Monday, November 30, 2020

High Res

 Got a roll of CineStill 50D in that I'm looking forward to trying out.

 It's a very fine-grained color film derived from Kodak motion picture film. The low ISO means it's going to want bright light and so I'm looking at the calendar at Weather Underground and it's telling me that either tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday will be my best choices if I don't want to wait until middle of next week.

It would be cool to take it down to American Legion Mall and get some shots of the World War Memorial and Scottish Rite Cathedral. Throw a fast lens on the EOS Elan II and see what I can get.

It's never not time for this...

Cyber Monday deal...

According to one of the jillions of emails in my inbox today, Raven Concealment has their Vanguard basic kit in wolf gray for $9.99.

I guess it's good for the rest of today?

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Sights to See

I just finished reading The Two-Headed Eagle, the third novel of the four book Otto Prohaska series. In it, our hero...an Austro-Hungarian naval officer by vocation and a u-boat commander since the start of the Great War...is spending some time seconded to the k.u.k. Luftfahrtruppen, flying against the Italians on the Isonzo front.

The book has some vivid descriptions of the Dolomites, and I've been eagerly reading Wikipedia articles and poring over Google satellite views.

Nothing there, though, can compare to the breathtaking photos at this NYT travel piece. Makes me want to get my vacation papers in order.

Automotif CXCVI...

Shortly after the '53 Chevy rolled by on Sunday afternoon, lightning struck twice!

It's a second-generation Pontiac Firebird! While the snout on the '74-'76 Firebirds was generally the same, they can be distinguished by the placement of their turn signals. A 1974 has them below the bumper, outboard, directly beneath the headlights. A 1976 has them in the intake grilles under the bumper. A '75, like this one, has them in the grille openings above the bumper.

This one's a '75 Firebird Formula 400, at least according to the badge. By the mid-Seventies, the 400cid 4-barrel had a compression ratio something like 7.5:1 or so and was putting out only 185 SAE net horsepower, even in the Formula's 4bbl performance-oriented installation. At some 3800ish pounds, this thing would be hard pressed keeping up with an airport rental Kia these days and struggled to top 100mph...

But it sure is a good-looking car, and it didn't take much work to uncork a lot more power out of that big motor.
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"Safe directions", muzzle aversion, WMLs, and you...

Movies and television are great places to learn how not to handle your guns.

In this modern era when tactical teams carry handguns and long guns with weapon-mounted lights and/or lasers, the temptation for directors to show TV operators swarming through buildings with their weapons up in their sightline and the darkness being split by searching beams of light must be irresistible. It really does look dramatic.

Not a Hollywood studio.

No doubt the technical advisors on the sidelines are chewing their tongues half off while the director overrides their suggestions. The director has the gun and the actor's face in frame and the bright white light beam searches briefly right across the camera's lens...

Here's where someone reflexively blurts NRA Safety Rule #1 "ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction." The NRA calls it the primary rule of gun safety, and I've heard good instructors refer to it (or its close relative, Cooper's Rule #2) as the Golden Rule of safe gun handling.

When moving around an occupied structure with a gun in your hand, though, it can be hard to keep the gun pointed in a truly safe direction, unless you're moving around with the gun in one hand and a five gallon drywall mud bucket full of play sand in the other. In this case, you could phrase it "Always keep the gun pointed in the safest available direction."

You'll encounter passionate advocates of various muzzle-aversion ready positions and carry positions touting them as the one true path. 

Speaking as a photographer, "up" would not be the safest possible direction for these dudes.

"Low-ready is best because thus-and-such" or "A muzzle-up high-carry is superior for movement because this other thing", but a well-trained shooter should have access to a full repertoire of high-and low-ready and -carry positions and be able to transition fluidly between them as the immediate situation dictates. After all, the safest possible direction is different on a rubber raft than it is on the ground floor directly beneath your children's second-floor bedrooms.

