A.S.Adventure envelope design

A.S.Adventure envelope

A.S.Adventure is Belgian chain stores of outdoor clothes and action equipment like Alpindustria, Kant or Tramontana in Saint-Petersburg. You are able to buy here a gift card and send it to your friend. Girl at the cash desk will give you the special envelope for that reason.
And this particular envelope has a unique and surprising design. It resembles a mail envelope from the Soviet Union epoch: address and receiver fields are labelled in Cyrillic, Russian postage stamps as well as international stamps are placed around.

The discount card of A.S.Adventure shops has also the unique design: it looks like two cards sticked together, an ordinary one and a smaller one that features instructions for internet quest.

A.S.Adventure envelope and a discount card

A.S.Adventure chain stores in Antwerp A.S.Adventure chain stores in Antwerp
A.S.Adventure chain stores in Antwerp

Field macrophotography of plants: a technique for capturing the flora in nature

This article is a full translation of my previously published post “Полевая макрофотография растений: техника для съёмки флоры на природе”, © Gregory A. Pozhvanov, 2011.

I am going to describe in this article some technical features and approaches that I consider important and use in macrophotography of plants in wild nature. The picture I got during my last photosession in Lehmalahti shows how you can photograph macro on location.

Equipment for plant macrophotography: Canon EOS 40D camera, Sigma 150 mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG HSM telephoto macro lens for Canon, Manfrotto 190 XProB tripod, Manfrotto 488RC4 ball tripod head, Manfrotto 454 focusing rails, Pentacon angle viewfinder, Canon TC80-N3 wired remote control, Matin reflector with aluminium holder. Resin boots, tweezers and a nice mood are beyond the picture frame :)

camera and lenstripod, tripod head and railsangle viewfinder and remote controlaccessories for lighting setupwork with background: tweezers and scissorsphotographing from the ground level: philosophic and technical aspects


Camera: Canon EOS 40D (out of production for at least three years). Class of the camera is not really important. The main features you should consider are mirror lock-up and live-view mode for precise manual focusing. All that exists in almost any modern digital SLR camera.

Photographs are taken with Canon EF-S 60 mm f/2.8 Macro USM (1,2) and Sigma 150 mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG HSM (3) macro lenses. When photographing plants, you can freely select what kind of macro lens to use. But when photographing insects, it's better to have a telephoto lens with longer working distance to leave the subject in peace.
Photos: autumn crocus flower, Crocus autumnale (ISO 100, f/5, 1.3", 60 mm); tulip flower (ISO 100, f/11, 2", 60 mm); butterfly with transparent wings, fam. Heliconidae (ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/30", 150 mm).

Macro lens: Sigma 150 mm f/2.8 Macro EX DG HSM. It is one of the best lenses for macrophotography considering its price. I have not found any disadvantages of it yet.
Being a telephoto lens, Sigma 150 mm allows the photographer to create a beautifully blurred background and has its working distance long enough not to frighten insects. The lens has dedicated tripod mounting foot that is very useful in shoot – it allows you to easily change from landscape to portrait format without loosing contact with the subject. The frame stays in the center, what is not the case when the camera itself is attached to tripod.
Though I think that for some subjects a shorter-focus lens like Canon EF-S 60 mm f/2.8 Macro USM could be more suitable. This lens is also very good, especially for those who just start their steps in macro. Its angle of view is wider than one of Sigma 150 mm and resembles an attentive look of a human eye. That's why photographs taken with EF-S 60 mm appear as natural as if the viewer kneeled down to look intently at intimate macroobjects. Sigma 150 mm gives a picture with pronounced telephoto perspective.
Continue reading...

Solve the problem: WD Scorpio Blue 640 Gb (WD6400BEVT) spins up and down in macOS

WD Scorpio blue 640 Gb drive

WD Scorpio Blue 640 Gb 2.5" hard drive.

Western Digital mobile hard drives, at least 640 Gb model, have some unpleasant features on Mac OS X, regardless whether is it a root volume or an external drive. When idle, disk spins down and then spins up several times a minute. Mac OS X's power saving settings do not matter. This behavior is not only annoying but also harmful for the device.

Community offers an efficient solution: HDAPM. This utility changes the power management settings for the device directly so it runs constantly. However hdapm works only with internal SATA drives and inapplicable with external drives connected by USB. So another solution is wanted.

