Monday, November 22, 2010

Monarchs Eat, shot with Canon 7d and 65mm MP-E

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, a new tool for my ever expanding camera bag.
In this case a super cool but really hard to operate lens.

As regular readers of this blog know I love to shoot insects and such.
For about a year I have been using a canon 100 2.8 macro.
The 100 2.8 is a great lens for the money but there comes a point when you want to get closer. That is where the 65mm MP-E comes in, this is a macro lens and only a macro lens. The 100 2.8 can substitute as a sharp telephoto, the 65mm is only useful inside a couple inches.

Did I mention this lens is a grower?
It starts at 4 inches, and the more magnification you get the longer it becomes, maxing out at 9.25 inches. Its focus starts at 4 inches an goes down to 1.6 inches.
Therein lies the problem, the outside lens element is always moving so you need to be able to slide the camera back and forth to compose your shots.
Did I mention shooting really small things is really really hard?
Especially when they are moving?

Well, here is my first attempt shooting
video with this really bad-ass
but challenging piece of glass.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monarch Butterfly Birth

If you search Monarch Butterfly's on the internet you will find Petabytes of information and photos and such. Here is my contribution to the pile.

For the last several years I have actively raised Swallowtail butterfly's.
This year I planted a bunch of milkweed in hopes of adding Florida Monarchs to my garden full time. I think the first milkweed plant actually came with a few eggs on it. See below.

A week later they hatch and start eating.

And eating.

Then the caterpillars hang upside down and turn into a chrysalis.

The pupa or chrysalis of the Monarchs are very cool. Jade green with a gold necklace. A week later the butterfly will emerge.

These are Florida Monarch Butterflys (Danaus plexippus) they do not fly to Mexico, they stay here all year round or fly to the Northeast in the summer.
So, if you live in Florida be nice to Monarchs you may be looking at one of my babies.

Here is a video of the Monarch being born.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Aloe vs Plumeria

One corner of my garden is a free for all.
Everything that does not have a home ends up there.
Kind of a "lets see what happens" place for horticulture experiments.
Two long time residents are my purple plumeria.
And a patch of aloe.

One of the fun things about having your own green oasis are the unexpected things that happen.

Never, did I think there would be a cage match.


"Tonight an exclusive Getawaymoments premiere"

"A plant plastering"

"A bush battle"

"A rumble in ruffage"


With a stiff uppercutting spear to the leaves.

Ouch, that had to hurt.


Monday, September 27, 2010





All good words to describe the quick precise din of a furry mammal slamming into the pavement.

What the @#$%@#^&@.

Exactly, what just happened?

While working on a shoot today the unexpected happened.

An Opossum tried to fly, unsuccessfully.

His perch was way up in a live oak tree his landing in the middle of a driveway.

and no, not the low part.

The Opossum laid there motionless.

We were all sure death was instant.

We went back to work trying not to think of the grizzly scene behind us.

A couple minutes later our interview subject declares "its gone"


Now I have heard of cats having nine lives but opossums?

On closer inspection the failed skydiver was spotted hiding in the "Y" of the tree. Embarrassed and demoralized but still alive. Ready to raid your trash cans tonight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

GoPro Firmware is here!!!

Great news. The long awaited HD GoPro Hero firmware is here.
Sound the horns. It is a happy day in GoPro land.

Here is the link to GoPro's website where you can download the new firmware.
I did it in less then ten minutes for two Hero cameras.
The download and install is quick and easy.

Now, how about the fix.

I am most interested in the 9999 problem so I checked and it appears to be fixed.
When you do time lapses now the camera will record 999 frames in a folder.
At frame 1000 it starts another folder and so on.

I will check what happens at frame 9999 tomorrow.

Also, when you reformat your sd card the counter keeps climbing.
It does not restart at 0001.

******** update*********

YES!!!! It is working. I just finished running a long time lapse that straddled the 9999 file number and it worked without a glitch. The file numbers jumped from gopro9999 into a new folder starting with gopro0001.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Somethings Missing?

Its September 2nd in Tampa Florida, and something is very wrong.
The sky was crystal clear this morning and dry.
Hot by mid-day but not humid.
Shades of blue we normally don't get to see till November.

How can this be?

Easy when you have a monster in the neighborhood.

I have always enjoyed the strange meteorological things that happen
in the presence of monsters.
Of course I'm referring to Hurricane Earl.
For days we have nervously watched as he approached, then he turned
and has sucked every drop of moisture from our sky's.
I'm glad Earl did not visit us, but his passing has left us with brief
wonderful escape from the hottest summer I can remember.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pan Left Portland

So here was the idea.
Do a travel log made up of time lapses shot with my GoPro Hero camera.
Well, I've done that in the past so this time how about a continuous pan.

The downside of my revolutionary egg timer time lapse panning
is that it only pans left.
Hence .... Pan Left Portland.

Now before I get a bunch comments, I only scratched the surface of cool
shots to get in the Portland area.
We wanted to get Mount Hood but it was socked in on the Gorge day.
Same for a great downtown shot.
As with all travels to new places you must leave some things for the
next trip.

I think the flying panning time lapse shots are a first of its kind, definitely
with an egg timer.

Music by Portland local Podington Bear.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Underwater GoPro Eggtimer Panning TimeLapse?

I never dreamed my egg timer time lapse thing-a-ma-jigs
would travel the world.
First to Key West, and now to Palm Springs.
The folks at Canon Filmmakers found a use for the simple
devices that even I had not imagined....
Shooting an underwater panning time lapse ......?
Watch this.
Really? That's just silly.
But my next question ..... Did it work?
It appears it did, suction cup issues aside.
Now I have stated on this blog that I will
try and put a camera almost anywhere to get a cool shot,
this use must be confirmed.

I passed on the suction cup and moved to my Joby Gorillapod.
Silly? Yes. Did it work? Hell yea.
360 degrees? Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spin Your Go Pro While You Drive Home

I will mount a camera anywhere.

I thought it might be fun to do a driving 360 degree time lapse.
The drive home from Clearwater fit the hour long requirement.
I crossed the Courtney Campbell Causeway passed by Tampa International Airport, downtown Tampa up onto the elevated Crosstown Expressway into Brandon and Valrico.

For you photo gear geeks, I know who you are, here is the how.

Suction cup attached to center of hood, shoe lace with slip knots attached to
camera and other end taped down. Go Pro is attached to my egg timer time lapse thing-a-ma-jig.

The rest is time lapse magic!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Satan's Mile?

I never pay much attention to the odometer in my work truck.
Until the other day.
There it was, staring at me. 66663?
Are you superstitious?
Me? Not really, but who really wants to drive Satan's mile?
I'd rather not.
Maybe I watched the Omen movies one too many times.
But it was standing between me and some really good barbecue for lunch.
So with hands firmly on the steering wheel I carefully dodged a road filled
with soccer moms in escallades on cell phones, pickup truck contractors scribbling on bits of paper while on cell phone, a virtual blizzard of potential energy zipping by me.

66666 arrived just as I reached the take-out window.

The olfactory joy of barbecue sitting in my passenger seat distracted
me enough to forget the odometer all the way back to work.
I made it.
Lunch was wickedly good.
Nope, not a bit.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Go Pro Hero HD 9999 Malfunction Problem

The firmware update fixes the 9999 problem.  If you have a GoPro Hero HD (not the 960)
you need to download and apply the newest firmware.
It will also give you great new features.
Here is the latest firmware update link.
Good luck.

****** UPDATE ********
The new HD GoPro Hero firmware is ready!!!!!
I downloaded it today and installed it on two heros.
The process is easy and fast, here is the link.

I will be testing the new firmware and will check to see if 9999 is history.
Will post review of firmware later.

******* UPDATE ********

YES!!!! It is working. I just finished running a long time lapse that straddled the 9999 file number and it worked without a glitch. The file numbers jumped from gopro9999 into a new folder starting with gopro0001.


