Too Late, Too Early

I stayed up until around 2am last night. Mostly just because I couldn’t fall asleep, but also because I wanted to step outside and see how many meteors I could see from the Lyrids meteor shower. ๐Ÿค“ I stood outside for a little over ten minutes, freezing, and saw a grand total of none. ๐Ÿ˜… I know that I was looking where I was supposed to, so they were either lighter than expected or I was just blinking at the wrong time. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

No big deal, since if I had seen several of them I probably would have been wishing I had figured out the needed settings for my cameras so that I could have captured them. ๐Ÿ˜’ But earlier in the evening I did mess with the phone and camcorder a bit, to see if I could quickly figure out how to get a noise-free, well exposed photo of the stars in the sky, while also being able to capture any shooting stars… and it’s not as easy as you’d think, at least not with an iPhone.

It’s funny, I’ve got it down where I can get a decent exposure of the night sky, but I know from trying to also capture a few passing planes in the frame – that the way I was exposing the image requires the stars to “stay put” for about 30 seconds, and any moving source of light just wouldn’t be captured. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜ Meh… I’m fairly confident with my regular star exposures, so if the sky is clear tonight I might plug up the phone to power and leave it out back to possibly get a decent time-lapse. On a full charge, using just the internal battery, I was only able to get one hundred 30 second exposures, forming this bitty 10 sec time-lapse… ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚

(As usual, best viewed in HD, full screen… and this time, in a dark, dark room. I’m gettin’ there…)

So it was after 2a before I went to sleep, and then I woke up around 7a because my brain knew I had a doctor appointment at 9:30a – so it was sleeping lightly, waiting for any excuse to make sure that I’d wake up and not sleep through it. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜ Obviously I’ve had early doctor appointments before, but this one was different, so I’m certainly not complaining that I had to wake up early for it today.

This was my first experience with “telemedicine” as I guess it’s called. ๐Ÿ˜ƒ Staci called a little early, at 9a, to see if I was awake and able to go ahead and start… and she then sent a link via text, I clicked on it, it opened a page that started the AV connection as fast as a regular Facetime call would start, and from that point on it was like a regular doctor appointment. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€โš•๏ธ

She did her normal “pre-doc” stuff of all the typical information that they gather before the doctor actually comes in, she then put me on hold for about 30 seconds, and then my doctor clicked back in and we wrapped up my appointment in less than ten minutes. ๐Ÿ˜Š Still covered everything that we would have covered in person, and in fact – because I didn’t have to experience the anxiety of the in-person visit, I probably felt better than at a “normal” appointment. That also meant that I didn’t ramble on about any minor “this or that” which often happens when I’m actually there and able to bitch. ๐Ÿ˜…

So yeah, I could definitely get spoiled by something like that. ๐Ÿค— I realize though that a doctor does have to be able to physically interact with a damaged person at least every couple of appointments (to confirm the level of their damage) but it would be nice if I could do two of these, then a regular appointment, two more of these, then a regular, etc. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜• Unfortunately they probably aren’t able to bill insurance at the same rate when they do “virtual” vs “real” appointments, so once they feel that the COVID risk isn’t as high anymore, everyone will be going back to the regular routine. ๐Ÿ˜’

Heh… this is probably my longest, most coherent pre-10a entry I’ve ever written. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Display.Land Tests

I fell asleep around 7p last night, woke up a few times during the night, but didn’t truly wake up until 7a. Twelve hours of sleep… finally. Between that and the nice day, I decided to grab my phone and get to work making some crude 3D models (w/improving results) with this photogrammetry app called Display.Land

(Sorry about the vertical video… it’s the only way it’ll spit ’em out. I suggest going full screen.)

It’s easy to collect the images that are used to build the models, as it works on video rather than photos… I mean, it uses still images from that video, but it’s all done in the cloud so you don’t need to leave your phone open to do all of the calculations. Once the render is done, you do have to go and crop each one in 3D space and create a camera path “trailer” for app users to see. (If you make your scans public.)

If someone sees your preview and thinks it looks interesting, they can click on it and be presented with the actual 3D model that they can pan, scan, zoom, etc at their own whim. I dunno, another totally not-useful thing that I’m trying to get better at. It has been a nice little distraction throughout the day though.

Get A Hobby

Bad dreams ended up waking me last night around 3am, and I’ve been up ever since. Kinda doesn’t matter what sleep schedule I keep these days, given that I’m not going anywhere and I didn’t even realize what day it was today. Not meaning April Fools Day, just meaning that I didn’t realize it was Wednesday. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜ Point being, anxiety filled sleep, waking up early… it didn’t lead to much of a day for me. I did text with Dad and Genesee a bit, and she got me thinking about playing the keyboard again. ๐Ÿค”๐ŸŽน๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ

I forget what she said, but it reminded me that thanks to the YouTube Music app searching my own videos for music to add… I ran across this old video of me playing Don’t Wake Me by Skillet. ๐Ÿ˜Ž And when I did, I realized that if you put that keyboard in front of me now I’d have no idea how to play it. Elton John made a comment on his Melbourne Symphony album, that he was playing some songs that were so old that he had to re-learn them as well for that concert. ๐Ÿ™‚ So that’s one thing I’m gonna try to make time for… “keyboard dickin’ around time” every now and then.

