Photography Standards meeting day 2

I was up at 4am again this morning for the second day of my ISO Photography Standards meeting, dialling into Apple in Cupertino via Webex. Today we had technical sessions all day, including:

  • tripod safety strength;
  • autofocus repeatability;
  • a proposal from a guy related to some of the high dynamic range stuff we discussed yesterday, suggesting additional applications to office printer equipment;
  • image flare;
  • depth metrology;
  • and a proposal for a new work item on a standard relating to measuring the Shannon information theoretic information capacity of photographic images, for the context of determining usability of cameras for machine vision.

There was some very interesting discussion and I was diligently taking notes throughout, so I can report at the follow-up meeting for Australian experts.

After the meeting ended around 11am my time, I took Scully out for a long walk. We walked out to the long headland where the ferry wharf is and I had her chase and retrieve a tennis ball for a bit to run around, and then we walked home again.

Some photos I took on the way. A framed view of the city through an old sandstone house’s veranda:

House with a view

View over the local harbour swimming area (fenced off in the lower part of the photo):

Baths view

The local creek (view looking down from the bridge above):

Berrys Creek

This afternoon I had a couple more ethics classes on Secrets. And then for dinner my wife and I drove over to the Thai restaurant that we go to sometimes, a couple of suburbs over. Given I’ve been up at 4am two days in a row now, I was pretty tired. And given I had breakfast and lunch an hour or two early each (since I got up so early) I was really hungry by dinner time. So it was nice to have a tasty meal that I didn’t have to cook.

And here’s Scully, relaxing with some of her toys:

Scully and toys

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A quick update… feeling sick??

This morning I did my face-to-face ethics class at the school – the second lesson of cause & effect and determinism. The kids seem to be enjoying the topic and it’s making them think, but today they were a bit chatty and many times erupted into talking over one another, rather than a nice orderly one-at-a-time speaking. This sort of thing always seems to happen when the weather is windy, as it has been for the past two days. Very windy indeed. All the teachers say the same thing – the kids get rowdier when the weather is windy, I wonder if there’s any real connection there.

Back home I did a 5k run. I wanted to get that out of the way for November on a relatively cool day, before it gets too hot.

This evening I had three online classes on this new topic of ageing. I started to feel a bit off this afternoon, with my nose running like a tap and frequent sneezing I’ve blown my nose through almost a whole box of tissues. I really feel like I’m coming down with a bad head cold. I’m not fevery or coughing, so hopefully it’s not COVID. I’ll keep an eye on it tomorrow.

Before I go, a couple of photos of birds I took in the last few days with my phone. An Australia brushturkey, sitting in a tree:

Australian brushturkey

And an Australian king-parrot. This is a juvenile, without any of the orange-red plumage of the adults. And yes, I’m as close as this looks – I got the phone to within about 30 cm of the parrot. These guys are pretty tame around here.

Juvenile Australian king-parrot

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Science and Engineering of Photography

This evening I gave my lecture on the Science and Engineering of Photography to the students in the image processing course at the University of Technology Sydney. As I think I mentioned before, this is a special bonus lecture for the students, not part of their coursework, to give them something interesting in their project period during the last 4 weeks of the semester. So I used up most of the first hour of tonight’s three hour time slot with that. There weren’t a lot of students present, but some were listening in on Zoom as well, and several came up to me afterwards to say they liked it.

Earlier today I finished off the last three Outschool classes of the week’s topic on Risk. I assembled a couple of new Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. And with other random daily stuff like eating lunch and taking Scully for a walk, that ate up the day before I headed into town, where I had some satay chicken and rice for dinner at Spice Alley before the lecture.

The other notable thing about today is that we had over 50 mm of rain, with almost all of it between 6:30 and 9:30 in the morning, so it was really pouring down then. The forecast was 1 to 5 mm! In the next week we’re looking at another 50 mm or so, with thunderstorms indicated almost every day. Yep… after setting a record for wettest year ever, we’re now heading into spring thunderstorm season.

New content today:

European travel diary and photo updating

Today I worked on finishing off that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I started writing yesterday. I completed the writing by lunch time and then spent a few hours this afternoon photographing the strips. I still need to assemble the strips and write annotations, but I’ll do that over the next few days.

I also spent some time doing a task I should have done months ago: formatting my travel diary from my trip to Germany and the Netherlands in June and uploading it to my website. Ive added just a few photos to one of the days. I still have to go through all the photos from that trip and process and upload selected ones.

I did find a problem looking through them briefly today: I forgot to change the time on my SLR camera while overseas. So all the photos were timestamped with the incorrect time, saying I took daylight photos in the middle of the night (which it was back in Sydney). Fortunately I have exiftool! This is a neat little command line script that can edit image files, including camera RAW files, and update the EXIF tags which record things like the time the photos was taken. So I went through my folders of photos from the trip and adjusted all the “DateTimeOriginal” fields by the correct number of hours.

Now I just need to format my diary for the trip we took to Orange last month! Oh, and do all that photo processing stuff.

Also this weekend I fit in a couple of 2.5k runs. Oh, and the weather has been warming up the past few days. We broke 25°C on Friday, for the first time since back in May. It’s starting to feel like spring, finally – much later than usual. We know this summer is predicted to be very wet again, with the third La Niña in a row, so it’s likely to be cooler than normal too. Locals are thoroughly sick of it, but also in dread of when it’s over and El Niño returns, bringing scorching hot summers and fire weather.

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A new bird photo!

I was doing some stuff at home today and noticed a raucous squawking sound outside. Channel-billed cuckoos are back in town for the summer, having migrated down from Indonesia and New Guinea. While I’ve heard and seen these birds many times, I’ve never had my SLR camera handy to get a photo. But today I looked out the kitchen window, and it was sitting there in the tree. So I rushed to grab my camera and shot it through the window. It was tricky as it was at an awkward angle and partly obscured by leaves a lot of the time. This is the best photo I got:

Channel-billed cuckoo

I’m pleased with it though, because it adds another entry to my list of photographed birds. That brings my list up to 298 species. Just a hair away from 300!

While sharing photos, here’s the focaccia I made yesterday:

Home made focaccia

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Science and engineering of photography

Today I spent most of the afternoon working on a presentation for the university Image Processing course, to be delivered to the students on 10 October, during the first of their project work face-to-face sessions. The lecturer asked me if I wanted to give a guest lecture as part of the session, and I agreed, thinking I could do one on the Science and Engineering of Photography.

I did an outline of the presentation, then started working on slides. This is the part that takes time, as I have to source images that can be used without violating copyright, or make my own. I got through the camera obscura, pinhole camera, what a lens does, how a camera focuses, circle of confusion, and point spread function. I still need to do slides on convolution, the Fourier convolution theorem, pupil function, optical transfer function, depth-dependent blur, aberrations, camera sensor construction, imaging noise, colour filter arrays, image demosaicing, and other post-capture image processing operations. There’s heaps more that I could go into, but I need to keep it down to about 45 minutes.

The slightly annoying thing is that I had a good presentation on exactly this stuff at work, when I used to work for Canon, which I presented a few times to other staff and to visiting interns and students. But since I made that presentation at work, it was on work machines, and I couldn’t bring it home with me. But at least after I do this, I’ll have one handy for future use. I could even adapt it for use to teach kids about how cameras work on Outschool.

This evening I made a special dinner. I’ve always liked fried cauliflower, but it’s a bit of a mess to make. But today we had most of a cauliflower left over as the remaining vegetable before grocery shopping tomorrow, so I decided to go for it. I cut it into florets, coated them in flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs, and shallow fried them in a pan until golden brown. I served them with a mix-it-yourself set of sauce ingredients: yoghurt, tahini, sriracha, chutney, and mayonnaise. It turned out great! (Except I left a couple of pieces a bit too long before turning them and produced a bit of smoke, but fortunately it dissipated without setting the alarm off.)

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A special public holiday

Today was a special one-off public holiday in Australia, a national day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II. The reason it’s today is because we had to wait for the Prime Minister to return from her funeral in London to lead the national memorial service for the Queen.

For most people though it just meant a day off work. Not for me though, as I had another online class this morning. But after that I could relax a bit. I did a 2.5k run, and took Scully out for a walk at lunch and got some fish & chips (from the shop that my wife called up to check if it was open for the holiday or not – it was).

I did some baking today: a loaf of sourdough rye bread, and for dinner I made pastry for a quiche, which I haven’t done in a while.

And I uploaded some more photos from my trip to Orange last week. This is the view from Towac Pinnacle, a lookout spot south of the town, looking north back towards Orange. I posted a view from here last week, but that was just taken with my phone. This one is with my SLR:

Towac Pinnacle view

These photos are from the day we went to Gosling Creek Reserve and Lake Canobolas Reserve, where there were plenty of birds to spot. Noisy miner:

Noisy miner

Willie wagtail:

Willie wagtail

Little pied cormorant:

Little pied cormorant

Little black cormorants:

Little black cormorants in flight

Eastern rosella:

Eastern rosella

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Relaxing Sunday back home

After our short trip away, today was a day of resting at home to recover! We slept in a bit and got up leisurely.

After breakfast, my first task of the day was to wash the car, to remove all the road grime from the trip to the country, and also vacuum out the interior to get rid of all the grass and stones and other debris that had accumulated. I did a comprehensive clean, detailing, wash, and wax, which took a good couple of hours.

THat led right up to lunch time, and I was hungry after my morning of work. We took a walk with Scully to our favourite bakery at Naremburn, and when we got there we were reminded that today was a special street fair day at the small set of shops there. There was a small market set up with about a dozen stalls, and live music, and all the food places had several tables out for people to sit and eat. There were a lot more people around than normal, obviously, and there was a nice buzz of activity. But it wasn’t too big – there were really only probably under 100 people there at any time.

Back home I worked on some Irregular Webcomic! strips for the coming week, and uploaded some bird photos from the trip to Orange. These are the ones from the Coogal Parklands walk that we did on Wednesday.

Pacific black duck:

Pacific black duck

Superb fairywren, juvenile male:

Superb fairywren, juvenile male

Sulphur-crested cockatoos:

Sulphur-crested cockatoos

Australian king parrot, male:

Australian king-parrot, male

Crimson rosella:

Crimson rosella

Grey fantail (really hard to catch in a photo, since it’s always moving around):

Grey fantail

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Plumbing skill + 1 level-up

Today I finally tried to fix the leaky inlet valve on our toilet cistern. I had a replacement valve which has been sitting around waiting for me to get to it, and I finally decided to bite the bullet and attempt to install it today.

I learnt a few things. Firstly, replacing the valve was a bigger job than I realised. I’d assumed that I could unscrew the old one and screw the new one in. But no, it doesn’t rotate within the cistern because it hits the cistern walls. To remove/replace it you have to undo two nuts on the connecting pipe from the tap on the wall and remove that pipe, then undo a lock nut on the valve and lift it out, then reverse the procedure to install the new one, re-hooking up the pipe.

I think I could have achieved this – taking maybe an 30-60 minutes longer than I’d expected for the whole job. But while fiddling around and figuring all this out, I also learnt how to adjust the float lever on the existing valve to hopefully turn it off earlier in the fill cycle, so it would stop the leak. I experimented with that a bit and found a setting which seemed to work, so I abandoned the idea of replacing the entire valve, and returned the toilet to working order.

But after a couple of satisfactory flushes, it started dribbling again – even worse than before. I think the valve is simply cactus, and I’ll have to get stuck into the full replacement at some point when I have time. 🙄

Apart from that, I spent time writing and making comics again today, preparing for my week away this week.

Oh, and I also had a bit of time to finally go through some of the photos I took on my trip to Germany back in June. This is the Falkenhaus in Würzburg:


It’s adjacent to the Marienkapelle:


And the Alte Mainbrucke bridge with Festung Marienberg castle on the hill across the river:

Alte Brucke

All from our first day after arrival.

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Monday the long workday

I start work at 8am on Monday, teaching two online classes in a row, an hour break, and then another one. Then I can relax and have some lunch. I took Scully for a walk, a longish one today, around the loop that takes us past the harbour shore.

While doing this, I did a bird count on eBird. Normally on this sort of walk I can spot about 11 or 12 different species, but today was especially bird-laden. There were two little black cormorants sitting on the marina, next to an Australian wood duck. These are two of the less common species that I spot around the area, so they helped bulk up the species count. They were too far away to get decent photos using my phone. But a bit further along there was a white-faced heron standing on a rock in the water below the footbridge:

White-faced heron

Further along I spotted two tawny frogmouths!

Tawny frogmouths

These guys are quite rare to spot, as they are very well camouflaged and tricky to see during the day. I know they’re around in the area, but I’ve only seen them a few times before. Since I now had my phone ready to photograph birds, I caught a pied currawong as well.

Pied currawong

These are common and easily spotted in the area, but I managed to get fairly close. And then a bit further on I spotted a laughing kookaburra within range of photos too:

Laughing kookaburra

Anyway, I managed to tally 16 different species on this walk, which is a very high number.

Tonight I had tutoring work at the university for image processing. Tonight’s lecture was about the fundamentals of machine learning and probability theory in that context. It was a pretty easy one, relative to the others in the course.

And now I’m home and watching the live NASA TV feed of what will hopefully be the Artermis I launch, which was originally scheduled for 10:33 pm my time. Currently holding and trying to resolve an engine issue…

New content today: