Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sons of Anarchy – Season 4 not what I had hoped … *updated* …

What a great series! Very raw in that “Breaking Bad” way … it all feels very real. Those moments near and at the end of season 3 when all the duplicitous people get their comeuppance are almost orgasmic in TV terms :-)

But season 4 has become a profound disappointment for me by episode 5 … all the good guys involved in duplicitous behavior against one another and every time something can go right, the writers twist it the wrong way. I realize that this is the point of the season and that they are going to resolve it later to our satisfaction (mostly) … but is it ever getting tiresome. For the first time in the entire series, I did not feel like immediately watching the next episode.

Update: Season 4 redeems itself towards the end, although it does it with a classic Deus ex machina. It was so blatant that it felt a bit like a violation of the filmmaking rule “you can get your characters in trouble with a coincidence but you cannot get them out of trouble that way.” Maybe I’m being a bit harsh, but sheesh …

What it did, though, was to set up a rockin’ and rollin’ season 5, which truly blew my mind.

And one more thing … many people say that season 4 is the big one. The tour de force. I get that from the perspective of twisting the characters up into knots and having the intra-MC intrigue at breathtaking levels. But frankly, I found it way too much … every time there was a chance to redeem a character, they managed to fail and there were so many moments when something tweaked just the wrong way (again, smelling a lot like a bad coincidence) and things continued going south. You are supposed to give your audience a chance to breathe before it turns to sh-t again, but they really didn’t do much of that.

So I am a much bigger fan of seasons 3 and 5 (and of course 1 and 2.) But … as a whole, the series is staggeringly good. The acting, the story, the brutality … excellent filmmaking.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Truth in Advertising – Dr. Oz Miracle Breakthrough

So Dr. Oz has a TV show where he dispenses health oriented advice in a game show environment. I have watched the odd show and find that I cannot really enjoy the mix of axiomatic platitudes with wing-nut medical breakthroughs. It doesn’t work for me :-)

Somehow I have managed to get on a list of “diet breakthrough” emails, which has lately been absolutely pounding on the miracle of Raspberry Ketones. And I get a lot of spam for this …

But the latest email, which was sent to me twice in the last 2 days, contains some inadvertent truth … see if you can spot it:

Dear kim,

Are you ready to finally GET-RID-OF that extra winter weight quickly and easily?

Allow Doctor Oz show you in this short video...

This is a Crazy new Scientific breakthrough - it is SUPER easy

Featured on  FoxNews, USA Today, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, ABC

Dr Oz will explain it :

The emphasis is mine, of course. But it struck me immediately that this was some kind of Freudian slip of the fingers, and I have not watched the video as I do not want to encourage them.


Friday, January 25, 2013

ASK.COM – Sleaze-ware sneaks onto my machine again …

I upgraded two applications at their request this morning as new versions existed. One was Java from Oracle, and the other was the very nice MSI Afterburner, which allows you to quiet down your high end video card when you aren’t doing anything too strenuous.

And what I noticed a short while later is that suddenly I have an Ask.com toolbar in Chrome.



I hate these sleazy toolbars that everyone tries to suck you into installing. And since I merely upgraded already installed applications at their suggestion, it never once occurred to me that I would have to scrutinize each panel of the install wizards to avoid this sleazy garbage. Seriously, I already declined the first time I installed, so the default should be “off” for the same offers on an upgrade. It is the right (honorable) thing to do.

Well … looks like everyone is partnering with the scum and forcing it on you through any trickery they can get away with. What a sad state the computer application industry has come to when you cannot trust even the largest companies to do what is right. Ever.

Monday, January 21, 2013

F800EXR – A few low light JPEGs

On my way home from somewhere or other this evening, I had occasion to see one of our new double decker buses (think London) in my neighborhood. Cool …

This is shot in JPEG through my windshield but is obviously heavily processed because of the mixed light temperatures …

Fuji F800EXR  @7.2mm  3200iso  f/3.8  1/9

A bit later on, Nick was cooking some soup and playing the guitar. I boosted the compensation to +2/3EV and this is the JPEG that resulted, straight out of the camera.

Fuji F800EXR  @8.7mm  3200iso  f/4  1/25

While he was cooking, I tested the F800EXR against the purple heat syndrome and found that it has not changed, as expected. Red elements still look purple on the sensor.

fuji f800exr  @4.6mm  3200iso  f/3.5  1/30

I even filmed it to be sure …

So my conclusion is that the F800EXR JPEGs are pretty decent at 3200 ISO for such a tiny sensor. Gotta give Fuji credit …

Of course, I shot these using my standard settings

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A mixed bag of weather this weekend …

Yesterday (and Friday), we had a massive melt and the plows made a real mess of my driveway. So I cleaned it up … and that was just in time for what came today.

