Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Three Dogs and A Woman

Every once in a while when I go out in the woods, I have a 'great' adventure.  Look at it this way.  I'm out as the only human, generally with a mule or a dog.

In this case 3 dogs.
Two pups, Thelma & Louise, and Morris.

Going down the north hillside was treacherous, I kept thinking I was going to fall on my arse and slid into a tree.
But we all made it safely down into the valley.

At the first creek crossing Morris jumped across like he normally does.

This was Thelma & Louise's first encounter with the big Creek!

Louise figured it out pretty quickly and walked through the water.

Thelma sat down and bayed her little heart out.
 You put the left foot in...you take the left foot out!  :)

She finally crossed after we walked away leaving her to figure it out.  Morris and Thelma ran down the valley and she soon caught up with them.

As we followed the creek bank Thelma got brave and decided to walk to a grassy overhang and look down into a deep pool of water.
Thelma didn't realize the bank was under cut and she went head over heels into 'the drink'.  The pool was not deep, but again with Morris and Louise's attention she got out on her own.

There was lots of running, sniffing, and playing.  




We discovered a couple of coyote kills, negotiated some very icy terrain, stopped to watch trout in the creek...
and
I sat on a log and just enjoyed the day.
The 3 dogs played hard.  Morris is 7 years old and the pups are 3 months old now?


I believe I took about 100 photos. 

But my absolute favorite of the day is this one of Morris taking a rest on the icy hillside watching over Thelma & Louise.
His expression is priceless.


Friday, February 24, 2012

OH NO..the dryer is broke. Again.

Well last night when I went to put some jeans in the dryer, the door wouldn't close.

It kept popping open.  After much 'ado', hubby figured that it was the little 'thingy' in the door latch that will not stay shut.

I'm like.
What?  
*This dryer had 9 months off! How dare it not have the 'door thingy' stay latched!*

Of course I'm thinking that the Chicago Natural History Museum might want this as a collector's piece.  I have no idea what the vintage of it is.  Hubby bought it at auction before I met him in 1996.
In fact aside from a dining room table, he did the house decorating.

I call this particular style.
"Bachelor Auction".
It is a style of its own!

Perhaps we can get that little door thingy to work.  [Note the use of technical language here.]
If not, I guess I could try duct tape?
If that doesn't work...
Well then, back to the Laundry Line.

Maybe though~~ HE will find a fix for it.  I mean he is pretty darned handy.

Unfortuneatly though things that need fixin' tend to have to sit around for quite a while.

I'm glad spring is almost here.  It is much nicer to hang out clothes in warm weather!




Thursday, February 23, 2012

Extreme Editing And Combining Editing Software

A few weeks ago a Flickr site called Kreative People asked me to join their group and posted what is called a 'challenge'.
Take a mundane photo and edit it to your wildest dreams.  No 'holds barred' ...anything goes.

So I decided to make a 'creation' from a source photo.
I found it to be rather fun.
The first one was rather abstract:
The second one was a Lighthouse:
The lighthouse was great fun as I had to go back and re-read some great tutorials that I'd 'bookmarked' a few years ago. 

Then on the Topaz Labs Forum there was another contest.  Oh what the heck.  It was a photo of the side of a building.  What to do?

 The original can be seen on Flickr, photo credit Christian Gruber.

Well, I decided to combine Mandelbulber 3D and Daz Studio 4, what could I possibly come up with?
 Yup.  Bizzare.  But I was having a whole lot of fun!

Then I decided to really mess around.  I combined Topaz Lab products, a photo of my forest, Daz Studio 4 characters, some Obsidian Dawn brushes, and same very nifty tricks with masking and 'faking' rays of light with Photoshop 7.0.
[Note~Who needs the latest Creative Suite, when the old stuff will still do it all!]

And I came up with this:
Are We Alone?




 
This was loads of fun.  It took me a few days to 'create' this scene.  There was a lot of agonizing over what to do and where to 'place' the aliens ... and how to create 'seed pods'.
[Thinking...Invasion of the Body Snatchers!]

Yes, I really have to get back out in the woods with Morris and get some more great nature shots.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mules the real all 'wheel' drive animals

"Want to go for a ride?" he asked me.
I nearly fell over from surprise.
It was cold and windy, but the sun was shining and whispy clouds flew far overhead.
"YES!"
The last time I'd been out the temps were up in the 40's and it was rather nice in the woods.

I grabbed Fred, my husband's wonderful, dependable standby pony mule.  He'd had Fred forever.  If the going was tough, Fred was the one to take.

I also caught up Opal [the mule who hates people...].  I stood patiently in the paddock and she finally decided I was worthy of catching her.  

I put on my 'skunk hat' and grinned at my husband, who merely shook his head and commented that ... 'Yes, I was a little stinker.'

The first part of the trail through the woods wasn't so bad.
Then we hit ice.
Ice under the snow from the frequent melting and refreezing.
Ice on the hillsides.

As we rode the trail ran parallel to the deep wash our mules scrambled for footholds.  At times we'd slide a bit sideways.  Good nerves, good mules, and good posture on top of the mule all kept us safe.

We could here the crunch crunch of the ice underfoot even in the first valley.  Carefully we crossed the culvert that had been placed in the creek for the snowmobilers to use.  It was glazed ice.  Our mules tiptoed carefully across.
Heck, I wouldn't even walk over this while hiking!
Yet the mules took us safely towards the end of the valley.

We decided not to recross on the packed icy trail but short cut through the creek...I took a short video of my husband and Fred crossing.  I crossed at the same place, but NO camera in hand.  Yes, hubby would like to have a video camera that would attach to his hat brim...or my helmet, if I was wearing one.

video
 

We stopped to watch some creek trout flit about in the water.
...and I insisted that my husband take a photo of me in my favorite silly hat [that had been given to me by a co-worker the other day].
Next we headed up and over the ridge and down towards the ice cave.  I really wanted to take some shots of the ice cave but the footing was so treacherous, I just concentrated on what Opal was doing.  I could hear her hooves sliding and feel her 'catching' herself.

I was able to stop at the bottom of the hill and take a photo of hubby and Fred.

We walked our mules along the old logging trails until we came to an area that had some well traveled deer trails.
So we went our separate ways and hunted for antler sheds.  [Any reason to ride is a good reason!]

We came to a steep ravine where the deer trails crossed.  Hubby and Fred took one trail.  Fred literally slid down and scrambled up the other side.
I gave Opal her head and she went with no hesitation.  I could hear the ice underneath.

Most of the ride home was pretty casual.  Both mules deciding that they would hurry since they knew they were going home.
However, the trail home was even more treacherous than when we'd left.  The temperatures had dropped.

I watched Fred in front of me scramble sideways, his front left hoof crossing under his right front hoof as he kept his balance on the hillside.

I turned Opal up the hill in hopes of finding a safer trail.
What an odd feeling to feel your mule literally 'spinning' out as she tries to climb up about 5 yards to a slightly more level spot.  
For a few seconds we went no where.

Then came the downhill into the dry wash.  I watched Fred nearly sit down and just slide, his quick little hooves keeping himself and my husband upright.

Our turn was next.  I gave Opal her head and sat in the middle of the saddle.  Her hooves rattled on the frozen mud and ice, up through the wash we came.

We stopped then and stood for a moment.
I patted Opal on the neck.

My husband commented "Well, I'm glad we took these two, we coulda been in trouble with a less experienced pair of mules."



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bryce 7 & Daz 3D Studio 4 Part 2

One of the very first thing is to understand the Bryce interface well.

Here is what it looks like when you first open it.
This looks extremely intimidating believe me.  Each button seems to take you somewhere and as a beginner, you are not always sure 'how to get back'!

Thankfully there are written tutorials and video tutorials.  I highly suggest watching the videos and following along as if learning Bryce or Daz were a school assignment.

Here are a couple of links.  I found this one extremely helpful.

From WWWDAZ3COM, I found this which really helped in answering many questions about the 'Render Options'.  I'll probably watch it several more times before it sinks all the way in.

[Note, you may not have all the Premium Effects, but it is very educational and simple to follow.]

Daz has a great series of video tutorials but you have to search for what suits your level:

I was also pointed to the following site by my 'mentor' and good Flickr friend.
This was written for Bryce 5, but has exercises to go through which also will improve your abilities to work with Bryce.

Okay, enough about tutorials!

I created my 'Dragon' in Daz Studio 4. [Perhaps more about Daz as I begin to understand it better myself!]

