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December 9,2013- RainyDayGiftGuide:Tripods...

There are a number of tripods on the market that we would love to hav. However, if we had to choose based on the type of photography we do most often, one or two tripods could satisfy most of our needs. For our DSLR and videcams, we want a full-size tripod that is: rock solid in construction, flexible in configuration, and light in weight. With that in mind, we put together a list of tripods for this year's RainyDayGiftGuide for those with the same wants:

The Vanguard Monopod and Trek-Tech TrekPod are perfect for those who need sturdy mobile support. The Vanguard ABEO CM-284 is made from carbon fiber, is super stiff, weighs less than a pound, can expand to about five feet, and support up to 17lbs. The TrekPod is heavier (27oz), but can... [more]- RainyDayGiftGuide: Tripods



December 4,2013- RainyDayGiftGuide:Photo...

Earlier this week we posted our 2013 RainyDayGifeGuide recommendations for Photo Bags. Today are going to share some suggestions for photo accessories. As many readers know, we have been a little enamored with the Fujifilm X100S point-n-shoot camera this year. So it should be no surprised that many of our accessory selections lean toward gear for the X100S :-)

The X100S is well-designed for hand-held shooting, but sometimes one needs to set the camera on a support to get the desired shot. When we went looking for a suitable tripod to pair with the Fujifilm X100S, we had two criteria: stability and flexibility. After some effort, we narrowed the offerings down to the following three selections:

We like the Life-Phorm from Lethal Protection because it will work with smartphone, point-n-shoot, or DSLR camera. This alien-looking support is as unconventional as they come. The six-legged configuration of the... [more]- RainyDayGiftGuide: Photo Accessories



December 2,2013- RainyDayGiftGuide:Photo...

Our work requires us to have a camera with us day in and day out, so we know a little bit about what makes for a good camera bag. A photo bag must protect the camera, have room to carry accessories, and be built to stand up to the wear and tear of the road. Unfortunately, photo bags can also attract unwanted attention and be a target for thieves. So when selecting suggestions for this year's Photo Bag RainyDayGiftGuide, we gave a lot of thought to units which don't look quite like traditional camera bags but still have all of the features a serious amateur or a pro photographer would want/need. After some consideration, a few rounds of discussion, and a lot of paring, we decided on the following nine bags for this year's list.

VANGUARD is a global manufacturer of tripods, camera bags and cases, shooting sticks, cases, binoculars and spotting scopes with first-of-its-kind features and capabilities. They have grown from a small operation in 1986 to a name trusted by professional photographers and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide today. Vanguard is new to us, but we were more than... [more]- RainyDayGiftGuide: Photo Bags


November 27,2013- Papercraft...

We stopped by Joanne Rossman (Purveyor of the Unnecessary & the Irresistible) last Friday night. Joann was having a trunk show for Ms. Cha Cha Wang, the creator of the wonderful folded paper ornaments we saw a in the store a few weeks prior and we wanted to meet her.

Paper folding and folded paper ornaments is a topic which has some fascination for many of us here at RainyDayMagazine, so when the opportunity arose to discuss the topic with someone who is both technically proficient at folding and artistically creative with the craft, we knew we would not pass it up. We had a very interesting chat with Ms. Wang about her creations, paper folding in general, and... [more]- Cha Cha Wang: Papercraft


November 25,2013- EXO Labs...

The great thing about instruments like microscopse and telescopes is that they extend our senses, open up new worlds, and let us explore right from our chair. The big limitation is that the experience was difficult to share, until now. A company call EXO Labs has created a camera which lets the user share what they see with the person next to them or a person on the other side of the world. We are thrilled to be able to take a RainyDay FirstLook at the EXO Labs' Focus camera and accessories today.

The EXO Focus camera's sensor is CMOS, 24-bit color, with a resolution of 2048x1536 (1.75µm x 1.75µm). However, it is much more than just a high resolution camera. It is designed to connect with an iPad (v2 and newer, iOS 6 or later, 30-pin connector) so that what is seen by the camera may be easily shared. By streaming the image to an iPad, the user can then... [more]- EXO Labs: iPad Microscope/Telescope camera


November 22,2013- Grab And Go Gear...

After using the Fujifilm X100S almost daily for seven months, we now take it with us whenever we step out, end of story. If there is even the slightest hint of the possibility of a photo-op, we grab the camera and bring it along. Based on the emails we have been getting about the X100S, we've decided to reveal to all those current X100S owners and prospective buyers what is in our grab-n-go gear bag for this camera.

