cleared a bit so I went out for some background video for the Christmas greeting whatsit. No sooner had I got set up than it started blowing like crazy and before I got back to the van it was teeming with rain. It managed to keep it up until mid morning today when the winds eased. It’s now just past noon and the temperature is falling fast from a dizzy 7oC, which was the highest I noticed overnight, to a promised –2oC, the rain is turning back to snow.

I have decided to stop up here until next Saturday. Tomorrow I’ll take a trip down Glencoe to Ballachulish as there is a new CO-OP there and I’ll be able to get some food, fags and maybe a bottle of campanology.

_MG_1102 What a difference a day makes the view from the van at lunch time.

_MG_1100   This waterfall is usually just a trickle. It is impressive today; I’m not surprised, the rain gauge says 61/2”. We didn’t have that much by any means; my rain gauge is like a little seesaw and it goes berserk when the camper rocks in the wind, 69mph was the highest gust last night.

I haven’t had much sleep but did get a lot of 3D modelling practise. I am slowly getting to grips with the job. 

star3PS    I managed to model an acceptable 3D star on a stick. It doesn’t look 3D as I would have to animate it to show you all around but it looks and is fine. Lighting and surface materials are just to show it off. I won’t light it till I composite the final video. I am thinking of adding tiny spheres to the mesh in between each pointy bit and persuading them to emit a stream of tiny particles. That would liven it up a bit. This will be the centre of my revolving lettering. I may give it a new sort of stick, this one looks a bit boring. It is boring it’s just a stick but before you mock I’ll have you know that making a stick with a tapered end and slotting it up a stars bum is not as easy as it looks. I now know why folk work in Ortho Perspective. If one doesn’t then selecting vertices in front view only selects half of them. Half a stick scaled or extended is impressive but of use to neither man nor beast. I may have missed a trick here.

testswirl    I have sorted the swirls this one is a flattened 3D tube and also 3D when looked at in plan view. When I pan round it, it is a spiral. The big white bit is a soft light I used to show it to you. I ought to have switched it’s visibility off before I rendered but forgot. My Grandma used to say fifty years ago.

“ Adrian you are too clever by half ”.

I think she was too kind to say, half clever, cunning, devious or lacking in attention to detail. I’m almost half a century too late to ask her for clarification.

I am really enjoying Blender. I get so far several times and it all goes belly up. It does have history like Photoshop but as I’m too impatient to name stuff history doesn’t help.

I now have eight different animated spirals saved, they will have to be done again as I forgot to smooth them and rendered at ten cycles and not 500, they are a bit choppy, I’ll re-do them. I have a font worked out for the revolving text, I settled on Hobo. Some fonts do funny things when extruded and bevelled. I looked up the problem and it’s something to do with false normals, I have no idea what they are so went through lots of fonts until I found one that didn’t throw unexpected vertices about. The text spins in the right direction at a uniform speed and I have a star to twinkle. I was hoping to composite in Fusion but I only have a week left to learn Node compositing. I am not clever enough to master it in a year so will stuff all the stuff on my desktop and then pop it into Photoshop a video layer at a time. I can piss about with it in Photoshop. I am used to it’s quirks.

  I’ve had Blender for two years and am only now feeling slightly less apprehensive when playing in it. I’m sure AutoDesk is better but Blender is free and, despite it’s idiosyncrasies, is immense fun.

Have a wonderful week.