memorial day weekend is ruined. originally it was just going to be a rainy week but the weekend weather would be nice. now it looks like the rain will be parking offshore and will drench the greater boston area for much of this weekend. i'd planned to make a trip into boston tomorrow to visit haymarket and chinatown, but decided to go today instead, since the forecast calls for rain for much of tomorrow. it was supposed to rain today as well, but not until later in the afternoon, and i figured i had a brief window of opportunity.
riding into boston, i already felt rain drops, which wasn't a good sign. i did bring my umbrella, so worst case scenario i could always pull over on the side of the road and wait out any impending downpours. since haymarket is only opened on fridays and saturdays, i only went to an asian supermarket to grab some chinese sausages for rob's barbecue on saturday.
coming back, i stopped briefly in boston common to admire the field of planted flags in honor of memorial day (here's a 2.3MB mpo file to download and display if you have a 3D HDTV). there were 33,000 flags total. it was a good opportunity to field test the fuji 3D W3. i'm still not used to the camera, and there were a few photos were i accidentally had a finger covering up the right lens. all those flags fluttering in the wind, it's a photo i wouldn't have been able to take with the 3D capability on my panasonic ZS20. it's also nice to a bit of zoom (3x), although the 20x zoom on the ZS20 has spoiled me for anything less.
little did i realize it at the moment, but the overcast sky - though it was threatening rain - was great for photography.
i continued onwards onto the charles river bike path, on the lookout for more photo opportunities. i crossed over into cambridge via the mass ave bridge. prior to inman square i took a detour on prospect street to mail off some health insurance forms at the union square post office (in hindsight, maybe the central square post office was closer).
my obsession for this week is number stations. i have memories of listening to them on a shortwave radio when i was visiting taiwan in the late 80's. i never knew what they were, maybe somebody practicing their english numbers on the radio. it never dawned on me that it could be coded spy transmissions. so i wanted to listen to some again (even though post-cold war there aren't too many stations left). i have a small shortwave radio (grundig mini world 100 PE) but i'm afraid it's not powerful enough to receive many shortwave stations (plus i live in a reception dead zone). that got me into looking for a cheap and small shortwave radio. in the meantime, i downloaded the conet project, a collection of number station recordings.
a package from china arrived in the mail labeled "electronics." i couldn't remember what i ordered but tore open the packet to find out. turns out it's the pH test strips i ordered 10 days ago off of ebay. i wanted them to test the pH of my kombucha.
i didn't test the jar of kombucha i'm currently fermenting since it's not ready yet, but i tested the mason jar of finished kombucha. it had a value of 3 or 4 depending how which color one thinks it matches on the color chart. i then tested a few other liquids. water - no surprise - was a neutral 7. i tested some apple cider vinegar and was surprised it so closely matched the color of the kombucha, which i now think has a pH of 2. what i probably need are short range test strips that only show acidic values. however, the kombucha doesn't taste like pH 2 at all, it still has a very mild and slightly sweet flavor, almost reminiscent of honey.
i also tested some vodka, which not surprisingly has a 7 pH value. some 409 cleaner showed a pH of 9 (it contains ammonium chloride). finally, i wanted to know what the value of black tea was: about pH 6.
i'm been drinking the first batch of fermented kombucha gathered from my parents' place (i just have a single 24 oz. jar). while sitting outside undergoing a second carbonation ferment, it managed to grow a little transparent scoby despite the lack of oxygen (i had the lid screwed on). now when i pour out some to drink, the scoby falls out, which seems all very placental. i pick out the scoby and put it back into the jar. using just this little scoby i could probably start a whole new batch of kombucha tea but i don't have the containers for it. besides, the gallon jar i'm fermenting now should be finished by memorial day. soon i will have enough kombucha tea i won't know what to do with it.
approaching rush hour, i walked down to harvard square to test out the fuji 3D camera some more. one cool feature is the continuous shot mode, which can take up to 40 images with just one click. i thought this was a pretty advanced feature and wondered how fast the internal chip was to process so much 3D data. turns out when the camera is shooting continuous, it's actually shooting at the smallest size (1920x1080, 2 megapixels). it's not downsized resolution either, so the quality isn't very good, compared the high quality setting (3584x2016, 7 megapixels). however, if you're only going to display it on an HDTV, it looks fine since an HDTV can only display anything larger than 1920x1080 anyway (regular HDTV, we're not talking 2K or 4K).
besides all the things one must think about to take a good photo (lighting, white balance, composition, etc.), there's an additional component exclusive to 3D photos: layering. the best 3D photos have multiple layers. you have things in the foreground, midground, and background. i tried to think of places i could go where i could find large groups of people, preferring doing interesting things. the 3D camera will be good for the parade season.
i wish the fuji W3 had a wider lens. on my panasonic ZS20, the only option for 3D is at the widest angle of 24mm. this is a great for landscapes, which is a great use for a 3D camera. unfortunately, with its 35mm (widest) lens, the fuji W3 is really designed for people photography.
although the ZS20 can do wide angle 3D photos, it takes them at the lowest resolution (1920x1080). like i said before, that's not a big deal if these photos are destined to be displayed on an 3D HDTV. but say one day you want to upgrade to 4K resolution, or maybe even print a large-sized lenticular copy of a favorite 3D photo, then you'll need the extra resolution.
i finished all my red leaf lettuce and asparagus and walnuts for dinner. i ran out of smoked salmon, so i used half a can of tuna instead. i finally found a site that compared the difference between the 3 different lettuces: iceberg, red leaf, and romaine. besides aesthetics, red leaf actually has more nutritional values than iceberg. but romaine is even more nutritious (and that's the kind of lettuce i usually get for my chicken caesar salad).
i caught game 4 between the bruins and rangers. boston would sweep new york with a victory tonight. but the bruins had a 3-1 lead over the maple leafs and toronto took that series in a game 7, so boston has a history of not being able to close out a series. the bruins have 3 more tries though to get it done. i also watched another new episode of hannibal. lecter almost killed will, but ended up making him an accomplice in the coverup.
while browsing one of the fuji W3 message boards, i discovered my camera has an old firmware (1.0). i ended up updating it to the latest version (1.2). the latest version can playback MP files from other cameras (which i can already do) and there's a new economy HD video mode (not that i'd really use it since shooting HD video drains the battery).
i tested the night time capability of the fuji W3. my ZS20 can not take any 3D night photos. even indoors, if the condition is just a little shady, the photos come out black. the W3 does a much better job. it doesn't seem smart enough to tweek the aperture/shutter speed in order to gain more light, but instead seems to rely on the ISO setting. it can go up as high as ISO 1600, but i set it at 400 maximum. taken at ISO 100 a night photo is dark, but at ISO 400 it's fairly decent. if i really want night 3D, i could always increase the ISO to 1600.