Saturday, February 24, 2007

Soft push

Here's a better picture of the tree I posted a while ago.
(You know, the one which shows how often a soft slow push is more effective than a hard, fast one.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hellen Van Meene

My pal David Toyne has written an article about the portrait photographer Hellen Van Meene.
I had not heard about her, but I find her work really interesting. Her compositions are tense and nice and yet understated, and she has a masterly use of natural light.

I am often struck by how people will make a virtue out of a necessity. I am sure there is a one-legged marathon-runner out there who will explain to you how his handicap makes him work harder so it's a good thing.
And Hellen says, from the article:
"She explained having only twelve photos on each film if she shoots too quickly then by the twelfth shot when the model´s finally relaxed she has to stop and change film. This causes her work to proceed with care and focus each shot taken with care.With digital this concentration is not demanded as you can make 100 pictures easily. The result is laziness."

Of course you can say that the phenomenon of digital photographers taking hundreds of shots of the same subject supports Hellen's point. But I have the solution to that: just don't take hundreds of shots of the same subject. It's really not difficult, just think before each shot.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

iPod toys

iPod just-for-fun toy products.

Photographers' rights

There are problems with photographers' rights on both sides of the atlantic. Police officers, security guards and citizens are often taking the (imagined) law in their own hands and harassing both professional and amateur photographers who are doing nothing wrong or illegal. In the US it is often suspected "terrorist" activities, in the UK the big hysteria is children in photos. (Why anybody would be fearful of peadophiles getting their sweaty hands on photos of fully clothed children, I can't imagine.)
Find some current UK news here and here.
Well, at least the government is not involved yet, see the article in Amateur Photographer.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I just finished reading "The Long Tail", which I've talked about before. The book had more to offer than I imagined, even for non-business people.
I just found this related article: Mega-niches. About how even a tiny slice of the web is now so big that it really counts.

Cloud photos

Hordes of my fans have used all means, up to feminine wiles and bribery, trying to make me supply more cloud photos like those from last year. Well, I am always willing subject to money and sex, but art can't be rushed, and neither can the sky. Fortunately my endless afternoons on the hills paid off finally, so here they are.

By the way, here is a crop of the center of the first picture, showing the jet you can hardly see in the full picture:

Volume and quality

I got this interesting mail from Gary:

"I really like your series on whatmeartist. The lesson on confidence just reminded me of a book on art, and pottery in particular. The essence was to "make lots of pots."
A pottery teacher divided his class into two groups. One group he instructed to make the very best pot that they could, even if they only made one during the whole school term. He instructed the other group to not worry about perfection, but to just make as many pots as they could during the term. You can guess that the second group made the best pots, because they gained both skill and confidence by doing lots of their art."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lens quality

My pal Mike Johnston has posted a good article about lens quality. I am totally with him: I love great lenses... and at the same time, nobody will be able to tell whether you took a picture with a 50-dollar standard lens or a 2000-dollar standard lens.

It's like buying a Lamborghini. You won't get there faster if you drive by the law, you get one for the pride and pleasure of owning something really fine. Which is not something to be sneezed at, but it has little to do with the photos you make.

(Photo by Mike Johnston.)

"Wrote six words; made short story"

Epitaph: Foolish humans, never escaped Earth.
- Vernor Vinge

That's a six-word short story. Read more of them, many from big names, on Wired.

Here's one of mine:

Met God today. Going home now.

Movie Quotes Collection

(Thanks to Pascal.) Movie Quotes Collection

Monday, February 19, 2007

DxO Labs Optics Pro software

I've just bought the DxO Labs Optics Pro software.
It is not a trivial purchase, but the price is reasonable considering how much I'm willing to pay for a good lens and the fact that this software magically improves the quality of images coming from a host of lenses and cameras.
In one automatic flow it improves noise, sharpness, and often color. And then the special bit: they have carefully tested a lot of popular lenses and cameras, and programmed the distortions of them into the software, so it corrects for that specific camera, with that specific lens, at that specific zoom setting!

Here is a test on a picture I otherwise was very happy with, taken with a very good lens.
With comparison it is clear that there is improvements in vignetting, sharpness/contrast, and distortion (lines are straight now).
(Some changes are less than obvious in the sizes and compression necessary for the Web.)


