Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Big camera, little camera...

To take these pictures, the cameras were put in Program mode with ISO set to Auto, just to see how each one would meter the scene. All of them were wearing lenses that are the closest approximation I have to a 50mm f/1.8 full-frame lens, for that respective sensor size.

This picture was taken using a Pentax Q-S1 and the 01 8.5mm f/1.9 lens. Lens corrections were applied in Photoshop, but no lighting correction. With the 12mp 1/1.7" sensor, the less attention drawn to the noise in the shadows, the better. (The camera selected 1/60th @ f/1.9, ISO 1000 for the shot.)

This was the Nikon 1 J1 and the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.7 lens. The Nikon, with its slightly-larger-than-the-Pentax 10mp 1" sensor had the hardest time with the image. The camera went for 1/60th @ f/1.8, ISO 900. Trying to save the highlights using the auto function in photoshop left the shadows noisy. I could go in and tweak, I suppose.

Lastly, a Fujifilm X-E1 and Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, which the camera shot at 1/55th @ f/1.8, ISO 800. The 16mp APS-C has plenty of dynamic range for the picture, but now we run into depth-of-field issues. The longer 32mm lens (still roughly a 50mm FF equivalent) has such a shallow DoF at this range with an f/1.8 aperture that the book spines are nicely in focus, but the cameras in front of them are starting to blur, and the boot toes and lens fronts are noticeably blurry.

Now my OCD self wants to repeat the scene with the EF 50mm f/1.8 on the 5D Mark II, but I'll have to wait for tonight.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Creating Jobs...

Who says technology doesn't create jobs? In addition to learning to code, here are a couple other jobs in our current bleak cyberpunk dystopia that only William Gibson could have foreseen:
  • Amazon Arbitrageur: Apparently there are people who make a living driving around to big box stores, emptying out the deep discount clearance shelves, and then re-selling the stuff at a markup as Amazon sellers.

  • Instagram Influencer: In the world of Count Zero, Tally Isham was a Sense/Net star who traveled the world, having soap opera adventures in exciting places that her followers could experience through her Zeiss Ikon eye implants. In the world of This Current Year, Meghan Young travels the world and climbs mountains in exotic locations, which her followers can experience through her Canon DSLR and her iPhone.

Monday, February 18, 2019

From conversation elsewhere...

Dammit, Jussie...

I kept silent on social media regarding the Jussie Smollett incident up until now, mostly because I saw how some of the folks who expressed skepticism on the matter got handled. Chris Hernandez posted on his author page on Facebook, and had people losing their fecal matter in the comments almost immediately.
"Yes, there is an *allegation* of a racist, anti-gay attack by Trump supporters. No, there is no evidence supporting the allegation. No video thus far shows an attack, or attackers matching the suspect description, despite numerous cameras in the area. No container for the bleach allegedly poured on Smollett has been located. No witnesses corroborate Smollett’s allegation.

Not only that, but the attackers tied a rope around Smollett’s neck and he left it on as he walked home after the attack, then left it on for forty more minutes after arriving home, then still had it on when the police arrived however many minutes later? Really?
...
If some conservative icon like Ann Coulter claimed Antifa had attacked her in a heavily-surveilled area but no video or witnesses supported her claim, and parts of her story didn’t add up, I’d call shenanigans and demand evidence before I believed her.
"
As a matter of fact, several friends with actual police detective experience independently used some variation of the line "If you take a report and the events sound implausible, it's probably because it didn't happen that way."

What pisses me off about this whole thing is that yes, there are still plenty of overtly hateful, racist assholes. There are even ones bold enough to curb-stomp a gay black man if they thought they could get away with it. But the number of those lurking inside the Chicago Loop on a freezing January night, waiting to tie a symbolic noose and cackle "THIS IS MAGA COUNTRY!" cartoonishly as they run off is statistically zero.

