Monday, September 26, 2011

pictures from our weekend









weekend trips to the cabin are always heavenly and this weekend it was extra wonderful. lots of lounging around and relaxing, pretty drives, beautiful fall leaves and a sweet little hike to Ruth Lake.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DIY Camera Remote

For a few weeks now, I’ve been thisclose to buying a remote for our digital camera. I’d like to try my hand at some star trails like this one taken by Declan McCormak:


To get pictures like that you need to use an extremely small aperture (large f-number) and a long shutter time. The shutter time for this shot might have been 10 minutes or more. The longest possible exposure time on our D60 is 30 seconds, so any star trails would be almost impercepticle. The camera also has a bulb setting, where the shutter stays open for as long as the release button is pressed, but it would be a huge pain to hold the shutter release down for 10 or 20 minutes. Your best best is to use a remote, like Nikon’s ML-L3:

With the remote, the camera can be set to open the shutter when the remote button is pressed once, and then close it when it is pressed a second time. The remotes are between $15 and $30, depending on where you buy. Every time I thought about buying one, I decided that I should just wait. The other day, I stumbled across an application called PhotoIRmote for Android. This application creates an audio signal that can be converted to an infrared signal by a couple of photodiodes (basically LEDs that emit infrared radiation instead of visible light). Simply put, it turns almost any Android phone into a programmable camera remote. This remote can control most new Nikon, Canon, Olympus, and Sony cameras with an infrared port (probably mostly DSLRs). It can also be programmed for time-lapse photography, delayed shutter release, and extended exposure times. It has more functionality than the Nikon remote and at $4, it’s a bargain. The only thing missing was the infrared emitter.

The PhotoIRmote website has instructions to make one using two infrared photodiodes and an old pair of headphones that you don’t need anymore. Like everyone else, I have about 12 pairs of Apple headphones lying around from a decade of iPods that me and Emily have gone through. I decided to use one of those old, beat-up pairs of Apple buds for my IR emitter. When I cut it open, there were four different wires inside. One copper, one red, one green, and one with both green and red bands. After some time, I found out that the red and green are the audio signals, while the red+green and copper are the ground wires. If you use iPod headphones, just cut off the red+green and copper wires and don’t use them. The second hurdle is that these wires are all covered with acryllic. Acryllic makes for bad electrical contact. What I did was use a crème brûlée torch to burn off all of the acryllic. It burns pretty fast, and you don’t want to keep heating the metal after it’s gone because before too long it will melt. The acryllic burns brightly, so it’s not too hard to tell when it’s gone. Once you’ve burned off the green and red acryllic, go ahead and wire up your photodiodes and you have your emitter. Honestly, it took me about 10 minutes to go from iPod headphones and photodiodes to a finished, working IR emitter. It’s extremely easy to do. My finished emitter looks like this:


The PhotoIRmote application has a feature that lets you check to make sure your emitter is working. I tested mine and it worked on my first try, so I tried it on the camera. It worked perfectly! In fact, I took this picture on the kitchen table using the application:


I still have to clean up the exposed wires, but other than that it’s done! This has been one of my easiest projects ever and It ended up costing my under $6. The application was $4, the IR photodiodes were $1.65, and the headphones were free! As soon as I get a star trails photo that I’m happy with, I’ll throw it onto the blog.


I feel like we’ve inadvertently neglected our blog. Lately our life has been filled with the following: fall semester, football season (and with that, the all consuming fantasy football leagues…Mckay is in two and it’s pretty much equal to a part time job). We’ve managed to squeeze in a few lovely hikes over the weekends. The first was up Dry Fork, where I did more complaining than I probably should have. but me and steep rocky hills don’t get along. In fact, we’re in a fight. and judging by the scrapes near my left knee cap I’d say the hill is winning. I’m going to be honest, I hated hiking that day. but it was good to get in some quality family time and enjoy a pretty view I suppose.




We also hiked around Squaw Peak, right around sunset. Romance. and it was the babe’s first successful ride in the backpack. so fun. we only had the film camera so no pictures of that. but definitely a hike we recommend, the views are incredible.

