Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chuck, a spy story

Chuck, a hapless geeks who gets involved in high-stakes spy ventures with guns and hot chicks (very hot).
Considering the lack of a budget for special fx and big sceneries, it's very well done, and often very funny. Recommended.

Gary Fong Lightsphere II

I'm considering getting the Gary Fong Lightsphere II.
I don't shoot flash often, but I'm pretty sure I'll want to have a good diffuser next time I do, so maybe I'll order this so I don't have to wait for delivery when the time comes.
(Here's a review of the Lightsphere.)

Admittedly, $49 (for the most basic version) is a bit expensive for what it is and does, so there are very cheap home-made options.

You know what I'm just realizing... one of the reasons I don't often use Flash is just because I don't have a diffuser! Just for one thing, I often photograph objects and stuff for this blog, but I'm torn between barely-adequate indoor lighting and harsh direct-flash. If I had a good flash sitting on my Canon 5D, with a good diffuser, this would be perfect for it! I'll do it, by gum.

The Largest Car in The World

[Thanks to Tommy]

Sweet Dreams compilation

Marilyn twists a classic:

Man, that's some nightmare imagery. But that pretty much goes with his territory, I guess.
(And what a big pig!)

Funny, I notice how nobody manages to sing "made of this" so it does not sound like "made of these".

Marilyn wanted to be a rock star, but he's not handsome and manly, more of an ugly, nerdy-looking little fucker, so wisely he went the opposite way: making himself look as androgenic and ugly as possible. It worked for him.

And different: Eurythmics' original version:

I dunno, I think I prefer Marilyn's version. The Eurythmics' one is very "poppy", especially considering the very dark lyrics.

And a drum/bass/chipmunks remix for real fans:

Friday, December 18, 2009

The GF1 in the Himalayas

[Thanks to Luke]
The GF1 in the Himalayas, field test of the Panasonic GF1.
"I covered the camera in sweat. I hit it against rocks (unintentionally). The air was often dusty and this dust, by the end of the trip, had worked its way into every nook of the GF1. And yet it performed flawlessly."

It was just yesterday I thought about how a camera in front of the face is surely more offensive to people: it's like a half-mechanical predatory beast with a big glass eye, staring at them.
And this is what Craig Mod reports regarding that:
About halfway through the trip I realized something strange was happening — the people I photographed were looking me in the eyes. Indeed, they could see my eyes! I had spent so long traveling with a DSLR strapped to my face that I had forgotten about true eye contact.
For better or worse, a camera without a viewfinder is less intimidating. You are no longer half-human half-camera. You're all human with a tiny play thing in your hand. The GF1 is so compact I don't think people take it seriously. Which is wonderful if you want candid, real photographs. Subjects focus on being human rather than being a subject.

Craig critizes the camera for a low-light performance which is mediocre. And I agree. It is a pity, since the reason for a big sensor in a small camera is mainly high-ISO performance (all cameras today do well at 100 and 200 ISO). Unlike Craig, I'd say that the GF1 does quite well until around 800 ISO. But still, to be comparable to DSLRs, it should be doing Quite Well at 1600, which it is not. Let's hope the future brings some developments there.

White X

Maybe we'll have a white Christmas for the first time in I don't remember when. Winter has arrived in UK: it's white outside, and brutally cold. Brrrr.
Well, it's relatively brutally cold. Compared to the winter they get in Russia or Canada, this is very mild indeed, even though it is frost. Always a good thing to attempt to get or hold a bigger perspective.

Ray said:
I have lived in some remote places, mostly at hydro-electric power dams, where it was often 50 or 100 miles to town. I've had a moose walk through the back yard, while I was five miles away in the bush, hunting for one. I've been bitten by a baby red fox, after I caught him one morning near the den, and as a result, I ended up feeding the young ones all one summer, instead of going 90 miles to town for rabies shots. Those were the healthiest little foxes I ever saw, and they just loved canned fish-flavour cat food.
I was also bitten by a young seal while in the Arctic, after I decided to rescue it it from where it fell asleep on a rock at high tide, and then by low tide, was too far from the water. You wouldn't believe how many needle-pointed little teeth they have, and those are angled inward, so that their dinner doesn't escape.
Fortunately, my leg did. The kids at the settlement's boarding school
had a great time with my seal until it found its way back to the
ocean from the fresh water pond we put it in. Believe it or not, those Eskimo kids told me they'd never seen a live seal close up - only dead ones - so they had a lot of fun watching this one.

