Saturday, April 28, 2007

Forgive Your Enemies

[Author unknown]

Sunday's sermon was "Forgive Your Enemies."

Toward the end of the service the minister asked, "How many of you have forgiven you enemies?" People in the congregation began to raise their hands. Eventually all had answered in this manner except one old lady.

"Mrs. Jones," the minister said as he motioned to her, "are you not willing to forgive your enemies?"

"I don't have any," replied Mrs. Jones, smiling sweetly.

"Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual," continued the minister. "How old are you?"

"Ninety-Eight," she replied.

"Ninety-eight! That's incredible! People, I think we can all learn something from Mrs. Jones this morning," he said to the congregation. He then motioned back to Mrs. Jones and said, "Please come down in front and tell us how a person can live ninety-eight years and not have an enemy in the world."

The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the congregation and said, "I outlived all those useless, good-for-nothing idiots!"

Bill Atkinson

Bill Atkinson is an outstanding computer engineer who worked on the original Macintosh, and invented many basic concepts now in use, like the Menu Bar, and he created the world's first paint program, MacPaint.

He is now working as an engineer in color printing fidelity, and also as a fine art photographer. His new (first) book Within The Stone has groundbreaking color intensity and fidelity for four-color printing. He is photographing the inside of polished rocks and getting amazing, abstract results.

I have just watched an interview with him on Luminous Landscape video Journal, and the sheer work and care this man puts into precision and fidelity is just breathtaking. His whole philosophy, which he sticks to rigidly, is to never change anything, he wants to get the photograph looking exactly like reality. And the funny thing is that by photographing just the right things, he somehow gets art anyway.

The story he tells in the interview about printing the book is fascinating. He couldn't find any American printer who was willing to work with him to improve the color printing technology. (Not changing the printing presses, only fine-tuning their use and color profiles, apparently.) But he worked with a Japanese one. They printed his book, and they got their machines optimized. It took six trips to Japan!

The amazing thing is that after this was done, this Japanese printer now has a press which prints far higher quality and richer colors, perfect precision, far above industry standard. And they can print much faster than before, no trial and error, which is essential, for running a press in Japan costs $8,000 an hour, so it saves big money. And still other companies in the printing industry are very reluctant to go this route.

Campaign Against Real Life

Many of you know the famous Dove campaign. Well, here is an excellent parody of it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Suzy Quatro

When I was a kid, my mommy told me I was ahead of the other kids in my class. And I've believed it since, for you should believe what you mama tells you.
But I've just realized that I may be not only behind them, but over thirty years behind! Those guy were into Suzi Quatro back then. I couldn't be having with rock music, it was not until I grew up I started to appreciate it.

Suzi Quatro: Wild One
Suzi Quatro: Wild One, slow version
(I would not have imagined that track would work so well in a slow version. I was actually looking for a harder version than the studio one. I think that song is made for a bone hard version.)

I love her voice, both the one for singing and the very different one for talking both very original and zzzzexy.
She is just so cute.
Funny, she had a bit role on Absolutely Fabulous a few years ago. And even though I hadn't seen any of her for decades and very little before that, something immediately told me, "gee, that's Suzi Quatro."

And they tell me she's back.
"Here I am at 55, standing up and saying, hey, you know what? I can still rock and roll! And I'm gonna shake my ass until there's no more ass to shake."
And she kept her home, health, and money too. Gotta love it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nanny McPhee

When we were talking about Emma Thompson, I decided to rent Nanny McPhee. I had earlier eschewed it, because it seemed too much like a childrens movie, and like nothing new. But seeing Emma made it, and her sincerity about it, I gave it a go. And I was not disappointed, it is a delightful movie. It is full of talent, great cast, and beautiful to look at.

I was astounded: the Browns in the film live in a great, huge old mansion, and next to a whole little village. And get this: this was all built from scratch! The village, the house, the vegetation, none of it was there.

Funny tidbit from the commentary track: Emma was dressed and made up as Nanny McPhee, who has a huge nose and warts, and some firemen come to the set. And Emma tells how she was "flirting outrageously" with the handsome firemen, but then she realized belatedly that she was wearing the make-up and looking like that she would never get any attention. She was past the point where she even noticed that she was wearing that spectacular make-up, and so was the others on the set.

Does Emma Thompson really need to flirt to get attention? (I mean when she does not wear warts.)

I never notice when anybody is flirting. Does nobody ever do it with me, or am I just missing the gene for noticing it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rob Galbraith

Near the bottom of this article is a link to a slide show of pictures from a volleyball match. They were taken while testing a camera. I have no interest in sports, but these are amazing pictures. I had not imagined anybody getting that many outstanding photos in a year, much less in one match. And Rob Galbraith is a writer too.

Steve Jobs speech

"... you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

Not a new speech by Steve Jobs, but somebody reminded me of it today.

