Sunday, May 31, 2009

Self-self-self mirror portrait

Many of my friends has self-mirror portraits. I am not really into this, but when I saw the mirror in our room in Melide, I was totally fell in love with it. I immediately decided to do a "self-self-self mirror portrait":

Self-self-self-mirror portrait in Melide

The bathroom was very small, this mirror was in the middle. I put one flash (580 EX II) on the top of the mirror with a LumiQuest Softbox III as the main light, it was directed to my face and the camera. I think it was set to 1/32 power or something like that. I had my other two flashes (an 580 EX II and a 430 EX II) on the floor pointing upwards to the ceiling set to 1/64 power on my both sides. The lamp above the mirror gave just enough light to be able to focus with the camera, but other than that it was totally dark in the room. The triggering was done with the Cactus V4s, though I think infra would work, too. (In a small space, infra can bounce from the walls, and there is a big chance to hit the destination. Unfortunately outside it did not work for me).

Besides being dark and having hard time focusing, I had to bend when I did the shot, so that was very tiring. I was not really satisfied with the sharpness of the image, so later I even tried some shots with a tripod. Those photos were sharper, but I finally chose one for posting from the earlier ones. I had only a limited time for this experient, since it was pretty late, and next day we had to wake up early for the Swiss Miniatures (see here and here).

Group shot in Melide

Actually this was the first time I tried the Cactus V4s. We were very happy about a packed day with travel through the St. Gotthard tunnel, visiting Locarno, and a short walk in Melide, and we sat down in the garden of a the restaurant to eat something.

I brought two flashes with me (580 EX II), plus two triggers. I don't usually go to restaurant with full set of umbrellas and lightning equipment, so I needed to take a photo with this set, and since I had to wait a little bit for the food, I started to play with putting the flashes to different positions, and see what comes out.

After about 15 minutes of playing with the shooting angle and the adjustment of the flashes, this was the final photo:

Group shot in Melide

The first flash was put just in front of the camera in the bench, hidden by the back of the bench, pointed directly to the group. The other flash was behind the second person on the right side, pointed to the roof, to give some fill from the top and some backlight also. I don't really remember the settings, but I think the front-flash was set up to the widest possible and about 1/4, and the back was set up to 1/2 and the narrowest possible.

I did not have any problems with the triggers, they did their job very well even when the flashes were not visible form the camera. Maybe that's because the flashes was not too far (2 and 4 meters), very much inside the 30 meter range, which was in the specification documentation of the transmitter.

Thank you for my friends to be so patient. :)

Cactus V4

I was very happy when I got the news about 3 weeks ago that I got a package. Then I was slightly disappointed when I found out that the package came from Hong-Kong. I expected it from the US. Then I was even more disappointed that the postman said that I have to pay 36 CHF for the customs and VAT. But then I did not worry about that for long, paid that, and seized the package!

I liked the boxing, they were pretty nice. The transmitter and receiver package contained the required batteries (not in the photo), a lot of cables, some manual and a small book with shots (not in the photo, because I forgot to put it there):

The receiver-only set contains the receiver only, plus one cable. This cable was a PC cable as far as I know, since it could drive my 580 EX II:

Close-up of the devices:

There is a button and the led on the transmitter, which is intended to test the receivers (and your ability for pressing a button on the transmitter). When the receiver is turned on and tuned to the same channel (there are 4 microswitches, which gives you 16 different channels), its led is flashing for the rhythm of your finger of the trasmitter button.

There is no switch on the transmitter, just on the receiver. The design department made a bad decision about the location of the switch: if a flash (at least my Canon 580 EX II) is mounted in the hot-shoe, you cannot access it. So when you care to preserve the batteries of the receiver for long, you either have to use the PC cable to connect the receiver to the flash, or you have to remove the flash after every session. I think I can live with that, since I almost always move, but tell me how much work it would take to put the switch in front of the receiver?

Another thing about the switch is that I always forget which one is the on, and which is the off position. I have to use the transmitter to test them always to make sure.

Besides these small problems, I could pretty easily use these devices, and I am very happy to have them. I'll post two more photos using them as triggers. I think they definitely worth their prize, if you don't need fancy TTL triggering, then it is a pretty cheap solution. They claim that the response time is between 1/1000 and 1/500 sec, which is pretty good in this category. If you don't need that sync speed, you probably can have an even cheaper solution (Ákos mentioned something for half prize).

