Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A new toy

well,  not really a toy and no,  not something for my motorcycle either but I am trying to make life easier so I wanted to buy an impact wrench.   I had been looking at air powered tools but unfortunately my compressor doesn't have enough capacity CFM to run them so I was also looking into a larger compressor.   Then I saw a few battery powered ones on sale last week so I went looking and decided I didn't want to bother with having to charge batteries for something I would only use a couple of times a year

Imagine my luck to find a $170. unit on sale for $40. complete with case and a few bits.  It is 1/2" drive and can torque up to 220 ft lbs.   That's my manual collapsible T-bar spanner on the right.

Just in time too as we are starting to get frost in the mornings and I have to scrape my windows before I leave for work

I usually change over my tires on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend but I was talked out of it, and it was such a nice day that we decided to drive our "Vette and go for a ride.  That was two weeks ago.

So it waas last Saturday that my project for the day was to change my tires but first I had to dig them out of our basement and pump up the tires.   It is so much more convenient to have your own compressor and not have to ride over to the gas station.  Did you know that air is not FREE anymore.  Most stations up here now charge for AIR

I also wanted to upgrade my hydraulic jack and get a lightweight aluminum one but I am waiting for them to come down in price.  I have been waiting for several years now and still they are above my threshold.   What a breeze it is to use my new electric impact wrench.  The nuts come out with hardly any effort at all.    It was such a chore to manually remove them manually with my T-bar

The rear wheels come off easily but the front wheels are sort of baked on, I suppose because of the heat generated by the disc brakes.  Last year I used a rubber mallet on the inside of the tire and broke the bead which caused the tire to leak air.  I had to go to my tire dealer and have him remove the tire and remount it again to get the bead to seal.  What a pain, so this year I decided to just hold the sides and shake it loose from the hub

After I tightened the studs with my new electric impact wrench I decided to make sure they were on tight enough, so I used my T-bar to loosen and retighten as I tighten them by "feel" and years of experience

Now I had to put stickers on to mark where they were mounted.  Not that this matters at all because these tires are "directional" and the direction of rotation is marked on the tire so it is easy to determine which side they belong to.  These are summer only performance tires and not really that suitable for winter use, esp when the temperatures go below 7°c

During the past couple of weeks I have been gaining about a pound a week and when David was here all we did was eat.

After I came back from my Continental tour this summer I was delighted to find that I had lost nearly 9 lbs and I was determined to keep most of it off.   Then I gained nearly all of it back again so last week I started to bring salad to work and so far I have lost about 5 lbs and I only have a few to go

I usually just eat lunch at my desk and surf the net.   Today I had Yogurt for dessert

It's nearly Hallowe'en and our new Grand daughter is nearly 2 months old

and she already modeling her costume

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Panoramic Photos: I C E Part Two

I have always loved panoramic photos.  In fact I have several film based rotating lens panoramic cameras but I can't refer you to my previous posts as they were all hosted on Webshots and Webshots shut down a year ago and now all of my photos are broken links and my blog prior to that time is now only words.  So from late 2012 I am just forging ahead and not worrying about spending time to reconstruct my past

Before Webshots I used Photobucket for a time

lions gate bridge, vancouver, bc photo pano_lionsgate_s.jpg
Cypress Mountain Lookout, West Vancouver, BC   December, 2008

click  HERE  for larger size.   This was taken Christmas week  December 2008.   I can't remember what camera was used but I would have used Autostitch as the pano software.   This was produced from 3 photos using the zoom

A novice would consider a panoramic photo to mean a greater angle of view, perhaps up to 180°.  A super wide angle lens would probably approach 45° .  My rotating film cameras revolve to 140° which is nearly as much as your eyes can see left to right.  In photographic terms, a photographer would consider any image with an aspect ratio larger than 3:1 to be panoramic   (width/height)    So while the photo above is only around 12-15 degrees, it is a panorama by general concensus to most photographeers

Consider the panoramic mode of most modern cameras.  Yes, my Sony has Sweep Panoramic mode but I seldom use it.  I don't have full control of where the image starts, nor stops.  It is trial and error.  Here is one I took this morning before lunch

    Sony NEX-5n,  16mm 2.8  Sweep Panorama Mode

While I am able to set the lens to any focal length, most automated P&S cameras default to their widest angle, which isn't good as it creates distortion on close horizontal elements.   The best is to set your focal length to at least 45 mm as this approximates normal human perspective.  I have a prime 16mm lens to mimic what an automatic camera would do

    Canon EOS T2i,  Sigma 18-250mm, lens set around 90mm (approx 140mm in 35mm terms)

Sure you can crop this image and get a panoramic perspective but what if you wanted to make a huge enlargement to hang on the wall ?  You wouldnt have enough pixels to do the job

Okay,  Now I zoomed my lens to 180mm  (approx 280mm equivalent) , took 5 images and stitched them using Microsoft Research I C E and here is what you get.   I used manual focus and Manual exposure mode to minimize colour shift

I didn't have time to remove the power lines but you get the idea.

