Archive for April, 2011
Apparently there is an event in the UK today involving a member of the monarchy. As this does not involve a wall and a firing squad, I have no interest.
Not so she who must be obeyed. She is currently glued to the BBC iPlayer and is busy celebrity spotting. She has already fired off some Facebook updates, including:
…with the pithy observation “Hat! Hat! Hat! Just like in Pet Society Game”.
Expect further updates as the day progresses.
As for me, I’m off to another room to watch “Zombie Holocaust 2 – Extended Edition”.
I spent my formative years in Middlesbrough; an industrial northern town situated next to the North York Moors National Park; one of the most beautiful areas of England. Sadly, the same could not be said of Middlesbrough, at least not when I lived there. The city was a centre for the steel and chemicals industry; and the latter in particular was responsible for levels of pollution that would never be tolerated today outside of China.
The culprit was a company called Imperial Chemical Industries, or as they were known locally, The I.C.I. I can still recall walking out of our front door into a foul-smelling yellow mist that would irritate the throat and water the eyes; and would linger for days. The abuse was tolerated because the I.C.I. was a significant employer in the area. If you didn’t work for them, you knew someone who did. My father didn’t, he was a salesman for a nut and bolt distributor (oh, the glamour); and when I was not choking on my way to school, I would spend my holidays working in the nut and bolt warehouse which was conveniently located opposite an abattoir.
The stink of the abattoir, mixed with the yellow mist from the chemical works, ensured an asthmatic and stinky childhood.
And why am I reminded of this? Well. as is so often the case, it’s thanks to Nik. Tired of purchasing crap lenses from eBay, he is now purchasing ancient and rather tatty photographic texts, like this one:
The contents is rather obscure; but there is some good advice on the first page:
What is the proper distance at which to place the subject from the lens? In answer it may be safely asserted, that is should not, as a rule, be less than 12 feet, nor perhaps more than 24 feet. For if less than this, the resulting picture will generally be defective in both definition and perspective, because the lens producing it will be of too short a focus. If the distance is greater, the resulting picture will probably be deficient in relief or roundness, because the atmosphere in our towns is seldom free from fog or haze.
So, in 1892, you couldn’t see clearly beyond 24 feet (7 metres, 85 carrots); which is even worse than the visibility in Middlesbrough when I was a lad, and a lot less than the 100 plus feet that you get in Bangkok on a good day. Things do seem to be getting better, even cameras have improved slightly.
My $17 macro solution is all well and good if you want to take photos really close up in the studio; but bugger all use in the real world. There is the Panasonic Leica 45mm macro; but that will set you back around $800. Alternatively, you can choose from a wide range of legacy lenses and buy an adapter for micro four thirds. Nik had struck lucky on eBay and found a 55mm Yashica macro; and was very happy with his purchase. So I waited for another one to appear and snapped it up for 4,000 baht.
Not had a chance to use it anger before today, but this morning it was off to Nong Nuch with Ian, the man who is rather good at capturing small beasts with his camera.
Ian was keen to show me his new camera bag. Being a canny Scotsman, he is not famous for acquiring anything new, so a replacement camera bag was indeed an event; especially as his previous “bag” had been a piece of bubble wrap. True to form, the new bag turned out to be a fresh sheet of bubble wrap.
He turned up with a disc of bagpipe music to play on the journey. Fortunately, I had prepared for this and had my wife primed to inform Ian that the CD player in the car was broken; so we were spared the pain.
Luckily we found a couple of beasts to photograph. There was a frog:
Suspiciously bubbly at the rear end I thought.
Then we found a damselfly which conveniently sat still for several minutes so we could both have a go at shooting it:
After that, there was a small flying thing (that’s as precise as I can be) with legs laden with pollen, deep in the heart of an orchid:
Finished off with a few obligatory flower shots before heading for home:
Very pleased with the Yashica, and equally pleased that I was not subjected to bagpipe music; you really can’t ask much more than that of a morning.
She who must be obeyed decided we should go for a walk this afternoon, so we did.
We saw roadworks, half completed building projects and hundreds of signs for building projects that will probably never start. There were piles of rubbish, motorbike taxi boys on drugs and assorted hookers of both sexes. Just the normal Pattaya street scene and nothing special to photograph.
As I had a macro lens on my camera, I was hoping for something small to shoot, like a really tiny hooker; but the best I could manage was a thumbnail-sized spider that was leaping around on a brick.
