Yoshizen's Blog

Sakura-mochi (Japanese Cherry cake)

Sakura-mochi(1)-DSC07142Sakura-mochi (桜餅) is a common Japanese sweets.  You can buy it from any Japanese sweets shop.  It is not a kind of very complicated cooking still not many people ever attempt to make it by themselves.  (May be to make Ohagi / Botamoch could be the farthest people does.)    Many years I’ve been thinking “Why shouldn’t I make it” and “I want to eat — I haven’t eaten it more than 30 years”

So, this is my attempt to make it though, I never seen how it was made neither my mother told me how.  Therefore, all I’m showing here were done by the sheer guess-work and I wouldn’t claim any authenticity in a Japanese sweet making tradition or any suggestion pretending any kind of wise man.

Sakura-mochi(2)-000From the improvised idea of Rice-cake making,  I used White Rice powder and Glutinous Rice powder half and half, because if it was pure glutinous rice it may become too sticky. (Photo left)  So, I mixed one large spoonful of each powder and one small spoonful of sugar with 3 and half large spoonful water. (Photo middle) then put a half runny mix to a dish and Micro-waved (Mid-High, 1.5 to 2 minutes)
So, the Photo left was the cooked skin of the cake. —– carefully peel it off and use it to wrap up the Anko (Sweet Red bean paste) (Photo middle) —– Then wrap the whole cake with salt pickled Cherry leaf. (Photo Right)
Sakura-mochi(4)-DSC07152Voila, here it is.  Japanese Sakura-moch.  —– Looks genuine ! (isn’t it ?) —– The taste was genuine (what else could it be !) —– (If I could steam the finished whole cake, the flavor of the Cherry leaf would have gone into the cake more.)    Considering this is the first ever attempt in my  life (in fact, I did one test run before Photo shooting) = the result wasn’t too bad.  “Well done Yoshizen” (eat two Sakura-moch made a man Fully satisfied !   😀  )  

Incidentally, the Cherry leaf was meant to give nice flavour and a looks good wrapping, and not meant to be eaten. (I hope, you didn’t try eat it with struggle. 😀 ) There is other variation of this = Kashiwa-moch (柏餅), which use an Acorn like Kashiwa’s leaf for wrapping though I couldn’t find that tree in this country.    Kashiwa-mochi was meant to be eaten on the day of the Boy’s festival (端午の節句) = 5th of May.   And the Sakura-moch was originally for the Girl’s festival (桃の節句)    (I guess) though, it became so popular, you can find them all year-long. (Nothing wrong with it.  🙂  )

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PS : While giving a thought, I realized that the Kashiwa-moch must be invented first.    When you play in a Shinto shrine, you clap the hand = it called Kashiwade  (柏手).   The leaf of the tree Kashiwa has a shape of a hand, hence the hand spread the fingers was called Kashiwade, and the Kashiwade is a symbol of the honest, single-minded clean person (think it in comparison to a gripped hand which could hold a weapon and next moment it could hit you).  So, a boy’s parents wish their boy grow to a strong honest man and think the things associated with Kashiwa is auspicious.

—– So, a clever owner of the sweet shop (和菓子屋) invented a sweet wrapped in a Kashiwa leaf = Kashiwa-mochi and sold for the boy’s day’s celebration.   It must be a big hit, then they thought, if there is a sweet for boys, why not for girls as well = then Sakura-moch was made.   🙂
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Oleander

This is a tree flower which I have deep attachment, hence I want to see more here = though, strangely she was not planted often.  Probably because people afraid of the poison of this plant.   In deed, if you feed the handful leaves to the animal (cow or goat kind) the animal would die easily = strange contradiction is, its poison (Oleandrin) has very similar effect to the poison of Foxglove (Digitalis / Digitoxin = Very strong stimulant and or poison to the heart) —– yet you can see the Foxglove everywhere even though Foxglove can kill you too.
Oleander(2)-001The reason why I feel such attachment to this flower was, she was associated with some poets who I respect, — and its poisonous nature.    When I was small, my hero was the Ninja or humanoid Robot, not a Superman kind of American comic fantasy.  So, we kids practiced how to make a rope to climb a wall or the formula to make a poison.  (still, I never heard of any accident with those poisons = Japanese got necessary knowledges —– idiot can’t be a Ninja = we kids wanted to master the real skill, not dreaming in a silly fantasy to fly a sky.)

