Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Got Mooned

Yesterday evening did not work out quite as I planned. My shooting partner was taken ill, so I went scouting on my own through the hills south of San Jose, but did not find an unobstructed location to catch the moonrise. So to the Lake I went, where I got this shot of a kid's playground at dusk.

I'm always intrigued by these kinds of kidz play apparatuses. They would make a great set for a Planet of the Apes movie.

Finally I ended up at the city park on the corner of my block and on my own street. Here is a composite of a few shots of the harvest moon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Shine On Harvest Moon

Tonight is the Harvest Moon, so I thought I'd share a couple of useful links on photographing the Moon.

Check out this one or this one for some useful instructional material and exposure charts.

For the SF Bay area, Sunset and Moonrise times can be found here.

Or plug your own local info into the Old Farmer's Almanac Rise and Set calculator.

The basic rule is 1/ISO at f11.

Now go shoot the moon!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Quote of the Day

James Carville: “Back in 2000 a Republican friend warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true!"

[Via: Altercation]
Futurballa, Raw

Why RAW you ask? OK, you didn't, but I'll tell you anyways. The RAW format for digital images is akin to a photographic negative, allowing archiving of an unprocessed image, and giving the artist the maximum amount of control over their image processing.

One of the great advantages is that you have about 2 stops exposure latitude in the RAW image, giving the photographer a bit of room to make up for the limited latitude inherent in the digital format.

As Alan Little argues (link via the Blowhards), "Digital can deal with a similar contrast range to colour slide film. It has nowhere near the range of colour negative film or, especially, black & white film." Which is true, but does not take in to account what can be done to recover detail in both Raw conversion and in Photoshop. Alan also makes the "absolute resolution" argument, which compares the potential megapixel resolution of scanned film vs. digital. But the argument must also take into account the ability of the lens to resolve that much resolution as well as the scan. Digital is indeed behind film in a couple of areas, but they are less extreme than one would think and the gap is shrinking constantly.

All of this, by way of saying that Adobe has upgraded their Camera Raw plug-in to version 2.3, which includes "unofficial" support for the Canon 20D. Also new from Adobe is the DNG Converter, a free software application that allows you to convert RAW files from different camera manufacturers to a Digital Negative Format, which Adobe hopes will become a single standard for archival purposes.

Read more about the DNG Converter and Digital Negative Format here.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Back from Yosemite with Photos. Just click here to see a Gallery.


Monday, September 20, 2004

Off to Yosemite

That's me for the next 3 days. I'll be back Friday, certainly with pictures to share and the Canon 20D should get a proper workout. In the meantime visit our friends over in the blogroll and enjoy this piece by the master.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Thursday, September 16, 2004

First Shot

My Canon 20D arrived at my local retailer last Tuesday and I promptly went down to pick it up. Of course at 8 megapixels the images are not really for web use, but resized to a reasonable photoblogging format, here is one of my first images.

Here is a 100% crop of the same image shot with camera defaults.

So far, first impressions are excellent. It has virtually immediate startup, the shutterlag is almost nonexistant. With my 17-40L lens the images are sharp and detail is amazing.

A short midweek trip to Yosemite is planned for next week, which should present the perfect opportunity to run it through its paces, and hopefully post a higher resolution web gallery to share with you, gentle reader.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Rosh Hoshanna Humor


Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You’ll never meet the Buddha with posture like that.

There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?

Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness. If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.

Drink tea and nourish life. With the first sip, joy. With the second, satisfaction. With the third, danish.

The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?

Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

To find the Buddha, look within. Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis…

[Via Eszter at Crooked Timber]

Shana Tova
Origins of the Snapsot Aesthetic

Slate features an article on Jacques Henri Lartigue, who was a sort of photographic prodigy in the early part of the 20th century. The piece is titled The Lartigue Hoax, but that is a bit overblown. The hoax, if it could be called that is merely a disagreement between scholars over whether Lartigue was a sort of child prodigy savant who could be seen as a forerunner to the snapshot aesthetic of Robert Frank and Gary Winogrand, or was he a shrewd artist with an eye for irony?

MoMa has chosen to display his work under the former theory.
Lartigue presented his work as the innocent expression of a wonderstruck boy amateur, and MoMA was happy to promote it as such. It was just the sort of thing they were looking for. Szarkowski, a curator of unequalled influence, was trying to establish a new style of photography, based on an aesthetic of spontaneity, contingency, intimacy, and autobiography. Robert Frank was the progenitor of this kind of work, and Gary Winogrand was the heir apparent, but the style needed roots in the origins of the medium if it was really going to stick. It had to be presented in a way that made it seem both completely unexpected and entirely inevitable; that's what museums do, and Szarkowski was unusually good at it. Lartigue was the photographic equivalent of the missing link, the bridge that connected prehistory to our modern selves.
But other scholars describe him as, "the photographic equivalent of Piltdown Man: a hoax foisted upon a credulous public." Claiming that he was, "probing, observant, sophisticated, and mocking - …out to prove his insider knowledge - —to show that he knew what was in fashion, that he noticed how people scrutinized each other, that he understood the humor of personal vanity."

