My other blog was hacked

Vic Pics blog hacked

My other blog, Vic.Pics, was hacked!
Luckily it wasn’t too bad.  Thankfully I have regular automatic WordPress back-ups to restore from.

I’d logged into the site’s Dashboard and installed some updates, I then clicked on “Visit Site” for a quick look before I started working on the next post.  I was shocked to see that the most recent post title had been changed to “hacked by NG689Skw”.  Clicking on the post revealed that the text and image had been deleted.

I had been using two factor authentication, where I needed my phone to log-in, so how had NG689Skw access my WordPress install?  Checking my settings revealed that my admin password hadn’t been disabled.  Doh!

My hosting provider, Crazy Domains, offers automatic back-up of WordPress installs, so I was easily able to roll-back the site to the previous back-up.  The next step was to try to prevent any further un-authorised access, so I also updated my settings, removing all password log-in methods.

The moral of this story is to ensure is to have back-ups of everything and use two factor authentication for your log-in.  Make sure you disable the legacy settings, so a password cannot be used to log-in.  That way you can spend more of your time writing and publishing.

 

This post contains affiliate links to my host provider, Crazy Domains.

Talking technology with my 7 year old daughter

The hairbrush singing video my daughter (Karla) and her cousins filmed on an iPad Mini has prompted another video.

With a couple of cameras set up on tri-pods to record us, Karla and I sat down for a chinwag (that’s Aussie for “chat” or “talk”) about the progress of technology.  We spoke about how home video has progressed from the low definition Handycams we filmed her older brothers with, to 4K High Definition on our point and shoot camera.  There were also similar discussions about phones and technology.

I always find it interesting to listen to kids talk about how they see the world, especially when they reveal what they think the future will bring.

Check out the video on Karla’s very own YouTube channel.

Is it cheating to only edit fireworks photos with Instagram?

Fireworks

On Australia Day evening I sat on the beach at Mornington with the family to watch the fireworks.  I haven’t done much fireworks photography before, but I took my camera and tri-pod anyway.  I wasn’t sure what the ideal settings would be, but I thought I’d have a go.

Stuffed it up

I stuffed up my fireworks photography in a few ways;

  • I thought the pyrotechnics would be launched from the pier, but they were actually set-up further out on a barge, so my camera was pointing in the wrong direction and missed the start of the display.
  • Not refocusing after rushing to re-aim the camera towards the fireworks resulted in some blurry light streaks.
  • After quickly pointing the camera in the right direction, the horizon was no longer level.
  • At the time I thought 30 second exposures, either single shot or compositions, would be great to capture several explosions and fill the sky. The reality was a big blob of blown out whiteness at the launch point

In the end, I managed to get a couple of ok shots using a two second exposure.  Nothing great, just ok.

Instagram

Afterwards I uploaded the shots to my phone and did some quick adjustments in the Instagram app and published three of them.  Those fireworks photos don’t look too bad on the small iPhone screen, but I know they are actually crap because they’re heavily cropped and either under or over exposed.

Since then I haven’t even bothered to upload the photos to my computer, let alone process them in Lightroom.

So is this photography cheating, because the only post processing and publishing is done on the Instagram app?

Hairbrush singing

Selfie music videos

My seven year old daughter, Karla, had two of her older cousins (Tanisha and Kailee) stay over night recently.  They’re all good kids and can keep themselves entertained.

I didn’t think much of it when Karla woke me up early to ask if they could use the good camera to make a video, but I told her just to use her iPad instead.  Working afternoon shift meant I didn’t see the kids that night, but the next day Karla told me that they had made some music videos.

As I’d suggested, Karla had set up her iPad Mini on her bed and filmed the three girls dancing and singing into their hairbrushes with the front facing “selfie” camera.  She wanted me to put the videos onto her YouTube channel, but I had to explain that having full length songs running as the backing soundtrack in a video might have some Copyright issues.  Asking relatives to watch multiple 4 or 5 minute videos might be a bit much too, so I offered to edit the clips into one video.

Editing

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any video editing, so I had to work out how I was going to put Karla’s hairbrush singing videos together.  Windows 10 doesn’t have a built in video editor, so I first tried looking for free software that could do the job.  I soon discovered that you get exactly what you pay for when it comes to video editing programmes.  The free software was crap!

I wasn’t going to fork out cash for a professional Adobe editor when this might be a once off project.  Having used Windows Movie Maker in previous editions of Windows, I found an old version but couldn’t get it to install onto my Windows 10 machine.  Then I remembered buying a Nero suite of programmes a few years back.  I even managed to find an old email with my Nero registration key.

Re-downloading, installing and activating the 2015 suite was trouble free.  I now had access to Nero Video Editor!

The video

Re-learning how to edit video wasn’t too hard, but somehow I had imported the clips in preview size, meaning the finished video was less than a quarter of the screen size.  Yep, I’d stuffed up and had to start again!  Never mind, I wasn’t making a feature film, so I imported the full size clips and put them together into the video below.

It’s a bit girly, singing into hairbrushes, but the kids are still young enough to be cute and funny!

Star Trails from Arthurs Seat

Yesterday I said I was going to try and do more long exposure star trail photography.  Well, the opportunity arose shortly afterwards.

My son needed to be picked up from Hastings at 6AM.  It was a clear night, so I decided to head out a few hours earlier for some night photography.  I went to Arthurs Seat on the Mornington Peninsula, which was only around 25 minutes from where I had to be at 6AM.

I’ve already written about it over on Vic Pics, but suffice to say I’m really happy with how it turned out.  Especially the light trails from the vessels heading to Melbourne along the main shipping channel.

Read my Vic Pics post here – www.vic.pics/peninsula-star-trails-from-arthurs-seat 

Quick video of Olympus Live Composition

My wife calls it a photo drive.  Basically I chuck the camera in the car and head off somewhere to take photos.  I might be gone for a couple of hours, or all day.

I went for a photo drive a couple of weeks ago and headed west.  My first stop was Stawell, the last was Wycheproof, with lots small towns in-between.  All up I was gone for 23 hours – yes, it was a long day!  My only regret was that I did this on the Friday before going back to work after the Christmas break, and I haven’t had much time since then to process most of the pictures taken on the day.  The exception was the night time long exposure shots from Wycheproof.

Live Composition is a mode in Olympus OM-D cameras that allows you to stack multiple long exposures in camera to create stunning star and light trail photos.  I was excited to process the Live Composition shots from Wycheproof, where the railway runs along the middle of the main street.  I featured a couple of those Live Composition shots on my Vic Pics blog, and they also got a good reaction on Flickr.

I thought I would share a quick video from my phone taken during one of the hour long Live Composition shots, which shows the multiple exposures stacking and composing the end shot on the camera’s rear screen.

I really like these long exposure composition shots, which bring out amazing star trails.  I’ve got a few ideas for possible locations, so when the skies are clear, I’ll be off on another photo drive for some Live Composition photography.

Don’t swerve for rabbits

I’ve been working the afternoon shift on the road lately, most days that involves driving a semi trailer to Albury and back to Melbourne.

Around midnight on Tuesday I was approaching Craigieburn, southbound, and see the head and tail lights of a car spinning in the distance. Then nothing.  I slow down, wondering if I had imagined it because I couldn’t see where the car had gone.  It wasn’t until I was almost on top of it that I saw the black Nissan sideways across the Hume Highway.  If I hadn’t noticed the spin in the distance, I would not have slowed down and probably t-boned the Nissan at 100mh, killing the driver.

I stopped the truck in the lane, with all my lights flashing so no one else would run into it, and check on the driver.  He said he had swerved to miss a rabbit!  I told him he should have just run over it, which is exactly what the police said when they turned up.

Thankfully the guy was ok, but his car was a mess.

This was the fourth time in my truck driving career that I’ve seen a car spin on a perfectly good piece of road.  My advise to anyone (especially my son Josh, who is learning to drive) is to not swerve at highway speeds for animals on the road.  For small animals, like a rabbit or echidna, you could usually just run over them with little damage.  For larger animals, like kangaroos, brake heavily and brace for impact – you will still do less damage than yanking hard on the steering wheel at 100kmh.

Spin and crash on the Hume Hwy

Back to work

Isn’t it ironic that in my previous blog post I wrote about publishing regular blog posts, “at least weekly”, but then didn’t publish anything for two weeks.

Over on Vic Pics, I went on a big photo taking road trip in Western Victoria on the last day of my Christmas holidays, but have only managed to write and publish two posts that weekend. Followed by nothing for over a week.

So what went wrong?  I went back to work.  Working afternoon shift driving trucks, I haven’t been able to find a good time either before or after work to concentrate on my photography or blogging.  When I work a regular day shift, I can come home at a decent time and work on my hobbies after dinner.  When I’m starting work at lunch time, I’m a little reluctant to get stuck into a project while keeping an eye on the clock to make sure I’m not late.  I then get home after midnight, when I’m too tired to concentrate for too long in-front of the computer.

I will be on afternoon shift for the next few weeks, driving a semi up and down the Hume Highway to Albury.  Over 300 kilometres of freeway each way is good for catching up on audio podcasts, but add in loading and unloading times and before you know it I’ve clocked up a 12 plus hour day.  I will really need to be disciplined to squeeze in some blogging and photo processing hours around work while being mindful of fatigue management on the road.

Stay tuned, more blog posts coming soon!

Stramit Mack truck loaded with Iplex PVC coils

Vic Pics blog

You’ve probably worked out that I have an interest in blogging. That’s why I try and update this personal site (that you’re reading now) at least weekly with a new post, as well as tweek the appearance and add new features whenever I can. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to put in as much time to my other sites for the second half of 2016.

My main online project is Vic Pics, a blog and gallery to showcase my photography from around Victoria, Australia.  Going six months between blog posts is no way keep readers, but for various reasons that’s exactly what I did.  But now it’s back.  The Christmas / New year break has given me an opportunity to improve the site design and start posting content again.

I’m feeling pretty confident I’ll be able to keep Vic Pics up to date in 2017 with regular content.  A busy work schedule wont stop me, and I’m certainly not planning major surgery and lengthy hospital stays again this year, so keep on eye on Vic Pics for pictures from all over Victoria, Australia.   www.vic.pics