To help order and sort some of the things in my mind, it often helps me to write them down. And this is the place I do just that. Not always related to photography. Not always in English. Manchmal auch auf Deutsch.
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my new blog:
I have recently switched blogging platforms. Here is my old blog:


Die Dinge niederschreiben hilft mir, sie zu ordnen und einzuordnen. Hier ist der richtige Platz dafür. Nicht immer geht es um die Fotografie und nicht immer schreibe ich auf Deutsch. Manchmal auf Englisch.
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein neues Blog:
Ich habe kürzlich die Blog-Plattform gewechselt. Hier ist mein altes Blog:

15 feet USB

I did some research, then got myself a long 5-meter/15-feet USB cable that has a USB amplifier built in. It allows me to take tethered pictures from my camera right into Lightroom. And it works no matter if I press the shutter button in Lightroom or on the camera. In both cases the picture ends up on the computer a few seconds later.

It's the ideal teaching tool along the lines of PocketChris! Instead of explaining and painting pictures of what happens when you do this or that with your camera, I can now simply take the shot and it'll show up on the monitor for all workshop participants to see.

Learning by seeing what happens. I like it. It's brilliant!

Not my idea though, I saw it first on Joe McNally's workshop in Dobbs Ferry last year.

Taking the 2011 workshops to the next level, step by step.

Dirty little iPhone secret

Non-photography infrastructure time! I listened to the German Bits und so tech podcast the other day and they talked about apps automatically starting in the background when you boot your iPhone 4 - and potentially other multitasking iPhones.

Wait a minute.

I was under the assumption that only Apple stuff was starting up during an iPhone boot, such as the mail system, and various other daemons (that's how background processes are called in the unix world, and iOS is a unix-type operating system).

So I did a little testing using iStats, an iOS app that will give you a list of running processes.

Here are my findings - and they explain why even the very fast iPhone 4 tends to get a bit slower over time, depending on what you install:

Skype: starts up in the background automatically after reboot if it's been running at shut down time. If you kill Skype and then reboot, it won't automatically start.Pocket Informant: seems to start up in the background automatically as long as it's installed. Haven't found a way to keep it from doing that.Google Latitude: starts up in the background as long as you are logged in inside the app.

These were the processes that were obvious to me, I might have missed some though.

Fact is, there apparently is a mechanism for apps to automatically start up when you boot the iPhone. They then consume RAM and CPU without you being aware of it, which will result in some form of slowdown and battery drain.

On the one hand I am totally for making this device a black box, the user shouldn't have to know about processes, daemons, background execution and so forth. On the other hand I'm enough of a geek to want to know why my iPhone gets a bit sluggish from time to time.

It obviously makes sense for something like Skype to run in the background, so you can receive calls, but in case of Google Latitude I was under the assumption that if I didn't start it, it wouldn't run. Now I finally understand why Google keeps sending me emails reminding me that I've got Latitude running. They want to make sure this doesn't turn into some form of shitstorm.

I'm still a bit surprised that it took me so long to find out about this.

The International Pinhole

Update: Here is a video shot during the first test and here is the first picture out of this camera.

» offical website

Building pinhole cameras is easy and fun. All you need is a box, some tape, aluminum foil, a pin, and joy in experimentation.

Unless you're me and your landlord is a cabinet maker. Then creating a pinhole camera might as well turn into trying to make a really awesome one.

Since I've been dabbling in large format photography I had the idea of creating a beautiful pinhole camera that would accept large format film. Not just film though, but also the according large format film cassettes, Polaroid backs and other backs, including 6x9 backs for example. All sorts of formats.

When I ran across a wonderfully made DIY pinhole holder and tripod mount, I knew that this would get me one step further, so I talked to my friend and landlord, and the other day we made a first prototype.

IMG 1169It starts with just some material, cut to the right dimensions. Here is the front wall, the sides and the top and bottom. Once finished, the camera will feature an open back that has the right dimensions to hold large format view camera backs (also known as Graflok backs). It will be able to easily fit a 4x5" film back or even a Polaroid back.

IMG 1171This is how the side walls will interface with the top and bottom pieces. This will guarantee that no light can leak into the camera and that the camera is really stable and robust.

IMG 1176Making progress detailing the parts.

IMG 1178This is the first test to see if our measurements around the international back were right. It's a perfect fit, sliding right into the slot. We still need a mechanism to fix it in place, but we've got a few fun ideas on how to allow backs of different depth, such as a Polaroid back, to fit well and be easy to attach and detach. Easier than on most monorail cameras actually.

IMG 1204Black MDF is great to work with, but it also ends up creating quite a bit of dirt. Here you see the main hole for the "lens" being drilled.

IMG 1207Test fitting of the "lens" - it's a beautiful piece of solid steel that allows to fit several different size holes, zone plates and more.

IMG 1210The outer casing is being fit together. The bottom of the camera features a beautiful and solid steel tripod mount. As you can see, the focal length on this prototype is pretty short, around 55mm. Given the size of the large format negative, this results in a pretty wide angle picture. Future models might feature longer focal lengths, even though the wide angle in conjunction with a pinhole is a lot of fun, because it doesn't know any depth-of-field issues: everything is equally in focus. Maybe we'll even find a way to do a variable focal length model. How does "first international back large format pinhole zoom camera" sound like?

IMG 1214The prototype will be held together with screws. The future models' surface will be undisturbed by screws.

IMG 1216First working model finished! Still looking for a good name for it.

IMG 1220Test fitting a tripod plate and a Polaroid back.

IMG 1221The open prototype...

IMG 1222...with a film cassette on.

IMG 1224The film cassette is a snug fit. The surface of the camera will look quite a bit different once its got the according treatment including sanding and several layers of oil, also the final model won't use screws, so this will look very different once it's in its final stage.

Still on the todo list: implement mechanism to fasten different backs to the camera (got a simple idea, more on that at another time), work on surface, make the camera a bit lighter, find a good name for it.

Yes, find a good name for it. "Large format international back pinhole camera" doesn't have enough of a ring yet.
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