Beauty in small places

I was walking along Barrie’s lakeshore the other day, waiting form some prints to be ready at work. I had some time for a quick trip down to the waterfront, so I used it. I walked along the beaten path and occasionally peaked over the edge of the hill leading down towards the water to see if I could spot anything of interest. A small speck of white in the distance caught my eye.

It’s amazing what you can find in the smallest places, if your eyes are open. Having a camera with me helps me keep my eyes open to things such as this, but taking pictures like this reminds me to do it more often in everyday life.

Often times there is so much beauty in the world that goes completely unnoticed, simply because we are not looking for it. If I look for it in small or unusual place, I’m sure I’ll find it. This is likely the only photo that will ever be taken of this particular Cabbage White Butterfly, so there is its moment in the spotlight.

Gift from Video Games Live

I had posted previously about my adventures in video game music, through the touring concert by the name of Video Games Live. I’ve volunteered at many of their shows, and had a blast every time. One of the co-founders of the concert (also a TV personality and video game composer), Tommy Tallarico, offered to send me an autographed poster from their very first show in 2005. It was sent to me by Mike (his brother) to whom I’m eternally grateful. This is an amazing piece; I framed it the moment I got it home from the post office.

Signatures include:

• Tommy Tallarico (Earthworm Jim, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Metroid Prime, Advent Rising)
• Jack Wall (Myst III, Myst IV, Splinter Cell, Jade Empire)
• Hideo Kojima (Creator of Metal Gear Solid)
• Yuji Naka (Creator of Sonic the Hedgehog)
• Elijah Wood (Actor, Lord of the Rings, Sin City)
• Marty O’Donnell (Halo, Halo 2)
• Nolan Bushnell (Pong, Atari, Chuck E. Cheese)
• Toby Gard (Creator of Lara Croft & Tomb Raider)
• Bill Roper (Warcraft)
• Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia)
• David Jaffe (God of War)
• Dweezil Zappa (Guitarist)
• Doug Tennaple (Earthworm Jim, The Neverhood)
• David Perry (Earthworm Jim, Aladdin, Enter the Matrix)
• Chris Stone (Dragon’s Lair)
• Richard Jacques (Headhunter, Outrun)
• Lorne Lanning (Oddworld Inhabitants)
• Bill Brown (Rainbow Six)
• Michael Giacchino (Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, The Incredibles)
• Nathan McCree (Tomb Raider)
• Gary Coleman (Actor)
• Laura Karpman (Everquest II)
• Christophe Heral (Beyond Good and Evil)
• Tom Salta (Ghost Recon 2)
• Vince Desi (Postal, Postal 2)
• Jason Hayes (Warcraft III, World of Warcraft)
• Gerard Marino (God of War)
• Tim Larkin (Myst)
• Laurie Robinson (Advent Rising, Video Games Live Vocal Soloist / Performer)
• Benoit Grey (Jaws, Video Games Live Orchestrator)

There are some big names in there for sure. Although I’m sure many people reading this are not as into video games as I am, imagine many of your favourite artists getting together to sign a poster, and then giving it to you. Thats how I feel when I look at it, now hanging on the wall in my room.

Thanks VGL! This is probably the best part of my video game collection to date, whcih is saying quite a bit!

Video Games Live: Kitchener

Many people know I’m a fan of video games. A few people know that I am a fan of video game music. Many games include completely original orchestra scores these days, some of which are extremely captivating. Other older game music has been remixed into very pleasant compositions as well. Video Games Live is a group of people who use local orchestras to perform some of the most popular music featured in video games over the past two decades. Everything from Mario Bros to Halo 3 and everything in between.

I’ve attended every performance they have done in Ontario so far.

Actually, more than that. I’ve volunteered to help out at every performance in Ontario. On March 13th and 14th they performed in Kitchener, where I helped out by running their costume contest and worked as a photographer. This grants me full backstage access and the ability to sit anywhere in the concert hall I’d like, which is simply amazing. So I spent my evenings last weekend taking photos of something I was passionate about, and filled my 16GB memory card twice. Here’s one of my favourite photos from the show:

Needless to say, it was a sold-out show both days.

The conductor, Jack Wall, is a video game composer himself. His recent success was with the Xbox 360 and PC game Mass Effect, one of my favourites from last year. He also did a lot of the music in the Myst series of games, among many, many others.

Tommy Tallarico, the main guitarist, is quite accomplished as well. He’s done a lot of composing himself (Earthworm Jim, Advent Rising to name a few) but also was a co-host on the G4/TechTV show Electric Playground.

The music was performed by Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. One of the best performances I’ve been to! They always use the local orchestra to do the performance.

Splitting Adam was touring with the group this time. They work for Electronic Arts and had a song featured in the game Need For Speed: Undercover. Great tunes from these guys as well, I wish them the best of luck!

All in all, it was a great show. There were a few new segments I hadn’t seen before, but even the older ones were great to hear again. Each show they always play a different set from their list of 30-40 different segments so it’s always something different. You’ll find a larger selection of photos below, and if you want the whole set of “keepers”, you can grab ’em here (warning: a lot of photos). I’m not sure when they’ll play next in the area, but I’ll be sure to help out. Always a blast!

P.S. Almost all of the concert photos were taken at ISO 3200 or ISO 6400. I am extremely impressed with my cameras performance at these settings!

Tribute to my Gameboy Camera

Rewind to my childhood, somewhere around 1998 when I was about 12 years old. I had become a huge fan of Nintendo’s Gameboy system, one of my first real video game experiences. For this little handheld videogame system Nintendo released a most interesting accessory: a black & white (four shades of grey) 0.1 megapixel camera capable of storing 30 photos. This was my very first digital camera.

What did the photos look like? Well, I still have the thing! Through a complex series of steps and peripherals, you could get the thing to “print” to a parallel port on a computer and saved as an image, just like this one:

As a 12 year old, I got a very creative idea. How would I be able to take a colour photo from a black and white camera? Hmm. I remember around this age getting really close to a TV to try and figure out how it worked. Dad told me that each bit of colour was made up of red, blue, and green of different intensities, which sparked the whole idea. I also had tons of fun playing with those “3D” pages in certain magazines that required you to use the glasses with one blue lens and one red lens, isolating colours for each eye and producing an image with perceived depth. Blue things showed up black through the red lens, and red things showed up black through the blue lens!
So then, what would happen if I put a filter over the lens of the camera, one red, one blue, and one green to try and make a colour image?

I couldn’t figure out how. I got the three images, but I had no idea how to merge them into one image. It wasn’t until a number of years later that I fully understood image editing on computers and learned how to edit individual colour channels of an image. So, simply using each “filtered” image as a specific red, blue, and green colour channel produces…

Neat, eh? So that’s how you take a colour photograph with a camera that isn’t capable of it. Even though the original images were only four shades of grey, when combined they can produce a wide variety of colours. Once I figured out how to do it, I had some fun and tried a few others. Check them out!

New computer!

You might be aware that I have been waiting on a new computer. Finally it has arrived, I’ve completely tweaked and tuned it to my exact needs and installed most of the software I’ll use on a day-to-day basis. Awesome! My old one was going on 4 and a half years, so it was time for me to bite the bullet and upgrade. Here she is:

For those technologically inclined, read the rest of the post for the tech specs of the machine, basically a list of every part I put in it.

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