Wednesday, May 30, 2018


An open topic is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because one has the absolute freedom to write whatever topic one chooses.  A curse as one has to come up with a topic all by oneself.  When you are assigned a topic, if you don't do a good job you can blame somebody else.  If you choose your own topic and it turns out not as good as you want it to be, you have nobody but yourself to blame.  If I ever live in a totalitarian society where my life is defined, planned and arranged from cradle to grave and I can easily blame the society for my failures.  But does it even matter?

The Unbearable Lightness of Being was one of the first movies and books I saw and read when I arrived in the US.  (The very first movie I saw here was "The Terrorizers" directed by Edward Yang and starring Cora Miao.)   The themes like light and heavy, sex and love, fate and freewill, eternal return and YOLO are well explored.  I wish I could live a life that is light, no need being a brain surgeon or a womanizer or both, like the character Tomas; and definitely not the war nor the hardships that follow.  Tomas started out light but in the end totally domesticated.  He was weighed down by the war and Tereza who clung to him like a piece of Cling wrap.  I don't know if that's just life or what.

Sweden was pretty much defined by ABBA until the world or I discovered Stieg Larsson.  Or John Ajvide Lindqvist who penned "Let the Right One In" in 2004 and later wrote the film adaption in 2008.  The story is at once bleak and beautiful both in words and in moving images.  Instead of wholesome ABBA like characters, many characters are flawed and despicable.  One of the two protagonists, Eli is cursed with eternal return for she is forever stuck in her twelve-year old self since two centuries ago.  Often time she smellS rancid.  The other one is Oskar, a boy who is incontinent and uses a "pissball" to soak up his pee so nobody knows he pisses his pants.  Oskar is the perennial easy target for bullying.  Together they become fast friends and more.  It's hard to like them but even harder not to like them despite them being serial killers.  As it turns out I am not a big fan of ABBA.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Anamorphic Lens Adapter for Mobile Phones

Moondog Labs

Beastgrip Pro


Moondog is the only company that has stock available all or most of the time, selling at $175.  It seems like it's iPhones only.  Many models are iPhone model specific except one that is phone agnostic as its interface is the 37mm screw thread.

Beastgrip Pro is more like on and off when it comes to availability, more like off most of the time; also asking for $175.  It's based on the 37mm screw thread so it's phone agnostic but pretty mount specific.

Moment is on pre-order.  The listed price is lower than $175 but the lens mount is baked to only mate with its own proprietary case.  If you've already invested in Moment or you think this closed system approach is not a problem then by all means.

In terms of alignment between the phone's lens and the anamorphic adapter, I believe the Moondog iPhone specific model and the Moment would probably give the most convenient, accurate and consistent alignment.  How difficult to align the lenses?  Not too difficult but you still need to do it if it's just a 37mm interface.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Red Hook Crit Brooklyn 11

I felt somewhat disoriented as there was some change to the course.  I felt like I was always on the wrong side of the fence.  I felt like I was always trapped at the wrong spot.  There wasn't a lot of mobility from one to another spot.

I didn't take any pictures of the qualifying heats.  I was busy taking portraits inside the terminal.  I guess it wasn't such a bad idea as I don't want to lug around my equipment under the sun.  I was being lazy for sure.

I still used what I have been using all these years.  I was tempted to rent or even buy a new D750 as my oldie D700 is getting long in its teeth.  AI coupling ring got sticky and becomes problematic if I ever used a manual focus lens or even AF lenses other than the f/2.8 as the ring got sticky and won't automatically rotate according to the notch.  In any event I basically stuck with my good old friends of lenses the 70-200 and the 16-35 and yeah the new addition 135 f/2 DC which definitely is not the kind of lens that provides convenience.

I shot the "portraits" with my Sunpak 120J at I think 1/4 power and at f/8.  I was thinking of shooting at f/11 but somehow it didn't quite work out.  I know it doesn't make sense.  But when I am in the field.  I just need to roll with it I don't have all day to adjust.  I don't think the 16-35 is the "ideal" focal length.  But is there ever an ideal focal length?  I doubt it.  I imagine the 24-70 would provide the greatest convenience for this kind of shot.  The grass is always greener somewhere.  Or the poor man's version could be simply the 50mm f/1.8 or the 35-70 f/2.8.  My ideal shot is just below shoulder, above the knees or full body length with the bike.  The 16-35 helps in full length but I would need to get really close for above knee shots and below shoulder is not even possible or the image would get distorted too much to my liking.  But I shoot what I have and adjust accordingly or rent.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Life Choices

When you aren't going to buy another big @ss item, you buy some cheapo accessories.  Just so you buy something.  That's the thing with photography, you can enjoy it just buying small items, like lens hoods, filters, sync cables, color gels.  You don't need to buy a $6000 lens or a %6000 camera.  Of course you can enjoy it by actually taking pictures.  Better still print it out on paper and even better, frame it and hang it up somewhere on the wall.

Friday, April 06, 2018

DVD, Handbrake, OS X, Rip

Do people watch DVD nowadays?  I know I do.  And if you check out the library there are still plenty out there on the shelf.

Do people rip DVD nowadays?  I know I do.

I haven't used Handbrake for a long time.  And finally I got it updated and not even updated I even installed the nightly build.  I feel like I am so advanced even I don't know half of what I am doing.  I wasn't going to install the nightly build, it's just the prod has a known bug that doesn't allow preview which is something I like.

I am not a fan of ripping DVD except for scholarly reason like why not.

Handbrake didn't complain so I thought I was able to rip DVD just fine, except the result came out severely pixelated and the sound was all wrong.  I have VLC installed.  So I thought, maybe I have the setting wrong as reading the Google search results indicate once you have VLC installed you should be fine.  Also, I thought the decryption thing is a binary thing like if you can't decrypt then you simply can't not with bad rip or pixelated rip, or so I thought.  I played with the settings a bit and still lousy results.  So that shook my belief that the DVD was decrypted when ripped.  I viewed the log and it did say can't decrypt DVD.

Another trip to Google.

I have Homebrew installed long time ago so getting a package isn't a big deal.

at the Terminal

brew install libdvdcss

this installed the libdvdcss

Now Handbrake can rip the DVD to your or my heart's desire.

Now another reason to buy more storage or even a NAS because of DVDs.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Life Choices ...

In the world of iPhone cinematography, the anamorphic lens is kind of the king.

The Moondog lab made them first, and it's the only company that have them in stock.  Beastgrip Pro started their version some time last year and they were quickly sold out and now out of stock.  Moment just joined the party and is in Kickstarter mode.  The former two price their anamorphic adapter at $175, which is kind of a steep price for a lens adapter but at the same time dirt cheap as far as anamorphic is concerned.  So it really depends on one's perspective on things.  Moment, the new kid to the mobile phone anamorphic is geared to stir things up by lowering the price, their first batch kickstarter was priced at $99 but no longer available.  I don't fully understand all those funky pricing anyway.  But the ball park is they are priced lower than the competition.  Over time hopefully all of them would come down in price.


An open topic is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because one has the absolute freedom to write whatever topic one chooses...