2007 News Updates
- I just wanted to again say thanks for all the kind wishes I have received regarding my healing process. I am healing faster than my doctor expected by still way too slow for my own liking.
I posted an updated version of "Yuletide" in the gallery this morning. I wanted to do a Holiday wallpaper, but had to be a little less ambitious than in years past (since I'm still not 100%). I hope you enjoy it though and I look forward to getting back to full steam in 2008 (if not sooner).
Jessie, Ian, Jason and I wish you all happy holidays and wonerful new year!
- Time for an update on my condition. The healing process is going slower than I would like, but it is progressing normally. I visited my surgeon on Tuesday and was told to expect another two weeks of recovery. I'm visited by a nurse daily to change dressings and am still on pain medications (though I am tapering that off). Basically I just need to take it real easy for the next few weeks in order for all this to heal up (though I didn't let that stop me from lifting Ian up for the first time this morning).
I am at least thinking about my next wallpaper however and am looking forward to getting back to work as soon as possible. I haven't decided if I will do a Christmas image or a more "generic" winter scene. Either one will probably be of limited use to folks, as I imagine neither Christmas nor Winter scenes stay on the desktop much past the 25th. Maybe I should just do an abstract...
I will admit that I am not feeling the least bit of holiday spirit at the moment (I've only left the house once since returning from the hospital) but it tends to fill you when you least expect it. One thing that has really made me feel better is all the warm comments in regards to my last post. I can't thank you all enough for the kind wishes.
Just wanted you all to know what was going on healthwise. Bottom line: I'm healing up.
- One other item to mention: Since last year I've had a contract with a company called "Wireless Developer" to offer my images as cell phone wallpapers. It's been their job to market my images to the various outlets for cell phone images (my "Yuletide" image, for example, is a top seller on the AT&T Media Mall site).
Wireless Developer contacted me last week saying that they've put together a storefront for my graphics. So if you are interested in downloading my graphics directly to your T Mobile, Sprint, or AT&T handset you can text "digiblas" to 32852. A nominal fee applies (I'm not sure how much they are each, but I get 50% of each sale).
I wish I could offer you all a way to get these for free (since you are already Members) but they've put a lot of work into the store (formatting the images for all the different displays) and provide all the bandwidth. Besides, you are all welcome to download my work directly from the Members Gallery and upload it to your phone. The wireless store just makes it very simple.
Anyway, give it a shot if you are interested. That's it for now, I hope to post more soon!
- I just wanted you all to know that I had to go into the hospital for surgery on Wednesday to alleviate a painful condition that had been effecting me since last weekend. I would rather not get into specifics except to say that I was in a great deal of pain from Sunday until Wednesday. I went to the ER Wednesday and they put me under Wednesday evening to fix me up. I spent the night in the hospital and returned home yesterday evening.
The doctor tells me that it is going be another week before I can return to any semblance of a normal life. I'm not allowed to even sit at my desk. I am on the mend however and am supposed to get a little better every day.
I know some of you are waiting for the multi-screen version of "The Astronomer". I'm going to have to put a hold on that, and any Christmas wallpaper plans, until I am better. Sorry about that. Really, I'd like nothing more than to be able to get back to work but I have to wait until I am better.
I will post more when I am able. Thanks for being patient while I work this all out.
- Afternoon update: I've made a couple of changes to "The Astronomer" and have posted a new version. The clouds are a little softer in the new version and I've changed the color of the lights on the platform. The first version is in the Pickle Jar. Let me know which you prefer and I will keep that one in the gallery.
- After posting "Song of the Sky" earlier this month I immediately set about working on a new "planetscape" wallpaper. I really wanted to have something done in under a week.
It didn't turn out that way though. Every night I would set it to render thinking that I would post the wallpaper in the morning, and each morning I found something that I wanted to change. Art is like that sometimes I guess. I just didn't want to post it until I was completely happy.
I'm as close to "completely happy" as I am going to get so my new wallpaper is now up for your review. It's called "The Astronomer". Sorry it took so long, hopefully it was worth it.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating!
- I'm sure some of you are wondering if I will be posting a new wallpaper soon. I am working on it right now actually and I hope to have something up in the next couple of days. This one has been something of a challenge, for reasons that I will elaborate on when I post the image. Thanks for being patient!
- I've posted a revised version of "Song of the Sky (2007) on the new images page. I had really not planned on doing any revisions to this one. It seemed that most of you liked it the way it was.
Unfortunately I was bit by a nasty Vue d'Esprit bug whereby saving my file actually wiped out some of my work. Most of it was still there but my trees were all messed up. The end result being that I won't be able to render the image again exactly as I had posted it on Friday.
So I set about repairing the file and (and trying to avoid the bug). Other than the trees (which I was forced to change) I decided to change the aurora a little. It's a little softer now and I've added more green tones. I've also tapered it a little at the top to more closely match the original (2000) render.
Not much could be done about the reflections in water. The angle and proximity of the trees keeps the aurora from being reflected.
Hopefully the new render will be as well received as Friday's (since there's no going back to it). Next up: Multi-monitor versions.
- I've added the multi-monitor versions of "All Hallows Eve" this morning. Enjoy!
- We've been watching the developments in Southern California with great concern. Jessie and I (and a 3 month old Ian) were living in North San Diego county during the Cedar Fire back in 2003 and can remember vividly packing our belongings to make a quick evacuation. I had even removed and packed the hard drives from my computers.
Luckily the evacuation order never came and the fire bypassed us, but we know how scary the situation can be. The experience definitely influenced our decision to move back to Illinois (we lived in a very dangerous "high fire danger" area with only one road leading in and out).
Any of you in the SoCal reading this, know that you are in our thoughts. Stay Safe!
- I've been getting requests for a new Halloween wallpaper for nearly a month now. I wasn't able to come up with an idea I liked until just recently though.
My Halloween offering for 2007, "All Hallows Eve", is now up on the new images page. This one is pretty dark so it may be best enjoyed in a dark room or you may want to adjust your monitor brightness.
Anyway, Ian thinks it's pretty cool and I hope you like it too. Happy Halloween!
- Added "Indian Summer" to the gallery this morning. Around this time of year I usually like to do Fall scenes and/or Halloween images. I started a couple of Halloween projects last week, but didn't feel they were progressing so I decided to do an Autumn scene instead. I will go back to the Halloween projects later this week and see if I can work one of them out.
Users with large monitors might notice a bit of grain in the "Indian Summer" render. There really isn't a way to render volumetric clouds and light in Vue without having some grain present. I did try to minimize the grain as much as possible, but outside of using ridiculously high quality settings (such that the render takes 4 to 5 days to complete) I'm not sure there is anything that can be done about it.
- I've posted a new revision of "Haiku (2007)" on the new images page. I've lowered the camera angle a little, changed the ripple pattern, and I've brightened the water and rocks a little. I didn't want to add too much brightness however because I liked the contrast of the bright leaf on the darker surface. The version I posted on the 24th will remain in the Pickle Jar.
- I've been receiving a lot of requests lately to post a widescreen or updated version of "Haiku". No problem, right? Actually, yes. Haiku was created back in 2000 with an older version of Lightwave using a water shader that from a company that is no longer updating their software. Long story short, I couldn't seem to render it and have it look exactly like the 2000 version.
So I decided to do a new version. This was a tough call for me though. The original "Haiku" is probably my favorite image out of all that I have done and I didn't want to redo it unless I was certain it could be improved. Whether or not I have succeeded is up to you now. The 2007 version is up on the new images page.
I've added some reflected trees and sky to the surface of the water and for these reflections to be visible I've darkened the rocks under the surface.
It's always tricky messing with an old favorite (as I found when updating "Chamelea" earlier this year). I hope you like the new version at least as much as the old one.
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "The Shrouded Desert" to the gallery this morning.
- I got the distinct impression, from both reading the comments and looking at the ratings, that "The Shrouded Desert" was not a favorite. Ok, they can't all be winners I guess. Still, I didn't want to leave it as is so I went back and changed it up a little and rendered a new version. The camera angle has changed, as has the atmosphere. I've removed a lot of the extra peaks and I've added some vegetation to help with the sense of scale. All in all, I like this one better than the original (which will go to the Pickle Jar). I hope you agree!
- Thanks for all the kind birthday wishes! My Mom watched the kids so Jessie and I could go into Chicago and spend the day. It was a great birthday!
- It's been a while since I posted so I thought you all might like a status report. Last week I decided to take a few days off to work on some non-art related projects and rest my brain a little. I started back in on another project this week but it's not quite ready yet (I have a render completed but it's not gallery-worthy yet). I'm going to be working on it through the weekend though and hope to have it early next week (hopefully before my birthday Tuesday) if not sooner.
