Sometimes

Sometimes…

…It just doesn’t work out. This post deals mostly with such recent situations. It’s been “one of those weeks” since my last post.

Astronomy

Well, the last few days saw the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. My luck has been holding constant over the last few years. I’ve tried repeatedly to either get to a nearby site or to look for the Perseids, and every time I’ve been foiled my either Mother Nature or mankind’s poor behavior.

This year was no different. On the 11th, 12th, and 13th I’ve been up and checking the skies at some time between 3 AM and 5 AM. In each case the skies have been either overcast or blocked by smoke from various wildfires. Actually, on the 13th that wasn’t the case, I did have a nice sky last night. This time, it was my own human nature that was my downfall. I was out and looking up at the sky around 4:00, 4:30, this morning but try as I might, I just could not stay awake. After 10 minutes I gave up and went back to bed. Want to bet this was when I’d have had a great view of the Perseid meteor shower?

I’ve been trying, admittedly not too hard, since I got back from vacation to get out into the Owyhees and do some astronomical observing and astrophotography. Between not being able to find someone to go with me and having just got back from a lot of vacation, I confess I’ve been kind of slacking lately.

Which segues neatly into this next bit…

Photography

Like I mentioned above, I’ve gotten a little lazy with my photography outings. We’ve had some awesome sunsets of late, and I check the skies regularly in the evenings, so there’s been no excuse for not going and taking pictures of the sunsets. A time lapse would be really easy to set up and do and there’s a couple of spots where I could set up that are pretty close by the house. One is only ten minutes away, the other maybe half an hour. I’ve just not been enthusiastic enough to do much more than “Oh, I shoulda!”

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’d put together a time lapse of our week long vacation around Cape Arago. That time lapse was built up of several time lapses, most fairly short, around 60 to 150 photos. There were a couple of longer sessions as well, and I just ran them all together. However, that got me to thinking and last Sunday morning I copied all 2,554 pictures to a work area. After rotating all the necessary pictures so that every photo was properly oriented visually, I threw them all together in a single time lapse encompassing the entire week of vacation.

The result was very interesting. Some of the pictures I’d taken made nice time lapses even though they were not taken with that idea in mind. All the time lapses are in this one, naturally, along with some that I’d not put together previously but so are all the single shots. At 15 fps, it’s difficult, but not impossible, to see any of the stills. If you just kick back, relax, and don’t try to process everything while you watch, your brain will actually capture more of the stills than you’d think. Watching this one time lapse of the vacation several times, you’d probably be able to “see” all the stills to some extent.

This coming weekend, I intend to go downtown and set up to do a time lapse of a storefront that fascinates me. I want to set up before dark and continue into dark. It has a neon sign that’s just photogenic, along with the awning. I also want to go do a time lapse of a sunset, but may not be able to do both these projects this weekend.

We’ll see.

Software

I’m working on the full vacation “time lapse” to add in opening titles and closing credits. I had used Windows Movie Maker (WMM) for this with the previous time lapses, but Sunday when I went to use it to add these parts to this new time lapse, WMM was not on my computer any more.

I have absolutely no clue where it went. It seems to be completely removed from my computer somehow. I did install some new video editing software, VideoMach, that I wanted to try and I’m wondering if that wiped out the WMM installation. I can’t see that being the case, and my system seems clean enough, yet…where did it go?

I suspect that I accidentally removed it via Control Panel. That better be the case, anyway.

As to VideoMach (VM), it handled the job quite nicely. It takes some learning and playing with to realize just how powerful it is. It definitely has quite a few features that I’ve not yet figured out how to use, but it’s also not straightforward in the GUI (Graphical User Interface) how to do things. But for what I wanted at the time, it worked well.

One downside, so far, is the inability to easily add the opening title and ending credits that I want to do. I did find out how to add text and subtitles, but that’s not the same. In WMM you click and it adds a new video section that you can add this information to. In VM, you add text to existing images and controlling the timing of that text is non-intuitive. Not that it exactly was in WMM either. But unlike WMM, VM apparently has no way to add a generic new video section that you can put the title or credits on. You have to create that externally and pull it into the video. A little bit of a bummer, but I can work with that.

One MAJOR downer of their website is that while they offer tutorials, and there’s links to tutorials inside the program as well, every tutorial I’ve found that they provide is a video and there is no captioning or subtitles. Which means I have to watch them, and try to pause at the right points to see what they clicked on, etc.. A PITA. The documentation ain’t that great, either.

Book Review Revisit

In my last blog post, I also did a review of The Merlin Saga books by T. A. Barron. In that post I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with book 6, The Dragon of Avalon, as there wasn’t much about either Merlin or Celtic mythology. It’s now been almost a week and a half since I got to the half-way point in that book. I’ve just had no urge to continue reading beyond where I stopped. I don’t know, right now, if I’ll finish the book or even the series. The first five books I was excited to get back to and resume reading. This sixth book simply does not have that pull for me.

Somehow I don’t think I’m going to finish it anytime soon.

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