Friday, November 30, 2018

What Is Art, an article

An article I wrote years ago. The book has not happened yet. This is compressed data from many years of research. 
(“Compleat” is correct. It’s an archaic spelling, alluding to the classic book The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton (it may be too much of an inside joke though...).)

By Eolake Stobblehouse

This is an article which will eventually become a book. It is a long process, and the final result will be much different and longer. I publish this, extremely compressed as it is, in order to get some comments to help with the further work.

This is a book about art.
I am tempted to leave the introduction at simply that statement, for that is the most precise and concise statement of the matter I could make.
However, this would not work , for after all there have been many books on art and there will doubtlessly be many more and how are you to know which kind this is? Some books talk about the history of art, famous artists, media, and so on, some books talk about contemporary trends in specific areas, some books teach techniques and other books wax philosophical.
This is a book of the last kind. It is definitely philosophical in nature, but is perhaps a bit unusual in that its goal is practical: A better understanding for the artist of what is art, and greater ease in his creative work and thus higher quality and quantity in his output.
This book is about art in its broadest possible sense. Not just about "painting" or even "painting, music, and sculpture", but about anything that has an aesthetic purpose whether or not it is normally seen as "art".
I have always regarded myself an artist and I have always striven towards becoming a better artist. This is probably why I have developed theories on the nature of art, in order to become a better artist myself. It never really was my intention to become a scholar or a teacher.
This book is a book written by an artist for artists. I am of course only too happy about anybody who is interested and reads it, but it really is intended for people who want to create and communicate. I don't care whether they are doing it professionally or not, or what medium or themes they work with. Anybody can be an artist, if he considers himself so. Many people consider that living itself can be an art form and certainly living itself as well as a host of activities can be considered in the light of the theories I present here.

Definitions of art
1: Any purposeful human activity that has no practical purpose, i.e. does nothing directly for physical survival, and produces something new.
2: Communication with beauty.
3: Creation wedded to communication.
4: A method of expanding the universe by creating.
5: Creating something that is pleasant, making it easier for people to turn their attention outward.
6: Interesting order.
7: A method of creating life.
Art is a method of coping that spiritual beings use when they are to a greater or lesser degree trapped in a fixed universe, where creation is limited and discredited. A spirit stuck in the unnatural position of not being easily able to create something that others can perceive, can use the method of making facsimiles of his creations in the materials he finds already present and perceivable in the universe he is in. This helps others to get an impression of his creation, and through agreement makes that creation more real.

Architecture of Art, definitions
A central part of this book is the chart I call the "Architecture of Art" (AoA for short). I considered "Anatomy of Art", but I liked better the implication of a structure, or something built, or even the building of something, than that of the practice of taking something apart, which is a quite different activity from what we are talking about here.
In the AoA I have divided art into three different parts or aspects. These three parts are again each divided into three parts. The AoA could be viewed as a structure or machine providing a process reaching from the physical universe into spiritual spheres. Or vice versa.
You could say that it is a blueprint of art as an machine. The lower the level the easier it is taught, observed, evaluated, and corrected. The higher the part, the more slippery it is to pinpoint or evaluate and to handle all in all.
The top of the scale is the reason why art has mystical connotations to many people. It simply cannot be explained easily if it is not perceived directly, since language derives from the physical universe, and the top of the scale is spiritual (and yet still real).
From a spiritual viewpoint the parts are more important the higher you go, and from a materialistic viewpoint the lower parts are more important.

Art consists of: (From the top) Static, Process, and Object.
"Static" consists of: Naturalness, Creatingness, and Wholeness.
"Process" consists of: Motion, Attraction, and Substance.
"Object" consists of: Representation, Association, and Materials.

Here are the basic definitions (from the bottom up).
Object: The part of the work that enters into the physical universe. It is the anchor that connects the creation to reality.
Process: Expanding the spirit, creating awareness of new things.
Static: The idea. The permanent part of the work. Not physical. This part endures as long as there is time. It also reaches far beyond the physical universe.
Materials: Are simply what the word says, the physical tools and things the artist uses in order to get his idea to appear in physical form.
Association: Is what the receiver thinks of, consciously or not, when viewing the work of art. Some associations are sane, like thinking of the smell of roses when seeing a picture of a rose, and some associations are not sane, like feeling a pain in the elbow when seeing a picture of a rose. There are many, many associations for any subject, and some are very personal (and so unpredictable), and some are more universal (belonging to a people or a species), and can be used by the artist.
Representation: The work of art represents an idea in the artist's universe. The more the Object is like the idea the stronger the art.
Substance: The created mass plus related masses (those masses made relevant by association.) A larger work needs great skill and integrity to keep these masses together seamlessly.
Attraction: That which keeps the work of art and those viewing it from blowing apart. (The process would tend to cause that otherwise, since it makes the viewer's universe expand and so push things away.) This is synonymous with "prettiness", and it is an important part of the popularity of a work, but only a smaller part of its overall importance.
Motion: The motion in the work/idea. It is the actual motion of the particles making up the idea, just like the motion of electrons etc. make up matter. Something which is not moving will not be perceived and if there is no motion at all, nothing exists. Motion creates space and time, making communication possible. (The Object does not, of course, have to be in motion for the work or the idea to be.) Both the quality and the quantity of the motion is considered.
Wholeness: The togetherness or the integrity of the work. How well the parts of the work play together in their action. Also the relative lack of superfluous or missing parts.
Creatingness: The amount of creation in the work. How much of it not taken from somewhere else. The power of creation put into it.
Naturalness: To which degree the work and its parts are the artist's own decision and is made from his own necessity. This is the naturalness (for the artist) of the viewpoint from which the artist creates his work.

