Busy these days. Every Halloween, the week before there is the Toronto Zombie Walk in downtown Toronto. Took some amazing photos from it. Women love horror/zombies. It felt like a 50/50 split of male/females at this event.
This is the most recent kind of makeup used by costumers this year; its like a frontal mask where layers are added to give amazing look. Find the rest of my photos on my Deviant Art gallery; many will be blocked unless you have a (free) account and turn off the maturity content filter.
So some notes on this photoshoot:
- taking some amazing photos in inclement weather (cold, wet, windy, cloudy dark) and being prepared camera-wise (gear); I brought 2 lens (std kit zoom lens with VR, and a nifty fifty) and I never changed out of the kit lens, nor spent time switching any gear except batteries (took over 400 photos)
- 1 in 6 success ratio; there were alot of good photos, more, if I can take care of the below issues
Improvement required: - bring wipes for rain or shoot from a different angle; you may not see it in the viewfinder, but rain will affect the way the photo looks and appears (in most case, ruining the photo)
- arrive earlier; I intended on getting downtown about 15 minutes earlier so I could scout out a good place to take photos, but ended up right on time and failed to get a prime spot
- close focus issues; I tend to have problems when subjects get really close to the camera. I press the shutter button down to take a photo, but the camera failed to acknowledge it and fails to take a photo. I believe this is more of a lens issue and I must learn a minimum distance that the camera will auto focus.
Other notes from the shoot: - I took all the photos in manual settings; generally low iso (~250), lowest f-stop (~3.5), ok shutter speed (1/80s) - bring that extra memory card; my memory card is 8gigs, all taken in raw (only) and it lasted ~400 shots and I actually ran out of space. I'm very glad I brought the second card. One big card would be better (but also puts all your eggs in one basket) - 1/80s resulted in some of my best photos; 1/60s resulted in lower quality. If you have a model, then 1/60s is fine b/c they are posing, but in a parade-style photoshoot, you need to freeze the movement. The only problem is that you need to worry about exposure and ensure the picture is not too dark. - focus point is critical. Many photos were ruined by not ensuring the focus point was on the subject's eyes. A slight variation resulted in someone in the background being in focus instead. I see the value of a fast focusing lens now. I did single (vs continuous) focusing.. not sure whether that would make a difference. By increasing your f-stop (8/9) may help with this problem, but then make more of the background in focus, which is not what one would be going for when you're focusing on one person at a time. - dress for the weather; I went with 2 heavier layers of clothes and then a light jacket because I find myself frequently having a backache from my heavy equipment. THAT was a mistake: it was a very cold day and I'm surprised I didn't catch a cold. Also: gloves. Very important. Something that covers most of your hands and leaving the dexterity to manipulate the camera. - bring snacks or water (atleast); waiting for the parade to get to your special spot takes a while. I was very lucky and a friend went to get me a hot beverage while I shivered while waiting. Be prepared in that sense as well. - produce your photos early and have a media contact; I saw the photos taken from the TZW on various websites and found them of very low quality. Know of a way to get your photos out there and you could be staring at your photos from a very well regarded media source.
It has been an incredibly long time since i've last blogged.. I haven't been doing much other than playing Mechwarrior Online, although recently I've been watching Wil Wheaton's show: Tabletop. Very geeky (famous) people playing boardgames. Great show, really funny.
Ryan is incredibly lucky. I don't think Wil expected him to win so fast and all the games. Check out Mechwarrior Online; it's gone "live", and today the new content of the Phoenix Package became available which includes 4 brand new mechs. I contemplated for the longest time whether I should get it, and although I love the game and think I should support PGI (the developers), I don't think i'd make very much use out of any of the packages (20/40/60/80$), so I'll just save my money for other future in-game fluff (camouflage designs and paint colors). Little babies complain that its not a free-to-play game, but they're literally being internet trolls; it'll take a bit longer, but you can be just as good as any player that spends money in the game. Spending money, just lessens the grind for money and experience, but it won't make you a better player or make you a one-man army.
I was looking at some all of the cards from the Theros set tonight and was really amazed at some of them: 1 mana for unblockable and a scry1? Thats pretty amazing. Has a cipher feel to it. Not crazy about the art, but it makes sense when you think about it.
