Category Archives: Media Production

Creating media for education

Instructional Video

Created with Adobe Premiere:


The sun came out today and I’m glad. It really does make everything here look so much better.

This is all pretty rough – I need titles and better ‘cutting’ and a little more material – I want to do at least one more onion shoot – I was on my way when the card got full and I lost my sun.

I don’t like most of the music I hear with many instructional videos, but I think that it needs some. My son wrote the piece a long time ago. Please comment on music and all else. Don’t be afraid to ‘cut deep.’ Thanks…

Side by side – without sun and with:

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-45-07-pm   screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-48-12-pm

No Sun:


Delayed Shoot

The sun almost came out – twice:







Everything was ready – the lights:

img_5855       img_5860

The stage:
img_5863  img_1146

But no sun –
so I decided to wait.

Below is a test shot – it’s actually OK, but having natural light could help the color and soften the shadows from behind. Tomorrow’s weather report is favorable…

The sound isn’t good because I left the fridge running – I’m going to use the Roland MP3 recorder next time as well.

I’m going to have to change my video script too – everything takes just a little bit longer than I imagined.

Using a Hot Smoker to Smoke Hot Peppers

Morning in Southern Vermont

#1 – Morning in Southern Vermont

The growing season is short for hot peppers in Vermont – the first cold snap comes in and puts the gardener quickly to work to harvest and preserve the spicy bounty of a summer’s effort.

Pickling is a great way to preserve peppers – they have a special place in many recipes that can be made in place of fresh peppers, but smoked peppers can add so much to other types of dishes – grilled meats, hearty soups, and stir-fries benefit greatly from the smoky autumnal flavor to be enjoyed deep into the winter months.

There are two types of smokers – hot and cold. A hot smoker uses heat and smoke to simultaneously cook and flavor – the temperature range is ideally between 165 and 185 degrees. Because I have six different varieties with differing thicknesses I use a hot smoker with three racks that allows me to move the peppers around to assure an even outcome.

Five varieties of hot peppers, freshly washed and ready to smoke.

#2 – Six varieties of hot peppers, freshly washed and ready to smoke.

After you have found a smoker to your liking, begin by choosing a wood to use for smoking – I have a small bag of mesquite chip that has served me well for a few years. Most home stores should have a few different types to choose from. Soak the wood for a few hours and keep it wet during the time you’ll be smoking.

Harvest your peppers, wash and dry them well.

Small peppers won’t stay on the racks, so I cut some metal screening to put on the racks to prevent them from falling through.

Check the weather to be sure it’s likely not going to rain for a day or two. Smoking peppers takes time and you might as well be comfortable while doing it.

Put the peppers on the racks. I start by sorting them by variety to begin the process, but it won’t be long before you will want to move them around to be sure they smoke evenly. I use tongs to move the peppers, not because they are hot to the touch, but touching them often at this point may put you at risk of pepper burn.

Fleshier fruit is put closest to the heat to give them a head start in drying.

#3 – Fleshier fruit is put closest to the heat to give them a head start in drying.

Use tongs to turn the peppers over - you don't want that pepper juice on your fingers...

#4 – Use tongs to turn the peppers over – you don’t want that pepper juice on your fingers…










Keep coming back every hour or so to check for even smoking. You’ll know when they’re done when they’re dry, light, but still retain good color.

Dried peppers can be left whole and ground anytime over the course of the year – if kept dry and out of the light they will last a long time. If a few of your peppers aren’t quite dry, put them in an oven at 200 degrees for a short time – keep an eye on them – you may not want them to lose their color, although a caramelized smoked hot pepper is also a good alternative flavor as well.


Smoked peppers stay usable for a long time

#5 – Smoked peppers stay usable for a long time – keep them dry and out of the light and wait until you want to use them before grinding.

Smoking peppers not only preserves them and alters their flavor, but the process in pleasing, relaxing, and rewarding.

#6 – Smoking peppers not only preserves them and alters their flavor, but the process in pleasing, relaxing, and rewarding.











Assignment Glossary:

#1 – Rule of thirds composition, establishing wide shot of the overall scene
#2 – Rule of thirds composition, medium shot, vertical shot
#3 – Horizontal shot, forced flash
#4 – Forced flash, close up, vertical shot
#5 – Shot with clean background, close up, three way lighting technique
#6 – Close up, forced flash

Light, Photography, and Time

Instructor: “Okay photogs, post about how your photography is going and any “ah ha!” or “oh no!” moments you have. Focus on sharing your work flow and software/camera used and what you’re learning about that.”

Me: “Wow. This is hard, and it takes a lot of time, and I appreciate a good photograph(er) more than ever.”

I borrowed Marlboro’s Canon SLR and used the sun as a key light (which I had to dampen to prevent severe shadows) and three lights for more key, fill and hair light. The set up looked like this:


Four light sources



Shooting a picture of hot peppers at Marlboro College Center for Graduate and Professional Studies

Below you will find four pictures (out of close to a hundred) that came from the shoot, but let me say first that I tried different angles, different ways to set the shot using thirds, tried moving and lessening the shadows, played with manual and autofocus, and after an hour or so I was exhausted! All the variables really started to make my head spin – this wasn’t just an exercise in photography, it felt like physical exercise too.

img_1027 img_1038  img_1058 img_1062

I brought all the shots into ‘Photos’ on my Mac laptop, threw away about 75% of them and started editing them with the tools and threw away about a dozen more. My major take-away was that even though I thought I was taking advantage of the rule of thirds in my shooting, I could see in the editing, as I cropped, that I really didn’t know what I was doing at all – so the post production cropping didn’t have as much on an impact as I had hoped – I have so much more to learn in that arena.

I think the lighting was good – I put most of my energy into that. If I were to do this shoot again I would bring in some every day objects to shoot alongside the peppers and not just use a white background – bowls, napkins, cut peppers and the knives, etc.

LED Sequence – Breadboard and 123D Circuit

Today I built my new prototype on the breadboard and tested it. I had a few problems along the way but was able to debug them fairly easily. I would sometimes put the wrong leg of an LED in or have a resistor touch a leg of an LED and I missed a bit of the code expanding it to 10 pins.

The sequence is for the first LED to light up, a delay of 1/4 second (250), then the next until all ten are lit, and then the first goes off with the rest following. Changing the various delays is easy of course, but I haven’t experimented with that yet.

The prototype is up at the 123D site. There you can see a simulation and the code. One thing about the site that is difficult is the gestured zoom feature – it’s finicky, so if you find yourself stuck with no where to go press refresh on your browser. Using 123D is easy and intuitive. I could easily see using it to curate students’ circuits without the fuss and expense of the Arduino. Without empirical evidence, my guess is that you could function nicely in a class with 4-5 actual Arduinos in a class of 16-20 students using 123D.