28 June 2011

Wednesday Movie - view from my living room window

This weeks wednesday movie was made by me and it can be seen here
There is also a version with a soundtrack here which seems to work in some places but not others.

Over a year ago I got interested in timelapse photography. Since then I have experimented with a variety of different setups and methods which I have published here and on my youtube channel.

The most ambitious project has been to take pictures of the view from the Evil Lair once every 4 hours for a year. To make it more challenging I decided to create HDR pictures for each shot.

So the set up was an old nikon D70 powered from the mains, connected to an old laptop. In order to get the bracketing required for the HDR I needed to use the Nikon camera controller software. I must say at this point it really pisses me off that Nikon charge you thousands of pounds (or dollars) for a camera and then have the nerve to try and change you hundreds more for the software to use it!

Anyway the software was installed and the whole thing rigged up. I set the camera to automatic exposure bracketing one stop either side. The shots were taken at midnight, 4am, 8am, midday, 4pm, and 8pm. I thought this would reflect the changes through the year nicely.

Everything was running ok until I went to Utah in May. When I came back I found out the computer had crashed while I was away and I had lost a few days. This became a bit of a theme. I can not figure out why the laptop would crash, it was only running one piece of software, not connected to the internet and doing the same thing everyday but random times it would, normally after a month or so. I realised I could reduce this by restarting it every couple of weeks but I still lost a couple of blocks. The worse was when I was in Aberdeen for Sophie's birth and I lost the entire month of February (gained a daughter so I can't complain). Still very annoying.

I decided to stop at mid-summer, so I would have just over an entire year. Once the date came I downloaded all the pictures (about 6000). I am batch processing the HDR but in the meantime I decided to make the movie just from the single images, to see how it would work.

Its not practical to run the pics in order because within a day the contrast between night and day is overwhelming so that at 10 frames per second it just flashes light and dark twice a second. So instead I made seperate movies for the different times and the stacked them back to back. This way you can see how the length of the days changes with the weather through the year.

I am rather pleased with it. I compiled it in windows movie maker. I added Pink Floyds "learning to fly" as a sound track which seemed to fit well. When I uploaded it to youtube I got a message to say that it was blocked in numerous countries because of copyright, so I made a second version with no sound. I expect this means that less people will buy Floyds album now but that's EMIs loss - twats.

Anyway hope you enjoy the movie, I will post the HDR version when I get it processed

24 June 2011

Ole and Sven in Hell

Ole and Sven are from Minnesota. They die in a snowmobiling accident, drunker than skunks and go to Hell. The Devil observes that they are really enjoying themselves. He says to them 'Doesnt the heat and smoke bother you?' Ole replies, 'Vell, ya know, ve're from nordern Minnesooota, da land of snow an ice, an ve're yust happy fer a chance ta varm up a little bit, ya know.'

The devil decides that these two aren't miserable enough andturns up the heat even more. When he returns to the room of the two from Minnesota , the devil finds them in light jackets and hats, grilling Walleye and drinking beer. The devil is astonished and exclaims, 'Everyone down here is in misery, and you two seem to be enjoying yourselves?' Sven replies, 'Vell, ya know, ve don't git too much varm veather up dere at da Falls, so ve've yust got ta haff a fish fry vhen da veather's dis nice.'

The devil is absolutely furious. He can hardly see straight. Finally he comes up with the answer. The two guys love the heat because they have been cold all their lives. The devil decides to turn all the heat off in Hell. The next morning, the temperature is 60 below zero, icicles are hanging everywhere, and people are shivering so bad that they are unable to wail, moan or gnash their teeth. The devil smiles and heads for the room with Ole and Sven. He gets there and finds them back in their parkas, bomber hats, and mittens. They are jumping up and down, cheering, yelling and screaming like mad men.

The devil is dumbfounded, 'I don't understand, when I turn up the heat you're happy. Now its freezing cold and you're still happy. What is wrong with you two?' They both look at the devil in surprise and say, 'Vell, don't ya know, if hell iss froze over, dat must mean da Vikings von da Super Bowl.'

