Thursday, November 08, 2018

The mind parasite

How do you trap the most powerful being in the world?

In the classic story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, writer Alan Moore has Superman attacked by an alien parasite which attaches to him and puts him a coma, trapped by a dream.
In the dream, Superman is back in his home world Krypton, living a happy life in a world which has not exploded ever (unlike reality, which is why he is exiled here on Earth).

But very gradually, irregularities start kreeping in, and the dream becomes less and less happy. This eventually leads to Superman being able to wake up, freeing himself.

I was thinking: why does the plant not simply make the dream perfect, so he would want to stay there?
Simple: it’s not the plant making the dream after all, it’s Superman’s mind. And he wants to wake up. So he makes the dream unpleasant enough that he *wants* to wake up.

I thought that this explains a lot.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Screenless Leica

Leica M10D. The best damn seventies camera money can buy.

(I’m a little confused though, I’m sure this camera came out like two years ago? At least some M Leica without a screen.)

I can see the appeal of the simplicity. But then you have the downside of the rangefinder, no autofocus, no zooms or long lenses...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A tale of new band names

Deadpool II is funny. Near the beginning there’s a scene where DP (no, not that) is slaughtering a whole steam room full of Asian gangsters. And what music do they pair it with? Metallica? Slayer? Neopunk Deathfok? Drama Mortis? Figurative Blood? Anal Insertion? No... Enya!

... Most of those band names I made up. It’s a hobby.

Damn, now I have to start a band named Anal Insertion.
Or at least write a book named “Anal Insertion European Tour ‘37”. Subtitle: “All I got was this dumb tee-shirt, the band stole all my coke”.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How we choose


Gain divided by distance or time, compared to gain divided by distance or time. 

If a gain is far away (happening to others, perhaps even strangers), or will take long before you see it, it may not be selected over a smaller gain which is closer, happening now, to you. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Judenhass by Dave Sim. “Jew hatred”. A very brief visual history of the holocaust and beyond. Not only Germany was implicated, by far. A deeply shocking comic, be warned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Kevin on the new Canon system

Excellent evaluation (video) of Canon’s new mirrorless system, as it is now in the beginning.

At the moment, I guess Sony and Fuji are ahead. But in 3-5 years I think both Canon and Nikon will have very strong systems. And I really hope that Panasonic and especially Olympus can keep up with sensor, for they have wonderful lenses and even cameras. And I love compact cameras, as I’ve said about 55 times.

I’ll say it again though: I think that for most purposes, full frame is overkill. Too big and heavy gear, too narrow depth of field, and bigger sensor than we need even now, and particularly in the future. I think the rush to full frame is ten years too late, it’s just a fad based on perfectionism and fetishism. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Micro Four Thirds vs Full Frame

Comparison of big prints.

There may be a difference hand-held in super-low light, who knows?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hard to do...

“Well, how come you only want tomorrow

With it's promise of something hard to do”

- David Bowie, Teenage Wildlife

Isn’t that the truth? The human mind is so effin perverse. 

For one example, I could not go back to film photography even if it was still better quality. It’s just way too much work. And at the same time, digital is almost *too easy*! 

Why do we value anything simply because it’s hard to do? It’s insane, it should be the result which matters. Communication or beauty should be what matters, not the barriers to achieve them. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

September Dawn

... Back in the excellent Photoclub (Naestved, Denmark) I attended as a teen, some were deeply into Ansel Adams’ “Zone System” of exposure. I was a complex system of making sure that your photo had tones all the way from black to white, but still had detail all over. As a major voice in the club said about it: “it can almost make you stop photographing altogether.” (Of course it was much harder to control contrast with film.) 

And indeed I have found it important to remember that as Adams said, the Zone System is a teaching tool, not an artistic tool. Once one has learned to control tones, then one is free to make other choices. For example I have found that sometimes blocks of pure black without detail is much more expressive than the Technically Correct way.
(Granted, I didn’t have much choice in this case, but sometimes I’ve had.)

... Aha, I found some of those pictures where I went Dark:

(Canon 5D2, 24mm F:1.4, set at 8.0 and ISO 640. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New über-camera from Denmark

New Danish high-end camera with ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEGAPIXELS! Phase One IQ4.
This is *twelve* times as much as what I consider enough for 99% of photography. (And for 90%, six is enough.)

In other words, pretty damn specialised equipment. I can’t even imagine who really needs this. I also wonder, how is companies like Phase One and Hasselblad going to distinguish themselves in the future, now that you can already get *superb* professional cameras for two thousand dollars, and theirs cost something like twenty times that. It’s like building cars that can go eight hundred miles an hour. Prestige products. But I guess that some will always have the money, and the desire to have the very best, no matter if that Best is practically useful.

I admit I still feel a strong attraction to superb tools. But this has now entered a sphere so stratespheric that I can’t even imagine anything I could do with it, better than with, say, the new Nikon Z7, or Sony A7RIII.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The tale of the Cosmic Chicken

The cosmic chicken sat. It ruminated. It considered. It decided.

Invitations went out.

“Come see the show. Greatest show ever. The act of creation. Come now, come early, see it all.”

The all came. They all saw.

The chicken concentrated. It thought. It pressed. It clucked. It conceived.

The egg descended slowly. It glowed. It was glorious.

The egg split in two. A gold and a silver. They both cracked open.

Two small chicks, a black and a white, stumbled out onto the plains, parting. Each veered, wobbled, varied their course towards the horizon. They pecked for seeds. They walked on, searching, searching.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Nikons, mirrorless

So the eagerly and long awaited Nikon mirrorless cameras have arrived.
I must say, so far I’m impressed. I’d expected them to be good of course, but I’d not expected them to be such a leap up in both functionality and image quality. And I’m especially impressed with the price, I’d have thought twice the price to be reasonable, but don’t tell Nikon.
See article and video here.
And an early review on image quality and lenses.
For many years, digital cameras did not have dynamic range (contrast coverage) equal to film. But recently they have surpassed it, and this has fifteen stops of it, which is awesome.
It also has eye-following (of the subject) autofocus, which was the killer app of the recent Sony cameras.
And of course in-camera stabilization, a huge advantage of some mirrorless camera over DSLRs.

