In The Fog

A moment of reflection

Aedan opened his eyes yet again, having never really gotten to sleep. This time however, he could see from the gray outside the windows of the airport that the night had passed. It wasn’t exactly sunny outside but it was daylight. The fog was much thicker than when he had decided to spend what was rest of the evening on a bench in the airport but certainly something would be open now.  A place to clean up, to eat and to explore while he waited for the next flight to the vacation he had been looking forward to for so long.

The constant sounds from inside the airport had permeated his flesh and blood over the last several hours. He barely noticed it until he stepped out the door and it closed behind him. Even the passing shuttle and the smell of diesel in the heavy moist air failed in comparison.  It came and it went. It didn’t take over his very being. Seeing a taxi at the curb, he transferred his suitcase to the other hand and waved to get his attention.

The driver was an older gentleman who similar to the shuttle driver from last night was eager to talk and wore an unending smile. Fortunately for Aedan, there were few pauses where he would actually be expected to respond. Aedan learned there was no hotel close to the airport.  There was only one within a fifteen minute drive making his choice quite easy. As they drove, the driver gave him the full tour of the city which, even through the fog seemed quite organized and clean.  Perhaps the best part he thought, was that he saw very few people on the streets.

Four hours later, Aedan was up, showered and even shaved his beard off for the first time in years. There was no specific reason for this.  He was simply feeling a desire to make some changes in his life and while on vacation seemed like a perfect time to do that. Fortunately, the waitress in the small restaurant across the street from the hotel wasn’t nearly as talkative as everybody else he had run into though she didn’t smile any less. Her smile didn’t change even when he requested a couple changes in his order to make his breakfast vegan.

By the time he stepped out of the restaurant, he was feeling much better even though he hadn’t really slept. The fog had become somewhat comforting and he felt, let him blend in with the surroundings as he explored the city. The city too began feeling more welcoming. Many times had he passed through but now that he was walking the sidewalks and docks he realized he had never actually seen the place even on bright sunny days. Today, barely able to see through the fog twenty feet in front of him, he saw so much more.

He walked the docks admiring the sailboats. He had actually considered chartering and sailing the last leg to his destination but determined it would take too much time. Upon reaching the end of one dock, he headed up the stairs cut into stone and into thicker fog.  At the top he found what appeared to be a Cathedral but had no doors. It was decorated with stained glass and archways that towered over him as he walked in. At the center of this great hall was a huge statue of a female figure above her head was raised a sword. He wondered if this was a tribute to a last and fatal stand or a victory.

The solitude and emotion swept over him. Out of nowhere came a memory that a long time friend had passed away a week prior and today would be a Celebration of Life for him. It wasn’t quite two years since his wife had also fell to the tragedies of cancer. Because he had already planned this trip and was unable to reschedule it, he left condolences for the children before he left. Now he stood here alone. It seemed quite appropriate to spend a few moments reflecting this passing of life before continuing his own journey.

 

Waiting for the next clerk

Days Like This

Waiting for the next clerk
Better late than never

Compared to the preparation to depart on this vacation, the drive to the airport was uneventful. Atypical for him, Aedan surpassed the speed limit several times knowing he was pushing it but it was all for naught when both lanes came to a crawl to gawk at an accident going the opposite direction. A deep breath and a bit more volume on the radio seemed to pacify his angst. After all, there really was nothing he could do.  He tried to not think about the ‘what ifs’ should he not make it to the airport in time. Hopefully the line through security would be short.

Shortly before arriving at the airport the radio had become more annoying than soothing. The commercials ran on and on until he searched for another station playing anything that interested him at all. As they too became filled with mindless voices telling him to buy this or that he pressed the power button and filled the car with silence…as much silence as was possible anyway. In this silence he made his way through the dark. The bluish LED headlamps peeled away the darkness to reveal a soft haze beneath the pine trees that lined either side of the road.

As he got closer to the airport the haze had grown to a light fog and slithered across the road, eagerly swallowing him as he followed the path into it. Aedan thought to himself that this might be a good thing, if there were any a delay in the departure of his flight for any reason whatsoever. When he pulled into the long term parking lot he found an open spot close to the shuttle stop. He had no sooner pulled the suitcase from the passenger seat and locked the doors when the shuttle pulled up. A minute later he was on the shuttle and headed for the terminal. Things were looking up.

The shuttle driver was a friendly guy and seemed to enjoy talking. In the five minutes it took to get to the terminal, Aedan was certain that the driver spent more time looking up into the mirror at him than at the road. He had probably driven the route thousands of times and might be able to do it blindfolded. His voice soon became a drone in Aedan’s head. It went on and on and was only relieved with the shuttle pulled up to the curb and with a huge smile, turned his head and looked at Aedan “We’re here. Enjoy your trip”. Aedan quickly grabbed his suitcase and jumped off the bus.

Inside the terminal, there was a buzz of conversation. Arriving and departing passengers exchanged greetings and goodbyes with loved ones and friends. The loud speaker rattled off flight information and who knows what else. He wasn’t listening but looking for the information board to check on his flight status as he made his way to security to be screened. When he finally found his flight information, a wave of regret passed through him. His flight had already departed. He couldn’t have missed it by much. It was probably still on the runway waiting to depart but it would do it without him.

With his suitcase now feeling much heavier, Aedan stepped out of the screening line and headed back to the ticketing agents to find out when the next flight was and whether there was space available. As he stood in line wondering what his future plans were, the constant noise of conversation, ringing bells and announcements over the loud speaker filled his head. The words were barely intelligible in the droning sound. He looked at a couple near him and just as he pulled their voices from the buzz, they both looked at him and smiled. Not trying to be nosy he looked away immediately but this repeated several times. It had been a long day.

After what seemed an eternity, he made it to the ticketing agent.  The next flight to his destination, twelve hours from then was full. There wouldn’t be another for two days but there was a seat available. He asked about alternate routes but there was only one daily flight to his destination. The isolation is why he chose the destination he did and now he would have to wait.

By now the fog had become quite thick outside and he was tired. He was too tired to go looking for a hotel at this hour so he found an empty row of seats in a corner, pushed his suitcase beneath it and made himself comfortable.

Loading the car for a trip

No Surprise Here

Loading the car for a trip
Trying to leave again

Of course vacation plans in SL are subject to complications just as in RL  You think you have everything packed and just as you’re about to get into the car you panic that you forgot something. Is it in the suitcase or..or is it lost? Similarly, I had spent hours setting up for this shot, tweaking the light, setting the pose – and that was after chasing down suitcases, cars, cats and parking lot textures! We won’t even talk about the cars I got at a very good price – too good to be true even with broken scripts. (Yes, I am lodging a complaint because at least one had a negative review because of the same issues I had).  After all that and then taking the picture, editing in Gimp because the only opening suitcase I could find that was half modern or not beat up was pink…after all that, you realize the jacket you’re wearing is a mess!

In all fairness, it was a few years old and the creators have a tough time dealing with the varied size avatars..but my avatar is 6 and a half feet tall and muscled…and small is too big!  So, refusing to leave home like that I had to go shopping.  I hate shopping for men’s clothes for this very reason.  Time lost shopping only to pull something else out of the drawer and set everything up for the photo again.

Unable to get the exact same lighting, I then spent another hour trying to (and took screen shots of the settings this time!) get the same angle, same light ( and failed) before saying ‘enough!’.  I’m getting really good at changing the color of items in Gimp by now so that was easy.

Almost ready to upload and then I noticed the cat was missing half it’s head! Really!? Log back in, set everything up as close as I can and…get a good picture of the cat from the same angle and distance…and hopefully with light close enough that it’s easy to bring into the image.  One last check and I realized that on one of my monitors it was too dark so I lightened the image before uploading.

There! Now we’re ready to go.  Get into the car! No, not you kitty…

Yes, it wasn’t too long before I was told the image was too dark.  I’m just ready to hit the road by now though I am a bit concerned that I’ve missed my flight…

Packing for a vacation

Time Flies

Packing for a vacation
Spring Vacation 2019

The last couple of weeks have been somewhat busy behind the scenes. I have been doing some building for an as of yet unannounced (but much hinted at) project along with other preparations for the same project which should be coming to live very soon.  Maybe even sooner. In recognition of this effort I simply want to say ‘you girls have all the fun!’ …but then you already knew that.

Because things are starting to come together in one corner while in another I have a smaller project chomping at the bit to be started, I’ve decided to take a short vacation….a spring break if you will.  Vacation or not, I am not disappearing though, I’m just taking an unplanned turn to clear my mind, get some more practice taking photos and make some final preparations before getting back to work – and you’re invited tom come along.

Before I leave, I’d just like to comment that finding a functioning suitcase for a guy is not easy.  I finally gave up and had to change the color of the only one I could find that wasn’t abused or 50 years old 😉

Drunk in the streets of Rottendam

Back To Work

Drunk in the streets of Rottendam
Not what I came to get
  • After struggling with the new foreground select tool to clean this image up to my liking, I finally gave up and just used the lasso tool to take the pieces I needed to make adjustments too. I’m mostly happy but will spend more time tweaking the LUMIPro next time. 

Adjustments made were to calm down the skin tone of my arm and his face, tweaked my shadow a bit to blur the edges and make it a similar tone to the drunk’s (who’s shadows are not coming entirely from the light).  I also added a bit of shadow in the street for my head and the rat.

Finally, the background in the distance was blurred just a bit in addition to adding a gradient to make it darker in the distance.

You can read a bit more about my struggle here with the two previous posts:

Gimp Foreground Select

Good Help These Days

 

Location: Rottendam

My Outfit: 

His Outfit:
  • He refused to answer and stunk too much to check the tags!

Gimp Foreground Select

Rottendam - Too Bright
The starting point ..

From my post yesterday, you might recall that I was on a trip to find some objects for a secret and huge project I’m working on when I stumbled across this guy passed out on the street. It seemed like an opportunity to get some practice with my LUMIPro but I ended up taking the image into Gimp because I still couldn’t get exactly what I wanted.  I’ve found myself frequently needing to extract the subjects of photos from their backgrounds and this seemed to be one of those times.

Because this is becoming a frequent practice, I figured I should make myself more proficient at what I understand is supposed to be the latest and easiest way to isolate items in Gimp. The Foreground Select tool.  Here I go down another path!

To date, my experience with this tool has been only marginally better than using either the “free” or “fuzzy” select tools to do the same thing.  When it’s all said and done, I am still finding myself going back and spending perhaps hours removing unwanted pixels with the wrong color.  Unfortunately, this attempt has been no better.

However, I did learn one thing that prompted me to create this post.  When my attempts to identify the foreground and background using the tools presented by Foreground Select left so much wanting, I figured there must be something else to try. I watched a few tutorials on youtube and all showed the same thing though one was amazingly successful and extracting blowing hair from it’s background (video below).

In that video, the presenter is using the ‘Matting Levin” engine. On my machine, it was set to use the other engine, Matting Global, and I was unable to change the selection.  Similarly, the machine I am currently on is defaulted to the Matting Global but is denying the option to change engines.

I searched and read quite a bit but found nothing explaining why I had no other option.  I suspected it might be hardware.

Gimp Foreground Select Tool
Gimp Foreground Select Tool

I only recently built the machine that I’m using to take photos in SL.  It has what is supposed to be an exceptional video card which I may review later. Early on, I determined to use that machine ONLY for ‘gaming’ and web browsing when it was convenient.  No other software would be installed on that machine.  However, early on, I had installed Gimp before I reached that decision so I fired it up and sure enough, on that machine, I do have the ability to select either engine.  Just for fun, I tried extracting the same image from the photo above and though the result was slightly better, it still fails in comparison to the video below.  So, my search continues.  As is the story of my life, yet another small project has taken a life of it’s own.

We are using cookies on our website

Cookies are used to help improve the usefulness and attraction of this site. Please confirm, if you accept our tracking cookies. You can also decline the tracking, so you can continue to visit our website without any data sent to third party services. Thank you.