Monday, October 05, 2015

Photography is Kind of Physically Demanding

Two warriors sparring.  The "Chinese" or "Mongolian" wrestling.  "Shuai Jiao"

This is the third or fourth time I felt exhausted after shooting an event.  The first was the Red Hook Crit in Brooklyn, the second time was the Red Bull mini velodrome and the third was the UCI downhill in Windham.  I can understand why some people opt for the smaller sized mirror less cameras.

For most of the shots I took.  It was done with the following:-

Nikon D700, with battery.
Nikon D700 motor drive, with battery.
Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 VR with hood.
CB mini bracket
mini ball head for attaching the flash
Sunpak 120J with 4 AA battery cells and Paramount household sync cable to the D700
Sunpak TR-Pak II and 6 sub-C pack, power cable to the flash, mostly sat on the floor.

I was holding this rig on eye level most of the time from 10AM  to 5PM.  And toward the end of the day, my wrist was hurting my right rib cage was hurting, my neck was hurting.  And my right eye eyesight wasn't getting any better.

Every shooting experience is somewhat unique.  Shooting cycling, especially in the velodrome is somewhat predictable as they almost always come back to you.  Shooting downhill is like "once in a life time experience, hey it is gone it's not coming back."  Tennis and martial arts are somewhat unpredictable.  I guess if you are familiar with the Kung Fu form routine then it helps.  I am not familiar with the routine.  Composition and focusing are always a challenge when subjects move and move fast.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


This has no production value whatsoever.
Light between him and the wall.  Light in front of him slightly to the right and above the camera.
The lens is an oldie, Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 manual focus lens set at f/11 and shutter at 1/100s.

Picture Composition

Despite all the rules out there, my composition is largely or entirely dictated by the AF points of my camera.  If my AF points are mostly in the center then my subject is in the center.

Back in the days when manual focusing is the norm, you have a focusing screen with rangefinder split, micro prism ring and matte screen focusing aid and it's relatively easy to off center focus as the focusing aid is a piece of real estate on the optical viewfinder instead of just a focusing point.

The current Nikon models provide a 51 AF points which is kind of enough but composition can benefit if more points are present.

PS:  I just don't believe in or do focus and recompose.

Winner, Quitter and Loser

The winner wins, the quitter quits and the loser doesn't do anything.  Complaining and whining all day but doesn't do anything.  I think that's the worse.  If a person quits it just shows he knows maybe something is not worth pursuing and cut the loss.  A quitter can be smart and decisive.  Most people tend to make quitter a loser.  But I think there should be a difference.

Friday, October 02, 2015

FM Radio Trigger

I finally broke down and bought a set of radio trigger/receiver.  This set comes with one trigger and two receivers.

Between feeding your family and buying more photographic gears, sometimes you just have to make the rational choice: buying more but cheaper equipment but never stop buying.

This is a pretty generic trigger set and seems to be branded depending on who is selling them.  If it's sold by cowboy it is called cowboy.  This set I got is branded Neewer and has four different channels which I have no reason not to believe despite not checking each and every channel.  There are similar models that have sixteen channels.  Wow.  The quality isn't great but it isn't bad either.  I need to jiggle the battery trap door more than I like to open and close it.  In the first hour that I used them I managed to drop the receivers twice from the desk top four feet above the floor; it could be the same one or it could be once for each.  Nothing was broken.  So that's good news.  Overall they seem pretty well built or well built enough, no sarcasm.  The mis spelling of "Tigger" is just endearing and somehow assures you that it's honestly made by engineers who couldn't care less about spelling English correctly.

I tested them on my Nikon D700 and Sunpak 120J.  They just worked.  Just for the fun of it.  I also put the trigger on my Yashica Mat 124 G (next my Hasselblad 500C/M).  I used the provided PC sync cord plugged into the PC socket of the Yashica.  And it just worked.  The receiver also has the PC socket so if your flash or strobe doesn't have the hotshoe it would work with the sync cord.  And they certainly work on my Sunpak 120J that doesn't come with the hotshoe.  It's the little thing that warms my heart.  It's the little thing that enables and enchants.  No, you don't need line of sight between the trigger and the receivers for them to talk to one and other.

If you look for fancy features, you should look else where.  This set is only $16.05 shipped free from a warehouse in NJ.  And they just work.

Yes, it does work with the Hasselblad 500 C/M camera, with the 80mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss lens PC socket.  People who think you need to have some electrical or electronic camera is mistaken.  The $16.05 can be cheaper than a sync cable actually.  The PC socket totally works.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Electrical Works

I had very little idea how electrical appliances work.   In secondary school I took some wood and metal work class that involved lathe and drill.  I am glad (I still have my 10 fingers)  I did I mean not that I had any choice at all.  Back then it was all decided by the school and you just accepted the arrangement.  No question asked.   Looking back I wish I had known  more electrical stuff.  I hardly know anything about voltage, watt, amp, joules or watt per second that kind of things.   I think it is really a handicap.  As a little kid, one of or actually my only electrical primitive toy was a motor.  Sometimes a propeller or fan was attached and I thought it was fun.   And then there was this motor boat but I don't think I ever got its maiden voyage in any open water or water bigger than the toilet basin or any plastic pail in the bathroom.   Some of my more gifted, intellectually and every each way, friends were playing more serious motor model boats powered by engine.  Or even building PCs in the late 70s.  I think the guy was 14 or 15 if not younger.  I was and still light years behind them.

I am trying to build a battery pack for the Sunpak 120J, so Google is my friend.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Macbook Pro Upgrade

There are issues.  Every morning, when the lid is opened, the MBP fails to operate normally.  In one instance, it gives me the "recovery" screen, in another a folder with a question mark, and yet another an actual login screen--I thought I had it fixed.  But after logging in, I can't open applications, and "ls" is not recognized as a command at the command window.  In all instances I do some sort of restart if I can do the menu if not, the button, the machine is able to boot up with no problem.
I suspect it has something to do with waking up from "hibernation" or some deeper "sleep."   As the MBP always comes back to life between shorter sleep or what I think is shorter sleep:-close and open the lid.  This problem only happens during longer stretch of "sleep"--technically I am not sure if it's actually sleep or hibernation at all.  I reset the Energy saving screen, I can always hit the reset even I don't change anything.  I did the permission verification, command option p r.  But still not solving this wake up issue.  Oh well.

Just reinstalled Yosemite from Apple.  It was like I wiped out the SSD, it was just the OS, the programs and data are intact.  So far so good but you or I don't know what's going to happen overnight.

This "SEEMS" to solve the problem.  Uncheck Put hard disks to sleep when possible.
I read on Apple's doc.  it "seems" to suggest if you don't have a spinning hard drive then it doesn't affect anything or only affect some external attached hard drive.  But in my case it does seem to affect something even I have a SSD and the system reports as such.

NOTE:  Not all Macs are created the same.  Not all of them are upgradable.  Mine is an old mid 2012 15" MacBook Pro unibody with non-retina display.

I upgraded the RAM to 16GB immediately after I bought it used or should I say refurbished directly from Apple.(Apple officially says the max is 8GB but I can install 8GB on each slot for a grand total of 16GB)

My pictures have been eating up the 500GB stock drive so I have decided to upgrade the MBP. (a real reason and an excuse to find some more distractions)

After much reading, I have decided to upgrade (in terms of performance but not capacity which is a downgrade actually) the hard drive to a 240GB SSD, bought another 2.5" 1TB SATA 6Mbs 7200RPM drive and put it to where the Superdrive is.  The Superdrive doesn't get much or any use at all.  Anyway, I got an enclosure for the Superdrive so at least I can use it when I really need it (unlikely but).  I ordered everything from OWC or  The site provides the most comprehensive instructions in text and video, as far as I know.  With that being said I don't think it's a total step by step hold your hand guide, especially when it comes to software, so you do it at your own risk, as always.

Personally I think the physical aspect like opening the case, removing and putting everything back in isn't too bad.  It's not easy as my eyesight is failing.  The tools provided by OWC aren't great but good, better than disposable I guess.  Just make sure you have some print-outs or another computer/screen to follow the instructions while you are actually doing it.

Once I placed my order, OWC emailed me and stated that I can call or email for support.  I took up that offer to question or confirm my understanding of the whole process.  At that point I had watched and read up quite a bit but still I had questions--when should I physically remove the existing or old HD and put the SSD?  I thought I should do it the toward the end.  I want to make sure my Superdrive slot can take the SATA 3 or 6G hard drive, there are some conflicting or confusing information out there.  Is it actually doable to specify the SSD just for the OS and programs installation?  Because I am cheap I bought only the 240GB SSD which is only half of what the existing hard drive.  So many questions!

OWC answered some but not all.  And I am still a bit confused as I have never done this before.  To my surprise OWC actually suggests to put the SSD right in and install the OS X from then on from scratch.  I was like for real?  You know how sometimes support answers questions.  It's like never complete.

I went ahead anyway even though I am not 100% sure what I am doing.

I do have a latest copy of Time Machine backup.
Power down the MBP
Out the HD and in the SSD.
Out the Superdrive, in the data doubler with the 7200rpm hard drive.
Put back everything

Once I attach the AC power cable the computer actually come back to life even the lid is closed so that's a surprise.
It shows a folder with a question mark as if I have the answer.  My response ...
Power down and up again and per instruction, do a command R (I was expecting it to go to the 4 options Disk Utilities of whatever is called screen).  But instead it goes to ...
It goes to Internet recovery, which I read about before but didn't expect that (that's why I don't fully understand when the OWC support suggests me to install the new drive first, when the heck it gets the utilities to install or recover as the old drive is detached)
It gives me a list of wifi network, I picked mine and entered the password
It then count down with a globe spinning for a good 15 min I think.
It gave me the screen I expected with Disk Utility as the 4th choice.
I went ahead and formatted the SSD and my 1 TB hard drive.  Things began to look good meaning doing things I expected.

I backed out Disk Utilities and chose Reinstall OS X
But crap it gave me Lion as the OS X to continue,  I want Yosemite!  (I think it gave me Lion as this was the OS that shipped with the machine.  Yosemite was a free upgrade)  I don't want to do Lion and then Yosemite again,
So I USB re-attached my time machine hard drive thinking OK maybe it can re-install Yosemite from my Time Machine
But that's not how it works I guess.
I restarted again

I chose to re-install OS X, and holy cow now it gave me Yosemite but before giving it to me it asked for Apple ID and password, reasonable enough.  I think that's the way it goes if I am not connected to the old drive or using Time Machine.  It looks like I am re-installing the OS from Apple's server directly.  I thought it would take forever given I am connected to Wifi ... but it was faster than I thought.

It took some 30 minutes to install (not counting migration) and toward the end it actually prompted me to migrate the data,  So reinstalling the OS and migration can be one process actually or two but it doesn't really matter.  I chose Time Machine but immediately I knew it was not going to work as it didn't give me the choice to pick what to reinstall and actually said I didn't have enough space to put it to my SSD after some calculating.

So I plugged in my old Macintosh drive I just removed using the enclosure and do the migration again--no need to reboot and back out, the old Macintosh would show up as a choice when plugged in , just like the Time Machine drive.  I had the good sense to buy the USB 3 enclosure and put it together while re-installing Yosemite.

The MBP saw the drive and I picked it.  It prompted for a password, that made sense as I don't want anybody to just use the hard drive.  And with this drive it allowed me to pick what to migrate, like users, applications, network settings and pictures.  It took its time to calculate the size of each available option to migrate.  And Pictures I un-select as it took up most of the HDD space.  And that's it.  It took maybe another hour or less to migrate.  I suspect if I don't do the migration, it would be so much faster just for the installation of Yosemite.

As I am typing this, the MBP just rebooted--or restarted, it seems like people no longer say reboot?  The menu says restart.

Despite the migration, I still have to enter a bunch of IDs and passwords like those for Facetime, Apple.  And the wallpaper is gone and defaulted to the stock Yosemite wall paper--which I think makes sense as the wallpaper JPEG file is with the old hard drive and now gone.