Wednesday, 25 April 2018

ANZAC day in a small town

I live in a small town, not far from where I was born (well, a couple of hundred Km). Like most places in Australia we take ANZAC day seriously. Its not just a time for old guys (and some young too) to be able to be proud of their service, its all so a time to be seen by the community you live in and recognized for who you have been (not everyone likes to go around crowing about it).

There has often times in history been some community anger about Australias role in international politics (and yes, the armed forces is a wing of that).

So here's a quick look at today's "ceremony"

As it happens I know a few of the ex-servicemen ... for instance this pair of great blokes (who have both been guidance and support to me in my past)

Knowing these two guys for a few decades myself now its good to see them able to walk proudly and get some recognition for their past service in the local community. (sadly it hasn't always been so)

In particular I'm glad they're getting to find some rest from their own traumas (which only service men and women really get).

Hats Off

Friday, 23 March 2018

the Chicken from a Feather Problem

Have you ever had one of those moments on the internet (say, on Facebook) where someone says something that's just incredibly fucking daft (not to mention illogical) that you know to be impossible, yet states it as something like a genuine problem or possibilty:

  • Conspiracy: why aren't they doing .... (stuff like say "improving batteries" to what equates to 23KwH/kg)
  • Comprehension: "Mum working at home solves problem that has eluded science"
  • Physics: "Making things faster (like LANs sending data faster than light):
  • Defeating thermodynamics : "how can I power my car from a 12M solar pannel (and why aren't we all using EV's {when I'm not})"
you know, stuff like that.

Stuff that is way easier to propose than it is to explain why its "not happening any time soon".

My Mum used to say:
"Well you know what "Thought did?", he stuck a feather in the ground and thought he'd grow a chicken"
when ever as a child I said "but I thought...".  So I call this the Chicken from a Feather Problem.

Its where the proposal of the problem is rooted in a total lack of grasp of the way things work (you know, that useless stuff like Physics and Chemistry these people failed at school {because they were busy flirting or just had the brain of a Budgerigar ...}). 

This of course makes explaining it virtually impossible because the person just does not have the intellectual foundations upon which to lay out the answer (and ya know, like ... TLDR). Its akin to laying bricks on a lake. The second you place one on (what seems to be a flat surface) its gone the moment you release it. This model holds true even on a frozen lake because in a while (like by spring) the lake will thaw and the house will also sink from view.

Well I've come up with a proposal to attempt to explain the problem (at least to myself) which is based on the works of Dunning & Kruger published in 1999 called:
"Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments"

In this Dunning & Kruger postulate that (paraphrasing) people who are sufficiently stupid are unable to grasp that they are actually more stupid than even they can plumb the depths of, and mistakenly expect that you and them are "of equal capacity" ... youtube is filled with examples if you look for "stupid workers" or "idiots at work" (for instance). Their study of the "invisible ink" robber is just worth reading.

I think its fair to say that "The Dunning Kruger Effect" has entered "modern parlance" ...


Getting back to the Chicken Feather Problem I feel that the answer lies in the inverse of the Dunning Kruger effect.

This is where the thought processes of someone who is sufficiently stupid are literally incomprehensible to someone of sufficient intelligence.

I think it explains the problem well, for example if someone stupid (from oh ... say the USA) was travelling in China, when speaking to someone (who doesn't speak English), will try to repeat the question slower and louder  (all the while growing impatient with the person for not understanding).

To you and I would it would seem an absurd and tragic comedy, but to the person with DK syndrome is perplexing. (well OK, that's probably a bad example, because the full on thickwits in the USA don't usually have passports (and probably voted Trump)).

We see the failure of ourselves to grasp the stupidity (perhaps in disbelief) when we begin explaining to them why a feather can not grow a chicken ... perhaps going back to basic biology, and then as they serially fail to grasp anything, we attempt to go to first principles (which they also fail to grasp). It leads to our exasperation and probably only deepens the resolve of the moron involved that they are right and its all a "Deep State" cover-up.

