Lit 🔥

Reflecting on the year: This year is drawing to a close and as part of a retrospective look on the year I am finishing and publishing several blog posts that at one point I started and never completed. Here are some photos from September that I never got around to publishing.

For some photography practice my roommate and I set up a shoot where we would be dunking roses in isopropyl alcohol and photographing them burning.

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Using a tennis ball test shot for setup

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A rose before being treated with isopropyl alcohol

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Rose full burn

For some added fun I grabbed a few 3D printed objects from calibrating my printer and we staged a few shots with them as well.

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Avert Your Eyes (and Lenses)

Reflecting on the year: This year is drawing to a close and as part of a retrospective look on the year I am finishing and publishing several blog posts that at one point I started and never completed. Here is a follow up post to on seeing the total solar eclipse in August.

 

I’ve shared my photos of my experience viewing the total solar eclipse, but there is still another story to tell that starts weeks before the eclipse. How to prepare to be able to point a camera with a magnifying lens directly at the sun for a couple of hours without anything catching on fire.

The sun is an extremely powerful light source. Without proper protection it can melt many little parts of the camera. The camera might survive one or two quick photos but I was planning on leaving this on a tripod pointed directly at the sun for the entirety of the event. For that I needed a special solar filter. This is a much more potent filter than what is in the eclipse glasses usually 3 to 4 ND stops higher. This is needed because these filters are going in front of cameras and telescopes that are focusing a large amount of light into a small point, like burning ants with a magnifying glass.

Some solar filters come with a cardboard cutout the slips over the camera lens easily. The ones that I was able to get we’re just squares of aluminized plastic with no easy way to mount them. This is not uncommon for filters or gels; a professional photographer would have the mount needed to affix this, but I didn’t. These mounts are expensive and the eclipse is only a few days away, it would be hard to get. Maybe I can just make one?

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Test printing lens attachment

Some quick measurements and some computer aided design work later and I had a working prototype that could mount the filter to a lens with some rubber bands. Testing reviled that some light was getting in behind the filter and reflecting into the picture leading to some interesting photos, but adjustments we’re needed.

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Solar filter attached to printed lens hood with rubber bands

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Front plate added to keep filter aligned

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Testing the set-up

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Early test exposure through the mounted filter

Version 2 worked much better be I wanted a faster and more reliable way to attach and detach the filter, as the solar filter would need to be removed for the two minutes of totality. Third and final iteration added magnetic latching so the filter can just snap on and off from the base. Still not perfect but good enough, it was time to head to Oregon for the eclipse.

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The final more robust version with magnetic release

As seen in the previous posts the system worked well, and I’m very happy with the pictures I got. Building this system has spurred an interest in astro-photography, and there is so much that can be done with homemade equipment. This is something that I might continue.

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Testing the final setup the day before the eclipse

Who Turned Out the Lights?

As mentioned in my previous post I had the opportunity to go down to Oregon to see the total solar eclipse. It was well worth the trip down and the traffic up as seeing the entirety of the eclipse was very different than the 93% in Seattle or the 99% in Portland. Though stock was scarce I managed to get a solar filter for my camera and setup with a tripod and a telephoto lens to capture this astronomical oddity.

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Just after C1 first photo I was able to capture as I was formatting my camera card as first contact was made to make room for all the eclipse photos.

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About half an hour latter the moon is nearing the half way point. Around this time it starts getting noticeably cooler.

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Through the camera or eclipse glasses the sun is now a sliver behind the moon. Without the glasses the only noticeable change is that sun light seems dimmer. This is about as much of the eclipse would have been seen in Seattle.

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The sun gets smaller and smaller. This is about the extent of the eclipse that would have been seen from Portland.

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An interesting phenomenon know as Bailey’s Beads. The last rays of sunlight are sneaking through the mountains and valleys of the moon, making the appearance of a string of beads. 

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Totality. Now the glasses and solar filters can come off as the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon for 1 minute and 44 seconds. In the sky there is a black circle surrounded by white rays which is the sun corona, only visible to the human eye during a total eclipse. Stars are visible and the entire horizon looks like a sunrise. 

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As C3 passes the total eclipse ends I sneak a picture of the ‘Diamond Ring’ before putting the solar filter back on the camera. 

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The sun is back to being a sliver, and the entire process reverses its self. Around this point we did notice some light Shadow bands snaking across the ground.

Pocket Pen

As mentioned in my previous post on pens I like to carry a writing instrument on me as part of my everyday carry. In school I always had a mechanical pencil, moving into pens I first tried roller-ball then felt-tip pens before landing on fountain pens. Fountain pens have many advantages over other types of pens, but being pocket safe is not one of them. Because they use liquid ink drips or leaks can cause a lot of damage (think of the opening to Shawn of the Dead). Last century wanting safety from leaky pens was such a necessity that people would line their shirt pockets with plastic envelopes bring us the dweebish stigma around the pocket protector. Luckily today the fountain pen enthusiast has better options.

A large point of not spilling your ink is how you are filling your ink. Older fountain pens used latex bladders or lever activated pistons to pull ink directly into the barrel of the pen. Now it is much more common to insert a small ink filled plastic cartridge or a converter which uses a screw piston. These ink distribution methods are much more reliable and will prevent ink from seeping out of the pen. But that’s not good enough for a pen that I want to throw in my pocked with my keys and other things.

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The Liliput is nearly the perfect pocket pen. It adds protection by having a twist off cap that will never come off in your pocket, and will never let ink out. Coming in at a little under four inches capped its a pocket-able aluminium ink fortress. But its only nearly perfect. Being small, slippery, and perfectly round this pen wants to roll of and get lost. To be truly useful this pen needs a clip. There are clips make by Kaweco for this pen, though the selection is very limited. Instead I tried fabricating my own.

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I have a 3D printer, but the nature of a pen clip makes it difficult to print on a 3D printer. Printing a ring to fit around the pen was easy enough, but attaching a clip to it introduces structural weakness that will not stand up to being pocketed over and over again. This has to do with the direction of layers, for the ring having the layers perpendicular to the pen makes printing the shape simple. For the clip the layers should be oriented parallel to the pen otherwise the clip will just snap off at the weak layer joins.

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I printed the ring to fit around the pen and then looked to some model making techniques to finish the clip. I happened to have some very fine brass rods around that would make a durable, but flexible pen clip. Using a very small drill I made inserts for the ends of the brass rod and bent it them glued it into place. A little bit of sanding to smooth out the printed plastic and I have a very functional clip for my favorite pen.

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Now this little pen is perfect for a pant for shirt pocket. With the oblong shape of the plastic ring it also no longer rolls away! With this clip I have been carrying the pen around for a few weeks now. Haven’t lost it and no spills! I’ve also got a rather odd way of filling this mini pen to maximize the amount of ink it will hold, but that’s a story for another time.

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A Sticky Situation

Reflecting on the year: This year is drawing to a close and as part of a retrospective look on the year I am finishing and publishing several blog posts that at one point I started and never completed. Here is one about making syrups this summer.

Its summer and this means it is the best time to go to a farmer’s market and get a large amount of fresh local produce. This being Washington the thing to get is cherries

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A bountiful harvest!

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Removing the pits from all the cherries

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Ready to be processed

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Into the pot

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Add sugar and water

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Cherry strawberry and raspberry syrups going all at once

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Straining to get the final product

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Ready to be enjoyed