Saturday, January 09, 2010


Some say life is a playground, and some say life is a classroom. I suspect there's no classroom without a playground, and no playground without a classroom.

UK in snow

[Thanks to Neeraj]
I suspect this is a very unusual picture, I think it has been very rare in our lifetimes that the UK has just been covered.
(No, I didn't take it.)

But Neeraj did take this photo:

Not a unique phenom, see here.

More night snow

Canon 5D2, 1600 ISO, 35mm F:1.4.
Hardly any photoshopping at all, although two of them I have color-corrected away from the yellow street light. The top one, though, that lamp was so strongly yellow that it begain to look very odd when I tried to compensate.

Madonna - Devil Wouldn't Recognize You

Check-In Done Right

Check-In Done Right, Pogue post about one of those many, many small wonders/mysteries of this world.
... I was astonished when the check-in desk attendant said: “Good evening, Mr. Pogue. Here’s your key. Have a great stay.”
Do you see what happened there!? There was no tappy-tapping on the keyboard for five minutes. No “May I have your credit card for incidentals?”

Watching hot specimens

I just watched a brief scene in the very enjoyable Chuck series, in which the attractive female action-figure lead walks down a hotel corridor, and as she passes a nice-looking male staffer, she turns her head and admires him for a second. This made me like her even better.

Openly getting enjoyment from seeing beautiful members of one's preferred gender is often seen as suspicious or sleazy behavior. But I think that it's just a sign of being alive, like enjoying good food or the changing weather and other beautiful things and interesting sensations/perceptions.

I don't know, perhaps the act of looking openly is associated with being promiscuous? But I really think they are very different things. I'm sure there are people who don't enjoy looking very much, but are very promiscuous, and I know many people who enjoy looking very much, and who are highly responsible sexually. Of course most of them don't show it very much when they look, which tells us how widespread the social judgment is.


Red Truck too

I've posted a vertical variant of this pic, but I like this one too, particularly after I changed the tone to much more blue-ish. It looks like a far-off place like Siberia or something, and there's something weird about the light, because the sky with snow-clouds is lit by the town, you can't really tell if it's day or night (it was an hour before sunrise).

It also illustrates how cameras even out light: the picture is lighter than the scene seemed at the time. To make it look like night, I'd have to tone it down:

... Which may be well worth doing if you want the picture to seem like things looked to you, but in this case I prefer the first one, at least aesthetically. Maybe.

BTW, I woudda thunk a BW version of this was pointless, given the lovely color of the truck, but then I used it for an experiment, and it's not bad actually:

Kodak CMO talks

[Thanks to tOP]
Jeffrey Hayzlett. This guy is fun.
I love that he just thought: "screw the fine, we'll do it".
(Does anybody get who fined them, and why?)

BTW, I'm thinking, I'd rather be a new CEO coming in to a company which is suffering badly, than a company which is doing great. Because if you can't save it, nobody's going to blame you, but if you can, you're a huge hero. And if you come into a company which is doing great, the only way it can go is down, and it will be nearly impossible to do anything which makes it do visibly better than it already is.

Ilford Gold Fibre Silk

I am trying the famous Ilford Gold Fibre Silk (US link - UK link) paper for printing. Just made one print so far, the photo is the top one here, and it's promising. It has the depth-enhancing qualities of glossy paper, but it's a "silk" surface, so you don't get as much irritating reflections in the surface. It's a very pleasant surface too.

And interesting characteristic: you'll notice that the photo has some very dark areas, which I did not lift because I like the twilight atmosphere they give the photo, the impression of the sky is enhanced. And in my experience until now, prints have always had less detail in the shadows than seen on the screen (perhaps because the screen is back-lit). But apparently with this paper, the print has more shadow detail than is seen on the screen! Very strange, and it may be an advantage, we'll see with more experience.

Update: I made a comparison print on the Hahnemule matte paper, and it's equally nice. No easy choices in this world.

Can you paint a camera?

I bought a white Pentax, and, well, I don't like it all that much, visually. So I'm looking for somebody with more patience and experience than myself to paint something fun on it. Just a couple of colors or whatever, free hands. I can pay a little. Show me what you've painted earlier.
(I got the white kit lens included, that might be painted too, though I don't plan to use it much, I just bought it because you practically get it for free with the camera and it's not bad at all.)

