Pinewood Derby Car with Camera

Pinewood Derby 2015-15

Pinewood Derby 2015-14As a Cub Scout, I recall my one year on the Pinewood Derby circuit.  Sure – that season was compressed to a single evening in the cafeteria of my elementary school – but it was a heck of a lot of fun watching my car take 2nd in all three heats that it bounced down the wooden swooped track.

So, imagine my joy when my daughter announced that she had a morning of Pinewood Derby racing on the calendar.

Of course, we worked on her car.  It was pink.  And, as it turns out, the fastest “legal” car of the day.  But for this project – we wanted the fastest car of the day.

I was looking for a bit of track level video and thought it would be fun to bolt one of the Contours to a car as an experiment.   Thankfully, by simply weighing more than twice the allowed limit of 5 oz – the extra weight helped get the car out in front of the pack.  And with the wide angle lenses on most POV cameras – your car won’t need to be much faster – maybe only a couple of car lengths.

This design is essentially a basic wedge Pinewood Derby kit and a Contour camera.  The weights?  Well, where they’re located on the image above – I don’t think they really helped.  A simple quarter-twenty bolt attached the camera.  The spacers you see were only added to take up some of the bolt length – as it was a bit long.

As for the track footage – I cleared it with the event organizers, got a race number for the car so that it would be integrated into the real-time racing matrix (this allowed for footage from all 4 lanes and a mix of cars) – and simply let it go.  For most cars on this day, it was fast enough.  This version of the camera car only ran in the high 2.5’s.  Next year – I’ve got some ideas to see if I can get it a bit faster.

If you decide to try this – or something similar – let us know!

Pinewood Derby 2015-6

#25 Jerome Kersey

2014 SOOR - 200px-237For folks that read this blog regularly, you know that my assignments typically don’t have me rubbing elbows with public figure types.  But one of the organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to work with the past few years is Oregon Special Olympics (SOOR).  And as a near life-time Trail Blazers fan (there – I said it  Smile  ) – I think it’s great that the Blazers have a strong relationship with SOOR.

2014 SOOR - 200px-255

This last summer while I was at the Oregon Summer Games, former Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey was in attendance, spoke at the awards ceremony, and was on hand to pose for photos.

Last week, Jerome Kersey passed away suddenly from a blood clot at the age of 52.  Those who knew him well, speak much of his warmth and his infectious personality.  Those who played with him speak of his tenacity and hard work.  I didn’t know him personally, but2014 SOOR - 200px-256 one thing that impressed me in my very few short minutes with Jerome was his genuineness with everybody around him.  Not once did he seem distracted or if there was somewhere else he’d rather be.  Heck, I’m not even sure if he ever stopped smiling.

Prior to the ceremony, I was asked if I could get a photo of Jerome with the Olympic torch.  So, after the ceremony, I introduced myself and we tried to cross the fifty feet from the stage, down the steps, and to the torch for a photo or two.  And as he was surrounded by athletes and coaches – Jerome stopped for every hug, handshake, high five, and photo that he possibly could.  By the time we made it to the torch, it was quickly evident that we weren’t going to the get the photo we’d set out to make.   Just a quick bit of eye contact, a smile and small shrug, and we got the photo below.  A quick nod of thanks (as the crowd rushed in – we weren’t going to get our parting handshake) and Jerome got back to the hugs and autographs.  Looking back – I’m glad that we missed on the initial photo idea.  I’m pretty sure this one is much better.

2014 SOOR - 200px-257

Top Photos from 2014

Is it too late for a “2014 Best of” post?  Hopefully this one is only arriving “casually late”.  Smile

That said, regardless of your photography experience, I think it’s a good practice to go through your photos periodically and choose a few that you consider to be among the best.  The transition from December to January provides, if nothing else, a convenient marker.

So, in no particular order, here are a few from my 2014 archive.



10 for 2014-1

This is arguably my best Milky Way image.  More details here.

