Category: Tools/Software

Bottle Cap Palette

This post is also available as an instructble.

Bottle Cap Palette 1

I added a piece of paper so you can see the glass better. I plan on adding contact paper and painting the back gray.

Intro

I think I’ve tried every kind of artist’s palette ever, but none have really worked for me. The best was the typical DIY stay-wet palette (a sponge/paper towels & wax paper in an airtight box), but they all required me to remember to spray them with water every day, the paint would go runny in parts, and the wax paper would start to rip and in general felt weird under a palette knife. I tried a plastic sheet instead of wax paper, but the paint kept less and needed more spraying.

I’ve also tried just using a glass palette (which feels great with a palette knife) and storing away the leftover paint in a little jar (where it mixes to a gray that can be reused), but the pallet had to be constantly spray it so everything was wet enough to scrap off later (dried bits were a nightmare). And I think it only kept in that relatively big little jar because I mixed in a lot of Golden Open medium.

I was seriously considering switching to oils at one point unless I could find/make a palette that worked for me. My only idea was an improved version of the one I had (thinner, better seal, & paint wells that sealed individually against the lid) but it would have been quite hard to make on my own. Then as I was searching around for more ideas I found this palette and I loved the idea of tiny individual containers, but what to use? Most jars I had where to big and all the other plastic containers I could think of were either square (like pill containers), probably not airtight, or had weird grooves (like my contacts cases). Then I saw a soda bottle and this palette was born.

Plastic bottle caps are the perfect size, plus most of them come with a little seal and I didn’t have to buy anything. I tested them during a long painting session (for me, ~3 hours) and they were just perfect. They hold 5-7 ml depending on the cap btw.

They’re technically not doing anything to keep the paint wet, but I can mix more paint than I think I’ll need, either in the bottle cap itself or on the glass palette. Anything that’s larger than a spoon-full keeps wet for an hour or so without spraying. Than anything left over is stored. I still use the plate of glass for smaller variations and mixes, but they tend to be small and temporary. If they dry, it doesn’t matter. It’s a thin layer and can be wiped off usually (if I’m using Open medium) or scraped off after the session. When I’m done painting for the day I just screw the tops back on and put everything away. No worrying that I have to use the paint within 2-3 weeks (which is around what the others lasted), adding an alarm to remind myself to spray them keep them wet, or having them go all gross and runny. They’ll probably keep indefinitely, but just in case I’m currently testing one to see how long the walls coated in paint (with the Open Medium) will stay wet (it’s still wet a week in). They’re also really easy to clean because they’re round. If you’re using clear bottles you can tell what color they are like that or you can label them on the tops/bottoms.

Materials

Some are a different sizes.
Some are a different sizes.
Note the seals on both.
Note the seals on both.

Soda Bottles – Preferably clear bottles. Note that different sizes/brands will have slightly different sized caps. Also try to get the ones that have a seal on the inside.

Plastic Glue Gun – I don’t think crazy glue would hold up well to the humidity (also it fogs clear plastic if you want the bottoms clear), but you could try. I tried model glue, but the paint would start to leak after a few hours. The glue gun worked the best. An alternative might be epoxy glue (update: tried, does not work well, it looks it does but comes off) or silicone.

Plastic Sheet ~0.5mm – I used a piece of white HIPS plastic (Styrene) for model making. But you could use just about anything that you can cut with some scissors. I’d avoid too thin though if you can.  It can be hard to grasp and press to the cap before the glue cools, and when I got it quickly it got really hot and warped a bit. Update: I have since made a lot more of these, this time with thin flexible plastic. I had one of these past ones leak. The rest were fine, but the thinner plastic contours better to the rough edges. First I tried the type of plastic old VHS boxes came wrapped in, but that peeled off, so I bought some transparent flexible plastic they sell at the local hardware store, it’s about 1mm thick. Seems to have worked better

Something to Cut the Caps Off – You could just use a hand saw or a razor blade, but it’s a pain for more than a few bottle-caps. I tried. The plastic is quite thicker where it needs to be cut than the rest of the bottle. I ended just doing a batch of caps with an angle grinder.

Razor Blade/X-Acto Knife – For trimming excess plastic.