Some people really like the white version. I dunno. I think I'd like it better if everything on it was white. In the eighties in Copenhagen somebody had a Rolls-Royce which was white all over, including the hub caps and even the angel. There wasn't any chrome on it, everything was white except the tires (which could have been, technically). It was impressive.

For those who are curious about the camera: it's very responsive, and has great image quality. The main downside seems to be that the focusing and the shutter are both on the noisy side, so it's not great for sensitive missions.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Ennio Marchetto

[Thanks to Ray]

Pen-E wakes up

[Thanks to Brian and Kevin Miller]

I don't get computers

After all these years, much about computers is still mysterious to me. For example: how come Google can give me search results from a database of the whole world-wide-web in 1/10th of a second, and it still takes Apple software a full half minute to tell me whether there are sofware updates available for my machine? It's just bizarre.

Snow angel

This was posted for the (ongoing) contest "Cold" on the M4/3 user forum, I like it a lot.
I experimented a little with cropping it, hope Brian is OK with that.

Alex said...
Hmm, I would consider two that you did not do.
1) akin to your third, but move the angel and tree to the left 1/3 of the frame, and crop so that the aspect ratio is maintained, but the right hand tree is just gone, or half/third a trunk is visible.
2) crop to portrait, again, angle on the lower left, keep the trees and sky as much as possible. The only problem there may be changing the downcast gaze from benevolence to remorse.

Eolake said...
Right. Framing and cropping are pretty much arcane arts.

I wonder if they've been discussed at length in any book?

Lingerie ad

[Thanks to Joe]

I was taught about the non-clash of these things when I first posted this photo of mine.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Some of my readers are looking for better sites to host their photos. One which was mentioned was Does anybody have experience with it? How does it compare to Flicr or Picasa? How's the experience for selling prints/books/calendars?

Best and Worst Jobs 2010

Best and Worst Jobs 2010
The 200 best and worst jobs in the U.S. in 2009 based on five criteria -- environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress.

Now I'm glad I did not become a photojournalist! To quote 1854:
Photojournalists, on the other hand, are way down in that list, coming in 189th position with a starting salary of $16,000 and a top-level salary of $60,000.
Only 11 other positions are considered worse than being a photojournalist. They are: Butcher, Mail Carrier, Meter Reader, Construction Worker, Taxi Driver, Garbage Collector, Welder, Dairy Farmer, Ironworker, Lumberjack and Roustabout...

I Am Nook


Packaging in the computer industry. (Yes, the whole object is that stamp-sized thing in the middle.) (Even the size of a very small stamp.)

Super snow time

(Don't worry, I don' think this will be a "snow blog" much longer.)
I used to make fun of countries who couldn't handle a little snow, when Norway and Sweden and such handle it in their stride every year. But I'm realizing it takes a lot of preparation, both mentally and with equipment. It's not economically feasible to have a lot of equipment standing in readiness for a real winter which only happens once in a blue moon.

I've not gotten any post at all in the last few days, much less some parcels I know I'm due.
And right now my supermarket delivery man told me that I'm lucky, if I'd scheduled my delivery yesterday or the day before, I'd not have gotten it, the trucks just couldn't get around.

Below are some stories/comments from my friends:

Good Grief E.. THAT'S not a snowfall..that's a sprinkling.. [this refers to the lighter snow fall around xmas.] I have that much left in my driveway AFTER it has been plowed..and here most of us don't even bother to clear it away until there's a more than 4 inches the snow tires something to grip on if the fall included the delight of freezing rain to begin with..there's a layer of ice underneath!

Now you can understand why Canadians glower at all the idiots singing about 'White Christmas' and 'Let it snow..let it snow' who mainly live in California of course and mutter things like 'Let's see the twits come dig us out of THIS lot!' LOL!

I've attached pics..not very good ones, of what REAL snowfall looks like..the fence around the garden is 4 feet high and is just showing..and the car is what is called a mid sized saloon give you some idea of it's size..and that was taken after I dug it out enough to find it!

It took the farmer neighbour with a snow blower attachment on hisTractor to unplug my drive, and it took him almost an hour to do it!

And that was just ONE of our 'normal dumpings' that particular winter..2008..the total amount by winter's end had reached the record 444 cms..about 14 feet overall!

After removing the snow from my avoid having the weight collapse it..I was not able to see out of the windows of the bungalow I live in for most of the winter....LOL!

