New Flash Equipment

I am very excited that I picked up some new flash equipment.

I hope to post more about it later.  For now, checkout the new images:

So much to learn, but so much potential!

Time Lapse Videos in Linux

I love watching time lapse videos.  Some time ago I discovered and enjoy watching some of the amazing work they have done.  It has even motivated me to do some experimenting with making my own time lapse videos.

So far the best information I have found on creating time lapse videos in linux are and  CyberAngel’s post on ubuntuforums is really awesome because he was kind enough to release his deflickering script.

So, in way of testing everything, I setup my tripod at the edge of our office, set my camera into manual mode, setup my intervalometer, and took 512 JPG images.

I copied these images off my CF card onto my computer and decided I wanted to encode them to an H.264 video.  This lead me to following the instructions at so that I could get an H.264 compatible ffmpeg.

After I had my ffmpeg working, I following CyberAngel’s advice and ran:

cd source_folder_of_pictures
mkdir resized
mogrify -path resized -resize 800x533 *.jpg
cd resized

I also ran CyberAngel’s script (which I have mirrored here) to deflicker the images.

Unfortunately I didn’t have good luck with the mencoder command, so I ended up running:

ffmpeg -start_number 1055 -start_number_range 512 -f image2 -i IMG_%d.JPG -vcodec libx264 -vf "scale=iw:trunc(ih/2)*2" -r 30 video.avi

instead.  My jpeg images started at IMG_1055.JPG and ran up to IMG_1568.JPG, hence the start_number and start_number_range.  If I didn’t include the scale option to vf I got an irritating error “height not divisible by 2 (800×533)”.

Without further ado, here is the result:

Not too bad.  Now I just need to snap some pictures of something more useful.  Maybe if this weekend is nice I will get to make time lapse videos of the sky instead of the dog!

In God We Trust

Today we are going to talk about pictures of quarters!

So whats the best way to take a picture of a quarter?  If you have a trusty Canon 100mm f2.8L all you need to do is throw the quarter onto a counter, get your camera positioned above it, aim an off-camera flash at it, and snap a picture.  After a shot or two you will get something like:

One thing of note.  Normally I would crop a picture such as this before uploading it.  However in this case I am talking about how much zoom is obtainable on my 1.6 crop factor camera.  As such, I am leaving the pictures as shot (less scaling/jpg conversion/copyright) so that readers have an idea of how much of the frame the shot fills.

This is pretty awesome, but the 100mm 2.8 has a max image sensor/object ratio of 1:1 (or 1.6:1 on my camera).  If you want to get closer macro shots you need to employ another tactic.

There are several tactics available to choose from:

  1. Bellows
  2. Extension Tubes
  3. Lens Reversal
  4. Double Lenses
  5. Some combination of above methods

Today I was wanting to zoom in on the quarter and get some closer in pictures.  I decided to try double lenses since I don’t have any of the other options directly available to me.

To do this I used a double male lens screw.  I attached my 50mm f1.4 backwards to the front of my 100mm f2.8L.  I then put that setup on my tripod like this:

As you can see I was having problems getting the lighting correct so I grabbed a strip of aluminum foil and applied it as a reflector to better distribute light around the very photogenic quarter.

This photo shows the overall setup a little better.

When you do double-lens macro photography the focus plane is very thin.  To give you an idea of how thin lets just say the depth of the quarter’s face is difficult to get into focus.  Tweaking the angle of the lens so that the end of the lens is parallel to the quarter is very important.

So what does this look like?  Checkout these uncropped images:

Definitely more zoom than was available with the zoom lens alone.  The downside is that stacking lenses creates lots of badness like chromatic aberration and other nasties you don’t want in your pictures.

But it’s fun!