Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I feel like I haven't take a good photo in weeks. I've been doing some massive branding and integration projects at work and haven't had time to set up any shoots in the evenings. I also haven't come up with any good shoot ideas. I'm just feeling generally uninspired.

A couple weeks ago I decided to pull out the M3 and bring it to an Octoberfest celebration. The photos turned out horrible. I don't know if the iPhone meter was off, if the shutter speed on the M3 has started having problems, or if I just sucked. Anyway, the results of the few photos that actually came out were very depressing.


Upholstery repair on the Starwind

Houston in Clouds

Blah. Depressing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The raw water conundrum

It was a beautiful weekend at the marina.

Just another sunrise

The intense heat of the Houston summer had finally abated, and we slept in the V-berth sans air-conditioner for the first time since April.

Although I'd seen tiny, ethereal jellies from time to time, this was the first time I'd ever seen large cabbagehead jellyfish undulating along the bulkheads. I assume it's because the normally brackish water of Clear Lake has gotten saltier and saltier as the Texas drought has continued.

Invasion of the Jellies

Due to various combinations of high winds, low tides and busy schedules, we hadn't been sailing in over a month, so I was excited to get out on the water Sunday morning. Unfortunately, as we started motoring out of the marina, the raw water flow disappeared and white steam started rising from the exhaust.

I watched the temperature rising past 180 degrees f as we made our way to the channel, so I turned the boat around and made it back to the dock just as it was passing 200.

The troubleshooting began with the raw water strainer. The basket did have an assortment of barnacles and other strange looking clams or whatnot inside, but not enough to be restricting water flow, so I dumped it and proceeded to check the impeller. The impeller, which is less than two years old, still looked like new. However, opening the pump housing did cause a 30-minute delay while I came up with some paper and a razor blade to cut a new paper gasket.

I blew back through the raw water line with no trouble and could hear the bubbles flowing out from under the boat. I ran a test, but there was no improvement.

Next I pulled the mixing elbow off the exhaust. It did have some carbon build-up but nothing extreme enough that I thought it would have hindered exhaust pressure or caused a hot spot that could be steaming the water. Even so, I spent another half an hour chipping and scrubbing out the carbon before putting it back together. No improvement.

The heat exchanger itself never cooled down enough for me to drain it, and I wasn't in the mood to wait around, so I left that for next weekend.

Either I have some very clogged tubing in the heat exchanger or as several people suggested on, the metal center of the impeller has become separated from the rubber, so under high RPMs, the metal is just spinning and the rubber is not.

Guess I'll continue my troubleshooting next weekend, but such is the life of a boat owner.

Frankenstein's Camera

Call me a hoarder if you want, but I hate throwing things away. I've had my Canon AE-1 Program since I was about 13 years old. It saw heavy use through the 1990s, but has sat more or less untouched since I started shooting digital in 2001.

Talk of the new Sony NEX-7 and it's adaptability to be used with such a wide range of lenses got me thinking, if I invest in the Sony, I'd be able to carry one camera that could use my Leica, my Nikon, and my old Canon FD lenses. Of course, the Sony isn't available for at least another month, so I thought, hmmm, I wonder if there's a Canon FD to Nikon adapter mount available. Turns out, there is.

Turns out, Canon FD glass is also super cheap on eBay because Canon abandoned that mount for the EOS mount decades ago.

I decided to get a little crazy with the telephoto action.

Frankensteins Camera

My latest toy consists of a Canon FD 200m f4 ($70), a 3x teleconverter ($10), and a Canon FD to Nikon adapter ($15).

That's 3 x 200mm x 1.5 crop factor = 900mm f16 for under $100.

Extreme zoom but a bit undwieldy without a tripod.

Moon Test

I'm trying to decide if it's worth picking up a Canon FD 500mm mirror lens for another test.

Focusing on the Nikon is a bit touchy since there's no prism in the viewfinder. I think it would be easier on the Sony since they've implemented focus peaking.

Sadly, there is no FD to EOS adapter, so you still can't use these legacy Canon lenses on a digital Canon camera.

An engorged iPhone

I upgraded to the iPhone 4 last spring, but I kept the 3GS around for use on my boat. The Navionics app stores all the charts in memory, so even if you have no wireless service connected to the phone, you still get a chart and GPS positioning. It worked great ... until it stopped holding charge.

I took it to the Apple store for repair and they said that due to the fact that the battery had inflated, there was no way to repair it or put a new battery in it. You could actually see stretch marks on the back of the engorged phone's casing that had appeared overnight while I was trying to charge it.

When I took the phone apart, here's what the battery actually looked like!

Exploding battery on my iPhone 3GS

This is apparently a known problem with pouch batteries, but there is no definitive cause for the failure.