Very remarkable fact of this plant, Nerium Oleander (夾竹桃、キョウチクトウ)is, that this plant has the will and the ability to survive while eliminating other plant with its poison.  Oleander was the plant first revived and flowered on the literally scorched ground of the Hiroshima, after that atomic bomb.   Hence, she was named and honoured as the Flower of the Hiroshima. —– (Hidden message here might not be a flowering peace but a kept poison / we never forget.)

(Those photos were taken by a homemade lens nicknamed “koda-fun lens” with or without extension ring.)
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Remove the reflection

Reflection(10)-DSC06933After I published the post “Instamatic Macro” I received a mail asking me how I could manage to eliminate the reflection inside of the shiny Macro Tube.   The man was a reader who read my old post “ Tiny Life ” long time ago and in fact, he made the same Macro adapter using similar aluminium can, but having the trouble from the internal reflection. 

(He said that he splayed the inside with a Mat Black Splay Paint though, even with such paint, the surface was pretty smooth and making rather high reflection which is ruining the image.)  On top of the smooth surface, the inside of the round pipe acting like a converging mirror, making a hot bright-spot in the center of the image.  (Hence, its reflection created the images in the previous Post —– though, those photos were the exaggerated reflection from a shiny metal pipe, not from the real macro tube.   😀 )

Reflection(11)-DSC06943There are the several method to eliminate the internal reflection = Applying a good Black Velvet is the one, though to glue-up a soft cloth inside of a small can is a very awkward task.   ( I can guaranty you struggle — I know, as I did it before.   😀  )     Proper design will put the proper light barrier discs, though, to insert the full-size disc need to have a full opening of the pipe-end.   Bend and insert a semi-flexible disc (ring) and make it stand in the position is the other way.   (Still, not easy though.)

Reflection(12)-000—– What I did was, to insert a paper spiral inside.   I made a spiral using a semi-soft (stiffer than drawing paper) = (First, made the 3 paper rings which got 2 mm larger  diameter of the can’s internal diameter— then cut and connect them to make a spiral) Then this spiral was slipped inside of the can.  (It needs a good rotating manoeuvre ! ) (I made a paper tool to catch and move the spiral = Photo left.  And how to use it = Photo right.)  —– when the spiral settled in the good position where all the reflection and the glare was shielded, fix the position using a glue.  = Job done !   (for the clarity sake, in the photos, the edge of the spiral has not been painted black. —– I hope, you can see how to work-out this game.)

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PS : For an educational purpose,  I’ll show you the scene behind. Reflection(13)-000Photo left was the same mosquito but without having a reflection eliminated.      And the photo right was how the spiral inside of the macro tube looks like.

 

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Reflectgraphy

Reflection(1)-DSC06936
Those images were the products of which I didn’t intend or a by-product occurred in the other process.

You will see what I was doing on the next post.







Half of the Photography said to be made just by chance encounter — may be true.  😀

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Instamatic Macro

Instamatic Macro(1)-DSC06872

Well, as I suggested in the previous post that  25 mm lens of 110 Instamatic camera is suited for macro use = So, I made a lens.

Instamatic Macro(2)-006

No doubt, this must be the most funny looking lens among my homemade lenses, since the material I used was a water bottle for bicycle.  (No problem, it only costed me £1)   The lens was fixed on the cap in the reversed direction, and with its about 17 cm extension, its makes about x6 magnification of the image.

Instamatic Macro(3)-000

Photo left was  a dead mosquito I found in the kitchen.    I’m not happy with its bit blurry image (available light with 1/3 sec exposure —– at moment I’m not using my Sony with flash light = no synchro-socket, nor adapter) —– anyhow, I need to go out to see something small insects or a kind.  (Photography is a kind of life live on the leg. = You can’t do it while sitting.)   😀

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Instamatic Camera (and its 25mm lens)

I found a dear old 110 type Kodak Instamatic Camera (together with their 126 type brother as well) in a junk-box of a camera shop.  This camera shoot 12×18 mm size image with its 25 mm lens. = So, it is possible to put this lens onto Sony A7 camera and see small round image though, if it was a case, have a test on the original camera with a film would be more worthwhile. 

But what I was thinking was, try to expand the image by adding a diverging lens on front (make it to a retrofocus type lens).

But, while disassembling this camera, I was amazed how the designer made this camera complicated.  (Due to the camera has to do so many tasks = wind the film, charge the shutter, rotate the Flash-cube, change the shutter speed for bright or cloudy day, together with shutter click then return the mechanism to the first state) —– Once disassembled, never able to put it back again !   (In comparison to today’s “One time use camera” which is doing about the same with much simpler mechanism,  they looks almost like a hell.)

With an added diverging lens, its became about 32 mm lens though, the image circle didn’t come wide enough to cover the full frame.  (I need to find even stronger diverging lens.)  (Lens quality was just usable with such modification.) 

