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Showing posts with label cameras. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cameras. Show all posts

Saturday, December 12, 2009 9 comments

Weekend Roundup [UPDATED]

Mason, innocent?Mason has been at the manor most of the week. Some nights Snippet has been here, some nights not… but this morning was the second time this week he slept until 6 a.m. I continue to hold out hope that this means he’ll soon be consistently sleeping through the night. Babies can be exhausting at times…

I guess he was somewhat of a pistol yesterday: Daughter Dearest had to go pick up Evil Lad NOT and bring him up here, which meant DoubleRed had to watch him for a few. For DoubleRed, very little can happen in her life without it turning into a crisis of one sort or another, and Mason picks up on her moods. So when Daughter Dearest got back, he was wailing with the volume at 11, DoubleRed was snarling and trying to take a test online… in short, nobody was happy. I got this second-hand from DD and Mrs. Fetched — what I did see was DoubleRed leaving the manor in a classic 8-cylinder huff; she returned just as I started writing this.

So while Mason is giving me the innocent look for all he’s worth, I’m not completely convinced. :-)

[UPDATE 13 Dec: He’s been working on turning himself over for a while now… he finally did it this morning. I got to see him do it the second time; Mrs. Fetched came out at 6 a.m. to find him on his back.]

I got home from work last night… and to Mrs. Fetched’s credit, “we need to swap a furnace at #3” was the third (rather than first) thing she said to me. Oh… did I mention that they got the houses sealed up enough to get birds? The good news was that it could (i.e. had to) wait until after supper. The not-so-good news was that we had to wait on Panda to show up, and he wasn’t able to get here until about 9. To be clear here, there are four or five furnaces in each chicken house — they hang on chains and blow hot air directly into the place. No ductwork involved.

Mrs. Fetched wasn’t completely sure about how to go about disconnecting a furnace from the gas line, but I sort of remembered looking at the hookups, and grabbed a pipe wrench and The Persuader (a 14" adjustable wrench) just to be sure. There was a handy nut just south of the gas cutoff, so I put the pipe wrench on, got the thing loose, started turning it… and the hose started kinking and twisting and not cooperating — like anything else in the chicken houses. With a combination of brute force and finesse, Panda and I were able to get the thing disconnected. Lifting it for Mrs. Fetched to get it off the chains was a relative breeze.

With the defective furnace off, we went to the back (which is closed off at this point) to get a working furnace. Same deal, but a little faster since we knew what we were doing. We threw it on the back of the pickup, rolled it down to where we needed it, and put it on — it only took two tries to get the hose counter-twisted enough for us to put it back on. So we plugged it in… and nothing. After some backing and forthing, Mrs. Fetched got agitated and took off, leaving Panda and I to deal with it. Figuring it was an electrical problem, we came back to the manor and got my voltmeter and a couple extension cords in case we had to plug it in elsewhere.

First, I tried the outlet. 120V. I opened the control box cover, and put the voltmeter on the AC terminals. 120V. OK, the thing’s getting power. I tried the thermostat terminals, 24V. Then I disconnected the thermostat, switched to ohms, and checked it. Open circuit.

"Make the thermostat click,” I told Panda. It was right behind us, so he did. Still open circuit.

"It’s either the thermostat or the cable,” I said.

"Mrs. Fetched said she just replaced that one,” Panda said, “but she might have done a different one and forgot.” We located a screwdriver and opened the thing up… it was packed with dust and feathers. Obviously she hadn’t opened this one up in a while. I blew the crap out of the thing…

“You think that loose wire might be the problem?” Panda said sarcastically. Someone, possibly the field man, pulled a bit too hard on it and there wasn’t much slack wire inside the thermostat. We didn’t have any pliers, but I managed to get the loose wire around the terminal and tighten it down. We plugged everything back in… and the furnace immediately coughed to life. After the high-five, we got a bit miffed at Mrs. Fetched for telling us the furnace was broke without checking the thermostat. I guess I need to send her to a troubleshooting methodology class.

