Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Announcement, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

This is more than a simple statement of mathematical certainty. This is an announcement of an impending project, one that I hope you will enjoy.

I tried my hand at a 365 day project back in 2010, and I did pretty well, but the reality of teaching in the Fall semester at my school was too much to handle, and I couldn't finish it. I think limiting myself to one photo per week next year will allow me the space and flexibility to actually finish what I started, this time.

So check back here in the first week of 2012. I'll have more to show you then.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Wedding Day

Down the Aisle, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

My best friend got married on Saturday, August 20th. Kayleigh has been my longest standing, closest friend, and this was the first wedding I *very nearly* cried at. She and Greg are an amazing couple, and I love them both!


Presentation, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Newlyweds, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Cake, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Curious, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Cut the Cake, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Love, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Happy, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Dress, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Sorry for the Delay

The Fam, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

These two photos were from our trip to Letchworth earlier this summer. I meant to upload them soon after the rest, but totally forgot! Enjoy :)

4th of July, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Engaging, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Kathleen and I have been engaged for about a month now, but we just got the ring today. We decided to forego diamonds in lieu of something more symbolic - our birth stones.

I think pearl and amethyst looking smashing together, don't you?

(Also, this is white gold, but the wood table makes it look more yellow)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

4th of July 2011 (post 1)

Letchworth upper falls, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Over the 4th of July weekend, Kathleen and I went camping with Kathleen's parents and sister at Letchworth State Park in NY. The main feature of this park is a massive gorge, often called "The Grand Canyon of the East." It's not quite as deep as the Grand Canyon, but it's pretty impressive. I'll post some more gorge-like photos later on. Here are the first three in this set.

Letchworth middle falls, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Vaguely Troubling, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

This last one was just too awesome to pass up :P

Monday, June 13, 2011


The corn is as high . . ., originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Kathleen and I have planted our first garden together, and this is the first time that I've done any kind of gardening in more than a decade! Crazy. I'm having a lot of fun with it, though. This year we've planted corn (pictured above), tomatoes (flowers below), an onion patch (below), hot peppers, cantaloupe, zucchini, summer squash (none of which are pictured here), and we're trying to get some spinach and swiss chard to come up, but the spring was so wet that we didn't put the seeds in until two weeks ago, so we may have to do a late summer planting and try for a fall crop of that stuff.

Anyway, I'm delighted by our progress so far!

Onion Patch, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Tomato Flowers, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Oh, and Scout is our supervisor while we're gardening. She does a marvelous job at it . . . also, she eats a lot of grass.

Task Master, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Yep, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

That's dog hair.

And for reference . . .

"Yep" reference shot, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Brown Eyed Girl

Brown Eyed Girl, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

She did a pretty good job for her first time under the lights. It will definitely not be her last.

Scoutypants Marie, originally uploaded by RLHyde.


Scorcher, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

This is a partly burnt tennis ball near an extinguised controlled fire in the Ann Arbor arboretum.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring Light Abstract

Spring Light Abstract, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Every morning I wake up to this, I want to get the perfect picture of dappled light coming through the tree outside of my 3rd story apartment bedroom window. It's hard to capture exactly what I want, but this comes close.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Allergic Dog

Allergic Dog, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Scout itches her feet a lot, as well as other parts of her body, so when we took her in to the vet yesterday for a checkup, it was suggested that she may have allergies. Figures. Kathleen and I both have pretty bad spring allergies - it's only fitting that our dog does as well.

Later today she'll have some benadryll.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Scout, our new dog!!!

Scout 3, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Yesterday Kathleen and I rescued a puppy from the Humane Society of Huron Valley. We named her Scout. So far, she's an absolutely wonderful adult dog who is nicely house trained, is energetic yet can calm down, and she's making us both very happy pet owners :)

Scout 4, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Scout 2, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Scout 1, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pizza Time!

Pizza Perspective, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Kathleen bought me some awesome Christmas presents: a pizza stone, a pizza peel, and a huge and very sharp pizza cutter. With these tools, I have made it my goal to make awesome pizzas.

I like what she and I have come up with so far.

Pizza Full, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

Pizza Closeup, originally uploaded by RLHyde.


Shattered 1, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

So many years ago, when I used to work for SEEUS at EMU (google it if you want), I found this set of plates abandoned in a vacated set of married couple dorms. I took them home, boiled all of them (you can't be too safe) and put them to use. I started with 4 big plates and 6 little plates. I still have all of the little ones, but this here represents the 2nd to last big plate. I only have one functional one left, and I think it has a chip in it.

I still wonder why someone would leave behind these awesome plates.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


NSRNDR, originally uploaded by RLHyde.

