Pano head version 2 and a clear(ish) night

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I am a serial modder… I will mod just about anything if I can find a reason too… regular readers (all two of you… well maybe one… ok, just me!) may recall I modded a cheap and nasty panorama head (read here)… this was working fine but it was still a bit rough and ready and I couldn’t do multi-level panoramas as the arm was fixed…

So I grabbed another cheap rotating head and some cheap arca swiss rails… this gave me a more solid head with the ability to do multilevel pano’s

Re-calibrated the head for the no-parallax point on the Samyang as I wanted to try for a pano nightscape…

Zero’d for center…

Then 30 degrees rotation…

…and finally 30 degrees up…

Last night presented an opportunity to try it out…

Slight distortion on the electricity structure of course but this picture was made from two rows of 4 images (8 in total) so the head seems to work ok… just a pity light pollution is still high and subject matter is still a little unexciting (soz)

I took a few more pics to try stuff out while I was there…

I was out there a while but only really came home with those two captures… as is most of what I seem to do these days it was a learning exercise and I am happy that I can use the pano head at night

Not content with the last lot of mods to the head I moved onto the next weak point… the ‘L’ bracket… the 6D and Samyang/16-35L combo is heavier than the 50D and 10-18 EF-S… the ‘L’ bracket is quite thin so inspired by the 300 quid pano heads I have seen I bagged a cheap 30cm length of 20×40 aluminium extrusion from eBay (used to make frames for 3D printers) to make a sturdier bracket…

First I cut it into two sections, 100mm for the ‘foot’ and the remaining 200mm for the upright then tapped the bottom of the upright to take M6 bolts…

…then drilled and counter sunk the 100mm piece to attach it to the upright…

Next I fitted a couple of rivnuts to allow the bracket to be fixed to the arca swiss rail

Had to open the slots on the rail a bit to get the M6 bolts in…

Last thing was to drill the upright for the other head…

And job done…

The result is a really solid ‘L’ bracket and the whole head feels very sturdy indeed… just need to re-calibrate for no-parallax again 🙂

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Day off photography….

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Continuing one from this mornings sunrise and silhouettes fun and games I had to drop my youngest daughter into town so had a drive around afterwards to find something else to photograph…

First up was a disused factory building…

On the way back from there I went up over the top to look down at the Stroud valleys…

Always willing to experiment I tried the following shot with both the Samyang @ f2.8…

…and @ f4 with the Canon 16-35L…

Quite a difference in DOF….

Despite being awake since 4am this morning its been a throughly good day off… Dominoes, Netflix and an early night I think… good job the moon is out else I may have had to do some nightscapes too 🙂

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Sunrise and silhouettes….

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Grabbed the day off work as the day was looking nice and I have a fair few days to use up and thought it may be a good idea to get up early and catch the sunrise…

Was awake at 4am for some reason so dragged myself out of bed at 4.30am, got ready and set off just up the road… in fairness probably not the most exciting of locations but its on my way to work and you know how it is… you pass something at a time of day and you think… “that looks beautiful, it would make a great picture”… then when you make the effort to take a picture it never comes out how you originally imagined… anyway…

I was aiming for silhouettes this morning as I knew the subject matter on its own wouldn’t make for particularly exciting shots… couldn’t get the clean composures I wanted but its a start and looking forward to taking more… probably in the winter months when I don’t have to get up so early 😉

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CASTLE COMBE RACE 2 2016

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Early start (was up at 5.30am!) and off to a sunny Castle Combe for Race 2… although technically not had Race 1 yet 🙂

We were in a different paddock today which was more of a mud pit than anything else but it was a busy meeting and this is where they put us so meh…

Bill went out for the very early qualy but developed a strange noise from the gearbox which possibly could have been damage caused by the accident last year so he decided to retire rather than chance wrecking the box…

This meant I could concentrate of taking pics for the rest of the day and enjoy the racing…

Here are a few from the day… apologies in advance as the last time I have really done panning shots was some years ago so still a little rusty..

There was a nasty accident involving the three lead cars in the first couple of laps of the CC Saloons which looks to have taken the main championship contenders out for a little while…

Disappointing to say the least but no one was hurt

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Nexus 7 speaker fix

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The left speaker on my Nexus 7 has been buzzing badly for a little while now… I tend to use it more with headphones anyway but its annoying non the less…

Picked up some replacements on eBay for a couple of quid… they were used but tested and new parts don’t appear to be readily available so using a guide on iFixit I had a go…

Scariest bit was getting the back off as its not massively clear where you need to try and split the case but managed to do it without cracking the screen or the back so very relieved…

Remove the back

With the back off and following the guide I removed the relevant cables and the battery (although I didn’t really need to do this as it turns out)…

Disassembly

I loosened the motherboard rather than remove it completely as all I really wanted to do was change the dodgy speaker… the right one was ok and I tested them by unplugging them and plugging in the replacements before I started disassembly

Speaker removed

Connected everything back up…

reassembled

…and powered up to test before putting the back on…

Powered up

Tested the speakers with a film and some music on youtube… perfect!…

Was a little worried about doing this repair as it looked a fairly involved one but turned out to be not so bad in the end

Links:
iFixit – Nexus 7 2nd Generation Speakers Replacement

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Last minute nightscapes…

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As of yesterday morning the weather report for a potential new dark(ish) site local to me looked good… so I planned a shoot more to see if this could be worth a revisit if the shots looked promising…

As the day progressed the weather report started looking a little iffy with it changing from clear skies to light cloud and by 9.30pm I had resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen… after a quick chat with someone I know who lived in the village near where I planned to shoot I decided to take a chance and set out…

Kinda glad I did as I am pleased with the results… the area is no where near as dark as it needs to be but managed to play with the settings to get some decent results… I really wish the Samyang would report back the f-stop to the camera as it would save me trying to remember which picture was set to what but I started at f2.8 finishing on f1.4… I also tried a few different ISO settings to see what the results would come out like…

Not as happy with the composure on them though and I think I will revisit during the day to get a better idea of whats there and have another go…

So… the pics…

You can just about make out the Milkyway in this shot (at least I hope its the Milkyway lol)

Definitely like to have another go at that location to sort composure… I am sure I can get it looking a little better 🙂

…just not on a school night as I R knackered!

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Samyang 24mm f1.4 review

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Here we have the Samyang 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC lens… Canon fit obviously as I have Canon bodies… after a fair bit of research this lens seems to be the one most loved by astrophotographers for nightscapes, milkyway shots and the like…

Two things you kinda need for decent starry pics is a very dark sky (difficult to find in the UK as it turns out) and a very fast lens… this is a very fast lens, f1.4 which is two stops faster than the pancake lens I used to have for my crop sensor body… this is quite significant and the following image shows how much more light f1.4 lets through over f2.8.

Aperture f stops

The lens itself is very different to my Canon ones in so much that its fully manual… no AF (autofocus), no IS (image stabalising) and the camera has no control on aperture… all of this is fine, the controls are all on the lens… the only down side is that there is not reporting back to the body what lens is attached or what aperture is set so this gets missed off the exif data… not a biggy really and Lightroom CC has a lens profile for it too so all good. Not having AF is not a problem as the way this lens gets used its manually focused anyway.

So a few pictures of the lens…

Aperture ring and focus ring…
Samyang 24mm f1.4

Samyang 24mm f1.4

As you can see it has all the glass in the world lol…
Samyang 24mm f1.4

Samyang 24mm f1.4

Very solidly built, came with a hood (that I don’t use at night) and takes 77mm filters like the rest of my Canon L lenses… if I have a niggle with it then I’d have to say I am not a fan of the lens cap… it ‘looks’ like any other pinch type cap as you would find on newer Canon or Sigma lenses (makes it easier to remove/replace the cap with a hood on) but the bits you ‘pinch’ lack a lip on them to get a grip on with your fingers like the other manufacturers and as a result I find my fingers slip off making it easy to drop the cap if you are not careful.

On to a few shots…

Having an aperture of f1.4 can give a very shallow depth of field and allows you to take some very interesting shots… here are a few test shots I have done so far…

All very nice but its quite tricky getting sharp focus with a combination of manual focus and a very small DOF…

As last night was very clear and the moon wasn’t showing its face until the early hours I set off to take some starry shots seeing as thats the main reason I got the lens… I have to say it was a disappointing night… it didn’t get properly dark until nearly 10pm (astronomical end… the time of night that it doesn’t get any darker) and the light pollution even in some real secluded parts of the cotswolds is immense!… I was shooting at f1.4 and the results quite frankly were rubbish… if I had actually thought about it at the time I’d have been better off stopping the lens back down to f2.8 and shooting at that as the results were fairly dire… I am almost ashamed to post the two pics of the evenings (2hrs of it..) shoot… but I will as it will hopefully show any improvements I make as I get a bit better at taking shots like this… bare in mind there was no real subject matter, it was more a technical exercise so I apologise for the lack of excitement in these images but you have to start somewhere 🙂

As I said… too much light pollution to warrant use of f1.4, focus was out and composure was a bit pants but as always I learnt from the experience.

This has not put me off and I am as excited as ever about my goals with this lens and to finally capture some good nightscapes… I have the kit, just got to find a decent location and a bucket load of talent LOL…

Time for a few resources…

Darksite finder… uses an overlay on Google maps to depict light pollution using the Bortle Scale..
http://darksitefinder.com/maps/world.html

…this functionality can also be found in the Android app Planit! for Photographers
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yingwen.photographertoolspro

I believe there is a version for iDevices as well as the IOS app PhotoPills

Happy snapping 😀

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