Old saw: When critics gather, they discuss art. When painters gather, they discuss turpentine.

Technical discussions are the inevitable evil of photography. Partly because they function easily as words — one can talk at length about pixels, Permawash, bromoil, MTFs, market share. Simple, quantifiable, explicit. It's very difficult to talk about the balance of a photo, or why you prefer the print that's a half-stop brighter, or the slight variation in poignance that differentiates two portraits in an otherwise largely-identical series. These are attributes of what Nabokov defined as "sensual thinking" — art.

That disclaimer made, here are some thoughts about exposure.

It's so doggoned easy to just use the AutoExposure, but the results are... bland. I've been using the lock more and more, and the little test of the past week has convinced me to use manual exposure exclusively for a while. It's just better to think about the exposure, even if all you do is realize that it's all in a narrow range and you can let the AE have its way. At least you made that choice, and photography is all about choices.

"Correct" metering is not really about 18% gray — the graycard is just a standin for the idea of "getting detail from the maximum slice of the image." In other words, having the minimum number of pixels that are overexposed or underexposed. This isn't always perfect, but it's an excellent approach for designing a camera that can be pointed at a lot of random things and which will return reasonable straight representations of those things.

You can't get away from representation. You can have a pear, and a picture of a pear. The picture can try to reproduce the appearance of the pear, or the photographer's impression of the pear, but it's still a representation of that impression. If the frame was a black rectangle it would still represent some chain of events that led to the creation of that black rectangle, and (if presented) would represent that artist's notion of art.

But "straight" naïve representation, what the AE aims for, is not just representation, it's an attempt at replacement of the subject — instead of the original, we can have this handy rectangular proxy object. Time, space, scale, can be collapsed. I know the face of my great-grandfather, as a young man. I know what a cheetah looks like when it's running at full stride. The surface of Phobos, Bradley fighting vehicles in Najaf, a faraway cousin's new baby. Increasingly, our experiences are not really our experiences; they're instead our experiences of seeing photos of experiences.

This is just like the spoken, and written, technologies of language. Long ago, language let early humans achieve what no animal had really done before — transfer experience, wisdom, and even emotions from one member of the group to many. One human could eat peyote, and tell the others of his experiences without requiring them to invest days in a dangerous activity. One hunter could bag a lion, and on the next hunt the rest of the hunters could use his same methods. Stories from grandparents could be passed down to unseen descendants, and as writing became commonplace they could be passed-down permanently and even anonymously.

So too photography; in its physically-descriptive power it excels like nothing before or since (if I include motion pictures as photography, which I do). But like the written word, it often records the banal as readily as the interesting. There are cuneiform texts that do nothing but handle the accounting for grain warehouses that have been dust for millenia. Like a snapshot, they are exact in their description, but utterly pointless. How much better if, these many centuries afterward, we could have gotten even an inkling of how the scribe felt about this grain!

A little subjectivity can go a long way. It might not be much, but it's what humanizes what we do, makes it distinct from the mechanical, and accessible to one another in a resonant way. In photography, exposure is a part of that subjectivity. To my mind, everything in a photograph should be part of the greater whole, including the exposure. It would be wasteful to leave it to a machine without good reason.

Posted April 30, 2003 | Comments (1)

Old School Pt II

Now that I've been scanning it I like the unmetered roll better than the metered ones. Using my head makes me think about what will be overexposed, underexposed, and where the tones will land. Even if only guessing, this seems a worthy enterprise. And in shots like the one at right, it gave me exactly what I wanted, which was further from "correct" than the two stops of "compensation" the automated cameras provide.

Monday: SP Salon later today, the theme: "Power Relations." I'm thinking one of the photos from Saturday might do nicely.

Posted April 27, 2003 | Comments (3)

Shower Time Shot of the Day

Posted April 27, 2003 | Comments (0)

Old School Rules

Three rolls Delta 400, Xtol 1::1, 11.5 mins @ 20C. One TMX, 9.5 mins.

Shot-but-unprocessed backlog down to zero again, save for the two rolls currently loaded: one in the Contax and one in a Canon SLR. One of today's rolls, now hanging to dry in the shower, was deliberately shot without any light metering. As I hoped, it looks just as consistently-exposed as any of the the others.

