Friday, 28 September 2012

Warning - Lloyds TSB Phishing emails

Watch out for a very poor phishing email which purports to come from Lloyds TSB Bank.
This one I received this evening.


Dear Valued Customer,

We have recently noticed that someone has made "
3 " suspicious attempts
to log into your online account from this (IP) address " "
Therefore our security commitment forces us to block your account
temporarily until you verify your identity on our systems.

There is a link which says will take you to the bank site but really it takes you to a hidden .se site. (in Sweden?)

I don't bank with Lloyds which immediately made me suspicious and the wording is so poor it shouldn't really fool anyone. The IP address given doesn't exist but has been referred to many times in similar phishing emails.

Baby Snail + Monty the Pillow

When I lifted the lid of the recycle wheelie bin I saw the smallest snail I had ever seen. Obviously snail eggs must hatch out to become tiny snails but I am sure this is the first time I have seen one anywhere near this size.

Baby Snail 2.jpg

Not my thumb but my little finger near the snail which measured about 10mm full stretch.

Baby Snail 1.jpg

Soundtrack - MIDI file played through Animoog app on the iPad

Penny and Monty the Moose becomes Penny and Monty the pillow:
She often uses Freddy the Fox or Monty the Moose as a head rest.
Penny is sporting her reflective collar ready for dark early morning walkies.

Penny with Monty the pillow.jpg

Have a great weekend observing the wild and domestic life around you.

Monday, 24 September 2012

And the Winners Are .....

gold starThree people correctly identified last Monday's Guess What macro photo so my congratulations and a virtual  gold star goes to Adrian, ImaBurdie, and Jan for spotting it was part of a fir / pine cone.

2012-09-15 10.09.06.jpg
iPhone + mini microscope

2012-09-15 10.12.36_fhdr.jpg 

Nothing new this week as nothing suitable has caught my eye yet.

For those in the know - how do I get text to flow round a picture? The gold star part of my posts always looks so untidy. I write in plain text, not html. Aha - Solved - I should have searched YouTube in the first place. Once the graphic is in place in the Blogger editor just click on it to bring up a pop-up to choose how it and the text goes. The same pop-up allows captions to be added to graphics.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Trial of Dynamic Photo-HDR

I was checking to see whether there was an update to the ReDynaMix plug-in I use in Photoshop when I spotted a stand alone product from the same company. Dynamic Photo-HDR from Media Chance.  At $54 it is far from cheap but I do like their other product and what really caught my eye was that it was able to perform an HRD like process on movie files as well as still photos. They say this is an experimental addition to the program. With photos it can work on a single one like ReDynaMix or with multiple photos with diferent exposures as you would expect for genuine HRD processing.

There is a fully working trial version (the only extra in the trial is to put a small watermark on the output files) so I downloaded and installed that. For video processing I also had to download a package of free video codecs. That was a bit unnerving as the first thing it wanted to do was uninstall a codec I had already. As it had its own copy in the package I let it do that. Then it gave many reports of errors in the registry. These seemed to related to the stuff it had uninstalled so I followed its recommendation of removing those references from the registry. That took a while as each was reported seperately.

Once that was finished and before anything else I made a quick check that video playing was still working OK. It was so I could start breathing again!

Last night I tried a few short video files in Dynamic Photo-HDR and was reasonably impressed with the way it improved the dynamic range and some detail in murky video files. That could be useful for dull weather nature videos. The interface is pretty easy to use and there is an instant view of the changes though I would have liked the window to have been larger. Once satisfied with the changes saving is a slow process - the company acknowledge this and do warn that increasing the dynamic range on a video can increase the effect of grain.

 Clipboard01 HDR video.jpg

On to the results:

Still photo HDR:

One of three photos taken with different exposures

Resultant tone mapped HDR using all three exposures
( the program allows for much tweaking and variation)

Video HDR

This is a reworking of a video I took some time ago.

The original:

This is not a program for making video. Either clips can be HDR processed and later assembled together in a program like  Corel Video Studio or Video Pad or the clips assembled first and the resulting video then HDR processed.