Regenerate is typically pretty expensive on cheap/weak creatures, the Asphodel Wanderer is no exception. I do like the flavor text and the art though.
Once again, a cheap but powerful enchantment. I really enjoy the trample part. Fans of The Flash would enjoy this card.
I really like the art on this card; I absolutely love the colors used but moreso the helms and the fins at the back. Very Cool.
A great card for graveyard-themed (Golgari) deck; with enough creatures in one's graveyard, you could have a 10/10 in very short order. Give it hexproof/trample/unblockable and game over asap.
There are many artifacts and artifact creatures in this set! I think my girlfriend would enjoy the art of this card in particular.
Just when you thought that some artifact cards were over-powered, you get Colossus of Akros. I see it being put into ramp decks.. maybe a Green/Blue deck. Green to ramp, blue for hexproof and unblockable... wow. 20/20. Rage Quit.
I always enjoy strong and relatively cheap defenders; the art is pretty cool too. I like the right statue's tower shield which gets narrow at the middle.
I was at a good friend's wedding last night and I thought i'd share some thoughts (photography-wise) from it:
- I guess (possibly unless you have a bride-zilla) most couples won't complain when you're up in their personal space b/c you're the professional photographer, but the ones I saw yesterday were uncomfortably close for my tastes, and it sucks for the guests b/c they block alot (when you have a team of 2 photogs and 1 videographer) of what is happening. Of course it is important to get the good shots, but I feel they were a bit too close at times.
- saying that, a telephoto lens would be very helpful for cases where the couple doesn't want you in their personal space. I was able to get rather good shots with my telephoto lens without the ability to get out of my seat
- outdoors under the shade is not always your friend. I don't know how the professionals will do it, but shade with sun is horrible for photos; the groomsmen for example were standing in a spot that was lit by the bright afternoon sun but also partially shaded by maple leafs. This created a very unflattering pattern of leafs on their faces, partially shaded, partially blown out by the sunlight.
- always bring a flash for indoor photography. As the night progresses, the lights get more dimmed and its harder and harder to get a good photo without a flash. Without one, the one real thing one can do is increase the ISO and I absolutely hate grainey photos.
Take a quick glance: At first, 5 mana for only one +1 counter is rather lame.. especially when you see it is a rare. BUT then you look at the original cost of 2 mana (granted green+white).. for a 3/3 is pretty good: typical specialty of that color combination (a stronger creature). What blows this card out of the water is the Monstrous abilities: Hexproof (my favorite) AND indestructible. LOVE it! Time to make a white green deck!
They have a preview today of MTG's newest set of intro packs.. and at first it was a "ho-hum, Wizards is just pumping out another set of cards.. nothing new.. nothing exciting.. heck.. i'm getting pretty bored of this!" Then they spring this:
A kraken (favorite monster). Interest renewed!
Went to the Fan Expo on Saturday. Some people would describe it the same way I describe places I don't like going to, "same old stuff every year." But if you like it, then its always fun and exciting and worth going to. I didn't have anyone to go with this year, but still had a blast, (as an introvert) actually liked the crowds and go some really nice prints.
I didn't take many photos at all this time.. normally ~50% of the people are in cosplay, but this year, i'd say maybe less than 15%. This could be possible b/c it was a Sunday (probably most cosplayers go Friday/Sat) and it was near the end of the day.
Fan Expo is this weekend in Toronto! Don't miss it otherwise you'll miss this!
Still playing Mechwarrior Online these days; amazing game and they're making the free-to-play model work for them; each week there is a new sale with interesting (not mind-blowing, but still enticing) things to purchase. I literally want to throw my lack-of money at them; other game companies should look at how PGI (Piranha Games) does it.
