Film is the Real Raw format →

January 08, 2015 |

Another gem by Ken Rockwell. It’s been one of those days:

If you want more or less resolution, you’re screwed with a raw file, because you no longer have access to the original image to sample at a different resolution. You can go down in resolution, but you can’t go up.

Most digital shooters are wary of this, knowing that whatever they shoot today in digital may or may not be good enough to sell to tomorrow’s market. Got raw files shot in 2002 on your then state-of-the-art $5,000 Nikon D1H? Enjoy going back to your 2.7 megapixel files! You may as well delete them now.

This may sound silly now that we have 24 megapixel (and up) cameras, but at the rate displays keep getting denser and denser, it wouldn’t surprise me if 20 years from now a 24 megapixel image looked just as silly as a 2.7 megapixel image today.

There’s also the matter of the future readability of current digital RAW files:

Film is the original raw, and holds far more information than any digital file from a camera sensor. Film records the original living, breathing, natural image in tangible form forever. Film images last forever, versus memory cards and hard drives which we rarely are able to read after more than 10 years. Quick: can you read 3-½” floppies or play a VHS tape, right now? Probably not, but you always can look at film.

20 years from now we can re-scan our film and get 2029-level image quality.

Add all these things together, and suddenly film becomes not only an elegant form of photography for a more civilized age, it becomes a more practical one as well.

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Ken Rockwell on how to shoot film →

January 08, 2015 |

This is a fantastic article with pretty much everything you need to know, whether you’re just starting out or attempting to master the craft.

I particularly loved this bit:

Shooting film is easy, fun and inexpensive — exactly like riding a bicycle. Both take practice at first, and once learned, you’ll never forget. Like riding a bike, film is easy to shoot. By comparison, shooting digital is like trying to pilot the Space Shuttle: immensely complex, with a zillion potential ways to make one wrong move that lead to complete disaster, it’s easy to forget the myriad of details without a long checklist, and it’s different every time — or goes obsolete, as has the space shuttle! Film just goes, while the shuttle program was cancelled back in 2011. So much for digital.

I love shooting film, and I’m learning new things every time I pick up the camera and press the shutter release. It’s photography as it’s meant to be.

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Hubble’s High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy and the Pillars of Creation →

January 07, 2015 |

Nasa has released the first high-definition view of the Andromeda galaxy as captured by the Hubble Space Telescope:

Hubble’s Panoramic View of Andromeda

Stunning. Click or tap on the image for the full size, which is a must. Via The Loop.

UPDATE: Jason Kottke shares more information about this image, and another equally stunning one. These are the Pillars of Creation:

Pillars of Creation

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” indeed.

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Matt Gemmell’s Heroes and Miracles →

January 07, 2015 |

Wonderful short essay by Matt Gemmell, on whether fictional stories really matter:

For me, stories are empathic projections. They reflect and propagate our hopes and fears. They fuel our desires, and sometimes our ambitions. Most importantly of all, they fire our emotions - they let us feel as deeply as we can. We’re emotional creatures, whose acts are guided by passion much more than reason. It’s vital that we know how to feel.

So well said. I love fiction, and some of the most important lessons in my life I learned from the stories I read as a kid, as a teenager and yes, as an adult. These stories matter to me deeply, personally.

We absolutely need more stories, and more people like Matt, brave enough to tell them. If you want to do your part, here’s how you can help.

I can’t wait to read Matt’s upcoming novel. I don’t know the details or the story, but I know it will matter to many people, including myself.

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How Jason Snell rips DVDs and Blu-rays →

January 07, 2015 |

Excellent and thorough guide by Jason Snell on how to rip DVDs and Blu-ray discs on the Mac. I’ve always wondered about this, because I didn’t know there was a Mac-compatible Blu-ray player out there. Turns out there is at least one, and it’s pretty affordable.

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It’s Compulsion, Not Obsession →

January 07, 2015 |

Fantastic essay by Ben Brooks on the natural compulsion we as nerds feel to find and own the best:

And so I, and fellow nerds, find new macros, new apps, new tools, new systems. We have a never ending need to find the best, whether that is tools, or processes we want them both. We can’t settle until we’ve reached a point where we know we’ve reached peak zen because what we own, or how we do something, is subjective seen by us as the best.

I’m writing this on an iPad Air, but I know there is an iPad Air 2 and I know it is better. I want it, but cannot afford it. But it’s better and knowing that kills me a little inside, however at the same time I recognize that I have the best I can afford and it is only in that realization which I can take comfort and move on.

I’m not impervious to this feeling, and battle it every time I look at my 6-and-a-half-year-old iMac. It’s only a fraction of a second, but it happens. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of effort to be able to distance yourself from the need to have the best, but I have found it’s entirely possible.

There’s also some measure of personal satisfaction in getting the most out of your beloved, albeit outdated tools. To squeeze the last bit of functionality out of them before eventually replacing them. I know I don’t have the best Mac right now, but that’s OK, because there was this one time, not that long ago, when I did. And I still remember what that felt like. Just as I know that one day, not that far from now, I will feel it again.

Because, let’s not kid ourselves, when my iMac finally kicks the bucket, I’m definitely getting the best Mac I can buy. It’s the circle of life, after all.

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Philae lander is missing →

January 06, 2015 |

Lisa Winter, IFLS:

While Philae initially landed on the target landing site, the harpoons meant to secure it to the surface failed, and it bounced twice before coming to rest (albeit tilted slightly) on the shady edge of a cliff.

This location was problematic, as it meant that Philae would not receive enough sunlight to recharge its solar panels. After about 60 hours of transmitting data about Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Philae’s battery ran out and the probe went to sleep. There had initially been some optimism that the probe might wake back up as the 67P/C-G gets closer to the sun next summer, but there’s just one problem: nobody knows where the heck it is.

Man, that sucks. I sympathize with the guys at the European Space Agency; I lose my keys all the time and it is not fun.

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The Booq Mamba Slim Courier Bag review on Tools & Toys →

January 06, 2015 |

Great review by Josh Ginter, as ever. Small, slim messenger bags are my preferred way to carry my everyday gear — a 13” MacBook Pro, a notebook and a pen, among other things — and the Mamba Slim Courier seems ideal for the task:

The shoulder strap has a nice shoulder pad that is comfortable for long periods of bag carrying. Again, the shoulder pad is made of the same material as the rest of the bag, so durability isn’t in question. The shoulder pad is folded around the strap and secured by two snap-buttons, so if you become tired of the shoulder pad, it isn’t difficult to remove.

The shoulder strap is arguably the single most important feature of a messenger bag, and one of the most difficult to do well. The ability to slide the shoulder pad along the strap, for example, is absolutely critical to the functionality of the bag. It’s remarkable just how many manufacturers get this wrong. I’m very conscious about this particular feature when browsing for messenger bags, and I’m glad to see they nailed it here.

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