A bear

Black bear on the road to the cabin

This bear was browsing and not inclined to wander off. I inched the Nissan ever closer, taking photos along the way, until he decided the Xterra was bigger than him and galloped into the woods.

The amazing thing here is getting this post up at all, as the computer has been having fits of failure and I really can’t replace it. So I have been missing other people’s posts and comments and just ‘bearly’ managing to communicate with home as I continue working on the cabin.

Miscel-LENS-eous

Dear Folk;

The weather here remains abominable. We had more snow on Thursday and now the total is around 2 feet (about 60 cm). Temperatures remain below zero Fahrenheit (less than -18 Celsius). By the time you read this I will either be dead or out shooting more pictures. I sure haven’t been doing much photography in this weather! As such the lens testing series is on hold, which is a shame as it’s nearly complete and I’m sure you’ll all be glad when it’s over.

Bleak. Very bleak.

To kill time, then, I have been watching Youtube videos on various things, including photography. I always have an interest in what other people use and what they do with it. There have been some interesting finds, such as confirmation of my evaluations of certain equipment I have – some of which could have saved me money if only I’d seen them before purchasing. In one case this has worked because the other people’s testing of the Sony 55-210mm lens confirms it is not right for me. Others confirm the the much more expensive 70-350mm would be more suitable for my purposes. Oh well. That purchase isn’t going to happen.

While I’m going on about lenses, one recurring theme was people testing ‘very fast’ lenses, many of which produced the same disappointing results. The reports went along the lines of “here is the new [brand name] 50mm f1.1 lens!” (In some cases the maximum aperture was less than 1.) Followed by “wide open it is unacceptably soft.” One manufacturer even says in its promotional material that the lens will be soft at maximum aperture and better results will be obtained at f2.0 or smaller.

Well, then, what is the point of making it with a larger opening?

Understand the “f” value is a calculation of focal length divided by aperture diameter. In theory you could build a lens with a negative f value simply by making the lens hugely round and very short focal length (not really, of course; this is a joke). The “why we don’t do this” is hinted at in a lot of wide-angle lenses that are made.

But the point is, the whole reason for promoting a lens as “very fast” is to have a lens that is usable at such a low f value. If you have to stop your f0.95 lens down to f2.0 anyway in order to get a minimally acceptable picture, then putting that extra large diaphragm in it serves no function.

No, I tell a lie: it does serve a function. It fools people into thinking they are getting a better lens than they actually are. It’s hyperbole. It’s marketing. It’s organic fertilizer. Very much along the lines of “more megapixels = automatically better camera” and used in conjunction with the urban mythology that if you simply buy the “best” (i.e. most expensive) equipment your photography will magically improve.

Nope. Uh-uh. Not gonna happen. No way José. That’s not how it works.

While I’m ranting about lenses, can we please stop the pathological obsession with background blur? You know the word I mean. I won’t use it because it has not only become a cliché, but an unhealthy fixation wherein it is perceived as the be-all and end-all of lenses and images. Give it a rest. The function is a secondary aspect of composition, not the primary one.

Torn-down Tokina; it’s hopeless.

Another thing I want to rant about is a certain photography couple who have a lot of money and even more arrogance (hey, I am allowed my arrogance; it comes built-in with my French heritage) and almost enough knowledge to know what they are talking about. Let’s say self-deprecating humour is not their strong suit. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were right all the time or even if they were wrong all the time, but they manage a mix-up with no apologies which grates across my nerves.

From these two we get such amazing revelations as “there is no aperture sweet spot” (something disproved by thousands of lens tests and which anyone can evaluate for themselves) and “there’s no such thing as depth-of-field”. Wow. Why did manufacturers put those little lines on all those lenses decade after decade then? And how come we can actually see the effect in our images? Come to that, I must be a sorcerer because I actually use this non-existent phenomenon to make sharp pictures at fixed focus points. Perhaps what they mean is “it’s not depth-of-focus” which is correct – and I have heard many people over the past half century inaccurately call it that.

To be fair, perhaps the whole problem is that this couple aren’t always expressing themselves clearly. Just to give them the benefit of the doubt. Anyway their style too is irritating to me, but if you like them by all means enjoy. And no I’m not just jealous because no manufacturers or anyone else is handing me free equipment and/or gobs of money. If you recall, I sort of did that the other way ’round myself a few years ago.

Are there any of these photography videographers that I like? Yes indeed. Here’s my top four:

Dave McKeegan Accurate, not annoying, and a nice Lancashire accent which some of you may have trouble with. (I don’t because I married a Lancashire Lass.) Seriously: this one.

Christopher Frost Nice, soft-spoken gent who knows his stuff and has a pretty wife to boot.

