Archive for Photography

Yellowstone pictures – part 1 of 2

I haven’t finished processing all of the Yellowstone pictures – it takes a bit of work to get the color balance set right.  (THM – that’s why I always shoot raw on the D80.  It gives me more freedom to get the image “right” later.)  But at least the first half is done.  I’ll post the second half this weekend sometime.

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If you love something, set it free . . .

About a year and a half ago (November 2006), the wildlife clinic K volunteers with transfered a water turtle (yellow bellied slider) to her. A cute little guy, just over 7 grams and about the size of a quarter. Yesterday, weighing in at 125 g and with a shell about 4 inches long, we released her into the nearby lake. It’s easy to fall for a lot of the animals K rehabs. Their cute and tiny or just plain helpless and on the mend, but the turtles are particularly hard because K keeps them for so long. The following are a handful of the pictures we’ve taken of the turtle:

  • the first 6 pictures were taken in August 2007 when she was about 16 grams
  • the second 9 were taken in January 2008 when she was 25g and we were trying to tempt her into eating by giving her meal worms
  • the next 6 were taken yesterday before the release – 125g and big enough to defend herself
  • the last 3 were taken at the release in Jordan Lake

Good luck little turtle

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Baby opossum pictures

When it rains it pours. A month into spring and K hadn’t received any calls about rehabilitating animals until today when she got two. The first was about baby bunnies. K doesn’t take baby rabbits because too many of the stories end with “and then they died.” For example, “I was rehabbing some bunnies in the spare room, the dogs barked, the rabbits got scared and then they died;” or “I successfully rehabbed the bunnies, but they got stressed out while I was releasing them, they stroked out and then they died.” You get the idea. The other call was for a litter of opossums whose mother had died. She took those.

Since the new version of WordPress has a gallery feature, I thought I would take some pictures at the most recent feeding and see how the gallery worked.

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Total eclipse of the heart, um moon

It was a rough night to try to get any pictures of last night’s total lunar eclipse. For long durations of the evening, you couldn’t even see the moon for all of the cloud cover. I did manage to get a few pictures. Most of them were slightly blurred because of the long exposure time and the 900 mm of focal length. However, some came out quite nice. The general process I used was:

  • set the camera to manual focus, auto focus will only screw you up here
  • play with the exposure compensation to get different effects. best results on exposure were about +1.0, however, that meant an exposure time of twice as long 🙁
  • set the camera on a two second delay (maybe should have used 5 seconds) to allow the camera shaking to die down after I hit the shutter release
  • wait until there was a break in the clouds
  • shoot

Probably the best shot I obtained is the one below:

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An interesting conversation at work today. I was talking with the guy, L (no – a different one), who has been responsible for our IT for the past 3.5 years. L isn’t the guy that always does the work, although he can. His real job is as an engineer in the company and that’s his primary focus. However, he does handle the technology strategy and monitors the folks that do the IT work. (He and I are talking quite a bit since I’m trying to take some of the load off in this area).

Anyway, L made the observation that he is often frustrated by IT people in their approach to diagnosing a problem. His experience, both with our ISP and sometimes our desktop support, is that IT people will poke at a problem system in a non-systematic way, replacing components, etc., until the problem disappears. They may never identify the problem, but they did make it go away.

In my experience, this is not true across the board, there are many IT folks that do a post-mortem on problems, that diagnose issues methodically to pin-point the problem, etc. But he’s right – there are many that don’t.

The funny thing is that the methodical approach comes naturally to L, with his engineering background, but doesn’t come naturally to many other people and particularly people without any training in methodical testing. I recognized some of this back in high school. One thing that separated fair computer users from the great (and yes, this was back in the 80s) was diagnostic ability. My college roommate, for example, was lousy at diagnostics. He knew a fair amount about computers, but didn’t have a methodical approach for diagnosing problems.

KL was suggesting that people should identify experiments, knowing in advance what the different results would indicate. As an engineer, he called them experiments. However, many people with natural diagnostic ability do this instinctively. For example, the symptoms of the problem are known and could be either hardware or software. Some people naturally recognize this and do tests to rule out one or the other. Okay, the problem is in the hardware. Can we tell if it’s system or network? etc.

