Monday, April 13, 2015

GoPro Hero 4 Black PreReview

My intention is to post a full review of the GoPro Hero 4 Black in a few weeks once I've gotten some more shutter time with it, but I wanted to relay my experiences so far... The unit I was initially provided would lock up at any recording rate more demanding than 1080p 24fps, ruling out 720p 240fps and 4k. It took a long time to get a replacement back from GoPro but they were friendly, and the camera they sent works. Below is a cherry blossom test from DC with a Timelapse and 4k video.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cascade Falls, Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland - Video Guide

Second episode is up on YouTube, featuring Cascade Falls in Patapsco Valley State Park.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Falling Branch Falls Video Guide

I decided to finally start of video guides for at least the waterfalls in Maryland. The first is of Falling Branch Falls. It runs just short of an hour, although I'll be including shorter clips for impatient viewers.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time lapse Update

I'm getting a little better with the time lapses...

Friday, March 6, 2015

Maryland Orchid Society Annual Orchid Show 2015

Today I had the joy of visiting the Maryland Orchid Society's Annual Orchid Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. This year, the show was held right inside the main "Cow Palace" with the Home and Garden show that was running concurrently. I'm sure this was great for the orchid vendors, as they probably made lots of extra sales of Phals and other common orchids. I was here for somewhat more esoteric reasons. I had already placed an order with Woodstream Orchids and was really attending the show to avoid having to ship the plants during winter. I ended up buying more orchids than I expected, but that's a good thing. I had been complaining that my collection was down considerably due to move and vacation related losses, so this was a good opportunity to replenish my stock.

In the end, I walked out with...

From Woodstream Orchids (located in MD):
Phragmipedium besseae
Phragmipedium schlimii...
Phragmipedium schlimii (flasked seedlings)
Paphiopedilum tranlienianum
Paphiopedilum primilinum var. purpurascens
Paphiopedilum leucochilum

From Little Brook Orchids (located in PA):
Papiopedilum niveum

Dendrobium kingianum (wonderfully fragrant!!!)
Vanilla planifolia (yup, vanilla)
From Fishing Creek Orchids (located in PA)
Paphiopedilum delenatii var alba

The plants from all three outfits look great and I'm overjoyed to have three good sources of slipper orchids that are relatively local. The folks at Woodstream (Lynn and Bill Goldner, who turned out to be former federal employees like myself) even invited me to visit their greenhouse in the future, which I'm sure I'll take them up on.

A photo of the haul...

The show is still running Saturday and Sunday March 7-8th, so if you are reading this before the end of that period, and you want to see or buy some orchids...get off your butt and get out there!!! The entrance was $12 and was well worth saving the shipping.

More information at:

Timelapse Experiments #1

I've been playing with timelapses the past few days. It is something I had been meaning to do for several years, but just never really got the impetus until I decided I wanted to bring a little spring during the dismal extra dose of winter we just got. Turns out the easiest timelapses I did were of the snowstorm on March 5th. :-P

I've been experimenting with timelapses in two fashions... With my dSLRs and with my iPhone. I'll start by noting that timelapses with the integrated timelapse feature in iOS 8 is very easy but not very controllable. You cannot control anything beyond the focus/exposure and the period the timelapse cannot control how often an image is taken or the total duration of the recording, since it the interval is progressively reduced as you record longer and longer, resulting in a faster paced timelapse of roughly the same 20-30 second length no matter what. I also noticed a tendency for the iPhone 5 to pick up pulsation in the lighting, even when under incandescent lighting. The iPhone 6 did not exhibit this issue and only seems to display it while in slo-motion mode.

Here are some examples:

I've also been experimenting with several methods of using my dSLRs for timelapses. One camera was set up on umbilical power with a Canon remote release that has an integrated intervalometer. This is the best dSLR option and was my ideal camera, but the shots with it kept running into trouble because I had it trained on some daffodils that kept moving. I'm not used to plants that move quite so much as daffodils. Another camera was running on batteries and used Magic Lantern for an intervalometer. Finally, the third camera was running on batteries and was using Canon's EOS Utility as an intervalometer. Of these options, the EOS Utility seemed to work better, but only slightly. Running on battery power was the main disadvantage both cameras had, as they kept needing fresh batteries...and one camera I only have one battery for so it meant gaps in recording.

Here is a decent dSLR example:
My experiments led me to buy a GoPro Hero 4 Black to use for timelapses, because my two primary dSLRs would take too much shutter usage if I used them for timelapses, and my other dSLR would require additional accessories and would still run into the shutter issue. I'll continue to use the dSLR for macro timelapses and things that the GoPro is not suited for recording, but I think it will be tasked with timelapse duty a lot.