10 for 2014-2

From a quick trip up to Mt St Helens – here’s an image of the edge of the crater that I’d posted over on the Facebook page.

10 for 2014-3

And there I was standing on the Morrison Bridge (trying to get an image for the Bite of Oregon) when the bridge went up.  I also posted a number of images from that gig over on the Camera 47 Facebook page.

10 for 2014-4

From the Harrisburg Harvest Festival and Tractor Pull.  More images from that afternoon can be found here.

10 for 2014-5

Who would have thought that fisheye lenses and historic bombers were a great combination?  More images of this B-17 can be found here.

10 for 2014-6

2014 was the year that I learned about the IR72 filter + X100s.  More details can be found here.

10 for 2014-7

Happened to be in San Francisco for business and brought the X100s along.  This is a panorama cobbled together from a series of handheld images.

10 for 2014-8

Could I really have an annual list of photos and not have a rodeo image?

10 for 2014-9

Or two?  More images from this year’s Philomath Frolic and Rodeo can be found here and here.  If you’re looking for more rodeo – check out the Exposure story.

10 for 2014-10

Or some hot air balloon photos?

10 for 2014-11

Just playing.  This photo can also be found over on my site.

10 for 2014-14

Had a chance to shoot some Polar Plunges for Oregon Special Olympics. The Portland event had a group of Super Plungers that ran once an hour for 24 hours into the very chilly Columbia River.  I posted a number of photos from my time with the Super Plungers over on the Camera 47 Facebook page.

10 for 2014-15

Just a bit of flooding here in Corvallis.

10 for 2014-16

More Viking! At the Bend Polar Plunge.  More images from my trip to Bend can be found here.

10 for 2014-17

The debut of Saddle Shop over the summer.  You can see more from this gig over at

top 10-21

Was looking for a vintage-feeling portrait for this one that connected the student, his school, and sport.

top 10-22

At the county fair for a dance performance and happened to have the X100s + IR72 filter with me.  Really dug the architecture + sun + colors on this one.  I thought the combination provided an unexpected industrial feel.

dog in shadow-1

Our dog was waiting for a bit of beef jerky in some pretty strong light with shadow.

Christmas morning-1

Christmas morning sunrise over Fish Lake just outside Leavenworth, WA.  Not sure what created all of the sparkles speckles.  I’m guessing it was a really dirty filter.  Then, again, it was Christmas morning.

Leavenworth for Christmas

Leavenworth - pan out of focus - 2000pxAs it turns out, we had the chance to sneak out of town and spend the Christmas holiday up north near Leavenworth, WA – a logging-town-turn-Bavarian-village nestled in the North Cascades .  While we rented a cabin about 30 minutes from town on Fish Lake (near Wenatchee Lake), we made it into town a couple of times over the week.

Though there was a bit of snow on the ground – there hadn’t been snow in a while, making for clear roads (thankfully).

First – here’s a couple from Leavenworth:

pan 3 - 2000px

This is just a handheld panorama of downtown Leavenworth dressed up for Christmas.  That said – I’m a bit partial to the (purposefully) out-of-focus panorama at the top of this post.   Smile

Leavenworth and Fish Lake-1

On this one – I just liked the interplay of the lights and shadows.


And now a few from Fish Lake.

pan 7 - 2000px

A spectacular sunrise was on the way.

Leavenworth and Fish Lake-2

After that bit of red from the above image faded – the whole scene faded to gray.  I’ll be honest, I was tempted to pack up and head inside for some hot coffee.  But I waited (with no plan – and, really, no idea why I was waiting).  Then this happened.  I can’t tell you about all of the sparkles… it might be dust from the neutral density filter?

Leavenworth and Fish Lake-3

Just for fun – here’s one of our dog while she waits for a bit of jerky.  The light inside the cabin happened to be pretty bright – creating some pretty hard shadows.  A bit of post brought those shadows entirely to black.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas photos-3I just wanted to take a few minutes away from the hustle, bustle, food, and wrapping to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!