Virtual faces

An article that hints at how complex it is to create virtual human faces.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Search Field

Goth-faced Pascal blurted out:
I had never noticed that tiny Search field before. Another example of harmful excessive modesty? These things are VITALLY handy!

I admit the Search Field (upper left) is very discreet indeed. Sadly the coding of Blogger pages is too complex for me to mess around with to make it more obvious.

Chris Appelhans and Monster House

I've just watched "Monster House", which is an enjoyable movie made by motion capture (putting dots on actors and recording them, including facial motion. Actually it is called "performance capture", and captures faces as well as bodies.) and computer graphics.

The Monster House DVD has a good documentary about Performance Capture and the making of the movie. (I almost missed it because it was labelled "Inside Monster House" and I thought it was something like layout of the house in the movie. I suggest to DVD designers that they make labels more descriptive, rather than imaginative.) They have two hundred cameras capturing the motion of the actors!

The film looks good. That is, I think the settings do. To be frank, I thought the characters look a little... plasticky. The hair for instance looks like it's made in play-doh. This is nowhere near the pictorial sophistication of Over The Hedge for example. I admit that abstraction is good. But then it should be more... deliberate. This looks like they tried to make naturalistic humans and just didn't get there.

Almost the best part of the DVD is the concept drawings done before the film was made, by artist Chris Appelhans.

I am always surprised to see how few artists and actors have their own home pages. (Photographers and writers seem more up on this.) It is really not tough to make a simple one or get somebody to do it for you. And if you have or are trying to get a career selling your creations, I can't see anything more basic than at least having a web site so people who are looking for you can find you.

Monday, April 23, 2007


It is a thankless job to make a film of a much-loved book. You can make the best film ever, and there will still always be many fans who think you got it wrong because it is not like it was in their head.

"Hogfather" is a SkyOne TV adaption of the Terry Pratchett novel by the same name. And I think they did a fantastic job. It looks and plays every bit as well as other fantasy films (like "A Series of Unfortunate Events" for example). It is really a 3-hour feature film. But it was made for a mere 6 million pounds (ten million dollars), a number which wouldn't even fund the snack budget in a Hollywood production.

The casting is really good, the adaption is unusually faithful, the timing is precise, and the designs are beautiful. Just Death's mask alone is an experience. And Michelle Dockery is beautiful as Susan, Death's granddaughter.

Unfortunately it does not seem to be available in the US yet. I hope it will be soon.

Lots of bits on Utoobe of course.

Canon 1D mark III

Canon's new super-camera.
With wireless adapter, you can not only fire the camera from afar wirelessly, you can even see what the camera sees, on your computer!

TTL ads:
It seems to me that Canon has for a long time been one step ahead of Nikon. Nikon, with its much more limited budget then plays catch up.

This to me looks like a clasic protagonist antagonist situation. Nikon is forced to "try harder". In doing so they usually manage to come up with ideas and methods whereby their version of the feature is slightly more elegant, or just more kewl. But, alas, Canon, in being one step ahead, is already on to something new.

I can see infinite ways of how a digital SLR can be developed further. For example, I expect future cameras to automate the HDR process. Also, I predict Canon and Nikon will both come up with a stereo camera in the coming years. The two lenses would not just be for 3D images, but help in calculating the information for a better 2D shot.

Back to me:
In my view, Canon is clearly ahead in the top range. And Nikon is clearly ahead in the low end range. In the mid range, Canon 5D has the best image quality, and Nikon D200 has the best handling.

I think dynamic range is the most important aspect to improve now. Clipped highlights is a big issue.

Is the news photographer dying out?

"The financial imperative to newspapers is clear. Their salvation, in a time of plummeting ad revenues on their broadsheets, lies with their online versions. Online demands video. For this reason, we can comfortably say that in 10 years photojournalists will only be carrying video cameras." - article on digitaljournalist
The article also picks up on a thing I've said for years: the magazine and newspaper of the future is not on paper. It is on electronic paper, and will be updated wirelessly over the Net. Once we've had those for a few years, paper will seem archaic and wasteful.

Final Identity chimed in:
News photographer ... another job description which the change in "media" and delivery systems has attacked. Used to be, working a camera and quickly producing in a darkroom something a newspaper could use was a very complicated business. Now, I'd hazard, 80% of the visitors to this blog could hack it after five minutes' training. Being good at cropping and image layout and general use of "the eye" (for lack of a better term) will always be a rare commodity; but the market to sell that skill in, is slowly fading away.

Yes... and there is even a very rapidly growing industry now of newspaper and sites buying or just getting pictures taken by non-photographer on digicams and even cell phones.
It expands their reach. But surely the news photographer is dead.
On the other hand, apart from in books I don't recall ever seeing a news photograph I thought was very remarkable anyway.

"Never trust an expert"

"Never trust an expert", article by Stephen Shapiro.
"I am not implying that these experts are misleading or malicious. Not at all. The issue lies in our inability to find the correct correlations between cause and effect."