Friday, 31 August 2012

Pano processing and UV photoing

This morning I processed a pano. Then I looked online for UV flash power info. Unfortunately I couldn't find any specific information. I think that probably my camera isn't as sensitive to UV as converted cameras (despite my camera being designed for UV work).

I went out and picked some dandelions. Then I took some test photos. These are all at ISO 320. The first photo is with the flash a few centimetres away from the flower and at full power. So I think really I need about 3 flashes at least, that way I can use f/8 and lower ISO, or have the flashes further away from the subject.

This next photo is holding the fresnel lens from the (Vivitar 283) flash in front of the flash. (Since I removed the fresnel lens from the flash as that is recommended for UV photography). As you can see, the recommendation of removing the lens is 100% correct. If the fresnel lens was still installed in the flash normally, this image would be completely black. Obviously it does a very good job of blocking UV.

The next photo is taken quite a while after the previous one, and the Dandelion had started to wilt. (I did have it in a pot of water, but I guess that wasn't good enough for it). The long delay between pics is that it took me ages to find my 52-67mm step up ring needed for the Vis photo. This photo below is not the visible light one, but a full spectrum photo taken with natural light only (1/20s).

Photo below is visible light only (B+W 486). 1/15s.

And this last photo is NIR only (Hitech infrared). 1/10s.

For these photos I adjusted the exposure in ACR slightly. I set the white balance on the white pot the dandelion is in. For the UV photo, the WB adjustment does not go far enough. So I played the hue adjustments on the camera calibration tab to make the pot as close to neutral as I could.

In the evening I cut out a piece of plastic as a replacement for the flash's fresnel lens.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Pano processing and UV flash testing

Today I finished processing the pano I was working on most of yesterday, and also processed another pano.

Topaz Labs sent me an email to say their promotional discount on Topaz PhotoFX Lab ends tonight, so I gave it another try on an image. But I didn't really see any benefit of using Photo FX Lab, so I won't bother buying it.

I also received my Vivitar 283 flash and focusing helical, so I tried them out. Strangely the Vivitar 283 didn't seem to do anything when I fitted it with Alkaline batteries, which is what it says it requires on the battery holder. My old Sunpak 383 flash only works with alkaline batteries, so I thought the Vivitar might be the same.

Since the flash didn't work at all with the alkaline batteries (didn't make any high pitched sound or anything when turned on), I tried a set of rechargeable NiMH batteries. And thankfully the flash did work with these. So I then proceeded to dismantle it and remove the fresnel lens.

I took some test shots using the flash, but it required a full power flash, and ISO800 on the camera for a decent UV flash. I'm not sure if this is what should be expected (I wasn't expecting it), so I need to look that up.

Anyway, here is the UV flash exposure at ISO800 vs. a full spectrum no flash at ISO100. I changed the colours on the UV one.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


I had a problem with my Ubuntu VM today (actually I've had a number of problems since upgrading it the other day). I think my problems mainly boil down to that during the upgrade it often asked if an existing configuration file should be replaced with a new one. In all cases I said yes, since I thought it would best to have the most up-to-date configuration options.

Today, I ran a php script that generates some HTML files, but got the error:

file_put_contents(filename.html) [function.file-put-contents]: failed to open stream: Permission denied

Doing some research (and my own initial thoughts), it seemed the problem was likely that apache didn't have write permissions for the folder. Looking in /etc/apache2/ at the .conf files, I found a backup of the old envvars file. In this I had set:

export APACHE_RUN_USER=myusername
export APACHE_RUN_GROUP=myusername

In the current envvars file, these were both set to www-data. So I just changed them both to my username and restarted apache (sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart). Now my file worked okay with no permission denied problems!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Writing and researching

This morning and the first part of the afternoon I was writing an article for my photo tips website.

The rest of the day I was doing Ukraine holiday research. In the evening I also watched an episode of Masked Rider with Billy.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Looking for Soviet constructions

Today I finally managed to get my Ubuntu VM to update. For quite a while the update manager has failed with an error message about possible unmet dependencies.

Hovering the mouse over the broken update icon (a big red circle with an exclamation mark in the top toolbar), it said to use apt-get in the terminal to get more information. After trying a few different apt-get commands, I found the problem was with the flash plugin for firefox.

I didn't record the exact error message, but it was something like (from bug report here):

firefox: Breaks: adobe-flashplugin (<= but is to be installed.

When looking for fixes online, I found one that said about adding a partner repository. Looking up how to do this, I found these instructions: How do I enable the “partner” repository? I went to the Ubuntu button as those instructions said, but I didn't have a 'Software sources' option. I did have 'Ubuntu Software Center" though, so I clicked on that.

In the left pane of the Ubuntu Software Center, there was an option for 'Installed packages'. I clicked this, and on the right pane it loaded up the list of installed packages. The first two were Adobe Flash nonfree (or something similar) and Adobe Flash 10 version 11 (or something similar). I uninstalled the first one, then tried uninstalling the second one.

The second one didn't uninstall, but part-way through the Ubuntu Update window popped up. So it must have been the first flash plugin entry that was causing the problem. I started the Ubuntu upgrade, and then did a backup of my important files from the VM when the 'start upgrade' screen came up, before clicking the 'start upgrade' button.

Most of the day, then, was spent waiting to Ubuntu to update. While I was waiting, I tried to find some of the locations of buildings in the Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed (CCCP) book. Although the book gives the names of (most) of the buildings, their architects and construction dates, and their general locations (city or municipality name), I still found this very difficult.

One of the places I couldn't find at all. The name and location did match a building, but not the one that was photographed. I couldn't see any similar looking buildings nearby either. The names of the architects turned up nothing as well.

In the afternoon I also made a cake.

In the evening I watched an episode of Kamen Rider Black with Billy. I went out to take a pano of Welland park. And I did some more work on my ebay wordpress plugin.

Friday, 24 August 2012

16 bits - never again!

I spent most of today processing a pano. I tried processing it in 16 bits (instead of 8), but it made my PC really slow. It took an absolute age to save as well. So I won't be processing any more panos as 16 bit documents unless I get a really powerful PC.

I did a little work on my eBay wordpress plugin as well. In the evening I also watched an episode of Kamen Rider with L.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Writing and baking

This morning I wrote an article for my photo tips website.

In the afternoon I started writing an article for my photo website and baked a cake.

In the evening I finished writing the article for my photo website.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Not getting much done

Most of this week I have been helping out with the Holiday at Home activities for older people. Most days I was just moving tables etc. before and after dinner. This takes more time than it sounds like it should though, and often you are just waiting around for people.

On Wednesday I also did a session in the morning (doing polymer clay modelling). On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I managed to get an article written for my photo tips website, but didn't get anything else done. A lot of my other time I spent researching trips to Chernobyl.

On Thursday Holiday at Home had a trip to the zoo, so there wasn't too much for me to do. I did have to help McRad fetch some computers and just made sure that one worked okay. I kind of managed to get quite a bit done on this day.

Although I did a lot of work, I didn't really have much to show for it. I was working on my ebay wordpress plugin, and it is so long since I last did any work on it, ebay have changed the way a few things work. I also made quite a few mistakes in my coding, which required debugging. It still needs quite a bit more work until it gets in a usuable state.

On Friday I thought I should be able to get quite a bit of work done, since I didn't have any article to write for my photo tips website. (I try to write 3 articles a week). I set up the computers for Holiday at Home about 9am, but then the rest of the morning I only managed to check my emails!

I can't remember what I was doing the rest of the day, probably I was playing with my new Baader U filter.

My experimentations on Friday didn't work as I had no way of attaching my only suitable lens for use with the filter to the camera. But today (Saturday) I received the M42 to Nikon F mount adapter I was waiting for. I tried some natural light shots, but it required very long shutter speeds (~20s), and it was windy. Also, I have no way of focusing the lens.

Most flowers I tried to take photos of (I only tried 4 different flowers) didn't seem to have any UV markings. But the Greater Willowherb does look a little different in UV than it does in natural light. You'll have to excuse the rubbish blurry photo:

The centre of the flower and the sexual parts of the flower look dark in the UV photo, but in visible light they are white, you can see a visible light photo of what the Greater Willowherb flower looks like here: Greater Willowherb (from Nature Conservation Imaging WETLANDS - FLORA).

The other thing I received this week is a Kodak 1A Pocket Jr. camera, which I bought for the bellows. The camera costs about the same as the bellows by themselves. Removing the bellows might be a bit more difficult than I first thought though. Here is a photo taken through the bellows with my 5D2 and the Kodak's lens wide open:

I couldn't hold the bellows mount flush to the camera body (the camera grip got in the way). So there was quite a large gap between the bellows and the lens mount. I think this is why the image is quite low contrast.

Saturday, 11 August 2012


This morning and part of this afternoon I prepared tomorrow's pog website update.

Most of the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening I did some work on a blog post for my photo website.

I watched a bit of the Women's mountain bike race and the finals of the men's diving final. The standard was very high, and Britain's Tom Daly managed to get a Bronze, doing a very good job on all his dives. The Chinese guy who was second seemed to be really depressed that he 'only' got silver. The US won it, deservedly so.

I also really like one of the commentators they have doing the diving. He obviously used to be a diver himself, and is very good at pointing out the things the different divers do well and any little mistakes they make. He is good at predicting what score the dives will get as well. And he is very enthusiastic about the good dives, which makes watching it better.

Friday, 10 August 2012


I spent most of this morning writing up a recipe for my recipe website. Then most of the afternoon and evening writing a post for my photo website.

In the evening I also processed some of the photos I took with my "new" EL-Nikkor lens. Since I don't have an adapter for the lens yet I just had to hold it in front of the camera. For quite a few shots I mounted some extension tubes on the camera, then held the lens on the end of the extension tubes. This improved contrast quite a bit. Image quality didn't seem that great though. It could be camera shake, or might just be that the lens isn't very sharp.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


This morning and the first part of the afternoon I was finishing off a blog post for my photo tips website that I started work on yesterday.

The rest of the afternoon I checked my emails and updated my photo equipment spreadsheet with stuff I've bought lately.

In the evening I watched Kamen Rider with Billy, then went out on a walk to Marston Trussell. There was a nice sunset, but I don't think I really get any good photos of it. Still, it was nice to be out and see the sunset (though getting bitten my midges in annoying).

Monday, 6 August 2012


This morning I finished writing up the recipe I was writing up yesterday. The rest of the day I was just working on an article for my photo tips website. And I still haven't finished it yet!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

UV photography equipment researching

This morning I updated my pog website, then started a binary compare between one of my hard drives and a backup. I went to Church, then watched Kamen Rider with L after dinner.

Yesterday I mentioned I'd won an ebay auction, but I didn't mention what I'd bought. It was an 80mm/5.6 EL Nikkor enlarging lens. So this afternoon I looked for the parts that I'd need to make it work.

Checking Wikipedia showed that the lens has an M39 thread. Doing some googling, I found this page: Focusing helicoid, which almost gives a complete setup for what is needed to use the lens. The only thing that was missing is the best helicoid size for use with the 80mm lens.

The author does state on that page (regarding a 19 to 32 mm helicoid):

I can focus the above lens to infinity with a small margin left, and an 80 mm f/5.6 (both old and N type) with the helicoid almost totally extended.

So, what you could do is to use extension tube(s) plus 17-31mm helicoid (£30 on ebay). That should enable infinity to close-up focus. The other common helicoid sizes on ebay are 25-50mm (£47) and 35-90mm (£52). If the 80mm lens focuses to infinity with a completely extended 19-32mm helicoid, then that would mean that a helicoid that starts at 35mm would be too long for infinity focus. So it is probably a toss-up between the 17-31mm and the 25-50mm helicoids if I want infinity focus available.

Another article I read was The enlarging lens macro rig, which shows using the EL Nikkor lens reversed for macro work. Again, the parts mentioned are available on eBay.

I think what I will do is to wait until the lens arrives, and try holding / extending it manually. Then decide on what equipment to buy. I don't have any way to mount it to the camera at all at the moment.

The other equipment I need to use the lens for its intended purpose (UV photography) is a Vivitar 285 flash and a Baader U filter.

After writing this blog post so far, I realised that the old version of the EL-Nikkor 80mm/5.6 actually has a filter thread size of 34.5mm, not 39mm. So I spent most of the afternoon trying to find where you can obtain a thread adapter from 34.5mm to some normal size.

Some of the info I found said that you need to use a Series VI filter adapter. After much searching I did find an eBay seller that might sell a Series VI filter adapter with a 34.5mm thread. The filter adapter is the Ednalite 661. But, then you still need some way to adapt from a Series VI thread to a standard thread.

There didn't seem to be any Series VI to standard thread adapters on ebay. Just adapters of various threads to Series VI. I did find some info that suggested Series VI was a 44mm thread size. But then, there weren't any 44mm thread adapters on ebay either.

I then found this forum thread: Slide Dupes w/ D200, where one of the posters writes that the company BORG makes a 34.5mm to M42 adapter, with part no. #7848. Googling for that brings up this pdf: BORG parts catalog, where you can see an image of the adapter and a fuller description:

M42P1 to M34.5 AD
Connects a reversed Nikkor EL 50/4 lens to focusers. (A reversed EL enlarger lens can be used as a high-resolution macro lens.)

This adaptor has male threads on both sides to enable reversing the lens. It is not really a filter thread adapter. You would have to get a M48 to M42 step down ring, mount it on the front of the Baader U filter (possibly with filter adapter), and then reverse mount it to the BORG 7848. I'm not sure if the filter being reverse mounted would make any difference.

I did find on ebay an M42 female to M42 female T thread adapter. In theory this should work, but the part looked a bit thick to me.

The other possible solution could be if the filter could be mounted behind the lens. At the moment I am not entirely sure what size thread the Baader filter uses on both sides. On the Baader website they sell a range of adapter rings. But they also say adapt our Astro 2 "eyepiece-filter (M48), indicating that the filter thread of the filter itself is M48. In which case I would have thought a standard 48mm - whatever size adapter should be okay.

Doing some more research, I found this page with quite a bit of useful info on creating a setup for UV photography: Kevin Collins: The equipment I use for ultraviolet photography. And here is a link to the same images on flickr: kevincollins123 > Collections > Exotic Spectra > Reflected Ultraviolet.

Next I looked at the flash. The Vivtar UV Flash conversion page I had looked at before suggested the 285HV, 285, or 283 flashes. I wondered what the difference was. It seems that the 285 has a zoom head, while the 285HV is more likely to have a trigger voltage that won't fry your camera, but there were also some new models produced that are very low quality and break easily. The 283 is a more basic flash.

Looking at them on ebay, there isn't a way to manually control the flash power. They feature an auto thyristor for determining the flash power. This can be removed and replaced with the Vivitar VP-1 Vari-power module. But this costs about £30, and only seemed to be on ebay from US based sellers.

Then I managed to find a couple of resources that show you can just use a 100k potentiometer (about £2 inc. P&P on ebay) instead of the VP-1: Vivitar 283 DIY varipower and HiViz Electronic Guidebook for High-Speed Flash Photography: Activity 2. Controlling flash duration.

Researching this various stuff took me most of the afternoon and evening.

In the evening I also wrote up a recipe I made a while back and made some left-over cereal and biscuit cake.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Getting annoyed and seeing a newt

This morning I scanned in some more pogs, did some cleaning, and started to prepare tomorrow's pog website update.

In the afternoon I finished preparing tomorrow's pog website update and re-did a video for my photo tips website. Clare and Billy were removing blanket weed and some of the Canadian pond weed from the pond, and found a nice little smooth newt, along with a few dragonfly and damselfly larvae.

In the evening I watched an episode of Kamen Rider with Bils, and uploaded the video I'd made earlier to youtube.

Getting the video done was very annoying. First MS Expression recorder didn't record the mouse cursor properly. (It recorded a fake cursor plus the real cursor. The fake cursor changed throughout the video, sometimes it was a pointer, sometimes it was a hand, and other times it was an hourglass.) I have had a similar problem with other screen recording programs in the past, in that they didn't record the real mouse cursor. But normally MS Expression recorder has been OK.

The next problem was that MS Expression encoder failed to encode the file about 3 times. And it takes a long time to do the encoding each time. Eventually I found a setting that it would encode the file at - CBR 1 pass.

I went on youtube to upload the new video as a replacement for the old version, but couldn't find a replace button. Doing some googling, it turned out that it didn't exist. You can only add new videos and delete old ones, not update old ones. Very strange decision.

So I uploaded the new video as a new video, and updated the link in my blog article to the new video's URL. I went to the video manager to delete the old video, but there was a message on the new video there, saying that it was too long. I clicked the link for more information, and followed the instructions to verify my account to allow uploads longer than 15 minutes.

But after verifying my account, the video was still removed. It seems that youtube just removes the video automatically, so you have to re-upload it after your account has been verified.

So I uploaded the video again, and updated the link in my blog article again to the new video. Finally it seems the video has uploaded OK. What a palaver!

Another annoying problem I had today was with paypal. I wanted to pay for something I bought on eBay by credit card. But paypal only had paypal balance and e-cheque as payment options. Doing some googling, it turned out that paypal don't let you pay by credit card when your paypal balance in the currency to be paid is greater than 0.

So after checking the paypal fees with withdrawal, (which are thankfully zero), I withdrew the GBP balance from paypal. With that done, and paypal showing my GBP balance as zero, I refreshed the payment options page. But it still only showed paypal balance and e-cheque as options.

I had to restart the ebay checkout from scratch, and then paypal did show credit card as a payment option. Very annoying how these websites just go out of their way to make things complicated and take longer than they should.


This morning I went out on a walk with McRad. In the afternoon I made a cake. In the evening I went to bed as I wasn't feeling very well.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Article writing

Today I was mostly just working on an article for my photo tips website.

In the evening I went out to photograph the sunset, but I got to the field just as the sun disappeared behind a bank of cloud. I did try to take some photos anyway, but all the gypsy horses came to see me. There was an annoying brown one that kept getting in the way and following me whenever I moved.

After a bit the horse started stamping its back feet, and it also (lightly) kicked my bag, so I thought maybe it was getting annoyed with me being there. So I packed up and went home (since the sunset was nearly finished and wasn't that great anyway). But when I looked it up on the internet, apparently horses stamp their feet when they have mites.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Writing and olympics watching

This morning and part of the afternoon I was working on an article for my photo tips website. Most of the rest of the afternoon I watched various Olympics events. I also watched some Skull Trumpet videos, and Mauser showed me some Twitter photoshops of Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire.

In the evening I watched Billy play on Zelda for a bit, then we watched some more Mahabarat. After that I did some more work on another article for my photo tips website.