Even leave off the part about Jussie never mentioning the attack to the doorman/security at his building, never dropping his Subway sandwich, still having the "noose" around his neck when the police arrive... the attack scenario itself doesn't pass the smell test, let alone the irregularities in the aftermath.

The whole thing reads like some "ripped from the headlines" Law & Order episode, which is unsurprising since Jussie's been an actor since he was in elementary school, went to a $10,000/yr Catholic High School in suburban New Jersey, and has probably never seen an actual bedsheet-wearing Klansman in his life.

I don't know what drives a dude to feel like he has to generate some drama like this in his life, and it saddens me, in that it just makes it harder for the guy who isn't an actor, who didn't go to an expensive private school, and who actually does get curb-stomped by a couple of racist, homophobic assholes to be believed.

The lesson of The Boy Who Cried "Wolf!" isn't that there aren't any wolves, after all.
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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Overheard in the Kitchen...

Oh no, there could be two...

It already seems to be taken for granted that Bloomberg's gonna make a try for the Democrat nomination in 2020, but listening to De Blasio on Meet the Press this morning, I got a real "hat tossing in ring" vibe from him, too.

Also, that guy has an ego that can be seen from orbit with the naked eye.
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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Background Checks Stop Nothing

So, a dude with a previous conviction for a violent felony managed to pass a background check for an Illinois Firearm Owner ID card, and managed to pass a NICS check to purchase a handgun, and it wasn't until they ran his prints when he was applying for an Illinois toter's permit that the previous conviction turned up.

So they denied him the permit and sent him a letter asking him to pretty please hand the gun over.

Instead, he took the gun to his job and shot up the meeting where they were firing him, and then ran around shooting up the place in general. What stopped his rampage? Someone shot his ass. That's what stops murderous jerkwads: Getting shot. Not background checks, not fingerprints, not purchase permits or ID cards.

The only problem is that nobody there had a gun with which to shoot said jerkwad, so he pretty much had the run of the place while they waited for people with guns to show up.

That's what these incidents tend to have in common: A serious lack of shooting back.
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

It's true...

For good or ill, revolvers are on the wane. They were replaced as duty/service guns wholesale in the 1980s, and their strongest holdout niche, the 5-shot concealable snubby, is being eclipsed by the tiny pocket .380 pistol.

And it's not like Millennials are going to develop a sudden affection for revolvers (or 1911s) when they turn 40, either, any more than they're likely to suddenly develop an interest in Harleys with their first gray hair.

Elsewhere I predicted that in ten years the shrunken revolver market would be mostly big hunting magnums, weirdo .410 shot pistols, cowboy repros for SASS, and maybe a tiny niche holdout remnant of small and medium frame wheelguns.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Homicide

Last night before bed, I finished reading Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America.

I cannot recommend the book highly enough if you're interested in the mechanics and root causes of the freakishly high homicide rates in America's inner cities. The author spent most of a decade practically embedded with LAPD homicide detectives in South LA and obviously cares about the subject.
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Cats & Dogs

Photography is not a crime...

...except when it is.

One such case would be if you are a foreign student found wandering around snapping pictures of the antenna farms of an interagency intelligence facility located on a Naval Air Station. Especially if you'd walked past a bunch of fences and "KEEP OUT: THIS MEANS YOU" signs to get there.

That's the sort of behavior that tends to get teh feds a little bit spun up.

Obligatory "Reefer Madness"-grade video about the facility's main gig, supporting the War on (Some) Drugs, below. Presumably they're also making sure those tricksy Cubans aren't fixin' to invade or anything.


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Monday, February 11, 2019

Spoiler Alert: It's the latter...

Icy Night

Rebel T1i
Bobbi got home from her writing class just before seven last night, which meant we just had time to duck over to Next Door American Eatery for dinner.

Having had a pretty substantial brunch with Shootin' Buddy, I just had the Buffalo chicken bites appetizer and a gin gimlet for dessert.

iPhone 7 Plus
The night was thinking about icing up as we left...

