Our Home (the Second)

Kathi and I had talked about going camping since we first met, although we did go once before when I had my white van conversion (the Imperial Shuttle),

that attempt didn't work out too well. We had gotten a late start and when we got to Payson all the campgrounds were full. We ended up sleeping in the van at an undeveloped camping area between Woods Canyon lake, and Bear Canyon lake. It was hot and the van was NOT comfortable (it's a long story why we decided we could sleep in the van). Since then we had not gone "camping".

After 19 years of marriage we decided we were going to start camping again. A couple of weeks ago we went to a local RV dealer in Phoenix, and got a Smallish folding camping trailer. The trailer is made by Fleetwood, and is a 2007 Rio. It has 2 beds, 1 is 48" x 72" and the other is 72" x 72". It has a 2 burner stove, heater, sink, hot water heater, and a cartridge toilet/shower.

We left rather late in the day Friday due to that activity I must go to 5 days a week to earn money. We arrived at the Aspen campground at 19:30 and had to set up the trailer in the dark. Here are a couple of pictures taken 2 days later.

Saturday morning we got up and went to Woods Canyon lake, I fished and Kathi slept. I caught 4 trout most of which wouldn't make a fillet of fish sandwich. 1 was of almost keepable size, but since I don't like to eat fish I threw them all back. I also caught 20+ crayfish five or six big ones using my trap. Most of the crayfish I let go as they were very small. We returned to camp had dinner and sat outside until it got dark, cold, and and we were properly smoked from the campfire.

We got up Sunday I went to the lake again and Kathi stayed at the campsite to pack and take it easy as she wasn't feeling well. I only went after the crayfish this time. I caught a bunch more for a total of 35 (oooh a snack). I went back to camp and we finished packing, folded up the trailer and left.

The trailer worked out well. We had to work out a way for me to sleep as I am 6'4" and the beds are only 6'. Having the heater and toilet were very nice as it dipped into the the low 40's that night and it was a bit of a walk to the nearest "Smell-O-Potty".

When we got back into town Mike and Chris came over and we cooked up the crayfish with some corn on the cob. We even gave a crayfish to Sean.
Hey... he knew what to do, he "pinched the tail", and "sucked the head".


Bizarre Foods with MHW

Today we finally cooked the Crayfish I caught last weekend. Here I lined up the little soldiers in preparation to cooking them.
Here is a closeup of one of the bigger ones.
I started a pot boiling with some Zatarain's crab boil, salt, and lemon then dropped them all in.
After 2 minutes of boiling, you let them sit for 15 minutes.
Here they are before we ate them.
I was going to video tape us eating them but Mike would have none of it. here's the remains. We did not suck the heads because they had not been purged. This amount of crayfish was a very light snack. Normally one would have 3 to 5 pounds of crayfish per person.
Here's the review.
The taste is unique. People say they taste like a cross between lobster and shrimp. They taste like crayfish. The flavor is very very mild. Most of the edible meat is in the tails. If the claws are big enough you can eat that meat, however (to me) it's texture and taste was like crayfish flavored rice. We all agreed that we would eat them again.

For more information:
Trapper Arne


Anniversary in Payson

Last weekend for our 13th anniversary we spent the weekend in Payson. We left town at 3pm on Friday and got to Payson about 4:45pm. We stayed at the Best Western Payson Inn. We had dinner at Chili's, then went for a drive. We ended up taking pictures of the sunset on the highway that heads to Pine.

I also did some light trails.
The next morning we headed up to the rim to see the view and scope out future campsites.

On the way back we stopped again at the rim and went for a walk. I took this opportunity to test out the macro on my 300mm zoom lens.
We went back to star valley and had lunch at Chester's (really greasy and anemic) fried chicken. We headed back up to the Tonto creek area drove up to the "Tonto Rim Christian camp" (formerly Tonto Rim Baptist Camp). Then to the Fish Hatchery.

There wasn't much happening at the fish hatchery so we drove to Pine so Kathi could check out a couple of Antique shops. That night we had dinner at the "haunted" Main street Bar & Grill in Payson.
The next morning we got up bright and early and went back up to Woods canyon lake to catch some crawdads and hang out. Crawdads are not native to Arizona, they are considered an invasive species introduced to this state in the 1940's as live bait. As such any person who has an Arizona state fishing license can catch as many as you want, as often as you want, the only catches are you can't transport them live and you can't sell them. I caught about 25 crawdads.
I used a fish hook, twig, and some fishing line I found. I used raw chicken for bait. I brought a trap with me but only caught about 5 in the trap. The little bastards are so greedy most of them wouldn't let go of the bait even after they were out of the water.
I put them on ice with rock salt and within an hour they were frozen solid. This coming weekend we (including Mike and Chris) will cook them and eat them (oooh yes we will!). The rest of the afternoon we just hung out and fed chipmunks and such.

We left around 1pm and stopped at the Mogollon rim visitors center. I took the opportunity to take some more macro pictures.

Then we headed home. I have some video, if it is interesting enough I will upload it later.


So Long and Thanks for all the Pics

Well after 21 years I finally said "So long" to a good friend. In 1986 I met my Good friend at a K-mart in Douglas Arizona while I was in college.
Well... met isn't quite the word... OK I bought him. Specifically I bought a Pentax K-1000 camera. Like a very loyal dog was my K-1000. He had no fancy bells and whistles. Just the basics, manual focus, manual aperture, manual speed, and a very simple light meter. We saw a lot together. I once shot over 200 pictures at an airshow at Falcon field. I climbed mountains.
I took a photography class with him. I made a few "effects" pictures.

I took him with me when we went shooting in the desert.
When Santa Claus came to town, He was there.
He went with me on vacations.