- A couple of months ago I was looking for some new music to listen to while working and I came upon a band called "State Radio". The more songs I listened to the more I liked them and now they rank as one of my favorite bands around.
Why am I telling you this? I was just looking at their website and it looks like they are giving away free downloads of all their previous albums (to celebrate their upcoming release). Wish I had known they were going to do this before I bought them on iTunes. Oh well. If you only download one, I recommend "Us Against The Crown". Enjoy!
- A number of folks mentioned that the dual-monitor version of "Dispersion" posted yesterday did not split well across two screens (one of the bottles was cut down the middle). I've rendered a new version of the dualscreen which fixes this problem. Thanks for the feedback!
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "Dispersion" to the gallery this morning. There's been some wonderful suggestions for improving the image in the comments, but I think I'm happy with it as is. Thanks for the feedback though!
- I mentioned last time that I was at a loss as to why my abstracts are rated lower than the scenery images. I've been thinking about it though and I've come to the conclusion that scenery images, even though they are art, are more likely to be judged objectively than abstracts. In other words, there is a "right answer" with sceneries and the ratings will tend to be on one side of the scale or the other depending on the merits of the image. Abstracts, however, are judged subjectively. Some people are going to like them and some people aren't. There's no "right answer". Thus the ratings are more spread out and the average is always going to be lower.
I don't think this means that abstracts are worse than the sceneries, just that less people agree on what makes a good abstract.
That's my two cents any way. What do you think?
- After doing a number of scenery type images I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit and try something different. My latest wallpaper is called "Dispersion" and it's now up on the New Images page for your review. It's based on a science photo I saw a while back.
I've classified it as an abstract, but only because it doesn't easily fit into my other categories. Since I started having people rate the images, I have noticed that my abstracts are consistently rated lower than my scenery images. Can't say why. I will continue to do them though because every so often I need a change of pace and I enjoy letting my mind wander.
I hope you enjoy it!
- Thanks for the comments everyone. I think I have enough to see which way the wind is blowing. I've included "River Valley Dawn" in the main gallery. Dual and triple-screen versions are also available.
- I've posted a "sunrise" version of "River Valley". It's in the Pickle Jar for now. I've had it sitting on my desktop for the past couple of days and haven't decided whether to add it to the gallery or leave it as a Pickle Jar image.
I've decided to leave it up to you all. Leave a comment and/or give it a rating and let me know what you think. If you guys think it's worthy I'll add it to the gallery otherwise I'll leave it in the Pickle Jar.
I probably won't make any changes to it though, as I plan on starting something new in the week ahead.
- I also wanted to mention that my son Ian turns 4 years old tomorrow. Those of you who have been Members for a while probably remember when I announced his birth. It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago, but little kids change a lot in just a few years. Before long I will have to start teaching him how to use Vue and Lightwave...
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "Rive Valley" this afternoon. You may notice that the top and bottom of the frame are a little tight in this version. It seems there is no way in Vue to widen the frame without also clipping the vertical so I wasn't able to keep the river in frame.
- I've gotten a number of emails asking if I could make it possible to puchase "multiple year renewals". This morning I've gone ahead and added 2 and 3 year options to the renewal form. There is a $2 discount if you choose to renew for 2 years and a $5 discount if you choose to renew for 3 years. The 1 year renewal is still $15.
- I've posted an updated render of "River Valley" this morning. I decided this new version was stronger than the first so I moved the original to the Pickle Jar. I tried to improve the mountains in this version and I've softened the cloud layer. I was happy with the foreground so that remains unchanged. Which do you prefer?
- Added a new wallpaper, "River Valley", to the gallery this afternoon.
Jessie and I took Ian to the Field Museum in Chicago earlier this week to see the dinosaur bones and "River Valley" was inspired by a mural I saw in one of the nature exhibits. I wasn't attempting to recreate the mural per se, rather I was inspired by the composition (close elements on the right expanding to a wide vista). I hope you like it.
- I've added a new animated wallpaper to the collection this morning. The animation is based on my "Campfires" wallpaper and depicts a spinning globe with city lights on the night side.
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "Of All Places". I spent a little extra time on this one trying to make sure the cave walls on the right and left of the screen weren't completely black.
- I've posted one more revision of "Of All Places". I've changed the ripples back to how they were in the original (but sharpened the reflections) and removed the wayward tree root.
