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Fish Fry!

Posted 2009.08.30 19.38 in Aquaria by Stephanie

One FryNo, I don’t mean with batter and oil – I mean baby fish. Baby zebra fish, to be specific. When I did the weekly cleaning, I found dozens of fry in the pail after I did the gravel-vacuum. There were so many that I couldn’t just pretend I didn’t see them…

So I got out a little (1.5 litre) holder, and put as many as I could catch into it. I have about two dozen I think. They’re very small, about 3mm long. To the unaided eye, they look like little black lines with a dot at one end.

Two Zebra FryUp close though, they look like two eyes, a belly, and a tail. Some of them have fins on the sides, but haven’t developed the top, bottom, or tail fins yet.

I estimate they are 3 to 5 days old, at most. They aren’t really free-swimming yet, prefering to stay ‘stuck’ along the glass. I’ve given them some commercial fry food and will see how it goes – who knows, maybe I’ll have a new generation of zebra fish.

Another Fry

I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself though – the first challenge is to see if I can keep these guys alive for a week. Then two weeks. And so on – from what I’ve read, it’s going to be a few months before they’re big enough to return to the aquarium without getting eaten by their parents. So, it’s wait-and-see time.

Hot Snail-on-Snail Action!

Posted 2009.08.29 22.36 in Aquaria by Stephanie

That’s right, it’s Snail Pr0n! Just before lights-out tonight, I noticed Little Buddy had crawled ontop of Big Blue and was getting, shall we say, amourous with her.

Snail Pr0n!

Snail Pr0n!

A few days ago I spotted Little Buddy having his way with Speed Racer (whom I thought was a male…) Clearly there’s no question about Little Buddy being a bloke (maybe I should have named him Randy!) but until there are some eggs, I just don’t know for sure about the others.

It’s Film!

Posted 2009.08.29 13.31 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

So I’ve been messing around with film the last week or so – 35mm film. I ran two rolls through my old Minolta X-370 manual camera, and one roll through an old-ish Canon EOS-3000 auto-focus that I got for cheap on eeeebay. Using the Minolta was fun, a blast from the past, it brought me back to when I was 14 or so and first received the camera for X-mas.

The Canon EOS body is much more modern, maybe 10 years old or so, and I mainly bought it to take it apart and see how it works. But I figured, before I destroyed the thing, I’d run some film through for fun. And the most fun I had with it was with my Sigma ultra-wide angle lens. This lens is designed specifically for a crop-sensor digital camera, the image it throws is not large enough to cover a full-frame sensor or film, which leads to vignetting. On the other hand — 10mm is so awesomely incredibly wide on a 35mm frame that I just had to mess with it. But enough talk, on with the pictures!

Camera / film specs: The Minolta is an X-370 manual camera, I shoot mostly set to aperture priority (I set the focus and aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed.) The two lenses I used were a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 and a Magnicon 28mm f/2.8 Macro. The Canon is an EOS3000 (aka EOS88) autofocus and I was using it with a Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 DC EX HSM lens. I mostly used the Aperture Priority mode on the Canon, although I did let the autofocus do its thing. In both cameras I have been using Fujicolor Superia ISO 200 film.

I have 3 more rolls of film, but will be trying to choose my shots more carefully in the future, due to the cost of buying & processing the film.


Focus, Focus, Focus

Posted 2009.08.28 9.32 in Photography by Stephanie

Some time in the past 20 years, auto-focus became a big thing. And appearantly the camera makers decided that auto-focus was so big, that nobody ever used manual focus any more. So the manufacturers decided that since nobody used manual focus, there was no point including any focusing aids. Kit lenses don’t have distance scales on them any more, and more alarmingly, when you look in the viewfinder all you get is a matte screen for focusing. No fine-tuning aids like microprisms or a split-image.

No big deal if all you use are auto-focus lenses and your auto-focus works perfectly and you never want to get artistic. But what if you want to play? What if you want to get funky with your photos? What if you want to use manual-only lenses? The plain matte screen is not much help.

