My computer has been going flat chat this week churning through gigs of photos for my latest pet project. The Time Lapse. I've messed around with it in the past but the last couple of weeks I've got really stuck into it putting together a series of time lapse sequences on and around home. Probably explains why I've been a little more quiet than usual on the forum too. The time lapses that I've been taking usually consist of finding something 'photo worthy' with some movement involved and setting the camera on my telescope tripod (it's usually pretty windy and the normal camera tripod is not up to the job) and configuring the camera for 300 - 500 shots with intervals of 3 - 6 seconds during the day and 25 seconds at night. Once I've got my shots they're imported into Adobe Lightroom where I can make adjustments to one photo and sync all the adjustments to the others, then export them back to a folder - the export of several hundred photos can take the software close to an hour to do. From there they're imported to Panolapse so I can add a little motion and set the frame rate to 25fps so I end up with a 10 - 20 second clip. Then they're imported into my video editor (which also has to be set for 25fps otherwise things start getting jumpy) and the clips are organized and put together. It's turning out to be a pretty time consuming process but I'm finding it fascinating. Some of the stuff I've seen on the internet is unbelievably good and while my stuff is not shaping up anything like that, I'm enjoying it non the less and it should give a nice look around my property and surrounding hills. Animals look pretty funny when shot in time lapse and I've got a few sequences that have turned out good. Stars are also a good subject picking up aeroplanes and satellites. For night time stuff I shoot in RAW format with the ISO set to 3200 and a 20 second exposure with a wide angle lens. There's a lot of post image manipulation and noise reduction to get the images smooth but it's something that I cannot do with a video camera. Here's a sneak at one of the night sequences. This is on a normal camera tripod in a bit of wind and you can occasionally see a bit of shakiness.
I should be close to finishing the project later this week and I'll post it here.
Friday morning at 7.30am the big trip west begins. Work is slack during September so I figure I have the time to do this trip now, so I should do it while I can. Not looking forward to the first day drive from Ballarat to either Crystal Brook or Pt Pirie, somewhere around the 900km mark. I figure I'll go via Mildura and skip the drive through Adelaide. From there I'll head to Fowlers Bay which is another 700km, and I'm hoping to arrive there late afternoon on the Saturday. Huge dunes and whales seem to be the main attraction there. Not sure how soft the dunes will be and whether they will be buggyable or not for me but there's one way to find out. Figure I'll stay and explore the place on the Sunday and Monday then head across the Nullabor on Tues stopping to take lots of pics of the cliffs. Hopefully, there'll be some wind to get the kap rig up over the bight for some interesting photos. Overnight somewhere around Cocklebiddy then off to Lefroy on Wednesday....unless the wind is wrong and it's wet, then it will be down to Esperance and maybe have a buggy on the beach with Chook, Gumnuts and DJsylk.
Will try and use the phone for some updates and pics as I go and should have a shirt load of photos & vids when I get back. I'll keep an eye out for good buggy spots on the way over and can always stop and spend a day or two on the way back.
Last time I went to the optometrists and had a change to my prescription, I forked out $150 each for a couple of pair of glasses. And that was about as cheap as I could go. No fancy anti reflective or hydrophobic coatings just plain Jane lenses. I think the frames were $40 or $50 and the lenses were the rest. It's real easy to double and quadruple those prices on glasses bought in-store.
Now I'm all for supporting local business and I feel bad when I don't, but there is a point where too much is too much. The last few pairs I've bought I've ordered on-line from overseas and I can get reasonable frames but really nice lenses and all the anti reflection/hydrophobic coatings I want for around $70AU delivered to my po box. The same glasses would cost me at least three times the price in store here. One of those pairs was a pair of multifocals which I had always wanted to try but not willing to risk the $300 plus in case I hated them. I had even gone into SpecSavers during one of their sales.....and then, of course they start saying stuff like, 'oh, you'll need to pay for the extra strength prescription ($50) and you'll need to go the better lenses and then you'll want to add on the coatings....the 'special' soon started looking more like $400. So I payed the grand sum of $60 to Zenni and got some really nice lenses and ok frames - they're great for going out to eat or shopping when you need to read stuff as well as focus on everything around you, but turns out I can't work in them as when I rake stuff up, I'm looking at my feet, which through multifocals are all out of focus. So had I forked out $400, I'd be feeling a bit ripped off.
Speaking of being ripped off, this is what cheeses me off about buying glasses from the store - part of my prescription is -3.5 cylinder in my right eye and this get's me the 'extra strength' penalty. From the optometrist, that's $50 extra. From Zenni (where I buy my online stuff from) it's $9. Same sort of deal with coatings - Zenni's premium anti reflective, oleophobic (oil and fingerprint resistant) coatings are $14. Tinting is $5 or thereabouts. I can understand why optometrists charge more for their service and their frames etc to pay for staff, rent, equipment etc and I'm fine with that, but not when a coating or charge is 6X the price. That's not what I consider 'fair'.
