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Scenes from an Alien World

So, I sold the IR-converted d100 a couple months ago, and used the proceeds to convert my (now-superseded) d80 for infrared. Still fine-tuning the manual and autofocus, but it worked well enough to take this weird shot at Moab a couple of weeks back:

Infrared Moab

It’s not hard to imagine an alien world that looked like this.

“Battlestar Galactica” Nature Film

Nice combination of time-lapse star photography and…an original soundtrack by Bear McCrary: If Battlestar Galactica Was A Nature Film It Would Look Like This

Temporal Distortion from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

[hat tip: Gina]

Hands-On Engineering

It seems the more little engineering projects I do to support my photography habit, the more I find I want to do.

Last year, it was the double-header, and the time-lapse rig for the Iceland roadtrip. But after looking at some of this guy’s work and the toys he created to do it, I got hooked on the idea of a motion-control dolly.  I figured, I’m a mechanical engineer, right? How hard can it be?

Well, following his example seems to be a lot more difficult in the U.S. than in Germany. Finding the exact motors he used and an equivalent Igus slide were trivially easy, but finding gears and a gear rack to match have been frustratingly difficult — so much so that I’m giving in and ordering them from the same company he used, and hoping that the shipping and whatever import duties this entails balance out against the higher prices and half-assed selection offered by McMaster-Carr and other similar retail gear suppliers here.

The Igus slide arrived yesterday, and I was disappointed to discover that my mental impression of a meter corresponds more closely with four feet than three. But other than that, it’s a slick and simple piece of engineering:

The most fun part of all of this, however, came from digging into the motion control aspects. Ben’s setup used a simple voltage regulator to control the speed, but I quickly discovered there are better ways — specifically, using Arduino microcontroller components. It would appear that if you have anything that moves or needs to be monitored (or both), there are Arduino boards which can be adapted for the purpose — right up to navigating autopilots for DIY drones. And it’s all dirt-cheap.

I think this is going to be a fun little project, with lots of learning transferable to related follow-on projects (why stop at one axis of motion?).

Strange Aerial Phenomenon

Now that I have a little bit more time available, I’ve been working again on the time-lapse videos from the Iceland trip last July. Have largely given up on ever getting the bumpy spots satisfactorily “deshaken” with the software tools available, but I did discover something that I completely missed at the time and in the first attempt to render out the video — a white rainbow:

White Rainbow

Oddly enough, we did see a white rainbow that day, down on the beach about a half hour after the still frame above was taken:
Road trip: Day 10

So, not only did we see a strange phenomenon for the first time that day, but twice (arguably, since I didn’t actually see it while driving).

Rover’s-Eye View

Mars on Earth

A slightly-marsified version of one of my Iceland pics, from the wastelands near Emstrur.

It was easy to see why NASA sent Apollo astronauts to train here.

DIY High-Altitude Photography

I’ve already got the camera – if only I had the time to do the rest.

Amazing pictures of Earth captured by one man, a balloon and his compact camera:

Space enthusiast Robert Harrison managed to send his home-made contraption 22 miles – or 116,160 feet – above the earth’s surface from his back garden.

He used GPS tracking technology similar to an in-car sat-nav to follow its progress – and an attached radio transmitter to find it when it parachutes back to earth.

The photos taken by his device were so spectacular that Nasa has been in touch to see how he achieved it.

Mr Harrison’s budget of £500 might also offer inspiration to the new UK Space Agency, which launches on April 1. Based in Swindon, with only one astronaut and a budget one 50th the size of Nasa’s, it will be looking for cut-price ways to reach for the sky.

Mr Harrison first got the idea to explore space after a failed attempt to take aerial pictures of his house using a remote control helicopter.

The pictures are pretty impressive. What’s really amazing about this, though, is that he didn’t get nailed by the aviation authorities for doing this. Or that the police didn’t arrest him under the 2004 Terrorist Act for “suspicious” or “antisocial” photography.

More Recovered Images

I finally finished scanning all 500-odd of my uncle’s old slides yesterday, and found a couple more aerospace shots in the mix, including this:

Open Wide

I’m not a plane expert, but I believe this is a C-124 Globemaster II. One thing that struck me about looking at the plane from this angle is the vague resemblance to the forward fuselage of a 747 — which is interesting given that the C-124 was a Douglas product.

If anyone is interested, the scanner used is a Nikon Coolscan 5000ED with the slide autofeeder attachment. I honestly can’t say enough good about the thing.

Oh, and among the slides not related to aerospace — puppies!

Barnyard Beagles

(Also known as “shameless link bait”.)

Timelapse, the Hard Way

This guy clearly has a lot of media cards for his camera.

More at And details of how he did it can be found at Digital Photography School.

What surprises me (and perhaps it shouldn’t) is that it took roughly 15,000 still frames to generate the film. I bought a Nikon D80 two and a half years ago, and since have taken it on two trips abroad, on two trips to Moab, up eight Fourteeners, on at least five significant hikes, four trips to Michigan, one cross-country trip, four moonbat rallies, two tea parties, and numerous other events, and still have only taken just shy of 14,000 pictures with it (not including RAW/jpeg pairs).

2012 Prometheus Award Finalist

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A young girl sets out to prove herself by resolving a long-forgotten mystery. But when she gets close to the truth, what she thought was a harmless adventure becomes a threat to the future of the independent commercial settlements on Mars.

April 2014
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