A New Table For Willows Terrariums

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Willow asked if I would make a white table to go in the bathroom to put some of here terrariums on.

I decided to try out the dowelling jig for this rather than using mortise and tenon joinery. Way to fussy for my liking. I will definitely stick to mortise and tenons in the future.

Did not take many photos as I was building, too busy having fun!

This is made from 60 year old Oregon that I collected from the tip about 10 years ago, really nice wood!

A few images showing the clamping whilst the glue was drying.

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Have added in the top attachments and filled and sanded all the holes.

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The painted table with one of Willow’s great terrariums.

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Hanging Rock Panoramas At Sunset

Recently I walked out to Hanging Rock, roughly a 75 minute walk each way from the National Parks locked gate. Hanging Rock and Baltazar’s Lookout are one of the lesser know areas of the Blue Mountains. They are also one of the most spectacular lookouts in the mountains. If you have a chance to visit this location then you will not be disappointed.

I walked out to capture the Sunset, but also knowing the ridge before Hanging Rock also blocked the light before sunset arrived. Mount Banks is the double dome mountain on the horizon, Baltazar’s Lookout is the large orange cliff face stage right. Capturing Hanging Rock any later than this would have left it totally in shadow.

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A different angle with a bit more of the foreground rock included to balance it out.

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Whilst they are both really nice photos the horizontal panoramic does not really capture the sheer scale of the little bit of rock. Well over 100 metres in height to the top of the highest trees below.
Here is a photo of me from circa 1990 sitting on the end and just soaking up the ambiance of the location.

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A couple more photos from my recent walk…
Looking down on Hanging Rock from towards the edge of Baltazar’s Lookout is spectacular, but in a photograph it looses the scale of the cliffs.
Many people will not walk down further than the orange section of track (top left) of below photo. The openness and size of the place is just too overwhelming for them.



As you can see in the latest photographs the shrubs on the edge have almost disappeared. Taken November 2015 on a rather misty day.



Did I mention it can be a bit windy out there…
Taken circa 1990.

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The Making Of A Moxon Vise

Moxon Vise

Having moved house and then finishing the move by cramming as much crap into the garage as possible, it has been a whilst since I was able to cut and saw and measure and rip!.

With the recommencement of woodworking, I needed a decent vise in order to hold my wood whilst cutting the joinery. After many days of searching and thinking and re-searching again, I decided to build a Moxon Vise.

Lots of photos to see how I did it!

Bushwalk ~ National Pass To Valley Of The Waters

One of the Classic Blue Mountains Walk, probably the second most popular walking area in the Mountains.
(The Three Sisters at Katoomba trumps every where else, mainly because of the easy access to the bus coaches).

Generally this walk takes 3-4 hours for the round trip.
Be-warned though, there are LOTS of stair! Steep stairs, slippery stairs, see through stairs, bottom-less pit stairs, you name it this walk has those type of stairs.


60 photos showing the magnificence of the World heritage walk

Bushwalk ~ Govett’s Leap to Pulpit Rock

This is my first post on the TEN best bushwalks in the Blue Mountains.

With the stunning scenery of this World Heritage Listed Area, there are some amazing walks within short distances from Public Transport.

This walk takes about 90 minutes each way. The track is quite rough with many areas that have not been maintained for many years.
As you will see from many of the track photographs below, good balance is needed to use this track.

Panorama Govetts Leap

View from the left of Govett’s Leap towards the Grose Valley and Pulpit Rock

50+ photographs to see. . .

It’s A Bloody Big Universe Out There !

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

This is more of a continuation of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot post that I wrote a few days ago.

Incase you have not realised the fact yet, we live on a tiny backward planet in an outer spiral arm of the ‘Milky Way’ Galaxy. (see Monty Python lyrics below)

One of the images that really solidified this concept, was NASA’s Hubble photograph of the ‘Ultra Deep Field Galaxies’.
Over 10,000 galaxies in this image alon3 – please re-read this sentence – I said Galaxies !
A Galaxy is a solitary unit made up of approximately 100,000,000,000 stars (Suns).

The Ultra Deep Field image is of a section in the sky that apparently was black, no stars could be seen in there.
Hubble over many hundred’s of hours captured a photograph of this tiny section of sky, and the resultant image is truly amazing.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field

 Full Size image from NASA – 6200×6200 pixels – 31.2 mb

Watch this video about NASA’s Ultra Deep Field – Amazing technology.

Monty Python’s Lyrics

Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot & Zen Pencils

ZenPencils.com for their 100th anniversary comic decided to immortalise Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot.
Head on over to Zen Pencils to read the comic. (Cartoon images below are from Zen Pencils).

Carl Sagan - ZenPencils
Carl Sagan was an amazing astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and teacher of science to the uneducated masses (that’s us).

Carl Sagan requested that the Voyager 1 spacecraft turn around and take a photo of Earth, not for any scientific purpose, but as a sobering reminder of our planet’s insignificance.

Tiny Blue Dot - ZenPencils

The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth (NASA image below) taken by the spacecraft at a distance of 3.7 billion miles away. The spacecraft had completed its primary mission and was passing Saturn, hurtling through space at 40,000 mph.

Pale Blue Dot - Zen Pencils

Our Planet – The place we call Home – is a small and insignificant planet in the Cosmos.

Here is an original from NASA. An amazing image that really shows the scale of out ‘tiny’ planet.

NASA Pale Blue Dot

Beanies, Beanies And More Beanies For The Grankids

Liam's Beanie

After a hiatus of a few years, it was time to rekindle my knitting desire. Appropriate time to learn to knit in the Continental Style as it is so much quicker and easier than the English throw method I have used for the last 30 years.

Off to Craftsy and Ravelry I went in search of Video tutorials. Found some great beanie patterns on Ravelry, but decided to start with the Sweet Pea Beanie which was part of a knitting class on Craftsy.

Images of seven of the beanies created so far …

Photo 101 ~ Understanding Bit Depth


I was going to commence this photography 101 series with Exposing To The Right (ETTR). A technique utilising the cameras built-in histogram to get the greatest tonal range possible for the images that you take.

However to understand this better, you first need to understand about Bit Depth. What it is and how it applies to your image capturing, so lets get started with that…

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The Story Of Stuff ~ Overconsuption And Greed

The Story of Broke

I thought this video worth adding to my Off Track blog. A 21 minute whiteboard presentation regarding where stuff really comes from and our obsession with having stuff. Whilst this is American based, for some reason I can never fathom, the Australian Government follows along like a two year old child sucking their thumb and believing everything Big Brother (USofA) says.

Watch the videos …

Digital Portrait Photography By Steve Sint ~ Book Review


Perusing the local library at the moment, checking out information for the Photography 101 series. Looking for alternative ways to demonstrate the ‘how to’ of photography.

Most of the books I come across are in the ‘coal’ category, old and out of date. If they are current they lack the ‘omph’ to get me interested in them. You probably know the type of book I am talking about…  you pick it up and flick through to see what the photographs are like, and you wonder why they even bothered! The pictures are boring, lack lustre and show very little artistic or technical merit.

Continue reading my review of Steve Sints Portrait book …

Understanding Close Up Photography By Bryan Peterson ~ Book Review

Close-Up Photography

Bryan has done a beautiful job in presenting the information in this book on “Close Up” and “Macro” photography.

He purposely did not use the word “Macro” in the title, for many people this “word” gives different connotations.
The majority of the images in this book are per the title – close ups – with a magnification range of a quarter life size to a tenth life size. Technically macros are life size reproductions or larger, which he also covers in this book.

Continue reading the review on this great book …

Copyright Information For Your Images – Are You © Doing It Right!

Picture Archive Council of America

The Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) has made a Power Point Presentation on Copyright and Infringments!

How to copyright your images, what you can use from the web and a plethora of other information.
61 Slides in this presentation with lots of images and text will walk you through the legalities of copyright.