Rebel T1i
Yesterday was the last day of spending a week with the Rebel T1i. Starting today, it's a week with the EOS 40D.

The 40D is actually older than the T1i, with a 10.1mp APS-C sensor using the DIGIC III processor versus the Rebel's 15mp/DIGIC 4 setup. However it's also a prosumer body, which is more rugged and weather-resistant and features a number of other features, like a top-panel LCD and the distinctive Canon control wheel on the rear of the body.

They're available used from Amazon sellers as cheap as $99 right now, and I actually got this one for $79 shipped from KEH back in November with a Black Friday sales code.
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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Battleground State

Illinois gun owners had fought hard for years and made hellacious headway in the battle to get CCW and at least a measure of preemption passed, so it's especially painful to see all that hard work threatened by their new Future License Plate Craftsman in Springfield, J.B. Pritzker.

The war never ends.
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I feel like this was a William Gibson plot...

"Publish and be damned!"

The post title is the famous retort of the Duke of Wellington when a publisher offered to leave him out of the salacious memoirs of a courtesan in exchange for a healthy sum of cash.

Similarly, Jeff Bezos seems to have correctly divined that the average American in 2018 has a lot less of a problem with the idea of consenting adults texting each other dick pics or bobs and vagene than they do about a tabloid surreptitiously getting ahold of said communications and attempting to use them for blackmail purposes.
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Friday, February 08, 2019

Serious Blasphemy

"Through the grapevine has come a hint that the designated hitter may become a universal reality in Major League Baseball in the not-too-distant future.

Hurry up. Oh, for the love of David Ortiz, Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas, please hurry up.
"
As of right now, the National League is the only remaining holdout of Real Baseball, which clearly states in Rule 1.01 that "Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each", not "nine players plus a designated hitter".

Once the Designated Hitter appears in the National League, can the final gasps of the republic be far behind?
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19°F on the banks of Eagle Creek...

Trying different glass...

While inexpensive for a full frame zoom lens with that range, the 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM was disappointing. Not very sharp, lots of chromatic aberration.

Yesterday I swapped another old lens onto the T1i, the EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. While nominally the same aperture range, the better glass and Image Stabilization make a big difference in sharpness.


Straw Gun Training

From an older post at Gun Culture 2.0:
"...Keller argues for a combat proven approach to training that focuses on the constants of gunfighting. The post-9/11 essence of gun training is spending time on a square range mastering the basic techniques that apply in every gunfight: getting the gun up, getting sight picture, and pulling the trigger.
...
[Y]et, he observes, many of his peers who have the same operational experience do not train in this manner. Instead, they are “getting wrapped up in the whole wooing the customer thing, with the fancy drills and the running around doing the GI Joe stuff. Some of the guys that do have experience are teaching that stuff but it’s because they know that’s what sells.”
"
Now, I'll readily admit that I've avoided a couple of the more... notorious? internet famous? ...trainers, but at this point my training resume is pretty varied. Since this stuff is usually for work (and could quite possibly come up if I ever actually have to defend myself), I keep a spreadsheet documenting my training hours.

Looking over that list and discarding all the various legal and medical and other classroom stuff and limiting it to only life-fire range classes, I count fifteen different trainers/schools since 2008. And those fifteen come from a wide variety of backgrounds: LE, .mil, private citizens...

I have yet to encounter anything I'd describe as "fancy drills" or "running around doing GI Joe stuff". I've certainly never attended a class where the basics of marksmanship were not stressed. In fact, in most classes I've taken, marksmanship was not just stressed but scored and graded and the best shooters were usually recognized in some way.

Maybe I'm attending the wrong classes?
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Thursday, February 07, 2019

You know what they say about opinions...

From the WML column, Marlon Rando has an opinion!


Well, I believe I will consider the opinions of dudes like Darryl Bolke and Chuck Haggard over Rando Calrissian and his fifty-year-old shoes.
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Tab Clearing...


Meanwhile, in American-Occupied America...