This morning was to be dedicated to the noble pursuit of finishing Portal 2. My endeavours were disrupted by the return of the Pioneer TV, and it must have been surprised to find that it had been overthrown during its absence by the arrival of the new Samsung monster screen. Never mind, the Pioneer now rests in the second bedroom where it will no doubt be used by The Son and his girlfriend on their return from their current travels.
Back to Portal 2, and I finished it just before lunch. Rather sad to reach the end, challenging fun for many hours. Still, now I can get back to Shogun.
Needed a cable to complete the Pioneer set-up so went to HomeWorks, found the cable, paid, and was finished in five minutes. On the way out I was pleased to see that the latest Samsung models are stuffed with all sorts of internet TV nonsense which you could never use in Thailand, and with prices which are much inflated from what I paid.
Meanwhile, she who must be obeyed advised that she would “just pop to the supermarket to buy some packs of water”. More than one hour later she emerged with enough water for bathing, and enough detergent and softener to wash our clothes for a year. She also bought food to cook for dinner so I couldn’t complain too much; but why do women take so bloody long at shopping?
Whilst some of the world are celebrating something to do with Jesus and his amazing egg-laden bunnies; there’s a hard-core of crazies who recognise today as Worldwide Pinhole Photography day.
A pinhole photograph is created by using a tiny hole to allow light onto the film or sensor. There is no lens, just the hole. The principle was discovered by the Chinese (who else?) about 500 years before Jesus and his bunnies appeared; and pinhole cameras have been around for more than a hundred years.
Nowadays, if you want to take pinhole photographs, you make your own camera. Pringles cans are popular as the basis, or you can just poke a hole on an old lens cap and stick it on your regular camera. Or, if you have a Micro Four Thirds camera, you can now buy a custom designed pinhole, called a Pinwide, from Wanderlust Cameras.
Why pay $40 when you can make one yourself? Well, the hole on the Pinwide has been etched to an exact size to give the best possible image; and the Pinwide hole is recessed deep into the camera so you obtain a very wide field of view and gather the maximum light. Plus it comes in a very attractive tin box, and you can never have too many attractive tin boxes.
The first thing you notice is how tiny the hole is. On a normal lens, F/16 is probably about as small as you would go:
But that’s the light of ten thousand suns compared to the teeny tiny hole in the Pinwide:
The manufacturers rate it as something between F/96 and F/128, depending on which part of the sensor you read from. Whatever the number, you are going to need a tripod or very steady hands and a high ISO, but on the plus side you are going to produce images where everything is in focus due to the resulting infinite depth of field.
However, don’t get excited about the “in focus” bit. Without a lens, the resulting images will be very soft, almost dreamlike, in quality; which of course is part of the attraction.
Shooting with the Pinwide is very easy. Stick the camera on manual, adjust the shutter speed to match the exposure, and shoot. No focusing required.
The results are technically poor compared to using a proper lens; but that’s not the point. With the soft focus, slightly distorted colours, heavy vignetting and a photo where everything is as sharp as everything else; it is not difficult to produce something that looks different and maybe even looks interesting (if only to you). Personally I like the look a lot and have spent the last couple of afternoons with the Pinwide and a tripod. I think the results are fun, your mileage may vary.
Micro Four Thirds rocks. Thirty year old Russian lenses, cinema and TV lenses, state of the art Voigtlander lenses; there is such a wide range of offerings. And now you can slap on a tiny hole and go create your own weird bits of art. How’s that for a happy Easter?
If this blog had been running in 2007, I would no doubt have bored you with paragraphs of praise for a game called Portal.
It’s a fairly brief, it’s very funny, it’s a puzzle, it’s an almost perfect piece of intelligent entertainment. And the world agrees.
If you haven’t played it, then you really should; and now maybe you can, for free!
For now there is Portal 2. It’s much longer, it’s even funnier (mainly due to the voice of Stephen Merchant), the puzzles are more diverse, it’s a perfect piece of intelligent entertainment. Those who pre-ordered Portal 2 (and that included me), were given a free copy of the original Portal game; and I am going to give that to you.
“You” in this context means the person who comments on this post with the best answer to the following question:
If I received an invitation to the Royal Wedding, I would roll it into a tube and insert it anally, because:
Terms and conditions:
1. The competition is only open to those who have previously commented on Pattaya Days (apart from Walter).
2. The winner will be decided on 25th April(-ish).
3. The game access code will be sent to the email address on the winning comment, so make sure your email is valid.
4. As far as I know, you will be able to install the game on either Mac or Windows.
5. Spike’s decision is final; unless you offer money.