Saturday, July 05, 2008


Here's Apple's original ad.

Rick Allen art

Rick Allen art.
I like the humor and the sixteenth-century sensibilities.

I've long thought that such olde-time art has a graphic and emotional impact which very little modern art has.
A good example of faux olde-art is found in the wonderful monster-descriptive drawings/woodcuts in the books in the Buffy show. I really wish I could get hold of good scans of those drawings.

Ooh, ooh: can anybody recommend books with the original kind of woodcuts and typography which has inspired the drawing above?

Inner conflict about camera size

[Update: if you buy in or from the UK, and may want this Canon, see this incredibly low price. This is less than what I paid for the devaluated predecessor, and that didn't include the (excellent and stabilized) lens! This price may even be a temporary mistake....
Update: yep, seems it was a mistake, now it is £480 instead of £300. We'll see if they will honor the price on my order.]
You may have noticed a split personality in me, Mr Hyde wanting the ultimate in camera- and image quality, and Mr. Jekyll wanting a small, light, good-enough camera.

I'm not the only one*. And the rapidly changing parameters of quality and price/size in the digital age keeps changing things here. Four years ago I bought a Nikon D2x, which was huge (two kilos with lens) and expensive ($5,000 or so) and heavy. But it was the only camera (except even bigger ones) which had really good image quality.

This is no longer true, you can now buy a digital camera for under $700 (including lens!) which delivers the same (or better) quality, and is half the size and weight. And not only that, I can even get pocket cameras which are pretty damn close also. For $300 and weighing 200 grams. So my inner struggle continues, no need for boredom.

Of course most people don't give a sh_t, they just buy a cheap camera, and when it breaks, they can get a much better one, cheaper. Good for them. :)

*"I could buy 10 "good enough" 450Ds for the price of one 1DsIII. What that means is that considering the price relationship will probably remain much the same, I can buy the next 10 incarnations of the 450D and still have spent the same as buying a 1DsIII today, and all the while I will have kept up-to-date with the technology."
" further generations of this level of camera come out I expect more and more pros doing my kind of photography will gravitate towards those sorts of cameras, just as back in the film days we tended to use compact lightweight models like the Olympus OM4, Pentax LX and Minolta 9000."

Yes indeed. I always struggle with the terms "amateur" and "pro". For example, everybody is careful not to call a Nikon D300 a "professional" camera, because there are bigger and more expensive cameras which are the official "pro" cameras. But it's BS, because any camera, even "entry level" ones, can be used by a professional if he judges that the reliability, features, and image quality is sufficient for his specific use.

And Michael Reichman hisself
(who regularly uses cameras costing as much as a car and weighing not much less) writes:
"A reasonable question to ask is – why bother with the XSi when there are so many 'better' cameras in the Canon line up? For some it might be cost, though the XSi isn't the least expensive DSLR in Canon's line-up. As for me, I already have a 5D and a 1Ds MKIII, so why bother with a Rebel? Size and weight are the answer..."

Like he also points out:
"Frankly, there are likely no significant image quality or feature advantages to the Canon XSi that make it a must-have over comparably priced models from the other leading camera companies."

They are all very good these days. Ten years ago, most reasonably priced digital cameras were crap. Not anymore.

Stereo lens

Thunderdog asked:
Does anyone know about a Miida SA-1 Universal stereo camera lens? It has two lenses fused with a beamsplitter inside that attaches to any camera lens that is 52mm. I would love to know more about it but can find nothing on the net about it. Thanks.

Ferocious introspection

"The depths of the Queen's sorrow remain impenetrable. She has now restricted herself to a regime of such ferocious introspection that we are all at our wits' end."
- Mrs. Brown

"Regime"... "ferocious introspection"... Now that's funny. As if sorrow and introspection is something you impose on yourself with vigor, like excercise.
And perhaps it is.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Nikon E2N

What is this?

It's not an upcoming supercamera. And it's not a photoshopped fantasy from some Asian teenager. (I was sure it was, because the body looks much too big for the lens.)

Surprise: its a camera from 1996! And I never heard of it before. (Maybe because I didn't start even looking at digital cameras until about a decade ago, since I didn't have any money before that.)

