Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dynamic range

It's amazing how you can continue to learn. I've been reading about digital cameras for nigh a decade now, and I've been saying that higher dynamic range (the camera's capability for handling high contrast) is near the top of my wish list for the future.

But I had no idea that ISO setting has a significant influence on dynamic range. See the graph below from DxOmark. It shows that the Nikon D90 (which has excellent DR, by the way) has at 1.5 stops difference in DR between ISO 800 and ISO 200! That could be very important with high-contrast subjects (so you don't lose detail in shadows or highlights).

I've been thinking that since the newest "Canikon" models like the D90 hardly have any noise at ISO 800, there'd be no reason to ever set it lower (unless you need wide aperture or slow shutter speed). But in good light and contrasty subjects there will be.


I like this photo by Michael Reichman. It was taken with the small system camera Panasonic G1*.

This week Mike has several interesting articles on Lum-Land. For example reviews of the high-end camera Sony A900, which has about the highest image quality one can get from a DSLR, but at lower price and weight than many competing cameras.

*This is the G1 with an adapter for Leica (or Voigtlander) lenses. Isn't that pretty.

Children on drugs

This is a trailer from a film about the growing problem about the wholesale drugging of children.
Where is the "think of the children" brigade when it's actually needed?

Xmas conflict?

Greg quotes:
“Christmas is not my holiday. For a practicing Jew, the twenty- fifth of December is no more significant than the twenty-fifth of any other month. But I enjoy the Christmas season a great deal. I appreciate the spirit of generosity and the reflection on reli- gious themes that the holiday engenders, and I love the mood, the music, and even the decorations. Many Jews and other non- Christians may feel a bit “out of it” during the Christmas season, but I have absolutely no problem with such a feeling… Moreover, I enjoy observing Christians celebrate their Christianity. For a Jew rooted in Judaism, Christians rooted in their identity are a bless-ing, not a problem… What this Jew does dread is an America that ceases to celebrate Christmas.” - Dennis Prager

Quite so. Is this supposed conflict even real? If somebody of a different faith than me celebrates a happy, giving holiday, and smiling wishes me a happy (insert holiday), then I find that pleasing. I find it hard to imagine a mind-set which would find it offensive. If anybody finds mentions of Christmas offensive, it must be a very tiny minority, and it's an artificial conflict.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Canon 5DII review

Video review of Canon 5DII at Cameralabs.

Conflict resolution

The whole world is waking up to non-hostility...

Oneness and art

I had a breakthrough yesterday regarding the connection between Oneness and art. I posted it on my art philosophy site, here.

Free e-books

[Thanks to TC.] Free ebooks (classics, out of copyright), nicely formatted, at Planet Ebook. There doesn't seem to be a catch, must be an enthusiast site.

Imaging-Resource ten years ago

I didn't know Imaging-Resource was over ten years old!
It's impressive that they have kept their old articles through what must be several redesigns since then. Check out this page, mentioning an upcoming Minolta camera, $6000 for 2.7 megapixels... (And if it was like all other cameras of those days, crappy megapixels too.)
Nowadays if you can find a 3-megapixel camera, it'll be one the dealer throws at you as you leave the store because you just came in to complain that your new $200 camera "only" had ten megapixels.

... I also didn't know they have a tutorials section. (IR: you should promote new pages in sections like this in the News pages, so people hear about them.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas message

I grew up in Denmark, which has protestant Christianity as a state religion. In the US it's a big deal to talk for or against the separation of State and Church, and I do think separation is good idea, but Denmark is an illustration that the mentality of the population is much more important than any laws you create, because Danes are very, very laid-back about religion, as they are about most things. You never find anybody in Denmark becoming violent against others because of difference of religion and such.

This laid-back-ness means that there was never any serious push by anybody for me to become a Christian or for that matter not to become one. My family wasn't. So I didn't. So I tend to regard Christmas as a new years celebration. Solstice. Or "jul" in Scandinavian. "Yule" in English. "Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar."