One objection to weapon-mounted lights has been that muzzling unknowns in order to decide if they are a threat or not is a bad idea, and that's generally true. For a long time, a lot of people taught that the Best Practice with a WML on a handgun (and some folks even advocated it for long guns) was searching with a separate handheld and only bringing the WML into play once a threat had been identified.

This made a lot more sense in the 62-lumen incandescent days. Nowadays, when even a compact light like the Streamlight TLR-7 is putting out 500 lumens and full-size 2-cell lights on service pistols with a thousand or more are common, there's no need to go running around with the pistol at eyeball level just to illuminate a room. There's plenty of bounce and spill from the light when the gun is held in a low ready pointed at the baseboards or a high-carry, pointed at the ceiling, to illuminate a residential room or hallway and identify who and what is in it.

Besides, whether with a handgun or long gun, moving about with the weapon up in a firing position and viewing your surroundings through the sights is rapidly fatiguing and leads to tunnel vision. Save that stuff for the movies. 

My 2021 project: Using the 509 Compact MRD with Trijicon SRO and Streamlight TLR-7 as my regular carry gun and for all classes and matches, using a Spark holster graciously provided by Henry Holsters.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Can you prove you're not a robot?

Automotif CXCV...

It was a good weekend for carspotting there at the intersection of 54th & College. When I pedaled over to Fat Dan's for lunch today, I brought the Nikon F5 because it was sunny and I had it loaded with Ektachrome 100 and wanted to get some shots around the neighborhood. But just in case there were cool cars out, I threw the little Nikon 1 J4 wearing the 30-110mm zoom in my jacket pocket.

I was glad I did!

Cool old Chevrolet! The round lamps in the grill and horizontally ribbed chrome trim above the bumper make it a 1953 and the level of trim...most noticeably the chrome spears down the sides...mean it's a 210.

The B-pillar and long roof/short trunk proportions make it a 1953 Chevrolet 210 2-door sedan. No telling if it still has the original Blue Flame I-6 and 2-speed Powerglide drivetrain or not. 

What are you afraid of people seeing?




Saturday, November 28, 2020

Automotif CXCIV...

'62-'65 Austin-Healey Sprite Mark II

I was sitting at my table in front of 20 Tap when this car stopped at the light, northbound on College. 

I scooped up my camera and left all my stuff sitting on the table to get a bit further south, hoping to get a clear photo. The driver saw me on the sidewalk with my camera and nudged his kid, pointing at me as the light turned green. 

The kid waved, smiling, and I waved back as I one-handed the camera, remembering riding around the neighborhood with my dad as he "charged the battery" in his '55 T-bird, me waving giddily at the people as we passed by, and feeling like I was on a float in the Macy's parade...

Friday, November 27, 2020

An autobiography...

 


An out-of-this-world dinner...

 Bobbi worked the magic with the turducken on the little backyard grill yesterday. 

I swear, we have gotten more than our money's worth out of that janky little $29.99 sheet metal grill. It's seen probably a decade's service at this point, mostly through the virtue of keeping it covered when not in use.

Over dinner, we watched the new Chesley Bonestell documentary on Amazon.

In the documentary, there's an interview with Bob David, who works as a photographer and historian for the Golden Gate Bridge. He talks about the time he'd brought some original paintings Bonestell had done for the bridge during its construction to the artist's house in Carmel. Bonestell, in his nineties at the time, hadn't seen them since he'd painted them. One was unsigned and David photgraphed Chesley signing it in his studio.

Bonestell remarked that that was only the second time he'd been photographed in his studio. The other was by Ansel Adams, when he and Buckminster Fuller had been guests for dinner one night. Wouldn't you have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that dinner conversation?

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 The turducken is has sat in the refrigerator thawing, and soon the grill will be started and then Bobbi will make the magic happen!


Fortunately, Roseholme Cottage's Thanksgiving traditions were already fully compatible with the Time of the 'Rona. What most people call "social distancing", introverts call "Thursday".



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Early Christmas Present to Myself

 I'd given away one of my Gen5 Striker Control Devices just in time to wind up with a Gen5 Glock 17 MOS (serving as a host for the Bushnell RXS250 sight testing).

This meant either shuffling one Gadget back and forth between the Gen5 G17 and my G19X, or...


What perfect timing! Merry early Christmas to me!



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Today in History...

On this date in 1963, Jack and the Rubies played their greatest hit...

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Dining Local

 Local hangout Moe & Johnny's has been shuttered, hopefully temporarily.

During the summer, they'd converted the parking lot into awning-covered outdoor dining, but that deprived them of all their parking spaces, and parking there was fraught as it is, with a tiny lot and limited spaces.

I got lunch there a few times over the summer, dining on the patio, and business was noticeably slower. Of course, the coffee house business in the morning and the lunch crowd were always ancillary to the big evening crowds, especially during sporting events, and 2020 has just hammered that business model flat.

I've been making a point of supporting the local joints...I mean, I always have anyway, but I've been making an extra point of late.


Local joints tend to be on a knife's edge at the best of times. For every thriving local restaurant empire like the Sahm's, Patachou, Yat's, or Fat Dan's ones*, there's a standalone Twenty Tap or La Piedad. If I want them to be here next summer, I gotta make a point of being here for them now.


*And even they aren't bulletproof. Sahm's has closed a couple downtown locations due to the collapse of the lunchtime office crowd.

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Precious!

 Just checking the price of silver and gold this morning, both are still high but down from peaks in August. Silver had kissed $30/oz and gold flickered briefly over $2k/oz, and both had spent the bulk of the election season in a plateau. 

At $1,812/oz for gold and $23/oz for silver at the time I type this, they're both down to levels they hadn't seen since July. (Which is still high, mind you.)

They generally make a good proxy barometer for measuring how wigged-out people are over stuff in general.

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Monday, November 23, 2020

Fading Star


The big dish at Arecibo, practically a supporting cast member in movies like Contact and GoldenEye, as well as the first episode of The X-Files' second season, "Little Green Men" has made it through hurricanes and earthquakes in the past, but it appears that 2020 was just too much for the mighty radio telescope.

After a second cable snapped this year, it's been decided that repairing the big dish is just unsafe and impractical and so future movie appearances will need to be in historical thrillers via CGI.
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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Unsolicited Product Endorsement Redux

 A year after Shootin' Buddy gifted it to me, I gave a glowing endorsement to the Maxpedition Fliegerduffel.

I just realized this morning that post was a decade ago. I've used this bag for eleven years now, in car trunks for road trips, a couple times as a carry-on on plane flights, and I don't know how many dozens of times it's been used as checked baggage in an airliner cargo hold.

No fraying, no unraveling, no popped seams... The only thing that's gone wrong was I accidentally untied one of the 550 cord loops on one of the zipper pulls and keep forgetting to replace it.

Since 2014, the blowout kit I got from Ambulance Driver's Shooter Self Care class at NRAAM* a blowout kit has been attached to the MOLLE webbing on the outside of the bag, and it's survived all that travel intact, too.

On this most recent trip, it even managed to get squoze into the teeny overhead bin on a CRJ200, and those things are tiny.

More than ten years on, the Maxpedition Fliegerduffel is still a heck of a bag.

*Wrong kit. That one's in the Z3, and this one was bought in a group buy later that year.*

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Work Bag Reboot

 Last week's trip was a short one for a product launch. Basically it was "Fly there, get picked up at the airport and shuttled to a somewhat remote resort hotel, get shuttled to the range the next day, back to the hotel, then back to the airport and fly home."

While it would have been absolutely legal for me to bring a firearm, the allure of not having to check a bag was a strong one. Truthfully, I felt the absence of a pocket knife more than I did the lack of a gun; the threat envelope was virtually nil, but I hate having to open stuff with my teeth like an animal.

Anyway, this immediately presented me with a quandary, in that my usual, pre-packed carryon bags consist of a rolling bag and a messenger bag to stuff under the seat in front of me. They are entirely devoted to my work camera gear and a laptop with its associated support stuff (external hard drive for photos, mouse, A/C adaptor, USB card reader, et cetera.) My regular travel bag for clothes and stuff, an old Maxpedition Fliegerduffel, usually goes as checked baggage. While the Fliegerduffel is small enough to go in the overhead, my usual underseat bag was not currently set up as a standalone photography kit.

