What do you see?

Recently fellow photographer Robin Hogreve posted about how and why he shoots RAW format, which led me to comment on how his pictures look on my computer as opposed to his. This is an issue in the digital age; it’s no longer just a matter of what does a particular person’s eyes see, but what does their viewing screen present them with. Herewith I post four versions of one picture which tackles the difficult business of getting a snow image “right” (by which I mean looking as true to reality as possible).

Original, unprocessed JPEG image shot with the Nikon.
White balance automatically corrected in GIMP.
Brightness +20, contrast +10 to compensate for poor light exposure.
Cyan saturation turned down 100 because snow isn’t blue.

The final image is as close to what the scene actually looked like as I could get. It makes a difference which order the steps are applied too, as the computer uses the image content to judge how to make certain adjustments. Usually a white balance correction should be the first step, as colour temperature varies a lot in Winter.

Now artistically you might want the scene to look blue or darker or lower contrast in order to convey the mood of the time. But really the snow only looks blue around here in bright sun when it reflects our very blue skies (full of UV due to thin atmosphere at this elevation). That doesn’t mean you want it to look that way, though.

The question here is: which one looks best to you?

It would be interesting to look at these on several computers side by side and have several viewers judge the results. Art is in the eye of the beholder, but given the medium here we have to wonder if we’re getting across to the beholder what the creator intended.

By the way that’s a highway truck “winging back” the snow on the road shoulders with a “belly blade” and possibly dropping some sand as well to increase traction. It’s been a very nasty Winter, and it continues: just yesterday we got four more inches (10 cm) of the white stuff.

Me and my Nikon

I have been avoiding using the Nikon P610 because of the ridiculous apprehension that its next picture will be its last. I know it is failing and will ultimately stop altogether one day, but it is silly to not use it just to put off the inevitable. In the course of taking these pictures (about 50% success rate) it failed to focus a few times and the exposure needed tweaking on many images due in part to the aging sensor but mostly because of the poor lighting conditions. Still and all, it does a good job for a five-year-old almost totally worn-out camera.

The dead of Winter.
This ‘grab shot’ amuses me. I don’t know why.
The dead of Winter II.
Have you ever seen Cybersix?
Mare’s nest.
Maggie’s Farm.

Misc. and mystery

Raven between the lines.

“Lee” I said, “why are you here again?”

The Major sat on the counter and grinned his evil grin. “My purpose in life is to make your life miserable” he said.

“Well you’re doing a damn good job” I admitted, “so you should be promoted. To Glory, by preference.”

Now that we’ve got that out of the way …

Sun over moon.

You know what’s not fun? Getting home from shopping on Friday to discover that now there’s a package waiting at the post office. It will have to continue to wait until Tuesday.

You know what else isn’t fun? Having a COVID-19 outbreak not only at the nearby reservation (where the infection rate is 25% and climbing) but also at the hospital in the ‘big city’. Our “isolated” community is now a contaminated one, and there’s no vaccine in sight. As such I have adopted some of my wife’s pandemic paranoia for my very own.

When the snakes go marching in.

Another thing that isn’t fun is finally getting a lens that was ordered back before Christmas, and finding it is a C/Y mount (Contax/Yashica) not a PK mount (Pentax K bayonet) as was advertised. This means either a long-distance, cross-country exchange or buying an adapter to make the lens usable on the Canon (or the Olympus, which I’ve found also can take it). Because I need the hassle of that? No, I don’t.

Also it isn’t fun when the temperature drops to -12 every night as the weather gears up for that being the daily high. I must split more wood before it does. That means more pain, and I’ve got too much of that already. I keep waiting for remission but get increased symptoms instead.

Marley the Model Dog.

So while I’m bored I troll Ebay for no good reason, and worse. You do see interesting things though, and some laughable practices. Anyway I look at cameras. Despite insisting I do not collect them anymore. I do like to look, however.

Now, if I were to collect them again … well there are a few I’d add to the arsenal ‘just because’. In alphabetical order, then:

Canon; in addition to the Canon cameras that would add to my repertoire there are some that might be nice to have. The 40D for example, because it would be a second EOS body but in the 10MP size which is my preference for “low” resolution. Conversely something like a 90D would be nice for exactly the opposite reason: it is definitely “high” resolution at 33MP and I’d like to try that for myself just to see what observations I’d have about it. I could compromise on a T7, which is 1/3 more MP than my T100, but they’re all too much money – even the 40D – for cameras that I know would not get much use after the initial experiments. I’d also like to try the PowerShot Elph 135 to see how its CCD sensor compares to others.

Fujifilm; any X model. Really this is a range of truly nifty cameras with great styling (especially the retro-look pseudo rangefinder models) and excellent image quality. Not a one of which could I afford and none would add anything to my shooting. Owning one of these is a purely aesthetic pipe dream. The Fuji I have, an F80 EXR, is an amazing performer that’s just the right size for my shirt pocket to go along everywhere in case I need to take a picture. I’ll stick with that one.

Kodak; none. Sorry, George, but even though I’ve had excellent use of three different digital Kodak cameras over the years there is nothing in the now-defunct company line-up that has anything ‘special’ about it. Even the few with exceptional specifications are plagued by a reputation for premature failure.

Nikon; does “D” stand for “Dull” or “Don’t bother”? I’ve tried out a Nikon D80 that was my Dad’s and it didn’t ‘connect’ with me. On the plus side the retention of the film camera lens mount would be great, especially if I’d been able to keep even some of the dozens of Nikon lenses. But I couldn’t so … mute point. I chose the Canon digital system because it is better at adapting old lenses of many brands, it having a very large ‘throat’ compared to the Nikon or Pentax. If I were going to pick up a Nikon digital it probably would be a D80 or a D200. But have you ever noticed how many broken ones are offered? Partly this is due to high sales in the first place, although you also have to wonder about the quality. There seems to be a disproportionate number of failures compared to other brands. Anyway there are no ‘special’ aspects to them, they are just competent cameras. But they all cost too much, even broken.

This camera doesn’t shoot in B&W.

Olympus; well yes I’d still like an E-300 or other CCD version of the E-410 I have. It would be silly to buy one, though. In fact a PEN E-PL1 (or later version) would be better as it has the micro 4/3 lens mount which is more adaptable of classic lenses. But it would have to have the optional EVF as using just an LCD is a right pain in bright light. Besides, the T100 already does the job of adapting old glass. I wish I’d saved some more of that old glass. *sigh* If wishes were Porsches beggars would drive*. As for the OM-D models … well the touch screens put me off. Also the prices.

Pentax; a K10D for me, please. Old enough to have a CCD sensor but new enough to have 10MP and sensor-shift stabilization. The K10D is probably the pinnacle classic Pentax DSLR. It’s also one of the priciest. The other Pentax model I’d love to try out is the medium-format 645D/Z. I could make an argument that it would add to my photography, but what it would take away from my bank account would be scary.

Sony; well, something. I should have some model from this brand. I have looked at Sony bridge cameras and not bought any for various reasons. After that you’re into the a6000 or a7 series models and that means the kind of money that could buy a good used car. I doubt even the best of Sony’s offerings would help my photography in any way; my art doesn’t call for such levels of perfection. It’s just that I’d like to try it out to see what all the pros, and amateurs with too much money to spend, are talking about. The downside here is that I might like it.

I’ve skipped some brands. I’ve skipped many models. I’m just dreaming out loud here. I haven’t even given a hint (or have I?) about the Mystery Camera, which is what made the images for today.

More later, unless WordPress pulls the plug on the Classic Editor or I fill up the allotted storage space.

Uh, yeah.