Scissors – To cut the bottom circles out of your plastic. This will probably dull your scissors so don’t use your good ones.

Sandpaper – Not necessary if you got the cut nice and level.

Making the Cap Containers

Cut the Caps Off

It’s best to get the cut as close as possible to the lip/edge, especially if you’ll be using a thinner glue. A thicker glue gives you more leeway. Also before you cut them, take the caps off. I made the mistake of cutting with them on and I had to wrestle some of the caps off. Somebody had shut them really tight.

Caps CutCleaning Up

Trim any excess plastic with an razor blade. Sand them if necessary. If you used an angle grinder like I did, the plastic kind of melts and forms these weird layers (I don’t know if you can see one above on the last cap, like a little white triangle). Cut those off if you get them.

Cut off the Safety Rings

Or whatever those are called, so you can have a little window to see your paint colors. Be sure to store your bottle caps away from light unless you leave those rings on and you can’t see any paint at all.

Cut the Bottom Circles

Separate the caps by sizes and then trace your bottle-caps onto your chosen piece of plastic and cut them out. It’s easier with scissors (though it might dull them).

Gluing Them

Using hot glue I found it easiest to put a thick line of blue onto the cap, then press the plastic to it. If you mess up, just wait for the glue to dry, peal it off, and retry. Some glue will seep inside, but it shouldn’t be too much. Don’t try to fix it by melting it to the edge with the gun, it just makes more of a mess. They’re easier to clean if you just leave it alone. Any glue that’s seeped on the outside edge can be trimmed.

Cap Finished

Finishing Touches

I didn’t always place the plastic perfectly center so after I was finished I trimmed the entire bottom edge with a razor blade, then ran the hot glue gun over it to smooth it down (the hot glue tends to lift/stretch or rip instead of letting you cut through it).

Final Result

I’m using them lose now, just resting them on top or by my glass palette, but they could be glued to an existing palette. I’m considering making a line of them with just the main colors I use because I also find it easier to get paint out of them than out of the tube.

Cap with Paint

Another thing they come in handy for is keeping different medium mixes. You can dip the brush in and it doesn’t really matter if you contaminate such a small amount. Same thing with dipping into titanium white.

I also have a partial time-lapse video of the first painting I tested them with. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a comfortable place to put the camera, you can’t see the palette, and I only filmed an hour or two. But you can see I’m mostly using the spray for the painting itself, the other times to dilute a glaze mix on the glass. I only sprayed the actual bottle caps the 2 times I stood up to get something and left them open. You get a fair bit of warning if the caps need spraying. The paint around the edges will start to thicken and dry first, but that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and the paint inside will still stay wet. You could not spray them at all and just peel off any dry paint around the edges at the end of a session.

Bottle Cap Palette 2

As for my drying test, see the last bottle cap. That small amount of paint (with Open Medium) was still wet after a week, so I think that’s a huge success. Had I done that in any previous stay-wet palette it wouldn’t have lasted more than a day without spraying.

Tripod Easel

Converting a Camera Tripod into an Easel

I’m poor and cheap so there’s no way I would ever spend money on an art easel. I might make one someday, but I’ve never actually worked on one. I was just curious as to the experience, so yet another reason to not spend a bunch of money on something I might never use again.

Plus I have an easel looking thing, what other reason do I need to mess with my tripod?

Perhaps I shouldn’t say that. No tripods were harmed in this process.

Now this won’t work with all tripods. It depends on how the mount works, but the basic idea should work for most. I was about to try to find a hex nut at the right size (it seems to be 12”-20 for DSLRs but don’t quote me on that), but this was just easier. Here’s what my mount looks like btw:

So basically all I had to do was cut a piece of wood at the proper angle. I measured the tripod’s mount first to get the dimensions of the triangle at the sides, then because although I still have SohCahToa stuck in my head, I don’t like to think so I just plugged in the two measurements and a 90 degree angle into the triangle calculator. I got around 63°. That meant I had to put the saw at a 27° angle.

The piece of MDF I found laying around to use was slightly taller than the mount. This doesn’t really matter. It just makes it a bit harder to determine the proper size. So I started with a slightly bigger cut then kept cutting until I got the right size +/- 2mm. Be careful with your fingers, the piece is very small!

I could probably have mathed out the distance between the sides better, but this took less time. Once I got two opposite side fitting about right. I could also just use that for the other because my mount happens to be perfectly square. I technically didn’t need to angle all the sides. The mount’s sides are all angles so you can change the way you orient the camera (when you flip it 90°), but there’s only one angled side on the actual tripod and then the little latch that hooks in is angled as well. But well I did it anyways just in case.

After all the angles where cut as close as possible I trimmed the edges with a razor plade to make it fit. If you don’t have a saw you can probably get away with doing this entire part with a handsaw or a razor blade. MDF is quite easy to cut although it feathers a bit, but for this it doesn’t matter.

Then for the part that actually holds the canvas/board+paper, I didn’t want to do anything too complex because I don’t know how much I’ll like it yet. I got the same piece of MDF that was lying around and cut it into three pieces. 2 x 2cm, and a long piece around 30cm which was left over. Then I just glued everything together. I don’t work on particularly large or heavy panels so I’m not too worried about it falling apart. If it does a few nails should hold it together. Also I’m a bit unsure just how big the gap should be, so if it’s too small/big I can just tear it apart and change the size real quick.

Easel Attachment - Ledge
Easel Attachment – Ledge

And here are some pictures of the finished easel mount on my tripod.It’s a rough proof of concept. If I like it I’ll probably make a nicer one later.

The white board is just a thin piece of MDF I use as a smooth drawing surface for paper drawing/watercolors.

Other Updates

  • Can’t afford the varnish for the chest at the moment, but I’ll probably just go ahead and do the post on it because I need to use it.

How to Export Kindle Highlights (Personal Documents Included)

EDIT: Amazon has finally added the ability to export notes and highlights by email. This post is outdated.

I love highlighting in books, makes finding favorite passages easier. But I also do a lot of research so I need that feature. Unfortunately there aren’t that many devices/apps capable of syncing and exporting highlights. I don’t know why not. One would think this would be a really obvious feature in any app that allows hghlighting. Apparently not. For example, the only way I can really get highlights from a PDF is by going through Goodreader. Acrobat can’t do this!

And for ebooks, the Kindle can’t do this either! I don’t know why. It’s ridiculous. That, not being able to access personal docs on the Windows Kindle app, and the fact that you can’t scroll in the Kindle app have always made me want to ditch it, but no other app can sync with my Kindle… sigh. I’ve considered getting a different ereader brand next time (the Keyboard is seriously outdated at this point) but none have good sync options.

Technically with Amazon you can sort of export highlights if you bought the books from them (it’s easy to access them in a way that lets you copy), but not your personal documents. If you try to search for how to do this most of the guides are about this method which is useless for personal documents. There is a way to export your personal document highlights from your kindle itself and I’ll go over it quickly, but I don’t know if it works with newer kindles. The new method I found is as far as I know almost undocumented and will work from any iOS device, possibly even Android.

From Your Kindle

There is of course the Clippings.txt but this file is ONLY updated if you make a highlight from your kindle, which makes it useless if you read anywhere else as well. It’s also a mess going through it.

The better method is getting them from the .MBP files in your Kindle. Highlights are stored inside these alongside your books with each file corresponding to a book. You can copy them over to your computer and then use this little program, MBP Reader, (place it in the same folder as your highlights) to extract them. Just double-click and it’ll create a bunch of txt files containing the highlights for each book.

Now according to the people that created the MBP reader, Amazon changed the file type in response to this. Why???!!! and no before you ask you can’t copy an entire book like this, there’s a clipping limit still in place. But on my Kindle Keyboard this still works. Maybe they only did this on the newer ones? I don’t know. But this is one way to get your highlights. And for the most part I’d do it this way if you can because it’s slightly easier and the clipping limit, although still there, is larger. You’ll know if you hit it because the text file will just have a number and no highlights.

From Your iPad/iPhone (possibly Android as well)

NOTE: This has a clipping limit. In fact the clipping is smaller than what’s even shown on the notes summary screen of the iPad. It seems like it’s 50 words like the copyright limit (that’s about 3 lines in the iPad notes summary screen). Getting your clippings from the .MBP files allows for quite a bit more, hence why I prefer it.