Sunday, February 18, 2007

A breakthrough

Written yesterday by Signalroom to the mailing list I've made for people studying A Course In Miracles:

I had another remarkable day. There's been another breakthrough. Have been enabled to move through what feels like an ancient psychological impasse. For lifetimes have been withdrawing from the world, been an ascetic and a stoic, because all pleasure seemed to feed my ego, and increased my sense of separation, and every single pleasure was attended by guilt. I had gotten so far away from being able to receive pleasure, that I started confusing suffering WITH pleasure. This is not good. This is sickness.

7 years ago I had a major awakening, without the cognition of how or why it happened, which enabled me to fall in love with the entire world, and all things in it. And all people. Everything in creation was a source of amazement to me, and this joy pouring through me lasted months and months and months. It changed my life. I still feel changed from it.

What happened today was just like that, another major hit. I was driving home on the mountain road, through the snowy fir trees, through the state park, and I started crying, tears pouring out of my face, because of the feeling of being home at last, a feeling of connection with something I'd forgotten, pure pleasure in the beauty of the world. I was remembering my home in the world, it was a feeling I had often as a child, a sense of utter joy and freedom in this place. The beauty of the scene filled me to the brim and poured through me, and I understood, my pleasure gives energy to EVERYONE. To ALL BEINGS. My pleasure not only does not feed my ego, it enlarges the Spiritual world infinitely. It is no longer possible for me to receive pleasure for myself alone. I saw this. I saw that there is no fear anymore of going backwards. It was like my green light to go out and fully enjoy this playground!

This time there wasn't even the most subtle guilt. I now know what it feels like, beyond cognition, to be utterly dissolved of guilt. It is such buoyancy, childlike buoyancy. The phrase came to me, "infinite perfume of bliss, this is an infinite perfume of bliss!" inside myself, out there in the trees, in my hands, my thoughts, in the steering wheel in my hands, everything felt an integral part of this.... pleasure. This utter utter relaxation of feeling home. I still feel this joy, it's like a breath of wind, who cares if it stays or goes, this doesn't even interest me. The idea of "duration" doesn't even concern me. Having seen this ---- that my pleasure increases joy everywhere, and that GUILT has NO GROUND ANYWHERE.

Martin "Memo" Dybdal

Photo by my old friend Martin "Memo" Dybdal.
It's an art museum in Copenhagen. I like the different pools of light and that if you stood by any one of them, you wouldn't see any of the others, yet they are in the same picture.

Screen art, last ones for now

Update: OK, two more:

"Gold Rush"

"I'm going away, and when I return I shall come back!" - Charlie Chaplin, Gold Rush

I hadn't watched any Chaplin since I was a child, and a couple years back I rented a DVD with his *very* early material, and I was sorely disappointed. But Gold Rush is really good, surprisingly funny. I was in stitches at his physical comedy, like when two big men fight over a loaded shotgun, and the gun keeps pointing at Charlie ("the Little Fellow") no matter where he tries to flee to in the room.

Use of my pictures...

Terry said:
"The bottom photograph of the sky in black and white is great. I'd like to use it as a screensaver if you don't mind eolake?"

Of course!
Seeing as there is a long range of different attitudes to copyright and such, I better make it clear: Except for commercial use, you can use my pictures any way you like. Print them, send them to friends, put them on your desktop, whatever. (If you put them on a site or blog, credit and a link is appreciated.)


"Pollock". An Ed Harris film. It's just what you might expect and hope: powerful film about a powerful artist with powerful friends and powerful problems. Recommended.

Pollock's art rocks. I'd like to do some paintings with the drip-style. It is funny to think, though: 1) how do you do that and not be a Pollock rip-off? 2) Had he not invented it, would anybody? Would anybody do it well?

"Superman Returns"

OK, so I finally saw "Superman Returns". I am confused. And to judge by online reviews, both professional and amateur, people's reactions to it are as mixed as my feelings. It was sometimes visually amazing, but generally... wasn't pretty lame?

One thing that irritated me, beyond "plot" points, was how the film makers seemed to have set it as their main goal, way above telling a good story, to make every single shot in the film to be IMPRESSIVE, even when it would not help the story in any way to have a shot be impressive.

Why did the autistic kid not save himself and his parents after he'd proven he has superpowers? How does Luthor figure he has advanced alien technology when the only thing it has proven so far to produced is spiky landfill? Why is Superman a Peeping Tom and somebody who enters people's homes uninvited? Why did Superman go from coma to full power spontaneously without any explanation? How could he lift a whole island with lots of kryptonite in it when earlier a little bit of the stuff reduced him to a rag doll? And so on and so forth.

Update: I just started watching "Smallville". It is surprisingly good. They should have hired those writers for Superman Returns.

More Screen Art