It's a one-megapixel camera! Weighing 1.7 kilos, body only!

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

[Thanks to Machines Like Us]

Twain never succeeded in getting this story published during his lifetime.

The War Prayer

by Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.

It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety's sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came -- next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams -- visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! -- then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation -- "God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!"

Then came the "long" prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory.

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher's side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal," Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled minister did -- and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory -- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

"Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits."

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

The End

Born on the fifth of July

So tomorrow, July 5, is the American Freedom day. Liberation, independance, something like that. I think they threw out a king many decades ago. It's wonderful, good for you, Americans. Don't eat too much turkey now.
There was a Tom Cruise movie about it, he was in a wheelchair and he broke his leg so the bone poked out, it was really funny.

Gardening: Sowing biennials for next year

Sowing biennials for next year. The Telegraph article.
"Common-or-garden honesty is one of my favourite plants. It is an easy biennial to grow, will gently self-sow but not invade, and it thrives almost anywhere - in the sun or even in the shade of a hedge. It has a faint scent and gives a great splash of colour when there isn't much around."

This was a joke, by the way. Not the funny kind, the other kind.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Full frame

An article from Mike Johnston speculating about the future dominance, or not, of "full frame" cameras (with a sensor the size of the frame in a 35mm camera, so far most have smaller sensors).

I think that as price of sensors probably keeps falling, what will be a deciding factor is the size of the camera. Snapshooters don't want a two-kilo camera. But pros don't mind, they just need the best, fastest, and most reliable. So there will still be cameras and sensors of various sizes, only question is where the balance will be. I think it won't change all that much, because while bigger sensors do become cheaper, smaller sensors also become better. In the long run, it'll change towards small sensors, because most people don't need short depth of field, and their need for image quality has limits, while Moore's law doesn't (we assume).

Anyway, Mike says it well again on a different point:
"So why isn't Olympus making a whole range of point-and-shoot, and pocket, and rangefinder cameras around the 4/3rds sensor by now? Whither Canon's pellicle mirror as a digital solution? Where is the luminance-only sensor? Where is the larger-than-FF integral DSLR? Where are the square-sensor cameras? Where's the DMD? (The DP-1, nice though it is, meets the DMD spec in only a couple of ways, and misses the concept by a country mile in several others.) ... Why couldn't the D700 have been the size and shape and body material of an FM2 (or, heck an S3), and more clearly a single-shot camera, so as not to compete with the D3?
Where's the creativity?"

Heck, in the fastest-growing industry of the decade, who can afford to experiment? :-)

And another thing which I've bitched about myself. Mike sez:
"...there is currently a "fashion" that dictates that good cameras have to be big and small cameras have to be compromised (i.e., "entry-level," cheapened), and I'd love to have options that break this tyranny, even if the basic fashion continues unabated—specifically at least a few (more) choices of really high-quality, premium cameras that are small..."

Water car

Is the water-fuelled car really here? Sounds too good to be true. They say it can run on a liter of any old water for an hour at 80km/h. Either there's some big downside, or this will change the game.
Of course there are doubts already.

Bert exclaims:
You bet there's doubt! Show me pure water burning in ambient conditions, with no external energy input, and my doubts will be put to rest.
Just assume for an instant that someone has developed a bug capable of separating water into hydrogen & oxygen. Can you imagine the consequences should that bug be released in the environment? Would make the launch accident in the "Rejsen Til Saturn" trailer look like a minor glitch...
Just thank God its a hoax. Achieving their claims on our planet would be like discovering fire on a planet with an atmosphere composed of oxygen and methane.

Good quote

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
-- Bertrand Russell

Exceedingly sound advice.


Do you know what are the five horsemen of the apocolypse? Death, War, Hunger, Plague, and Italian Pop Music.

They could write some spooky stories in the olden days...

"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."

But what's up with the "beasts of the earth"? I thought the fourth Horseman was Pestilence?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Movie scans

Dr. Macro's quality movie scans.

Quotes/comments July 2

Quotes of the Day for July 2, 2008
Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.
-- David Letterman

Yep. And that's probably healthier overall.

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
-- Carl Reiner

Sounds like he was the anti-W.C. Fields.

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
-- Andre Gide

I agree if by God he means Inspiration, but not if he means Nature.

Some of the worst mistakes of my life have been haircuts.
-- Jim Morrison

Sounds like Jimmy led a blessed life. (Up to a point, of course.)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ministry: Psalm Sixty-Nine

I took my religious gramma to a concert with these guys, thinking she'd like a song called "Psalm 69" with "praise Jesus" in the lyrics. But she said they lacked edge.

Gettysburg pickets and lilies

My pen pal Suzanna Smith took this photo today. I like it. She says: "it was taken in Gettysburg, Pensylvania. On the battlefield. General Meade's Headquarters off Taneytown Road. The pickets were hewn a century or more ago. This is the fence around a small homestead that became Meade's Headquarters at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. The day lilies are wild."

English manners

We don't bother much about dress and manners in England, because as a nation we don't dress well and we've no manners.
-- George Bernard Shaw, "You Never Can Tell" (1898), act I

That's a surprising statement, based on movies you'd think England was the one place where dress and manners really matter.

Not that you'd notice here in Northern England, around here people think they are Dressing Up when they change from track suit to blue jeans. :-)

(I'm no fashion beacon, but at least I haven't worn track suits or blue jeans since I was a kid.)

Anon said:
Most people wear jeans, it doesn't make you trailer trash. I only wear a suit to the office.

Yes, Steve Jobs even wears them on stage. And maybe it's just because most people wear them that I don't like them. And to be precise, it's only blue jeans I dislike. Black, red, grey, white, or green jeans I don't mind. Heck, I've worn black and green ones myself. I just think the blue variety is so aggressively blah.

Nikon D700

The Nikon D700 has been officially announced today. Like was rumored, it's pretty much a D3, but in a smaller and less expensive package. Which doesn't mean "small" and "cheap" though, the body alone is a kilogram and three kilo dollaros. Still, it's a professional camera, and this should take over a lot of the D3 sales for all those who want the pro features and low-light capabilities, but don't need their camera to be able to stop any charging rhinos.
Article - article - press release -

Update: reading closer, this camera is actually bigger and heavier than the D300, sitting between that one and the D3 in all kinds of ways. Which means it's not exactly something which would have been the first choice of Henri Cartier-Bresson, sadly. (He was famous for using the compact early Leica cameras because they were fast and discreet in the street landscape.)

Update: Thom writes that some people worry that Nikon is going to abandon the reduced-frame (Dx) format. Why would anybody imagine that? That format is way cheaper (and more compact) to produce both in lenses and bodies, and as such, it's a cash cow. Not to mention that there's virtually no difference in image quality currently, only in sensitivity. (This could change with better lenses, but that would make the price difference bigger.)

The Thom article also talks about, in detail, the aspect which (apart from size/weight) keeps me from being all that interested in the D700: The Nikon lens line. They are missing a lot of professional lenses, like sharp wide primes and a good "normal" zoom with VR (like Canon's excellent 24-105mm). They just don't yet have the lenses to really take advantage of the full frame format. A few years ago I bought friggin' three Nikkor 24mm lenses on eBay because I couldn't believe that I hadn't gotten a bum sample, it is so lousy.

Update: some interesting info/speculation from Mike Reichman.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews, still a babe at 71. I saw her interviews for Shrek III's Behind the Scenes material, and couldn't believe my eyes.

Shrek III wasn't bad. Not a revelation, but enjoyable.

Penalty kick contest

Penalty kick contest for women in bikini, silly post of the day. For those who don't understand Danish, I can report that the commentary is very tongue-in-cheek, sometimes bordering on the sarcastic.

I'm not sure the whole thing is worth it, the ball playing, obviously, is mediocre (I would be worse myself), and you can see girls dressed in less on most beaches.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mango Falls

It's interesting how you can just get lucky with a snapshot, and make a really nice picture. Mango Falls. Thanks to Mike.

Inger Nilsson at 48

Inger Nilsson at 48. Sadly my German is not so strong, so I couldn't follow all of it.