Besides these triggers, I have one optical trigger also, so that if the battery set dies in one of them, I can probably use it as a backup trigger (I just have to make sure that that flash can see at least one of the others). Therefore I cannot say anything about the battery life yet, I did not overuse it in the last month, actually I am happy that I had some time to shoot with it a little bit.

Edit: I tag all posts with the cactusv4 tag, that has connection with the device (at least for a while until it is not interesting any more).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Swiss miniatures take 2

I thought that the Swiss Miniatures worth more than just a few photos, so I uploaded all what I made (removing duplicates). This place is really worth visiting, amazing how many things they made in a miniature form:

Monday, May 25, 2009

On this weekend: Swiss miniatures

This weekend was pretty busy: Melide, Locarno, Lugano, and two times 6 hours in the car when we travelled from and to Zürich.

The scenery was beautiful during the road, and both Locarno and Lugano was beautiful. But I'm not going to write about them right now, because I wanted to start my favourite part: Swiss Miniatures!

There is a park, located in Melide, which hosts a lot of miniatures of Swiss castles, typical building, etc. If you want, you can just run through the park, and you can finish in 30-40 minutes, but it is more fun watching the details of the buldings, the funny schedule of the trains (which seems to be also authentic) and the programmed movement of the ski elevators. So one can spend many hours in the park. For a photographer, it is a paradise, so many details, so many interesting thing to capture.

We were there during the hottest hours in a very hot day, so the shadows was pretty strong, it is not really a good time to take photographs, but I could not help it, there were no sign of any cloud approaching. So it is a bad luck if you want to really take good photos. but anyway, I tried my best, and there are a few good ones.

As you can see in the photos, I loved the small details of a model:


Trains were also very nice:

Mini trains

And some miniatures about huts in Valais:

Alpine huts of the Valais

More photos probably will come from the weekend later, when I get some little rest. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

An old photo of mine landed in explore again. This is my 6th explored photo:

The rest of the explored photos can be viewed here:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mercurial weirdness...

I've an old project, which I started to track in SVN. Then I've found out how cool git is, so I tried to convert the repo to git. It did not work. Never mind, I used the latest working copy and created a git repo out of it.

Time passed, and I kept both repositories, because I did not want to touch the live system, so I committed everything to svn which I developed in git. Smart, isn't it? :)

But now! I've found Mercurial! I saw that Google Code also supports it now, so it must be a really cool thing!

I started the conversion from the git repo first based on the tutorial (hg convert -s git /old_project/project_master project_master), and then cloned the main repository (hg clone /new_project_repo/project_master project_dev) , and the cloned head was not the same as the git head. What the hell??

Then I decided to clone the repository from SVN. The same result, even worse: the directory structure was totally messed up (in SVN, I did a lot of directory reorganization, probably it is why I could not imported it to git either, and when I imported to Mercurial, it reminded me the old directory structure).

Ok, then: back to the git version, and try to find out what patches are missing. I checked the first difference, found the changelist in git, patched the mercurial cloned working copy, and it created a lot of rejects, so I decided to give this up.

Then, since I did not want to spend too much time on that: diff -u -r -N git_repo project_dev >patch1.txt and then patch -p1 <patch1.txt, and then added the missing files, committing the change.

Weird. Unfortunately I did not have more time to debug this, though I am slightly worried about this. I did not like git (I could not get used to it after SVN), so I'll try mercurian, but as a backup, I'll keep my git and SVN repos as well. :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I got it from email. Really interesting advices, so I shared them with you. Long reading, but worth it:
Enjoy these words of wisdom

L, Jacqui Taylor

At the age of 97 years and 4 months, Shigeaki Hinohara is one of the world's longest-serving physicians and educators. Hinohara's magic touch is legendary: Since 1941 he has been healing patients at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo and teaching at St. Luke's College of Nursing. After World War II, he envisioned a world-class hospital and college springing from the ruins of Tokyo; thanks to his pioneering spirit and business savvy, the doctor turned these institutions into the nation's top medical facility and nursing school. Today he serves as chairman of the board of trustees at both organizations. Always willing to try new things, he has published around 150 books since his 75th birthday, including one "Living Long, Living Good" that has sold more than 1.2 million copies. As the founder of the New Elderly Movement, Hinohara encourages others to live a long and happy life, a quest in which no role model is better than the doctor himself.