The game is still technically in beta and is a work-in-progress but is due to launch in September. Some things on my wishlist that i'd like to see happen:
- the ability to change/pay for an account name change; i'm currently using my old standby for user names, but in this game, I think i'd prefer a different user name
- the ability to gift game-currency to friends; i'd love to buy some mc-bills (used to purchase things that only people with mc-bills have)
- an easier way to report players who are griefing (team-killing) and get them banned/suspended faster
- more game-balance for medium mechs; light mechs are really quick and nimble, while heavier mechs are more heavily armored and equipped. Mediums feels like a poor-man's jack of all trades in the worst way possible. I'd like to see them be a bit shorter, thinner (so harder to hit) and hit 120 km/hr with the best engines and the speed tweak unlock.
I have obviously not been writing very much of anything these days and my only defense is that I haven't been playing too much of anything (as this is a gaming blog). Really the only thing that I play on a semi-consistent basis is Mechwarrior Online. After about 3 months of play, i've only spent 15$, mostly for some red and gold paint for my mech (although you can unlock basic paints via in-game currency). My partner in crime, Hunter, hasn't spent anything at all and does equally as well in the game. That may be the biggest advantage of MO, as success comes from skill (not buying things) and teamwork; while i'm quite deadly (per prior screenshots) in my decked out Raven-3L, when Hunter is in his Spider, we can easily take down Heavy and Assault mechs.
I'd normally recommend a game of this calibre to anyone and everyone, but its honestly an acquired taste; the biggest hurdle will be movement. If you can figure it out, then you're good to go, but if you can't wrap your head around it, you'll hate the game and quit. Its free though, so its worth a download.
By the way, big props to Piranha Games (developer), and their charity fundraiser that tries to tackle cancer on behalf of a young mechwarrior that passed away. I honestly can't remember what game company last had a charity fundraiser like this. Basically, by donating 10$ you help find a cure for cancer and PGI sends you a customized mech for the game. Last I checked in Twitter, they had collected $70,000 in donations from the community! Congrats!
I had my first engagement photoshoot two weekends ago.. which is part of the reason why I haven't been writing much as i've been editing photos instead.
Unlike my other photoshoots, I think I came better prepared physically.. and because of that, I think there were less hiccups. All this experience means that i've learnt from my past errors and there are less learning experiences now. I'll list some randoms things that comes to mind still:
- a flash was heavily used in this photoshoot; nearly every single photo except for one where a flash was too harsh and it was just easier using a fast (50mm 1.8f) lens instead. A flash makes a big difference in the way photos will appear, whether its when there is a strong light to the back (resulting in heavy shadows on your subject) or just low light situations
- there is something about using my kit lens (18-105mm 3.5-5.6) that makes me feel amateurish and made me keep it at home and instead bring specialized lens (fast lens, wide angle, macro). I would argue: never feel like that. I missed that kit lens, for its flexible; if you're comfortable, you'll take better photos. Also, I didn't bring my second camera, and was changing lens very frequently and that was annoying and slowed the process.
- a polarizing filter is a great investment, especially on a wide angle lens or one that you will use for landscape photography; it basically darkens your sky and gives a very pleasing blue sky and green grass (but the sky is what is important imho)
- I bought a battery tester, and it has already paid off; I checked my batteries this time before the shoot and found that 2 of 12 batteries were completely dead. Removed and replaced and didn't even need to change the batteries in the flash.
- we had a few props this time: umbrella, large circular (vs the normal oval shape) balloons, a frame, bubble formula. Props are helpful, but whats more important is having pose AND location ideas coupled together. I'm (hard on myself; phrasing!) still weak in this aspect as I need to do extra research/studying on various poses so I can guide the models to reach a certain photo. While knowing poses in your head, you'll still need to couple it with the background (b/c you won't necessarily have the same background as a photo you're looking at, and thus may not look the same) and the model (certain poses don't work for all models)
- having a stylist is very important; it cuts down prep time and increases the quality of the appearance of the models. A wardrobist (sp?)would have been good in one of my photoshoots as the model was wearing bland baggy clothes and although he may have been comfortable, it didn't flatter him. So if you don't have one, make sure you ask to see what clothes they intend on wearing, so you're not disappointed with the photos later.