- I've registered my RSS feed with Feedburner (which is now a part of Google). Part of their service is they will provide an email notice when I update my RSS feed. Now those of you who miss my email update list can register an email with them and get an email delivered to you whenever I update my RSS feed (which is basically whenever I post a news item here).
I really like the simplicity of running an RSS feed, and I never liked the pitfalls of running large email lists (hundred of bounced emails, unintentional spam blacklisting, etc) so I think this is a good compromise. Post below if you have any questions or comments.
- I've added 1920 x 1080 versions of all the 2005 images to the gallery this morning. I've also added a zip file of all the 1920 x 1080 images to the downloads page. I should also mention that the 1920 x 1080 images will scale down perfectly to fit 1366�768,1280 x 720 and other 16:9 widescreen resolutions.
How do you tell if you are running 16:9? First get your screen resolution, then divide the width by the height. If the quotient is ~1.78 then you are running 16:9 and should use the 1920 x 1080 images (tell your OS to "Stretch" the image if your screen width is smaller than 1920). If the quotient is 1.6, then you should use the 1920 x 1200 images (or 2560 x 1600 if you have a 30 inch widescreen monitor).
Along the same vein I want to clear something up regarding the image sizes in the gallery. It's true that the 640 x 480, 800 x 600, and 1024 x 768 options are gone. It may interest you to know, however, that I never actually offered files with those resolutions. I used HTML height and width elements to display the 1152 x 864 images at the lower resolutions. Now that I am not using a separate HTML page to display the files, I can no longer offer the lower resolution viewing options.
If you are using 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768, please allow the 1152 x 864 image to load and set it as your wallpaper. If you are using Firefox, select the "Stretch" option. If you are using IE you will need to set your Display Properties to Stretch the image to fit. I'm sure there are similar settings on other OSs as well. The images will have the same quality you have been used too (since you were actually downloading the 1152 x 864 file all along).
I hope this all makes sense.
- I've made a few changes to the gallery pages this morning. I was in the process of uploading my first batch of 1920 x 1080 images (I've only completed the 2007 images so far) when I decided that it would be a lot simpler if I removed the "viewing page" step and instead link directly to the image files.
Now you can right-click on the size link of your choice, select "Save As" and download the graphic without having to load it into your browser first. The main reason for the change is so I can more easily add different resolutions to the gallery in the future without having to rework a lot of code. There might still be a few bugs around so let me know if you see anything strange.
I'll be adding more 1920 x 1080 images (suitable for use on HDTVs, and as background for our Xbox360 and PS3 consoles) in the weeks ahead.
- I've added pages so you can see the Top Ten rated "Day Sceneries", "Night Sceneries", "Abstracts", ,"Planetscapes", and "Interiors". In case you're curious, the "Night Scenes" the most highly rated (on average).
- I've created an "Animations" page with Quicktime previews of the "Singularity" and "Fluorescence" animations I posted this week. Hopefully having the smaller previews available will help those who were unable to view the hi-res files (and keep folks from downloading a 40 MB without knowing its contents).
- I've added another animated wallpaper this afternoon. This one is based on my "Fluorescence" image. Specifically it is inspired by all the folks who written me over the past five or so years asking if the little Flash animation on the Members Login page could be used as a wallpaper.
As with the Singularity image, this one is available as a MPG file. I would rather not upload a because I want the video to play across a number of different platforms, not just Windows.
You can download the video here. It is a 45 MB file. These are big files!
Speaking of which I will most likely have to order more bandwidth from Rackspace if I am going to continue to host these files. I've purchased 500 GB per month but all the downloads of my Singularity video yesterday alone added up to around 30 GB. I can't imagine what the bandwidth bill would be if I hosted, say, 10 of these animations.
Anyway, I hope you like the new video!
- Added "Circumpolar" to the gallery this morning. I spent far too much time working on this one (as Jessie has been fond of reminding me these past few days). The reason is threefold. two of the my fault. I was learning a new modeling program (Zbrush) and I was learning to use Vue's subsurface scattering. My knowledge of both is still pretty rough at this point, and I have much to learn, but I think the knowledge will pay big dividends down the road.
The last problem was beyond my control. It seemed whenever I tried to do my final render it would always come out blocky and smeary looking as if I was using the lowest quality settings. So I would jack up the render settings and try again, causing the next render to take even longer but with the same results. I went through this for about 5 days when I finally found a newly released patch for Vue fixing, you guessed it, blocky renders when using global illumination. Long story short, my program had a bug which caused me to waste 5 days.
