Vacation is near! Vacation is near! Vacation is near!

My vacation is just around the corner and I’m so excited about it, you can’t even imagine. I’m not traveling far away, I’m just going to stay in the forest, in a bungalow, near a lake.

My plans for this week are mainly – relax, relax, relax and relax. And I’ve also got some photography “projects” that I want to try out. I’m planning to do some time lapse capturing with my good old Canon EOS 500D. Aside from this I want to spent my free time to get a little bit more into strobe photography, since I haven’t really found the time to dig deeper into this, since I’ve got my new Yongnuo flash lights.

I’m also sticking to my sports activities. I want to do some cross running through the forest, as well as some swimming in the three lakes nearby and finally do some trips with my new bicycle. Swimming’s going to be the most interesting one because I’ve got this sort of phobia in lakes that usually makes me swim like a pregnant duck and not like a technically oriented swimmer. I want to work on my technique and want to conquer my fears of the unknown depths of the lake.

I’m sure that there’s no monstrosity on the ground, but I’ve to teach this my blooming fantasy.

Strobist

A long time ago, in a galaxy not far away. A young man decided to start taking photos. By that time the man thought that using a flashlight is too sophisticated and he wanted to stick with natural. That sounds logical, because natural light comes from mother nature – from the sun. And the sun is good – if you don’t stay in sunlight unprotected for too long.

Anyhow, this young man shot picture after picture. He was pretty horrible in the beginning and still is. But then there was this evil dark force that avoided taking good pictures. He needed more light. Artificial light. Strobe light. And strobe light it was…

…after this short introduction, I just wanted to announce, that I made my way into the undiscovered field of flash photography. Not undiscovered for so many others out there, but yet for me a very unknown territory.

As you might have noticed, I wasn’t always a big fan of using a flashlight with a camera, but after all these years in photography using natural light, I found, that it was time to try something new and tear down some walls. I tried to take pictures of several still lives lately but wasn’t satisfied with how it came out. I was using a macro flashlight with a ring set on top of the lens, but the results I received with this were even more unsatisfying.

Twelve strings to heaven

Anyhow, I finally ordered a bunch of of Yongnuo flashlights, two light stands and several additional things to complete the setup. And what can I say – the first shooting was complete mess. Yes, a complete overkill in setup and lack of knowledge. What followed afterwards wasn’t a period of face palming. I thought I was sort of prepared when I bought all these things, because I found that I read and watched enough on the internet to get enough view inside. But I was wrong.

I studied the manuals for multiple times, I watched more and more tutorials on the internet to gain more knowledge on flash photography. And I read more and more guides on how to do flash photography. Actually, all these things didn’t make me a professional flash photographer, but I received the lost pieces of the puzzle I needed to actually get a solid beginning. The basic knowledge to start and also know where the path is leading to.

Without a doubt, there’s (and always will be) a lot of things to learn about, but that’s the intriguing part about in photography. And it’s a lot of fun to learn all these things, because it combines two aspects in my life I’m a big of – art and technology. And to merge these two and get a fine creative output, that is what drives me.

Passions regained

This is the announcement, that I’m back on track. Well, actually, it’s just an announcement that I’m finally back to a fixed, regular schedule for my gym sessions. It’s three days a week in the morning and one day in the afternoon. I’m totally happy and completely satisfied with this new schedule, it doesn’t burn me out too much, leaves enough room to rest and I don’t have the feeling to lose to much free time. Apparently, I’ve to go to bed pretty early because the alarm clock rings at 4:00am but like I said, it’s easy to handle when you have only three days per week to get up that early. I’m also making good progress when it comes to dexterity and pure muscle strength. The dexterity is good so far and much, much better as it was in times where I was a smoker, even with my massive overweight. Even though I’m at the beginning of training my strength is as good as it was the time I let the training fade away. I was also able to increase weight on some stations in the gym. Right now, I’m focussing on chest and neck. I guess it’s pretty obvious and I don’t have to mention it explicitely that I always train belly and back. Nothing’s more important than a well trained centre. Within the next couple of weeks I will also start a protein diet to get a little boost to muscle growth and lose some fat.

