The busy first month of the new site has already passed with outstanding andย unexpected success. In fact, it was so unexpectedly successful and busy that the second month is almost over too!

The first four goals on Patreon were reached in short succession: 16k versions of each HDRI were added, the first Vault was unlocked, and I promised to publish one two HDRIs every single week.

As I’ve said before, I totally did not expect this kind of support. I was fairly sure people would like the new site (who doesn’t like free stuff), but to actually throw money at me to help me keep it going was just a pipe dream. Of course I worked hard to try and make that dream a reality, but there was no way to know if it would actually work.

Well, luckily for all of us, it did ๐Ÿ™‚ At least so far as to cover all of its own costs and provide a reasonable budget to keep producing HDRIs regularly. It’s not enough for me to live off yet, I still need to do freelance work and find other sources of income, but it is a most excellent start.

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Just thought I’d share what my plans are for the rest of the year to give you some idea of the HDRIs to come.

Tomorrow I’m heading to the Kruger Park for a week with my family. This is the same place that I’ve shot quite a few HDRIs in the past, and looking at the moon phases it seems like I might get another opportunity to try an astro-HDRI (without the moon overpowering all the stars). It probably won’t work that well with my current equipment, it’ll be noisy as heck, but still worth a shot (or 200). If it doesn’t work out, I’ll at least have a good example for why I need new gear ๐Ÿ˜‰

Shortly after I get back, I’ll be off again to the Blender Conference ๐Ÿ™‚ Last year was really a lot of fun, especially after the conference when I headed alone to Germany to shoot HDRIs. This time I’ll do something similar, but instead it’ll be Italy, and I’ve asked Rico to join me and shoot backplates for all the HDRIs (like we did for Cape Town last year). Of course the backplates will only be available once the goal is reached on Patreon, but at least there’ll be some immediate content when it is.

The first trip to the Kruger is mostly a holiday so it’ll be funded out of my own pocket. The second trip is partly for the Blender Conference, and partly for new HDRIs, so the costs will be split proportionately between my pocket and the travel budget portion from Patreon. Obviously a trip this size is rather costly, so it’ll likely use up the travel budget for a good few months, but luckily they don’t happen very often.

That’s all for now! If you support me on Patreon, don’t forget you can help decide how your money is spent, what trips I go on, etc. using the Trello board.

TLDR: Having people use my HDRIs is far more important to me than money.

I’ve tried writing this post a number of times in various ways, but I don’t think it’s possible to explain what HDRI Haven is now and why it’s changed without first telling you how it began.

At the beginning of last year I launched HDRI Haven as an online store for people to buy the best HDRIs I could make at the cheapest rates I could offer. But that wasn’t actually my initial plan to be honest, and while it was working pretty well, it always felt like I had taken the easy route.

My dream from the very beginning when I started shooting HDRIs was to release everything for free, in the same open-source spirit as the Blender community, giving everyone equal access to the same tools and assets to achieve both creative freedom and freedom from financial constraints.

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