I think the naming though, Z6 and Z7, is not of the same high standard! They are obviously at total effect of Sony here, naming the cameras practically the same as the Sonys which have been eating into their marketshare. Also, why still the taste-free names? Why not. Uhm, “Nikon Killroy 1” or “Nikon Calypso Dancemaster” or “Nikon Taserface K”, just to go wide.

As old readers know well, being mainly a street photographer, I’m a big fan of compact cameras, and for years I’ve thought that full-frame cameras are just too big and heavy. Well this is still so, even though the body in the new Nikon Z system is much smaller. But: for special projects demanding extreme image quality, I could actually imagine myself using this system.

As I’d predicted here, they have indeed made a brand new mount (for the first time ever! Due to Nikon’s same-mount promise), and an adapter for legacy lenses. But I thought it could really not be any different, they could not take advantage of mirrorless design without getting a shorter lens-to-sensor distance, or faster lenses without the bigger mouth. They have great flexibility for the future with this new mount.

I hope they will go beyond the current fetish for big and heavy “ultimate” lenses, and also make some compact ones. Leica M lenses have always been amazing, and are also very small, so surely it can be done now with computer design.

Look at this dynamic range!
Copyright Ross Harvey, see article

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is sex important?

Many people, to my surprise actually, seem to have the misunderstanding that because I ran a nudie site, I am more into sex than most people. In fact I’m virtually asexual in practice.

 I consider sexuality a powerful force, sure. But hell, so is sugar! It does not mean it is important, only that it is strongly addictive.

 For me, beauty, spirit, philosophy, art, are *much* more important than sex.


Art, simplicity or complexity?

I’ve been back and forth in the past about whether art, in the widest sense, should be about simplicity or complexity. I more and more realise that it really has to be both. If too simple, it has no power. You can’t make a picture with four pixels. But if too complex, it does not communicate. The receiver can’t take in millions of elements at once.

 It seems to me the most powerful formula is a simple core for quick communication, and added, more subtle complexity for deeper power, to be revealed with time and attention.

Running Yellow Man, Stobblehouse

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Iain M. Banks on FS and hell

“I think a lot of people are frightened of technology and frightened of change, and the way to deal with something you're frightened of is to make fun of it. That's why science fiction fans are dismissed as geeks and nerds.”

 - Iain M. Banks

 Do read this interview, it’s very interesting if you’re interested in SF and culture and literature.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Survival or life?

What is more important, survival or living?

 What is more important, achieving joy or avoiding pain?

 These are only easy questions in the abstract.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Anger and Terry Pratchett

In the foreword to A Slip Of The Keyboard by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman talks about how Terry, who usually seemed jolly and mellow, was nothing of the kind, he had tonnes and tonnes of anger.
And Terry loved his anger, and claimed that it was the driving force behind his creative output, such as their wonderful collaborative book, the very funny Good Omens.

I hate to disagree with a genius like Terry Pratchett, but I must. While it is fantastic to be able to turn around your anger and seemingly having it contribute to powerful creative output, I think it’s a bad metaphysical mistake to *venerate* it and to think it’s a positive force. It is not. Everything is better without anger (or fear, which is below anger). Anger is rigid. You can work well *despite* anger, not because of it.

Admittedly, Anger is not something one gets rid of in a hearbeat. It takes long work. But a good start is recognizing it for what it is.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling

I really like the SF novel Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling. It beautifully and interestingly dramatises a theme I have not read in any other book: the conflict and contrast between wisdom and (over-)carefulness of old age and the beautiful raw life-force of youth (“holy fire”). 
How often do you seen an entirely fresh theme in a book?!

And it is powerfully described in the same character, a very old woman, Mia, who in the late 21st century gets a radical new medical treatment which rejuvenates her to an apparent age of twenty. 

And the dense culture of the late twenty-first he describes is delightful.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Courtney Hadwin, a talent is born

Must see. 
I can’t breathe for laughter and delight. 
I’m not even going to watch the last half of the video, I don’t want anything to ruin that fantastic performance... Her movements alone.
Update: I’ve watched it several times; it cheers me up every time. 


Sunday, June 03, 2018

A wonderful keyboard, Havit

O my flippin' gawd, I've never been this excited and frustrated at the same time. (Maybe except for a high school dance...)
 I just got a new keyboard, a Havit HV KB390L. It's compact, flat, light enough to take in a bag, and yet has mechanical switches. This combination is rare, perhaps unique at this time.

The key swithces are special flat ones, and as it turns out they are just the right key throw for me, three millimetres. And it is FANTASTIC.
 I don't normally say things like that, but seriously, from the first minute, my speed and ease of typing has never been greater. A marked upgrade from any of the 20+å keyboards I've owned (and mostly still own.)

 But: it turns out it does not have a Mac/iOS driver! Hence the frustration part. And worse, my iPad, which normally works fine with a USB keyboard, tells me this one uses too much power. Urgh! I can use it with my Mac, and I will for sure, but I really wanted to use it with my iPad, where I do 95% of my typing.

It still doesn’t have a Mac/iOS layout, but I made it work with my iPad!!
I remembered an old trick of putting an unpowered USB hub in between. That tricks the device, the peripheral no longer uses too much power... (!)

I love writing on this keyboard.
Now I just need something to say. :-)

Havit HV KB390L keyboard,
iPad Pro 12.9-inch, floor stand