Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus Transit

Here's a pic from yesterday's Venus Transit. Here, you get it all... Mountain, clouds, Venus, and the Sun.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guanella Pass

Some pics from the Guanella Pass motorcycle ride.

A weird item we saw when we pulled over for some snaps.

Curtis and the new (used) V-Strom.

Stream. Meadow. Mountains. Snow. Sky. A pinch of cloud.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Eclipse of the Hea..Err, Moon

Awesome lunar eclipse!

I'll have some pictures up later. But I'm not impressed with them. In order to get my f/11 800mm lens (400x2) to show much of the moon in umbra, I had to boost the ISO to 1600 and take a full second exposure. Wow. With a 450D, that equals grainy. Way grainy. I'll have to see if I can clean it up at all with Photo Shop. Not holding my breath.

As long as I'm complaining, I'll also mention that I did not care for the Manfrotto 322RD2 ball head. It was too hard to adjust the camera/lens on the moon. I had the mount attached the the rear portion of the lens - so that most of the lens was on one side, and the doubler and camera were on the other side. Well balanced for normal photography. But when I'm aimed almost straight up, all the weight is transferred back. When I release all of the tension in the ball head, then adjust the view to where I wanted, then release the handle to re-apply the tension, then let go of the camera/lens, it sags and the moon goes partly out of frame. When I try to only partially grip the handle, so that there is less sag when I let go of the camera, the motion is jerky and the moon shoots in one side of the frame and out the other.

Also, it was a PITA to try to look through the viewfinder (or even at the LCD in live view) when the camera was pointed nearly straight up. On prior moon shoots, I shot it at about 45 degrees. So that was not nearly as difficult for either looking through the viewfinder, or dealing with ball head mount sag (better balance over the ball head).

On a more positive note, I used a Satechi remote shutter release. It worked quite well and I am thoroughly pleased with it. On prior moon shots I would set the shutter release timer, and hope that the camera/tripod were done vibrating by the time it released (settable to 2 or 10 seconds).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pet Series

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/1.4, ISO400, 1/15]
[Koal, 7/19/2009]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pet Series



[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/1.6, ISO200, 1/400]
[Koal, home, 7/24/2009]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Used Camera

I've been selling junk (not all junk) on craigslist to 'make' enough money to offset purchasing a new camera. And to help offset the cost, I figured I'd also buy the camera used off of craigslist. The camera in question being the Canon 5D mark II (hereafter referred to as a 5D). Retails for $2500. Yes, that is a lot. A lot lot. Roughly 2 years ago I'd call someone either insane or a pro photographer for spending that much on a camera. My now 2.5 year old $650 camera (with lens) has served me (mostly) well. The backed-up-by-looking-closely-at-photos significant complaints I have about it are: The generally noisy sensor. The poor shadow detail. The not always adequate auto focus. And, the terrible amount of noise, and hot pixels, on long shutter time pics. The close to nit pick complaints are: The poor ISO range and performance (not that much of a nit). The inability to get truly ultra wide pictures due to it's APS-C sensor size. And, the fastest shutter speed is 1/4000 (well qualified as a nit).

The camera worked well for a large percentage of photography situations, as can (hopefully) be seen from many of the posts here. It does fine in well lit and high shutter speed situations. Even those have slight graininess due to noise and sensor quality. Slight graininess isn't the end of the world, and is much better than the vast majority of point and shoot cameras - which use heavy handed noise reduction logic.

Anyway, the new camera has a higher quality sensor - which, I'm sure still has noise and some graininess, but should be significantly better. Especially in low light situations. And, I would expect no pixels that were as hot as the ones in the 450, and way fewer of them (about 100 in the worst shooting conditions).

The 450's max ISO was 1600, but you would not want to use it. It was bad. 800 wasn't even good in most cases. 100 to 400 were reasonable. The 5D goes to 25600. I tested 6400, and that appeared to look as good as ISO 400 on the other one.