He was there when my sisters got carried away.

I even took him on my Honey Moon.
But alas it was not to last. After many years of good services his light meter stopped working correctly and, I moved on to other more "Fancy" cameras and eventually to digital. He languished unused floating about in my "Man Cave". Now he has gone off to live a new life. Last Friday I sold him on Ebay. He is on his way to live with Sam Wright of Chico California.
I will miss him.


What The Hell is That!?

While heading home today, I was about to get on I-17 at Buckeye road when I saw a strange "Locomotive" Heading East bound. I popped out of my lane and tried to head it off. After being stopped by several lights and having it go by without getting close to it, I finally caught it at an intersection.
I then got a better picture at another crossing:
A little research found the following information.
From the "Salem Times-Commoner" (Don't sue me):

"Those driving under the Route 50 East underpass saw a rare train car sitting to the north of the Depot Supper Club on Wednesday as it waited for some trains to pass on by. The bright yellow self-propelled car is one of two geometry inspection vehicles owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

The vehicles are designed to perform a variety of electronic track inspections at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. A three-person crew operates the EC-4 and the EC-5. The particular vehicle in Salem was the EC-4. The cars perform inspections six days a week. The vehicles have full sized kitchens in them so meals can be prepared while on the go. In a year, the two geometry vehicles will test miles of tract equivalent to more than five times around the earth's equator.

Both geometry vehicles use complex computer systems that gather data from various types of lasers measuring track surface or level rail ear and tunnel measurements. The on-board computers also use Global Positioning Satellite systems to accurately record and report the location of variances for accurate repairs. Track maintenance crews follow the inspection vehicle and make repairs as needed when a track defect is found. The real-time data recorded by the vehicles also is used in scheduling track improvement projects.

These two vehicles join the 22 Union Pacific-owned ultrasonic rail-flaw detection vehicles. The ultrasonic vehicles are designed to "look inside" rails to detect flaws unseen by the human eye. An internal flaw may be caused by a poor casting or metal mixture."


Stock Photography II

Since I started my foray in to stock photography, I have discovered a couple of things that vex me.

#1 - Chromatic Aberration:
For those not familiar with this problem you either do not have a digital camera, or aren't trying to sell you pictures. I was completely unaware of CA before I got serious in photography, I never noticed it, or even knew it existed. There are two type of CA "Purple Fringe", and regular CA. Purple fringe will not be discussed as my camera doesn't have a problem with it (as far as I can tell). Here is an example of regular CA.

On the top is the original image (resized for my blog) and on the bottom is an area in question from a 100% crop. If you click on the bottom image you will notice that on the left and right of everything that has a defined edge there is a blue fringe on the left and an orange fringe on the right. Look specifically at the black lantern. The fringe color can vary depending on the camera and lens. Some lenses/camera's will have a green/red or a blue/yellow. It is caused by a lens having a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light. This is best seen in this diagram:
Note that where the vertical line meets the green focal point the colors red and blue have different focal points. The result is that the red and blue light is out of focus. The CA colors can vary with focus. All lenses have this to one degree or another. Generally lenses with less CA use apochromatic glass or lens elements (click the link for an explanation).

I was curious to see if any of my old film cameras have this problem. I looked at old prints and scanned negatives I have, and found it is there, but less noticeable. This I believe is due to the way color negatives are constructed and that most pictures are not printed to their full size.

Ok you may ask: "how do we fix this?"

Well for the most part you can't, exactly, sort of. You can do one or more of the following:
Buy very expensive apochromatic "prime" lenses (avoid zoom lenses for your money shots).

Stop down you lens to the smallest aperture you can get away with for the lighting conditions you are shooting in. (this reduces the "circle of confusion" for the CA).

Try to remove it using software (MuHuhahahahahahahaha.... ahem). No seriously good luck with this technique. So far the best program I have found that deals with this reasonably well is "Helicon Filter", even this program requires post process smoothing in Photoshop to remove the jaggies left behind after it "fixes" the CA (helicon filter has a very good built in work flow).

#2 - Focus problems:
Sometimes I really miss my old manual focus cameras. At least if the picture was out of focus I knew who was responsible (me). Now I am never sure exactly why something was not in focus. The camera (having 9 focusing points) might decide to focus on something closer or farther away. The camera becomes confused when under certain conditions, like shooting through bars, a fence, or tree branches. The auto focus might need to be re-calibrated (in my case it would cost $289.00). Then there's camera shake of course.

Hey I know! I could use manual focus! Oh wait... silly me my camera doesn't have a split image focusing screen. I would have to rely on my imperfect eye sight. Not to mention auto focus lenses have no resistance, so manual focusing them is like trying to precisely position a smooth free rolling ball bearing. I would give somebodies right arm for a split image focus screen in my camera (looking for volunteers).

Oooohhhh... you think your camera doesn't have this problem... Well before you gloat, go back and look very carefully at you digital pictures at 100%. huh... what's that... he's right some of them aren't perfectly in focus. Pictures not perfectly in focus are ok for printing and hanging on your wall or sending to forgiving friends and relatives, but just try and sell one on a stock photography site (not going to happen).

What??? you say you never have this problem. Well odds are your camera is probably a fixed (small) aperture pocket digital camera (your jpegs will be over compressed though, can't sell them either), you paid lots of money for your equipment and/or the person doing the calibration on the equipment wasn't in a hurry that day, or... you are lying.

One last tidbit:
Your digital camera doesn't take RGB information for each pixel (gasp). Your 6, 8, or 10 megapixel camera may actually be a 4, 6, or 8 megapixel camera (GASP). Horror's! how can that be. I'll let this guy, and this article explain.