The Architecture of Art chart is a tool.
It can be used to simply understand art better, but also has a variety of uses beyond that. It can be used as a tool during the whole process of creating a work of art from before the first idea to the last polishing.
It is not a tool of criticism. Criticism is in general a destructive (or at least deconstructive) process, and even though destruction can be good and necessary, the AoA is far too powerful a tool for such use. It is for the use of the artist when evaluating or creating his own work.

The purpose of art
Art has many purposes. The most basic of these, however, is expansion.
Expansion of the spirit by expansion of the universe.
And expansion of the universe by expansion of the spirit.
The universe is built of many layers. The topmost layers are those that can be contacted and perceived by the body's hands and eyes, i.e. crude matter. Under those are the finer sorts of energy, which can be perceived with finer instruments. And beyond those, even finer things, perceivable by even finer instruments, when built, or by the spirit itself. Those finer energies are no less a part of the universe than the cruder ones, and are in fact usually far more influential.
The universe is a solidified form of the collected ideas that the spirits inhabiting it have. The universe (or universes, if you will, for it is a complex thing) is one of the things that monitor the awareness-, happiness-, and activity-level of the spirits in contact with it. The simplest connection is straightforward: the more universe, the higher awareness.
And so, art becomes a method of expanding awareness by creating more of what is.
Any being (spirit, person) can create. (He wouldn't be here, if he didn't continuously create his surroundings.) He often creates for his own amusement in his own universe. And as he is in contact with the universe and other spirits, this has an effect on its own. What makes art a challenge is that in order to have a faster and more effective addition to the mass of ideas that comprises the universe, one must enlist the aid of others. In other words, one much make one's ideas communicate.
When the creation communicates, others want to join in and help create it also, and it gets solid much easier.
The problem, if any, is that pure creation, in the nature of things, is new. As such it is nothing people have ever seen before, so they have no relationship to it, so why have anything to do with it?Much of communication is based on familiarity. A being who is too used to living in a physical body which is not of his own creation is rather tough to reach and responds fast only to communication in the very physical end of things (i.e. food, sex, pain, etc.) Some people are great enough to go beyond that, and can receive communication that is more abstract and less familiar. These people are often an artist's most prized audience. But the point is to make art work effectively you have to combine in an intimate manner two things that natively have nothing whatsoever to do with each other, namely creation and communication. To a human being, they are almost like oil and water, for one requires familiarity and one is, by its very nature unfamiliar. And so we see the skill it takes to make good art.

Mediums and their basics.
The basic of pictures is the rendition of space.
The basic of sculpture is the rendition of matter.
The basic of music is the control of time.
The basic of stories is the discussion of people.
Some mediums, of course, combines things. Film combines people with space and time.
Architecture is matter and space.
Acting is energy.
The definition of quality is: How well something works according to its purpose.
Quarrels about quality are usually based on (unacknowledged) disagreements about purpose.

Beauty, definition.
1: A natural state of spirit.
2: That quality which makes desirable the existence of something.
3: Pleasantness.
4: Harmony and life.
5: Attraction.

"That's not art!"
A destructive way of critizising art is by the statement "That's not art!"
The intentions of a person making such a statement is to make it cease to exist, either because he is a destructive person or in a destructive mood.
One should realize that fact and ignore it as simply another opinion on the quality of the work and remember that it is a work of art, and that any work of art is better than none.

Destruction of beauty.
One of the basic evil intentions in the universe is the destruction of beauty. This is so basic that possibly all of us have felt it from time to time. Certainly all of us have been affected by it.
It is one of the basic manifestations of the evil and sick soul that he cannot stand beauty.
Since one of the basic ingredients of art is beauty, this intention of course has devastating effects upon an artist's life and work. Much of the hardship and the fighting thrust upon an artist under the disguise of criticism, help, finance, and understanding problems, stems simply from the desire in certain people to destroy beauty. One should realize what it is and not be too discouraged.

