Saturday, November 29, 2008


This is my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

Click on the image for a larger, readable size.

Very realistic flame job

Not sure where I stole saw this. To add to the irony, this is permit-only parking—see the sign?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Vanishing act

One night when I was a teenager, during a break from playing keyboards in a nightclub, I was staring at a brick wall in a hallway much like this:

It had a carriage lamp on it but nothing else. As I stared directly ahead at the wall—but not the lamp—the lamp gradually disappeared so that all I saw was an unadorned brick wall:

I have since been able to do this at will with other scenes. It doesn't work if I stare at the object that I'm trying to erase, and the background has to be uniform, either solid or patterned. I just look at it for a few seconds and the object fades from view. if I alter my gaze, the object comes back.

I know that we all have a blind spot where the optic nerve passes through the back of the eye ball and that our brain compensates by filling in the details based on the scene. Maybe that facility is erasing the lamp. Somehow, I am able to consciously control it. Has anybody else had this happen to them?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

IPv4 Exhaustion Counter

A friend pointed out this site to me. It shows how much longer we have until all IPv4 addresses have been used up. I wanted to add it to my blog, so I made an installer so that others may add it to their blog, too. Look in the right-hand margin for the result.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cinematic style in photography

Coming across a reference to "cinematic style" in a Twitter entry, I wondered what makes a photograph cinematic.

  • Production

    • Wide aperture
    • Slow shutter (< 1/60 sec)
    • Telephoto lens from a distance on a tripod
    • Slightly underexpose
    • Dusk or dawn

  • Post-production

    • Shift white balance
    • Black bars, top and bottom
    • Reduce saturation
    • Add multicolor noise
    • Curved gamma
    • Increase contrast or make black blacker

The above summary is based on the following citations., the way you move the camera (don't zoom in, be steady, use tripods), film grain, the exposure of the film, and of course depth of field. your depth of field isn't that great on most mini-dv cameras... they're pretty much flat.

White balance to off-white colors for nice tints.

Lock the camera down on a tripod and zoom in from a distance, this gives a nice shallow depth of field with blurry backgrounds much the way a film is shot.

Something I've learned is to get rid of shadow grain. this means toying with the exposure.

You know when yuor filming someone under a light, but everything else is dark, and the camera tries to compensate by adding more light? turn your exposure on the camera down a tad and it will get rid of that.

Another thing to do that is pretty easy is to add a black matte to the top and bottom of the screen. Just two bars of black. I know it's cheesy but it works well when you have no other capabilities such as knocking down the frame rate.

...get a camera with manual focus, exposure, and shutter speed, and set the shutter to 1/60s or slower. Use a tripod.

Avoid shooting at mid-day. Early morning or sunset will look better.

...try to shoot on a long lens as much as possible (put the camera far away from actors, zoom in and film it that way) to create some more depth. Also, shoot on a low F Stop

"How to turn your photo into movie-like effect using Photoshop?"
This is basically what the author says:

  1. Reduce saturation
  2. Increase contrast
  3. Use lens blur to create shallow depth of field
  4. Add Noise
  5. Add black bars top and bottom for Cinemascope effect
  6. Adjust color balance

How do I make my film look digital?
Film cameras normally sample time 24 times a second at 1/48th second each.

Film also tends to record a greater contrast ratio. gamma tends to be more curved (exponential) than video.

Film grain tends to look more multicolored, smaller sized (because film has a greater resolution), ...

...start with basic 3-point lighting.

Use high or low angle shots to convey a character's power in a scene (camera at eyelevel is neutral).

...keep the aperture as open as possible (lower number) and the shutter speed as long a possible (normally 1/60th sec). ... Also, try and work with the camera more zoomed in (but never digitally zoomed in!) and physically farther away from the subject. This flattens the frame and narrows the depth of field (creating a blurry background)–this look is associated with being more cinematic.

Examine something as simple as the color of the walls: In a Hollywood movie, are interior walls ever off-white? No, they are either bright white or a darker, moodier color. This is a micro budget problem because most houses have off-white walls. Off-white works in real life, but looks dirty in a movie.

Desaturate Colors
Some people think reducing the color intensity makes video look more like film.

For whatever reason, video cameras don’t record the dark areas as black as they should (a contrast problem). ... make the blacks blacker ... by reducing the lows or with a filter called “Levels” by increasing the black input.