I applied the patch last night and the render finished this morning. I could probably keep fiddling with this image for the rest of my life, but I think it's time to move on to other projects. Thanks for your patience!
- If you haven't been to the gallery for the past week or so (and you own an iPhone or similar device) please check out the posts directly below. Also, I'd like to mention that I've placed a permanent link for adding "Member Testimonials" (it had fallen down the page and out of view recently). Thanks!
- I've added a zip file containing all of my iPhone wallpapers to the downloads page.
- I had hoped to be posting a new wallpaper this morning, but I just wasn't happy with the latest render. Since adding the ratings and comments I guess I have wanted to hold onto my work until it is as close to as perfect as possible. I hope you guys will continue to be patient as I am trying to learn some new software/techniques that I think will pay off big time in the future. I will keep working on the new wallpaper today and hope to have a render done by tomorrow or Saturday.
- While I was waiting for this latest (failed) render to complete, I set about converting my wallpapers for use on the trendy new iPhone (I've gotten a great many emails about this) I've added iPhone versions of the 2007, 2006 and 2005 wallpapers (look for the "iPhone" link in the resolution choices). The links say "iPhone" in the galleries, but they should work on any device with a 320 x 480 screen. I'll post zip files as soon as they are all up (I haven't decided how far back in my collection I will go).
You may have already made your own conversions, but I would ask that you have a look at these. I tried to do an interesting crop on each and they are all sourced from lossless originals.
I don't have an iPhone to test them on (and won't until it supports 64-bit Windows) so if you have any comments on the iPhone versions please feel free to send them directly to me.
- This new wallpaper is taking me a little longer than I had anticipated. After about a weeks worth of work I basically scrapped most of it and started over yesterday. I'm happy with what I have now though and when the render is complete (either sometime tonight or early tomorrow) I hope to have it up for you.
- I've gone back and made a few changes to my new "Tropical Moon". The planet rings are more distinct now and I think the clouds look better (less like fog). Some of you asked that the foreground be lightened, but I really want the foreground to be silhouette. In fact, this version may be a shade darker than the first.
Anyway, it's now up on the New Images page while the original version resides in the Pickle Jar.
- Some folks have written me regarding wallpapers for the iPhone. My phone is slowly falling apart so I was in the ATT store the other day looking for a replacement. I played around with an iPhone and it looks like a cool little gadget. I couldn't figure out how to download an image from the web and use it as wallpaper, but I hear it is possible to do so.
I'll be happy to post some iPhone wallpapers once I figure out what size (and orientation) they need to be. I must say though, that it is tough keeping up with all the gadgets and screen sizes out there!
- I was looking at "Tropical Moon of Thetis" the other day (I have a print hanging in the room where my kids do most of their playing) and it occurred to me that I could make some nice improvements with my new software.
The original was really a quick and dirty attempt to compose a Vue scene in front of a Lightwave generated background (it may have been the first time I tried such a thing). I was quite surprised that the image became so popular.
Anyway, I've composed a new version and it's now up on the New Images page. I hope you like it.
Those of you looking for a festive 4th of July wallpaper can have a look at "Happy 4th" or "The Emblem Of". Hope you have a safe and happy holiday!
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "Outpost". After reading all the feedback I've decided to switch the versions in the gallery. The orange neon stays. Thanks to everyone for the feedback!
- I was looking through "Full Moon" with Ian last week when the idea struck me to create a wallpaper featuring the Moon. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, and the idea took a few days to get started, but I think I'm happy with the end result. The render is called "Outpost" and it is up now for your review.
- Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments on "Biodome". I'm glad that most of you seem to like it!
Quite of a few of you asked if I would post a night version. I actually had one planned from the start, and modeled the "Dome" with lights accordingly. I had to get the atmosphere the way I liked it though, so it took a couple of days to work out. The "sunset" version is now up on the New Images page.
I've also posted a revision of the original "Biodome" which fixes an issue with one of the tree models.
- Added "Biodome" to the gallery this evening. Sorry it took so long to post something new, but I hope it was worth the wait!
- A number of you have asked that I add links to the full-size images on the "Most Recent Comments" page. I'm waiting for a render to complete this afternoon so I took the time to code them in. Thanks for the feedback!
- Just wanted to update you all on what's been going on. We've had an eventful week in the Bliss household. . .
Last Wednesday Jason celebrated his first birthday! Hard to believe it's been a year already, but he's now toddling about like a little boy. Here's a couple of pictures from his party: one with me and one with his Mommy (looking rather tuckered out).
Shortly after that we packed up the kids and drove 600 miles to attend Jessie's brother's wedding in Arkansas. We had a great time and the kids really enjoyed being with Jessie's family. The driving part was a little tough though. 10 hours of driving with small children is not for the faint of heart. We got back late last night and only now is my sanity starting to return.
Now I'm setting my sights on getting back to work. I've been working on a multi-screen version of my "Chamelea" update, but I've not been happy with the results. I may have to table it for a brief time and come back to it after I've worked on another project.
- I was looking at the new "Latest Comments" page and saw "Chamelea" up near the top. "Chamelea" has always been a favorite of mine from my early days, but looking at it now I couldn't help be see a few things which I thought could be improved. I put together an updated version which is now up on the new images page. Definitely don't judge this one by the thumbnail (the thumb doesn't look very good). It needs to be seen in hi-res.
Perhaps I should have left well enough alone, but I thought it was an effort worth making. Let me know what you think.
- Late Update: Some of you thought that the face could use a little more definition. Easy enough. I've posted an updated render.
I should also mention that the figure in this image is nude (as she was in the original) so you might not want to view the image if you are at work. I've tried to be as tasteful as possible, but I don't want anyone to get into trouble!
- Well, it looks like "Siteadvisor" is in the process of retesting my site. According to them it will take six weeks for the test to complete. During that time my rating has been changed from "Red" to "Yellow", hopefully it will be green ASAP. Thanks again to everyone who spoke up on my behalf. I'm quite sure it was your voices which got their attention.
- I've been reading the comments on "Hidden Falls" with great interest. I knew the waterfall would be an issue. Some of you wanted to see it with some motion blur and I can understand that. Unfortunately, I created the waterdrops as a static object and not as a particle animation (Vue doesn't have a particle system). I did try animating the waterfall object but for some reason I was never able to produce a pleasing motion blur effect.
Long story short, the waterfall (this version at least) is as good as it is going to look. Perhaps in the future Vue will have a particle system and I won't need to use a workaround. Thanks for all the suggestions though!
Speaking of suggestions, I thought you all might be interested in the images with the most recent comments. This is how I've been keeping track of which images (out of the hundreds in my gallery) have recent comments and I thought you might like to read them too. Thanks again everyone!
- A few items to mention this morning. I've just posted a new wallpaper, "Hidden Falls", in the gallery this morning. I can't count the number of times people have written me asking me to do a waterfall, but I've always been a little be afraid to try one. Waterfalls are rather tricky to create in 3D as a still image. I decided to give it a go however and I hope you like the result.
Second, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has written me expressing support in regards to my "Siteadvisor" troubles (see post from 5/8). There have been so many emails that I couldn't possibly respond properly to them all. I especially appreciate the folks who took the time to create a "reviewer" account with Siteadvisor and put in a good word for DB. Apparently they have heard us and have said they will "re-test" my site ASAP. Hopefully they will get it right this time.
Lastly, a few of you recommended that I have a place where Members could share their thoughts about the Members Gallery with non-Members. I think this is a pretty cool idea so I have set up a comment form (similar to the one I use for the images in the gallery) so you can do just that. If you enjoy being a Member and would like to give a "testimonial" then you can do so here. If you would like to read what other Members have written you can do so here. Once there are a few up there I will post them on a page in the Free Gallery. It's completely optional, but would really help offset the "bad press" this Siteadvisor thing has caused. Thanks!
- I need to clear the air about something. Back in March I was alerted to the fact that a website called "Siteadvisor", run by McAfee, had "redlisted" my site. Specifically they claimed to have received spam emails after "signing up". What really happened is that their robot entered an email address in my guestbook. At the time I allowed people to enter their email address along with their guestbook post (it wasn't mandatory). The email address was then displayed next to the post.
Shortly thereafter their email address was harvested by a program which surfs the web and collects email addresses from web pages. The spam they received was not sent by me.
When I found out about this I immediately contacted the Siteadvisor people. I removed the email field from the guestbook and asked them to recheck my site. They came back to me shortly thereafter saying that my site would be given the "green" rating, but that the change would take 4 weeks to propagate through the database.
