The Cat That Was a Dog

I don’t usually post personal stuff here.  You don’t need to see pictures of my kids or my house or my other projects.  You don’t need to see pictures of my cat.  Well sometimes you do.  But this one is just to say goodbye.  Rugby was with me for 16 years and yesterday was the end.  He was loving and stoic and never complained.  He met two kids and lived with us in four houses.  He’s going to be hard to live without.

  • Aperture: ƒ/3.5
  • Camera: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XT
  • Focal length: 100mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s

Lime Kiln Lighthouse in Green

Lighthouses are easy – super distinctive architecture makes the photo part obvious.

This is the Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west shore of San Juan Island.  I’m not sure I like the lines from this angle but I didn’t want to straighten the building or the horizon.  I really like what the sky does with the LomoChrome Purple film on a bright day.  This was taken with no filter, FWIW.  This film can be pushed from 100-400, which is what I shot this at, using my old Canon A1 and a 50mm lens.  I’m not sure if the grain pattern would be significantly different at 100, but it’s fun to see it this way.  I didn’t retouch this more or less at all.

  • Aperture: ƒ/1.8
  • Focal length: 50mm
eclipse, seattle, solar, totality

2017 Eclipse from Seattle

The eclipse today – the first seen in totality across the United States in 99 years was something to behold, even if you didn’t plan right.  I didn’t plan right.

I should have gone to Oregon to see 100% instead of 92% here in Seattle.  I definitely should have tested my gear, rented something better, and composed my shot.  Instead I found what I had and did what I could.

eclipse, seattle, solar, totality

It turns out everyone tries to rent massive zoom lenses the day before eclipses.  It also turns out that even when the camera store can dig up one 400mm for $100/day, you’d still have to pay far more than that for the ND filter you’re gonna need to shoot an eclipse.  Instead, I used my 24-105 (which maps out to 168 on a crop-sensor) and the crappy 4x ND filters I had.  I’m not sure if was just me or the lens or the filters, but yeah – lots of flare.  As it turns out I’m ok with it, because the eclipse was high enough in the sky that it’s hard to get anywhere near it and still have something of interest in the frame.  This shot is about as full as it got in Seattle.

Take pictures, have fun.

  • Aperture: ƒ/22
  • Camera: Canon EOS 70D
  • Focal length: 105mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s

Wherein I Accidentally Delete My Own Blog

Recently I moved from a hosted provider to running WordPress on my Synology NAS at home.  It was surprisingly not problematic and all was well… or so I thought.  A few days ago I basically deleted my own blog.  I was fairly upset about it!  All is now right with the world, but it’s pretty easy to do, so here’s what happened and what I learned:

  • I had the Beta Apps enabled on Synology, and I had Auto-Update turned on, so I ended up with beta versions of both WordPress and the MariaDB I use underneath the covers.
  • At some point things went south.  As it turns out, I think it was unrelated – it was probably as easy as repointing Web Station to the right directories, but you know, panic and all, I missed it.  All I know is you couldn’t access any content on my site.

The obvious thing to do at that point is back things up, think rationally, and not move from the most likely culprit until you’re SURE that isn’t it.  I didn’t do any of those things.  Seeing that I had beta versions of the apps installed and figuring I could downgrade them, I turned off beta access, then removed and reinstalled those apps.  Along the way, MariaDB needed my DB password which I couldn’t remember, so I reset it, likely breaking things further.  At this point I figured the damage was done so I got a little bit looser with my thought process.

I backed up everything in the www/wordpress directory, wiped it, and attempted to restore it from backup.  Would that work?  I’m honestly not sure if it’s even plausible but it didn’t!

Around this time I realized the only way I was going to get out of this was to re-import my recently migrated site (only missing one post) and start from scratch.  Except, of course, I’d not preserved the migration file.  Luckily I hadn’t fully deleted it so it was found and reimported and I’m back.

What have I learned?  First of all, even for a low-volume site, I really need a plausibly automated backup running.  It would probably take me 30 minutes to configure.  Second, if you’re pretty sure that something is wrong, even if you’re desperate, don’t do it.  Third, maybe make sure you’re not auto-updating things you care about if you’re not sure your backup strategy is sound!

Migrating hosting to Synology

Hey Crew – the TL;DR here is that I’m now hosting this blog myself at home, which is to say if it’s harder to reach or you find anything broken, let me know.

The details are that if you are paying for hosting on a low-volume blog, you know that the cost/benefit ratio can be a bit skewed – it’s great that I could do all kinds of things but I didn’t need 80% of them, so when my previous host (bluehost – no ill will) decided to deprecate my plan and move me to a tier that would be more expensive I finally got around to migrating elsewhere.  I’ve resisted doing this because if you do it wrong, you can break your blog, ruin your SEO, and find yourself in a good mess.

I use a Synology NAS at home for various things and the best part about it is that when you have a little server on tap, you can find other things to use it for.  There were only a few steps that are mostly covered elsewhere, but I did hit a few issues that I’ll cover here.

The things everyone knows:

The general steps to move things are:

The things nobody told me:

It actually worked pretty well, but there are a few caveats.  The biggest is that my site was too big – the free AiO Migration plugin will only let you import an archive that is 520 megs, max.  Mine was clocking in at 650, so I did a few things:

  • Deleted the 17,000 spam users that my blog had accumulated over the years with the User Spam Remover plugin
  • Delete all the images that were uploaded to my site but not linked to using the DNUI plugin.  I believe these were generated by a previous version of a plugin that pre-rendered a bunch of sizes of images I wasn’t using.
  • Deleted all the themes and plugins I didn’t need.

After all that, the size of the site came down below the max, so I was good to go… except after all was said and done, I realized that somewhere along the way, all previous references to http://www.aribrownest.com… were now links to http://www.aribrownest.com/….  This was the internal IP I’d been using to test things out, but now they were cascaded through the entire site!  I was a bit unhappy to discover this after the cutover and right before I was headed to bed.  Luckily, people have done this once or twice before, so of course, another plugin!  This time I used the Better Search Replace plugin, and just like that, I was done!

Having said all that…

Let me know if you find anything weird.  I’m sure Google will when my SEO tanks, but so it goes.

A New Sort of Infrared

I never stop bemoaning the loss of my favorite Aerochrome EIR that Kodak stopped making while I wasn’t looking.  Even though I found a little left, it was super spendy, hand-rolled, and only in a larger format.  Folks like Lomo have stepped up with some similar films, but nothing is exactly what I wanted – nothing is Aerochrome.

But these days, what I really wish I had was a digital version.  When one of my friends got the hotfilter on his digital camera removed (making it sensitive to IR light), I started looking into it and after making the mistake of buying a Canon 5D (which we won’t talk about), the good folks at Kolari Vision sent me out for a Sigma DP2x – a “pro-grade” point and shoot with a 2.8 fixed lens and a Foveon sensor.  It’s one of the easiest cameras to convert and they told me it gave a very Aerochrome-like look when it was done.

So how did it turn out?  Well I’m still figuring it out.

Infrared Tree

The camera wasn’t built for this, and it’s not sure how to meter, so I’m back to bracketing and then composing into HDR to get things right.  This one is still a bit blown out.  I’m also trying to figure out just what the characteristics of the color shift are, and it will take a little time to do that.

Infrared Columns ParkThat’s more what I was looking for.  I still miss my Aerochrome, but this sure is easier.

 

  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: SIGMA DP2X
  • Focal length: 24.2mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s

Night Shooting in Seattle

I keep a list of photo ideas on my phone.  Since my daughter was born and I’ve been not-unemployed, I find time for none of them.  Recently a friend asked about taking some pictures at night, and I remembered my list.  At the top for the longest time has been going down to the Jose Rizal Bridge to shoot the traffic coming into downtown.

Traffic into Seattle at night, from the Jose Rizal Bridge

 

Winter nights are great, because it’s always dark, and a cloudy backdrop is fine.  Rain actually makes the reflections better, but you’ve got to want to stand in the rain to take the pictures – probably not the best idea, but right after a storm would be great.  This was good enough for me.

Seattle Stadium Night Traffic

 

You’ve also got a great shot of the 90 ramps headed toward Bellevue from up here, and I just love watching the lights blur – the headlights in white and the taillights in red.  Letting the camera see things I can’t see.

Bus at Night from Jose Rizal Bridge

The biggest issues shooting from here, other than a few sketchy folks walking by when you’ve got a bunch of camera equipment out is the bridge itself – cars and buses share it, and you can absolutely feel the vibrations when buses go buy or even when big trucks go underneath it.  If you’re looking for a sharp long exposure, a good tripod is a must, but when the ground shakes, there is only so much you can do.  Along with Kerry Park, the Sculpture Garden, and a few more, this is one of the places I always knew I wanted to take some pictures from.  Glad I had the chance.

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 70D
  • Focal length: 15mm
  • ISO: 250
  • Shutter speed: 5s