Sunday, 31 August 2008


This morning it was really misty so I went in the garden and took some photos of cobwebs covered in water droplets. The pics I took of whole webs didn't turn out very well, the light fall off wasn't great enough so ugly backgrounds are visible. Shooting some macros of them looked quite nice though, with bright shiny drops and black backgrounds.

I hoped I'd also be able to find some insects covered in dew drops, but they were all awake and moving about, obviously I got out in the garden too late again. There was a very slight breeze, so I again I had to use John K's technique of holding the grass with one hand and operating the camera with the other most of the time. But again, the wind was much less than it usually is. There also seemed to plenty of insects around for me to shoot.

I was hoping to take some more pics after Church, but when we got out of Church it was raining, and it rained for the rest of the day.

After dinner me and Mac watched a couple of episodes of Battlestar Galactica. After that I sorted my photos from this morning (and some from yesterday), then me and Mac started watching Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

After tea we finished watching Sweeney Todd, then I went on the pinternet.

Breakfast: Crunchy nut cornflakes; cup o' tea.
Dinner: Chicken curry; rice; peas. Pudding was raspberry ripple ice cream and a piece of chocolate brownie that Shaz made yesterday. Coffee. Roses.
Tea: Ham with mustard and crunchy salad sandwich; satsuma; ½ sultana scone with butter; cup o' tea.

Saturday, 30 August 2008


Last night it took me ages to get to sleep and then I kept waking up and it would take me ages to get to sleep again. When I woke up at 6am this morning I couldn't be bothered to take ages to try and get to sleep again and so probably get up quite late, so I just got up then.

After having a shower etc. and breakfast I looked out my window and it looked like there was hardly any wind like yesterday, perfect for macros. But I still had all my photos on my comp from yesterday that hadn't been sorted or backed up. I didn't want to format my memory cards for shooting new pictures until the images I had taken on them had been backed up. So I sorted through the photos and backed them up, but this took about an hour. By the time I was done there was a slight breeze.

I went in the back garden anyway to see if there was anything interesting to photograph. Due to the breeze I had to use John K's technique of holding the grass the insects were sitting on with one hand and resting the lens on that hand and shooting with the right hand. As well as the breeze, the insects seemed pretty active, so probably would have been better shooting them at least an hour earlier (about 7am).

After that I watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica with Mac. After lunch we watched another episode.

Yesterday I went to the field near Lubenham to try and get some butterfly photos, I haven't been able to visit it for the past few weeks due to:
  • having to stay home to look after granny while Clare an Brian were away
  • Bad weather
  • Watching the olympics
I was dissapointed to find all the ragwort and thistle flowers have gone over and so there were hardly any butterflies there.

It was very noisy and full of grasshoppers though, so I tried taking some pics of them, which was quite tricky as they kept jumping away and hiding under the grass. When I got back home I went on the pinternet to see if anyone had tips for photographing grasshoppers. The only advice I could find was from MacroJunkie, who said that it's very hard to photograph grasshoppers in long grass, so he gets them to go on his mown lawn and shoots them there. Unfortunately, you would need to have grasshoppers in your garden to use this technique.

So today I went back to the field near Lubenham to try and catch some grasshoppers so I could put them in the long grass in our garden. Then assuming they don't all disapear, I'll be able to use MacroJunkie's advice. Hopefully they'll lay some eggs as well so we get baby grasshoppers next year. When I got back home I showed the grasshoppers I'd caught to Ben and his mate Mathew also had a look at them, and he wanted to catch some so we went down the old railway line towards Lubenham and caught quite a lot down there. It worked better with Ben and Matthew helping, as when capturing them myself one would jump out when you put a new one in after you'd caught a few. We used a glass jar to capture them initially and then transferred them to Ben's old stick insect tank.

After doing that I went on the pinternet a bit and copied this morning's pics to my comp. Then I started watching 'Downfall' with Mac. I thought it was about Hitler playing downfall, but it turned out just to be about Hitler's downfall at the end of the war.

Breakfast: Crunchy nut cornflakes; cup o' tea.
Lunch: McCoys BBQ Chicken flavour tortilla chips/crisps; Chicken Tikkabilla sandwich spread sandwich; banana; slice of marble cake; chocolate club; cup o' tea.
Dinner: Lincolnshire sausages; mashed potato; baked beans. Pudding was blackberry cheesecake. Coffee. Roses.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Getting annoyed by photo stuff and buying more photo stuff

It's been overcast and looking like it might rain all of the past week, but only actually rained a few drops so far. This morning I thought I should try and get my camera stuff together for taking photos of butterflies. First of all I looked for a belt pouch, so that I could have a setup the same as detailed here.

Jon said he didn't have any belt pouches (I thought he might have got one with his phone). I thought I used to have 1 or 2 in the tins of balloons and shreddies mazes and other rubbish before we moved, but I think I probably threw most of that stuff out. I had a look in my cupboards and in the garage, but couldn't find any boxes that looked like they might have that stuff in them. Most of the boxes are unlabled, and I know that when we moved I just shoved random little bits in various boxes to try and pack as much stuff in each box as possible. I couldn't be bothered to check in every box, but did check a few and didn't find what I was looking for.

Then on a shelf in the garage I saw a belt pouch, it had like a large penknife which was mainly allen keys, so I asked Rad if I could have the case and he said I could. After that I tried to detach the Manfrotto shoulder brace from the monopod, but the bottom of the shoulder brace unscrewed from the shoulder brace and got stuck to the monopod. After a while I finally managed to get it off.

Next I unscrewed by Markins M10 Ball head from my Benro C-458 Tripod, which took a while because it was screwed on so tightly. I found that the ball head has a 1/4" thread, whilst the shoulder brace has a 3/8" thread. So I found my 3/8" to 1/4" thread adapters, one from Nodal Ninja which has a slot in the bottom allowing it to be unscrewed, and a Kirk one which doesn't have a slot. First I tried screwing in the adapter with the slot, it screwed in part way but then wouldn't screw any more. So I unscrewed it and tried screwing in the Kirk adapter. It screwed in partway, a bit more than the other adapter, but then wouldn't screw any more. So I tried to unscrew it, but it wouldn't unscrew, even though I had only been screwing it in with my hand.

I tried for ages to unscrew it. I even tried to unscrew the base of the ball head, which requires a small allen key, but it felt like the allen key was going to break, I think Markins must have glued the screws in. I tried screwing the monopod into the adapter and then unscrewing it, hoping that the adapter would come unscrewed with it a few times, but no luck. I decided to try screwing it onto the tripod and then unscrewing it like with the monopod. The tripod thread was currently the 3/8" thread the ballhead had been mounted on previously, so I had to find the tripod nut tool. I looked in my bags of photo stuff packaging in the garage, which was quite hard to get to because loads of Sarah's stuff has been put between the shelves there while she's home.

I don't think I posted before about Sarah being home, she came home on Sunday evening with her boyfriend Mark, Mark is sleeping in the front room and she's sleeping in Ben's room and Ben is sleeping in Clare and Brian's room. I haven't seen much of Sarah or Mark because they tend to go out every day.

Anyway, I couldn't find the tripod nut unscrewer so I looked in my cupboard upstairs and it was in with all my flash stuff, so I unscrewed the tripod nut and then unscrewed the tripod thread and reversed it to the 1/4" thread. Then I screwed the adapter half stuck in the ballhead onto it. I pushed sideways onto ballhead as I unscrewed it, and it actually screwed off leaving the adapter screwed to the tripod thread. Then the adapter was easy to screw off the tripod thread by hand.

I guess I spent an hour or more just trying to unscrew that adpater.

