Friday, April 30, 2010

You're Too Old For Toys, Woman. (It's a good thing they're action figures then.)

Happy little family of intergalactic soldiers, aren't they?

Herbie the HS10 shot this. I was sitting on the floor in the far corner of the lounge room. The blinds were down, and the only light one incandescent globe. Herbie was only resting on my knees. That is at full zoom.

The colours are crud, but that's partly the light. I'm surprised at the lack of shake, considering. The noise levels are acceptable. Not bad, considering.

He had far more trouble when I just turned the light out and we were pretty much sitting in the dark with light bleeding in only from a door way that didn't actually illuminate the happy little family.

Noise is bad enough to almost be artistic, and who knows what the colours are doing. Regardless, this is bloody impressive given that through the view finder I could only just make out the vague shape of the stormtrooper to lock onto, and didn't think it'd focus at all, let alone have such minimal shake.

Second shelf from the top, to the right. There's the happy family. That's without any zoom at all, just to give some perspective.

Don't look at the clothes horse.

I had a faff around shooting movies on Herbie too. Herbie isn't really designed to use macro in movie mode. This is an issue when you're experimenting with finger puppets in low lighting.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Baggage Has Skin

As grafted by Andrew McKiernan.

In the quote on the back VanderMeer describes 'Acception' as "incendiary".

This has me equal parts strutting and crowing like a rooster, and cowering under my bed waiting to be shouted down as a charlatan.

(Actually what I think he really means is that the story dooms the book to be burned. BURNED. BUUUUUURNED.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sid & Herbie: My All-Seeing Eyes

This is the FujiFilm Finepix S9500. My computers have names, my phone and iPod have names, but my camera does not, which is unusual given it's the oldest piece of technological fun I have. I suspect this is because it plays a different role to the rest. The others are servants, they carry things around and do things for me, not unlike familiars. The camera however acts merely as an extension of myself.

For the sake of simplicity, I'm calling him Sid.

Sid is four years old. I bought him just before I went to the USA in 2006, and we got to know each other very well as I went hiking through the Rockies. He's been to Japan and Patagonia, down the Great Ocean Road, to the zoo, and chances are if a photo on this blog is not a dodgy webcam shot, it's one of Sid's.

Sid and I have a very happy relationship.

That said, Sid is four years old, which in the digital world is quite a few rings around the trunk. I was content with him until in Patagonia, where everyone else on the truck had newer, more powerful cameras, and I got some serious camera envy going on. When there were others to compare him to, I felt Sid's limitations.

I wasn't really planning on buying a new camera, but, uh, these things happen.

Sorry, Sid.

This is the FujiFilm Finepix HS10. For the sake of simplicity, I'm calling him Herbert.

As you can tell from the photo, Herbie and I are currently in that awkward getting-to-know you stage of the relationship, in which there are more faux pas than anything else.

When it came time to fork over the money, the choice lay between Canon and Fuji for hybrids, purely because they were the only ones that offered AA battery as a power source (very important if you intend to traipse about the mountains and not see a power point for days on end).

I decided to stick with Fuji less out of brand loyalty (although, seriously, Sid is the best camera ever) and more because it was only a few weeks before I leave for China. The last thing I wanted to do was learn a new camera and menu system while out on the road. If I took that risk, I knew I'd end up with a series of photos that get progressively better as they go on, meaning all the early shots (which will be of BEI-FUCKING-JING) will be considerably less than awesome. I'm not okay with that.

And okay, a little out of brand loyalty, because seriously, Sid is just that awesome.

On paper, Herbie appeared to be perfect. He was presented as the current equivalent of what Sid was, the biggest difference being zoom. Sid can do x10 optical. Herbie can do x30 optical.

Which...holy carp and swordfish.

Of course, even staying within the brand, there was going to be a teething period. Yesterday, that came to a head.

I took Herbie for a walk in the Yarra Bend. Well. I say 'walk', but the way I hike with camera is really an 'series of stops with intermittent ambling'.

Herbie shat me to no end.

I had him set to record photos as RAW+JPEG. I don't work with RAW, but as someone pointed out, just because I don't now doesn't mean I won't later. If I save as both, I can put the RAW away on a disc somewhere and forget about them, and should 'later' ever come about, then they're there for me to tweak to my heart's content.