Blur the Highlights
... The very bright areas of the frame are blurry and almost bleed into the areas directly surrounding them. ... Add a small Gaussian blur ...

Add Grain
... Generate some noise that is colored and randomly changing (under it’s settings). ... Reduce opacity and experiment with composite mode (multiply might be good for this). Keep the opacity low—a little goes a long way.

Friday, May 30, 2008

New dog fashion trend

Our beagle, Bailey, wearing the latest fashion in dogwear—dried frog on collar. We have no idea how it got there. Idgit dawg! He'd glance down at it from time to time. It finally fell off.

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace"

(Proverbs 11:2)

Last evening, I received an email from someone I know containing the tract on the right (click for larger version). Here is the response I sent to him and the other recipients:

Subject: Re: Fwd: I Am Proud To Be White~And I'm NOT A Racist....
From: xxxxxx
Date: 5/29/2008 9:49 PM
To: xxxxxx
Cc: xxxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxx


We are all Americans, but if you want to qualify it by race or ancestry, you and I are European-Americans, not simply "Americans."

I have never heard a racial slur used against a white person except on TV. No racial slur, such as "cracker," has ever been used against me, and I don't plan on using one against anyone else. Life is too short. Why bother insulting anybody, for any reason?

Regarding, "You say that whites commit a lot of violence against you," depending on what "a lot" means, I have never heard any racial minority use this argument. I think most people understand that violent crime is largely intraracial, e.g., for the most part whites kill whites, Hispanics kill Hispanics, and blacks kill blacks.

There are no "Black-only Colleges" in the U.S.; however, there are historically black colleges and predominantly black colleges. All have non-black students.

Whites don't have days, months, organizations, TV stations, etc. that identify themselves as being "white" in some way because _all_ of our days, months, organizations, TV stations, etc. are essentially white. That's what it means to live in a culture dominated by our, the white race. I'm sure the same is true in other, non-white cultures. For example, I doubt whether Liberia has a Black History Month or the equivalent of the NAACP. It would make no sense. Think about it.

Nobody thinks that "only whites can be racists." That's absurd. Every race has members that are racist against other races.

The U.S. has had a "white"-dominated culture for the past few hundred years. (For several _thousand_ years before that, it had an exclusively Indian culture.) There are institutions, programs, and social graces that specifically benefit non-whites because these people have been trod upon for so long by our culture. There are certainly inexcusable excesses, but I think it's pretty easy to understand the motivation within our still-white-dominated society to accommodate these people in a few mostly symbolic ways. I mean, if you really feel threatened by Black History Month, you need to find a hobby. :-)


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Big. Ugly. Watch.

I was looking to replace my current, Timex Expedition watch, whose metal body has started to corrode after less than a year (dang, where's that receipt?). I wanted a similar watch but with a plastic body. I haven't found the ideal watch yet, but in the process I found this godawful thing yesterday at a reduced price at Ross.

It's a Nike Hammer watch. The low-contrast black-on-red display makes it sometimes difficult to read, the back light does so barely, the rubber watch band makes my wrist sweat, and the alarm is almost inaudible. But I like it!

I was earlier tempted by a black Pulsar. I have a feeling that its curved, thin metal body will not corrode. A bit too dressy, though. (UPDATE: Found a used Pulsar for $29.99 on eBay. I bet I win the auction.) So here are my requirements: analog, second hand (for EMS—taking pulse and respiration), date, simple and easy to read face, will not corrode.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My first HDR photo

The reason I bought my Nikon D70s last year was to take HDR photos. I am just now getting around to it. This is our house.

I used the trial version of Photomatix Pro 3.0 and just removed their watermarks with Corel Paint Shop Pro X. This is probably over processed—colors too saturated and contrast too high, but I'm just playing around. Our house is completely different from the Simpson's house, but the flat, bright colors create a passing resemblance.

The next photo has been processed on some Japanese site to look like an old photo. Maybe a small stagecoach inn, circa 1890? Pretty good job. I used the overexposed photo from the bracketed set that produced the above HDR image. The properly exposed photo was too dark after processing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How to write telephone numbers

There is actually an international standard for how your contact information appears, including telephone number and email address. It's the ITU-T E.123 Recommendation. This is taken from the text: