A long time ago, in a galaxy not far away. A young man decided to start taking photos. By that time the man thought that using a flashlight is too sophisticated and he wanted to stick with natural. That sounds logical, because natural light comes from mother nature – from the sun. And the sun is good – if you don’t stay in sunlight unprotected for too long.

Anyhow, this young man shot picture after picture. He was pretty horrible in the beginning and still is. But then there was this evil dark force that avoided taking good pictures. He needed more light. Artificial light. Strobe light. And strobe light it was…

…after this short introduction, I just wanted to announce, that I made my way into the undiscovered field of flash photography. Not undiscovered for so many others out there, but yet for me a very unknown territory.

As you might have noticed, I wasn’t always a big fan of using a flashlight with a camera, but after all these years in photography using natural light, I found, that it was time to try something new and tear down some walls. I tried to take pictures of several still lives lately but wasn’t satisfied with how it came out. I was using a macro flashlight with a ring set on top of the lens, but the results I received with this were even more unsatisfying.

Twelve strings to heaven

Anyhow, I finally ordered a bunch of of Yongnuo flashlights, two light stands and several additional things to complete the setup. And what can I say – the first shooting was complete mess. Yes, a complete overkill in setup and lack of knowledge. What followed afterwards wasn’t a period of face palming. I thought I was sort of prepared when I bought all these things, because I found that I read and watched enough on the internet to get enough view inside. But I was wrong.

I studied the manuals for multiple times, I watched more and more tutorials on the internet to gain more knowledge on flash photography. And I read more and more guides on how to do flash photography. Actually, all these things didn’t make me a professional flash photographer, but I received the lost pieces of the puzzle I needed to actually get a solid beginning. The basic knowledge to start and also know where the path is leading to.

Without a doubt, there’s (and always will be) a lot of things to learn about, but that’s the intriguing part about in photography. And it’s a lot of fun to learn all these things, because it combines two aspects in my life I’m a big of – art and technology. And to merge these two and get a fine creative output, that is what drives me.

Time to start it over

It’s pretty much a week now that my new gaming rig is up and running and my first summarization is: “I’m happy and satisfied”

The performance increase is so massive it’s such a pleasure to work with this system. I’ve done several benchmarks and lots and lots of stability tests and the final setup is far beyond my expectations. I didn’t wanted to have ultra hardcore settings these times for one simple reason. I did not want to burn my rig as fast as possible. I was more in a mood to find a good 24/7 setup. A balance between performance and green IT. Something between strong overclocking and energy saving. I finally found the settings I needed.

Additionally did I also change the heat exchanger in my water cooling circuit to get a much better results in cooling. The old dual fan heat exchanger was far beyond its capacity and the water was pretty much near the boiling point. After stressing my system for a couple of hours the CPU was finally at 72°C and the graphics card was something around 50°C. I ran Prime95 and Unigine Heaven Benchmark at the same time for over two hours. The outside temperature was around 25.5°C on these stressing days. I still don’t understand how people can get cooling results of 35°C with air cooling on their CPUs like you always find them in forums and review pages on several discounter sites.

Anyhow, the system is finished now and everything is totally up and running, but I’ll start things over. It’s like an old tradition that I never stay on a system for month that needed, let us say, a little exploration time. I’ve exchanged lots of software versions and drivers during the setup and I’m not a big fan of having orphans on my system. Additionally, the game explorer is not working a 100 per cent and this is because of one irreversible mistake I’ve done during setting this rig up. It’s going to take me like another 20-30 hours of work time, but it will be worth it.

They have issues too though

X-Mas is over and I’m nearly finished with the changed to my PCs where I once again meet a point where I get confronted with a disturbing problem on my gaming system. It does not start everytime I want it to start. When I go by and move the waterpump a little bit the system goes and starts. Another time it’s just a touch somewhere in the case or near the motherboard. I’m not sure till now what the exact problem is but it’s not the power supply unit, it works perfectly. There’s some kind of interference and I don’t know where it is. Hopefully it’s nothing serious so that I don’t have to do a major replacement to the system which will cost me around 650EUR right now.

Besides all this, I’m on the noise hunt and I try to eliminate every disturbing noise that comes from any PC I own. I just silenced one PC with a noise absorber kit by Be Quiet! and it will be quieter if the fans would work correctly or let us say, if they were not so bloody dirty. Well, I freed them off the dust but I guess it was a bit too late and now I have to replace them. It’s very hard these days to get 80mm fans with red LEDs that are declared silent cause everyone switched to 120mm or bigger. The backplane in my gaming system will be replaced by a much quieter one too because I wasn’t able to completely disable the fan without getting an alarm noise and I didn’t wanted to rip the speaker off because of the “you’ll never know”-factor. Maybe it’s the backplane that causes the starting issue (well, NO!!!).

The HDD cases in my media center (which is capable for gaming too right now) are getting completely removed to and will be simply replaced by some uncoupling units. Two hits with one strike, I get rid of the 40mm fans and the hard drives are getting a little bit more “softened” in the case. By the way, the media center is the best working system at the moment without any issues. Like I said, the gaming PC has starting problems and the inter PC seems unstable to me, which leads me to final point.

I am going to say goodbye to Fedora and Linux on this system because I switch back to Windows. It still remains a system for internet but also for audio production and some picture editing. It comes in pretty handy because two monitors are plugged to this system and these two things are handled pretty good if you have a second monitor. It’s a kind of sad that I’ll soon will have no Linux machine but unfortunately is Linux not able to fulfill my needs. Combined with the stability problems it’s the best choice to get back to Windows.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I have so much hardware lying around that a fourth system is coming up which will be a pure dedicated gameserver and guess what, it’s going to be a Linux system. Till now do I not have any specific plans on that but it will come and hopefully will it come together with a LAN in spring 2011.

For those of you who expect to read some more things about my photography hobby can I tell, that there’s pretty soon something new to say about it because I ordered some fine new stuff for my camera. But more about these things will be here to read later in another post. I’m sorry for posting so much about my PCs and hardware and stuff these days but it’s a cold and extremely snowy winter here in Germany and this is like the perfect time for me to get a few jobs done in these cases.

Fitting and cooling problems

So here’s the thing, as you may know, I just got a new graphics card for my gaming system and wanted to use the old one in my media center so that I’ll be to play some of the newer games in full HD. Yes, full HD, which means 1080p at sixty frames per second. What happened is very simple, after replacing the old watercooling block with a triple fan solution the good old Geforce 260GTX just didn’t fit in the media center. It too long on the one side and it’s even too high on the other side. Drive cables are blocking the card and the HDD cage is a bit too near to the end of the card. Well, I was thinking about a solution and I’ve found several ones but none totally satisfying. I wanted to gift the card to someone (NO FUCKING WAY!!!). I wanted to just leave here systemless (NO BLOODY FUCKING WAY!!!). I wanted to replace the fan system with a smaller one or the stock cooler (FOR FUCK’S SAKE???).

Nvidia Keyvisual Geforce GTX

Now, here’s the deal. The Geforce 260GTX will be the new card in my Linux system. The Linux system will get some fine changes too though. The media center gets a brand new card, which will be a Gainward Geforce 460 GTX Golden Sample (no more stottering in the jungle stage of SFIV ^^). One HDD cage has to leave the Linux system case and the HDDs will wander to a new one (a two 5.25″ slot solution for three HDDs) so that there’s plenty of room for the oversized, mega huge Geforce 260GTX. One thing I am going to catch now is to do a complete silence modding to the case. I’ve just ordered a silencer kit for the Chieftec CS601 which will hopefully decreases the noise and the “internet experience” will become much quieter than it is now. I also hope that the temperature will not increase to drastically.

Just a side note, today’s the day where I am going to integrate my new Geforce 570GTX into the watercooling circuit of the gaming system. I’m pretty excited about the temperatures the card will have to offer after modding. Another thing, do I need to buy me a new radiator or is the old one still capable to handle the heat?