End of the Year Wrap Up

Well, only a few days left in 2022. Like many recent years, I’m not sorry to see it go, but I dread its oncoming brother.

As for this year, well, I did a couple of animations despite not really having good ideas. Learned a bit more about the tools I use. Signed up for the Adobe PS plan, which I’ve kind of regretted (Adobe CC is a lot more difficult to use, while trying to be “helpful”). Started playing with VST plugins, and bought copies of Tracktion and Reaper, since Acid Pro seems to be heading out toward retirement. (If you want to kill a piece of software, get Magix to buy it.)

My faithful car decided it was tired of being faithful, so now I have a new car payment. Oh boy.

And I adopted a cat. You can see both the car (left) and the cat (center) below.

So that’s it for this year. Thanks for visiting, and we’ll see you next year.

The Construction of Light

These are all photos, made with my trusty Nikon D70. None of them have been altered in any way, other than reducing their size (they were all 3000 x 2000, I’ve made them 750 x 500).

As you’ve probably guessed, these were made by using long exposures at night, while a friend and I were driving around (don’t worry, I wasn’t the driver). (The very first one was not made at the same time, and no driving was involved, but the method was the same.)

I just found it interesting that you can get some really spectacular imagery by using random methods.

Eclipse 2017

I realize the eclipse happened last week, but I’ve only just put my computer back together after the move.  So here are some shots of the eclipse as it happened.

All of them were shot through my Nikon D70 using a neutral density filter, except for those where the coverage was as close as it got to total.  For those I just used the camera as is.  As you can see, most of the images look like someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing messing around with MS Paint.



I don’t know a lot about birds.  I think the specimen below is a heron of some kind, perhaps a “Great Blue Heron.”

A different specimen on a different day.

Not sure about this one.  He looks like he would rather not be photographed.  One of the benefits of a long lens.

I thought this guy below might be a gosling, or a baby swan, or whatever they’re called.  But there were bunches of them all swimming together without a big version leading them.  They’re great, by the way.  Their voices sound like soda-can pop-tops being thumbed.  (UPDATE: thanks to Cthulhu, this is most likely an American Coot.)

The bird below was very cooperative about being photographed.  This is fairly unusual, unless the birds think you have food.  Usually they turn away.  But he (or she) let me take some nice close-up (not too close though) shots.

Of course,  I suspect he thought I was a lot less threatening than this fellow, who was circling overhead.

Seagulls like to take bad photos.  So you’ve got to take lots to get one good one.

I guess they figure if you’re not giving them food, for free, you’re not worth cooperating with.

Now, this was an interesting photo day.  Just seeing through the viewfinder, I thought a predator bird had found a seagull nest, and the seagulls were trying to drive the predator away.  But looking at the pictures now, I can see that predator bird has caught a fish.

And then a seagull shows up.  “Hey, you caught a fish!  I like fish.  Can I have your fish?”  “No, go away.”

“Oh, come on.  I really like fish!  Can I have yours?  Is it okay if I just jump in and grab it?  I’d like that!”  “No, go away, or I shall call the gendarmes!”

“Oh, come on!  That’s a big fish!  You’ll get fat if you eat it all, and the guys won’t dig you!”  “Hm…well, if you want the fish…move in closer.  I’ll only hold the fish with one talon!  Yeah, yeah, closer!”

“Oh, cool, thanks!  Say, why are you…hey!  Okay, I guess I don’t need that fish.  It’s full of fat anyway, and you’ll get fat from eating it, too bad!”

Great Blue Heron at sunset.

Thanks as always for stopping by.


ND Photography

“ND” refers to “Neutral Density” filters.  These are varying densities of gray, designed to block varying amounts of light in order to have long exposures during the daylight.  Normally, having an exposure time of 4 seconds or so would just give you a blank white image; that amount of time in sunlight would just saturate the camera’s CCD.  ND filters are designed to counter that.

The two most prevalent types of images taken with ND filters are those of running, foaming water (it gives the water a misty, dream-like look) and public attractions like monuments (long exposures mean that the people milling around never stay in one place long enough to register on the image).

You can find an excellent article on using ND filters here.  That same article also discusses a different way to get the same result–by using two polarizing filters, a circular one attached to the lens, and a linear one attached to that filter.  That gives one a bit more flexibility than a standard ND filter, which is usually a single strength.

So having read the article, I decided to try my hand at it.  My camera is a Nikon D70, and my lens is a Quantaray 18-200 zoom.  The filters are Kenko (linear) and Promaster (circular).  Of course, all of the shots below were taken using a tripod.  I couldn’t think of any local monuments, and I also couldn’t remember any areas with interesting running water, but I chose the latter nonetheless.  None of the shots below have been enhanced in any way.

The above was taken with the camera on Auto.  Exposure 1/125, F/5.6.  Below is the same area, also at F/5.6 but with an exposure time of 4 seconds.

In addition to making bubbly water mist-like, it can also smooth water surfaces.  Below, an “Auto” shot at F/5.6 and 1/125.

