Thursday, January 31, 2019

Focus Stacking Explained

Sorry about leaving y'all mightily confused about focus stacking, so this is me trying to explain in very simple terms and with pictures. Because we loves us some pictures.

When you are working up close with a macro lens, the area that can be in focus is very small. Look at the red box in the following photo. That's what's in focus, more or less anyway..

Now look at how out of focus the other leaves are, bearing in mind that this is a very small plant to begin with. Even the back of the leaf that is in focus is already blurring, nevermind the farther leaves (which I repeat are not really very far away at all — maybe two inches).

In the next photo, a section of the upper right leaf is in focus, once again more or less, and the bottom leaf is pretty blurry by now.

Finally, I have a section of the left leaf in focus.

That's the photography part, except that I used more than three focal points when I made the image that I showed yesterday and which is also below, but three are enough to give you the general idea about how shallow the depth of field is in macro photos.

When the photography part is over, the various images go into one Photoshop document as separate layers. The program them finds and reveals the most focused parts of each image to blend them into one image, which if you get it right, is all in focus. If one really wanted to, one could do this blending manually by painting in the part that they wanted to reveal from each photo. But I could not really be bothered when the machine can probably do it better and certainly faster.

I didn't quite manage to get it all tack sharp, but overall it was acceptable. While in Photoshop, I also replaced the white background with colours from the flower.

Update especially for Tabor: Once you have images layered in Photoshop, select them all and go to Edit>Auto-Align Layers checking Auto box. Next step is to Edit>Auto-Blend Layers as per the following image..

Photoshop will apply appropriate masks, which you can then merge into one image.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Violets and Polka Dots

I bought two very inexpensive plants from Giant Tiger, mostly for photographic purposes since they are very small for display purposes. However, they look well enough as an adornment on a side table.

The first is an Africa Violet. Because macro photos have a shallow depth of field, I focused on three different spots and stacked them together in Photoshop. Even three stacked images couldn't get it all in focus, but I like it in general. The colour is really lovely in my opinion.

According to the tag, the other plant is a Polka Dot although it must also have a fancy Latin name. I stacked eight photos this time but still didn't get it all in focus. Once again, however, I am fairly happy with the result.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Music is a Generational Thing

Back in the day, we had a speaker at one of our professional development days. His entertaining and insightful presentation was You Are What You Were When. Without going into detail, the basic idea is that we are greatly influenced by the times (eg decade) of our development. A person who grew up the 30s would have been influenced differently than a 50s teenager and so on.

We recognize this intuitively now with baby boomers, millennials and Gen Xers and what have you (because I lose track). But the point is that there seem to be general characteristics that are unique to each cohort.

I think music really emphasizes generational differences and I thought of this as I was humming and going over lyrics in my head of He's the Lily of the Valley this morning. I have hardly darkened a church doorway for about half my life now and think the existence of a god-creator highly improbable, yet I often find myself replaying old hymns and gospels songs in my head. And I rather enjoy them.

In passing I present Willie Nelson's version of the song. Of course, I remember singing it with gusto in my little church back around 1960, and the lyrics stick hard to me these 60 years later.

And of course, I more or less lost touch with pop music after the early Beatles. Beyond that what I hear today, when I watch The Voice, for example, much of the music seems like awful stuff. What's with falsetto singing? Can you imagine Elvis using the head voice? And what happened to melody? For the most part, these songs are unsingable to me. As for lyrics, they cram so many words into their songs to the point where many of us can't make them out. And you pretty well have to have dancers cavorting in the background to create distract from the songs themselves.

But to the younger set, like my grands, and also my 46 year old daughter (who has always kept up), this is good stuff.

To wit: last night we were playing some true oldies such as The Everly Brothers, and they just about drove the kids up the wall.

To prove my point, Sue just came in as I was finding the link and said, this is real music.

When the kids are 70, will their current music evoke the same feelings as ours? It's hard for me to imagine, but probably.