Arthur R A bit more raucous than the others, but not to his discredit. I appreciate that he uses a Sony a6000 often so there’s a bit of “common cause” for me. Also has a pretty wife.

Simon Another English gentleman with a real handle on classic lenses and their usage. Lots of info on the old glass.

There are quite a few others which are worth a look-in on occasion, including one lass who quite swiftly skewered Youtube videos in general and their absurd click-bait headlining nature. You know the bit: lots of superlatives, absolutes, exclamation marks, and exaggerated claims meant to get you to watch the video. I see these as a sort of warning to prospective viewers: if it says “TOP SECRETS YOU’RE DOING WRONG THAT THE PROS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT!!!!!” that’s a sure sign it’s not worth watching.

Would I ever do videos? No. Can’t see it happening. Not even with a ton of up-front money. Besides which they are all pretty much lost in the vast sea of so much to see. As such there is little chance of success. And any that do manage respectable viewership numbers also get trashed by certain other (jealous) ‘channels’ out there that seem to exist just to try and make traffic off lies like “WHY THIS TOP YOUTUBER IS BEING SUED!!!!!” and “HOW MUCH MONEY SO-AND-SO REALLY MAKES!!!!!”

Yeah, bugger that for a noise.

It’s getting warmer. No, really it is.

It’s been a bad week

Let’s cut to the chase, as the saying goes. The result of my latest eye exam amounted to “there’s nothing more we can do” and “watch out for it getting worse”. About what I expected, really.

Things did get worse, but they were different things. E-Bay canceled my account with no explanation given. A few minutes searching turned up the fact that this happens more often than it should, and that there is no recourse. Well fine. Another small pleasure taken from me without reason. I hope they understand that shutting down accounts of buyers and sellers is not a good business plan for a web site that relies on buyers and sellers. But I doubt they do. (It is especially frustrating as there were a couple of things I was trying to buy and I had finally managed to get one of my items listed for sale.) On the whole it’s about as bad as every other site on the Internet: causing grief for legitimate users while utterly failing to stop abusers. Even WordPress keeps tossing up “unsupported browser” messages.

I have been systematically removing all my Facebook posts, because it is a failure of a website too. If you can’t use the site, why have an account? PayPal will be going under the axe as well, since I only ever used it for e-Bay and now PP has added an “inactive account fee” (as of November 20).

At this point I have no pleasures in my life, only work and the pain that goes with it. It’s wood harvesting time, you see. Yeah, I know.

So today’s pictures are … failures. Some images to give you a taste of what normally comes out of the cameras these days. Can’t have people thinking I’m still turning out good shots all the time, because I’m not.

This is what I see: everything blurred at any distance all the time.
Barely spotted song sparrow in the bush – and it’s out of focus.
How I get tricked: camera said “in focus”. Except that was the little pine tree which I could not even see as I tried to fix on the broken poplar behind it.
There are spots. I could not see them looking through the camera; they only show up on the computer. They had to be on the lens as they don’t appear after cleaning it. Besides the Nikon shouldn’t get spots on its sensor.
See the duck? No? It’s in there, flying away because it can react faster than me & my camera.
This is an eagle. You’ll have to take my word for it because once again …

That’s the way it’s going now: mostly failures because I can’t see what I’m doing. About the only time I can get a good shot now is in bright daylight, and then it has to be a large, stationary object. At that I may need several frames to get one decent.

Needless to say I am not happy. I can’t even continue my revised Master Plan to make my photography a bit easier for me. Thanks, e-Bay you load of incompetent bastards.

There’s no joy left.

Oh noes

Welp, it happened: I got slammed with the WordPress Inoperable Version Dumb To The Nth. Fortunately I had this ‘backdoor’ link saved. This when I’m about to pick up my new addition to the tool box today. If this work-around their idiocy fails, that’s it. I do not care to suffer the slings and arrow of outrageous stupidity, nor fools gladly. Or even at all.

For today, then, this “Ditchumentary”: some images I took to document the flooding at the neighbours’ caused by run-off from the hill behind them where illegal logging was done. I doubt they’ll be able to do anything about it.

Looking West towards the flood.
Right in front.
Further West, showing overflow on to the road.

So many things going wrong here these days. Still no chance of vaccine and the case numbers are rising like crazy because people won’t follow the rules. I did a survey for the hospital visit and it was obviously designed to prove the results they wanted in four areas, three of which had nothing to do with the visit. Have not heard about future consultation, so I guess I just wait until the next emergency.

I’d better go get that package today as I’m feeling pretty nasty and depressed.

Oddments

Or; things I came across while looking for other things.

Search engines aren’t what they used to be, especially on certain websites. They used to work. They still do after a fashion, but you have to want what they find for you. Logical operators no longer function, so instead of meeting specific criteria they return anything that has any part of your request. For example if you go looking for the rare four thirds lenses, you get micro four thirds* by the hundreds – as well as dozens of things you may have trouble figuring out the association with. Amazon is champion at this as almost any search will turn up women’s clothing. This is indicative of the other part of the problem; those listing items not categorizing them correctly, whether by accident or on purpose, in the first place.

As frustrating as it is when you’re really trying to locate something, it has its humourous side as well. And sometimes you find little nuggets of ‘gold’. Here are a few unusual items I’ve come across lately while looking around (for no good reason other than that I’m bored and can’t get out and about to take pictures).

Pentax 110 SLR lens

Back in the film days Pentax made a 110 cartridge SLR camera with interchangeable lenses. My Uncle Roger had a few of them because he thought they were amusing. They were cute little things and they were well made, but unfortunately the film wasn’t: 110C started out with high standards and quickly degraded to amateur camera status as it didn’t make a dent in the professional market. To be fair 126C was basically 828/135 film inside a plastic cartridge and it failed for the same reason (yes there were 126C SLRs such as this; Instamatic Reflex ). Here we have a lens for one of those Pentax 110C SLRs offered as “can be adapted to micro 4/3”! I’m sure it would be a good shooter. By the way, Yashica made a few high-grade 110C cameras too, but not SLRs:

Yashica Atoron 110C

Staying in the field of unusual lenses, we have this for those who can’t decide between a 28mm and a 35mm wide-angle lens; behold the Soligor Dualfocal! At 7mm, the shortest range zoom lens ever!

Soligor Dualfocal

This isn’t really a zoom lens per se as it just shifts between 28mm and 35mm. I can see where that might be handy. Or a zoom with detent stops at ‘standard’ focal lengths perhaps? Such would probably be pricey as manufacturers don’t like to be that accurate unless there’s a lot of money in it for them.

When looking at lens adapters I came across this most unusual one:

Kodak Signet 80 to micro 4/3

The Kodak Signet 80 was a rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses – to of the 1950s Signet line that included the venerable 35, 30, 40, and 50 models as well. Here we see some clever machine work done to adapt the lens to micro 4/3 cameras. Signet 80 lenses are fairly rare, but it just goes to show that if you want to use a lot of various vintage glass a micro 4/3 camera can probably take whatever antique lens you can find!

Now for the funny stuff. I found not one but two “ghost hunting cameras”! Better known as “full-spectrum” cameras. I have to wonder if they really are modified, or are just plain bad at accurate colour rendering! *LOL*

Olympus “ghost camera”
Fujifilm “ghost camera”

These lead us to ask two questions: 1). do ghosts emanate or reflect infrared and/or ultraviolet? (They don’t have corporeal bodies so they shouldn’t produce heat); 2). if they don’t reflect the visible spectrum, how can you see where to aim the camera? I guess you just point and click and hope for the best. There’s a lot of that style of photography around. *LOL*

If you’re wondering just what it was I actually searched for, you’ll have to go on wondering. When I find it I’ll let you know.

*The ‘four thirds’ sensor size started out with reflex cameras before the mirrorless ‘micro four thirds’ units came along. The difference is in the distance between the sensor and the lens mount: the original was about 39mm to have enough room for the mirror; the micro version is about 19mm because there is no mirror to accommodate and that means it is easier to build external adapters that can connect just about any lens to the camera as the extra distance gives plenty of space to ‘shrink’ a larger lens mount to the micro four thirds’ smaller throat. The other choice for easy lens adaptability is a large throat on the camera, such as with the Canon EOS; this allows a smaller lens to mount within the opening, thus not altering the lens-to-sensor distance and therefor infinity focus. Trivia: one of the tightest lens adaptations is M42 to PK; the Pentax screw thread lenses on to Pentax bayonet cameras. This is because the lenses and mount were adapted over to begin with to create the bayonet ‘K’ series, and are almost identical in size. They really just changed the mount. Why mess with the lens design when all you have to do is update the connection, right? Unfortunately it means the adapters are delicate metal rings and often come with an accessory ‘key’ to twist them out of the bayonet because getting a purchase on them with your fingers alone can be difficult.

Genuine Pentax M42 to PK adapter. Cheaper ones come from China now.

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.