The 5D has a full frame sensor, meaning that the wide angle lenses are wide angle. The down side being that the telephoto lenses are no longer extra-telephoto. a 400mm lens on the old one behaves like a 640mm lens. To compensate somewhat for this, the total number of pixels is increased (12mp to 21mp), keeping the pixels per cm^2 in the same ball park. So, cropping a 12mp photo from the middle of the 21mp image would still provide a telephoto boost. Just not quite as much.

As for the 1/4000 max (min?) shutter? The 5D goes to 1/8000. As a significant bonus, the 5D also captures video. HD 1080 video to boot. No clue how much I'd use it. But I find myself somewhat excited about the prospect.

So, back to the concept of purchasing a used one. How much would I expect to save? Well, I'd like to save 20% or more. I sold my like new condition 70-300mm IS USM lens for nearly 40% off. So, 20% off does not seem unreasonable. So, over the past two or three months, I've been keeping an eye out for a used 5D. I've seen several over that time. Going rate - $2200. Just over a 10% savings. I was really hoping for more, but since the prices aren't discounted much, I figured that the cameras on offer are in pristine condition.

So, I went to see/buy one this weekend in Boulder. Oh, my. This camera looked like it rode around in the back seat (or floor) of a car for the majority of the year that it has been in existence. The textured rubber focus ring on the lens had almost all of it's texture worn off. The thumb joystick on the back of the camera had a dent in it. Like it had been dropped, or something dropped on it. The pretty LCD screen had some of it's protective anti-glare coating worn off (no visible scratches in it though). On the top, in front of the flash mount, was some white paint that was acquired from bumping into something painted white. Neither attractive nor an indication that the camera was babied.

Add to that the fact that there is no warranty, the battery performance is reduced, and there may be some other glitch with the camera that has not been disclosed (and is the reason the camera is up for sale).

In my great desire to acquire a 5D, I looked past that (though uncomfortably), and went to the car for the payment. While there, I took a deep breath. No. I would not be proud to pull this camera from my bag.

I went back and said that, due to the wear and tear on the camera, I was not going to buy it. He offered to lower the price $50 more, to $2150. Nope. The camera has been abused. He seemed puzzled by my new tact. I think he thought I was just trying to get the price down a few more dollars to satisfy my craigslist-esque desire to get a rock bottom sweet deal. Honestly, I would have paid $1500 for it, but felt that he could find someone else that was not as concerned about the condition. Though, I doubt they would pay $2200.

I left, disappointed that I was not leaving with a 5D, but very very happy that I had not caved to the purpose of the evening's trip and dumped a load of cash for an object that I would regret owning pretty much immediately.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pet Series

[EFS18-55mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 34mm, f/4.5, ISO400, 1/60]
[Dweezil, 5/31/2008]

Weren't you listening? I TOLD you, No Pictures!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pet Series

[EFS18-55mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 34mm, f/4.5, ISO400, 1/60]
[Dweezil, 5/31/2008]

No, no! No pictures!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Pet Series

[Kodak DC280 (junk) - f/3.0, ISO100, 1/30, flash]
[Nikkie, 6/8/2004]

I love spider plants! I'll walk on two feet to get 'em!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pet Series

[Olympus Stylus 810 - f/2.8, ISO64, 1/30, flash]
[Bag cat, 10/29/2007]

Only the freshest organic cats come from Whole Foods.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pet Series

[Olympus Stylus 810 - f/2.8, ISO250, 1/30, flash]
[Amber & friends, 11/16/2008]

See cats?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pet Series

[Olympus Stylus 810 - f/8, ISO64, 1/250]
[Amber, Elevenmile Reservoir, 7/28/2007]

Sea dog.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pet Series

[Olympus Stylus 810 - f/2.8, ISO64, 1/30, flash]
[Spot, 4/4/2008]

Either he's trying to say he's ready to be mailed, or his spelling is a little off and he's identifying himself as a male.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pet Series

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 22mm, f/4.5, ISO800, 1/200]
[Nikkie, 1/17/2010, Cropped]

Nikkie. Letting you know what she thinks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pet Series

I hope you enjoyed the Red Rocks series. Now on to pets..

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 10mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/4]
[Amber, 1/16/2010]

Sleeping Beauty.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/1.4, ISO400, 1/4000]
[Red Rocks, 1/16/2010]

Just a little perspective.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 10mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/100]
[Red Rocks, 1/16/2010]
Red Rocks Amphitheater. With the now recognized morning light.

In the larger picture you can see people that like to get a workout in the morning (and in a beautiful setting) by running up and down the stairs.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/125]
[Red Rocks, 1/23/2010]

Sunrise colored clouds over Red Rocks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 22mm, f/4.5, ISO400, 1/60]
[Red Rocks, 1/23/2010, Cropped]

More Red Rocks....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/320]
[Red Rocks, 1/23/2010, Cropped]

More Red Rocks....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 15mm, f/4, ISO400, 1/500]
[Red Rocks, 1/16/2010, Cropped]

Red Rocks in the morning sun.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/200]
[Red Rocks, 1/23/2010, Cropped]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Red Rocks Series

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 15mm, f/4, ISO400, 1/1000]
[Red Rocks, 1/23/2010]

Starting a post series of eight Red Rocks snaps.

I probably should not have lead with my favorite...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gate - Almost Done

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 30mm, f/4, ISO400, 1/3200]
[Side Gate, Home, 11/10/2010]

Just needs another coat of paint and some hardware.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Power Consumption

They say (IDK who, really), that leaving your PC on all day every day for the entire year (24/365) would consume more energy (and cause more CO2) than a car. My FJ Cruiser (not the most efficient vehicle in the world) costs about $9 a day to commute to and from work. So, that's $2340 in fuel every year. A rough calc. I did not remove vacation days for not commuting, but I also did not add in weekend car usage or car usage over the vacation. It averages out - and is 12480 miles - not to far from the typical 12k/year average estimate.

So, me, who recently had as many as 8 desktops (6 winXP, 1 osx, 1 Linux) and 2 laptops (1 osX, 1 winXP) running, that should be (assuming laptops take 1/2 power usage) $21,060 in electric bills. I'm pretty sure I would have noticed that. And, over a decade ago when I used to host lan parties at my prior house, I had 50 PCs running for over 12 hours one day. Old PCs, the power consuming CRTs and graphic intense applications. I took the Kwh reading before, and after. I don't have the numbers any more, but the calc at the time was that it cost well under $10 for the power for the party.

But, that was then. Now, PCs have bigger power supplies - 500-700 watts on average versus 200-250 typical back then. And, cost per Kwh has also increased. So I decided to collect some data and do a little math. How much are my PCs costing me in dollars per year. I'd check the power bill for Kwh prices, and I have a spiffy Greenlee AC ammeter. How hard could it be?

Hard enough. First issue was the bill. Tiered pricing. Add to that, tiered and non tiered surcharges. Add to that, the prices change in the tiers each month. So, I figured I'd just use one month's pricing and go with that (inaccurate, but should still provide useful data). OK, so, for that month, the cheapest price per Kwh was 3.9 cents. The largest was 9.6 cents. The cheapest 'bonus' charge was .3 cents, while the most expensive was 3.4 cents. I crunched some numbers in my head (OK, I didn't crunch any, I just lightly bruised some). I came up with 8 cents per Kwh as a working average.

Next issue. My Greenlee meter was producing numbers that I thought were too low. A lot too low. A 40 watt bulb was coming up at .17 amps. A 500 watt halogen light was coming up at 2.33 to 2.85 amps. How does one know how accurate a meter really is?

Final issue: How to determine the actual power consumption. When is a device hibernating, when is it on, but not using a lot of CPU? When is it using more power for more intense apps? I chose not to answer that completely, and just chose to take readings in the different modes. hibernate/off, up/idle, and running 3 browsers, each with a different youTube video running.