Bob..who doesn't live in the heavy snowfall area that the Atlantic coast people do...

> They have *more* snow than that!??

YUP! they laugh at the centimeter forecasts..meters is more like it!

If you see pictures of houses with balconies at the bedroom level, it usually indicates that's the way in in winter..the first floor is buried...

VW used to do a commercial about "How does the snow plow driver get to work?' and show the VW bug making it's way through...

Out East and some places out West..they take the plow home with them...or use a front end loader to dig a path big enough to hold a VW along with the snow !


I know what you mean about snow. Once when I lived in New Hampshire, it was just starting to snow when I went to bed sometime after midnight. When I awoke late Saturday morning, the area had gotten a full 24 inches of snow--and not only the roads, but also the *sidewalks*, were already cleared.

By contrast, one time in Washington, D.C., which is essentially a Southern town where it hardly ever snows, they got 10 inches of snow, and it closed down the whole area for three days. I had an interesting time tramping through the deserted downtown taking pictures.

At one time, we lived in an housing development that was only accessible by two roads through a deep ravine. (On two other sides it was closed off by a public park and a reservoir.) One of the roads went in more or less parallel to the ravine, so it wasn't too steep, but another went basically straight down and straight up, so both sides were extremely steep--my brother and I were just the other day talking about how hard those hills were to get up on a bicycle. In snow and ice, we would park our cars at the bottom of the hill and walk up into our development, so we could get out again when the time came. Sometimes it was simply impossible to drive up the hill.

So, one time, after we'd had three or four inches of snow, I was getting out of my car at the bottom of the hill when I saw a local attempt to drive down the facing slope. The car started to skid at the top, and the driver jammed on the brakes. The car, of course, slid. As it came down the hill it first hit a parked car on one side--BAM!--bounced off, slid a ways, and hit a car on the OTHER side, BAM! And then did it once more, hitting a third car on the same side as the first car. It arrived at the bottom of the hill with a fair amount of speed, crossed the road there, and banged into a tree. The driver was flustered but not hurt. And of course the driver never once let up on the brakes--the tires never moved all the way down the hill.

That area just got 24 inches the other day--I wonder how they are coping with that!


Jeg har på fornemmeren, at vores regeringer og kommunerne kalkulerer lidt med nogle få årlige panikdage, fremfor at have en egentlig plan. Onsdag aften i sidste uge gik hele landet i... hvidt, og al trafik gik i stå. Saltning og grusning plejer at ske i god tid, men her var snerydningen ikke engang begyndt på de store veje, da klokken var 23 og jeg skulle hjem fra arbejde. Da lå der 30 cm sne på ringvejen til Glostup.


It looks like we will habe a green Christmas this year. Only about one in ten around here are white, they say.

Your neighbour's problem is probably the tires. Over here, we have special tires for winter, with extra deep treads, and even provisions for installing steel studs in them. The studded tires however are banned in certain places, because they chew up the road surface after a while.

Even without special tires, though, some cars handle quite well in the snow. Many years ago, (back in the fifties) I had a VW Beetle that was excellent in snow. One day, after a storm, looking for a person's driveway, I couldn't see any, so took a guess, and drove into the yard anyway. Turns out I drove through the ditch, onto the lawn, and then turned around and went back out, in over a foot of snow. The guy next door was out shovelling his own driveway at the time, and after I stopped out on the street, he said, "Wow! I need a car like that." Those Beetles were amazing little cars, but they had terrible heating systems, until they made a special gas heater for them.

Around here, people don't know much about driving in snow either, and every snowstorm, there's lots of accidents. The secret to winter driving is to not do anything too suddenly - gentle turns, and slow down gradually, and pump the brakes instead of just stomping on them. Locking the wheels means "game over".

Right now I'm using tires made in Japan, and designed for the rain. They are very good, because the treads pump the water away and prevent hydroplaning. They also work alright in snow. I have a little 1997 Dodge front wheel drive, and it is quite good in snow. But I don't drive it a lot. I got it new, and it still has only about 40,000 Kms on it. Needless to say, it's in excellent condition, and I'm trying to keep it that way.


