Thursday, September 20, 2012

Let's get serious!

It's crunch time in the political arena.  The President's slogan this time appears to be "Forward."  I hear him daily admonishing us that we can't go backward.  Nice words but I wonder what they mean.  I understand that the bottom line here is "Please vote for me."  I get that, that's a normal thing.

The economic plan brought to us by Mr. Obama seems rooted in income redistribution and an abstract subjective concept he calls "Fairness."  While some form of income redistribution is arguably a good way to share a nation's economic good fortune with all citizens, it has never been a national economy builder.  A nation grows economically through the creation of wealth.  Redistribution by it's very name is a zero sum game.  It builds no wealth but spreads what wealth is available.  If there's not enough frosting to cover the cake you need more frosting not more passes by the knife.  Further some of what's available gets stuck to the knife and is wasted.  Up to 40% of the "frosting" is wasted by governmental overhead and serves no purpose other than to cement political power.

Fairness.  Who defines this?  Washington?  A benign dictatorship?  Point to one successful benign dictator nation.  Rather than "Fair" we need to consider "Just."  We have a Constitution and a series of courts to help us understand the latter concept.

In the primary debates Ms. Clinton said if elected she would work to reduce Capital Gains Tax.  The Big O couldn't wait to distance himself from that idea and said he would raise them.  The ABC debate moderator pointed out that every time capital gains taxes are reduced more money flows to the government and every time they are raised less money flows to government.  As this money is generated by taxes on increased business activity it's also good for the economy as a whole.  Less money to government means less to spend on various projects, less to spend helping those in need of help.  He then asked if Obama might wish to reconsider his answer.  Obama looked to me like this was a surprise to him and doubled down that even so, he would raise these taxes because it would be "more fair."  Huh?  Fair to whom?

Now.  Can't go backward.  The new plan doesn't work, if it has never ever worked anywhere at any time.  The old plan has allowed us to build a nation unique in history.

Not only can we go back, we must.  Run.  Don't walk.  Take a fast motorcycle, a jet plane, a man sized slingshot...

Let's get serious.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RAW files

Most of my imagery is iPhone captured.  If I do use one of my DSLRs I will usually do much, or at least some image  processing on the iPad.  It's funny then that I still wonder about RAW files.  I suspect it's one of the mental exercises used to occupy the time spent alone in freezing early morning fog or  some such, waiting to see how the lighting changes.  We all know that place.

The accepted "truth" has been that RAW is the only good way to shoot.  After all, keep as much control as possible.  In-camera processing uses someone else's opinions about what's important.  JPEG shooting relinquishes creative decision making.

Experiences with RAW capable cameras over the last year or so have caused me to dispute that "Truth" however.  I'm thinking that in-camera processing is the way to go.  Providing of course that some attention is paid to White Balance.

I know from experience that technology producers have their own proprietary systems.  Some of this is for competitive reasons but some is because they really do understand their equipment best.  This is very much true of chip manufacturers and camera manufacturers.

Software attempts to "crack the code" and does so quite well, ACR, Aperture, and others.  It's interesting though that different types of software will interpret the same RAW file differently.  This makes me wonder just how much of the "goodness" is a 3rd party software vendor capable of delivering.  90% ?  More/less?

Over the last few iterations camera manufacturers have quietly and significantly improved their internal software "engines."  They are more than likely getting more of the "goodness" from their proprietary files than other's are getting...and they are doing it very very quickly and for free.  (I believe that new camera decisions are made for many reasons but that a new engine isn't on the list.)  Oh.  The file sizes are smaller also making management easier and less expensive.

There's always the argument that future advances in software will allow re works of RAW files.  While true I do wonder about the practicality.  How many of the (tens?) of thousands of images you took last year, or the year before, or in 1995 will you rework with the newest iteration of Photoshop?  Assuming that new software still reads the old files, and of course that your DAM system allows you to find the file.  I'm guessing the number will rhyme with Nero.

"Sometimes we Differ"

Mike Johnston writes TOP The Online Photographer an excellent blog I'm certain many of us are familiar with.  (yes I know but "with which many of us are familiar" sounds pretentious now doesn't it.)

Discussing the subject of photography as art, or different from art,  he touches on an area I know I've wrestled with, do words enhance photographs?  If a picture is worth a thousand words then how many more could it need?  Yet, how many of us appreciate a caption?  I know personally I like having a bit of the photographer's personal voice added to an image...I always look for a caption.  Or is the mystery worth something more?

It would be interesting to hear other's opinions.

Speaking of opinions, I have followed TOP for years and enjoy it very much.  I do recognize that some of my "life" opinions are rather different from Mike's.  Comments in the past have started a stream of personal e-mails between us voicing that disagreement.  Regardless I value his opinions and expect that if we ever did meet I would like him very much.

Monday, January 16, 2012

...but do you love it?

A friend and fellow blogger posted about his recent experience with a smartphone here.  Now many things are interesting in this post as evidenced by the responses he continues to receive, but I think the bottom line is: " ...but do you love it?".

For me, with the majority of my working life spend designing and selling very large voice / data systems to very large customers the advent of the cell phone was a way to help break the tether.  I could be almost anywhere and still be in communication.  Whooo Hooo!!  My first cell phone (and every subsequent one) was Nokia.  Their command of the electro-mechanical made them perfect for me.  I would burn through one in about 14 months.

At the same time I had a great camera which I loved.  A Nikon F purchased new in late 1970 and used 'till my grand daughter was born 9 years ago.  In the last 9 years I have owned a series of very good digital cameras which were proficient way beyond my abilities.  I used them but never loved them...disliked most of them.

My daughter talked me into trying an iPhone (giant 2 MP camera) which I expected to discard as quickly as possible without hurting her feelings.  Turns out I disliked the phone even more than I expected to (c'mon folks,,,it's a pain in the ass voice communication tool).  However I absolutely love the camera / App combination it offers.  Along with what I came to think of as a camera it also gave me quite sophisticated access to the internet and a whole bunch of "social" networks.  As telephone voice communication has become a minuscule part of my life, and textual / visual communication fills the void the iPhone becomes even more indispensable.

I now have dozens of cameras, mostly film, ranging in formats from 35mm to 4x5.  I also have 2 very good digital imagers with similar sized sensors, Sigma DP1 and Panasonic G2.  With any of these cameras I make images I like...some are even quite good I think but I work hard to do it.  They're a chore.  With the iPhone I do the same but love it.

I often find myself switching the iPhone into Airplane Mode which disables all but the camera.  It's been suggested that I buy another cheap cell phone for voice but why?  For the few voice calls I make this iCamera works well enough.

I'm thinking the reduction in voice calling is societal.  If that's true then although we may continue to call them cell phones the phone part of the device will become of minor certainly has for me.

Bottom line...if you have the choice, use what you love, your results (and you) will be better for it.

ps  I use the term smartphone as I understand there are other devices beside the iPhone...and for those of you using them I think you couldn't be cuter if you were in lederhosen and a bow tie. ;-)