Bad Axe

I went to Bad Axe with John. We fixed his truck and milked cows.

Bad truck part.
broken radiator, dodge truck, dashboard
We had to remove the whole dashboard.
removing the dashboard of a dodge truck, guide, steps
removing the dashboard of a dodge truck, guide, steps, radiator
Milking cows, i think they have about 70.
milking cows on a farm in bad axe, pen, cage
milking cows on a farm in bad axe michigan, pen, cage, pit, heffers


Signature to Photos

I decided that i should put my name and the date on some of the photos i upload to the blog. The way that i did it was to sign a piece of paper about fifty times. (not the actual way i sign my name for important documents though)

Then i scanned that paper and decided what signature i liked the best and isolated it. In Photoshop i fixed any out of place pixels and upped the contrast so there was only black and white.

Then i used the dreaded magic want tool, selected the background and deleted it. That way the signature would be transparent instead of always having a white background.
Here is what it looked like when i was done. add signature to photo, scan, transparent background, paste, layerIf the photo is dark where i want to put the signature then after pasting it in i just select "invert colors" and the signature will be white or gray. how to add a signature to photo you took, photoshop, paint, scan, copy


Welders Glass ND Filter

I was reading online about a cheap alternative to a Neutral Density (ND) filter to use for photography. An ND filter is basically sunglasses for your camera. It decreases the amount of light that gets through, thus allowing you to keep the lens open longer. Neutral density filters can cost as much as $400 for a really nice one.

The cheap alternative is to use a welders glass. They type of glass that welders for eye protection against the bright light created during welding. So i went to Lowe's and bought one.
Welding Glass for Sale At Lowes, Home Depot, Hardware Store

Lowes lens dark, welders glass, for sale

Then because my new camera only has a small lens i decided to cut the glass down to about 2" x 2".
DIY, how to make an ND Filter, cut glass

And make a type of "dark housing" to fit over the camera lens. I used a piece of PVC pipe and
a permanent marker to color it black.

cut welding glass, darken case to prevent light, glare

Then glued it together.

assembled homemade ND filter

I used a rubber band to hold it onto the camera and some cloth on the edge so it wouldn't scratch anything.

completed ND filter for point and shoot camera, homemade, diy, New ND Filter design, homemade, make, weld glass, homemade, diy, nd filter on camera, Neutral Density
The two main problems with using the welders glass is that it is not as high a quality as an ND filter and that it has a green tint. This is what the image looks like right out of the camera. This was a 64 second exposure during the day.

RAW ND filter photo, green tint, welders glass

But in Photoshop this can be corrected, mainly by adjusting White Balance and Tint.

photoshop corrected RAW photo with ND filter

That design was not the best, it was too big and heavy. So i tried to simplify it.

I started with the same 2" square piece of glass that i cut from the larger glass. But then i used pliers as a kind of glass nippers and slowly broke off corners until it was round.
New ND Filter design, homemade, make, weld glass, homemade, diy, nd filter on camera, Neutral Density
I sanded and filed the sharp edge. Then just as before i glued it to a PVC pipe i colored black, inside and out. But the key difference is this time is that i glued a foam ring to the inside of the PVC.
assembled ND filter housing, foam, ring
point and shoot nd filter, homemade, make, diy
I sanded the foam down until i could slide it onto the outer lens, but with just enough pressure that it wouldn't fall off.homemade, diy, nd filter on camera, Neutral Density

I plan to use it when i'm in Tennessee to take pictures of some waterfalls.


Canon S95

It was time to replace my trusty Canon SD770IS. I wanted another Canon camera for a couple of reasons: they have great battery life, well made, but most importantly i could continue to use the CHDK program.

I still wasn't sure whether i should get a new camera that cost around $200 or buy a cheap used one for around $80.
I thought about getting a used Canon PowerShot A580. New they cost around $180, but i could not find a used one. Canon PowerShot A580, CHDK, cost, review, price
As far as new camera's i looked at getting the Powershot ELPH 300 HS, it was recently on sale for $160. That bad part is that they haven't written the CHDK program for that specific model. Maybe they will in the future but i decided not to get it right now.
Canon PowerShot ELPH 300HS, CHDK, size, review, price, cost
I had seen and read about the Canon S95 for a while now. Every magazine review says it's the best point and shoot camera there is. The downside is that it cost $400.
But after Thanksgiving it went on sale for $290.

It was the closest thing to what i wanted, a DSLR that's not $1000 and fits in my pocket. So i bought it.
Canon S95, CHDK, DSLR, RAW image, sensor size
Here's what the CHDK program menu looks like on the camera.Canon S95 camera review, menu using CHDK
I also bought a leather case that attaches to the camera. It's a little awkward to take pictures while the case is attached.
Canon S95 camera leather case, protect
But i do like it when it is completely covered.
Canon S95 camera full leather case, cost, price
I still might get a cheap used Canon for the more "risky" type of pictures, like tying it to a kite.

Star Pictures

Before i crashed the kite and broke the camera i took these pictures of stars from the roof of my garage. They were 50 seconds exposures (which was a bit too long, 30 or 40 would have been better) and this time i did not use the dark frame subtraction so there wasn't a 50 second wait time in between each picture. Although there was some dark patches in the pictures, probably due to the lens.

