DIY Intervalometer for Time-lapse videos

(See edit below regarding DSLRBot. A slightly more expensive solution, but quite a bit better…)

Recently I was awe-struck by a Time-lapse video by Terje Sorgjerd I saw which was shot around El Teide on Gran Canaria early in 2011. Looking around on the internet, I saw various solutions for time-lapse, including some very fancy rigs for moving the camera as it’s shooting the images. What I needed was something that could trigger my dSLR camera to take an image at regular intervals over a few minutes up to a few hours. The camera already has a port for a remote switch, so I needed some way to trigger that at regular intervals. There are solutions available as cheap as €50 on e-bay, so I wanted to see if I could do it a lot cheaper than that. Continue reading “DIY Intervalometer for Time-lapse videos”

Photoshop L-Plates

New to the “Photoshop Parody Plug-ins” collection – “L-Plates” for Photoshop. This is a clever little plug-in that you can give to all your friends who produce endless over-saturated, over-processed images. Now, with “L-Plates” you can configure how far they can push each slider in Photoshop.

For example, the default setting in L-Plates for the saturation slider is 15. This means that the use cannot physically push the slider past 15 without getting an over-ride code. And you’re not going to give that code to them, are you? Because you’re so used to seeing images with the saturation slider up around 40-45 (and beyond). Continue reading “Photoshop L-Plates”

The Shuttersnitch Proxy

What the heck is “The Shuttersnith Proxy?” I hear you ask! Well, Shuttersnitch is an excellent application for the iPad that allows you to view images as they are sent to it from a Wifi enabled camera. It listens for incoming images, then displays them on the iPad, allowing you to zoom in, tag & rate the images as they are received. This is ideal in a wireless environment where your camera can send images wirelessly to the iPad, such as the Canon 5D Mark II when used the an WFT-E4 wireless grip. Continue reading “The Shuttersnitch Proxy”

Real-Time Photo Reviewing (Tethered Shooting)

I recently did a shoot where I was shooting macro shots of precious gems. Each shot needed to be reviewed for focus, clarity, dust spots, etc before moving on to the next gem. The preview screen at the  back of my Canon EOS 5D Mark II is normally a great screen, but just didnt cut it in this situation, when more than one person needs to look at an image to approve it or bin it. I needed to be able to get the images onto a full screen device quickly for preview. So, I looked into various forms of previewing images on a full screen device (PC, laptop) as they are being taken, from card swapping to usb tethering, to wireless tethering. Here’s the list, followed by a description of each method with the pros and cons of each. Continue reading “Real-Time Photo Reviewing (Tethered Shooting)”

Evening Drive to the Clare Coast

Well, the evenings are getting longer, and sun is setting around 6:25 these days. With this in mind, I had a quick drive up to the Clare coast to see what kind of time I’d have on the coast to grab a few shots before going home for my dinner. I left work at 5:25, and by 6:15 I was parking at the beach near Quilty. The sun was just about to go down behind a bank of clouds, but I managed to grab this shot before it disappeared completely. Continue reading “Evening Drive to the Clare Coast”

DIY Double Flash Clamp (under €5)

I was browsing around Woodies DIY today, and spotted the following clamps for sale in the bargain basement bin at €2.99 each. The spring was strong, and the plastic seemed like the good quality, hard wearing type. So I purchased a couple with some DIY strobist work in mind…

I noticed that the plastic jaws did not have a lot of grip:

so I super-glued some bits of bicycle inner tube to them:

Next, onto the real reason for the purchase, the double flash mount. This consisted of a simple tube bolted onto one of the handles of the clamp.

The copper tube has a bit of timber jammed into it so the tube would not collapse when brolly/strobe holders are screwed onto it. A simple drill hole in the clamp handle, and a drill hole throuhg the copper pipe, with a 30mm bolt and wingnut to hold them together. All done. The Result:

They’re probably not as strong as the Manfrotto clamps, and would struggle to hold a flash out horizontally, but the have no problem holding two strobes in the position of the image above, and would have no problem hanging from something. Not bad for under a fiver….




Enabling Infiniband on Ububtu 10.10

I do mention in my tagline that this blog may contain some information about computers, so you’ve been warned. The following article is quite technical, and may not be of interest to the photography contingent that might otherwise be interested in my blog articles. I posted this because I spent several days attempting a particular task, and managed to get it down to a few simple instructions. It may be useful for other attempting the same task. Continue reading “Enabling Infiniband on Ububtu 10.10”

Major Ink Longevity Research Programme now FREE

I just got the following great news. Mark H. McCormick-Goodhart, Director of the ink longevity research programme at has just announced that the subscription fees to the website are being dropped, making all the research available to everyone for free. I’ve been a member since the very early days, and found in invaluable as a printer in selecting (or ignoring) third party inks for use in my printers.
I’m actually in the proud position of having the WORST EVER performing sample in that programme. An Ink I played around with in the early days was a dye ink off eBay called “Signal Inkjet”. I got one batch of 600ml (6x100m bottles), which cost me $10. It seemed ridiculously cheap, and sure enough, the results matched the price. The prints were only good for a few months before visible fading and colour shifting kicked in. Once I saw the results coming out of Aardenburg-Imaging, I quickly switched back to Claria OEM inks (I was on a dye printer at the time) which was showing much better results.

I eventually got and Epson R2880, and as a result of this research, I settled on Inkjetfly inks, as they have longevity and colour gamut approaching that of OEM inks for a fraction of the price. I’m printing all of my on photos now (and also for some friends, club competitions, etc.) and we’re very happy with the results.

Also, if you’re interested in the research, you can also submit your own samples. It’s very interesting to see your own samples put through the light-fade tests, and you can be confident that the results are accurate and measured in a way that can be compared consistently with the other samples under test.

Have a look at Mark’s website, and take a look at the longevity test results. It lists a huge amount of printer/paper/ink combinations, invaluable for someone who’s looking to use third party inks at either an amateur or professional level.

Infiniband at Home (10Gb networking on the cheap)

Would you like to have over 700MB/sec throughput  between your PCs at home for under €110? That’s like a full CD’s worth of data every second! If you do, then read on….


Since this article was originally written, I’ve found the real-world throughput of infiniband from a windows machine and an ubuntu machine gives me a max of 135MB/sec, just under twice my 1gbps ethernet (75MB.sec). Thats with a raid array capable of 350MB/sec on the linux side, feeding a samba link to the windows machine at 95% CPU. So, it falls a lot short of the desired 700MB/sec that I thought may be possible. It’s not possible with IP over Infininband. And iSER isnt available on windows, so no SRP targets could be used, which uses RDMA. So a whole lotta research leading to block walls and 135MB/sec max.

—end edit—

With the increasing amout of data that I have to manage on my computers at home, I started looking into a faster way of moving data around the place. I started with a RAID array in my PC, which gives me read-write speeds of 250MB/sec. Not being happy with that, I looked a creating a bigger external array, with more disks, for faster throughput. I happened to have a decent linux box sitting there doing very little. It had a relatively recent motherboard , and 8 SATA connectors.  But no matter how fast I got the drives in that linux box to go, I’d always be limited by the throughput of the 1Gb ethernet network between the machines, so I researched several different ways of inter-PC communication that might break the 1gbps barrier. The 1GB ethernet was giving me about 75MB/sec throughput.

The first I looked at was USB 3.0 (5 gbit/s). While that’s very good for external hard drives, there didnt seem to be a decent solution out there for allowing multiple drives to be added together to increase throughput. We are now starting to see raid boxes appear with USB3.0 interfaces, but they are still quite expensive. To connect my existing linux box to my windows desktop, I’d need a card with a USB 3.0 slave port so that the external array would look like one big drive, and max out the 5Gbps bandwidth of a USB 3.0 link . However, these do not seem to exist, so I moved onto the next option.

Then I moved on to 10G Ethernet (10 gbit/s). One look at the prices here and I immediately ruled it out. Several hundred Euro for a single adapter.

Fibre channel (2-8 gbit/s). Again the pricing was prohibitive, especially for the higher throughput cards. Even the 2Gbps cards were expensive, and would not give me much of a boost over 1Gbps ethernet.

Then came Infiniband (10-40 gbit/s). I came across this while looking through the List of Device Bit Rates page on Wikipedia. I had heard of it as an interconnect in cluster environments and high-end data-centres. I also assumed that the price would be prohibitive. A 10G adapter would theoretically give up to a Gigabyte per second throughput between the machines. However, I wasn’t ruling it out until I had a look on eBay at a few prices. To my surprise, there was a whole host of adapters available ranging from several hundred dollars down to about fifty dollars. $50? for a 10Gig adapter?   Surely this couldn’t be right. I looked again, and I spotted some dual port Mellanox MHEA28-XTC cards at $35.99. This worked out at about €27 per adapter, plus €25 shipping. Incredible, if I could get it to work. I’d also read that it is possible to use a standard infiniband cable to directly connect two machines together without a switch, saving me about €700 in switch costs. If I wanted to bring another machine into the Infiniband fabric, though, I’d have to bear that cost. For the moment, two machines directly connected was all I needed.

With a bit more research, I found that drivers for the card were available for Windows 7 and Linux from, so I ordered 2 cards from the U.S. and a cable from Hong Kong.

About 10 days later the adapters arrived. I installed one adapter in the Windows 7 machine. Windows initially failed to find a driver, so I then went on the website and downloaded After installation I  had two new network connections available in windows (the adapter was dual-port), ready for me to connect to the other machine.

Next I moved onto the Linux box. I won’t even start with the hassle I had to install the card in my linux box. After days of research, driver installation, kernel re-compilation, driver re-compilation, etc. etc., etc., etc., I eventually tried swapping the slot that I had the card plugged into. Low and below, the f&*cking thing worked. So, my mother board has two PCI-Ex16 slots, and the infiniband adapter would work in one, but not in the other. Who would have thought. All I had to do then was assign an IP address to it. –EDIT– here’s a quick HOWTO on getting the fabric up on Ubuntu 10.10. About 10 minutes should get it working – –EDIT–

Without a cable (it still had not arrived from Hong Kong), all I could do was sit there and wait until it arrived to test the setup. Would the machines be able to feed the cards fast enough to get a decent throughput? On some forums I’d seen throughput tests of 700MB/sec. Would I get anywhere close to that with a 3GHz dual core athlon to a 3GHz i7 950?

A few days later, the cable arrived. I connected the cable into each machine, and could immediately send pings between the machines. I’d previously assigned static IP addresses to the infiniband ports on each machine. I wasn’t able to run “netperf”, as it didn’t see the cards as something it could put traffic through. So I upgraded the firmware on the cards, which several forums said would improve throughput and compatibility. Iwas then able to run netperf, with the following results:

root@raid:~# netperf -H
port 0 AF_INET to (
port 0 AF_INET : demo
Recv   Send   Send
Socket Socket Message Elapsed
Size   Size   Size    Time     Throughput
bytes  bytes  bytes   secs.    10^6bits/sec
87380  16384  16384   10.00    7239.95

That’s over 7 gigabits/sec, or over 700MB/sec throughput between the two machines!

So, I now have an Infiniband Fabric working at home, with over 7 gigabit throughput between PCs. The stuff of high-end datacentres in my back room. The main thing is that you don’t need a switch, so a PC to PC 10-gigabit link CAN be achieved for under €110! Here’s the breakdown:

2 x Mellanox MHEA28-XTC infiniband HCA’s @ $34.99 + shippping = $113 (€85)

1 x 3m Molex SFF-8470 infiniband cable incl shipping = $29 (€22)

Total: $142 (€107)

The next step is to set up a raid array with several drives and stripe them so they all work in parallel, and maybe build it in such a way if one or two drives fail, it will still be recoverable (raid 5/6). More to come on that soon.