Fuji F800EXR @4.6mm  100iso  f/3.5  1/200

We do have a few rabbits in the neighborhood. Can’t grow crocus here any more Smile

fuji f800exr  @7.6mm  100iso  f/3.9  1/100

And, done.

So today for lunch, Nick and I popped over to out favorite Pho place. Amid a massive snow squall. Yuck.

The Pho was amazing, as always.

fuji f800exr  @4.6mm  400iso  f/3.5  1/30  (jpeg)

While we were eating, the sun came out. Go figure … but the wind continued as it has been during the squall. So now we have fiercely blowing snow … I shot a couple through the restaurant window …

My nice clean driveway is clean no more. Lots of small drifts. And the other car is coated.

The wind has great reach. Under the canopy of the porch is no sweat …

It’s supposed to be sunny for a few days now. Maybe I’ll get a shot of Saturn, now that it rises before dawn …

The Calm Between the Storms – Panasonic G5, GH2, GX1

It took me a while to process all these images. Partially because there were quite a few and partially because I got distracted by more images … fog, etc. :-)

So these come from a beautiful sunny day – 30 December 2012 – where the snow had fallen for days on end and then the sun came out and showed us this glorious landscape of puffy marshmallow-like coatings on everything.

For example, my back yard looked stunning …

panasonic g5 & LUMIX G VARIO 14-140  @15mm  160iso  f/4.1  1/4000

This, of course, led me to wondering how the woods looked around the Wild Bird Center. So I popped out to take a look and freeze my hands and feet into blocks of ice.

Things looked pretty promising as I got out of the car. The sun was low in the west and this creates a lovely warm landscape with the snow still cemented to the branches by periods of freezing rain. I love the look of branches laden with snow and all that contrasted against a gorgeous blue sky.

Panasonic GX1 & Samyang 7.5mm fisheye  160iso  f/3.5  1/200

The wild bird center in fact looked like a winter wonderland, definitely the kind of landscape that inspired the song.

I won’t bother recording the exposures on all the fisheye shots. The GX1 was the only camera I shot with it this day and all exposures will be very similar.

The path was quite pristine in places. I can’t continue to use the same adjectives over and over, so please just assume that I am saying “just beautiful” every few seconds :-)

Looking up, the Samyang’s 180 degree diagonal really works well to pull in the canopy of the woods.

The Samyang even has the ability to create a pretty little star around speculars …

Lots of people walking, snow-shoeing and skiing …

Also near the wild bird center, we have the bird feeders … go figure :-)

Panasonic GH2 & LUMIX G VARIO 100-300  @108mm  160iso  f/4.1  1/320

Panasonic GH2 & LUMIX G VARIO 100-300  @300mm  400iso  f/5.6  1/500

Panasonic GH2 & LUMIX G VARIO 100-300  @171mm  160iso  f/4.7  1/3200

The bull rushed are hanging on, as they always do.

Panasonic GH2 & LUMIX G VARIO 100-300  @300mm  200iso  f/5.6  1/500

Down by the beaver pond where their lodge is located, there is a feeder stream that never stops running.

Panasonic GH2 & LUMIX G VARIO 100-300  @100mm  160iso  f/4  1/400

I’ve already posted some of these images in various locations, but as I was leaving the beaver lodge area, I encountered a woman and her son feeding the birds. They were happy to light on his hand for a seed. This went on for some time and I even got to see the Nuthatch from last summer several times. I won’t bother with the exif data, these shots are all GH2 and 100-300 …

These shots are a bit mixed up, as I have had a lot of trouble getting the clocks aligned in the cameras. I really need to get that under control, as I end up moving back and forth in time. Here we are again back at the beginning of the walk, where I shoot the G5 and the 14-140 … showing the incredible icicles that have built up on the wild bird center main building.

Note: See http://kimletkeman.blogspot.ca/2014/08/align-capture-times-across-multiple.html for a solution to the clock alignment problem.

panasonic g5 & LUMIX G VARIO 14-140  @41mm  250iso  f/5.3  1/80

The 14-140 is not nearly as wide as the Samyang fisheye, but the lens handles the sun very well. And it is very sharp edge to edge … no complaints when you consider that it is a 10x all in one.

panasonic g5 & LUMIX G VARIO 14-140  @14mm  160iso  f/4 1/1000

The sun back lights tufts of snow, creating a very nice edge to some of the trees.