I did not measure every device. Here are some of the amp figures:

MacBook: hibernate = 0.01; on = 0.15; loaded = 0.3

clock radio: 0.01

Dell XPS dual core: off = 0.04; on = 0.69; loaded = .9
Acer 24" LCD: off = 0.02; on = 0.27

NAS Storage device: (off switch did not do anything) on = 0.08;
accessing data on it = 0.1.

8 port gigabit switch: 0.01

1500 watt heater: low = 4.15; high = 6.9.

Knowing the dubious nature of the numbers thus far, and wondering what number to use for volts (110? 115? 120?), I settled for an average of 115 for yet another dubious number. 720 hours per month (used a 30 day month).

Dubious results (usage for a month):

Macbook: Hibernate = 6.6 cents; on = 99 cents; loaded = $1.98.

Dell XPS: off = 26.5 cents; on = $4.57; loaded = $5.96.
LCD Monitor: off = 13 cents; on $1.78.

Not a lot. But I figure those are low ball numbers (due mostly to the low ball readings).

But, they add up. 8 PCs running 24/7/52 (with monitors on all the time) = $617.

I now have 2 PCs and 1 MacBook (mostly hibernating) up all the time, with the occasional 1 or 2 more running as needed.

Still need to figure out what the deal is with the Greenlee readings...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oly, RIP

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 35mm, f/2.8, ISO400, 1/15]
[Olympus Stylus 810, 11/13/2010]

Our Olympus Stylus 810 was dropped on the sidewalk, and has died. Well, it has not actually died. It's just mostly dead. When the power button is pressed it keeps trying to retract and extend the lens. It doesn't go in and out. It just spins and wobbles back and forth. It's sad actually, It looks like a wounded animal. I'd post video of it, but the only camera I had that took video was the 810. OK, somewhere I think there is a VHS-C camera, but I don't have anything to take it from analogue to digital to get it to the mac/pc.

I'll be looking for a replacement camera. Anyone know of a good camera that takes the same memory (xd) and/or the battery (li-12b)? I've found several options in the $80 to $160 range that look like good replacements and use the same memory, but not the same battery. Some of them on the higher end don't have the extending lens, so would be more durable too (and weather proof). That, as evidence shows, would be a good idea.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Random Pic

Lonely aspen.
[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 65mm, f/3.2, ISO100, 1/125]
[Fall River Road, RMNP, 9/16/2010]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Random Pic - Look East

My first attempt at an evening cityscape shot. With the sun setting behind me, the Denver skyline was starting to light up. I think I need to take a larger pano, and do more cropping. Better luck next time. Shot was taken from Barnum Park, just south of 6th ave.

[EF50mm f/1.4 USM - 50mm, f/9.0, ISO100, 0.6]
[Denver, 1/30/2010]

p.s. It was cold. My fingers were numb.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Random Pic - Look West

A view to the west at my Lake Granby camp site. Including the picnic table, unused.

The bulk of Lake Granby (and the island I kayaked around) is to the east.

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 22mm, f/6.3, ISO400, 1/1000]
[crop, post gradient ND filter]
[Lake Granby, 7/24/2010]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Random Pic

River above Adam's Falls. Time to get wet...

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 10mm, f/6.3, ISO400, 1/1250]
[Adam's Falls, RMNP, 7/24/2010]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Camping 2010 Number Two

The 2nd camping trip of the year was the 'AMS' camping trip to Lake Granby in July (23-25). Why the quotes around 'AMS'? AMS is no longer called AMS - it was bought by CGI, and most of the people that go, no longer work for AMS, or even CGI, anymore.

Not a lot to mention on this one. I had been here before, two years ago, in a tent. It was too hot and occasionally windy for a tent. There were no trees for shade close to the camp site then, so I reserved a different site. The Google map satellite picture showed that there were some good trees at my new site. No such luck when I got there though. All trees on the top of the hill were GONE. Due to bark beetles. At least this time I was not confined to a hot tent. The aluminum skin kept the interior of Ellie reasonably cool enough, and the awning on the side worked excellent for shade. Not to mention that the electric supply was better than documented. The AC in Ellie worked fine (needs at least 20 amps, and the site specified that it had 10 amps). I suppose one of the pluses to no trees was that the views were not blocked. Well, except for all the other campers on the hill...

