We know that the year twenty twenty delights in beating us down every chance it gets, but sometimes we get to punch back.
Since the diabetes diagnosis in late July I started taking a series of medications, started a daily exercise routine, and modified my diet. This week, the first test results came in to show if those efforts paid off or if I need to take more drastic measures.
Not only are the numbers good, but the key metric (called “A1C”) is actually in the normal range. I’m not even in “we’re still concerned” territory anymore, thanks to the last few months of changes and work.
Mind you, this means I need to keep at it. The medicines are part of my life now, as are the exercise regimen and dietary changes. But at least I have the chance of staying alive longer now, and even in this hellyear that counts for something.
I built the LEGO Ghostbusters “Ecto-1”, the box for which I’ve had tucked away in my closet for years now, finally, to join the holiday-season LEGO display in the library (what’s supposed to be the dining “room” in this little apartment of ours), but my attempts to photograph the build process turned out poorly.
Related to that, I’ve learned that I really need to avoid the “auto” modes on my new camera or it’s going to give me very grainy pictures. Ah well.
The previous webserver is now shut down, I moved everything over, and it looks like we’re stable on the new server. Huzzah, and thanks again to Linode for making such a great VPS environment.
I burned my first M-Disc archival Blu-Ray disc filled with music videos, mostly saved & converted materials from various DVDs on the shelf. It certainly took a while, but so far it seems to have worked. Check back with me in 1000 years to find out if the claims of lifespan for M-Disc media are proved by real-world experience!
My main game right now is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I finished my first run through a few days ago (I backed Edelgard, which… from a storytelling perspective is very questionable, admittedly) and now I’m in “new game plus” mode with all the advantages that entails, working with the Golden Deer faction. Archery everywhere.
Out of sight out of mind, the saying goes, and with a mind as dull as mine the saying is doubly true. A few days ago we unearthed some bins from the big closet in the master bedroom, and I realized that one of them had several old notebooks and 3-ring binders from my high school years.
Note that I’m not far from turning fifty, y’all.
This afternoon I finally turned most of that material into recycling. (And the rest into actual trash.) Old lyrics sheets and song timings and doodles and (ugh) poetry and (uggghhhh) story ideas, gone at last. It’s about time, really.
The other items in the bin with the old notebooks I decided to keep: A stack of old VHS tapes, stuff like Pet Shop Boys music video collections and Pink Floyd concert videos (the official releases, mind you), that I’ll need to track down on DVD before junking for good. I hope I can, because have you seen the price of a VHS deck lately… provided you can even source one? Yikes. I should’ve digitized those tapes a decade ago. Sigh.
I also found a whole mess o’ ducks I’d forgotten about. So, some day in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be doing another round of glamour shots…
As noted, I have my new camera (and it’s great). I have a bin full o’ duckies. I have a tripod. And now, as of this afternoon, I have a light tent (or whatever it’s supposed to be called, I dunno, I’m not a pro photographer or anything like that).
So how about some duck pics?
The “tent” is… larger than I originally wanted, but the size I wanted wasn’t in stock and I didn’t feel like waiting even longer to start this project, so here we are. It’s a 60x60x60cm cube with a big ring of tiny bright white LEDs up top for illumination and reflective surfaces on two sides. It gets bright in there, is what I’m saying.
During the process of figuring out this test shoot I discovered that my camera has an aspect ratio setting. Hooray for the 16:9 option, but this means I need to be more careful about vertical composition since I won’t be slicing selected bits off the top & bottom anymore. A new learning curve to ascend, I suppose.
I figured out how to lock the camera to an ISO of 100 to keep the graininess to the absolute minimum that I can with this rig. The aperture’s set to give me just a wee bit more than the minimum available depth of field as well. What I might need to do before embarking on the final photo shoot is to find a way to account for just how dingdanged bright it is inside the light tent. We’ll see, I suppose.
At first I wanted set dressing that wouldn’t distract or detract from the look of the ducks, but as I went through a variety of test shots I noticed something: While the gray blanket works great for the more traditionally (and less-traditionally) colorful ducks, the monochromatic ones have a harder time, like so:
We have a polyester throw blanket similar to the gray one you see in these pictures but in purple, and I think that might do the trick. Otherwise, we’ll figure something else out.
Of course, the perennial problem of taking high-resolution pictures of plastic toys is that they get so dusty and dingy so very easily. And some of them are rather hard to clean due to the specific formulation of the plastic. I’ll do the best I can with what I have, I suppose.
There’s a long vacation-like stretch coming up next week, and that’s when I’ll try to get this project done properly. Wish me luck!
It’s a beautiful day, the last of those we’re likely to get for a while since the weather’s supposed to turn hot again after Monday. We decided to go on a hike up at Bethany Lake Park, and I figured I’d take the new camera along. There’s not a whole lot to interest your average shutterbug there but why pass up the chance to put the new gear through its paces?
Neither of us had ever walked much past the shaded part of the pathway, so this time we pushed onward to the top of the hill where the path goes right through, apparently, a whole entire golf course. Yes, it’s quite possible to get beaned with a golf ball while on a summer afternoon hike. (Neither of us were harmed, but there were a couple of close calls.)
Having seen what was there to see (mostly dry grass and golf balls all over the place), we headed back down and found a shaded place to spread out a blanket and eat some snacks. Afterward, of course, I took more pictures.
It really was a marvelous time. Quiet, sunny but not too hot out, people generally behaving themselves (to varying degrees), and enough exercise to make my doctor happy.
On the way back toward the bus stop we paused at an unoccupied bench for a rest since our bus was some time off yet, and after looking around in the lake a bit I had to grab my camera because look at this marvelous bird:
I then noticed a mallard swimming nearby and decided to push the camera’s zoom to the maximum and see how that turned out. The results were… better than the old camera would have done, but still, I think it’s best if I don’t try that again any time soon:
The best part, though, was when the mallard swam right by the heron:
All in all, a good time out and a great validation of my new camera purchase.
The Nikon CoolPix gave up the ghost, as noted previously, and for a while I didn’t think I’d bother replacing it. I don’t take many pictures, after all.
And yet. And yet.
I researched my options for a “bridge” camera, which is apparently the common term now for a device that’s not merely a point-and-shoot, but not a full DSLR or mirrorless body rig. In other words, a bridge camera is a fancy point-and-shoot. I avoided the Nikon brand, because that “take a picture, then vaporlock” bug seems to show up in several of their bridge-range models. Yuck. One particular model seemed to hit the sweet spot of being moderately well-reviewed (considering it’s a budget camera) and staying below my desired price threshold. And this week, after what’s been an absolute bastard of a month, I went ahead and ordered one.
My new piece of shutterbug gear is the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ80, which came in at a bit under three hundred bucks (on sale).
Here’s the first pic taken with it, just a few minutes ago:
My first few shots show that I’ll be fighting against a certain amount of graininess, but thanks to my research I knew that before making my purchase. (The amount of money required to escape certain problems is… more than I’m willing to part with.) What’s definitely missing is the Nikon’s weird feather-shaped smudges when you zoom in on the image file. I was worried that those smudges were going to be common to all image-stabilization algorithms. Apparently, no, just the CoolPix has that bizarre quirk.
Hopefully I can dial in a combination of ISO (to reduce grain) and aperture (for depth of field) that gets me the kind of results I want on this new rig. Then… it’ll be time to (re)start the Rubber Duck Image Gallery Project!