The WordPress Trick (they hid it well)

With a huge number of people posting complaints about the “Block Editor” (“Blockhead’s Editor”) in their blogs you’d think WordPress would take the hint, since it’s being applied with a 56 lb. post maul. But that remains to be seen. What has been seen is that even the people who manage to use it don’t like it much. It violates the basic engineering principal of “K.I.S.S.”: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
What also is evident as that some people have found the secret passageway to Classic Editor. After reading many blogs about this I noticed it doesn’t seem to be in the same place for everyone. Aha! Another page of How Not To Do It programming from the Facebook manual on making a mess of your web site.
And when we find it, it’s not quite the same as before. But will it do? Will it work?
Here’s how I managed to locate it:
1). Go to “My Site”, find “WP Admin” on the left and click that.
2). (This is the tricky bit) Select “Posts” and “All Posts” (do not select “Add New” here).
3). You get a screen which has “Posts” and a blue “Add New” after it with a drop-down arrow which if selected gives you the editor options. Vis:

Secret link to Classic Editor.

Now your actual experience may vary, and it could be this only still exists because they forgot to take it out. There were two other links to the Classic Editor before, one with the Blockhead’s Editor which never functioned for me and the other under “New Post” in the Admin section which has since disappeared.
Will this one remain? Will they foul it up even more? They certainly have done a fine job of alienating users with this “upgrade”. Why did they do it? I suspect it’s a plot to get free users to pony up for the ‘commercial’ version which allows the Classic Editor download. Something like that anyway.
Whether incompetence or greed is behind it, they are bastards for doing it.

The Farcebook Farce

Gee, I haven’t ranted about Facebook for a long time. It had become quite irrelevant to tell the truth as the site is basically garbage and I haven’t been doing much of anything with it. So let’s back up and see how today is going.

After nearly killing myself yesterday by smashing up the ice on the driveway and then splitting more wood, I wake up today to:

1). Four inches of new snow;

DSCF1183
Today

2). No Internet connection;

DSCF1102
File image

3). Dead battery in Jojo;

IMG_1985
File Image

4). A moronic message from Farcebook saying I can not post or comment for 24 hours due to my offensive posting. What offensive posting? It seems they took exception to a nasty remark I made about them and their incompetent Artificial Intelligence post parsing. How dare I write in German! How dare I use Sarcasm! 

That whole thing started as a bunch of my friends and I were laughing at the fact that now that all the Farceboook employees have been sent home to die of COVID-19 in peace only their idiotic AI is employed to check up on what people write. You can’t complain about any violation of TOS as you get this dumb message:

FBMESS

But in the meantime their Anti-Intelligence algorithm is deleting posts about the forerunner of Jaguar cars because “SS” (Swallow Sidecars) is of course a Nazi term only. Someone noted Chevy Super Sport cars, which also use the initials, managed to get past but not the origins of Jag. It’s okay to be a Nazi as long as you’re an American Nazi?

The irony here being that when acting on an alleged offense to sensibility, specifically ‘promoting Nazism’, they in fact act like Nazis themselves. Hence I commented “Hail victory”, in German, and got banned because German is all Nazi all the time according to Farcebook’s AI. Can anyone not see the irony? It’s drowning in it! *Cue Alanis Morisette* (There’s an extra dimension to that which I won’t go into.)

Meanwhile actual Nazis on Facebook go about their daily abuses uninterrupted – because the AI can’t comprehend intent, only content. Words are not in themselves offensive; only how you use them can be.

In future I shall remember to insult Facebook only in English, so they can better understand what I think of them and their dilapidated failure of a social media web site. If FB dies of coronavirus I won’t cry any.

In the meantime I’m not having a good day. Fortunately I wasn’t planning on going anywhere anyway, except to get a new battery for Jojo and check the mail and … Look, it was going to be my one day out this week. Oh well, guess not.

 

Yeah, Amazon sucks (confirmed)

So I tried to order this:

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 08:47:31

But as you can see, a soft camera case that can be bunched up in an envelope and mailed anywhere for a couple of dollars “requires special handling and cannot be shipped to your selected location.”

Unless you have Prime:

Screenshot from 2020-01-31 08:50:06

 

They pulled this stunt on a lens I wanted to buy too, despite the fact I’ve bought lenses from them before. In fact it seems to come up with just about any piece of camera equipment that is either sold by or fulfilled by them.

Okay, fair enough: their site, their rules.

But it looks an awful lot like blackmail to me. And it definitely will influence my future dealings with them: if I have to pay extra just to get something I want, I might as well buy it elsewhere. Why, it would even be worth paying a bit more just to deny Arrogant.com the sale.

Prime adds nothing to my Amazon experience. The only advantage it gives is free shipping on under $35 orders. It isn’t faster; orders still take at least a week to arrive here. The ‘peripheral’ benefits such as “special deals” or streaming video are of no use to me. I should not have to purchase this extra service just to get the service that used to be available to me (i.e. standard shipping to my location).

Amazon is a lot like Facebook: it started out as a good idea, then got too big and now is solely obsessed with making money to the extent of ignoring customer service.

Thus civilizations fall.