Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Minolta lenses!

When I switched from Canon to Minolta (see my blog entry on this), little did I know of the treasure trove of Minolta legacy lenses that remained to be discovered!
A historical perspective is in order.
Minolta was founded Japan in 1928, and along with Canon, Nikon, Konica, Olympus, Pentax, Fuji, Bronica, Yashica, and Mamiya, made Japan famous for affordable (read: non-German) cameras for both amateurs and professionals. Konica merged with Minolta in 2003, and the SLR segment of Konica-Minolta was bought by Sony in 2006.
Minolta lenses have a well-earned reputation for superior optical and construction quality and these lenses, particularly the AF lenses, are 100% compatible with the latest Sony SLT bodies. More importantly, these lenses can be had on eBay and on craigslist for a fraction of the price of comparable Canon L and Nikon Nikkors. In addition, the older Mnolta MD and MC lenses may be mounted on the current Sonys with very inexpensive adaptors.
In the last few 5 days, I have obtained 5 really good, bordering on great, Minolta lenses: a 35-105f4-4.5 and a set of 50f1.7, 50f3.5macro, 28f2.8, and 100-200f4.5 in exchange for a Canon 40D+grip (my last Canon to go). A quick test of these lenses reveal that the coatings are unblemished, the aperture blades are oil free, the zoom doesn't creep, and best of all, they are all tack-sharp!!
Special thanks to Stan Yip for taking my excellent-but-unwanted 40D in exchange for his surplus Minolta glass!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sony a65 with the 16-50f2.8

Sony a65, non-macro Sony 16-50f2.8 at 50mm, 1/8sec handheld, made possible with  SSI (Steady Shot Inside) and the articulating finder with phase detect Live View, ISO1600. Notice the area defined by blue; see below for detail:
Amazing combo!!! I have never had so much fun with photography! No sharpening. Feb 26th.

Friday, February 24, 2012

10 Things You Should Never Say To A Photographer

- Your camera really takes nice pictures!
- Can't you just Photoshop that?
- I wanted to invite you to (birthday party, wedding, or other important event).
You should bring your camera!
- Why is the background all blurry like that?
- Can you make it black & white but leave our eyes in colour?
- Geez! You charge that much?!?
We only have to pay $19.99 for our sitting fee at Sears!
- I'l just print them at Wal-Mart.
- Gosh your job must be so easy! You just click a button all day!
- What's the discount if I edit the pictures myself?
There's a great program called Picnik.
- Can you take your watermark off the photos you posted to Facebook?
My mom wants to print them.
(many thanks to http://lauraflemingphotography.com/)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

iPhone Diaries #441: Toronto Icons

The Red Rocket and the blue Star box: Toronto icons! Dundas West and Elizabeth, Feb 21st.

Hell Explained

The following is an actual question given on a University of Arizona chemistry mid term, and an actual answer turned in by a student.
The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.
One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving, which is unlikely.. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct..... ....leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


Sunday, February 19, 2012

iPhone Diaries #440: Guelph Symphony Orchestra

Along with the Speed and the Eramosa Rivers, the Jazz Festival, James Gordon, the Red Brick Cafe, St. Georges Square, the Bookshelf, Macondo Books, the guy from the Marijuana Party who keeps running for every elective office available, the Farmer's Market, the Stone Road Mall, and a few other people and places, the Guelph Symphony Orchestra (along with the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra), is one more reason Guelph is the best place to live in in Ontario!
The GSO after a performance of Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No.9, conducted by Judith Yan. Feb 19th.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Final Word(s)

In response to a back-and-forth chat between a pro-choice fundamentalist with a barely-concealed homophobic streak,  and a few other people,  a friend of my son had this to say:
Anyway, look, the world is tiny. It's a speck of nothing in a universe of predictable mathematical function. We don't know how it started. That's irrelevant. It exists, we can prove itdoes, end of story. We all agree upon the existence of dirt and the existence of air and the existence of an amount of matter that we simply are not capable of mentally visualizing that lies beyond the razor-thin atmosphere of our rock. That matter is a tiny percentage of the universe. We are nothing. It's not a secret or a plot by grumpy scientists. It is there and anyone can test it themselves using the same methods the researchers did. It's openly available knowledge. No political bias, no spin. Look for yourself.

What isn't there is any evidence of God. At all. Not inconclusive evidence, not evidence that's up for debate--nothing. Apparently God acts upon the material (read: physical, testable, intrinsically falsifiable) universe to have his will be done and yet, in touching things, he leaves no fingerprints. The only thing in the entire universe that supports the existence of God is the opinion of a portion of a collection of primates living in a tiny habitable region of a tiny little planet orbiting an ordinary star in a galaxy among legion.
That, and a "feeling" in your heart. Or, better yet, your brain. The same place that every other one of those primates felt feelings and convictions. All of them--think about that--every last one. But it doesn't matter if we are going to keep agreeing that the universe exists. It exists because all of the humans can test it individually and come up with the exact same results every single time. That’s the kind of thing you build policy on.

I can't take away your right to believe in magic spells. You are firmly within your constitutional rights to believe in Zeus or Allah or Superman and cite their respective texts as evidence that they are real. You can cite your feelings as proof enough to have the moral impetus to say policy should be decided on the Word of DC Comics. But you are wrong. If there was a Creator, he is not here. Bushes didn't catch fire and talk and magic lightning bolts didn't carve commandments into stones. Jonah didn't live in a fucking whale. Jesus didn't perform miracles. It's bullshit like every magical legend of Gods and demigods ever told, only you believe *this* story. You "feel" like this one's the right one. I mean, fuck Aristotle for existing too early. Tough shit, dude.

