Day 207 – Crumpling

Today I got a new bag.
A very multi-functional bag.

It’s a Crumpler!

If it’s not a Crumpler, it’s simply not worth having.

I had a great time looking around the store, and being wowed by the knowledgeable staff. Some of the bags Crumpler produces contain so many secret hide-aways and neat tricks that you might own one for a decade and never realise its full potential.

One of the bags demonstrated had a cleverly reversible diagonal shoulder strap, which also allows the bag to be swung around onto your stomach where the side pocket suddenly is a top pocket, and immediate access to camera equipment is possible.

So many tempting goodies, but I needed something more specific.

I want a bag that’ll fit camera gear. I want a bag that’ll fit up to a 15″ laptop. I want a bag that’ll hold some clothes for travel when needed. I want it all!

Weighted Toy Equipment to Try Pockets
Weighted Toy Equipment to Try Pockets

I know all about laptop sizes, but I forgot to think ahead on camera sizes. Luckily the store manager was very knowledgeable herself. But she also had a handy box of fake camera shapes ready. Quickly screwing a large “lens” onto a D6-ish “body” quickly proved which bags were roomy enough for the job.

My Choice
My Choice

I ended up with a back-pack with two main compartments in the body and a padded laptop pocket to the back. The bottom compartment was sized to exactly fit a Crumpler insert designed to deal with DSLR equipment. So now I can have the camera pre-packed in an insert that I can either throw into the bag or leave out.

If I leave it out, the two portions of the backpack can either be used separately or joined. But I think separate makes more sense… one compartment for gym gear and another for swimming gear. One compartment for camera gear and one compartment for some snacks or clothes.

Ceci n'est pas un Crumpler
Ceci n’est pas un Crumpler

And everything about their store and their brand is slightly playful. Including the not-a-Crumpler that the Crumpler was put inside.

Oh, also: lifetime warranty on all parts. I mentioned I had a messenger bag that was still in good condition after many years, except for maybe the velcro. The store manager suggested I should bring it in for velcro-replacement under the original warranty.

Note that these bags do cost a bit. But they are for all intents and purposes indestructible. If you pick the right bag for your needs you should never need another. Unless your needs change 😉

Day 127 – Tell Me How To Cook

The YouTube idea from Day 125 has rattled around in my brain on-and-off since I wrote it. I have no idea if I’ll actually end up making it, but I want to do the groundwork regardless, Because Awesome.

So far, I need to…

Design an Intro Sequence

I don’t want to do a scene-for-scene copy of the Iron Chef intro, but I’d want something that very strongly evokes the odd and cheesy feel of it.

If you’ve never seen Iron Chef, you haven’t lived!

Research Recording Options

I already had a look around, and so far it seems like Logitech C920 is a strong candidate, but also the GoPro cameras seem like an ideal candidate, with the added benefit that they would lend themselves for all kinds of other out-and-about recordings as well.

But first I may have a try with the trusty Canon 6D to see what its HD looks like.

Maybe a trial run will prove that it really needs two cameras, in which case the 6D might be an ideal fixed-angle camera option, with a GoPro for a more flexible add-on.

I’m going to take this idea as an excuse to watch some Iron Chef episodes over the coming weeks and perhaps some other cooking shows to get an idea of what shots are important to get right.

Build a Secret Ingredient Wheel

I cannot surprise myself with a secret ingredient, so I’m going to have to write an app of some sort to randomly generate challenges. As well as the name for the dish(es) as per my original post.

I think the set-up I want consists of the following parts:

  • A random-ingredient picker, which I might be able to populate from an online database somewhere… I’ll have to see what I can do to avoid the unfortunate possibility of cat food as the secret ingredient before we run with it
  • A dish name generator… I could build something Eliza-bot/markov-chain based to generate truly random names, but I’m more inclined to see if I can build a list of structural options from existing dish names and then fill in the blanks with random food-appropriate nouns and adjectives

How do we feel about “Wobbly Friand au Gratin” with the secret ingredient of “Banana“? (I have no idea either…)

Do a Private Trial Run

Finally I’ll need to do a private trial recording end-to-end, to iron out the gotcha’s. You never know all the things you should do, until you try, and fail.

  • How to set up shots so that I can hide the fact I don’t have a million-dollar-kitchen at my disposal
  • What shots I need to catch everything that I need when editing it together
  • How much time it takes to get from random challenge to finished product
  • How to trick my friends into sitting down to eat whatever comes out of this

Even if nothing more comes from this, I think it’ll be fun to do a trial run with the hardware already at my disposal. I’ve never tried to make anything that is YouTube-able.


The hardest part of all.

I’ll happily take suggestions.

What should it be called?!

Day 18 – Trains, Camera, Snapshot!

Today was the day. The online part of the research was completed yesterday. And after having missed the window to get expedited same-day delivery from the online store arranged, we decided to travel into the city so we could handle the Canon EOS 6D before making a final decision.

Station Platform (Galaxy Nexus)
Station Platform
(Galaxy Nexus)

I don’t like driving into the city in general. Some parts of it are bearable some parts of the day. Darling Harbour at night is do-able due to the very convenient flat-rate parking under the convention centre.

But King Street was never going to work for me.

So in the afternoon we set off into the city for our shopping trip.

Wynyard Station (Galaxy Nexus)
Wynyard Station
(Galaxy Nexus)

I don’t take the train very often, but when I do I enjoy people-watching. And people-listening.

