nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 (and panoramic landscapes)

I finally upgraded my copy of nik Color Efex Pro.1 It has this new feature called “u-point” which allows you to do zone system tone masking a lot like LightZone. This means I can finally edit without masks. The other advantage is it finally works again on the Mac version of Photoshop. 😉

So I re-stitched an old panoramic of mine and then imported it into Photoshop to try out updated versions of my old nik filters as well as a new one.

Rock cave remnants
Greyhound rock
Santa Cruz beaches, Santa Cruz, California
Olympus C-2500L
(8 images, 1/250-1/1300 sec) @ f/5.6, iso 100, 9.2mm (36mm)

Please view large on black.

[nik professional filters and panoramic photography after the jump]Continue reading nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 (and panoramic landscapes)

Obama's 2002 speech

“Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join. The battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.

“The consequences of war are dire, the sacrifices immeasurable. We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war. But we ought not — we will not — travel down that hellish path blindly.”
—Barack Obama, Illinois State Senator speaking at Chicagoans Against the War in Iraq, 2002

Brent Budowsky reminds us of Barack Obama’s 2002 speech opposing the war.

The speech is classic. The constant use of word pairs (“Auschwitz and Treblinka,” “Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz,” “Pakistan and India,” “the Saudis and the Egyptians,” “Exxon and Mobil.” “ignorance and intolerance” “corruption and greed,” “poverty and despair”), the sentence repetition an and counterpoint (“I don’t oppose all wars.” and then “I oppose dumb wars” followed by, “You want a fight, President Bush?”), the use of quick powerful sentences (“A dumb war. A rash war.” and then “He is a brutal man. A ruthless man”); it even ends, in the final sentence with three references to another Illinois politician’s reference to the greatest American speech of all time.

Truly impressive word play and well worth a read.

Read the full text here.

Home alone (or not)

I’ve been writing lately about the three P’s: programming, photography, and politics. Many of you must be bored out of your mind and are thinking, Damn! Terry.TMI.

Time to break it up a bit.

A friend is in the process of moving to a new place. She mentioned that she had never lived on her own before. She’s always been with boyfriends or her parents.

[At home with the parents after the jump]Continue reading Home alone (or not)

Running with cameras

DPReview has an excellent review of the 18-200mm Nikkor travel kit lens, a lens I happen to own.

I wait for Pizza with my Nikon camera (from side)
I wait for Pizza with my Nikon camera (from side)
Patxi’s Pizza, Palo Alto, CA

Lumix DMC-LX1
1/3 sec @ f/2.8, iso 200, 6mm (28mm)

One criticism missing from the review is how annoyingly long the lens extends when zoomed—I’ll miss the slickness of the way the 18-70mm handles zooming as well as its build quality. One criticism in the review I take exception to is the complaint about complex distortion at wide angles—the reason is that DxO Optics Pro easily fixes this problem.

The review is especially notable because the excellent flash applet they have that shows the test results. This confirms something I’ve always suspected, but never really tested: the lens is not sharp at the long portrait telephoto distances.

Still, I think people reading the review might get so obsessed with MTF curves and assorted “pixel peeping” that they won’t gather why this lens, warts and all, is still a great lens.

Through the lens
Through the lens
Riverstone Townhomes, Mountain View, California

Nikon D70, Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-4.5G VR
1/30 sec @ f/5.6, iso 1000, 200mm (300mm)

This image easily made the front page of Nikon’s Stunning Gallery after I submitted it. It was taken with the lens I had on my camera: the 18-200mm at 200mm and taking advantage of the impressive close focusing capabilities of the lens.

This is good timing. When I got this lens two years ago to replace my 18-70mm, I managed to be one of the lucky few who got it quickly and for almost $100 than list price (Thanks, Roberts Imaging!). A year later, this lens was so scarce it was still reselling for almost $100 above list on eBay, I felt I made off like a bandit.

Now the price and availability have come more into line. Though I do wish the build quality was slightly higher or that the price was slightly cheaper.

Jeremiah, Holly, and Jessica (2007-0038 068)
Jeremiah, Holly, and Jessica
NetGear, Santa Clara, California

Nikon D200, Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
1/90sec @ f/3.5, iso 800, 18mm (27mm)

The 18-200mm makes a great documentary lens because you don’t have time to switch out lenses. Here I capture a few of my friends talking after Lunch 2.0.

[Defending the all-purpose kit]Continue reading Running with cameras

Computers don’t cry

>> Hello.
How do you do.  Please state your problem.
>> Joseph Weizenbaum, your creator, died today.
Why are you concerned over my creator  ?
>> Joseph Weizenbaum, your creator, died today.
What about your own creator  ?
>> Joseph Weizenbaum, your creator, died today.
Are you worried about someone else's creator  ?
>> Joseph Weizenbaum, your creator, died today.
Really, my creator  ?
>> Joseph Weizenbaum, your creator, died today.
Why are you concerned over my creator  ?


The Trouble with Techies

While researching the previous article, I came across this hilarious quote:

This is a far cry from 1966, originally the Klingons were scotch tape Asians (Fong, 176); White actors given slanty eyes. The Klingon race incarnate all the characteristics that most scare White America. The Klingons are violent, ill tempered, lustful, and drunk. They are on a mission to destroy the peaceful Federation and take over the universe. Finally, they fight to the death preferring death to defeat or capture. One scene from an episode entitled The Trouble with Tribbles almost mirrors a scene from the 1944 film Dragon Seed. In both scenes the evil Asians show up at a restaurant and demand liquor, when they are denied they go on a violent rampage. Often, they are shown eating large hunks of meat off the bone Gengis Kahn style.
—“As-liens: The Final Frontier in Depicts of Yellow Peril in Popular Cinema

I’m so going to have to do this at the next geek event.

Captain Koloth
Clearly Capt. Koloth would be much scarier if he were darker, but apparently demanding liquor is scary enough.

Hurrah, we're Klingons again!

“Gotta say, it’s kind of breathtaking what Bush has done to you, the awakening is something to behold!.”
—rafaelh, “Well, Of Course.”

The slow transformation of political blogger, John Cole, from a Bush supporting Republican to “Noam Chomsky” really is that. In the linked article, he points out the “settling in for a longer term confrontation with China.”

I think we need to remember how the early Bush administration kept playing cat-and-mouse with the Chinese airspace until an accident happened.

It was pretty obvious then that the idea wasn’t to start a war, the idea was to scare us enough to provide funding on the completely useless national missile defense system. And then, five months later, 9/11 happened and they got their missile defense system budget anyway.

I always found it interesting how the Klingons in Star Trek the original series were the Yellow Peril, then they became the Soviets. I was hoping they’d be the Arabs this time, but it looks like they’re back to being the Chinese again.

I can’t wait. 🙂

The crack cocaine of the Leica world

Recently I think I’ve met two other people who have purchased Leica M8s and on both those cameras, I think I saw a Cosina-Voigtländer 35mm f/1.2 Nokton lens. If so, that’s a strange coincidence because it is a very obscure lens.

Leica and Cosina
Leica and Cosina
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Nikon D200, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D, Canon 500D close-up filter
1/40sec @ f/1.4, iso 200, 85mm (127mm)

Say what you will about the value, but I think rangefinder cameras look gorgeous.

The weird thing is, that this obscure lens is the only lens I have for my Leica.

Well that’s not true anymore:

Weird aperture
Weird aperture
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR, Canon 500D close up filter
1/2sec @ f/14, iso 200, 170mm (170mm)

The only lens I have for my Leica is no lens at all!

Yep, the lens has officially died in a manner unheard of: the internal aperture blades have popped out of their mount during normal shooting use. I am writing this to see if Cosina will do something to repair the manufacturing defect, and to write a little about my experiences with this lens on a digital Leica.

[The Nokton, Voigtländer, and Cosina after the jump]Continue reading The crack cocaine of the Leica world

Joel B Sacks sendoff

I stopped by XYZ Bar to say bye to Joel B. Sacks, formerly of AdBrite and CNET. I came late and couldn’t stay for long.

Joel gets all the hotties
Joel gets all the hotties
XYZ Bar, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/6 sec @ f/2.8, iso 6400, 24mm (24mm)

Andrei left me my SB-800 so I did get to try out my new camera and remind myself that I need to relearn flash photography and crack open the manual sometime.

I had never been to XYZ Bar before. It is right across from the convention center and has a restaurant is on the first floor while the bar is on the second floor.

XYZ Bar, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, 14-24mm f/2.8G
1/30 sec @ f/2.8, iso 1100, 14mm (14mm)

[three more photos after the jump.]Continue reading Joel B Sacks sendoff