- communication is critical; I was honestly pretty intimidated in this photoshoot b/c the client had done an engagement shoot prior, but was doing it with me b/c she wasn't happy with the other photographer's photos. It was intimidating b/c I personally haven't done a (engagement) shoot before and thought the other photographer's photos were pretty good (although heavy post-processing). While I may not have been as creative or possess the Photoshop skills of that photographer, I had the edge of communication. I was constantly seeking what the client wanted, made them feel comfortable and was able to communicate what I wanted in my shots. Some people (photographers) don't like being told what kind of photo they should take and I think that's a mistake; take the type of photo and with your keen eye, try to make it better/appealing.
Although my friend BrownMagic may like the Core Sets for Magic the Gathering better than themed sets, I couldn't find any particular cards that he'd enjoy. Last weekend was the pre-release, this week will be the official release. I think my friend, Ginger will enjoy this card and make her zombie deck even more powerful.
My best friend, Hunter typically likes to recoup mana or get a one shot boost of mana, so I think he'd want a card like this.
I love using enchantments and I love mana ramping. This enchantment is something i'm very interested in, although i'm not very keen on the artwork.
Click for a closer look on my dominance in Mechwarrior Online (free to play people!) in my Raven mech. Speed kills.
I've always liked the ideas of condors or vultures.. and its surprising that you don't see 'that' many vultures in the game. There are many griffins and drakes.. but not vultures. I like the art style of this one. Blue!
I can see this being great for aggressive extort decks in multiplayer.
For more card reveals for the Magic 2014 Core Set, go here! I typically like specialty sets and not specifically Core Sets, but I'll post any with good mechanics or with cool artwork.
Getting MUCH better. Tonight's session I dramatically increased my kill/death ratio. Ravens are nasty. In that match above, it was me in my Raven (light mech), versus THREE other mechs: a Hunchback(medium), Trebuchet (medium) AND a Cataphract (heavy). The Treb was capping my base, so I defeated him first. Caught the Cataphract in the middle of the map and finished off the Hunchback in a skirmish between buildings by his base. I showed both teams how deadly a light mech can be; weaving in and out between buildings, being invisible and slowly taking down much larger opponents.
It has been far too long since i've last made an entry; i'd like to say i'm busy ... and I kinda am. Being on a new shift had me thinking i'd get more done and I think I'm getting less done actually. I'm glad that i'm able to get more photography in per below: The end of Canada Day Weekend Fireworks.
Extreme Dunk show with participant
A paid gig for a kid's birthday.
I've been playing a few games; Borderlands 2 new dlc with the newest character, Krieg. I think the character is interesting... high risk, high reward.. but mostly meh. I think my favorite class is still Zero the Assassin. I don't believe the new class is worth the money fyi, altho the new dlc is totally worth it (Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep); the music is great, extremely funny and good storyline.
I got into the Cardhunter beta; if you enjoy D&D and Magic: The Gathering, THIS is your game. It plays like D&D but your skills/attacks/movement is based off your card hand. Your 'deck' is based off what you equip your characters with (think: Guild Wars 2 with the weapons and skills, except way more variety). Its pretty addictive.. but has a slight Facebook-game feel.. which is kinda a negative to me, b/c it plays within your browser instead of it's own program. The plus side to that is that it is easier to multitask and play it.
Eek. Knowing that Ubisoft made it makes me cringe, but it looks so damn good. Psst. If you're a pc player, then you'll be using UPlay (think steam but suck-ier). But a jump-in-and-out open-world, mmo, rpg, shooter? Man, i'm in love.
Playing Mechwarrior Online makes me feel guilty; its so damn good, that we should pay for the game (a la Guild Wars 2; buy the game, play free, buy fluff). Modern day graphics, same ol' Mechwarrior feel.
As promised, some helpful tips that I could have used when I started right away when playing Mechwarrior Online.
Learn your keys
- H for thermal sensors, N for nightvision, O for heatoveride. It sounds silly, but i've watched other players fighting in the dead of night without nightvision.
Speed is key
- especially for lighter mechs; the ability to joust, or zoom past heavier mechs without taking a hit is critical. Using speed to circle strafe the enemy is an effective strategy as well as circling around hills is very effective against slower, heavier mechs.
Stay close to ecm
- ecm aka electronic counter measures, gives the mech that is equipped with it evasive abilities; nearly undetectable on radar, harder to lock on with missles, gives an aura of ecm to nearby allies and can be switched ("turned off") to counter enemy ecm (to kinda level the playing field)
- your mech will remember your loadouts and weapon groups, so figure out what works well together. Sometimes its better to have many weapon groups to not overheat, and to fire weapons more tactically.
- Press O to override auto-shutdown of your mech when you overheat, making sure you're not still firing tho and using that time to circle strafe or evade fire. It is better to be moving and not shooting, rather than not shooting AND not moving.
Group play vs Lone wolf
- stick with your group members, unless you're a scout, and even then, never engage a group of enemies by yourself. Even the heaviest mech can be brought low by two experience light mech pilots.
Twist and Turn
- use your non-critical (empty weapons, non critical weapons [narc, tag], the front vs the backside) parts of your body to absorb enemy fire when evading. All you need to do is to twist for a second or two. Think of it like bringing up your shield; you deflect the blow and counter attack. For example, an enemy is shooting at your backside, by twisting all the way right/left, they then shoot your arm instead and altho they are weakening your arm armor, you preserve your backside. If you lose your arm, you lose weapons, but if you lose your back, your mech explodes.
Turn off throttle decay
- in the options screen, bottom left box; throttle decay works similar to a car, if you let off the gas pedal, your car will slowly decrease in speed. This is not good imho for mech combat, there are alot of things you have to concentrate on and worrying about maintaining a certain speed isn't one of them. TAKE OFF the checkmark.
Beware of buildings
- they are your friends, but can be your worst enemy if you bump into one by accident. That brief moment that you are struggling to stop bumping into the building, you are essentially motionless and a much easier target for your enemies
Play alot with Trial mechs before buying your mech - as an ALT-o-holic this should maybe be the first tip you take; just because a heavier mech means more weapons and more armor, doesn't mean it'll suit your playstyle. I like more weapons and more armor, but it doesn't mean i'm still not one-shotted and i'm very exposed to very fast mechs who are adept at staying on my backside. Do you like to be speedy, balanced, have more weapons and health, or be a slow juggernaut? If you can't figure this out, you'll be wasting alot of time and money (mostly time tho) playing matches to make money and buying mechs. Its a fantastic game, but its honestly not for everyone; the BIGGEST part of the learning curve is that unlike EVERY first person shooter, your torso moves independently of your torso (like a tank). If you can't master moving, you will rage quit. But its free to download, free to play, balanced and you can compete with those that spend real money.
Yeah, I said it. Mechwarrior Online rocks. Its free to download. No monthly fee. You pay for fluff and special mechs. Other than that, crazy fun. Its only pvp, no singleplayer. I totally want to get a heavy mech with chainguns like this guy ;)
There is a good article today on Daily MTG of the origins and evolution of tokens in Magic. I originally didn't like tokens too much when I first started, for I found it was too much upkeep, having to keep track of so many units. But then when you faced off against the Infect mechanic, I found a really good use for them (black/green elf token deck). It finally evolved into a source of fuel to make incredibly strong units and eventually be able to overcome any creature when protected, and given trample. Imagine this creature.. devouring 21 creatures (it actually happened in one match) AND given trample. Only a fog would stop it.. and thats only for one turn.
Photography relaxes me; it is better than gaming (blasphemy! I know) as I find it is more creative and productive output for me. I struggle with this art; I research and study for it, prepare myself both physically, mentally and emotionally. While I probably have much more success in gaming, I frequently encounter failure with photography through ruined/unusable photos.
But with even that one good photo, it makes it all worth it and pushes me to try even harder. The photo above initially was considered a failure as I didn't like how I could see so much in the reflection: the strobe, the boxes and myself. But then you take a look at the body positioning, but most strikingly, her expression.. it makes it all worth it.
I don't think i'll be getting Krieg from Gearbox until the last dlc content comes out for the Seasons Pass; still a bit sore about the cost of it due to sly marketing. The fanboys will obviously get it and the probably the only people that are really playing it these days. Altho there are a few sales this week 'coincidently' to probably revive interest in it.
