Another update: Raspberry π4 for Zoneminder part 3

Raspberry π4 for ZoneMinder Part 1 - Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder Part 2 - Update: Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder Part 3 - Another update: Raspberry π4 for Zoneminder (you are here) My π4 Zoneminder has been running for just over two months. Overall I'm pretty happy with it. The main issue I had was that the current stable version of Zoneminder 1.34.x was not available for the ARM64 version of Pi OS in the Debian repository. At time of writing, most of the current release of Pi OS is in fact Debian version 10 (Buster), and it comes… Read More ►
Damaged SD card

Fixing a damaged SD slot

There are many ways to break an SD slot, but a surprisingly common one is to jam a tiny piece of plastic it it that has snapped off from a damaged SD card. The tiny plastic dividers between an CD card's contacts can snap off. I've had quite several cards do that over the years. Usually one can just pull off the loose bit and continue using it. But occasionally it snaps off whilst actually in the socket. This guy explains it better than I can... https://www.photillustrator.com/how-to-fix-your-sd-card-slot/ NB, I don't think the guy actually mentions this, but I would strongly… Read More ►

Removing tricky screw thread lens filters

I'm a fairly keen amateur photographer. Over the years, I have collected quite an assortment of vintage lenses, filters and other bits and bobs. I have also encountered quite a few sticky filters. However, I can honestly say that I have never destroyed a filter by attempting to remove it. Having the correct tool helps removing sticky screw thread lens filters. For a few quid you can buy dedicated lens filter spanners, as shown on the photo below. Mine cover a range from 37mm up to 82mm inclusive. All the filters in the photo can be removed using these spanners.… Read More ►

Update: Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder part 2

Following on from my last article, this is Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder part 2. Now I have had time to set it up and test it for a while. Firstly, I decided to abandon the ARM64 version of Ubuntu on π because it seems slow and clunky. Basically it seems the current beta ARM64 Raspian "Buster" is actually better than the allegedly tested LTS ARM64 Ubuntu 20.04.1. It's a heck of a lot faster too  and the Pi-specific tools actually work as well. And while I remember it, apparently Raspian has been rebranded as Raspberry Pi OS now -… Read More ►

Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder

This is a overview of my adventures experimenting with a tiny Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder GNU/Linux-based security system. Raspberry π4 for ZoneMinder Part 1 - Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder (you are here) Part 2 - Update: Raspberry π4 8GB for Zoneminder Part 3 - Another update: Raspberry π4 for Zoneminder Background I have been running Zonemnder GNU/Linux PC-based servers both for my home and for a few customers for several years. It's worked pretty well too. In fact, my wife and I really like our system. She shares certain cams with her folks back in Hungary. And my… Read More ►

Remote shooting using “IP Webcam” software.

Folks considering remote shooting via smartphone may wish to experiment with Pavel Khlebovich's "IP Webcam". Basically it's an amazingly clever and full-featured app that allows you to control the camera(s) on your smartphone with a remote computer, using standard internet protocols. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pas.webcam I initially got into it because it plays nicely with Zoneminder. Thus any of my smartphones can be used as security cameras. I use it quite regularly on my rooted Ulefone 3w. to stream video to our Zoneminder installation. But it actually does way more than that. For a start, it offers several different methods of displaying video… Read More ►

A surprisingly straightforward studio flash repair

Back in 2015 I bought 3 pairs of  studio flash heads (one pair 400 joule, one pair 360 joule and one pair 200 joule). They were supplied as bargain bundles, complete with stands, brollies etc. via sellers on eBay. They were quite a bargain. Each flash head worked out at approximately £50 per unit,  They are branded "Senweit" but were actually manufactured by Shenzhen Nice Photographic Equipment Co.,Ltd. They were "end of line" products. In fact, I understand the product was discontinued in or around 2014. They are also beautifully made with (mostly ) metal casing and all-metal 16mm mounting… Read More ►

Ulefone 3w ruggedised smartphone

I recently purchased an unlocked Chinese Ulefone Armor 3W. - c/w  Mediatek chipset, 8-core 64-bit CPU, dual unlocked SIM slots, 256GiB TF slot and 10700mAH battery. I have quite a soft-spot for cheap generic Chinese phones. Of course, one has to choose the product quite carefully. You need to ensure your preferred device is not hobbled, or encumbered with masses of bloatware. If you want to make the device really useful then one also needs to be prepared to a little work oneself - especially if you wish to root the device. Because of its high power and relatively low… Read More ►

Home made light modifier

OK, so we are still in coronavirus lockdown here in the UK and I have spent the afternoon playing! :-) I saw the basic idea on a web forum on a photography site, and decided to look around my garage and see if there was any thing suitable to produce something similar. I also took a few quick hand-held snaps of the results. This is my last piece of (rather battered) perforated stainless steel sheet, cut to a roughly rectangular 29cm x 18cm, c/w edge protector (to prevent cutting ones hands on the sharp edges). Excuse the extra hole. It… Read More ►

Virtual backdrops and wallpapers

Freebies to beat those lockdown blues This is a collection of virtual backdrops and wallpapers that you may download, manipulate and enjoy, for free. These images were created by capturing and saving a large number snap-shots of an open source music visualisation application for GNU/Linux called ProjectM - not to be confused with a 2008 computer game with a very similar name. I originally created these as desktop wallpapers for computer systems. A purpose for which they work pretty well, even if I do say so myself. However, as a keen photographer I discovered they could also be deployed as… Read More ►

Safer modelling lights for Chinese flash head units

An interesting question came up a little while back on one of the photography fora to which I belong "I'd be interested in knowing how you swapped the halogen bulbs for led's though waist_it because I have the same problem and as you say those bulbs are hotter than hell, makes using modelling lights with a grid or snoot very fraught?" Well, I had already been down that road in 2015, when I successfully converted all six of my generic Chinese flash heads from halogen to LED modelling bulbs. Firstly, one needs to do a little homework Determine what voltage… Read More ►

What is a WebP image file, and how do I open one?

Seems there is quite a lot of buzz about a "new" image format called "WebP"  that is seeing increasing use on-line recently. Although it is attributed to Google, WebP was not strictly a Google invention. It was originally developed by On2 of New York as part of its VP* series "Truemotion" video codecs. Google acquired these technologies when it took over On2. VP8 went on to be the core of Google's WebM video format. WebP is not particularly new either. It was originally released in back in 2010. Whilst the libwebp code library has been freely available under a BSD… Read More ►

Cheap but effective continuous studio lighting

For continuous lighting, one needs a light source that has good colour balance, uses power efficiently, is reasonably robust and does not present a health or fire risk. I am also a tightwad - interested primarily in "bangs per buck". Whilst I love new technology, I am not prepared to pay silly money for it. Choices Incandescent bulbs are power hungry and get very hot. Hot enough to set fire to soft-boxes or cause serious burn injury to one's models. CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) is better in terms of power efficiency but the big CFL's are flimsy, cumbersome and very… Read More ►

Setting up a home studio

When we moved home a few years back, one of the most significant parts of our specification was a detached property with enough space for a reasonable sized home studio. We were looking for a place with a rectangular downstairs room, with no internal obstructions, roughly 6.0m x 4.0m, c/w a cloakroom on the same floor with toilet, basin hot+cold water and sufficient room for models to change reasonably comfortably. I based my studio size requirement thus... Absolute minimum 5.0m x 3.0m (Calculation basis: paper rolls are 2.72metres wide; camera needs to be 2-3 metres from model; model needs to… Read More ►

Converting inexpensive LED flood lights for use in the studio.

This is how I converted three left-over cheapie (£60 for a box of ten, delivered) 20 watt daylight LED flood lights for use in the studio. The basic tools you need:- Vernier or digital caliper, M10 ISO metric taps. Suitable spanner (17mm AF). Bench vice. Electrician's screwdriver and wire strippers, to make the electrical connections. Every LED floodlight unit will need:- Suitable socket to fit on standard 16mm studio lighting spigots. M10 ISO metric bolt. Some form of electrical connection or junction box.   Firstly, I found some nice solid aluminium 16mm studio lighting type sockets. These came fitted to… Read More ►

Repairing an elderly Tamron 80-210mm lens

Repairing a Tamron 80-210mm lens. End glass removed using special lens tool, available on eBay for about £10. Inside of the lens was a bit foggy. I suspect that oil/grease had evaporated form the zoom mechanism and had re-condensed on the inside of the glass. Anyway, I carefully dismantled it (which is actually pretty straightforward with the correct tools, cleaned it up with my trusty lens-cleaning solution (33% white vinegar; 33% isopropanol; 34% distilled water), cleaned and lubricated the mech with silicone grease and reassembled it.... Close-up repairing a Tamron 80-210mm lens. End glass removed using special lens tool, available… Read More ►

Having a Gander

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900"] Having a Gander 2013-09-08[/caption] I always enjoy photographing geese. They are curious creatures and they always seem so keen to pose for me. These particular geese live at the Weald and Downland Living Museum, a fascinating 16 hectare open air site, about 30 km east of my studio. The chap in the foreground seemed particularly keen - right up to the point where he tried to eat my camera. Fortunately it was only my old Fuji HS20 bridge and geese have no teeth! Read More ►
Image

Cleaning a camera CCD with a vacuum cleaner and a Lens Pen

I had Fuji S1, S2 & S3, all of which had dust magnets for sensors! They would get dirty even if I did not remove the lenses, simply from the air that got sucked in by varying the focal length of the lens. However, I cleaned them quite successfully with a vacuum cleaner. However there are some important caveats. Most importantly,  do NOT use the cleaner to dislodge the dust. You are more likely to suck out the shutter mechanism. I never did this but a colleague did. Instead, use a fine carbon fibre brush such as a "Lens Pen"… Read More ►

Backing up using big, cheap hard disks and some nifty Unix tools

We all have our favourite methods of data backup. Certainly DVD is a good archiving and distribution medium. But for routine backup, I look for reliability, low cost, ease of use, high-speed, high capacity and redundancy - so I am not reliant on just one device. One of my favourite methods is a complete off-site dataset consisting of a hotchpotch of USB/eSATA/Firewire disks. Only disadvantage is that they live 20km away and are only updated every couple of weeks. So I keep a further two 1Tb Samsung disks with recent data in my camera rucksack. These are updated daily. Cost… Read More ►

I can’t open Raw files from my digital camera

Usually the camera manufacturer will  provide software that handles raw files from your camera. However, several problems can arise:- You change computer and loose the original software. You have several cameras made by different manufacturers but want to use the same application to deal with their raw files. You don't use Micro$oft Windows. So what can you do? Before you stump up any hard-earned cash, I would suggest you download and try GIMP image editor c/w either UFRaw or DCRaw plugin:- http://www.gimp.org http://ufraw.sourceforge.net UFRaw is actually based on DCRaw but is much friendlier IMHO. However, Dave Coffin, the author of… Read More ►