Equipment sidetrack

Sydney J. Harris used to write columns about “Things I learned en route to looking up other things”. This is something like that, but not exactly.

Idly I am poking through equipment for sale, wondering if certain items can be fit into the revised Master Plan, and occasionally bidding on whatever I think might. This has included some rather wild detours like Sony a6000 to get the hi-res sensor and mirrorless adapt-almost-any-lens ability to switching to Nikon DSLR for the same hi-res reason or even because I want to try out some of the older, CCD equipped cameras of theirs. None of that happened. A lot of lenses passed as well.

What I did buy was some more lens adapters for the Canon EF cameras, just in case I found a Canon FD or Nikon F lens for such a price as couldn’t be passed up. In essence, the redesigned plan is to reduce the DSLRs to Canon only, because then it’s all fairly interchangeable and a lot of old glass can be easily adapted to it. Also no need to memorize six or eight different control configurations. Makes sense, right?

The only change, then, was acquiring a Canon T7 to get a 24MP sensor (1/3 more pixels than the T100 so worth the switch). I haven’t succeeded in this either, as they mostly go for more money than I’m willing to put into this project at this point. For another thing, selling off the superfluous equipment is proving to be quite a stumbling block.

Anyway, that’s the plan now: Canon 1Ds (too big and heavy for anyone else to want), replace the Canon T100 with a T7 to get higher res on the hi-res camera, keep the Canon G11 and Fuji F80 carry-along cameras, and continue using the Nikon P610 as the “daily driver” until it fails entirely. Hopefully by that point I can save up enough for a replacement like a Canon SX70.

Oh and one other thing: try, try, try to avoid buying any more equipment just because it’s cheap or interesting (and cheap). Sensible, right? Right. Let’s see me actually manage to do it.

Now off to one side I come across this blog by favourite writer Eric L. Woods: A Sigma dp2 Quattro Fascinating camera. The Foveon sensor is built like a layer of colour film, and the results show. Several of the other X3 write-ups I found dismissed the design as though they were written by people with stock in other sensor manufacturers or something. Much of it was confused and contradictory so I guess maybe they didn’t understand it. Personally I like the concept and the results.

I also like the fact they didn’t go crazy on cramming “features” into this camera. It has some faults to be sure, like no EVF. Considering how expensive it is that’s just stupid. But largely it is a digital camera for a film photographer. Too bad about the price. In my “ideal” camera design I can see that Foveon X3 sensor as a key element.

That’s all as maybe. I have to try and focus on my current projects, including the wood harvest that has just started. It’s been difficult as the still-present smoke makes me cough almost instantly when I so much as talk, never mind work. I got a lot done yesterday when there was no smoke about, so timing is vital to success.

In the meantime there’s only a few more things on e-Bay I want to keep track of. Just in case.

First load of firewood for this year.

How hot was it?

We are currently experiencing a historically unprecedented heatwave here in BC. Records are being set daily, including Lytton giving Canada a new all-time high of 49.5C/121F. Here at the cabin we’ve hit 41, which is the hottest it’s ever been here. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow, with thunderstorms. This brings up another problem: lightning. We already have two large, out-of-control wildfires burning not too far away. The smoke cast a haze in the air here this morning. Welcome to Hell.

In fact I’ve only been able to work a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot to do anything. I’ve not been going out unless absolutely necessary, and we don’t even let the dogs stay out for long. It’s a case of “just get through this”.

Some bad news: two of our cats have gone missing and the outlook for them is not good. There is water and prey out there if they can find it, but …

MIA: Hannibal, aka Puff-puff.
MIA: Boots, aka Twinkle-toes.

Few photos being taken, due to the heat. But here are a few.

Queen of the Hill (look close).
Robin on the nest.
New flower. I don’t know what it is; never seen one before.
Robin’s egg blue. I quite like this pic.

Beyond the immediate area many things are happening. BC’s state of emergency will finally be lifted July 1, and many rules relaxed including mandatory mask requirements. I will wait until my 2nd shot (on Friday) has had time to take effect before I doff the N95. Unless I have to keep wearing it against wildfire smoke. *sigh* I’m used to that.

Of late

We are finally at the cabin together. It wasn’t easy. Along the way the road bumps took a few casualties among the packed goods, such as reducing a dozen eggs to half a dozen. The jostling alone did the damage, and it took me a couple of hours to clean up the mess once we got here.

First of the flooring upstairs.

The place is far from done. It’s just usable. But my poor wife hasn’t been able to stay out here since 2018 due to one thing or another or even more. The cats are very unhappy about being here, growling and hissing at each other and the world in general. Two of them have “left home”. They should return once they’re hungry. The dogs are fine. They love adventure. I’m not so keen on it myself.

The new china cabinet.

This was the big ‘sticking point’ for being able to fully occupy the place. Fortunately a couple of friends dropped by and help me lift the top piece on to the base. Three old guys that took. Many thanks to Wally and Danny ’cause otherwise I’d have had to build a crane or something. I swear the top alone is 200 lbs.

Of course with the dogs around the wildlife has taken off so no more deer. Probably no more bear or woodchuck or other sizable beasts. Fortunately they are smarter than the dogs, who’d try to play with a wolverine if they found one.

Timmy the Idiot; a yearling buck who kept coming ’round and poking in the ash pit.

The mosquitoes are still here. They seemed to disappear Saturday when the temperature got up to 97 (sorry Celisus; you’re no good for daily living). It’s expected to be 108 tomorrow and Tuesday. This is highly unusual for the area. Inside the cabin it was only 75. Now this morning it’s 60 outside so the windows are open to let the temperature drop. Once it starts climbing again I’ll close up and keep the heat out. It works and it’s cheaper than air conditioning.

Mosquito Patrol.

We’ll be out here now while I continue working. Not sure what I’ll get done, but there sure is a lot left to do. Going to go slow during this heat wave of course, and not planning on going back to town for anything until next Friday.

 

Just an update post

Work, work, work. Rain, rain, rain. Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.

That about covers it.

Note the lack of “photographs, photographs, photographs”. It hasn’t been suitable in any way for that.

I am making progress on the cabin, but every step just reveals more that needs doing. It’s like painting a huge bridge – that just keeps getting longer the further you go. A Mobius project?

The livingroom is starting to look like a room instead of a warehouse.

Once again there is further evidence I’m too old to be doing this, as I seem to be breaking out in spontaneous bruising. Unexplained subdermal haemotomas. It seems effort alone is enough to burst the blood vessels. That’s not good. Especially not when moving large amounts of heavy furniture around.

At least the blood is still inside.

By the way, the last trip out here I managed the road at the breakneck speed of 34 KPH (21.5 MPH). Yeah, it just keeps getting better. Not. The additional rain we’ve had since then probably hasn’t done it any good either.

Dashcam view of the road crew on the one day this year they were there. They scraped 1/2 a KM that didn’t need any work, then went home.

It seems I have a deadline of this weekend to make the place habitable as the Mrs. wants to come out and stay – for the first time since 2018. I can’t say I don’t blame her. Unfortunately she’ll bring our zoo with her, and that means certain projects have to be done ahead of then as the animals will get in the way. It also means the wildlife will vanish for the most part.

What? Dogs are coming? Oh no!

Unfortunately mosquitoes are not one of the creatures that will leave when the pets arrive. Oh well. Back to work.

Some words about pictures

When I have time I read other photography blogs. Some on a regular basis, others as they randomly appear. Often they are interesting; seeing the process from another point of view and such. Occasionally they are infuriating; seeing people presumably making a living doing something they don’t actually understand how to do. Mostly they are amusing; looking at others’ adventures in Photo Land.

Just this morning I read a well-documented process of producing a colour Infrared photo from three separate black & white film images. I wondered why, at first. After reading it I wondered why even more. Seemed like a lot of work to go through in order to produce an image you could get straight out of a digital camera in one go. If you know what you’re doing.

This hearkens back to the recurring theme of spending endless time messing about with post-processing that is the hobgoblin on digital photography. Yes, you can adjust each and every factor by 0.1 at a time – and never emerge from your digital darkroom again. You really do have to develop (pun intended) a balance between ‘perfection’ and ‘no good’ which comes down to ‘good enough’. It won’t be the same for everyone. Most people, for example, scoff at my “professional snapshots” because they are small, low-res images often made with cheap (by industry standards) cameras. Well too bad; I like them. If I didn’t I would change my ways.

Sometimes I wonder if viewers of my work, particularly other photographers, see the message of composition and framing that goes into the shots I do. Never mind use and control of light. After 50+ years of pushing the button it’s second nature to me, although of course it doesn’t always work out (best thing about digital is you can make mistakes for free).

This is not to say there isn’t a reason to do post-processing, as there often is. For example older digital cameras tend to lose contrast so might need a little +10 in that department to bring them up to snuff. Or perhaps it is your intent to adjust things to produce the result you had in mind to begin with, or the result the image inspires when you see it on the ‘big screen’. And let’s be honest, sometimes the photo needs ‘saving’ because something went desperately wrong when you took it. It happens to all of us.

But what I wonder about is why people take perfectly good pictures and then spend hours ‘tweaking’ settings by tiny amounts expecting to get some sort of eureka moment of perfection. After all, we don’t every one of us see the same photo the same way.

I also wonder why people go about making an image the hard way when the same result is possible with far less effort (especially with digital). Maybe I’m just getting too lazy in my old age.

Anyway it’s foggy and cold this morning so no images will be captured today. Besides I have to get back to work.

One Strange Night. (Infrared image taken with Canon 1Ds & 35mm Super Takumar.)

Random monochrome

Well I’m back at work on the cabin. So far the progress of one day has been a list of things I need to get. That’s how it goes.

And now, for no particular reason whatsoever, some photos of various things.

A “set up” shot I did to explain to someone else a few points about taking pictures of this kind.
Spider sticks.
“Swirled galaxy”. You wouldn’t believe what this really is. It’s all about controlling the light, people.
Not quite monochrome. This shows the damage to my utility trailer’s suspension. One big repair bill.

And now … back to work. Hardly something different.

What I’ve been up to

The big project this month (or indeed this year) was the replacement of the flooring in the main section of the cabin. It’s almost 600 square feet, and up until now has been a collection of mis-matched and crumbling vinyl sheet goods, rotting old industrial carpet, and bare plywood. All uneven and tattered and really, really ugly. Even with rugs down the ugly came through.

The replacement wasn’t easy as it could only be done in sections; there was no place to move everything to in order to get one big empty space to work in and on. So I compressed everything into one end of the building and got at it.

There were places where the subfloor was rotted due to past roof leaks. Mould clung to the old vinyl as well. Clean-up, cut out, throw out. After that new underlay had to go down to build up the level to where the end vinyl planking would match the existing tile kitchen and bath floors, as well as the laminate I succeeded in installing in the bedroom last year. Vinyl was the only choice here, as the floor structure and surface and very uneven. It slopes off in various directions and dips and rises. “Undulates” would be one way of describing it.

Here are some of the progress pictures. Even though you can’t see what it started out like, you can see it is now much better. Not done yet, of course; it’s a house and houses are never finished.

First section completed.
Second section completed. (Note how everything is crammed into the far end.)
Third section completed.

Of course most of it will be covered in furniture and rugs (dogs slip on vinyl) anyway but it will be contiguous, and even (but not level) wherever it is.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t level the whole thing and put in, say, hardwood I assure you that was not a practical option: straightening up a log cabin that was built wrong to begin with and then had 70 years to settle as it wished is not a simple thing. Most likely it would have suffered major structural damage with any attempt to rapidly push it back to level, and as for other methods of flattening the surface (like self-leveling concrete) the distortion was too extreme for that to be viable. Example: I measured one spot as sloping 2″ in 4′, far beyond what can be simply filled or raised with shims.

We’re not after ‘perfect’ here. That would require a complete replacement of the whole building. Just “good enough”, and certainly far better than it’s ever been.

If only it were Springtime

Of course 19°C (66°F) is pretty Spring-like, but watching the satellite picture says there’s still snow out at the lake. The forecast says no lows below freezing now, so perhaps another week …

In the meantime I have started working around here as there are a few things to deal with. That’s why I moved 600 lbs. of stored papers out of one shed and into another; so I can get at other stuff and perhaps make enough room to complete the modifications the local Mafia, er government, wants to a shed that has been standing for years without incident. I am and engineer you know. Bureaucrats need to prove they have power over everyone, though.

Papers away! (G11)

All that off to one side, I tried out the Canon 1Ds on some night shots and need to do some tweaks before I take more. First of all, the 64MB CF card is horrible for hi-res as it only holds <10 pictures. Can’t do much experimenting with that. Second, the camera’s maximum ISO of 1250 is real but pretty low for star shots. That can’t be helped, so either I take ‘trace’ shots (30 second exposures are about 3X too long to prevent this) or do lots of enhancing post-shoot. I need to try it with the 50mm f1.4 lens I was using the 35mm f2 because that’s what was on it when I woke up in the night and decided to try. It’s one more stop of exposure anyway. I can see where a real ISO of 3200-6400 would be of great use here, but the camera hasn’t got it. At least it does a good job at the speed it has, and the ‘noise reduction’ (second image method) is more effective than with any other camera I have. The biggest problem is that it’s not really dark until 10:00 PM now, so night photos interfere with my sleeping habits.

Nighttime is little light time. (1Ds)

Many other things are going on around here right now, some of it rather stressful. Vaccine? Nope. Surgery? Ha! Our hospitals are full-up with COVID patients (cases are out of control and the government isn’t even trying to stop the spread now) so that’s not happening. I need to get equipment ready for this year too (including fixing the trailer), and … well just all sorts of things.

In storage. (G11)

I had fun doing the IR photos and still have some more experiments to conduct with the 1Ds but they will have to wait for now. I have even toyed with the idea of selling it and everything else I’ve got to go for a 5D, but I suspect my equipment wouldn’t bring enough to cover the cost. C’est la vie photographique!

Ghost plane. (P610)

I’m still using the Nikon P610 a lot, and it is still malfunctioning. But it hasn’t quit completely. Yet. Which is good because I can’t afford to replace it. I still want to shoot more with the G11 and now that the weather is better I should be able to. Previously every time I’d go to town it was so miserable and cold that taking pictures was right off the list.

Notes on the past week

It’s like this

Well it’s certainly been a week. That’s as much as can be said for it. Not much good going on anywhere, with COVID case numbers setting new and unwelcome records and whatnot. Weather has been no good in its special, unpredictable way too. My health has been acting up again as well. Plus, it hasn’t been good for taking pictures of anything around here lately.

I’m not having much luck getting a Canon 5D off E-bay (or anywhere else) or getting anything off E-bay. I swear that site is … about as bad as any other, come to think of it. (The Internet seems to excel in ‘bad’ these days.) I’ve taken to occasionally bidding on cameras which are offered too low just so the price will go up into sensible territory and no one will think there’s any chance of buying a camera worth hundreds of dollars for less than $10. Honestly, people! That “$0.99” starting price trick is foolish, and if Ebay didn’t charge for reserved price/minimum bid (regardless of sale) we wouldn’t have to see this silliness. Probably not the ‘sock puppet’ account bids either, for that matter.

Another thing I haven’t done is sell on Ebay. I came close, but in going through the process of setting up just one item for sale … something about it all made me uncomfortable. I’ve spent some time trying to figure out exactly what, and haven’t. Nevertheless it was a time to trust instinct and I did not go through with the listing. If I could figure out what was ringing the subconscious alarm bell I could probably find a way to assuage my fears and carry on. As it is, no. I don’t like the way the site is run nor do I trust it, when all is said and done.

Speaking of web sites and other stores, if you look at the amount absolute rubbish that comes out of China you have to conclude that half of their economy is dedicated to producing ready-made landfill content. If you’ve spent even 5 minutes in a ‘dollar store’ you know what I mean. Not only are the products of unacceptably low quality, much of it simply never needs to exist in the first place. Or to paraphrase a certain movie line “you were so preoccupied with manufacturing items that you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should”. Something like that anyway.

I sort of took some full moon shots with the 75-300mm Canon lens and a few others with the Nikon, but there’s nothing special about any of them. It’s the same moon as always, after all.

WordPress’s new Blockhead Editor is so bad they’ve had to start offering courses on how to use it. (This went down under “hide forever” for me.)

On Thursday I had an unexpected but necessary trip to “Bill’s Lake” which netted me a couple of toys, a new vacuum cleaner, some slippers, a considerable bill, and this picture:

’46/’47 Fargo truck.

Quite the display piece at a very high-quality Timber Yard. Difficult to photograph because of its location high up a steep bank and quite some distance for the 10X zoom of the Fuji. I was standing on Jojo’s rear bumper to get this, and needed to be on the roof. Some measures I will not go. Fargo trucks, btw, were a ‘companion brand’ to Dodge offered so that Plymouth dealers would have a truck to sell (thus increasing Chrysler’s market share) back in the days when multi-brand dealerships weren’t allowed.

I went shopping again on Friday for things I was going to get Tuesday but had to ignore in order to keep the venture down to something manageable. Missed six things off the list, which I then had to go back for on Saturday. Sometimes my failing memory worries me terribly. But then I forget about it.

So what is ahead? Not much. The Horrible Holidays are upon us, which I try not to participate in at all. they will be easier to avoid under pandemic conditions. Honestly it’s the forced social interaction requirements that spoil things. Better to have a spontaneous get-together next July, assuming we are out from under the disease threat by then. Although it seems Dear Leader here may have sold us up the river on vaccines. Not only are we sans paddle, but the canoe we’re in looks much like a coracle with holes in it. Looks like we’ll be getting too few doses spread out over too much time, and that will not break the transmission pattern.

The Master Plan is on hold, which is my way of trying to trick the universe into giving me what I want through a complex and near Machiavellian form of Zen. If something that will further the plan comes up, it comes up. I will not hunt for it.

Once again most days have become “just get through today” days.

Life is like that.

What lies ahead?

No, this is not going to be a political post.

It’s Friday afternoon as I write this, and there’s been more weather than I like to see. All sorts of precipitation and temperatures dropping below then rising above freezing. Lather, rinse, repeat. Which leads to the forecast (guess) of tomorrow being sunny and clear and thus another potential day to get another load of firewood in. If it actually happens. The forecasts (guesses) are notoriously inaccurate of late.

When I drove out Monday the road was so bad I thought everything was going to come apart at the molecular level. The trailer has suffered some damage, in fact. So has my body. The drive is rougher than the work. Since then it has rained and frozen and thawed more, meaning the road has likely been demolished more. I only need five more loads to fill the woodshed. The future forecast has once again gone from “sunny all week” to “nothin’ but snowfall”. November will be here soon, and the weather doesn’t get any better when it arrives. Furthermore the Xterra’s licensing expires then and I am loathe to pay for additional time when I won’t be using the rest of the Winter. It just doesn’t make sense.

As far as photography goes, the conditions of late are pretty far from ideal or even acceptable for taking pictures. I have a few “stored up” and the odd shot around the yard, but no real effort is forthcoming any time soon. I have concocted an “Equipment Advancement Plan” which may or may not be possible to implement. We’ll have to wait and see.

Things would be much easier if we could predict the future. Even if only the weather for the next day.

What lies ahead? (Lumix ZS60)