There are times when using the first method is impossible though.

For example, I recently wanted to read a very large book (it had lots of images) on my iPad. It was a .mobi and making it into a PDF ruined the formatting. You can’t email a book over 25mb to your Kindle address because of Gmail’s file limit. I’ve tried different email services that claimed to be able to send big files (if anybody knows one that works, leave a link), but eventually I gave up and manually transferred the book through iTunes onto the Kindle app. The thing is this won’t sync the highlights so even if I put the book in my Kindle Keyboard the .MBP file won’t be generated. I thought well, come to worse, I would just use the fool proof third method described below, but I really didn’t want to by the time I’d read the book because I’d highlighted a lot of stuff.

I searched around and apparently according to this Stack Exchange question the Kindle App used to keep an SQlite file called AnnotationStorage. This is literally the only place I’ve ever seen a proper answer to this problem and it’s not even the first answer. Also the average user probably has no idea what an SQL Database even is and nobody else seems to have bothered to detail the process. So I thought I’d do it.

Instructions

Step 1

Okay first we’ll need to get the files. You’ll need some way to access your iPad/iPhone device’s internal files. This is a piece of cake if you’re jailbroken (iFile). If you’re not there’s supposedly desktop applications that do allow you to see App folder but I haven’t tried them (the Stack Exchange answer mentions iFunBox Classic).

Step 2

Depending on your iOS version the Applications folder will be in different places. Now I imagine this file probably also exists on Android, but I don’t have an android device to try. If anybody knows, leave a comment.

  • Pre iOS8 in /private/var/mobile/Applications and it’s easy to find the Kindle folder.
  • Post iOS8 it’s a nightmare. You’ll have to go to /private/var/mobile/Containers/Data/Application and then you’ll see a bunch of folders with different numbers. I believe this number changes occasionally. You could still attempt to bookmark it though, but it’s likely you’re going to have to do this every single time. It might be easier to just know the approximate size of the folder.
  • You’re going to have to go one by one and open then go into the folders to determine which is the Kindle app.If you’ve manually transferred a book it’s easier to check the APPNUMBER/Documents/ of each app as you’ll immediately see the .MOBI for your book there. Otherwise check all APPNUMBER/Library folders, the Kindle one should contain folders named ACX, AmazonADs, etc. and the AnnotationStorage will be there.

Step 3

Now if you’re not there already navigate to /Library in the Kindle folder. Here like I said you’ll find the AnnotationStorage file (ignore the other AnnotationStorage -smh and -wal files). With iFile you can just select it, zip it, and email it to yourself to get it on your computer. Or you can use an app or SSH, but get it onto your computer somehow.

Step 4

Now you’ll need an SQLite reader. There are many (the Stack Exchange answer mentioned DBBrowser) I used a firefox Add-on called SQLite Manager because I already had it and the search function is better. DB Browser doesn’t seem to be able to search for fragments of a cell.

Step 5

Rename the file to AnnotationStorage.sqlite.

Step 6

Open it with whatever program you want. You’re going to want to go to Tables > ZANNOTATION and switch the view so you can see the table. In SQLite Manager that’s just the Browse & Search tab. It’s going to look kind of like an Excel sheet. The important columns are ZRAWBOOKID. If you sort by this, you’ll sort by book. If you can’t find your book you can search ZUSERTEXT for a phrase in a highlight then get the book ID from that highlight and search by the book ID. Another important column is ZRAWANNOTATIONTYPE if you just want to get your notes or something.

Step 7

To export the data you need to highlight the rows you want then Right Click > Copy as CVS (MSExcel Compatible). Or you can run an SQL Query to get just the columns you want then copy from that. In SQLite Manager just go to Execute SQL, paste your preferred query and hit Run SQL. Make sure there’s at least a space between each line or format it as shown. Either should work.

Here’s a basic query that will get everything and order it by book then the location.