Click Here to go to their site to download the Power Point Presentation.

Whilst this is obviously American, since Australia seems to want to follow their lead so much, I would think most of the information valuable.

New Years Eve Fireworks In Wentworth Falls


Decided to partake of the fireworks display at Wentworth Falls Country Club this year. As usual their fireworks were awesome! Well worth the visit.

This time instead of setting the timer of the camera to 1 second at F8, I decided to use bulb mode. The exposures vary between 2 and 5 seconds in duration. All at F8 to ensure a good depth of field. Set up on a tripod of course!

Below is the best images from the evening. Click on any image for a slide show at full resolution.

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Who Shall We Believe In ~ Our Authority Figures and Elders

You are watching a show on television, or maybe reading a book or the Sunday paper. The story may be about Global Warming, Schrodinger’s Cat, whether God exists or is the biggest con job of history or if Shaun The Sheep and Shirley really are an item?

How do you know if it is the TRUTH or a LIE? You are the one who will decide what to believe. You take views from differnt sorces and constuct a mental picture of what to believe. What you believe may not necessarily be correct, but it is what you believe.

Find out how to decide, who should be our heros …

Circular Polariser ~ How Not To Make A Panorama


An early start this morning (5am blurry eyed and no coffee!) so I could go up to Point Pilcher at Medlow Bath to work on some sunrise panoramas. I checked it out last night on Google Maps and the East/West orientation was good for early morning sunrise lighting up the cliffs.

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Making Graces Fort

Wood Craft

Wood Craft – I’m A Crafty Old Sod!

I had a request to make a fort for Grace, so with her help and the aid of Google’s Sketchup – a free 3D cad programme – we came up with a design.

Graces Fort 3

Google Sketchup – Grace’s Fort 1

Graces Fort 2

Google Sketchup – Grace’s Fort 2

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Wooden Toys – To Last A Lifetime

With a change in career due to my back injury, I needed to reinvent myself. So… Web Design and Wooden Toys – seems like a good combination to me.

Starting with a few small items, one of the first a Block Wagon for Ashley, my beautiful Granddaughter.

Ashley's Block Wagon

Ashley’s Block Wagon

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Knitting – Lets Spin A Yarn…

I asked my mum to knit me a jumper about 30 years ago, I even purchased the wool for her! Did she accept the challenge and knit this wonderfully warm sheep’s clothing for me? NO! – so what was I to do, well… my grandmother had taught me to knit as a child, so lets give it a go and see how it turns out.

Stefan first knitted jumper

My first attempt at knitting – a Fair-isle Jumper.

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Off Track ~ Ban Single Use Plastic Bags

It is time to stop using the throw away plastic bags that every department store likes to hand out like they are going out of fashion. Kmart, Coles etc are major stars for overuse of plastic bags.

The ‘sellers’ of these products are BIG companies with a HUGE marketing budget, they like to tell us that they are an indispensable item. Money greases many palms from store buyers to politicians in order that we many ‘have’ the convenience of these bags.

Read the post and watch a GREAT musical video about plastic bags …

High Dynamic Range Image

HDRI stands for High Dynamic Range Image.

It is a process of taking multiple photographs of the same scene (usually with your camera on a tripod). Each photograph is taken with a different exposure level, most SLR Cameras can automatically bracket exposures by up to (+) or (-) 2 stops. The photograph of the water falls below was combined utilising 3 photographs ~ (-2 stops, correctly exposed, + 2 stops). You then use software to combine all the photographs into one image with a much greater dynamic range than any one photo is capable of capturing.

A photographic scene like this water fall may have a dynamic range of 100,000 to 1 (which means the brightest point is 100,00 brighter than the darkest point).

For most of my HDR’s I utilise PhotoMatrix Pro software to combine the various exposures.

Empress Fall – Valley of the Waters – Blue Mountains National Park in Australia

All photographs by Stefan Liam Mackay.