The Artwork's force-field.
Any work of art existing in space is built around a forcefield. A forcefield is an energy system with one center and straight lines of force radiating from that. It also has the characteristic of concentric spheres of energy made from standing waves in the forcelines. The spheres of course have the same center as the lines, they are two manifestations of the same thing. And the thing is like a frozen explosion.
You simply arrange the parts and details in the artwork so they are in harmony with the forcefield. The forcefield's center is always in the exact center of the work, e.g. the frame of the painting.
The reason for this is that the explosion is the most well known and real energy manifestation anywhere. It is familiar and so has impact on any kind of living being anywhere. It has always been used in destroying and building things, probably because it is the simplest possible energy manifestation in three-dimensional space. In other words, any strange and unfamiliar phenomenon (which a work of art by its nature is) will still seem real to some degree when it is based on this. There of course is nothing stopping one from disregarding this and compose stuff based on completely different basics, but as long as the universe is basically as it is at the time of this writing, they will probably not communicate well.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Technology and Art

I like technology because it represents control and order in a chaotic universe.

I like art because it represents a finer and more complex control and order in a chaotic universe. 

Both, when successful, are beautiful.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

The mind parasite

How do you trap the most powerful being in the world?

In the classic story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, writer Alan Moore has Superman attacked by an alien parasite which attaches to him and puts him a coma, trapped by a dream.
In the dream, Superman is back in his home world Krypton, living a happy life in a world which has not exploded ever (unlike reality, which is why he is exiled here on Earth).

But very gradually, irregularities start kreeping in, and the dream becomes less and less happy. This eventually leads to Superman being able to wake up, freeing himself.

I was thinking: why does the plant not simply make the dream perfect, so he would want to stay there?
Simple: it’s not the plant making the dream after all, it’s Superman’s mind. And he wants to wake up. So he makes the dream unpleasant enough that he *wants* to wake up.

I thought that this explains a lot.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Screenless Leica

Leica M10D. The best damn seventies camera money can buy.

(I’m a little confused though, I’m sure this camera came out like two years ago? At least some M Leica without a screen.)

I can see the appeal of the simplicity. But then you have the downside of the rangefinder, no autofocus, no zooms or long lenses...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A tale of new band names

Deadpool II is funny. Near the beginning there’s a scene where DP (no, not that) is slaughtering a whole steam room full of Asian gangsters. And what music do they pair it with? Metallica? Slayer? Neopunk Deathfok? Drama Mortis? Figurative Blood? Anal Insertion? No... Enya!

... Most of those band names I made up. It’s a hobby.

Damn, now I have to start a band named Anal Insertion.
Or at least write a book named “Anal Insertion European Tour ‘37”. Subtitle: “All I got was this dumb tee-shirt, the band stole all my coke”.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

How we choose


Gain divided by distance or time, compared to gain divided by distance or time. 

If a gain is far away (happening to others, perhaps even strangers), or will take long before you see it, it may not be selected over a smaller gain which is closer, happening now, to you. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


Judenhass by Dave Sim. “Jew hatred”. A very brief visual history of the holocaust and beyond. Not only Germany was implicated, by far. A deeply shocking comic, be warned.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Kevin on the new Canon system

Excellent evaluation (video) of Canon’s new mirrorless system, as it is now in the beginning.

At the moment, I guess Sony and Fuji are ahead. But in 3-5 years I think both Canon and Nikon will have very strong systems. And I really hope that Panasonic and especially Olympus can keep up with sensor, for they have wonderful lenses and even cameras. And I love compact cameras, as I’ve said about 55 times.

I’ll say it again though: I think that for most purposes, full frame is overkill. Too big and heavy gear, too narrow depth of field, and bigger sensor than we need even now, and particularly in the future. I think the rush to full frame is ten years too late, it’s just a fad based on perfectionism and fetishism. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Micro Four Thirds vs Full Frame

Comparison of big prints.

There may be a difference hand-held in super-low light, who knows?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Hard to do...

“Well, how come you only want tomorrow

With it's promise of something hard to do”

- David Bowie, Teenage Wildlife

Isn’t that the truth? The human mind is so effin perverse. 

For one example, I could not go back to film photography even if it was still better quality. It’s just way too much work. And at the same time, digital is almost *too easy*! 

Why do we value anything simply because it’s hard to do? It’s insane, it should be the result which matters. Communication or beauty should be what matters, not the barriers to achieve them. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

September Dawn

... Back in the excellent Photoclub (Naestved, Denmark) I attended as a teen, some were deeply into Ansel Adams’ “Zone System” of exposure. I was a complex system of making sure that your photo had tones all the way from black to white, but still had detail all over. As a major voice in the club said about it: “it can almost make you stop photographing altogether.” (Of course it was much harder to control contrast with film.) 

And indeed I have found it important to remember that as Adams said, the Zone System is a teaching tool, not an artistic tool. Once one has learned to control tones, then one is free to make other choices. For example I have found that sometimes blocks of pure black without detail is much more expressive than the Technically Correct way.
(Granted, I didn’t have much choice in this case, but sometimes I’ve had.)

