Rise

Today I'd like to share with you something special that I have been lucky enough to get my hands on. With the help of the same friend that spoiled me in the past, I was able to get a Rise Kujikawa head. She is a character from the Persona 4 RPG.

The reason that I wanted her, though, is because she is unique. Her face is a bit more "realistic" than the typical Dollfie Dream with a molded nose, lips, and smaller eyes. She is almost a mix between my BJDs and my other Dollfie Dreams. And while I really like my BJDs, due to the fact that they are resin, there are many precautions you have to take with them. I keep mine in their boxes because I don't want to risk damaging them. Dollfie Dreams, on the other hand are a bit more rugged. They are also easy to repair or you can buy replacement parts. They also don't yellow in sunlight, so I don't mind keeping them out.

For me Rise is like having the best of both worlds. She has a face that is closer to my BJDs with the more durable body of a Dollfie Dream.

Here are a few photos I took of her:

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I put her on my Melty uni-body, which is a unique Dollfie Dream body that has a single piece torso (unlike the typical chest and bottom setup). I really like how she looks. She's quickly becoming one of my favorites. I have to thank my friend, again, for helping me get her.

 

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Desk Diary 4-2-2013

It's been a while since I posted anything. I've been pretty busy with several things. In any event, I have a few items to share that I received over the last few months.

Some time ago I posted about a package I got from a friend and hinted at what was inside. As life goes, I didn't get a chance to show what it was for some time. Since then that same friend has continued to be my enabler and helped me with a few more...

Three more, to be exact.

The mystery item was in fact a Sakuya head from "Shining Blade." One that I mentioned that I wanted since she's from the same series and sculptor as my first two. Here are a few quick photos of her:


She looks amazing! I also got her default wig and I love it. This is the only default wig that I'm actually using. Along with the head and wig, I got her really cool black katana (sword)!

But my friend didn't stop there. Some time later my friend helped me with a nearly complete Melty from "Shinning Hearts." I was floored since she was super popular and hard to get. Here are a few shots of her:


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As if that wasn't enough, my friend sent me a "white skin" Lucy head. It's my first white skin Dollfie Dream. I had to order the body as separate parts since they don't sell the white skin bodies as a complete item. I also got her a really neat pastel blue wig and glasses. I still want to get her some eyes and an outfit. I have no photos of her together yet, but soon!

(Sorry for the poor quality phone photos)

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I obviously can't thank my friend enough. I'm so spoiled and will forever be indebted.

Finally, I got a New iPad. My first generation iPad was starting to really struggle with newer apps. It has been a really great device and I don't think I could live without a tablet at this point. I had hoped to use my iPad as a digital sketchpad, but the iPad is not really made for that. No stylus I used really worked out too well.

Before getting the new iPad I tried out an Android tablet. I have been using my Android phone for a while and I thought that maybe an Android tablet would be a good upgrade from my old iPad. I got the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. This tablet has a digitizer with a pen. However, in the end, I didn't much care for it. There is a major app deficit on the Android tablets. The pen, while better than my options on the iPad, was not that great either. Maybe in time they will have more apps, but for now... not so much, so I returned it.

Now I have a shiny new iPad! There is not much to really say about it. It has better everything and a very nice Retina display, which is really impressive. The resolution is so high that it makes some images online look pixelated. In either case, I know I'll put this iPad to good use as it helps me with my projects.


 

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Creating Worlds

As I attempt to reenter the realm of story-making I've been trying to figure out ways to make the process easier and more manageable for myself. It's usually easy to come up with an idea, but to take that idea and make it something that has a beginning, middle and end with compelling situations and characters can be a whole different animal.

I'm no expert on this, not even close. My track record is anything but mediocre at best. However, creating stories, characters, and worlds has been an activity that I've enjoyed doing since I was a kid. I'm currently trying to develop stories for two potential personal projects. I had little problem coming up with the general ideas for both. In fact, I have several ideas that I like, many were started years before. The first problem was to narrow them down. In the end I decided on two ideas that seem interesting and fun and are also something that I think I can handle. I was even able to combine a couple ideas together to make them more layered.

I have plans for both of these ideas, but that's not what I want to talk about here. I want to give some tips I've come up with to help me develop these ideas into full stories. So if, like me, you have your idea(s), you can picture it in your head, but it's not a complete story, what next?

Characters

The most important thing for a story is to have compelling characters, so this is likely the next best place to start. We need to figure out whom or what will move the story forward. Who is the good guy and who or what will try to stop them? We need conflict. You've likely heard the phase man versus man, man versus himself, and man versus nature. These are the bases for story conflict. It doesn't always have to be another person that's causing the problem, so keep that in mind.

Usually when you have a story idea in mind you will know, vaguely, who the characters will be, but they aren't usually very fleshed out. We'll work on that in later steps. The main thing is to have in mind who the characters are in the story. Don't be afraid to add more characters or remove some and never be afraid to kill off a character if it will move the idea forward.

Also keep in mind relationships between the characters. Do they get along? Are they related? These things can be useful in developing more story ideas.

Scenes

The next thing is to try and drum up as many scene ideas as we can. Knowing the characters and the overall story idea we should be able to think of some interesting scenes that we'd like to have in our story. Order is not important here. What we want to do is basically create a catalog of ideas. Don't worry about how much they make sense. You might not use them in the end or you may merge some later on.

The trick here, and for any story development, is to keep asking "what if?" What if the character runs away? What if they have an unknown brother? What if they get hit by a car? These kind of questions can easily spark scene ideas.

One of the most crucial scenes we need to think of here is the ending. This is something that may take a long time to develop. It is, after all, the crux of the whole story. We don't even need to know how it happens yet, we just need to have an ending. If unsure, you can try to think of a couple endings. If you can't come up with an ending then the next phase will likely help.

Work on both of these parts for a while. Let the ideas "cook" in your head. Give it a couple days or even weeks, each day try to add more ideas. When you get to a point that you just can't come up with more ideas, move on to the next part.

Research

At this point we need some fresh ideas. It also doesn't hurt to see how other stories are setup. We should find some inspiration to get ideas. I'm not talking about stealing ideas here. That's never a good idea. Get it? Ahem... Anyway, we can learn a lot from other sources and it will likely spark more ideas. Look at books, comics, and movies etc. It's likely that your original story idea was sparked from something you read or saw. Try to find stories that have elements similar to your idea. It doesn't even have to be the same genre. We're looking mainly for character development. What has a character in it in a situation similar to your character?

I like to watch TV shows and movies. This way I can see and more easily feel the character's emotion. It's also faster than reading a novel. Yes, I'm lazy. The point is to, again, gather as many ideas as we can. I usually will write down little things anything to spark more "what if" questions. For example: I saw a fight scene where someone got thrown out the window. I had no idea if I could use that, but it was an exciting and scary moment in the show, so I wrote it down.

I don't just jot down scene ideas, I'll also pick out character traits—"Likes animals" "Hates smoke" "Is afraid of heights." I can use these to help flesh out my characters.

Again spend a couple days or weeks on this part of the process. I keep adding all these things to my "idea list" on my iPad. That way they are in one place an I don't have to worry about losing papers etc.

Once you have collected a decent amount of fresh ideas, go to the next step.

Chapters

With all our ideas gathered it's time to test ourselves. We came up with as many ideas as we could and we did research. Let's see how far we've come. At this point we should create a list. I will usually start with a numbered list of, say, 10 or 12 chapters and then test myself to see how many chapters I can fill in. I figure that the first two chapters are the introductions, where we learn about the character(s) and are met with the first challenge that sets the stage for the rest of the story. Then I go to the bottom of the list and put the ending. Then I'll fill in a couple chapters before the ending. These are the lead-in chapters, the build up to the final conflict.

With that in place I'll have a few chapters left over to fill in. Here is where all those ideas come into play. We can start to figure out where some of those idea can play into the overall story. Can some of them lead into other ideas? Can we make connections between scene ideas? Do we need a new character to move things along?

If we can't fill in all those chapters then we need to go back and find more ideas or try to combine some of the ones we have. You can repeat this process until you have all the chapters filled in. The ideal situation is to have more ideas than chapters slots on the list. You don't want to add too many unneeded chapters. Going from 10 chapters to 100 is likely not a good sign. You should always make sure that each chapter and each scene moves the story forward. If it doesn't, and it's just fluff, then you should remove it or merge it with a scene that does move things forward.

