Entertainment During Corona

It has been a very long time since I’ve written here. Some of that’s getting out of the habit. A larger part of that is that … well, there’s just nothing happening. I’ve been singing and working on windchimes, pretty much. But I realize that I’m not even sharing about the windchimes. So, here’s a story about windchimes and how I make them.

I’ve had a windchime calculator for quite some time, but just never really got to it. I found impetus to move to titanium from brass because of this video. His chopsticks look beautiful, and onlinemetals.com would ship me some titanium… and so we began. General process:

  1. Find yourself a decent chord at https://www.onemotion.com/chord-player/
  2. Look up the lengths (chime length & length of the hang point)
  3. Cut chimes to lengths
  4. Drill them
  5. Polish the bejeezus out of them
  6. Spin them up on a high-speed drill, while heating them with a torch
  7. Use a polishing belt to strategically remove stripes (yes, while everything’s still running)
  8. Hang them up (after they’ve cooled)

Metalworking 29

Above is what one looks like while in progress. That silver titanium will quickly oxidize to a “gold straw” color, because the metal’s already hot.

The least fun in this hobby is the sheer number of drill bits I’ve broken. I bought a drill press, which should help a little bit at least, just by keeping the drill bit straight. We’ll see. It’s definitely the bottleneck in the process.

Next up as not fun is that I really ought to get a band saw. I’ve got a jigsaw (pro tip: a “fine metal” blade on the end-grain wood setting is what you want, for titanium – just chomps the metal out beautifully). It works well enough, actually. The band saw would be a luxury upgrade, when I still haven’t solved the drill issue.

Metalworking 31

It’s the blowtorch stuff that’s the most fun, of course. Developing new techniques, seeing what works and doesn’t. Using a large torch to get a base color = a consistent heat platform to build on, whereas just hitting it with the small torch will give much more variation in color.

Making little decorations to go along with the chimes (I’ll work with brass when I’m frustrated with titanium – brass is like butter, in comparison) is also quite peaceful.

At some point I’m going to buy an SMT Micro Anodizer (have a look at some of the examples there), so I can lay down straight-lined patterns, one-color patterns, or can hook it to a paintbrush and paint with electrolyte.

That’s kinda what things have been like around here. Finish work, sing a while if it’s hot, make some chimes if it’s cool. Rinse and repeat.

-D

Emo Statuary

Glasgow Botanic Gardens 005 Glasgow Botanic Gardens 006
Dramatic Man Is Dramatic No, really – Dra-Ma-Tique.

I continue to go through our photos, weeding out the cruft. There are now only 101 photos in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens set, having removed 59 which were … well, crummy, or redundant, or blurry, etc. I’m finding about 1/4 to 1/3 of them are simply not all that great. I have a period I call my Orange Period, as I didn’t know about white balance & every bloody thing in Scotland is lit by mercury vapor lamps. I have a period where I really must have had my monitor set to insane brightness, as those photos are pretty uniformly dark (and not awesome, so no point in reviving them from raw).

Glasgow Botanic Gardens 003 Glasgow Botanic Gardens 002
And then there’s the man and his monkey. Monkey

I’ve just bought a gimbal for the camera, as I’m tasked with taking some video of the choir, outside. Hopefully this will mean some improvement in still pictures, as well. I’m not sure it’s going to be better than the optical stabilization in the lenses, but I’m pretty sure they’ll complement each other nicely.

Enjoy the weekend!

-D

Fiberglass Cows

Fiberglass cows. This one’s decorating the sign outside the race car track.

Sonoma County 02

They’re not as glamor-seeking as the Sonoma County, maybe. Or perhaps it’s just that this one was in Edinburgh and it tends to be a bit less cattle-friendly?

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The Netherlands, of course. There’s also a porcelain cow in the pictures of Delft, but … we’re sticking with the fiberglass ones. At least there’s some connection, with this one being in front of a cheese shop.

Netherlands 2018 41

This one … was simply in the awkward space down the central well of a building.

Netherlands 2018 9

-David

Heidelberg from the Castle

Looking through photos reminded me of what a different world we’re in, compared to just twenty years ago. In 1999 we went to the Netherlands, Germany, and France. We took a train from Amsterdam to Kaiserslautern but got turned around and missed a connection. So we found a payphone and called our friend, who was at home waiting to hear from us, and on we went. It was normal, before cell phones, to be completely at the mercy of whomever decides where payphones go and upon your friend being home, waiting.

Heidelberg

It was also normal to take maybe a hundred pictures on a week’s vacation. We may have taken perhaps 250, but would have been cautious, because every one cost money to develop. And so we have pictures like this one, where I dearly wish I had a few hundred more from which to choose. As photos go, meh. As a memory….

– D

Crannog Centre

When we returned to Scotland in 2015, we tried to return to the Crannog Centre (we first visited in 2007). It was raining horribly, the road was literally flooded out, and we gave it up. Next time, though, and we will have more than a film camera, shooting with expired film! (it was an artistic choice)

Crannog 08

I will perhaps give the pole lathe another try. I don’t remember it very well, looking back 13 years. I don’t believe I will require a new wallet next time, though.

Crannog 10

-D

Charing Cross

I’ve begun going through our massive photo collection & pulling things out of circulation. One can really only so many pictures of the same building, you know? So, how do you manage 39,000 photos?

In our case, it’s pretty simple, in a way. If it’s not a meaningful picture – doesn’t say something important, make us remember someone or something important – then it gets made private. That means, of course, that I’ve got to look at every single photo along the way.

So I downloaded them and am working my way through alphabetically. I’ve just made it through Charing Cross. Yes, the lighting all looks like this. Doesn’t mercury vapor provide a nice ambience? /sarcasm

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Charing Cross is basically where we spent most of our time in Glasgow, simply because it’s in the middle of everything. It’s also a sort of weird place where people would ask for me to take their picture. They didn’t really even want to see the picture. Just to be photographed was enough.

Charing Cross 418 Charing Cross 233 Charing Cross 436

Of course, for me it was also a great place for selfies, as there’s a building which spans the motorway there which has mirrored windows. I’d quite often end up stopped there & would say hello, as it were. Have a wee look around at the street view map.

Charing Cross 473 Charing Cross 530

Not quite the standard mirror-selfies. I’m sure I’ll find more along the way.

-D

…they long to be close to you.

How are you? We hope you are well.

It is interesting to observe how we function in a slower world. We watch the rain, and genially complain that we would put a few more seeds in the ground, but as it stands, that time is not now, so we make do, hoarding egg cartons and watching the slender sprouts within lean toward the muted light. We make do.

Meanwhile, we’ve both somehow gotten involved in the question of what is going to happen with our choir and the last two concerts of the season. We find this choir’s solution utterly lovely – and here’s to those of us wanting to be closer than we are to friends and family far away.

Be well.

Revisiting Photography

We generally leave the TV on when we’re reading or cooking or what have you, with the TV playing … pictures from our Flickr. As a consequence, I end up examining photos and really really wishing I knew more, back then. For example, this photo. It’s a manually-done HDR, which means I mixed 3 images together to get it.

Edinburgh D 16 HDR

I looked at that going by and I thought, “I wonder what that would look like if I reworked it?” So I pulled the raw images, reset all of the settings in Canon, rendered out 3 tiffs, ran Photomatix, and here we go.

Edinburgh D 16 HDR redux

Now, is it better? In some ways, and in some ways not. I suspect that I don’t really know what I’m doing with Photomatix any more, and this is the version with all of the advanced features, so … we’ll see. On the other hand, the phone does a better job maybe. And on yet another hand, I now know how easy it is to go back and adjust, and I have all the raw materials, so … if they’re particularly egregious, maybe I’ll fix them.

Happy New Year!

-D