So on this trip I brought that bag of old Nikon gear from the other post and shot the product launch with it (and regretted not having a lens hood for the old 80-200/2.8). First thing when I got home was to reconfigure my underseat bag so that it, too, could function as a standalone travel setup.

The Peak Design Everyday Messenger is more than tall and deep enough to hold my work camera, the Canon 5DS, with the 24-105mm f/4L IS lens mounted.

To one side, also stored vertically, is my go-to standby for shooting on the range, the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L, the original gangsta unstabilized version. I got a good deal on my well-loved copy from a blog reader, but this variant is still being manufactured, since stabilization doesn't matter much in action shooting. Despite being launched in 1995, the original version still takes fantastic images. As usual, buying used can save a bundle, and don't worry, these things are built like tanks. The big putty-colored Canon L zooms are ubiquitous sights along the sidelines in sports for a reason.

Tom Givens working with a student, 1Ds Mark II & 70-200mm f/2.8L

On the other side, over the padded divider, is a 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro, while under the divider is an old 17-35mm f/2.8L wide-angle zoom. The new and modern 100mm is up top because it's a good portrait lens as well as a stellar macro, and those are both things I use frequently for work, while the wide-angle is a a well-used older variant, and it's on the bottom because I rarely shoot much wider than the 24mm offered by the regular zoom I keep on the camera.

Tom again, this time with the 5DS & 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS

While this configuration has every focal length from 17-200mm covered, and most of it with a fast f/2.8 aperture, for a class instead of a product launch, I'm likely to swap out the 100mm & the 17-35mm for a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, the better to grab candid headshots from across the range.

Now that that's settled, if I do a little one-nighter again, I can bring my real work gear!

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I know this may come as a shock, but...

 ...one of the guys who featured in this video...



...has died of natural causes, assuming you consider gravity a natural cause.
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Saturday, November 21, 2020

Yesterday was a good day...

 ...and I didn't have to use my AK. Which is a good thing, because I don't have an AK. Leave the peasant conscript rifles for the peasants, I say. (Just kidding. Save the hate mail.)

Anyway, Thursday and Friday were unseasonably warm for mid-November here in Indy, but the weather was supposed to revert to type for the weekend, so I wanted to get in some outdoor dining while the getting was good.

Thursday was almost a scrub because, despite the thermometer briefly reaching a freakishly balmy 68°F, the winds were blowing steadily from the southwest at 30-50mph. And when I say "steadily", I mean the wind blew like that All. Day. Long. I found a table on the sidewalk in front of Fat Dan's that was out of the wind and had a Peyton's Supa-Dupa Grilled Cheezy (brie, provolone, American, cheddar, & tomato on multigrain).

Friday, however, dawned tranquil and promised to be nearly as warm...for the relative values of "warm" that I use from November through March now.

Tranquil Friday morning skies
So Friday I decided to check out a newer addition to the neighborhood dining scene. The Patachou empire had launched a Southern fried chicken joint just across the street from their mothership at 49th & Penn, but sadly it did not catch on. (I say "sadly" because the couple times I ate at Crispy Bird, the chow was superlative.)

Anyway, in the spirit of 2020, the new restaurant in the same building is called "Apocalypse Burger".


I ordered a Smashpocalypse Burger, described on the menu as "double smash, Manchego cheese, white bbq, lettuce, pickles".


They do the thinner smashed style patties on a griddle, so a double is not an impossible challenge for those who can't unhinge their lower jaw like a ball python. Nice crusty patties and still plenty juicy, and the mysterious white BBQ sauce complemented the Manchego nicely. The skinny fries are sliced right there in-house and were delicious.

Two thumbs up and Apocalypse Burger will continue to be a regular stop for me. I hope they survive the apocalypse.
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Friday, November 20, 2020

Book Giveaway...

 Apparently Marko is running a giveaway for some of the writer's copies of the latest Frontlines novel, Orders of Battle. Just leave a comment over there between now and next Friday and he'll draw the names of ten commenters to send autographed dead tree copies.

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"But I was wearing a shirt and shoes!"

Thursday, November 19, 2020

"You're home!"

The lads seemed extremely happy to see me yesterday evening, but that might be because the Uber dropped me off at Roseholme Cottage at 6:04 and the dinner bell usually sounds at 6PM sharp. Not like either of these chonky bois couldn't stand missing a meal, although you'd have a hard time telling them that.


 

Travel

 When Delta announced that it was issuing lifetime bans to passengers who got all snotty with the flight attendants about masks on the flight, I wasn't too upset about it.

I learned about it back when Robert O'Neill apparently caught a ban for mask-related offenses on a flight.

"Thank you for your service, sir. Now please cover your germhole." 

Look, dude, it's Delta's airplane. If they say you gotta sing "I'm a little teapot" to fly, then you sing "I'm a little teapot" or you don't fly and I don't care if you shot thirty seven Osama Bin Ladens or not. 

Now stow your bag and sit down, the rest of us kids have connecting flights we gotta catch. 

Jesus, my personalized version of Hell will be filled with all the "Special" people I've run into on airlines. "No, honey, don't worry; when they said 'all carry-on bags must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you', they didn't mean you."  

I know that 'being a sheeple and doing what you're told' does not come easily to some people, but the miracle of modern air travel only goes smoothly if everyone on the flying Greyhound does exactly that. Fricking swallow your dignity for twenty-nine minutes and do what the sky waitress tells you so we can get to Detroit on time and then you can go on a freedom tirade to the gate agent when we get there.

Sample of one and all, but I was in seat A2 of a Delta A320 from ATL-IND yesterday afternoon, and the Brylcreem'ed jackhole in seat A1 not only had to be asked to adjust his face-sock twice by the flight crew, but also used his cell phone until it lost signal on climbout from Hartsfield, and then along about Chattanooga he reclined his seat into my lap and kept it there until we deplaned in Indy, because all that bit about "returning your seatback to the upright position" didn't apply to him, apparently.

Can't wait until he gets banished from the Woolworths.

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Monday, November 16, 2020

I thought this was a comedy series?

 On Veteran's Day...Armistice Day...Bobbi asked what I wanted to watch over dinner. We'd been binge watching Black Adder, so I suggested continuing that.

As it happened, we only had the one episode left in the fourth and final season, and I had forgotten what a gut punch the ending of that last episode is. Appropriate to the day, though.

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Pack up the old kit bag...but with what?

 Let me preface this post by saying I still want a Nikon Df. Unfortunately, these unique retro Nikons are still over a grand on the used market. Since I use Canons for work and just shoot my Nikons for fun, that's more than I can justify shelling out on a camera body.

Blog friend Jim had stumbled into a screaming deal on one and, having been mostly out of the SLR game since the film days, he wrote to see if I had any suggestions for a budget-friendly lens kit. After a bit of research on the intertubes to check a detail about the Df's focusing motor, it looked like Jim was in luck, because the Df's internal focusing motor makes it super-easy to put together a budget-friendly lens kit. After all, that's just what I'd done for my budget full-frame Nikon, the D700.

The focus motor bit is important. See, both Nikon and Canon had dabbled around with kludgy autofocus SLRs in the early 1980s (the Nikon F3AF and Canon T80) before settling on what are still their main DSLR lens mounts.

Canon went with their new EOS system and the EF lens mount. This introduced a larger-diameter mount which would theoretically allow for higher-performance lenses. It also severed any functional mechanical connection between the camera and the lens; the aperture diaphragm was now electromagnetically operated and the focusing was done by motors in the body of the lens itself.

While these changes made for more modern and efficient lenses and cameras, they basically meant that any existing Canon pro shooter with an FD mount camera was now sitting on potentially thousands of dollars...tens of thousands for a sports or wildlife photog...worth of dead-end lenses that would be useless on future Canon professional cameras.

Nikon took a different tack. They retained the same F-mount interface that their single lens reflex cameras had been using since the seminal F model of 1959. They already had a means of controlling the aperture on lenses by means of a lever in the mount, and to this they added a focus motor in the body that spun a little flat-bladed nubbin that protruded from the collar of the lens mount. This flat blade connected with a little slotted disc in the base of the lens and operated the internal focusing of the lens via screw drive.

To this day, it's how you can tell the consumer Nikon DSLRs that you can buy in boxed sets at Mart-Mart from prosumer and professional grade Nikon bodies: The latter still have the focus motor in the body, lo these thirty-three years down the road, while the former do not, in the interest of cost savings. The reason? Well, most Nikon lenses made since the late Nineties now have internal motors ("Silent Wave Motor" is Nikon's ad hype terminology.) People buying cheap DSLRs at Best Buy to take pics of JV soccer games and Alaskan sightseeing cruises are unlikely to be sitting on thousands of dollars of legacy glass, and worried about backwards compatibility.

This means that there's a lot of older, used high-performance professional glass that's available cheap on the used market because it uses the old screw drive setup. On a D7xxx prosumer camera, it autofocuses sluggishly, driven by a smallish battery and little motor, while on a consumer D3xxx or D5xxx, it won't autofocus at all, since there's no motor.

On a high-end camera, even an older one like my D700 or D3...or Jim's Df...the glass autofocuses with some alacrity, though. And if the old pro glass from the screw-drive era is cheap, the better consumer-grade stuff is dirt cheap.

My basic Nikon bag, a (now discontinued) ThinkTank SubUrban Disguise 30, I picked because it's compact, yet will hold an iPad, a DSLR with a few lenses, and can swallow even a big lens like a 70-200/2.8 if it's dismounted and stowed vertically.

The lens that lives on the D700 in the bag is a Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4D. It's more compact and focuses closer than the 24-120mm f/4 VR, to say nothing of being much cheaper on the used market. Alternatively, I've used a Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8D, but good examples are harder to find on the used market and you give up a chunk of focal length range.

The compact nature of the lens on the camera is important, as the D700 is carried lens-down in the center of the bag and beneath it, under a padded divider, and inside a neoprene lens pouch for added padding, I keep an old 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5D to handle wider-angle chores. There are faster and/or more rugged alternatives, but this one's plenty adequate and, again, cheap. It's also lightweight and works well on my older F4 film body. I'm not a frequent wide-angle shooter anyway.

To one side of the camera, in the vertical position, I stow a 105mm f/2.8D Micro-Nikkor, which is not only great for macrophotography, but is also a pretty decent portrait lens, too. 

To the other side of the camera and also stowed vertically is one of my favorite lenses and the one that makes me happy that the D700 has a pretty torquey lens drive: an old "push-pull" style 80-200mm f/2.8 ED zoom. There's pretty much no cheaper way to get a rugged, pro-grade constant f/2.8 zoom lens, one of the cornerstones of the "Holy Trinity", on a DSLR, all because the old screw-drive focusing is considered obsolescent. 

In the zippered pocket on the flap goes a battery charger and a couple spares, and spare CF cards. The iPad pouch on the back will hold my standard iPad in the Logitech type cover with enough slack to slip a Kindle in there as well. The whole thing goes under an airliner seat with ease, and also fits in the wire basket on the back of my Broad Ripple SUV like it had been designed to stow there.

Sorry for the potato image quality. I was one-handing a D3000 and a non-stabilized 35mm f/1.8 while kneeling on a wobbly stool shooting down onto the lid of the clothes drier. I really need to set up a dedicated home studio.

So that's my traveling lens kit for full-frame Nikon. I have a couple others that get used a lot, most notably a 50mm f/1.4D for if I'm going to be indoors at a party or something and a 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR for the zoo, which I can substitute in as needed, but the entire basic 4-lens package that normally rides in the bag will cover most any shooting scenario and can be had for less than the cost of a middlin' decent Colt or Kimber 1911 by buying used.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Every time you think it can't get more 2020...