To complete my ruminations here is a short clip of the You Are What You Were When guy, I heard him back in the late 70s or early 80s, but apparently, he's still going strong.

If you will excuse me now, I will continue to play my personal oldies over Echo for awhile longer and feel that sweet nostalgia. It's Stand By Me right now. Now, that's a song.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Three Percent

Folks are nagging on one of our local FB groups. They are complaining that, right now, gas prices are higher here than in the city. Mind you, they don't complain when our local prices are lower, which is often the case. Quite often.

They want to vent that it's the fault of our local dealers, but those in the know explain that prices are set by headquarters. Local gas stations get told what they will charge. But most readers ignore the information and rant anyway.

This brings to mind one of my experiences which resulted in rather perspicacious (I think) insight.

My tank was getting low, but I drove into the city anyway. When I filled up there, I was disappointed that gas was 4¢ a litre more than it had been back home.

I filled up — 40 litres — and did the math. That tank cost me a buck-sixty more than it would have back in town. At that time, gas prices were high, so my total cost for the fill-up was about $50.

So, let's see ... I would have saved about 3% if I had purchased gas back home. Three percent! Three measly percent!

When was the last time that you went out of your way for a 3% sale?  Would you hightail it to the grocery store for a 3% sale on anything? Say there's a 3% sale on steak, so you save 15¢ on a $5 steak. And if you missed that sale would you be overly vexed?

Think about it.

Since then, I usually don't even notice the price of gas. I just pull in and fill up, and whether I save or spend an extra buck is not important to me.

Now, the price of gas in general can be an irritant, but that's a different kettle of fish.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Canadian Sunday Morning

Just a poorly shot 7 second video of what it's like from my widow this Sunday morning. It's been very wintry for the past few weeks, and there's more on the way. I wonder if the kids will have another snow day.

Winter Carnival

Our winter carnival isn't too grand of an affair. They have a craft/vendor display upstairs in the arena and some activities for the kids outside — little kids, nothing really for Danica whom we had for sleepover the previous night.

The bbq was going and both smelling and looking good.

This cowboy sort of guy was hanging about the bbq but wasn't the main cook. I found him interesting and took a few quick snaps.

I took some pics of the kids activities, but this is the only one I will present here — the ubiquitous pony rides.

Parking at the arena isn't all that plentiful at the best of times on a Saturday, nevermind with an extra event laid on, so they suggested parking at the marketplace and taking a wagon ride to the arena. We didn't do that, but many did.

In the meantime, JJ was playing hockey inside, so I snuck inside long enough for a few photos. He's not in this photo, but it's the best that I got in that short time.

 (Spellcheck doesn't like snuck but I do, and I also like nevermind as one word. So there.)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Poor Slow AC

Sue and I usually watch tv series and not movies on our various streaming sources, but we found ourselves both watching and enjoying To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters on Britbox this week.

I really enjoyed this biographical film of the sisters, their home life and struggles, and how they turned to writing and managed to get published in a male-centric medium. I found an old paining of the sisters online, and the movie characters suited very well indeed.

Maybe I should go and look for the image. Hang on ...

Here it is.

 From left to right: Ann, Emily, Charlotte.

Now look at the cast.

Image result for bronte sisters

But I got on a tangent at the outset, for that really isn't what this post was supposed to be about.

What I wanted to post is how late in life I have come to learn some things.

You see ... there was a scene in the movie in which their deceased brother, Bramwell, had a scarf wrapped around his head. This reminded me of Marley's ghost in Scrooge (A Christmas Carol). This isn't the version that we watch, but it will do.

When he removes the wrap, his mouth falls open.

Sue, explained to me that this is what actually happens to corpses for a few hours after death — their mouths fall open. So even now, measures are taken to prevent the jaw from getting locked in like this. Marley's ghost now makes more sense to me.

Seventy-one years old, and I didn't know this.

