Nate’s Notes: Exploring

One of the field adventures that is most fun is when we go to empty and old buildings.  Momma calls them a….ab…abanana…no, abandoned!   We get to explore them.  They are a little strange, like everybody just vanished.  Someone must have mentioned nap time.  But really, you go to these warehouses, old hospitals, empty homes or schools, and there is no one there…but sometimes there are still things, like a doll, a picture on the wall, a chair or desk, or a cola machine.  So strange.  Momma gets really quiet in these buildings, like she is either thinking or sad.   She gets quiet in cemeteries too. 

Tell me this isn't spooky!!

Tell me this isn’t spooky!!

On the way home, she talks about the stories from the buildings.  What stories?  I didn’t see any books.  Whatever.   It feels like someone just forgot about these places, or like when I just get tired of my toys and put them away.  Actually, can I tell you a secret?   They kind of scare me, like when I wake up at night and can’t see Momma or Daddy.   Don’t tell Momma though, ‘cause I want to show her how brave I am.   I’m a big boy, almost 2.  Besides, with Little Lyla along now, I have to teach that baby girl how to do things even if you’re scared.   Even though I get spooked out, I feel safe with Momma and Daddy there.  I know that if he needed to, Daddy would break out his super hero skills.  AAAA!  Did you hear that?  Okay…I can do this. Breathing.  Breathing.  I guess it’s pretty cool.  Back to exploring!

RSWL: Abandoned Buildings and Objects

Leaning House, Oregon

Leaning House, Oregon

As someone who scares easily, it hardly makes sense to me that I am drawn to abandoned buildings.  Not in an every-day-must-be-near-them-or-else kind of way.  But with my camera in hand, I seem to gravitate to these vacant and neglected buildings.  That isn’t to say that I am not a little spooked, even frightened, when venturing to these structures.  Fortunately, with my little guy, Mr. Nate, on my back I become brave, if nothing else, to show him it’s okay to be scared.  

So what is it about these abandoned places?   Why go if these eerie buildings spook me?  Well, besides the amazing compositions, lighting and setting they provide for photographs, they have a story.   Sometimes the story is obvious.  Sometimes the story is tragic.  Sometimes I make up the story.   Sometimes the story gives me perspective.   Sometimes the story inspires me.  Sometimes the story comes out in the photographs.  While it is creepy, it is also fascinating to step back into these forgotten and forsaken structures. 

In the desolate, my senses are heightened.  I am on alert, ever ready to bolt if need be!   I see further.  The details pop.  The beauty in the rust, mold, shattered glass, burned beams and leaning doorways floods my eyes.  The smells of the rooms accent the story forming in my head.  Although I have to be more aware in the beautiful hazards surrounding me, my brain feels clearer as I look for the perfectly framed shots in the chaos. 

Sure, it’s thrilling to photograph the abandoned and imagine the stories, but it is also about respect.  When I, and the others on our Transmogrifier team, take pictures of these buildings, we feel honored to chronicle the past, and preserve a moment in time, even if it is after the main story.  Next time you travel by an abandoned building, consider its story, its history, give it due reflection…and then contact us so we can photograph it!   

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Nate’s Notes: Huffa-Puffa Huffa-Puffa

They say change is good.  Until a couple of months ago, I would have agreed to this only in terms of diapers.   You have to remember, I am going through a LOT of changes right now:  I am growing, I face forward in the car now, I have to sleep in my room in a big boy bed, there is a new baby here that seems to not be going away, I have to give up the bottle, the new Imagery website keeping Momma busy, and did I mention that baby?   So all this means new routines, new outings, new ideas.   I’m not going to lie, all of this is slightly overwhelming and the cause of many tantrums (Momma’s not mine).  But, I’m also seeing some good things come from these changes.  

Like I mentioned before, I get to have many more shenanigans since Momma is so busy.   I get to do big boy stuff now like brush my teeth (toothpaste tastes a-mazing!!!), help set the table, water the garden, and take care of that baby.   She needs a LOT of care.  Seriously, for not doing very much besides eating and sleeping, she needs a super lot of care.  Anyway, there are still a ton of things I don’t get to touch or do, but I can be patient.   One of the BEST changes is the kind of field adventures we do.  Now we get to go to cool places like the zoo, museums and train town.  Sit down people, because I’m about to tell you about these amazing machines.  You sit on them.  You ride them.   They have bells and whistles.  Literally,  not figuratively.  They are the most fun and fantastic thing, even more so than bananas, books and bouncy balls.  Trains.  They huff, they puff (no they aren’t the bad wolf), they chug and they choo.   I got to ride my very first train at the zoo, then again at train town.  

