some seriously interesting trends in there

Sony World Photo Awards 2017 – the “Open” section, which means not just for those who get paid for photography.

Let me get it off my chest first: I’m not happy that one of the winning entries from Russia features a small child in model getup. If you ask me, children should not be dragged into anything resembling showbiz, the whole glamorous lifestyle and all. Never. Period. But – it’s a quality shot. It’s just that the model should’ve been way older.

Thanks for bearing with me. Rant over.

So, the trends. It seems that we’re really getting to the point where photography is content with not being “photorealistic” – you can see how much most of these entries have been processed. HDR is the norm, coupled with unorthodox editing that, for example, leaves a natural sky/sea background almost uniform white (look at the photo with all the birds). The compositions are purely decorative – the object/subject doesn’t have to be recognisable much anymore, supposing there is an identifiable subject at all. And when there is one, these are most often portrayed as hanging in a sort of vacuum (like those birds, again, but it’s not just them). Even in “street” photography, subjects aren’t always grounded in their environment. They’re elevated to some Platonic sort of existence.


the unexpected happens

What would you really expect from a band named Metal Church? Basically the same as from Agent Steel, Virgin Steele or any other semi-underground English-speaking 80s metal band. They’re like those endless 19th century poets you’re expected to know for your literature class: you remember the names, maybe a few lines, but they fail to touch you because they all seem to write about the same landscape – autumn harvests, spring blossoms, and the like. Replace autumn harvests with vague SF/F images and spring blossoms with how awesome metal is, especially experienced in a live setting, and you get the drift. Basically Judas Priest all over again, with lyrics being in place to simply make it easier to remember melodies and not because they wanted to say something. And the singers will sound similar to Rob Halford.

But one day (long after you graduated from high school) you notice that one of those singers is back in one of those bands after a 20+ year hiatus, during which he wasn’t playing music at all. Remembering how Leather Leone did the same not that long ago, you get curious and tune in.

And then you realise that actually, their lyrics were not all that perfunctory. And the singer in question isn’t that much of a generic Halford clone. And hell, he still sounds as if it’s 1991.

Yes. Metal Church. Mike Howe is back, and I’m in the fandom, which still feels surprising, but hey I’m in and I’m in deep.

No idea if I manage to lure anyone else in, but here’s what I think to be a good introduction. This one’s a bit of a ballad, has meaningful lyrics with some powerful imagery, and showcases Metal Church’s characteristic harmonic interplay between those epic (I really mean it; “epic” is the only word that fits – you thought Priest’s The Sentinel was epic, and these guys are like that most of the time) guitar riffs and the vocals. Which are very clearly Halford-influenced, but the thing is – unlike many others, Mike Howe didn’t try to torture and rape his voice into emulating that of someone else’s. He just made note of Halford’s aggression and the way he distributes tonal qualities to match the lyrics’ message, but the rest is just plain out solid vocal technique – no false colour, no larynx squeezing or dropping, nothing. And if non-classical music had Fachs, Mike Howe would be definitely the same Fach as Geddy Lee. Not exactly a widespread voice type, and not that many of those sing metal.

you may’ve guessed by now…

…that youtube is a major thing in my music life. It is. Has been for over ten years actually – a lot of those whom I listen to now I discovered on youtube. 2006 gave me Chastain and Lizzy Borden, and that was only the beginning.

When they introduced the “recommended” thing, I basically gave up on trying to follow metal newsfeeds like Blabbermouth – since those shower you with everyone and their uncle’s dog, when youtube’s spy algos usually work quite damn well. There was a time when facebook could work as a personalised feed, but it has changed for the worse since. Kinda like once myspace was useful, over ten years ago, but not anymore; it’s the same with fb. So basically, it’s youtube all the way today for me.

now we’re getting serious

Brand new UtA vid!

If it’s any indication of the other songs off the upcoming album, this may well become a yet another awesome release. You can say that I kept complaining that UtA write formulaic music, and this isn’t exactly 259% new ground they’re breaking here either, but hey! It’s fairly new for them. Yes it’s very much Nordic melodeath underneath the melody line – which does tend to be repetitive in and out of itself in large doses; nevertheless, we haven’t yet had a chance to overdose on Ms Slayes vocals in this particular genre.


gods save us

While they are not anywhere near as big as some of the other examples on the page. In The Witcher, Geralt has two large swords (one is silver designed for taking out monsters). NPCs will often comment on this, such as one random NPC suggesting one could double as an oar, and a prostitute asking if he is compensating for anything. Geralt is a Witcher however, meaning he is inhumanly strong, making such a weapon more practical, and swords not made for Witchers are small enough to be hung on the waist.
It’s not his strength that’s superhuman, it’s his reflexes. He doesn’t have any problem wielding a huge sword because being made of meteorite iron it’s lighter than any regular blade.

Source:TV Tropes

I don’t even know where to start laughing I’m so busy weeping.

It’s the same situation as in the TES fandom, with all those people saying that the games are 275% canon so there cannot be 7000 steps towards High Hrothgar because the game has fewer so the lore is a legend… but this time the lore actually predates the games by at least a decade – I keep forgetting which novel exactly the sihill appears in, but it was written in the 90s, and the dimensions are very specific. It’s a meter long, handle included. It’s a dwarven sword, y’know. And Geralt is clearly used to the dimensions. In 2013 pan Sapkowski confirms this in Sezon Burz, giving basically the same params for actual witcher swords.

And meteorite iron, lighter than “any regular blade”… omg.

PS A witcher is four times as strong and ten times as fast as a non-mutated human. Straight from the books, again. Heck, against humans Geralt doesn’t need much more than a stick.

misleading product descriptions…

…are my biggest pet peeve when it comes to hobbyist 3D stores.

There are all those “shaders” that are not shaders but shader presets – “materials” would be the best name actually, had Poser not messed with everyone’s minds. And now there is a new kid on the block: a “custom morph” which is in fact a dial.

Check this character out, for instance: the description clearly says “custom morphs”. But if you open the readme (thankfully, it’s only one click away on a Rendo product page), you will find the official DAZ morphs listed as a requirement. Moreover, there are no files listed as supplied in the data folder – and this is where real custom morphs reside.

I hope this won’t become common.

Not that I cared for new characters at all, but for the sake of newer users, y’know.



the music in this one is totally horrid…

…so thank designers for the mute button, but most of the tips are damn interesting – for any artist actually. I’m not a photographer.

There’s one, though… I’m not fond of the flat light that those ring lights give. It’s almost as bad as using a flash. You get zero definition in a face this way. I’ve seen people sell light rigs like that in 3D stores, and I don’t get it.