One's mediocrity

It is cruel to discover one's mediocrity only when it is too late.
-- W. Somerset Maugham, 'Of Human Bondage', 1915

Hmmm, "too late"? I wonder if ol' Dubya meant "after you're already successful"?

I like that the title 'Of Human Bondage' makes bondage non-gender specific. It's not just a gay thing, anybody can enjoy a nice game of bondage.
(Just kidding, I'm pretty sure he did not mean that kind.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Panic Attack, a mini-movie

It seems this video (which TTL also alerted me to) has earned its creator a huge Hollywood contract. And it is beautifully done, not only the very realistic CGI, but also the image compositions, the light, the timing, etc.

Amy Walker

[Thanks to TTL]

And what a bonny lass she is too. And she's a writer and comedian, some people get all the talent. (Not that their lives are usually easier for that!) Here's her utoob channel.
Here's an interview with her, about her rapid viral stardom.

TC[Girl] recommends this sketch by Amy.
TCG also confirms the accuracy of what women are doing all that time in the Ladies'. (Speaking for my own gender, the Gents' is really not a place you feel like lingering.)

Should e-Books Be Copy Protected?

Should e-Books Be Copy Protected? article by David Pogue.
"the illegal copies are just advertising for you; people will download them, try them out, then go by the physical book. [...]
The results? It was true. The thing was pirated to the skies. It's all over the Web now, ridiculously easy to download without paying.
The crazy thing was, sales of the book did not fall. In fact, sales rose slightly during that year.
But none of that addresses my reader's initial complaint: what if, someday, you want to jump ship from Amazon's reader family to Barnes & Noble's? This is precisely the nightmare scenario that faced iPod owners who wanted to switch to a Zune. (O.K., there's no such person, but you get the point.)


Gnags - Live Vilde kaniner

Gnags - Live Vilde Kaniner Youtube video.
"Wild Rabbits" was never my favorite Gnags song, but dang, their new "yoo-hoo girl" (as Danes call background singers) is lovely.
Gnags, forty years on the stage, go guys.

Photos from today (updated)

The sign below made me laugh. The good word to new cancer victims is "not a good day?" Holy frig. (I actually like the picture too, even though it was a snapshot caused by the sign. And the camera Canon S90 handled the contrast well, there's detail in both the white sign in the sun and in the dark street in the shade.)

I like the "take-everywhere" camera. Put it in the thigh pocket in my combats and forget about it, and when I see a subject, whip it out (the camera, please). And in decent light the image quality is the same as a large camera.

... BTW, silly me: I have set the S90's control ring to control the zoom, and it runs in steps of the old major focal lengths-equivalents: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm. It seems a quicker way, correct or not, to get to the approximate focal lenth you want.
... And so today when photographing the church, the 85mm-equivalent (18mm) seemed just slightly too narrow, so I also photographed it in 50mm. I'd plumb forgotten (standing on a tiny pedestrians island in the middle of a busy street) that I could fine-tune it with the regular zoom lever! (Not with easy precision, like all compacts, but still.) Weirdly, though, the zooms in the opposite direction from the lever, an unfortunate choice from Canon. (At least if you see the top of the ring to be the "direction" it is moving, which feels logical to me.)

My new NIKAI camera

The Nikai FMD is here seen next to the complicated Lumix GF1 for size comparison. The bigger camera of course is seen as being more professional.

... I know it's a little extravagant, but I will consider it my Christmas present to myself: on a walk in town today I came past the pawn shop, and found this fantastic camera. It was £4.99, but I think it was well worth it, since it cheers me up.

... Despite looking to casual observers like a big, professional camera, thus boosting your macho value, the NIKAI FMD System camera is made of plastic, so it is not too heavy.

It looks like an SLR camera, but the pentaprism house is empty, thus saving weight. You actually look through the inconspicuous optical finder next to the prism house.

It looks like the lens is exchangeable, but it's not, which means you'll never get dust inside the camera.

The lens is the highly respected "OPTICAL LENS", which is plastic for weight savings, and is a 50mm "normal" lens. It is designed at a conservative F:6.3 maximum aperture, which means that unlike "fast" lenses, focusing is not critical, and therefore the lens is made "focus free", you can't change the focus at all. It has four aperture settings: "bright sun", "dull sun", "blue mountain", and "black mountain". I think.

Notice the fake lens element out front which makes it look like a professional "fast" lens. If you shoot in dull weather, use a tripod.

It has a built-in motor drive for the film. It is not fast, which means less battery drain, and it keeps your hands free to press the shutter.

