Saturday, June 10, 2017

Optex England 16:9 No 5086

This is an anamorphic adapter that can squeeze the picture from 4:3 to 16:9 or from 16:9 to 16x4/3:9.

I put this adapter in front of my Nikon taking lenses.  Basically I have a hard time getting any subject focused.  Despite what I read or my impression of what I read, this adapter is supposed to work best with longer lenses.  Not my experience.  I have tried my 50mm and 105mm lenses.  And it's just impossible to focus at any distance.  The image just goes blur and won't align.  The only exception is my 28mm AIS f/2 lens.  For some reason, I am able to focus with this image taking lens, I mean not great but better than any lens I have.  The camera I use for this is my Nikon D7000 camera which is a cropped 1.5x sensor.  I applied my hack to it so it has a higher bit rate.  I think the hack site is down or forever gone so I don't know nor do I remember what exactly the hack is.  I don't know the upside of the hack.  The downsides are the file is bigger and I can't play the footage on the camera.

I got this Optex thing a while back and I really think it's border line garbage for my intended anamorphic use as I can't really focus on the thing, not on center not on the edges, not with most lenses.  It doesn't work well with my D810 full frame at all.  The only combination that works is the D7000 and 28mm f/2 lens.  And even that it's not great.  The image is a bit fuzzy and there is no detail to speak of.  I don't remember how much I paid for it.  But I think it is much less than the real thing or even comes close to the more popular model.  So perhaps the price is fair.

The video software that can desqueeze the footage and I have experience on are Final Cut Pro X, Hand Brake and DaVinci Resolve.  I mean I got it to work without fully understanding how it works.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant is a tacit admission that the current cinema lacks imagination and courage to make a better sci-fi movie.

I am old so no doubt I will say I remember once upon a time in Aliens (1986), when the crew needs to seal the door, they actually do it like welding the doors shut with some big weld gun like with lots of muscle, grunting and urgency.  Now Alien: Covenant, the very miscast female protagonist Daniels played by Katherine Waterston just shouts out "Mother, close the door" as in calling out the space craft's omni present computer to just shut the door behind her.  That's convenient but where is the action, tension and urgency?  None really.  I try pretty hard to stay awake during the entire movie.  In the end, Ridley Scott jumps the shark and has this stupid shower scene.  I feel like that's it.  No doubt it's a bad movie.  Anytime you see a shower scene like in Hurt Locker (2008), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), it can't be any good, the scene if not the entire movie.  Shower scenes are just corny unless by Hitchcock or something.  And of course, this one is of no exception.

When you are old and becoming a curmudgeon, you wonder if you can ever enjoy a movie again.  Alien:  Covenant unfortunately confirms that you simply can't.

Anything new is just old, but not as good not even close.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Some deep thoughts

I like the combination of my D810 and the Nikkor 16-35 f/4, and together with my Sunpak 120J.  For some reason, I don't quite like the D810 with the Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8.

I am still shooting with my D700.  I like the small file size.  But the lack of detail becomes quite apparent when compared to the D810 files.  I like it better with the 70-200 f/2.8

There are always people who take better pictures than you.

The only edge to have is you work harder and smarter.  And if you can't work smarter because of inherently stupid then you just need to work harder.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ghost in the Shell (2017) and Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Ghost in the Shell asks the perennial question every human being asks and yet unable to answer--Who am I?  Those who think they have the answer are usually mistaken.

Major who is given a body, not just any body but a Scarlett Johansson body, finds her law enforcement gig less fulfilling without a memory of her past even when reassured by her creator, Dr. Phil, played by the lovely Juliette Binoche, that life is defined by what one does rather than one's memories or past.  And of course, like Major, nobody is free from his past and everybody is burdened by history.

The movie doesn't come with any surprise everything happens just as expected or even like a déjà vu.  Every futuristic cityscape scene is derivative of Blade Runner except it is a knockoff and ten times cheesier.  The Hong Kong streetscape can be interesting only if the post production doesn't feel obliged to add more and more and yet more video gimmickries to the mix.  The few architectural shots are almost facsimile copies of Peter Stewart's pictures of the same.  The 1.85:1 aspect ratio is supposed to give audience an immersive experience but sometimes I can't help but feel like watching 4:3 standard definition TV, also the PG-13 rating doesn't help either.

Nothing good can come out of any existential crisis not even good cinema in this case.  Scarlett Johansson does have very good skin which manages to salvage the movie from downright unwatchable to somewhat entertaining and somewhat watchable.  Between Kong: Skull Island and Ghost in the Shell, the choice is obvious.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Picture

It retails for $99.  Wow, just wow.  Again the plug-in to LR CC could be a bit robust.  LR CC just couldn't find it automatically or it didn't install into the correct current directory.  I have to manually add it to LR CC.  I don't know whose fault it is.  I think the software hasn't been updated for CC and the plug-in just went somewhere else.  I didn't pay retail so I guess I don't feel too bad.  I guess if you are not a paid professional yet, this is your passport to being one.

Nikon ViewNX-i

Nikon probably has the most confusing bundle of software when it comes to imaging.  It offers a bunch of software that are confusing.  But over the years I have learned to put up with them as they are free until this last version ViewNX-i that pushed me over the edge.

The software should first and foremost does no harm to my pictures.  Once it crossed that line, it's done.  I emailed Nikon support of course they won't say nothing one way or another back in December 2016.

Anyway this pushed me to consider Lightroom CC which is kind of the industry standard I suppose.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kill Bill and Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell has this which reminds me of Kill Bill Volume I.  The KB sequence is really bad ass.  Judging the Ghost teaser, I don't think it measures up in terms of badassness.  But we will see.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Schott Leather Jacket

Over the years I have acquired a few leather jackets.

My first one was from Diesel when I didn't know about Diesel.  I bought it from a shop in downtown Manhattan.  I wasn't afraid to ask for a discount.  It was a bundled deal.  I got a tweed sack jacket from Joshua Blacker used for $10 and I think I paid the jacket for about maybe $300 all in all.  Back then it was actually made in Italy.  It was a biker's jacket all right.  The leather was good and so was the styling.  But it wasn't functionally very sound.  The sleeves don't have zipper to narrow and cut the wind out.  The sleeves aren't designed long enough so it won't ride up to your elbow when you are riding a bike, not that I would ever find out by experience.  Or when you hold on a subway strap hanger. (The purchase took place circa 1989 in downtown.  Back then I had no Internet, so it was just by looking others' and then I saw the jacket the simple line, it was love at first sight.  I got lots of compliments.  Then like most other relationships I found out its shortcomings over the years ... but that's another story.)

Then I think I progressed.  I bought a car coat from Schott.  It has quilt diamond shaped lining.  It was warm.  It has hidden breast pocket inside and two hand pockets with flaps on the front.  The thing is I do put my ungloved hands inside the front pockets when I walk around in the cold.  Before long the pocket flaps got kinked and blended out of shape.  The coat doesn't come with any centre or side vents.  So I don't know why it's a car coat.  Maybe it's not called a car coat.  When you sit down in a car the coat would got bunched up if you don't unbutton as there are no vents to allow the coat to re-shape when you are sitting down driving a car.  (The purchase probably done in Canal Jeans in downtown Manhattan.  I loved Canal Jeans.  It was probably in the early 1990s.  1994 maybe?)

Then I got another Schott, a 141 café racer jacket.  The 1 series is made of naked cow hide while the 641 is made of steer hide.  I am not expert of hide but from what I read the steer cow hide is stiffer and treated so it's more water resistant.  I own two 141 of different sizes.  When you don't know what fits until you own both for a period of time, ha-ha.  They both come with removable faux fir liners.  They add some warmth but since they are fluffy liners it doesn't give you that smooth putting on and taking off experience.  I prefer satin lining so it's smooth to put on and take off.  The jacket has two waist pockets and one chest pockets.  They come with zippers.  The sleeves also come with cuff zippers to block wind out or make your arms look slimmer.  I like the zippered pockets so nothing will fall out.  It's quite important especially you feel insecure.  The liner has an inside leather patched pocket, no zipper though.  It features side buckles to adjust the waist to block off wind.  But I find the leather strap could be an inch longer; over time as the strap rubs against my bag, the strap just come undone from the buckle, an inch longer strap could probably prevent this from happening.  (The first 141 I bought probably form David Z in downtown around 2005 or so, I remember wearing my chunky black cotton mock neck , so I  sized it up to 44.  Later after a few years I bought another one online, this time a size 42)

My latest is a Schott 125.  It's a happy eBay find.  The seller for some reason doesn't list it as a Schott (even all the metal snaps have the name Schott over it), instead the seller mistakenly called it Leathercraft based on the cleaning label.  So the price is not eBay market price for a Schott jacket.  I haven't looked up its vintage based on the tiny label inside the little coin or watch pocket yet.  The jacket is very clean inside and out. The pocket lining is almost pristine.  So that's a good thing.  The jacket misses the detachable liner.  Oh well.  May as well as this old 125 model, the Schott label is actually on the liner.  Compared to my 141, the leather is a touch thinner, that's relatively speaking.  Now I know my 141 is really beefy almost like weight training myself simply by putting it on.  The 125 doesn't come with a half belt so nothing to flap around.  It does come with two belt loops in the front and one in the back.  The jacket does come with side laced gussets and cuff zippers.  Cuff zippers are nice except on two scenarios.  When you want to leave the jacket on to work on your notebook, the zippers would scratch the surface of your very expensive notebook, even though I don't really care that much but it bothers me the zippers are hitting on the aluminum surface.  Maybe that's why some other brands have the cuff zipper on the top?  Another scenario is when your jacket doesn't really fit you that well and the sleeves become extra long.  A biker jacket should have longer sleeves and that's a given.  But extra long?  When you zip the cuffs up, the sleeves would balloon up and look weird ....  After asking on some forum from Schott NYC, their very knowledgable staff member Gail reckons that the jacket was made circa 1985.  Wow, that was some 32 years ago.