Friday, July 28, 2006

Stinky Friday: Striped Skunk, Mephitis mephitis

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This is a striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis. It was actually one of a pair that I photographed while on a fishing trip about a month ago. I took some pictures while driving along side this one, but they were all blurry so I had to get out and approach this one. You can't see in this picture but the tip of the tail was white. I was a little afraid of getting sprayed, but it gave me enough warning. I stopped approaching when it raised its tail and started stamping its feet. The last thing I wanted to see was its anal scent glands aimed at me.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More Time-lapse Clouds: Theme and Variation

I took another series of cloud pictures a few days ago. This time I had the camera in a fixed position with the help of a tree stump, a ladder and of course the redneck multitool, duct tape. I took a picture about every 4-5 sec. for about 35 minutes. I know it sounds terrible but it really was enjoyable. I was on call however and the temp was a cool 80 degrees so I was mostly just happy to be sitting outside undisturbed. Click the picture to go to the page were you can download the original video or 1 of two altered videos. They are all 16 seconds, WMV files, and about 1 Mb. One variation is altered to appear as if it is a watercolor painting and the other changes the hue through a complete cycle of the color spectrum. This was done with Windows Movie Maker.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Windows Movie Maker and My New RSS Feed

A couple of weeks ago when I bragged about stumbling onto some new (to me) technology, I didn't realize how widely available it had already become. Last week I was talking to a couple of friends, one a Mac nerd, the other a general purpose and PC nerd, when I mentioned making movies. They both quickly responded by telling me how THEY made THEIR movies. Of course Mac nerd told me something I already new, his machine was great for multimedia applications. My other buddy told me that I could have done it for free with the Windows Movie Maker already available on my computers. I came home, found the program and gave it a try. So far, I have found it easier to use Quicktime Pro to make movies from sequential photos, but the Windows program has some neat editing features. I don't have anything new to show yet but some time-lapse projects are in the works.

That brings me to my next point.

Right after the video making discovery, I found out that can make my own RSS feeds, so I did. I chose to add any new videos I publish to the feed. That may include animal videos or time-lapse/animation videos. Here is the page where you can link to the feed. I made a nice little button which you can find on the side bar near the top. Although the actual content of this feed is of minor importance to me now, I might stick with it and actually put some good stuff out there so stay tuned. Here is where I learned to make an RSS feed and here is the page that made it much simpler.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Fish Friday: Photo Quiz

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Name this fish!

Update: 07/26/06 This is a freshwater drum, Aplodinotus grunniens. They are also called sheepshead, grunters, gaspergou and a few others. I have never eaten one these fish but I hear that some people do. I usually just let them go. Some consider them pests and throw them out when caught. One interesting thing about these fish is that they have marble-sized bony structures in their heads called otoliths that assist in balance. Sometimes people will collect these from larger fish as lucky charms. Most of the drum I catch are 1-4 pounds but they have been recorded at over 40 pounds.

And don't forget to check out Modlator's Friday Ark.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Fish Friday: White Crappie, Pomoxis annularis

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This is a white crappie, Pomoxis annularis. It is a type of sunfish in the order Perciformes. I caught this fish on one of my recent many excursions to my farm. There are 2 species of crappie, the white and black. The most obvious difference that I notice is that the white crappie have the dark vertical stripes that are lacking in the black crappie. There are a few other distinguishing characteristics you can read about in this entry for black crappie. Out of the 3 game fish I usually go for, catfish, bass, and crappie, crappie definitely have the best taste, especially when filleted and fried. They tend to run much smaller than the others, so it takes a little more effort to feed a family with these fish. I will say however that when you are fishing for them and you hit the right spot, sometimes you can't bring them in fast enough. Also, the flesh around the lips is very thin, which tears easily and allows hooks to come out easily. In my experience, these fish frequently fall off the hook just as I am pulling them out of the water, before I can get a hold on them. That is why they are called papermouths by some, though the term has never been a part of my vocabulary.

Don't forget to check out Modulator's Friday Ark.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

My First Claymation Video

I can see that this is probably going to get out of hand. As I mentioned in my last post, I have always been a big fan of time-lapse photography. I will also mention that I have always been a big fan of animation and claymation which are variations of the same basic concept. I dreamed of being able to do this stuff when I was a kid. In fact I spent a great deal of time making animated flip books with cartoons about my friends. Now that I am a big kid with some new technology, I am about to go crazy with it. This morning I got up and spent about an hour and a half producing this short claymation video just to see how it would turn out. The original was much larger with a higher quality picture, but I greatly reduced it, just so it could be quickly downloaded. As you will see if you watch it, picture quality is not that important at this point. A couple of things I could do to improve the video would be to get better, more constant lighting and have the camera more stable. This video is 28 seconds long, and available in Quicktime (2.2Mb) or AVI (2.8 Mb) format.

First Claymation Video

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Time-Lapse Photography: A Personal Breakthrough

I have always been a big fan of time-lapse photography, and I have been thinking that at some point I will be ready to drop a load of money for equipment to do it myself. However this weekend I figured out how to do it with very low cost and I am thrilled about it. First I went out to my fishing hole with a buddy, who was no help but did catch some fish. I sat my same old sony cybershot on top of my truck in a fairly steady position and stood there pressing the button about every 15 seconds. I did that for about twenty minutes. Then I came home and just viewed them in MS Office picture manager, manually pressing the forward button quickly to get the effect, which was enough to impress me. Then I just did a quick search on the web for viewing photos in sequence and I found some instructions on how to do it with Quicktime Pro. So of course I had to buy it for about 30 bucks, but after I did it, I made this video in about 10 minutes. Later on I was even able to use the Sonic digital media software that came with my computer to transcode it to a DVD so I could play it on my television. This movie is a little shaky but I am still very pleased for it to have been my first try and to have done it so unexpectedly.

Video of Cumulonimbus Clouds Forming

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