Saturday, January 07, 2012

Photo of a tiny café

This is a photo I took today, a cold January day in Northern England.
It's from an otherwise nice department store, but apparently they have moved the café to the top floor and made it nicer, and reduced the ground floor "café" to just two small, dingy tables stashed away in a dingy corner next to the bakery counter. It really was a dismal little space right there. (Really, this photo shows the whole of the place except a couple of seats by the window sill on the left.)

(Click for enlargement to see textures.)

And by the way, now that phones, not the least iPhones, have cameras rivaling dedicated pocket cameras, they are good for candid photography. The streets today are full of people holding and fiddling with their phone. You do the same, but you just tilt it a bit back and take a photo. If you are not (like people do) obviously "pointing" the phone camera "at" anything or anybody, you don't stand out as photographing. There was a woman standing a foot from me looking over the shoulder at the shelves, me and my camera-phone in full view for her, she didn't even notice I was taking a picture. People with phones are invisible. 

This photo was taken on a dull day, indoors in bad mixed lighting, hand-held and in an awkward position, but it's well exposed and sharp. (Once again I made the photo dark for drama, the original photo is perfectly exposed.) 

Oh, another detail... literally. To show off the texture I like here (maybe I'll make a print of it), I made this crop. Do click to enlarge.
Our culture is soooo focused on *people* that everything has to be about them. But the artist often wants to go beyond that and capture universalities. Like The Human Condition or whatever.
Whether he is successful or not is another thing, because it's a lofty goal, and certainly a very different one than if one wants to capture nice photos of nice, specific people.

See, with the structure here, it helps it getting abstract. I love abstract art and thought. It's not about "what's aunt Edna's deal", it's about "what's people's deal".  In other words, what is the human condition? What are we? Why? How? Art can't solve these deep issues of course, but it can stimulate thought and reflection.

Though I find people will supply all the necessary thoughts and messages themselves no matter what the artist does, so I tend to focus on my idea of aesthetics. I feel aesthetics have an uplifting effect, independent of messages and other functions. 

The Troll Hunter

Anybody here seen this?
While I loved Spinal Tap, the mockumentary idea in horror films has not attracted me, I have not seen Blair Witch or Cloverfield. For one thing I get dizzy watching the trailers.
A review said Troll Hunter had an interesting variety of trolls, but from the trailers I've seen, I'm not impressed, they seem pretty fake. Sure, it's supposedly more of a satire/comedy, but...

Friday, January 06, 2012

On The Verge, the show is a very good new tech web site. And they are very ambitious, they even have a web TV show with audience and everything. And so far I really like it. Funny and interesting. This may be web TV entering adolescence. Kewl.
(Viewing more of the show, I'd say it could use a bit more editing around the edges, the main interview for example gets a bit fuzzy in the middle there. But heck, it's early days.)

... A very ambitious site indeed. They even have a hands-on preview of the new Nikon D4 on the day it was announced.

Nikon D4 announced

A new full-frame pro camera generation is hatched from Nikon, the D4. For those with six thousand bucks to blow and the gumption to carry a camera this size, it should be highly satisfactory! 16 megapixels full frame, up to 12.800 ISO plus four extended settings!  Ten frames per second with autofocus tracking! Und so weiter as our Germanic friends say.

For a long while now, the D3S has been the king of low-light performance. But there has not been a camera of reasonable size and weight which has had similar performance. And the D4 does not correct this, this chunk could stop a raging bull. It would be nice if/when somebody does come up with something. The Canon 5D2 is getting long in the tooth (over three years), and it's about two or even three stops behind in high-ISO quality.

For both Canon and Nikon, for the first decade of their professional cameras, you had to choose between speed and highest picture quality. But with the D4 and the new equivalent Canon (1D IV) both at 16MP and very speedy indeed, I daresay this is a thing of the past. There's a chance both Canon and Nikon will come out with a 30MP full frame model later, but I do think that'll be a specialist tool, demanding the very best (expensive, big, heavy) lenses to even show a meaningful difference.

Just lookkit this monster...

Google Group sites

Google Group sites seems interesting. I can immediately think of a myriad uses for such things, for small and big groups, long term or just for a project.


At least the TVs

New Soul music

(I recommend minimizing the YouTube page and just listening.)

I posted this one before years ago, but I just came across it again in the great movie Wild Target. (Very funny, and Bill Nighy is outstanding.)

I listened to a few more of Ms Naim's songs, and it seems to be one of those many instances of an artist getting struck *once* by the rays of god. It's very interesting how that happens. I wonder if it's something inside the artist which opens and closes, and for what reasons, or if that's an external influence, I dunno, an angel passing by or a spiritual wormhole to another world, just to let through that one inspiration.

I like the surprising elements, like the constrained low-fi sound of the piano in the start. And the horns.  And the claps for rhythm. And the added, very beautiful but very different bit at the end.

Stormy weather

Man, the weather is so boring at the moment here in Northern Europe. For a week or so, it's been all bitter cold, rain, and storm, storm, storm. Brrrrrr.

Silo home underground

Joe found this cool home, based on a cold-war missile silo!
Just the thing for the well-off survivalist.

'Truly Unlimited' Data Plans

I love how human beings can very comfortably redefine words to fit their needs. For example, "porn" can mean anything from six girls and a donkey in close-ups, to a picture of a model in a skimpy outfit. And "unlimited" means anything except actually "unlimited" for all the phone companies. Even a company which advertises that their data plans, unlike those of their competitors, are actually unlimited, throttles their heavy users.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

iPad2 Tripod: Movie Mount

Here's a similar dealie... it looks like fun, but if you want to make good video, why would you shoot it with an iPad? The camera on it is the size of a pinhead. I think even an iPhone 4 or 4S shoots much better video, it certainly has a larger/better lens and sensor.

iPhone Lens Combo Kit "with Arika"

Using a cute presenter for your ads just to get guys' attention is such a crock. That would never work with me! I just think it's kewl how she makes the iPhone lens grow so long.

As for the lenses themselves, well, they are not zoom lenses and they don't have stabilization, and they sit on top of an existing lens in the phone that they have to harmonize with, so all in all I suspect that except as a boy's toy, you're better off with even a cheap zoom camera (just make sure it has optical image stabilization).

Current androids

So it seems this is the current state of the art of androids (humanoid robots). I dunno. Perhaps better than I had expected. But I wonder if it'll go like with Virtual Reality: twenty years ago it seemed to be a field on fire, getting close to the real thing Very Soon... and then we've barely heard a peep about it since.

I wonder if androids will ever become really useful, or perhaps as relevant, if they'll become cost efficient. If one could replace a delivery man, but cost a hundred million and breaks down five times a day...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tin Machine - Prisoner of Love

Tin Machine was an interesting flop from Bowie, because coming from anybody else, it would have been regarded as very strong music.

Pix mix

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Web oddities

Sometimes the web is weird. For example it's not unusual to see a big and important commercial web site just showing a sign saying "sorry, the site is closed due to upgrading". This can go on for weeks. Guys, you don't close a web site until the very minute you can put up it's replacement. That's simple common sense.

Another example is sometimes just poor service. For example, I have to pay a duty invoice to FedEx. But the easiest way to do so, online by credit card (or lord forbid, Paypal), isn't there. They even say on their stationary that this is not an option yet! This is just ridiculous. It's basic business 101 that you don't want to make it difficult for people to give you their money! Heck, nobody should even have to teach anybody that.

I also sometimes have to pay DHL, they do have a web payment service, but all it does is give error messages, so I always have to give up and telephone them. Not a heck of a lot better.

The Problem with Perfection

The Problem with Perfection, tOP article
Or consider technique. Why can a flaw like flare or color cast or motion blur improve a photograph? How can blocked up shadows sometimes say more than deep shadow detail? When do the "rules" of composition become an impediment to a great shot?

Like six years ago I bought a Nikon D2x and that humongous zoom lens you saw recently. Together they were like 3 kilos! (And by the way, the D2x had more noise at 800 ISO than the Fuji X10 has at 1600, even with its much smaller size and sensor.) 
That kind of equipment is ridiculous unless one is a pro and every mili-gain counts. 

The only people who notice technical flaws in pictures are other photographers. The actual audience looks at the pictures, what's in them, and how they make them feel. And this is done equally well with an "adequate" camera as with a "great" camera. 

Look at this, for instance, famous photo from a famous photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Very, very far from technically perfect, big grain, unsharp, blocked shadows, you name it. But it speaks. 

I write about this more than once, because I'm still only learning it slowly, it's a surprisingly hard lesson to really learn, after years of struggling to Perfect one's craft. 

Empathy quotient

[Thanks to Norm]
Empathy quotient test.

em·pa·thy [em-puh-thee]  
the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Panchromatic film

Early photographic film (plates) was pretty much only sensitive to blue light. Then came orthochromatic ("correct colors") film, which expanded into green light, but still had very little sensitivity to red light. This is why skies are often white in early photographs (or graduated, because it was corrected in the darkroom), blue colors were over-exposed compared to reddish colors.

Panchromatic film, much closer to our eye's perception because it included sensitivity to red, gradually won over in the early 20th century, although it was more expensive and harder to work with, for example you could no longer use a red light in the darkroom, it had to be actually dark. (B/W photo paper for prints is still red-insentive, so you can use a red light to navigate by.)

(White sky example, photo taken on an orthochromatic plate in 1906. Bigger picture on click. An even bigger one can be found on Shorpy's.)

Understanding Southern, Cosby

[Thanks to Henry]