Only very small percentage of anything in Legoland is made of Legos. It is kind of a rip off, really. Even things that look like they are made of Legos, when you look close you and your child will be disappointed to find out that they really not made of Legos, and that they are made to look like they are made of Legos. It is a cumbersome manufacturing process, I am sure. Therefore insanely high admission charge, perhaps. In fact, the only place that you see the real Lego is the store where they want you buy the Legos to take home. They do have many rides there, but many of them look alike, and take a long wait to get within stone throwing distance of the front of the line. They do charge for 3 and above, but things that a 3 years old can do are not that many.
But at the end of the day you say it was ok because your kid did smile and had fun. They have you figured out perfectly.
When I was stupid (and young) while in college, I used to hate Guinness. Guinness in a bottle that is. I thought they tasted just awful. If someone somehow made motor oil drinkable, Guinness in a bottle would taste just like it, we used to say.
Then in 1990, I visited Ireland for the first time. I attended a writer's workshop of all things, at University College of Dublin, where James Joyce studied. I remember, after a day long lectures, we the attendees piled into this bar in Temple district for a drink (or two, or more). Naturally, I was asked if I wanted Guinness. My initial instinct was "hell no," but I was convinced that Guinness on Tap is an entirely different animal.
It certainly was. I still remember that creamy texture that rolled on my tongue, and how smooth it went down my throat. The after taste was nothing like what I expected. I just cannot describe it. Just like that I was hooked.
I have been a Guinness drinker ever since.
Ireland is a very special country for me. It just so happened that when I was in Ireland for the first time, back in 1990, it was a very difficult period of my stupid life. But I came back from that country a changed man. I came back trusting other human beings more.
I like to read a lot, and this is my latest pick up. No, I am not an architect although I would like to become one. Too late though. Actually, I have been looking into this a bit. There is a program for someone like me with already a career at Cal Poly Pomona.
Anyhow, the reason I bought this book was not to aspire the profession, but to see if there is anything that I can utilize in my photography. I am not sure why I thought of that, but I was right.
SO what exactly it is that I learned?
I will be posting bits and pieces of it in the future. I do say that about a lot of things though.
These are called heirloom tomatoes. You can pay up to $10/pound. They are very sweet, pleasantly chewy skin that offers more flavors with each bite.
It is a constant battle with squirrels. Those little terds are always eyeing them. They are every where on my property. They recently decimated our entire lettuce field. We are covering with flexible net to see if we can keep them away. Doubt it. There is this motion activated ultrasonic rat buster that Target has on their website. That is next. This is getting rather expensive.
I think that lensbabys are what they call the tilt lens. As the picture suggests. the barrel of the lens will tilt in any rotational angles you want.
When you look up shift and tilt lens, it has been widely said that it is a way of controlling the depth of field (DoF). Hm . . . . . I am not sure about that.
Although again I know nothing about optics, I can give take an educated guess here.
When a tilt lens is not tilted, it is just like any lens in a sense that the plane of the film, or the sensor (in digital camera) is perpendicular to the direction of light that is coming through the lens. But, when the lens is tilted to one direction, then the field of view in that direction is probably stretched, and front focuses, and the opposite side is shrinking while back focusing, and as a result, it gives the impression that the depth of field is altered.
In terms of focusing, it is done with the barrel of lensing looking straight on. Then the lens is "tilted" to any angle. The sweet spot of focus will shift that way, making other part blurry.
It takes a while to get a hang of it.
I am not quite sure still in what situation it is appropriate. Where I started with it was to see if I can use it to represent "motion." Not quite successful.
Our house's previous owner planted many cactus, or should I say, cacti. Or may be I should call them "succulents." I don't know.
I would say easily about 50 different kinds, spread across our property, here and there. Some are at the peripheries, others on a flat ground down below the ravine, and I even ordered some funky rare kinds from the internet from Arizona and put them in pots. And also that one from Africa I have . . . .
I am sure that there are ones that will grow to be 25 feet tall, like the ones you see on old western movies. I hate to even look at some of them because they are so ugly. The one that look like a huge dead lettuce that grow side ways. I hate that one.
Here is another one. During the hot months, this kind turns pink and then green. Weird.
I don't remember if I have talked about this lens before on this blog. I am too lazy to go back and check.
Pentax has a line of what they call "limited" lenses that are, well, limited. I suppose they mean that in terms of the volume of production, and the material used to make them, and that kind of thing.
I have always been a sucker for the limited edition bull crap. As soon as they slap that label on, it makes want to buy them. All of them. Silly me, because I did buy all of them.
This is what they have in their limited line up. For whatever reasons, only 21, 40, and 70 are considered pancake lenses. Well I suppose the rest of of the line up is not exactly thin.
So that you know, all of these limited lenses are APS-C sensor specific, so in theory, they are not compatible with FF, but 40 and 70 do OK I hear.
As you can see on the picture, this is a very thin lens, and therefore the nickname "pancake."
While I know virtually nothing about optics, it is not that hard to see the pros and cons of such a design. By the way, other companies have tried this too. Nikon, Olympus to name a few. Olympus still have a few "pancake" lenses on their line up, but Nikon no longer.
One of the most obvious advantages is size. The thing is tiny. Easy to carry around. even easier to drop perhaps. I would think that because of its thinness, they would have to limit the number of elements. Sharpness might be easier to obtain, relatively speaking, that is. But, on the other hand, because of its small size, fast aperture is probably difficult to achieve.
I do think that Pentax has hit the sweet spot. There is a good balance with this lens. The focal length of 21 (roughly 35mm on 135mm (FF) format) is such that it probably resembles how our brain process what we take in from our eyes. So, if you want to take photos in the framework much in the way you see it with your own eyes, this one is it. A walk around lens is what this is. Travel photo would immediately come to mind here. For that kind of photography, small size is an advantage, and maximum aperture of 3.2 is not dark enough to be a disadvantage.
Barrel distortion is very noticeable with this lens. Some people hate that. I on the other hand like it. Those who hate it would dare using it for portraiture. I on the other hand use it excessively. Taking pictures from the airplane window would be perfect, although I have not done it . . . . .
Because I play golf quite a bit, and most pictures that I have seen of golf courses are crap, I figure it is pretty easy to do awful photography. I was right.
This is very similar to travel photography in that if one went to shoot at the most exotic of golf courses, people would naturally get more excited, even if the technique and other aspects of photo is complete crap.
This picture was taken at a course called Chambers Bay near Seattle. It is a relatively new golf course, but it will host 2015 U.S open. Typically it takes years for a new course to mature enough to hold an event of this magnitude. But in recent years, golf course builders are beginning to figure out how to make the course look like they have been there for hundreds of years . . . .
This is amateur photography at its best. Look at the very top part of the picture, where it is so over exposed that you simply cannot make out any details. There are ways to avoid things like that from happening.
The funny thing was that I knew I would have this exact problem. But I just didn't care. Now this has to turn into a golf talk. If you play golf, you may (or may not, I suppose) clearly understand that the main theme of this photo is the huge bunker on the right side with chunks of islands spread across. You hit it there, and you are dead. The ocean in the background does not come in play at all, except perhaps that it may distract you from making the right club selection. It serves no purpose. Proximity to water has given a lot of golf courses reviews that they do not deserve.
This is a par 3. There is really no risk reward factor on this hole at all. The golfer is demanded that he picks a spot, and strike it solidly. If not done, the hole cannot guarantee that he will have a fair chance for recovery, which is the most unfair aspect of this diabolical hole.
I have been wanting to try a square format for a while. Dimensions of the picture is one of very few things that I have control over in terms of creating a photograph. So today, I walked around my house looking for something, nothing in particular, that would fit nicely into a square frame.
I couldn't find one. This one certainly looks like crap.
I am not sure if the global warming that we hear about daily is a real phenomenon. It sure feels like it; 112 degrees today at where I currently reside. Humidity was quite high today also. It was just oppressive. I don't know how else to put it. But it truly sucked today. By far the worst feeling day of the year, that was for sure.
We have three cars. We need all of them. Public transport around here I am afraid to use it, because I may not come out of it alive, based on the type of clientele that utilize the service. Of the three cars we have, the one with the best gas mileage is the 2 seater you see in the middle. Yet, it falls well short of 20 miles per gallon. It gets more like 16 to 18. Now, 2 others that we have are SUV's. They guzzle their hearts out. One of them, Infiniti Q56, barely gets 10 miles per gallon.
This past week, east cost was consumed in a massive heat wave. This week, souther California is getting roasted. I hear people in Russia are drowning at an alarming rate because it is so hot there and people try to get drunk and cool off in the water.
We have three cars, and all of them are gas guzzlers. Maybe it is time to change. Our infiniti's lease is about to expire. Perhaps we ought to get an electrical car, or plug in Prius.
Personally, I am not a big fan of taking flower pictures. It just gets very old quickly. I do it however because by now all the flower pictures I take ought look the absolute worst because I am so sick and tired of staring at them. They are all over our property.
I didn't plant them either. The previous owner did most of them.
Until I picked up photography, I have never really looked at flowers like I do people. The features, complexions and tones, aura - that kind of things.
Now, before I take pictures of flowers, I check it out first. Walk around it, study it from different distances, smell it, look what is around it, and the meaning of its presence in that environment.
This summer we have six huge plants of heirloom tomatoes growing out of control in our backyard. Tomato flowers are low key, unassuming, but at second inspection they can be quite inspirational if you are into bad photography like I am.
I like the picture, but I can see how terrible it really is in the eyes of other beholders, whom I don't give a shit about, of course. It got absolutely nothing going for it.
Now, that is dumb. State tax is all time high, sales tax is out of control, the entire state is broke, southern part of it is turning into Mexico, the governor is a prick, and people are not that nice.
Here is southern California, power is supplied by Souther California Edison Co, another moronic entity entirely made of, of course, stupid morons.
In California, unlike other developed countries, and still don't have much of the power grid not buried under ground. Power lines are every where, including right in the middle of my fricking property. This huge ugly wires runs diagonally through my property. Not only that it is a huge eyesore, but they may well be health hazard. I swear, if you pay attention to it, you can hear the buzzing noise that constantly come off those wires. Not a comforting thought.
I am not sure why I have to allow them to trespass. Can I charge them rent? Discount on power bill? What if I get a solar panel? Can I ask them to move their stupid lines somewhere else?
I will be the first one to admit. Pentax is not a popular brand. It used to be a while back. But not any more. These days, the most popular brands are Canon and Nikon. Combined, they make a claim to about 70~80% of digital single reflex lens (DSLR) market, depending on who you ask.
Apple aperture is a software that can take in RAW format files and then turn them into TIFF of JPEG, or so it is claimed by the company. It also helps with organization of thousands of photos if you have that many, and you can also do minor adjustments on the photos, but not in the spirit of something like the Photoshop.
I use this software, or I should say I used to use this piece of crap. Not any more.
About 3 weeks ago, something annoying began to happen. Many of the pictures that I have taken in the past, ones that I had no problems viewing and messing with, all sudden became "unsupported image files." I can see it on the quick previews, but not on the main screen.
This goes back, partially, to the popularity of the brand. There are some specific RAW format only used by Pentax camera called PEF are apparently not recognized by Apple Aperture. Apple had chosen to neglect Pentax because, you know, they are not selling all that well. They made sure that Canon and Nikon specific RAW formats are readable. After all, it makes all the sense in the world. I am not pissed about that.
What I never understood was why files that the software had no problems with one day became all unrecognizable on another day. It isn't that I updated the software, or anything like that. Somehow my aperture files became corrupt, and no longer something that the software cannot deal with.
None of this should matter. The reason is that all Pentax DSLR cameras have the ability to shoot in another RAW format, more universal RAW format I should say, that any software even Apple Aperture can recognize. It is called DNG. SO that you know, this is a format that is widely recognized as the industry standard, originally developed by who else, Adobe, a company that Steven Jobs despises. I have never used this stupid PEF file format. But Pentax insisted, when i called them, that it was not the camera. According to them it was the software issue.
They were right. As soon as I installed a similar software called Lightroom 3 by Adobe, and those corrupted files had no problems being recognized.
I should have known better not to buy a software from a hardware company.
No matter what brand of camera you shoot with, I suggest you stay away from Apple Aperture, not just for compatibility reasons but also for the ergonomics of it. Lightroom is a better software. More intuitive.
Last month, when I was in Japan, the new digital MF camera by Pentax called 645D came out. I had an opportunity to play with it. I didn't handle it long enough to give a thorough review of it, but I can still tell you that it was impressive enough.
I was more amazed by the pictures (A0 sizes) taken by this camera, than say the actual camera. The pictures blew me away. It literally catches EVERYTHING. You can almost tell the humidity of the air at the time of shooting. So much texture. I was hooked immediately.
The camera itself is smaller and lighter than expected. Yes it is not small, but not so big that I will need a tripod each time. Considering how big the mirror is, the shutter sound is pretty quiet, but not as quiet at K-7. AF, not that I will use it a lot, seems much improved. It is more decisive, and pentax users all over the world will be happy with this development, as this technology will sure to show in up-coming models.
Ergonomis are superb. If one is used to the button arrangement of K-7, it will take him just seconds to get going with this camera. It is almost as if you don't need the manual.
The cost of the body itself in Japan at the moment is about $8,000. I would like to get this thing when the prices are about $5,000. I am convinced that if I can take horrible pictures with this camera, I have truly mastered the art of terrible photography. Therefore, this is the holy grail. I am going for it.
As for lenses, because of the backward compatibility, nearly all of the MF lenses ever produced by Pentax are useable. I better start looking for them on ebay . . . . .
This picture was shot with a soft focus lens, a swappable optical lens for my lensbaby composer. In the next few days, perhaps I will try to show what hell the lensbaby is. As I said yesterday, there are many people who hate the stupid thing while there are people I know who love it so much that they use this thing on medium format camera.
I am not sure if I like how this picture came out. It does give that fairy tale feel crap. I am sure many would say that I could have done all this with Photoshop. But I don't do Photoshop, although I have nothing against people who do use it. More power to them, I suppose. As with any lensbaby accessaries and optics, I need to play with them a bit more to get a feel of it. I am afraid that it would take away from spending time with other lenses that I spent thousands on . .
This is I think a very good lens. Pentax fans don't seem to hold this in the same regards as the coveted FA 77/1.8 ltd. They are both excellent lenses. The only difference to me is that the latter is full frame (135mm size sensor, so called FF), and DA 70 is not. But, some people who have conducted pretty convincing experiments of their own and concluded that DA 70 is FF compatible.
Yes yes yes I understand that the difference between 1.8 and 2.4 can be more than huge. But at its own set of most preferable conditions, I think only a fair comparison of optical quality can be made.
This is a very sharp lens, especially if focused correctly. Even at its widest aperture of 2.4, as this picture was taken, it is pretty sharp, even in the corners as you can see. I will say that the focal length is such that for subjects that tend to move, like children, it can be a bit of a challenge.
I think that this is a lens that I will use more and more as my kid gets older. I am hoping that one day she stays absolutely still.
It is very hard to take photographs of food well, as demonstrated by the last post.
While I know nothing about it, I can imagine that there is no one technique that works for all kinds of food. In fact, not two foods possess the exact same textures and appearance. It is a pain in the ass is what it is. You have to stare at it, and figure it out what it is about the particular food that I want to bring out. Thankfully, that part of it is pretty simple, since it is most of the times pretty obvious.
As with other types photography, one has to have a good understanding and command of lighting aparatus, neither of which I have.
I have been playing golf for a long time, and I am not the worst player ever played, as I sport a 6 handicap at the moment.
But, that is about to change. I have been struggling of late. I am hitting the ball fair, putting is a bit inconsistent, but over all what is puzzling is that my scores have been far worse than it should be. What this means is that I am not thinking my way around the golf course very well.
In many ways this is similar to photography. My camera seems satisfactory, lenses I use are top rate, but my pictures are always crap.
I have a lens called lensbaby that everybody despise. I like it though. You can buy different kinds of lenses that pops in and out of a base module. This attaches to any dslr camera regardless of the brand, although you do have to buy a specific mount for your own camera.
Fish eye lens is another lens that I can pop in. It comes with discs that have holes of various sizes that control aperture.
I need to play with it a bit more. Very interesting though.
3 months or so ago I bought a Carl Zeiss planar T* 50/1.4. By the way, it is focal lengths/max aperture when I say 50/1.4. I suppose I ought to explain that kind of thing for the millions of beginners who are reported to be reading this blog daily.
I love this lens. It is manual focus only, which is fine with me, of course. The color, and the bokeh are just awesome. I am certain that if a tech nerd was to analyze the sharpness numerically, the result will probably not be so impressive. But something about the make up of the lenses and the aperture blade shape that render such weird effect. No other line up of lenses do that. If I ever buy another lens (other than MF lenses), it will be Zeiss. I wish they would come out with Pentax MF mount lenses. That would be something.
A dead bird found in our backyard in the hands of my little girl.
A young child is first hand experience of death, literally with her own hands.
I did not want to focus, particularly on this bird's eyes. I didn't want this picture to be about the death of this bird. But at the same time I did not want to focus on my little girl's hands. Somehow by doing that, her very hands seemed to be directly responsible for this bird's death. Si, I had to pick a plane to focus, somewhere between the eyes of the bird and her hands. Only with manual focusing you can pick and choose a target like that.
Over exposures are a bit more difficult to deal with digital camera, compared to its film counterparts. For some reasons, with digital sensors the area of over exposure is more pronounced, occurs often when least expecting it. I noticed when I first picked up my K10D. Then K-7 came out, and there I noticed a quite bit of improvement. Here, at the very center of the picture, there is an area where the details of the polka dots are being sort of obscured due to reflection of sun light. The thing is that when you try to cater to that particular area, you lose details of the other area. With K-7, this is much much easier to deal with. People typically run into this kind of problems when shooting a subject who is wearing a white shirt under bright sun light, perhaps against a white background. My advice is to not make it so challenging for yourself . . . . .
I have been taking pictures, almost continuously, since my little girl was born almost 4 years ago.
Since then, she has gotten very used to taking her own pictures taken. She looks at her own pictures, or at herself on a mirror, and then practices this pose or that.
Now she is beginning to pose for specifically for a picture. She seems to understand the difference between "staged" pictures and snap shots. Kids are weird.
Classic teaching on portraiture, I am certain, is that you open up your aperture as much as the situation allows it, so that the background will be blur, accentuating the subject. Been there, done that. Here I closed the aperture as much as I can, bringing the details of the background into the picture. It looks terrible.
Low light photography is very hard. It is needlessly hard. But there are ways around it, if you have lots of cash. There are so called "pro model" which is heralded for its ability to shoot noise free clear photos where very little light is available.
You can also buy lenses that have low aperture, or so called "fast" lenses that has the ability to take in more light than its cheaper counterparts. In fact this is part of what you pay for when you guy expensive lenses.
My camera Pentax K-7 is famous for having lots of noise. Some users dispute that, and I do neither, because I really don't care. All I know is that even with K-7 I take crappy pictures all the time.
Pentax recently came out with their medium format digital camera 645D. Its ability to take amazing pictures under low light is reportedly out of this world. I would hope so since it costs nearly $10,000.
Being July 4th, and practically not knowing anything about low light photography, I thought I gave fireworks a try. It looks terrible.