Billingham bag and accessories

When we first got the Fujifilm X100S, we assembled a collection of accessories which we thought might be useful to have along with the camera. Now that we have had time to try things out, here are the ones which made the cut:

We tried two different cases with the X100S camera: a beautifully handcrafted case from JnK Handwork and a no-name half-case for sale on EBay. Surprisingly, we ended up going with the... [more]- Grab And Go Gear


November 20,2013- Fall Colors...

This Fall, we have been seeing the colors through the viewfinder of our Fujifilm X100S point-n-shoot camera and we have to say, it has been spectacular! The Fall colors starts up in New Hampshire in early October and makes it way down to Boston by early November. We think it also moves from Western MA eastward...not really sure why. Maybe there are just more trees out that way so it "feels" like the colors were moving east.

Anyway, the photo above was taken in mid-October at Northampton around the same time as the ones below at the Boston Public Garden. Clearly the colors at the BPG has not yet peaked while those at... [more]- Fall Colors


November 18,2013- MOS: Hall of Human Life

The Human Body did not come with a user's manual. If it did, more of us would have a better idea how our body works. So, perhaps it is fortunate that life evolved in such a way that most of the processes which keep us alive run on auto-pilot. Just imagine if we had to spend our waking moments remembering to breath, manage our circulatory system, and yet still be expected to process all of the stimuli bombarding our sensory receptors!!!

The Museum Of Science's new exhibit, Hall of Human Life, is an ambitious attempt to take visitors on a journey inside their own body for a glimpse at some of the interesting biology which occurs in there, literally right under their noses. The MOS makes it happen with a combination of technology, hands-on demonstrations, and... [more]- MOS: Hall of Human Life


November 6,2013- BlackVue 2-Ch FirstLook...

We have been using the BlackVue dashcam for the last few months, and it has become a part of our driving habit. Getting into a vehicle which does not have a dashcam now feels odd, like getting into a car which does not have seat belts (some readers may be old enough to remember those days). Anyway, while having a forward-looking camera is great, our first comment to BlackVue was we wished there was a way to record both forward and rearward videos. BlackVue's replied that they have been working on that feature and hope to have it ready before the end of the year.

True to their word, the BlackVue Wi-Fi 2 CH is now available! Like the DR500GW dashcam, the front camera of the DR550GW 2CH BlackVue is capable of 1920x1080p Full HD. The rear camera is able to record in 1280x720 resolution. The front camera looks almost exactly like the DR500GW unit with the... [more]- BlackVue 2-Ch DashCam FirstLook


October 28,2013- Mt. Kearsarge NH...

The weather forecast for this past weekend was "dry and sunny." We were happy to hear that as we were driving up to New Hampshire to see the last of the Fall colors. Our destination was the area around Lake Sunapee with a day hike up Mount Kearsarge.

The trails up Mt. Kearsarge are moderate (to some of use that made the hike). There are two paths to the top. The more direct route is 1.1 miles and took us past some rocks which had to navigated before reaching the summit. We took the longer route of 1.8 miles for the... [more]- Mount Kearsarge: Fall 2013


October 25,2013- Fall Colors Arnold Arboretum...

The two times of the year when the Arnold Arboretum is at its most spectacular are Spring and Fall. As this spot is just a few miles from the office, we try to drop by as often as we can. The weather on Wednesday was beautiful and we had some free time before lunch, so we stopped by for a stroll. The timing was perfect as the Fall colors were on full display!

Everywhere we turned were spectacular bursts of color. However, taking photos of Mother Nature's largesse was tricky. Drifting clouds constantly shifted the light and made the dramatic scenery unpredictable. One second a tree would be brilliantly back-lit, the next it would... [more]- Arnold Arboretum: Fall 2013


October 16,2013- Dropcam HD...

Webcams have been used as security cams ever since they came onto the scene. The idea of using them as security camera is an excellent one. However, the actualization of this idea by various for-profit companies has been a little on the disappointing side. The problem was not with the video-recording aspect of the technology, but with the amount of effort required to set it up.

When a few readers recommended that we check out the Dropcam HD, we initially decided to pass, but not because we didn't think the Dropcam was going to be any good. The camera certainly has excellent specs:

  • Color, 720p HD (1280x720 , 30fps)
  • Field of view: 107º
  • Zoom: 4X digital
  • Low light vision (IR LEDs)
  • Audio
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz (WEP, WPA, WPA2 security support)
  • On-camera encryption / SSL encryption-secured access

We passed because we didn't want to spend the time futzing with setting one up. However, the same readers who made the original recommendation countered our objections with explanations of their experiences using Dropcam's "easy setup" and strongly suggested we... [more]- Dropcam HD FirstLook


October 4,2013- BirdCam Pro FirstUse...

