26 January 2008

Almost missed the flight to Hong Kong

It was the big day yesterday. The family, Ryan (5 months) Danni my wife and me was on a long haul fight from London to Hong Kong then en-route to China to see the family there. To get to the Gatwick airport, we need to take express train from home station.

Once a few years back, I have some bad experience on rail travel to this airport. The distance is so long, it involves at least one connection, maybe two or three if need to going to central London first. In that incident, the delayed railway work had many train services cancelled, and we had been delayed at the start of the trip – then a chain of delays had we missed the fight when were finally at the airport although we leave a plenty of time for the travel.

The Deja Vu was back this time. We almost miss the flight yesterday.

We arrived at train station at 18 minutes before it arrived. Two huge luggage, three pieces hand carried bags, Ryan and his buggy were unloaded from the taxi. Did I say three? Wait, ‘honey, do you see my laptop bag?’

The bag with laptop and other important things was left at home. Without them I have to cut short my hols, and buy another ticket home in two weeks time. Panic, in a very desperate attempt, Danni, Ryan and a suitcase were left at the platform, put one rucksack back, and I was drove home with the taxi to get the bag.

It 9s about 10-15 minute one way drive from home to the station in a clear traffic. This time it was very busy, the lunch hour. A lorry and a wagon joined up in front, every traffic light turned into red when we up to it. Radio reported midday, 12 minutes before the train arrives on half way to my home.

I didn't know how Danni would handle things neither: buggy, a huge suitcase (38KG) and Ryan. Some passed-by help her to move the suitcase into the station concourse. But then and she needs to draw some cash from outside station and collect tickets from fast ticket machine. I thought I am going to miss them.

Taxi pulled stop at a near exit it may make it a minute or two quicker than if drove up. I ran the shortcut uphill to collect the bag, locked the door. The heart was beating so fast, and the hand is so shaky I dropped the key when locking the door. Ran the short cut to meet the taxi, and we back.

When I daring enough to look at the time. The dashboard display was showing an airbag warning so the time is not showing. Maybe that was not a bad news after all.

The train arrived just when the taxi waiting for oncoming traffic so to turn right on the road and got into station. Then I found I have no money to pay the additional taxi fare. I have got only got a fiver, which paid to the driver already - with additional round trip - I have got no money. That is why I need Danni to get some cash.

On Phone asked Danni to get onboard first. With so many things, it was just nightmare to move things on its own. Danni asked a staff member to hold the train for 1 minute. Replied 'Sorry madam, I can’t hold a train'. It was a virgin west coast fast train. i think probably he could if it was a slower local train. They went onboard without waiting

I told the driver the embarrassing truth before she pulled stop and I slam the door open. She let me off although not very happy - I won't blame her. I thanked her very much and promised will pay back once I am back.

Got the laptop bag, and cuddling the other huge rucksack from the boot, desperately run to the platform. Luckily it was at platform 1, so no need to jump down rail track or run through the passenger bridge.

The train was still there, first class door was still open, right in front. Before I dove into the coach, I asked the staff 'Are they on?' he smiled and nodded, ‘Yes, they have’.

The train was 2 minutes late, and probably been hold for 15 or 30 sec.

Danni was very cool in the situation, and Ryan was very helpful, no crying whatsoever. When they were on, Danni found him had already napped away.

21 December 2007

using slide duplicator to 'scan' slide

At old school, slide duplicator is used to copy and make additional slide set from existing ones.
At new age, digitalise slides are done by using film scanner.
This is an attempt to do poor man's scanning: use a full frame DSLR to copy slides to raw then process to jpg etc. I am very pleased with the result.
It offers more control, dust control, and much faster.

This one is done by using slide duplicator:
Morning bath

This one is done by scanner:
Sikh Golden Temple

19 August 2007

Cleanig DSLR CMOS Sensor

There is one practical issue Digital Single Lenses Reflection Camera (DSLR) lost to ‘Analogue’ (Film) SLR is dust control. DSLR attracts and accumulates dust to its CCD/CMOS sensor. A dirty sensor casts greyish dots on the photo. Film camera doesn’t have a CCD sensor. When shutter opens, it exposes light-sensitive film. If there is no film loaded, no film to collect dust. So even if the maybe speck fells on the film, it will 1) washed away in developing; and 2) it wouldn’t be a lasting problem.

I have been suffering from this ‘dirty’ problem since I converted to DSLR. I use a few zoom lenses and swap them on times. In a sun-scorched, dusty tropical countryside mounting lenses is the best thing you could do to damage your DSLR,, which was assembled in a static-free lab.

I was getting-by with an incompetence bush blower in the past. Let camera camber face down while blowing air into it. I have even tried household vacuum cleaner – not to the extent stick it into the camber though. They just never went away. In fact I see more and more dots shown on the shoots.

Using Photoshop stamp tool to copy some pixels from neighbourhood is one way to get around the problem. Until there are just too many of them!

This photo was taken last Sunday with F-stop to F13, focus to more than 10 meters. It is just too dusty and too moral busty to be manually fixed (although I still did it). It made me decide to splash out on a proper cleaning kit.

Lots of Dust
link to a larger one

Here is the major steps:

  1. Blow off loose dust from the camber
  2. grab speck directly from the CCD sensor
  3. Use Pec Pad with ‘Eclipse 2’ solvent to wipe the sensor surface.

Here is tool list:

  • New Giottos Q Ball Air Dust Blower Puffer with Adj tube
  • Speck Grabber Pro cleaning tool for CCD's, optics etc
  • Eclipse E2 Cleaning Fluid for camera CCD Sensor
  • PEC PAD 10x10cm (100) Cleaning Wipes for Lens & Filters
  • Sensor Swab Type 3 (12Pk) For Canon, Kodak CCD Cleaning

In total it costs near £70 from eBay. Almost a third of a Canon DSLR 400D!

DSLR Sensor cleaning

Giottos Q Ball Air Dust Blower is very powerful but no as powerful as canned air, which spreads strong current may actually leaves an un-removable marks on the surface. There is an air inlet valve prevents backflow and dust coming to blower.

DSLR Sensor cleaning

Speck Grabber is use to grab visible speck directly from delicate surface, such like reflection mirror, focus screen or CMOS sensor. It is an interesting tool. It has a tacky tip (the blue tip in the picture) made of copolymer plastic. Although it has tacky adhesion property, it doesn’t leave residue on the surface it touches.

For grabbing speck directly there are other competing products, such like a ‘Dust-Aid’. Very expensive though – around 35 pounds of 12 sticky pads.

DSLR Sensor cleaning

Sensor Swab is the most expensive one, costs £33. Any if you wonder what is in it – A sensor swab is a plastic wand wrapped with a Pec Pad tissue (1/3 sheet of it to be precise). Pec Pad is secured to the wand by a tiny elastic band. 12 units of Sensor Swab in the package, in individual seal package. So it works out to be around £2.75 a pot! IMO, this can only be justified by the made to size wand. it fits just right to the size of sensor surface, so one wipe stroke will be enough hence reduce the need of repeat wiping – which may let small speck to scratch & grind the ultra sensitive sensor.

DSLR Sensor cleaning
And finally lint –free Pec Pad and Eclipse 2 Optic Cleaning Fluid for Tin Oxide Coated Sensor.

Now here is how to do it, reference to http://www.pbase.com/copperhill/image/71784128 on how to prepare a home made sensor swab and how to apply it in great detail. Read it for definitive guide and tips.

Before apply Sensor swab I have few more steps:

1. Cleaning mirror and focus screen. Though cleaning this has no effect on shots, it helps to a cleaner view finder and reduces the risk of loose dust move to sensor later.

  1. Un-mounted lenses but don’t switch on ‘cleaning sensor’ function or lifting up mirror.
  2. Camera face down, blow off loose dust from the camber. Be careful don’t let nozzle touch any element in the camber.
  3. Use SpeckGrabber to catch each visible dust particle. Must follow it’s user guide.

2. Cleaning CMOS sensor.

  1. Lifting up mirror by B-stop or ‘cleaning sensor’ function of the camera.
  2. Camera face down, use blower to blow off any loose dust speck.
  3. Use SpeckGrabber to catch visible dust particle.
  4. Use Sensor Swab to wipe clean the sensor, carefully.
  5. Mount the lenses and release the locked-up mirror.

This cleaning process may need to repeat to get the best result due to lenses mounting, locked-up mirror release could bring in ‘new’ specks.

If this is the case, in second run, you don’t need to clean mirror and focus screen again. So you should:

  1. Have every tool ready to use.
  2. While lenses is mounted, locked-up mirror or switch on ‘cleaning function’.
  3. Detached lenses
  4. Clean with SpeckGrabber if the new dust isn’t as serious as prevous.
  5. Use Swab

This is a photo I took (F22) after first run, there is a new speck introduced while ‘old’ ones had gone.

still one to go
Link to a large size

This is a photo I took after second run. No speck or greyish dust anymore.

no dust == world peace!
Link to a large size

World peace!