Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

how to break a dslr

338/365 by Tim Caynes

I have found that it is really quite easy. It goes something like this.

when you are planning your daily shot for your 365 project, consider taking a shot in your kitchen, because not only does it have lots of shiny surfaces and interesting highlights and shadows cast by the ambient and spotlights all over the place, but also it has a rather nice flagstone tiled floor which is hard as the place that’s even harder than a rock or a hard place. in setting up your shot, consider using your tripod, as that has really long extendable legs which will enable you to lift your camera about 7 feet in the air for maximum height, but do ensure that when you sit your camera, mounted on its hot shoe, into the tripod head, that you don’t quite attach it properly, so that if you were to somehow have the tripod + camera approach the horizontal, then the whole thing might become somewhat unstable, and you never know, it might even fall off, just as you’re holding the tripod, fully extended, above your head. imagine that.

well, you don’t have to imagine that, because I can tell you exactly what transpires. in a sickening mashup of of ‘breaking’ sounds, your not-very-old dslr drops like a stone from about 7 feet in the air, directly on to the aforementioned flagstone tiles and bounces across the floor unceremoniously in a clattering dance of death until it crashes off a cupboard and twirls a little death spiral at your feet. it is, apparently, dead.

still, don’t panic. it might just have suffered a small fracture or something. after the obligatory curse and stamp of feet like a small child, I picked up my a300 and tried to see what might have dropped off it. as far as I could tell, nothing had. also, there was no rattle, and no broken glass, which was particularly good, as I’d only bought the lens currently attached to the camera about a week ago. I mean, there were a few things hanging off, and the battery was now in the living room, but apart from that, everything looked miraculously intact. oh joy, I spake, rather too early

it took a couple of days for me to realise that things were actually quite wrong. as I’d been struggling to get focus with my new 50mm, I had just assumed I was still at fault for cropping myself to the right repeatedly. only after a couple of fixed test shots did I work out that in fact, everything was misaligned. what I saw on live view was actually 6 inches or so to the left different to what was captured. I’ve since discovered that this means the sensor is misaligned or something suchlike, which basically means, a bit broken.


50mm autofocus fail

321/365 by Tim Caynes

It has been a little while since I acquired my new Minolta 50mm lens for my Sony A300 and I’m steadfastly refusing to take any photos where the thing I was expecting to be in focus is in fact in focus. I’m am now quite adept at getting most of my nose quite sharp but since there is a significant surface area to work with there I’m not counting it as a result. The thing I’m really trying to grapple with is while I’m still locked in to my 365 project and consequently taking far too many photos of my own face every day just how do I get my new lens to focus on one of my eyes. Either one, I’m not bothered. Just focus, pin sharp, like I know you can. On that blue bit in the middle where I’m trying to look all angsty. Yes, there. No. That’s my nose again. Grrr.

I am probably making the proverbial rod for my own primordial back being firmly clamped at f1.7 until I get this right, but then, that’s not about focus is it, its just about depth of field. I could have a depth of field like f0.3 or something and still get one of my bloody (for they are, after about 10 hours of trying) eyes in focus notwithstanding the fact that at that aperture I’d probably get eyelash bokeh but that’s not the point. The point is, I haven’t mastered this lens yet. And I’m running out of time. Kind of. This year’s 365 project concludes neatly on December 31st, after which I shall probably treat myself to the flickr equivalent of a 3-week Norwegian cruise, that is to say, I might not post anything for a day or so. Without my 365 project, I’ll not nearly be so inclined to invest the hours it will apparently take to crack this self-portrait focus failure which would be troublesome as I rather like the lens. I guess I have 30 days to sort it out.