Below is a quick video clip to show you the location.  I wanted to take a panorama of Vancouver from this vantage point

I snapped 16 shots all at full 18 MP resolution in two rows left to right, but direction doesn't matter if you use I C E  or autostitch, and I dragged these 16 images over to ICE from Windows Explorer

Here is the screen shot from ICE.  Notice that the image size is 78 megs in size before cropping.  Autostich does not crop so you need another photo editor.  I have to keep images sizes low for my free hosting websites so I scale it down and then reduce it more for posting.  But if you wanted to print a large photo to frame this would be a good solution to a low megapixel camera

I move the bounding lines for the crop and now the image has reduced in size to 53 megs.  Having to crop is a function of taking photos "hand held" and not being horizontal, thus the image has "blank" spots without an image.   If I shot another horizontal row below the horizon then the image could have been larger, with less cropping

    16 images stitched using ICE  (Canon T2i, sigma 18-250mm)

Here's the greatly reduced output

    Apple iPhone 4  using pano app  4 images stitched in camera

It was a beautiful day today and we took my Aunt out for lunch and a ride to Crescent Beach, BC

I'm not fond of crows but here they are sitting on the fence in Mud Bay

and here is the fence to nowhere.   I was enamoured with the ripples on the water.

Another nice day on the West Coast of British Columbia.  A bit chilly by the water but the sun was out and another day with no rain,   Oh . . .  our fog has gone away

Saturday, October 26, 2013

ICE, NO ! not that kind of ice but I.C.E.

No !  it's not that cold.  We don't have any ice here yet but I did download ICE:  Image Composite Editor 64 bit from a Microsoft division known as Microsoft Research   (info here)

I only just found out about it on a photography forum  (here2)

Most users have been very happy using it so I thought I would give it a try.   I do have sweep panorama on my camera but it never really starts and stops where you want it to and also the image is not very large.   In the past I had been using a very good FREE program called Autostitch  (here3)   Not that there was anything wrong with it but I am a hobbyist and I like to try new things

   Falling Leaves, Urban Vancouver, BC      October 26, 2013   Canon T2i, Sigma 18-250 super zoom
I left home late in the afternoon looking for a panoramic image when I came across this residential street.  The light from the sun was streaming through the leaves and I thought it looked very nice.  It actually looked nicer in person and what this image shows

I stopped and snapped 6 or 7 shots from this location and automatically stitched them together using Microsoft Research ICE.  The resultant file was over 51 megs but I downsized it to 12 megs when I exported it to .jpeg .     This would be a good way to make a huge enlargement from a lower megapixel camera so if you wanted to have a large 20" x 30" photo hanging on your wall then this is the program to use as the size of your image is cumulative.

I had to reduce it further for posting here but here is a nearly 170°  view from the same location

for a larger view   click here    remember that this is still a very reduced 2 meg file (orig was 51 megs)    You have to click a couple of times before you get to "original size"

This program is very easy to use and even a dummy can manage to produce a great panoramic image.  There is nothing to do except to drag your images over . . .  and the images can be in any order.   The built in editor even has options for cropping and scaling.   It even shows you how large the resultant file size will be before you export it to jpeg

If you have never done panoramas before it is important to keep your exposure the same for all images so an adjustable camera would be preferable.  I shot these images in manual mode and also manually focused.   Different exposures can cause colour shift from frame to frame.  Most P&S cameras usually lock the exposure on shot 1 so it may make a difference if you scan your arc clockwise or anti-clockwise depending whether it is darker or brighter on one end or the other.   I tried to use an average of the scene

    False Creek, Vancouver, BC     October 26, 2013     Canon T2i, Sigma 18-250 super zoom

I am a wide angle person and you will usually find me at the wide end of any lens but when you shoot images for a panorama you should not be at full wide angle as you will not get straight horizontal lines if you are aiming up or down your horizon will be either concave or convex and stitching will create distortion.  The sweet spot for panoramas is 44 mm (35mm perspective) and you should always keep horizontal elements, such as this gangway on an angle.

I stitched 8-9 images, this time with more overlap and the resultant file was over 80 megs, which I reduced to around 2.5 megs.  The original file is sharp and detailed, the smaller one not so much

I like to do everything hand held but as you notice, I didn't do a very good job, this time.  I could have cropped it but then I would have cut off those tall buildings.   I should have snapped two horizontal rows to make this pano higher.

for a larger view   click here   

DisclaimerI have nothing to do with Microsoft Research and they are not paying me to use their program, but so far it seems to work.   It's a free download so give it a try

It's getting colder by the water.  Soon I will have to wear a jacket instead of my fleece jacket.  I am sure it was cold for this windboard surfer too

I am not sure what to think about this surfer.  It looks like this person is wearing a suit and is wrapped up in white cloth bandages with holes for his eyes

There is not much boat traffic except for the fleet of Aquabus' going back and forth the inlet

Time to head home.  Right now I can't walk very far.  I've been hobbling around all week.  I have no idea why my right foot is swollen again.  Can't blame it on riding this time.   It's only been 2 weeks without sandals and see what happens.   Maybe it's all that rich food I had last weekend when David was here . . .

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capilano Canyon: a short video

Canon T2i, Sigma 18-250mm Super Zoom 1080p30 manually focused

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Relaxing with the Scoot Commute at Deep Cove, BC

It was a leisurely Sunday.  My weekend with David is coming to an end.   We've done nothing but eat since he arrived but so far I haven't posted any food photos.   With nothing set in stone we met late in the morning and we ended up at a little hide-a-way on the North Shore  (which the locals refer to North Vancouver)

It's a busy place in the inner harbour and during the Summer you can sit outside on the patio.  There is a Marina here and some floating homes

   Mrs Skoot with David (Scoot Commute from Montreal)

I had the seafood omelette (scallops with shrimp), a departure from my usual eggs benny

It was my intention to show David some of our natural beauty

So we headed East on the Dollarton Highway until it ended at the water

There is a pier and Marina .  Ioco is on the other side.  This body of water is known as Indian Arm.  We had arrived in the Village of Deep Cove

Here is David snapping photos of

these two carved heads

He's probably thinking how nice it is to be chauffeured around like a VIP .  There is another road which winds along the water and passes many waterfront homes, many of which have their own piers and docks and dead ends at the Seycove Marina

Here we are at the end of Panorama Drive

We turn around and head West to our next destination

We spotted this entrance way and wondered how anyone could get to it.  We are now in Capilano Canyon,  stay tuned for the next installment . . .

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lynn Canyon, North Vancouver BC

I finally met with David   (here)  and after a filling breakfast we found ourselves crossing the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

I like it here and there are many trails which take you down to the river level and that's where David wanted to go

This gave us a chance to chat and snap photos along the way.   I loaned David my NEX-5n while I used my Canon T2i .

The trail is littered with rocks but we managed to navigate our way and jump over a few

You have to also be careful not to trip over the tree roots

Fall is in the air and there are lots of downed brown leaves.   It must be humid here as evidenced by all the moss on the branches

This is a portion of Lynn Creek and you can see how much power the water has to be able to move all these rocks.   This is also where David snapped that photo of the rushing water in the post above

In our part of the Country, when you cannot see the sun you will know that where Moss grows,  signifies NORTH.  (as opposed to South, East or West)

The tree canopy is really high so not much sun will reach the ground,  even during summer.  There is not much light here on a cloudy day

Somehow I have always been attracted to Moss and the nice green colour

Eventually all good things must come to an end and I follow David westward back to our car

I usually record video using my NEX-5n as it has an excellent   AVCHD video mode, but only 1080i 30 .  Since David was using my NEX, I had to resort to my Canon T2i which has  1080p30  which is better, however I don't usually use it much for video as it will not auto focus in video mode, so I had to manual focus my Sigma 18-250mm super zoom.   It does not use AVCHD which is more efficient but rather  Mpeg4

You may wish to see the video I recorded back in December, 2009,  below

I notice they have redesigned the landing on the opposite side

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Scoot Commute is in Vancouver

It was my turn to show David some sights, and eat some food he had never had before.  It's been very foggy in Vancouver during the past week as you can see as we drove over the Lions Gate Bridge over to North Vancouver

David was famished but we managed to fill his tummy to the brim

as he tries to hold his bulging stomach in

Eventually we ended up at Lynn Valley for a walk in the forest and I gave David my NEX to fiddle around with and he shot this very nice photo

We hiked into the Canyon down to the river level but eventually we had to walk back up

We had a pleasant time chatting and snapping photos along the way.   You may get to see more fall foliage in the next day or so.   Stuff like this below

I am getting tired just looking at it