Posted April 27, 2003 | Comments (0)

Fish in a Barrel

Took off on a houseful of guests tonight, to go wander alone with the Contax — wander specifically to a local tiny carnival, operating for the weekend in the park around the corner, a park that's part of the grounds for my daughter's middle school.

Brought a hefty strobe and walked-in from the back. Walked up and down the miniscule Midway, talking to the carnies running the rides and games. Listened to them tell me about how much they loved what they did, how tiring it was, how the older guys working the game booths had landed there after their injuries from working on the rides, how many wives they'd burned-through.

One of them called me over to his booth and said he'd take my picture while I played a game, and did — I handed him my gear and was shooting a pistol at targets. While I did so, the manager of the amusement company and two cops lined up behind me — when I sent my airgun down they wanted to know just what I thought I was doing with a camera at the carnival. Good grief! Maybe they think Al Queada is targeting funhouses? Whatever. I pointed out my house, there across the park, and said I wanted my own pictures. Annoying. The place was crawling with folks snapping each other with digicams and video kits.

It still felt good to be out by myself and shoot. Two rolls later I was back home with our guests and felt 100% better.

I won a little stuffed doggie. Five bull's eyes.

Posted April 26, 2003 | Comments (0)

Out of Control

Cupertino 2003 Cherry Blossom Festival.

At the last minute I decided to carry the Contax and the Canon digicam — the Canon still has a +2 closeup diopter left on it from last weekend, so I left it on. Nothing further than about 3 feet in focus, might be fun.

Why do I never learn?

Press-sputter-freeze-wobble-click the whole thing is just so infuriatingly slow. The camera seems to have taken the famous lead from Buddy Hackett, on the priciples of comedic timing. Pa-dum- -BUM- the wrong shot!

Prefocus? Not at six inches away from a living subject.

The second half of my frustration comes from trying to shoot anything while simultaneously keeping an eye one three extra people in a crowd, one of them slowing down becuase he's hungry and his feet hurt while one is running off to buy every last thing that's so cuuute...

The difficult truth is that shooting is a solitary activity, taking time that should be focused on shooting. Yet in recent months my solitary free time has been restricted entirely to hours after 10PM. Worthless.

The battery died after less than an hour, anyway.

Posted April 26, 2003 | Comments (0)

Work-Related Stress

I'm not really much of a fan of movie award shows, what with the overprimped and overpriveleged sweating it out in awkward suits and haircuts more-approriate to a high school homecoming pageant than grown-up behavior. And worse-yet is the near-complete dismissal of the 99% of the film community (including the writers) who make the films.

But I think I'm learning to be a lot more forgiving after finding out how the Iranian film awards work, according to

I don't know what the IA and SAG are saying about this sort of thing, but now a little overtime on the weekend isn't sounding too bad.

Posted April 25, 2003 | Comments (0)


I've been busy tonight using Photoshop's "Automate" feature, running an action to add my rubber-stamp "bug" to photos in the February sketchbook and elsewhere on the site.

A few years ago, I found a stock-photo house in Spain was selling this photo, found here on the site, without bothering to tell me (or pay me). After that incident, the stamp appeared. I got a lot of complaints, and in the past couple of months I had let many "bug-less" shots onto the web.

Sadly, my log robot noticed a recent upsurge in picture theft — people using photos from botzilla on their own web pages (one even was from a site that was offering to sell the pix). And this one cropped-up in a German magazine last fall, and I still haven't been paid.

So while having a distracting rubber-stamp in unfun, being ripped off is even more unfun, and the stamps are back.

Posted April 24, 2003 | Comments (0)

Not Entirely What I Meant

Okay, when I asked a few days ago about any 3D computer blog sites, I really meant any 3D animation sites that:

  1. Had 3D info consisting of more than rehashing of industry press releases
  2. Was able to talk about 3D without making reference to numbered Bible verses.

So this doesn't quite make it.

Posted April 24, 2003 | Comments (0)

Signs of the Times

John Bolgiano, aka "coldmarble," runs ColdMarble Musings,the only alternative-process (Cyanotype, Van Dyke process, etc) blog I've seen — so far. Looks like Courtney might give him some competition soon.