So for the last couple of years, my glasses have come from overseas. I think Zenni has their office in California, but everything is made and sent from Hong Kong. And they do a damn good job on my prescriptions - certainly better than OPSM ever did. Coatings are great - for your next pair, go for the anti reflective and hydrophobic (or oleophobic) coating - they're the best lenses I have ever had. Water just beads off them (wears off after a couple of years), super easy to clean and no reflections (the last two seem permanent on my 3 year old Zenni's.) I will never go back to plain lenses again. Online frame choice is a lot more hit 'n miss however. The very first pair I ordered online from a store in Melbourne have the crappiest most awful frames ever. Certainly most of that is my own fault for not understanding frame width, lens height, temple length and bridge spacing - stuff you need to know before you order anything along with your prescription and interpupillary distance. The first you can get from measuring your current favorite pair of glasses, the last two you can get from your optometrist. It's your prescription and it belongs to you - they cannot withhold it from you.
Another thing I like about Zenni is that they print your reviews - good and bad, so you can always get a general consensus feel for what people are saying about a particular model. I should say that I did get one pair that was tinted a little more darker in one eye than the other and a couple pairs of frames I ended up not liking, so ordering online is not all beer and skittles and I'm not cheeky enough to go into my local optometrists and ask them to fix glasses I bought from overseas - that wouldn't be fair either. But overall, it's been a big win for me with lots of money saved and I've been able to afford to try out different scripts and styles without fear of losing hundreds of bucks down the gurgler.
This is not me btw and I tend to steer clear of plastic frames now - if they're not quite right, I don't have the gear to bend 'em. Steel/titanium frames seem more versatile in that regard...
After a couple hours of buggying, it's good to have a break...stand up and stretch the legs. Take in the awesome scenery. Grab a drink and a bite to eat. And speaking of a bite to eat, have I got a recipe for you. Exclusively on Extreme Kites is my Honey Oat slice recipe!! Ok, it's not really my own invention - I've been mucking around with it for a couple of weeks, changing a few things here and there and adding a few bits to see how it would go. Anywhoo, this is yumo.
Melt: (I chuck it all in a saucepan and stick it on top of my woodheater for 20min or so). 300gm Butter 4 tbs Honey (can substitute 1 or 2 golden syrup) 1 tsp Vanilla essence
Mix in bowl: (a big bowl!)
2 cups of rolled oats 1 cup of rice bubbles 1 1/2 cups of plain flour 3/4 cup caster suger 1 1/3 cups dessicated coconut 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/2 cup of sultanas and or currants
Add melted butter/honey/vanilla to dry ingredients and mix well. Press ingredients into 18 x 28cm slice pan lined with baking paper. Press too hard and you'll get a pretty heavy and dense slice, too light and it will have trouble keeping together. Pop into oven at 180C for 30 min (give or take depending on oven) Heat up 2-3 tbs Honey and pour over slice when it comes out of oven. Cut while still hot - it will be pretty soft. Leave in pan to cool.
Store in airtight container for up to 10 days. (yeah, right, like it's gonna still be there in 10 days).
mmmmmmmmm.... forget the shop bought rubbish, this is the read deal!
Was about to get out for a KAP session this arvo when this Border-Leicester Ram appears in my front yard. Coffee will have to wait, so I puts on the gumboots and try and herd him back up the driveway where I assume he came from. He started trotting back up the road - with me encouraging him - no problems, but then he decided, no, he wants to be with my ewes. Turns out this bloody ram must have been a hurdles champion. Over the fence and into the ewes. Poo. I have three main paddocks and one small ram paddock with the ram and two black pet sheep in it. In that paddock are my actual yards which we use for separating sheep and general handling needs. So, I run around and lock my ram and two black pet sheep up, then call all the ewes up for a feed into the ram paddock. The rogue ram comes along and I manage to get him into my yards by himself. Excellent. For about 20 seconds. He looks at the railings and says 'hey, I can jump this and off he goes. Hmmm... let's give it another try. So after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, I get him back into the yards again. Sproing! Over the fence he goes. Well then, that's not going to work. So then I have to try and get all the ewes and their lambs out of my ram paddock and out into the main paddock and leave him in the ram paddock by himself....but with lots of room so hopefully he stays put. By this time, the best part of two hours has past but finally I have him separated. I know he can easily jump the fence if he tries, so I'll back off and give him room. Now, where the heck did he come from? Ring the neighbor at the back....nope. Neighbor at the side....nope. Neighbor down the road....nope Neighbor WAY down the road....nope. Anyone lost a ram? Meanwhile, my poor pets and ram are locked in the yards while this rogue wonders around in their space. He's got an ear tag and one of my neighbors has said he might be able to track down where the ram came from, so that will have to be my next step. That's if he stays put. All my sheep are fairly short and can't jump my yards or the fences. But this mongrel can so I'm not even sure I can hold him. So, that's what I did instead of kite aerial photography this afternoon. Great. (heavy sarcasm).
