Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grove's wooden watch is not like Washington's wooden teeth

If I wore a watch much, I think I'd get this one. I have a profound weakness for quality design and quality materials, especially natural ones well used.

Grove makes many unusual and sexy things out of wood.

I'm also hooked on their case. It comes in sizes for iPad Mini, iPad Air, and the new thin Macbook. (Though surely many other brand's products will fit in one of them.) This may be the most stylish case I've seen so far.
Update: I got it myself now, and I've gotta say I'm slightly disappointed. Naîvely I thought it would be this mavellous hardwood construction made possible only by modern lasercutting technology, but instead it feels more like felt covered with wood veneer. I expected it to sound like wood when you knocked on it, but it's too soft for that.  It is possible it's the only way it could be done within a certain price/weight limit, but still, sigh.

I love that since it's lasercut, it's not just lines in the wood, each facet is actually totally flat! 

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, June 30, 2015   4 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Beethoven, Symphony 5, graphically shown

This is awesome. What a mind these guys must have had to write such beautiful complexity.

Which of the classic composers was it now?... when one of his colleagues refused to let him see the paper music of his new symphony, he simply attended a performance and then went down and wrote down the whole dang thing! Went back the next night to correct any mistakes he'd made. Holy cow.

Ken said: The piece of music that was transcribed was Allegri's Misere which was transcribed by Mozart. The restriction on transcribing was actually the Popes ruling.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, June 27, 2015   3 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

I like this song. And I think the video is so funny. Especially the parts where they left in the "takeouts", the bits where it didn't quite go right. The first one I noticed (that one and a couple others may have been acted) is where she has thrown up the scarf, and comes down and lands right over her head and for a second she moves like she can't see and don't know what's happening. There are many. You don't often see that in a culture where perfection is seen as very important. (There is much wisdom in the saying "Perfect is the enemy of Good".)

Oooh, the teacher asks: "So, what is two plus three? Johnny?"
Johnny answers: "Five."
Teacher: "Very good."
Johnny: "'Very good'? That was perfect!"

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, June 23, 2015   2 comments links to this post

Friday, June 19, 2015

BlackRapid camera strap review

BlackRapid camera strap review

Camera straps are one of those things which have hardly changed since the birth of cameras. It's just a simple strap which goes up to your shoulder. Okay, now they are wider and made of ballistic nylon, and long ago they were leather. I have a pre-war Rolleiflex double-lens reflex camera with its original strap, it's leather and I can't believe how narrow it is (and how worn). Must be around a centimeter, under half an inch. But the camera is clearly very used indeed, so it seems the strap has held for over half a century.

About seven years ago, I found a one-man company who made a strap called the Y-strap. Unfortunately he has since closed shop. The brilliance of that strap was mostly in the simple idea that you put in on the shoulder opposite the camera, so it wouldn't slide off, and secondly that the camera was mounted in such a way that it would slide on the strap, so in less than a second you could grab it down by your hip and swing it up and fire.

This excellent idea has fortunately been continued by a slightly bigger company called BlackRapid. (Though I can't say if they knew of the Y-strap.) They make several models (admittedly some of them seem to push the raîson d'etre thing a little), and they are all based on the same idea as the Y-strap. But they have added several features, most importantly a big, comfy stretch of padding which rests on your shoulder, so even with a heavy camera and long hours, the risk of discomfort is minimized.

I've bought two: the Yeti, which can carry one or two cameras (one on each side of the body), and the Metro, which is the "compact model" for minimal space use when traveling. I am just trying out the Metro (which of course has the smallest shoulder pad), and even with my heaviest camera and heaviest lens, it feels very comfortable. Of course I can't yet vouch for how it will feel carrying it for five hours, but I can say that it does not at all feel like I'm carrying the heaviest gear I have. And that's just with the most compact strap, so that induces trust.

I found out about this strap from a video on Luminous landscape, and it was mentioned that many of the photographers on their long-range camera expedition were using BlackRapid straps, so clearly the word-of-mouth recommendations are strong.

Note: BlackRapid likes to mount the strap via the tripod thread. But if it fits you better (for example to have the tripod thread free), you can also use either side strap mount, though you may have to use a keyring-ring as go-between. 
Note 2: Some Amazon reviews complain about the prices, but I think those are people who haven't tried them yet. The Metro I think has a quite fair price ($39). The Yeti costs quite a lot more ($99), but when you pack it out: man, it's impressive. That is solid gear, I think you really get a lot for your money. (Of course it's about equivalent of two good straps, plus extras to secure it around the shoulder, I guess in case you're photographing from a plane doing stunts...)
Also the steel bits are kewl. They seem like they could lift a car (I wouldn't be surprised), and they are even nice to look at, with semi-black anodization (similar to Apple's "Space Grey").

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Friday, June 19, 2015   3 comments links to this post

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Variations on a cat

I got this shot from TCGirl, her daughter had shot it with cameraphone. I quite like it, love the super-relaxedness of the cat, but maybe there was finger prints on the lens, cuz it's hazy. So I decided to do what I could do with it. I used Snapseed app on iPad (due to my M.E. which keeps me in bed much of the time, an iPad on a floor stand is a blessing for me; I've actually realized that it has become my main computer de facto.). 

So I increased contrast and sharpness, etc, and you see the result in picture number Two, no longer washed out. 

Then I decided to try the "Glamour Glow" filter which I'd used sometimes to help poor skin on models on Domai. (Typical: I paid like $130 for the suite to get the filter on the Mac, on the iPad it's included in a three-dollar editor.) 
Result: it reaches out much more, it's more three-dimensional, it's "glowing", vibrant...   Compared to it, the middle version looks weird, flat. 

But is it a bit too "pop"? (Clicking to see them full size helps.)

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, June 17, 2015   6 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A nice afternoon in a restaurant

Three very good friends and very old ladies were in a restaurant.

Ida said: "The young people these days don't appreciate a good restaurant any more."

Molly affirmed: "And they are so distracted by their phone toys that their brains hardly function on their own anymore."

Nelly expanded: "Thank god that won't ever happen to us." Then Nelly knocks under the table for good luck. After a second she turns and calls out: "Come in!"

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, June 16, 2015   0 comments links to this post

Monday, June 15, 2015

Jane Horrocks

It's all her own voice.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, June 15, 2015   4 comments links to this post

Wallpaper: Magna Carta

[Thanks to Google]
You know what makes a weally weally kool wallpaper: The Magna Carta (large copy).
Not only does it look great, with the subtle tones and wonderful ol' timey scribley text, it also reminds us that there was a time before anybody put on paper than that nobody should be above the law, and that the law should be for the good of the people, not just whatever the current king felt like it should be.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, June 15, 2015   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Facebook, the Borg

As an illustration of the "think" of Facebook...
This is the access a BBC app needs on an Android device:

And these are the areas that the Facebook app "needs" access to:

I must admit I decided I could make do with using facebook in a browser if I needed it on Android. 

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, June 10, 2015   0 comments links to this post

Is a new Victorian age coming?

Amazon, who I had previously been so happy about not being paranoid about materials with nudity or sexuality, is apparently beginning to hide these more and more, so they don't show up in regular searches, but only via a direct link.
OMG, I really thought the Internet would the death stroke to this mentality.

Annette Kellerman promoting a woman’s right to wear a fitted, one-piece bathing suit in 1907. She was later arrested for indecency.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, June 10, 2015   6 comments links to this post

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Dove Cameron: True Love

I like Miley Cyrus, but I think that Dove Cameron actually is a better singer, is prettier, and is a better actress (see for instance the two episodes she was featured on The Mentalist). And very funny too.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, June 09, 2015   1 comments links to this post

Monday, June 08, 2015

Is Photography An Art?

Is Photography An Art?
British celebs weigh in. 
(Though I live in the UK, I don't watch enough TV to know these people, except Jane Horrocks, a terrific actress.)
(Like who's the sweet blonde with the bass, and the old rocker with all the guitars?)

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Monday, June 08, 2015   11 comments links to this post

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudi's unique vision

The video below contains more info and more pictorial details of the sculptures and architecture. (It's HD, full screen recommended.)

It is astonishing how one single man can be so so radically different from all his peers, and yet be so durn good, and even having many projects actually built! It's almost as if a musician came in and created music which was not at all based on the rules of tonal scales and rhytms we are used to, and yet became a hit (and yet never emulated).


When we were kids, us kids in our family would often amaze our parents with our knowledge of something or other, and they'd say: "Where did you hear about that?!"
The answer would often be "we read it in a comic book". (Usually the weekly Donald Duck. (Americans may not be aware, but Europeans (Italy and Denmark) have produced good (sometimes great) quality Disney books for over half a Century).)

I guess these days, the answer will often be: "I saw it on the Simpsons."

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, June 07, 2015   0 comments links to this post

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Griptac, where to buy? (updated again)

I have been researching for years to find the best material for improving the grip on a surface, for example a tablet, a tool, or a camera. The best I found so far is this.
But maybe it can get even better, I have heard of a material called Griptac (maybe). It is a flat material with a rubbery tacky surface, which you glue on the camera instead of the original leather.
It is supposedly amazingly good at making a grippy surface on cameras and whatnot, though the name seems to be used primarily on hockey sticks (that may in fact not be the same material used on them). In fact, the durn sticks are all I find when I search, even on eBay, trying to find a seller of Griptac. Does anybody know where I can get it?
[Note, early research point to cameraleather.com. I have written to them, but it's a bit unclear if they are still in business. There is also speculation that the word "Griptac" was made up, which would explain why it's so hard to find.]