And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  [Luke 2:8-14]

Round Up: The 2014 Big List of Holiday Photography Gift Lists

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve tried to gather up just about every photo-centric holiday gift list that I’ve found but if there’s a list you think should be added here – just let us know in the comments. 

So, without further delay and in no particular order – here’s The 2014 Big List of Holiday Photography Gift Lists!


And, in case you missed it – our very own:

So, there you go – 23 holiday gift guides for your favorite photographer. Hope that helps!

My Pre-Thanksgiving Post

Yes, I’ve posted this before.  In fact, for a few of the earliest years of this blog, I posted this each Thanksgiving.  I almost consider it a public service announcement… Smile

Enjoy – and have a great Thanksgiving!

How to Carve a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Photo 101: Where to Print?

Looking for printing services?  Here’s a few to consider that may not be on your list:

  • Bay Photo.  If you buy photos from my portfolio site – they’ll likely be printed at Bay Photo.  They’re great!
  • WHCC.  Another awesome place to print.
  • There’s also mpix.
  • Sometimes you just need a print fast that doesn’t cost a lot with reasonable quality.  At those times, don’t hesitate to send the files to Costco.
  • Want some huge inexpensive B&W prints?  Try the engineering prints at Staples.
  • Looking for something more boutique?  Check out Artifact Uprising
  • Business printing?  Business cards, postcards, more?  Check out


(This is Photo 101: Introducing Photo Concepts in 101 Words or Less. If there’s a photo topic that you’d like to see here on Camera 47 – drop it in the comments below or contact me by ways of the About page. 

And if you want to catch all of the posts in the Photo 101 series – and the rest of those on Camera 47 – simply subscribe to have them delivered direct to the your inbox.  Thanks!)

Photo 101: Histograms

In-camera, histograms can help you get the best exposure possible  and see quickly if information is lost from over or under exposure.  In post, they can help you fine-tune the image.

Here’s a simple example of what correct, over, and under exposure could look like on a histogram.

Here it’s balanced.

histogram - just right

Here the image is underexposed and the histogram is pushed to the left.

histogram - too dark

Here – over exposed and it’s to the right.

histogram - too light

That said, there are times when your histogram may not look balanced – e.g. nightscapes or snowfield + tree. Regardless, knowing the rules will help you recognize when they don’t apply.


(This is Photo 101: Introducing Photo Concepts in 101 Words or Less. If there’s a photo topic that you’d like to see here on Camera 47 – drop it in the comments below or contact me by ways of the About page. 

And if you want to catch all of the posts in the Photo 101 series – and the rest of those on Camera 47 – simply subscribe to have them delivered direct to the your inbox.  Thanks!)

DIY: Slider (with bearings) for Under $100

slider build-3

Sliders are great tools for video and time lapse applications.  That said, to buy a good slider that uses bearings can be expensive.  And a reasonable slider that uses friction can run around $100.

Now I understand that there are a number of slider builds out there but I was looking for one that could use off-the-shelf parts, bearings for smooth action, could eventually accommodate a motor for time lapse projects, and would cost under $100.  As an added bonus: I think this one looks pretty good, too.

So let’s get started!

(NOTE: Please use caution and safe practices when working with tools.)



After stumbling onto, I realized that building a solid slider at a reasonable price was probably within reach.  It took some time to get familiar with their parts and pieces – and after looking through a couple of other slider projects – I was able to start cobbling together the following list:

Qu Part Notes Unit Cost Total Cost
1 V-Slot Black V-Slot; 20-40; 1000 mm $14.50 $14.50
4 OpenBuilds Dual V Wheel Kit $3.85 $15.40
2 Eccentric Spacers 1/4” $2.00 $4.00
1 Low Profile Screws M5 – 8mm 25 Pack $4.50 $4.50
1 Low Profile Screws M5 – 40mm 10 Pack $4.00 $4.00
4 1/8” Aluminum Spacer $0.20 $0.80
2 Spacer Block (V-Slot) $3.95 $7.90
1 V-Slot Gantry Plate $12.00 $12.00
1 Tee Nuts 25 Pack $4.95 $4.95
TOTAL $68.05


The one sub-unit that I couldn’t see an elegant way of sourcing through OpenBuilds were the legs.  For those, I turned to Home Depot.  Now if you don’t have a Home Depot close by, I think most hardware stores should have something similar on hand (or you can buy the pieces online).