Now there's a job I'd like to have. El Presidente of Selleys. If you're not from Aus, you may or may not have heard of Selleys. They make glues, fillers etc...stuff like this:
But they could be so much more!! I am continually inventing products that Selleys should be selling. Ever been to a party or gathering where a particular person just won't SHUT UP?? Easy, a quick spray with Selley's No More Blab, and peace and quiet will return. And when you know the shit is about to hit the fan, how bout a quick spray of Selley's Chrono Fix, and voila! time has stopped - giving you an infinite amount of time to either fix stuff or get the hell out of Dodge. I'm still working on the 'reverse time formula' which I'll call Xif onorhC s'yelleS but I'm not actually convinced that time can, in fact, be reversed. My paddocks at home could certainly use a spray of Selley's No More Bumps. Selley's Wife Duplicator spray for when the housework starts piling up. And Selley's That was Just A Joke, for when she reads this. Selley's Beach Clear, for when you want the whole beach to yourself. The possibilities are absolutely endless and could make this the worlds largest company. To be honest, I just sprayed the keyboard with Selley's Blog Entry and this is the crap that came out. Now, where did I put that can of Selleys Problem Solvent.....
Hello. My name is John and I have a problem. Well addiction really. Sort of. When I was a young boy, I loved torches. They were shiny, they conquered the dark and kept the evil ones at bay. You could shine the torch up to the sky and scale the beam of light. Ooops, no, that was from a poem I wrote called Alberto the Dinosaur, but I won't go into that just now. I've seen other children - usually boys - fascinated by torches in the supermarket. 'Daaad, PLEASE!!! I WANIT!!!' I was like that. I wanted just about every torch (flashlights in the US?) I ever saw. Problem is, I still do. I submit for your attention exhibit A:
My staple camping lights for many years were the Petzl Zoom and the mini mag light. Dependable and well loved torches. There were a bunch of TeknaLights too, a few Pelicans all now gone to that great big light in the sky. And let's not forget the quest to own the most powerful torch I could. The 6D Maglight is still there on the right (although that tiny little thing next to it is actually a brighter and more versatile light - I kid you not). I had the 8D cell King Pelican lantern too that chewed through sets of batteries and bulbs. All made to look like pathetic candle power next to the average LED torch these days.
The advancement in LED technology is truly staggering. Several years ago I bought a rechargeable light from the local electronic place - 150 Lumens and 3 brightness levels. WOW!! What the heck is a Lumen? I hear you ask. 1 candle power is equivalent to 12.57 Lumens. You should learn that off by heart should you ever be on a quiz show. And while we're talking of questions you may get asked on quiz shows, 'Suicide is Painless' is the actual title of the theme tune to M.A.S.H. - Don't say I never tell ya anything.
Were was I? Oh, yeah - advancement. The 6D Maglight only has something like 30 to 50 Lumens and dims rapidly. Most LED lights usually have a circuit built in so you get the full, mind shredding 150 Lumens till the end. Then they suddenly shut off. Or did. Manufacturers quickly realized that this was perhaps not the brightest idea they had and started adding things like flashing switches or pulsating light or switch into lower mode when the batteries start to fade. Seriously, that tiny, weeny thing next to the big Maglight on the right puts out over 200 Lumens and laughs at the Maglight's dead corpse. (figure of speech, the Maglight does still work). The one with the red band around the lens puts out about 1000 Lumens and does spotlight duty for me most nights checking the lambs and looking out for foxes. Easily bright enough to spotlight with. The one with 2 red switches has about 5 different lighting levels, 3 flashing modes and runs off normal AA batteries. A quick check online will show that a lot of companys now have torches with 3000 - 5000 lumen outputs. That's a huge leap in a few short years. It's not all about Lumens though - how big is the reflector, how far will it throw, is it a floody light or a thrower?
By now you're thinking, yep, he's addicted alright. A truly lost cause. I thought that too, but then I found the Candlepower forum and realized that my perceived addiction was in fact a grain of sand on a huge beach. A lot of guys on the candlepower forum can tell you every specification of the light/output/color temperature etc etc that you could possibly imagine.
And yet, I still want more!! I want a 3000 lumen torch. Oh the POWER!!!! And I don't have a decent UV torch. And I need some red filters for my astronomy stuff. (A few of those homemade looking things are, in fact, cobbled together with red led's and various resistors - the sum total of my electronics knowledge.
