Monday, 30 May 2016

A Few Regulars

Coal Tit:
IMG_2100_DxO Coal Tit

Blue Tit:
IMG_2106_DxO Blue Tit

Great Tit:
IMG_2147_DxO Great Tit

IMG_2110_DxO Robin

Wood Pigeon:
IMG_2095_DxO Wood Pigeon

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Stormy EU

I was checking to see whether there were any electrical storms in the UK when I noticed how active things were on the continent:

The free blitzortung site shows virtually instant activity normally with only a second or two delay. As well as looking at the world as a whole you can choose closer views of most large land masses.

Looks to me to be another good reason to stay well away from the EU.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Friday at the Flicks - Grey Squirrel


One of its daily visits to raid the bird feeders:

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

More Video in the Round - Judder Solved

First a couple of videos made at the end of my lane just past the Village Cricket Field:

Even though I glued a small bubble level on the wooden base I find it is still quite difficult to get the horizon level. As the camera mounting allows me to tilt the camera it really needs a level on the camera but the small Nikon doesn't have anywhere to mount one.

As my old school reports probably said on many occasions - room for improvement.

I found a couple of different, cheap, 12v slow motion motors advertised so I will experiment with those when they arrive. They are 3 rpm so should take 20 seconds to take a 360 panorama video if my maths is correct. One arrived this a.m. (less than 24hrs after putting in the order).

A happy hour in the workshop making a simple mount for it.
A piece of plywood, the motor and a switch:


First I tried the Nikon at its usual 30fps - still a bit jerky.
Inspiration, try 60 fps. Brilliant on two counts. With the motor turning at 3 rpm it was a bit fast but iMovie plays the video back at 30 fps which seems to turn out just fine.

A quick test in the back garden;

I know - the grass need cutting .... again!

Part of any perceived jerkiness is caused by the software which shows the video. On the Mac it is just about perfect when I use the free VLC  player

Now looking for a suitable 12V power supply which is pocket size. There are some small NM-HI types for drones etc. but as yet haven't found a suitable charger for them.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Video in the Round

Sunday weather was glorious, especially the afternoon. Lots of white cloud but plenty of bright blue sky between. Temperature peaked about 21C so I was able to shake the creases out of a pair of shorts and risk scaring the horses.

It was time for a field test of the Arduino unit I had built to rotate a camera while it was making a video. So far it had only been tested in the back garden. I wanted a 'real world' outdoor test or two before deciding whether to take it up on the Lincolnshire Wolds which are designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Here is the finished set up fixed on an old tripod.
This shows the Toshiba camera.
For this test I used the Nikon S9050 as it has a brighter screen to monitor what is going on:

I walked down to the Cricket Field and took a couple of videos there and a couple more at the end of my lane. I wonder what any observers may have thought watching me slowly walk round the tripod so as to keep behind the camera and out of shot.

This is a pair of videos from the Cricket Field played back to back:

A bit jerky. I tried slowing the video down in iMovie but that showed up the jerkiness even more. Part of the problem is slight play in the gears in the small, cheap, stepper motor but it was the only one I could find which works at 5V, the same as the Arduino which controls it. The rest of the problem will be the instant movement every time the motor steps a fraction of a degree. The only way round that as far as I can see is to use a standard motor with suitable reduction gears.

I am now considering a set up with a larger stepper motor which would be capable of holding a Canon camera with the intention of making a time lapse video panorama. Just at the painful thinking stage at the moment.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Nearly a Flutter

I saw a wasp searching under the overhang on the Summerhouse so went to make sure it wasn't finding a way in. I can do without wasps building a nest in there. No sign of the wasp but did spot a pupa:


I tried searching to identify it but failed so I have no idea whether this is a future moth or butterfly. As the casing has become transparent enough to see some of the wing markings it won't be long before it emerges.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Friday at the Flicks - Snail


After a bit more use with the Shapes Collage app I noticed that it is able to save the pictures with any colour background. I gave it a try using green so I could see how they might work in a video:

I spotted this tiny snail, shell less than 10mm across.
The Blackbird was in fine voice along with some juvenile Starlings in the background.

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

More with Shapes Collage on the Mac


As well as making titles with photos to make up the letters photos can be displayed in a variety of shapes and with each photo within a shape:




There is not much choice for the background; black, three shades of grey, white or transparent. Every collage appears to be saved at the same total size so most need cropping in another program. One annoyance is the way all the small photos are randomised every time even the smallest change of parameter is made. Each of the above was produced with the same 20 flower photos loaded. At the time of writing Shapes Collage was still a free download from the Mac App Store.

After a bit longer use I found that the designs can be saved with any background colour.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless 5

Not your average family runabout - a mere £150,000+

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Shapes Collage


Shapes Collage, which is a free download at the time of writing, is an app for Mac OS X. It allows you to choose as many or as few photos as you wish and use them to build up the letters in words. It can work well as long as the word isn't too long and gives control over size of the pictures on the words but not the size of the text. The little pictures can have a variety of shaped borders if wanted along with an optional drop shadow.

This is the type of flower used for the above:

Yellow Flower

Monday, 16 May 2016

Monday Mystery - Answer



Just the answer to last week's mystery photo as I'm feeling a bit 'out of sorts' at the moment.
Congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to Ragged Robin, Wilma and Adrian who each recognised the ladybird (lady bug) which I had photographed while it was on the outside of my kitchen window:

IMG_8746c    7 spot ladybird IMG_7681

I will keep looking for another creature or object to turn in to a mystery photo for next Monday.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Friday at the Flicks - Amaryllis


One of my Amaryllis plants had started to show its flower buds so I thought it would be just the thing for another time lapse trial. It was pure guesswork as to whether the flower would actually end up in frame:

I was surprised just how much the plant moved as it tried to track the Sun.

Photographs were taken every 45 minutes but the flower bloomed much faster than I expected. The photos were compiled to a video using the trial version of Sequence for the Mac. This did a good job of reducing the flicker and adjusting the white balance over the 185 photos. As the original video only ran for about 7 seconds at 25 fps I reduced its speed when I put it in iMovie to add the title and music track.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Blossom Time

Seen on recent walkabouts.
Beautiful while they last:











Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Mercury / Sun Transit

Yesterday was one of those rare occasions where the Earth, Mercury and the Sun lined up so that Mercury could be seen as a tiny dark blob as it came between the Sun and the Earth. As we had virtually clear skies here I had to have a go at photographing the event.

Firstly it should be noted that you should not point a camera or look directly at the Sun without a filter designed for that purpose otherwise both could be damaged beyond repair very quickly. This is the Canon fitted with a solar filter which cuts down the received light about 10,000 times:


On to the photographs.
Even with a 400mm lens the Sun only takes up a small part of the view:


Cropped sections.
The first taken about 1 p.m. local time:
There are two blobs to see.
The tiny planet Mercury is near the edge of the Sun about 9 o'clock.
The other is Sunspot number 2542.

This view was taken about 2.45 p.m. local time:
The position of the Sunspot has moved slightly with the rotation of the Sun.
Mercury has moved further as it transits across the Sun.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Monday Mystery - Guess What



Last week's mystery object goes under several names. It is one of my serving spoons, also called a slotted spoon. Ideal for retrieving meat, veg, potatoes etc. from a stew when I don't want to drain off the liquid. Adrian was spot on and Wilma close enough to gain the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star:



Maybe this week's mystery photo will be easier to identify.
Full photo, but from a more unusual point of view.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer next Monday.
No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Some Blogger posts have been taking many hours to appear.
Yesterday it took over 5 hours before others were notified of its availability.
I wonder how long it will be before this is available for viewing.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Time Lapse Trial Two

The attempt at a long term time lapse with the rotting tomato worked better though there is still some flicker. It is probably better to use a dark background where it would be less noticeable if there is slight variation in lighting.

This is 270 photos taken at one hour intervals over eleven days.
The photos were made in to a video using Zeitraffer on a Mac.

Following a hint from Adrian I replaced the green background using iMovie's green screen masking effect:

Trial number three is under way using a different background.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Open Wide (Blackbird Fledglings)

Thursday saw the first fledglings of the year in the garden.
A pair of Blackbirds and three youngsters.
Mama was doing most of the work:






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