Big Bumpers!

Big Bumpers!

Wow. Traintastic!!  Plus, you know what?  My Papa knows all about trains!!  Actually, I think he lives on the train.   When Momma or Daddy ask me where Papa is (they always seem to misplace him), I answer, “Papa. Wide da twain!”…and they just smile.   So it must be true.  I could fall asleep listening to the sound of huffa-puffa…huffa-puffa…choo-choo…huffa-puffa…choo-choo.  I guess change might be okay after all.   Ride the rails!!!

TMG Philosophy: Choices

All too often, you hear people say, “I don’t have a choice”.  I don’t believe that, and I know many people who would agree with me.  Life is full of choices.   Some are easy ones about what to have for lunch, which route to take to the market, or what to wear for the day. Others are more complex and affect our lifestyle and core beliefs, relationships and people in our lives.  Choices are about options and corresponding consequences.   Sometimes the consequences seem too hard, so we make a different choice. Maybe not the right one.  One of my choices has me worrying about the consequences. 

Right now, twice a week, I have to do something that, quite honestly, scares me.   Not only does it scare me, it brings conflict.   This conflict is threatening my emotional stability, physical well being, and the balance in my relationships.   I’d be less than honest if I said I didn’t wonder about my choice.  Actually, it isn’t the choice I question, it is my strength, or lack thereof, to face the possible outcome.   

Every Monday and Thursday, I have to face a man that intimidates me.  I don’t trust this man;   I don’t like him, and I don’t respect him.   Yet I am shaken with each encounter, anxious, and physically affected beforehand and afterwards.   It would be easy for me to say I don’t have a choice about these encounters.  A piece of paper and some official people tell me I must do this.   However, I agreed to this, so I made my choice.  

Don’t get me wrong, I know this man’s story on paper; I see him for the manipulator that he seemingly is.  If I’m right, he has a conflict with me and who I am just as much as I do with him.  It feels like my presence unnerves him.  Our interactions are brief, filled with nervous energy and unspoken tension.  My job is to remain calm and logical, cooperative and uncontentious.  If he is aggressive, I can’t be.  If he is intense, I must remain relaxed.  He says and does everything right in front of those official people, smiles and plays nice.  His eyes say something different, and my gut tells me to flee.  I don’t flee; I choose to stay.   

I don’t think I am afraid of him.  I am afraid of what he represents.   This one man represents the potential for an incredible amount of loss.  Loss that would be heart wrenching.  Loss that would affect my joy, my family, and my hope.   So I have another choice.   I can choose to let this situation keep me in a state of worry, fear and unease.  If I do that, it will continue to rob my time of happiness and security.  It will continue to take me away from moments and memories I can’t get back with my babies.  Or, I can choose to face this situation, these visits, knowing that it is what it is, and he is who he is.  So today, I choose joy and love.  I choose to give my whole heart to my babies, my family, my friends.  And if my choices lead to loss and heart wrenching sorrow, at least I gave each day joy and love now.  I have to choose that. 

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SIGGRAPH 2013!!!


There are a ton of special interest conference’s that happen each year. Most of them are a tight spectrum of what they cover. There is the GDC (Game Developers Conference) that centers around, well… games. There is the VFX Festival in the UK that broadens the scope to include films. But… If you want a convention that has been around since the computer was invented, you need to check out SIGGRAPH! It is a week long event that has something for everyone in the field of computer graphics. They offer courses in the newest techniques and technologies, aceres of booths from your favorite software / hardware vendors, and most important the Reception to stuff your belly and meet your colleagues!

SIGGRAPH 2013 descends on Anaheim California the week of July 21-25. SIGGRAPH is a Special Interest Group for computer Graphics, get it? :)  We are really excited to have this conference in our backyard and meet a few of the artists that use our images on a daily basis. See you on the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center!

Nate’s Notes: *Sigh* -It All Started With Textures…

It’s happening all over again.  Oh-By the way, SHE is still here.  What does she think this place is, Extended Stay or something?   I mean, seriously.   I am kind of getting used to her and her noises…and smells.   And, honestly, having her around seems to be working in my favor.   Momma says that with limited time and limited hands, she has to pick her battles with me, whatever that means.  All I know is that my shenanigans go mostly unnoticed since Lyla came to live with us.   Score for me! 

TMG Imagery

So anyway, like I shared last time, “they” are busy busy busy taking more photos, different kinds of photos, and opening the Imagery site.  As if the textures weren’t bad enough.  At least with textures, I felt like there was an end in sight.   I mean, how many pictures of concrete, wood, metal and leaves can a person take?   A normal person???  Well, now they don’t just take one or two pictures in one spot.  They take, like, a lot.  Like way more than I have books and toys.  

They are back to embarrassing me all over.  We are walking along, and Momma or Daddy stop and take a picture of a door.  Then, instead of casually moving along, it’s like they decide what they can each do that will bring the most stares.  So they take a picture from the left, then the from right, then close to the ground, then they find a bench or chair and stand on that to take a picture of the door. Then the bench.  Once again, the opportunity to move on arrives…but they don’t.  By this time people are giving me sympathetic glances.  Now Momma or Daddy get up close to the door and take pictures of the door knob, the handles, the wood grain, the paint, the hinges, any windows, the building, the cars, the parking meter thingies, the lights, and more.  It doesn’t end.  SOMEONE save me. Anyone!?!  Better yet, leave me and save that baby girl while she still has a chance.   Yea, Lyla comes along on the field adventures now too.  She’s E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.

See, with the Imagery site, there will be tons and tons more pictures of anything you can think of.   I don’t even know what that means.  To me, it translates to MORE field adventures and MORE occasions to be humiliated by Momma and Daddy’s behavior. They need a SERIOUS time out or something.  Well, until I can finalize my plans to flee, I’ll be subjected to this.  Besides, SOMEONE has to look out for Lyla; she has no idea what her life is going to be like here with these crazy picture-taking people. I blame the textures.  It all started with textures.    

RSWL: Family Dinners

Okay, this may be a stretch for a Random Stuff We Like entry, and may even be borderline TMG Philosphy.  I’m going to do it here, today, anyway.  

We recently celebrated a birthday dinner with my husband’s family, and then, of course, we were with family for Mother’s Day.   As I reflected on each of these dinners, I started to think about how special these family dinners are.   They may even be endangered. 

I’m not talking about nightly meals with those in our home.  I mean the dinners that bring members of your extended family together.  Though the occasion and participants vary, my husband and I have the opportunity to gather in this way at least once a month, if not more.  Whether it is his family, my family or both combined, we can count on these gatherings.   In our hectic and crazy busy lives, sometimes this opportunity feels like a chore, a burden.  However, I always get something out of the interactions, and am grateful that my children are now getting the chance to experience these family meals.  

We don’t just eat and leave.  We sit.  We talk.  We work together, cook together, laugh and sometimes cry together.  We even fight together for that occasional family drama encounter. Here, smart phones, tablets, television and social media don’t exist.  Here, we practice the art of conversation.  We ask questions, we listen.  With all the attention-sucking, hypnotizing gadgets being crammed down our throats, it is nice to sit around a table, practice our manners, argue over the last biscuit, and laugh at the same jokes over and over.  Here, family tales grow bigger.  Here, legends are told.  Here memories are made. 

A Family Dinner

A Family Dinner

Invariably, pictures are taken, capturing mouthfuls of food, children picking noses, parents yawning, awkward glances and hearty laughter.   These snapshots of time become a record of our family growing together.  These snapshots are shared with those loved ones not with us.   These snapshots capture time to be passed down to the next generations. 

Maybe, just maybe, these gatherings full of home-cooked food and love offer a reprieve from the rush of everyday life.  They might serve to offer extra support and love to family members that are hurting, or encouragement to those in need. Rituals are shared and taught.   New boyfriends or girlfriends are introduced and embarrassed, announcements are made, and identities are formed.  

In sharing our joys, stories, jokes, trials, frustrations, and even recipes, we share parts of ourselves with each other and deepen our roots.  That’s what makes family dinners and gatherings one of those things we love.  What’s for dinner? 

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Nate’s Notes: Put. The. Toys. Down. Now.

It’s no secret I love my toys.  What warm-blooded kid wouldn’t?  I can share them when I need to…but  mostly I feel like I don’t need to share them.  Doesn’t everyone have their own toys?  Someone should tell Momma this, because she keeps taking mine.   It wouldn’t be so bad if she was playing with them…with me.  You think she is playing with them though?  No. I’ll give you one guess as to what she is doing with MY toys.  Yep…taking pictures.  PICTURES!!  Please.  Spare me. 

When does it end?   She tells me to not worry, and to focus on the bigger picture.  Like I know what that is.  Please, I’m 1 ½.  My bigger picture entails baths, warm nighttime bottles, timely diaper changes, snacks and … oh yea, TOYS!!   I just stare at her, blinking away the horror.  I cross my arms, puff out my chest, stare some more, trying to communicate my message:   Put. The. Toys. Down. Step. Away.  Clearly, she can’t read my body language.  And she calls herself an anthropologist.  Pfff.   She then tells me I’m helping “them” with photos for the new Imagery website.  Like I care. 

My toys...not hers.

My toys…not hers.

Another toy.

Another toy.

Just walk away.

Just walk away.

When will it end!!!????

When will it end!!!????




















I don’t care.  But, I notice she missed all my blocks and trains, so I carry them over to her.  “Bocks, bocks…twain”, I suggest in the most uninterested tone I can muster, followed by a yawn.  Hey, if you can’t beat “them”, might as well join “them”…or pretend to.  If I could only get my hands on that camera, or at least beat it with my blocks.  Hmmmm….And what is this Imagery website anyway?  Wait…does this mean even more pictures!!!???!!!  Oh, poop.   No…I really just did. 

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TMG Philosophy: Discipline

Not to sound like a broken record, but once again I’m going to parallel life to Nate, our 19-month old boy, with TMG Philosophy!  As a relatively new parent, I am learning so much about life and myself by raising our son!  Especially when it comes to discipline

Discipline gets a bad rap.  It just does.  You bring up discipline in a conversation and most people assume you are referencing punishment.  When I talk about having discipline in my toddler son’s daily routine, people raise one eyebrow, look at me sympathetically and say, not ask, “Oh, he gets in trouble a lot does he.”  Ummm…negative Ghostrider.   In fact, discipline keeps him out of trouble and daily crisis for the most part.  And me.   The way I see it, discipline involves what could be seen as a consequence to a choice made.  A cause and effect.   I guess this is what most people would call punishment.   Discipline also has rewards then.   A positive outcome for a choice made.  In a moment of no self-discipline, when I choose to take 10 times (instead of 3) to tell Nate to stop something that isn’t acceptable, I usually get a category 6 tantrum (his, not mine) and a resistant, boundary-testing boy for the rest of the day.   When Nate chooses to throw his cars at his baby sister over and over, he knows he has to put the cars away.   When he chooses to stop throwing  after I ask him to,  he gets to keep playing with them, and then usually moves onto something else fun. 

In our home, we think discipline is a virtue that brings out the good and shows the strength within, no matter what age or who you are.  We know it takes consistency and respect for physical, emotional and spiritual guidelines.  We know that without these guidelines, we may survive in life, but we most definitely won’t thrive.  And that just isn’t okay.  Of course, this doesn’t mean our lives are all unicorns and rainbows all the time.  It’s hard.  It takes effort.  It takes commitment.  It means we have to discipline ourselves just as often as we do our son.   There are failed attempts.  Many.  But in those moments of success, we have such contentment, and we learn and we grow.  We grow as individuals, as partners, and as a family.   We learn a little bit more about who we are and who we do (or do not) want to become.  I think that makes discipline pretty cool. 

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Industry News


3D Artist Magazine

Welcome to our new category, Industry NEWS!

Lets dive right in and talk about publications in print. I am a real TECHIE but for some reason when I get a new magazine I flip through from the back to the front. When I come across a article that stands out I will read it in full.

One of the publications that I look forward to reading every month is 3D Artist,  its a UK publication and is Choc-full-O-goodness! I am new to the 3D world, but my love for art runs deep into my childhood. They always have top artists showing off their work in the latest movies or video games. They cover all disciplines of artistry to include Matte Painting.

Matte painting is the art that most of the time you think is real. Film makers use it for a painted representation of a landscape. CG artists can then blend the matte painting into a live shot. Here is a video made a few years ago by the Discovery Channel VIDEO.

I look forward to writing more about our industry. Feel free to leave a comment below or send a email to suggest a topic.

jon at LaughingDogLLC dot com