So this one time, Kathleen and I saw a license plate that said "NSRNDR," and for the life of us we couldn't figure out why some guy had "Nose Reindeer" on the license plate of his little sports car. It took us a while to realize it meant "No Surrender," and our honest misinterpretation of the meaning was hilarious to us. I have thought many times about what it would be like to ask that guy, "Hey, why do you have 'Nose Reindeer' on your license plate?'" I think he would probably punch me. Which would be funny, too, really.

Today I saw a real reindeer's nose. I thought of that time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cactus V5 Review - an amateur hobbyist photographer's take

So, A few months back I was contacted by Harvest One / Gadget Infinity, the company that manufactures the Cactus line of wireless flash triggers. I have been using their Cactus V4 triggers ever since I started getting into strobist photography, and apparently they liked what they saw because they asked me to be one of the beta testers for their new Cactus V5 triggers! I was pumped.

The following is my review from the point of view of who I actually am as a photographer: an amateur and hobbyist. I will do the following:

1.) Compare them extensively with the Cactus V4
2.) Describe their increased functionality
3.) Describe shooting scenarios where they would be the most effective
4.) Describe their limitations from my point of view
5.) Give you my buying recommendation.

Part 1: New features in the V5

There are some fairly cool new features of the V5, some of which are more useful to me than others, but still, they're worth mentioning.

Transceivers: the new state of the art
Alright, this might not be a brand new idea, but it's still pretty cool. So, instead of having separate transmitter and receiver units, you now get transceivers, units that can either transmit or receive based on what position you have the switch on the side in. All V5s, therefore, look the same. Here's a shot of the contents of the package that was sent to me as a bet tester:

The single biggest benefit of this design is that you can have an on-camera fill light along with off-camera flash due to the presence of the hot-shoe that is on top of every transceiver. What's even cooler is that, for me, as a Nikon D40 owner, I can now have on-camera flash that syncs up to 1/4000 (the D40 has a digital shutter at high speeds - if your camera doesn't, you'll be limited to probably 1/200 or 1/250). That's a nice feature. Here's what water coming out of a faucet looks like at 1/4000:
Teaser 2

Problems with the transceiver
Nothing new comes for free, so here's what you have to watch out for: battery life. Apparently when in receiver mode, these bad boys suck down a ton of juice. So if you leave your transceiver in receiver mode over night, chances are you're going to be getting a low battery warning (a flashing red light, which in and of itself is a nice new addition) when you look at your tools the next day. Always set the switch to "off" after use.

New multi-channel triggering:
Alright, this one is a little hard to describe and harder to photograph, so try to follow me here.

First off, there are still 165 channels you can set the V5s to, but instead of fiddling with 4 switches like on the V4, you have a simple and easy to use dial. Now, here's where things get interesting. The numbers on the dial for the first 5 channels are painted on in blue, where as 6-16 are painted on in white. These "blue" channels allow for multi-channel firing.

So, okay, let's say you have 5 transceivers, one on your camera and 4 connected to off-camera flashes. Let's also say that you had a shooting situation set up where sometimes you would want all of the flashes to fire, but sometimes you would want only one flash to fire (imagine shooting a concert or something like that). You could have the 4 off-camera transceivers set to channels 2-5. The on-camera transceiver, when set to any one of those 4 channels, would, of course, only trigger the corresponding transceiver. However, if the on-camera transceiver is set to channel 1, it will trigger all 4 of the transceivers.

So, channels 2-4 (which are 4 of the 5 "blue" channels) can all be triggered by a transceiver transmitting on channel 1. This is kind of cool, if you can think of scenarios in which you would use this functionality. I have maybe had one or two of these shooting scenarios in my life as a photographer, and while this feature would have officially made it easier for me, I don't know if it alone is worth the upgrade for you. If you can immediately think of a ton of common shooting scenarios for you where this would come in handy (I can see wedding photographers using this feature a TON), then I'd snap up as many of V5s as you need immediately.

Range and reliability
Alright, first off, range: the V5s are certified to work up to 100 meters (328) feet away. However, many of the beta testers indicated that they were able to get reliable firing up to 600 feet away! I did not personally test this feature, but I trust the folks who did do the testing. If you need long distance triggering, these are the way to go (especially considering the price difference between these guys and Pocket Wizards, the usual go-to trigger for long-distance triggering).

As far as reliability goes, I have yet to have a single misfire with my V5s. Now, my V4s only rarely misfired, and that generally had more to do with my battery charge than anything hardware related, but still, you will absolutely not have to worry about misfires with the V5s.

