Friday, January 30, 2015

The Return of Jade -- back in 2015, starting out early ... with attitude!

In the immortal words of Samwise Gamjee, "I'm back." It's been seventeen months since I posted here ... and sure, time has flown by, and life has been "interesting" in the worst sense of the word; but it's time to get back to doing what I do (or did), pick up the pieces and start again. So, with a brand new year and some attitude, here we go.

LuxRender ... a study in light and shadows...

...and the detail from the full render. Lux Render is amazing.

In the last year and a half I've done a truckload of art -- I just haven't had the opportunity (or energy, or health, or spirit ... but we won't go there) to post any of it. Instead, I'll be posting the images a couple at a time as we chug through 2015; and to give you half an idea of what's ahead, check out these montages, below. (You can pull these up at much larger size, incidentally.)

I don't do much in good ol' DAZ Studio anymore, for the simple reason that the render engine (a too-lite, "free" version of 3DLite) is inadequate to the task of producing really top-notch stuff. I only use Studio 3 for composing the scene; then it's shipped out to LuxRender for a render taking between six hours and two days. The results in LuxRender are more than worth the time. On very, very rare occasions the DAZ Studio raytrace will do the job, so you will still see a few raytraces in these posts; but they're few.

Along the way, I've just about managed to tame Bryce 7 Pro. It's doing pretty much as it's told these days, and I use it to render images involving landscapes and objects on a huge scale:


Bryce has its limitations, though -- for instance, 99% of Bryce trees absolutely suck. End of statement. There's stuff you just can't/won't get to look realistic in Bryce, which is sooo easy in Vue ... and yes, as soon as I've had brain surgery performed upon my desktop, Vue will be installed. Golly, a whole new interface to learn. This is where I'm headed in the coming year. But Bryce also has its positive quirks; you can produce abstract and surreal, fantasy and SF stuff in it quite easily -- see above. I'll always use it for certain renders, I think, even when I'm able to produce the photo-realistic landscapes of my dreams, in Vue.

I had a (very) brief flirtation with digital brush painting in Photoshop, but the truth it it takes waaaay too long to make a really fulfilling hobby, much less any kind of career:


And the major challenge was getting LuxRender to do what I wanted. I'm juuust about there. Seldom does LuxRender defy or surprise me these days, and in fact many of the projects I completed in 2014 were re-renders of some quite old stuff which was done in DAZ Studio 3. The fact is, many of my best ideas were explored in Studio 3 which has, alas, an ATC (almost total crap) render engine. So, onward and upward into LuxRender:


It'll be a pleasure to share these at large size in coming weeks and months.

2015 got off to an excellent start, image-wise -- which is no doubt one of the major inspirations for getting back into blogging pictures! What happened?

HAPPY New Camera!

For Christmas, Dave got me the Fuji FinePix HS-50, which is an amazing piece of hardware. Think about this: the optical zoom equivalent of 26mm - 1,000mm ... 16MP ... fast, fast processing, the ability to do manual everything, including focus, shutter, aperture ... telephoto function while in super-macro mode, superior color and light handling, monster battery capacity -- the works. And you never have to change a lens. For a person who crippled her neck schlepping two big Pentax steel-body SLR cameras around the world about 20 years ago, this is less a bonus than a joy. I've looked at the Canon Eos system ... I also looked at the weight of all those bloody lenses ... and listened to the creaks and groans coming out of my neck. Chiropractic, here we come again! No, thanks. I'm sticking with the "compact" cameras these days; the technology is now very, very comparable to the DSLR tech; the next few years will close the gap between compact and DSLR even more.

Through January, I put the camera through its paces. There's a line where art and photography blur, one into the other, and this is it. With a click, you can view these images at 1000 pixels wide if you like ... or not, if these thumbnails are just fine:

From the surreal world of the very small...



...to the tiny and astonishingly quick...



...to the huge and very, very distant...


...to the ordinary and close at hand...



...and the not so distant, and glaringly bright...




...and from the strongly sunlit...



...to the dim and stormy...


...and into almost total darkness...


...then, on to sudden-impulse shots...



...and well pre-planned ones...


...and difficult backlight conditions...



...and back to simple beauty shots...




...and surreal shots, where the tiny becomes alien...



...and reflex shots for their sheer cuteness...




...and everything in between!




So there you have it: Happy New Camera! Thank you, Dave. 

In 2013 I began a travel blog, Meander to the Max: Adventures of The Millennium Possum, and yes, I'm far, far behind on posting to that, too. Life was the essential Queen Bitch in 2014. Everything went down the tubes for me, personally -- health especially. Everything else followed. We hit the bottom in July, with the loss of the cat who'd been our baby for almost fourteen years. Bagheera has been gone for six months as I type this (am still tearing up; where did the time go?), and the feline you see in the above images is Zolie, who is still not quite a year old, and just as photogenic. 

But 2015 is a new year, and it's time to pick up the pieces. So...

I'm back. With attitude. More soon. 

Jade, January, 2015

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