Pike's place

Secondly, I’m once again a little bit more into photography. During my trip to London, I haven’t even used a whole SD card for my pics. Compared to previous trips it’s an improvement, because I used like two or three cards within one or two days. A lot of crappy pictures came up these days. Just let us say I reached a border where quality took over quantity. Whatever the case, I personally see me making progress in photography and my picture are getting better. There are still some issues with incorrect focusing and a weird usage of depth of field, but this okay for the moment. I do no longer have these completely wrong exposures. It’s natural to get a couple of pics that too bright or too dark, but you don’t have to forget that some pics are snapshot style and I’m not always rethink light and stuff before a shoot the pic. This happens from time to time.

My besty gifted me on X-mas with a nice book about Lightroom and Photoshop. I’m currently working myself through the Lightroom book and it’s giving me a blast in knowledge about digital photo development. Until a short time ago, I was using Lightroom for collecting and organizing my picture only. The whole editing always happened in Photoshop and it happened a couple of times where the final product was worse than the original picture. Lightroom is fun and it’s so awe-inspiring to see how my pictures can still develop, even those that I already abandoned.

Finally, shame on me, I still owe you an article about XBMC and a couple of nice add-ons I don’t wanna miss anymore. It’s coming. Just be patient.

Slightly getting back to basics

There’s something wrong in the state of Denmark… not that I know, but I just wanted to start the post with a sentence that does not start with “I was blabla…”

Actually, I’m a little pissed by myself because I simply don’t feel like I should. No, I’m sick in any kinda way, but it’s my whole condition that bothers me. I’ve got a hell too much weight hanging on my bones, I’m once again unsatisfied with my job and I haven’t found the time to actually follow up some of my hobbies. But first things first. The whole weight thing is going to change, definately. I just ordered new tires and flexible tubes for my bicycle to get mobile again, because I’m so nerved of walking. Getting me back on the road also means that I personally will get a little bit more “sportish”. I just love to cruise around with my bike around the city without any specific destination. Most importantly, I’m going to grab my photo camera to catch some fine moments while being on the road. I miss shooting with my and even though I don’t have the real talent to be a great photographer I’ll keep on doing this, because this is giving the relaxation I actually need in my daily life.

Over the last couple of days and weeks I had to struggle with lots of system and hardware crashes at home (that’s the curse of having so many PCs) that I had to fix that I had a massive lack of free time actually. First it was my gaming system that died while upgrading to Windows 7 SP1. I fixed this issue to about 90 per cent. After having solved this particular problem, the raid system in my HTPC started having issues as well and one hard drive wasn’t running as stable as I would like it to be. I replaced the hard drives, cloned the whole system, rescued the data and installed a fresh, new system which isn’t finished yet already. I’m not in a hurry with that one and I’m not going to stress me with that one. As long as the XBMC is running, everything is fine.

Bicyclet

There’s a trip to London coming up within the next two weeks and right after that I’ll restart doing early sessions at the gym again. I’m stressed and nerved and bothered with the packed gym right after work and I’m sure to gain much more when I’ll go to gym pretty early. I’ll also change my nutrition as well and get back to the healthy way of life. To get the facts straight, I’m going back the roots of my personal straight edge project. It’s clear for me, that I don’t want to live the way how I live at the moment because it’s simply not good for me. I’m doing fine when it comes to points like stamina but I completely fail meanwhile due to things like pure strength.

Anyhow, it’s curious to see how everything goes down the drain when my bike’s broke. It’s always the same, the tires burst and I gain pounds and pounds and pounds. There seems to be some kind of an invisible band between me and my bike. Like it was between Elliot and E.T. in the movie of the same title. If my bike’s doing well, I’m doing well. If my bike’s getting sick, I’m doing sick.