We set up the new BirdCam Pros this week, invited our Blue Jay friends to stop by, and ran through some of the camera's features to get a better feel for how they compare to the original BirdCam. After working with the Pro for a few days, here is a summary some of our FirstUse thoughts.

BirdCam Pro features and what they mean for the user:

  • Improved weatherproof casing: longer camera life
  • Higher resolution 8MP camera: more detail
  • LED flash: useful for night shots
  • WiFi SD card compatible: convenient for hard to reach setups
  • Physical buttons for often used settings: quick and simple setup
  • Precise focus adjustments: see discussion below
  • Color LED display: see discussion below

Getting the focus set precisely is now possible with the Pro. This is because the focus ring is no longer constrained to four click settings. However, some trial and error is still required to... [more]- BirdCam Pro FirstUse


September 30,2013- BirdCam Pro...

The Audubon BirdCam has made it easy to get snaps of visitors to the bird feeders in the RainyDayGarden. Wingscapes, the maker of the BirdCam, released an update to that amazing automated camera a few weeks ago. Today, we are going to take a FirstLook at what is new about the BirdCam Pro.

The BirdCam Pro now has a higher resolution 8 Megapixel sensor and a built-in LED flash. Like the original BirdCam, the Pro will take photos when the infrared motion-detector is triggered. However, the Pro's triggering capabilities have been extended to include a timer. So now it will be possible to not only capture birds visiting the feeder, but flowers opening, spiders web-spinning, and... [more]- BirdCam Pro FirstLook


September 23,2013- Questar Tristand...

We posted a FirstLook of the Tristand a few weeks ago. We have been wanting to take the tripod out for its FirstUse, but the New England weather has not been cooperative. Our opportunity came last Thursday night with the Harvest Moon. The moon was huge, the night was still warm, and the sky was completely clear. We could not have asked for better conditions to try out the new-to-us Questar Tristand!!!

When we saw how bright the moon was, we wanted to get some shots of it. We have taken closeup photos of the moon before and it was not difficult. The last time we did it, we mounted the body of a DSLR to the rear of the scope. That setup meant we could not use autofocus or any of the other features of the camera. This time, we thought we would try a different... [more]- Questar Tristand FirstUse


September 16,2013- Drumlin Farm...

This past Saturday was a good top-down day. So we thought it would be nice to drive out to Lincoln MA and visit the chickens at Drumlin Farm. Drumlin Farm, part of Mass Audubon, is a real working farm and a wildlife sanctuary all in one. The day was so nice we ended up walking around the entire place.

The last time we were at Drumlin Farm was in March of 2012. That visit was when the farm was just coming out of Winter. The fields were just starting to be worked and nothing had been planted yet. This visit was... [more]- Drumlin Farm


September 13,2013- Questar Tristand...

Questar telescopes are known the world over for their quality instruments. We had a chance to see them first hand at the NEAF conference in 2011. While we were certainly impressed with the quality of the telescope's optics, we were also struck by their tripods that supported their scopes. We had never seen anything like them before. They were compact, very portable, and rock stable. Everything we would want in a telescope stand.

When we started putting together our portable deep-sky astro-imaging system, we looked for components which were easy to transport, quick to set up, and simple to use. Our current PDSI setup consists of the following:

The ASGT tripod, though, while extremely stable turned out to be less portable than we wanted. Also, we realized that with the fast f/2 Hyperstar lens, we didn't need to track. Recalling our positive impressions of the Questar Tristand, we began keeping our tabs on EBay, Astromart, and Craigslist for a used one. As a Tristand is made only when it is ordered, there aren't a lot of them around and they don't show up for sale too often (maybe a few times a year). We would estimate that only a few hundred of them have ever been made. A few weeks ago... [more]- Questar Tristand FirstLook


September 9,2013- The Near Future...

While looking back recently on what we have worked on in 2013, we realized we have done quite a few articles on photography and related gear; maybe too many. So when our friends at Rocky Nook mentioned that they had a new book on iPhone Photography, we initially passed on reviewing it. However, after a bit more thinking, we had a what we call an "Innovator's Dilemma" moment.

Smartphones will be a major disruptor in the field of professional photography. Here is our prediction for the Near Future of Photography. Within 5 years, the smartphone will:

  • Be able to capture image equal to the qualities of those from today's Pro DSLR;
  • Eliminate the need for DSLR bodies and control prime lenses wirelessly;
  • Have image editing capabilities as powerful as today's desktop-based software.

One example from Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" which remains vivid is that of the transitor. When the transitor was first introduced many people predicted that it would immediately replace the vacuum tube. This is not what happened. Instead, the early transistor... [more]- The Near Future Of Photography


September 6,2013- BirdCam Mount...

We had been thinking about how to set up the Audubon BirdCams in the garden. We could have used the stretch cords which came with the camera to mount it on a tree, but we wanted to position the unit closer to the action. There are a few different bird feeders in the garden, and our intention is to point the BirdCam at each of them for a few days and see what we get. The best way to do this is with the Wingscapes mounting arm. It was designed exactly for that purpose.

The mount arrived before Labor Day weekend and we posted a FirstLook of it earlier this week. Today we will show the installation and some of the... [more]- BirdCam Mount


September 2,2013- BirdCam Accessories...

We have been having a lot of fun with the Audubon BirdCams. The one we set up on a TrekPod on the second floor has been capturing some very candid pics of visitors to the feeder (sparrow, blue jay, cardinal). The other unit is slated for the outside but its setup has been on hold awaiting the arrival of some accessories.

The BirdCam pointed at the window feeder on the second floor is powered directly from the AC outlet via an AC/DC adapter. The adapter is able to output a variety of voltages from Radio Shack. We find these variable-voltage adaptesr to be a better value than device-specific ones because of their versatility. However, they are not for outdoor use. As we want to put the second BirdCam out in the RainyDayGarden we need a way to power the unit which is... [more]- BirdCam Accessories


August 30,2013- Remote Triggers Preview...

The Audubon Birdcam got us thinking about different ways to remotely trigger (IR, wireless, cable) cameras (cellphone, webcam, DSLR, point-n-shoot). After thinking about what kind of projects would be interesting to attempt with the help of a remote trigger (water splash, insects flying, etc), we decided to look around to see what's available.

After a bit of research (OK, a lot of web surfing) the interns were able to compile a list of vendors and gear which could be good matches for what we want to do. A few meetings later, we were able to pare the list down to three of the most... [more]- Remote Triggers Preview


August 26,2013- Billingham Hadley Pro...

At the start of the Summer we took a look at some accessories for the Fujifilm X100S camera. In the article, we mentioned that National Geographic had a few canvas camera bags which we thought would pair nicely with the X100S. As it turns out, quite a few readers also find canvas to be their material of choice for camera bags. They were also kind enough to share their personal favorite with us. Of all the recommendations, we noticed that owners of the Billingham Hadley Pro were the most passionate in their praise. So we decided to take a look.

Unlike makers of other camera bags we have reviewed, Billingham is family business out of the UK (RTS is their US distributor). Surprisingly, the company started out as a maker of fishing bags. They transitioned to camera bags when Martin Billingham, an avid photographer himself, discovered that his fishing bags were popular with photographers. The new line was so popular that after a year he switched almost all of the company's production to camera bags. The primary reason Billingham's bags are so popular with the camera crowd is... [more]- Billingham Hadley Pro FirstLook


August 19,2013- Ceiva wins...

There are a lot of options for displaying digital photos, such as slideshows, photobooks, hard copies, and the like. Our personal favorite has always been the digital photo frame. The idea is simple: show photos on an LCD screen and change them periodically.

As with most things, the devil is in the details. There are a lot of digital frames on the market, but they are not created equal. Actually, many of them leave a lot to be desired. When they were first introduced many of them did not have 24-bit, high resolution displays, and those disappeared from the market quickly. Today, all digital frames have... [more]- Ceiva wins!


August 16,2013- Wingscapes: Audubon BirdCam...

A couple of Audubon BirdCams arrived last week. Finally, the interns will be freed from standing behind the blind waiting to snap photos of visitors to the new feeder! We posted a FirstLook of Audobon's weather-resistant motion-activated camera on Monday and spent the next few days determining how best to set it up.

The BirdCam can run on batteries (four D-size ones) or off of an AC adapter (9v-12v). We wanted to try things out inside first, so we decided to go the AC route. The weather-resistant case has a standard-size socket (1/4-20, which means one-quarter of an inch with 20 threads per inch) at the bottom for attaching the unit to a tripod. However, we ran into a slight problem when we first tried to mount the BirdCam. We found that the platform of many of our tripods made it impossible to mount the BirdCam when the AC power plug was in its socket. After a bit of head-scratching, we finally realized the TrekPod would be perfect for this application. The TrekPod worked because its magnetic discs that attached the... [more]- Wingscapes : Audubon BirdCam FirstUse


August 12,2013- Wingscapes: Audubon BirdCam...