The funny thing is that I don’t think universities ever teach this skill. Computer Science does in a sense. If you can’t diagnose problems in your program in a rapid, methodical way, then you’ll probably fail out. But this seems to be more weeding out than teaching. IS courses and Engineering courses aren’t any better to my knowledge. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a “Debugging” course offered. So we’re left with people that can either perform diagnostics instinctively or people that can’t and replace/test parts randomly.

Am I missing something, are there courses in debugging? If not, should there be? I tend to think of debugging/diagnostics as a skill separate from coding or engineering. If that’s the case then it can and should be taught. Hell, there’s a whole television show (“House”) based on medical diagnostics – the least we can do is to teach future programmers, engineers and IT people the same skills.

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Macro photography

I was talking to hunter last Friday about macro photography and a great, relatively inexpensive, device to take macro pictures with almost any lens.  Essentially, the ability of a lens to focus on a close object is related to the focal length and the distance between the inflection point of the lens (point inside the lens where the image flips) and the film plane.  It’s something of a funny relationship for modern lenses with multiple internal pieces of glass.  However, the important thing to remember is that your ability to close focus depends on those two factors.

So, the great little device to help with macro photography is an extension tube.  It has no glass, all it does is to increase the distance between the lens’s inflection point and the film.  Assuming that the focal length is constant, you can focus more closely on the subject.

For example, consider the picture below:


That’s about as close as my 18-135mm lens can focus on that quarter.   If I attach a 25mm extension tube, I can get as close as:


I could probably get a little closer, but only if I put the subject inside the lens!

There are some down sides.  The biggest is that my flash can’t actually reach the object – the lens is in the way!  What I need is either additional lighting or better yet a ring flash that sits around the end of the lens to light the object.  Adorama seems to make one for about $140.  I might check that out.

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Calendar update update

In response to the two comments on my last post about the calendar:

etselec: I’m not certain if you were kidding or not.  FWIW, I don’t usually think of the calendar as something people outside of my family would be interested in.  I think that’s a pretty usual INTP trait 🙂  If anyone is interested in the calendar, it’s available at Lulu at the baseline cost of $11.29 each.  I didn’t put a markup on it, because it’s a fun thing rather than a plan to take over the world make money.

Mom: we just ordered them.  It’ll be a few days to print and then another 3 or so to ship.  Expect them by Friday the 14th at the latest.

World:  wrt to my mom, you see the kind of nagging reminders I put up with here 😉

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Calendar update

As I mentioned earlier, I’m printing the Yellowstone calendar using Lulu instead of Kodak.  I got back my sample and all in all, I’m happy with it.  I like that the image is the full size of the page (no border).  The print quality is pretty good – it’s not as good as Kodak’s but that’s not a big surprise.  The paper is also a bit lighter weight than Kodak’s card stock.  But hey, it’s about 45% cheaper!  🙂

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Calendar pictures

To forestall my mother’s nagging polite and subtle reminders, I took some time yesterday to select pictures for a 2008 Yellowstone calendar. I tried to limit myself to pictures taken on this year’s trip and was happy to see that I could 🙂

The ones I finally selected are shown below. They start with the cover image and then go from January through December:

Cover January February March April May June July August September October November December

To print them, I’m going with Lulu instead of Kodak. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is price 🙂 The other is that Lulu will do a full 8.5″x11″ edge to edge print whereas Kodak always puts a border. The images above are all scaled/cropped to a 8.5×11 aspect ratio, so hopefully, I’ll end up with a pretty nice result.

update: if anyone’s interested, the calendar is available from Lulu with no markup

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Wildlife from the front porch

When I was taking the dogs out last night, I noticed that we had a visitor.  A bat had decided to hang out on the front porch.  I’m guessing he was resting before going to work eating the insects in the area.  I called K, let the dogs do their thing and came back in for the camera.  Fortunately, he stayed put while I took a few pictures.  From our field guide to mammals, I would guess that he’s the Little Brown Myotis, but it’s not clear that they live in this area.  I guess we’ll look a bit more.

dsc_1908_m.JPG     dsc_1909_m.JPG

Inspired by the bat siting, I spent some time staking out our humming bird feeder (note to self, this is easier with a blind).  I took a few shots, only two of which were any good.  I particularly like the one where she’s perching on the branch.

dsc_1917_m.JPG      dsc_1920_m.JPG

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