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  • Posts Tagged ‘f/1.8’

    The Perfect Camera is the One You Have With You


    2012 - 01.15

    For a long time now, smartphone cameras have been eating up the camera market for pocketable cameras. It’s easy to see why; smartphone cameras are ‘good enough’ for most people, and why carry around a possibly redundant second thing in your pocket? This week in gadget nerd news, I see that Polaroid will soon be introducing an android-powered camera. This is flirting with a dream object of mine: the awesome compact camera that so happens to have a phone built into it.

    For a long time now we’ve seen thousands of high-quality smartphones… that happen to have a decent camera on them. But there still does not yet exist a high-quality camera… that also happens to have a decent smartphone in it! It’s so obvious. Why has no one does this? For serious guys. It’s a photo nuts dream machine. Slam. Dunk.

    There’s even companies who already make excellent smartphones AND excellent cameras, like Samsung or Sony. Man. How hard can it be to combine these things? Apparently, impossible.

    There have been a few halfhearted attempts, like the Samsung sch-w880 (Asia only, and not Android), or the Panasonic Lumix Phone 101P (shown above) which is Japan only, but it IS Android. That lumix comes the closest to what I’m wishing for. You could probably import one, for like a thousand dollars. That’s so sad. This new Polaroid SC1630 is actually nothing more than a rebrand of a phone that’s been on the market in Asia for a long time now, called the Altek Leo. I was kind of excited by the Polaroid phone until I figured that out.

    While all these phones are interesting, I would still posit that none of them are doing it RIGHT. All of them are still trying to compete with phones on slimness and not offering the features that would make the photo geeks salivate. By that I mean no product exists that offers a serious high quality lens with a phone… in a fat body which barely fits in a tight jeans pocket, one that is brazenly and unapologetically a still a camera first and foremost.

    And so, just for fun, I’ve decided to make a fake advertisement for cameraphone of my dreams that would cater to the hardcore photo niche. If you know what “Av” stands for, and have level 10 Photoshop skillz, this is for you. Since Kodak has been in the news lately for their almost-bankruptcy, I’m imagining it as a comeback product for them: a sexy vintage rangefinder that could steal people away from the Fuji x100 AND the ‘Droid-of-the-week in one fell swoop!  And one that relied heavily on advanced knowledge of what made film so beautiful.  (If this website is slow, the same file is also hosted at Flickr here)

    Maybe I’ll clarify a couple things: I envision the camera and the Android section as essentially independent entities. They both use the same SD card, and they both use the same Android set of buttons, but with different functions depending on the position of the camera/android switch. Also observe that there is an AUTO setting on the ISO dial… this means you could set it to Av, pick your aperture, and have the camera autoselect your shutter speed AND your ISO. That would be super duper nice, to help avoid camera shake. When distracted, I get caught by slow shutter speeds in Av mode all the time, it happens easily.

    A few final thoughts: the body isn’t exactly what I wish it could be, as I was limited by my ability to find a rangefinder camera that had high resolution photos taken of it from the front, top, and back. Given the boring backsides of many film cameras, finding the back image was surprisingly tough. It would definitely be two-tone though. No question there. Another limitation was my own Photoshop ability and how much time I wanted to invest getting an idea across. If I were sketching this thing from scratch, I would’ve probably laid out the controls slightly different, but this conveys all the features I wanted, maybe just not in the exact right positions. I thought a edited photo would be a lot more enticing than a sketch though, so I went that route.

    For anyone who’s curious, what’s here is a touched up version of a Zorki-4, an old Soviet rangefinder. I also used the spun dials from my old Marantz amp, a photo of the screen on my Droid X, and the camera/play switch from my old Canon A60 (that switch always felt so sure and right under my finger, with a satisfying click into each position). There’s a few things that did get left out; I would’ve liked to add a neat looking lens cap that tethered to the body with a small cord to stop it from getting lost. Also I would’ve liked to mock up pictures of the accessories, but it would’ve taken a lot of time. It’s hard to translate something in your mind to something visual.

    Last thing I’ll add is that it’s sort of wild that Kodak is even in the position it is… I learned on Wikipedia that in 1976 Kodak had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in the United States.  That’s a lot.  Maybe they should draw on that colossal expertise and build a camera like this one, instead of inkjet printers and digital picture frames.  It’d be cool to see them turn it around and make incredible gear.

    The Viaduct at Mine Creek – Chapter One


    2011 - 10.26

    I love it when I can make a post using the “Moment of Genesis” tag. That in itself is a tiny triumph. I think this one qualifies:

    In the mail a couple weeks ago I recieved all the little bits of plastic I’ll need to construct an HO-scale replica of the steel viaduct at Mine Creek. This is a giant trestle along the Milwaukee Road mainline in the Snoqualmie Valley of Washington state, and indeed my replica will be GIANT as well.  Check out the whole setup below, with the locos and some inspiring artwork seen in the background:

    Someday I dream of being ‘that-guy’ with the huge attic empire of a sprawling model railroad. To help that dream come true, I plan on building smaller dioramas or set-pieces which will someday become the focal points of a large sized train layout. This huge bridge will most definitely be one of these!

    I will probably still need to pick up a few more minor pieces to model the top deck, the railing, and the catenary posts (those parts that hold up the overhead wire), but the major pieces are all here now, which is very exciting. Micro Engineering, the company who manufacturers these bridge kits, is one of the best companies out there. When this bridge is done, it will be spectacular indeed! Also, it will probably be a very non-trivial endeavor to build it! These are advanced-level kits, not intended for the faint-of-heart. Oh boy.

    Anyway, it will probably be a while before I actually break all this open, airbrush it, cut it from the sprues and then build it. There’s a house move in the near future and all this stuff is a can of worms to be respected. But still, it’s here, and I see the potential in it. This thing is gonna be AWESOME.

    To be continued…………..

    Meet the Sweet Tango Apple


    2011 - 10.24

    Saw a new kind of apple at the grocery store today and couldn’t pass it up.  Sweet Tango apples, eh?  For the man who’s tried ’em all?

    Something I like to do for fun…


    2011 - 09.10

    … is play along with my favorite bands.  In this case, it’s a recording of Soulive from Bear Creek in 2010.  I actually jam out to this little 2 minute segment a LOT.  I call this activity “home run derby” where I just kinda try to hit it as hard as I can, so to speak.  It’s an okay session of HRD here, although I know for certain I can top this.  I might delete this video and replace it with a cooler one in a few weeks.  Maybe, maybe not.  Anyway, here’s a 2 minute jamout!

    coming off of my recent string of awful youtube-centric videos, this could be considered the third entry in the series. This time the genre is “check out me screwing around on some musical instrument!” This one is actually semi-cool. I think I might record more of these in the future.

    Filmed with the Canon nifty fifty f/1.8 at 1.8! Should have backed up the focal point just a touch. Next time.

    Primo Vino Art: Passion Has Red Lips


    2011 - 09.08


    This weekend while I was perusing the wine selection at Hubbel & Hudson, the snootiest of snooty grocery stores that I patronize, I happened upon a sensual-looking red called Passion Has Red Lips. This bottle was produced by “Some Young Punks”, the same people who produce the previously-featured Monsters, Monsters Attack! Since that wine was a delicious white (I’m not really even much of a white-wine-guy), I figured I had to try their red.

    Both of these wines had a screw-top, which is a bit unfortunate for a well-made vino. I do understand that, counterintuitively, beer in cans is somehow actually superior to beer in bottles, but I’m not so sure that principle also applies to the screw-top wine bottle. Some Young Punks should move on up to corks in the future.

    As anticipated, the wine is a very tasty cabernet/shiraz blend (51/49 respectively), with an excellent smoothness. So smooth it was almost more like a Pinot Noir, but with the bigger flavor of a cab. I tend to find Pinots to be smooth-drinkin but yawn-inducing in terms of flavor. This blend sits nicely on the divide between smooth-but-boring versus flavorful-but-harshly-alcoholic. I guess that should be no surprise since Australian shiraz is something akin to Swiss chocolate or German cars or Japanese electronics… they just… know how.

    Anyway, a very pleasing wine, no question. It was $22 at the grocery store, so on the high-end of my wine budget really, but if I happened upon it for say $18 or less, I would not hesitate to grab one again. Superb drinking. Seal of approval.

    Primo Vino Art: Max Ferd. Richter Riesling


    2011 - 09.03

    Wine with a friggin ZEPPLIN on the bottle.  I think we just maxed out style on this here one people.

    Primo Vino Art: Leitz Out Riesling


    2011 - 08.30

    I would not say that this wine tasted “sassy”, in any way really.  However, that said, this was a superb Riesling.  If Riesling is your thing, check this one out.  It’s divine on a hot Texas summer night.

    Canon T3i is HERE. File this under “Yesss”!


    2011 - 08.05

    Oh yeah!  OhyeahohyeahohYEAH!  Canon T3i is here!  More technical thoughts and details to come, but for now let’s just gawk at some really pretty images with thin focal planes thanks to the almighty Canon 50mm f/1.8, now in the glorious format of motion-photography.  Here’s a bunch of loose test shots cobbled together quick in under an hour.

    For anyone so interested, the track playing is a snippet of “Green Bird” by Magic Places.  Apparently it’s a remix of something from Cowboy Bebop, although I don’t recognize where.

    A fresh photographic epoch: new equipment and the goals of these acquisitions.


    2011 - 07.27

    I have been waiting for today.

    Today a new camera came in the mail!: a very lightly used Canon t2i DSLR I snagged on eBay. Dude.

    I’ve been dreaming of a video DSLR with extended ISO range for years now. Today it’s HERE. That is so &^%!@*# exciting.

    I’m going to be able to make movies now. Sexy, beautiful HD movies that have blurry backgrounds and sharp detail. This is a major technological advance for my artistic tools. The nerd in me is so ready to rock every dial and button on this puppy! We’ll see if the artist in me is capable of crafting something of beauty with it… afterall, that’s what matters. I see a Vimeo membership in my near future.

    This camera also comes with a battery grip that will accept either AA’s or two of the normal canon camera batteries. Hopefully this should spell ample battery life for doing all-night timelapse photography. That’s like a whole extra layer of cake on top of the icing of the previous cake layer which is the t2i video capability.

    So, what do I aim to do with all this hardware?

    Well step one; I’m taking a trip back home to Wisconsin in Mid August. The objectives:
    1. get some sweet video of my favorite places to visit while I’m there: Devil’s Lake, Parfree’s Glen, Durwood’s Glen, the Baraboo hills, etc.
    2. capture video on the boat outings I’ll be doing with my buddies Bill and Rob. Maybe including a music/dance video of the funk mixset due for release on Bill’s boat, in conjunction with the new wide angle Tamron lens
    3. take all night time lapse photography of the sky in Caledonia where I hope to capture the Milky Way moving over the sky, also in conjunction with the new lens.

    Those are the initial ones I can think of. I’m sure lots of little ancillary bits will occur along the way.

    Long term, I want to make some ‘shorts’–little mini-movies that are digestable 10-15 minute affairs, maybe with the goal of shooting enough footage that I could combine it into something feature length. That’s a tall order, and will probably take me a very long time to actualize.

    Anyway, the tools are here, and I am thoroughly excited to dig in and start playing!

    In the pic below I thought it’d be cool to show the evolution of my camera setup.  The Elan IIe at far left was my first SLR and my last film camera, I bought it at the end of high school.  It’s got a 28-105mm walkaround with some great filters, and a Canon 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 came soon after.  A95 was my first digital, shown here with a fisheye attachment that rocks my socks.  The Rebel XTi was my first DSLR and I got it with the wonderful 17-85mm, my first setup with Image Stabilization.  Next came the Tamron 10-24mm, a bondafide superwide, with 16-38mm equivalence in full frame size.  And finally, today, the Rebel T2i, my first video DSLR, shown here with the 50mm f/1.8, possibly my favorite lens out of them all ;)

    So excited to work with this new capability!

    Primo Vino Art: Snoqualmie. aka ‘combine all the things!’


    2011 - 07.18

    As I mentioned in the last one of these posts, I’m way behind on posting the artwork for cool bottles of wine.  So much so that I’ve got three bottles here that I’ve picked up over the course of the last couple months all from the same vintner, waiting to be drank.  Let’s knock them all out at once, shall we?  The following picture is going to demand a lot of explanation:

    So there’s the three bottles of wine, with some train-themed artwork.  Some background: Snoqualmie pass is a passage through the Cascade Mountains in the the state of Washington, which the Milwaukee Road (my favorite railroad) had an electrified line running through, here pictured in the 1950s.  The large image in the background is a lithograph print of a painting called “Bipolars Over Snoqualmie” by Larry Fisher.  This is also my first attempt at making mattes to frame a print!  I think it turned out pretty solid.  If you view it up close, there are a few imperfections, but seen from afar, I think my work is just a reasonable facimile of the work done at the ultra-overpriced frame-makers.

    Speaking of viewing up close, this photo is included at 100% original size, unlike most others on here.  You may want to use CTRL and + or – to zoom the web-browser in and out to make it easier to view.

    In setting up the shot, I tossed in an assortment of stuff I like: my trumpet, a couple old rolls of film, a spare loudspeaker that I’ve got lying around, a book about stars that I found while rummaging through the closet today, the number Pi, and my piano along the bottom!  There’s a balsa wood trestle I scratchbuilt in the background holding models of the same two train locomotives as in the painting.  A goal of mine is to eventually recreate the scene shown in the painting as part of an HO scale model railroad.  That’s gonna take years.

    There’s also a big white arcs in the glass which are present because I “light painted” a 5 second exposure (f/8 @ ISo100 on the Canon 50mm).  The path I traced with a small desk lamp is also visible in the tops of the wine bottles themselves, along with the dark outline of where the photographer stood, just to the left of the arcs.

    The last thing of interest besides the wine is the Tamron lens, a new acquisition for me, which I’m super friggin stoked about!  It’s a 10-24mm, which translates to 16mm-38mm in traditional 35mm (film) parlance.  SUPERwide!  It’s going to be way cool to have access to those mega-wide angle shots now, oh yeah!  I remember many-a-situation in which I wished I could back up more, but just couldn’t.  This lens will be incredible for landscapes, indoors, and close-quarters shots.

    Ok, but back to the wine!  I believe it is actually made in the Snoqualmie region of Washington state.  Tonight I opened up the Cabernet and I’m pleased to report that it’s actually quite good!  Nothing to totally freak out over, but a very solid cabernet.  Hmmm.  If that Whistle Stop Red is decent, I could see myself drinking a lot of it.  I wholly approve of the label. Lastly, there’s three close shots of the wine labels for those who might read the vino posts as a series.  Here they are: