Death of the Aurora

As anyone who has completed the ICAEW's Knowledge Stage will tell you, the Aurora SC582 is utter pants. Amazon's reviews are usually split on opinion bit in the case of this product they are fairly united (here). Anon's review just about sums it up:

AuroraDeath-2

This calculator is the only one that is allowed for use in ICAEW exams. However it is one of the worst calculators I have come across. The buttons are stiff and chunky, the keys are not responsive and the calculator is slow to react. This makes it difficult to use in an exam. When using one of these in an ICAEW exam, I found that often keys would "stick" and not enter into the calculator. This will give incorrect calculations, so you must be really careful. For this reason if you must use this in an exam I would recommend purchasing one to practice on beforehand.

Back on topic, yesterday I completed the last of my Knowledge stage exams (which I passed, woo!). This means there is no requirement to use this waste of space EVER again. Inspired from events earlier in the day I decided to put the calculator to it's best use yet, an extra curricular electronics experiment. Unfortunately I don't have access to useful tools such as a soldering iron so my tools were screwdrivers, pen knife, and sticky tape!

 

AuroraDeath-7After fiddling for several minutes I was able to extract the circuit board from the case in one piece. I then, as carefully as possible, tried to rewire the power supply back together with the sticky tape. This was significantly less than ideal. The contacts were only firm enough to power the screen while I was holding them. Shame. Regardless, I got a couple of pictures showing the calculator powered on and performing (very) simple calculations.

 

AuroraDeath-11

My plan was then to reassemble the calculator with a couple of buttons out of place, unfortunately due to the very weak original soldering one of the battery adapters fell off. I was able to re-expose the cable and tried to sticky tape this to the adapter. This however, was unsuccessful. Probably due to lack of pressure between the wire and adapter. By this time, I had spent too long fiddling and got bored... so I emptied the contents of the case all over the desk :)

My work here is complete.

 

Full Gallery

 

Playing with flash controls

Recently, I've been playing with 2nd shutter sync. This simply means the camera flashes at the end of an exposure instead of at the beginning. This lends itself perfectly for capturing motion on longer exposures then effectively freezing the subject at its last position.

A few weeks ago I entered an ICAEW student photo competition:

Contest Instructions
Unleash your creativity. Is accountancy just something you do for a job or does it mean more than that? What images, objects, places or people does accountancy evoke?

I decided to use this technique to make it look like I was writing quickly while working on a set of accounts. Unfortunately I didn't win, I lost to a (admittedly well shot) picture of three meerkats titled Safety in Numbers. Regardless, I'm pleased with my entry:

While out of the country, relaxing in Spain, I continued my experimentation with 2nd shutter sync. This time instead of capturing the final position of a movement as above I tried something a little different...

Playing in Spain

I've seen loads of photos taken where people use a light and a long exposure to create patterns or words in the image. I've even done it myself:

Photo taken as part of the marketing for The Queen's College (Oxford) Commemoration Ball 2010

Another marketing photo for Queens 2010, awarded "highly commended" at an OUPS Photo competition

The problem with these photos is you don't see who is behind the pattern or the text. In Spain, I combined this interesting type of photo with the 2nd shutter sync to capture the people behind the photo, in the same exposure. Obviously this can be done with photoshop and I have compared the final result for the two methods below.

 

All of the following are single exposure images.

Due the limited creativity of those involved (myself included) there were no interesting pictures, only names and usernames to be seen, but at least everyone could introduce them in their own way! Apart from the Bez image (which has had the light colour altered) they have only had very basic adjustments made, such as brightness and colour balance etc

 

These look like they could have been made using composite imagery. As promised, I tried that too:

4 piece composite image

This is made up of 4 images. Due to the significantly shorter exposure times the body is more clearly visible in the four sections, "person", "Jake", "#" and "11". While there are benefits to creating the image in this way (such as easy retakes of particular sections), the finished product feels less authentic.

 

IR and Faux HDR Panorama

Another bank holiday, another excuse to break out the geeky camera equipment. This time it's the panoramic tripod head and the new IR filter.

Navigate the three panoramic images above using the highlighted hotspots. There is a faux colour IR shot of the garden, a night edit version of the same photo and a faux HDR (single raw image) of a kitchen.

Find the actual photos over at Flickr, here.

Playing with IR photography

I recently bought an IR filter in order to experiment with IR photography. The Green.L 760nm IR filter from amazon marketplace. Today with the sun out, I decided to give it a go.

What makes IR photography different?

By blocking visible light with the lens filter, you allow the camera to pick up normally invisible Infra-red light. This 'new' light makes grass and leaves show up bright white explaining the snowy appearance of the photos. As a result of blocking all the blue, green and almost all of the red light, the photos are technically monochromatic (one hue). The images appear red and white directly from the camera.

With channel mixing you can swap the red and blue making the images look a little more natural. Alternatively you can go down the faux colour route, making up your own colours for everything!

Gallery

I created some Adobe Lightroom presets for the two faux colour shots, Lightroom IR Presets.

Gallery also viewable on Flickr.