Author Archives: Ray

Mossvale Park Burrowing Crayfish

If there’s one interesting as well as slightly mysterious feature of Mossvale Park, it’s the local crayfish that inhabit at least one part of the park. For many years I wondered what the muddy mounds with a large hole in the middle were, as they resembled something between an anthill and a underground dwelling spider hole. It wasn’t until I came across something similar in our front yard, that the penny dropped and I realised that these were the entrances to the homes of small crustaceans. The crayfish in our yard were very hard to spot as they only came out at night and the slightest vibration would send them quickly back into their holes. I only ever saw two such holes and one night was able to observe what the inhabitants looked like. They were all black, incredibly spiny and quite the small monsters; something that could be easily used as the basis for a creature in a science fiction horror movie.

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BMPCC4K – Leofoto LN-404C Tripod

Tripods are one of those things that can cause endless debate amongst photographers, and to a lesser degree videographers, when discussing what constitutes the best tripod (much like when it comes to camera bags). There is no such thing as the ‘best’ tripod, as it all depends on where, how, why and with what you’re going to use the tripod. There are number of reasons why these debates arise and the first one is affordability, the second is need and the third is knowledge. Affordability has always had a major impact on equipment purchasing, especially 40 or even 30 years ago, when a professional tripod would have cost a small fortune and even amateur brands were quite expensive. Need can be a driver where at first a photographer may not require a specific type of tripod, but they eventually outgrow the tripod or their needs change. Knowledge or experience becomes a factor  after owning a succession of tripods (not necessarily poor quality ones) and the user comes to understand the where, how, why and what of tripods.

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A Country Pub Any Day

Towards the end of Aug 2019, we had the pleasure of attending a friend’s birthday in Melbourne and the venue was the Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar & Grill at Southbank. I’ve never been to the Rockpool, but had heard about it for many years and the word was that it was excellent. So we looked forward to this experience and didn’t mind the long drive from Mirboo North, much more so for the birthday than the venue. Thankfully the drive to Melbourne was surprisingly easy and uneventful, with the ever present roadworks not the problem that we’d dreaded, so we arrived in good time at Southbank. Trying to remember where to go once we exited the Burnley Tunnel was more of an issue. I’m certain that in past years the Crown Complex was well signposted so that those not familiar with Melbourne could find their way, but this time we saw nary a sign. That said, we managed to get to the right place without drama.

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Built, Not Bought

One of the funniest things I see from time to time are 4WD videos and the like where the owners proudly show off how they have ‘built, not bought’ their particular 4WD. This is often a statement meant to disparage those who go to a 4WD accessories retailer such as ARB, TJM or similar and have them supply and fit accessories such as suspensions, bull bars, winches, battery kits etc; basically everything that you need to kit your 4WD for the great outdoors. Sadly, doing so is viewed by some as being inferior, if not a disgrace, to those who fit stuff themselves. Personally I see nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to such a place, especially if you’re not mechanically inclined or simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of installing things yourself. Sometimes it’s also a matter of warranty, where if something fails or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you’ll be in a better position to make a claim. It’s not much different to taking your vehicle to a dealership or mechanic for regular servicing, for some that’s far better value than doing things yourself at home, especially if you don’t have the equipment and location to do so.

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Mossvale Park – Winter 2019

Mossvale Park this Winter hasn’t been quite as interesting as in previous years, or else I’m just becoming used to the way it changes year in and year out. While it’s said that familiarity breeds contempt, I certainly have no contempt for Mossvale Park as it’s one of those rare places that isn’t a regular park, nor is it a botanical garden despite all of its historic trees. It’s a nice mix of perhaps both, especially as you can enjoy it year in and year out without the restrictions and regulations that normally accompany anything closer to Melbourne. I guess given the location of Mossvale Park, trying to regulate it in the way many other parks are regulated would be kind of a lost cause because of the way nature treats it at least once every year. With the Tarwin River West Branch circling the park, I’m not sure that there exists any other park in Victoria that gets such a thorough wash every year without fail.

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Soy Boys

Soy Boy: ‘Slang used to describe males who completely and utterly lack all necessary masculine qualities. This pathetic state is usually achieved by an over-indulgence of emasculating products and/or ideologies. The origin of the term derives from the negative effects soy consumption has been proven to have on the male physique and libido. The average soy boy is a feminist, nonathletic, has never been in a fight, will probably marry the first girl that has sex with him, and likely reduces all his arguments to labeling the opposition as “Nazis”.’ – Urban Dictionary. Why am I writing about Soy Boys? Because, annoyingly, they are appearing everywhere and even those individuals that may not be Soy Boys, are mimicking their attributes for some weird reason. Soy Boys can usually be identified on the internet by one common attribute, wide open, gaping mouths accompanied by an incredulous expression.

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BMPCC4K – A Few Things

First off, I’ve written a few time now about my trials and tribulations with audio to accompany my videos and pointed out some things that have worked and other things that have not. As I’ve mentioned previously, you can have a somewhat crappy movie with great audio and it’ll be watchable, but a great movie with crappy audio is completely unwatchable. If you’ve ever come across a YouTube video where the sound quality is just awful, you’ll know what I mean. We’ve watched many an old movie that’s been copied and put up on YouTube where the image quality isn’t the greatest, but the movie has been watchable because the audio has been reasonably decent; you can understand what’s being spoken and the music is fine. Quite the opposite to some others that get switched off in seconds. Audio has such an impact on movies and video in general that it’s one area where you have to get it right as there’s little room for error.

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As We Plunge Into Darkness

We inexorably beginning the decent into an era of darkness, a time when our expectations of being able to simply throw a light switch and have a room illuminated begins to wan. With Hazelwood power station now closed and a significant component of our previously cheap and reliable electricity supply gone and Yallourn as well as others also facing the chopping block, electricity costs will continue to rise and reliability will continue to fall. We managed to miss a bullet last year by not having major blackouts, with South Australia not being so lucky, but our time will come soon enough. The rush to renewables at all cost, or damn the costs as it seems to be, will mean that the days of cheap, plentiful and reliable electricity will become a distant memory. When children in the future ask what their parents used for lighting before candles, the answer will be electricity. Grandparents will tell incredulous stories of light appearing through invisible forces.

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BMPCC4K – Green Screen

In an earlier story about the ongoing development of my cinema rig, I posted a video where I used green screen technique to introduce a background to what would have otherwise been a bland setting (with Winter afoot, nothing outside is looking that great). This ‘green screen’ technique is as old as the hills, but previously has been less than accessible to most people with a video camera. The green screen material has certainly been readily available, but the video processing software has not been quite so easy to come by and, where available, has often been expensive. But with new software options and especially software such as Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, it’s pretty much available to anyone who wants to experience this frequently used Hollywood technique. And frequently used is an understatement, as just about every film made nowadays involves some or a lot of green screen technique.

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Nissan GU Patrol Diesel Lift-Pump

As a bit of background, many diesels, especially trucks, use a diesel fuel lift-pump in or near the fuel tank to provide better fuel flow to the engine’s fuel filter, which is usually located near the engine. When the fuel has to travel quite some distance and the height between the fuel tank and fuel filter is significant, then a lift-pump takes a lot of strain off the main fuel pump used to pressurise injectors, or a fuel rail in common rail diesels. You can find lift-pumps in even smaller vehicles of one form or another especially 4WDs but many, like my Patrol, don’t have a lift-pump and so it’s quite common for owners to install one to assist with fuel flow and fuel pump longevity. So I did the same in 2014 with my Patrol but, unfortunately, on one of our High Country Cruises in 2016, the lift-pump unceremoniously failed, stopping fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully that wasn’t a particularly difficult job to remove, as I’d specifically installed the lift-pump so that it was easy to access.

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