Chopping WoodToday was jam-packed with all kinds of “fun.” Someone had to be here with Mason, but: DoubleRed was gone, Mrs. Fetched had to go to the bank, Daughter Dearest was going to the chicken houses with Panda, and I had to cut firewood. But since Mrs. Fetched was supposed to meet The Boy, and he wasn’t awake to answer his phone, she stayed home and I went outside. I’d located a dead tree close to the manor (identified as such by large swatches of missing bark), and found two more when I went out to cut it down. As the other two were relatively small (about four inches), I decided to tackle them first — no splitting required, just cut ’em up and they’re ready! Except for a dead branch breaking off and me stupidly standing my ground (it missed), there were no untoward incidents. The third tree was a foot across (or more) at the base, big enough to need splitting but small enough to split by hand.

After I cut that to pieces, then dropped an even larger trunk near Butthead’s dog run that I’ve wanted to get to for a while, I was pretty well worn out. I took Panda home (he came back with DD just as I was finishing up), then Mrs. Fetched and I loaded the cut-up wood onto the truck and took around to the garage. The biggest pieces, that need splitting, went under a tarp outside and the rest went in the garage where we can get to it. I think it will last until the rain stops later on Tuesday. My back was hurting pretty well at this point, so I figured I was done with the strenuous stuff for the day.

Family portrait (first draft)Somewhere along the line, when I wasn’t looking, The Boy and Snippet came in. Mrs. Fetched wanted us to do a family portrait today. Seeing as my hair was a rat’s nest, and I’d been sweating like a pig in 35-degree weather, I figured I needed a shower before anything else happened. Now earlier in the week, I started looking through a photography magazine I picked up at the grocery store a while back, and saw an ad for an iPhone app that provided remote control capabilities for DSLRs (WANT). Then, Mrs. Fetched told me she wanted a family portrait to include in the Christmas cards (WANT → NEED). I had some money sloshing around in my iTunes account, so I topped it up to where I could drop $20 for the “pro” version that lets you adjust exposure (among other things) from the iPhone. It took me a while to get the thing to talk, but when I got the cables plugged in a bit more firmly we were in business.

We took over 30 shots altogether, knocking off when the flash batteries wheezed out. After I threw out the obvious clunkers (flash didn’t fire, somebody had a “duhhh” look or was looking around), we had a dozen or so possibilities. Mrs. Fetched decided she didn’t like her green top, since the shoulders weren’t right, so we’ll be doing it again tomorrow. In this pic, I’m holding the iPhone behind Mrs. Fetched. I also took a couple shots with just The Boy, Snippet, and Mason, and one of those turned out pretty well. I think if the church ever decides to do another directory, it’ll be a breeze with the stuff I have at hand. Y'know, there’s all sorts of ads in that photography magazine for stuff I never realized I needed (and can actually afford).

So the rum has numbed my back, and Daughter Dearest wants me to cook some supper. Whatever.

Friday, October 02, 2009 2 comments

Roundup for the Week

The Boy and His BoyThe Boy and Snippet (and, of course, Mason) spent last weekend and the first couple days of the week with us. To make a long story short, Snippet had strep, Mason had gas cramps, and neither one of them were doing very well. Pitching in is what extended families do, and so we pitched. Mason usually gets quiet (but curious) when I walk him around, so I did a fair amount of that trying to get him settled down. His issues turned out to be related to some cheap formula; switching that took care of him. Some antibiotics took care of Snippet’s. So they left Wednesday morning, and I managed to sleep through the night both Wednesday and Thursday. Seeing as I hadn’t done that in the weeks prior to Mason’s visit, it certainly wasn’t all his fault.

Mrs. Fetched’s knee is mending, far more slowly than she’d like. She’s gone down to one crutch, but can drive… us all crazy. :-) Actually, she’s mostly been pretty good about the whole situation.

The camera goodies I ordered a couple weeks ago arrived last week. I put the flash to work right away — you’ll notice the lack of background shadows in the above photo, compared to the one you’ll see following the link, bouncing the flash off the ceiling is really helpful — but the telephoto zoom had to wait a while to get a little testing. As I expected, it’s a great lens for outdoor work. Between the 28-135mm zoom that came with the camera for general use, the f/1.8 50mm lens for indoor venues, and the new one for long shots, that pretty much covers the bases. Having image stabilization in the lens would have been nice, but that adds nearly $400 to the price and I already have a monopod. The monopod should help with bug shots; once I’m in place — about 8 feet away — I can wait for them to land and not bother them much. (I chased a bee around and ended up with a lot of motion blur, bummer.)

But if your subject is holding still, it’s not difficult to reach out and grab it with this lens — I expect it will come in very handy for sports and candid shots outside:

Still life

Larger subjects… well, let’s just say this isn’t an architectural lens unless you have a lot of space. I was standing about 50 yards away for these… it gives you an idea of what the extremes are:

Zoom extremes

OK… you know I wasn’t going to let you get away with only one Mason pic all week, right?

Daughter Dearest feeding Mason

If something interesting happens this weekend, I’ll post… otherwise, Monday morning brings Episode 3 of White Pickups… and the story itself is going to pick up a little as well.

Friday, December 26, 2008 15 comments

Staycation, Winding Down

Me wearing antlersNow it’s Christmas Past. And the staycation is entering its final weekend (although I only have a two-day week next week, good way to ease back in after two weeks off).

I’m SO glad to have “all Christmas music all the time” in my rear-view mirror. They didn't do that when I was younger; they'd just mix in holiday music with the normal programming & that was fine. But I get burned out real fast on the same stuff constantly, and I about went nuts the year “Christmas Shoes” came out because they played it over and over… and over… and over… seemed like 3–4 times an hour. And I’m not a big fan of depressing songs anyway (I mean, come on, the kid’s mom is going to die at Christmas, and how is that going to affect his outlook in the years to come?). On the other hand, there are a few holiday/Christmas songs that I could listen to throughout the year — the instrumental version of “Sleigh Ride” comes to mind — just as long as it wasn’t a steady diet.

OK… I know I was good this year, but this good?

Canon EOS 40D

This (Canon EOS 40D) was the camera I wanted to get before my old PowerShot died… and would have, if the company stock hadn’t tanked in front of the rest of the market. I had pretty much hit the limits of what the PowerShot could do, and I used it to take photos that ended up in my documentation. According to the counter in iPhoto, I took just short of 5000 pictures with it… of course, I deleted a bunch of shots that didn’t turn out or were redundant. When it died, it wasn’t quite like losing a hand — maybe a finger or two. You can mostly get by without the missing pieces, but there are times when it gets annoying and a prosthetic (i.e. cellphone camera) doesn’t quite get the job done. It’s been too rainy for a photowalk, but maybe I’ll have a chance tomorrow. Fog in the morning may make for some interesting shots.

When I got Clickzilla, it came with a Metz flash. The battery pack is all but dead (good for like three shots), but looking around I find I can get it rebuilt for $60. That’s a dang sight cheaper than $300 for a new flash. Interestingly, with the Metz flash attached, I have to hit the shutter button twice: once to flip the mirror back and once to get the shot. I’ll have to go through the camera manual again to see whether that’s normal or if I can change a setting. There will be some learning once I get the battery pack rebuilt, but with that I’ll be set… this flash can reach out and light stuff up.

I think the camera might have seen some service as a floor model… there was a 2GB CF card already in the camera when I got it out of the box and there were a few pictures (that looked like stuff shot in a camera store) on the card — but hey, a free 2GB card is nothing to sneeze at. I also found an old Pelican bag that had a dead camcorder in it (a Sony, Mrs. Fetched’s first DV) and dedicated it to the EOS. Mrs. Fetched has some interesting stuff in her XL-1 bag, including some close-up filters that will fit. The lenses are supposed to be interchangeable between the two cameras, so I might have to borrow the humongo lens off her camcorder and try it out too. I’ve also heard of adapters that will let me use Clickzilla’s lenses with the EOS, and that would be nice.

Mr. Sunshine is up to play some Wii Golf. Hope everyone had a good Christmas. The new year will be quite happy about 20 days in.

Monday, May 29, 2006 2 comments

Of Tires, Jobs, and Cameras

We picked up The Boy yesterday, planning to help him put a tire on his car (parked near some apartments close to the retail district). The tire part went by the wayside rather quickly: the rim he had was a six-holer, and his car is a five-holer. He (and a friend) came home with us anyway. I tried grilling some burgers & frying some bacon, got distracted by the guest(s), and ended up burning everything. Fortunately, Mrs. Fetched had some chicken in the oven.

So after borrowing the Barge, and a failed attempt at an unauthorized side trip, he came on home and spent the night with us. He agreed to help with the chicken houses in the morning, but it took me an hour & a half to get him moving after Mrs. Fetched left.... I ended up getting him there with the job about halfway done. I rigged a mulch bag onto the chipper and had barely started chopping some pine limbs when they returned.

