Monday, April 25, 2016

First Attempts At Twilight Light Painting

I was watching an online class on KelbyOne called Under The Milkway with Dave Black.  It is about light painting landscapes.  The idea is that you can take long exposure shots at night to get stars in your photo.  This sort of shot normally leaves the foreground in shadow.  By the clever applications of light via flashlights (or whatever lights you like), you can illuminate (or paint with light) the foreground without blowing out the background, leading to some dramatic shots.

I was up the mountains last night trying for some sunset shot, which were a total bust because of a lack of clouds. I decided to take advantage of the cloudless night and try my hand at star photography - something I had never really attempted before.  While I was at it I decided to try my hand at light painting.

This is the result.
Now that I know what I am doing, I am going to start looking for some more interesting foregrounds to do some more light painting.

Ah, its good to have goals.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spring Break: A Miniature Land, Long Ago And Far, Far Away

When last we spoke, my family and I were in the middle of a visit to Miniature Land in Legoland, Florida as part of a Spring Break vacation.

A whole section of Miniature Land is the Star Wars section, where many scenes from every movie (except the current one) are laid out in a sort of geek based space-opera paradise.

They based the Endor scenes in the woods running along the edges of the pathways where the main displays lived, which made for some great backdrops.
The Battle of Naboo from Episode I: George Lucas' Acid Trip
A wider view of the same scene.

Another scene from Endor.
The Battle of Hoth. One of the more epic scenes.
You have never seen a more wretched hive of scum and villiany at 47:1 scale.
Catch you next time!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Break: Miniature Land

It would not be a trip to Legoland without seeing a lot of lego models.  I mean, seriously.

So when we were at Legoland for Spring Break, we spend quite a bit of time checking out Miniature Land, the land of, well, miniatures.

Miniature Land was broken up into logical scenes - the highlights of London, New York City, Las Vegas were there, as well as themed sections like racing, NASA, and pirates. Here Abigail is looking over the Tower of London.

(There was also a whole section from a certain galaxy long ago and far far away, but I am getting ahead of myself.)
Some of the miniatures were animated, tho a lot of it was very simplistic cheesy animation, like this dolphin, that "jumped out of the water" in a loop.
Some of the animations were activated by buttons the kids could press.  Most of these squirted water at something.  These elephants were aimed to shoot the water back at the kids - take that button presser! (not pictured: the laughter of freshly dampened children.)
The Space Shuttle model was pretty cool. Every 10 minutes the shuttle would "launch" in a puff of smoke.

10 minutes is a long time for kids to wait, so luckily around the corner was a button activated drag race.
The Las Vegas scene included the iconic sign, and much to my amusement, billboards.  They seemed to tone down the hookers tho (which I think its an educational opportunity missed, but my wife doesn't agree).
The final scene from Miniature Land is a full scale naval battle scene.  The defenders on the hill exchanged shots from the ships in the harbour - lots of sounds, puffs of "smoke" (water mist) from the canons, splashes of water where the shells missed (Lego soldiers have crappy aim, it seems), and ships that sailed around.  It was quite involved and impressive.
So thats a flavour of Miniature Land from this galaxy. There was that other galaxy I mentioned, but that deserves its own post, so stay tuned.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Break: Legoland

Day two of our Spring Break vacation found us waking up in a hotel near Savannah GA.  We piled in the Geovan of Destiny and headed south towards Florida.  Our goal:  The grandparents (Pake and Grandma) RV park where we would spend the week.

Or is it?

Wifey and I had a plan... a nefariously awesome plan... to add a unique adventure to the vacation.  However we waited until we arrived at the Floridian border, and the visitor center (free OJ baby!) to inform the kids.

Our nefarious plan?  Legoland!

So off we drove, like mad brick loving fools, in a safe and controlled manner, to eat up the 120 miles between us and the brick lovin' world of Lego.

We arrived just after lunch, and immediately set to work doing the important things, like playing with Lego, shopping for Lego, playing with Lego, and going on rides.  Lots of rides.  Like, 4 rides at least!
Legoland is actually incredibly well designed for doing a theme park with kids. There were lots of rides to go on, some for the older kids, (6-12) some for the younger.  However they co-located the younger kid rides with the older kid rides which made it handy for, say Zeke and Daddy to go on a roller coaster, and Abigail and Mommy to go on a train ride, and still meet up just outside when done.

They also have play areas with Lego in them for the kids at many of the rides. So if one had a long wait, you could drop the kids off in the play area, while the parents lined up for the (sometimes 15-20) minute wait.  Once the parents get closer to the front, they pick up the kids.  This means the kids patience is only tested for 3-5 minutes, which is less of an eternity for the toddler set.

The place was also strewn about with characters made out of Lego, like these lecherous drunk looking monks (well, what would *you* put in a theme park for kids?!?):
Zeke was, of course, thrilled to hang out with Kai from Ninjago.
So about those rides.  It turns out, much to my surprise, that Zeke loves roller coasters, so we made plans to hit all of the roller coasters in the park.  This was great as there was more fun to be had, but this was bad because as we were waiting for the second roller coaster, Legoland closed all the rides due to lightening in the area (something about legal issues of deep frying park guests as they crest the top of the roller coaster - some people have no sense of adventure).

Luckily we actually planned on spending two days in the park, so we spent the rest of the afternoon doing the non-ride things, and made plans to be at the park first thing in the morning to beat the crowds and get in all the rides.

So as a result, this was us early the next morning:
(Not pictured: us.  We did go on this ride, but the photo is more of a "use your imagination" type deal).

The lines were really short at the beginning, so we were able to quickly ride many of the rides several times without waiting - yay for early risers!

We spent the rest of the day going on rides, and checking out Miniature Land, where they have a lot of models.  However since that is picture heavy, those will be in follow up posts.

For now, its time to go shopping in the gift shop!
So that is the Lego-est of lands.  Stay tuned for scenes from Miniature Land, and that time our kids realized a life-long dream.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

An Evening With Corb Lund

Much to my annoyance it is rather rare lately for me to take in some live music.  Its even rarer for me to catch a Canadian performer, since North Carolina is not on everyones tour schedule.

So when future music legend, and self professed cow afficianado, Corb Lund, came to Asheville, I jumped at the chance.

So last night my wifey and I found ourselves in a little (120ish seats) theatre in downtown Asheville, sitting front row, to see a great concert by Corb Lund, and the Hurtin' Albertans.

If you don't live in Canada, and have not heard of Corb Lund, you are not alone (If you are in Canada, and haven't heard of Corb Lund, I can't help you - perhaps you should try paying closer attention to your awesome country).  He is a country performer, who sings about the typical country things, like horses, cows,  and more esoteric things like history, bad cows (I know what you are thinking and that there are no downside to cows, but they are actually complex, emotional beasts - kinda like Emo kids, but taste better on the grill), murder, soldiery things, smuggling, and getting stuck in the mud.  (Check out his stuff here.)  Its quite the mix of quirky humour and dark broody stuff.  A great mix, really.  I'm not normally a fan of country, but I can dig Corb.  Corb is good, and wise, and musical.

It was a fantastic concert - great sound, great seats, awesome songs - he even took requests.  I did take time out from being immersed in the concert to take some photos.

This is the second time I've seen Corb, and both times were excellent.  I highly recommend you check him out if you get the chance.