17 June 2011

Married life

People keep asking what it feels like to be married
So I decided to post this from diamondgeezers blog which I think sums it up quite well

Single: You get the whole duvet to yourself.
Coupled: You don't need a hot water bottle.

Single: There's half as much ironing to do.
Coupled: There's twice as much ironing to do but there somebody else to do it.

Single: You can hoover the floor when you think it needs doing.
Coupled: Somebody else hoovers the floor before you think it needs doing.

Single: Nobody ever tells you that the kitchen must be repainted and the bathroom must be retiled.
Coupled: Two people can repaint the kitchen or retile the bathroom far more quickly than one.

Single: You never have to waste a Saturday doing what somebody else wants.
Coupled: You never sit around on a Saturday wondering what the hell to do.

Single: You can play your music collection really loud, even the track that nobody else likes.
Coupled: Your music collection is double the size and you have someone to dance with.

Single: You can watch whatever TV channel you like, without arguments.
Coupled: There's somebody else on the sofa to snuggle up to.

Single: You don't have to put up with somebody else's niggly annoying habits.
Coupled: Somebody else puts up with your niggly annoying habits.

Single: The toilet seat is always where you left it.
Coupled: The toilet seat isn't always freezing cold.

Single: You never come home to a blazing row.
Coupled: You sometimes come home to a cooked meal.

Single: You get to eat the whole ready meal for two yourself.
Coupled: It takes just as long to cook for two as it does for one.

Single: You can spend all your money on yourself.
Coupled: There are two salaries coming in and only one set of bills

Single: You can walk away from a flatshare, any time.
Coupled: You can afford a mortgage, together.

Single: There are no important birthdays or anniversaries to accidentally forget.
Coupled: Somebody actually remembers your birthday.

Single: You never have to buy useless presents for your partner, just for the sake of it.
Coupled: Somebody buys you presents occasionally, and it's the thought that counts.

Single: Nobody insists on coming over to yours for Christmas.
Coupled: Everybody insists on coming over to yours for Christmas.

Single: You're allowed to flirt with people you meet.
Coupled: You don't need to flirt with people you meet.

Single: You can still have a riotous social life in your 30s.
Coupled: You can still have a riotous social life in your 60s.

Single: You have no friends to go out with because they've all partnered off and are staying in.
Coupled: You don't have to go out with those annoying friends you had while you were single.

Single: You don't catch every sniffle, cold and flu bug off your partner.
Coupled: When you suffer a major cardiac arrest, somebody actually notices and dials 999.

Single: If you meet the partner of your dreams, it's not too late to marry them.
Coupled: You already met the partner of your dreams

Single: You never get your heart broken.
Coupled: You sometimes feel your heart leap.

Single: You can have sex with anyone you like.
Coupled: You can have sex whenever you like.

Single: The bathroom is always free.
Coupled: The bedroom is always full.

Single: You can lie in bed in the morning for as long as you like.
Coupled: There's a very good reason for lying in bed in the morning.

Single: Nobody sees what you look like first thing in the morning.
Coupled: Somebody loves you despite what they see first thing in the morning.

14 June 2011

Wednesday Movie - Perspective on the Universe

The galaxy song from Monty Pythons Meaning of Life is an oldie but a good place to start

And while you are at it check out  this and this which also give an interesting view on our place within the Universe

13 June 2011

Wedding - Parts 1 and 2

So we are having a three part wedding. Part 1 was the legal bit at the Leeds registry office, Part 2 was the party at Katharine's Mum's house in Yorkshire and Part 3, yet to come, will be a party in Bergen.

Part 1 was on Friday the 3rd June. I hadn't realized that the Thursday was Ascension Day, so another religious excuse for a long weekend which meant that the flights were all chaos and expensive. So I ended up flying to Manchester. MAN used to be my main airport when I lived in Liverpool and it was strongly nostalgic passing through after being away for 10 years. I was picked up by my bro and we headed to Yorkshire. Not sure if it is the sat nav or whether Yorkshire only contains narrow back roads but I always have this feeling that I am A) lost and B) not going via a very direct route. We arrived in time for pizza.

Thursday was spent getting stuff ready, including mowing a large field of grass for car parking with two very small tractors mowers. Fun. The house and garden were looking fantastic and everyone had put in so much effort to make everything nice for us, it was moving. The reality was starting to dawn on me, I was getting married!
Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow...

Friday we headed to Leeds registry office to do part one. There was Katharine and I, Sophie, Pat (Katharine’s mum), Laura Lolly, Les and Elin. We drove on small back roads (this time following Rik not the sat nav) and the traffic was terrible. The UK legal system insists that you go through a ceremony which is short and to the point. The woman who conducted the ceremony was lovely and it actually felt a lot more special than I had thought it would. The registrar selected some music at random and it was Greig, which was rather fitting and it all felt rather special.

We signed the register, took some photos and headed to a restaurant across the way for nibbles and champagne. Part 1 done!
Smiles all round

Back at Mytholme, folks had already started arriving and Friday night we had a very pleasant evening by the pool drinking and eating. Great to catch up with folk and the weather was stunning.

 A meal with family and friends before the big day

Saturday dawned overcast but that was fine, it was a bit cooler. People arrived, I was banned from seeing Katharine while she got ready. Dougal arrived with his E-type Jag which I held built into the service so I could take it for a spin. Les and I got into our kilts. This was the first time we had ever worn them (apart from trying them on Thursday). Felt good and Les quickly got over his initial reservations of “being in skirt that looks like a picnic blanket”. When we first unpacked all the stuff it was a minefield. We had no idea of what to do with half of it but we soon figured it out. We were wearing a Welsh tartan (St Davids). There is actually a Howell tartan but it’s not common enough that anywhere rents it.

Men in skirts- looking good!

So we greeted a few folk then climbed into the Jag. I had tested it with Dougal and it felt like driving a very fast, old car. Fun but scary. After a little bit of getting a feel we took it up on the moors and through its paces before heading back to Mytholme, after 30 mins of razing I felt ready to get married with a big smile on my face.

We arrived and stood in our appointed spot. Everyone else was assembled in the open tent. The musicians fired up the Hovis tune and Katharine appeared from the house looking gorgeous. We walked in together and the cameras were going like crazy.

 A very happy couple

Helen did a fantastic job of leading the ceremony that we had written and it all went perfectly to plan. After the ceremony we led the procession out and then greeted everyone at the main marque. Lots of old friends to catch up with and the time flew by. Then it was champagne and canopies before the speeches.

Laura was up first and did a fantastic job which included some pork balls and set the scene nicely. A lovely speech – we love you to Lolly! Then Katharine who was also great, followed by me. I was a bit surprised to find myself struggling with the emotion of it all. Les reset the mood very nicely with a speech that was, in his own words “like a skirt, long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to still be interesting”.

During the speeches  

Then the barbeque and some great food. Too many people to catch up with. Someone had calculated in a 6 hour evening with 120 guests that is only 3 minutes per guest! No wonder I didn’t get to speak to everyone. And that’s without time for dancing

The band came on and we did our first dance. Fortunately we had practiced so it wasn’t a total shambles. Then the band kept playing and playing. They were fantastic, it was like having my 50 favorite songs played live to me by a really good band! Hardly stopped dancing all evening. It was great night that finished for us at 2am. The DJ had quit at 1am and most people were gone home by the time we left for bed. A few hardcore folk partied until 4.30, good luck to them.


It was a fantastic day – its times like that you realize how many great friends you have. So good to see everyone together. And now we are married and it does feel different. I didn’t think it would, nothing had really changed but it feels better.

There are lots more photos on my flickr site include Chris D's excellent shots. There are more to come

07 June 2011

Best and worst of the USA

Got married at the weekend!
Lots to follow on that but in the meantime I found some great maps on Strangemaps that show the best and worst of each US state. Classic. I love the fact that the Utah has the highest reported well being and the most porn usage - you gotta love those Mormons...