Saturday, September 13, 2014

More Lapsed Clouds

As the Apple cameras are such wide angle I decided to order a 2x add on telephoto lens. It arrived yesterday. The lens is magnetic so if the phone body is made from a  suitable metal it will stick in place. If the body is another material then self adhesive metal rings are provided. That is what I had to use with the iPod:

2x telephoto lens DSCN3387

Being magnetic it is fast and easy to attach / detach.

I set things up with the Lapse It app set to take a photo every 3 seconds. Just over an hour and 1475 frames later it was showing a low battery warning. Those were saved at 1080p, transferred to the MacBook. Title added in iMovie along with a soundtrack created with Garage Band and saved at 720p to cut down upload file size:

Not too bad for a £5 add on lens, and that included p&p!

In the evening I set things up on a tabletop tripod in the conservatory for a Sunset time lapse, this time with just 2 seconds between frames.  No other processing this time. 720p as processed by the Lapse It app. The small orange dot which remains isn't a stuck pixel but a street lamp in the distance:

Once again this was processed in app using 'vivid colours'.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday at the Flicks - Minibeasts + Sunset

When I was teaching I think my favourite lessons were those where we could get out of the classroom and explore nature, especially investigating the small creatures (minibeasts) which inhabit the dark places under stones and rotting wood.

A couple of days ago I was tidying up a flower bed where some of the wooden surround had collapsed. Under one plank was the inevitable ants nest along with wood lice and slugs. As I had the Nikon in my shirt pocket I took some short video clips. The ants may look as though I speeded up the video but all was recorded in real time:

For a long time one subject I have wanted to video in time lapse is a Sunset. The iOS app Lapse It has given me that opportunity. My first attempt was useless as the auto exposure did its best to keep an equal brightness all through. By chance I found that there was a menu which allowed me to fix the exposure. This was a bit tricky as the iPod had to be pointed at a suitable area the pick an exposure, then fixed. This is not a spectacular Sunset, just an experiment. The app allows some processing before the final time lapse video is saved. This shows the same even twice, first a normal process followed by choosing 'vivid colours':

The movement does look a bit jerky with the chosen 5 second time lapse. I'll try 2 or 3 second lapses another time.


It is always difficult to forecast aurora as much depends just how the Sun's emissions hit the Earth's magnetic field but some forecasters seem to think there is a good chance of auroras tonight as two events are impacting the Earth very close together. We can only hope for a clear sky to get a chance to see whether they are right. If it turns out as well as they hope then an aurora should be visible down to mid latitudes.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Darting About

I think I have seen more dragonflies this year than ever before but most of the time they have been on the move. Finally yesterday I managed to see a couple resting and soaking up the Sunshine.

I think these are both Common Darters, the first two of a female and the final two of a male.



The male amused me. The closer I got the camera the more it arched its body and spread its wings as though to make itself look larger in the presence of danger:

Comm0n Darter DSCN3368


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Harrowing Time

The harvest has been gathered in. The field ploughed.


Now it's the time of year to hook up the disc harrow which has been waiting at the side of the field to finally break up the ground ready for sowing the next crop.



Waiting at the far end of the field is the usual gathering of gulls ready to feast on worms, grubs and anything else edible turned up by the harrow.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Twister - Guess What

gold star

I had a feeling that last week's twisted photo might have been hard for some to identify. As it was there was only one fully correct answer so Adrian gets my congratulations and a virtual gold star all to himself for identifying the Union Flag,  often called the Union Jack.  Definitely patriotic Wilma and definitely a flag TWG.

IMG_0700      IMG_0215

If the Scots vote to have an independent nation then I assume Mr. Salmond will pay me to replace my Union Flags as part will have to be removed.

I don't think this week's twisted photo will cause as many headaches.

Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the answer, next Tuesday.
No prizes. Just for fun and a virtual gold star.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lapse It Pro

I tried Hyperlapse to make a time lapse video of clouds and found that is not what the app is designed for. The way it crops slightly and then tries to stabilize the video plays havoc with stationary sections of the scene. Any still object, building, bushes, etc., wobble around in a small circular motion. Yuk! This has been noted by at least one other user in the reviews on iTunes.

I had a look round for an app designed for 'normal' time lapse and discovered that I had downloaded Lapse It Pro some time in the past when it was on free offer. (Present price £1.49) For some reason I had deleted it so I installed it  on the iPod Touch5 to try out.

To hold the iPod securely on a tripod I bought a Smartphone Tripod Adapter from Smoothshot which clamps mobile phones safely and securely and accepts a tripod screw in the base:


Set up the iPod Touch on a tripod:


Set the app to take a photo once every five seconds and settled down while it strutted its stuff for about an hour.  Of course the foreman (foredog) had to make sure I was doing everything correctly:


Once I had stopped Lapse It a movie was presented. That was transferred to the MacBook to add a title and then uploaded to Flickr. The result being:

Fascinating to watch clouds drift across but also be created out of thin air, twisting and tumbling in upper air turbulence.

One thing to remember - start with a fully charged battery. When I tried it a few days ago it came up with a low battery warning after about 55 minutes. Today I started with it fully charged. After about 55 minutes, there was something like 3/4 battery charge left.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

PhotoScissors for Mac

I was browsing through the latest list of apps for iOS or Mac which had gone free or been reduced in price on when I came across PhotoScissors which can be used to cut out objects from photos. Normally I wouldn't have considered it at its usual price of £13.99 but at the time of writing it had been reduced to £1.49 which was more to my liking.

Once downloaded and installed I looked for a subject to try it out on and chose a photo I had taken of an orchid flower which had plenty of clutter around it. Mode of working is simply a matter of marking in red the things which are not wanted and green those which are to be kept. Click on the arrow at the top of the screen to see the result:

Screenshot 2014-09-05 at 10.29.56 pm

It takes a bit of practice to get things just right. Sometimes where subject and background colours match that colour will also be removed from the subject. No problem though, just add more green to those areas on the subject. Likewise colours in the subject can appear in the background so just add a bit of red to the places where that colour is not wanted. The end result can have a transparent background, as show above, and be saved as a .png file.

Screenshot 2014-09-05 at 10.08.41 pm

Or any colour can be chosen for the background and then saved as .png, .jpg, .tiff or .bmp

This has a coloured background with frame added using UltraCollage:


Finally a couple of silly pictures made using the orchid with transparent background while I was learning to use layers to merge photos in Pixelmator:



I did find what appears to be a bug in the save routine of PhotoScissors where it can add a double extension to the filename (name.png.jpg) under certain circumstances. I have reported this to the writers so it will be interesting to see how quickly they respond.

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