By this point we should have a decent idea of what's going on in our story. We should have a very basic outline. From here we need to refine and add detail.

The basic process here overall is to start with very broad strokes and then slowly narrow things down to the details. This way we never get overwhelmed with the details from the start. We work towards that slowly so that we can always see the whole picture. This is actually true for drawing too.

If you get stuck then either something is preventing the story from taking shape or, more likely, there is an idea that's blocking other ideas from connecting. Something else you can try is to take all the ideas you gathered place them on index cards and try to jumble them around to see what ideas crop up. Place a couple cards in random order and see what you get. You may be surprised. It's all about sparking an idea.

And finally, talk to others. By talking to friends and family about your ideas you may find that ideas just jump out at you in the process of explaining it. Or they may ask you a question that forces you to think of an answer. If the idea sounds bad while you explain it, it's likely that you'll need to keep working on it.

Always write down ideas. Don't let them slip your mind. An iPad is great for that "nighttime idea" that you think of as you are trying to fall asleep. Just be sure the glowing screen doesn't bother others.

Of course, there are many other ways to develop a story. This is just a method that seems to work for me.

 

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Enter Kanami

This post has been a long time coming. Many months ago I received my limited Dollfie Dream 06 head. She was my first "floating head," as they call it. Finally, after nearly six months, she is complete. So I'd like to introduce Kanami, my third Dollfie Dream.

I was lucky enough to get this limited head thanks to a close friend. I was missing a key component, however, a body. I wasn't able to get a body for her for a long time due to a lack of funds and the Dollfie Dream body supply shortage that spanned most of this year and continues to this day. However, if you read my last desk diary you will have caught images of a recently acquired Dollfie Dream Dynamite body and some clothes. With all the pieces finally in place, my third girl is here.

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With her striking red hair and Dollfie Dream Dynamite body, which is more "curvy" than the standard body type, she has a unique look compared to my other Dollfie Dreams.

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Of course, like the other girls, she's trained to fight! Thanks for following along as my third Dollfie Dream came together.

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Desk Diary 9-10-12

Well, it's been a little over two months since my last desk diary post. I've been pretty busy (gaming) and thus haven't posted much (leveling), but it's time for some updates and, of course, new loot!

First things first, an update on the webcomic project. My friend recently called this my "white whale," but hopefully this won't have such a tragic ending. For the last several months I've been bouncing between two main ideas. Lately I have been thinking of combining many of my favorite aspects of both. I think I'm close. I still want to get this started before the end of the year. That doesn't give me much time. I tend to work well under pressure, so hopefully a deadline will force me to get this project started.

In doll news -many- things have happened, some of which I'll share below. For now I'll say that my desk has suddenly become a little more crowded. I'm -still- waiting for some things I pre-ordered almost a year ago. Volks has been very much slammed this year due to that pre-order event. They are just now starting to ship out the last batch of orders, my stuff included (hopefully). There are already rumors of another pre-order event coming. With the shortage of regular items this year, one has to wonder if things will ever settle with all these events. It also goes to show how much this hobby has grown in popularity over the last couple years.

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In gaming news... we'll let's be honest, I've been sucked into a handful of new games that were launched this year, which hasn't helped my productivity. I had mentioned in my 2012 post that the games coming out this year could potentially suck away a lot of my free time, and that prediction has become mostly true. In that post I had mentioned I was playing Star Wars: The Old Republic at the time, I had quit that game not long after that post, as have many others. It's going "Free to Play" later this year, nuff said. For a time after that there wasn't really a game distracting me. That is until Tera launched earlier this year. That game has been the main time-sink for me this year. I'm still playing Tera, which I talked about at length in its own post.

Since then the other games that I mentioned in my 2012 post have also been released. I played The Secret World from launch, and while I do like its unique modern-day-mixed-with-horror-films style, it was fairly buggy and a bit unforgiving in its gameplay. While a challenge is nice, sometimes I prefer the more casual stuff. It also had some stiff character animations and a lack of character customization. The combat was decent. Working on finding a "build" that worked for you was interesting as were the unique quests and stories. However, All MMOs need a time to grow and expand, so it's definitely one I may check out again down the road, but for now I have stopped playing it.

Next up, and most recent, is Guild Wars 2. The most hyped MMO of the year. Did it live up to that hype for me? Yes and no. It's a wonderful game and very pretty (not Tera pretty, but still really nice), and it really does break many of the not-so-great and over-used MMO mechanics, but some of what they claimed didn't really pan out. The dynamic quest system, while great overall, doesn't really give that sense of making lasting changes to the world. They restart rather quickly. While this makes sense from a gameplay perspective, it does kinda make the game feel a bit like a theme park, not like a WoW (World of Warcraft) theme park, but a different kind of, and certainly more fun and active, theme park. That doesn't actually bother me at all, though. Heck, Tera is a prime example of the old-style WoW theme park setup. The combat is, at its core, a target based system, but you can attack while moving. Some of the personal missions can be a bit brutal as well. My favorite part of the game is that they encourage you to explore. This aspect is the gem of this game to me. They have added a lot of little hidden areas to the game and even some rather fun and challenging jumping puzzles. Overall, it's a well-polished and well-made game. Since you only have to buy the game once and there is no subscription fee, there is really no reason to not play this game. It's one I'll certainly be playing for some time to come (sucking away more of my free time).

Finally (yes, it does end), a game that was released two years ago this month may be making a comeback and has me eager to try it again. Two years ago Final Fantasy XIV launched with a less than stellar reception. It was so bad that the game suspended its subscription fee for many months. While I didn't completely agree that the game was a total failure as some others, it did have some holes and lack of content. Most of the original team was taken off the project and a new, untested, game director was handed the reigns. Square Enix has been determined to push forward. You have to give them credit. Other MMOs would have buckled and failed under similar circumstances. However, not only has this new team and director attempted to fix a lot of the problems, late last year they stated their plans to take things a step further with a project that would almost completely remake the whole game. This is something that has never been done before and just recently the first signs of this "2.0" version have begun to surface. I'm very interested to see how this pans out. I had a lot of faith in SE when the game was released and I still think they can pull this off. So this is the next MMO that I'm looking forward to trying... again, especially when I learned there will be a new summoner job. I really respect them for working this hard to please their customers. They have taken a lot of polls and kept the players in the loop. I think they deserve a second chance. I know I'll be there opening day. I already have "Legacy" status for supporting the game during this rough period. It should be interesting.

Okay! Now on to the loot. There have been several items that have come my way over the last couple months that I meant to post about but didn't have the time (gaming), so I'm going to post them all here in one go.

First off I bought some new items for my computer. My hard drives have been nearly full for a long time, so I bought a new 3TB hard drive to ease the pain. I also picked up a new keyboard and mouse.

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This is the new Logitech G600 gaming mouse. I wasn't sure if I would like this mouse at first. I picked it up on impulse. The mass of button on the side were intimidating at first, but I have to say that it really has grown on me. I've been a "clicker" for most of my computer gaming years until I was "forced" to use the keyboard for combat in Tera. Now this mouse has taken me to the next step with executing commands all from the buttons on the side of the mouse. I don't know if I'll be able to go back.

Since I take a lot of photos for this site I'm always struggling with my lighting. Usually I just deal with whatever light I have, but normal room lights tend to be yellow and I don't always have sunlight. So I finally saved up and got a proper lighting kit. I couldn't afford anything super crazy. I also didn't want to deal with lights that gave off a lot of heat. After much searching I found the Flora light set by Linco. They use florescent light bulbs and have pretty ingenious softboxes.


The softboxes are a sort of umbrella deal. You just pull a string and they open up and snap into place. The diffusing cloth attaches with some Velcro and it's all set. The softbox sits in the grooves in the light base which kinda looks like a flower, hence the set's name. Setup is not too bad, another thing that was important to me. They do take up some room, though, but I can tell they are improving my photos a lot. They seem to be made pretty well. Some parts are plastic, but as long as I'm careful with them I'm sure they will last for some time. They also came with carrying cases. It's a really nice set and I'm glad I got them.

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I picked up a new Blu-Ray anime called "Samurai Girls." I haven't finished it yet, but it's a silly haram story with some unique animation styles. I'm not really sure what I think of it yet. It has some cute and funny moments, but some of the over-the-top stuff isn't really my thing. The "fan-service" is nice, though.

As I mentioned above, I've been playing Guild Wars 2. Since I had a feeling it was going to be a good game I pre-ordered the Collector's Edition, which sold out soon after. I'm glad I took the plunge. The box for it is -massive- and contains a lot of nice goodies.

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Inside is the massive Rytlock statue and a sizable tin case. Everything about this CE is big.

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Inside the tin case is a collection of items. A portfolio with prints, a picture frame, an "Behind the Scenes" artbook, a soundtrack sampler and the game discs.

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And last but not least is the Rytlock statue. He is one of the main characters in the story from the Destiny's Edge guild. He is also a Charr, the race that was the main enemy from the previous game. He's quite massive and hefty, fairly well painted and detailed and his Rurik "flaming" sword is pretty cool.

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It's a really nice and well-made collector's edition. I'm glad I got it. Now where to put it...

I also got some doll loot. Some I didn't plan on while others were nice surprises. First I got a couple little things from Volks. Some cute hands and another wig cap.

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I've been on the lookout for a body for my limited 06 head for many months, but due to the Volks pre-order event from last year, bodies have been in a major short supply and nearly impossible to get. However, I managed to snag a slightly used one from a member on the Dollfie Dreams forum.

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This one is a Dollfie Dream Dynamite body, which is different from the standard body due to its larger hips, thighs and other "assets." This means that my third Dollfie Dream is nearly complete.

Of course, no Dollfie Dream is complete without some clothes and accessories. And, of course, if you are going to get clothes for one, why not get some for your other girls as well? Here are some items that I got from Cool Cats. I like Cool Cats because their prices are reasonable and they have nice clothes and stands made for Dollfie Dreams.

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Here I got some swimwear, shirts, skirts, stands, shoes a wig and way too many socks. I seem to have a thing for socks. At least my girls will never have cold feet. As always, Cool Cats threw in some free extras too, which is always a nice surprise.

With all these items I realized I was running out of room to store them. I had most of my Dollfie Dream stuff in cardboard boxes. So I thought it was about time to get a new container for their stuff.

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Only two years into this doll hobby and I already have a cart for their stuff. I never thought I would get to this point. The funny thing is, as you can see with the extra box and container on the top... I already filled it up.

But wait... there is still one box left.

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A friend helped me greatly with these items in a way I could never fully repay.

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As you can see there are some interesting items in the box. But there is this odd item...

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What ever could it be? You will just have to wait for a future post to find out.

WHEW! Well, that concludes this desk diary. It was quite a long one, but it wasn't six months apart from the last one at least. Still a lot happened in a short couple of months and I'm not done yet. There are still a couple item I'll have to show soon. I also hope to start working on illustrations again for my webcomic.

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Mirai Fanart

Recently Danny Choo asked for fanart submissions for an upcoming magazine he's working on called the "Worldwide Otaku Report." Here is my submission featuring Danny's character, Mirai, having some summer fun.

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When I started working on this image I wasn't sure what I wanted to draw. I wanted something fun and colorful. Something bright and cheerful to match the character. So I thought since it was summer Mirai standing in some water wearing her signature bikini was a good start. I liked the idea of her hand close to the "camera" splashing water, which became the start of this image.

The pose from the back really helped add some interesting angels. The two arms point towards the face where you can see she's having a good time. Of course, being a bikini image it had to be a little sexy. Certainly no complaints here. This took a while to get to a point I was happy with.

For coloring I went with high saturation. I wanted it to have some "pop." I added some gradients to add some depth. I spent a lot of time on the eyes. I love to experiment with different eye styles. These have details that gives them some interesting features. The water also took some time. It's not exactly what I had in mind, but I think it turned out okay. I colored the linework, something I like to do with my images. It helps to soften it up and add more color. To top it off I added a huge sun flare to really brighten it up with some beams to add highlights to the image.

While I can always be really critical my own work, I think this came out okay. What do you think? Have you ever drawn fanart? How were your results?