Thus we were unable to comprehend the thought processes of the stupid : or Dunning Kruger -1

It is my hope that by reading this you'll be able to have more satisfying experiences on Facebook by recognizing early "the Chicken from Feather Problem" and when it arises know that engaging with someone like that is just never going to work out well for either of you because you're both unable to understand each other... despite having a common language.

So let them plant that feather ... and offer the olive branch it grew.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Panasonic 20mm f1.7 (thoughts on focus speed & testing)

one of those issues which "just won't go away" is the views expressed by camera "enthusiasts" on internet forum that X or Y is junk. Well today I'd like to discuss an old favouite among Wangers that just won't go away (even with a double tap).

The Panasonic 20mm f1.7: when they first came out I was attracted, as here I wondered about them and if one would give me something I wanted out of a lens which would cost me €399 (back then). As the price came down it got to the point of "well why the hell not just try it, and so back in 2014 I finally bought a Panasonic 20mm f1.7 because it was the only way to actually see. If you read that post I've got a few more details on how well the lens works and while I didn't go into the lens testing for sharpness (many others have done that so well...) I did comment on the difference between similar focal lengths.

So as you can see its an attractively compact lens on a compact micro43 camera body. Making not just a good lens, but making your micro43 mirrorless compact camera experience be ... well actually compact.

I've written a lot about this lens over time and indeed taken quite a many shots with the lens which have quietly featured on this blog. I'd say especially with modern phones being as good as my camera with the 14mm lens, it has resulted in this lens as being my default fitment lens to the GF1 - becoming more or less a budget Sony RX1 (which even still sells used for $1500 or over, way more than both a GF-1 {about $100} and the 20f1.7 {about $150} by a big margin).

Anyway, like I said much ado is made about how horrible the AF is on this lens , so this morning I decided to whack the phone and camera on a mount to actually test it. Below are the results.

Basically if this AF speed is not sufficient for you then you're a formula 1 track photographer (oh, wait, they'd use a longer lens anyway) or a totally incompetent photographer who blames their poor performance in getting images on the lens (you know, like bad workmen tend to do).

Generally I noted that it focused with less delay when your subject distance didn't change much. I had this set on a small single focus point to force the camera to make greater focus adjustments, but if you were shooting with the camera in face recognition (and the people were just at the table with you), or multi zone and let the camera pick it (suitable for scenery or cityscapes) then really its hard to go past this lens as a compact fast (and folks fast lenses means an aperture which results in a faster shutter for the same everything else ... ok).

There are of course many many other videos out there demonstrating just what I've done. Usually the Wangers don't actually provide evidence to support their claim (which is what Wangers or Zombies of Moronity do), but go on regurgitating someone elses cud.

So if you are contemplating this lens then I suggest that you try it. You may need to make some changes to your camera focus settings (like you'll notice I didn't use AFC (or C-AF I think on Olympus), but used the single shot. Combined with shutter release only on focus confirm that will help your keeper rate.

So is it only me? Well lets look on youtube a bit more (where people have taken the time to post more well produced material). This guy has a review on his OM-D and finds that they are close in AF speeds (as you can tell by the beeps in his video).

He suggests its slower but really, its perhaps the difference between 0.5 seconds and 0.25 seconds.  Hardly Glacial.

Another reviewer says good things about both stills and video:

Anyway, having covered that point, I hope you get as many rewarding shots out of yours as I have out of mine...

taken in dim light with no IBIS hand held at 1/30th of a sec

Monday, 5 March 2018

XC Ski Bindings (a primer for non-snow-country people)

This is for my Australian friends who don't know a  lot about Cross Country (XC) Skis and bindings. So if you're from Canada ... move on ... nothing to see here

Basically the style of XC I do is "classic" which means you propel yourself forward by a combination of "kick" + "stepping into the glide" + "poles"

Firstly, lets look at a video I did some years back on (by todays standards) a crummy camera. Take note of how much the heel lifts and how much the boot needs to move as if on a hinge.