Back in 1972 when I was a draftee sent to Goergia USA as a military slave, it snowed in Columbus GA for a very rare white season. Southern Americans are not known for their brilliance and stellar intelligence, and everybody stepped on the gas or barkes hard when they started to slide... with obvious results. Cars all over the sides of the road abandoned by their idiot keepers. Before two hours of the storm, me in my VolksBus and a bunch of tow trucks were the only ones moving, running around town doing favors and emergency runs for two days!

When My friends and I got tired of town we took a drive to nearby Stone Mountain park, where we ran up the side of the mountain on a beautiful straight road just deeper than the bumpers in fresh snow, until so much ice accumulated we had to back out as the wheels would not turn, only go straight...

Was a fun winter for a 21 year old Californian!

Keyboard for alphamales

Balance act

Steve W wrote to me:
You have been showing some very nice winter snow pix of the UK and I thought you might enjoy a bit of warmth for balance. These made this afternoon here in Las Vegas. It was rather warm in the sun and in the shade about 18 C. Once the sun goes down, all that changes in a hurry though.

Two men in business

When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.
-- William Wrigley Jr.

This is one of those quotes that get a lot of agreement. But on closer inspection, I think that it implies that the only function of a business man is to generate controversy, and I don't think that's very productive. What if the two partners usually agree, but just are good at different things? Like one has the vision and the drive, and the other one is very good at talking to suppliers and customers and to find good employees.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A couple more pretty winter pics...

Snow and sun

UK is under snow.
It was a bit funny to be in town today: it was half empty, and of those who where there, half were tradespeople wondering where their customers were, and half were customers wondering why they favorite businesses were closed...

And I must say that looking out at my windows from my cozy apartment at all my neighbors struggling hour after hour with scrapers and shovels trying to dig their cars out of the snow and ice, I feel even more lucky than usual that I work from home. Zippity dooda. God bless the Net.

Market Hall today

Panasonic GF1 with 20mm F:1.7 at 5.6, 1/320 second.
I'd brought it in my thigh pocket.
This is an excellent lens, see all that detail.

Amazingly, the ghost is just the reflection of the yellow lamp in the window I'm shooting through! They must clean the hell out of that window, it's totally invisible.

All on auto, except I had to point the autofocus past the central lamp.
Also, for some odd reason this camera, on Program mode, tends to favour really big apertures, even when the shutter speeds are into the hundreds, dunno why. I think it had selected 2.4 and 1/800 sec or so. Silly. So I set it to aperture priority to get the depth of field. (Although actually with the smallish format and the wide-ish lens, even 2.8 would have sufficed, I think.)

Rio panorama

Thanks to tOP. A 360 degree Rio Panorama. Best with a large screen and a good Net connection!

Sunrise over snow

Wow, the tones the sky can assume.

Canon 5D2, 24-105mm, 800 ISO. A bit of saturation in Photoshop.

The future of cars

I find this interesting because, no matter how many things GM gets right or wrong in this concept car, there's no doubt that we all tend to be stuck in the ways of thinking, doing, and building which we have learned, so I applaud all attempts to break free of that.

Bert sez:
Most of this technology has been presented before, in various shapes or forms. I remember reading about the platform design, with exchangeable shells & all, a few years back already (from a public presentation in an American auto show). Hydrogen fuel cells are nothing new either. But it's the first time I've seen the whole lot of it package into one single vehicle, and that's a clear sign of progress.

As to why it hasn't happened yet, please drop the conspiracy theories and all that crap. Please. Profound changes in thinking affect the lives of tens of thousands of people, long before the first product ever hits the market. The conservative factions in an empire like GM are forces to be reckoned, and they are driven by plain old insecurity, self-interest and other primal motivations, not conspiracies.

The power struggle that would have resulted if a group would have tried to impose such changes in times were GM was still a healthy business would have been akin to a small war, no less. The current turmoil, and the resulting weakening of the old guard (especially in management) is a definite boon here, as it is likely to make life a lot easier for the promoters of change.

The way things are actually done in established industries is far from the simple picture we instinctively form. In every active technology sector, small research groups exist to bring up and explore novel ideas, most of which die in infancy. Not necessarily because they were bad ideas, sometimes it is a matter of poor timing, or sometimes because an idea is promoted by the wrong people and/or in the wrong manner. But sometimes the best ideas somehow make it out of the lab.

The more radical the departure from established ways is, the longer it takes to sell the idea, because of the associated risk, etc. What makes me very happy in this case is that the concept is still around after nearly a decade in exploration, which means that, by now, it should has been mostly accepted as a viable future for the automobile. Yay! I loove the idea of a truly convertible, universal platform.