... Aha, I found some of those pictures where I went Dark:

(Canon 5D2, 24mm F:1.4, set at 8.0 and ISO 640. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New über-camera from Denmark

New Danish high-end camera with ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEGAPIXELS! Phase One IQ4.
This is *twelve* times as much as what I consider enough for 99% of photography. (And for 90%, six is enough.)

In other words, pretty damn specialised equipment. I can’t even imagine who really needs this. I also wonder, how is companies like Phase One and Hasselblad going to distinguish themselves in the future, now that you can already get *superb* professional cameras for two thousand dollars, and theirs cost something like twenty times that. It’s like building cars that can go eight hundred miles an hour. Prestige products. But I guess that some will always have the money, and the desire to have the very best, no matter if that Best is practically useful.

I admit I still feel a strong attraction to superb tools. But this has now entered a sphere so stratespheric that I can’t even imagine anything I could do with it, better than with, say, the new Nikon Z7, or Sony A7RIII.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The tale of the Cosmic Chicken

The cosmic chicken sat. It ruminated. It considered. It decided.

Invitations went out.

“Come see the show. Greatest show ever. The act of creation. Come now, come early, see it all.”

The all came. They all saw.

The chicken concentrated. It thought. It pressed. It clucked. It conceived.

The egg descended slowly. It glowed. It was glorious.

The egg split in two. A gold and a silver. They both cracked open.

Two small chicks, a black and a white, stumbled out onto the plains, parting. Each veered, wobbled, varied their course towards the horizon. They pecked for seeds. They walked on, searching, searching.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Nikons, mirrorless

So the eagerly and long awaited Nikon mirrorless cameras have arrived.
I must say, so far I’m impressed. I’d expected them to be good of course, but I’d not expected them to be such a leap up in both functionality and image quality. And I’m especially impressed with the price, I’d have thought twice the price to be reasonable, but don’t tell Nikon.
See article and video here.
And an early review on image quality and lenses.
For many years, digital cameras did not have dynamic range (contrast coverage) equal to film. But recently they have surpassed it, and this has fifteen stops of it, which is awesome.
It also has eye-following (of the subject) autofocus, which was the killer app of the recent Sony cameras.
And of course in-camera stabilization, a huge advantage of some mirrorless camera over DSLRs.

I think the naming though, Z6 and Z7, is not of the same high standard! They are obviously at total effect of Sony here, naming the cameras practically the same as the Sonys which have been eating into their marketshare. Also, why still the taste-free names? Why not. Uhm, “Nikon Killroy 1” or “Nikon Calypso Dancemaster” or “Nikon Taserface K”, just to go wide.

As old readers know well, being mainly a street photographer, I’m a big fan of compact cameras, and for years I’ve thought that full-frame cameras are just too big and heavy. Well this is still so, even though the body in the new Nikon Z system is much smaller. But: for special projects demanding extreme image quality, I could actually imagine myself using this system.

As I’d predicted here, they have indeed made a brand new mount (for the first time ever! Due to Nikon’s same-mount promise), and an adapter for legacy lenses. But I thought it could really not be any different, they could not take advantage of mirrorless design without getting a shorter lens-to-sensor distance, or faster lenses without the bigger mouth. They have great flexibility for the future with this new mount.

I hope they will go beyond the current fetish for big and heavy “ultimate” lenses, and also make some compact ones. Leica M lenses have always been amazing, and are also very small, so surely it can be done now with computer design.

Look at this dynamic range!
Copyright Ross Harvey, see article

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Is sex important?

Many people, to my surprise actually, seem to have the misunderstanding that because I ran a nudie site, I am more into sex than most people. In fact I’m virtually asexual in practice.

 I consider sexuality a powerful force, sure. But hell, so is sugar! It does not mean it is important, only that it is strongly addictive.

 For me, beauty, spirit, philosophy, art, are *much* more important than sex.


Art, simplicity or complexity?

I’ve been back and forth in the past about whether art, in the widest sense, should be about simplicity or complexity. I more and more realise that it really has to be both. If too simple, it has no power. You can’t make a picture with four pixels. But if too complex, it does not communicate. The receiver can’t take in millions of elements at once.

 It seems to me the most powerful formula is a simple core for quick communication, and added, more subtle complexity for deeper power, to be revealed with time and attention.

Running Yellow Man, Stobblehouse

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Iain M. Banks on FS and hell

“I think a lot of people are frightened of technology and frightened of change, and the way to deal with something you're frightened of is to make fun of it. That's why science fiction fans are dismissed as geeks and nerds.”

 - Iain M. Banks

 Do read this interview, it’s very interesting if you’re interested in SF and culture and literature.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Survival or life?

What is more important, survival or living?

 What is more important, achieving joy or avoiding pain?

 These are only easy questions in the abstract.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Anger and Terry Pratchett

In the foreword to A Slip Of The Keyboard by Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman talks about how Terry, who usually seemed jolly and mellow, was nothing of the kind, he had tonnes and tonnes of anger.
And Terry loved his anger, and claimed that it was the driving force behind his creative output, such as their wonderful collaborative book, the very funny Good Omens.