Select * From ZANNOTATION Group By ZRAWSTART Order By ZRAWBOOKID ASC

Step 8

You can then paste this anywhere, that is, the formatting will be weird if you tried to paste it into Word, but the information is there. I would recommend Excel or Google Sheets (free) as they will arrange the data in columns automatically. You can then manipulate that however you want. I’m still not sure if the BookIDs are the same for all devices or even if they stay the same. If they do though, you could also keep a list of which book is which and then later batch replace the book IDs with the proper titles. I’ll do a tutorial the next time I need to do this once I know if the IDs stay the same.

Alternatively you can mess around with the queries a bit to get just the info you want and copy that. You can use any of the following example templates or edit them slightly to your needs. Here’s something simpler that’s easier to understand than the raw export.

Select ZRAWBOOKID , ZRAWANNOTATIONTYPE, ZUSERTEXT From ZANNOTATION Group By ZRAWSTART Order By ZRAWBOOKID ASC

This will get all your highlights, show three columns (Book, Annotation Type, and the Annotation) and sort them by book, then within that by the location of the highlight. Note that ZRAWSTART (you can add that as a column if you want to see it) is not the Location number in your kindle. That info doesn’t seem to be available or is somehow extrapolated from this by the app).

To add or remove columns. Just add a comma. The basic format is:

Select COLUMN1, COLUM2, COLUMN3 From TABLE

Table is ZANNOTATION in this case.

You can also filter by book ID in the SQL Query. The following just gets the Annotation Type, the Annotation, and then orders it by the location.

Select ZRAWANNOTATIONTYPE, ZUSERTEXT From ZANNOTATION Where ZRAWBOOKID="InsertBookIDw/Quotations" Order By ZRAWSTART ASC

And for just getting highlights out and into Word or Notepad, you can use something like this, then they just need to be separated on individual lines. If you first paste this into Excel or Google Sheets then copy the column from there to Notepad or Word it will separate each highlight into a line for you but it will also get rid of quotation marks. I don’t mind, but some might prefer them.

Select ZUSERTEXT From ZANNOTATION Where ZRAWANNOTATIONTYPE="highlight" And ZRAWBOOKID="InsertBookIDw/Quotations" Order By ZRAWSTART ASC

And to get your notes:

Select ZUSERTEXT From ZANNOTATION Where ZRAWANNOTATIONTYPE="note" And ZRAWBOOKID="InsertBookIDw/Quotations"Order By ZRAWSTART ASC

Anyways I hope you found my guide useful, maybe learned a bit of SQL. I’m not an expert at this but if you need some help with a query just leave a comment.

Foolproof Option

In case Amazon ever changes the way they do this (which I doubt), there will of course always be this method on older devices, but even on newer ones you can take a screenshot of your notes then OCR them. It’s a pain, but the option is available. You can also use this for the longer highlights that won’t export completely.

Other Updates

  • I finished the chest. It just needs hinges and a coat of paint.
  • Plastic! All the plastic. Will attempt to record a model making session.
  • I have discovered the magic that is the french cleat system. So in the future I’ll probably detail my attempt to cover my entire room with these.

Magic Lantern on My Canon Rebel T3/1100D

Magic Lantern

When I first got my camera I knew next to zero about photography. I had heard about magic lantern but I was too afraid to break something so I never got it and eventually forgot about it. Lately though I’ve been wanting to push the limits on my camera It’s been broken in, I know more about photography, and I’ve finally gotten some vital accessories like a tripod and a remote control.

I really like macro photography and I’m also interested in doing small stop motion animations with the ship models I plan to build so I was looking up ways to increase the depth of field (increasing the depth of field is what makes them not look like miniatures). I’d come up with the idea of taking several pictures at different focuses (focus stacking, though I didn’t know this was an actual thing that had a name) but that hadn’t worked well without a tripod. Now that I had a tripod I thought I’d test it again. It worked better, but there was no way to adjust it the same every single time the way I needed.

My mind was already working away in the background suggesting all kinds of complex jigs, when I finally thought I should probably do a Google search to see if this is possible with the Canon software that lets you control the camera from your computer. It’s not, but apparently there were other programs that could do this very thing. Well I searched around some more because I was also interested in finding if there was some way to improve the video (there isn’t, or at least it’s not noticeable), and magic lantern came up. Turns out it had a focus stacking feature. It was also much easier to install than I anticipated.