As for the hydrogen power plant, well, did you know it is illegal in most western countries? So, if you were to build a hydrogen car today, you still couldn't drive it around, let alone sell it. Why? Because the transportation of explosive substances is regulated, and hydrogen is very explosive. Novel storage technologies have been developed that make it very difficult to produce an explosion, but these still have to be proven safe to everyone's satisfaction (not a small feat in itself).

Btw, if you believe that gasoline is explosive, then you've been watching too much TV. Yes, you can cause humongous detonations with it (search for MOAB), but this usually requires the use of a small primary bomb to vaporize the gasoline prior to ignition. In everyday life, how often have you seen or heard of (from a reliable source) of a car that exploded? Yet, a hydrogen tank with enough capacity for a car has the potential to make all Hollywood car explosions look like firecrackers. BIG badaboom.

Introducing hydrogen in the automobile sector will take a long time, and will require a lot more changes than just new cars.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Stephen today

I talked to Stephen Dutch today in the snow, and he said that he was also inspired to go out to take some snaps, and so he did.


Nice bod there. She should have been nude, though, the bikini just cuts up the lines of the body. But then it would have been deleted from youtoob.
But the toob sites which allow nudity are hardcore porn sites. Does anybody know a Tube site where you can post nudity, but not sex?

Winter Wonderland (updated)

Snowed all night. These were taken at around 7.30, an hour before sunrise.

Canon 5D2, 1600 ISO, 35mm F:1.4.
All hand-held, no tripod. 
Hardly any photoshopping at all.
A few of those I took weren't sharp, I forgot my own advice about taking about 3 shots of each in continous shooting mode, when the shutter times are dicey.
(It would have helped if their highness Canon would have swallowed their pride and made cameras with in-body stabilization.)

And here is one taken with Panasonic G1 with 45-200mm near the long end, in daylight (it started snowing again for real just after I'd been out in the morning):

(I like the tones and patterns and lines of this one, actually.)

And the same cam/lens, from yesterday, the moon in daylight:

Here's one more. Believe it or not, I have not desaturated it, or messed with the color at all:

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Hands-on Video

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV Hands-on video. For gear-heads.
I like how they have the director's 13-year-old son host the video, it seems. (OK, maybe he's a little older, but not much. :-)
Lo the speed-photographing at 2.14... holy fork!

Faces and Picasa

Since I have over 800 models on my commercial site, I am sometimes at a loss to find a particular model if I am presented with a picture which seems familiar but which is not identified. Somebody told me that maybe I could use Picasa's face recognition feature.

So I've downloaded Picasa for Mac. But the interface is a mystery to me (it does not even show me a file's name). And I don't see any obvious way I could show the app a picture and say "find pictures with the same face". Does anybody know if this can be done?

An early zoom lens

In an article about prime lenses, Miserere pointed to the first zoom lens for 35mm still cameras. Wow, what a beautiful monster!
It was by accident I found that article by Miserere, but I've blogged before about his articles on the Canon S90. I like his thinking on gear, and he's a very good shooter too.

It's funny, by the way, I keep thinking that I have to choose between zooms and primes, instead of just using both or either. At the very least I feel one or the other should be my primary tool, and the other one quite secondary. Not choosing feels... schizo. Weird, it's primitive thinking. I guess it's the ol' craving for certainty.

Related: an article about "which lens to buy".

Monday, January 04, 2010

Samsung and Pentax compact SLRs (updated)

Samsung NX10, new format exchangeable-lens camera, which like Micro Four Thirds is mirror-less. And the format is bigger than M4/3. Might be interesting!

Talking about Samsung, right now you can get a super-zoom camera for $230. Man, that's cheap!

In other camera news, DPreview has posted a highly positive review of Pentax' very compact and economical K-x model. Which I think is kewl, because CaNikon needs the competition, and because I used to use Pentax, and because I like compact cameras.
The K-x is indeed super-compact, actually barely larger than the Panasonic G1, which is a smaller-format camera. And pretty cheap too, £550 in the UK, and typically much cheaper in the US, $560. And I think it's the only camera which has stabilization (though not the best on the market) even if you use it with a pancake (compact) lens, of which Pentax has more than anybody else.
Despite the size, it's no kids' camera, it will shoot almost 5 frames per second and has ISO settings up to 6400, and not just for show either. Impressive.

