Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sweet Lullaby

Another song gem: Sweet Lullaby as by Enya and Deep Forest. Even if you know (another version of) this wonderful song, you may not be aware that the melody and vocals are actually a public domain song, song by an African native, recorded decades ago.

About commening on the art

Somebody told me that they hesitate to comment on my photos because they think they know too little about photography and art, and was not sure if I wanted technical comments or what.

You don't have to know anything. I am pretty "eddicated" and experienced in it, and I really don't care to hear "if you moved the lamp post more to the left you'd get an L-composition" or whatever. I know all that stuff. What I want to hear is what it does for you. Just "it's pretty, I have it on my desktop now", or "it feels nice, reminds me of my grandmother's garden" is helpful. Anything deeper is welcome, but not at all necessary.

A Pink World

A friend's little daughter at three once looked out the window, very thoughtful, and after a while said to her mother: "Mom, wouldn't it be beautiful if everything was pink?"

I find this not just cute and funny, but remarkably thoughtful.

Doing things well

I googled "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well," to find out who said it first. I didn't find out, but I did find a surprise: many argue against it! And many find it to be the motto of a perfectionist.
Well, that's just nonsense. "Doing things well" is not the same as "doing things perfectly", not by a long stretch.
Doing something well usually does not take much more work than doing it poorly, and it makes the doer proud, gives pleasure to those who see the result, and it ensures that the job will not need to be done again soon.

Seeing things behind appearances

(This is a follow-up on comments on the Out Of The Woods post.)

Many of the most valuable people to society are those who are able to "see things behind appearances".

Even in something as seemingly rational as computer hardware, this is true. For instance a genius like Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, could do things with hardware that he could not explain and which made no sense to others, but which made the machines vastly more efficient than others managed.

Changing platforms

An expert leaves Windows behind.

Wall Street Journal review of Windows Vista by Walt Mossberg.

Jung on time and space

There are these peculiar faculties of the psyche, that it isn't entirely confined to space and time, you can have dreams or visions of the future, you can see around corners and such things, only ignorance denies these facts. - Carl Jung

Merely Pretty






I stand corrected, we should not be ashamed sometimes of the "merely pretty", just because it isn't deep. So here are a few more from the woods.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Out of the woods


The small printer is also fun for printing sentimental pictures like this one, which as an "ahtiste" I would be ashamed of publishing on the web... :)

I guess I tend to shy from the scorn from those who can't tell the difference between art involving pretty scenes, and hack work involving pretty scenes. And to be sure, the difference can be subtle.

Shaken, not Stirred


Just to illustrate how much Image Stabilization can mean, this is a sample from a trip to the wood last year. There was this wonderful light as you can see, and I took many pictures of it with my otherwise wonderful Fujifilm F10. And they were ALL shaken beyond recognition. Not one was usable. If I'd had the Canon G7 at that point the picture would have been different. (Literally.)

A tiny printer


I've found out from experience that my big pro printer is not really handy when I want to give small prints to friends. So I bought the tiny Sony DPP-FP55 printer. It can print from a SD memory card, or via USB plugged into a digital camera, or from a Windoze PC. (If you use Mac and want to print pics from your computer, you can copy them to an SD card.)
It's simple to use, and much fun. The prints are like drugstore prints, 10x15 cm, and cheap. And of gorgeous quality.

I snapped the above picture of it. As you can see it's no bigger than a lunch box. The prints are my neighboring houses (which you've seen I use for testing), the recent sunrise picture, and my friends Peter and Ale.

It's the perfect thing when you are photographing people, in a social or a professional context, and you want to give them an instant print. It is almost as fast as a Polaroid photo, and the quality is much better. And of course you have the digital file for much bigger prints later, or for the web.

"White And Nerdy"



One of the funniest songs/videos yet from Weird Al Yankovic.
Check out Donny Osmond as the Big White Nerd dancer.

That's a hoot and a holler, as Trey Parker would have it.

Oh, and in case you (like me) don't know which song he took it from, it is Ridin (Dirty). It's a good song.

There's also a Making Of video. Watch it. Donny O is very funny!

More on Image Stabilization



Fearing that I really don't have enough cameras, I've bought the new Canon G7.
(Some people drink or smoke or party to calm their nerves, I buy cameras. :)

I suspect that the G7 is one of the first compact (pocket-sized, if you have big pockets) cameras with successful image-stabilization. I have tried a Nikon P3 which supposedly has it too, but I did not see a difference. (The P3 is much smaller, and surely does not use the same technology.) But with the G7 it works.

See these test photos (not intended for artistic purposes!) I took them both at 1/8 second, which is way too slow for hand-holding a camera, ordinarily. Not only that, they are taken at the equivalent of a 200mm telephoto setting!

These two samples illustrate two things, oddly enough:
1: You might be able to handheld ridiculously slow shutter speeds and get useful images out of it (though not pin-sharp).
2: For such slow speeds, you also need LUCK!

Now, guess which one of them had me resting the camera on the window sill? Wrong... it is the blurred one! Which also illustrates that Images Stabilization works in mysterious ways. When things are iffy, better take multiple shots. (And give a thought to the old days where you had to pay for film and processing.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

More on the "megapixel-myth"

More on the "megapixel-myth".
(If you get a big ad when clicking on the above link, please notice the tiny, tiny link on upper right which says "skip this ad".)

I have to admit, even though I completely believe what Pogue is telling us here, and shows by testing, namely that very few people can tell the difference between different pictures with sizeable differences in megapixels, I am still hooked on them. I still feel I'm compromising when I use a 6-megapixel camera instead of a 10-megapixel camera. It is silly.

Testing

Blogger has just updated this blog to the new software. (It was late because this is apparently a very big blog, and it took time for the software to be ready for those.) So I want to test if I can now post bigger images than before.
... Hey! It works! It seems I can now post pictures up to 1600 pixels on the long side. How about this beauty?

"Industrial Town Ekstetic" part eight





This is probably the last part.
Make some comments, friends. I quite like these B/W ones.
(As usual, click for bigger view.) (Though they really should be seen even bigger than is possible via Blogger. The detail is nice.)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Industrial Town Ekstetic" part seven



Movie quotes

Who has favorite movie qoutes?

Pascal offered up, from Batman:
"Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?"

Two of mine are both from the android Roy in Bladerunner:

"If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes"

"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

That film has to be one of the most lyrical ever made, both linguistically and visually. A triumph.

UPDATE:
"A year ago exactly on this same night we were assembled here in this very room, I your pastor, and you my beloved flock. With hopefulness in my heart I told you then that with Lucifer's aid we might look forward to a more succulent occasion. Cast back your minds. There we were, gathered together, gloomy and despondent, around a single meager woodcutter."
- The Fearless Vampire Killers: (Roman Polanski, 1967) Ferdy Mayne (as Count von Krolock)

..."The Fearless Vampire Killers" is another favorite of mine. Wonderful, strange film, very abstract, but everything in it works together like clockwork. Ferdy Mayne, who seems to have worked only very little in movies, is magnificent as the Count, his Transilvanian accent is the best ever. Don't miss this film.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vincent in the rain


I am reading Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother: Dear Theo.
It is not as easy a read as Stone's van Gog biography Lust For Life, but for fans, it's a deep book.

Vincent tells of how he went into the fields to paint, and then a rain storm came. He sought meager shelter behind a big tree while it lasted, and then resumed. And because he had started with a low vantage point, he now had to stand on his knees in the mud! He seems to merely mention this to point out why he considers common workman's clothes to be the artist's best friend...

He also tells how he went out to paint the sea, in a storm so strong he could barely stay on his feet. One painting got so full of sand from the beach that he went to a nearby inn and retouched it... and then went back out into the storm to finish it with fresh impressions!

Today, most of us: "Go out with the camera today? Nah, it's a bit nippy, and I just got the Sopranos on DVD..."

Irving Stone edited Dear Theo, and while he may have done a good job generally, I think it was a disservice to the material to not indicate where he cut it. It is just one long text, no dates and no indication where each quote starts or ends.

"Industrial Town Ekstetic" part six



Deep Forest and "Walk Like An Egyptian"

Sharing another rare gem, this unusual and cool edition of Walk Like An Egyptian is by the excellent alternative/world-music band Deep Forest. I recorded it from the DVD of Mission Cleopatra (see earlier post).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cropping and aspect ratios of photos


A nice article by Michael Reichman about cropping and aspect ratios of photos.

CGI and Over the Hedge


I've just watched the computer-animated (CGI) film Over the Hedge.
1: The story and writing is... good. Not awesome, but entertaining and often very funny.
2: The voice acting is fantastic.
3: The action sequences are awesome and funny.
4: The visuals... are out of this world. Or maybe that should be "into this world", for the amazing thing, apart from the sheer amount of detail, is how photographic they are. You might not notice because the story is engrossing, but if you watch it a second time (the commentary track is good), take note of the light. They have very deliberately made the light look like the real world, including making sun-drenched details in the background be almost washed out (as in the picture above), and big blocks of things in the shade, etc. The light coming through semi-translucent objects like the turtle's shell is gorgeous.
The way they use "tele lenses" and "wide angle lenses" (of course it is all data in a computer, but they can program everything to simulate the real world, including camera positions and what lenses to use...) is amazing. The space is so convincing.

Of course this is a comedy aimed at the family market. (Read: basically for children, but we hope the adults will enjoy it too.) But the amazing progress of talent, skill, and technology displayed here make me very optimistic about future CGI films for adults, like SF and fantasy. It is getting very hard to imagine what can't be done any more, given a good budget. (And the budget necessary shrinks every years as hardware and software progresses.)

Actually I think that the main reason almost all the CGI films so far have been family films is that the big problem is making really convincing humans. The humans are getting very good, but they still look a bit like dolls. Not the best thing for a serious film. But it'll get there.
But then they can always mix live-action with CGI. And it is often being done very well. But we need imagination. One thing we almost never see, not even in written science fiction, is weird alien creatures... but intelligent and benevolent, not monsters. One of the few writers who do it is Iain M. Banks. I would love to see one of his books as a big budget SF movie.

"Industrial Town Ekstetic" part four


You should this picture in a large print, or a very large monitor like my 30-incher. It is a different experience, all the fine textures aren't seen in moderate sizes.

"Industrial Town Ekstetic" part three


Red and Yellow lights

It is a strange phenomenon of the light that in the picture I posted below, it looks like the topmost light is yellow. On the other picture you can see that it is actually red, and the middle one is yellow. It must be due to the overload that happens in a photograph. The eye has a much bigger dynamic range, so clear colors retain their clarity as they become brighter, whereas in a photo you can't add more light to them, so you have to add white, and they loose their cleanness of color.