All in all, given a bit more testing, I think I shall be investing in a copy of Dynamic Photo-HDR as I am used to the interface - very similar to ReDynaMix - and it is easy to use when manipulating photos or videos. The only gripe I have so far is that video files cannot be dragged and dropped on to the program whereas photos can.

Apple Maps:
Can't resist linking to this brilliant video:

Apple should be ashamed of themselves and I'm sure Steve Jobs would be turning in his grave to see such useless software being produced in what should be a top end product.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Friday at the Flicks - Penny

Just a couple of videos of the hairy monster this week.
According to the information from the greyhound rescue centre Penny came from tomatoes help with aching, well worn joints so she got to taste the first tomato to ripen this year. Although she loves tinned tomatoes, well to be honest I haven't found anything she has refused to eat yet, I had no idea how she would react to one straight off the bush.  After a long sniff and a couple of tentative licks Penny tucked in:

The sound track was made using a few short files from my old eJay CDs

A few days ago I decided to give the Eyenimal video camera another outing. This time I tucked the clip in to the waist band of my trousers to see what the result would be like. Just a few sections from a 15min video as we walked round the block.

My reference to 'breeding again' refers to Clinton having got himself yet another old caravan to 'do up'. He does a fine job with them, often completely rebuilding the inside and making sure they are weather proof and road worthy.

Apple iOS6 Maps:
Having seen some of the awful mess in the new Apple maps which replaces Google Maps in iOS6 I will not be bothering to upgrade my iPhone or iPad. What is the fuss about? If you want to see some comparisons between the two have a look on HERE. A farm labelled as an airfield, melted roads and bridges, fuzzy pictures, towns and cities missing or moved location. In my opinion definitely not fit for purpose and puts Apple to shame. Google mappers must be laughing their socks off at such a shoddy attempt to replace them.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing, or not doing as the case may be.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Waiting for Breakfast

A Sparrowhawk sitting on an old outdoor chair, less than 6 feet (2 metres) away from the bird feeders, trying to blend in with the fence and patiently waiting for any small bird to visit.

Waiting for Breakfast 1.jpg

Waiting for Breakfast 2.jpg

Waiting for Breakfast 3.jpg

This time the ruse was unsuccessful.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Little Lost Dragon

One minute I am complaining that there haven't been many Dragonflies around the garden this year then one decides to come to visit me. This Common Hawker flew in to the conservatory on Sunday and attached itself to the greenhouse shading I use to cut down the amount of direct sunlight through the roof. As it was hanging upside down I got a view I don't see very often.

A Common Hawker

Common Hawker 01.jpg

Common Hawker 02.jpg

Monday, 17 September 2012

Macro on Monday - Guess What

Close up of an object taken using the mini microscope on the iPhone4
Can you guess what the object is?

2012-09-15 10.09.06.jpg

No prizes, just for fun.

Clue: I wouldn't want my ice cream in this one.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Clouds and Sun Dogs

While out for our after tea walk I noticed a Sun Dog - where a group of clouds show the colours of the rainbow. It had disappeared by the time we got back home but I kept an eye in that direction in case it should appear again. Patience was rewarded as two appeared, one each side  of the Sun and at about the same elevation. They were not as well defined as the ones I saw last year so I took lots of shots in the hope that I could capture the event.

South side Sun Dog                                                   North side Sun Dog
Sun Dog P1040114.jpg   Sun Dog P1040113.jpg

The red part of the spectrum is on the side nearest the Sun.
You can read about how Sun Dogs are formed HERE.

There was quite a variety of cloud formations and, inspired by Adrian of Adrian's Images, I tried a few panoramic compositions taking three shots with the TZ7 on its widest angle setting. The first was taken while the Sun was above the horizon but behind the trees. It was processed using Serif Panorama Plus 2, which is a free program.


The resulting panorama was then tweaked with the ReDynaMix plug-in in Photoshop Elements 10:

Panorama 02c.jpg

For some reason the set of three shots taken as the Sun started to set were rejected by Serif's program so were stitched in Elements and tweaked as before:


On days like yesterday where the cloud shapes and movement show how winds at various levels move in different directions it is easy to see why weather prediction can still be very hit and miss, especially on a local level.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Hedgehogs Aren't Small and Furry

Captured last night was this short video clip of a mouse investigating the Hedgehog House:

The Great Tit continues to make a daily inspection of the camera nest box.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Friday at the Flicks - Dragonfly - Juvenile Goldfinch

A bit of video of the female Common Darter. A bit wobbly as I was balancing one leg of the tripod on the window ledge:

These past few days the level in the nyger feeders has been going down at an alarming rate. All of a sudden I get about a dozen Goldfinches visiting every day. Even when they are not all on the feeders I can hear them twittering to each other in nearby bushes. This video is of one the the juveniles having a good wash in the bird bath:

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you wherever you are.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Where There's a Will There's a Way

A little thing like the size of wire mesh being too small for a Jackdaw to get on the bird table doesn't put off a resourceful corvid:




Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Looking Hopeful for Next Spring

Again this morning a Great Tit was giving the nest box the once over. A long way to go but here's hoping for another nesting pair next Spring:

Monday, 10 September 2012

Cleaning up the Sunset

The view from my front garden gives a good view of the sky but the telephone wires and the support pole do tend to get in the way. Last evening most clouds in all directions were coloured by the rays from the setting Sun.

This was the view towards the South East:


By judicious use of the Wireworm plugin in Photoshop Elements it was possible to eliminate the objects which were spoiling the scene, plus a little extra tweak with the ReDynaMix plugin. The wide angle setting on the camera causes the apparent lean of the house on the left of the view.

Sunset P1040094.jpg

The view directly toward the setting sun only needed cropping and a bit of tweaking, again with the ReDynaMix plugin:

 Sunset P1040090.jpg

Borders were added with one from the Border Mania plugin. Both views taken with the Lumix TZ7 with the Sunset scene setting.

Camera Nest Box: Less than 48hrs since I cleaned it out and it has already been visited by a Great Tit. Early days yet but maybe it will get used next Spring for the third year running.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

A Dragon at Last

Recently there have been a few dragonflies visiting the garden. A male Common Darter and a Male Southern Hawker made a couple of visits but wouldn't stay in one place long enough to focus on them. Yesterday a female Common Darter did decide to take a rest several times in the same place giving me a photo opportunity at last.

Common Darter Female.jpg

Common Darter Female 2.jpg

It would be lovely if they would pair up and use the garden pond.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A Bit of a Clean Up

The Hedgehog House has been in the same place for over two years. In that time a Hedgehog used it for a few nights but it hasn't had a visitor for over a year. It was hidden under other things but very close to the Birdy Bistro so may not have been ideally positioned. Today I decided to move it. Moving the house is easy but re-routing the wiring for the camera is a slightly longer job. First thing was to test the camera was still working. Next bring the house into the open and clean out all the old straw. Amazed to find a crisp packet (I don't eat them) and a couple of pieces of gravel amongst other things.

This time I have not hidden it but it is in a secluded spot immediately behind the shed. Some fresh straw was put inside and a pile under a nearby bush. Also added as an inducement was a sprinkling of dried mealworms. Once the wiring had be re-routed and tested all was ready for any passing Hedgehog to investigate.

P1040072.jpg   P1040085.jpg

Of course what was expected to be no more than a three quarter hour job ended up taking a couple of hours while the outside temperature climbed to about 27C

Camera eye view of the inside of the Hedgehog House under UV LED lighting:

 Untitled 14.jpg

A few video clips of a visit by a juvenile Hedgehog last night:

Another job which has been on the Round Tuit pile for ages was cleaning out the camera nest box ready for any Autumn investigations. The box is easy to maintain as the front is in two section which unscrew. Once the old nesting material had been removed and the box brushed out it was given a thorough spray with Ark-Klens and then left to dry.

P1040074.jpg  P1040079.jpg

Next the camera wiring was checked over and the glass lens cover given a clean.

P1040078.jpg   P1040076.jpg

Finally the front panels were replaced and that was another Winter / Spring home ready for any prospective occupier.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Deaf or What?