Since Amber was supposed to get eye surgery, and none of the cats wanted to be in a car for the trip, I had Ellie all to myself. It got a bit lonely. I was wishing there was a dog to trip over or someone snoring to hear. Yeah, that's right, I'm never happy.

Day one - setup, and enjoy the sunset.

Pink clouds over cars and tents.

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 24mm, f/3.5, ISO400, 1/250]
[Stillwater, Lake Granby, 7/23/2010]

Moonlight rippling on Lake Granby.

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 32mm, f/2.8, ISO800, 1/2]
[Stillwater, Lake Granby, 7/23/2010]

Day two - morning kayaking and afternoon hike to... Um... I forgot the name of the falls. [Adam's Falls]

A shot of the lake and the island that I kayaked around.

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 24mm, f/8.0, ISO800, 1/3200]
[Stillwater, Lake Granby, 7/24/2010]

The phat man himself...

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 20mm, f/8.0, ISO800, 1/1250]
[Adam's Falls, RMNP, 7/24/2010]

Curtis taking a photo of the river above Adam's Falls.

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 22mm, f/6.3, ISO400, 1/540]
[Adam's Falls, RMNP, 7/24/2010]

Day three - pack and head home...

A last view from the dining room table. I really need to wash the windows.

[EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - 17mm, f/6.3, ISO400, 1/30]
[Stillwater, Lake Granby, 7/25/2010]

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Pic

Maybe this should have been the Halloween pic...

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 70mm, f/6.3, ISO800, 1/4000]
[Near Leadville, 8/31/2010]

Ugly bug carrying it's young on it's back.
[ISO800... Ooops.]

Click on the closeup...
[Above shot - full res crop]

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Moon (reprise)

A nearly full moon for Halloween.

[EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +2.0x - 800mm, f/11, ISO200, 1/250]
[Moon, 5/16/2008]

Taken on my to Jackson Hole Wyoming. First real use of the 100-400 with doubler.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Random Pic

[Olympus S810 - 7.4mm, f/8, ISO64, 1/200]
[Amber and Koal, Elevenmile reservoir, 7/28/2007]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Random Pics (Elk)

[EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM - 180mm, f/5, ISO200, 1/640]
[Elk, RMNP, 6/21/2008]

[EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +2.0x - 800mm, f/11, ISO200, 1/100]
[Elk - Extreme Closeup, RMNP, 6/21/2008]

Elk at RMNP, at about the top of Trail Ridge Road. Uncropped. The closeup shows the nice furry velvet on the new antlers.

This was not a camping trip, it was just to exercise the new cameras (Canon 450D and Nikon D300).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Moon

Since I posted Jupiter photos a few days ago, and it is getting close to Halloween, here is a photo from my first night shooting the moon (well, not if you count playing Hearts).

I only had a 300mm lens at this point...

[EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM - 300mm, f/8, ISO200, 1/250]
[Moon, 5/13/2008]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clouds on Fire

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 24mm, f/3.2, ISO200, 1/50]
[Home, 9/5/2010]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 68mm, f/2.8, ISO400, 1/8]
[Home, 4/11/2010]

I don't appear to have many photos of Zipper. This one that looks like an ad for a cat scratcher, isn't terrible, and is likely the latest pic of Zipper. I was just playing around with my new lens.

It's an appropriate picture. This was one of her favorite places to snooze. On a bed of certified organic catnip.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sunset Rain

[EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM - 43mm, f/3.5, ISO100, 1/50, cropped]
[Home, 6/2/2010]

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back in Time

[EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS - 30mm, f/4.5, ISO400, 1/125]
[Koal, Home, 5/8/2008]

This is the oldest picture I have from the Canon 450D, or as you Americans like to call it, the XSi.

It is picture number 0002 from the camera. Just a test shot, but the subject was good.