The same shot (slightly reframed, mostly via zoom) at 4 seconds, and F/32.

The reason for the reframing was (I think) something to do with the angle of the light.  Because when I tried to do the ND shot with the original framing (20 seconds at F/11) I got this–

–which is, in its own way, quite lovely but not really what I wanted.  Even messing with it in PhotoShop* didn’t really get me what I wanted.

So, it’s definitely not an exact science.  Which is one of the nice things about digital cameras–mistakes don’t cost you anything, and in fact are a good learning experience.

A few more examples below.

6 seconds at F/9:

20 seconds at F/16:

20 seconds at F/18 (slightly tweaked in PhotoShop for exposure):

15 seconds at F/20:

Now, to find some waterfalls…

Thank you as always for stopping by.

*The folks referenced in the link above make a really nice image editor called Zoner Photo Studio.  It has a lot of the same functionality as PhotoShop but is a lot less expensive.  It’s well worth checking out; alas, I’m pretty well wedded to PhotoShop for the foreseeable future…but I do have a copy of Zoner.  Who knows what might happen in the future?

Orlandroid FLA

I’d love to know who scheduled a conference in Orlando, Florida, in the last bit of June.  Especially one that I have to attend.  I imagine his reasons have to do with the offspring of a Hippo, and Elephant, and a Rhino.

In other words, Helifino.   Yes, it is fourth grade all over again! Anyway, it’s hot and humid down here.  Or up here, depending.  Too hot to be terribly clever about anything. 

But they largely shuffle us between air-conditioned hotel and air-conditioned convention center (which is massive) so it’s okay for the most part.  Except for the fact that my hotel room is on the 18th floor.  Have I ever mentioned I have a fear of heights?   That’s borne in on me whenever I think about it (weird dreams about driving along the sides of cliffs) but for the most part it doesn’t worry me.   At least I won’t be going next year, when it’s going to be held in Austin.   That’s going to be even hotter, one imagines.

So, back to that.  If you don’t hear (or haven’t heard) from me, it’s because I’m busy with this stuff, not because I fell off the Earth.  Although that might happen, too.  That would probably end up being in the newspaper, though.  So you’d know, then. See you on the front page!  And thanks for your patronage.


Do YOU Know About Season Fairies?

I think Sugar got herself a bit lost the other night.  Here’s what the landscape ’round these parts looked like, around 12:30 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning.  Bear in mind, this is April 7th/8th in North Carolina.

Snow in April!

The next morning, we had this.  Also bear in mind, I’m “on call” this weekend, so this sight didn’t cheer me at all.

Much as I love Sugar, I hate snow.  Fortunately, by the time noon rolled around, Salt had popped by and done his bit for Season-Fairy-dom. 

Thank you Salt!

Who knows where the snow went, and so quickly?  (Organ sting) Mwa ha ha ha ha, the Shadow knows!

So that’s the weather report for this first weekend in April.  I’ve actually got some painting updates to post, so I appreciate your patience while I bore you, and thanks for stopping by, as always. 

Pipe Dream

Apparently there’s another rumor floating around that I’m dead.  Well, damn it, I’m not dead yet.  One of these days, though, I will be and you’ll be sorry that you laughed with me all cold and blue and rotting and starting to stink and hungering for brains.  Better shovel me into the trash when you can!  HEY WAIT STOP I MEANT WHEN I’M DEAD.

Anyway, here are some photos from the half-pipe that I built all by my lonesome.  The first photo shows the five pieces after they were cobbled together, but before they were assembled into one monstrous organism.   

Each of the end pieces (the two curved sections) is actually made of two parts, that haven’t yet been shackled together into oneness or something hippie-esque or equally unpleasant and in need of bathing.

In the shot below, the plastic covering has been put under the wooden bits, and they’ve all been assembled into one coalescent being.  The plastic is there to prevent moisture, grubs, worms and HORRIFYING ZOMBIES from damaging stuff that shouldn’t be damaged.  Mostly I like the angle on this one…

…because the picture below pretty much shows the same thing. 

Below, you can see the plywood flooring applied, as well as the plastic tubing stuff that goes at the top so, um, the, er, plastic tubing stuff can work.  And stuff.  And like that.

Finally, below is the finished product with the back fence-things applied.  AND IT WAS DONE AND FINISHED AND THE LORD DID SPAKE AND SAY YEA IT IS GOOD, THAT THING YOU DID, THERE.  AWESOME DUDE.

And I am still amazingly sore in all available limbs.  But not that sore GET THOSE SHOVELS OUT OF MY SIGHT!

So, I built a half-pipe.  And I lived to tell the tale.  (Soon to be an epic poem by Coleridge.) And yeah, sure, I’ll build one for you, too.

For fifty thousand dollarsHeh heh heh.

Just kidding.  I wouldn’t charge that much, and I’d never build another one anyway.

Speaking of anyway, next we’ll have more anime stuff!  Thanks for visiting, as always, and as always, GET THOSE SHOVELS AWAY FROM ME YOU OVERZEALOUS GHOULS!  Can’t a guy rot in peace?