I hate to disagree with a genius like Terry Pratchett, but I must. While it is fantastic to be able to turn around your anger and seemingly having it contribute to powerful creative output, I think it’s a bad metaphysical mistake to *venerate* it and to think it’s a positive force. It is not. Everything is better without anger (or fear, which is below anger). Anger is rigid. You can work well *despite* anger, not because of it.

Admittedly, Anger is not something one gets rid of in a hearbeat. It takes long work. But a good start is recognizing it for what it is.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling

I really like the SF novel Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling. It beautifully and interestingly dramatises a theme I have not read in any other book: the conflict and contrast between wisdom and (over-)carefulness of old age and the beautiful raw life-force of youth (“holy fire”). 
How often do you seen an entirely fresh theme in a book?!

And it is powerfully described in the same character, a very old woman, Mia, who in the late 21st century gets a radical new medical treatment which rejuvenates her to an apparent age of twenty. 

And the dense culture of the late twenty-first he describes is delightful.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Courtney Hadwin, a talent is born

Must see. 
I can’t breathe for laughter and delight. 
I’m not even going to watch the last half of the video, I don’t want anything to ruin that fantastic performance... Her movements alone.
Update: I’ve watched it several times; it cheers me up every time. 


Sunday, June 03, 2018

A wonderful keyboard, Havit

O my flippin' gawd, I've never been this excited and frustrated at the same time. (Maybe except for a high school dance...)
 I just got a new keyboard, a Havit HV KB390L. It's compact, flat, light enough to take in a bag, and yet has mechanical switches. This combination is rare, perhaps unique at this time.

The key swithces are special flat ones, and as it turns out they are just the right key throw for me, three millimetres. And it is FANTASTIC.
 I don't normally say things like that, but seriously, from the first minute, my speed and ease of typing has never been greater. A marked upgrade from any of the 20+å keyboards I've owned (and mostly still own.)

 But: it turns out it does not have a Mac/iOS driver! Hence the frustration part. And worse, my iPad, which normally works fine with a USB keyboard, tells me this one uses too much power. Urgh! I can use it with my Mac, and I will for sure, but I really wanted to use it with my iPad, where I do 95% of my typing.

It still doesn’t have a Mac/iOS layout, but I made it work with my iPad!!
I remembered an old trick of putting an unpowered USB hub in between. That tricks the device, the peripheral no longer uses too much power... (!)

I love writing on this keyboard.
Now I just need something to say. :-)

Havit HV KB390L keyboard,
iPad Pro 12.9-inch, floor stand

Friday, May 18, 2018

“CaNikon” mirrorless coming up

Update: See the video on this page for a viewpoint on why mirrorless is so important.

So, it appears that next year, Nikon and Canon will finally get their act together and make a professional mirrorless system each.

I think they definitely will need to make a new lens mount and lenses, because keeping that huge old distance from lens to film is ridiculous. (The mirror necessitated that.) With a good adapter, people can use their old lenses for a while.

But, and this is important: I also think that for many of us, Full Frame is a dying system. It’s just too large and heavy, and unnecessarily so.
Already now, sensors are so good that the half-sized (linear) Micro Four Thirds sytem has plenty good enough image quality for professional use, and the cameras and lenses are the perfect size. (Small ones for casual use and hand-sized ones for professional.) And only half the weight of full frame gear.
And sensors are still getting better every year. In ten years, FF will be a dinosaur. Zat iz mi belif.

With the fastest lenses, you can get good background blur with M4/3 too, although of course not as extreme as with FF. But interestingly, with digital tools as in iPhone X, this can even be done in a phone. OK it’s not perfected yet, but I expect it will become so. And when it works well, it works surprisingly well!

“Canon has noticed the explosion of interest and progress in mirrorless cameras, and it’s trying to join the party before it’s too late. Nikkei reports that SLR sales dropped over 10% in Japan in 2017 while mirrorless sales rose nearly 30%.”
- Petapixel

Canon and Nikon has a huge amount of catching up to do now. They have simply been way too afraid of canibalizing their ancient (D)SLR lines. Fear keeps most companies from realising that if they don’t eat their babies, other animals will. That Apple is not afraid of this has helped make them the most profitable company in the world.

Not that I don’t think CaNikon won’t win back their share. The world is not often “fair” that way, it’s rarely the innovators who take the big harvest.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Tree/landscape, first new drawing in years.


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Cafe visit

The Swan And The Swine

The Swan And The Swine, one of my most successful drawings, I made it for a poster for a concert in the Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Night Vision 1-4

(Click For Big Pic)

iPhone X, auto, hand-held.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Carrying camera systems

The Camera Store has nice review videos. Here is one about various ways of carrying your camera systems.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

A.I. Explosion

The “artificial intelligences” we have so far, like Amazon’s Alexa, are not very impressive at all. If you ask them anything beyond what they are strictly programmed to answer, they are stumped. In other words they can’t think at all.

But I wouldn’t bet too much that they can’t get to do so. And something just struck me: it is unlikely that we will see a long, slow growth in intelligence of A.I.’s. I think that when it happens, it’s gonna go really flippin’ fast. One year they will still seem dull as bricks, and the next year they will be smarter than us, and the next they will have taken over the world, for better or worse.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Leica story, small to large

Article and video in Luminous Landscape’s nice series about the Leica camera/company.

I find it ironic that about a century years ago when Leica was founded, it was about a good camera with what was then a *tiny* negative, 35mm. Today with digital sensors, 35mm (24x36mm) is a *big* format! Unusually big; today you get better image quality than 35mm film with some cameras which have a tiny fraction of that sensor area. In other words, the basics of Leica today has nothing in common in the basics with the Leica originally.
Sure, you can say it has high quality in common, but high quality in mechanics is simply inherent in German engineering.

This is not really important, I just find it funny, because many would say that if any company has stuck to being about what it was always about, it’s Leica, but simply because of outter changes that is not true. Leica used to be a tiny-format alternative to the mainstream large-film cameras, and now it is a *large-format* alternative to the mainstream small-sensor cameras...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Leica cine-lenses

For those who like lenses and quality gear, lookit this article/video on Leica’s new-ish line of cinema lenses.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sony A7III

This is a fun talk about a new advanced Sony camera, if you like professional cameras.
It’s remarkable what you can get now for two grand. I think the mirrorless cameras are pulling way ahead of Canon and Nikon’s old DSLR systems now.

Notice especially the eye-following autofocus system (at about ten minutes into the video), that is amazing. Update: it’s a different kind of eye-tracking: it follows one of the subject’s eyes continually, so you don’t have to wait for the focus each time. There’s videos of it working, it’s impressive.

And the night-shooting abitlites are outstanding. (Partly a side-effect of the large sensor.)

I’ll admit though that for my use, street photography, this kind of camera (full frame) is too big and heavy, especially the lenses. I think only a pro, and a young and strong one, will want to use such gear for any length of time.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Would I upgrade an old film camera to digital?

My Hasselblad 500C with tele-lens.
It’s still a beutiful thing, to my mind classier than modern models.

An old friend, whom I used to photograph with when we were just teens, asked me if I’d considered a digital upgrade for my classic Hasselblad camera. It’s an interesting question considering how I revered the camera back in the day. This was my answer:

 Not really. A digital back was made for Hasselblad, but it didn’t cover the entire frame, far from it. And it was maybe a decade ago or moer, it was probably six MP or less, my iPhone now has more resolution(!). Also I don’t really care much for heavy cameras, I’m a walk-around photographer, so I like small/light gear.

 Additionally like camera reviewer/photographer/writer Steve Hynes told me even several years ago, the digital quality “sneaks up on you,” he told me that he had looked at old medium-format pictures on film of his, and the quality was really not that great compared even to smaller modern digital cameras.
 And that fits with what I’ve seen. The lenses were great for the day, but times have really changed. Modern lenses for digital are way sharper than old film lenses, all the lens makers have new digital lenses.

 It’ my opinion, and not mine alone, that modern cameras with pretty small sensors, like Olympus M4/3 cameras, make better image quality now than old 35mm cameras did, even the good ones. And that modern full-frame (35mm) cameras do better quality than old medium-format cameras like Hasselblad. And I even think that’s a quite conservative statement! (I'd have put my life on line saying something like that not too long ago, but I think time has proven this now.)

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Is effectiveness important?

Is effectiveness important?
Well, okay, the short answer is “yes”... Without the effectiveness of industrialisation, we would not have the 4-century long economic boom and gains in health and peace which we are enjoying.

But I’m suspecting it can be taken too far. I’ve been a total addict to effectiveness, for example always wanting the smallest possible camera with sufficient image quality. But sometimes I find that the super-ease of image-making in the digital era almost makes it *less* fun to make pictures than it was when you had to stand in the darkroom for hours to make a couple of good prints. Or at least more satisfying. Why are we only satisfied with an achievement if it was hard to do?
I really don’t know.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Circle/glass/BW/Abstract new photo



Wow, talk about an obvious phishing scam. There were no graphics, the link was not to Paypal, and the return address was to a random site!
(They still probably get a few takers.)

Subject: {Spam?} Warning Notification
Date: 24 February 2018 at 11:13:37 GMT

Dear PayPal Costumer,

It has come to our attention that your PayPal account information needs to be updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to reduce the instance of fraud on our website. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and update your personal records you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

However, failure to update your records will result in account suspension. Please update your records before February 25, 2018.

Once you have updated your account records, your PayPal account activity will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

Please click here (or copy/past on your browser) to update your account :[...]