*Original version: “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

Notes on the past week

It’s like this

Well it’s certainly been a week. That’s as much as can be said for it. Not much good going on anywhere, with COVID case numbers setting new and unwelcome records and whatnot. Weather has been no good in its special, unpredictable way too. My health has been acting up again as well. Plus, it hasn’t been good for taking pictures of anything around here lately.

I’m not having much luck getting a Canon 5D off E-bay (or anywhere else) or getting anything off E-bay. I swear that site is … about as bad as any other, come to think of it. (The Internet seems to excel in ‘bad’ these days.) I’ve taken to occasionally bidding on cameras which are offered too low just so the price will go up into sensible territory and no one will think there’s any chance of buying a camera worth hundreds of dollars for less than $10. Honestly, people! That “$0.99” starting price trick is foolish, and if Ebay didn’t charge for reserved price/minimum bid (regardless of sale) we wouldn’t have to see this silliness. Probably not the ‘sock puppet’ account bids either, for that matter.

Another thing I haven’t done is sell on Ebay. I came close, but in going through the process of setting up just one item for sale … something about it all made me uncomfortable. I’ve spent some time trying to figure out exactly what, and haven’t. Nevertheless it was a time to trust instinct and I did not go through with the listing. If I could figure out what was ringing the subconscious alarm bell I could probably find a way to assuage my fears and carry on. As it is, no. I don’t like the way the site is run nor do I trust it, when all is said and done.

Speaking of web sites and other stores, if you look at the amount absolute rubbish that comes out of China you have to conclude that half of their economy is dedicated to producing ready-made landfill content. If you’ve spent even 5 minutes in a ‘dollar store’ you know what I mean. Not only are the products of unacceptably low quality, much of it simply never needs to exist in the first place. Or to paraphrase a certain movie line “you were so preoccupied with manufacturing items that you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should”. Something like that anyway.

I sort of took some full moon shots with the 75-300mm Canon lens and a few others with the Nikon, but there’s nothing special about any of them. It’s the same moon as always, after all.

WordPress’s new Blockhead Editor is so bad they’ve had to start offering courses on how to use it. (This went down under “hide forever” for me.)

On Thursday I had an unexpected but necessary trip to “Bill’s Lake” which netted me a couple of toys, a new vacuum cleaner, some slippers, a considerable bill, and this picture:

’46/’47 Fargo truck.

Quite the display piece at a very high-quality Timber Yard. Difficult to photograph because of its location high up a steep bank and quite some distance for the 10X zoom of the Fuji. I was standing on Jojo’s rear bumper to get this, and needed to be on the roof. Some measures I will not go. Fargo trucks, btw, were a ‘companion brand’ to Dodge offered so that Plymouth dealers would have a truck to sell (thus increasing Chrysler’s market share) back in the days when multi-brand dealerships weren’t allowed.

I went shopping again on Friday for things I was going to get Tuesday but had to ignore in order to keep the venture down to something manageable. Missed six things off the list, which I then had to go back for on Saturday. Sometimes my failing memory worries me terribly. But then I forget about it.

So what is ahead? Not much. The Horrible Holidays are upon us, which I try not to participate in at all. they will be easier to avoid under pandemic conditions. Honestly it’s the forced social interaction requirements that spoil things. Better to have a spontaneous get-together next July, assuming we are out from under the disease threat by then. Although it seems Dear Leader here may have sold us up the river on vaccines. Not only are we sans paddle, but the canoe we’re in looks much like a coracle with holes in it. Looks like we’ll be getting too few doses spread out over too much time, and that will not break the transmission pattern.

The Master Plan is on hold, which is my way of trying to trick the universe into giving me what I want through a complex and near Machiavellian form of Zen. If something that will further the plan comes up, it comes up. I will not hunt for it.

Once again most days have become “just get through today” days.

Life is like that.

Picture 3000

This is image #3000 on the latest SD card in my ailing Nikon P610. Yes, we’ve had yet more snow. The forecast is basically “guess and see” as the weather changes quickly these days.

DSCN3000

We wait and see about everything now, from weather to auctions to vaccines to … whatever.

Some random thoughts:

Black Friday sales have become a mockery of themselves just as the original sales were a mockery of (U.S.) Thanksgiving. It was bad enough that holiday has been corrupted by commercial (and to some extent political) exploitation. No longer is the famous parade about floats and balloons and bands; it’s about advertising and only advertising. And now the post-celebration sales orgy has turned into another pale ghost of what it was, with the “bargains” being no different than the typical reduced prices found at other times of the year. 60% off? Not likely. Get used to regular prices printed in red ink, descriptive non-sale tags like “great value”, and the ever-popular (with retailers) hiked-by-30%-then-reduced-by-10% ploy.

Upon the roof.

Our Prime Moron who bought 70 million+ doses of vaccine now tells us Canada can’t manufacture any and there probably won’t be enough for everyone or any time soon. What happened, Dustbin? Cheque for the bribe bounce? Something fishy about this sudden about-face on the availability and distribution of a vital prophylactic. I don’t know why I don’t trust him. Maybe it’s the four ethics violations he has to his discredit.

Look all around.

The real value in the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting 30,000 is that it proves anyone can play the game as long as the rules don’t keep changing. A stable government, no matter what kind, is one whose policies you can survive. How well remains open to question, but history tells us the worst thing for any country is to be run by someone who is demonstrably mentally incompetent. A highly unstable moron makes for the worst leader in the world ever.

Exponential growth.

Some people think being asked to wear a mask to help ensure the health of others is some sort of infringement on their rights and freedoms. Check the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights: nothing in either about not having to follow regulations. If you think this is an indication of a totalitarian government, you have no idea what that means. Fail to comply here and you get a fine or possibly jail time. If it truly were a “totalitarian” government you’d be shot dead and dumped in a garbage can with the rest of the rubbish. Truly. There are actually governments in this world today that operate like that. Be glad you have no idea of what hardship really is. Think self isolation is imprisonment? Try a “tiger cage”, whiner.

The world is like this.

The USA has achieved 4% infection rate: higher than any other country on Earth by a factor of 5.

Ontario has passed legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. Because stupidity is even more rampant than COVID-19. Sandford Fleming spins in his grave.

I still have not succeeded in getting a Canon 5D. Perhaps I never will. I’ll live, just the same.

All we have to do is sit and wait.

Who painted these? The Duck Series

Early morning light shining the wrong way through fog, Nikon P610 at maximum telephoto, and two ducks (?) drifting by on the lake. The resulting images are more colours than shapes, like an impressionist painting.
Only a few more pictures left in the queue to present. Weather is getting worse so new images are unlikely (especially with WordPress having turned into such a mess). I have managed to refrain from buying new equipment out of boredom – and lack of funds.
So much more to do before Winter sets in.



Lately

The good news is small: I have the cabin ready to move the trailer out there.

The bad news is large, and it is everywhere, and you can’t have missed it.

Because of these two things I haven’t taken any pictures lately, so I’ve processed one that was left languishing on the drive to make a kind of artistic image.

moony
Moony Blues

What next?

That’s a very good question.

We’ll find out when it happens.

Migration

It was a magical moment.

I was out walking the dogs around the yard, and carrying the Canon with the 55-250mm lens in case I saw a bird in a tree or similar.

Suddenly I heard the sounds. I started shooting. In a few minutes they were gone. If I’d had the Nikon I could have got closer views, but that’s fate.

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There’s no selecting here; these are the shots as I fired them off while tracking the birds across the dull gray sky. The artistry is in the chaotic patterns they make in their purposeful journey. The one shot through the trees is surreal, as it looks like the birds were superimposed on the branches. The whole experience was a little surreal, to tell the truth. I’ve never seen such a mass migration pattern before, and probably never will again.

Oh yes; they’re snow geese, over 300 of them, making their way to the Great White North for the Summer.

migration
1:1 segment from the first picture