Dave Bullock / eecue

photographer, director of engineering: crowdrise, photojournalist, hacker, nerd, geek, human

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June Gloom Series: Part 6/6: HDR Scrapyard

I love junk. One of my first jobs was working at the world's most amazing junkyard: The Black Hole.

Over the years I have photographed some really cool junkyards including Norton Sales and APEX Electronics. I am always on the lookout for cool places with giant piles of interesting junk. If you happen to know of any particularly cool junkyards let me know in the comments below.

A few weeks ago when I was shooting my June Gloom series in Vernon, I came across a metal recycling yard. On a whim I walked in with my camera and tripod and asked if I could take some photos. As it turned out they were fine with that. I made my way through the giant piles of aluminum, copper and steel scrap and captured the HDR images you'll find after the jump.

Giant Pile of Aluminum Scrap

Metal Recycling Yard

Click here to see the "June Gloom Series: Part 6/6: HDR Scrapyard" photos.

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June Gloom Series: Part 5/6: 6th Street Bridge Revisited

One of my favorite perspectives of Downtown Los Angeles is from atop a little hill between the 101 and the 5. I shot one of my most popular photos from that location. A few weeks ago I captured some more photos from that spot on the hill.

It saddens me to think that the 6th street bridge will be demolished someday in the near future. It has cement rot, due to the materials used in its construction. The new bridge won't be the same, but it will still be fun to document the transition.

Dowtown Los Angeles and the 6th Street Bridge

Dowtown Los Angeles and the 6th Street Bridge

Click here to see the "June Gloom Series: Part 5/6: 6th Street Bridge Revisited" photos.

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June Gloom Series: Part 4/6: Los Angeles River

The Los Angeles River is not your average waterway. Before it was channelized in the 1940s it frequently changed its path and flooded various parts of the Los Angeles basin during big rains.

Today the LA River hardly looks like a river at all, being completely encased in concrete. It does still attract waterfowl on their migratory paths and water does flow through it throughout the year. That water is about 80% treated sewage when it's not raining. I still find the LA River beautiful with its sloping concrete walls and many bridges and railroad crossings.

A few weeks ago I waded through muck and treated sewage to capture some photos of the endearing Los Angeles River.

LA River Reflections


LA River and Trees


Lush LA River


Click here to see the "June Gloom Series: Part 4/6: Los Angeles River" photos.

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June Gloom Series: Part 3/6: Vernon

Vernon is a very interesting city. I have written about and photographed it several times over the last few years.

South and slightly East of Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon is a fully industrial city with only a few residents (91 in 200 census). These residences are for the employees of the city. The Mayor of Vernon is the grandson of the founder of the city, according to Wikipedia:

The city held no contested elections from 1980 to 2006 ... most of the municipally owned housing is occupied by city employees, and has regularly voted to cancel elections...

Mayor Leonis C. Malburg is a grandson of one of the founders of the city, leading to frequent allegations of political fiefdom or illiberal democracy.

Currently, the District Attorney's office of Los Angeles County is conducting a criminal investigation into allegations of public corruption by city officials...

Vernon is packed with warehouses, food processing plants, glass and plastic bottle manufacturing, scrapyards, and it's crisscrossed with railroad tracks. I love shooting Vernon. To me, it's beautiful.

Graffiti on Underpass

Abandoned 24 Hour Emergency

Click here to see the "June Gloom Series: Part 3/6: Vernon" photos

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June Gloom Series: Part 2/6: Los Angeles River Fowl

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent Saturday tooling around taking photos of the lovely clouds above the industrial wasteland that is Vernon. At one point I made my way down into the Los Angeles River.

The birds were out enjoying the water and the sunshine. I saw ducks, finches and sandpipers. It's great to see life thriving in a giant concrete spillway filled with muck and a bit of water.

Ducks in the LA River

Sandpiper and Power Lines

Click here to see the photos.

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June Gloom Series: Part 1/6: Industrial Graffiti Canvas

Last weekend I spent the day wandering through my favorite industrial city in greater Los Angeles: Vernon. The sky was perfect for HDR and I captured a wide range of interesting industrial goodness. I have decided to split the photos into a 6 part series.

The first part of this series is also the smallest. The two photos it contains feature two graffiti walls near Vernon. I shot these with my Canon 5D Mark II through a 16-35mm f/2.8 L II lens. Each photo is a combination of 3 bracketed RAW files which were used to create a tonemapped HDR image in Photomatix.

Check out the photos:

Graffiti on a Warehouse

Graffiti and Railroad Tracks

Keep an eye out for the other five parts of the June Gloom Series coming soon.

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Skid Row Photo Club Show Part III: The Beauty of the Street

Members of the Skid Row Photography Club will be having their third show next week during the Downtown Art Walk on Thursday.

The show will be held at Russel Brown's gallery/community space: The Exchange (114 W 5th Street). We will have an opening during Art Walk starting around 6pm at which we will be serving wine and snacks.

Along with the framed and unframed prints for sale we will be exhibiting videos and slideshows from our members. The work is really amazing and the slideshows will permit the public to see much more than what had previously been shown.

Please come down and support the show and the Skid Row Photo Club members.

Related Press: Previous Posts:

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Blackberry Pearl Trackball Failure, Part Two

My Blackberry Pearl's trackball just stopped working again. This is my second Pearl that failed for the same reason. The trackball scrolls, but does not click. According to T-Mobile, this is a known issue with the Pearl. They are sending me a replacement... again.

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The Roots : Coachella 2007 Sunday : Part 2

Here are some photos of Black Thought and The Roots:

Black Thought

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Lupe Fiasco : Coachella 2007 Sunday : Part 1

Here are some photos from Lupe Fiasco's set:

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco

Crowd

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Bassrush, Tesla Coils, Robots and Fire Pods : Coachella Saturday : Part 4

I ended up falling asleep before these were done uploading, but here is my final set from Saturday:

Cauac Twins Tesla Coils

Fire-Pod

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Ghostface Killah : Coachella Saturday : Part 3

Here are a couple of the shots I just took of Ghostface Killah:

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

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Tom Morello / The Nightwatchman and more Pharoahe Monch : Coachella Saturday : Part 2

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, performing as The Nightwatchman, his solo project:

Tom Morello

Crowd

Tom Morello

Tom Morello

And another of Pharoahe Monch, this time in the Artist Area being interviewed:

Pharoahe Monch

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Pharoahe Monch : Coachella Saturday : Part 1

Here are some of the photos I shot during Pharoahe Monch:

Pharoahe Monch

Pharoahe Monch

I am going to try and catch Ghostface Killah, Ozomatli and Red Hot Chili Peppers later. Here are the rest of my Coachella Saturday photos on flickr.

Xeni Jardin is live blogging from coachella as well and has this very detailed post up on BoingBoing.

I.T.

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Amy Winehouse (posterior), Stephen Marley, and Bus Driver : Coachella Friday : Part 2

So I missed my chance to get shots of Amy Winehouse from the photo pit, and I only got this lousy photo from backstage. After that I shot this photo of Stephen Marley from a filming platform:

Stephen Marley and Crowd

I got a whole bunch of shots of Bus Driver, who put on a great show. I was really impressed. I haven't seen him on the mic in many years, and his passionate performance was enthralling. His DJ even threw in some drum'n'bass. Good stuff:

Bus Driver

Bus Driver

You can see the rest of today's Coachella photos here.

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Brother Ali, Toki Wright, Flostradamus and Kid Sister : Coachella Friday : Part 1

Here are some of the photos I have taken so far today:

Hotshot the Robot

I caught a few minutes of Flostradamus featuring Kid Sister:

Kid Sister and Flostradamus

I then had some water and headed back over to the main stage to watch Brother Ali and Toki Wright:

Toki Wright and Brother Ali

Brother Ali

I got a photo of the large bottles of CO2 on the main stage... I'm guessing for an effect during Bjork's set. My EVDO is getting a much better signal now so the photos are uploading faster. I'll be shooting photos of Stephen Marley and Amy Winehouse and uploading them in a few hours, probably around 8pm. Keep and eye out for updates here or blogging.la.

Here are my: Coachella Thursday Photos and Coachella Friday Photos.

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Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L Service Journey Part Two

Ginseng

For the second time in as many months I have sent off my favorite lens (which is possibly going to lose that distinction thanks to my 24-70 f/2.8 L that I just picked up) to the Canon Factory Service Center. My first experience with Canon Factory Service was actually a really good one, as they hastily repaired my shutter mechanism and had the camera back to me within a few weeks.

A few months later I decided to send them my Speedlite 580EX which had a faulty motor in the zoom mechanism which allows the flash to automatically change the size of the flash that is thrown to suit your current lens, zoom level and sensor size. At the same time I sent them my 85 1.2, which was, and still is, having problems focusing.

When I focus on an object that is 10 feet away, I get the focus confirmation light, but then the resulting image is focused a few feet past where it should have been. With nearly any other lens, this would not be a problem at all, but thanks to the razor think depth of field at f/1.2, this problem makes my lens nearly useless at the aperture that it is designed for.

After holding my lens for nearly 2 months, Canon Factor Service returned it to me, with no changes whatsoever, saying that it was restored to factory quality. I am hoping for Canon that the problem was with their tech, and that factory quality does not mean that the focus is off by nearly 20%. I am eagerly awaiting the functional return of one of my favorite lenses.

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New Furby Hacking : Part 1 : Skinning

New Furby closeupYesterday I went and bought the New Furby which just came out in October this year. The new Furby is a pretty darn advanced toy for only $30, if you haven't seen one before they are basically armless Mogwais with beaks. New Furbys are powered by the Sensory Inc's RSC-4128 which is a multi-purpose microprocessor that does everything from voice recognition to text-to-speach to IO to DTMF output. After reading through the white paper for the RSC-4128 I was pretty sure that the Furby would be quite the hackable robot, so I decided to take a look inside and see what hacking would entail.

WARNING : If you take apart Furby it will never be the same once you put it back together, unless you are really good with a sewing needle.

I started by removing the feet which are fastened to Furby with a triangular security screw. The Boxer 62 piece security bit set that I bought at Fry's a few years back contained a triangular bit that was just slightly too large to fit the Furby foot screws, so I filed it down a tad and in it went. After taking off the feet, the clawed under-feet were exposed which were surrounded with little fur booties that just slid off with a little tug. Once I removed the under-feet I could see how the fur was attached to the skeleton.

New Furby closeupThe fur is glued on in 2 places, which i cut with a sharp knife. The fur also has plastic tabs that go into the base of Furby, which can be pulled out with a little effort. Once you have the base of the fur free from Furby you will have to open up the back of his little fur suit, this back is lightly sewn with just a few stitches and opens easily once you free the first stitch, almost like it was made to come open easily.

After you have opened the back of the suit you can slide it over his head, you will have to snip the small threads at the tips of his ears to get it off over his head, don't snip the big white threads that loop through the plastic ear guides, this is used to track the location of the ears. You will also have to snip the thread on the tip of his mohawk support and the thread wrapped around his eyebrow mover.

Then comes the tricky part and that is the last screw that holds the plastic eye and mouth guides onto the center of the face, at first I tried just pushing a screwdriver right between his eyes and turning but I couldn't get a hold of the screw. Next I tried just twisting the whole thing, but this seemed like it was going to mess up the eyelashes. Finally I just pulled hard on it and it the plastic flexed and popped off the screw. Now Furby is hairless and looks like a cyborg version of Mr. Potato head, sans-bucket of parts.

New Furby closeupFurby's shell is closed by 6 screws and once they are removed you can open it up and see the goodies inside. After his shell is open, you will have to unwind the zig-zagging red and black wires, which I think are some kind of antenna to allow the Furby to communicate with its brethren. After you have released and unwound the wires you will need to cut the microphone, as there is no way to get it out of the shell without cutting it. Once you cut the wires in the middle, you will need to strip off the insulation so that the mic can pass through the grommet. The grommet has two sides, to get it out first pry out the outer grommet from the front of the shell and then push on the leads to drive the mic forward and out of the shell. You can then pull out the the rear grommet and use them together to protect the mic although it isn't really necessary.

After pulling the mic, I stripped the cut leads and removed the old leads from the motherboard, then I soldered the mic back on to the mic traces on the motherboard. I suppose this was the first actual hack. I then screwed back on the under-feet, stood Furby up, and switched it on. He worked fine and responded to my request to tell a joke.

I then removed the silicone mouth which was fastened by two screws to the face, once it was free from the face i had to clip two little silicone loops that attached to the beak and tongue, this will probably prevent the Furby from ever working the same again, although I suppose gluing would be possible.

New Furby closeupThe next step was to take a look at the motherboard. The motherboard is fastened to Furby with two screws, once you pull it off you will have to remove several snap in connectors, but to really get a good look at it I had to snip the feeding switch leads. Cutting the feeding switch wires was actually a good thing, because it makes feeding Furby much easier (just short the wires together). Here are pictures of the motherboard, the ROM/RAM daughter card and the transistor daughter card. The epoxy blob in the center of the MB is the RSC-4128, I am not yet sure what the other blob is.

New Furby closeupThe coolest thing I saw once I opened up Furby was that the board designers were nice enough to leave nice large pads for the RSC-4128 diagnostic interface, which hopefully should allow programming of the Furby. I am not sure, but I think the diagnostic port is a serial interface. I have ordered the development kit from Sensory Inc, and I'm sure this will help answer some of my questions. If I do end up being able to alter the programming / data on the Furby here are some things I plan on doing:

  • Give Furby a more colorful vocabulary
  • Teach Furby some tasteless jokes
  • Change Furby's voice tone to be less cute and more evil
  • Give Furby a funny accent and maybe a lisp and a twitch
  • Hook up some of the unused I/O ports to control other things (the chips has 24 I/O ports with 10mA outputs)
  • Expand Furby's memory
  • Utilize the voice recording function of the RSC-4128
  • Make Furby a voice controlled DTMF dialer
  • Utilize the MIDI synth contained in the RSC-4128

Here is what I plan on doing even if I can change the code or data:

  • Add nicer switches to the make the Skeletal Furby easier to
    • Pet
    • Feed
    • Tickle
    • Turn off
  • LEDs that light up when Furby moves
  • Volume control for the speaker
  • Put the Furby head on a Robosapien body

Here are some relevant links:

Furby Opto-encoder TI 01CJ4CK HC14 Furby Motherboard, Note Diagnostic Port
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Los Angeles From an Auto : Part 5

I just posted up the 5th part of the LA From an Auto series over on LA Voice. You can check out the new google map with many more locations here. Here are the first four parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

latimes
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Los Angeles From an Auto part 4

This edition in the series of scans from the 1906 electric coach tour guide entitled Los Angeles From an "Auto" takes us deeper into the Old Chinese Quarter and then to the original heart of the city, when it was just a tiny Spanish pueblo. This portion of the book is less of an advertisement for the hotels of Downtown and more of a glimpse into the unique history of the City of Angels. In case you missed them, the first three sections can be found here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Check out the google map which shows the locations of the buildings shown in the guide along with a few (soon to me many) photos of the buildings as they exist today. The engravings from this section will be posted soon thanks to the historical address finding wizardry of Eric Richardson, who has already helped find several of the addresses for the map.

UPDATE The story has been boingboinged[oops they said 1909 instead of 1906] fixed... thanks Cory!

Looks like it has also been picked up on blogging.la and gridskipper

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Los Angeles From an Auto : Part 3

I have posted the third part of my scans of the 1906 electric coach tour program guide: Los Angeles From an "Auto" over on LA Voice. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that the first two portions were painstakingly converted from photo to text manually by yours truly; I have stepped into the modern age and used an OCR program to aid in the task. I added the new photos on the google map.

I spent some time today updating the HCM google-mashup and enabling it to search by either zipcode and distance or name, address and monument number. Just a note of warning, if you increase the distance searched by too much you will end up with a google map that contains hundreds of points which, in Safari at least, ends up dogging your system. Eventually I'd like the system to get the location of the current view and show the HCMs that exist on that map. Tonight I am going to add the rest of the locations from LA and possible the ones from Long Beach if I feel so inclined.

UPDATE I have reimported the database of LA HCMs and this time I changed to code to work with ranges and multiple addresses for the most part and I also imported ALL the regions of LA. I am currently geocoding all the information once again so it may be a few hours before it is all on there. I also added a link to the flick tags for each map point... thanks to the folks in the LA Historical Cultural Monuments Group!

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Pre-Japan - Part I : Food i am going to eat whilst in Japan.

One of the main reasons I am going to Japan is to enjoy the most wonderful food on the planet. Japanese food is the finest, most delicate and delicious sustanance ever concocted. It combines all my favorite things and creates things you would never even consider eating if it weren't there in front of you.

Here is a photo journey into what i will be eating: