Books. Bikes. Boomsticks.
Party politics today is a race to the boxcars; first team there gets to make the other team ride.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Old bike, old imaging tech...

Here's that 1951 BSA again, this time on Kodak TMax 400, shot with the Nikon F4.

"So...can we have your liver, then?"

NOTE: Best viewed in full screen. Soundtrack's pretty good, too.

Highlight for Spoiler: In the long run, entropy wins.

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #183...

FN 509 Compact MRD in Tactical Dirt Color with a Trijicon SRO and a Streamlight TLR-7 that is fixing to get shot a whole lot to see how it does. (I mean, it's done fine so far, but I'm looking for an excuse to do a bunch more shooting, and here it is.)

All the Megapixels?

Only a dozen megapixels there.
Many years ago, when the talk of the town was the D810, I remember several of my Nikon-shooting friends at first excited to grab one, and then a few months later lamenting their choice. For example, a friend of mine works for Getty and is responsible for shooting celebrities and events in New York. At 36 megapixels in 2013, he found himself with way too many images that were far too large, which complicated his media storage and seriously slowed down his workflow.

These days, 36 megapixels is less of a burden thanks to evolving computer technology, and maybe someday the same can be said for 61 megapixels. But anyone trying to shoot burst images in 61 megapixels today—a touted feature of the a7R IV—will quickly find themselves inundated with a great number of images that are several times larger than their previous camera and require that much more horsepower when it comes to editing them in a program like Lightroom.

All for what? Posting on Instagram?

Don’t make that face, you know it’s true: nearly every image that is taken is posted to social media or put on a website, then tossed into a hard drive never to be seen again. If you’re telling me you are going to print all these images you’re shooting, pardon me, but you know that’s not true. Knowing that, why do you want 61 megapixels?

Given that I do my photo editing on an old 2014 Mac mini at home and a similarly-spec'ed MacBook Air on the road, I've noticed this with the files from the 50MP 5DS, where RAW images can exceed 70MB. ("Hey, Mr. Editor, can we open a shared Dropbox? These images are too big to attach to an email.")

Regarding printed images, I have only a handful of actual physical prints from the last several years' worth of photography, pretty much all 8x10s. Most were 16MP shots with the 1Ds MkII or the OM-D E-M5. They're fine. The linked article's absolutely right in that we normally view photographs on a screen these days, and most frequently on a screen in your hand. You'd need four current 10.2" iPad screens to display a full resolution image from even those old 16MP cameras.

I've used that aforementioned 16MP 1Ds2 for some full-page glossy shots in Concealment magazine, too, but actually my last several photos in there were with the old 12MP Nikon D700, which I intend to use until the shutter falls out. Given that the shutter on mine has less than 50k shutter activations, and there are D700s still chugging along with over a million, it might be a bit before entropy catches up with it. The electronics will likely get wonky first.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Ten Years in an Hour

Time lapse footage of a decade's worth of images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. At the speed of the video, every second is a day.

You can see by the end that we've entered an extremely quiet period for solar activity.

In other news, our planet's magnetic field is acting wonky, but this is 2020, so nothing's really surprising.

Seems Buggy

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Been hittin' this bottle heavily...

The second in Bobbi's "Home Remedies" art project, shot with an old Nikon D3000 and the inexpensive-yet-excellent 35mm f/1.8mm DX lens.

Wait, what?

The Free-Fall Continues...

After a year spent walking back vague statements made by their CEO hinting that Olympus was thinking about exiting the commercial camera business, Olympus announced that they are, in fact, exiting the commercial camera business.
Olympus said it improved cost structure, focused on high-profit cameras and lenses and took other steps to “cope with the extremely severe digital camera market.” Despite those efforts, however, the company said it “recorded operating losses for three consecutive fiscal years up to the term ended in March 2020.”

Olympus had been struggling even before the jump to digital; while their pocket line of 35mm P&S cameras were well regarded, the move to autofocus SLRs in the '90s left the OM line an increasingly niche product: All manual cameras that still appealed to some for their compact size and high-quality M. Zuiko lenses.