Instamatic(6)-005

PS : As I said above, I further tested that 25 mm lens with much stronger diverging lens (which has been used for other “Fancy lens” before) = With stronger diverging power, the lens could have much longer back-focus = hence larger image circle which can cover the full frame.  The image quality of the center was usable though the corner became very bad. —– Then I gave a thought, —– for a technical challenge, I found a sort of the answer though, ? ? ?   DO I need to use this lens ?   = On the end it became rather big = While having Very tiny omnifocus “Fun camera lens” etc, why do I need to use such lens ?  —– The reason why I started to use Sony A7 was, that I can go for shooting with my camera and 3~4 lenses all in my pocket ! =  May be this Kodak 25 mm lens suite only for macro use !

So, I tested this Kodak 25 mm lens as a macro lens, while mounting it on the reverse direction —– with 18 cm extension  = The results wasn’t too bad.  😀

(Photo left was a close-up shot (about  x7) of a Butterfly Wing.  Photo right were the screen of the tablet.)

—– Not so much dramatic outcome though, it was still a fun for one afternoon.  😀

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Save a junk (replace a Prism of Pentax)

Prism(1)-A09A7398

In our network, I seems to be a man, the most hopeless junk would end up.  May be because I could find a way to repair or utilize it = not just I got some skills but also I’m keeping many junks which could be used as a spare to repair.  So, people described me a resourceful man —– then I gave a thought or two

—– May be the matter here was not what I got for spare or a skill to use but the way of thinking. = I got very flexible way of thinking, — or more precisely I never trained to follow the standard or regular method, therefore I may conceive totally different approach and able to find a fancy solution.  This is a freedom to be an outsider.  😀

One typical sample is the Tilting Macro Bellows of which I made the orignal nearly 50 years ago.  Only a small cost of lens and camera body caps + straight bracket etc, (and some cut and grue works) = what I got was a device which can make a close-up photo up to 1:1 + tilting adjustment.  Simply the reason to make such adapter was, I needed to have a macro lens though, I didn’t have a money (I was a Uni’ student and my saving had gone to Nikon F body and 50mm F2 already). —– If it was the situation, the answer and the solution was, why not to make one myself !  The requirement for close-up photo was, to hold the lens further away from the body, and how far from the body correspond to the magnification = 50mm extension for 50mm lens would create 1:1 / life-size close-up. —– And what I made, Tilting Macro Bellows, was good enough, and worked exactly what I expected.  In there, there was no jump of thinking = everything was pretty rational and simple —– yet still, as no body ever made like this before indicates, there was a kind of blockage in thinking that the camera device must be very rigid and elaborated. (to be a good salable commodity —– no solution for homemade poor man’s choice can be existed) 

A Pentax film camera brought by somebody got hopelessly heavy black fungi in the center of the finder prism.   In normal sense, the prism may be replaced (by Pentax or somebody keeping a spare parts) but the cost of the repair would be no less than £50 or even more, while the value of such old camera would be less than £50.  It’s no worth to consider. = so, the camera came to me.  —– I was thinking to use its mirror to make a side view adapter etc. 

Then somebody need a film camera for Pinhole photo, I thought this camera can be a good candidate.  For hours of ultra long exposure (use dark ND filter together) view finder has to be blacked-out too. —– but, to frame a direction, finder would be useful. —– To remove the fungi, peel off the paint and coating then clean the glass — is a straight forward procedure though, — wait a moment, the prism of the 35mm film camera must be all same size (as the image size is the same 36×24 mm) the prism doesn’t need to be the same Pentax. = Why not Canon. (as I happen to have a disassembled Canon body, it was easy to get a prism out of its frame.

So, I disassembled the Pentax K1000 body to remove the fungi infested Prism. (It’s alway the case, — I know from the past 40 years experiences — a screw fixing the wind-up lever is the most awkward to Remove.   Some of them were CCW screw and break-off, or using screw lock grue = needed to heat-up and melt) 

Once the top cover was removed, the prism is easily accessible.  Behind the prism (alongside the view finder) mounted CdS are for measuring the exposure. (Photo Right)  Pentax is doing exactly the same since their SP, but later addition of the top (smaller) CdS is to compensate the strong back (sky) light.

(Photo left was Pentax prism.  Photo middle was Canon Prism.  Photo right = Canon prism was happily settled on the Pentax head. )

On the end, the Prism swap operation was a great success.  Leaving an empty Canon junk frame behind,  the Pentax K1000 got new lease of life.     🙂

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Go into a mud (but not me)

(On this post, as it happened often, the sharp clear pictures were taken by Canon Fisheye lens, a bit fuzzy images were taken by a Pinhole, and more fuzzy pictures were by homemade Mag Lens on Sony A7R camera.)