Installing

First check if your model is supported and what is supported, for example Audio Controls are not supported on mine. 🙁

You can find the ML builds here. Be sure to get a non-failed one. If the nightly build failed on your model like mine, click Show Older Builds, then scroll down and find one that doesn’t say (failed). Instructions on how to install it are here. Read the warnings and check your current firmware is the right one. The instructions are pretty clear, if they’re not there’s plenty of videos out there detailing the process.

Once you have it installed it can be a bit glitchy and confusing, but even thought it couldn’t do much about the video in my case, some of the other things it can do are incredibly useful. It’s to the point that I don’t get why Canon doesn’t program some of this stuff in.

Anyways, here are some of my favorite ML features. You can find the documentation on them in the User Guide. I’ve linked each of my headings to theirs to make it easier.

What I was looking for in the first place. It’s really simple.You focus, choose how many pictures in front and behind, the steps between each picture, and that’s it. There’s also more advanced options like setting it to the rack focus range.

Usually 2-3 is enough to bring something the size of a small model into focus. Also if it isn’t obvious, since this works by controlling the focus ring in the lens, the camera needs to be connected to the lens with AF on, so in any instance when you don’t have that connection, you also can’t photo stack, in my case, I have one of those cheap macro extension tubes that you screw on, so any macro shots done with those still need to be focus stacked manually. It’s not much of a problem though because unlike the stop motion situation, I don’t need to repeat the same maneuver perfectly every time, it’s just one picture I’m usually trying to get. Magic Lantern also has Focus Peak,which makes this type of manual focusing ten times easier.

Combining these in Photoshop

For some reason File > Automate > Photomerge does not have a Stack Focus option. It’s supposed to be the equivalent of the following menus/actions: File > Scripts > Load Files in Stack, Edit > Auto-Align Layers, and Edit > Auto-Blend Layers but the blend option doesn’t really make a difference. It’s like it wants to do a Panorama blend but there’s no way to change this like there is in the Auto-Blend Layers menu. You have to turn the blend option off (else you get layer masks) when you import your pictures with Photomerge, then select all the layers and go to Edit > Auto-Blend Layers manually and choose Stack Images instead of panorama. Also check Seamless Tones and Colors if the light changes significantly between each picture (you should try to avoid this), if not, leave it unchecked.

This could all be made into an action probably. If I get around to it, I’ll upload the individual action.

Example

Here’s is an example picture I did of a little red London bus I have. It’s 8cm long. It isn’t to any specific scale because it’s supposed to be a pencil sharpener (it can’t hold the shaving but this one at least works, I have a similar phone box which you can’t use because you can’t get the shavings out!).

Fixing DOF without Focus Stacking

Now with something this big and no background you can just solve the DOF issue by using a really small aperture (high F-stop) and really slow shutter speed to compensate for the low light coming in. Here are two separate examples and a zoomed in section for comparison.

Miniature Red Bus - Left:f/16s, 6s | Right: f/29s, 30s
Left:f/16s, 6s | Right: f/29s, 30s

I’ve only done some small color correction because the left one came out slightly darker (I should have exposed it for longer). As you can see there’s still some fuzziness near the back on the left one but not very much, and on the right it’s completely gone. Had I had a background though, this wouldn’t have been the case with the background. So if I had wanted to put two models into focus, this wouldn’t have worked (I unfortunately don’t have the space to demonstrate this at the moment).

Fixing DOF with Focus Stacking

First some closeups of the seven pictures I took. These in comparison where taken at f/6.3 (to make my life slightly easier), and 1s. You can clearly see the depth of field slowly changing.

And here they are all merged by Photoshop. Now I chose the bus because it’s a good example of an object Photoshop isn’t that good at merging.

Images Merged with Photoshop
Merged with Photoshop

You’ll notice the windows and some of the highlights in the front look a bit odd. If you want it to look better you either have to give photoshop more data, so more pictures, better pictures (higher F-Stop), or you have to merge it by hand. At this size, like I said, you can just increase the F-Stop and with 2-3 pictures you’ll be good, but if this were a tiny flower you might need as many as I did here and depending on how many closely overlapping sections of focus (the windows) you have, even more unless you want to do it by hand.