She checked-out Reed & Webb's Alternative Photographic Processes from the library yesterday, prepping for an alt-process class, and noticed that it was completely untouched — never checked-out before, the book's binding crackling as she turned each page.

We've noticed similar behavior on some other library photo books recently — she acquired a stack of beautiful Martin Parr books via loan from a library in San Diego, and their stamps showed they'd not been checked out for years. Tsk!

Posted April 23, 2003 | Comments (2)

Linkfest... not

I spent a good chunk of today letting search engines search. I was looking for blog sites that seemed interesting to me, and sad to say there was a lot more searching than finding.

Lots of typical sites — meg upon meg of toycam and pencam and pincam photos, lots of grinning heads, brightly-colored market stalls, pigeons and rainy windowsills. But little — very little — of work and thought that seemed as if someone had worked or thought very hard.

Nature of the beast, I guess. When everyone got desktop publishing, we were buried in paper. Video cameras, buried in home movies. And there are some regions of light in the swampy fog. But also a lot of swamp.

One problem seems to be the technology — people are so caught-up in the latest tool, and their blogs are largely expressions of fashionability (which thrives on conformity). There is a broad, deep culture of "me too!" that is at once central to the nature of blogging and at the same time inhospitable to independant, demanding, work. The blogiverse seems to be more about quantity that quality. Why have three amazing photos when we can have 780 mediocre variations on the same obvious idea by 600 people?

If it floats your boat, great. But among those 780 photos are the three amazing ones. I, for one, will tire after the first dozen, which puts my chances of seeing even one of the amazing shots at something like ((777!*772!)/(780!*769!)) which is only about 4%

That's a lot of googling.

Remember The Treasure of Sierra Madre, the explanation that gold's value lies not in its inherent qualities but in the thousands of wasted hours spent looking for each tiny nugget?

There are some glimmers of hope — I found a few sites worth blogrolling, a few veins that might be worth tapping. I'm not entirely discouraged yet.

If anyone knows of any 3D computer animation sites, let me know.

Posted April 22, 2003 | Comments (1)

More Linkages

As I've mentioned elsewhere on this site, I keep a little robot that tracks down links, picture theft, usage of pictures, pages, and also the search terms that people use on search engines like Google and Kartoo to find pages here on Botzilla.

In the past few days I've seen a sudden surge in one search term, that had never been present before: "Saddam Art." This one, along with variations like "Saddam Art Collection" and "Hussein Artworks" and "painting of Saddam Hussein." have shot to the #1 spot in the past week.

I actually don't have much in the way of Saddam art, though I've wanted some since well before Iraq invaded Kuwait. In the late 80's there was to have been a show of, as I recall, impressionist masterworks to be held at a new state-run museum in Baghdad — the first show of its kind anywhere in the arab region. Scholars were greatly excited and paintings were being loaned from numerous high-profile institutions. Then, near the last minute, the show was canned, and replaced with a show of paintings by sundry Iraqis of the Beloved Leader, Saddam Hussein. Almost immediately the show was declared to be permanent, and the museum to be dedicated to this one exhibition. I really wanted that exhibition catalog!

Guess Saddam couldn't stand being one-upped by L. Ron Hubbard.

In the last few days, as the Washington Post reports, Iraqi artists are starting to deal with an Iraq free from government minders. No telling what has happened to Salaam Abid, one of Hussein's favorite full-time portraitists.

Posted April 22, 2003 | Comments (0)

Sometimes It's the Little Things

The enlarger is working again. Five years in storage had let a tiny bit of corrosion get on the lamp pins. A wiggle or two on the contacts and voila.

Went around with a meter and the IIIa today. No photos after 8AM, but the meter got used anyway, taking notes.

NVIDIA interiors are EV 7 day and night. My dining room is EV 5, kitchen EV 6. Bedroom around EV3, depending on distance from the big paper lantern. So now I don't need a meter.... NVIDIA is three stops down from open shade which is four stops down from sunny-16. The dining room is two stops down from NVIDIA. What more could I need?

Posted April 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

MF'ing Wine and Cheese

Okay, so Saturday night.