It takes Herbie TEN FUCKING SECONDS to write RAW to the memory card.

This would be okay if I was, say, taking a photo of a rock that was being a rock and not moving. And my light source was consistent. And I wasn't in a rush or anything. And didn't mind TEN SECONDS OF MY LIFE being eaten by an overworked processor. Might as well go make a cup of tea while waiting to be able to take another photo.

That isn't how I take photos though. That is way, way, way, way, WAY too long.

He also appeared to be having issues focusing, and that I wasn't pleased with either.

I played with the Panorama function. This initially had me very excited in a capslock sort of way. Are you thinking panorama of the Himalayas? I am.

Panorama is a temperamental function. It won't have a bar of any zoom whatsoever, and seems to make up its own mind about when a sweep is complete, regardless of what you're doing.

I did get to play with the zoom though, and that was...holy carp and swordfish. I sniped a starling so close it gave me a fright.

Not entirely satisfied with the field test, I took Herbie home to give the results a good going over. Hooked him up to Eddie (my MacBook), at which point they entirely failed to talk.

When I plug Sid into Eddie, they get along wonderfully. Eddie recognises Sid as a big ol' harddrive and I pull pictures off without needing any finicky photo storing program interfering. I APPROVE.

Herbie refused to reveal himself to Eddie at all.

This, I am not cool with, as Eddie is my photo computer.

Disgruntled, I poked around online looking for USB drivers or the like, only to find that as Herbie is so new, only a couple of months on the market, he has no support.

Well, surely they wouldn't have shipped him without drivers. Further disgruntled, I installed the Finepix Viewing Software, and unsurprisingly this made exactly no difference.

Fine. Whatever.

Fortunately Herbie did talk to the Decepticon (my desktop PC), and I was able to finally get the photos off the camera.

To discover that saving as RAW+JPEG does not actually save two file types, one being JPEG. It saves two RAW files. With marginally different file names, but definitely two RAW files. Being as all my photo software is on Eddie, the Decepticon had no idea what to do with RAWs, so even further disgruntled I installed the bloody Fuji shyte program on him too.

For the record, the Finepix Viewing Application is ugly and useless on both platforms.

So! Finally managed to view the bloody RAW files, and they looked like shyte. Noisy and horrible and full of dull colours. This is no doubt because I'm used to working in JPEG, and am not used to uncompressed noise.

Regardless, this isn't something you want to see your brand new camera do.

Figured the only thing to do was get the photos onto Eddie where I could view them in the same software as my other photos, to make a comparison. Dragged the files across the network.

Discovered Fuji does not save as RAW at all. RAW is supposed to be universal and unowned. But no, Fuji save as Fuji RAW.

My program looked at it, looked at me, and said, "WTF is RAF?"

To which I replied, "RAF is fucking inconvenient, that's what RAF is."

Queue more installing and grumbling and discovering yes they're still noisy as fuck and the panoramas look like rubbish. The panorama function is limited to no taller than 720 pixels, which is nothing, it's blocky horrible chunky crap, and the stitching generally not very good. The colours were poor in everything.

At this point I went and did something else and didn't look at them again for the rest of the night.

Today, I took both Sid and Herbie to the Royal Botanical Gardens. I was pretty much set on taking Herbie back, but had to be sure. Comparison shots were required. I took Herbie off RAW entirely, and when shooting purely JPEG his write speed is fine. As much as was possible between the two, I had them on the same settings.

First comes Sid, then comes Herbie;

In the 'Silver Garden'.

I really should pay attention to the names of the plants I'm shooting. This plant was decorated with leave balls.


I shot this plant just to freak them out, but both cameras handled the colour bombardment pretty well.

Aside from shrinking them to a sensible size, none of these photos have been adjusted.

Not much difference to speak of. When I had all the photos together to have a good comparison, I was pretty happy.

When viewed at 100% zoom, Sid still beats Herbie in image quality. Sid's photos are smoother. There's a speckledness in Herbie's photos, and I'm told this is in part to compensate for his ridiculous zoom. It's minimal, to say the least.

Panorama still utter shyte.

The zoom blew me away. Especially on macro. I died. This is an area Sid simply cannot compete in.

Herbie still won't talk to Eddie, but that's something I'm sure software/firmware will fix in due time. I'm still pissed about the RAW thing. It feels very much like I've paid for something I haven't received. RAW taking so long to write and then being Fuji tilted is useless.

Tomorrow I'll take them for another walk, probably up Ruckers Hill to get some landscape scenery type shots (I get far too carried away with macro on the gardens). At this point, however, much less inclined to return Herbie. I suspect the HS10 is one of those cameras that, in another couple of years or so, will be unbelievable, but right now has some growing pains.

Aaaaand, here are a few other shots that I just adore;


(Regardless of how Herbie compares to Sid, he's still quite an amazing camera.)

The heron has spied a tasty snack. By tasty snack I do of course mean crunchy dragon fly. The heron is all about tasty snacks. It does not care if the tasty snack goes straight to its hips. It's a heron on a mission.

And the heron has its tasty snack!

I'm particularly taken with this photo as also caught in the photo is a second dragonfly buzzing by the heron's beak, probably screaming, "You ate my girlfriend! NoooooOOOOOooooOOOOOOooooo...!"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

T-Shirt of Oarsum Timing!

SharkPuppet: Evening.
SharkPuppet: You're..."perky"...tonight.
SirTessa: Yes! I am!
SharkPuppet: Come on. Just say it. I'm not going to ask, so just say it.
SirTessa: ...



SharkPuppet: Nice screencap.
SirTessa: Innit just? A golden moment, pure fried gold with chips.
SharkPuppet: I hear you overshot by 23 words and had to do a quick count, ctrl-x and ctrl-z to get that screencap.
SirTessa: ...shuttup, SharkPuppet.
SharkPuppet: You can't even pretend to be affronted. Get your glee out of your system and stop fidgeting already. Dance, you stupid monkey.
SirTessa: :D

Section 1(a): Withheld from public consumption due to being complete and utter shit from a bull.

I never claimed any of those one hundred thousand words were any good.

Stranger Things Happen At Sea

The Most Loyal of Black Dogs

Yesterday a friend dreamed of having a great big wolfy dog that never left their side. Yesterday my mum dreamed of one of our current dogs and one of our past dogs and the work she had to do to get them out of a thunderbowl.

It is therefore not particularly surprising that this morning I dreamed of dogs. One of our current dogs playing with an enormous St Bernard who simply adored her, as everyone does. A surprisingly non-confrontational dream, considering. Not at all my unconscious's standard fare.

What You Choose To Be Proud Of

I just put my laptop Eddie on mute.

Only one person reading this will understand the satisfaction I take from this statement. That person is probably laughing at me.

Sharks, Dolphins, Barracuda, Tuna, Whales, Gannets, and You

There was no summary of the year type post for 2009. This was partly because I was out of the country when the new year rolled around, but I had intended to write something up when I was reinserted in my life.

I wrote that post about four times, and then walked away. I'm still not entirely sure why. Sometimes I think it's because I'm still in the midst of some turning tides, and so have no perspective from which to analyse even that which is a year behind me. Say nothing unless you are sure of what you're saying. Don't give your future self any more ammunition to use against yourself. Or, it could simply be that the territory in which the currents have shifted the most are territories I do not wish to share indiscriminately with the internet. With increasingly frequency I pause when posting, as I do not know who reads this any more.

The vaguest of summaries states that in 2009 I became a solid person.

Entering 2009 I wrote;
We come into the world without shape. We're perpetual works in progress. We die unfinished. I have pondered what I need to do in order to recover and regain the parts of me I have lost, but I will take no such steps. The world will do with me what it will, and make of me what it would. We're none of us given time to be whole. We'll never be whole, always being shaped by what's come, and what's yet to come.

I also wrote:
Never been single-minded about anything.

I'm a school of fish. Not a very coherent school of fish. The individual parts of me were in constant opposition. Fish were zipping around in all directions, no agreement between any of them, with 'school' being used in the loosest possible sense.

There have been predators disturbing the water and so disrupting the fish, but I can't blame it all on the sharks and gulls. Even without exterior threats, this school of fish would be a churning chaos of frenetic fish going nowhere and doing nothing.

Last year, not only did all the predators disappear, but the fish just...came together. It almost felt like I'd reached the age I am supposed to be. Maybe it's the first calm water I've ever been in. I don't know why, but suddenly all the fish started moving in unison.

I just...I've never felt so whole. Solid. Strong. Certain. I trusted myself with myself, trusted myself with the decisions I made and that I could weather any consequences that came from them.

Which isn't to say I was a person, no. Just because a million fish move in unison doesn't stop them being a million fish, but if they behave as if they are one mind, then nearly the same as really being one mind.

Lately, there have been sharks in the water.

Doubt, my old friend. I haven't missed you.

Monday, April 05, 2010

This Shell Is Bigger Than I (and I haven't finished mapping it)

Every time anyone asked me what I was planning to do over the four-day weekend, I exuberantly replied, "SLEEP!"

Most people were not impressed with this. Fair enough, it's not the most interesting activity out there. The lack of empathy surprised me a bit though. Is everyone else in the world getting a good amount of sleep? Are all the people around me not weary?

This is hard to believe. Perhaps they're just better at faking it than I am.

No plans were made, in fact I made anti-plans and said no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, long after people stopped asking. No one will invite me out again, and oh please let that be the case. 'Sleep' is one way of saying 'rest', and 'rest' can mean many things.

I pulled myself in, an operation that started some time in the week before, when I found myself compulsively checking my phone and email accounts for any sort of contact that meant someone out there was thinking of me, which would validate my existence for maybe the next minute, if I was lucky, this validation seldom lasted long enough to see me through to the next such instance of contact, and so I'd find myself wondering what I could do to increase the regularity of these instances, and acting before thinking and with the most pathetic motivations.

Interestingly, the source of this behaviour doesn't lie in depression and insecurity as it usually does.

The 34 days I spent in Patagonia I was constantly surrounded by people. There was not a moment I had to myself, no quiet time, and these weren't quiet people. They were boisterous and rowdy and hilarious. They didn't stop. Pretty early on they twigged that I wasn't quite fitting the mold, and to fend off any future troubles I told them I wasn't a people person and in a couple of weeks would probably over-saturate from social exposure, cease all communication and disappear off on my own for great tracts of time.

This failed to happen, which they called me on, and fuck me if I wasn't the most surprised of everyone. It wasn't just that I coped the shit out it, I wasn't actually 'coping' at all, it was no trial, I did not have to be careful with myself, I was having a freaking awesome time and it never occurred to me that I needed to fall apart at any point in time.

Do you know how that feels? To find the boundaries of your introversion do not lie where you assumed they did?

To feel like maybe you're a normal person?

That feels amazing.


I came back, and carried on with this new assumption that I could be a normal person with a fun and happening social life. I've done so much stuff in the last couple of months it's ridiculous, from concerts to cocktails, phone calls to rampant text messages. I'm not ruled by introversion! I can be normal! I can take it!

And, yes, well, no, actually, I can't.

For a moment there I was closer, much closer, to being a person I've wanted to be for my whole life. But I'm not her. Or rather, I can't always be her. She's unsustainable, and not good for me.

In withdrawing (yet again), breaking myself of this validation-chasing habit (yet again), I've given myself a different sort of validation, more unwanted but not unexpected confirmation than validation I suppose. Not saying anything is good for me. Not waiting for something to be said to me is even better.

I've been over-indulging in the wrong sorts of words. Too much discourse, too much effort spent trying to predict or bait the response I wanted. Too many words spent communicating.

It seems a sad thing to live in a world in which there is no shortage of fascinating people with interesting things to say, and yet I must spend time talking and listening only to myself.

It doesn't matter that right now there is no great turbulence in my life. There need be no howling and the volume need not be on full for me to spend time listening to the tides in my thoughts. What goes on in me now is quiet and soft, which makes it no less important to listen to, only that I must listen harder.

Every time I do this I despise myself a little more. Inconsistent and unreliable. I am sorry.

It was fun, and now it's not.

Operation: Shut The Fuck Up gogogo

[ETA: On considering, this has probably been further exacerbated by my means of communication, being little snippets here and there as I'm still wary of my hands. Twitter and Facebook are fun, but lacking substance. Like eating fast food, it's fine for a bit but doesn't take long before you want something real.]