There was an event to walk the low tide creek, at the Deptford Creek, organized by the Creekside Discovery Center, as a part of the Creeknet, XF Symposium. — http://deptfordcreek.net

It can be a kind of treasure hunting or a nature study.

(So, the “Treasure” found in the past walk has been displayed in the center = after such tenacious repeated  hunt, there may not be anything left though.  😀  )

M m m ——.

So, the participants borrow the big wader and the stick and get the instructions.  (but being as a Japanese, with our deep religious restriction, we wouldn’t touch somebody else’s shoes, let alone a wader worn by hundreds of others = It was the same reason how the prisoner could keep their shortwave radio in a prison camp of the WW2, as the Japanese soldier never touch the prisoner’s possession.)

And receive more lectures.

So, at last they marched away to the mud.

And after came back in one piece, received even more lectures.  After all, to organize a community activity is a campaign.  Campaign means persuading the mass with one opinion, same to the political campaign. —> Successful one may become a politician. (and get a power and money ?) — am I too cynical ?   Ha ha ha  😀

Don’t get me wrong, to show this picture here, is not meant to be implying a “Rubbish”.  Walking in the mud is a great act though, a funny story here was that, they are appealing that the new development of the area are destroying the environment and the nature etc etc —– but they’ve found that the water is getting cleaner, the more fish, shrimp, crab were found etc etc !  (Unlike the hundred years old traditional housing or local cottage industry, those new developments are having much more strict environmental regulations (such as a sewer etc).   Don’t dwell in an easy buzzword.  See the situation with your clear eyes.  (If you have one — or two ?)

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Nikkor Fisheye 7.5mm on Sony A7R

This odd-looking lens is one of my 5 fisheye collection, Nikon’s earliest fisheye lens, 7.5mm F5.6 Circular Fisheye lens.  Since it was designed for a Nikon F camera with its mirror locked up, it was not very useful member in my collection.  I did a test shot when I got it from my friend on 80s, but since then it was just sitting in a corner of the box, while me thinking, one day I’ll use it, one day —-. (As I got Yoshi Handy which can take whole circular image on 6×6 format, I didn’t have much reason to use it.)  But when I saw it again, I suddenly realized, Why do I need to go a whole trouble of film shooting, “Mirrorless camera has no need of mirror-up” = So, it came to the Venerable Sony A7 camera.

Yes, in deed, the lens nicely fit onto a Sony A7 body with beautiful viewfinder image.

This lens was designed to use in a scientific field, such as to take picture of the whole sky to measure and analyze the amount of the cloud (so, I heard — don’t ask me what that mean.  🙂 ) therefore the lens got built-in 6 filters (for Infra-red image, Red or Orange filter is the essential). 

My lens seemed to be made in 1967 and amazingly Nikon produced a lot of this lens —- my serial number showed more than 1100 !   (Other than a popular kit lens, the most of the lenses doesn’t sell more than few hundred —– I would be surprised if Canon had sold their EF 85mm F1.2 lens more than 300 all together. —– Think, how many people in the world need to use such special but subtle effect, while able to pay so much money ?   In comparison, scientific institute need to have certain facility = the lens can be sold to each institute in the world while public foot the bill.   Similar to that, even a boring book can sell to each library, as they need to list every book.)

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Exploding Battery

It is a well-known fact that the battery could explode and even start a fire.  I’ve seen many exploded battery, still never encounter a fire started by a elec’ device = When its fails, such as a short-circuit or a component failure, it makes a big bang (exploded electrolytic capacitor may make a lots of mess = blow out a chemical) = the circuit was burnt out therefore no more power to start a fire. (so far)

The photo here above was a Ni-MH Rechargeable Battery which has been exploded with big bang  (= blow out the hydrogen gas) !    The battery itself came from Lidle with a price of  £2.99 for 4x AA (said to have 2500mAH !) —– We can’t expect a quality from such a price but the manufacturer needed to get lid of the dead-stock which was rejected by the good vender or brand, even for a scrap price — still I didn’t anticipate an explosion.  I’ve seen many coin type battery exploded but this is the first time to see AA type exploded in such severe way. 

In this case, I was near by and disconnected the charger from the main at once.   But if it was happened while I was away, it could be rather dreadful to be happened ! (Don’t leave the battery in a charger while it was ON not attended.)   Be careful.    Prepare for the worst.

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