Groundhog Day

Dave Rogers atGroundhog Day:

Image noise seems to be the “crippling defect” in most compact digital cameras. I guess it comes down to how “seriously” you view the hobby. Small sensors enable smaller cameras, which are easier to carry around and afford some very compact “super-zoom” telephoto lenses. But, the images often contain noise. I know what noise is, I can see it in an image, but honestly, the only reason I think it’s “bad” is because everybody tells me so! I mean, I understand why it’s undesirable, but frankly, I’m still just a little bit amazed we can even do the kinds of things we’re able to do with affordable compact digital cameras these days. So I kind of struggle with it. I read the photography sites because I want to learn what the more experienced people know, but then I have to listen to all the criticism of “noise” and then I start to feel as though I need a better camera. And I have a few. (Four, at the moment.)

Dave knows he’s being led by the Have crowd to believe that his compact cameras are “crippled”. You can do a lot with them, which is not to say that more amazing cameras aren’t in the pipeline. I think Daves right to use what he has and work on being a better picture taker.

On Being a Photographer

Via The Best of Photography on the Internet:

R A N G E F I N D E R M A G A Z I N E :
Embracing the Future?With a Mindful Eye on the Past

“This may be one of the advantages of coming out of a photographic background where I had three fixed-focal-length lenses,” laughs Meehan. “I learned what telephoto effects were and what wide angle effects were. And when the zoom lens came in, I didn’t forget these things!”

There are three worlds of photography on the internet, as in much of life, the Be world, the Do world and the Have world.*

The Have world is the circle of gear and camera review sites. It is characterized by posters either talking about their lack of equipment needed to produce great work or about the failures of equipment they do possess. In this world, if you have the equipment (and the gallery or contacts or assignments) you can do the great work and thus be a recognized and rewarded photographer.

Then there’s the Do world of photography on the internet. We’re all about tips and tricks and workflow. Spot, centerweighted or matrix metering? Off-camera flash? Photoshop masking and layers? RAW vs JPEG? We have so much, but we don’t know what to do! You can find examples of fine photographs made with compact digitals. Equipment doesn’t matter,so what do I do?

Finally, there’s the Be world. I find that the sites in this world are written by photographers who consistently produce work that they like. They focus simply on how to be a photographer, thus they do what a photographer does and have the satisfaction, recognition and rewards that result from the combination of their talent and hard work. Along the way, there’s striving to do better, being a photographer so the tips and tricks are collected as wisdom to be a better photographer as one’s own processes are honed through the activity of being a photographer. And when one is photographing a camera is generally necessary, so the choice of equipment is made by envisioning who one wants to be as a photographer, and what would such a photographer do and what would you need to have to be that photographer.

As photographers we all get equipment lust. The acquisition process should always start off with asking, “What will this equipment allow me to do that I can’t do now?” I find it helps stave off the urge to acquire in order to have the equipment to do the work and be the photographer. It helps me refocus on who I’m trying to be and what would that photographer do. The equipment is for the doing, not the having.

*I picked up BE-DO-HAVE principles from a consulting group. I have been unable to find it’s origin, but it seems to have been codified in the self-actualization movement. It’s used by many (EST, Chopra, Dr. Phil) but never credited to anyone. Perhaps it’s lack of clear origin makes it sound like it was discovered by the author or movement using it.

As I Lay Brightly

DSCN0506, originally uploaded by jjvornov.

Another Coolpix P5000 image from last evening, this an ISO 800 capture. The subject has better tonality than the image I posted yesterday. Now I ask myself: If I were limited to this camera, would it provide good enough images? It’s small enough that I could fit it in my seat bag on bicycle rides or on in a pocket on non-photo walks.

RNA and Systems Biology :RNA | Really New Advances

All that was worked out decades ago. Since then, RNA has been more or less neglected as a humble carrier of messages and fetcher of building materials. This account of the cell was so satisfying to biologists that few bothered to look beyond it. But they are looking now. For, suddenly, cells seem to be full of RNA doing who-knows-what.

Another cellular signaling system is emerging based on observations of microRNA transcription. Another layer in the onion of biology.
Many years ago, as the complexity of intracellular signaling based on G-Protein coupled receptors, PI and cyclic nucleotides was being described, I wrote in a book chapter that it was as if the network complexity that exists in the neuroanatomy of brain was being mirrored inside each neuron, with branching, cross-talking, diverging and converging pathways. I’m no longer surprised, as this is the nature of complex systems and their networks.
My more recent insight is that the really interesting behavior of all of these complex systems is emergent, meaning that it can’t be deduced no matter how well one understands the behavior of the individual components and their behavior. It’s not hopeless as one does not have to know how aspirin works in order to use it. You have to know when and where to look for the effects, which is where knowledge of mechanism provides leverage for system knowledge at a higher level.

The Tree That Did Not Hide


Reality Check.
Since I’ve seen so many images taken with compact digitals in black and white, I thought I should check to be sure that the expense and hassle of running C-41 process black and white film through a Leica was really worth while.I spent just 15 minutes this evening with the Nikon Coolpix P5000 capturing images at high ISO (800 or 1600) with the camera set to capture monochrome JPEGs.This is probably the best of the lot. Since I’m the photographer, it’s not surprising that it looks not very different from what I would have made with any other camera. It’s hard to tell from the small image on Flickr, but it’s clear that it lacks the tonal range of one of the Noritsu scans of the black and white chromogenic films. Film has extended tonal range built into it because of the chemistry and it’s sensitivity to light. The small sensor is short and clipped by comparison.On the other hand, the P5000 allows all the control one needs and vibration reduction as well. With the slower lens, I can handhold the M6 for the same EV as the slower lens in the Coolpix if it’s not at its widest setting (and thus at maximum aperture).

The Swan Was Pensive


Originally uploaded by jjvornov

I’ve just shot, developed and scanned three rolls of Kodak’s CN400BW. In an earlier burst of enthusiasm, I had bought a 10 roll pack. My first experience with scanning on the Minolta was disappointing and I ended up with some scratches on the film. This time I had the film developed and scanned on the local Noritsu machine at National Photo here in Baltimore. The results are much more impressive.

There’s a difference in feel between the Tri-X, the Ilford XP2 and the Kodak CN400BW. My overall preference right now is the Kodak, but I have to admit I rated it at ISO 320, ending up with denser negatives that have less grain than the XP2 which I rated at a straight 400.

The delight in a way is that an image like this required no post processing at all.

Most Disingenuous

The Motley Fool: How I Lost $200,000:

When you lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, primarily because of your own stupidity, there isn’t much solace.

I was a contributor to the Motley Fool in the early days when they started on AOL. When they “professionalized” their staff, I stopped. I owe a lot to the Gardner brothers, both for what they taught me about investing and about life. But I became disenchanted with their approach during the tech bubble as it became more and more clear that valuations were out of whack. They had a great approach to evaluating businesses, but they consistently ignored value. It was the only way that one could participate in the hot market of the time- you had to ignore what you were paying in order to keep playing.Once I realized that the party was over, I sold most of my holdings and manage to preserve much of the gains I had from the period. Others, like Selena Maranjian who authored the article remained true believers and held on until the bottom. The Fool had to abandon their founding principles in the end because their real money portfolios which had outperformed the markets during the rise had returned to earth. Now they push community and most shocking to me in a way, is they now promote mutual funds. They send out emails trumpeting short term gains in selected stocks which I generally ignore.This article bugs me as Selena seems to be blaming herself for not putting value into the equation and selling during the bubble. I think it would be more honest for the Fool itself to come clean about its mistakes during it’s growth period. They lacked a sell discipline. It’s something every investor needs. Knowing when to sell is much harder than knowing when to buy. In general, one should sell when the reason for buying is no longer present. In a liquid market with relatively low transaction costs, every day that one holds an investment, it is as if one is buying it anew. At least if we ignore tax considerations which can create value in selling stocks held at a loss and penalties in stocks held at a profit.

Hello world!

Welcome to On Deciding . . . Better 3.0. This is the continuation of a weblog begun in 1998 on Dave Winer’s EditThisPage community. I migrated to a Blosxom system in 1992. It’s time to adopt yet another weblog content system, this time WordPress.

Several posts from the old weblog have been successfully imported. I hope to move over more. The Flickr links are being moved as links, not images so they’ll require some repair as I move them over.

In the Marais, Paris


I’m just back from a week’s worth of travel to Paris and Berlin. Icaptured about 500 images, so there should be a steady flow as Ipostprocess them. I shot just about exclusively with the Nikon D80 andmy 24mm f2.8. I’ve realized that with Nikon’s CRC design, I can shootcloser with the 24mm than I can with my 50, so it works well both forthese kinds of street scenes as well as my urban fragment images.This was captured after dinner in the Jewish Quarter in the Marais. Ihad a fine Shwarma platter and was experiementing with artificial lightstreet shooting.

The Nikon 12-24mm f4 Zoom


Ever since I bought the Nikon D80, I’ve been using just my legacyprimes, the 50mm f1.8 and the 24mm f2.8. It’s influenced my photographyin bringing me close to subjects and a picture plane that is generallyflat and close. I used to have the 24mm as a real wide angle lens whenshooting film. During the time I used the Olympus E-1, I had at least a28mm (equivalent) view with the 14-54mm kit lens.Since I’m going to taking a week’s vacation in Italy in a few months, Ifelt is was time to invest in a wide angle solution for the D80. Withthe cropped sensor, the only real option is the digital only 12-24mm f4lens. I bought it used from KEH gettinga fine lens at about 75% of the price of new.So now it’s time to get back in practice capturing the big view in myusual style, so I had the lens out for a few minutes at a local parkwhile out with the kids. For some reason, I like the panoramic crop withthis image, although I admit it’s nothing very special, just showing offthe edge to edge sharpness of the lens.