After that I tried the setup with just the shoulder brace, which seemed to work okay. Next I tried it with the monopod, but obviously no ball head. It probably was a bit steadier (hard to tell though without shooting real life test pics), but I couldn't change the camera angle to point down/up or rotate the camera to portait orientation with the monopod attached. So I had a look on the internet/ebay, the cheapest one I could find that looked half decent was a KS-0 ballhead from dealextreme, which would probably work out around £30 at the moment. So I posted on the thread SteB started about the setup to see if he thought using the setup with the monopod is much more stable than just using the shoulder brace by itself.

After this I read some more macro threads on dpreview and someone posted a very nice pic they got using a diffuser that goes on the end of your lens and works with a camera mounted flash. So I had a look on ebay for them, the seller he suggests seems to be the only person selling them. I didn't anything like that on dealextreme either. I cut up a milkbottle, mounted my Sunpak super 383 Auto flash on my canon EOS 450d camera with the MP-E 65mm lens and put it on my tripod. I focused the camera on a dead beetle from Rad's study floor, then I held the piece of milkbottle at the end of the lens where the diffuser would go. At about 1/8 power and the lens set to 1:1 the subject was lit, although not very well and the front of it was quite dark. At about 3:1 it was very dark and lit very badly.

It's funny (well it's not actually), but while other people (Mark Dijstelberge springs to mind) seem to get good results with shoe mounted/pop-up flash and a diffuser it never seems to work for me.

The last couple of days I've been testing out diffusion methods for the MT-24EX flash. Of the ones I've tried (tissue paper, white milk carton, clear milk carton, bubble wrap, puffer diffuser, home-made mini softbox) the mini softbox seems to give the largest area of highlight but also the softest (i.e. highlight is less likely to be burnt out and more likely to contain visible detail). I would rate the puffers second best after the mini softbox. You can see this in the image below (mini softbox left, puffer right). In the situation below the puffer highlight is probably preferable because it's not as ugly, you can see it is much more harsh (brighter) than the mini softbox though. Someone on dpreview suggested using a mini softbox that is not square/oblong to improve it's reflection. This is certainly worth considering, although I want to make my next mini softbox out of pipecleaners so it's flexible, and I don't have any pipecleaners yet.
John K had mentioned recently that he had bought a macro flash bracket to use with his 580EX flash and MP-E65. Well, obviously I pay attention to what John K's doing so I decided to try that myself. The 450d doesn't have a PC socket, so first I tried taping over the contacts on the bottom of the Nikon SC-29 flash sync cable so I could use it with my Canon 45od. Unfortunately the fabric tape we have didn't want to stick to the bottom of the cable 'foot' and just came off when I pushed it into the camera 'shoe'.

When that didn't work I tried using my hot shoe multi-adapter in the camera hot shoe and connect it with a PC cord to a Nikon SB-800 flash unit. But that didn't work. I thought the PC synch cable must be dodgy, my only other one is in use as part of my Hi-Viz High speed photography (water drop) kit. So I looked on ebay for sync cords. What I wanted was either another PC synch cord of a suitable length or a non TTL normal sync cord. I couldn't find any non TTL normal sync cords (I think on strobist they suggest buying a normal TTL sync cord and then cutting it open and cutting the TTL cables) so I just bought another PC sync cord.

After that I tested the sync cord with the Nikon D200 and SB-800 and it worked fine. So I put the hot shoe adapter in the D200 hot shoe and connected the PC sync cord to that (rather than directly to the PC sync socket on the camera). It still worked. So I put it on the Canon 450d again. It didn't work. Playing with it a bit I found that when the screw bit on the adapter is tightened down on the canon it pushes the 'foot' of the adapter up (the canon hotshoe has too much space between the bottom and the top of the shoe), and so the bottom contact of the adapter is not connecting so the flash won't fire. If you don't tighten the adapter and push down on the adapter then it will fire. In fact, as long as you don't tighten the adapter it will be okay and fire the flash.

When I had worked this out, I tried an SB800 with Yong Nuo softbox on the Wimberley Macro flash bracket with the 450d and MP-E lens. You have to move the flash bracket to get the flash in the right place if you change magnification (I tried 5:1 and 3:1) and I didn't like the results as much as the MT-24EX. Maybe if John K posts some images taken with a similar setup I might give it another try, but for now I'll stick with the MT-24EX (especially since I just bought it and it cost a lot of money).

Next I tried getting a piece of wire coat hanger and clothes pegs to hang a duster in front of the lens (to act as a background). After trying various different things I couldn't get it to work and figured it might be worth forking out for a Wimberley Plamp. I looked on the internet to try and find a decent price for it (Warehouse Express is £30 + P&P).
I didn't find anywhere cheaper (well Bob Rigby was about 50p cheaper), but found an interesting thread about making your Plamp from Loc-Line and mini clamps from ebay. Searching for Loc Line on ebay there didn't seem to be anything suitable, the google sponsered result is a decent price but then $100 postage!!!!! After more searching I found a UK supplier that offers the packs of 2 x 5½inches of ½inch diameter Loc-Lite, but at about £9 each plus the cost for the clamps and the work to make your own I thought I might as well buy a real Plamp.

I also saw a post where someone suggested using a Manfrotto flex arm along with a superclamp instead of a plamp.
I did think about this, but I don't think the Manfrotto flex arm would be as flexible as a plamp, you would still need to add an extra clamp on the end of it, and the super clamp is quite big and heavy to have attached to your camera. So in the end, I decided to buy the plamp from warehouse express, about £34 in total. All reviews I've read of it say it is very useful though.

While I was doing all this messing about, the sun actually came out for (probably) the first time this week, and was out most of the day (although it was still very cloudy and a bit windy). Unfortunately I was too busy doing this messing about to get out.

SteB kindly replied to my post I'd made earlier at dpreview about the shoulder brace setup for macro, and he said you don't need the head to be screwed tight so it doesn't matter if it is only a lightweight head, because its not required to lock it all solid like on a tripod. He also gave me a link to a relatively cheap ball head, so I bought that. Cost about £16.50 including P&P. SteB also said that he doesn't have any problems rotating the camera even witout a ball head because his lenses have a tripod ring, which reminded me that I need a 'normal' macro lens and was thinking about the canon 100mm macro. Thing is, while my canon camera can't autofocus properly it kind of puts me off buying more canon kit. Having said that, macro is mainly manual focus and the camera did seem to AF okay at close distances anyway. I had a look on ebay and added some canon 100mm macros to my watch list. It's about £340 new from Park.

In the evening I went on the pinternet and watched some Battlestar Galactica Season 2.

Breakfast: Crunchy nut cornflakes; cup o' tea.
Lunch: Cheddar cheese with Sweet Onion relish and salad sandwich; cherry tomatoes; y-lum-plum from the garden slice of marble cake; chocolate club; cup o' tea.
Dinner: Pasta; pasta sauce stuff; chicken nuggets; mixed veg; broccoli. Pudding was spotted dick with custard. Coffee. Roses.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Olympics coming to UK!

Well today was the last day of the Olympics, watched some boxing in the morning and then after lunch watched the closing ceremony. The highlights were:
  • Bloke handing the Olympic flag to the Chinese Olympics chairman bloke got his head stuck in it, then it took a while for the Chinese Olympics chairman bloke to untangle the flag so it would fly.
  • People waiting for a bus with umbrellas and reading newspapers, which they then threw away (just to the side, not in a bin or anything) were used to represent London, where the Olympics will be held next.
  • Jackie Chan sung a verse of a song.
  • Shots of an ultimate Arab bloke kept being shown.
So it wasn't as spectacular as the opening ceremony, but was maybe more 'fun'.

As part of the closing ceremony London had something like an 8 minute slot to showcase itself. As per above they had people waiting for a bus, then a modern red bus turns up (not the sort of bus you associate with London, too modern) and a little girl got out and then got on again by walking over the backs of the people waiting for the bus. Then the top of the bus opened up to reveal the London skyline made out of topiary and platforms lifted Leona Lewis and Jimmy Page up in the air, who sang/played 'Whole lot of love' by Led Zepplin (the Top of the Pops theme tune). After that song David Beckham appeared on a platform and kicked a football into the crowd of athletes below.

To me, this didn't really represent what the games in London are likely to be like. Probably they should have had Lilly Allen singing 'LDN', while Hoodies go out throughout the athletes, stabbing them and stealing their cameras and medals. This would then be followed by Chas & Dave singing one of their songs accompanied by burping and farting Builders for percussion, with the Queen being raised up on a platform drinking tea and eating scones with cream, jam and strawberries. However, the Olympic Committee may have decided to change their minds about London hosting the next games if they had done this.

In the afternoon I took a few pics in the garden, then sorted them and tried to check some IDs I had been given recently on

After dinner I checked, then watched the last 2 episodes of Battlestar Galactica season 1. After that I went on the pinternet and watched some tutorial videos on using Adobe Bridge.

Breakfast: Lemon marmalade toast sandwich; cup o' tea.
After church snack: Choc chip cookie; strawberry cream biscuit; coffee.
Dinner: Tortilla chips with melted cheese; Chilli con carne; rice. Pudding was cheesecake with squirty cream. Coffee. Roses.
Tea: Chicken Tikka Sandwich spread sandwich; satsuma; toasted tea cake with butter; slice of Treacle tart; mint club; cup o' tea.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


Today watched the Olympics and also played on Chibi Robo: Park Patrol for the DS a bit. In the morning and evening I helped Mackie make his rowing machine which arrived in bits today.

In the evening there was a good Olympics event called 'Gymnastics Gala' that had lots of gymnasts doing routines on their best apparatus and also groups of gymnasts doing circus style tricks and human towers.

Breakfast: Lime marmalade toast sandwich; coffee (had run out of tea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!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Lunch: Cheddar cheese with Sweet Onion relish and iceberg lettuce sandwich; cherry tomatoes (actually more like grape tomatoes); satsuma; small slice of genoa cake; fake kitkat; cup o' tea; Roses.
Dinner: Beef Fajitas. Pudding was Peach and passion fruit creamy yoghurt. Coffee.

Friday, 15 August 2008

More Olympics

Still been watching Olympics all day the last few days. Today Britain got a gold in the indoor cycling team sprint. Also a more nasty version of a relative of a toilet (Nastia Liukin) got gold in the women's all around Indivdual gymnastics.

Also it was the start of track & field events, in the 100m qualifiers there were loads of different countries, some I hadn't even heard of. The women's 10,000m was really good, although they didn't break the World Record.

In the evening I took some macros and processed/sorted them, uploaded some more pics to Photoshelter, backed up my stuff, and went on the pinternet.

Amazingly the weather was okay today, quite windy and a bit cloudy at times, but mostly sunny and it didnae even rain!!!

Breakfast: Strawberry jam toast sandwich; cup o' tea.
Elevenses: Choc chip cookie; jam cream biscuit; cup o' tea.
Lunch: Cheddar cheese with iceberg lettuce sandwich; satsuma; Home-made blueberry muffin; gold bar; cup o' tea.
Dinner: Breaded fish; peas; potatoes; salt; vinegar. Pudding was: Chocolate Swiss Roll; tinned pear halves; custard. Coffee. Roses.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

One of Sarah's old friends got a gold!

Yesterday Rebecca Adlington won a gold medal in the women's 400m freestyle swimming. Moohar said that she used to be one of Shaz's friends at Broomhill. Also it said on the local news that she had been given 'The Freedom of Mansfield'. Does that mean she can go down Bronwlow Road without getting beat up?

Today Britain got a silver in men's slalom canoe, and some Bronzes in horse stuff. The badminton mixed pair match of GB Vs. China today was really good. GB won the first round by quite a few points, then at half way through match 2 they were winning by about 4 points. But after that China came back really well, and won that match with GB not getting many more points. Then the 3rd deciding game China were winning by quite a few points at half time. But then GB came back and won by about 3 points. The match was good to watch for the skills on display as well, and often had long rallies.

The men's team gymnastics today was good as well. China were amazing, getting 16s on floor and rings (normally people get 14s or 15s), and high 16s on vault (normally people get 15s). The bits it showed of USA were really good as well, great high bar routines.

Obviously I watched nearly all of the other Olympics stuff as well.

In the evening I went on the pinternet.

Breakfast: Golden Nuggets; cup o' tea.
Elevenses: Coffee; butter Kek biscuit; choc chip cookie.
Dinner: Pepperoni deep pan pizza; peas; chips. Pudding was Cornish Ice-cream. Coffee. Roses.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Britain gets a gold

Watched Olympics, went to church, watched Olympics, ate dinner, watched Olympics. It's 17.45 and has finished for the day now, so I'll go on the internet for a bit. Britain got a gold in the Women's Cycling Road Race.

After tea went on the internet more, then watched some photoshop photo editing tutorial videos.

Breakfast: Blackcurrant jam toast sandwich; cup o' tea.
After church snack: Chocolate digestive; coffee.
Dinner: Nasi Goreng; noodles. Pudding was cheesecake. Coffee.
Tea: Ham sandwich; banana; slice of Mac P gingerbread cake; gold bar; cup o' tea.

Saturday, 9 August 2008


This morning watched the Olympics, first men's gymnastics qualifying, then beach volleyball. After lunch I sorted my photos from yesterday, sorted my photos that I had now been given IDs for, and tagged my latest pics that had got accepted to photoshelter (the tagging process takes me ages).

Interestingly, I had got some more editors choice in the latest batch. I now have 49 Images listed, 100% acceptance rate and 20.4% Editors choice. I'm sure both of these will go down over time though as I submit more images and also as their collection grows they will become more picky. The images I get editors choice aren't the images that I think are best, and none of my landscapes have an editors choice, only macros. I only have 1 Comp download and no lightbox adds and no sales - I expect it will stay that way for a long time (maybe forever).

I also watched a bit more olympics.

After dinner, me, Mac and Ben watched Hero, then some skill japanese McDonalds videos:

I went on the pinternet for a bit and found that I always get its and it's the wrong way round - either the website I checked about a year ago gave me the wrong info or I remembered it wrong. I thought its was it is and it's was possesive, but actually it's (got it right there!) the other way round.

It rained nearly all day so I didn't go out at all.

Breakfast: Lime marmalade toast sandwich; cup o' tea.
Elevenses: Ginger biscuit; cup o' tea.
Lunch: Ham sandwich; banana; slice of Mac P gingerbread cake; Fox's whipped cream (viennese whirl); cup o' tea.
Dinner: Delee herby sausages; mashed potato; baked beans. Pudding was yoghurt and a chocolate digestive. Coffee. Piece of Sainsbury's caramel chocolate.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Exercising, gardening and photoing

Got up quite early this morning, about 6am. Had breakfast, then went on the internet (it was raining). Cropped some of the insect pics from the last few days, then posted them to to see if I could get any IDs, hopefully I can get an ID for the little beetle, but the other pics aren't very good so I won't be surprised if I don't get IDs for them.

Went on Wii fit, then did some japanese. Then I saw that Moohar was about to put the washing machine on, so I stopped her and took some pics from inside of the washing machine of me putting the ball of washing liquid in it. When I finished doing that it was lunch time.

After lunch I went in the garden and did some digging, digging up the turf in the corner between the pond and the greenhouse and the wall. We'll plant some wild flowers and hopefully other plants that insects, caterpillars and butterflies like. I need to do some research on which plants they like, we've got some buddleia down there now that I dug up from behind the greenhouse and planted there.

After that I took some photos of a green Elephant hawk moth caterpillar. When it gets scared it tucks it's little head back into it's big body. I copied the pics onto my comp and then loaded up Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP). Some of the pics were overexposed, and I couldn't see how to adjust the exposure so I searched for 'DPP tutorial' and came across a bunch of video tutorials on the canon website. I watched all the tutorials, and they were very helpful.

After watching the tutorials, it made me think that there probably wasn't much point using DPP to process the RAW files. I thought that DPP would apply automatic chromatic abberation and vignetting adjustments, but it doesn't (at least not for the MPE65 since it is not listed as a supported lens). I tried processing one of the overexposed through DPP and through Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and found that ACR gave a better output (although not as sharp, just needed to run a USM to equalize the sharpening).

DPP does have a nice dust removal brush, and you can copy this and apply it to multiple images. I think you can do the same thing in ACR using the healing brush / clone stamp tool, although I'm not sure whether DPP or ACR works best there. I think I will probably use ACR for converting the files, then if I find it isn't too good for removing dust, I can run the converted TIFFs through DPP for dust removal. Luckily I don't think I have any dust on the sensor at the moment.

After dinner me, jin, Ben and Moohar watched the Olympics opening ceremony, which was long, but good. It was interesting because it was all about old Chinese traditions which the communists previously tried to get rid of, and there wasn't really anything about communism in it at all. I guess tourism is more important to them than upholding their party values.

Then me, Ben and Amerika-jin watched the rest of Pee-wee's Big Adventure. After that I processed my pics from today and yesterday.

Breakfast: Almonds, oats and more cereal; cup o' tea.
Lunch: Fried chicken that Ben made yesterday; ½ cheddar cheese with iceberg lettuce sandwich; ½ ham sandwich; clementine; slice of Maccy's gingerbread cake; ¼ chocolate muffin; cup o' tea.
Dinner: 2x fishcakes; peas; potatoes; butter. Pudding was rice pudding with blackcurrant jam. Coffee. 1 x Roses.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Getting my website to work

I decided to spend this morning trying to get my website to work on my webhost.

The trouble I was having was that on the server it was giving an error message that it couldn't find the php includes files. I thought the problem was that my webhost had setup their system so the site root refered to when doing a php include was below the documentRoot, wheras on my local setup the root refered to when doing a php include was the documentRoot. After doing lots of reading on virtual hosts and raising a ticket with my webhost I finally managed to fix it.

The problem was nothing to do with the root at all - in fact my php includes were relative, not relative from the root i.e. they didn't start with a forward slash /, which I thought I had done. The problem was that my local environment is windows, which is case insensitive, while the server runs on Linux, which is case sensitive. Some of my includes files I had refered to like include('SSI/') wheras the actual file was named, so it didn't work.

After fixing that on my index page, I found the navigation menu didn't work. After doing some work on this, I found that I had to change some stuff in the SQL query to get it to work. An IF statment IF field IS TRUE I had to change to IF field = 1. Not sure why, although the web server is running mysql 4.1 wheras I'm running 5.something locally. Also had problems with my query referring to tables with the wrong case, again because Linux is case sensitive while Windows is not. More info on that in the MySQL manual.

In the afternoon I did a bit more work on the website, then did a bit of Japanese learning. Did some gardening to dig up some ground near the pond so we can plant wild flowers there and also plant some buddleia in the garden to encourage butterflies.

After dinner I watched the DJ Yoda goes to the movies video with Mac. Then I sorted some macro pics I took today. Watched a bit of PeeWees big adventure with Mac and Ben and listened to old American folk music.

Breakfast: Almond Oats & More cereal; cup o' tea.
Before lunch snack: 2 x fried chicken pieces (that Ben made using the cooking guide recipe)
Lunch: Cheese on toast; clementine; banana; Fox's whipped cream (same as viennese whirl); cup o' tea.
Dinner: 4 x fried chicken pieces (that Ben made using the cooking guide recipe); potatoes; mini corn on the cobs; green beans. Pudding was Cornish ice cream with Scottish raspberries. Coffee. Roses.
Supper ten crupper: Choco Liebniz biscuit; cup o' tea.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


It rained on and off (mostly on) all day today so I didn't get to try to out my canon macro setup.

In the morning I went on the pinternet and went on wii fit for quite a while.

In the afternoon I tried to setup my local test website so the root folder for php includes files would be a couple of folders below (so it would be the same as the web server). I spent nearly all afternoon on it, but couldn't get it to work.

After dinner me, Ben & Mac P finished watching the Hulk, and then watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica. After that I went on the pinternet a bit.

Breakfast: Honey nut loops; cup o' tea.
Lunch: Ham with iceberg lettuce and cherry tomato sandwich; slice of bakewell tart; banana; slice of madeira style cake that Ben made the other day; cup o' tea.
Afternoon snack: ½ eccles cake; cappuchino.
Dinner: Ham quiche; peas; potatoes; butter. Pudding was gingerbread cake with creamy custard. Coffee. Roses.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Buying some puffers

This morning my 450d and 18-55 IS lens arrived back from Canon. I took them out for a quick test. Unfortunately its still front focusing, although not quite as bad as before and I even got 1 shot (out of 6) that was correctly focused! Canon had included a print of some test shots (4 images each printed about 3.5" x 5" on a sheet of A4 photo paper) to show the lens was working correctly. However, all the shots (maybe not one of them) look like they were taken at less than 10m from the subject (the camera only seems to front focus with subjects that are over 10m away). Also at that print size you probably couldn't see any focus problems.

Anyway, I think I will give up on sending it to canon again, since it costs money to post it to them and also means I am without the camera for a week. It means I won't be able to use the camera and lens instead of my D200 and 18-70 lens for a walkaround combo, but it may be useful for larger insects e.g. butterflies, I will have to try it.

After doing the quick test I went down town to post my creative CB2530 headphones that somoeone won on ebay ages ago, but only paid for yesterday. When I got back I went on the pinternet for a bit, then tested out the 450d with MP-E65 and MT-24EX for a bit. I didn't do too many test shots really, but it looked like bare flash or milk jug diffuser, tissue, tissue paper in front of the flash still give you harsh highlights and relatively harsh shadows. A mini softbox made from cardboard, foil and tissue paper seemed to give the best results.

Unfortunately the mini-softbox I made is quite large and I would need to make another one to go on the other flash head, it might be hard to get them both at the right angles with the size of the mini-softboxes. I had done some research on diffusion (and made the mini-softbox) for the MT-24EX over the last few days since I knew it was important. Most of the info I found was posts by John K (He seems to post at a lot of sites!) suggesting the Gary Fong puffer diffusers. However these are expensive, about £17ea. on ebay, shipped from the US, so I didn't want to order any before I'd received the flash and tested cheaper alternatives. Also I'm sure that John K posted a few weeks ago that he now thought the puffers distrubute the light too widely and so destroy the shadows, and was now using some specialist diffusion plastics he had got as a sample from somewhere.

Even with the mini-softbox, the soldier beetle I was testing on still had a large white shine on it's back (just not as harsh as with the other diffusion methods I'd tried). So I decided it would be worth trying to get a couple of puffers to see how well they worked, I did some searching and found some info that said that cheap knock offs used to be available on ebay, but had all been pulled. They also gave 2 websites that sell the knock offs, which made me think of dealextreme, so I tried there and they did have them. The pics on dealextreme are of a blue one, but I assume they actually send you a clear/white one, so I ordered some of those, plus a couple of flash diffusers that looked a bit like the cardboard one I made.

I went on the pinternet a bit and read that some other people were having the same focus problems with their 450ds as me, although the large majority of people seem to have them working correctly.

After dinner I helped Ben make some fruit have Maccy and Moohars faces on. Then we watched a couple of episodes of Get along gang (A good song by Wiley reminded me of it).

Breakfast: Honey nut loops; cup o' tea.
Mid morning snack: Choc chip cookie; bits of nice, butter and malted milk biscuits; coffee.
Lunch: Cheddar cheese with iceberg lettuce sandwich; clementine; slice of madeira style cake that Ben made; caramel rocky; cup o' tea.
Dinner: Chilli burger with tomato relish, cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce & sliced cherry tomato; chips. Pudding was trifle spong, sliced pear half and the chocolate mousse that Ben and Mac P made yesterday. Coffee.