Who had "Japanese combatting bears with robot monster wolves" as their guess for November? Because this is pretty lit. Bears fighting robot monster wolves is like the sort of stuff we used to draw in third grade, or a strip idea from The Oatmeal.

Also, what gun for robot monster wolf?
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Friday, November 13, 2020

Well, when you put it like that...

Thursday, November 12, 2020

How it Started, How it's Going


Truly an artistic tour de force. Does anyone know the whereabouts of the NYC sketch artist who did the courtroom art of Potato Swift?



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Press “F” to pay respects...

 Although it was rumored early last month, it seems to have quietly become official: Nikon is listing the F6, its last pro 35mm film body, as “old product” on their website.

Rumors have swirled for years about whether the F6 was actually still in production or not. The film market collapsed so rapidly at the dawn of the DSLR age that Canon and Nikon were selling off New-Old-Stock inventory for years. Still, every now and again a guy on a forum would report buying a new F6 and finding a letter in the box signed by the production crew of these precisely-engineered electromechanical marvels, thanking the buyer for his patronage.


Apparently those rumors may be put to bed now, and the Nikon F line, which began back in 1959 with the camera Private Joker carried in Full Metal Jacket, and ended up with F5’s in Operation Iraqi Freedom and on the ISS, is officially no more.

The F5 was really the last pro F. By the time the F6 replaced it, most working pro photogs had migrated to digital with the D1X and D2 and never really looked back.

Still, though, like my friend Kevin pointed out, it’s hard not to hear this news and not see The Fighting Temeraire.



And so it goes...

Monday, November 09, 2020

Baby Steps

 Yesterday on the front porch I had the D700 wearing the old 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens, hoping to catch the squirrel who's been steadily dismantling the pumpkin in the raised bed. (I don't mind him doing it; that's why I move it out there from the front porch after Halloween.)

One thing I'm trying to do is get more into using Photoshop for something other than hitting the autocorrect buttons in Camera Raw.

Granted, using the auto subject select function and fiddling with the exposure on the squirrel isn't much more sophisticated, but it's a start.


Sunday, November 08, 2020

You can't make this up.


This is more like something out of an episode of Veep or Brain Dead than real life.

Those of you who have cats are surely familiar with what happens when they try to gracefully leap and wind up faceplanting instead, right? The way they stop and sit there and lick themselves before trying to wander off nonchalantly and pretend that they goofed on purpose? Check out Lewandowski:


I want to know exactly how that goof happened. Had they just assumed that the Four Seasons in Philly would let them have a ballroom for their presser, only to get told "No, sorry. 'Rona restrictions, bruh," and so they had to scramble to the phone book looking for an emergency runway, so to speak?

I need to know how this gaffe went down.
Bad things happen in Philadelphia, indeed.

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Bokeh Backlash Begun?

I'd mentioned before that, as computationally-generated fake background blur (or "fauxkeh") trickled down to ever-cheaper cell phones and became more realistic, the overuse of radically shallow depth-of-field would become less common.


For starters, it's definitely possible to have too little DoF. The temptation is there, when one has a new, fast lens, to run around shooting with it wide open all the time. I did that with my shiny new Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f/1.4* once and got a great black & white portrait of MattG...except his face was at an angle to the focal plane and only one of his eyes was in focus at that distance.

This isn't to say that fast apertures don't have their place, but in the days of modern sensors that are perfectly usable at very high ISOs, they're no longer an essential piece of gear the way they were when 400 ISO film was high-speed. 
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Friday, November 06, 2020

Overheard in the Office...

Me: "It's not 'Democracy Dies in Darkness', it's 'Democracy Dies from Profound Retardation'.
RX: "The Romans had lead water pipes and lead lined wine jugs. For us, it's Facebook."

I LOL'ed...



Thursday, November 05, 2020

Automotif CXCIII...