What happened to that Mechwarrior game that was teased out to us about 8 months ago? Instead we get this:
It doesn't look too bad, but it looks like its more arena-based rather than storybased. Augh. Makes me want to play Mechwarrior Mercenaries! I've been playing Neverwinter Nights 2 these days with my sad sad Drow Warlock. Sad? Because I didn't think he would need the Concentration skill .. but obviously he does and the slightest whack means his spell fails. To top it off, he switched out an invocation (think: spell) which was a big mistake.. being able to summon an undead minion is great when the game surprises you on a quest where you're by yourself. I'm committed to finishing the game.. altho I can't tell how much farther I have and clearly want to make a new character.. altho unsure of what.. Druid? Cleric? Barbarian? Unsure..
Don't you just love it when you're eagerly anticipating that game you've been tracking for months (or years), and then come launch day.... splat. It doesn't work.. or there are huge queues.. or the servers are down.. or its unstable.. or its just plain laggy?
I've been waiting for Krieg the Psycho (new class)for Borderlands 2 to come out.. a perfect time to start playing again.. And then I find out that "Hey.. just so you know, at the very bottom of your news article, this character doesn't come with your pre-order or seasons pass for free." Wait. Wut?
I had forgotten that the first Borderlands 2 class, the Mechromancer came free b/c I had pre-ordered it. What the Gearbox Marketing Department "clearly" forgot to do was make it clear that everyone had to pay extra to get access to the new class. No ifs, ands or buts. I don't mind having to pay for it, but be more clear Gearbox.. you guys have a good sense of humor, play it that way.. sure people will still gripe either way, but atleast you're being honest. Now I'm unsure whether I should cough up 800 Microsoft points for you.
This is what i've been doing these days: Taking photos.
DRM: You suck. To play Might and Magic: Heroes 6 (aka: Heroes of Might and Magic 6), not only do you need to playing through Steam, you now have to play with a Steam-like application called U-Play as well. Sure they did interesting (in-game and outside game rewards) things with it, its still a clunky user-unfriendly system. I seriously would have bought the newest package on Steam that included 3 of Ubisoft's expansions, but thanks to all the technical difficulties (see: it won't load up at all now) today, I won't ever spend a money with them again. Ok that sounded fan-boi-rantey: lets just say, i'm going think long and hard on whether I spend extra disposable income on a game that utilizes DRM. Sorry; no 50$ for you.
Still here; I haven't been playing much of anything these days. Waiting for May 14th when the new Borderlands 2 character Kreig becomes available. I think i've played the beginning part of Neverwinter Nights 2 so many times that I can't wrap my head around it anymore... or it could be the style of gameplay is stale.
Anyways, I was adjusting some decks and came across this one: Yuck. Who in their right mind would pay 6 mana to regenerate a 3/2? I would pay 4 at the most.. even then, I wouldn't think it's worth it. Bad card.
There was one Fuse card in Dragon's Maze that I didn't particularly like (maybe it was a "I've run out of ideas, so here").. this isn't the one tho:
I absolutely love taking control of something, then sacrificing it.. very Slave of Bolas feel to it, except for the fact that it would be a red/white/blue deck... which... I haven't ever thought of making.
Good things (cool and amazingly designed cards)can't last forever.. and I think the next 3 cards are the case. Prove me wrong, but the following come to mind when I see these kinds of cards:
Don't like the randomness to it.. if it hurt only your enemies, even random, then it would be ok. It meets the flavor of the goblin which tends to hurt themselves due to their stupidity. Ill admit that the art is cool.
There are countless articles on the Wizards website that talks about complexity and how they try to avoid making something too wordy.. this flies right in the face of that concept!
Whenever... yada yada... yada... zzzzzzz. Come on! So much reading! I really hope I don't get this card in my boosters; I don't care how powerful it is (is it? I'll read it again).. who is going to spend the time to read this card? TL:DR.
Ugh.. and you're mythic rare too? Another card I hope I never get. I understand in tournament, this card might be amazing (prevent your opponent from casting a certain spell, and making you cast yours faster).. but thats REALLY boring for casual format. So sure, if you have a friend.. or a group of friends that somehow (don't ask me how tho) use all the same card to win the game.. then sure, this mythic might be worth it.. otherwise.. i'd sell it to a tournament player :P