Qu Part Notes Unit Cost Total Cost
1 36” angled aluminum 3/4”x1/2”x1/16” $4.27 $4.27
1 1/4”-20 hex nuts 10 pack $1.18 $1.18
1 1/4”-20 wing nuts 4 pack $1.18 $1.18
1 Threaded Furniture Glides 4 pack $2.48 $2.28
TOTAL $8.91



slider build-1

Not much is needed for the assembly:

  • Safety glasses
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal file
  • Small wrench or two
  • 3mm hex wrench
  • 1/4”, 7/32”, and one more very small drill bit



Here’s a quick video tutorial on how to assemble the wheels and how to adjust the eccentric spacers so as to have a smooth gliding stage.  Note: you’ll want to make sure the washer in the middle of each wheel is lined up correctly.  The video shows you how to do that.

And if you find the 40mm OpenRail Gantry Plate for $8 on the OpenBuilds site – don’t buy it.  I did this the first time thinking I’d save $4 and now have a very nice plate on the shelf looking for a project.  It won’t work without the OpenRails.  This build doesn’t use them and instead locks the stage to the slider by way of the V-slots.

slider build-8

And just to save you a bit of futzing – here’s a quick visual of the holes that I used to mount the plate using the 40mm wide V-slot.

slider build-10

If you’re unfamiliar with eccentric spacers, note that they’ll both be used on the same side of the rail.

The plate, as is, won’t accommodate a 1/4”-20 bolt in the center position that will readily fit your ballhead.  I simply widened the center hole with a 1/4” drill bit (the photo above was taken before I widened the hole).

slider build-4


How to keep the stage, with your camera, from sliding right off the end of the rail?  As I already had T-nuts and 8mm screws on the way, I simply added $0.80 of spacers to the order and cobbled together some stops.  And they work great!

slider build-7

That said, after the entire assembly was together, I learned that the length of the 40mm screws used on the stage actually will hit the legs as they’re shown here.  So, technically, you could probably choose to leave the stops off your plans (but I plan on keeping mine).

slider build-6



For the legs I looked at a few different ideas but ultimately decided on angled aluminum.  To be honest, I wanted to use flat bar – but it flexed.  Using fairly lightweight angled aluminum resulted in essentially no flex.

slider build-9

The furniture levelers allow for some adjustment on uneven surfaces.

And just in case you’re thinking of using wing nuts in place of the nuts on this assembly – they won’t fit on the underside with the angled aluminum.

slider build-5

Here are the measurements for the legs.  WARNING: I’ll be moving between Metric and Standard units in the drawing.  Yes – I understand that it’s not a “best practice”.  But it works here.  Smile  Also, the drawing is not to scale.

slider drawing - cropped

As for building the legs – pretty straight forward.

  1. Cut two 12” lengths from your angled aluminum.
  2. Smooth the cut edges with the file.  Measure and drill your holes.  I did use a a piece of sandpaper that I had on hand to smooth the drilled holes just a bit.
  3. Attach the levelers to the angled aluminum.

Next Steps

Connect the sub-assemblies and attach your ballhead to the stage with a 1/4”-20 bolt that is between 3/8” to a 1/2” long.

At this time, this slider isn’t designed to be attached to a tripod.  I’m still working on an elegant solution.  Ideally, it would be something like a plate with a center threaded 1/4”-20 hole that could be attached to the 40mm wide v-slot with t-nuts / aluminum spacers / flat M5 screws…

Hope that helps and if you build this or have ideas for improvements – please, let us know in the comments.   Thanks!

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