In which Don Pettit remains awesome

This tab has been open for a while, so I’m not sure where it came from, but the astronaut gave a 30-ish minute talk at Luminance 2012 about the challenges and awesomeness of shooting in space.

It’s worth your time. For serious. Fun fact: hard drives fail quickly in zero-gravity, and nobody (to Pettit’s knowledge) has figured out why, so they transmit the raw files back to the ground as quickly as they can.

For more Pettit, check out his blog or his Flickr account.

Posted in Pix

Nothing like new toys to reinvigorate your picture-taking

Observe my 2012 photo folder:


The top box encloses the 12 events between June and early July wherein I took pictures.

The bottom box starts when I bought a new camera (to replace the one stolen in early September), and encloses the 20 events between early July and late October.

As should be obvious, I’m still pretty darn happy with the Olympus.

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Dept. of Shocking Disappointments, or, Olympus Hates You

This new camera I picked up has made me pretty happy. I’m sure I’m leaving a little on the table vs. a DSLR, but the size more than makes up for it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m entirely pleased, and here’s why: Every piece of documentation for the Olympus refers to it as having a USB port. It ships with a cable that looks like USB, too, and sports two ports that look, at first glance, like one is probably micro- or mini-USB.

I happened to use the supplied cable the first couple times I downloaded pix, so I didn’t actually notice that there was anything weird until this weekend.

When I was out of town.

I hadn’t bothered to take the actual Olympus cable with me because, as a pretty seasoned traveller, I keep a couple spares in my “travel kit” that live in my bag all the time.

It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I realized I had a problem. The ports on the Olympus may technically be a variant of USB and not just some goofball “fuck you port” from Olympus, but the end result is the same: you can’t buy a cable for this camera at Best Buy or Target. You have to use the fancy CB-USB6 cable.

This sin is compounded by the fact that Oly seriously downplays the incompatibility of the supplied faux-USB cable; it’s just called a “USB cable” in all documentation, and sports a normal USB tip on the computer end. Only DEEP in the manual (supplied only on PDF) does it state that users should only use the supplied cable. Cute.

Here’s the news, Olympus: People in 2012 have an expectation of easy connectivity. Pretty much everything has a normal USB port on it now. That’s how shit should work. The era of needing to keep up with dozens of different cables for one’s devices is past, and thank God for it. Using this connector today is complete bullshit, and represents a giant fucking step backwards. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

It also makes me a whole lot less excited about my new camera. I feel a little duped, to be honest. So, you know, fuck you for that, too.

Posted in Pix

A little bit more from the Palmer show

This is mostly a camera experiment.

In the years since I bought my old camera, the game changed a bit. The Rebel didn’t shoot video at all, but now basically every reasonable camera system shoots HD video really, really well — entire movies and TV shows have been shot with the now obsolete Canon 5D Mk II, for example.

Now, to do video at a professional level, you need to control lots of other factors (chief among them sound and lighting), but the core ingredients are there, which is pretty rad.

As an experiment, I shot this clip (1:10) of one of Amanda Palmer’s opening acts, a sax duo called Ronald Reagan who bill themselves as “Boston’s Premier 80’s Pop Saxophone Duo”. The focus drifts a little (operator error), but overall I’m totally shocked by the clarity. I was standing in a scrum of people on the floor at Fitz, holding the camera over my head to get a better angle. I mean, seriously, this is amazing.

Anyway, here it is.

I also grabbed a couple other clips, but this was the best of the lot. One is plagued much more by the focus drift issue, and the other was during an all-hands-on-deck finale of “Careless Whisper,” which was played at eleven, so the mic got a bit overloaded. But this one’s a good example of what this little camera can do.

Posted in Pix

Pix: Amanda Fucking Palmer

I took the new tiny camera with me to the Amanda Palmer show last night at Fitzgerald’s. I took a few pix.

The little Oly did VERY well, though I need to learn a bit more about keeping the focus constant when shooting video. It also appears I’m gonna need that battery grip (or just another battery), because I only got to about 450 shots before it was done for the night. I got super spoiled with the Rebel, which would shoot for days, but if this is the main drawback I encounter, I’ll be TOTALLY cool with it.

All shots with the Olympus M.Zuiko 45/1.8, which turns out to be a GREAT lens. It’s not the equal of the Leica 25/1.4, but for things like this it’s perfect.

Posted in Pix

Dept. of Narrow Interests

I have, as most Heathen know, quite a few pix available over at Flickr.

Sometimes, I get an email notice that someone has made one a favorite. This is almost always a friend or relative expressing enjoyment of a photo of some other member of our extended family or circle of friends.


Today, I got a favorite notice from a name I didn’t recognize at all, for a relatively odd picture from a clown-themed fundraiser a few years ago:


The user has no photos of her (?) own to peruse, but checking her list of favorite pictures was, well, revealing:

Screen Shot 2012 08 10 at 2 34 01 PM

Very well then. Carry on.

Posted in Pix

Suprise! More cops behaving badly.

This is rich.

Shawn Nee already has a pending lawsuit against the LA sheriff’s department, and now has photographic and video proof of their continued blatant disregard for the law.

This will not stop until more police are found personally liable. If a badged bully or two loses their house, maybe they’d get the message that they are not a law unto themselves.

Via The Agitator.

Posted in Pix

Black Rapid can pound sand

A couple years ago, I discovered the cross-body sliding-loop camera straps from Black Rapid. It was a mildly novel but obvious riff on the idea of a camera strap, and lots of simliar products have graced the marketplace over the years, but the BR version was well made and well-reviewed. I bought one, and have enjoyed it.

But I will never buy another one, and I encourage everyone in the sound of my voice who is considering a Black Rapid purchase to look elsewhere, too, because they are aggressively using patent chicanery to shut down similar products despite the obviously invalid nature of their “patent”.

Luma Labs, maker of a similar product, document the sad situation, complete with citations of prior art, in an open letter to their customers.

Posted in Pix


Dating back to last spring, actually. Moral: Is more fun to take than to edit and process.

Posted in Pix

Photos Inside the Mothball Fleet

The mothball fleet in Suisun Bay, California is a collection of a couple hundred essentially abandoned ships (at one point, the site had over 2200) once awaiting reactivation, and now awaiting the shipbreaker (with at least one exception, asa the USS Iowa is there, too, as it waits its turn to be a museum).

Recently, some intrepid photographers decided to sneak in, explore, and take a few pictures while avoiding patrols. Enjoy.

Posted in Pix