Saturday, September 19, 2009

PS on the cheap?

A friend wants to know, what is a good and cheap alternative for Photoshop, on Windows?
I think she just needs the basic corrections and printing, no fancy stuff.

She comes in colors everywhere

Remember the "Flower Power" iMac? Short life in 2000, not very popular I gather. I sorta liked it, though, and certainly compared to some color options Pentax are now selling in Japan.

I am not sure if all of the combinations are serious, or possible. But just because many are ugly, let's not dismiss the idea out of hand.

Patrick of made fun of me for wanting a colored Panasonic G1. Well, I did actually get the blue one (it was on sale dead-cheap with two lenses), and I can report that the blue color on that one is so dark that you hardly notice it at all.

Talking about Patrick, here he is talking about in interesting new compact DSLR from Pentax, the K-x.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Vitalist Manifesto

Vitalist Manifesto

Art is for us life, and life is art. In our art we seek to express life and create life.

We believe in the constructive qualities of art, and in the creation of more life. We believe in life, joy, and beauty. We believe in the attainment of higher states for man, and in the participation of art in this process.

Nothing in life is alien to us. We have seen life from bottom to top and from East to West, we know life. We know pain and joy. We know happiness and despair. We know wisdom and stupidity. We know all of life, and all of life is dear to us. Even troubles are a part of life, and must be faced if they are to keep their place in the big picture.

For how dear all of life is to us, some things take precedence. These are the things which embodies most life, the things which create the most life. These things are Joy, Beauty, and Warmth. They are the core of life and the start of life. They are the source of greatness.

Joy, Beauty, and Warmth reach out to others. They do not know any difference between big and small, and they seek to help all. Nobody seeks in vain when these are near. Joy, beauty and warmth come from the center of the soul and are the choice of the soul. Joy, beauty and warmth are our destiny and future.

We seek in our art to reach deep into the well of the Universe and bring to light the secrets which we know are there. We seek the highest Spirit, and we wish to partake in the universal creating.

We fear nothing, and we stop for nothing, for we have felt the wind of freedom on our faces, and we follow its call like its true children.

Eolake Stobblehouse
Copenhagen, 1992


Below is the original Danish version, which I wrote while working in a group of visual artists in the early nineties.

Vitalistisk Manifest

Kunsten er for os livet, og livet kunsten. Vi søger i vor kunst at udtrykke livet og at skabe livet.

Vi tror på kunstens godgørende virkning, og på skabelsen af mere liv. Vi tror på livet, glæden og skønheden. Vi tror på opnåelsen af højere niveauer for menneskeheden, og på kunstens deltagelse i denne process.

Intet i livet er os fremmed. Vi har set livet fra bunden til toppen, og fra øst til vest; vi kender livet. Vi kender smerten og glæden. Vi kender lykken og ulykken. Vi kender visdom og dumhed. Vi kender livet, og hele livet er os kært. Selv sorger er en del af livet, og må ses i øjnene, hvis de skal beholde deres plads i det store perspektiv.

For hvor kært hele livet os end er, er visse ting dog vigtigere end andre. Disse ting er dem, som indeholder mest liv, de ting, som skaber mest liv. Disse ting er glæden, skønheden og varmen. De er kernen i livet og kimen til livet. De er kilden til storhed.

Glæden, skønheden og varmen rækker hænderne ud og søger andre. De kender ikke forskel på stort og småt, og forsøger at hjælpe alt. Aldrig søger nogen forgæves, når de er i nærheden. Glæden, skønheden og varmen kommer fra sjælens centrum og er sjælens valg. Glæden, varmen og skønheden er vor skæbne og vor fremtid.

Vi søger i vor kunst at række dybt i universets brønd og fremdrage de hemmeligheder, vi ved findes der. Vi søger den højeste ånd, og vi ønsker at tage del i den universelle skaben.

Vi frygter intet, og vi stopper ikke, for vi har mærket frihedens vind på vort ansigt, og vi følger dens kalden som dens sande børn.

Eolake Stobblehouse
København 1992

Pana GF1

The Panasonic GF1 looks very promising quality-wise, especially for such a compact camera, look at this for the 20mm (40mm equivalent) at F:8, at this for the same tiny lens at F:1.7 (wow), and at this for the camera's ISO 1600 performance. (At those pages, click for big pic.)

Images overview. Camera overview.

Admitedly I wish it had in-body stabilization and a hinged screen, but apart from that, it looks like one of the best combinations we've seen yet of high quality and compact size, for street and travel use. (With the little lens it fits in a big jacket pocket or a small purse.)
It's the same size as the Olympus EP-1, but the autofocus is much more on the ball than with the Oly.

Kazuki Takamatsu art

Kazuki Takamatsu art.
Looks digital, but it's apparently gauche paintings, white on black paper. (Gauche is basically watercolor, except it's opaque, so you can paint lighter colors on darker, which you can't with watercolor. I've used it a lot in the early days, very flexible medium because if you thin it more, it acts like watercolor.)

Author unknown

... but he knows how to use his depth-of-field (and colors).

Celebrities and critters

Celebrities and critters.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eolake self-portraits Sep 2009

Comment: why is your first picture so grainy? Is that due to no flash it part of a specific type of "finish"? Is that Sepia (is that what it's called?)?? I like's just...a little grainy.

I like the grain myself, it was lucky, I had not expected it. It was taken at 1600 ISO, which is high but normally not *that* grainy with modern cameras. But then the subject was dark, and that makes grain show more for technical reasons. And apparently the de-saturation and sharpening also enhanced the grain, particularly the de-saturation, I don't know why.

It is not actually sepia (brown-toned BW), but it looks like it because the original is very orange in the indoors light, and there are hardly any other colors, so it all looks brown when de-saturated. If there'd been something green or blue you'd have noticed it, but as it is, it looks like sepia.

Oh, and I had not shaven my neck for a day or two, and the stubble enhances the impression of grain. :-)


Pentax K7 and Gordon Lewis

Gordon Lewis reviews the unusual Pentax K7 camera.

Gordon also has a nice online gallery. Some of the photos are outstanding.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scrubs 8 and Courteney

Just watched Scrubs Eight. It was a leeeeettle bit looser, you could feel they all knew it would be the final season, but still a highly enjoyable sitcom, I recommend it. Wonderful stuff. It's virtually unique in it's combination of drama, humor, zaniness, and warmth.

Courteney Cox guest-starred in the first one or two episodes as a super-charming, but ice cold new chief of medicine. Gawd, that's a beautiful woman. Not only that, but at 45, she could still pass for 29.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Leica Interview video

A video interview with Leica M9 product manager.

I think it must be interesting for Leica aficionados who have kept using Leica film cameras, to consider now the M9. Because on the one hand it is clearly the closest thing one could make to the Leica M7... It has no autofocus (it's a rangefinder) or live view or other excesses of the digital age, it's a Leica. Which is what they want, and pay a premium for. And the outstanding Leica lenses work with it the exact same way they do with a film Leica (unlike with the M8, where they were cropped).
: I am convinced that if you go from the M7 to the M9 with the same lenses, your image quality will make a great leap up. A very significant leap. And you'll be able to shoot in much lower light, the M9 has excellent quality at 2500 ISO. I think this will make it very interesting to those who love the rangefinder experience, at least those who have managed to make it into the computer age so they can handle the files and print them.

Anyway, about the interview, I find it interesting to note the difference in watching and listening to a European executive talking about a big new product as compared to if it had been an American guy. Americans not only make good products, they also know how to sell them. An American exec being interviewed would have been thoroughly trained in how to talk to the press, and he would show great enthusiasm and certainty. This German guy sits there and says "uhm..." all the time, and even when saying things like "the sensor design worked better than we had expected", he mentions it in the same tone of voice as he would say "it comes in two colors".

I'm not saying either way is better, it's just striking how big the difference is. Good sales technique can be very valuable for a company. But if overdone it can also be a turn-off to some people, especially educated customers who know exactly what they want. They prefer to get the facts rather than sales pitches.

Ghost fleet

Is the recession really ending? Is it time to buy stocks again? Or should you sit on your cash, or better, gold? A big fleet of inactive container ships might tip the vote. Why aren't they out shipping toys around the world?

Ingen artikler om pladen i "GO"

Ingen artikler om pladen i "GO"
- By Shu-bi-dua

Fang en ål og gi' den kål
sy den sammen med en nål
steg den voldsomt på et bål
prop den ned med ægte stål
sådan smager stegte ål
længe leve rock'n roll
Se Michello Mangiare Castello
und sehen Sie Tage, kuchen en Kage
og Bosse Hall has lost a ball
og bunden slikker sig om munden
regardez Paul qui joui le sôle
och titta på Niels honom tar en pils
hail rock'n roll
hail rock'n roll
hail rock'n roll
Roc'n roll skrig og skrål
stop en halv og fyr en tjald
den skal ha' hva' den kan ta'
og du skal vise hvad du ka'
gi' den bare mere kål
hail hail rock'n roll

It makes little sens of me to post the lyrics of a Danish song from the seventies. Heck, I couldn't even find it on uboob. But well, here is an MP3. (It's Hail Hail Rock And Roll in Danish with wonderfully crazy nonsense lyrics.) (The title can be loosely translated to: "No articles about the album in Rolling Stone".)

My only excuse it that it contains a small but pleasant memory for me. In the first year of Danish senior high school (about age 16), all of us in our class were new to each other. One day I was sitting for some reason or another in a group of four such unrelated young people in arts/crafts class, and I spontaneously sang the first line of this song. Then the person next to me sang the next line. And the third person sang the third line. And you'll never guess what happened then... oh, you guessed it: the fourth person sang the forth line. It was just so cool.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nasal strips

This talking about nocturnal breathing made me buy some Kleerway Nasal Strips.

They do actually help some, maybe 20 or 30 percent. But after a full night, 1) the sides had come off, and 2) they left a substantial residue of glue on my nose, which is hard to get rid of.

Any advice? Better brand? Better way to do it?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

RAW processing

A "RAW" photo file is one that the camera pretty much has done nothing to, just the "raw" data. In theory, this allows for better processing later in the computer, better than the camera can do. Some compare it to how you develop a negative.
In earlier experiments, I did not find much of an advantage to using RAW files, but mainly the disadvantage that they take up more disk space, and more time to open (and more expertise). So I have rarely used RAW.
But I did a casual experiment today with the Canon 5D2, and I'm beginning to see why I might want to take and keep the RAW files. Now, this was just pretty sloppy processing, and I know very little about it, but see:

A very contrasty scene. A problem for all cameras. The shadow areas are too dark, flat, and noisy.

Detail from the right edge, in the shadows:

The same area, corrected as well as I could with lifting the shadows, dampening noise, and sharpening... from the JPG file the camera made:
And the same area, only this time from the RAW file:
Notice how the colors are better (the JPG had almost killed them), and there is more detail. (You need to click on them for the full-sized samples to really see it.)
The contrast and micro-contrast seems poor perhaps, but remember: 1) this is a section of only the shade, and 2) it could easily be improved, this is just a quick-and-dirty experiment.

The good samaritan cowboy

[thanks to Ian]
A cowboy appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. 'Have you ever done anything of particular merit?' St. Peter asked.

'Well, I can think of one thing,' the cowboy offered. 'On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota , I came upon a gang of bikers, who were threatening a young woman. I directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't listen.
So, I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him in his face ... Kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I yelled, 'Now, back off or I'll kick the crap out of all of you!'

St. Peter was impressed, 'When did this happen?'

'Just a few moments ago......'

Joss on subtlety

"... It's not a very subtle way of doing it, but it is a very naked way of doing it, and I think that is more impressive. Subtlety is for little men."
- Joss Whedon, in the commentary to the first episode of Dollhouse (about a flashback showing buff men in little shorts boxing)

The other side of Hef

Fair enough, the man did a lot of good.

Shark yacht (updated)

[Update: I am aware that this post is very snarky and smells of "sour grapes", but what the hell, I'm less PC these days, if I feel snarky I write snarky. As for sour grapes... well, okay so I'd like to be that rich, sure. But I really feel that 1: this boat is not in good taste. It is wildly over-decorated. It is "good taste" so over-done that it becomes bad taste. and 2: the only reason to get something this much over the top is to impress and overwhelm other people and get admiration.]

[Update 2: Thanks to Rick Archer for hosting the images and information. He has two other pages with his "retirement fantasies". (For some reason a big RV speaks more to me than a yacht. I find landscapes and cities more interesting than the sea, I guess.)]

Few people except Donald Trump would have this kind of taste.
330 feet! Three smaller boats on board! Russian-emperor-type furniture all over!
And so show that none of it is an accident, the name is not "Elanora" or "Princess Donna", but "Aussie Rules". Very subtle. :-)

(I wonder how that spindly furniture would look if the boat (ship?) comes across a serious storm.)

I admit I like the seats in the home theatre ("boat theatre"?). Now those look comfy! They only lack a foot rest.

Funny enough, on Greg's on site, modestly named (I wonder what he paid for that domain?), there's no hint about the boat anymore. I wonder if he have sold it? We are in crisis times, after all, and even after you have paid for a thing like this, it's not cheap to maintain, not to mention to use.