Setting up an automated camera to capture visitors to the various feeders we have around the RainyDayGarden has been on our ToDo list for years. The problem was triggering the shutter when birds landed. We could hack a motion-detector from a security system or use a pressure-sensitive perch to do the job, but we never got any further than the brain-storming stage with those ideas. We have seen the efforts of others who have gone the DIY route with webcams and small point-n-shoot cameras. They were educational from a "how to" perspective, but seemed rather cumbersome and kludgy.

After not finding a build-it-ourself solution that we liked, we researched what commercial options were available. By far the most popular unit appears to be the Audubon BirdCam made by... [more]- Wingscapes : Audubon BirdCam


July 29,2013- BlackVue FirstUse...

After a month of use we thought it was time to share some of our impressions on the BlackVue dashcam hardware and software. The short version is, if you are in the market for a dashcam, you should seriously consider getting one from BlackVue. We were surprised how much it added to the driving experience. Having a record of each drive will clearly be helpful in a dispute, but we think knowing there will be a record also made us drive with more care. We have no reservations recommending the BlackVue DR500GW.

When the RainyDayGarage folks installed the BlackVue DR500GW-HD dashcam in the project car a month ago, they opted to forego putting in the Power Magic Pro for regulating juice to the BlackVue. Instead, they powered the camera off the same cigarette plug which ran the Cheetah mirror. It took everyone a few trips to remember to switch on/off the camera when getting in/out of the car. While the extra step is now second nature, we may still... [more]- BlackVue Camera FirstUse


July 22,2013- Fujifilm X100S: Macro Filters...

When the Fujifilm X100S camera arrived in the office in April, we were excited by its potential. After having used it for a few months, we are completely bowled over by its capabilities. The quality of the images and the ease with which we were able to create them was not a total surprise for us. However, we were caught completely off guard by what we were able to do with the camera in Macro mode. In June, we posted a write-up on using the Fujifilm X100S for close-up photography. At that time, we thought we had found the camera's limit, then we pulled off a couple of shots that tells us the X100S still has a bit left in the tank.

Dragonflies are kind of twitchy. So we thought it odd when this one didn't move when we approached it. We were even more surprised that it was still there when we came back after we'd run upstairs to grab the X100S. The dragonfly allowed us to take a few dozen shots of it from various angles before it finally flew off. However, it was not until we looked at the photos at full resolution did we understand why it did not fly away. The dragonfly was waiting for the... [more]- Fujifilm X100S : Macro Filters


July 12,2013- Boston Harbor Cruise Whale Watch...

The folks at RainyDayMagazine have made a few trips out to the Atlantic over the years to experience the thrill of watching whales feed, folic, and do other whale-y things in their natural habitat. However, as much fun as our last trip out was, it was seven years ago. We thought it time to book a "refresher" trip :-) The cruise where we had the least success seeing whales was the one ran by Boston Harbor Cruises (BHC), so we thought we would give them a chance to redeem themselves (we are KIDDING, we know they don't have the whales on speed dial).

BHC's ticket center is conveniently located at the wharf next to the New England Aquarium downtown. Their whale watch cruises are 3-hours long and depending on the time of year, they go out up to six times a day. BHC can do this because they use high-speed catamarans to ferry folks out and... [more]- Boston Harbor Cruise Whale Watch


July 8,2013- RainyDayGarden Update...

In the Spring, we put up some cottages for the birds, hung a bamboo house for the Mason bees, and built a new feeder for the birds. Now that we have moved into the dog days of Summer, we thought we would bring readers up to date on the goings on in the RainyDayGarden.

May: While the rain fall for the month of May was about normal (3.22", whereas the average is 3.37") the temperature was far above the norm (77º vs. the average of 62º). Because of the warmer conditions, many of the plants kicked into gear early.

Last year, for some unknown reason, the lilac bush did not bloom at all. It was not the case this year. The sweet scent was quite evident in the garden during the entire month of May. While not as fragrant as the... [more]- RainyDayGarden Update


June 28,2013- BlackVue Installation...

Earlier in the week we posted a FirstLook at a cool little video camera called the BlackVue DR500GW-HD. The BlackVue is a new class of video camera designed specifically for recording footage from the inside of a vehicle. It is perfect for a variety of purposes: insurance claims, security/remote monitoring, car-at-the-racetrack day. The camera is able to communicate with WiFi-enabled devices such as the iPhone and iPad for viewing. Data on the removable MicroSD card can be download to any computer for review and archival storage.

