Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MINIHERO - The Disappearing Bonnet


Played around with a technique last night where you can "see" through the bonnet, that would be hood for the non-MINI crowd, into the engine bay. You take an exposure with the bonnet closed, another with the bonnet open, and then do a bit of work in Photoshop to get this effect.

Easy to do as long as you know how to do masking. I just put the bonnet down version on top, created a mask, painted in black on the mask where I wanted to see through the bonnet. Best to use a soft edged brush with the opacity and flow set in the 30% - 40% range. I also used a mask to hide the surrounding garage area.

This was a quick test and I'm not 100% happy with the lighting or the environment. As a test it accomplished my goal. For lighting, I used a Nikon SB-600 shot through a 45" umbrella. Next time I'll probably do something similar but control the light a little better. It was a challenge keeping specular highlights from blowing out.


Saturday, September 26, 2009



We had a short gig last night at Smith's Olde Bar for a fund raising event for Morningside Elementary School. It is always a blast for us as performers and as audience members. The night is filled with a large number of bands playing 30 minute sets. It is cool to see how quickly some of these bands have come together as many of them were created from parents just for this event. It truly shows you how much talent is out there.

Great job to the organizers, great job by my band members, and a special call out to our drummer, Mack Brown, as he performed with grueling pain from a kidney stone.

Rock on!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The MINI Dirty Butt Problem


If you happen to own a MINI Cooper then you are certainly aware of what I call the "MINI dirty butt problem".

The aerodynamics of our favorite little car are such that it scoops everything it can find off the road and dumps it onto the back of the car. My goodness, how frustrating it is to get MINIHERO all shined up and on the way out of the neighborhood find that someone's grass clippings have been deposited onto the back of my car....

There is one particular component of the car that also acts as a shelf where road material just stacks up. That would be the rear window wiper. Many people find the rear window wiper to be of great value, I don't. That little wiper collects road trash like moths to a light. If you've ever pulled back a wiper on a MINI that is over 3 years old, you'll find that it, and the collected grit, act like sandpaper. There is probably a set of nice "scratches" on the glass underneath. That wiper also results in doom to the stickers I have on the back window. All of this leads me to the decision to remove the wiper.

Simple procedure, just remove the nut and soak the wiper connection in WD40, and soak, and soak, and soak. If the wiper has been on for any amount of time then it is almost fused and it will take a few days of soaking before you will be able to pull it off. Next step is to removed the wiper motor which requires removing the inside panel from the boot. To remove the panel, just remove the screws and forcefully pull off. There are clips that hold the panel on and you will certainly feel that you are pulling too hard - you are not.

The motor is held on with 3 bolts, just remove, unplug the wiring harness, washer supply line, and slide the motor out. Make sure to plug the washer supply line or you'll have a bit of dripping... You now have a small hole that needs to be plugged. You can order a special plug for this purpose but an article on NAMM noted that a bicycle headset cap can be used to plug the hole.

What's cool about a headset cap is how many different styles and colors exist. You are sure to find something to add that special "bling" to your MINI. You can get these at a local bicycle shop, though choices may be limited. Do a Google search and you will find many choices such as here.

I found one at a local shop that is of the carbon fiber line which looked very cool on MINIHERO as noted in the photo. So, there you go, another "mod" to MINIHERO. Though some would question the removal of the rear wiper, I find it much easier to keep the trash off the rear and I like the cleaner lines.