09 de marzo de 2021

Nikon Coolpix S9900 Followup

Despite having a much higher-quality lens with zoom support than the fixed lens of a mobile phone camera, I found the Nikon Coolpix S9900 disappointing. One of the main reasons for having it was to take macro shots of plants, however I noticed right away that despite its supposedly advanced matrix focusing system it was not focusing on close-up flowers.
However, it also was not focusing on wide-angle shots such as scenery when hiking, and it also had issues with incorrect light balance - which I really noticed a lot taking photos in the shaded Muir Valley area. By contrast, the photos taken by my LG G5 phone's camera were excellent.
I also saw some Leptidoptera in Muir Valley which gave me a chance to test the zoom capability, but again it failed to focus correctly and the light balance was off.
I'm not sure if it was only the specific model that I had or if this issue affects the entire S9900 line. I have a much older Nikon D90 DSLR which has excellent focus and metering ability.
I ended up returning the S9900. I would really like it to have worked better. It would have been a great camera to take on hikes and the GPS feature worked well. However the quality of the photos it took were much lower than my LG G5 so I could not justify keeping it.
Unfortunately GPS is not a standard feature in compact DSLR cameras. I'm not sure why the major camera manufacturers are doing this. I guess mobile phone camera technology is so good that it really wiped out the compact DSLR market and perhaps the manufacturers have lost the drive to innovate.

Publicado el marzo 9, 2021 10:15 TARDE por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de febrero de 2021

Nikon Coolpix S9900

Publicado el febrero 24, 2021 04:44 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

04 de febrero de 2021

SD Card Upgrade Woes

Purchased a 256GB micro sd card and finally got around to attempting to transfer all the data over from my old 128GB card. I put it off for a while because I know what a pain it is. It is also a huge disruption as basically my phone is unusable until the transfer is finished.

Sure enough, it was a pain. I spent around five days attempting to transfer the data and eventually had to RMA the card with Sandisk.

I did learn some things in the process however. What seems to work best to do a full transfer of data from one sd card to another is:

  1. Use a Linux machine to do the transfer. Windows is simply a PITA to work with. You do not want to use Windows Explorer for this task.
  2. First backup the data from the old card to a filesystem that is the same - that is, either exfat or ntfs. I tried transferring it to an ext4 filesystem but when I transferred it to the new card all the file timestamps were wrong. For photos that is a big no-no because the timestamp info is critical for gallery applications and for keeping your photos correctly organized.
  3. I prefer to use rsync, using the following command to back up from the original card, assuming you have an ntfs file system mounted under /mnt/ntfsbackup and the sd card mounted under /mnt/sdcard:
    rsync -av --size-only /mnt/sdcard/ /mnt/ntfsbackup/

  4. To restore the data to the new card, reverse the process:
    rsync -av --size-only /mnt/ntfsbackup/ /mnt/newsdcard/

The new sd card can either be formatted in the phone or under Linux using the command mkfs.exfat

After multiple attempts to save and restore the data I noticed that files were disappearing off the new sd card. That obviously should never happen. I submitted an RMA request with Sandisk and am waiting for a replacement card.

Another pain was that when inserted into the sd adapter that came with the card, the computer wouldn't recognize it. Fortunately I have a few extra adapters one of which worked well.

It's kind of disappointing that in the year 2021 it's still basically a pain to upgrade an sd card in a phone and preserve all the data.

Anyhow, that's why I didn't upload some of my last observations until today :-) On my last hike on Mt. Tam it was right after a rain cell had just passed over. It was nice to see a lot of plants budding out such as the Ceanothus jepsonii https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/69038875

Publicado el febrero 4, 2021 06:44 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

28 de diciembre de 2020

Annotated images

Was investigating the taxonomy of an observation of Ranunculus californicus ssp. californicus that I made in April (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/42825437) and thought it would be interesting to annotate images in Photoshop with some salient identifying info from Jepson and Marin Flora (see the last two images).

It seems like having annotated images like these would be really helpful to people. If the main photos that are shown in iNaturalist for each species had relevant annotations it might help people to learn botany and focus on important identifying features. Just an idea.

Publicado el diciembre 28, 2020 03:08 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

21 de diciembre de 2020

Observing a lot of Quercus on Mt. Tam

Had fun today observing a lot of Quercus species on Mt. Tam. It's easy to just walk past them and not think about them as most people probably do, but when you look at them closely there is a lot of interesting variation.

I didn't have time to try to ID down to the species level but will try later when I have time.


Publicado el diciembre 21, 2020 03:28 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de octubre de 2020

Enormous, Very, Very Old Umbellularia californica (California Bay Laurel) in Marin Headlands

I've passed this very large, very old U. californica along the eastern branch of the Bobcat Trail many times and have stopped to wonder at its enormous size. Today I decided to descend down the steep slope to visit this ancient being and made an observation for it: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/62689984

Not only did I see this great tree, but there are Prosartes living underneath it, the only ones I've ever seen in the Marin Headlands, cf. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/62689476.

Oddly, while I was climbing down around the base of the tree, I saw old junk there - some wire mesh and a chunk of some mechanical object which might have been part of a machine or something. No idea how such stuff could have gotten there or what the history of that particular location is.

This tree must not be recognized nor appreciated very much because it's not easily accessible from the trail. You have to descend down a fairly steep slope to get to the trunk. It would be nice if the park would build actual steps that go down there and maybe a nice bench near the base. As it is, I had to crawl on my hands and legs like a monkey to actually get down there and then back up again. I still have pieces of twigs in my hair LOL.

Here is the full route of the ride: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/57719040

Publicado el octubre 16, 2020 04:46 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

14 de octubre de 2020

Fixed battery issue. New observations.

Have been beset with severe battery issues with my phone for the past couple months which finally have been resolved!

