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Cats & Their Toy Mice

Posted 2012.08.18 10.19 in Cats

I think it’s kind of cute that the cats tend to keep their toys all together. I’m sure it’s just coincidence or whatever, but they play with the toy mice then when they’re done playing, the toy mice all end up in a little group.

Except there was something… unusual about the collection of toy mice, this morning.

Maybe don’t read on, if you’re easily squicked out.

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A Multilens Camera

Posted 2011.09.04 9.10 in Hobbies, Photography

Going in a completely different direction from my usual photographic interests, I recently picked up a totally plastic novelty toy camera – a multilens Actionsampler.

These cameras have four lenses in a two-by-two layout, which result in four 1/4-sized images on a single 35mm negative. The four mini-frames are taken sequentially (rather than simultaneously) so that the four mini-images are each a fraction-of-a-second apart. Thus, it lets you ‘sample’ some ‘action’.

Lomography Actionsampler

The camera has no focusing or exposure controls. The lenses have a 26mm focal length and the shutter speed seems to be about 1/100th. Focus is fixed, 1.2m to infinity.┬áThe aperture is unknown, but small – probably around f/11. They have some suggestions to vary the film speed based on the weather (sunny, cloudy, et cetera) but I’d ignore that and go with ISO 400 at the slowest. In fact I used ISO 800 and that was acceptable from bright daylight to dusk. Indoors it was inadequate – this is an outdoor daytime camera only.

The interval between pictures is listed as 0.22 seconds, so all four frames are taken in just under 3/4 seconds. With a 1/100 shutter speed, fast action will show some motion blur. Slow action may not show enough difference between the four frames, so there’s a trade-off to be had – either the four images will appear nearly identical, or you’re likely to see some bluring.

The camera does not take any batteries, winding and rewinding is simple and manual, and the shutter release is also a simple plastic button. There is no viewfinder as such – you frame your shots via a simple fold-up plastic frame. Or you just ‘shoot from the hip’ and hope for the best.

The camera is very light – 100 grams. It seems a little bulky and blocky, and feels like they could have made it smaller if they wanted. The size and light weight make it feel very, very cheap and toy-like. The biggest complaint I have though is actually the noise – when you trip the shutter, it makes a noise that is a bit unpleasant and quite noticable. Sort of a brief plastic grinding sound. I suspect it is a clockwork that causes the 0.22 second delay between each of the four shutters.

The Actionsampler’s four images start at the upper-left and end at the upper-right, moving anti-clockwise. With some practice one can figure out what kinds of motion / movement are most appropriate for this camera, and then I’m sure it would really shine. It does seem to love people, and although the focus is set for 1.2m to infinity, it’s mini-image format will make it happiest with people 1.2m to 5m. Not a great camera for landscapes or architectural shots, I think.

Overall, it’s not a good camera by any means. It’s a toy, and a novelty. So why’d I buy it? I was curious and I wanted to play!

The Game That Wasn’t

Posted 2009.12.07 10.23 in Cats

PixieOccasionally when I get home from work, I’ve been known to collapse on the sofa. By occasionally, I mean frequently.

So, there I am, sprawled on the sofa, typically with an arm hanging over the side. That’s when the Pixie creeps into action… for what seems like ages, if I’m laying on the sofa, she’ll come alongside, bump into my hand, then flop over and start scratching at the sofa.

Obviously she knows this is ‘bad’ and I’ll try grabbing at her feet or catch her tail or rubbing her tummy (she hates that) to try and dissuade her. Then she attacks my hand / arm, biting and scratching, and I yelp in pain and let go. Then it starts all over.

All this time, I just thought she was being a naughty kitty, exploiting my exhaustion so she could peel the fabric off the bottom of the sofa.

Until the time that I was too damn tired to care. As usual, she bumped my hand, then flopped over and started scratching the sofa. Except this time I didn’t bother to try and stop her.

Then after a few moments, she stopped by herself. She moved back to my hand and bumped it again. Scratched the sofa some more, then bumped my hand again.

It’s been a game, the whole time, and I didn’t even know it. She wants me to grab her feet, catch her tail, rub her tummy, so that she can ‘fight’ my hand. I guess I didn’t clue in to the fact that she was just playing around, because she uses full claws and teeth – the blood and scarring caused me to think it was for-reals.