A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘pictures

Big Moon

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In case you haven’t heard (or seen), January 31st was a Super Blue Blood Moon. Summarizing from the link, this means:

  1. The Moon was closer to earth in its orbit (looks bigger) and brighter than normal; a “Super Moon”
  2. It was the second full Moon in the month, making it a “Blue Moon”
  3. Due to a lunar eclipse, the Moon had a reddish tint while in Earth’s shadow, hence “Blood Moon”

With all this happening, I wanted to try to photograph it, but unfortunately was busy on that night and didn’t get a chance to get out, then the next night it was very cloudy and I couldn’t even see the moon. Friday night, the sky finally cleared up and I got to see it. Of course it was no longer full, and the eclipse had already happened so there was no reddish tint, but the Moon was still closer than normal and looked big in the sky.

I set up my camera with my new lens on a tripod and took some shots… It took a lot of experimenting until I got the settings right, but in the end I was pleased with the results.

This was zoomed all the way to 300, and I didn’t photoshop it aside from cropping it down, making it smaller for posting, and adding back a bit of lost sharpness from re-sizing. For what it is, I think the lens did well, and I’m feeling good about my decision to get it. Also, the moon is cool! (well, cool looking from earth, anyway… I don’t think I’d actually want to go there)

Thanks a lot for looking and happy shooting!

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Written by Jim

February 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

A New Camera Lens

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About two weeks ago I picked up a new camera lens and, though I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use it, I wanted to post about it.

The lens is a Tamron AF 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 LD Aspherical IF Marco.

To simplify that a bit, it’s an auto focus zoom lens that has a fairly broad zoom range, meaning it can be used for taking pictures of things both fairly close and far away. This is an older film lens that’s still compatible with digital Pentax SLRs, the model was introduced around 1999 but I don’t know how old this specific one is. The longest zoom lens I had before is a 70-210mm so, though it’s very good lens, it doesn’t quite have the reach for shooting things further away, nor is it good for closer work. Aside from that I only have the standard 18-55mm kit lens (again, a decent lens, but no zoom at all really) and some prime (non-zoom) manual focus lenses, so I was wanting something auto focus that had more reach to it.  

I haven’t had much time to use it yet but here are some pics from just walking around testing it out one day. The only editing I’ve done to these is re-sizing them and sharpening them a bit to add back detail from the sizing, otherwise I haven’t made any corrections, or changed color, contrast, etc. These are all hand held shots as well, and it was very cold and windy when I was out (temperature in the 20’s (-4 Celsius, roughly) with 20 mph wind gusts!) so I’m sure there was a fair amount of shaking going on … not my finest work. My impressions of it and final thoughts are at the very end.

My thoughts so far:
I like it, but do have some mixed feelings as well… I love the versatility the range provides and think this will be an excellent lens for walking around with, but it is not incredibly sharp (I really like a sharp lens!) and the more you zoom, the worse the quality gets. That’s a trade off with zoom lenses, I know, but some are better than others. Also, zoomed the whole way out, and shooting into high contrast situations, you can find purple fringing (a purple outline) on dark lines in the photos, like on the pole holding the bird feeder with the snow as a backdrop, the black hook with the white spouting behind, or on the top edge of the building with the bright sky behind. I will learn what settings yield the best results in time to minimize this, and there’s always photoshop, but it is a weakness. It also simply isn’t that sharp at the long end. Another negative: it is basically worthless in low light; it has a terrible time focusing in doors and I had trouble getting anything usable.

That said, when pulled in just a bit from full zoom, the purple fringing basically disappears, and I was able to get a few “good” long range shots. For medium range shots, where I think it will see most of its use, I was able to get some shots I was really quite please with. For instance, the trash on the road and water cap above are reasonably sharp and true to color. The very last picture gave me a lot of hope, too; it was taken at full zoom, is reasonably sharp, and there is a fair amount of detail/sharpness with little to no fringing at all.

Overall I think it will make for a good all purpose walk around lens (how I do most of my shooting anymore), I didn’t pay much for it so feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, and it’s not like I’m a professional photographer and need the highest quality gear. Given more practice I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get fairly consistent good shots with it, especially zoomed at the long end. I’ve also ordered a lens hood for it (a metal screw on hood from China for just $0.99 from eBay!), so that should help with the image quality and sharpness some, too. I really want to do more photo shooting this year so it should be put to a lot of use.

Thanks a lot for reading and happy shooting!

Written by Jim

January 15, 2018 at 8:06 pm

A Diddley Bow & Bottle Neck Slide

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For Christmas this year I made a diddley bow as a gift for my sister, her husband, and their four boys. A diddley bow is a single stringed instrument, typically played like a guitar, or a slide guitar that you would lay across your lap. You can make them as fancy or as basic as you like. Do a google search and you’ll find all kinds; some including electric pickups and intricate decoration, others as simple as a string stretched over a board.

I had never made one before and decided to do this rather last minute to give them as a gift. It took about a week to do, working a bit in the evenings, which is pretty quick for me. I figured, having only one string, it’d be easy enough for even the least musically inclined among them to be able to get some sort of tune out of. As you can see, it doesn’t have frets, so it’s best played with a slide (see further below), though you can still get notes out of it by holding the string down with your fingers. They all seemed to like it and my sister has since told me it gets picked up and played with a lot, so I’m really pleased that they enjoy it.

