Today I was part of the long chain of knowledge that begins with the “the master of those who know” and extends all the way to my four year old granddaughter. In the spirit of Aristotle we recreated the dialectic on the various animal classes. I tried to explain the reason why a grasshopper was different from a mouse. We talked about the higher animals and the lower animals and I even got around to explaining why dinosaurs are related to lizards and birds. After about a half hour she’d had enough and we went back to a match game for dinosaurs. And after that back to Candy Land. Well I’d still give Princess Sack of Potatoes the intellectual edge over Plato but I think I need to get some high quality color phtots of different animals to make the discussion more compelling for her.
Once Camera Girl led her granddaughter into the kitchen to bake some pumpkin bread I decided this was a good day for some macrophotography fun.
So I took some focus stacks. I had a tiny old Roman coin and a long dead beetle lying around so they were my subjects.
The focus intervals don’t seem to have been sufficient to give a perfect stack. But i’m using a Sony Remote Commander and it doesn’t have any calibration for the focus change. I have a little program I can use while tethered to my laptop but the A7 IV requires a USB 3 cable and I only have USB 1 or 2. So I’ll have to go out and get one. But still a nice exercise.
Today I intended to do some politics. I read a bunch of articles I checked the various dissidents to see what was ticking them off and I thought about “what this country really needs.”
And I came up with nada.
Basically, the Democrats are convinced they’ve won everything and the country backs them up 100%. And the GOP establishment think they’ve shut down Trump so they’re pretty smug too. Well, they’re both mostly wrong but since nothing works better than to give the people what they voted for I can’t think of a thing to say. Let’s see how bad they screw up the country this coming year.
So instead, I decided to have some fun today. I did a couple more of those focus stack macrophotography exercises on Nancy Pelosi’s prettier and more personable younger sister, Medusa.
So, this is kind of a bone of contention between Sony and me. They’ve never provided their cameras with a focus stack capability so I have to use work-arounds. There’s a Bluetooth remote “commander” that will send a signal to the camera to move the focus back or forth by a small increment and then I can trigger an exposure and then repeat the process by however many exposures needed to get everything in focus piece by piece. It works but it’s painfully manual. I also have a tiny software program on my laptop that automates the process but then I have to lug the laptop around in the field.
Other camera makers have added the programming to shoot focus brackets automatically in the camera. One camera maker, Olympus even has the camera “stack” the bracket into a single composite file automatically. Now there’s a company that loves its customers. Sony? Well miracle of miracles they just added bracketing to the brand new A7R V. So now the software exists in Sony’s system. Will they retrofit it into some of the more recent cameras through a firmware upgrade. Don’t make me laugh!
So here is poor photog, Sony’s laughing stock with his workarounds and his decade plus of Sony tone deaf customer service. Will he never learn?
Here are some of the bracketed files.
For the first stack I used six files. This didn’t quite get everything in focus in the first stack.
Next time I took sixteen files and the final product was a lot better.
Continuing with my dead insect theme here is a large Eyed Click Beetle – Alaus oculatus who has joined my museum of dead bugs. No anthropomorphizing this insect with a name like Bob. I’ll call him Clicky because he used to click before he became dead. Camera Girl felt sad because he was going to meet his maker. But then I told her he was eating her vegetables. She said everybody’s got to eat but I think it put things in perspective.
As you can tell I’ve been spending time doing some of these macro focus stacking projects. It’s a weird thing and much less fun than just taking photos. But it does allow me to make images that would be impossible otherwise. But it’s fussy and time consuming. I’ll be doing some flower shots soon and I’ll see what else I can think of.
Camera Girl has abandoned me today to learn how to paint pictures. She left my lunch in the microwave. I will have to feed the dogs and push the button on the microwave and talk to myself for several hours. I told her this was a dereliction of her wifely duties. She narrowed one of her eyes and I think she was thinking bad things about me. Luckily I think she lacks psychokinetic powers. Unluckily she makes my food so you never know.