: DPReview has samples, I think the 1600 ISO ones are nice, certainly tons better than the M4/3 cameras', and impressive for such a tiny camera.

From the review:
Lining the K-x up against its most direct competitors makes it apparent just how compact it is. It's noticeably smaller than the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000 and, especially in combination with Pentax' 40mm pancake lens, makes a very compact package that is very well suited for traveling.

Remarkable, I did not think they could make a DSLR smaller than the 500D.

If I were Pentax, I'd (also) sell the camera in a kit with one of the pancake (very small) lenses, for instance the DA 21mm (32mm-equivalent). Just to make a point about the super-compact-ness. To get top-of-the-class performance in a package this compact really is something they should point out.
And I think the 21mm lens goes well with the DA 70mm 2.4 lens, which is barely larger than the 20mm, I have never seen anything like that in a 105mm-e lens.

Update Nov 2011: I now have the K-x, as well as the K-r and the K-5. They are all outstanding cameras, and whereas I am a bit lukewarm about the Pentax 18-135mm zoom (a bit soft at the edges), these prime lenses are fantastic, compact and dead-sharp.

Holding a camera vertically

I'm pretty good at holding a camera still, I've been taking sharp pictures with a 40mm-e lens down to 1/15 second. But I have more trouble when holding the camera vertically, I think it's due to the strain of having one arm much higher. Oddly, it didn't not seem to help matter when I had a camera (Nikon D2x) which had a built-in vertical grip.
Any tips for good ways to do this?

Divorce awards

McCartney's ex-wife awarded almost $50 million, article.

I don't know exactly how normal this kind of thing is, but it's normal enough that pre-nuptual agreements to prevent it are normal. (And why did McCartney apparently not have one, I wonder.)

What I also wonder is, how is this justified? I've heard that it's an evaluation of how much the spouse has contributed to the wealth. But seeing as how McCartney's income comes largely from music written in the sixties, how did Heather contribute to it during their four-year marriage in the naughties? (Hmm, has any standard been established for the name of that decade? And the next one?)

I imagine it's a factor that she has "gotten used to" a certain standard of living. But if I live with my rich aunt for half a year, can I get a court order for her to subsidize that kind of living for the rest of my life, just because I feel it's a hardship to live on less now?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Engineering plastic

It seems Canon's new super-duper macro lens is made from "engineering plastic".
[Chuck Westfal said: "The focus ring, lens mount and name plate are made from aluminum, and other parts are basically made with engineering plastic."]
Does anybody know how common this is? Is normal plastic-bodied lenses made of this, or from cheaper plastic? How about camera bodies? The shell of high-end camera, for instance.
I'm all for plastic, despite loving a good metal object. A metal object is beautiful on the shelf, but when you carry it around all day, a pound less weight is a blessing.
And they can make plastic look good if they want. I suspect they could make it look pretty much like anything instead of the horrible "silver" plastic they use for cheap phones (shudder). Just for one thing I found out that the early Canon AE-1 had a top plate of chromed plastic, and I had never suspected it! It totally looks like metal.

Our helpful engineer, Bert, chimes in:

To my knowledge, the most common of engineering plastics is Polyoxymethylene, or Acetal, better known by its DuPont trade name Delrin.

I use this material routinely to fabricate all kinds of small parts, and it truly is a wonderful invention. With properties rivaling those of soft metals (think aluminum, for instance), it offers unmatched ease of machining, self-lubrication, outstanding dimensional stability and excellent overall resistance (it's main weakness is poor performance with acids and chlorinated compounds). Many more-or-less specialized variants of Acetal are also available for mass production of different product types.

It is however not the easiest plastic to mould by injection, as it exhibits a high thermal expansion coefficient. It is therefore necessary to oversize mould cavities to compensate for heavy shrinkage upon part cooling. This can lead to expensive tuning of the mould geometry if precise dimensions are sought for the finished part. Mind you, modern design software makes this a much lesser concern, so Acetal is being used in more and more applications every day (popular in automobiles), which in turn drives the cost down to a level similar to other high-end commodity resins (still a tad on the expensive side, though).

And that's just one engineering plastic, there are many more available, each with a unique set of properties. The thing is, some of those resins are incredibly expensive, at several thousand dollars per kilogram, so their use is pretty much limited to applications where absolutely nothing else will meet the requirements!