And then thanks to NASCAR and iRacing running these virtual races on the weekend… and apparently a dirt track / winged-car race tonight… that’s got my mind back on video games. ๐Ÿค“๐ŸŽฎ๐Ÿ“บ I’ve got an XBOX One and a Playstation 4, yet it’s probably been at least six months since I’ve even turned either of them on. ๐Ÿ˜• Once I got into a funk a while back, my brain just never seemed interested in reminding me that I’ve got kewl shit that I could play. So I’m gonna go through my games tonight and figure out which system I’ve got the best racing games for, and I’ll probably try to re-familiarize myself with all that. ๐Ÿค” I used to be good. Years ago I was really layin’ ’em down at the road courses, or at least it felt that way. (Wow, that was from 2013…)

I don’t wanna get ahead of myself, since I’ve already got a couple options there, but I’m probably gonna play around with time-lapse and long-exposure phone photography like I usually do each spring… plus I’ve got a couple new photogrammetry apps for creating 3D models from a series of regular digital photos, so that might keep my attention as well. Meh… we’ll see, I guess.

Don’t mind me… just doing a little more “talking out loud” to hopefully burn these ideas into my brain a little more effectively. ๐Ÿคฏ It’s not like I’m making valuable use of my time otherwise, so I might as well be doing something that I used to consider fun, eh? ๐Ÿ˜ All this time stuck in the house might help me figure out where “old me” went. ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

Taste of Spring (and optimism?)

The mild weather continued yesterday, so that made it a lot easier to go in town for the bit of running that I needed to do. Mid-60s and mostly sunny at the beginning of February, so I rolled down the windows and took a meandering path into the city. Stopped at Tim’s for some dark roast, dropped off some mail that needed to go out, made a quick stop at a thrift store, and then before heading over to Dad’s I went out to Meijer to continue my grocery shopping from the other day.

It sure triggered my spring fever, as well as a hint of the photography bug… so, I dunno, maybe I’m slowly finding that missing motivation (and eventual ability) that I’ve been waiting for. Just gotta try to keep my gimpy bits moving enough so that when spring does actually get here, I might be worth a shit.

After messaging with Genesee last night about her art projects and my photography stuff, that’ll probably be what I do this afternoon… finding where I stashed my good cameras, and getting them out to make sure they’ll be ready to go, should I ever be. She got me a View Master as a gift a couple years, and there is a site that will create “reels / disks” from 2D or 3D digital images – and that’s something that I’ve yet to really try.

I’m still apprehensive or anxious when I start feeling more optimistic about things than usual, because of course any number of things could pop up between now and then. Things that might make it difficult for me to find the time (or energy) to spend on “frivolous” hobbies. But now more than ever, I think it’s important that I don’t allow those ideas to be written off completely. I should at least have some of these fun things waiting in the wings, just in case the stars align.

This is just my typical “overthinking it” way of saying I’m still feelin’ pretty alright today. ๐Ÿ˜

Alternate Tests

So… no clouds tonight, so no “clouds zipping past the moon” time-lapse test was possible. However, with the sky as clear as it was, I figured I’d try a different app for my phone that let me set the ISO to 64, the exposure to 30 seconds, and let it run for about an hour and a half – capturing images of the SW sky with the top of my house and some trees in the frame for a bit of context. It was a success in theory, since I now know how to get all my settings right to capture stars and planets – but since the moon was lighting up the sky, it left everything looking washed out. But yeah, I can see potential in this method…

Then the other thing I tried was an 80x digital zoom time-lapse of the moon as it crossed the field of view of the camera. Another thing that I should have realized, was at that zoom level – the motion of the moon would be visible enough to the eye in real-time… so doing a time-lapse with a one second interval made it cross through the frame way too fast. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜’ So, that’s why this looks all jerky… it’s actually a time-lapse that was slowed to 1/4 of its original speed. But again, decent test – which unfortunately reveals there’s not enough manual control available in this camcorder for exposure and brightness. You’ll see how it comes into the frame overexposed, looks good for a bit, and then gets blown out again as it exits the frame. Still, pretty good for a cheap ass digital camcorder. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚ (And another nice distraction for the evening…)

Don’t forget to click the little HD icon as well as making it full screen for the best result. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜Ž

Creeping Beauty

Lately I’ve just been using my phone to capture various (weather-based) time-lapse videos, long exposures, lightning, etc… ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ“ทโ˜๏ธโ˜๏ธ๐ŸŒฉ๏ธโ˜๏ธ basically anything that can be done a few steps from my front door, which unfortunately is about the extent of my “hobby of photography” at the moment. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ˜•

But last night after the lightning clouds passed through, I decided to grab my camcorder to remind myself what it’s capable of when it comes to low light and time-lapse video. ๐Ÿ“น๐Ÿค” Now, when I say camcorder, what you’re picturing is probably not what I’m actually talking about. It’s a JVC digital camcorder with 40x optical zoom, 80x “decent” digital zoom, and then some ridiculous 800x digital zoom that makes everything look like garbage. ๐Ÿ˜… But it shoots in 1080p/30 HD and saves to a standard SD memory card, so it’s good enough tech for what I’d want to use it for.

The video below… it’s theย firstย true test of that camcorder in a couple of years. I just slowed the shutter as much as possible, boosted the exposure, tried to manually focus it properly (since it will lose and regain focus over and over in the dark), and then set the time-lapse interval to 5 seconds. ๐Ÿค“๐Ÿ˜’ I didn’t realize, when I pressed record, how fast the clouds were already moving… so from now on I’ll shoot with an interval of one second and then just speed it up if necessary. But yeah, this is what I ended up with…

(You might need to click the little “HD” and “Full Screen” in the bottom right for highest quality)

It was a full moon last night, and will look essentially the same tonight, so I’m gonna go ahead and charge her up in case I’m awake that late – to where I can plop it out in the back yard, hit record, and let it run until the batteries are empty. ๐ŸŒโ˜๏ธ๐Ÿ“น๐Ÿค“๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป Right now, in the afternoon, there is a good mix of open sky and random clouds… so we’ll see if that stays true through the evening and into the early morning hours.

The storm came along at the right time last night to distract me from my “meh” thoughts of the day, to where I just let myself get lost in watching the ominous looking clouds and lightning as they approached from the distance. ๐Ÿ˜Œย (It’s in my DNA… ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ I just love severe weather.) The rain did me a favor, so I didn’t even have to scramble to grab my phone (or the camcorder) before it all got soaked once the storm got here… since it never actually got here, passing just to the south instead. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ™‚

So, wish me luck… gonna try to capture somethin’ perty tonight. ๐Ÿ˜Œย And God willing, if I start feeling good enough and my motivation returns for at least a few nights, maybe I’ll actually go out somewhere to do a similar experiment. Somewhere more “scenic” than home.ย ๐Ÿคจ The views from my house are fine… they’re just a little bit cluttered due to trees, nearby buildings, power/cable lines, etc… on top of the stray, unwanted light from cars’ headlights as they pass by. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜’

So yeah, even though I’ve done a ton of these over the years, I’m counting everything as “testing” still… ๐Ÿ˜

Testing – Deep Zoom

Finally found another site that allows the sharing of deep zoom images. Basically they are just super high resolution images that exceed the maximum properties allowed by regular JPEG files, allowing gigapixel sized images that load detail based only upon the area you are viewing, rather than attempting to load the entire image into memory at one time.

https://easyzoom.com/imageaccess/cf7be06756884c95908597463e6ef861

This image is only a bit over 200 megapixels, and about 60 megabytes in size. I just used my phone, set at 2x, and took scanning shots of the front yard and assembled them with Microsoft ICE. With a better camera and better/longer lens, much higher quality/detail images should be easy to create. Just another nerdy photo thing to test, in case I ever need it for something…

Hmm… I think I’ve actually got two old HD Zoom gigapixel images of Lancaster from Mt Pleasant from several years ago (taken with the dSLR) that I should be able to convert and upload.

How Could I Not?

Here I’ve been, telling my friends “Nah, I’m not going out for Black Friday. I can’t even think of anything I need, and especially if I have to be out among the sea of people.”ย and I thought I was telling them the truth. ๐Ÿ˜ Actually, most of those two sentences are still true… because no wayย would I consider going out to fight with the thousands of other assholes at the crack of dawn come this Friday – but it turns out that I did need something, and I didn’t even realize it until a just few minutes ago. (Deja vu… heh)

I’ll go ahead and describe the item, then I’ll get to the “deal” part of it. I already have a Playstation 4, and about a year ago Sony came out with a virtual reality headset for it which has been selling for $299. Also known as way too friggin’ much. Well, now that they’re preparing to come out with an updated version of the headset soon, prices in some places are dropping to $199 for the current model. Still expensive, but much more reasonable.

For me, any VR gaming that I end up doing will just be a bonus. Because, to be honest, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve played a game on that system. ๐Ÿ˜• Things over the past couple of years have warped my brain, taking away the desire to do many of the things I used to find fun… but anyway…

I had actually given the PSVR system a brief look when it originally came out, but mainlyย  because of the photo and video applications. I have a 3D television, but I’ll now be able to watch 3D movies or videos on the headset. Same thing with 360ยฐ virtual realityย videos. ๐Ÿ˜Ž Does anything start to sound familiar? ๐Ÿค” At this price point, this thing sounds perfect for me since I’ve got a cheap 3D video recorder and a camera that can shoot 360ยฐย photos and videos. Honestly, the thing is made for me to own.

But it wasn’t even floating around in my brain as recently as 15 minutes ago, that is, until I saw a post from Cheap Ass Gamer that showed the system available at Kohl’s for $199 – plus for every $50 that you spent, you’d earn $15 in Kohl’s Cash which can be used for in-store purchases later. So I hit the site, put the PSVR in my cart, added a $1.00 foaming face mask (to push the total to just over $200) and boom… $60 in Kohl’s Cash, effectively making the final price only $140. ๐Ÿค“ Giddyup.

This should really encourage my shooting in those alternative mediums.