Those are my "off track" skis (they're actually NATO military stuff so they're tough and can take abuse). When I post pictures of my local Ski Track like this:

its been groomed by a machine (snow mobile) towing something flat and heavy to pack down the surface a little (making sking easier) and carve in that pair of grooves, which resembles what you'd experience if you were "off track skiing" in a group (following someone as you do ... because its easier).

The Skis

So, lets look at the difference between "track skis" and "off track skis" ... firstly "track skis" are shorter


and of course lighter. My track ski weighs 880g while my off track ski weighs 1,780g (yes, nearly 2Kg on each foot, not counting the boot {or any ice you happen to get friendly with}).

This makes skiing the same distance harder work with off track skis (on a track) than track skis (on a track) ... if you have to lift you skis a lot (which you may do on the track when skating a bit) it wears you out a lot ... but the extra with and length means it will carry you over snow which you'd sink into with the track skis, making it easier going in the rough. The off track skis I use also have steel inlays around the edges to make it possible to get some grip on hard packed snow and ice (think spring)...

One needs to be a little careful handling (like storing and transporting) these because that edge is sharp ...

The Boots

On my bindings above (which are New Nordic Norm {a subject unto itself, introduced here}) and there are track and "Back Country" styles ... the BC ones are heavier duty, which becomes clearer when you look at the boots:

(... and do ya like my lounge pants?)

and have wider binding mounts and thicker binding Pins (which form the hinge, allowing stepping)

You can see from this shot that the boots are only secured to the binding at the front

and that the binding Pin is much thicker as well as wider ... so one boot will not go onto the other binding.

The boot presses simply onto the binding with a click (well as long as the fucking thing isn't frozen solid with ice, but see that other post) ...

... where the Pin is captured by the front of the binding and held captive in that hole (where the red circle is) by the arrow slider closing over the top of the "cylinder".

Thus the boot is held onto the Ski firmly allowing you to "ski" it forwards, keep good footing (that won't tip on you causing a twisted ankle...) and lift the ski to do stuff like change direction, step over something (like dog shit on the lake ... thanks arseholes) or move around stuff in your way (as happens in the forest when you ski up {yes up !!} a hill)

note the obstacles and uneven terrain ... hard work? Yep ... sure is, but much harder sinkin in to your groin and trying to walk it up or snow shoe up with your shoe getting snow falling in on top of it and having to lift your foot up further with every step...

When its too steep, you can climb by traversing (see the horizontal "lines" up the slope in the below picture) allowing you to keep your feet at a comfortable angle to your legs (unlike snow shoeing)  and if you have a decent clear run you can ski down which is a shitload of fun (unlike snow shoeing) but you can't steer without stepping.

But to step you need to "have sure footing", transfer your weight, lift the other ski (as if you were skating), move it "outwards", and step into that now moving the other ski (to follow the same path).

... expect to fall over a bit (entertaining those you're with) till you work it out.

So, now you know :-)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

9th orbit

or near enough anyway ...

So nine years have passed since Anita and I were married.

In that time I learned many things, about love, about life and about what things mean to me.

There are many more questions left unanswered and many emotions left in a box simply because there is no way to deal with them. If you don't know what I mean, then count your blessings.

Some people seek "knowledge" of these things because they find it difficult to be left with doubt.

I don't like doubt either, and it can become a creature which preys upon your mind, even though that creature is actually your own self.

To me its important to become aware of this doubt and to become comfortable with it while seeking answers. To accept that sometimes answers can't be found. If you seize upon "an answer" that is put forward by others it may quite simply be wrong..

Is it better to live our lives believing something which is wrong or to accept that you just don't know.

Not knowing can become an itch that in reality you can never scratch, which can of course grow in magnitude. Having been a motorcyclist has taught me that if you need to scratch every time your scalp itches you'll be pulling over a lot and taking your helmet off ... to scratch that imaginary itch.