They were fast to get into digital, and it looked to give the company a second wind, but they struggled to find a niche in the digital camera world. With the collapse of the point-'n'-shoot market they were left with their bread and butter: compact, retro-styled mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras.

Unfortunately, it seems that the benefits offered by the little Micro Four Thirds sensor, namely a small, lightweight camera with compact lenses, aren't outweighing the desires of the dwindling market, which is lusting after bigger sensors. Full-frame is the future and in the camera market's game of musical chairs, it appears there's only one chair for "retro-styled hobbyist mirrorless cameras with smaller-than-35mm sensors", and Fuji's sitting in it.
[T]hey targeted their later range of mirrorless cameras at a middle market - "people who weren't serious photographers - they wanted something better than a point-and-shoot camera, but they didn't want a DSLR camera".

"That market very very quickly got swallowed up by smartphones, and turned out not to exist."

The market for standalone cameras has fallen dramatically - by one estimate, it dropped by 84% between 2010 and 2018.
The company to which they're selling the camera division swears up and down that they're going to streamline the business and continue to advance and support it. But they said that when they bought Sony's VAIO computer division, too, and when's the last time you saw one of those at Best Buy?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Historical Reference

Take As Needed

From Elsewhere...

A friend wrote:
I don't like the term virtue signaling either, and for the same reason. What's even more hilarious are people who use the term liberally against their political opponents, but who themselves are epic virtue signalers to their own peers. I do notice a lot of actual virtue signaling, especially in the past six months, but I think that's mostly because social media turns some types of people into awful people. Or maybe just provides a powerful avenue for awful people to self-identify. Not sure which.
In this case, the medium definitely shapes the outcome. I replied...
Basically, social media allows people to divide themselves into tribes based on opinions and shared values. Social capital in those tribes is then accumulated by espousing those values more extremely than one's peers and being the first and most vocal proponent to shun those who deviate.

It's like watching the history of the Christian church for the first five or six hundred years played at 1000X fast forward, and on an endless loop. 
(With pagan Vandal & Sassanid infiltrators cheering on every divisive opinion.)
If you're in a virtual community defined by concern for social justice, then the person with the most concern for social justice will have the most social capital. If you're in a community defined by being edgy, then the edgiest edgelord is at the top of the heap. You think (Black/Blue) lives matter? Well someone thinks they matter even more than you, you quisling.

*looks around*

How about we give nuclear weapons to the unborn?

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


What's the most humiliating moment you've had at a camera store? I ask, because I just experienced mine.

The other day I popped the finished roll of Ilford HP5 in its green & white canister out of the Nikon N80, where I'd been using it to experiment with the red filter, and a roll of Kodak T-Max out of the F4 where I'd been ditto with a yellow filter.

As I'm getting ready to head out the door, I see another green & white canister with no leader sticking out, sitting there on the shelf. It had been behind a camera, and I thought "Huh, another roll of Ilford," and tossed all three canisters in the bag to take to the store.

I hand them to the dude at the lab counter at Roberts on Friday morning, and he tosses them into the envelope, saying "The two black and white rolls will be ready next Friday, and the color will be ready Monday."

"Wait, color?"

"Yeah, this one's Fuji 200 color film."

Ah. The green and white canister I grabbed off the shelf must have been the Fuji. I could have sworn it was Ilford HP5. "I don't even know what's on that color roll, dude. I only use those for test rolls and I can't remember what camera I would have shot that in. It's a mystery roll."

Monday afternoon Roberts sent me the scans off the roll of color film...


I was almost too embarrassed to show my face in the store this morning.

Yes, I'd gone to Holliday Park and shot up most of a roll of color film through a red filter, trying to get dramatic sky behind the ersatz ruins. Because I'm an idiot and didn't keep better track of what film I'd put in the N80.

The funny part is that this isn't even an old 1980's vintage camera with electrical tape over the film window on the back to make up for light leaks caused by dodgy old seals around the window.

I got this camera from a friend who'd used it less than twenty years ago for work stuff, and the film window is uncovered because it doesn't leak. I'd just glanced at the window, saw "green & white", and thought "HP5"...because surely I wouldn't have Fujicolor 200 in a camera for anything other than a test roll.