First, I have to say I love the Go Pro Hero cameras.
They are one of the coolest new camera gadget fun toys of the last decade.
But, if you have seen the file number above, you can join me in the camp
of frustrated fans. GOPR9999 is for me what dropped calls are for Apple i-phone 4 users.

Drop head ........ shake slowly.

I think Go Pro rushed the HD Hero to market too fast. There are a couple software
issues with the new HD Hero cameras, but I could care less about all of them but
GOPR9999. Why? Cause I use the little Heros for time lapse.

Let me rewind for those of you new to the subject, I have experienced this problem with two Go Pro Hero HD cameras.
When your camera reaches the file number GOPR9999 or the 9,999 frame the camera malfunctions. The camera stops taking photos, and starts creating empty file folders until it reaches folder GOPRO999. At this point the camera shows a display but can not be turned off without taking out the battery.

I guess the root of the problem centers around the cameras inability to reset the file counter into another folder or its inability to reset to zero at all.

What about a solution? Word is that there is a firmware update on the way that will fix this and the other problems. The firmware is already past due so what can you due till then?

Well, I have been able to get the camera to reset back to file number 9500ish with the battery out. That will be good enough to shoot video but once you reach file number GOPR9999, the time lapse function of your camera is done.
I guess many owners have not encountered this problem because they have not shot 10,000 pictures. As a rabid timelapser, I shot 10,000 shots within weeks of getting the HD Hero.

I hope the firmware arrives soon.

all the empty folders

the last folder before shutdown

Here is a video I made documenting the problem.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to make an Egg Timer Time Lapse Panning Device Part 2

So there I was, packing up my last two Egg Timer Timelapse Thing-A-Ma-Jigs.
Sending them off to a perfect stranger. O.K. maybe not perfect. You know
timelapse sickness when you see it and poor Philip Bloom
has a full on case of it.
When he made a request for some of my timelapse smack how could I
refuse a fellow addict. Days later as my meet-up haze had cleared I realized
I had an empty place in my life, my favorite homemade photo toys were gone.

What had I done?

What could I do?

Head back to the bench ...... bend, drill and grind out some new

A year ago I made a diy video on how to make an egg timer time lapse unit.
Now I have an update to bring this high tech instrument one step closer to

I'd like to think of this as an open source project, so if you have any modifications please drop me a line or a comment below.
I'd also love to see your version of the Thing-A-Ma-Jig if you build one.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

How did I get that GoPro Flying Time Lapse?

Suction cup!

Its one of the most popular questions I get on my Youtube channel.
The first time I tried to get this shot I attached the camera with a clamp
to my seat back tray. It worked, but not great. I noticed another passenger
geeking out with a GPS attached to the window with a suction cup. I guess
he was tracking our every move from thirty thousand feet. On my next flight
I slipped the suction cup mounted camera up on the window just before take-off.
It worked great. I set the standard definition GoPro Hero camera
to time lapse mode one frame every two seconds.

For the final video I sped the time lapse up to smooth it out.
I find that with most time lapses its better to over shoot. In
post its much easier to speed a shot up then to slow one down.

Unfortunately, this was one of the last times I flew Southwest Airlines,
they just canceled all direct flights form Tampa to Dulles so I will
be headed back to United. Cool video, their loss.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"EPIC" Egg Timer exposed by Philip Bloom Key West Meet Up

"EPIC" !!! That is how you would have to describe the moment when one of your
home made tools makes it into a famous blogger's camera bag.
Now I have carried one of these silly things in my gear bag for a couple years now.
First to spin my Canon Powershot SD870 in time lapse mode, and now to spin
my GoPro Hero cameras. I often set up a second camera on shoots
to get a cutaway or a time lapse.
So when Philip Bloom had his meet up in St. Petersburg and invited everyone
to shoot time lapses of the sunset ..... I knew I had a tool that no one
else would have ..... so i put down my 7D and cranked up my egg timers.
Philip liked my sunset enough to drop me a line asking for one of my rigs.
A couple days later my little Frankenstein egg timer is
sunning in Key West, hanging with south Florida's HDSLR elite.
I wonder if it will write?