Moving on to the hardware features:

The batteries in the V5 sit inside of this compartment instead of being hidden behind a standard plastic door, like one would see on the bottom of a remote control. To eject the battery compartment, you simply push in on it until you hear a "click" and then the tray ejects. This definitely keeps the batteries in position, especially if you were to accidentally drop your V5. However, this also leaves you with one more part to break. If this plastic drawer does break, there's no way to seat your batteries and have a functional V5. Now, Gadget Infinity has assured the beta testers and I that replacement trays will be on sale on the web site in case such a thing should happen, but given that you have to order these parts from Hong Kong, you're going to be out a crucial component of your lighting equipment for a few weeks before the package arrives to you (assuming you're ordering form the states, YMMV). So, I like the concept in theory, but in practice, I prefer the V4 design because if I broke the plastic door holding the batteries in on a V4, I could just slap on some electrical tape and call it a day.


Part 2: Form Factor, V5 vs V4
V5s are an entirely different form factor when compared to the V4, and for me, this is really worth thinking about.

Frankly, as a small-scale photographer who does a lot of stuff out and about (I have no at-home studio, unless I move a lot of furniture), form factor and ease of use of my triggers are of utmost importance. So, with that said, let's take a look at the Cactus V4 and V5 form factors.


The V5 is on the left (with the shoe it comes with) and the V4 is on the right. You can pretty clearly see that the V5 is much wider and taller than the V4 (the height problem is exaggerated due to the shoe being on, but I think it's still fairly clear in this photo). Now, in practical use, this added bulk doesn't really mean much - the V5 does not look absurdly large sitting on top of your camera or on a tripod - but it does take up a lot of extra space in my camera bag. In the space that I could fit 1 V4 transmitter and 2 V4 receivers, I can fit exactly 2 V5 transceivers. That means rethinking what I can take with me or buying a bigger bag (and I only JUST bought this bag).

Here's a shot of all the V4 hardware with a V5 transceiver:

Ease of Use
Here's my biggest beef with the new form factor, though: they are actually difficult to use on a tripod! The reason is that on the V4, the tripod thread was mounted inside of the male cold-shoe portion of the underside. Since there is no male cold shoe on the transceiver (it's a hot shoe, and you can't exactly drill a threaded hole into a hot shoe), the threading is located toward the front of the transceiver, and the hot shoe juts out, making the whole setup pretty clunky. Here, let me show you:

V4 Receiver - works great:


V5 receiver - clumsy and ineffective!


So, to get the thing mounted on a standard umbrella adapter, you have to raise the spigot part way out of the shaft, causing the entire thing to get off-kilter:

As you can see, this setup causes the receiver to be tilted backward a bit, which when you're shooting into an umbrella results in the flash not shooting directly into the center of the umbrella. On top of that, it's just a pain in the butt to set up in the first place, making these things much more frustrating to use in my sort of day-to-day shooting situations than the V4.

Note: You CAN easily set these guys up on an umbrella adapter if you use the little aluminum cold shoe that comes with most umbrella adapters and just mount the spigot on to that. However, this is one more piece to setup and potentially lose, and it's still not as ideal as the V4 construction.

Party 3: Backwards Compatibility
First and foremost: Cactus V5s are Not native backward compatible with the Cactus V4. You CANNOT trigger a V4 receiver with a V5 transceiver. With that said, it's not difficult to think of some totally non-manufacturer supported ways of getting these two things to work together, especially considering that your on-camera V5 transceiver has an active hot shoe on the top of it, and your V4 transmitter just needs a simple signal from a hot shoe to fire. The following shot was taken in this unsupported method (note: again, the Gadget Infinity / Harvest One does NOT support this usage, but it seems to work all the time, every time, with no problems):

Splash Time (Teaser 3)

Part 4: Pricing and Conclusions
The pricing has been recently made publicly available, so I'll go ahead and mention it here:
2 V5 transceiver package: $59.95 US
1 V5 transceiver package: $34.95 US

The V4s are NOT being discontinued, though, so compare them at:
V4 1 transmitter / 1 receiver pack: $39.95 US
V4 1 receiver pack: $23.95 US

So, here's where I'm left as an amateur hobbyist photographer. I don't see myself needing the multi-channel firing feature too much, and the form factor of the Cactus V4 is just better for my needs. Add to that the fact that the V4s are notably cheaper than the V5s and that the V4s are still, in my experience, way more than 90% reliable and frankly, I'm going to have to go with the V4.

If you're more of a professional, though, and you can see using that multi-channel firing method, and you don't mind the form factor issues (you can always use a sync cable with your strobes instead of mounting them on the V5's hot shoe, if that helps you at all - Pocket Wizard people have been doing it for years!), then scrape together the extra bucks you need to outfit yourself with the V5s and go for it.

Simply put, the V5s really are very useful for a lot of people, just not for me. They don't really suit my needs, and I'm very glad that the V4s are not being discontinued.

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