We were at a little end-of-an-era party for Gretchen Pirillo and (less-directly) Chris Pirillo, and run into
Robert Scoble who is headed off to work for the Octopus that is called Microsoft. Convinced me more than ever that I really ought to have a good Tablet PC. With lots of, err, stuff. He does Tablet stuff right now, just around the corner from NVIDIA at NEC for a few more days. But fat chance getting a Real Deal! :)

I also fiddled around a bit (towards the end of things) with Chris's Canon G3 in a much handier way than you can at Best Buy or Gasser's. Yeah, the G3's way faster than my G1, but I already knew that. Courtney's Digital Ixus is faster than my G1. What I really liked was that the focus lock button was in a reasonable place, right under your thumb like it is on the Contax G2 or an EOS camera. It has a light, natural feel.

But then... aggggh! Canon's designers turned off the MF lock if the LCD panel is closed. This is just like the G1 and it ticks me off so much! It means you can't use the optical finder and focus lock together, unless you have the LCD spun-round and turned on. And if the LCD is turned on, then the shutter gets an additional lag for screen updating. Plus you get nose oil all over your LCD. Grrrr.

Please someone, tell me there's a custom function to turn that behavior off...

The G3 is definitely better than the G1, and its movie mode, size, and weight still make it an attractive alternative to a heavier SLR digicam like the 10D. I might trade up to one yet. But Canon still knows how to get me riled-up.

Posted April 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

Funny, I Didn't Notice the English Accent at First

It seems The Information Minister has a highly-rated opinion about the state of the graphics industry.....

Posted April 21, 2003 | Comments (0)

Link Chain

Thought I'd paste-together a list of URLs that have had important influences on my thinking over the past few months. YMMV.

Current backlog: one roll of TMax. Very little shooting this weekend, except for the garden shots that followed after the story below.

Posted April 20, 2003 | Comments (0)

Beauty & Horror

So it's 10AM yesterday morning and Courtney calls me to the window to see the backyard — the wildflowers that she'd cast as seeds last year have burst up into glorious bloom in the past week or two; the red blossoms, lit by the morning sun, were brilliant and striking.

We were discussing plans for the future of the yard when she notices that in the dark shadow of the house there's a juvenile squirrell, laying prostrate by the sidewalk. A little present from the cat, I suppose. Then she realizes that he's still breathing, and I see his paw twitch. There's a scrap of plastic bag nearby — I flash that the squirrell has eaten plastic and is choking to death.

I grab garden gloves and a shoe box and head outdoors. The kids have by now gotten interested in both the flowers and the "baby" squirrell and are both at the window, noses to the glass. Courtney is calling the wildlife center vet.

As I reach the squirrell I see that I was wrong about the plastic — my initial assessment was the right one. He sees me, but can't run — the cat has mauled the little guy, injured his legs so he can't flee. I scoop him into the box and he attacks the cardboard, chomping at it and screaming with all his might as he flops around on tiny stumps, probably worsening his injuries and smearing squirrell blood around the white lining of the shoe box. At the sound of his screams the cat suddenly appears atop the fence, wanting to defend her prize. Too bad kitty — the box is shut, brought to the car, and Courtney heads off across town to the vet. The kids, needless to say, are horrified.

Kitty slept alone last night.

Posted April 20, 2003 | Comments (0)

Another Abusive Post

I had been wondering about buiilding a RAID drive out of a stack of Mac floppies, and about how far large rubber balls would burrow into the ground when dropped from aircraft. Thank goodness for Technology Abuse, run by the web honcho of Contax G, Glen Cambell.

Posted April 18, 2003 | Comments (0)


When I collected my little Selected Stereotypes web gallery two years, ago, I didn't anticipate the effects of time.

The first image had been made at a 9/11 memorial service, at the Hawaiian state capitol. The kids were from a nearby school, just standing to one side observing the dense crowd of grey-faced or crying adults packed into the center of the building. I saw the kids, up went the 200mm, click whirr click whirr and they were dispersing before I coud get the next frame composed. I liked the shot for its ambiguous mix of emotions, sympathetic sadness, confusion, anxiety, and bored impatience.

Now I see something else, though the pixels all remain the same. Imagining these same children today, that moment in their lives gone, and now they, like all of us, are part of a changed world, very different from that end-of-summer day. Reading the photo across this distance of time, their expressions and reactions to events feel amplified to me. The prosperous, friendly environment of their earlier days has since been transformed in ways that could only be vaguely guessed-at in 2001 (was it ever really there? Did we know what it was?). Now more than before, they seem to be behind a fence, a fence called then.

Their worlds changed, my world changed. I had been doing some portraits that very preceding weekend, a technical exercise. From that point forward, it seemed that my eyes were pulled open a little wider, that everything seemed to be a little more solid and fragile and beautiful and alive at the same time, and that I had better do something to see it clearly and hold onto it before it all vanished without my noticing.

For the first time ever, I started to think of my shooting not as a way of examining what is, but of instantly providing a link to what was, even one split-second after I pressed the shutter button.

A photo is just a thing, an object, but it's the trace of a living moment. Not the fire, but the ash.

Posted April 16, 2003 | Comments (0)

Almost Made It, Anyway

Grr, last night while cleaning-up and filing-away the papers for my tax returns I find... the W-2's!

Not a huge disaster by any means, a pretty common error that the California FTB and various other sites say is simply an excuse for the various agencies to hold onto your refund for a longer time (but no obvious penalties, and for me at least, I'm already all paid-up and then some). Tsk.

Posted April 16, 2003 | Comments (0)

Dwindling Source of Excuses

So Courtney brought my last two C-41 rolls from the To-Do box to Long's this afternoon and now I have a shot-but-unprocessed backlog of zero, not counting the couple of rolls that are currently loaded in cameras (including an Ektachrome 100VS 6x6 roll from January, *sigh*). If I want more pictures, I'd best go out and make some.

Current supplies: five rolls of TMax 100, 13 rolls of Delta 400, two rolls of Kodak Gold 100 neg and a test roll of the new Ektachrome 100 G. About a half-dozen 120 E100VS rolls, two long-cut (old bottom-loading Leica-style) TMax 100 rolls, and of course the digital... with about 200 exposures of ancient digibacklog from Helsinki needing to be spooled-off to CD (never to be seen again?).

The real question, as ever, is what to do with it.

Ideas jotted into the visor at various times:

  • Rooms of the House
  • Seeing beyond the seen: psychics
  • The ongoing "infinity marker project" (inside joke w/Contax)
  • Crappy bars
  • Gameboy
  • I-880

Grrr. None of them seem all that satisfying, at least not at this hour. Psychics, though — seeing beyond or through or past the surface of things is what they're all about, at least that's the story. And maybe that's exactly what I want to get out of these pictures — a source of second sight. Or do I really want to degenerate the unseen into objects, handy little paper rectangles? Am I just looking for an excuse to objectify every experience? I'm pretty darned sure I don't want scenic vistas and adorable kitties, but I'm feeling waffly about what I do want today. Ticks me off at myself.

Posted April 15, 2003 | Comments (0)

Made It

Got the $#!! tax papers done, no need to file extensions or wait for the later deadlines. This year's return ran 28 pages, oy. Had to do long forms for US, California, and Hawaii. It's also the last-ever year I'll have to report alimony payments, so just for that reason alone — hurrah.

In the end, I reported zero on the moving expenses — maybe I'll send a revised return later, but even without them all the results ended up in the plus column. Could there be a D1s in my near future?


Posted April 15, 2003 | Comments (0)


Did it! Actually had time after 6PM to shoot something new for the midnight deadline of the streetphoto salon (click-thru the pic).

I still dug through the archives, and added a little alternate gleaned from last fall's trip to Tokyo. I like that one, but frankly it's something of an urban cliche. Still, the full set has quite a number of similar shots, with the hope that as a set they're stronger.

Hey, before I could even finish this note I've already got two contrasting opinions, starting with this one, heh....

Posted April 14, 2003 | Comments (0)

More Saddam Art

Now CNN is reporting it too — the taste of the Hussein family for fantasy art.

I'm really itching to see his record collection and game system, now.

Posted April 14, 2003 | Comments (1)


Hmm, got a message from Michal Daniel that it's already time for another street photography salon — photo web submissions are due tomorrow by midnight. This time the theme is "trace" and once again I haven't gone and made a doggoned thing for it. Will have to dig through the archives, though I'd prefer to shoot something new.

Haven't really had time for it this weekend, been struggling with last-minute tweaks to my taxes — might have to file an extension if I can't find all of the receipts right away, though I'm happy to report that for Hawaii, California, and the IRS, I get refunds all around even without them. I just want to find the right receipts (mostly moving-related) so I can crank those refunds up just a tad more.

Posted April 13, 2003 | Comments (0)

Art Endures

Watching the "Raw Video" clips over at and as usual they rock. Being able to just watch the lightly-edited raw footage, without voiceover or some dopey camerahog doing a standup in front of a safe gate or highway berm, is a monumentally great and apparently not-well-known resource.

Today the feeds were full of Iraqi looting, of course. And a quick snip of the departing Iraqi delegate to the UN: "I love New York." One long clip covered a tour one of Qusay Hussein's so-far largely-unlooted palaces, along with the associated undestroyed yacht.

The palaces are fascinating in their bizarre mixtures of art, high, low, and indifferent. When the first footage of a Saddam residence showed up on Tuesday, CNN repeated showed a tall multiple-picture frame, the sides adorned with sprocket holes, to make some allusion to motion picture stills — the sort of thing you would find at any of the cheapest gift shops on Hollywood Boulevard. It was filled not with family snaps but official portraits.

Qusay's yacht was decorated with Babylonian motifs, mixed with a large dose of Louis XIV gold trim. The house? Huge Boris Vallejo fantasy paintings, or perhaps simply commisioned knockoffs of Boris Vallejo paintings (the fortune you could get for those at Comicon, heh).

If the Iraqi government hasn't already done so, someone should really create a catalog of Hussein art — not the art owned by him, per se, but the art of him. I wonder if any of it dared have a voice of its own, or if it all was safely kitsch, like that of the great dictatorships of the 30's and 40's so admired by Saddam.

Posted April 11, 2003 | Comments (0)

Little Rescues


I hotsync my PDA on two different machines — my work desktop at NVIDIA and my home game PC (separate from the work PC, and likewise separate from the Macs). Before syncing this morning I took a snapshot of the Handspring directory, and using cygwin "grep," picked through the contents looking for GoPix files. Once found, I stashed them off to a parallel directory (so as not to overwrite the archive dir), then told the Installer to install four files: Ses-ZTLS.PDB, Eqpt-ZTLS.PDB, Exp-ZTLS.PDB, Film-ZTLS.PDB and voila I've now got my GoPix data back to the state it was in when I last synchronized it, at 2:03PM yesterday afternoon.

*great sigh of relief*

Next comes the tedious but welcome part — flushing all the existing logs out to text files, so they can ultimately be printed and those printouts added top the binders that hold sheets of negatives. Picking through GoPix I see that it's got about 50 rolls' worth of notes.

Posted April 11, 2003 | Comments (0)

That Last 10%

Picking through Dave Beckerman's Journals on his printing process. Yeah, a lot of steps, many things to go wrong.

The darkroom here is partly re-assembled. I put the Durst back together, but the head wouldn't light. Not sure if it's the bulb, the wiring, a fuse in the power supply, or what. I only got to use this enlarger a very few times at the old house — it's nicer than I remembered (if it will work).

The water situation in the new space is poor. That's still the biggest limitation, one I've previously been able to bypass by just running negs in the kitchen and scanning them at my desk.

Overheard a conversation last week, two illustrators discussing one illustrator's desire to take a photo class. The other thinks it's a waste, "not that photography isn't an art and all, but I don't see how it has any effect on being able to make pictures."

Posted April 11, 2003 | Comments (1)

Little Disasters

Two rolls TMax 100, one roll Fuji Neopan 400, Xtol 1::1 9.5mins @ 20C

So the backlog is dropping — tonight's trio leaves only a couple of C-41 rolls in the "pending" box, and both of those were shot by Rebecca — not me. I think.

I fished out three white-labelled DX-coded-for-ISO-100 rolls from the box, grabbed the changing bag and tall tank, threaded them up. Pulled out the snips of leader and.... they didn't match. Two were the expected pinkish TMax 100 color, but one of the snipped leaders was gray. Huh? I turned on the PDA, checked the GoPix log. Roll "G100," Apr03b, TMax 100, Stevens Creek landscape photos. Hmmm.