Via the NRA-ILA, Indiana pro-RKBA bills advance out of committee...
House Bill 1284, sponsored by Representative Jim Lucas (R-69), passed from the House Committee on Judiciary by a vote of 9-2. It would provide immunity for a justified use of force in certain instances to help prevent frivolous lawsuits. Victims of violent crime shouldn’t be subjected to unnecessary civil suits, therefore being victimized twice. This bill would also require a court to award, in certain instances, reasonable attorney's fees if it determines a suit was brought unjustly, helping to prevent financial ruin for individuals protecting themselves and others. 
House Bill 1643, sponsored by Representative Ben Smaltz (R-52), passed from the House Committee on Public Policy by a vote of 12-0. It would increase the duration of a 4-year License to Carry a Handgun (LTCH) to five years and also eliminate the fee. In addition, it would allow gun owners greater ability to carry a firearm for self-defense in houses of worship, while respecting private property owner rights.
Contact your state legiscritters, Hoosiers.
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A systemic failure...

I thought regressive taxes that made it harder for low income people to exercise civil rights were a bad thing?



There is a systemic failure to get folks to understand that the Second Amendment is enshrining a basic civil right, the right to defense... defense of self, community, and nation ...by ensuring that the people have adequate access to the proper tools for that defense.

You'd never see someone putting an op-ed in a national outlet asking if we love the right to a trial by jury or the right to be protected against cruel and unusual punishment more than we love our kids.

"Oh, but people misuse their right to keep and bear arms!"

Hey, I'm pretty sure a lot of people on the Left think that a significant portion of the electorate misused their right to vote in 2016, and I don't see hair-shirted op-eds talking about reasonable restrictions on that.
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Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Rebel on the Canal

Got lunch up in Broad Ripple proper today. I'd had a hankering for cheese enchiladas, but La Piedad is closed until Monday while they redo the flooring in the place. I fell back on Public Greens, where I had their delicious buttermilk-dredged fried chicken tenders and curried cauliflower salad.

The rain still hadn't resumed after I'd finished eating, so I strolled down the Monon toward the canal. River House, a big "mixed use" development overlooking where the canal comes off the White River, has just opened up, and joins The Coil, down where the canal is bridged by College Avenue as looming new bookends on Broad Ripple Village. Several more developments of this sort are going in, making me wistful for the days when we used to joke that the tiny three-story office building across the Monon from the Brewpub was "Broad Ripple's skyscraper".

I had the Rebel T1i with me, still wearing the 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6 USM zoom. The overcast day was presenting a challenge.

It's not a good lens for pixel peepers at all. It's soft wide open and often ate up with chromatic aberration. And "wide open" isn't terribly wide...

Used thoughtfully, however, it's still capable of reasonably adequate results.

I'll put slightly better glass on it for tomorrow's adventures and see how that works out.
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Weapon-Mounted Lights and You!

"First, seek out some training in the proper use of a weapon-mounted light. This is important in learning how to use it to illuminate your surroundings while moving with the gun in either a high or low muzzle-aversion carry position, using the “spill” from the beam as well as the “bounce,” or reflected light, off the ceiling or walls to light a room. (Hollywood tends to have everyone running around with WMLs held horizontally at eye-level, in a “what-not-to-do” fashion.)"

Pedocracy: Government by Children

No, I'm not referring to our constant yearning to be lectured by the Youth of America on a host of social topics.

Rather I'm referring to the spectacle into which the State of the Union address has apparently devolved.

The presumptive leader of the party that regularly calls out the president for his cartoonishly exaggerated antics spent the entirety of the evening posturing and emoting over his shoulder like the love child of Marcel Marceau and a professional wrestling villain.

By this rate, the factions'll be throwing things at each other during the 2025 State of What's Left of the Union.
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Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Dinosaur!

Walking back from lunch, the gate was open on the dinosaur's yard. Hooray!
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Monday, February 04, 2019

DSLRing on the cheap...