And seriously – I got the DSLR because my point-&-shoot camera didn’t have a manual-focus function. I got the DSLR because I want to manual focus! It’s not good enough for manual-focus to be a sort of after-thought, something they included but didn’t expect anyone to take seriously. It has to be accurate, it has to work!

Just line up the vertical elements and it's in focus!

Enter Dr. Haoda and his aftermarket focusing screens! It’s just like the good old days, a split image in the middle, surrounded by a circle of microprisms.

Focusing is easy – just find a vertical line in your subject and dial it in so the top and bottom halfs line up. Or use the microprisms, when out-of-focus they are all nubbly, when in-focus they go smooth.

(This is a close-up of the middle of the focusing screen, just the very centre. Most of the screen is still the matte view that shows you the full image.)

Haoda ScreenDr. Haoda’s kit includes tools (tweezers & a special plastic tool) and little finger-gloves along with the actual focus screen. Installation was a bit hairy – basically you’re working in the delicate optical guts of the camera, going in where the lens goes and removing the existing screen then putting the new one in. If you take it slowly and are careful not to get the parts mixed up or turned around, you should be ok. I somehow managed to get things upside-down and backwards, and consequently I had to redo things a few nervous times before I figured out what I had done wrong.

When I got it right though, it really felt good! Suddenly my DSLR is a real camera! Auto-focus still works of course, now I can even see that it’s accurate, but more importantly, manual focus is now fast and easy. This is how I learned photography and it feels good to have it back.

Package and old screen

When the operation is complete, it’s a good idea to keep your old focusing screen ‘just in case’. The package you get from Dr. Haoda is a good place to store it.

Still No Eggs!

Posted 2009.08.27 15.22 in Aquaria by Stephanie

My big blue snail has started sneaking up out of the water again – but still she isn’t laying eggs.

Leaving the Water

Here she is just starting to climb out of the water, but she foolishly chose to climb the filter. So an inch above the water she finds… more water!

From here, she went on to check out the tank above the water-line a few more times, but appearantly she is very picky and nothing has satisfied her yet. Below, you can see the problem fully illustrated:

No Eggs!

Old Lenses, New Camera

Posted 2009.08.27 9.15 in Photography by Stephanie

This is a neat little gizmo that only cost about $25 on ebay: An adaptor ring that mounts into a Canon EOS body, and allows one to mount a Minolta MD-type lens on the front. It has one adjusting-lens which compensates for the width of the adaptor so that the lens focal-length is unaffected and full focusing remains possible. I’m sure it reduces the aperture by a stop or so, but that is to be expected with any kind of adaptor or extension tubes.

MD/EOS Adaptor Ring

The MD/EOS adaptor does not have any electronics, so there is no communications as far as aperture or anything else. And of course, MD lenses are manual focus.

With this adaptor I can now use my 50mm f/1.7 lens and my 28mm f/2.8 wide/macro lens, along with my 3x Macro Teleconverter. The 50mm lens will make a good portrait lens I think, or a short fast prime telephoto. The 28mm lens is not as useful to me as a prime lens as I already have my 30mm f/1.4 — however, the 28mm lens has a macro function which I do not have otherwise. In addition, using the 3x teleconverter, I can turn either the 50mm or 28mm into a super-macro, with a magnification greater than 1:1. I also have an old telephoto, 80-200mm but it is rather slow and I can do better with a newer lens, I think.

Below is a picture I took using the 28mm f/2.8 lens on the adaptor. The subject is the 50mm f/1.4 lens. This was at f/4 aperture, 1/125 shutter, and with the camera’s onboard flash for illumination.

Adaptor Photo

Daydream Blade

Posted 2009.08.27 1.29 in Photography, Swords by Stephanie

Dreamy Sword

You know how sometimes you’re sort of bored, staring off at nothing in particular, then eventually you find you’re staring at that sword across the room… thinking about holding it, feeling its weight…swinging it… cleaving things asunder…