I hate to use the term "virtue signaling" because it's one of those words and phrases, like "privilege" or "feminism" or "racism", that's been divorced from its original meaning and is swung blindly as a cudgel by low-information ignoramii in online culture wars, but it's entirely appropriate in this case.

As you've no-doubt heard by now from various enraged kulturkampfers, a re-boot of Warner Brothers' classic Looney Toons is going to strip Elmer Fudd, hapless wabbit hunter, of his shotgun and Yosemite Sam, the rootin'-est tootin'-est pistolero in the West, of said pistols.

Instead, Yosemite Sam will roam the Old West with sickles and Elmer will hunt wabbits with that traditional hunting implement, the scythe.
"The show will stay true to the spirit of the original, while reflecting modern sensibilities, the EP said. What does that mean exactly? Maaaaany sticks of dynamite, elaborate booby traps and cannons-at-close range will very much be in play, in addition to the requisite anvils, bank safes and pianos that famously fall on unsuspecting heads."
Strictly speaking, the bit about reflecting modern sensibilities is true. Leaving the "maaaaany sticks of dynamite" in is accurate, since the target audience's mommies and daddies are way more likely to have been blown up with IEDs than shot with small arms fire.

I also note that, while we are apparently trying to protect children from seeing images of Elmer wielding Joe Biden's approved home defense weapon in a cartoonish or comedic fashion, Mr. Fudd's speech impediment is still treated as hilarious. How retrograde.

(EDIT: To clarify, it's not about the guns being essential to the funny; it's the big, virtue-signaling deal being made of it that's hilarious.
I mean, the funniest, most epic Bugs v. Elmer cartoon ever had Elmer wielding a spear to ? kill the wabbit, KILL THE WABBIT! ?)

Automotif CLXX...

A 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS396 spotted over at 56th & Illinois. Just enough patina to suggest a well-cared for (but not pampered) original that sees frequent use, but not in winter.

I suppose it could be an L78, but it's most likely the more pedestrian L34.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Front Porch Safari

Lightly cropped from the original

I've been wanting to get shots of a chipmunk for a while, but the little critters are so wary and so fast. Normally just the act of turning your head to look at one will send it streaking into the nearest concealment at top speed. They're like quantum squirrels: The act of observing them alters their velocity and position.

Yesterday's front porch safari with the 5DS and 100-400 glass finally paid off. It was raining and one settled in on the neighbor's front porch to enjoy a snack. I brought the camera to my eye slowly while looking away from it then turned my head. As I suspected, it didn't panic over a camera lens the way it would over a pair of eyeballs. The minute I lowered the camera, it scarpered.

Screen grab off a 100% crop in p-shop.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Books Report

Last week I sat down and tore through Marko's latest novel, Ballistic, mostly in two marathon sessions.

The story is moving along, Aden is integrating well with the crew of the Zephyr and wondering if he should come clean with his ersatz family, and at the same time finally sees his sister and we get some backstory about the origins of his bad blood with his Captain of Industry dad. (Now we know why there aren't many Fathers Day cards sent in the Ragnar household.)

There's a bit intrigue and shady dealings for our happy-go-lucky smugglin' crew, and the tough sergeant character we'd been following in the Gretian occupation forces gets some uncomfortable revelations. All in all, there's the sense of pieces being moved into place for some major denouements in book three, Citadel, due out next year.

That's the source of the only real complaint, if you can call it that, in the reviews of the Palladium Wars series.

These aren't standalone novels, in the tradition of Weber's Honor Harrington books or David Drake's adventures of Leary & Mundy.  The atmosphere of Marko's series feels heavily influenced by modern TV sci-fi, and it's best to think of each of the novels so far as being a piece of a story arc equivalent to about three-to-five episodes of The Expanse, rather than a self-contained "monster of the week" episode of Firefly.

Having finished Ballistic, I'm now settling down to finish off 1493.

Fraktured Fairy Tales

How had I not seen the official video of Rammstein's "Sonne" before? It's so...German.