Like many kids of my generation with a geeky slant, I gravitated towards electronics. I’d take apart whatever junk I could get a hold of, and with my next door neighbor being a ham radio operator with lots of junk to get rid of, that was plenty. VCRs, televisions, radios.. They all fell to my screwdriver and soldering iron. Soon I’d amassed a huge collection of components.

My understanding of what I was doing– what all those parts meant. What you could DO with them– was limited, though. I never tried to make anything with them; I just collected.

All my electronics education at the time revolved around the 555 timer. It’s a fine chip, but it’s just a timer, an oscillator. Since that was the only “active” component I’d ever been exposed to, I looked at all problems through that lens, and eventually shrugged my shoulders and followed the path of software.

15 years later, I decided to try picking it up again. I had a project in mind: Making the stars in a painting I had fade in and out. I decided to make a concerted effort to pick up electronics again. What did I do? I picked up “The Art of Electronics” and a 555 timer again. Ugh. Art of Electronics is not for beginners. It’s a text book and it reads like one. Once again, I got frustrated and set down the iron.

7 years later, and I come across “Intro to the Arrr-duino”, a short video from MAKE Blog. It explains that making that light blink is just a simple matter of loading a microcontroller with a short bit of C code! C! I know this! Suddenly, all that pent-up 9 year old enthusiasm for electronics jumps into gear again, as though I never left it. I got the Arduino, I got some parts. I tore through the Arduino Playground, harvested any random piece of hardware from the trash bins at work and tried to figure out how to interface it. Motors! Memory chips! LCDs! Rotary encoders! So much learning. So much fun.

I guess what this blog entry is, is a big thank you to the Arduino team. By making a toolkit that makes electronics accessible with a minimal investment in time and money, they’ve jumpstarted a generation of makers, me included.

I don’t know how I feel about this photo.

The original was really plain and uninteresting, so I messed with the levels a bit in an attempt to cut through the fog and get some detail. Not very sucessful. So I went the opposite direction, shifting the histogram down just mask out the foggy bits. That had the side effect of accentuating the water, which I really like. It also gives it a kind of “twilight” feel.

Overall though.. Does it work?

I love seaplanes. I think it’s incredibly cool to be able to land anywhere there’s a large enough body of water. This is why I want to get a pilot’s license. Just so I can get a seaplane rating, and head out to sea.

Travelers in Vancouver, BC:

The seaplane airfield in Sechelt, BC:

This next one has a good story behind it. On this plane were a Cowboy American couple, heading to Whistler for vacation, and an old man in a nice suit. We boarded the plane, and were talking about who should sit in the copilot’s seat (which is usually held by a passenger on these tiny planes).

Cowboy: “Anyone know how to fly?
Old man: “I can.”
Cowboy: “Oh? Did you fly in the war?”
The old man nods his head.
Cowboy: “Did you shoot down many Germans?”
The old man chuckles and says, in a barely-perceptable-but-obviously-there german accent, “No, not many.”

Seaplane, coming to take me away from Narrows Inlet:

The cheapest camera I’ve seen that can pull location information from a GPS runs $7000+. For the rest of us, there’s now GPSPhotoLinker

You give it a GPS track file, and a bunch of images, and it pulls the dates from both to determine where you were when a specific picture was taken, then encodes that in the image. Hott.

So… What GPS should I buy?

This was taken from a seaplane from Vancouver Airport to Sechelt, BC. The water is as blue as I’ve ever seen it in the Pacific Northwest, mostly because it’s reflecting the sky, I think.

Gallery
This week I switched my gallery from Menalto Gallery to Coppermine. I still have a bit to learn about it, and some more rearranging to do (now that I have more options in rearranging), but wow. It looks great, the theming is awesome, and so many features! Check it out!

Portland
A couple of weeks ago, I took a covert trip to Portland, OR, my home town, where I met up with a bunch of old friends (who I keep in daily contact with through a chat server). Only 195 pictures to show for two weeks up there, and most of them were taken by a friend (heck the BEST ones were taken by my friend. :) Of all the pictures taken with my camera while I was up there, the ones by David are the best, since they have, well, actual people in them. I’m pretty shy when it comes to photographing people.

While bussing around, we encountered this nutria.

Nutria

Rats
Also, over the weekend, I scored two new pet rats from Bella, in Orlando. She breeds the best rodents. Always well mannered, extremely friendly, and amazingly long-lived (for rats). Below is “Sumi-e”, a dumbo-eared black self rat, being kissed by Bella’s granddaughter Isabella. We also got a berkshire fawn we’ve named Ponzu. Pictures of him later.

Isabella and Sumi-e

Neither this page, nor my gallery get many hits, so I sometimes let the webserver logs scroll in the background while I work, just to see what people are hitting. Most people get here through a photoblogs.org link, or a Photo Friday” entry. Usually they just look at the picture linked, and sometimes the ones before and after it.