It wasn't TMax, that was certain. I guessed Delta 400. Checked and their big dev chart. It recommends 9.75 mins for Delta400@ISO200 in Xtol 1::1, and I was going to run the TMax for 9.5 minutes anyway, so... let them all run at 9.5mins and sort it out later.

After fixing, check the rolls. It wasn't Delta, it was Fuji Neopan 400, inexplicably loaded (by me) into a 100 ISO cartidge. *sigh* The development should still be in an appropriate range, we'll look at the scans later, maybe tomorrow.

I'm not thrilled. Not so much because of the potentially-whacked exposure, which I doubt will be serious, but because the whole purpose of that roll was to be a TMax test, to measure resolution limits and contrast ranges. So the roll and the afternoon spent shooting it is now essentially a bust (okay, maybe it'll show me some uninteresting info about extreme pull-processing of Neopan).

So I pick up the Handspring, change the record categories of all three rolls from "Pending" to "Processed." Add a short bit to the header of G100: "Surprise! Actually mislabelled Neopan 400." Press "Done."

The roll appears in the list with the new tag, but lists no exposures. Huh? I tap the header, see the empty list, and the PDA locks up. No menus, no clicks, locked. I hit reset, reboot the PDA. All okay. Start GoPix. Locks up. Repeat. Same deal.

In the end the only way to unlock it is to delete GoPix entirely and reload the application fresh from my PC. So all of my GoPix roll notes are lost, going back to late January. Every roll, every tag, every exposure, all the notes lost. GoPix is now a blank slate, it doesn't know about my gear, my shots, film preferences, nada. Start over.

This happened once before — the buffer apparently overflowed with active data, too much shooting. The GoPix author said he had fixed this bug, but I normally flush all the logs out to a text file every couple of months anyway. Not this time... guess the surge of shooting in late Feb pushed me too high.

I don't even know at this point what the labels of those other TMax rolls are, still soaking in the final wash. One of them I know was from April, but the other? What about the roll in the Contax right now? Did I tag it Apr03e? Apr03f? Grrrr.

Posted April 10, 2003 | Comments (1)


One roll Neopan 400, Rodinal 1::50, 9.5mins@22C, three rolls Delta400 Xtol 1::1, 11.5mins@20C

Touched up the February Sketchbook a bit — it was originally dumped-out as a raw sampler of what I was up to recently, but it's developed a life of its own, if my web logs are any indication. So a little cleanup on one or two raw edges.

Posted April 09, 2003 | Comments (0)


Made a lot of progress on a set of Mel scripts tonight — automated conversion from simple Maya 4.5 shading networks to CgFX format (generate the shaders, build the lights, etc, all with one-click setup). The last tasks were wiring-up the connections between shader types and the automatic conversion of textures from formats that Maya likes (.tga, .bmp, etc) to the .dds needed by the CgFX plugin. Doug's nvdxt tool to the rescue!

It's nowhere near as sophisticated and slick as the integrated realtime support in Maya 5, but it works on the scenes I've got, and the .fx files can be turned-out and dropped into other realtime applications pretty easily. I'm jazzed, we'll have to find a good free-download home for this tool.

Posted April 09, 2003 | Comments (0)

Ships in the Night

Just ran across — a parallel world to Funny how the web journals on such sites keep getting labelled "Daybooks" — an archaic term but an obvious allusion to the many years' worth of daybooks kept by Edward Weston (and available in your local library).

Still a bit bummed at the rapid-blast-thru of Vegas — got off a half-dozen shots, when I just knew there were so many, many more... one surprise to me (after not being there for some years) was how many people were using little digicams in the casinos — you used to get kicked out for shooting in one.

Most-lamented missed shot, or maybe just most memorable scene: two heavyset older ladies screaming at one another in Russian on the casino floor at Circus Circus, one woman eventually reduced to tears, 7AM, the "winner" of the screaming match wearing an oversized frock decorated with cowgirls in American-flag bikinis.

Perhaps what appeals to me about Las Vegas was how many people look completely lost.

Posted April 09, 2003 | Comments (0)


Tmax 100 TMX, Rodinal 1::50, 13 mins.

Ran some TMX through Rodinal just before running down to Vegas. As I was running it I was digging through the web looking for references — found nothing but bad things about this combination. Beats me why — the result has a lot of that same Acro-like snap, and terrific tones. A little grainy-grittier? Yeah, but at the degrees of enlargement it takes to see the grain, who cares?

The German/English NAB-Issue Zeiss Camera-Lens News just published their latest suite of film tests — TMax 100, at 180 lpmm, was the finest-detailed of any available film in their test, even finer than Velvia. Not sure what developer was used — probably TMax developer, but that was the one major undocumented factor.

Posted April 07, 2003 | Comments (0)

22 Hours In Vegas

Flew in yesterday, went from the airport to the hotel long enough to drop off my luggage, straight to the launch event for Maya 5 (cool), ate a late dinner and back to sleep, right up and out to NAB, had a quick lunch view of the latest from Softimage (likewise cool), jammed to the taxi to the airport to SJC and back here to my desk. So much for neon lights, but the stuff at NAB was pretty cool realtime-wise — products were showing realtime Cg shaders integrated into their products.

Saw a fair amount of lighting and motion-control equipment on the show floors too — R/C chopper cams, lots of remote controls, some pretty keen little fluorescent kits from Lowell lighting, the new Panasonic handheld 25p DVX100, a fair amount of digital grading and color-correction kit, and a few familiar faces: Josh Pines, Rick Sayre, Ray Feeney, even a couple of real surprises from Square — Soeda-san and Kasuya-san, who have made a happy transition to life in game and effects production in LA. Coolness all 'round.

Posted April 07, 2003 | Comments (0)

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Need a detailed map of Baghdad, one that can tell you where the al_dawra neighborhood is relative to the Al-Rasheed Hotel? Need to make sense of the video feeds we're seeing from random spots? Search No more..

This is the map you want — 3Kx2K, it shows every major government ministry, hotel, major streets, and neighborhood.

Posted April 05, 2003 | Comments (0)

Digital Fencewalking Part 63 - Battle of the Bulge

The March edition of the UK mag Black & White Photography has an interesting statistic — both Kodak and Ilford reported their 2002 black and white film sales had increased over 2001 — that both Kodak and Ilford were at a loss to explain why.

My guess — cameras have deeply invaded the low ground, people taking snaps of Edgar & Martha visiting the grandkids, and the expensive high end of journalism and advertising, where quick turnaround and color are at a premium. But the B&W market remains pretty unaffected, for examply the reasons I've stated before — light, affordable cameras are clunky, the fast, useful ones are too expensive and heavy. For the folks who were doing B&W before the digital onslaught, there's really a minimal reason to change.

Don't get me wrong here — rabid anti-digital sentiments found in magazines like B&W are comical — this rise in B&W film use doesn't seem that inexplicable.

Posted April 05, 2003 | Comments (0)

TMax I hardly knew ye

Okay, forget anything bad I ever said about TMax 100 (except maybe the drying part, and the mysterious pink stuff). These last rolls (coupla nights back) have made me a believer again. Crisp, broad latitude, good stuff. The last batch had a number of frames from something I'm calling the "infinity project" though it may be a while before any of it starts to see the light of day here or elsewhere. Looking at them gives me more ideas to improve it, and reassures me on the validity of some of the ideas.

No surprise, no Salon win for me. Maybe in a couple of weeks I can come up with something funny for the next topic, "Traces" selected by Michal Daniel.

Posted April 03, 2003 | Comments (0)

More Shader Fun

I made myself a little "smoke test" script for using the Cg Plugin with Maya — script that bangs-through any directory of shader files and just applies each shader to a copy of model (right now a sphere, but it could be any model you like, via instancing).

Makes a sort of instant 3D catalog of shader effects — since it's realtime, it's the sort of thing that you can just do to provide yourself with a quick palette of choices, rather than picking through a regular material editor. You can spin them around and check 'em out (84 shaders shown here, including a 2D "imager" shader for the background).

Still feel like I'm just scratching the surface of what'll ultimately be possible using this stuff in apps like Max, XSI, or Maya... it's as transformative, in the way you can work with shading, as it was switching from DOS-based text editing to MacWord.

If anyone wants this Mel script, just let me know.

(PS: After I saved this I looked at the date! No, it's no April Fool's prank)

Posted April 01, 2003 | Comments (0)


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