It has no shutter speed settings, again making it super-easy for the photographer who likes to look like a pro, but does not want to know too much about cameras.

The camera uses "film", a little known non-digital technology, which means you can take and get your pictures developed without knowing anything about computers, and also the camera is immune to electronic interference and laser systems designed to seek out and blind digital cameras.

My "ten-set"

Mike Johnston made a provocative request from photographers: that they should make a "ten-set" of ten favorite photographs, to quickly give a visitor an idea of the work you do. So I made my ten-set.

It's not easy, how do you select ten favorites from thirty years of very diverse work?

Chrome for Mac

I'm just trying the new Beta version of Goggle Chrome for Mac.

It's very much a beta. For example there's no way of setting default fonts and text size. But one thing I must say: it's very fucking fast! Impressive. Including one of my standard sites, which on Safari for some odd reason takes like half a minute to load (the first page), in Chrome it is near-instant.

And from what I have seen so far with a trek through my most used sites, the rendering is really nice, pages look good and neat.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Little Richard - Send me some Lovin

Picture here is present-day Little Richard (2007). Does this look like a man in his mid-seventies, almost sixty years into his career!? Holy shit.

It seems to me as an endorsement for doing what you love.

Here he is in the fifties:

Here's a soft studio version:

... I have another studio version (from a Greatest Hits collection) which is more rocky, and real nice.

Send Me Some Lovin' (lyrics) is by Buddy Holly.

Funny, BTW, as a teenager, I did not like LR, or very much rock. I thought it was noisy. How we change.

BW Portrait Contest, results

So, here are the results of the BW Portrait Contest.
The quality level was very high, making it hard to judge, so I have decided to give two $100 prizes instead of one. And by astounding coincidence, these two wonderful photos have the model in virtually the same pose!

Walter S. won with this portrait of 'a girl and her dog':

And Michael H. won with this visually daring portrait of a goth girl:

And here are the Honorable Mentions:

(Note: I've decided to award all the honorable-mentions (those who are interested) a three-month membership in either Domai or GoddessNudes. Please email me.)

By Tiago:

By Steven F:

By Steven G:

By Uncle Ron:

By Paul B:

By Neil G:

By Anna Matavovsky:

By Chris A:

By Jeff R:

By Izzy:

By Don C:

By Daniel S:

By Bruce A:

By Bob R:

By Andrew E:

Mambo Italiano

[Thanks to Pascal]

Some women are just magic when they move.

Tinto Brass (US link - UK/Eu link) is a European director who has made some erotic films which are unusual that, well, they don't suck molten death through an iron straw. They have a story, and humor, and good characters, and are often sexy. (I think it's this one actually, Frivoulous Lola, which I have on DVD somewhere.)

I wonder when this Muppet Show was made? It looks like it's made more recently and with a bigger budget than the classic shows.

And below, though sadly no video, Mambo Italiano with Sophia Loren.
Actually, recently I realized I don't remember seeing any of her early films. Any recoms? (Comedy preferred.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Leaves at midnight

[I just noticed the title is a pun... "the train leaves at midnight".]

These were a challenge, even with stabilized lens. I took them at about 1/8 second [update: under a street lamp], hand-held, with a 90mm-equivalent zoom setting. I took 33 exposures, and only two were sharp!
I think I prefer the simpler one, what do you think?

I made a version (for print) which I like better yet (not so much the matte as the crop and the tones optimization):

I like the print.
I also like that without any extensive training period, just on general understanding of the principles, with my new cameras/lenses, printer and paper, I'm now making better prints than I ever have, either in darkroom or inkjet.
Today I showed the pillar print to my friend Judy, and she said "wow, that's the clearest photo I've ever seen". And it actually is too for me, in colors, in Light, and in contrast and sharpness. Of course these are merely technical qualities, but I happen to feel very good about the photo too.

Shaloot's extremeties photos

On Miserere's Canon S90 review, Shaloot plugged his Flickr page. These are lovely designs and lovely pics. (Shows off the advantage of cameras with bigger sensors: blurred backgrounds when needed.)
I love the designs, I'm trying to figure out who did them.
... But then, probably they are drawing on a long tradition which I'm not aware of. Designs which have developed over hundreds or thousands of years.

(In case you haven't noticed: on Flickr, you can often find pictures in much larger sizes by clicking on the barely-noticable "all sizes" button over the picture.)