Obviously small birds will hear sounds differently to humans or cats. On the end of the shed facing the bird feeders is a cat scarer which sits in a small shelter to keep the worst of the weather off the electronics.

It came as quite a surprise when I saw a Coal Tit investigate right inside the shelter when the unit was running.


I had to check that it was actually working. The red LED could be seen so it should have been. The only way for me to 'hear' it was to get the bat detector which tuned in to it OK and all was well.

Next was to get some idea of how loud it was that close to the unit. For that I used an iPhone app to measure the sound level


Peak 84dB and a maximum of 103dB.
84dB equates to city traffic noise inside a car,
103dB to  being about a metre away from a power mower.
So obviously it was either a deaf Coal Tit or, more probably, high pitched as the sounds are for us they may well have been too low pitched to worry the bird.


Penny's First Visit to the Vet
Madam went hurtling down the garden after some creature or other first thing this morning. I know she couldn't turn a corner fast enough as I hear her crash in to something. She came back with several cuts and scrapes to her back legs and feeling very sorry for herself. This is not the first time she has had the odd scrape as greyhounds have thin skin which is easily damaged. One cut looked worse than usual so I phoned the vets and she was checked over this morning. While there she had her booster jab and we came away with some concoction to bathe her wounds as nothing was serious enough to need stitching, just to keep infection out. She was fit enough for a short, slow walk at lunch time.

Uploading to Flickr and YouTube
Even with the change of  router I still had problems from time to time with uploads stopping part way through until I found Firefox Universal Uploader (FileUploader), an extension for the Firefox browser. It is not perfect in that it always shows 100%  as soon as the upload starts so I cannot tell how fast things are going. It does show a green tick once the upload is finished and the site returns a confirmation and it has never failed to upload a file for me.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A Cloudy Day

Only a bit cloudy from time to time really. The video was a test to see how long the battery in the 350D would last taking a medium quality jpg every 5 seconds while I made sure the Dream Hammock was still in good working order.  It was. Result 1632 shots in 2hr 16min..

As before ImagesToVideo was used to convert the single shots to an animation.
Soundtrack produced using the Korg IMS-20 app on the iPad:

At the end of the day there was a nice Sunset along with some nearby swirly cloud patterns:

Clouds 02Sept2012.jpg

Sunset 02Sept2012.jpg

Both the above were tweaked using ReDynaMix in Photoshop.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Harvest Time

Not a lot been going on here as far as nature photography goes, especially with a fumbling operator. A few days ago I though I had managed some good video of an adult House Sparrow feeding three youngsters. They all stayed out in the open and sat beautifully in shot for ages. When I went to check the video - nothing, zero, zilch, I either didn't press the start button far enough, or twice. Either way there was nothing to show. #@*$& or words to that effect!

Better luck today on the video front. While we were enjoying some chicken thighs, etc. for tea I could hear at least one combine strutting its stuff in a nearby field so we went walkabout in that direction. I could see one field had been started recently. Of course the combine was at the furthest end of the field where I couldn't get near it . The crop, wheat I think, was standing well after the heavy rain. In past years that sort of rain has flattened much of a field.

Harvest 2

We had a gentle stroll up and down the lane while I waited for the combine to come back in my direction. With luck it was going to pass very close to my chosen spot. Penny is learning fast and waits very patiently when I want to use the camera. The combine was kicking up an almighty dust cloud. Fortunately the worst of it seemed to be blowing away from us.

Harvest 1

I stood on the opposite side of the lane to keep away from the worst of the dust and managed some stills and video as it reached my end of the field. As soon as it had turned the corner we beat a hasty retreat to escape the worst of the dust. At first I thought it would be dry, dusty earth being sent up by the combine but what was landing on us was just like the fine ash you get from a bonfire so it must have been from the wheat itself. Of course, when I think about it, what was blowing about was the chaff from the seed husks which were being ejected from the back end of the combine.

 Harvest 3.jpg

The video will be a bit noisy as there was a fair breeze blowing and trying to keep the view still was difficult as most of the time the Sun was in my eyes and I couldn't see much on the LCD screen:

I won't be surprised if they are still combining well past my bedtime. Once they start they tend to keep going until the job is finished.
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