Doctor Shigeaki Hinohara JUDIT KAWAGUCHIPHOTO

Energy comes from feeling good, not from eating well or sleeping a lot. We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It's best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.

All people who live long regardless of nationality, race or gender share one thing in common:None are overweight... For breakfast I drink coffee, a glass of milk and some orange juice with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. Olive oil is great for the arteries and keeps my skin healthy. Lunch is milk and a few cookies, or nothing when I am too busy to eat. I never get hungry because I focus on my work.. Dinner is veggies, a bit of fish and rice, and, twice a week, 100 grams of lean meat..

Always plan ahead. My schedule book is already full until 2014, with lectures and my usual hospital work. In 2016 I'll have some fun, though: I plan to attend the Tokyo Olympics!

There is no need to ever retire, but if one must, it should be a lot later than 65. The current retirement age was set at 65 half a century ago, when the average life-expectancy in Japan was 68 years and only 125 Japanese were over 100 years old. Today, Japanese women live to be around 86 and men 80, and we have 36,000 centenarians in our country. In 20 years we will have about 50,000 people over the age of 100...

Share what you know. I give 150 lectures a year, some for 100 elementary-school children, others for 4,500 business people. I usually speak for 60 to 90 minutes, standing, to stay strong.

When a doctor recommends you take a test or have some surgery, ask whether the doctor would suggest that his or her spouse or children go through such a procedure. Contrary to popular belief, doctors can't cure everyone. So why cause unnecessary pain with surgery I think music and animal therapy can help more than most doctors imagine.

To stay healthy, always take the stairs and carry your own stuff. I take two stairs at a time, to get my muscles moving.

My inspiration is Robert Browning's poem "Abt Vogler." My father used to read it to me. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.

Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it. If a child has a toothache, and you start playing a game together, he or she immediately forgets the pain. Hospitals must cater to the basic need of patients: We all want to have fun. At St. Luke's we have music and animal therapies, and art classes.

Don't be crazy about amassing material things. Remember: You don't know when your number is up, and you can't take it with you to the next place.

Hospitals must be designed and prepared for major disasters, and they must accept every patient who appears at their doors. We designed St.... Luke's so we can operate anywhere: in the basement, in the corridors, in the chapel. Most people thought I was crazy to prepare for a catastrophe, but on March 20, 1995, I was unfortunately proven right when members of the Aum Shinrikyu religious cult launched a terrorist attack in the Tokyo subway. We accepted 740 victims and in two hours figured out that it was sarin gas that had hit them. Sadly we lost one person, but we saved 739 lives.

Science alone can't cure or help people. Science lumps us all together, but illness is individual. Each person is unique, and diseases are connected to their hearts. To know the illness and help people, we need liberal and visual arts, not just medical ones.

Life is filled with incidents. On March 31, 1970, when I was 59 years old, I boarded the Yodogo, a flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka. It was a beautiful sunny morning, and as Mount Fuji came into sight, the plane was hijacked by the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction. I spent the next four days handcuffed to my seat in 40-degree heat. As a doctor, I looked at it all as an experiment and was amazed at how the body slowed down in a crisis.

Find a role model and aim to achieve even more than they could ever do. My father went to the United States in 1900 to study at DukeUniversity in North Carolina. He was a pioneer and one of my heroes. Later I found a few more life guides, and when I am stuck, I ask myself how they would deal with the problem.

It's wonderful to live long. Until one is 60 years old, it is easy to work for one's family and to achieve one's goals. But in our later years, we should strive to contribute to society. Since the age of 65, I have worked as a volunteer.. I still put in 18 hours seven days a week and love every minute of it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cactus V4's switch button is in a very bad place. You cannot switch the device off when a flash is mounted in it.
OpenId provider for Google appengine: . I installed it for . My openID is now:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First entry

Hello Everyone!

This is actually the continuation of my blog from I had three different blogs there:
I decided to combine them into one, and I'll use different tags for the posts, so if you are interested in different topics, you can subscribe only to the one you want. I'll use the following tags:
  • photography: Topics related to photography.
  • tech: Topics related to technology.
  • journey: Journey-related stuff.
  • life: Things related to life in general.
  • ... (we will see :) )
I hope I'll have some more time than in the previous year to post things here.



Edit: removed hungarian and english tags, I probably won't use them.

Edit2: Added hungarian, english back, and added journey and life.