NetPics 3.14

[Thanks to Kirk]

Juicy Jabber parody

It seems that one of the popular YouTube channels is this pretty teenage (?) girl with a special voice, who with her sister and mother sells beauty products and gift items, apparently very successfully (good for them). LisaNova did a parody. Well done JuicyStar for not taking offense at her making fun of the voice.

"Never get caught half-stepping, with your weapon on safety!" Hahaha! That's glorious.

And... "I love you guys so much that I make hearts with my hands." Great.
And actually an amazing coincidence: Just a couple of hours ago I was editing a set for Domai, one of my favorites, Indi, and she did that! And I'd never seen it before. Now I see it twice in one day.

Nudity is just wrong!

[Thanks to pascal.]
Or is it? Dave weighs in.


I bought a Samsung NC10 Netbook (black) today. I wanted a new toy for xmas, and I sometimes want a Windows machine (like for web site testing), and it seemed very charming and economical. And so far I like it a lot. It runs Win7 smoothly too*.
(Though it took a loooooong time for the machine to get up and running the first time, installing software etc etc. Must have been like two hours. You'd think they could just ship the disk like it is after it has all been installed.)

I thought, though, that a machine like this, which runs a full OS and has a virtually full keyboard, would be called a sub-notebook, not a "netbook"?

Though I wish I'd known about the blue version, I must say it's a very good looking machine. And it's telling of the times that you now can get a machine this advanced and this compact for so little money. (It seems to have everything, including webcam.)

Hmm, doesn't Windows have an auto-login setting, so I don't have to type in a password on reboot? I can't find it in Controlpanel. [Update: Jeff gives the answer: leave the password blank.]
What I also can't find, bizarrely, is how to change the desktop background! Searches of Control panels reveals no such thing, it does not appear on right-clicking the background, and selecting an image in IE as new background does not work...
[Update: Steven tells me the Windows "Starter Edition" refuses to do that. I think that's a really lame example of "cripple-ware". I paid a pretty handsome premium to get Win7 instead of XP, I think putting up my own desktop background is the least I can ask for!]

* Well, by "smoothly" I mean at acceptable speed, not without hitches. Seems the blue screen of death is black these days... The machine seems to crash when woken up from sleep-with-closed-lid.

Mozart concerto 20 in d-minor, Allegro (1of2) Gulda

I'm mostly into rock (of many kinds), but I have some classical favorites, this is one of them. (Same concert given in two parts on youtube due to length.)
Damn, what a fantastic minds those composers had, to compose works of such beauty and complexity.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Owl flying

Tommy found this kewl video of a owl flying, in slow motion.

Last day for the contest!

Only one day left to enter my Black/White Portrait contest.


Mike Johnston found this cool photo blog.
It's much harder than you'd believe to make these kind of pictures. As proof, have you ever noticed such a view in reality? I doubt it. It really has to be coaxed out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eliza Dushku Tru Calling

I like this theme song, and I liked Eliza Dushku's Tru Calling, I just started rewatching it. I can see from Amazon reviews that I'm not alone in liking it.

This is the full music video of the theme song, by Full Blown Rose:

Unpaid internships

I had not heard of unpaid interships before, I wonder how common it is?
Seems to me these guys are asking a lot from people they don't want to pay.
Mike Johnston has a comment.

Anna Phoebe

One of the things I think about sometimes is the conundrum for a company or artist (or product) of taking a name which is unusual, preferably unique, but also easy to learn and remember. It's not simple at all!

One of the methods is to combine two common names or words, making one unusual "sandwich" which is easier to learn than a brand new or very unusual names. One of the most successful of those is a violinist I just heard of, Anna Phoebe. Two lovely names, one very common, the other more uncommon, but still known. A combination which is easy to learn and remember. And a combination unusual enough that just a moderate amount of fame should ensure that any quick Net Search should locate her easily.

Today's quotes from my quotes service

Walking is also an ambulation of mind.
-- Gretel Ehrlich

Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.
-- John Witherspoon

If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.
-- Shimon Peres

In a progressive country change is constant; ...change... is inevitable.
-- Benjamin Disraeli

Me on playboy TV

I am not sure how many of you are aware of my appearance on the Playboy TV channel a couple years back? It was surprisingly good.
(They keep rerunning it in different countries, so it's been good exposure for me and Domai.) (Well, it's also given me a reputation locally as a adult web king or something, strange. :-)

You can now get the show for free download, thanks to my pal Carter who captured and compressed it.
Apart from yours truly, it also has many beautiful nekkid chicks in it. :-)

If you like it, tell your friends.