Till my short vacation I’ll keep my gym schedule as it is now and I’ll do some slight changes to my nutrition. The tough break is going to be right after the vacation which leads me back to no sweets and candy. I’ll also reduce the amount of coffee per day, which is now at an average of four to five huge cups a day. I’ll also reduce the consumption of Diet Coke for one simple reason, Diet Coke causes hunger and hunger finally leads me to eating and eating causes weight. Well, there are tons of things that will change all with this one particular goal to get back to a healthier nutrition, but one the other hand I’m not going to live like monk in a monastery. I still want to get a little bit of fun out of life.

PS: If you want to ask about the pic in this post, well, I just thought “Sex Sells”

Of weather, bugs and gluttony

Just some updates for the end of the week without any particular order or category. First of all the most common and maybe the thing that costs the most boredom; the weather. It’s getting colder and warmer, dry and wet, pale and sunny. There’s no direction to be found and this bothers me, because I wanted to go out these days to take some pictures and gain some experience with my new camera lenses, but nothing. It looks promising right now because the it’s sunny with barely any clouds. Hopefully it’s going to stay this way.

Most of the time this week did I waste with gaming, I finished the single-player campaign in “Battlefield Bad Company 2” and I’m now into the multiplayer part of the game to train for some league appearances, that will hopefully be in the next season. Secondly, I am nearly finished with “DeathSpank”, the game itself got more and more funny in the last couple of hours while I was playing and I still recommend this game, especially if you like “Monkey Island” or “Penny Arcade” like humour. Last but not least, this week was the release of an indie game called “Magicka” which unfortunately lacks of thousands of bugs. Well, okay, it’s not a thousand bugs, but there are lots of errors right now. But I have to admit, the developers take their jobs serious and do a lot to get rid of the bugs and I salute an attitude like this. It’s just a small, independent software company working their asses off to finally create a great product, something that publishers like EA and Ubisoft disregard so many, many times. ~kudos~

Finally, “Straight Edge 3.0” starts on Sunday and this means the time of gluttony is over. There’s not much that changes in particular, it’s mainly that I return to gym and sports and that my whole nutrition is set up much more healthier. Either way was my nutrition really, REALLY bad over the last couple of weeks and it couldn’t have gotten more worth than it is right now. This changes and I will hopefully lose some pounds by the way.

What was and what will be

A year’s gone and a new decades arrived. So what’s my resume for the decade that has just passed in the 21st century on this ball called Earth (“How peaceful it looks…”)? Great Scott, I don’t know and it’s barely possible to capture a whole decade in one single blog entry so I simply don’t resume the past decade. But what are my plans for the next decade? Guess what, I just don’t know but I can tell you some of my plans for this year. 2011 will hopefully be the year were I’ll go back to more creative oriented activities. I’ll definately do some more photography and will try to switch to some portrait shots or let us say, I’ll switch from landscape photography to something more human related because for me is the portrait photography something that looks like hard to handle and I want this challenge, because challenges simply makes you better and let you improve yourself.

One thing that’s still unfinished and I simply haven’t found the time for, were the bunch of music plans I had for 2010. I missed to remaster Narcosis’ “Super Satan Terror Demon 665.5” mini CD and to upload it. I also missed to get the original tracks for the CDs so I have to do some more complex re-editing to tracks that I got. It’s such a pain in the ass that the studio were we once recorded this master piece of modern black- and death-metal is no more (/irony off).

The second music project hasn’t been touched since I first announced it here in this blog because of… well… urm… issues? Some might remember, it was this electro, industrial thing called “Degraduated to be machine” which includes till now two barely finished tracks. The problem is, that I was working on the studio software several times but it turned out that my plans are much more complex than they first seemed to be. I want this whole thing to get much better than the first solo CD of mine which was more a bunch tracks mixed together, this second one follows a concept and I want this as perfect as it can be. PERIOD! I guess, it won’t be finished by the end of this year so don’t expect anything.

