20130529_122240 [1600x1200]I’m loving my new smart phone.  Not so much for the phone function or texting as for the “always there” camera.  The Galaxy S4 has a dandy, a 13 megapixel job with modes and features that I may never use.  It has one that I definitely like – a voice command to tell it to take the picture.  It recognizes several words as triggers:  shoot and smile work and a few others.  I took this of one of the new-ish cherry trees from atop my mower yesterday.20130530_075914 [1600x1200]Mrs J has taken charge of walking Katie.  Kate handles the leash well, even when it’s me on the other end.  Katie is recovering from her surgery – St Francis offers spaying as a part of their adoption service but this was delayed in her case by her flight and subsequent outdoor adventures.20130530_080115 [1600x1200]The patio container garden is doing well.  The tomatoes are at that stage where they are all promise and healthy and green with scads of yellow blossoms.20130530_080059 [1600x1200]Most of the herbs for the kitchen are arrayed on this bench and they are growing fast.  I pinched the first flower buds from the basil yesterday.  Swallowtail caterpillars have invaded the curly parsley (just behind the purple basil) but have so far left the flat leaf parsley alone.20130530_080135 [1600x1200]We have a better selection of peppers this year:  Jalapenos again, and habaneros, new this year are cayennes, Anaheims, and some small, multi-colored sweet peppers.  There are a few blossoms on these but they do best in the heat of the summer.20130530_061257 [1600x1200]Here’s Homer from early this morning.  He and Toby have a mouse cornered under the end table.  I have the S4 camera set on auto everything and noticed a brief flash from the LED assist for focusing but the auto focus needs better light to do good work.20130530_061318 [1600x1200]This was a few moments later.  I got up to see how the flash was going to work where it was really too dark to see.  I don’t think the camera will ever be as good as a dedicated DSLR, but it will do much better than my Nikons when they are not to hand and this one is.


DSC_3780 [1600x1200]Katie is merging into daily doggie life here.  She is still a bit jumpy with me but Mrs J’s campaign to endear herself to Kate is paying huge dividends.  Katie actually will join her on the couch – she still wants to bail when I go to sit with her.  The cats are not as wary of her, nor she of them.  She seems very smart and is picking up commands and hand signs well.DSC_6045 [1600x1200]Here’s another view of the sausage and pepper sub I built yesterday.  Kroger sells bone in chicken thighs in a nice “value pack” tray fairly cheap.  I didn’t make note but there are around 10 pieces in there for 6 or 7 dollars.  I’ve been cooking them all at once on the grill when I have it going for whatever else, wrapping them in foil for later quick meals.  The sausages came in a similar pack of ten, I cooked all of those as well.PICT1433 [1600x1200]I’ve mentioned this before, we keep a trail camera active overlooking the spot where Mrs J spreads the corn and other seeds.  The camera has infra-red LEDs to add illumination at night, and the camera itself has a light sensor that switches the mode from daylight color to night time IR.  Often there is a transition period in the evening and in the morning when there is enough ambient light that the entire scene is lit well enough to see to the far edges of the frame.  The resulting photos have what I would term “drama”.PICT0582 [1600x1200]Speaking of game cameras, we placed another one looking at the tomato garden this year, hoping to identify the culprits that destroyed some newly planted seedlings.  We’ve seen rabbits and raccoons, deer and stray cats, but none of them have again bothered the steadily growing plants.  It struck me as a fun project to save one photo a day from this camera to a new folder on a hard drive so daily progress can be noted.  I have about ten frames saved so far.  If I can figure out how I will make a movie out of the batch when I get enough of them.

Gadget Post – Eye-Fi

I’ve put off getting one of these for a long time, it seemed too fiddly for me, and they were touting it as a way to upload pictures to social media sites like Facebook and others.  They spoke so loudly and proudly about that feature that the basic functionality I was really looking for was mentioned in reviews almost as an after thought, as if relegated to the fine print.

What convinced me to try it was the trouble Mrs J was having remembering to load the pictures from her little Canon into the network drives we have set up on our local area network (LAN).  She would come in from the shelter and later would mention that she took some pictures of a really cute critter and would have to fetch the camera so I could pull the chip and copy them into a shared folder where they would be available to copy to a local machine for editing.  I generally resize photos I load for this blog, and try to tweak the colors and contrasts to add a little more oomph, and crop them a bit for composition, same thing with my Flickr account.  ProTip:  Always, always edit a copy!  Not the original!

Anyway, I ordered one, set it up and slotted it into her camera.  Set up was easy and fast, I didn’t have to send the pics anywhere I didn’t want them to go.  It seems like magic.  Take a photo and a little later it’s there in the designated folder.  Huzzah!  It’s a tad slow if you aren’t fairly close to the router – I can watch the upload progress bar speed up or slow down when carrying the camera towards or away from the wifi transmitter.  I haven’t tested it much, but if the pic takes ten seconds to load from twenty feet away, it may take thirty seconds from thirty feet, or just a few seconds from five feet.  This will depend a lot on your particular set up.  If the network you have set the chip to talk to isn’t available, as is the case when Mrs J is at the shelter, all will be taken care of when you are close enough.  Just turn the camera on and the uploading commences.

I bought one for myself:

I will note that the chip will work with a public hotspot, or it can be set up with your smart phone.  Lots of combinations available that aren’t (so far) interesting to me.  YMMV  Needless to say, there are several varieties of these, different capacities and features.  Check them out!

Gadget post – Panasonic LX5

This has been out for a year or so but a recent post over at Balloon Juice touting a sale on them tipped me over to buying one despite the fact that I already own a decent pocket camera.

The newer camera has more bells and whistles, improved manual controls, and a much faster lens.I really haven’t had much time to mess with it yet due to a problem with the DSL modem that I spent way too much time on yesterday.  I have taken a few pictures, some with manual settings and a last one this morning with it set to automatic everything – the real point and shoot option.  Available light from an open door in the rear and some light from a ceiling fixture:Homer sure looks like he is being a good kitty, waiting patiently for breakfast to be served.  Actually, he was being a good kitty, it has been a long slog but he rarely jumps up onto the table these days.

I took this one last night, stuck my head out of the door with the camera set at its widest aperture and zoomed in some, not sure if it was max zoom but I think not.  Only light was from a porch light just above the scene:

 Here is one taken with the flash deployed, and the zoom lens backed all the way off:

And a few more, Bea in available light, and Annie.  Annie is closer to the lamp.  Another of Bea with the flash:

So, first impression:  Nice little camera – I’m looking forward to packing it with me to the farmer’s market next year.  I’m not going to try to give a substantive review because I’m just not qualified but there are reviews out there from people who are:  Here’s one, and a quick search turns up another.  Here is the Amazon link – there are a ton of reviews there.