Saturday, April 07, 2018

Sorry Not in Service

I don't really have time to continue here, at least for now, so we are going on Hiatus until further notice.


Sunday, March 25, 2018

The bicycle as a camera platfrom

Can we marry up the two, where a bicycle can be used as a camera platform? The short answer is yes, the long answer, well that’s what we are discussing for the final entry for March…..

One of the things we need to be careful of is that cameras are a little fragile, having an expensive camera strapped to you, during an off bike experience, is not good for the camera, it’s not good for what parts of us, get impaled by the shards of plastic most cameras are made of either. In a good camera case, mounted to the bicycle, it works very well, as the case will protect the camera to a large extent.

The big advantage to the bicycle, is that it has a very wide view. Amd your moving at 15-30km/h which means you see more then if your busy driving a car, and it’s possible to see more potential subjects or places to take photographs.

There are some small issues, and one of those is weight, this is much easier these days when cameras are mostly lightweight plastics, rather then the metal and glass of older cameras. The 200mm lens alone from my film gear outweighs my 70-300mm Canon lens, with the T5 attached. Bicycles are also much lighter then they were previously, although your typical Hybrid or All Terrain Bicycle is still going to be fairly heavy.

The ideal method of carrying your gear is the rack and pannier method, the rack fits over a wheel, could be the rear or front. I have a rear mounted on the Norco, and a pair of Panniers to go with it. Although the camera bag gets strapped to the top with a couple of large bungee cords, if the bike crashed the padded case would protect the camera gear. Other things that don’t need such protection, like tripods, can be stored in the panniers, along of course with other stuff you might need, like some food and extra water. A couple of spare tubes, etc.

I always carry a spare tube and the tools needed to repair a flat, for longer rides I may carry two or even three tubes. I’ll wear my bike shorts, as it prevents chaffing, even under long pants. I tend not to carry a lot of other tools, but it depends on where I am going as well.

This weeks image is the Norco on a trail, somewhere in Toronto, I think it's the trail that runs between York Mills and Lawrence, just East of Leslie.  I did a fair amount of riding along that trail that summer.  

Until Next Time.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Preparing the Camera's for SpringE47

This all depends on the type of Camera digital or film.

In the case of digital cameras, a good cleaning, and making sure all of the batteries are charged up may be all you need to do. Some older digital cameras like my elderly 300D may need a sensor cleaning. Use a fully charged battery and put the camera into sensor cleaning mode, use a VERY soft, new artists brush to brush the crap off the sensor. The chance of scratching the sensor is very high, and sending a rare or expensive camera out for a professional cleaning and service, may be recommended. Li-Ion batteries have a limited life span, if you find batteries are not staying charged for very long, they may need to be replaced.

Film cameras need a good assessment, my Konica TC is 40 years old, the light seals are shot, the meter doesn’t work, and if it did it would need to be calibrated and converted to modern (non-mercury) batteries. Probably cost $500 to fix this camera that is worth about $100 now, it is officially retired.

The FC-1 from 1982 (making it 36 this year) is in much better condition, it still works fine, you need to clean the dust off, put fresh batteries in it (LR44’s which are still around), load in fresh film, and off you go. The advantage that film cameras have is that even a 40 year old camera can use the latest film. Although film and processing are both getting a little hard to find now. The best film for being around a long time is Black and White, the chemicals for processing are rather simple and can be readily obtained, you can even mix your own in many cases.

In either case, you want to make sure that your lenses are clean and working fine, and that you check the function of all of your accessories, be careful of things that use batteries, that you haven’t left old batteries inside. This can be common in things that are not used often like flash units. If batteries were left in, and leaked you need to know the formula. Acid batteries need an alkaline solution to remove corrosion, baking soda is probably the most common. Alkaline batteries need an acid to remove the corrosion and vinegar is one of the most common.

