Today I wanted to get out of the house and get some exercise, but I didn’t just want to walk around the local neighbourhood, because it’s so familiar and I see it all the time. So I decided to hop in the car and drive a few suburbs away to Cremorne Point.
The point is a peninsula jutting south into Sydney Harbour. There is a walking path all the way around the shore of the point, and it has both beautiful scenery and amazing fancy houses. The shore is covered with trees and so there are also many birds in the area. I took both my phone and my dSLR with bird lens.
A rainbow lorikeet:
Silver gull, with an interesting Sydney background:
A panorama of the lighthouse at the end of the point, and the city:
The MacCallum Seawater pool. This is a completely free public swimming pool, with an amazing view:
This morning I began making my first sourdough loaf. I started by taking 100 grams of my new starter culture:
I added 310 mL of water, 500 g of flour, and 10 g of uniodised salt, and mixed to form a dough:
The dough seems to have a good consistency. I covered the mixing bowl in cling film and have left it to rise overnight. By this evening it’s already risen a lot, I’d say doubled in size easily. But I’ll bake it in the morning.
The other good news today is that the clouds obliterating Sydney’s view of the grand conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn for the past week finally lifted today. Only they lifted higher into the atmosphere, forming a thin haze over the sky. Nevertheless, I went out tonight with my camera to see what I could, and managed to get a few photos. Here’s the best one:
You can see Jupiter, all four Galilean moons, and Saturn. Saturn looks elongated by the rings, but you can’t really tell they’re rings. Here’s the same photo labelled:
It was a pretty crappy view, honestly. Always through cloud haze, and sometimes the planets would disappear altogether as thicker cloud wisps drifted across. But it may be the best I get, because the forecast for tomorrow is more evening rain, and then rain every day for the next week. But at least I got to see it.
First cab off the rank this morning was photographing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I finished writing them on the weekend, but was busy with golf yesterday morning, so I didn’t get started then. I like to do them as soon as my wife leaves for work with Scully, so I have the house to myself, because it makes a big mess on the floor with all my Lego boxes laid out all over the place. If I start by 9 o’clock, I can be done just before lunchtime, then have a nice lunch to wind down.
This batch is big enough to take me beyond Christmas – wow, that’s not far away now is it? I just need to assemble the photos into the strips and write annotations over the next few days.
The other photographic thing that happened today is I got delivery of a new batch of greeting cards, printed with selections of my wildlife photos. I’ve added one of the new card images to Etsy already. I’ll add the second new card to my Etsy shop in a day or two. I also restocked on my cards for the sea lion photo, which were sold out after the market I did a couple of weeks ago.
And in other good news, my comics just updated, and it looks like the mysterious Tuesday cron job failure for Irregular Webcomic! has not occurred this week. It’s updated correctly! I had implemented a logging function on the cron job, so now if it does fail again I can diagnose it a bit and see exactly what part of the chain is failing. But hopefully now that I’ve done that I won’t need it. 😀
Monday – this morning I spent some time looking after details of my Etsy store. I had to reorder stock for one of my most popular greeting cards since they sold out at the market I did a week ago. While doing that, I decided to prepare two other photos for printing on greeting cards and order some stock of those as well. The order is at the printer and I should get the cards in a week or so.
I also set up a new photo available as a matted print (within Australia) – the same sea lion photo that I’d had to restock as a greeting card. The animal photos are definitely more popular than the landscapes, and I’m running out of stock of those faster.
I also spent some time today reprocessing a bunch of old photos from scans of film that I took 20 yers ago. And some time writing comics. I basically stayed in most fo the day because it was rainy, although it stopped in the afternoon when I took Scully to the dog park for a bit.
Today was another busy day for me and my fledgling photography business. My Etsy shop is going okay – I’ve had a dozen or so orders for greetings cards and have been mailing them out. But as I said yesterday, I want to expand my range and start offering matted prints ready to frame.
So today I went down to the garage and grabbed some of the stock I have printed for market stalls, and took some photos to set up some new items on Etsy. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because taking product photos requires good lighting, and it was a grey day here, and we don’t get a lot of natural light inside because of large trees near the windows – and indoor artificial lighting is often odd colour temperatures and very directional and harsh.
I ended up taking my stock outside and placing it on the ground under the open sky, and standing over it to take the photos looking straight down. Even then the results weren’t brilliant, because taking a photo of a photo naturally ends up with reduced image quality. So I took to Photoshop and made some mock-ups using a combination of photos of the matting boards that I’d taken outside and the original photos.
I ended up with something I could display and created a new item on Etsy. But given what I said yesterday about shipping to Australia versus internationally, at the moment it’s only available (and hence only visible, I believe) within Australia. I’m going to think about using a drop-shipping printer in the US and/or Europe to make these sort of prints available there too, but that’s a job for another day.
While I had my printed stock out, I took a bunch of photos of one of them for another purpose. Back when I was working for CiSRA (Canon Information Systems Research Australia), the last project I worked on was one to create 3D lighting effects of material surfaces. Some of my former team members decided to take their knowledge of the technology and form a start-up company to commercialise it (by re-implementing the systems from scratch in a non-intellectual-property-infringing manner). The company they’ve formed is Bandicoot Imaging. Check out in particular their demos of the Shimmer View technology and the materials gallery. This is imaging technology that I worked on!
What you need to do is take a bunch of photos from different angles, which are then combined into a material appearance model, which can be illuminated by a simulated light source from any angle. So I took some photos and uploaded them to their server, and produced a Shimmer View of one of my photos:
Mouse over it and you can control the motion, and also zoom in and out a bit. You can see the faint sheen of the semi-gloss satin finish of the photo paper, but there isn’t very much going on, unlike some of the fabric and leather textures in the demo gallery. But still, a nice effect.
I’m planning to start offering larger prints of my photos on my Etsy shop, to supplement the greeting cards. The prints are 30×20 cm, matted with boards to a size of 40×30 cm, which fits a standard 16×12 inch picture frame. (It’s such a mess working with a mix of metric and Imperial measurements…)
To offer these for sale, I needed to know how much it would cost to package and ship them to potential buyers, so I could price them accordingly. There’s a place near me that does packing and shipping of stuff, so I went there to get a quote. They quoted me $20 to package a print, and $60 to ship it within Australia, or $96 to ship it to the US or Europe. I took the quote and thanked them for their assistance.
This seemed like an awful lot, so I checked Australia Post. They can ship package of this size within Australia for $26 by Express post, or just $19 by regular parcel post. And I’m sure I can pack a print with a few sheets of cardboard, taped up, to keep it safe and prevent it bending. So that seems a lot better.
The only issue is that this print size is just over the maximum dimensions for a package for Australia Post to ship overseas. And I mean just… the matting board itself is exactly the maximum possible size, but by the time I add packaging it will necessarily be a bit bigger.
So I think for now I’ll only be offering these for sale within Australia. I need to take some product photos and set up a new listing on Etsy, but hopefully I can do that tomorrow.
Today I didn’t do much worth reporting: Ethics class this morning, a smidgen of mid-week grocery shopping, and writing and producing some Darths & Droids strips.
But yesterday while I was out having lunch, I took a couple of photos on the theme of minimalism, for a specific theme week in a photography group that I post to occasionally.
I call that one “Two Yachts”. I took it at Fishermans Beach, in the suburb of Collaroy. This is the spot where I like to sit while I eat pies from my favourite pie shop. It’s a bit of a drive from my place, so I don’t go here as often as I’d like to enjoy the pies. Perhaps fortunately!
The second photo I took heading back to my car to drive home:
So I ended up not merely with a minimalism theme, but a “blue minimalism” theme.
It’s Monday, the day after my weekend trip, and that means back to work – making comics! I had to compete writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! today, in preparation for photographing tomorrow morning.
Apart from that, I did a large grocery shop, since we were out of a lot of things and the shopping list was pretty full.
And I went through some more of the photos from the weekend trip. Here’s that floodwater that stopped us driving further along the road that was cut off:
An artistic shot of the suspension bridge over the creek:
I’m back home tonight, after a day on the road with my wife and Scully. We left our accommodation Kangaroo Valley this morning, and drove to Bowral in steady rain. We had a nice lunch there, then headed back home, arriving around 5pm. Overall, since leaving home on Friday morning we’ve driven 438 km.
I’ve had time to process a few photos from the the trip, so here they are. First, Kiama Lighthouse:
The ocean pool at Kiama:
What I’m guessing is an unnamed intermittent waterfall (that only appears after heavy rain), spotted on the escarpment of Budderoo National Park, from our drive up Upper Kangaroo Valley:
The road that was flooded, cutting our progress up Upper Kangaroo Valley – you can see from the flood depth marker that the water is more than a metre deep over the road:
A view of some farming country in Upper Kangaroo Valley:
And a view from Cambewarra Lookout, over the Shoalhaven River and the towns of Bomaderry (this side of the river) and Nowra (far side):
I had a busy day. First off the rank was sending an Etsy order out at the post office. Then when I returned home I cleaned up, vacuuming the carpets and floors. Then I washed the kitchen floor (and also the balcony floor later in the afternoon). Changed out the damp absorbers in the wardrobes. Took out a bunch of rubbish.
In the middle of the day I caught a train into the city. I needed to go in to pick up a book I’d ordered from a game store in there: Original Adventures Reincarnated #4: The Lost City by Goodman Games. While in the city I grabbed some lunch. There aren’t a lot of particularly good places to grab a quick lunch in that part of the city, but a friend suggested the food hall at David Jones, an upmarket department store. The basement level food hall sells all sorts of gourmet ingredients, and they also have hot food bars and tables. I got a seat at the Asian bar and had a massaman curry with rice, which was fairly good.
Once back home, I grabbed my camera and went out to Kirribilli again to get another photo of the slowly emerging jacaranda flowers. Today they looked like this (compare to last week):
While there, I noticed the rose beds in the adjacent park were also in flower and got a few photos of the roses:
And then by the time I got home, it was almost time to take Scully to the dog park, and buy some bread form the bakery on the way. A pretty full day right up to dinner time.