Today, we will show you how we mounted the BlackVue in our project car. As RainyDayGarage readers know, we have installed quite a few things in the Boxster over the years (Carputer, Escort radar detector, touchscreen, Cheetah Mirror, etc). As a result, the area around the rearview mirror is a bit crowded. Also, there are now wires running up both sides of the windshield and no room to run a third set. In order to power the BlackVue, we had to... [more]- BlackVue Camera Installation


June 24,2013- BlackVue FirstLook...

It is a fact that cameras are everywhere these days. Some see it as a good thing, others consider it problematic and an invasion of privacy. However, there is no denying that having the ability to look back in time and reconstruct a sequence can oftentimes be helpful. One of those times is when we are in a vehicle on the road. This is the thinking behind an innovative product from a company with a line called the BlackVue.

At first glance, readers may mistake the BlackVue for a typical webcam (Creative, Logitech) or an actioncam (GoPro, Sony, Contour). The BlackVue has the specs of a high-end webcam and works in ways very similar to that of an actioncam. However, the BlackVue has features which uniquely set it apart from everything else currently on the market. The BlackVue camera is... [more]- BlackVue Camera FirstLook


June 21,2013- Fujifilm X100S: Macro Mode...

Even after two months of daily shooting with the Fujifilm X100S, the camera still manages to surprise and impress us with its capabilities. Most readers know by now that, instead of our DSLRs, the X100S is the camera we grab when we head out. But what about when we want to do some macro work in the studio or around the RainyDayGarden? Should we set up the bellows rig or can we get by with the Macro mode on the X100S?

Access to the Fujifilm X100S' Macro setting is quick and simple. There is a dedicated spot on the jog dial on the right for toggling between the "Normal" and "Macro" setting. When active, an icon in the upper left of the screen serves as a reminder that the camera is in "Macro" mode. According to Fujifilm, the X100S can get as close as 3.9 inches (10cm) that mode. In practice, we just... [more]- Fujifilm X100S : Macro Mode


June 14,2013- IKEA Socker: Bird Feeder Update...

The IKEA Socker Bird Feeder DIY project succeeded beyond our expectations! While the installation of the window feeder occurred more than a few weeks ago, the birds did not feel comfortable feeding from it until the beginning of this week. They did a lot of fly-bys, but nobody was brave enough to actually land on it.

One of the ways we coaxed the birds to use the new feeder was to stop putting bird seed in the other feeders in the RainyDayGarden. Eventually, they started to come around to the idea that if they... [more]- IKEA Socker Hack: Window Bird Feeder Update


May 21,2013- MOS: Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the city Qumran in 1947, is one of the most significant antiquity finds of modern times. The sequence of events which led to its discovery and excavation reads like an Indiana Jones plot. Beginning this week and running until October 20, visitors to the Museum of Science, Boston will have an opportunity to see up close this ancient handwritten text, along with the most comprehensive collection of Israeli antiquities ever organized.

RainyDayMagazine got a first-hand look at Dead Sea Scrolls: Life in Ancient Times, which premiered last Sunday. This is the scrolls' amazing story: in 1947, a Bedouin goat herder was chasing after a goat who had scampered through a small opening leading into a cave. In the cave were jars containing some scrolls. The herder's chance discovery eventually led to the unearthing of... [more]-MOS: Dead Sea Scrolls


May 13,2013- Fujifilm X100S: Misc Accessories...

The Fujifilm X100S camera has replaced the Nikon P7000 as the camera of choice for our EDC gear. We now hardly go anywhere without it. To keep it protected while on the go, we ordered a custom, hand-built JnK leather case for it. The JnK sleeve was beautifully crafted and does an excellent job of shielding the camera from the everyday bumps and knocks. However, based on requests from our readers, we will look at a few more accessories that are also good to pair with the Fujifilm X100S.

The fixed lens X100S does not lend itself to a large ecosystem of accessories and add-ons like cameras from the DSLR world. We've compiled a list of possible items which may be helpful to X100S owners, based on reader suggestions and our own research. Our list:

Mention "camera accessories" and most people's first thought is "camera bags." However, we think that first thought should be... [more] - Fujifilm X100S : Misc Accessories


May 6,2013- Fujifilm X100S: Streets Of NYC...

Now that we have had a few weeks of one-on-one time with our new Fujifilm X100S, we thought we would take it to NYC for some street photography. We did a similar shoot last October with the Lensbaby and wanted to see how the X100S would handle under similar circumstances. The only difference between the two shoots was that, unlike when shooting with the Lensbaby, we were able to leave the Fujifilm X100S in Full Auto mode during the entire shoot. We just had to look, compose, and press the shutter.

Like our stroll last Fall, we started at Bryant Park on 5th and made our way uptown. Unlike last Fall, this outing was on a perfect Spring day. Bryant Park was teaming with people soaking up the sun and enjoying the 60º weather. It was exactly the conditions we were hoping for... [more] - Fujifilm X100S : Streets of NYC


April 19,2013- Fujifilm X100S Full Auto...

We have spent the last week getting familiar with the feel and functions of the Fujifilm X100S. The short of it is: this camera is a pleasure to handle and a joy to use. As the X100S has many shooting options (aperture-priority, shutter-priority, full auto, manual, etc.), special modes (HDR bracketing, film simulation bracketing, etc.), and customizations (white balance compensation, exposure compensation, etc.), we thought it best to start off with no tweaks and in full-auto mode. With full-auto we can concentrate on the overall ergonomics of the camera and focus on taking pictures (instead of changing settings). There will be plenty of time to play with the knobs later.

Full-auto mode is engaged when the shutter speed dial, auto-focus slider, and the aperture ring are all set to "A." In this configuration the computer inside the X100S makes all of the decisions on shutter speed, lens opening, ASA setting, and focus. All we have to do is... [more] - Fujifilm X100S : Full Auto


April 10,2013- MFA: Samurai!

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is renowned the world over for breadth and depth of its Japanese collection, holding as it does over 100,000 artefacts. When we heard that the MFA was going to put together an exhibit of samurai armor, we naturally assumed that it would be drawing from its archives and showcasing some of the pieces not often displayed to the public. But, we were wrong: the MFA's "Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection" exhibit was organized by the Ann & Barbier-Mueller Museum in Dallas, in collaboration with the MFA, and features outstanding items from a private collection. According to Malcom Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, "This exhibition superbly complements the Museum's own collection of works from Japan because the MFA is weaker in this particular area." Now to say the MFA is "weak" in any particular aspect of their Japanese collection is to say the New England Patriots is "weak" in their offensive options, but we digress.

The incredible quality of this exhibit is evident at the entrance. Visitors are greeted by three suits of armor, any one of which could've been the centerpiece of an exhibit on Japanese armor that would've left its viewers satisfied. However, there are 140 more objects from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller collection awaiting inside. Be prepared to be... [more] - MFA: Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection


April 8,2013- Fujifilm X100S Accessories...

There is a surprising number of cases out there for the Fujifilm X100 camera: full body, half jacket, leather, neoprene, etc. The X100S has the same physical dimensions as the original X100, so any case which works with the first version will fit just fine for this updated model. We thought about how we'd be using the camera and what we wanted from the case we'd house it in, and decided that JnK Handworks of South Korea was the vendor best able to provide a case that met our needs. We highly recommend readers check out their "About" and "Work" sections and click through the slide shows and video. Even though their site is mostly in Korean, you don't really need to understand the language to see that their work is amazing.

JnK makes all of their cases by hand. This means you can order leather, color, stitching, and features in any combination you like. We opted for the following: Rally Tan leather, snap-on back cover, metal tripod hole. It takes a few weeks for the folks at JnK to get the order out, but judging by the result, even if the wait was longer, it would still be... [more] - Fujifilm X100S Accessories: JnK Handwork case


April 5,2013- Fujifilm X100S Accessories...

The Fujifilm X100S came with a few accessories (lens cap, nylon strap, USB cable). While the lens cap and strap are functional, we felt a camera this beautiful deserved something a bit more luxurious. While waiting for the camera's arrival, the interns spent that time researching for accessories worthy of pairing with the X100S. Their efforts revealed a surprising range of choices and prices for cases and straps, and even lens hoods. We have narrowed the list and will be taking a closer look at them over time.

One of the design goals of the original X100 was to make a compact camera that offered the best image quality without compromise. They have achieved that through the incorporation of a newly developed, non-interchangeable, non-collapsible, fixed focal length, high-performance FUJINON 23mm f/2 fixed prime lens. We expect that we will taking our Fujifilm X100S everywhere. However, the slip-on cap that came with the camera just did not seem like it would provide sufficient protection for the lens of a camera that is expected to be... [more] - Fujifilm X100S Accessories: Lens Hood


April 3,2013- Fujifilm X100s FirstShots...

A Point-n-shoot camera should be exactly that. People should be able to take it out of the box, set everything to Automatic, point it at something, and start shooting. We have done that test to many digital cameras over the years and the Fujifilm X100S is the first one to impress us with its right-out-of-the-box results.

The layout of the X100S' dials and buttons is well thought out. All of the basic features were easily understood and readily accessible. The battery came charged. All we had to do was pop in an SD card and turn the camera on, and... [more] - Fujifilm X100s FirstShots


April 2,2013- Fujifilm X100s FirstLook...

We held off from getting the Fujifilm X100 when it was first announced in 2010, even though we REALLY wanted one, because we had committed ourselves to spending some quality time with the Nikon P7000. When we heard that Fujifilm would be updating its X100 series, we knew we would not miss being at the front of the line this time around.

The X100 has had a devoted following since its launch, but as with any first-generation product, it had some shortcomings/idiosyncrasies which surfaced once the camera was released. Fujifilm listened to its users and has both addressed those issues and added some new features to attract more fans to the growing X100 base.

As soon as we got the shipping notice that the camera was on its way, we looked out the window every time we heard a... [more] - Fujifilm X100s FirstLook


March 25,2013- Gold Astro FirstLook...

Astrophotography is an interesting challenge, but a challenge anyone with a telescope can take on. The pursuit has been made infinitely more rewarding since the move from film to digital. By letting a camera's sensor "collect" photons over time, the telescope can reveal images not visible to the naked eye, no matter how dark the sky. And unlike the days of shooting with film, digital imaging results can be seen almost immediately.

However, taking images of dim points of light at night still has plenty of difficulties, one of which is getting the focus spot-on. Getting it right was a LOT of trial and error. Things were made less frustrating when Pavel Bahtinov gave the world the Bahtinov Mask. The mask made use of an interesting phenomenon known as diffraction. It is very clever and the use of a diffraction mask made focusing by eye easier, but still subjective. That is because even though such a visual-only technique can be pretty good for observing (subject to the expertise of the user), it is usually insufficiently precise or repeatable for astrophotography.

In order to to address those deficiencies, Dr. Winter of Gold Astro designed the GoldFocus system. For those interested in the details, there is an extensive discussion on focus and collimation on the Gold Astro site. The Gold Astro method, by using a combination of a proprietary mask and software, is an objective approach to achieving critical focus, unlike the subjectivity of the experience of the user. While the principle of the GoldFocus mask is the... [more] - Gold Astro FirstLook


March 11,2013- Feeding Birds in a Snowstorm...

Putting out food for our feathery friends is a great way to bring some life to the RainyDayGarden during the dead of Winter. This is especially important (to the birds) during really cold days or when there is a blanket of snow covering everything.

On cold days, birds have to eat more to keep from freezing. When it is snowing, what is available on the ground is not accessible to the birds. That is why our feeders are extra busy on snow days. We have been putting out black oil sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts (with and without shells). The black oil sunflower seeds have a thinner shell and a higher oil content than... [more] - Birdfeeding in a snowstorm


February 19,2013- RainyDayLA CSC Visit...

Some of you may have seen Toyota's commercial of a Tundra pulling the Space Shuttle across a freeway. Our first reaction when we saw that commercial was, "That's not real." To our surprise, the video is 100% real. A Tundra was towing the Space Shuttle Endeavor across a bridge on LA's 405 Freeway on its way to its new home at the California Science Center, which we visited while we were in LA.

The California Science Center is huge. With several galleries spanning more than 400,000 sq. feet, it is a model for science learning by combining exhibits with the on-site Science Center School, and... [more] - CSC Visit


February 15,2013- Huntington Library Visit...

While New England was being buried by Nor'easter Nemo, some of us were in L.A. enjoying our annual visit to the West Coast office. Those left behind to mind things shovel out in Boston were understandably none too pleased with the situation, but someone had to watch the interns. Anyway, in L.A. we ate at several wonderful restaurants, visited some new sites, and had ourselves yet another awesome visit.

One of the notable sites on this trip was to The Huntington Library. Founded in 1919 by businessman Henry Huntington (railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings, etc), the private, non-profit institution is one of the world’s great cultural, research, and educational centers. During his lifetime, Huntington amassed the core of one of the finest research libraries in the... [more] - Huntington Library Visit


January 21,2013- Disruptive Tech...

Disruptive technologies come along every so often. Keeping an eye out for them has been one of our interests ever since we read Clayton Christensen's books on innovations and their impact on business (The Innovator's Dilemma, The Innovator's Solution). When the Apple iPad first came onto the market, we were one of the early cheerleaders of the tablet and predicted how it will impact the computing market (even without the support for Flash).

Last year, we wrote an opinion piece on Lytro and their innovative Light-Field technology (LFT). In it, we gave reasons why they should not make a play for the general consumer camera market with their technology. We suggested that Lytro would be better served concentrating on finding a market where the LFT would add critical value, not just novelty. We proposed that that market would be the security field. We had a "lively" exchange with a number of readers regarding whether LFT was ready for prime time. Some were even... [more] -Disruptive Tech




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