 

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One Year - Rika & Yuri

Last week marked the one year date for my two Dollfie Dreams, Rika and Yuri. I learned a lot over the year while in this hobby and I'm glad that these two girls have been keeping me company on my computer desk each day. I thought I would take some photos of them in some new school uniforms I got for them and try to recreate an illustration I drew a while back.

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Last year, while I was waiting for Rika and Yuri to arrive, I drew an image of how I thought they could look.

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And here is how they look today, inspired by that image.

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Not exactly the same, but pretty darn close!

 

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Sony NEX 5n

I got a new camera last week. It's the very popular, and shinny, Sony NEX 5n. This is a mirrorless camera, which allows it to be super small, but still pack the same APS-C sensor found in most DSLRs.

I wanted to get a smaller camera for a while. My Canon T1i/500D is a medium-sized DSLR, but it feels rather hefty after a while when taking pictures with it. On top of that, since I take pictures of smallish things (figures / dolls), I often have to position myself in less than comfortable ways, which can add to the pain of using a larger camera. Also, I sometimes need to hold the camera with one hand and a reflector with the other, this is hard to do with a DSLR.

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Enter the mirrorless cameras. A new breed of camera that has been gaining popularity for a while now. They don't have a mirror like DSLR cameras and use an LCD and/or electronic viewfinder instead. This removes a lot of bulk from the camera so they can be a lot smaller. And the NEX 5n IS small. I was almost surprised by how small it is. It contains a 16mp CMOS sensor, just as my Canon, but it also has some features my Canon does not. However, due to the its small size, it lacks a lot of buttons to quickly access functions and its LCD screen is small and made smaller by a permanent menu on the right side. Don't let that fool you, though. It is a fully functional camera. It has all the same options found in my Canon and most DSLRs, and a couple more. There are customizable buttons that ease some of the lack of buttons and the LCD is a touchscreen and tiltable, something my Canon lacked.

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I haven't had time to do many tests, but so far I can tell that the Sony performs pretty well. It's great in low light, something the Canon always struggled with. It has much better white balance than the Canon, but the Sony suffers from a kit lens that is sharp in the center but soft and almost blurry on the edges. The Canon kit lens is a bit more consistent from center to edge, though a little soft overall. However, resized for the internet, you'd be hard-pressed to see a difference in sharpness.

Here is a quick comparison shot with the same settings (Aperture Priority, ISO 100, f5.0, AWB)

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I also got a Sony 50mm f1.8 prime lens for this camera. This will give me more options for bokeh effects and appears to be more balanced in sharpness than the kit lens, which is to be expected. These Sony lenses are unique in that they have fulltime active focus and optical image stabilization. Another lens on my wishlist is a Sigma 30mm f2.8, which I hear great things about. Another great thing about this Sony is that there are a lot of adapters for it to accept a wide range of lenses. For example, I've also been looking at a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm Leica lens. Maybe a little exotic, but it has a great "film look" that would be fun to use. To round it out I'd like to get a nice wide angle lens to create some neat "fish eye" effects. Of course, lenses are expensive, but I never looked at other lenses for my Canon and even though the Sony lacks a lot of DSLR buttons, its size makes me more interested in playing with these kind of options. Maybe that's because I spent a lot of time fighting with my Canon to get good shots.

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You can find a ton of reviews for the Sony NEX 5n online. Check them out! What kind of camera do you use? Do you have a mirrorless, DSLR or P&S? In the meantime, I'm going to see what this little beast can do.

 

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Desk Diary 6-23-2012

It's been six months since my last desk diary. Several things happened since then, mostly in the last couple months.

First, a couple general updates. The webcomic project I've been trying to get started hasn't moved all that much in the last several months. While I had a fairly workable idea a while ago, as things go, I've changed my mind on a few things. I haven't given up, though. I'm currently trying to come up with fresh ideas.

As you may have seen from recent posts, I had a couple anniversaries with my BJD girls. My first girl has been with me for two years now. My two Dollfie Dreams and floating head haven't seen much attention lately, but in the last few weeks I got a couple of new items for them.

I haven't been paying much attention to Volks events since money has been tight. However, there have been a couple recent events held by Volks called Kyoto 9 and Doll Party 27 that had a lot of great items. They both had great Dollfie Dreams up for lottery. I really like "Shining Blade" Sakuya. She's from the same series as my first two. I would have loved to enter for her, but it's beyond my means right now.

