AI Visual Writing Prompt 16/17 02 2023 and Tannis was not quite sure how she ended up embedded in the middle of a Varan combined tactics formation, but none of them appeared to have noticed her Cerian fighter. "Oh, well, I may as well go with it for now. It is not like they can do much with me in the middle of them, even if they do notice. Who knows? I might even be able to do some good", she mused to herself. A quick glance showed the CVR was running. Not bad last words. With that, she started checking her weapon loads.

Visual Writing Prompt 2023 02 07

Written  In response to this  prompt over in Mastadon. Part 1 Twice a year it came out of the river, always stopping in exactly the same place, no matter what was there. Buildings, vehicles, animals, anything there would be crushed - but it never went any further, and anything along the way was avoided. There it would stand for an hour, and then return to the river. No one knew why, or where it came from, or where it went. But they all agreed that it had a beautiful singing voice. Part 2 You wondering why none of us are worried? Well, it has been doing this for as long as folks have been here. Probably longer. We've had wars come through, and it pays no attention. Mind you, if you shoot something at it, it will come straight back at you! As for the crushing thing, well a few years back Old Harry left his ute there when he was on a bender. Only reason insurance paid up was that it was worth so little to begin with. Then there was that developer guy from out of town. Tried to stand h

Using a Solarcan Puck at lower lattitudes

 The Solarcan Puck is a great little reusable solargraphy camera. It has a relatively wide aperture (f/90), so it can create  a decent image in a single day.  The limitation is that it has (for a camera of this type) a relatively narrow field of view - about 120 degrees.  This means that if you have it mounted vertically, you are going to be able to record angles up to 60 degrees above the horizon. This is fine if you are above about 50 degrees latitude. At about 50 degrees, the sun will never be higher than about 60 degrees above the horizon. Why that value? Probably because of where Solarcan are based:  in Scotland.  What do the the rest of the world have to do then? You can restrict yourself to winter months - but that is not much fun.  The other alternative is to angle your Puck upwards. But how far?  In the worst case, on the Equator, the sun will be directly overhead at Solstice. This means that the Puck will have to be angled upwards at least 30 degrees - but this would mean tha

Non alcoholic cocktails #7

Jamaican Wonder (Booth's Handbook 1966) This one has all but vanished from the lexicon of cocktails - there is a variant on the Absolut site, but that is the only one, and that cuts back on the lime. Even Simon Difford appears to have forgotten it. Here is a Lyre's zero-proof version: 1 shot Dark Cane Spirit or Spiced Cane Spirit 1 shot Lime Juice 1/2 shot Coffee Originale  Dash Angostura Bitters Mix in a highball glass, and top with chilled bitter lemon. Interestingly, the published version makes no mention of ice, so don't use any in this either. This is quite sharp, but the coffee flavours combine with the rum backing to present a very tasty and surprising drink. 

Today I noticed something odd about the UAP ads

 So I made the mistake of watching commercial news this evening, and there were a bunch of UAP ads. One thing that struck me was that most of the things being campaigned about are things that are not actually things the Australian government directly controls - where super is invested, home-loan rates, and so on. Now these things *could* be legislated, but doing so would transform our economy into a centrally planned economy. This is quite aside from the rather conflicting platform of increasing investments while dropping (or holding) interest rates. Presumably also via legislation. For a party that claims "freedom" as a defining feature, they sure seem keen on direct legislative control of the economy - a defining feature of authoritarian governments. 

Detecting the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption with a barometer

Here's a bit of fun around the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption. We all know about the tsunami alerts and the distance the sound was heard from. But did you know that domestic meteorological instruments in Perth were able to detect the eruption? Here is a shot of my personal weather station's history for yesterday with some very rough annotations. The eruption was at about 12:10 AWST, and just over six hours later, my barometer detected the shockwave. About an hour after that, it registered the rebound shock. This has been confirmed by multiple other instruments across WA, and you can even trace the movement of the shockwave across the country. Here is a snip from the station at Condingup. As you can see, the pressure shockwave hit there about 30 minutes earlier.  Condingup is about 600km East of Perth, so we know the shockwave travelled at about 1200km/h. Tonga is about 7000km from Perth, and the shockwave hit at about 18:25 AWST - about 6 hours and 15 minutes after the

SFF Music Video of the Week - #125

Well we've got a fun one this week! Banjo spaceships, alien abductions, and a country cover of a classic rock anthem. Offering up a counterpoint to my belief that almost any song can sound good when played by the right people (see - " ...Baby One More Time" by Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa ), this shows that some songs cannot be harmed by the style in which they are played. So sit back and relax (or not) as The Dead South cover "People Are Strange", from 2021.

Life of prepared cyanotype papers

Common wisdom says to use traditional yellow-type paper as soon as possible after it has been prepared. And certainly, you will get the best results from that. However, do not be dissuaded from using older paper. Last April I ran a workshop on building cyanotype cameras, and I had a bunch of kits left over. Today I pulled out some of the papers, and did some contact print test exposures. Pleasingly, despite being quite discoloured when unexposed, they exposed perfectly well, even with a very low contrast negative. So even after nine months, a well prepared paper with is still perfectly usable! This makes stockpiling for trips a much more plausible thing! On the left is a 20 minute exposure, and 10 minute on the right. The negative is notably low-contrast. As you can see, fully exposed areas still give excellent density, and the unexposed areas have nearly washed clean, with only a little residual staining.

SFF music video of the week - 124

There's been a bit of a hiatus, but I'm back! This time I go all the way back to 1933, and the legendary Fleischer Studios. Fleischer were the creators of the infamous Betty Boop and many others, and were the original animators of both Popeye and Superman. Here we have them taking on Snow White in their distinctive style, accompanied by jazz legend Cal Calloway.  Enjoy "St James Infirmary Blues" by Cal Calloway from 1933.

In-camera Cyanotype exposure calculator

 Ilford/Harman do a wonderful little print-at-home dial calculator for pinhole cameras - but it also covers the range of f/ stops for more conventional cameras.  After some playing around, I have found that it can be adapted to cyanotype as well. 1/ On the ISO (middle) disk, locate the ISO .375 entry. Directly opposite it, write in "Cyanotype". 2/ On the Lighting/Shutter disk (the largest, bottom disk), write in "UV12" between the "->" and the full sun. Then "UV6" between the sun and the "19", and "UV3" between the 19 and the clouded sun.UV 15, for folks in places like Perth or Broome, roughly lines up with the ">" itself. That's it! At UV12, and f/1, an exposure time of 30 minutes is given as the result, which is just about spot on for a properly exposed image after washing. The same lens at UV6 gives a 1 hour exposure - which is correct, given the UV Level scale is linear.  Have fun!

Homebrew Solargraph Can Camera Refinement

 The classic beer can solargraph camera is easy to make - as you can see from Justin Quinnell's video . Justin's design is simple and safe for kiddies. Unlike this one , although it has the advantage of being significantly more waterproof. But what if there was a better way? A way to get near-complete waterproofing (except for the pinhole), and still have the build be kiddie-safe? Enter a construction and roofing repair product called Flashing Tape - this is heavy-duty tape with an aluminium backing - making it completely light-proof. The adhesive is thick and conformal, meaning that you can get a complete seal with it.  This means that you can use Justin's tin-opening method (which leaves no sharp edges), and still get a complete water-and-lightproof seal.  I use two strips of 50mm tape at right angles to ensure a complete seal, but you could also use a single strip of the 75mm tape.  The only down-side is that you will need to use a knife to cut the foil off when you are

From solargraph to cyanotype

 I usually use cyanotype as an in-camera negative. This is a slow process - each exposure is a couple of hours at least.  I also shoot solargraphs. This is also a slow process, with exposures measured in days or months. Or even years.  As you all saw, a few days ago I brought in one of my six month solargraphs. The resulting image was dramatic enough, that I thought it would make a good cyanotype contact print. This is a very fast process by comparison. Exposure time in Perth in mid-summer is around 4-5 minutes.  Here is the result. I think I will do another print, this time on a tee-shirt!

How casting can change a scene

 Consider the following installation.  By itself, it could be almost anything. Maybe slightly ominous, depending on what the music is like. Now let's add a character. Maybe a nice old lady astrophysicist . Suddenly, it is probably just some funky radio telescope or similar. Perfectly normal, nothing bad is going to happen to anyone because of it. So let's change it to some bloke scientist. Everything is still probably fine, depending on the music. Just some researcher. This does not mean that things might not go horribly wrong, but they seem to be perfectly normal. We can make it even more normal by using two characters - Honey! I'm home! But I digress. Back to the slow decline. Now things are looking dodgy. Red glasses, self-satisfied smirk, weird flask of something green... it all adds up to this is probably nothing good for anyone. But we can step it up more. OK, exposed brain alien dude. Let's face it, we're in for a rough and nasty ride. Probably with some awfu

6 month solargraph, rooftop, winter to summer.

  Taken with a Solarcan Eldorado over six months, starting on the Winter Solstice, and ending on Christmas day. View is looking across our roof to the neighbours.  Scanned with an Epson multifunction scanner, and processed in Snapseed. It is interesting (to me) that the Solarcan cameras have the pinhole only 4cm from the top of the 16cm can (about 2cm below the shoulder). Despite this, the Summer solstice, and the preceding month, are all too high in the sky to be fit in frame. From this I figure I'd need a can nearly 30cm tall  (and still the same diameter) to capture the entire arc.  I have now reloaded the can with some Ilford Multigrade III that I dug up from the back shed (which I have tested, and is still usable for this purpose).