Camera Girl has become a voracious reader of fiction. It’s mostly crime novels but recently she read a book that was recommended by a friend. Based on the quality of that book she picked up another one by the same author. Yesterday she told me that the plot of the book involved a black maternity nurse who gets involved in the death of an infant whose father is a white supremacist. He even has swastika tattoos on his head. Apparently, in the story the hospital is punishing the nurse out of consideration for the influence of the swastika guy. I told Camera Girl I thought this was quite a stretch of the imagination. “How many white supremacists are out there who have the local district attorney prosecuting black nurses? I’m thinking the number is slightly lower than one.”
I tried to browbeat her into abandoning her book but she never drops a book until she finishes it, no matter how bad it is. Well, this prompted me to remind her why I don’t bother to watch most television and movies that have a Leftist slant. She rolled her eyes and nodded. I told her I’ll have to find a Dissident Right author for her to read as penance for the indignity I suffered through knowing she was reading this piffle and she made a disparaging noise that was sort of a guffaw mixed with a cough. Women!
Anyway, I’ll have some stuff up later and we’ll see how the day goes. It looks nice out so I’ll be at play in the Gardens of the Lord. Enjoy your day.
Bob’s Back! And I mean that in both ways. Bob the beetle returns and we’re going to get a look at Bob’s back or dorsal side. Last night I showed Camera Girl my photo of Bob and she confirmed that his legs were orangey. But examining Bob in the chiton she revealed to me that his back was green! Now having no visual sensors for green in my eyes this fact, as usual, slightly annoyed me but soldiering on I now give you Bob’s Back!
For today’s experiment in photographing dead bugs here’s a beetle with brightly colored legs.
Part of the craft is arranging the dead bug so that he doesn’t look quite so much like road kill. Also the other part of the deal is first post processing all the input files in terms of exposure and light balance. But right now I’m just adjusting the merged file which is less flexible than the raw input files. But this is as much a learning exercise for me as anything else. So I’m taking some short cuts. The main thing is the merge does create photos with enormously wider areas of sharp focus.
This beetle is less than a half inch in length. I named him Bob.
In March of 2020 I assembled the software on my laptop to be able to do focus staking out in the field. It was cumbersome especially since the laptop I used was very large but I managed to get a few focus stacks done both outside and in. But soon after a crack developed on the screen of the laptop. Eventually I got it repaired but I shifted operation to asmaller laptop and abandoned the older one to a table in my home office. And up until now I’ve been so busy with other things that I haven’t had time to load up the software for stacking onto my new laptop.
Well, for the last week I’ve been dealing with software issues. Incompatibilities between the latest Microsoft C ++ version and the Sony remote control package gave me fits but I found a work around and finally was able to run it today. I’m just doing some still life test subjects indoors but I hope to have some interesting macro subjects soon.
My idea was that this cantaloupe would make a good substitute for one of those really weird looking moons of Jupiter. But I need to get the exposure right and then I’ll need to practice cutting it out of the background with photo shop. Then if I can superimpose the Enterprise next to it in front of a starry field, I can drag in Shatner. “We have to rendezvous with the Vulcans on Cantaloupus IV or millions of people will …. DIE!”
As noted earlier I had a touch of cabin fever so I decided to try my first outdoor focus stack. What this means is that I have to drag along a laptop computer and a tethering line in addition to the camera and tripod. All of this is easy enough. What isn’t easy is telling the wind to stop blowing for the requisite two or three minutes of exposure time. And in fact, this picture is cropped as tightly as it is because some leaves were blowing around in the debris pile. Looking at it now I also note that the left side shoot is a little over exposed. So let us say as art it’s slightly underwhelming. But as an experiment in field macrophotography technique it will be “required reading at the Academy.”
“There agelong she had dwelt, an evil thing in spider-form, … and she served none but herself, drinking the blood of Elves and Men, bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts, weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness. … But none could rival her, Shelob the Great, last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world.”
I can’t stump you folks.
I’ve got to say, this photo stacking has amazing capability. The detail is impressive and the stitching is imperceptible. I tried stacking jpegs and then raw files. I thought the composite made from raw files looked very slightly better but it took an hour and a half to process. That’s more than double the jpeg time.