So there it is. Addicted to lights. And Kites. I suppose there's a lot worse things I could be addicted to.
Must order that UV torch this week - it has 5 white brightness levels (400 Lumens white), a 3000mW UV led plus a set of tricolor Red/Blue/Green Leds. How could you possibly say no to that?
No, they're not connected. Every few weeks I get a request from someone on Skype that wants to add me to their contact list. But why? Firstly, how on earth did they get my skype address and second, why would I want to talk to a total stranger? I wouldn't know what to say without sounding like the Spanish Inquisition. Although that does remind me of a girlfriend I once had. Conversations routinely went something like this:
Me: Hiss miss, how ya doin?
Meagan (name changed to protect the innocent): Fine.
Me: What'dya get up to at work today?
Insert long silence........
Seriously, that's what it was like. I always thought that one day, I'd find some common ground and we strike up a conversation. Never happened. Anywhoo, that's what I imagine skyping with a total stranger would be like. Although, Meagan did take me to a work function one night and I struck up a great conversation with one of her friends. We talked all night - although I did try and include Meagan in the conversation....didn't really work. I should have gone home with her friend.
Fitness - I've been trying to lose these last few kilos and get down to 70kg or just under. Can't do it! I seem to be stuck between 72 and 73. Must be all the pear cider. mmmmmmmmm pear cider..... I'm still trying to run for 20 - 25 minutes every other day although I'm starting to cut the running down a little and increase the cycling. Much more fun cycling. Particularly as you can coast downhill and rest while still moving. Pretty hard to 'coast' when running. Not that I coast, oh no, I keep pedaling furiously even on the downhills! I put some butterfly / trekking bars on the bike - they're great. When my hands start going numb, I can move them to another position. But geez, those last few kilos are stubborn. Mind you, my diet isn't helping. Last night was pizza, beer and ice cream. mmmmmmm ice creammmmmmmm... need to drink more water and less cider. mmmmmmmm cider..........
I'm really pleased with how the new look XK site is going. Lots of new folk posting and some returning posters that haven't been around for a few years. It's great to see. I'm hoping for a more 'global' feel to the site - as Soliver said in a post, he originally thought this was more for the 'Aussie crowd' and sure, the majority of the regular posters are but I'd really like to see regular posters from all over the place. Got a favorite spot? - tell us about it. Favorite kite? whether it be single, dual, quad, power, whatever - feel free to post her to the boards!
ok, I'd better stop, I'm starting to babble...
Hobbies, God love 'em. We've all got them. Mine tend to be very cyclic. I have a Juno D keyboard which I played every night for months...haven't switched it on for probably 8 months. I'll take heaps of photos over a few weeks......then the camera sits unused for months. Astrophotograpy - go nuts on it for a month or two then may do nothing for a couple years. Same with Astronomy, Bushwalking, Cycling, Motorbikes, Archery, Kap, single line kites, Golf, Rock climbing, Fly fishing, kayaking. They come and they go and occasionally come around again. But my enthusiasm for power kites and buggying has remained pretty well undiminished for six years now. Must be some sort of record for me. But why? I think I may have actually figured that out. All of my previous hobbies perhaps with the exception of rock climbing were done alone. Not shared. Where I live, I only have a few good friends - we get together fairly regularly for a meal and bullshit session and maybe go out for a movie. But through kiting, and more importantly, Extreme Kites, I get to go on great trips and meet up with very like minded guys and gals who I have come to consider as my friends. In fact the similarities - particularly in regards to the hobbies - can be quite spooky. While I'm certainly not what I would consider to be a 'social' type person, I genuinely enjoy camping and spending time with fellow XK'ers on our Sandy Point & Kingston trips and local beaches and parks. I really look forward to these trips and they are the first thing that gets put in the diary each year. Even members here at XK and over on PKF that I haven't actually met, I still feel some sort of bond and friendship with. I think that's why I'm here. In fact, If I see someone on the beach with a kite, I'm very likely to wonder over and say g'day - very weird for me who normally is not one to strike up any sort of conversation with a stranger. And now I find myself with a hand on the steering wheel on XK. Wow, who'da thunk? So, what do I think about all this? (apart from being quite excited about it). Spread the enthusiasm. That's what I'd like to do. Help to grow the community and perhaps through that, get some more power kiters out there. Make some noise. I'll certainly do all that I can think of to achieve it. But, I've only got one brain and sometimes the workings of it are a bit sus! So if you get an idea, message me, let me know about it. Something you'd like to see....or not like to see, don't hesitate to sing out. This is YOUR site and I'm here to help however I can. But I'll need help too from time to time, no doubt. Ok, now I'm hungry and need food...more thoughts as they come to mind! - John.