I marvel at the human capacity of mixing up traditions and using them together without any cognitive disconnect. Nobody seems to have any problem "celebrating the birth of Christ" by dressing up a fat man in a red suit and saying he arrived by flying reindeer.

But it's just silly to argue about beliefs. If somebody wants to believe we are all lice in the hair of god, I say more power to them.

Solstice is simply an obvious point to celebrate. For months, the days have been becoming shorter and shorter, and food has become more and more scarce. And now, it's turning. From now days are becoming longer, the light will return, and in a few months we can grow food again. It's a natural point to divide between years. And of course it gives us a pleasant holiday to look forward to at the darkest time of the year, when we need it the most.

I'm told that Time does not exist, and if it does, it's holographic, not linear. I would like that to become clearer to me, but at least if we see time as linear, then I say the future must be more important than the past, like the living are more important than the dead. We should put our attention where it does the most good.

I really appreciate having you all around, and I appreciate your comments of all kinds. And I wish you a lovely holiday time and a wonderful new year.

Letterpress poster

I've tended to do quick, simple art, and I do like that as an audience too. But I also have an affinity for painstaking art, and I hope to gain the patience one day to do some myself.

And interesting example is this typographic poster.
(Typically and sadly he does not put up a full picture of the poster in a reasonable size. Probably afraid of hurting his sales. I don't think he should be. I think it would help.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The "Dangerous Pictures Law"

Despite protests from right groups and Amnesty International, a law will be activated on January 26 in the UK, outlawing "extreme pornography". Article.
"Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said: 'We are targeting this material not on account of offences which may or may not have been committed in the production of the material, but because the material itself, which depicts extreme violence and often appears to be non-consensual, is to be deplored'."

In other words, it's illegal because it's offensive.

Details are here.
How about this: it's illegal to have pictures of necrophilia because... get this: because a corpse can't give consent! How about a carrot? It can't either.

Quality and educated buyers

Jes commented (under the burger post):
I stock lunchmeat at Wal Mart for a living, and it's the cheapest brand that always sells the fastest by far. I've never tried it myself, but a coworker's told me it has the taste of shoe leather.

Many years ago I bought a bicycle which cost three times what people would normally think of paying for one. Many people didn't get it. But I found that each person, if they had a bit of a mind, would have some area they had knowledge about. For instance I asked one guy what that area would be for him, and he said "motorcycles". So I asked him, "would you use a cheap wrench on your motorcycle?" He said: "no way, they break fast... ah yes, I see what you mean."

Perhaps the problem with selling quality is that you can only sell it to the educated buyer, and each person can only be educated in a very limited number of areas.

Bruce comments:
My wife likes to say: "We aren't rich enough to afford cheap things." Buy quality that lasts.

That's another aspect: short-sightedness. Most people buy poor quality not only because they can't differentiate, but also for the same reason they build up credit-card debts instead of savings: they can't see past this month.

RED interviews

RED cameras (for cinema) have some interviews on their site. (I found the Steven Soderbergh and the Tony Richmond ones quite informative.) They are very impressive testimonials, and even more so when you consider that they are only about the RED One camera and RED continues to evolve the cameras at breathtaking speed, for example the next-gen sensor promises at least two stops more dynamic range, which is astounding.
And all that for prices which are not high-end for cinema equipment, on the contrary. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Burgers and quality

I had lunch today with friends, we got some fantastic burgers at Frankie And Bennies.

I am sad and disappointed that pretty much the only two places I've found in town with really good burgers are just outside of comfortable walking distance. (Working from home, a car would be a silly expense for me.) There are dozens of pubs and take-out places which sell burgers, but all of them deliver mediocre burgers at best. The last one I tried sold me a chicken burger with nothing on it except the chicken patty and the bun! I mean, come on!

I love Burger King's burger, so it's clear that even minimum wage workers can make a good burger if they just have the right recipe. So why can't most pubs/restaurants get it right?

I wonder if it's a case of the general public being too undiscerning? There's just no perception of, and thus no demand for decent food?

A friend I have in town had two cafes. One was an upscale one with good food, but still what I considered reasonable prices. It went out of business. The other one was a push-them-through place with the cheapest prices one could deliver at. This one was always a huge success. (It closed only because the market was closed.) So maybe it's people in this town (North-west England).

Little Boxes and "Weeds" (updated)

Update: via the commentaries I just found out that 1) the creator and senior producer of the show is not only a woman, but young and black as well. Kewl, good for her. 2) they have a cannabis consultant, "Craig X", who does commentary on an episode he's in. Here's an actual quote: "I'm sure I'm the only guy who comes in here and 1: admit he's high, 2: that he's got the munchies... (eating donut) ... and 3:... what was I saying?"

And it's really subversive. There's sexual stuff on this show (at least in the second season) that I think they would have shied away from on The Sopranos. Shocking, I love it.


Little Boxes, theme song for TV show Weeds.
The song must be one of the most quiet but sardonic attacks on the bourgeoisie I've seen.
And the show is really good, and especially in season two it's very funny.

I like that they have a different version of the song each time.
Also, it's not clear on YouTube, but the people in each scene in the video are identical. Same person filmed several times and put into the shot.
(YouTube's claim to "HD" is dubious at best, it's rather less than DVD quality.)

Ticky-tacky: from wiki:
Ticky tacky or ticky-tacky is a colloquial term for "shoddy [poor quality] material, as for the construction of standardized housing".
It is famously used in this context by Malvina Reynolds in the song Little Boxes - which is used as the opening song to the Showtime series Weeds...

I think the implication that all the lawyers and doctors are shoddy clones of each other like their houses is funny, but harsh. And from one viewpoint it's very untrue and unfair. But from another viewpoint it has a some truth to it, which makes it interesting.

Mary-Louise Parker is perfect for Weeds, she has a down-to-earth quality while still being really cute. She seems vulnerable and strong at the same time.


[Thanks to Benny.] Famous blogger Mike Arrington has made a Danish commercial famous.

It has lots of topless ladies, which I'm all for, except there's the usual amount of silicone. Why, oh why?

There's also the usual amount of complaints that the commercial is sexist. "Objectifies women" and all that crap. They really need to get out of those tight shoes as the Danish say. I wouldn't think it sexist if it contained young hunks. And when things do, they are indeed not called sexist by anybody. I suspect that the complaint is simply an attempt to cut down competition.

By the way, Arrington thinks $900 is not all that cheap for a washing machine. That would be true in the USA, but he doesn't know European prices, and especially not Danish ones. Americans don't know how insanely cheap they get everything.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Natalie on Letterman

I've been a fan of Natalie's since Leon (The Professional). She's hot talent, gorgeous, and apparently speaks like five languages.
She was good in the overlooked Garden State, which was made by Scrubs star Zach Braff.

Talking about gorgeous, here's Johnny Depp.

And Bruce Willis too, very funny here.

What does Mamma say?

Funny baby video.
A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.
-- Granville Hicks

Good one.

There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I feel that. I think that's why I have problems liking young men, especially teenage boys in groups. They are all about aggressive stupidity. It's often like they're proud of being stupid and aggressive.

Nothing is as certain as that the vices of leisure are gotten rid of by being busy.
-- Seneca, Moral Letters to Lucilius, 64 A.D.

Well, duh. That's like saying the problems of dryness is gotten rid of by applying water.

Quicker 'n a Wink

I found this delightful old short-film on a DVD, and ripped it to YouTube.

It's a cinema short film from the thirties about stroboscopes and high-speed photography/films.

I love the corny old slang used. "Each flash of that light lasts one thirty thousands of a second. Which is faster than a goose in high wind." (!)

This film was lampooned in MAD Magazine once.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This is the view out of Ray's window today. Talk about a white ex-mas.

Ray likes to play around with pictures and text:

Camera predictions

Ctein makes some interesting (and apparently pretty certain) predictions about camera technology in the next dozen years.

Alex Grey

Talking about wild art, holy frig.