Mudsock Meanderers

You may have heard me talk about letterboxing before. If you haven’t and don’t know what it is, here’s a quick run down (via Wikipedia) –


Me stamping a log book.

Letterboxing is an outdoor hobby that combines elements of orienteering, art, and puzzle solving. Letterboxers hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, on one of several web sites, or by word of mouth.

Individual letterboxes contain a notebook and a rubber stamp, preferably hand carved or custom made.

Finders make an imprint of the letterbox’s stamp in their personal notebook, and leave an impression of their personal signature stamp on the letterbox’s “visitors’ book” or “logbook” — as proof of having found the box and letting other letterboxers know who has visited. Many letterboxers keep careful track of their “find count”.

We’ve found quite a few Letterboxes, both over here and over there and I even placed one in Kent about 10 years ago.

Gale and I are off to Britannia soon, to Dartmoor (among other places), the birthplace of Letterboxing.  We wanted a unique stamp, but carving is tricky and you have to be pretty good to get a decent stamp.

There it is!

Gale pointing to the location of a letterbox.

But guess what?  Gale has a 30watt laser engraver sitting in our spare bedroom. So she ordered some laser engravable rubber and dumped it on my desk with a “work this out” kind of look.

A few Googles later and a quick read of the laser manual and I powered up Corel Draw and came up with a design.
Sent it to the laser and then sat and watched a rubber stamp appear before my eyes.

We’re pretty pleased with the result and once we’ve finalized the design (Gale wants more stars) we will be ready to go find us some Letterboxes.

If you have any interest in finding Letterboxes near you, check out AtlasQuest which is not great looking, but has a lot of information on how to start.


Mudsock Meanderers was Gale’s creation. The Fish is in reference to our home town of Fishers and Mudsock is the original name for Fishers, clever huh?
















Update update: And here’s my updated stamp. This is the one I’m gonna go with. The torch and stars are the state flag for Indiana.

Eiffel Tower Panorama

OK Kids, back in the olden times we didn’t have fancy smart phones that could take panoramic photos.  We had to do it the old fashioned way, down a mine, for 16 hours, after a 14 mile hike.

In 2005 we went to Paris and I, of course, took a photo of the Eiffel Tower.  But to get it all in frame with the cheap camera I had I had to stand about 5 miles away.   So instead I took 4 shots with the intent to stitch them together in Photoshop.   9 years later and I’ve still not done it.

DSCF2891 DSCF2892 DSCF2893 DSCF2894


I was looking through my photos and came across them and thought I’d give it ago.   Guess what?   Photoshop does all the hard work for you.  just chuck multiple photos at it and you get a perfectly stitched panoramic image.  I know where the joins are and I can’t see them.  DSCF2891-Edit


Saline – August 2014

Just got back from our long weekend in Saline to have a big old family get together.   I’ve uploaded a few photos I edited on my tablet while I was there, but you can’t really beat Lightroom.

Perfect Effects 8

Is FREE right now.

I’ve never heard of these filters, but free is good, right?   Worst case, I uninstall it.

So far, I like it.  It’s a photo filter and enhancer.  I won’t use 80% of the filters, but the photo effects and contrast modifiers are pretty nice.

Here’s an example:

IMG_5594This is the photo right out of the camera.  It’s in RAW format, which I would normally tweak in Lightroom.  But I sent it over to Perfect Effects and hit one of the high contrast filters and got this:


Sharper, more contrast and more detail.  And just one click.   Totally worth the FREE price tag.

The app works in Photoshop and Lightroom but if you don’t have either you can use it as a standalone app too.   The image management isn’t as good as Lightroom.  But, and I say it again, it’s FREE!  If you are an avid photographer I really suggest you check it out.

Go get it HERE before the offer runs out.

Stream Cliff Farms

Stream Cliff Farms is a small farm which has become a cute place to get a good meal, wine, and flowers.   I did none of that this time, but did get some quite nice photos.

New Camera!!

I just got a great deal on a Canon 40D!  40d

So off to the park we trot, hoping for something worth snapping.   Maybe the white-tailed squirrels which play there.  It seems they are camera shy.  However, when we got home, Gale noticed the duck on the retention pond had a baby with her.   So I wandered over and took a few shots.  Bear in mind, the camera is new to me and I haven’t quite worked out where are the settings are.    It’s a great camera and does a lot of things I really like which my old one wouldn’t.   I have always said that more mega pixels doesn’t make a better picture.   The sensor and the lens make a better picture.   But having 10.1 megapixels certainly helps.  It’s also quicker to take rapid shots.   AND it tethers directly to Lightroom and to my tablet!   Going to be great for our trip to England.

Here are the photos.  The sun was low and bright, which didn’t help and ducks move, a lot, and I’m still learning the camera.  But still cute.



Spring Grove Cemetery

A few photos from our trip to Spring Grove Cemetery.

The Five Stages of Grief

It’s NOT broken

AGHH!  It IS broken, damn it!

Please don’t be broken.  I’ll do anything.

Wow, I’m pretty bummed out that it’s broken.

Oh well, guess I’ll go buy a new one.

My beloved tablet committed tabicide off my shelf at work.  Probably hitting a few things on the way down.  It took my phone on it’s fall with it, but the phone is unharmed.

I didn’t get a extended warranty, since I never do.  And it would have been outside the 2 years anyway.

It was due for an upgrade.  I just didn’t really want to spend the money right this minute.  But that’s why we have credit. Right?

BrokeWhat did I learn?  Make sure it’s flat on the shelf and not resting on a book.  Maybe leave it in a cover case when it’s not at home surrounded by a couch or a bed.  Expensive lesson.

I have the opportunity now to look at other tablets.  But you know what?  I LOVE my Nexus.  Being Google’s own, it just got upgraded to 4.4.4  How many Android devices are at 4.4.4?

Why would I consider anything else?  I don’t want a kindle fire.  The galaxy tab is just fine.  but I know the Nexus.  I want a Nexus.  AND it’s 32GB which will be perfect for taking to England to store all my photos.

Just killing time waiting for 10am so I can go pick it up.   Bestbuy have it for the same price as Google (plus tax) with a free cover! and I can use Paypal at Bestbuy.

Oh!  :-(  My broken nexus just gave me an email notification.  It doesn’t know it’s dying.  That’s just really sad.  I should probably shut it down and put it out of its misery.


Laser Cut Astrological Steam Punk Clock.

I made this a while ago.  It’s a simple cheap clock mechanism with five layers of laser cut clockage. Inspired by the amazing work of  Eric Freitas.

I designed the cogs in Corel Draw and then cut and engraved them on Gale’s Zing 30watt laser.  Then I spray painted each part. The cogs don’t move, but it does (or did) tell the time.   The number 3 and VII are laser cut paper.



Close Up

Raining, again!

But kinda cool to take photos of.

Every photo needs editing.

Some out there are purists and believe that what ever the camera sees should be the final product.   Me, I think that’s tosh.  Even before digital a film camera shot needed postwork to get it onto paper.  How long to expose the film, how long to expose the paper, what kind of paper, what treatment, what cropping.

Cameras are not great at creating JPG files.  Too much control is given away and the end results can be poor.  Lots of aberrations, poor choice of colour and contrast.   Taking photos in RAW format is THE best option.  but the photos can be a little lifeless.  The colour and exposure need some help to bring out the best from any photo.

For example.  This morning a baby squirrel was playing on my deck.  I snapped away and got some shots that were almost in focus.   I took these at iso800, which on my camera is pretty high.  Also at f11 which is about mid range.  It means the background was more in focus than I really wanted.  But I wanted the critter to be in focus.

IMG_5914It’s cute enough for a snap shot.  But the contrast and color is wishy-washy, not helped by taking this through a window.  The squirrel isn’t the focus of the photo and it needs cropping and sharpening.  The flower and the top of the chair are distracting.  None of which I can do in camera.  Especially after the fact.

This is where software comes to play.  I use lightroom.  I cropped in close to start with.  I wanted the squirrel and the wood to be more the centre of attention, so took the green saturation down a little and the reds and brown up.    I also increased the contrast and shadows.

Added a little bit of sharpening, but not too much or it goes too grainy.  A little blur on the top and bottom.

Here is the final result.


HMS Fairborne

This model is my most recent.  Still almost a year old now!

I always start with the engines.  If one engine is good then 6 must be better.  And what’s better than 6?  12!

The engines started out as a cube.   Just a simple cube.  Which I stretched, extruded, bent, twisted, inset, warped and a few other things to get it into an engine shape.  Once you’ve modeled one engine, a little cutting and pasting and you have an engine cluster.  The cylinder parts actually started, believe it or not, as cylinders.  More tweaking and you get fuel tanks, warp drive, particle accelerators, whatever you want to call them.

Doc2That’s the easy part done.

Then for the rest of the ship.  For this one, I wanted it to feel human, rather than alien and not too futuristic.  Something we could possibly have in a hundred years or so.   I wanted it to feel like each part had a purpose.  Something industrial, like a container ship.  But with a bit more interest.  So a container with some girders sounded good.   Cut and paste a few times and you get something not totally unlike a space ship.


Next comes the command module.   Always my major failing.  But add some pointy bits & a few radar dishes and it may look OK.

Doc4Doc6When I added the command module it gave some scale to the ship.  Not a huge Star Wars type ship.  More a Star Trek size.  The lower part looked in line with the engines, so I added some landing feet to it and to the engines.   This thing can land on a planet!  I had to remove the pointy bits from the engine.  But I’m still pretty happy with where this is going.


Just need to paint it now and render it from a few angles for the shop.


All nice and shiny and coloured!

That’s it. Upload to DAZ3D’s shop and wait for the money.

Take a look to see the final product page.

Family Tree

I’ve been cleaning out my website.  Creating new galleries and deleting files and folders and came across my family tree.  Or several family trees.

Years ago I started doing some research with my cousin, Darlene and her father, who I’ve never met.  Frank actually emailed me some photos of his family and I showed my parents and my mum then pulled out copies of the same photos!  Proof positive.

I got the trial version of (and and started reasearch.  I managed to track my direct drawbridge line back to 1742!  Which is pretty good going.  Before that, I can’t find anything.   I did find another Drawbridge line going pretty much that far back, but I’m unable to link the two.   I’ve found Drawbridges on Facebook from both lines, and I’m sure we’re all one family.

I wanted to share the tree I created on familyecho.  I have 285 people listed.  I had to guess a lot and I’m sure there’s a lot wrong.  If we’re related and you see an error, or want to be added, let me know and I’ll put you in.

You can get to the tree HERE

CGI – Showcase

This is my showcase gallery.  Computer Generated Images made mainly in Carrara and Wings 3D.  But a few old Bryce ones.


Another old gallery reloaded into WordPress.

Exposure is a great PhotoShop plugin that creates a black and white image that has a similar feel to a load of old film makes.  To get good B&W photos you need to do more than just desaturate the image.  You need to adjust colour and contrast before the conversion.   Exposure 2 does a lot of that for you.   A few of these were further altered with PhotoShop brushes to give them cracks and scratches.

Photography – Showcase

I’m moving away from my old galleries and just going to use WordPress from now on.   I really like Zenphoto and will keep the old galleries there for an archive.  But WordPress Galleries are nicer to look at and people don’t seem to need to have an easy way to refer back to old galleries.   So, as a start, here’s my favourite photos in a WordPress tiled gallery.

Star Trek

A gallery of my Star Trek Images.  All models created in Wings3D and rendered in Carrara and Photoshop.

Love Birds

Here’s a lesson which I learnt a while ago in anticipation for aliens landing.  Always have a camera at arms reach and ready to go.   12 photos in about 20 seconds, I leave my camera on rapid fire, and they were gone.

This cute couple arrived, sat on the arm of the chair for a few seconds, of which I got three almost in focus shots.   Another thing to remember is to leave your camera on the correct settings, or at least settings which allow a bit of give when it comes to exposure and focus, which I hadn’t, and with a multipurpose lens (like a zoom), which I had.

Even a simple thing like taken the camera down from ISO1600 to something better suited for bright sunlight is a chore when you’re shooting like this.  Hence I tried to get down to 200 and failed to hit the correct button and so all these were grainy.  But lightroom is pretty good at smoothing things out.  Anyway….

They then jumped up onto the table for a few seconds…


Then they jumped back to the arm of the chair for a few more seconds….


and then they were gone.  Thanks for visiting, please come back.


England – Here we come.

Guest houses are booked.

Flights are booked!

And what’s more, we saved up in advance and paid cash!

No going back now.   Come September we pack our bags and off we pop for 23 days!   Yup, 23 days!!!  Thanks to Matt and Madhavi for letting me leave the store for such a long time.  I’ll bring them back some Jammie Dodgers and Monster Munch.

I’m going to blog while we’re out there.  Photos and thoughts.  As well as Facebook and instagram.  I hope you’ll all keep up with our journey.

Just a few feet to the left

I was stumbling around the Web and came across this photo by Kevin Galvin on the natgeo website:

Which looked really familiar to me.  So I hunted around my photos and found this:


I took this back in 2006 in Ireland.  Same hut, just a slightly different point.  It shows that where you’re standing when you take a photo is just as important as where you’re pointing the camera.   Mine, is a snap shot.  Kevin’s is a photograph.  The cropping is better and the little stream leads your eye into the image.

I had photoshopped a version:


Better cropping and colour has helped, as does the tilt-shift which gives some focus to the hut.  But the foreground is just boring.  Lesson I learned is to look around a bit and don’t rely on doing everything in postwork.   But it was kinda cool to see a similar shot on a website.