We also enjoyed a weekend with Chris and JJ, and the rest of the family, where we all had a good laugh over the epic fail of BYU (eventually it just got ridiculous). and our sweet babe turned 7 months on the 11th.


aaaaaaaand, as for me whenever I’m not cooking, cleaning, laundry-ing or …henry-ing, I’m working like crazy on this thing:


yes that would be the old quiet book. the one I started forever ago, even before henry was a blip on our radar. I’m in the middle of completing 6 new pages (probably some of my favorites so far) and once those are done I only have 8 left. I can finally see the light at the end of what’s been a very long tunnel. but I’m excited to get it done and move on with my life. Hopefully I can post an update on my progress in the next couple of days. or maybe I’ll wait till it’s all finished, but who knows when that will be.  I guess we’ll see.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


McKay here. Emily and I have made our way onto Pinterest. Maybe you all know what it is. I didn't until today. It's a kind of online corkboard where you can pin pictures of stuff you think is cool or that you want to remember or anything else you can imagine of doing with pictures. She explained it to me better than that. Anyway, if you get bored and you've already gone through the archives of this blog and read and commented on every post, then you can also come and see what we are thinking about on Pinterest. She requested an invitation from the website and got it pretty fast I think, but if you are waiting for one then either of us can invite you. It's a pretty great idea, and even though I didn't know about it until like 7 hours ago, I'm already pumped about it.

I really should do a blog post about some of the things I've been up to lately, but there is a Green Bay game and we are going to watch it with the Klappoths. And don't worry. I won't bore you with transport phenomena or anything else chemical-engineering-related. I probably will mostly talk about photography. I've recently gotten very enthused about it, but the Packers come first and so it will have to wait. Thanks for reading.


Quick craft for sir henry’s room


I’m slowly finishing some projects for Henry’s room. Awhile ago I made a fabric mobile to hang over his crib and we finally got around to hanging it up this week. This project was so quick and easy, I did it during naptimes.


Sorry for bad lighting, this is as good as it gets in a room with no windows :(

While choosing toys and decorations for henry’s room I knew I wanted lots of bright color and varying patterns and this mobile has both. another perk to this project was that it was super cheap. Supplies: embroidery hoop (about $1 at hobby lobby) paint (already had), fabric (I used fabric scraps I already owned) ribbon (hobby lobby), fusible webbing, and fishing wire to hang it. so I don’t think this project cost more than $5. wonderful. if only all projects could be so cheap and easy, then I might actually finish a few… 


I was worried Henry would hate it. He loves his old mobile, a plush car musical, rotating thing we got as a gift. but I cut the cars off so he got some new toys, and the one I made is always swirling a little so I’m hoping he likes it. so far he hasn’t told me otherwise.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

big days

we’ve had a few important days recently. first, our anniversary on the 21st. since mckay was on a kayaking trip we had to wait until he got back to celebrate. since dates with just the two of us are scarce we decided to splurge and get a hot stone couples massage, fancy pants. we’ve gotten massages one other time in our life, so this was a treat. once I got over the initial weirdness of letting some stranger rub oils on my body it was heavenly.

so four years of married life with my sweetheart. so much I could say. so much mushy stuff. what fun we have had. of course we’ve had our ups and downs, just like everyone, but I couldn’t imagine life with a better husband. and now with a babe, oh my goodness did I get lucky. mckay is the most wonderful dad. we love our little life and are so excited for what the future has in store for us.



and on to the next big day, Chris entered the mtc yesterday. it was sad to say goodbye, but he was so excited and so prepared that we couldn’t help but be happy and excited for him. He will be serving in the Chile, Osorno mission and we know he is going to be incredible. for anyone keeping track…this is the third brother in a row we’ve sent out on a mission, and the second time two brothers have overlapped (marty comes home this october). we are very proud of our brothers for serving missions and grateful for the blessings our families receive because of them.




lastly, school started this week, which means the rat tail is no more, a noteworthy day indeed.