See the yellow~it says import to Bryce.
I did that and then began to create a scene.  I wasn't sure what I wanted except that I wanted to learn more about lighting, shadows, and reflections.

I picked an odd sky to go with my dragon.
I picked simple spheres to put around him/her.
Then I read up on how to make a sphere reflective and that gave me an idea as I developed the scene.
 I found something that looked like a 'cage' and put the dragon inside of it.  This was a partial quick render that I stopped and saved.

So I began to experiment with a cone light and a radial light.  Then I added spheres, changed their positions and kept hitting 'Preview Render' and selected areas to render.

The sample below is what it looks like during a Final Render or a Preview Render at first.



I said in part 1 of this 2 part write up that I had discovered a couple of ways to make a scene render a bit faster.
Things that will slow a render down.
Complex textures, like hair or fur.
Complex scenes or large scenes.
Computer processor [although I'm not a computer geek so I can't tell you much about that].

This is where your document set up and Render Options come largely into play.  These are explained in the video tutorials.

I decided that since this was an experiment, I'd render a 900X422 size document.  If the scene is astounding, I'd probably go higher.  As I did in the scene with the green girl:

So I picked Render Options:
And selected how I wanted this scene rendered.

This may be the most important part of the rendering process, get familiar with it.
You should also experiment with this in Preview mode to see how the different options effect your scene.

I went for the final render in a small size and was mildly surprised.
My dragon scene only took 40 minutes.

This was large enough to look good on a computer screen, and since I wasn't planning on printing it as fine art, I was happy.

For more wonderful inspiration on Bryce and other powerful 3D programs I'd love for you to take a look at an artist that keeps me inspired to try new things.
And who nudged me back to Bryce after I'd abandoned it for good.

Thank you Sylvia!

One last note.  I do this for fun ... and a learning challenge.  Imagination is such a powerful and great thing to have!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bryce 7 & Daz 3D Studio 4 Part 1

I've tried Bryce once before, as well as Daz 3D Studio.


I gave up on it rather quickly.  The renders were slow, the images hard to deal with.  I couldn't figure out how to make things 'work'.
Some areas were too dark, some too bright.

I first tried Bryce in 2008.  I made 2 scenes and couldn't get the landscape or the sky to my satisfaction.  This was with the free Bryce version of 5.5.
Not spectacular, in fact not much to even 'write' home about it.
In the meantime, I did discover the world of fractals and after creating this...I put Bryce and Daz to the side and never looked at it again.

In 2010 Bryce came out with another free version Bryce PLE [Personal Learning Edition].  I took another bite.
I came up with two more Bryce efforts and one Daz animation and quit.


Bryce certainly was way beyond my creative endeavors.  Daz was fun but I couldn't get organized or make sense of the way it was laid out.

Then I met someone on Flickr who used Bryce in much of her artwork.  She also introduced me to Mandelbulber3D.
After tackling Mandelbulber3D, she convinced me to give another go at Bryce and Daz.  After all they were giving away Bryce 7, Daz 3D Studio 4, and Hexagon.  All I had to do was go and download it.

This time I sat down and went through tutorials on how to use Daz.  Yeah...yeah.  If you can't figure it out, read the directions???  
I successfully created an animation and an 'alien' character that I liked in Daz.  I was able to save 'her' as a .png file and use 'her' in Elements.

So I decided to see what I could do in Bryce.
I dropped the 'green' girl into Bryce from Daz.
Well that certainly does not look like anything at all!  Now does it?
This was done with the 'textures' turned off and so you just see the basic figure in a quick render.

Well I wanted her turned, so I used the controls to bring her around.

A bit better, I added a mountain behind her but decided to give it a metallic cage look.  

I mean what the heck, it is an alien world, right?  I didn't want just a blue sky...and my 'green' gal looked like she was sitting in water.

So I worked at different sky images and tried different renders.
Finally I got what I wanted.  

Dead trees of metal, a strange metallic swirling shape behind my 'green' gal...and a really bizarre sky.
Directly behind her I managed to put a rock that reflected her backside.

However. 
She was still sitting in water...or perhaps it is alien goo?

When I rendered this, it took over 6 hrs.
But that is when I discovered that I needed to pay attention to Rendering Options!
I'd just used the document set up as follows:
Again my friend came to the rescue.  I emailed her across the world and asked what was I doing wrong! ???
Certainly Bryce didn't take 6-7 hours for a simple picture, right?
Well yes and no.

There are certain things you can do to make your renders a touch faster.
So I set right down and began to work on another scene, ... just because I wanted to prove to myself and ... my friend from across the globe... that I could indeed make something in Bryce!

But...I'll cover that in my next blog.

Something Special

I've been pretty lucky in all my life to have animals that seem to bond quickly to me.  The bonds we share last a lifetime.
The farrier stopped yesterday and did some trimming.

I brought Badger out and he asked how the ol' fella was doing.
Actually, Badger was doing very well.  His respiration rate was down and he seemed completely comfortable.

Of course the temps were in the 40's and there was a cooling breeze.  Unusual weather for the middle of February indeed.

After the farrier left, I walked outside to feed the puppies, Thelma and Louise.

Badger stood at the electric gate and gave a small whinny.

It seemed.
Well.
He was asking for attention.
I grabbed his halter and lead rope.
He pushed Opal out of the way.

Badger and I were going on a ride.

There is something very comforting in having an equine buddy who knows what you want to do before you even do it.
A mule who anticipates your direction in the forest and who can find a trail that you cannot see.

Badger is such an animal.  He will even pause when he knows I want to take a photo.

We rode the ridge road and visited the neighbors.  

The wind was harsh on the ridge so we returned and 'dove' into the forest and followed a slippery deer trail down the north side of a hill.
Badger picked his way carefully.

Our ride was slow.  [Badger never really is in a hurry.]
And he did well.

Blessed are the mules who take our hearts and hold them dear.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Catchin' Up




It has been a over a week since I wrote a darned thing. 
Should I say I've been busy?
Yes, sort of.
~~~
First let's celebrate Valentine's Day!  What did I receive?  Nothing, but that matters not.  I consider Valentine's Day pretty over-rated as far as things go.
Love should be shown every day between people, not just on a 'Hallmark Card' Day.
I once sent flowers to myself when I worked at a large office.
Two separate bunches of a dozen Roses!

My co-workers were impressed to no end.
I loved the private [yet expensive joke].
~~~
Last Thursday, I noticed that Morris was not feeling well.  He was [well ick...], urinating blood.
After a big rush to the Vet's office and an attempted exam~~ of which Mr. Morris was NOT co-operative at all we came home with meds.
The DX was a possible bladder infection, possible kidney stones, or prostrate issues.  Hmmm, dang...male dogs do get prostrate issues!

The weather got bitterly cold and windy.  So I was 'housebound' with a dog that didn't feel himself.
So I got into a program called Daz 3D Studio 4 [free download right now with Bryce Pro 7!] and messed around.
I came up with a few things.

 
Okay bizarre, but it was fun.

By Sunday Morris was feeling tops and we took advantage of the good weather to go out and play with Thelma and Louise.
Last night I did the chores in the dark while it was snowing.
It was so beautiful.  The hoot owls were busy calling in the woods.
There was no wind and the snow drifted down sparkling like diamonds in my headlamp.

The Dexter cattle's eyes glowed in the light - a bit eerie, but sort of cool too.
Before going inside for the night, I went into Thelma and Louise's kennel and sat in the snow.

I had puppy breath and puppy kisses galore.  They are too big now to fit in my lap, but that doesn't mean they didn't try.
I should remember that I wear glasses and that unfailingly puppies will nearly knock them right off my face ... or perhaps I shouldn't put my head down into theirs and hug them like I do.

I'll probably never learn.

If you like Valentine's Day, I hope you have an excellent one.
I got a hug and a kiss from my favorite guy.

That and an 'I love you' was all I needed.


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Something's watching ~ by Morris

SHE told me that it wasn't dangerous.  She said she'd bring the leash to keep me close, and her pistol of course in case the coyotes started coming for me.

Hah.
When she got into the creek with her tripod-y thingy and the camera, SHE
did
not
pay any
attention to me at all!

I could have been whisked away by an angry coyote [they are territorial in February and March sometimes]...
or even worse 
a
bear
or something!

Nope, she just walked along looking at the little trout in the stream and taking all sorts of pretty pictures.

On the way home I felt something was watching us.  I don't know.
Have you ever got that really creepy feeling that something is....
Watching????

I did.
SHE didn't!

It was a good thing SHE had me along.  You know I can detect things with my nose and ears that SHE'd never see or hear.