My idea was to send the drive filesystem some tasks repeated with some interval. Initially I created this with AppleScript, but after N cycles (I do not know exactly how many) it reported "Stack overflow" error. Then I decided to migrate the script to bash engine. It seems to be simpler and I suppose will not give that stupid errors.

Here you can find a working script. It uses some variables such as disk name (or name of its first partition), notification type (text output in Terminal window or by Voice).

To use the script, copy the text below, paste it into a text editor, edit the disk_name variable and save with .command extension.
Create a blank (or a small text) file named driveWakeUp at the drive's root.
Now you can run the script:

disk_name="WD 640 Gb"
string_connected="Backup drive connected."
string_disconnected="Backup drive disconnected."
string_activated="Disk waker activated."
echo "Target disk is "$disk_name"."

reportDriveStatus () {
if ! [ "$disk_connected" = "$disk_connected_prev" ]
if [ "$disk_connected" = 1 ]
if $voice_output
say -v "$string_voice" "$string_connected"
echo "$string_connected"
if $voice_output
say -v "$string_voice" "$string_disconnected"
echo "$string_disconnected"

checkDriveStatus () {

if [ -d "$disk_path" ]

wakeDrive() {
if [ -f "$waker_filecp" ]
rm "$waker_filecp"
cp "$waker_file" "$waker_filecp"

if $voice_output
say -v "$string_voice" "$string_activated"
echo "$string_activated"

coreCycle() {
for ((i=1; i <= cycles_number ; i++))
# echo -n "$i "
if [ "$disk_connected" = 1 ]
sleep 1
sleep 15


Okay, I also could dedicate a separate function for notifications, but I was lazy to the time (:

How to optimize Lightroom performance

Have you ever thought about speeding up your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom experience? Well, it is the great application for pro photography workflow, but sometimes it's not yet as quick as you would like to. So how can you optimize it?
To install an SSD into your system is a great option, but pricey. We'll speed up the app for free.

You may google this topic and found several advices on a) tricking with Camera RAW cache size, and b) disabling .XMP file option. Personally I dislike disabling .XMP's. That's why: if a Lightroom catalog file fails you'll stay with fresh unprocessed RAWs and all your work with developing files will be lost. (Of course you can manually export develop settings, but should you remember?)

Hence I offer another method. Idea is simple: turn off some of abundant Lightroom modules, or plug-ins, and application will start and work faster.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom architecture provides several functional modules in separate files stored in application folder. You decide what modules to disable:

AdobeHelpClient.lrmodule - help and support for Lightroom. Rarely needed. This file is present only in Mac OS X version.
Develop.lrmodule - one of the main modules. You should not disable it.
Import.lrmodule - this is used to enrich your catalog with new photos. Do not disable.
MultipleMonitor.lrmodule - this module is responsive to Multiple Monitor mode. If you are not that happy one who work on dual monitor system, feel free to disable.
Print.lrmodule - printing support. As for me, I almost never print photographs with my computer, only in Pro Lab.
Slideshow.lrmodule - this is used to make slideshows. If you aren't running slides time to time, disable this. * Note this module is somehow important for multiple monitor configuration.
Web.lrmodule - this is used to generate web galleries. You may disable this if your workflow consists of only sorting and developing photos.
Windows version also includes Gallery.lrmodule. That's not lots of fun to disable it.

I'm disabling AdobeHelpClient, Print and Slideshow.

Well, how to disable? Here's how:

Mac OS X

1. Quit Lightroom in case you are using it.
2. Open Finder, navigate to Applications folder and find "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom" there. Right click it and select "Show Package Contents":

3. A new Finder window opens, go to /Contents/PlugIns/ and select some unneeded module files. Move them somewhere not far, i.e. right to application Contents folder:

4. You're done! Launch Lightroom, notice the speed increase and see what's changed.

Windows XP/Vista/7

1. Quit Lightroom in case you are using it.
2. Open Explorer, navigate to C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6.
3. Select .lrmodule files you wish to get disabled:

4. Cut them (Ctrl-X) and paste, say, to parent folder.
5. You're done! Launch Lightroom, notice the speed increase and see what's changed.

You have now less modules in top-right of the Lightroom application. It also runs faster due to less memory usage.