Again this was done by combining several pictures that were taken over about an hour. Half way through some clouds blew in and screwed it up a bit.
Here's the original, untouched picture taken over the first 30 minutes. star trails, canon CHDK, long exposure
Here's the other original picture over the entire hour.
star trails, canon CHDK, long exposure, star, sky, night
I Photoshopped them look better. star trails, exposure time, star, sky, night
I just randomly pointed the camera toward the sky, you can see that i almost got the North Star in the upper right hand corner.
This one i used a purple lens filter effect how to increase exposure using CHDK
For better results i need to use a better camera, on a night with no clouds and in an area out in the country where the stars are really bright.
star trails, night sky, long exposure

Backyard Pond

I thought it would be a cool idea to make a pond in my backyard. Next summer i could plant the lotuses and lily-pads, maybe add some goldfish too.

Here's the area i planned on putting the pond. It would be 'L' shaped and fit in between the wood fence and the concrete slab.
design a bakyard pond
I dug down about 4" the approximate area of the pond. I removed the topsoil, leaving the clay.
dig a backyard pond, garden, diy, make
Then in Photoshop I drew in what i thought the pond might look like. I added water, rocks, lotuses and a tiny waterfall in the corner. The waterfall would help aerate the pond and i would also filter the water using a homemade first flush filter.
photoshop to see what a pond in the garden will look like
photoshop landscape, pond, garden, plants, house

Final Flight

After getting the flowform kite to fly with the camera i was almost ready for my homemade kite to give it a try. Here's the link from the earlier kite making.
I did the last bit of finishing touches to the kite
, mainly the bridle. Then i had to make a better, steadier, harness for the camera. The thing to use is called a picavet. It is a harness and bracket that ensures that the camera is always level, no matter what angle the string is at.picavet gif, level camera, KAP

This was my first attempt. I used light aluminum box tubing and pvc tubes instead of pulleys. It was pretty light, but i didn't like it.DIY, homemade picavet, aluminum
So next i made this out of a thick wire hanger. Simple and strong.
new picavet, diy, make, wire hanger

Someone online said that they attach it to the kite string using a simple metal o-ring. It loops over the line and seemed like a good idea. I didn't have an o-ring so i used copper washers.
KAP, kite aerial photography, o-ring

I first tried the Rokkaku kite, but it was way too windy and it didn't fly at all. The kite kept zig-zagging back and forth. So i used the flow-form kite that flew before when the wind was really blowing hard.
Again it went right up with the camera. Photo from my kite and 200 feet, KAP, kite aerial photography
This time i was in the park down the street.
kap photography, canon camera, CHDK intervalometer
That's 15 mile road at the top.
canon camera, CHDK, intervalometer, up in the air
aerial view of houses, taken with a camera and kite
aerial view of houses, taken with a camera and kite
Notice the sidewalk down there...
falling camera, from a kite, broken camera
Well i guess the saying is "you can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs."

smashed canon camera after falling from kite
Just as i started pulling the kite in the string snapped and it fell to the only area of pavement, of course, the bike path.
The problem was that the washers used had too sharp of edges and after 20 minutes the kite string snapped.

metal washers snapped line of kite

kite floated away, even after an hour of looking for it i never saw it again. I'm pretty sure it landed in someones backyard on the other side of the woods.

Since the camera was totally broken i decided to just take it apart and see how it's made.
disassembled SD770is canon camera
disassembled SD770is canon camera, all pieces, parts
I plan on getting another used or new Canon camera and making another flow-form kite.
It's a bummer, but i've needed a different camera for a while. That one had so many things wrong with it:
  • broken battery door
  • dirt inside lens
  • missing lens cover
but it always worked and was great for doing these CHDK projects.

PhotoFly 3D_30

I read in a magazine about Autodesk Photofly 2.0. It's a free program from the same company that does AutoCAD, which is the software that i use at work.

The way it works is that you take lots of pictures of something from all different angles, then upload it to Autodesk and it creates a 3D image.

The hard part is taking all the pictures. The easy part is that once you are done you just upload them and the program does the rest. Well sort of, the first time i tried it, it said that i didn't have enough images to create a 3D image. And the program crashes a lot.

My first try was an old fishing reel. I took about 40 pictures, but apparently that wasn't enough.

The next try i took a bunch of pictures of the clay ocarina i made. It didn't come out right but at least it sort of worked.

Here's "part" of my car in the driveway.

Obviously it's not perfect but it's still kind of cool.



Karrie and i saw Moneyball the other night. It was a great movie.

It's based on the true story of the Oakland Athletics trying to compete in baseball with only a fraction of the payroll of teams like the New York Yankees.

Brad Pitt was the general manager that realized that he could not compete by doing the same thing the other teams were doing.
Brad Pitt stars in Moneyball as Billy Bean, Oakland Athletics GM
Jonah Hill played the guy that majored in economics and calculated the players with the most value.
Jonah Hill stars in Moneyball, movie, with brad pitt, funny guy
It showed cool inside meetings of how players were traded to different teams.
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill stars in Moneyball, movie, great together
It was a little slow at times but overall really interesting and funny.
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