Of course, I cannot tell exactly what resin(s?) Canon are using in the fabrication of their lens and camera housings, but I really wouldn't be surprised to learn that it actually is some variant of Acetal, modified to increase impact resistance (the "standard" formulation is somewhat easy to nick).


Thanks for Uboob

YouTube just have so many uses. This week, for example, it has saved me three times from buying DVD collections with old TV shows I did not know, but which sounded potentially interesting. Just look them up on YT and watch most of an episode, that'll give you a taste.

Moon over Vegas Valley

Steve W said:
The other day TC(Girl) and you talked about making images of a moon lit field and I decided to give it a go. We don't have any fields here in the Las Vegas valley, so I hope desert will suffice.
[Click for big pic.]

Spent about 1-1/2 hours out there and got 3 exposures. The long exposure NR [The camera takes an extra, black, exposure, to get the noise level and deduct it from the exposure] doubled the time for each 8 min exposure. From the histogram I probably should have done 16's + LENR but I was running out of dark (sounds odd doesn't it).

The tops of the peaks look to be brought up by the lights of Las Vegas and the sky was backlit by the Pahrump valley which is about 25 miles behind the peaks. The moon was almost directly overhead, so there isn't a lot of shadows. From what I have read, exposures longer than about 2 min start to soften the shadow detail and not totally blocked
[I had trouble getting that sentence, so Steve clarified:] You had mentioned that under moonlight the shadows would have no detail (blocked). The moon moves in the sky about it's diameter every 2 minutes, so the shadow's edge begins to soften. Given enough time and the open-ness of the desert bushes, there is slight detail in the shadows of them.
I hope I am using the right terms in using 'blocked' for when the sensor records no data or in other words falls off the left side of the histogram. The highlights on the right that fall off are 'Blown'.

Canon 5D MI set to Bulb, EF 24-105 f/4L IS set to Infinity focus, Canon TC-80N3 Timer Controller, all mounted on a very Slik tripod and ball head.
480 sec @ f/8 and ISO100
PP= Luminance, -30 Blue, +25 Orange, +15 Red. A touch of Clarity and Vib. Levels= +.08 center slider. NR= +1 on the Blue channel. Dust spot removed from the sky. Black border and burned the bottom corners.

Thanks to Steve, this is great.

Me, I would have tried with 400 ISO, probably the image quality would not have suffered much.
And perhaps I could have used F:4.0, if it would have had the depth-of-field to make the foreground sharp (which depends on the lens and the distances).

Steve comments:
The Aperture was decided for DOF. I have done enough up there in the daylight to know f/8 is about min if you want the foreground in focus. I wasn't sure about the noise, so I used ISO 100. As it was, I did get a bit of noise show up in the sky. Higher ISO with faster exposure might have about the same noise, I would just have to test that [very long exposures tend to increase noise. - E]. I was also interested in seeing how long the star trails would be at the 8 min exposure. Doing the math, I could have used the 35 f/1.4 @1.4, ISO 400 and the exposure time would have been 7 stops faster, or 4 sec. It is all tied together.

Flat roofs

How come roofs are slanted in the country and flat in the cities?
If a slanted roof is the cheapest way of dealing with snow and rain, why don't they use it in the city too? It's not like the roof is usually used for anything much, except for meetings and fights between superheroes, and they really should have their own headquarters.

The art of noise (not the band)

[Thanks to Bert.]
The art of noise, noise sculptures by Zimoun.

I think they're very cool.
(though I doubt I'd have one in my home!)
I especially like those with little motors bouncing around, they are like little animals or big insects.
Gawd, what a fantastic amount of work he's put into these works! You have to take your hat off for the industry of some artists.

Is it "noise" if it's not unpleasant? Well, the dictionary says:
1. sound, esp. of a loud, harsh, or confused kind: deafening noises.
2. a sound of any kind: to hear a noise at the door.

I guess the second definition applies here instead of the first.

I'm reminded of back in the early nineties when I had first discovered the wonderful piece of music "Ministry - Crash and Burn/Twitch (Version 2)" (below)... my sister happened to call at least twice while I had it on the turntable, and both times she said: "what's that noise in the background?" She didn't say "what's that music"...
I especially like the second half (second video) which is instrumental, and very noisy indeed, but also amazing music.