However, they had a plethora of great clothes on offer from the Kyoto 9 collection. Unfortunately, these items are very limited, and while I tried to grab some via the lottery with Kerbey Lane, I was only able to get one item through them. This left me with the only option to take part in the "click war" on the Volks site. This is a first come first serve—he who clicks faster wins—setup. I took a little extra time beforehand to plan a process to get me through the clicks and cart as fast as I could. When the day came I managed to get four out of the five items I wanted in the cart and purchased in less than fifteen seconds. I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, many were not so lucky. Nearly everything was sold out in less than a minute. It's an unfair system when you consider that lag and browser/computer speeds can really affect the outcome.

Here is Yuri in one of the outfits I was able to get.

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I also received a couple random goodies over the last couple months.

First up is a Roku XS. I don't really watch much TV, but I do like to watch Netflix and Crunchyroll. While my PS3 sufficed for Netflix for a while, I didn't have access to Crunchyroll except on my computer and iPad. Enter the Roku XS! I love this little thing, and I do mean little. It fits in the palm of my hand. This little wonder has caused my PS3 to collect dust lately. I certainly recommend these little Roku boxes.

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About a month ago I finally caught up with the rest of the world and got a smartphone. It's an HTC Vivid running Android 4.0. I mainly picked this one because it was cheap, but I find myself using it more than my iPad. I still love my iPad and it's great for certain things, but this phone has really helped me become more connected to the social networks.

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While I generally like Apple products, I must say that Android is nice for its customization. I changed my launcher to something custom that I like, my lock screen has all the latest tweets, facebook and flickr feeds that I follow right there. I can flip through these posts without even going into the phone. It has a nice camera as well and being connected to all these social networks really makes it convenient to post a quick picture.

Next up is a little treat from a childhood favorite of mine. I was a big Transformer fan growing up. Recently I watched the new series, Transformers Prime, and really enjoyed it. When I found out there was a Wheeljack, I just had to get it! He was one of my favorite characters from the original series. I still have his G1 version from way back when.

It took a couple stores to find him, but eventually I saw one hanging on a shelf.

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These new Transformers have really cool designs and are a lot more complex than the old toys. Though, they have a lot more plastic. The instructions are pretty crazy too.

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The posability is rather impressive. The old toys almost never even had movable legs, let alone elbow joints. These new ones have ball-joints and hinges all over the place. Luckily, or not, we didn't know better with the older toys.

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I love seeing all these old cartoon and toys that I grew up with coming out again with updated stories and designs. While some more hardcore fans may scoff at them, if you actually watch the original shows today you may be surprised at how silly and nonsensical they were. These newer "updated" shows and toys have really grown up.

Hopefully it won't be another six months before I post the next desk diary.

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Two Years

Wow does time fly. I received Jaimee, my first BJD (ball-jointed doll), two years ago. I ordered her soon after I started this site. She is a reminder of how I felt when I made that first post. It's hard to believe it's been that long. Here are a couple shots I took of her in a nice outfit with some headphones.

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Along with some other things, getting my first BJD led me down many new paths. Hobbies are great, but they can be even better when they inspire you to do more. What started as one BJD turned into another and now Dollfie Dreams, all of which help to inspire me. Now at the two year mark for my first BJD, I realize how little I've actually done. I blame my MMO addiction.

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With Jaimee I've taken a couple photos here and there, but she's remained largely ignored. Not for lack of interest, but lack of time. While it's good to be productive, I feel something can be lost if you don't take the time to balance things with a more varied set of activities. But it seems our world more and more demands us to be in one spot as work piles up and money becomes tighter.

So in a sense these BJDs and Dollfie Dreams remind me that I need to take a step back sometimes and get off the computer and, basically, stop ignoring other parts of my life. Just as Jaimee is doing here—relaxing and listening to some music. Hopefully, as things move forward, I'll find more time for photos and such. I'm glad I have her to remind me there's more to do than what's behind a screen.

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Do you have an item that inspires you? Do you have something that keeps you aware of how you spend your time? Do you feel you could spend your time better? Hopefully next year I can say that I did more things I wanted to do. How about you.

 

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