Images Merged by Hand
Merged by Hand

Here’s the picture merged by hand for comparison. Note I said merged, not fixed. The way Photoshop creates the masks makes it very confusing to try to fix the merge it creates. I recommend aligning the layers in Photomerge but not blending them, then going from back to front, with the back one without a mask, then adding masks, setting them to black, painting in anything that is more in focus, and “erasing”/masking out anything that isn’t. Rinse and repeat until you reach the front. Be careful that the front of the object isn’t always in “front” layer. In the bus for example, only the corner is in the front layer, the left side isn’t.

I’d actually recommend not taking more pictures and trying to do it by hand just to save shutter actuations if you plan on doing this a lot, especially if it’s just a single shot you want to capture. Sometimes you might not be able to get the subject to stay still enough for so many photos either (this can also affect how high of an F-Stop you can go to).

It only takes 10-15 minutes to fix, even less with a tablet. The one picture scenario is usually my case for something tiny enough to need so many pictures. Any stop motion I’m planning is at this scale or larger. Plus with stop motion since each picture is a frame it’s unlikely people will notice the tiny mistakes Photoshop makes so it doesn’t really matter. Consistent merging will look better than inconsistent merging by hand.

Focus Peak/Zebra Luma

Focus Peak lets you see areas of focus on the screen as tiny colored dots so you don’t have to be using the digital zoom to check things are in the best focus. It’s incredibly useful, specially with macro photography where I’m usually resting the camera in really odd positions that make it impossible to properly see the screen. With a glance I can check the dots are in the right place.

It also has an option to display overexposed areas with those zebra stripes.

Focus Peak/Zebra Luma
Image by Magic Lantern/used under CC-BY-SA

Trap Focus

I haven’t really put this one to much testing, but it seems like something I’ll be using a lot. Basically when the image comes into focus, it snaps a picture. Just turning it on though, it snaps the moment anything comes into focus so you have to change the AF point. ML also seems to provide some way to use custom focus patterns, but I haven’t tried it.

The one big problem with this feature is that it bugs out. It might just be me, but even though I have it set to hold AF + half shutter, half the time I have to go back into ML’s menu than out to get it to work again.

FPS Override

This is my favorite though, because I wasn’t expecting it the use I found for it. I was more interested to see how much the frame rate could be increased. Turns out not much. 35 is hardly an noticeable over the 30 fps it could do before, and you can’t get audio with FPS Override on. But doing the opposite, that is setting the frame rate really low, solved a different long time problem I’ve had.

Before if I wanted to record a video, first I’d have to do it in 30 minute increments, and second, it would just eat my battery and really heat up my camera. I mainly wanted to record time-lapses of me drawing, so all that mess just to later speed the footage up and drop 18 of the frames. I knew Magic Lantern could solve the time/size limitation with automatic restart, but what I didn’t realize was that by setting the frame rate really low it would solve everything. I tested a video outside in the shade at 2 FPS (1 FPS seemed to have a problem where it would take too long to stop the video recording, I don’t know why). The camera lasted 3 hours, by the end of which it still had a bit of battery left, and it didn’t heat up nearly as much. Then there’s the added bonus that everything is already sped up for me when I play it back. I barely have to edit any video before uploading it.

I’ll be trying it out on some sketches soon.

Other Updates

  • I was going to do the post about my chest but there were some delays. I’d glued on one of the front borders slight off and when I tried separating the boards they broke completely. This had happened plenty of times and the boards had separated just fine after some hammering and plying, but apparently this time the glue had really sunk in or something. It was like trying to separate two thin lego. I did have plenty of leftover boards, but they were all the moldy ones and this was the front so I had to get yet another board. I cut it in half length wise already which is the most problematic part because the table saw is a pain to move outside. So now I just need to sand it and cut it too length which I will probably end up doing with a hand saw out of sheer laziness.
  • I found a place that sells relatively cheap thin (less than 1mm) HIPS plastic in small quantities so I’ll finally be getting some. No more scavenging for plastic.