Speed Light and the Stuffed Goldfish

I was setting up for an action packed day of doing Evil-Bay product photos for a friend when I got this great idea to do a image of different poses of a stuffed toy goldfish that my niece from Victoria, BC just loved. She just feel in love with the little toy during her visit here last month. I wanted to take a series of photo of it so she could use it as a desktop background image for her computer. The idea was simple: have a series of goldfishes, in different poses, covering the image in a uniformed pattern. But there were a couple of work-flow issues I had to work out first before I could start.

Golden Falling Fish Desktop July 21 2014 Weblog Image

The first issue I had for my idea of having “suspended goldfish” was how to get the goldfishes to look like they are floating in mid air without the use of obvious strings, or laying on a flat surface, something that would make post editing more difficult. I want to have the least amount of post editing as possible. I had a couple of ideas, but my best ideal solution was to somehow have the goldfish photographed while it was tossed or dropped though the air. From my experience, I would need to use a flash to catch the goldfish while it is being dropped, freezing the image while the goldfish was in mid flight.

First I tried using my regular studio strobe-light. Setting my camera to its sync speed of 1/250, and using a electronic radio-trigger to fire the flash gun, I figured that the flash would be fast enough to capture a crisp clear image of the goldfish as it fell to the ground. I only needed to do one test shot when it became obvious that the studio flash gun was too slow.

Using a Sutdio Strobe on the Goldfish Junly 21 2014

Second, my next option was to use a Speed-light, or portable flash gun that uses batteries as its power source. A speed-light fires a flash at a much faster pulse than any standard studio strobe-light does. Because both my camera (SLT Alpha 77) and speed-light (HVL-F58AM) are Sony, I could use TTL and the camera will set the flash automatically to whatever the camera was shooting at. This means that I could set the shutter speed to a much slower speed, like 1/170, and it will only expose the image sensor after my camera’s flash triggers the speed-light to go off. In other words, the speed-light is “slaved” to my camera’s flash, and when I press the shutter button, the camera flash goes off, and that triggers the speed-light and the camera takes the image. And becuase the flash fires at a much faster pulse, I can freeze an object at about 1/8000 of a second.

Photographing the Goldfish With the Speed-Light July 21 2014

A perfect moment frozen in time of the goldfish falling through the air using a speed-light with a 50cm soft-box.

Once I got a series of shots of the goldfish in various poses falling through the air, I did my general post editing in DarkTable. Darktable is a free open-source photo editor that handles RAW files from almost every major camera manufacture. In Darktable, I mainly just set the white balance and toned up the image to make the background more evenly white to help me in the next phase of post editing.

Next, I opened GIMP to start the final editing process. Here is where I paint out each image with the colour brush, while leaving just the goldfish on a pure white background. I then layered each image, and stacked them onto one larger background image. The final size of the whole image was 6000 x 4000 pixels. once I was happy with the arrangement of goldfishes, I saved the master image and scaled it down to a reasonable size to be used as a desktop background image.

Shooting the Red Hot Flower

Over the last four weeks, my one and only stand of Crocrosmia Lucifer flowers, have been in bloom, and now are slowly showing signs of their eventual wilting as their petals fall to the ground.  So I have been spending time shooting them, getting many different shots of them through their development as I can, and through different times of the day trying to get good sunlight and different compositions. Some of these shots I feel are really great, so I am going to post some of the “best of” here from over the last ten days.

Crocrosmia Lucifer July 21 2014 - Weblog Image 01

I just shot the above image today while the Sun was peaking through the trees.

Crocrosmia Lucifer July 17 2014 - Weblog Image 01

I was trying to get lots of colour dynamics in these next two images. Red on blue, with the dark green background looks awesome. Lots of “pop” in these images.

Crocrosmia Lucifer July 17 2014 - Weblog Image 02

Surprisingly these flowers are doing really well with the hot dry weather we have been getting. I figure in about another week these flowers will be completely gone until next year. I would like to plant blue versions of these for next year right beside them.

A Day in New Westminster BC

A friend of mine invited me out to his place for a visit, and on the side, to help him with his home security system, as he was having some issues with his digital video recorder. As payment for helping him, we went out to the near by fish and chips joint for dinner. Cockney Kings Fish and Chips severed us a great fast dinner, reasonably priced, and with really good service too. We met a few interesting people there too.

Fish and Chips in New Westminster BC July 19 2014 01 weblog image

It took me about an hour to fix the issues with his DVR and camera set up. The problem was that my friend wanted wireless cameras, and the two camera that he purchased were for the same RF channel, so he was stuck with only one camera. The other issues with the DVR was the hard-drive. He ended up having to buy another hard-drive that is specificity dedicated for CCTV work, unlike the normal hard-drive that you would us in your personal computer. A normal desktop hard-drive will only last about a year (or less) being used as a CCTV DVR becuase they are not designed to run continuously.

About the fish and chip dinner. It has been a long time since I had fish and chips, mainly becuase I am not a fan of deep fried food. However, my friend insisted that I at least try some of their food. I was not disappointed. I had the one piece cod burger with fries and salad, while he had the one piece cod with fries. It was funny becuase my friend loves tarter sauce, so watching him load the sauce all over his food seemed like he should of ordered a bowl of tarted sauce, and then added some fish and chips to it.

Fish and Chips in New Westminster BC July 19 2014 02 weblog image

It was great to visit. New Westminster seems like a nice city, with a little of the old mixed in with the modern look and feel of a small city, topped with lots of high rise condos and a vibrant business centre. You are very close to Vancouver from here, and you are North of the Fraser, so if you work in Vancouver, than this could be the perfect bedroom city. Not sure on the prices, but I am sure it is compatible with the market prices in Southern British Columbia.

Would I move here? Too crowded for my liking, but I am not a city kind of guy either.

Final Day of Orientation

Not quite 100 percent finished, but close enough to finally be issued hours of work. I am on my way to earning an income, and supporting the Canadian Government. I nearly completed the required tasks of the orientation yesterday, as I went in for a four hour stint to do that. However, with so much effort and stress trying to complete everything for this employer, I find myself still waiting.

Yesterday, I spent four hours. The room where they let us do the self-sever virtual sessions was so cold from the A/C cranked that I was shivering becuase I never thought of bringing a jacket or a sweater when it was 30C outside; I just never thought about it. So it was uncomfortable. I figured out what was going on with the curriculum calendar as each time I completed one module, the whole calendar would change to something completely different. I started saving the URL (as this was done in Internet Explore, (IE) and one of the greatest vulnerabilities of IE is that you can save and transfer cashed memory over to another browser outside of the network) and running them on say, FireFox on my laptop. Now I could see my work flow, and I quickly jumped into the sessions that I needed to complete. This saved me a lot time. This is just a case of poor layout and bad management system configuration on their server–a mishmash of files and programs slapped together without any constancies.

So I may end up returning to the classroom during my first of actual work before the company will allow me on the floor. This seems common now as I talk to people there and get to know them netter. I printed off a cheat-sheet that lists the entire on-line database of courses so that I can check mark off what I have completed, what needs to be done annually, and of course cross training into other departments.

The downside is that my work schedule states that my first week of operations will be between August 4th, to the 7th: 32 hrs. Two more weeks of zero net income, and my pile of bills growing further. At first I thought this was a mistake, but then remembered that the company works on a four week scheduling roster, so any new scheduling is always added during the following rotation. So, two more weeks. Sigh.

A Lazy Summer Day – The Back Yard: Video

I finally got my short little video edited and uploaded up to my channel on YouTube. It is just clips of flower shots from around my back yard that I shot from July 10, 2014. It has been well over 10 months since I uploaded something to my YouTube channel, so I figured with the little time I have now before I dive into work, I might as well try and upload something now. Here it is:

It is short, with very dirty editing, but I am happy with it. I used 720p format becuase going 1080p was taking so long to upload. All of this was shot using my Sony A77.

Pretty Crocrosmia, Lucifer Flowers

With the heatwave raging on in British Columbia, I took the opportunity to shoot both stills and video of parts of the garden around my place. Of all thin images that I took, I really like this one of the Crocrosmia, Lucifer flowers that are growing right by my patio deck. These flowers just seem to love all of this super hot dry weather we have been getting becuase they all of a sudden bloomed over night when we first reached 30+C last week. Also, there are twice as many blooms this year as there were last year–it was a very soggy season last year for us.

Pretty Crocrosmia - Lucifer Flowers -  July 14 2014 - Weblog Image

One thing I did in this photo was use I high F-stop. I shot thin with an F-stop of f22, which I normally do not do becuase I like the bokeh (or blur) in my background. I wanted the green, blue and red to really stand out so I kept the focal plane to almost to infinity. I am also shooting with my 30mm Macro lens which has some very good features in its dynamic range as well–such as a minimum focus distance of 6mm from the object that I want to shoot.

The video part I will post in the next couple of day. I am just starting in on the editing today. I will post it up on YouTube on my channel.

Day Numbers Three and Four: Orienation Class

The orientation class has not been going to my satisfaction. I have still not completed the overall courses, and therefore not able to work as a regular employee. To date, I am now two days behind everyone else in my cohort to becoming able to start working in my general duties. After today, I have become more discouraged than ever before as I am still in limbo waiting for further guidance as what to do, and moving forward, while I am not making any substantial income yet. Is this by design? I am beginning to wonder.

Saturday was a lost cause becuase, you guest it, I seem to have been forgotten–again. My emails were not answered until this morning, but I was scheduled to come in today anyway, but even that was met with confusion. Saturday I stayed at home and waited by the phone.

Today, I was schedule to arrive and start my classes at 11:00am. When I arrived, there was only one other person from my group in the computer room doing her class work. I waited an hour and a half for the human resource manager to arrived  so that she could issue me my identification number and log-in information so I could start my work. So right off from the start, I was now more behind, and feeling very discouraged. Added to the confusion, when she did arrived, I was given a condensed lesson on what to do, but then she had to leave, so I was left alone for the rest of the shift while I muddled through the online work trying to get through the best I could. There were so many roadblocks that I encountered that I abandon parts of the course becuase no one in the office could help me with them. Two hours waisted as unproductive, and four more hours of inefficient use of both my time and the corporation’s.

In the mean time, I am still wondering when I will get extra time booked so that I can finish. The pay period cut-off is today, so on my very first pay cheque I will receive only 12 hours, while my cohorts will be getting 24 hours–plus they have their work schedules for the next four weeks to look forward to. I sit in limbo with bills and rent in question for August.

When will I finish my orientation class, I do not know?

I over heard the lady (of whom I was taking the courses with) say to another lady in the lunch room that when she received her work schedule, she was only issued two days per week–16 hours per week. If this is case with me, then I may resume my search for work. I sure hope this is not the case with me. Wow, these are the working poor. Who can live off of 16 hours per week? Heck, I even thought that there was a law in British Columbia that stated part-time employees have to get at least twenty hours per week? Who knows, the Federal Government has screwed this country up so bad, we will all be living in the Banana Canada Republic before we know it.

This Just In: I Photographed the Owl!

This just in: I finally got a photograph of the Owl that lives near by behind my place. It was in low light conditions, so I had to shoot using 3200 ISO with my 300mm zoom lens, so the noise really sticks out. I normally would not have kept this photograph for display, but becuase it is a rare shot for me, what the heck.

Wise Old Owl - Glen Valley - Fort Langley BC July 11 2014 Weblog Image

I am not sure what make or model this Owl is, but he does hang around a lot. Last winter he was right on my patio deck, and as I was leaving for work, he almost tripped over himself as he could not get much traction on the wood surface with his claws to fly away–it was an awkward moment for him. He scared the life out of me as I stepped outside however. But lately he comes down to the back of my place, and does his hissing sound–probably tying to scare up some food. Late at night he does make a “Hoot” sound. It is funny to listen too.

This photo I took around 7:30pm today, using my 300mm zoom lens. Shot on my Sony SLT-A77V camera, at 300mm at f6.3, 1/30sec, ISO 3200. This image is not cropped, only scaled down.

Sun, As Far As The Crystal Ball Can See

The weather is awesome. That is all I can say. Sure, it is hot; roasting hot afternoons, but I like it. I think my love with the heat this year is becuase this makes up for the lousy winter and spring seasons we just had, so a good dose of sunshine is just what the village healer ordered. I just checked the weather website from Environment Canada, and my area is projected to break some records next week. We could see 32C to 35C very soon, and not a cloud in the sky as far July 17. Perhaps heat-wave season is upon us?

HOT SUMMER DAY July 11 2014 Weblog Image

Enjoy the heat here in British Columbia, we deserve it, … as long as we do not get forest fires in our back yards.

Day Number Two: Orientation Class

Today was a lot less stressful than yesterday, or to put in another way, the course load was mild compared what we covered before. We were able to finish earlier than expected, so this meant that most of us, myself included, got to leave early for home and arrange to come in later to do the computer practicum of the orientation process in the classroom. But the training is far from complete for me. I still need to complete another couple of modules even before I can step foot on the work floor as an employee. So my adventure is far from complete.

T in the Spotlight June 29 2014 - weblog image

Today was mostly going over safety procedures and qualifying for the basic safety requirements, and then onto more in-depth knowledge bases procedures, for example: MSDS, Lock-Outs, Safety Checks, Start of Shift Checks, Emergency and Evacuation Procedures, to name a few. Also we looked into the Corporate benefit packages and offerings available to us. Some are very generous, while other points are standard, or do not qualify because of provincial legislation and certain types of insurance polices. For the most part, there are some super great incentives working with them. But then I hit a snag that was out of my control.

Because I was registered later than most of the class, my Employee ID number was not generated before the end of this class. This means that I could not move onto the next step of the orientation precess, which is all done on-line, and I need that ID number to log-on with. Also, my time cards have to be manually created right now as the punch-in and out clock needs a PIN# entered. So the H.R. Manager felt disappointed when she told me that I will get called in either later tonight, or tomorrow, to come in and finish the rest of part two off of my orientation. I was told by one of the other employees that I am looking at about 50 more hours of training before I can advance to qualify for full-time openings throughout the building, and other locations. So, there are strong incentives to get through this as fast as possible, as opportunities beckon. Getting hours would be nice too.

For now I am content. Working once again seems like I am back in touch with the human race. There is one resolution that I will be focusing on now: time management. I will be running a strict set of protocols for myself once I have established my routine with this new position. No more second guessing and playing time catch-up, juggling my work and personal time around each other, in one big chaotic mess. Peace and tranquillity are my goals in the days to come.