Here are some pics:


I think the bridge is a key for winding clocks. I found it in a bin at an antiques store a year ago.


The fret markers; I only marked the odd and 12th frets.

So they’d have a slide to use with it, I made [well, sort of] one of those too. I’ve seen bottle neck slides online and at festivals and have always wanted to try making one. I have some old wine bottles collecting dust in my basement, so gave it a go. It took me three of four tries until I was able to do it without cracking the neck, but finally got it right.

It’s a cool process, first you etch a line around the neck, then hold the neck up to the etched line in boiling water for a few minutes, then immediately move it to ice water, and, when done right, the glass cracks through along the etch line. Finally, just polish off the broken edge (I used a Dremel) and you have a slide. There are many good videos on YouTube if you’re curious enough to look.

No video of this guitar, I half forgot, half didn’t have time to do one, but it isn’t anything special, just a single stringed CBG really.

Thanks a lot for reading, happy playing!

Written by Jim

January 13, 2018 at 8:28 pm

Cyclo-cross – Photography

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This morning I went to a Cyclo-cross race, watched, and took some photos. Cyclocross (“cross”) is a form of bicycle racing, done on a varying terrain (mostly off-road), where the competitors do multiple laps of a course against a time limit, and there are obstacles, hills, and/or other challenging parts of the course where they might have to dismount and run carrying the bike to get by. (Check out Wikipedia: Cyclo-cross for a better explanation.) I’d never been to a cross race before and have been interested in seeing what it’s like so, when I found out about one close by, I happily took the chance to check it out. I haven’t been shooting much photography this year, so it was a good opportunity to get the camera out as well.

I really enjoyed it and think it would be neat to try sometime, though don’t have any serious expectations about really getting into it. More of a if I ever own a suitable bike I’d try it out at least once kind of thing. I did start working on convincing my wife that I need a cross bike though. ;)

It was fun shooting some photos, too. The course was very spectator-friendly and you could get right up next to the riders. I’ve found that I really like getting action and panning shots (not that I’m great at getting consistent good quality results yet) and it was cool to get a chance to get some cyclists in action. Here’s a random selection of shots I took with a few comments mixed in…

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There were 2 wooden barriers, about a foot tall, that riders had to cross. Most dismounted, ran, and jumped over…

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Others jumped the bike over them…

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a little hard to tell, but he’s completely air born here 

One steep hill on the course that most people dismounted and ran up…

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it’s steeper than it looks! 

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Thanks for reading and happy riding!

Written by Jim

December 2, 2017 at 10:30 pm

Dry Creek Bed Photos

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Yesterday I went out to shoot pictures for the first time in about a year. I’ve been so dedicated to training this year that I didn’t do many of the other things I enjoy. I really had fun yesterday and will make more of an effort to get out with the camera again while it’s still nice out.

Anyway, while running yesterday I crossed over this creek that was all dried up and cracking from the lack of rain we’ve had this year. Later in the day I drove back with my camera and shot some pictures, it was pretty cool.

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I’ll note, and you’ll probably notice, that the sky is really washed out in all of these. That’s my bad with the camera… mix of being out of practice and lazy.

I went up the creek a little in the other direction and came upon a really neat setting.

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There was a house to the left here and I’m pretty sure this was someone’s property. There was sort of a dam in the creek here and it would have made a nice pond. Still cool looking without the water.

When I first came here I made some noise, and a bird popped up.

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I’m no birder, but am pretty sure that’s a blue heron. There were also a few geese floating in the small pool but they left much more quickly and I only got blurry shots of them.

Surrounded the pool were tons of dead crayfish. I’m not sure whether they died from lack of water or the birds feeding on them, but there were a lot there.

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Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed.
Happy shooting!

Written by Jim

September 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

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Yesterday I visited the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This museum is dedicated to race cars throughout history and has a very cool collection of old cars with significant historical value. I am not a student of history when it comes to race cars, or really anything for that matter, but it was really interesting going through the museum, learning about the different cars and getting to see some rare survivors. Some of them were examples of only a few known remaining models, had significant racing history and wins in their past. If you’re a car enthusiast and ever in the area, I highly recommend checking it out.

I took a ton of pictures with my cell phone (didn’t have the real camera with me) and have a number posted below. These are unedited as I simply didn’t have the motivation to go through them. They’re presented in no particular order. Please take them for what they are – cell phone pics – and I hope enjoy browsing through.

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A Bedpan Guitar

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This is another guitar that I finished late in December, a bedpan guitar. I can’t take credit for the idea, just do a google search and you’ll find several others.
(more pictures at the end of the post)

The story behind this one is that my mother (a nurse with a pretty goofy sense of humor) saw a few at a festival she went to over the summer and asked if I could make her one. She thought it was funny and the bedpan reminded her of her nursing school days. It wasn’t very hard to make, it just took me a while to get to it. She was very happy with it.

I found the bedpan on Craigslist, which has to go down as my most interesting Craigslist purchase. I cleaned it so hard before doing anything with it, you can’t even imagine.

I didn’t shoot any video of it or record it, and it’s sort of hard to explain the sound. It sounds okay, but definitely different than a cigar box guitar does. Less volume (I think due to the lack of a lid and the bridge resting right on the neck) but sort of metallic-y and well suited for playing with a slide.

It was fun to do and I’m happy my mother enjoys it so much but I can’t say I’d make another.

Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed.

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Written by Jim

January 13, 2016 at 9:51 pm