Which reminded me of  poem/story Twas The Night Before Christmas:
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
I guess I had always thought of the finger by the nose as part of Saint Nick's magic act (which reminds me of Samantha twitching her nose in Bewitched), but after watching much British tv, I eventually realized that the gesture is sometimes used in Britain to symbolize a secret. Santa and the boy shared a secret, which should be kept between them.

It also took me most of my life to figure that out: poor, slow soul that I am.

Who knows what further revelations await this old codger?

Friday, January 25, 2019


With all of that wind earlier this week, there was much concomitant drifting. Look at that drift on the garage roof across the street.

It made for some interesting shapes on our roof, however, as I peered out my den window.

Snow usually drifts in by our front door. Sue grabbed a photo of me shovelling the short walk to the front door. We shovel the walk and a patch in front of the garage but leave the rest for the plow.

A bonus that has nothing to do with drifting but taken on their snow day with us: Danica taking a selfie on the snow day at our house. She takes a lot of selfies. I found this one was on grandma's phone.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

An Unscheduled Follow-Up

This is why we are in our fourth consecutive snow day. (seen on our local FB feed)

Anybody wondering why busses are cancelled today should take a good look at this picture. I showed up and the road was sanded but the rain was washing the sand right off the road. The car had slipped in the ditch first, then the plow driver tried to help him and he slipped in beside him. I backed down the road and was planning on pulling the car out of the ditch first then help the plow driver. Just as I was stopping to set up my pull my front end slipped off into the ditch on the opposite side. Keeping my cool I pulled the car out of the ditch, then helped the plow driver out who then helped me out. All in a days work and nobody or any equipment was harmed. Keep smiling everyone.

Snow Day

Somewhat surprisingly, the kids are due to be back in school today. I say "surprisingly" because it snowed last night and because there is (or was) a danger of freezing rain later in the day. But perhaps the snow didn't amount to much (it's still dark out, so I can't tell very well), and perhaps the freezing rain part of the forecast has been rescinded.

The kids did, however, have two consecutive snow days. We call bus cancellation days snow days no matter what the cause. These were due mostly to cold. I really don't think I have ever witnessed snow days due to cold, but it was brutal, and there was also drifting due to wind. If buses had run into problems, then keeping the kids warm would have been quite problematic.

These were the third and fourth snow days of this school year after ten last year but the first day they they have been with us.

Immediately, Jonathan set about setting up the monopoly game that he got for Christmas. It is the Fortnite edition and very different that the game that we are used to. For one thing, it can be played within a half hour or maybe less. For another thing, I won both games. (You may recall that I have whinged over my terrible luck at monopoly over the past year, but yesterday was different: very different.)

Danica, meanwhile, tackled some homework. She was to find the mean of a set of numbers and required a bit of a review of long division from her grandfather, but she got it quickly — as always. They had to do the first few questions the old fashioned, manual way (you can see here work below) but were allowed to finish up using the calculator .

Then, we all played Fortnite Monopoly. But first, grandma read the instructions. This is a very different form of Monopoly. Of course, the kids caught onto to it very quickly. Basically JJ guided us through the actual playing.

As I said, I won. This momentous event was worthy of a picture as I held up my winning piece.

There was lunch, a trip to the coffee shop, and the trip to the library. At the cafe, Danica set off with the friend that we picked up for the afternoon. JJ was stuck with the grandparents.

I wrote this yesterday morning, and by the time I finished the post and checked again, the buses were cancelled. Somewhat surprisingly, they are cancelled again today, Thursday, making it four consecutive days, which has to be some sort of record for the past 8 years anyway, which is when Danica started school.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Tulips 3 Variation

I did post this photo yesterday, and while I was fairly happy with it, I also thought that I would try a different rendition. This is that original version — again.

However much I like the above version, I do see that some may find the background too flat. I did try to mix a little variation in the yellow but perhaps not enough. I'm not sure.

Then, I thought to make another variation. I have to some degree fabricated something resembling a double exposure with a duplicate image of the tulip both enlarged and faded a lot. The background colour, therefore, is more like the flower itself.

I am not sure about which one I like best, and I have changed my mind a few times. Right now, I lean to the first with the yellow background, but if you ask me again tomorrow ...

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

At Long Last

You remember my moaning and groaning, don't you? About my ring flash and the lack of an adapter appropriate to my lens?

I first posted about it as well as many other things that caused me to whinge, way back on November 26. The nitty gritty is that I was given the flash for my birthday, early in September, but that I hadn't tried to use it until the onset of winter. When I tried in late November, I discovered that none of the four adapters that I was sent, fit my lens. You may also recall that the Yongnuo site was a dud, at least the Canadian version.

But I found that I could order one all of the way from China on ebay, so that's what I did. A month later, as I posted, it came in the post, but it was also the wrong size.

However, as I also posted at that time, I would try to order one more time. I think I ordered from a different supplier, but I am not sure.

A package came last week. By its size, I knew what it had to be.

I opened it in fear and trepidation. but behold! it was exactly what I needed.

Hopefully, this sequence will show you what I mean and how it works. And it does work.

Some of the recently posted tulip photos were taken with the flash, but I was holding it manually, which was rather cumbersome. This is the first photo with the flash properly mounted on the camera. (Not that it is not improper to also remove and hold the flash if it will help the lighting effect.)

It took me awhile to get the power right on the flash as the subject was backlit. I wanted it backlit for effect, but that left the flower in some shadow, and it took a few experiences to fill with enough light.
As it happens, the adapter came very cheaply in the end. It wasn't expensive to begin, only $6.89, but the company only debited me 68¢ with Paypal also dinging me $1.50 for their service. I think I deserved that little break though.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Drawing Blanks

Drawing Blanks seems to me to be an appropriate post to follow-up The Phone and the Addled Mind of yesterday.

Most frustrating, and I might add, worrying, to me, is my propensity to not be able to find a noun that I know perfectly well. I simply draw a blank in the moment.

I had invited Bob to exercise class, but after he had talked to the instructor, he asked me for her name. Blankness ensued.

I had known the instructor, Ruth, for almost two years and never had a problem with her name before, but in that moment, I drew a blank. Usually, I recover the missing noun in a relatively short period of time, but it wasn't happening at the time.

A few days later, I was making a comment on someone's blog post about my sister-in-law's book, Clay Girl.

I'll be danged if I could come up with the name of the protagonist. In frustration, I googled my own blog posts and realized that, of course, it's Ari!

What I will take for comfort, is that I remember the two incidents precisely, even though the first took place a week past.

That's positive. Right?

The other positive thing is that if someone were to mention either name, I would immediately have a mental picture and more. I could describe Ruth, and I could tell you about the character, Ari, in the book.

That's also positive. Right?

I first blogged about losing nouns (linkalmost three years ago. In that post, I wrote about coming up with a word that others were stumbling over. Then, I segwayed into a couple of paragraphs mentioning the problem of which I write today.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Century Storm

Well, we've had our first major storm of the season. We've had bigger storms for sure but not colder ones. This may have been a century snow storm — the coldest snow storm in 100 years. Usually, we expect somewhat milder temperatures when it snows. This is relative, you understand. I'm not saying it's exactly balmy, but the coldest days of winter are generally snowless.

This was the view out back this morning. You can see some tracks where the road is. Traffic kept going though.

Out the front upstairs window. Look at the drifting on some of the garage roofs. We may have received more than 20cm of snow, but the drifts could reach 50cm.

I went out to shovel a bit. We have a contractor, but they don't do the walk, and they can't get right up to the garage doors.

Looking up the street.

The tractor finally showed up around mid-afternoon. It was Sunday, so that was okay, but it would have been problematic for many on a workday.

As a bonus I present a short video of the dog across the street quite enjoying the snow clearing. I spotted him while I was doing my exercises and eventually paused them to take this short clip. You can maximize to full scree if you wish.

The Phone and the Addled Brain

I received a call-back from my doctor's office but promptly and mistakenly cut the call off when I was trying to answer it.

You see, I work some things on the iPhone quite well, but I seldom use the phone part of the phone, and even more seldom get a call. I text, listen to podcasts, listen to books, play music, take pictures, and so on and so forth, but seldom really use the actual phone. Odd, I know.

It got worse. I called the office back to apologize, got the answering machine, left my message, but had a heck of a time ending the call. I kept trying to turn the phone off, but then I would get another message about leaving the message.

Then, in case they called back, I left the phone with Sue while I headed into the shower. They did, but Sue said that my phone didn't ring. She only knew that they were phoning because she heard my iPad ringing in the other room. I realized that I had also, initially, only heard the iPad.

I had Sue call me to confirm the lack of ringing. Sure enough.

Now to fix it, but I couldn't find it in Settings, so I said "Hey Siri!", but Siri was not hearing me.

Eventually, I found the Siri settings, but she still wasn't answering me. It was Sue who reminded me that one had to press the Home button to activate Siri. A direct "Hey Siri!" only works if the phone is plugged in at the time.

Of course. I then remembered that I once knew this.

I've had the phone for more than a year now, but I don't really use Siri. If I want to set an alarm or search for something, I type it in.

So, I'm hoping that serves as an excuse for my lack of memory.

But there was still one more issue to resolve: how to make the phone ring. I must have had it on Mute, but as I studied the menus, I couldn't solve the problem of turning the ringer back on.

Back to Google went I, and was reminded that there is a recessed mute switch on the upper left side.

Ah yes! This was familiar too but something that I hadn't used for ages, so I required a reminder.

I swear that I am not all that senile, and I do remember knowing about these things once my memory is jogged. Really, your Honour! I mean to say that if one doesn't use things for months at a time, surely it's understandable. Surely. Right?

At least I remembered about the Mute switch once I was reminded. However, it seemed to be brand new information to Sue.

We'll be good company, Sue and I, as we slip further into our respective dotages. As long as each can remember whom the other person sharing the domicile really is.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tulips 2

I ended the previous tulip post stating that I would like to try to capture more reflective water droplets. But I needed to get closer.

So, I used my older crop sensor camera which would get me 50% closer, but, as you shall see, that wasn't close enough.

I also ran into another problem. I couldn't see any reflections, either with my naked eye (why do we put it that way?) or on the camera's screen. At least not until I had all but given up.

This is one of the first shots. I could only see a reflection when I uploaded onto the computer: to the left of the centre stripe. You can see how tiny it is. I like the composition and colour in general, however.

I found a few more in this next photo although, once again, I could only see them onscreen.

By this point, I gave up on reflections and just took a shot that pleased me somewhat.

But then I moved the plant, and for whatever reason, I could actually then see some reflections. It was the first photo for which I could actually see them (with that naked eye again).

So, I made some progress, but have to confess they are all cropped, the last one quite heavily. This is about as close I I can get without trotting out my old and hardly used extension tubes, which I may try.

Friday, January 18, 2019


I brought some tulips home from the grocery store. It's certainly nice to see some spring colour.

My intention was not just to enjoy having them about but to take some macros. Before starting with the macros, I shot this one, handheld, first. Of course, it's the one I like best.

As I have said in the past, I find true macros very difficult and consider my attempts a work in progress, emphasizing work rather than progress.

But here are a few. I hope to try again and perhaps take a little more care, but I wanted to get a start, even if it's not the best of starts.

This first one was handheld, just getting the feel of things.

On the tripod and getting closer

I sprayed a bit of water and see some potential in the droplets at the top.
I can probably get somewhat closer, but I'm not sure how much.

Trial and error, with too much error. What I want to try is to get more reflections from the droplets like I did in the last photo. We shall see.