With The Boy back, the next order of business was to get a tire for his car. He said his jack was no good, so I grabbed one we had laying around and off we went... only to find two tires flat. The one he knew about was ripped open pretty good, and the other (both of them were on the front) was showing metal at the corner. Fortunately, his “no good” jack turned out to be serviceable, and we hoisted both sides of the car and got the tires. We put the fake spare (which is flat) on one side and left the other jacked up, then went to get the tires.

Two hours and $150 later, we were back at the scene. The left side tire was giving us trouble, primarily because the jack wasn’t lifting high enough, but The Boy hit on the idea of putting the second jack under the axle and we got all the lift we needed pretty quickly. We told him he needed to either repay or work this off — he’s still sticking to his story of instant riches in August, but he said he’d work it off.

As I was getting ready to head home, Mrs. Fetched called — turned out she was just across the highway from us. Upon joining them, I wound up with M.A.E. as a passenger; Mrs. Fetched was going to get some groceries and she didn’t want to hang around. We got a mile down the road when she gasped, “Crap! I’m supposed to talk to the Fire Mountain people today about that job!”

“It’s 3:00,” I said, “and you’re supposed to be there some time between 2 and 4. Looks like a good time to do it.” I turned around at the builder supply place and took her back. Good thing... she got the job. They wanted to see if she cared enough to show up, she did, they needed to fill a position, everybody’s happy!

With a few minutes at home to wash my face and arms, we then went to see the guy Mrs. Fetched has worked with on video projects in the past. He’s retiring, selling his house, and leaving for smaller pastures. Mrs. Fetched has lusted after his XL-1 camcorder for a while, and he was ready to sell everything for fire-sale prices. She wound up with two pro-level camcorders, a seriously high-end tripod, and a VHS duplication rig, for $2700. Then he said, “I’m also going to sell my portrait camera.” He named a price for the entire kit that was ridiculously low. “You can turn around and sell it, or keep it, whatever you want to do... I don’t care.” This isn’t low-end stuff... a Mamiya RB-67 with several lenses, extensions, backs. Pretty much an entire portrait studio (minus lighting) in a hard-shell case. My first thought was a co-worker who’s single and a camera buff... he might want a medium-format camera. My second thought was that I’ve been taking a lot of product portraits lately, maybe I should keep it and stop wrestling with my digital camera. I could probably get a digital back for this thing, but it would be a) overkill b) hideously expensive.

I’ve floated by Mrs. Fetched the idea of starting our own documentation service — she does video, I can do text and still photography. We could pretty much cover everything between us. Maybe with some good equipment in our hands, this is the time.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005 No comments

Extreme Video Enabled

If you live anywhere near a CVS drugstore, you may have noticed their “one time use” digital cameras and camcorders. Their (CVS's) idea is:

  1. You buy the camera ($20 for a still, $30 for a camcorder)

  2. When it's full, bring it to CVS for “processing”

  3. You pay $$$, they give you a CD or DVD with pix or video, they keep the camera

A very clever hacker named Maushammer, of course, has cracked the code (the link goes to his camcorder page) so you can download the video yourself over a USB port and not return the camera. You have to cobble up a cable, but there's a link to instructions & parts are readily available. The camcorder takes video at 320x240 (QVGA resolution, similar to VHS) using the Xvid video codec and mono MPEG audio. The resolution is identical to the video my digital camera can produce, except that...

I expect this to trigger a new sub-genre of home video that I call “Extreme Video” — a $30 digital camcorder will readily go places that even a low-end DV camcorder (at 10 times the price) often won't: on the ramps at a skate park, bungee jumping, motorcycling, and all sorts of other fun (and potentially painful) activities. I understand a model rocketry club in Texas has already built camera mounts for their larger rockets. If Something Happens... hey, you're only out thirty bucks. Go get another one.

One of the nice features about this camcorder is that it's completely solid state — there are no tapes or disks inside (it uses a Flash disk instead). No tape transport means you could use it to record in very quiet settings without picking up motor noise from the camera itself. Another advantage is that it should be able to stand getting jarred around in an Extreme Video shoot without causing dropouts — as long as the optics don't get misaligned, you should be able to keep shooting.

For more information than you ever wanted to know, unless you're a geek like me, check out the camerahacking forum.


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