JIM DORAN

Photoblogging & Camera Hacking

Recently, I met this fellow as I stepped out of my kitchen.

He was handsome. The morning light was perfect. I was excited.

I grabbed my camera and began taking close up pictures of the little monster.  The praying mantis misunderstood my encouraging words of  “Work it!” with “Please, attack my hand!” Caught by surprise, I dropped my trusty Canon SD850IS Digital Elph. In my haste to take pictures, I didn’t wear the wrist strap. My camera broke. This was right before ArtScape, too.  For the record, I gently moved the praying mantis to a camera free bush, unharmed and safe.

It’s Busted, No Big Whoop

I LOVE(D) this camera.  It came highly recommended from DPReview.com and I chose it after careful consideration over many other cameras.  I checked around to see if anyone could fix this, and was told it’s cheaper to buy a new one. I looked on Amazon and E-Bay and learned I could still get one for about $100 more than what I originally paid for it. That’s not the end of the world. We have a Nikon D70 and there are a couple of Fujifilm Finepix point-and-shoots floating around the house. Plus,  I have my crappy iPhone.

I used to take pictures when I was a kid – I had something like this Kodak box deal where you looked through the top to see your subject (MAN I WISH I STILL HAD IT). Pictures were precious, as were the flash bulbs needed to take them.  Digital photography is wonderful! It’s cheap, there’s no penalty for excessively documenting daily existence and sometimes really great photos show up.

Camera-less, I felt that something important was missing. I acutely noticed every single missed photo opportunity.  Wrist straps only work if you use ’em, folks.  I take lots and lots of pictures.  I feel EMPOWERED by having a camera with me. It turns the mundane into adventure.

The Big Whoop

So, I’ve gotten a new Canon, the SD4000IS. So far, it’s great – the indoor pics are much better and the video is downright amazing. To celebrate the new camera, I’m going to try a photoblogging experiment and share more photos here, instead of my favorite, nifty photo-sharing service shown above this paragraph. :)

Finally, while researching Canon cameras, I discovered THEY ARE HACKABLE. There is a Canon Hackers Developer Kit available, and even a book on hacking some Canon cameras [The Canon Camera Hackers Manual: Teach Your Camera New Tricks
]. Using Basic, one can upload scripts into the camera’s memory when powering on. It is non-permanent and non-destructive. With the CHDK, one can enable RAW support, increase exposure and recording times, enable faster shutter speeds and enhance functionality already available in the camera. Not all the Canon models have the kit, so be sure to check the wiki.

I haven’t had a chance to experiment with this, but it’s VERY cool.

Cool Bugs

One of the many things I love about summer, and where we live, are the bugs.  Here are some pics (mostly) from the past two weeks.

The Bees

Caterpillar

This fellow was cruising along until I noticed him, which caused him to put his face down and produce this giant headed Cheshire smiley thing.

Baby Praying Mantis

These are all over the house. There’s a bright green one on the upstairs window screen.

Here are the great grand parents of these little ones, from previous seasons.

Inch Worm

This guy also went into a defensive posture by pretending to be a stick.

Moths

Other Garden Critters

Working on this post reminded me of a book I read in middle school called The Bug Wars by Robert Asprin. I don’t remember much of the tale, but it had one of the best covers ever, including dinosaur lizard guys flying bat winged fighters, chrome wasps, lasers and fire in deep space. Awesome.