Saturday, September 27, 2008

Congregation Parties


(Click on the pictures to get the larger version)

September 6, 2008

Party at Mark & Joan Nelson's house.   I was mostly interested in the birds.

Nelsons Party_20080906_0054 Nelsons Party_20080906_0060 Nelsons Party_20080906_0063 Nelsons Party_20080906_0038Nelsons Party_20080906_0029Nelsons Party_20080906_0046Nelsons Party_20080906_0024Nelsons Party_20080906_0021

Nelsons Party_20080906_0072 Inflatable waterslide!  

Nelsons Party_20080906_0084Some kind of purple flower,  backlit with SB-600

After a while, Manami took the camera and followed the kids around.

 Nelsons Party_20080906_0086 Nelsons Party_20080906_0101 poor bunny.

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It was a good time.......




September 20, 2008

Tony & Joann Bueckers 40th Anniversary

  Tony Jo 40th_092008_0033   Tony Jo 40th_092008_0061 

Games were Played,     Food was had,   People were goofy,

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Tony and Jo got some good loot,

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Cows Multiplied!! 

The one with white on his head was born the day before, and the all black calf was born during the party!

Tony Jo 40th_092008_0021Tony Jo 40th_092008_0022

Tony Jo 40th_092008_0100      Tony Jo 40th_092008_0092

A Tripod for Tall People!

User report of the Slik Pro 700DX, and


Originally posted, May 2008

Reposted, September 2008

the Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 Ballhead.

    As most everyone who takes pictures knows,  a tripod is an essential part of your kit.  I, like most relative novices in the field, spent my share of time trying to use tripods found at the local big box store.  My most recent mistake, a Slik U8000 (I wont grace it with a picture here), is now resting comfortably in the closet.  Lesson learned.

    I found that the U8000 and all the other tripods I have ever used were flimsy, easily broken, would shake in the slightest breeze, and most of all they were too short!  In order to get my eye to the viewfinder I would have to  extend the center column nearly all the way up, thereby making the general floppiness even worse.  So, a few weeks back, I began my search for a real tripod, with a real ball head.  My needs were not exactly simple,  I am 6 feet 4 inches tall, and I tend to break things easily.  So a tripod would need to be Tough, Tall, and very stable.

    Enter the Slik Pro 700DX.                                                                                               


It came with a rather large Pan and Tilt head, which does work pretty well.  But I replaced it with a Bogen / Manfrotto 486RC2 ball head, which works way better!  Also, it is easier to store with the Ballhead, as it does not have those arms sticking out the sides.  My first impression was "this thing is HUGE!"  and  "AWESOME!"

   Without extending the center column the camera eyepiece is now just a couple inches below my eye, and if I extend it up that last couple inches it is still plenty stable.  Height to the RC2 plate is 58.75 inches without extending the column at all. It can go up to 74 at full extension.  Folded length is 30.5 inches.

    I found it not to be all that heavy in normal use, and I am thinking to convert a tripod bag into a backpack, just for this.  My camera gear rides around in a Tamrac Explorer 2, which will be a subject of a later post, and so 7 pounds of metal strapped to my back is not going to present a problem.  (I recently walked halfway across Kyoto, Japan and back with a 30 pound backpack on)




In the pictures above, notice the size difference between the Slik panhead and the Bogen Ballhead.  Also, look at the quick release plates.  The Bogen plate fits neatly under my camera body (Olympus E500), while the Slik plate sticks halfway out the back and hits me when I look into the viewfinder.  I included the shot next to the car for a scale comparison.  It really does stand very nearly as tall as a 2004 Subaru Forester.

    In conclusion, I love this setup.  The tripod is everything I could hope for.  Tall, Tough, and Rock Solid.  The 486RC2 ball head is easy to use, sturdily built, and I especially like the way the locking mechanism works.  When you unlock the small brass safety and pull the locking lever back, a small spring loaded pin pushes the plate up out of the mechanism and the lever locks in its open position.  When you put the plate back into place and push it in a bit, the spring loaded pin is reseated into the mechanism and the lever automatically returns to the lock position.  In one motion you can mount your camera and be ready to loosen the set screw and find your subject.

I would absolutely recommend this tripod and Ballhead to anyone!

Tripod purchased at Padgitts camera in Waco, Texas.

Also available online.

Ballhead purchased online through

Check out my Favorite Photography Podcast!

Shutters Inc.  And the associated Flickr page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Antec P180 Project

For about a year now, I have been using my Antec P180b case in its stock form, with its stock cooling fans.  For a case that is marketed as being “designed for silence” and being so well built in every other respect, the included fans make a terrible amount of noise when you speed them up enough to actually cool a fast system.

p180b_iI didn't take any photos before I started this project, so here is a shot grabbed from Antec’s website of the stock product.


   There are a few things I found lacking with this case.  The inside really should be painted flat black like in the later models, that looks really slick.  The included fans should move more air for less noise, or don't include them in a case billed as “silent”.  And the lack of a fan in the side panel moving air right down on the video card.  This last one is understandable, cutting the layers of insulating plastic and metal to install the window / vent does compromise the sound and vibration dampening of that panel.

