A World Awash    
July 15, 2016

Two friends commented to me in as many days that they'd taken to avoiding the news, it's too sad, too depressing. We've a 24x7 view into a world awash in weapons and grievances. And clearly we are not alone in observing this, as even the Times suggests cutting back.

So to clear my head of news I'm immersing myself in a story, and currently it's Audible's annotated (appreciated, they call it) Julius Caesar. Shakespeare's story, full of plots and betrayals, is dramatic, fast paced, and full of familiar phrases. In other words, it's wonderful, but it soon brings to my mind the morning news, which today is the Turkish coup, a story that nudged aside the horrors of Nice, which displaced the short-fingered vulgarian, ...

So let's get away from the news.

I alternate between hating and loving photo post processing, or the creation of what Mike Johnston calls photoart. Even though I'm a programmer I pause when it's obvious that a photographer's computer skills have overtaken catching the moment. Not that there is anything wrong with it, just that it's a different kind of art.

Which brings me to this example of algorithmic photo processing. I wish I didn't like it, but damn, I also wish I could take credit for what it can do. I chose the subject and pushed the shutter but the credit has to go to the brilliant iOs app Prisma. It simplifies an image, kindof like the Topaz Clarity plugin for Lightroom. But it does so much more, and the choices are based on a selection of what look like famous-artist-inspired themes. One of my favorites is actually named after an artist, Mondrian. I'm stunned by the beautiful images this app generates.

I'm listening to Easter Sunday, by the Danish String Quartet.

Fuji X-Pro2 (Mondrian)
A new tool    
July 13, 2016

We're heading to Athens this fall so I'm listening to Edith Hamilton's The Greek Way. Her story of the Greeks makes a strong case for a visit.

Funny, I’ve some hazy memories of this book. I think it was assigned in classical civilization. This was back in Austin when I was an undergrad studying chemistry. The classical civ professor showed slides from his travels and made history interesting even to me, a guy who preferred solid subjects like organic and linear algebra. I also liked the class because if you paid attention and read your notes the night before the exam you could pull an A. Unfortunately I don't remember a bloody thing discussed in class.

Speaking of travel, I've acquired a travel camera, to supplant my dslr. It’s a mirrorless, aka an interchangeable-lens camera that lacks a through-the-lens viewfinder. It's smaller than my d800e, half the size or less, so I’m looking forward to seeing how close I can approach my goal of travelling with a single carry on and nothing more.

Fuji X-Pro2

Shortly after I got the Fuji I took a day trip, the Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. I have done this trip a lot, to the US and back to pick up mail. If the weather isn't too cold and wet I spend the three-hour round trip out on deck, looking to sea for the colorful container ships, whales, and sea planes taking off and landing right on the water in Victoria harbor.

This trip I left the Nikon and telephoto behind and took the Fuji with the 16. So no shots of far-away ships or airplanes, no sea beasts, only things that are close and that have an interesting background. The 16 is a really nice lens for this, in fact it's one of the reasons that I bought a Fuji. A great all-around focal length, fast to focus, a fast aperture, and macro-like close focus.

A couple weeks in, my overall impression of the Fuji is positive though if I make a list of pros and cons (in a future post) it would earn a mixed report card. It's not helped by being out of my hands and on its way back to Fuji in Mississaugua for a service. But i'm not fazed: being a follower of Nikon, l'm accustomed to new model teething problems.

I chose the three pictures below as examples of shooting the 16 wide open, with one thing in focus and everything else out of focus. All three are out-of-camera jpg's, the third using Fuji's lovely Acros film simulation.

In addition to The Greek Way I am listening to Car Seat Headrests (again), Destroyed by Hippie Powers.

Bell, Coho Ferry
16 mm   f/1.4   1/32000 sec   ISO 320  X-pro2
Coho Ferry, Victoria harbour
16 mm   f/1.4   1/8000 sec   ISO 200  X-pro2
Trail to Mystic Beach
16 mm   f/1.4   1/250 sec   ISO 1600  X-pro2
June 3, 2016

I recently read Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan stories, which is really just one long story about two girls growing up in Naples. It's engrossing; it's War and Peace by Fellini, though instead of Russia versus Napoleon we have female emancipation versus hundreds of years of culture and habit.


Volume one, My Beautiful Friend, starts slowly. There are a lot of characters to meet, some confusingly named. Our narrator, Elena (also called Lenu) and best friend Lila (also called Lina) are young girls, playing with dolls, wandering a dark street in post-war Naples, and by the end of this volume they are young women.

Through three more volumes Ferrante brings us to the present and along the way we get to see many of the seminal moments in the lives of our heroines as well as a glimpse of life in poor urban Naples. And life is vividly and brutally portrayed, it's a violent, patriarchal culture. The story is especially wrenching when the characters transition to young adulthood, where their idealism collides with the inertia of hundreds of years of habit. Highly recommended.

What I'm listening to: Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales by Car Seat Headrest.

May 7, 2016

Spring brings lots of flower photo opportunities, which is good if you like bright colors and wild details. I like this flower for its orange petals set against green leaves that are detailed with a red-dot border. Note that even at f/25 there are out of focus areas, something focus stacking would solve.

105 mm   f/25.0   6/10 sec   ISO 100  Nikon D800e