Here is the egg timer in action next to the Grand Tetons.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Philip Bloom meet up GoPro Eggtimer time lapse

Last night I attended Philip Bloom's St. Petersburg Pass-A-Grille meet up.
The pitch was, come hang out and shoot time lapses of the "epic" clouds and sunset.
I ran two GoPro Hero cameras on the event, one at the waterline (see above)
and one of the crowd.
The crowd camera failed, more on that in a later post, but the other worked well.

As usual my homemade egg timer rig got some weird looks and questions.
Don't laugh, they are small and cheap and provide
a 360 degree panning movement.
They are a perfect match for the GoPro Hero cameras.
If you want to make one check the video out below.

It was a fun meet up with an amazing sky.
More soon about my brush with the HDSLR rock star and more video.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Catching a Space Station .... not easy

So the idea is, set up two cameras and get a long exposure shot of the
International Space Station (ISS) flying over.

Easy right.

Not so fast.

First check this website for flyover possibilities.
Then set your cameras and wait.
Now depending on a million different variables, make a best guess
and do a few test exposures.
As a general rule I would use a low ISO and set your shutter on bulb, aperture
at say F8. Adjust to taste.


Well here is the best of the night.

The ISS was overhead for FOUR minutes. The orbit was from Southwest to
Northeast. The shot above is looking Northeast as the ISS flew away.
The white line in the middle of the frame is the ISS as the sun reflects off
of its skin.

Now the shot above was going to be "IT", until I bumped the tripod.
Have you ever seen a grown man cry.
The shot was there and I muffed it.
If you look closely you can see the white line from the bottom of the shot
until it jumps to the right for a bit then ends.

After I bumped my sticks I quickly spun the cameras around in an attempt to
save the opportunity. The results were a good test, of course I would like
to have gotten the "IT" shot.

In a few weeks I will try again, maybe my fat feet will stay out of the way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sony Handycam DCR-SX63 Test and Review

I had the chance recently to play with a Sony DCR-SX63.
I made a Youtube test and review video.
It includes a tour of the camera and some test shots at the end.
It's a good solid little camera.
Watch and enjoy.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cucumber Bandit

So, I had planned to blog about cucumbers.

Nice photo above, right?

I wanted to write about the sharp flavor and crispness of fresh cucumbers.


Fresh cucumbers are so much better than the waxy rubber things
that pass for cucumbers at the store.
The funny thing is they always seem to come all at once in my garden.
I placed a couple in the crisper in the fridge and forgot about it.

Tonight I went to make a salad and found the photo below.

Frozen in the act of theft.
Its as if the worm knew he needed to make a break for it.
But it was too late.
The last silent scream, cucumber bliss interrupted.

After finding this veggie felon in his death pose,
I had to wonder. Is he dead?
Will he come back to life if he warms up?

In the end I have to ask the question, would you want to eat
a cucumber a worm wouldn't eat?
Nope, but that does not mean I want the extra protein.


Swallowtail Returns

After an unseasonably cold winter,
twelve days straight of freezing temperatures,
I had not seen any swallowtail butterfly's.

Until yesterday.

This gal, pictured above, flew right in front of me, as if
to say ..... hello were back!
I had no choice but to stand dumbfounded, watching as she stopped
by every nice flower to have a taste.
Swallowtails do not fly at a frenetic pace, they lope along or
push and glide. They are not in a big hurry, so they should
be easy to photograph? Right? No, not really.
But they will go through their entire life cycle in front of
you without hesitation.

Below are two swallowtail videos, I never get tired of watching
them do their thing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nature's Symmetry

Everyday I have the pleasure of walking my garden.
1 million small adjustments.
A constant vigil.
Looking for new things to photograph.
Fruit to pick.
Bugs to document or detain.

I keep a close eye on everything. Really.

So it came as a big surprise when I found a
complete string of ripe cherry tomatoes.
See, I usually can't wait and slowly pick them
from the bottom up.
But these guys were hiding from me, and they hang
as a reminder of nature's symmetry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

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