There is nothing as entertaining as listening to a non-screaming (this is a very important detail) young kid having “logical” discussions with parents. It definitely made time fly by; I barely got any newsfeed-reading done along the way. (Frankly, I never tried, but that is beside the point)

We arrived at Wynyard station since that looked like the closest stop to King Street, although I think Town Hall would have been just as close.

Abbey and I had only just started playing with the display model 6D, when Lexi arrived on the scene. With two superior photographers in tow I didn’t feel the need to ask too many questions; until I do all my learnin’ I was just there to expertly wield the credit card and pay for our bundle. We sent Abbey away so as not to scare her with the total.

It wasn’t too much over the birthday present I had to spend.

Thong Vending (Galaxy Nexus)
Thong Vending
(Galaxy Nexus)

Having bought and bagged the camera, we made some quick decisions on what else we had to do in the city before returning home to charge the batteries and start playing.

First, that chocolate store that I spotted before we went into the camera store. Always a mistake. Putting me near chocolate. I buy it.

Second, a little pastry bakery right next to the chocolate store which Lexi rightfully recommended. I had a delicious pistachio pastry. Gone in under a minute as we walk.

Third, a book/stationery/misc store I’d been to once before with Abbey and Lexi. A slight mis-calculation. They have pens. Abbey has gotten (re-?)addicted to pens. She listens to a pen podcast.

I don’t judge.

I reserve the right to guffaw though.

On our way back out of the mall, the most curious sight. A vending machine selling what no vending machine ever ought to.

Havaianas! Thongs!

The city is a weird place indeed.

Camera Unboxed (Galaxy Nexus)
Camera Unboxed
(Galaxy Nexus)

After another train trip that I could have sworn was longer than the one in (Christmas Eve and New Years Eve also are longer than the other 363 days of the year,… you know it is true!) we arrived home where I could impatiently unbox our new toy.

And then…

The battery needs to charge all the way up first.

How long? 2.5 hours.

So one dinner, some television shows and some lively conversation later, I can finally stick the battery into the 6D, load the 32GB SD card, and have a play.

The following are some of the shots taken… they were probably all taken by Abbey and Lexi. Did I mention they are just better?

Chocolates (EOS 6D)
(EOS 6D)

I bought 6 chocolates at the store I mentioned earlier, including such delicacies as: Lavender, Mango Chilli and Mint/Lime.

Lexi wondered aloud if I needed a protractor. I may have fussed over the arrangement a little more than the quick experiment in sub-optimal lighting conditions warranted.

Jerry Himself (EOS 6D)
Jerry Himself
(EOS 6D)

Then Abbey took the steering wheel and took some shots, including the one above. I tried to crop it to make myself look better, but the pixels didn’t want to yield anything better than reality so I gave in.

Dog, full frame (EOS 6D)
Dog, full frame
(EOS 6D)

And our final victim, the dog… this was the best one out of a long series of dog pictures. Specifically chosen to showcase the amazing resolution 20MP give. All these grabs are from the same single picture, just taking a smaller and smaller detail out of the whole, ending with 1:1 pixels.

Dog, Detail (EOS 6D)
Dog, detail
(EOS 6D)

Detail from the previous picture… everything looks good.

Dog, detail smaller (EOS 6D)
Dog, detail smaller
(EOS 6D)

And closer still; … still going well… careful now…

Dog, detail smallest (EOS 6D)
Dog, detail smallest
(EOS 6D)

Oh, damn… so close! I clearly should have chosen better light, or RAW.

I think JPEG has let this one down a little. It looks like there is enough detail there, but the compression has just blurred together too much detail in the hairs as far as I can tell.

Or I did something else wrong. Soon I will be less equivocal about these things. When I kinda/sorta know what I am doing.

In the meantime, I’m very pleased with how easily the camera produces pleasing results even when I don’t have a clue what I am doing. It’s like it knows what I want from the picture.

Could it be… sentient?

Day 16 – Birthday Present – II

My grandmother and my parents were a bit behind on their gift-giving. Giving gifts from the Netherlands to Australia isn’t as easy as I’d like it to be. Instead of giving gifts they transferred some money and are now relying on me taking care of the actual buying part of this transaction.

There are many things that’d be useful.

Or fun.

Or both.

But the one thing that has been stuck behind hesitation on the shopping list for the longest is a good DSLR. A very good DSLR.

Canon 6D - Back
Canon 6D – Back

Not that long ago Canon released their latest prosumer DSLR camera… the Canon 6D. The first entry-level prosumer with a full-size sensor inside.

It’s light, it’s powerful, it has frikkin’ WiFi and GPS built into the camera.

And there is an app.

There is a free Android app that can connect to the camera via WiFi. The app acts as a view-finder. Which means the Android app will show the settings and the image the camera sees, allowing me to tweak the settings from anywhere before taking the shot. I’m not sure what all the uses of that might be yet, but I’m kinda curious to find out.

Canon 6D - Top
Canon 6D – Top

And then there is the fact that we have a whole group of friends with DSLRs; I think we will be having road-trips with many cameras in tow. I think I’ll mostly be crap at first. But I think there are some books about photography on my shelf I haven’t had a chance to read yet.

If this turns into a reality, I think you may have to suffer through me occasionally posting about my experiences trying to learn to take decent pictures.

But failure is entertaining isn’t it?

I plan to be entertaining.