Sunday, February 26, 2012

Magic Lantern, Enfuse & my 60D

I love my Canon 60D DSLR camera! But I've just found a new reason to love it even more- it's a firmware enhancement called Magic Lantern.

As it says on it's web site- "Magic Lantern is an enhancement atop of Canon's firmware that frees your Canon DSLR, allowing you to use many useful features. Initially developed for filmmakers, it now has functionality for both photo and video enthusiasts..." What this means is that it gives you a whole series of extra capabilities that allow you to do some absolutely amazing things with the camera.

I am still exploring it's many features, but one that I'm very excited about is how easy it makes it to do exposure-bracketed HDR-type pictures. This is a technique where you take multiple pictures of the same scene, at different exposure levels and then blend them together to create a picture that has a much higher dynamic range than it's possible to capture in one shot.

This is best explained with an example- here is a picture of the tree in the church parking lot, taken with my 60D with careful choice of white balance, exposure etc.

It's an OK picture, but with the dark of the tarmac in the foreground and the trees silhouetted against the sky it's almost impossible to get the exposure right- if you want to be able to see any of the details in the tree, then the sky is completely washed out, and if you expose for the sky the tree just becomes a black silhouette.

You could use a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky, but in this case the tree would also be be darkened too. So, what's the answer?

Well, what you do is take multiple pictures at different exposures bracketing the standard exposure like this-

Then you blend them together (along with the original ) and get this!-

It's an amazing technique that I'm really looking forward to exploring further- this is just my first attempt and I'm really excited about it!

The pictures were blended by some very clever software that aligns the images perfectly (although I used a tripod to take them) called Hugin, and then another called Enfuse that blends the pictures together using some very clever algorithms to take the best of each exposure. In Linux there is a wonderful GUI program that puts them all together, but there are Windows versions available as well.

You can do it without the extra firmware- but it makes it sooo much easier. And this is just one of the enhancements Magic Lantern adds, I'm sure there will be lots more posts as I delve deeper into what it can do :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday in the Woods

It's absolutely gorgeous out and Holly and I are taking a break in the woods before I have to get back for the 5pm kid's service :)

The times they are a-changin' :)

Another comic that made me smile this morning, this one is from another of my favorite web comics- The Joy of Tech.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pancake Supper...

... in full swing :)

Shrove Tuesday

All ready for the Pancake Supper :)

Ready for Lent

Blank canvas prayer boards ready to be covered with 40 days worth of prayers :)

Prayer boards

4 more completed, now for a quick spot of lunch while the glue sets, then we can hang them up.

Prayer Boards

First one done, the rest should now be pretty easy (once we get done with the staff meetings we now have to go to).

Dashing away with the smoothing iron

Dorothee and I are making prayer boards for the back of the church for Lent. Before we stick the canvas to the boards it needs to be ironed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

He gets it from me you know ;)

I just thought I'd share this picture of Crisp I took at the basketball tourney this afternoon- he's shaping up into a handsome lad, though I say it myself :)

Go Tornadoes!

At Fanwood with Jackie &  CJ to cheer on the Fanwood girls basketball team in a tournament :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

My dog is back!

After a bit of encouraging tennis ball chasing on the beach yesterday, I'm very happy to report that Holly seems back to normal in the woods today.

I spoke to the vet earlier today, and we agreed that the take away from this is that next year we don't do all her shots at once, we space them out over a few weeks.

But for now all I care about is that my crazy, tennis ball obsessed walking buddy is back to her rambunctious self :)

Downton Abbey

Here's another webcomic that made me giggle this morning, it's from Penny Arcade-

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Rye Beach

It got too late to head to the woods, so we just came for a quick romp at the beach. Holly insisted I get the tennis ball out, and seems to have regained her interest in it I'm very pleased to say :)

Ahhh, the fun of an old building...

... Well, not so old, this is the youngest part of the campus, but the shoddiest built!

Leaking radiator and the plumbers just arrived- I knew I should have taken Holly out at lunchtime :(

CJ with short hair :)

Crisp had a haircut yesterday (at his request)  and wanted it short enough to spike. One result of that was that they cut the last of the highlights out so his hair is now very dark!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Just back from the vet.

Apparently Holly's malaise is not common. As I said to the vet, she's eating fine, no issues with pooping, she's not lame, she's not out of breath, it's just as if someone has turned her down a few clicks.

So they've taken another blood test to see if the Lyme vaccination has triggered a tick-borne infection she had a few years ago. They've also given her a pain-killer/anti-inflammatory, and I'm supposed to rest her as much as possible for the next few days- but we agreed that for Holly that means a mile walk instead of 3 or 4, and no tennis ball chasing!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Much better :)

I am happy to report that Holly seems much better this morning :)

We have done our usual walk around the property to open the place up and she has barked at the bell and checked around the garbage cans for squirrels as normal.

She still has a slight limp in that back leg, so I'll give her one more dose of painkiller and then we'll take it easy on our walk this afternoon.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sad pooch :(

Holly gave us a bit of a scare this afternoon.

I took her to the vet for her shots this morning (rabies, Lyme and kennel cough) and then we went for our usual walk in the woods. We got home about lunchtime and she seemed fine, but by late afternoon I noticed that she hadn't really moved from the same spot. I took her out for a pee and she was favouring one of her back legs, the one she had had two of the shots in. I called the vet and they said it isn't uncommon for there to be some irritation from the shots and to keep an eye on her and call them in the morning if she wasn't better.

Later she hadn't improved, in fact she was looking very sad and shivering, and totally ignoring all the people arriving for the Pinewood Derby upstairs, so we had to call the emergency vet line (the vet had closed by now), and he said she was obviously having a more serious reaction to the shots and he had us give her a stiff dose of Benedryl (the human kind we got from CVS) and a dose of canine painkiller I still had in the cupboard from a strain she had last year.

She is still looking a little sorry for herself, but is much improved from earlier- in fact she barked at the Cub Scouts as they left which we feel is a good sign :) Hopefully a good night's sleep will do her good and we'll hope she's even more improved by the morning.