Looking at his work, he certainly had an artist's eye, but his age, seeing as how much of his work was completed before his 20th birthday, belies an overly calculating spirit. But little is known about this young artist and his work will have to speak for itself.

Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Baseball Blogging - Clear the Benches

Baseball dustups have always been notorious for appearing worse than they actually are. Over the years I've seen Giants and Dodgers players rushing the mound, clearing the benches, bumping chests and throwing wild punches and rarely have I seen even a drop of blood.

But when Oakland fans get involved things change, as yesterday's A's v. Ranger's game showed when Ranger's pitcher Frank Francisco decided he couldn't take the Oakland fan's taunting anymore, and threw a chair into the crowd.

The object hit a fan (not sure if it was the intended target or not) and bounced off of him to hit a woman across the head and break her nose.

Also on the subject of America's pastime, King Kaufman at Salon (subscription or daypass required) has a fine series going on why Barry Bonds is the more than obvious choice for this year's NL MVP.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Pulp Politicians

What do they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Iraq?

Describe This

Saturday was the anniversary of September 11th, it being of course, September 11th. But it was also my wedding anniversary. We have had it slightly longer than the terrorists, it being our 5th (note the lack of a superscript "th" when writing in HTML).

On the actual wedding day, we spent a night in the California Central valley, near my Mother-in-Law's house, which was the site of our wedding, and then drove down to Pacific Grove, in between Monterey and Carmel, where we had a very pleasant honeymoon in a quaint cottage by the sea, and ate much seafood in and around Pacific Grove.

On our second anniversary, memory fails me as to what we did, but it would not surprise me if it was the same as we did in subsequent years. On our third anniversary, it was the 9-11 that the rest of you memorialize and I remember that evening quite distinctly. We went ahead with our plans to go out to dinner at San Jose's Fish Market restaurant, where we sat in the large dining hall with one or two other silent couples. We ate our food and spoke in hushed tones, feeling that it was inappropriate to celebrate our wedding while the rest of the country mourned.

Since then we have returned each of the last 3 years to the Fish Market, and each year it has been progressively more celebratory. 9-11 remaining ever present, but the wife and I taking back the day, bit by bit.

So last Saturday we sat in the usual surroundings, not thinking for the moment about destruction and terrorists. I sipped a decent Sauvignon Blanc (Geyser Creek), the wife savoring her usual diet Coke. The Fish Market features an Oyster Bar and I thought at 45 years of age it was perhaps time I tried a raw oyster.

The wife is less adventuresome than I so I tackled a whole dish of miyagis on my own as an appetizer. After asking instructions of the waiter, I doctored the shimmering shellfish with lemon juice, horseradish and cocktail sauce. I then slurped up my first raw oyster. First impression was that the flavor was actually quite pleasant, but the texture was all I thought it might be. Most likely this delight will join escargot on the list of things I have no regrets having tried but am unlikely to order again.

Try as I might I couldn't get the wife to try one. But the capper was when she asked me to describe the texture. The only thing that came to mind was that it was reminiscent of snot. After that I gave up trying to convince her.
Not Alexander

As usual, the best things to read are recommended by a good friend, and so it is with James Wolcott's new blog. Writing on pop culture, with a healthy dose of left leaning commentary, Wolcott definitely earns a spot on Futurballa's blogroll.

Friend George compares his writing chops to Lileks. I would agree but add happily without the reactionary tilt and the ever too cute by half child.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

There ain't no Sanity Clause

After a disappointing release earlier this year of the Marx Brothers Collection, which included a couple of good to middlin' films (Night at the Opera, Day at the Races) and a whole selection of their weakest films (A Night in Casblanca, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West and The Big Store), I see that a better compendium is slated for release later this fall.

The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection is a much more interesting grouping consisting of; The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Horse Feathers and Duck Soup. The first two are good, the latter two are must haves.

Expected release date is November 9.
Feel The Love


[Via Atrios]
Conspiracy Theory

I enjoy a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, and this one is pretty good.

It seems that the thing that Condi Rice said that she didn't "think anybody could have predicted that...they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile," had been predicted six months earlier in the Pilot epsiode to Fox's failed X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen.

The truth is out there!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Night Gallery

Canon has an in depth guide to Astrophotography available. As well as the usual marketing stuff, there is a wealth of useful information.

Makes you want to stay up late.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Dark Side

Buzzflash does me one better in the photo department...

"Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side!"
The New Face of the Republican Party

I seem to be getting a number of hits today because I have in the past made a passing mention of both Chris Matthews and Zell Miller. Well that train collided last night in a very entertaining dustup on Matthew's Hardball, which included ol' Zell, sounding oddly like Foghorn Leghorn, challenging Matthews to a duel.

Via Tony Pierce, here is a link to MSNBC's convention blog, which contain's a link to the video if you scroll down to the picture of Chris and Zell.

Hate to disappoint.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Star Trek's Scotty, James Doohan, received his own star on the Hollywood walk of fame Tuesday. The 84 year old actor is suffering from multiple ailments and was recently diagosed with Alzheimer's, so this may be his final public appearance.

In typical fashion, George Takei (Sulu) was quoted as saying, "This is a galactic day in this town full of stars." (Really trying not to be snarky here, but he's not making it easy.)