My friend Michael sold his crossover SUV and got a sweet-looking Mustang EcoBoost with a six-speed manual. It's got Hurst shifter and he's been playing with the Roush catalog, too, I think.

It seems amazing that the DOHC 2.3L four cylinder with a hairdryer bolted to the exhaust puts out almost a hundred horsepower more than the old pushrod 5.0, but it does. In Car and Driver's road test of the '94 GT back when it was new, the 215bhp SN95 put down a 6.1 second 0-60, and the same magazine wrung a 5.5 second sprint from the 2015 EcoBoost with a manual shifter. In the quarter mile the gap widens to a full second, 14.9 for the V8 and 13.9 for the turbo four. And in contests of handling and cornering, the modern car has it all over the old one with its primitive live-axle rear suspension.

Still, though, the '94 is a hoot to drive and I love it like I've loved few cars I've owned. Plus there's something to be said for the late fuelie small block Windsor's bulletproof reputation. Og from Neanderpundit has pushed more than one Exploder with basically the same driveline over the quarter million mile mark, IIRC.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Pretty much this...

Looks like that's not going to happen.

 The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is normally outfitted as a polling place, and now that we can vote anywhere in the county, it was tempting to go cast a ballot in the museum.

At least until I checked wait times. It's currently showing 70 minutes, down from 100. My closest spot is showing 19 minutes, so a leisurely walk rather than a short drive it is.

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Well, that's convenient.

 Marion County has changed its election procedures this year so that county residents can show up at any polling place in the county. You used to have an assigned polling place for your precinct and both of the last two for our precinct were located on the grounds of churches that also had K-12 schools.

Now that we can vote anywhere, the nearest polling place is in a church that doesn't have a K-12 school on the premises. It's only a few blocks away and the weather's supposed to be pretty nice for this time of year, so I may walk or bicycle over there, since I won't have to lock anything in the trunk this year...

A very Broad Ripple Halloween offering...


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Monday, November 02, 2020

"Bring Back the Third Gen!"

 Any time discussion of the Third Gen Smif autoloaders comes up on social media, someone will pine for their reintroduction, but it's just not going to happen, at least on any large scale.


Even if they still had the tooling (and I'm not entirely sure they do), the costs would be prohibitive. The 3rd Gen Smiths, even with every short cut they could try, were still more expensive to build than the classic P-series Sigs.

And they were very well-built guns. The fit and finish on an early 5906 or 1066 is easily as good as a Kimber 1911. Flats were flat, radiuses even, the fit between major components like slide/frame and barrel/slide was easily as good as what you'd see on, say, a nicer Kimber these days. They were expensive to build and fiendishly complex internally when compared to simpler, newer designs. But American consumers were conditioned to look at "imported = luxury" and "domestic = cheap" so trying to sell someone an eight hundred dollar 5906 next to a P226 with the same price tag was like trying to sell someone a Buick for the same price as a Bimmer. (Never mind that the "Bimmer" in question had a slide that was a heavy-gauge stamping with a pinned-in breechblock; technologies pioneered by Sauer for last-ditch 'volkspistoles' in WWII. )

I generally sort autopistols into three eras. The first was made using turn-of-the-century machining techniques, where you took pieces of steel and whittled away everything that didn't look like a pistol. The second took large advantage of techniques like stamping and casting to bring manufacturing costs down. The third went as simple as possible, with striker ignition, toaster parts for internals, and injection-molded plastic frames. Also, the complexity of manufacture doesn't necessarily equate to reliability or durability or anything. The Third Gen nines and .45's were pretty durable service autos, but the complex internals meant the tens and .40's chewed up internals on a regular basis. (I mean, that was true to a greater or lesser extent on other guns, too, so...)

While they'd taken as many shortcuts as possible*, the Third Gen Smifs were definitely the last gasp of the first era of semiauto pistol design.


*The nylon disconnector, for instance, which apparently actually increased durability.

I've seen this before...

Where have I seen this before? Oh, yeah...


People just seem to instinctively love them a Man on Horseback.

Sunday, November 01, 2020