Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vote for me

Yes, I know the picture is a piece of crap technically speaking, but that doesn't change the fact that I think you should vote for me.

I went to the zoo

While I was there, I apparently managed to overexpose most of a roll of film. Last time I trust my ZX-L's meter.

Whatever, the prarie dog made it worth it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tales of Interim Supervision

I took over at the office on Monday. God, was that ever miserable. Today wasn't as bad; I still feel, however, like I didn't get anything done because people were asking me to do things they could do. Whatever; it'll be worth my while. What's going to take some time to get used to is the waking up before the sun and getting home after 6:00. Again: whatever. I plan on birding as much as possible on weekends (within reason), so I at least have a blowoff planned. It'd be nice to come up with music thing this spring, but I dont' have much in the way of hope for that because nothing has ever come of anything I've ever shown initiative in (except for an ongoing email conversation that I hope I didn't kill last night).

I went hawking sunday. I found a lot of birds while I was out. This was only a problem because there was no way for me to get pictures of most, and the two I was able to stop for flew off as I was focusing. I really need a faster lens so I can get AF-assist on my ZX-L. In the meantime, I'll be using the MX. Not that this is a problem; I love that camera. It's just a bit harder to use for things that move.

I'll post more stuff when I get it. I'm so dead right now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My comment didn't post

so it gets to be a post to garner comment.


okay I'm going to try to do this... bear with me, for I am somewhat intoxicated.

Why Liberty Reservoir? Because I went driving and that's where I ended up. I had never seen either the sparrow nor what I believe to be the warbler before, so it paid off.

Considering other locations: once I have the time and money to take good film and the car up to SQH state park, I'm going there... don't worry. I wanted to go there yesterday but I decided against it when I realized I didn't have the disposable for it. I'll keep the others in mind, though. WINK!

The square cropping I would say is entirely incidental to the amount of crap in my frames, but really it's partially chance and partially preference. I take a lot of pictures largely for "hey look at that" and if it happens to fall in a square, I'd rather keep it to that. I think part of the problem is that I want to crop to "desktop picture" aspect, so I can use them later. The film grain is inherent to the budget fuji I use; I've been shooting ISO 400 superia for ... well, just about 8 months now. It's been "good to me" but not quite as much so as the Max 800 from Kodak used to be. Shutter/F-stop is up for grabs. The only thing I remember is taht I mid-roll changed the one with the goose head going all the way up to the sparrow. They're not sequential in this gallery, but it's possible if A) you remember when you took the roll out and B) advance to the "same" place + a frame or two (I blanked two) for the retake. The goose, duck, and birds in flight were all taken with my smc-Pentax 135 f/3.5; it was very late afternoon (i.e. 4:30 or so), so there was not much available light, and as you say yourself, it was cloudy. All things considered, I think they turned out well, though with the houses in the background, I would never "publish" them. Shutter speed is beyond my recollection, though I will guess for the earlier it was between 1/90 and 1/500. When I was at liberty, I was all over the place; I went from 1/90 on a couple shots on that roll (the BARE minimum for my f/5.6 210 + 2x teleconverter) all the way up to 1/2000 (that I remember). Not all of them made it intot he gallery, obviously; I chose the ones I did primarily for "look at that bird" or composition. The ladybugs are a prime example of lessons learned. the two 24mm macro shots are much too dark, in my opinion, as well as being subject to flare. I know now that I need to pay special attention to keeping sun off the convex element on the back of the lenses when I reverse macro like that.

A second problem with "the way I do things" is that my 80-210 goes over whatever my camera's internal limit for autofocus or even AF/assist is I'm entirely on my own for those; if I were to start using my MX exclusively with the teleconverter, I'd be much better off; first, its finder is a pentaprism, .95 magnification .95 FOV, and it's a LOT brigher than the ZX-L. the problem with it, of course, is that my hands are too weak to turn the shutter knob quickly. I'm forced to choose between ease of exposure or ease of focus. I need to keep my zooms on the MX and the primes on the ZX-L. I think that'll give me the best results. Unfortunately, it took you pointing that out to convince me to change my ways. Heh.

A corrolary to most of this: if I had been using ISO 800 I probably would have gotten better focus at the lake. Considering that I was going one stop slow and most of those were "most of the way" there, the extra f of aperture might have been the difference (if used with the MX, obviously). I don't have time to DOF preview the birds, for obvious reasons, but I get away with a lot more of that because of the nature of my tastes: I shoot a lot of still stuff now that I do macro stuff.

Now, a final consideration on film speed: I don't have the time and expenditure to go with 100 or HQ 400 on the free days I have, most of which correspond to the worst days weatherwise to take pictures. With the ISO 1600, I was able to get close enough to the pictures that mattered that the grain was ancilliary; with the prints, they look old but the detail still shows up; with the negatives, whatever- they'll be digitized and shared as 1600 ISO. For me, it's less the appearance of the picture itself than it is what I've taken a picture of. As long as the limitations of the film aren't greater than what I want to try to convey, then it doesn't matter. You're right that I need to get a larger format camera and play around with it, but I have a lot invested in 135 at the moment, so I'm inclined to be cheap and lazy and continue to pay for my mistakes and adjust strategy because of it (i.e. find an additional body cap, cut ou the middle, and fashion a crude hood out of it to reduce flare for reverse macro pictures).

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Pictures

Look here.

It's not too many, because I was far too lazy to scan the negatives of that many pictures (2 rolls) while I was on campus tonight. Some are from the last roll of film I had in my camera in Utah, the rest are from my trip up to Liberty Reservoir up north of I-70.

Aside: both locales are north of I-70. This kind of fact is probably key to understanding the pictures.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

On Holiday Representatives

Caleb: is it wrong to tell a child that santa isn't real
Caleb: and if he was..... he'd be dead

Nat: santa's a spiritual creation
Nat: santa's as real as people want him to be
Nat: I see it as a completely different creation than the easter bunny

later, different computer:

Nat: what was I talking about
Nat: oh yea
Nat: no santa has a meaning completely separate from the function of the holiday he's associated with, but unlike the easter bunny, manages to maintain the basic ideals of the primary figure in spite of that fact
Nat: basically, jesus and santa share goals
Nat: so the meta existence of santa is acceptable
Nat: whereas the easter bunny is useless

Caleb: so we eat him

Nat: well he is made out of chocolate
Nat: you'd think he'd learn ot take a different form

Caleb: I know right

Nat: if the angels that appeared to talk to mary about jesus's coming had been made of chocolate, do you think she would have listened?
Nat: maybe to their screams of pain
Nat: so that's like 2 against the easter bunny
Nat: irrelevance AND delectability

Caleb: HAHA
Caleb: but they make santa out of chocolate too

Nat: well see
Nat: the point of santa is not consumption of chocolate
Nat: sure in your stocking you'll get choclate coins and uhh
Nat: icecicles
Nat: and some other stuff
Nat: and sometimes even chocolate santa false idols
Nat: but santa exists to say "hey, look, you people watch this: I'm going to be senselessly nice to everyone, you should try the same"
Nat: you'll notice nowhere in that mission statement is "consume chocolate representations of myself such that thou might be glad"
Nat: **
Nat: senselessly nice to everyone who was ince
Nat: I guess santa really doesn't like bad people
Nat: that makes him more like old testament God than Jesus

Caleb: well

Nat: maybe that's why germans came up with him

Caleb: he gives you a chance to do good

Nat: put a friendlier face on old school God

Caleb: Old testament God just kills you

Nat: man how do the Jews do it
Nat: the old testament is so depressing

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Nikon's Decision

I don't feel like linkwhoring, so google news for yourself: Nikon UK announced a discontinuation of all their film SLRs (and possibly point and shoots) with the exception of the FM10 and F6 (?), the manual and pro-grade cameras, respectively.

This makes me sad, but not for any obvious reasons.

The present and future states of camera
Canon and Pentax are likely to follow suit. Their departure from the film SLR realm means that everyone else is likely to agree that catering to the 135 crowd is a waste of effort. Pentax has already shown signs of an unhealthy disrespect for its existing customers; two of their three current film cameras don't support the simulator coupling, so old manual lenses either flat out can't be used (ZX-60) or won't expose properly unless you know what you're doing (*ist). With the film *ist, that's especially amusing, because the digital *ists will meter when you use depth of field; evidently the feature isn't that hard to implement. I also know that Pentax isn't keen on selling the MZ-S, their pro camera, here in the United States. Given that I already have both a ZX-L and the classic MX, I can't say that the discontinuation of the lines means that much to me immediately. There are two implications, however: when the ZX-L dies, I'll need a replacement for it, and if everyone drops their cameras, I won't be able to buy film as easily as I can now.

Why I'm an analog kind of guy
People have said that I'll never 'go digital.' I think they're right, mostly. I take a lot of pictures, but there's a difference between the pictures I take now and the pictures I would take digitally. With a film camera, I'm forced to contemplate prior to pushing that silver button that immortalizes (or at least allows to age) the scene I've selected in my viewfinder. I have to consider first of all whether or not the composition in my viewfinder is even remotely worth the film and processing costs. more on this later... Second, I know that the film and printing are going to leave certain characteristics on my image. This is exactly the sort of thing that doesn't translate to digital. I won't speculate as to the superiority of one format or the other, but there are things happening every time I open that film up to the outside world that I depend on in order to produce the image I think I want to. Do I take a lot of failures? You bet. Are they expensive? Of course. Do they take up space? Each print and the space on negative, yes. Something important happens each time I screw up an exposure, though: I learn a lesson. The lesson may not be very comprehensive, and it may not even be one that would bother most other people, but I learn it. With a digital SLR, I would take more pictures, but instead of being able to evaluate them later, I would glance at it on the spot and throw it away. I can see two reprecussions here: first, even some (most?) of my questionable images are worth keeping around if only as taped up snapshots at the office; and second, I wouldn't be able to really see on the spot what I had done wrong and would stop getting better at photography. I realize that's a bit presumptive for me to say, but I really think that if I were to use only digital cameras, I would fail to realize my potential. Remarks about how easy it is to be a photographer aside.

Why I still want a digital camera
All that said, I do see some advantages to taking pictures with a digital camera. First, I have taken a few rolls recently that would have been much better suited to digital photography than film. With my birds, I will blow through 50 shots in an hour with no second thought. Maybe seven or eight frames end up as "worth it." I don't stop to care because when the subject is in motion, I don't have the time to stop and care. In this situation, taking the shots digitally and having prints made of the results would be more worthwhile.

Then there is the processing.

The expense of developing and printing film doesn't offend me one bit. If it did, I wouldn't blow through film like I do. The problem comes in the value of having people develop and print the film for me. I've narrowed down the problem: the people handling my film either don't care about pictures or are functionally retarded. Almost every roll of film I have had processed since March (when I first started inspecting negatives thanks to the availability of a scanner) has had at least half of the keepsake shots scratched beyond use. This is not my camera, as many of the frames don't have linear scratches on them, and they tend to be in one place varying by roll even if they are linear. Sometimes it is aberration at the cutoff edge, where strips of four are split for fit into the sleeves. What it amounts to is that the people handling my film at the store throw my film about in a manner inconsistent with the notion of caring about pictures, be they yours or someone elses. At least at the Ritz representative in Utah that I had processing done at, real live people looked at my pictures and even admired them. That meant a lot to me. What didn't was having the frame of a chickadee on the picture CD show up with a scratch in the print. Unacceptable. With a digital camera, I wouldn't have that problem. I have another choice: setting up and maintaining color processing chemicals so if there are any scratches in the negatives, they're my fault. That is, however, a lot of money. I can chalk that up to better knowing the process and function of film, but boy is it ever a tall mountain to look at.

So at the end of the day, am I sad to see the film cameras go? Of course. Is there a time and a place for digital? Of course. Is it for me? Well, I am, to the best of my knowledge, everything that requires film. I like to think about my compositions, I like to see the results, and I like to have them. There are aspects to digital that I would greatly appreciate: instant on when it comes to the internet, guiltless waste of frame with action/wildlife shots, potential for one device for color high and low sensitivity and black and white without needing a million 12 exposure rolls. The real problems are that I don't feel like spending three thousand dollars to replace my primes, and I don't feel like buying macro lenses to duplicate the reverse functionality I have with my current lenses. Will I buy a digital SLR? When there's a good Pentax one available. Will it ever be the format for me?

I'll die before I surrender my boxes of prints and negatives. Long live the past.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burning desire

So does anyone know how to burn disc-at-once from Mac OS X? I want to copy the CDs in my wallet so I carry around cheap copies instead of originals, but OS X won't burn gapless tracks because iTunes is stupid.

This fresh off the heels of my purchase of Falling into Infinity. Go figure that I'd want to protect things I rarely find and, when I do, they're 19 bucks.


Don't have much goin on, not at all. Sorry you wasted time reading this.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

FINALLY. Stupid Comcast.

Pictures from Utah here. Most of them, anyway; I still have a roll I haven't scanned yet. I dont' know, I'm going to try to do that Monday. I'll post them when I get them.

Have a good one!

Also, Josh, you've inspired me to find either a sigma 50-500 f/2.8 zoom or a 500mm mirror reflex lens; with either of those I shouldn't need a teleconverter, but hell, I have one anyway so what's wrong with that? Oh, how about pentax's habit of making useless digital SLRs.

Sigh. At least I can take a trip to a state park soon.

It's a celebration

I'm working on sorting pictures from the Utah trip out right now, they'll be up in a new post in a few minutes.

In the meantime, i made it back safely (as you probably already knew). We flew on what has to have been the oldest 757 currently in service; its seats were falling apart and there were no individual A/C nozzles. Then, at BWI, I had to wait for my bags for 35 minutes. Apparently it was too much to ask the clowns behind the scenes to actually drive the luggage carts into the bag claim back-dock. Such is life.

Yesterday I sat around and did almost nothing.

Today, I sat around and did marginally more than nothing; I bought the last of eight Dream Theater studio albums and got gas. Once I got home, I started going through my pictures, trying to get them in some sort of order. I have a lot of pictures. I'm currently backing up my old photos directory from this site. You won't be able to get to the stuff online anymore, but if you have any requests, you're more than welcome to ask. I'm going to start using iPhoto's export command to make my galleries, because I am very lazy and take too many pictures to pretty up HTML for you each time I feel like sharing. You all get it; I know how to do neat things with CSS.

Off to the scotch and yelling at how useless comcast is!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Homeward Bound

I hop my plane tomorrow at 10 to fly back home.

It's been a good vacation, I think, though I didn't get much of a chance to do outdoorsy stuff. I took a boatload of pictures, admired the local bird population, took a couple walks, and saw my first herd of wild sheep. I'll be attempting to share the pictures with you as soon as I get back; the internet between here and school hasn't been too happy with my 12 megabyte archives.

I also recently discovered I won't be going to Florida this month. My mother seems to think it's more equitable if I stay here and she comes up twice in the next couple of months. Such is life, I guess. Just more time for me to sit around pondering life and playing mario kart over the internet (thanks Spenser). Well, that and Electroplankton.

AnywayI hope all is well with everyone and I will update when I'm done negative scanning.