I cannot, in the slightest and on pain of death, quietly allow ignorance, superstition, paranoia and ritual to ever again dictate to other people on this tiny rock how to live their lives, either actively through coercion or passively through talk of "teachings." Keep your ritual cannibalism and your fancy robes and your castles for old men with interesting gilded hats, please. Exercise your right to your own religion. But you're wrong. You're painfully wrong and it should be obvious because you are telling someone else that they are going to burn for doing what makes them happy. You are telling them to feel shame. You are telling them whether it's a choice or not. That should scream wrong to you. It should keep you up at night that you are entitled to cast these stones. Fuck your church. Fuck your beliefs.

How's that feel? You angry yet? Offended because I'm coming out of nowhere and challenging you on the level of what your heart tells you is true? Well, welcome to a club that often waves a rainbow flag, dude, because your high-and-mighty-hide-behind-the-scriptures bullshit is the reason kids get bullied to suicide for liking the wrong genitalia. Just for that. And by the way, I’m not gay. Not bi, or trans or any of that stuff. I’m comfortably straight and it is none of my business to judge. If you believe in the Christ then you should stand right up and tell the church to fuck itself sideways. God gets to judge, not you, so if Christ’s teachings mean anything you should be fighting tooth and nail for each and every human’s right to happiness as they feel it in their hearts, just as you are arguing for your right to your own.

Thank you, Jack!
reprinted with permission from Jack. Have a look at  Jack's Blog for a look at the disappearing art of the paragraph-long sentence! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Moxie and Belle

You'd think Moxie and Belle are long time friends but in this photo (and series) this is actually the first time they have met. Moxie (with more white on his underside) is our indoors-only cat whilst Belle (who turned out to be a male) is somebody else's outdoor cat. We saw Belle outside doing his I'm-hungry meow so we let him in. After a few minutes of giving each other suspicious looks, they started to play together.
On cold nights, Belle presses his nose on the backdoor glass to ask to be let in for the night.
Olympus E1, 14-54 f2.8-3.5, ISO400 (there's still a lot of life left in this 5MP classic)

Happiness is...

Dancing with your best friend! Dec 2011
(Sony a65, 16-50, cropped, 16% of the frame area)

Shooting Stills and Video... successfully!

Dan echoes my thinking that for the small scale stills photojournalist, the use of video can only enhance the product. The difficult part in implementing video along with stills is making sure that one doesn't take away from the other. Ideally, shooting Stills and Video should add up to 1+1=3
Here's a sample comment from an online reader of Dan's interview:
"... But in the context of the article, newspapers are dying and moving to the "web". These sites would rather pay for VIDEO, not stills. So yeah, there's no comparing the two technically, other than the fact that if Dan Chung refused to shoot video and only shot stills, he couldn't make a living of it in a few years. That's the point. It's especially poignant coming from an award winning still photo-journalist."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


At the Guelph Arboretum, under tall maples, birches, poplars, and cherries are areas that are flooded in the winter and spring. I came across two U of G students, Joey and Ben,  enjoying a game of hockey on an unseasonably warm early February day.
The credit for the music should be:
JS Bach, 23 French Suite No. 6, BWV 817, E major_ Sarabande
(A newer version with the right credits will be uploaded next week).


Guelph Arboretum. Feb 2012
a few more Milkweeds here!

The Bench in the Park

Enduring grace. Feb 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

"Snowed": Excellent video using the GH2 in low light!

Montage of a snowed covered Occupy LSX at St Pauls filmed with the Panasonic GH2, 20mm f1.7 lens
by Felix Goncalez

The Environmental Disaster that is happening NOW!

"First Nation Community members voice the effects of the Tar Sands industries".
Great interview video on a grave subject!

First Nation Community members voice the effects of the Tar Sand industries.
Over 11 million litres of toxic water leaches from industrial Tar Sands tailings ponds each day.
4 billion litres of contaminated tailings water already enters the groundwater each year, and new projects could expand this number to over 25 billion litres within a decade.
Tailings ponds are known to contain dozens of toxic contaminants like heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and naphthenic acids. Naphthenic acids in particular break down very slowly and therefore pose a long-term threat to the groundwater of the region. The tailings ponds sit upriver from the Peace-Athabasca Delta, one of the world’s largest inland freshwater deltas and home to Fort Chipewyan where residents already have serious concerns about pollution and their health.
Tailings ponds are built on bare ground with walls made out of earthen materials. Both Alberta and federal legislation prohibits the discharge of toxic materials into the environment, but tailings ponds leakage is sanctioned by the Alberta permitting process.


Under tall trees, on shallow standing water yellowed by decaying organic matter, are designs by nature enabled by the freezing and thawing of gases bubbling up to the surface. Organic (literally) and ephemeral (now-you-see-it-now-you-don't), these are as original as you and I.
Please see more images at Guelph Arboretum - "Embedded"
Feb 4th

Nature's Swarovski (Happy Valentine's!)

At the Guelph Arboretum, under tall maples, birches, poplars, and cherries are areas that are flooded in the winter and spring. Cycles of freezing and thawing produce these amazing creations that are both elemental and organic. Elemental because they are echoes of galaxies, of cells and molecules, and of the primordial plasma that I imagine all of us came from.
Please have a look at more of these images at Nature's Swarovski.
Sony a65, 16-50. Feb 4th

Random acts of Niceness

What drives some people to do something pleasant for other people to experience? I don't really know... I'm just glad something does!
Seen while on a walk through the Guelph Arboretum: Vanessa and her pipe cleaners!
(the "m" in Dream was added after these photos were taken) Feb 5th.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A variation on the Rule of Thirds... and that inner glow.

the soft caress of a late afternoon January sun on a lamp post in front of a red wall... always in search of images that seem to glow from within... same with people... some people just glow from within.

2 cars and a truck

Chinatown. Jan 28th.