I don't know what sort of slow database they are running, but the change still hasn't been made. Repeated emails from me requesting the change be made have been ignored. Now folks using this plugin are afraid to visit my site.
At this point I'm not sure what else to do. I am still working to get the rating changed, but I wanted you all to know what was going on. DB has never, and will never send spams. I have prided myself on treating my site visitors, both members and non-members, as I would like to be treated and will continue to do so.
- I'm glad to see that most of you enjoyed "Cosmos". I've added dual and triple-screen versions to the gallery this morning.
- It doesn't seem to matter how fast my machine is: I always find a way to max it out an create scenes which take days to render. My latest wallpaper, "Cosmos", is now up on the new images page for your review. I was attempting to recreate some of the same "dust and light" play that can be found in the coolest Hubble shots. I guess the consolation is that such an image would have taken weeks to render on my old machine. Enjoy!
- Thanks to everyone who posted the wonderful feedback for my first version of "Before the Storm". I took some of the ideas you gave me and I've rendered a new version which is up now on the New Images page. The first version will remain in the Pickle Jar.
- Added "Before the Storm" to the gallery this evening. The past couple of weeks have been cold and grey around here, so I wanted to make something green and springlike (Jessie says it looks more like Summer though). Hope you like it!
- The dual and triple-screen versions of "Snowy Creek Springtime" have finally finished rendered and are now available.
- Happy Easter everyone! Just a quick update today. I am still trying to render out the multi-screen version of "Snowy Creek Springtime". I'm not sure why, but this version is taking forever to render even though it isn't that much larger than the single screen version. It's been rendering since Tuesday and doesn't look like it will be complete any time soon.
In the past I would have rendered it on my old machine and worked on something new, but since my new machine is 64-bit with 8 GB of RAM the projects I create on it cannot be rendered on any of my old systems. I'm stuck waiting.
My time has not totally been wasted however. Yesterday I posted nearly 70 3840 x 1200 images designed to fit dual-widescreen (1920 x 1200) systems. You'll find them in the dual-screen gallery or download them all in a Zip file from the downloads page.
If you find that my multi-screen images do not perfectly fit your combination of screens you may need to do some cropping, cutting, and/or resizing. Paint.Net is a great (free) image editor and is definitely worth a look.
- I added "Snowy Creek Springtime" to the gallery this morning. I'd hoped to have it ready before I left on my "mini-vacation" last Thursday, but the render was taking longer than I had anticipated. I returned last night and the render was finished. A lot of you had asked if I could do a Spring version of Snowy Creek so I hope you enjoy it!
- I spent the weekend in west Texas with an old friend of mine. We visited Big Bend National Park and the Carlsbad Caverns (we even saw the "Marfa Lights"). Really awe inspiring stuff and lots of inspiration! I would definitely recommend that everyone put the Carlsbad Caverns on their "Must-Visit" list. It was truly like nothing I had ever seen before. I would also recommend that anyone visiting Big Bend also stop by the Starlight Theatre in Terlingua (great food and hospitality!).
I've put a few photos here if you are interested (taken with my trusty digital Elph). I would have taken a million pictures inside the cave, but without a tripod most of my shots were very blurry. Ah well, great memories!
- Added "Xenotron" to the gallery this afternoon. I wanted to try something a little different this time and get some practice with the latest beta version of Lightwave. Hope you like it!
- If you've ever been interested how the image ratings are computed, you can now click on the score (after you've voted of course) to see how the rating breaks down.
- I've added dual and triple-screen versions of "Crucible" (planet only). I may get to do a version with lava but I would rather work on some other projects first.
- It would seem the general consensus is that the "planet-only" version of "Crucible" is superior to the "lava version". Fair enough. I've moved the planet version to the main gallery and moved the lava version into the Pickle Jar. I've also removed the version with the inferior lava (why keep it around?).
In the process of creating the (forthcoming) multi-monitor version I had to do some reworking of the planet version, so the image you see in the gallery now is slightly different than what you've been looking at in the Pickle Jar these past few days. The changes are pretty minor (the "background ash" is a little more detailed now) so I simply replaced the older version with the new. The changes were necessary in order to have the multi-screen version look consistant with the single screen.
Thanks everyone for your feedback!
- I've posted an updated version of "Crucible". Quite a few of the comments I received on the image centered on the lava not looking quite right so I went back and made some changes. I hope you like them. Some of you also asked if I could post a version without the foreground. Both the previous version and the planet-only version are available in the Pickle Jar.
