Friday, March 31, 2006

Lumos et Nox

Today it was warm enough and sunny enough to resume photography on the porch, just in time to record my latest science experiment. After hearing me mumbling about dingy blog pix, BIL rummaged through the basement in search of the Sylvania Sun Gun. For those who don't remember the glory days of home movies (not video!), the Sun Gun is the home version of a portable handheld movie light. In its day, it was considered such a valuable innovation that Sylvania received an Academy Award for the professional version. Here it is in its original box, with camera mount. I assume the product was marketed mainly to men – I just love the packaging.

The Sun Gun   The Sun Gun

Amazing to relate, this mid-century relic still works. The heart of the Sun Gun is an 850-watt bulb, which is intensely bright and hot. When it's on, it gives off a characteristic odor as dust on the bulb starts crisping. Compared with a new-fangled full-spectrum fluorescent, it seems to give off about as much heat as light. The light is not the pearly white of a GE Reveal incandescent or the intense blue-white of a camera flash, but it's much less red-brown than an ordinary incandescent bulb.

In honor of a specialist at conjuring bluebell fire, to amuse HP knitters, for my last Project Spectrum project for March, and in the interest of science, here's side-by-side pix of a Hermione hat and a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (thanks, Good Girl Purl!), taken with ambient light and Sun Gun, with ambient light and flash, and with ambient light only. The yarn is Cascade 220 from stash; the band was missing so I don't know the colorway number, but it's a true red. The photography towel background is true white.

Lumos maxima! Hermione hat with Sun Gun   Lumos! Hermione hat with flash   Nox! Hermione hat with ambient light

As you can see, the different lighting schemes greatly affect the appearance of color and texture. Overall, I prefer the way ambient light only brings out the texture of the cable and bobble hat, just as bright overcast light brings out architectural detail on buildings. Guess that means continued dingy blog pix.

The hat was a quick, fun knit – I especially enjoyed its clever decreases. The pattern warns the fabric pulls in and needs stretching laterally; compounding this tendency, I never seem to get stitch gauge with Cascade 220. Sure enough, the hat turned out ectomorphic, skinny and tall (lament: I miss Brunswick Germantown!). I'm giving this one to a young friend; were I to make one for myself, I'd add another pattern repeat to accommodate my mesomorph head. I used four bobble techniques: the one given in Lauren Kent's pattern, the traditional one in Barbara Walker's Treasury, Annie Modesitt's heretical one, and short row. While I can distinguish between the finished products, one doesn't seem outstandingly better than the others to me, at least for bobbles of this size. I like the short row technique for bigger bobbles and boobies.

Meanwhile, Tom sent along links for a nice safety gadget for night riders: fluorescent downtube and chainstay tube lights. The ready-made version is called Down Low Glow by Fossil Fool but here's a DIY version as well. Ooh, I want, I want!

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