Occasionally, though, someone will spend a great deal of time browsing around. For instance, for the last two nights I’ve been visited by someone coming in on a Kuwait IP address. On both nights they spent over an hour wandering around the albums. Well, tonight I joined them. Whenever they’d go to a new page, I’d follow. It was fascinating, seeing what they saw. What pictures did they like? On the first night they did a search for “sunrise” and “sunset”, then spent a long time in the Lomo album. They liked the rain pictures enough to download the full image, which had to take forever considering the ping times. Who were they? A Kuwaiti curious about a slice of Florida life? A US citizen stationed in Kuwait? Since they came from two different IP addresses on the same subnet, I pictured them in an Internet cafe’. It was 10 in the morning in Kuwait.

It’s a funny feeling when someone spends a lot of time looking at your pictures. I wonder what we have in common.

Okay, obligatory photos. This /is/ a photoblog after all.

This was one of about two hundred pictures I took while feeding the seagulls. If you ever want to see a flock of seagulls like this, all you have to do is take a piece of food– any food– go to the beach and give it to the nearest seagull. Every single seagull on the beach will come flying. It’s like they have a psychic food connection.

I used stale cornchips. They didn’t seem to mind.

Bird Posse:
Them birds got some funny expressions.

This weekend I went to International Plaza with my wife and her parents. I haven’t gotten out in a while, and welcomed the opportunity to go take some pictures. After wandering around for almost an hour and not getting anything great, we went outside to the open-air wing of Internation Plaza. My luck changed when the sky opened up:


I was estatic. I really like pictures of people against the elements.

Of course, once it started raining, the family wanted to head back inside, so I didn’t get as many pictures as I probably could have. We wandered around for a little while longer, ate at a mall restaurant, and went back to the car to drive home.

On the way out of the parking lot, a fox ran acoss our path! I stopped the car right in the middle of the road and lept out to take pictures:

It looked skinny, and it wasn’t at all disturbed by my presence. Some of these pictures were taken from under 10 feet away.

So, not a great weekend for photography, but not bad either.

So, now that I have enough good photos, I can print some out and hang them on the wall. I knew this day would come, so back when I bought my Canon EOS 300D, I also bought a whole bunch of Staples photo paper. 200 sheets of 4×6 Premium Photo Paper, and 100 sheets of 8.5×11 Professional High Gloss Photo Paper. They were having a two-for-one sale, and I was obviously in some kind of weakened condition that left me open to buying massive amounts of photo paper.

I’ve done some prints before , and they’ve come out all hazy and muddy. The saturation was all wrong, and the pictures seemed… flat. I figured I just wasn’t editing the pictures correctly, and that even though they were pretty and bright on the screen, I’d have to make them even brighter and more saturated to get the effect on paper. I was sure this was going to suck.

So I gave up printing for a while. No need to waste ink trying to figure out how I was going to have to edit a picture in order to have it come out good on the printer. After all, it was more important to me that my photos look good online than on paper. Still, Liz would occasionally ask me to print something out to send to a friend, and I’d do it, look at the result, and gag. This was embarassing.

Today I got some pictures of a Mall Fox and Liz wanted a print so she could mail it to a friend. Once again, it came out crappy and embarassing, so I took some time. to experiment and figure it out.

The problem was with the Color Management. What I needed to do in Photoshop CS when printing was:
* File -> Print with Preview
* “Show More Options”
* “Color Management”
* Print Space, Profile: “BJ Color Printer Profile 2000″
* Print Space, Intent: “Perceptual”
* I left “Use Black Point Compensation” checked.

MUCH nicer result. The colors are clear, and the haziness is completely gone. Hooray for color profiles!

On Saturday, I spent three hours walking around Hillsborough River State Park. The tree cover provided some relief from the 93 degree weather, and I never strayed far from the river, which certainly helped keep the temperature bearable. All the same, by the end of the three hours, I had gone through a litre and a half of water and felt near to fainting.

Looking back at the pictures, I think it was worth it. I got a some good pictures, some okay pictures, and enough tree pictures to make me doubt my sanity. (I mean really, what’s with all the tree pictures?)

That was pretty much it for this weekend. It was too hot to go to the zoo. Next weekend: Egmont Key.

It’s my goal to spend at least one day a week on a photography field trip. This weekend, like last weekend will likely be spent at Hillsborough River State Park. I also want to hit the Lowry Park Zoo, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen this weekend. Maybe on Memorial Day. The Florida Division of Recreation and Parks holds monthly (and annual) photo competitions, with a grand prize of a 3 day, 2 night stay at a Florida State Park cabin (plus $500, and other goodies), so State Parks now have priority. :)

Okay, WordPress is installed, and I have the theme set up the way I want it. Thought Zefyr is open for business.

I’m still looking for a good plugin for Gallery integration. I’ll probably just have to write something myself. :/