23/365 4/52
23/365 by Tim Caynes

as part of the 365/366/52 projects I’m currently doing on flickr I’m understanding the benefits of having a huge mirror in the hall. I mean, I’ve got a tripod and a wireless remote shutter release for my sony alpha so I don’t have to do the 10 second dash anymore which I used to do all the time when I just had my little sony but even with the remote there’s times when you really want to see what you’re doing when you’re doing it and you’re part of it when you’re in it. the A300 has live view which is great for composition, especially for self portraits, but even though it flips up and down all the way it doesn’t actually flip around corners so you can never actually see yourself when you’re composing unless you can see the live view screen in a mirror, or you’re in a mirror and you’re looking at the live view or your eyes go round corners.

which is how this picture came about. I was originally inspired to do a photo that included as much live image capture technology as possible by another flickr user who I sadly can’t find anymore but they had managed 2 cameras and an iphone all showing the subject and I thought it was a rather nice idea and lord knows you’re always looking for inspiration doing self portraits and as I’d recently done a spiffy self portrait in the large hall mirror that turned out pretty well I knew I could make something like it work. I’ve got an ercol sideboard full of cameras that I inherited from my dad last year and various bits of polaroid, cine, super 8 and brownie stuff so there was plenty of hardware but I really needed to have live view video-type monitors going on to have everything showing everything else in a cleverly ironic post-modern self-referential self-deprecating smug blank art student trend-follower meme-victim kind of way. the only things that would enable that were the sony alpha, my little sony, and my nokia n80 which I didn’t need to give the make and model number of I could have just said mobile phone so I took them all down to the hall mirror, got the alpha on the tripod, stood back, stopped for a minute and then decided this was all rather stupid and I should really get back to writing a user interaction specification for a download widget. and get a coffee. and a bourbon. or three.

when I got back to it I knew straight away that I only have 2 hands and so I would need somehow to arrange everything in a way that it appeared in the photo without me having to hold everything or it crashing to death by laminate floor. as it happens I have a gorillapod for my little sony so I used that to strap it to the sony on the tripod. so that was working ok – look! there’s me in the screen on my little camera in the mirror on the screen of my big camera! excellent! etc. next thing to do was also get my phone into the composition but I didn’t have anyway of strapping it to anything without disturbing the already precarious 2-camera tripod gorillapod art installation thing, so I tried a few test shots just holding the phone and using the secondary camera yes my phone has 2 cameras that must be useful for somebody but the results weren’t that great because taking photos of bright lcd screens is always a bit rubbish and the screen on my phone is pretty brash. mobile phone is out. boo. I’ve only got 2 cameras in the photo. I demand more cameras!

did I say polaroid? a polaroid has live view, right? I mean, you press the button and you can instantly view the results after shaking it like a polaroid picture of course. go get that from the ercol. tried the composition you see here and I thought it looked pretty good and I tried a few more tests with desk lamps strewn around the place to get some highlight going on the shiny hardware (I like how the lens turned out) and I was ready to take the final shot. I just needed to decide whether it was worth taking a couple of polaroids as part of the final shot to get the full-on live view action going. of course it was. I mean, it’s an expensive throwaway, but I don’t use the polaroid enough – its a 636 – and so you might as well just take photos for the hell of it, sorry, the art of it.

I did have a few shots where the photo is popping out of the polaroid on the small screen in the mirror on the large screen but there was a bit of blur going on and they weren’t quite right. I also left the photo hanging out of the polaroid for a while so it developed and you could see the polaroid photo in my little sony on the sony alpha, but it didn’t look quite as good as I would have liked. eventually I got the shot you see here. of course, eventually I got about 327 shots and didn’t know this was the one I would actually use until I’d gone through the whole upload and review process and even then there were about 5 I could have used.

so I’m done then. well, apart from post-processing the life out of it, natually. spending the time on the composition and capture is only really half the story. like boristheblade says, taking the photo is part of the creative process but certainly not all of it, its more ‘a stepping stone to some final product that appeals to me’. I’m not going into all the post-processing details, as it’s very similar to what I did here but if you really want to see exactly what I did in photoshop, its in the saved history in the EXIF data on the photo on flickr, which I notice they don’t strip out like they used to. You’d have to be insane, but you could. NOTE: they did strip it out again.