Copyright 1999-2018 PayPal. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Love and Death

There are two basics in stories which call for general interest: Love and Death.

 On a lower level they are called Sex and Violence.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Image quality is quantity

I’ve had an insight: Sharpness, or more properly, resolution, how much detail a camera or lens can show, is normally regarded as “image quality”, but it really isn’t, it is QUANTITY. It is *how many details* you can show in one picture.

And quantity is impressive, especially to us males. We love big things. Which is pretty dumb, because that is not really important. Quality is more important. Quality is expression, communication.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

“Fear And Loathing In The Galleries”

Almost twenty years ago I wrote an article entitled “Fear And Loathing In The Galleries”. I proposed that the time was nigh when art would be sold as digital files to be shown on digital frames. 

Well... the digital frames are only starting to become decent. (Lumlan just had an article on them.) And to be honest I’ve yet to hear of any artist who succesfully sells digital art. 

But... the art/photo print was there because it was the *only way* for people to enjoy pictures. Now there are screens everywhere. And more free art than anybody can consume. 
Some of the pictures will survive for the future, of course, like usual only a tiny percentage. 

But maybe the digital age is destroying the visual artist as a profession? 

I wrote this a comment to this article

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Angel, a story

Illustration by Andrea Sfiligoi
October Dreams
or The Angel
by Eolake Stobblehouse

I had an odd dream: I was in a park in Copenhagen in the fall, photographing close-ups of colorful leaves in large-format. The park was very beautiful, towering trees in glowing colors all around me, the leaves on the ground rustling faintly when I walked and when I moved the tripod around.

I was standing on a small wooden bridge over a stream, photographing a large red leaf which had fallen on the handrail, when I heard flapping wings behind me. I was so engrossed in focusing that I didn't think about it except that it had to be a very large bird from the sound.

Then I felt a sort of... tingling presence from behind, and a voice said to me over my shoulder: "What are you doing?" The voice was sort of female, sort of child-like, but not really like anything I'd heard before. And it was coming from slightly above, which is unusual, since I am very tall. And then out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving. It seemed to be a wing.

With some weird feeling in my chest, in between fear and excitement, I turned around. She was standing very close to me, and smiling in a way so that I felt calm and good right away. It seemed to be an angel.

She was taller than me, over two metres tall. Her wings were each longer than her body. On the whole, apart from the wings, she looked very human, except everything about her was luminous, sort of like dry pastel colors or stained glass windows. She was not wearing anything, and she had a perfection that in itself proved that she was nothing like human. One of her eyes was blue, the other green.

"Hi," she said, simply, and I felt very happy. "Hi," I said weakly. She shifted her weight to one foot, and seemed to be waiting for something. Finally she lifted an arched eyebrow and said "Hm?"

With astute intelligence, I said "Hm?"

To that she answered: "I asked you what you were doing, remember?"

I laughed, but was not embarrassed, for she had nothing teasing about her. "Oh that. I am... photographing. Making pictures. Of the leaves."

"Hm," she said, smiling, and then she lifted the black cloth over the view plate of the camera, and looked at the upside-down version of the picture I had framed. She studied it for a moment, turning her head on its side, left and right. Then she said, "I see. What for?"

I fumbled a bit and said: "It is art. It is meant to be nice, to be pleasant to look at. It makes one happy to look at. Like you do," I added, feeling pleased with having managed a compliment, no matter how inadequate.

She seemed faintly puzzled. "I am art?" she asked.

Oh dear. "Er, no," I stammered. "I guess not. You are... well, I dunno what you are... an angel? A person, certainly. Persons can be pretty too. Persons can also make other people happy."

"Oh," she said. "So why are you making art? If people are happy anyway?"

This was deeper waters than I had intended swimming in on such a quiet afternoon. "Oh, boy," I said. "Well. First, people are not happy always. And I guess art gives a special kind of happiness. It certainly does for me. It is hard to explain. It sort of gives one the feeling of being part of a higher purpose. Something divine, I guess." I looked at her and tried not to get lost in her glowing beauty. "Am I making sense?"

She laughed, a very pleasant sound. "I don't know. But I think you will, when I have learned more about the world and humans. It doesn't make a lot of sense yet, all in all."

"He he," I answered, "unless you are a whole lot smarter than most of us, it won't make a lot of sense for quite a while yet."

"Ah, it'll come to me," she said. "I have only been here for a couple hundred years."

She turned and walked away. I watched her, looking at her slender back and her spectacular wings. When she reached an open space, she bent a little at the knees, beat her huge wings, and took off, straight up. It was an amazing sight, and I watched with a mixture of awe and melancholy.

the end

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

In two minds

I pointed out to a dear friend that she was contradicting herself (about something important to us both), and she said “don’t look to me for consistency.” I found that very funny.

 Even more funny; even after a lot of learning about how all of us are really in two minds about everything, I *still* find myself puzzled whenever somebody is inconsistent.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Carnival After Dark

Click for big pic.

