This Space for Rent

Mar 30, 2009

Railroad picture of the day


I was on my way up to REI and was stopped at the Steel Bridge while a very long transfer freight crossed, when all of a sudden this engine started blowing for the Front Ave crossing (right behind me); it was purely good luck that I managed to get off my bicycle, flip down the kickstand, yank my purse out of the pannier, and get the camera out of the purse, uncovered, and turned on before it was too late to take a picture of the advancing F40 sled.

Mar 29, 2009

Trolley picture of the day


An airport-bound train passes one of the Gomaco cars just west of the Convention Center stop.

Railroad picture of the day


A Beyer-Garratt hustles by on one of the mainlines in the exhibition hall at Brickfest today. This year’s Brickfest was far less interesting than the one two years ago – there weren’t as many people exhibiting their creations, the vendors were selling things at “I don’t believe the economy has collapsed” prices (US$8 for Lego keychains. Oy) – but seeing a Beyer-Garratt makes up for a lot.

Mar 27, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite celebrates the end of the week by going out for a nice cup of coffee.

Colo(u)rs not found in nature


Take two buttercups, add food dye, wait a day or so, photograph.

Mar 26, 2009

An avian discussion


Two captive spoonbill ducks have a short discussion at the Washington Park Zoo.

Therapod picture of the day


The great50000000 grandson of a velociraptor swims around in a fountain at the Washington Park Zoo this afternoon. This mallard is quite used to having people around, so he didn’t even blink when I leaned over the edge of the fountain and took a moderately close picture of him.

Mar 24, 2009

Railroad picture of the day

Over The Shoulder

It was late, it was dark, it was rainy, and I didn’t see the eng!s until after we’d gone under the Killingsworth viaduct and the train was behind us. So I pointed the camera backwards and took one slow picture before the highway bent and took us out of view.

Amazingly, I didn’t manage to miss the train. And it’s dark and blurry enough that you can’t actually tell it’s sporting the most tedious paint scheme in all Christendom.

Mar 23, 2009

Trolley picture of the day


A two-car train returns from the Portland airport on a rainy monday afternoon.

Mar 21, 2009

Railroad picture of the day


The new replacement working Eng! basks in the afternoon sun at EPT’s Milwaukie shops.

Mar 20, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™

Dust Mite & Mavis don't quite fit into the picture

The camera isn’t quite big enough to fit both Mavis and Dust Mite into the frame.

Trolley picture of the day


A pair of cars on an airport service, taken from the top of the hill in the undeveloped land just north of Gateway Transit Center (currently undeveloped – the local bikey community is pushing really hard to have the area developed into a cyclocross park, which would be fine except I’d lose this nice hilltop that I was using to take this picture from.)

Mar 19, 2009

Trolley picture of the day

A Gresham-bound train turns onto Burnside

I went up to the airport this afternoon, and stopped a few times to get pictures of trolleycars along the way. This train – a SD600 leading a Bombardier – came up the ramp from i205 to Burnside just seconds after I crossed over the tracks (I just barely had enough time to get off the bicycle and pull my camera out of the panniers; this is yet another reminder that I need to sit down and finish sewing up the handlebar bag so I can keep my Pentax close at hand when I’m out on the line.)

Mar 16, 2009

Picture of the day


On Sunday, Russell dropped his camera when it was turned on, which managed to jam the lens open. Point and shoot cameras do not like it when their cheap and flimsy lenses don’t work, so I slowly took the camera apart trying to get down to the lens mechanism to unjam it. When I eventually reached it, I was able to verify that it was indeed not jammed, but broken, and this made the camera a US$80 pile of junk.

These days we’re poor (the best is in graduate school, and I’m a stay at home dad, so our only income is stuff I’m selling on ebay and the pitiful remains of my retirement funds (in a better world, this wouldn’t bother me because of social security, but, alas, Wall Street made some very good investments a few years ago and it’s less of a henhouse now than it’s a foxhouse with a minor hen problem,)) so I can’t just gallop out and buy a replacement point and shoot (and I don’t know if I’d really want to, given the way the bears gallop about with cameras swinging wildly at the ends of their arms. The bodies of the cameras are pretty safe, but el-cheapo pop-out lenses tend not to deal with repeated impacts very well.

“Oh, bother,” said I, “why can’t someone make a point and shoot with removable lenses???” And then I remembered that I’ve got a couple of Pentax 110 cameras that I bought primarily so I could see how hard it would be to build a digital back for one of them. Now, the Kodak isn’t very well suited to be made into a digital back, because it really wants to be auto everything and it’s got all of these electronic gadgets stuck to it that it wants to self-test every time it fire up, but the only electronics that are actually inside the lens mechanism is the automatic aperture, and other than that the only camera interface to the lens is the focus/zoom/retract motor.

So, if I removed all of the lens mechanism except for the barrel (which has the limiters for the zoom motor) and the back part of the lens (which has the aperture) it should be enough for the thing to be able to perform a self-test and boot, right? Easy enough to test, and it’s certainly not going to break anything that’s not already broken.

So I pulled the lens apart, discarded the zoom/retract/focus part, stacked all of the rest of the camera pieces back together, put in a battery, and pressed the power button. And the thing powered up!

So then it was simply a matter of getting some dark construction paper, making a temporary lightbox, then grabbing the 18mm lens off my Pentax 110 and, after manually focussing (by moving the entire lens forward and back) and selecting the right mode (“small child” mode, which appears to be as close as you can get to manual on these crappy little cameras) I started taking pictures.

All of them are screamingly overexposed (Pentax 110 lenses do not have an aperture – the 110 aperture is part of the camera, so the only constraint on the lens is that they don’t go slower than f2.8,) but, by god, it’s close enough so that you can see the red space owl robot and some of the details of the wall around it.

Yes, it’s pretty amazingly Holgariffic (the light box isn’t very lightboxish, so the automatic flash gets into everything) but it’s a picture, and it’s the salvation of this camera before the cheapy little motor burns itself out trying to adjust the horrible built-in lens.

And the thought of using high-quality metal AOC optics with this cruddy little camera fills me with a glee. I guess I’ll have to buy a new cheapo camera for Russell, but this might solve my desire for a tiny robust bike camera without having to go out and buy a rangefinder camera to supplement my bigger Pentax.

And it appears that the crop factor of the Kodak is about the same as the crop factor of the 110, so the 18mm lens gives me a ~35mm APS-C equivalent for much less than the cost of a Micro-4/3ths camera.

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Mar 13, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite and I went out for a ride around Pete’s Mountain this afternoon, and we decided that if we were going to be in the neighborhood of the Canby Ferry we should take a slight detour down to the north ferry landing and watch it go back and forth across the river.

Mar 12, 2009

Out on the line

Two volcanos, one more pointy than the other

Mt Hood (right) and Larch Mountain (left) from the Columbia River end of the i205 bike path this afternoon (after s-l-o-w-l-y paddling upwind against a ~20mph ENE breeze from the gorge. It was faster going back home, but, alas, it appears I’ve got one of my infamous “knock you offline for a month, guaranteed!” sicknesses and thus there’s not very much puff left after ~34km into a ridiculous headwind, so “faster” is very much a relative term here.)

Mar 10, 2009

Railroad picture of the day


Something new in the Portland Traction yard today; an ex-Yellow Menace caboose, parked on the sidetrack with the working Eng, the 5100, the old Portland Traction caboose, and the ex-Simpson caboose/passenger car.

At least it wasn’t snowing that time around


It did snow yesterday, of course, but this wasn’t it; no, this was just a short hailstorm punctuating a very wierd Portland afternoon.

Mar 08, 2009

Umm, okay.


After about a week of being under the weather due to an annoying late-season flu, I finally got back enough energy to drag myself out on the bicycle to do some errands. One of the errands involved going into Milwaukie to get some cough syrup at a drugstore in the mall (it was either that or go to a drugstore at 39th and Holgate, and I foolishly thought that there’d be less traffic going down to Milwaukie,) and no sooner had I crossed into Clackamas County than I encountered an inch (or so?) of freshly fallen snow.

Freshly fallen, and freshly melting, and as I pedalled south along 17th Ave a long stream of people in SUVs came roaring on by me, passing very close and drenching me and the bicycle with waves of melting snow. By the time I made it to the drug store, I was soaked to the skin head to toe and thinking very uncharitable thoughts about my fellow man and the whole American auto culture.

At least the layers of wool were doing their thing by trying valiantly to wick the icy water away from my skin. The only place it wasn’t working was in my shoes, which, as befitting shoes designed for cycling, are very good about letting water in but not so good about letting water back out. Brr, and brr again, particularly since there’s supposed to be Yet More Snow tonight and tomorrow (When I was growing up in the midwest, the occasional March snow was par for the course, but last time I checked Portland wasn’t exactly in the midwest.)

Mar 06, 2009

Friday Dust Mite Blogging™


Dust Mite peers closely at the camera.

Mar 03, 2009

Cute baby picture of the day


We got to school yesterday a few minutes before the first bell so that Russell could run into the library and check out a book. I was expecting that I’d just goof around with Silas in the hall until the first bell, but, no, he shovelled his pack into his locker, took his school notebook (and Puppy,) walked into the empty classroom, and pulled out a pencil and started doing some sort of Important Baby Work.

I didn’t want to interrupt him, so I took a picture instead.

Railroad picture(s) of the day


When I went out for a ride this morning, I found myself looping through Oregon City at about 11:15. “Hmm,” though I, “it’s possible that the 11:30 Cascades might be showing up right around now.” and I peeled off to the left and parked my bicycle at the end of a road butting up against the other side of the tracks from the Oregon City Amtrak station.

Now, it seems that Oregon City has some sort of noise ordinance, because even though there are a couple of grade crossings between the Blue Heron paper mill and the Amtrak station, I didn’t hear anything, but after 10 minutes or so I saw the headlights of the F40PH pop into sight on the viaduct that crosses downtown Oregon City. No zoom lens, just my 55mm Super-Tak, but that was enough to get good wedge shots as the train rolled on by.


Obéir c'est trahir, Désobéir c'est servir