In my view its better to just accept that itch is there and keep riding. Well unless its an ant, then pull over and get the thing out ... ants bite.

Myself I like certainty but I am tolerant of uncertainty, particularly because I don't like lies or being deceived.

Sometimes people make claims that they have found answers for you.

...of course, no one has found any evidence yet.... so you have to just believe.

I think Feynman phrases it well (I can't work out how to get the the video to begin where I want, so please just skip to here).

but for me so far I just can't believe, when faced with the total contradiction of the death of a beautiful well liked woman in her prime and the message that "gold loves me".

To my reasoning either god doesn't love me (Anita, her friends, her parents, her sister ...) or god doesn't exist.

The usual line of bullshit when confronted by such questions is to say "Gods ways are mysterious"

... Right

Like the man says:
You have to know when you know and when you don't know
and what it is you know and what it is you don't know.
You've got to be very careful not to confuse yourself.
The preachers of faith like to keep you confused with "mystery" that you accept as truth, as long as you accept their dogmas.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

own your past

or it owns you....

Long ago I concluded that to pretend the things you didn't like from the past were not there was futile. To escape them you had to recognize them and defeat them.

One had to embrace who you were to accept who you are and to give meaning to any direction of who you wanted to become.

One can not really ignore the past, for the music you love, the art you love and the people you love will always bring you back in time in memories.

However sometimes embracing the past will bring memories of pain as well as smiles ... it can be hard to embrace them , but embrace them you must...

or they will ruin you.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

why I like cross country skiing

Yesterday morning I went for a ski around what would be a jogging track in Summer.

I mainly do "classic" style so I stay in those pair of grooves and do what is more naturally like a long gaited walk or perhaps "slow motion run" with the poles working in combination to keep even propulsion forwards

of course people skate style along the track, but I don't have that type of ski and personally I find the classic a more balanced routine.

To the chagrin of others I occasionally stop to photograph things on the side of the track too ... to send to my friends in Australia who just don't even get this scenery (actually or mentally)

After about 40 min of exersize I get to near the lake edge, so I detour there for a short break out of the wind ... first you find a parking place...

Then break out the thermos of hot chocolate (which I prepared earlier)

then you just sip that and enjoy the peace of the lake

Then put it all back in the backpack and ski 40 min home again ;-)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

cheap wide options on mico43 (and how you can get more out of them)

Of course I like wide angle lenses ... what landscape photographer doesn't feel the attraction.

For many the FF equivalent 24mm lens is about the beginning of where we like our wides, perhaps 28mm. This means for micro43 that something at or less than 12mm is where we'd like to be. Today I'd like to present a bit of evaluation work I've done on my two options:

  • my trusty Panasonic 14mm f2.5 + the GWC-1 adapter
  • my recent addition, the 12-32 f3.5~5.6 zoom

In theory the P14f2.5 with the GWC-1 becomes an 11mm, so lets have a look at what a difference can be found in 1mm, and as always I'll throw in a few "curve balls" for alternative ways to look at these lenses (hint: not all m43 cameras are equal)


all shots are taken with the camera on a tripod, which was not moved. The camera was not repositioned only lenses were changed and lens f-stops.


First, the 12~35, exactly as it comes Out Of the Camera as a JPG (OOC JPG) at f3.5

Yes, even with Panasonic corrections we see a little vignetting ... so now, lets put the P14f2.5 & GWC-1 onto the camera...

which you can see is a little wider than the 12.

If one wants to get the best from these lenses then stopping down to f5.6 is "the right stuff" to optimize light evenness and not hit diffraction.

Both cleared up, to about equal. Here is the P14&GWC-1 @ f5.6

which you can see tidies up nicely.

So, lets look at something else which pushes these lenses to their design limits. The GH1 camera actually has a multi-aspect sensor, so when using 16:9, you can actually get more pixels (this subject covered over here). This isn't just making more pixels from the same sensor (such as the shift from 13Mpix to 16Mpix), its actually capturing a slightly bigger format. I understand a few other Panasonics have this feature too.

First lets see what more width we can get out of the 12-32mm using this strategy.

which is very close to what the P14&GWC got in 4:3 ... so lets look at that combo in 16:9 format

which is (as expected) wider again.

Of course if you aren't shooting a bunch of straight lines (like Pine Trees tend to be ) then you can perhaps get away without lens corrections (for pincushion distortion) and end up getting wider again, but of course only if you shot RAW, and wanted to process without corrections (oh, gosh, did I just mention another advantage of RAW).

So, again the 12-32

then the P14&GWC-1

So this about runs the gamut of what is the difference between 12mm and what you can get with 11mm (and if you also have a GH1 GH2 or GH5 camera) snick out a bit more when using 16:9 (which is something I do with wide landscapes anyway).

Since I do RAW mostly anyway, I'll leave you with a version which I processed on Snapseed, and tweaked up the image pincushion distortion too.

which makes for an interesting comparison, for as the 14&GWC-1 is so much wider, even in 16:9 mode it captures almost exactly the same height as the 12mm did as an OOC JPG. Thus using RAW I can overlay the capture of the 12-32mm zoom and see exactly how much more I get using my GH1 and the 14&GWC-1

... not insignificant.

One last point, lets look at the plain raw conversion, with no sharpening for corner sharpness. This is a screen grab of what I see in Photoshop at 50% (you can see which is which file in the window name):

I typically evaluate sharpness on screen because after many years of looking that's pretty much what I see when I compare it to prints done at 150DPI from the original files (which in this case are about 4368 x 2464  Pixels which is good for a print of about 74.0 x 41.7 cm or 29.12 x 16.43 inches)

So have a think about it and see what you think. In my view the combination of GH1, P14f2.5 , GWC-1 and RAW on Snapseed is a winner ... especially with old gear like this :-)

Monday, 5 February 2018

why should I bother with RAW?

A recent discussion on a forum (yet again) revolved around "why should I use RAW"

As always the arguments boiled down to:

  • I couldn't be bothered processing my images
  • Out Of Camera (OOC) JPG's are fine now
  • I am unable to make a RAW file look better than OOC JPG
  • It takes up too much space

To me these are the same arguments which see people years later resorting to taking shitty snapshots with their phones of faded pictures in their photo albums as their only way of keeping that memory or distributing it.

That may be fine for some, but as a photographer with a proper camera (no, not your phone, although some phones do include RAW such as this one) you may wish to revisit your images one day and find that not only has time moved on but that processing has moved on and you can pull more from your image than the OOC JPG delivered (as discussed here).

So as a result of that forum discussion I thought that this warranted another more detailed discussion.

Some years ago (2008) I was in India, and I had taken with me my Canon 10D and a couple of lenses as well as a compact Canon digicam. The Canon yeilded much better OOC JPG images than did the little Canon (surprise) but even still I always picked RAW to take the images. Back then cards were nowhere near the volume of today and (even without video) I would switch in and out of RAW mode if I wanted to save space. However as soon as I was photographing anything which I thought "I might want to go back to" I used RAW. This is one such shot:

This is the OOC JPG ... the astute may observe from the file name that its actually the JPG which is embedded in the RAW file, which is something I always feel needs mentioning: there is little point in shooting RAW + JPG because the RAW file always contains an embedded JPG ... which you can extract in a blink with DCRAW.

So, as you can see, blown highlights and inky shadows ... here are a couple of attempts (quick with no deep time consuming process loving given to them



... of course depending on your screen or how you output these you may prefer one over the other or indeed like a little more contrast or whatever ... the significant points about each are made in the image below (which you may wish to load full size in another tab for viewing - 

As you can see above, the rescue of the shadows was more than possible, but perhaps even a little over done for clarity of "the possibility" as well too as the rescue of the highlights.

Now of course a more careful exposure may have allowed the camera to make a better attempt of the highlights but as you can see it didn't. 

So what then is easier, to faff about with multiple shots, checking which JPG setting would be better or take the shot and move on?

My view is that under all circumstances the RAW will give a better "raw material" to work with in your post processing.

Considering the above points again then:

I couldn't be bothered processing my images

perhaps not now ... but for ever? Who knows how much better image processing will be in 10 years, I can assure you its leaps and bounds since I first took this image.

Out Of Camera (OOC) JPG's are fine now

and as observed by using RAW you'll still have that ... its not an either or proposition.

I am unable to make a RAW file look better than OOC JPG

perhaps ... or indeed perhaps in the future when you want to print something because you realise it was a "wow" shot there will either be an AI to help you or there will be some improvement in your own skills...

It takes up too much space

In a world of 4K video the extra 16Mbytes taken up by a RAW file is really quiet trivial isn't it....

Indeed as phones improve (mine's already an octa core 1.8 GHz device which is faster than my earlier desktops) you may be able to process your images while having a beer in the pub while on holiday, so that you can upload even better images to Facebook (or whatever). Such as any of these images below (which look heaps better than the OOC JPG's did)

So there's my view on this subject.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

back in Finland again

Nothing much more to add about this except some pictures

Its nice to be back on the old track again

and despite the grooves one isn't always stuck in a rut ... one can "skate style" too.

sorry about the noisy "phone cam" shots ... it was still almost dark at 7am

Saturday, 6 January 2018

raising the roof

Well the house I bought recently had an alleged "lock up garage" which had a slab, four walls and a roof, but roof that was too low for me to get my Pajero 4WD into (not to mention being a windowless solar hotbox that reached 50°C inside, and a haven for Red Back spiders who love that sort of dark enclosed place).

(image from Wikipedia)

Which made the shed about as useful as a hip pocket on a T-Shirt. This is the shed...

I identified this shed as being essentially a flimsy "glorified garden shed" and a weakness in the price point of the house when buying the place (because I value highly being able to park my car under cover), but figured that I'd be able to "fix it" for not too much.

After some thought (and a few beers on the back steps in the arvo looking at it and thinking)

a solution emerged ... I would get some steel posts, raise the roof, leave the walls where they were and then fill in the gap (between the new roof level and the tops of the walls) with shade cloth.

Australian woven shade cloth is pretty darn handy. It'll block 90% of the UV (and almost block water) while allowing slow moving air to pass freely (keeping the interior cooler). In the past my wife and I had built "covered areas" in the back yard with shade cloth and it does an amazing job. Even in rain only a light mist makes it through the fabric, in light rain nothing comes through. With a little pitch on it  light rain is trapped in the fabric and the water flows out the low end (not that we want to sit outside in the rain that often). So it makes an excellent roofing material if you only need shade from wind and UV (remember, this is Australia and it gets bloody hot, and sunburn is a big issue here).

So got my tape measure, made a plan on a sheet of paper, bought the steel and set about working. I had to pick a day with no wind, as to raise the roof I had to unscrew it ... any wind would see it in the neighbors yard for a visit. I had to start and finish the major structural work (working alone) in a single day.

Below is the view of the progress from 8am to 7pm (and a quick lunch at the pub with some friends who turned up)

I've since added the shade cloth, which may seem in the picture below to only be on one side, but its actually all around.

There have been a couple of storms (with strong rain) and only a small amount of water blows through, certainly nothing the car can't handle ;-)

Total cost of this ventures materials was just under $600 ($500 for the posts and steel).

So now I've got a good under cover spot for my car to rest. As I use my motor bike for most of the daily transport needs I wanted to have my car protected from UV, tree droppings, bird shit and what not. Also as I'm about to head over to Finland for another "winter" and I'd like the the car to be under cover while I'm away.

Win Win