Canon's naming conventions for its consumer-grade DSLR cameras in the US are a hot mess, ranking  on the indecipherable mystery scale somewhere between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the colored lines on a hockey rink.

They rationalized it a little by using "i" as the suffix for the nicer models, but the simple numeric system they use for the Euro market is more easily sussed out.

The Rebel T1i seen here is the 500D in Europe. It's easy to understand that three digits is the nicer consumer model, and that the 500D succeeded the 450D and was in turn replaced by the 550D. That it was more upscale than the entry-level 1000D was indicated by its fewer digits, and it was in turn more downmarket than the contemporaneous 50D prosumer camera.

Available used for a couple hundred bucks with a kit zoom lens on Amazon, it can be found even cheaper as a body only. Paired with an inexpensive zoom lens, it's a cheap toe in the water of DSLRs.

It's got a 15-megapixel sensor, which is plenty of resolution for most any chore, and it's the first entry-level Canon DSLR to offer video and live view.

I'll shoot a bunch of pics with it this week and see how it holds up these days.
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In the Record Books... Again?

Yesterday was beautiful here in Indy. The air smelled like springtime and melting snow as the temps got up to 62°F, a hundred degrees warmer than Wednesday's wind chill.

This tied the record high for February 2nd, and while it might be hell on the pavement for the temperature to swing that much, it sure was a welcome change from last week's deep freeze.
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Saturday, February 02, 2019

#PopMorePopcorn

Gear Ho'

This McSweeney's piece, the lamenting monologue of a tactical backpack being dragged through the mundane life of the office worker is absolutely hilarious:
"Last week my grandfather found out a backpack my age was part of the Osama bin Laden raid, and his words still echo in my ears. Now that’s a real backpack. Why can’t you be more like that? When David carried me onto Omaha Beach, it certainly wasn’t to carry his Juul. The most perilous adventure Trevor has taken me on was that $4,500 luxury whitewater rafting trip, and he kept complaining that the guides were cooking meals that exacerbated his acid reflux.

Oh no, Trevor is unzipping me. What fresh humiliation will this bring? Ah, he is getting another Lara Bar from one of my pouches — one of six designed to hold extra 40mm grenades. I hope he chokes.
"
I know that, could a lot of my stuff talk, it'd be right there with the backpack, because when it comes to gear, I believe there's no kill like overkill.

Cold weather clothing? I don't buy the mittens from the gas station, I'm buying stuff that's designed to keep someone's hands warm while they assault the north face of the Eiger with an ice axe. I figure that if long johns are designed to keep someone warm sitting around Camp III on the South Face of Everest, then they'll definitely be up to keeping me warm while shoveling the walk or strolling to Twenty Tap.

I love the webbing on the Maxpedition Fliegerduffel that I've been using for near a decade now, because I've used it to attach a blowout kit to the outside of my bag. (I put one on the outside of my Hazard 4 camera bag, too.) This has the added side benefit of having trauma shears ready to hand so I can cut the goofy zip tie off my Pelican right there in front of the baggage office in the airport. I figure if bags are designed for jumping out of a helicopter with a knife in your teeth, they should definitely be up to the rigors of baggage handlers or the bin above my seat in Comfort Plus.

It's probably why I like pro-grade camera bodies from Canon and Nikon so much. Sure, they're crazy stupid heavy, but you could use my D1x or 1DS Mark II to beat a dude to death and then take pictures of the body. Any camera up to taking war correspondent photos in a snowstorm in the Hindu Kush is well capable of taking pictures of squirrels in Broad Ripple.


Still chuckling...

Friday, February 01, 2019

Pet Peeve...

You know what's a pet peeve of mine? People who use "smooth" to describe the way a handgun shoots. "I love my Beretta nine! It shoots so smooth!"

Dude, an explosion just went off in your hand. If you were to hand me a list of all the adjectives in the English language and ask me to put them in order from "Most describing a gunshot" to "Least describing a gunshot", then "smooth" would be way down there somewhere between "turgid" and "moist".
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