   So, I dismantled the whole thing, made some strategic cuts to the steel frame to allow unrestricted airflow from the front intake, and the raised exhaust vent in the rear was going to interfere with the mounting of the radiator, so it had to go.  I also cut out the motherboard mounting tray to allow the removal of CPU backplates without taking out the motherboard.   I then painted the whole interior case with flat black, three coats and left it out in the hot sun for an afternoon to cure.     P180b Review_092308_0152P180b Review_092308_0153P180b Review_092308_0154

P180b Review_092308_0155 P180b Review_092308_0156 P180b Review_092308_0157 P180b Review_092308_0158 P180b Review_092308_0159 P180b Review_092308_0160

Details : front intake fan “Aerocool Turbine 2000”, side fan: Enermax “twister” fan, radiator:  Black Ice Extreme crossflow with a Noctua NF-P12 fan and a 120mm frame used as a shroud.

top fan:  Yate Loon Medium speed fan with blue LEDs.  power supply:  logisys 650w

E6600, 8800GT, 4GB,

Obviously, the radiator on the back shows the next step.  I intend to water-cool the CPU, and maybe the northbridge too.  When next the budget allows, those pics will be up here too.

The result of all this,  not only does my pc now look much niftier, it is also much harder to hear it running.  It will soon be sitting on a sliding shelf down near floor level instead of up on my desk, and that will help it be even more quiet.  The video card is happier with air coming right down on it, but the CPU fan is still the same, so there is no change there.  I really cant hear much coming from the side panel, either with the fan there off completely, or at full speed.  So I don’t think I lost much by cutting that panel.


I am fairly satisfied with the project so far, and it has not cost me an arm and a leg either.


A New Author for The HitchHikers Guide?

Really, I don't know how I feel about this. I have loved Douglas Adams work for as long as I could read. Will this man do justice to Douglas' work? His characters? We can only wait and see..... I'm scared.

News article from news site:

New Hitchhiker's author announced

Eoin Colfer and Douglas Adams
Colfer (left) will bring back Douglas Adams's (right) character Arthur Dent

Children's author Eoin Colfer has been commissioned to write a sixth instalment of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy series.

Mostly Harmless, the last Hitchhiker book, was written by its creator, the late Douglas Adams, 16 years ago.

Now Adams's widow, Jane Belson, has given her approval to bring back the hapless Arthur Dent in a new book entitled And Another Thing...

Eoin Colfer, 43, is best known for the best-selling Artemis Fowl novels.

He said he was "terrified" by the prospect of creating a new Hitchhiker book almost a quarter of a century after being introduced to what he described as a "slice of satirical genius" in his late teens.


Arthur Dent
The book also spawned a BBC TV series starring Simon Jones
"My first reaction was semi-outrage that anyone should be allowed to tamper with this incredible series," he said.

"But on reflection I realised that this is a wonderful opportunity to work with characters I have loved since childhood and give them something of my own voice while holding on to the spirit of Douglas Adams.

"I feel more pressure to perform now than I ever have with my own books," he said, adding that he was "determined that this will be the best thing I have ever written".

Jane Belson said: "I am delighted that Eoin Colfer has agreed to continue the Hitchhiker series.

"I love his books and could not think of a better person to transport Arthur, Zaphod and Marvin to pastures new. The project has my full support."

Adams died of heart failure in 2001, aged 49.

Around 16 million copies of his Hitchhiker books, which have been translated into 35 languages, have been sold around the world.

Colfer was a primary school teacher in Ireland before he secured the largest ever advance for a children's novel by an unknown author.

His Artemis Fowl series, about a teenage criminal mastermind who wreaks havoc in this world and the next, went on to sell more than 18 million copies worldwide and a film adaptation is due to go into production next year.

And Another Thing... will be published in October next year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Snake in the Road

snake in the road_Aug292008_0118

Found this guy crossing the road.  He posed for a portrait and I blocked the road.

A Ride for my D80

User Report of the Tamrac Explorer  (tamrac 5502)

Early this year I began the search for a better camera, and with it a better way to carry things.  My search for a suitable bag took a while, during which  I found an Explorer 2 on a shelf at Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo.  At the time I found it too big for the camera I had then, an Olympus E-500, so I passed on it.   Fast-Forward to May and the arrival of the D-80,  it simply did not fit in the holster style bag I had the E-500 nestled into.      

                                                                 Tamrac Review_091208_0014 Tamrac Review_091208_0007 was happy to sell me the Explorer 2, and I attached the Tamrac modular packs to it that I had on the older bag.  Viola!  Perfect fit!   Looking at the face of the bag I have a medium lens case on the left and a large accessory pocket on the right with a filter pocket hitched onto its top loop

                                                 Tamrac Review_091208_0001

As you can see from the photos below, there is plenty of room for everything I need. 

Tamrac Review_091208_0002 Tamrac Review_091208_0003 Tamrac Review_091208_0004 Tamrac Review_091208_0005

Tamrac Review_091208_0006  Tamrac Review_091208_0008 Tamrac Review_091208_0009

In the back pocket I keep a slim cardboard box with my Roscoe flash gels, in the large side pocket is my SB-600 flash.  The filter pouch is attached to the top of the flash pocket.  The Sigma 70-300 fits neatly in the lens case on the other side.  Inside the main chamber are  Velcro strips for mounting the dividers.  Tamrac provides several different divider parts that can be put in however you desire.  I love that.

I have it set to accept my D-80 with a Sigma 24-60EX f/2.8 lens attached, and its hood reversed, lens pointing down.  Lying on its side and under the handgrip is a Sigma 18-200mm zoom with its caps on and its hood reversed

The shoulder strap is nice sturdy nylon with thick plastic D-rings attaching it to the body.  No worry that it might break, and the D-rings make nice points to clip on accessories.  I have my IR remote on a little keychain hanging from one side, and a carabiner on the other side where I can hook a pouch for my compact tripod

The Explorer 2 is rugged enough that I have no worries throwing it in the passenger seat of my work truck or climbing down into a creek with it to shoot a flower.  Even though it is not actually waterproof, I have been out in the rain with it and my camera stayed almost completely dry.

Long story short - I have been really pleased with this kit, and I can easily recommend it to anyone who needs to tote the gear.