This weeks image is some driftwood from a beech from last year.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Preparing the bicycles for spring

Preparing the Bicycles for Spring

You need to do some work on your bicycles in preparation for a new season, some of this can and should be done before you start riding for the springummer. There are two kinds of work that can be done. First is a rebuild, this is done about every 7-10 years, it requires striping everything down, you basically disassemble and clean everything, replacing parts that are consumable, brake pads, cables, tires and tubes, hand grips or tape, chain, sometimes it even involves painting. I’m not going into this, year as it’s quite involved, the road bike needs to be done next winter, and I may do a series on it. Most years you do more inspection and adjustment then anything else.

First you inspect the bicycle, you’re looking for things that may need work, you air up the tires to the proper pressure, do they hold pressure? You inspect all of the cables, do they run smooth, any nicks or rust, any cables that don’t run smooth or show rust, should be replaced. I don’t use fancy expensive cables, I find inexpensive ones work just as well, put a layer of grease on them before feeding them through the housings, and they work quite well. Use a sharp pair of diagonal wire cutters, and then put an end on them. I often get out the soldering iron, put a little solder on the cable about 3/4cm down from where I want to cut it, to a little past, then after it cools, cut through the soldered part. It doesn’t crush and gives a nice clean end, rather then using cutters you can use a Dremel with a cutoff disk.

Brake pads should be checked, if they are not used for a long time, they can get dry and hard, you can use a little sand paper, and take the hard edges off, although considering the importance of working brakes, and the fact that they are not that hard to replace, and can be purchased for a fairly low cost, if they are hard, your better to replace them.

Of tires and tubes, tubes are the easiest, simply add air, if they stay inflated, they are still good. However when replacing tires, I always use new tubes, if the old ones still work, then they get placed in the spares supply. Cheaper tubes tend to be thicker as well as heavier, so work better for regular riding, where as thin expensive tubes are lighter for racing. Tires should be inspected, if they show excessive wear or the threads, or cracking on the sidewalls, they should be replaced. Chains should be inspected, set a ruler beside the chain, if 1’ of chain measures more then 1/8” longer then it should be replaced, otherwise, simple lubricate it and run through all of the gears to make sure it is shifting well.

This weeks image is the Mountain bike, it's pretty much the same as this image.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The bicycle fleet

After last posting, I decided to move to bi-weekly posting, and this is for a couple of reasons, one is to actually allow myself the time to write the postings, keep working on ImageFix and to reduce the number of actual topics I need to come up with.

So this week I will attack the bicycle fleet, I actually have two bicycles, they are quite different beasts, at least they started out that way. First is the 2004 Norco Bushpilot. This is designed as a mountain bike or all terrain bike. 8 speeds in the rear and 3 in the front, although it’s called a 24 speed, it’s really 8 speeds in 3 ranges, Low range is used for going uphill, the middle range on the flats, and high range going down hill. It’s not a particularly fast bicycle, but that may have more to do with the “motor”, more then anything else. It’s a little on the heavy side, and passed the half century mark more then half a decade ago…. The bike needs some work, suspension forks are made for 70kg riders, not 100kg+, so it needs to be replaced or repaired, and they can’t really be repaired. Not only is the motor heavy, so is the bicycle, it’s about 16kg.

The other bicycle, is quite different, built by Raleigh in Canada, at their Waterloo, Quebec plant in 1975, it’s a classic style road bicycle, it’s built for speed, it has six gears in each of two ranges. These are controlled by manual down tube shifters, thinner tires, and 700C aluminum wheels running Presta tubes, the gearing is quite high, it’s a bike for August when you are already in cycling shape, not when your just coming out of Hibernation, and are at “winter” weight. All decked out, this bike is around 12kg.

The Raleigh was being tossed out by a neighbour, so I essentially got it for free. I completely disassembled the entire bicycle, then reassembled it, replacing some parts like brake pads, cables, cable housings, tires and tubes. The image this week, is the Raleigh upon completion of the rebuild, later the same summer I changed out the shifters, then replaced the 27” rusty chrome wheels with some 700C aluminum ones. This weekend when it’s forecast to snow for 4 solid days, thinking about bicycles and getting out to ride, seems a long way away, but it isn’t. Another month I expect the Norco to see the sun the first time since last fall.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

My Custom Software introducing Imagefix

his week is going to be unusual, in that I am heading a different direction, entirely.

As an old computer geek, I realized the other day, I have been working with or playing with computers for 40 years, about the same amount of time, I have been playing with cameras. Since I have spent much of that time, programming computers, when I can’t find the appropriate tool, I write one. This usually starts as a sketch in code, that is quick, dirty and ugly from a code perspective. Then I clean that up and turn it into a proper program.

Such was the issue a few years ago, I wanted a tool that would do a few things, in a manner that would be consistent, in other words if I wanted a certain tone, I wanted to just indicate it, rather then needing to remember how I did it the last time. There were also things like adding a watermark, I want it to be the same each time, tools like Gimp and Photoshop are great, but you need to keep notes, if you want things applied in a consistent manner, especially when other features may not be consistent each time.

So, because of this desire, I wrote a program to do this. I called it Imagefix, eventually I hope to make it publicly available, but alas not yet. I am not quite sure how I want to have the finished product, right now it’s a collection of command line parameters, but I might switch to using a windowed system, where there is a dialog box that you select the options with and it poops out the results in another file.
Realistically I would like it to be both, which could be one program, that if you pass it command line options, it assumes you want text mode, and if you don’t you want graphical mode. This is all stuff I need to decide in the next month or so. Eventually it will also need to be more platform agnostic, either it will need to be rewritten in a language like Python or Java, most likely Python, or will need a generic build process, for the current C++ version, other then the Gnu Make that I use right now. I expect a Linux only Beta by summer, and possibly something that is packaged ready for the public in a year.

This weeks image is from some woods in 2007, don't remember anything about it.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Why I use a Linux Computer

I originally built my computer in 2007, using what then were decent reasonably up to date components. However I didn’t want to pay for Microsoft Windows, a platform that I had been working with off an on since Version 3.0 some 27 years ago. As a computer geek, and not wanting to spend several hundred dollars for an operating environment I didn’t particularly like, since it would have been Windows XP anyway….. That would have required several large hardware upgrades along the way.

I remembered using Linux before, when operating systems came on a whole series of diskettes, I at one time had the 10 or so disks for Windows 3.1 and the 20 or so for OS/2 and I think Slackware which came in at 15 or so. So in building my computer I downloaded a couple of new Linux versions, Ubuntu and Fedora. I later settled on Fedora, most likely Fedora 8 (Werewolf), it’s currently running Fedora 27, which is the latest release, and still runs fine on my decade old hardware. Yes it has had a memory upgrade from 2GB to 4GB, the original on-board video chip was updated to a more modern video card, and it’s originally 150GB hard drive, was upgraded to a 512GB and then a 1TB drive. It had some case fans added, and an upgrade to the CPU cooler.

So why not a Mac? There is nothing a Mac can do, that this machine can’t, except maybe run some Microsoft software, where there are just as good, if not better alternatives. For photography there are some heavyweights, like GIMP. There are also for old computer guys like me amazing visual libraries like ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick, for programmers to be able to build software modules, while these modules are often available for Mac and Windows, the software that ties them together is more complex and harder to use. Where Linux which is a variation on the theme of Unix makes these tools much easier to use.

In the early days, there was a lot of hardware that would not work, and many of the installers were horrible, but this has all changed in the 20 years or so, since I first saw Linux. Most hardware works out of the box, even a Microsoft Webcam that I have worked out of the box. Installers are much nicer now, with much of the installation process being automatic, it’s not uncommon for a machine to boot into the installer, then install everything and reboot into the completed OS at the end. If you have an older computer, and Windows will not run on it anymore, try Linux; you might like it.

This weeks image is a cropped version of one from 2014 of a Red Wing Blackbird, this was actually taken in High Park in Toronto, during the Cherry Blossom time, so June. I often save crops, and assign them a letter after the usual number, such as this one.

To quote the words of the mighty Porky Pig:

That's all folks