And every once in a while you face the direction where all the snow is stuck to the trees. This creates an amazing scene …

Up near the beaver lodge again, we wee the wonderland look of the snow on every branch or bush.

This path continues on, eventually joining the Kingston trail, hundreds of kilometers of walking and skiing.

The meadow on the way back is looking gorgeous as the sun continues to dip lower and lower.

Some of the bushes simply could not handle the heavy snow and freezing rain we had over the previous weeks … this one will be happy when the melt finally arrives …

And on the way home …

Snow picked up almost right after this day. Here we are two weeks after the images shot here and we’ve had a heavy melt and then wicked squalls and a flash freeze. *sigh*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saving Grace – Stunning error on film …

The cable TV show called Saving Grace and starting Holly Hunter is a rather entertaining cop show set in Oklahoma City about a decade after the bombing of the federal building. Hunter is a female cop who lives a really hard life and who has a “last chance Angel” show up to try to set her straight.

Anyway … I find it amusing and watch it now and again. Well, today I noticed a moment that stunned me. In Season 3 Episode 3 – A Little Hometown Love – an OCPD civilian employee is killed in the bathroom at a cop bar while it is filled with cops. And Grace and his wife are in the morgue, singing a song that means something to the wife.

At around 14:50 of the show (Netflix time, anyway), the corpse swallows. No kidding Smile

Just thought I’d point it out so you all could check it out. It’s good for a serious chuckle ….


Canada axes gun show laws on advice of controversial committee – Seriously?


The recent spate of gun violence against the general public in the United States has their president (and a fairly conservative liberal one to boot, if you get my drift) searching for answers to their ever increasing gun violence.

Now, I am no expert on the topic (I do have gold, silver and bronze Sporting Rifle Marksman badges from the province of Manitoba’s Provincial Rifle Associate in the smallbore category from when I was a teenager in the 70s, so I am also not exactly anti-gun per se), but I have read enough lately to have my own feelings and opinions.

P1010654_DMC-GX1_45 mm_ISO 250_1-100 sec at f - 1.8

P1010656_DMC-GX1_45 mm_ISO 500_1-125 sec at f - 1.8

So exactly how oblivious does our government have to be to relax our own gun laws at the same time as the USA is struggling to find a way to introduce some small amount of gun control themselves.

I mean, in light of recent incredibly tragic events in the USA, are we really this obtuse and insensitive?


So here is an opinion from me:

These recent tragedies seem to the the work of your average guy, as was Columbine and other less recent massacres. In fact, it never seems to be a known criminal going on a rampage, but rather a common citizen … a “guy on the street” with mental instabilities (by definition, yes?)

These people have very easy access to guns in the USA (thanks to the constant pressure and lobbying of the very powerful NRA) and they bought and trained on them in plain sight. Then they went ape shit and killed lots of people in theaters and elementary schools, to pick two of the more egregious events.

So how on God’s green earth could easier access to guns and less control be justified when things like this are happening so close to us?

And don’t forget that we have had very similar tragedies ourselves … also by ordinary citizens. Example:


We have no high moral ground to stand on … yet our government continues to pretend that Canada is immune. I find it shameful for our government to be thumbing their noses at the USA in such a blatant fashion in their time of sorrow.

As I said above, these are my opinions. If I am somehow missing some incredibly subtle factoids that make it all ok, someone please enlighten me in the comments.

Friday, January 18, 2013

F800EXR vs F770EXR – Review Part 2 – Cows (L vs M and JPEG vs RAW)

Stopped on the way home last week and shot a couple of images of cows from a long way off. The massive 500mm reach of these cameras made this easy. They are well stabilized, too. I shot in RAW + JPEG at M size and at L size, so you will see crops at the end showing how much better RAW is than JPEG and how drastically better M size is than L size.

Image 1 – M4:3


F770EXR  100iso  f/5.3  1/120


F800EXR  100iso  f/5.3  1/125



Image 2 – L4:3


F770EXR  400iso  f/5.3  1/600


f800exr  400iso  f/5.3  1/550



And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for … crops.


I strongly favor the RAW images over the JPEG images. There is much more of what I characterize as “dimensionality”, that being the illusion of looking at a 3D object. The clumping and edge destruction in the JPEG images goes a long way to make those images look more like water color paintings.

And the L versus M debate … could there be any more obvious a decision? The issue is compounded by the choice to use DR400 at L size, which forces ISO 400. Since this is a real phenomenon in the field, this is a valid test.

One other thing is obvious, of course … the F770 and F800 shoot images that might as well be twins …