I had originally intended this piece to be "planet only" and I had crafted a number of interesting volumetric effects to make it appear that the planet was surrounded by millions of rocks and dense clouds of ash. It would have looked cool, but I couldn't get the ash clouds to work. They were taking far too long to render properly. So I scrapped that idea and decided to go with the image you see posted.
I plan on doing a multi-screen version in the next few days and then I will move on to something else.
- I realized when I added the comment system back in October that people would not always agree and that there might be arguments. I have no problem with this. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and are welcome to express them through the comment system.
I do not expect all of the comments to be positive and if something can be improved I want to hear about it (sometimes I lose perspective when I've stared at an image for too long). After all I would not have kept putting my work out for everyone to see all these years if I couldn't take criticism (believe me, I've heard it all by now).
I would really appreciate it, however, if the discussion could be kept civil and the name calling be kept to a minimum. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't say something to someone's face, then don't post it. I am referring to some of the comments made regarding the first version of "Crucible" which you can read here if you are interested.
- Added "Crucible" to the gallery this morning. It took quite a bit longer to complete than I expected due to some of the volumetric effects I tried. Even with my new machine, volumetrics take an unacceptable amount of time to render in Lightwave. Unfortunately, you don't know what you are getting in Lightwave until the render is completely finished (unlike Vue which displays the full-size render in progress) and it took a few long multi-day renders to get the final product I wanted. Anyway, it's up now and I hope you enjoy it.
- Yes, I am still alive and I am working on a new wallpaper. For better or worse I will have it up before the end of the week. I'm just not happy with it at this time.
- I've been receiving quite a few emails asking if I will be working on animations for use with the new Windows Vista (Ultimate) "Dreamscene". At this very moment I am installing a Vista on my old workstation for use as a testbed (I'm not ready to install it on my main machine yet) and I will explore the possibilities.
The main issues are: Render times (already my single frame wallpapers take far too long to render so I can't really imagine rendering 60 or so frames), and development time. I have always tried to balance developing "cutting edge" content (multi-screen wallpapers, etc) with the time it takes to develop wallpapers for the majority of my members (single screen, static images). Basically, I'd rather not spend a lot of time and resources working on something that only a small percentage of my Members can use. As more and more users start using animated wallpapers however I will shift more of my attention to developing them.
- I just wanted to let you all know that I'm still alive (snowed in at the moment, but alive) and I'm busy rendering a new "Planetscape" wallpaper. It's a pretty complex piece (even my new machine is chugging a little bit) and the full size render will most likely take between 24-36 hours when I start it. I hope to be ready to render sometime today or tomorrow and I hope to have it up shortly after it's finished. Unless, of course, I see something that needs changing...
- I've (finally) finished rendering the dual and triple-screen versions of "Cloud Canyon". I've posted them in their respective galleries and on the new images page.
- I've consolidated all of my previous news postings onto one page (they were turning into a tangle of different linked files). Having them on one page should make it easier for me to keep this page short and current. The link to the previous news postings (going all the way back to 10/99) can be found at the bottom of this page.
- It's been a while since I've posted any pictures of the kids and I know some of you have been asking. Here's one of Jason taken a recently (he will be 9 months old in a couple of weeks), and here's one of Ian showing his support for our favorite football team.
- Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments on "Planitia". I really enjoy reading your feedback! Some of you asked if I could do a blue version, but I think a blue sky would look too much like our own. My goal with "Planitia" was to do something "out of this world" and that is why I chose green over blue.
Of course, there's nothing stopping you from opening the file in your favorite photo editor and shifting the hue to your liking.
I've posted dual and triple-screen versions of "Planitia". I've also updated the "non-widescreen" versions to fix some composition issues. The versions I posted on 1/17 looked a little cramped on the sides (due to how they were cropped from the widescreen original) and the new renders should look better if you are using a 4:3 screen.
- My last few wallpapers have been somewhat normal (tropical sunsets and snowy forests) so I thought it would be nice to start 2007 with something a little wild. I'm satisfied that Vue 6 is great at simulating Earthbound environments, but I wanted to see how it would do with something more "out of this world". The new render, "Planitia" (def.), is now up on the new images page.
- If you are a fan of George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series (I'm a huge fan) you might be interested to hear this. I couldn't be more stoked!