Recording Studio

Something that I’m going to do pretty soon is to upgrade my PC. I decided not to buy me a new Android phone and to upgrade my PC instead. There were to many issues and failures that were bothering me that led me finally to this decision. It’s a kind of sad, because I really liked the black mainboard and the CPU watercooler with its red LEDs inside that made the whole system look so damn eeeeeviiiiiil. I’ll give some details on the upgrade in another blog entry.

Back to music and the whole life thing. I still have this plan to move to Berlin, maybe it’s going to happen this year if I can make it to find a job there. If I can make it I’ll free my guitars from the dust and try to find some guys/girls to start a new band, I still feel like a stoner band would be nice, with a girl drummer.

Some might ask, what happened to straight edge? Well, straight edge will be back as sooner as you think. It might start on January 16th, maybe later. It all depends on the big thing called time and I never have enough time for anything. It’s going to be the “Straight Edge 3.0 Project” with customized rules and a new training plan that does not only inlcude a plan for gym, it will also include some other activities. I currently drink some alcohol from time to time but only small lashings and no hard liqueur. I’m so NOT satisfied with the fact that I started with this bad habit again and it will stop because I simply can’t stand the dizzyness while drinking something.

Any traveling plans for this year? Yes, but nothing totally fixed. I was wondering if I can make it to Asia this year, countries like Japan, Indonesia and South Korea has always been in my focus, but unfortunately is it so massively expensive that I don’t know how to pay for this. For the opposite direction, well, there might be a trip to New York, I always wanted to go to New York, a huge, big, crowded, dirty city that always fascinated me. I also have to mention that I have these itchy feet for Seattle, I can’t help it but Seattle is beside Berlin a city where I can go to at any time. To make a long story short, there’ll be definately a trip to the U.S. but no exact plans for the rest of the world. Hmmm, the orient could be nice, too.

Hadouken

Concert plans. There’s only ONE concert by now I have a ┬áticket for and that is the rocking, mind blowing, beloved FU MANCHU. Yes, I got a Fu Manchu ticket for Christmas again and I will see them in March. Damn it, I fucking love this band. If there’s a Misfits concert somewhere here around Germany I would go there too, no matter what it costs. Till now I am very unsure if I should go to the Roger Waters concert in Berlin and see The Wall for a second time. It would be nice to see the show in Berlin, because for me it’s something special because this very one album influenced my musical taste so much, but once again, the tickets are expensive and the seats you can get at the moment are totally crap. We will see.

Last but not least, gaming plans for this year. First of all, I’m thinking about canceling my ‘World of Warcraft’ subscription because I don’t like the new add-on. The balance between casual gaming and going back to the roots of ‘World of Warcraft’ totally failed, in my opinion. Maybe I’ll switch back to ‘Champions Online’ as soon as you can play it for free or I will give ‘DC Universe’ a try. I’m following TotalBiscuit on YouTube and he’s playing the beta at the moment and it looked nice and auspicious to me. Non-MMO games I’m definately going to play are ‘Crysis’ and ‘F.3.A.R. 3’ in March. ‘Duke Nukem Forever’ sometime by the beginning of this year and hopefully id softwares’ ‘Rage’ in September.

There will be some minor changes to this blog, too. One thing is, that there will be a “Game of the week” post every week with a kind of a review and I will do the same stuff with music, movies and photography. Anyhow, the “Game of the week” thing is for sure and the rest will come up soon and simply follows within the next weeks and month. …hmmm… longest blog post ever… yeah!!!

They have issues too though

X-Mas is over and I’m nearly finished with the changed to my PCs where I once again meet a point where I get confronted with a disturbing problem on my gaming system. It does not start everytime I want it to start. When I go by and move the waterpump a little bit the system goes and starts. Another time it’s just a touch somewhere in the case or near the motherboard. I’m not sure till now what the exact problem is but it’s not the power supply unit, it works perfectly. There’s some kind of interference and I don’t know where it is. Hopefully it’s nothing serious so that I don’t have to do a major replacement to the system which will cost me around 650EUR right now.