Update: I've just gotten a mail back from CameraLeather.com, it seems they are in business. (And are rebuilding the site.) And do sell the stuff. So I consider this case solved. Thanks guys!
Update: CameraLeather will not reveal the source for the material, but from various clues I get the impression that it's basically just  strongly textured rubber, and should be available from, well I don't know, but some industrial sources. 

It is supposedly available in black or medium grey, the latter I find surprisingly attractive on the different cameras I've seen it on.

Photo: Christopher Liando

Photo: Louis Meluso

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Saturday, June 06, 2015   9 comments links to this post

Friday, June 05, 2015

Front cameras will get better

Here's a prediction: with selfie-sticks now taking over the world, the iPhone 6s surely coming in fall will have the front camera upgraded to 5-8MP (it is a measly 1.2MP now! That's what a cheap digital camera had around 1998. Apple still calls it a "Facetime camera", it was not meant for real photography, but for video chat).

With the front camera now being used sometimes even more than the back camera, it's stupid to have it be dramatically lower quality. (No criticism of the phone makers, I don't think anybody foresaw this explosion of selfies, and their improvement by the simple selfie stick (you don't get the close-up distortion of faces, and you get much more background, making the images potentially interesting to more than just the participants).)

Photo: Martin Parr

Anon said...
In the old days you just asked someone else to take your picture.

Blogger Eolake Stobblehouse said...
... And hoped you could run faster than they!
(Ah well, probably not too many cameras were stolen that way, percentagewise.)

Once, dining with my sisters, my younger sister asked a waitress to take our pictures. She politely did. When she had taken two pictures, my sister who was never shy about giving orders, said to her: "Now you stand over there and take another one."
In my embarrassment, I said to the waitress: "Don't worry, we won't charge you for the photographic training."

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Friday, June 05, 2015   5 comments links to this post

Sunday, May 31, 2015

South African canopy walkway

What an exceptional idea. And how pretty.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Sunday, May 31, 2015   2 comments links to this post

Friday, May 29, 2015

Roost Laptop Stand | Free yourself from laptop neck pain

Do you get stiff neck or back trouble from tilting your head to look down at your laptop?
The Roost Stand is by far the best solution I've seen to this problem. And it's a beautiful piece of engineering.
You can get one here.
(I'm sorry to sound like an ad, but I just love this gadget. And it's unique, so I want it to stay around. I have tried debilitating neck pain from wrong computer use!)

Though it takes two seconds to mount a laptop, it does not fall off. 

Three different heights. Use external keyboard. 
... Though I currently rarely use a laptop, I am getting a Roost Stand now, to make sure I have one when I have the need. - Eolake

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Friday, May 29, 2015   2 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Full Frame vs Micro 4/3 Revisited with Pro Olympus Lens

Full Frame vs Micro 4/3 Revisited with Pro Olympus Lens, article/image comparison.

You have hear me, and maybe others, sing the praises of Olympus' compact PRO zomm lenses. I am sure that many have thought: "Well, I'm sure they are very niiiiice, for the format. But it's only half the frame [and weight] linearly of Full Frame cameras. Surely to get real professional image quality, you need a 'real' professional camera and lens, like Nikon or Canon full-frame..."

This would be natural. In film days, image quality was directly tied to the size of the negative, because a film was a film, and you could not get them sharper than they could make films. But now it's years since the resolution of a milimeter of film was surpassed by a milimeter of digital sensor, so cameras and lenses can be made much smaller/lighter without downsides, excepting low-light performance (and if you need very shallow depth of field).

Well, the test linked to above was made with a current Canon full-frame camera and a Canon professional "L" type lens. And lo: not only did the Olympus lens compare well to it, it beat it handily.

So, if you need to make hand-held photos at night (I'm being literal), go for full frame. If that's not a pressing issue, pick a good camera in a size which is comfortable for you.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Thursday, May 28, 2015   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Farthest flight by hoverboard

[Thanks to Tommy]

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, May 27, 2015   1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I founds ol' camera

I finally felt nostalgic enough to re-purchase my very first serious camera, the Konica TC.
It feels delightful. It was a period of great spiritual/mental growth in my life.
It's also just a charming camera which "feels good" in the hand, like some things do.

It's shockingly simple, particularly compared to the million-feature cameras of today.
It also has a fully non-electronic shutter, it can shoot without a battery. It came in 1976 or so, just before the electronic camera revolution of the insanely successful Canon AE-1, the first camera with a chip. After that, it was a sign of professional ambitions if a camera had *any* non-electronic shutter speeds and did not become a door stop if you removed the battery.

The TC though was part of the trend towards compact cameras. It was not at all easy to do, it takes very skillful engineering. I think it took like six years before anybody (Pentax) replicated the ultimate small size of the Olympus OM-1 from the early seventies. The TC was not that small but was noticably smaller than previous generations.

(Yes, it really is me, and my Konica, not (yet) a viral Net object. I added the catz meme just to class up the joint.)

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Tuesday, May 26, 2015   8 comments links to this post

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