This scene was so dark I could not see where I was putting my feet! Unbelievable that a phone camera can capture it hand-held. 
(iPhone X, no after-processing)

Traffic Culture

Images are clickable.

iPhone X, auto, no processing.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Amanda Palmer on Asking

Amanda Palmer, The Art Of Asking. Totally brilliant talk about Asking And Receiving instead of Demanding And (not) Receiving. Thanks to Douglas S. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Look To Windward by Iain M. Banks

I have just finished re-re-reading Look To Windward by Iain M. Banks. If pressed, I might just designate it my favorite book from one of my favorite series, the Culture books.

Banks’ Culture books are modern space opera done right. The old-timey space opera was basically just westerns in space. A classic example are E. E. Doc Smith’s Skylark and Lensman series. They are good fun, but they are pretty much tough-guy space police fighting bigger and bigger baddies in bigger and bigger battles. The culture books are space opera for the thinking man.

Banks, now sadly passed before his time, said in an interview that he would love to live in the Culture, and so would I. He said it was an attempt at the most positive civilization he could imagine which was still recognizably human. It’s pretty much a utopia, except it’s interesting.

I guess my favorite bit is the spaceships. I’m a hopeless dork for big thingies, and I don’t know anybody who did it better than Banks. There are many types, including the General Systems Vehicles. Here you have a spaceship, held together with forcefields, which is a big city in one chunk. Think many kilometers long, several wide, and a couple tall, build in layers. They have big bays for building smaller ships, they have, well, everything a civilization needs, they have millions of inhabitants, humans, AI drones, and aliens of all kinds... they have smaller ships and aircraft and even indivicuals flying around it and over the parks. They are intelligent, run by “Minds”, hyper-AIs which work in hyperspace too... What’s not to love.

Look To Windward goes beyond even that. It has pathos and tension like most culture books. And it has outstanding inventions, one of the greatest is “air spheres”, which are collosal spheres of air which circle around the galaxy, which contain a whole world and civilization of their own, insanely old and wise, many of the citizens are intelligent, inscrutable plant-based “dirigibles” which themselves are individually millions of years old... A scholar from the Culture is trying to study these amazing beings, and he comes across a secret plot from outside, aimed at one of the Culture’s “orbital” worlds (like Ringworld, only not quite that large).

For me at least, this is just an exceptionally satisfying novel on so many levels. I wish I’d met Iain Banks.
I also wish they’d make movies from them, except I’m not optimistic they would get it right, it would be difficult, especially as everything today has to be all action.

Art by Mark J. Brady
(Inspired by the novel but not an illustration)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A lot of words...

Wow, I’ve just realised that on my blogs since 2005 I’ve posted about 10,000 posts!

 At about 150 words per post, that is 1,500,000 words, that is about twenty novels of 75,000 words... Almost two novels per year. Huh. So I’ve could have had a career as a novelist you say? Weeeell maybe, only writing a good coherent novel is way harder than writing a bunch of scatterbrain blog posts on various stuff.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reasons to go for smaller cameras

This guy tells about why he now has gone to smaller cameras. I particularly like one point I had not heard anybody say before: even for a young person, carrying about many kilos of gear all day can simply be demoralising to the point that you get home with fewer and worse pictures. I feel the same way. I always had a fondness for compact cameras, but these days it's just not fun anymore to use a big camera. Back when the only cameras which had really good quality were big and heavy I had one, but that is years ago.

He also says that the dynamic range (shooting a subject with extreme contrast) is the only reason he held onto full frame for so long, but it's no longer enough.
Oh, he is funny too.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Binoculars reflection movie trope

I can’t find any mention of this movie trope:

In movies and TV, often westerns, the hero looks up and sees a clear glint on a mountain or a roof top: somebody is watching them with binoculars.

I don’t buy it. A glass surface (unlike a mirror which has a silver covering) reflects only 4% of the light.
And more, a binocular front lens is curved. This means that the reflection of the sun is very small and weak, and falls off with the square of the distance. It is nothing like a reflection in a hand mirror. (And if it was, it would have to be extremely carefully aimed to be visible to anybody, because the light beam is only as wide as the mirror.)

Monday, January 08, 2018

Dirk Gently

There are two Dirk Gently books, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, and The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul. They are both humorous, intelligent, complex, and highly imaginative. And very original, I’ve not seen anything quite like them.

Douglas Adams of course wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The Dirk Gently books are also humor, but not at all as far out as HHGG. They are more ‘realistic’ as far as that can be said of books which involve time travel, ghosts, and gods.

I really appreciate them, it’s extremely rare to see such a combination of intelligence and imagination and humor. I think only Terry Pratchett is in the same league.

Adams was working on a third one when he died at 49 around the millennium. It was published with other diverse scraps, but was clearly only rough ideas.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Are ebooks failing?

There are many stories in the press about how ebooks are apparently failing. It is BS.