Besides all this, I’m on the noise hunt and I try to eliminate every disturbing noise that comes from any PC I own. I just silenced one PC with a noise absorber kit by Be Quiet! and it will be quieter if the fans would work correctly or let us say, if they were not so bloody dirty. Well, I freed them off the dust but I guess it was a bit too late and now I have to replace them. It’s very hard these days to get 80mm fans with red LEDs that are declared silent cause everyone switched to 120mm or bigger. The backplane in my gaming system will be replaced by a much quieter one too because I wasn’t able to completely disable the fan without getting an alarm noise and I didn’t wanted to rip the speaker off because of the “you’ll never know”-factor. Maybe it’s the backplane that causes the starting issue (well, NO!!!).

The HDD cases in my media center (which is capable for gaming too right now) are getting completely removed to and will be simply replaced by some uncoupling units. Two hits with one strike, I get rid of the 40mm fans and the hard drives are getting a little bit more “softened” in the case. By the way, the media center is the best working system at the moment without any issues. Like I said, the gaming PC has starting problems and the inter PC seems unstable to me, which leads me to final point.

I am going to say goodbye to Fedora and Linux on this system because I switch back to Windows. It still remains a system for internet but also for audio production and some picture editing. It comes in pretty handy because two monitors are plugged to this system and these two things are handled pretty good if you have a second monitor. It’s a kind of sad that I’ll soon will have no Linux machine but unfortunately is Linux not able to fulfill my needs. Combined with the stability problems it’s the best choice to get back to Windows.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have so much hardware lying around that a fourth system is coming up which will be a pure dedicated gameserver and guess what, it’s going to be a Linux system. Till now do I not have any specific plans on that but it will come and hopefully will it come together with a LAN in spring 2011.

For those of you who expect to read some more things about my photography hobby can I tell, that there’s pretty soon something new to say about it because I ordered some fine new stuff for my camera. But more about these things will be here to read later in another post. I’m sorry for posting so much about my PCs and hardware and stuff these days but it’s a cold and extremely snowy winter here in Germany and this is like the perfect time for me to get a few jobs done in these cases.

Problemiwigo

Unfortunately did I mess up the bloodreaver gallery application here on this website. I did a simple auto-update and after this simple update was I standing there with a much more complex problem. The Piwigo gallery application needed MySQL 5.x as a minimum requirement and at the moment the whole webserver has got a MySQL database version 4.1.2. I also did not find a solution to do a downgrade or better said, I haven’t found the nerve or the time to fix it. I finally switched over to Coppermine, which will hopefully serve me well, and re-uploaded most of the pictures that were content of the old gallery. A few pictures are still missing, mainly in the photography category, but they’ll be uploaded later.

Girls with guitars

If there’s one thing, beside a lot of other things, that I hate then it’s female models posing on pictures with guitars and you can see, it nearly bites your eye, that they cannot even play. Man, this is so disgusting. Young, nude and beautiful women raping guitars on pictures with chords that can never exist and if they will be played they will sounds like the worst noise ever. The imagination is horrible…

Stroke your EOS

It has been a while since my last photography related post and the reason for this is very simple. Everything I produced with my camera during the last weeks was a bunch of crap and absolutely worthless. I completely miscalculated the amount of creativity needed to produce nice pics. My opinion was that I take my camera, see something worth to shoot and hit the trigger. I am not talking about technical obstacles to take, it is all about the creativity. It depressed me in a way that the results varied so drastically but like every ‘artist’ you have to gain positive energy even from a misery.

I was near selling my camera and giving up my newly discovered hobby but I finally cleared my mind and continued my discovery into the great world of photography. I am going to release some of the brand new pics in my gallery here on bloodreaver.com and some hand picked and very nice ones will find their way to deviantart.com and their related groups. What should I say, I survived my personal lack of creativity and will definately continue photography. I plan to go mainly further with taking landscape pictures over the next two or three month and if some routine comes into play and every technical question is answered I plan to get into more into macro and portait photography. Hopefully I will be able to find some distinctive motives for portrait photography.