Today I took a 29.4 mile ride through Tennessee Valley up the Coastal Trail and over Wolf's Ridge and down towards Rodeo Valley/Bunker Rd.

Since the upper reaches of the Coastal Trail along Wolf's Ridge is pretty remote I tried to make a lot of observations.

GGNRA staff have been clearing/widening trails. I previously noted the widening/clearing of the SCA trail from Conzelman up towards the ridge. The lower reaches of the Coastal Trail from Tennessee Valley heading west towards Wolf's Ridge had also been cleared recently, and today I saw that they managed to clear the trail all the way to the top.

This does make traversing up the trail a lot easier, yet I also feel a little sad because the Castelleja wrightii, Monardella, C. douglassi etc. have been cleared. I did observe some C. douglassi that still remained. Sad to see the Monardellas gone.

However I understand the benefit of clearing the trail and it probably outweighs the impact on plants immediately adjacent to the trail. Hopefully within a couple seasons all the species we love will be flourishing along there again.

Climbing the Coastal Trail from Tennessee up to Wolf's Ridge while walking a road bicycle - and descending the other side towards Rodeo - is challenging but worth the effort :-) Such a glorious, breathtaking, and isolated area that is truly inspirational.

I hope the fact that I'm not the most strong person to be out there on the trail gives hope and inspiration to some. Endurance is way more important than strength.

You can see the full route I took along with scenic photos on my RideWithGPS page: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/57625802

Publicado el octubre 14, 2020 05:07 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

06 de septiembre de 2020

Notholithocarpus densiflorus and Arbutus menziesii variation

Looking at the photos for the iNaturalist entries for Notholithocarpus densiflorus and for Arbutus menziesii it is clear that there is a lot of variation. What I think of as the more "classic" N. densiflorus leaf shape are the ones with the pronounced bilateral ridges that run along the leaves at an angle and the pronounced spikes at the ends of the leaves. Usually also they are a faded, dusty green sort of color. They are unmistakable in many places such as along the Fern Creek Trail and mixed in with manzanitas along the trails at the higher elevations on the southern side of Mt. Tamalpais. But then there are what appear to be tanoaks that are more strange-looking.

The classic A. menziesii plant shape is more easy to recognize when it has grown to the size of a small tree, but young specimens can also be confusing.

I uploaded some observations from the last two hikes of some specimens that iNaturalist wasn't able to recognize nor can I. It seems like iNaturalist's AI recognition system should do a better job at recognizing leaves. Another issue with iNaturalist is that the lead photos for species which show up when you view a "suggested" species are often not helpful.

They should make a point of showing the most helpful photos as the lead photos for a species - show the leaf, leaf underside, stem morphology, etc. as the lead photos. Also photos with a picture of a finger or other object to provide an indication of scale is very important, especially when viewing individual leaves.

Also helpful would be to show young or juvenile leaves and plants and oddball-looking ones for sake of reference.

Publicado el septiembre 6, 2020 08:08 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

03 de septiembre de 2020

Lonicera hispidula berry season on Mt. Tam

It's prime L. hispidula berry season on Mt. Tam right now. Very pleasant to see many red berries along the Troop 80 and Matt Davis trails yesterday.

Also saw a single Silene laciniata ssp. californica blossom for the first time in a long time today, along the Troop 80 trail.

Uploaded a Sequoia sempervirens observation with some photos from Van Wyck Meadow, some photos show the burn marks from previous fires.

Also saw some Clintonias with massive leaves, larger than a human hand. Don't think I've ever seen these in blossom.

I enjoy the Troop 80 trail very much however being so close to Panoramic Highway - the level of noise pollution is astounding. It's very disturbing to be in the middle of a peaceful hike and then be blasted out by ridiculously loud motorcycles. Some motorcycles are so loud their blasting noises can be heard miles away on the mountain.

If people really care about protecting nature and providing a sanctuary for living beings, this noise needs to stop. I also cannot imagine how anyone could camp anywhere along Panoramic Highway such as in the Bootjack Camp or Pantoll. They are so close to the road and it would just seem terrible to not be able to enjoy peace while camping.

I was hiking rather late in the afternoon on a Tuesday. Imagine the noise on a busy weekend. Terrible.

Oh yes - one last thing - saw a bat flying near a bridge over a creek along the Troop 80 trail. One of the few times I've ever seen a bat in California (used to see a lot of them in Pennsylvania as a kid). (I'm sure they're not that uncommon, I just don't get to see them usually.)

Publicado el septiembre 3, 2020 08:29 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

27 de agosto de 2020

Clinopodium douglasii and unknown along SCA Trail. Photo location issue resolved!

Yesterday ascending the SCA Trail from the parking lot up to Conzelman and then from Conzelman up the the ridge I noticed that the trail had been cleared (weed whacked). This is beneficial for hiking but obviously had an adverse impact on the vegetation that was removed. Sadly, I think that the Five Spot that was along the lower segment of the trail was removed.

On the segment between Conzelman and the ridge I noticed C. douglasii for the first time. The patch was not far from Conzelman. Further up the trail closer to the top I observed a patch of what I initially thought is C. douglasii however the leaves are distinctly smaller and iNaturalist's AI recognition system thinks it is Euphorbia which I disagree with because the leaves taste similar to C. douglasii.

Also had support from iNaturalist and it turns out that the photo location problem is related to the process by which the app obtains permissions necessary to read the coordinate data.

The fix involves completely uninstalling iNaturalist, re-installing it, creating an observation FROM WITHIN the app. This process will cause the app to ask for permissions to access the camera and access location.

After that, it is possible to share photos from a gallery app with iNaturalist to create new observations and it will correctly read the location data from the shared photos.

Publicado el agosto 27, 2020 04:32 MAÑANA por xpacifica xpacifica | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario