Mar 052017
 

Before I began taking photographs, I played a lot of computer games and even made two maps for the game Unreal Tournament 2004. I spent lots of money on graphics cards and fast computers.

Then all changed. Today I don’t even have a computer capable of playing current games. Ten years old “Half Life 2” runs pretty well on my Mac, but forget about “Far Cry 4” or anything like that.

Two weeks ago I bought a Playstation 4 Pro. I did it mostly for VR, but – as everybody else has likely found out – there are not that many good VR games currently on the market.

The seemingly best one is “Resident Evil 7”, a horror game that lets you creep through a decrepit house somewhere far away from any other people than the members of a psychopathic family who are out to kill you. It’s all dark, dirty, mouldy and full of insects. Guess what? I am not interested 🙂

The VR game that I did buy is “Eagle Flight”. Here’s an in-game video on YouTube. Basically you’re a bird and you fly over and through a Paris without people, reclaimed by nature.

The game has a great and intuitive control system that lets you fly wherever you look. Tilt your head to the right and you make a turn to the right, tilt to the left and turn left. It’s that easy. There are only two buttons on the controller, one to accelerate, one to slow down.

That’s exactly what I was looking for. I think VR works great for horror (“Jump in your face” was never so real), but it also works great for flying. My preference is clear, I prefer flying 🙂

Dec 132016
 

No, I don’t know what it means, but I’m sure the experts who figured out #pizzagate could tell you exactly 🙂

Well, did you go down the rabbit hole that is #pizzagate? Actually I didn’t, but at least I’ve tried to understand what it is supposed to be all about. There are a few comprehensive lists of the “findings”, and I admit that it can look quite convincing. I have no URLs and I don’t want to link to them anyway, but they are not hard to find.

Hillary Clinton and John Podesta dealing in children? Sexual abuse as a business model of the Democratic Party? In a pizzeria?? How weird is that?

But again, read through the list of “facts” and tell me that they didn’t make you wonder at least for a moment. Why is that? Basically you have a long list of facts and plausible reports, each one harmless by itself, but suddenly someone demonstrates how they fall together and result in a monstrous big picture.

Have you ever read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum“? If not, you definitely should. It explains a lot.

What happens in those cases is, that we try to create order in randomness. We see patterns, but we don’t see just any type of pattern. What we see is what we expect to see or fear to see or want to see. We have lots of weak indications. Each of them proves nothing. For each of them we have a small probability that it is related to a bigger “conspiration”. We know that we have not anything solid, and therefore we look further, and, surprisingly, we find more of the same.

Yes, we figure, one of them can be chance, but when all of them subtly point in one direction? Then it can’t be chance any more, can it? Somehow those small probabilities must add up.

Only they don’t. What we forget is, that while every “fact” has a certain probability that it means what we expect it to mean, there is also a much higher probability that it is indeed random, and that there are any number of perfectly plausible explanations. It’s only that we completely ignore anything that does not confirm our bias, and due to that ignorance, those aspects don’t contribute to the overall picture.

And there’s more. A central argument of #pizzagate is, that there is a code used by producers and consumers of child porn. I don’t remember exactly, but “pizza” was supposed to mean “girl” and a few other words from the pizzeria context are supposed to mean boys and rape and whatever.

The problem with that is, that the same words make perfect sense in any pizzeria. Now take one with a playing area for children and lots of activity in social networks. If the main nouns connected with the concept of a pizzeria are systematically re-interpreted due to such a key, it is practically inevitable that you can find lots of “reckless talk” about “child abuse”. And why not? In reality they talk about pizza. That’s their core business. What else should they talk about? And of course it’s for sale.

But all those seemingly absurd sentences, that don’t make sense in normal pizzeria context and that suddenly make sense when interpreted as a conspirational code?

It’s only that this again ignores, that we have ignored everything else, that perfectly did make sense. The weird sentences are somewhere in between. But there are always weird sentences in between everything.

Weird, absurd sentences are written all the time. For instance they are written by people who use mobile devices with all sorts of input prediction. Often the author even sees the error, but most mobile virtual keyboards lack cursor keys, and that makes it extremely inconvenient to go back and correct the error. And why so? The receiver will figure it out from the context, and apart from that, it is not worth the effort anyway.

And again, here we talk about communication that has all its core concepts systematically misinterpreted. You could as well use a different key and would easily get equally plausible results. The insiduous trick is, that you don’t replace just a single noun, you replace all of them. You change out everything that is not basic syntactic structure. Pizza gets a new meaning and so do cheese and bread and soup and wine and …

You see? It could mean anything. It could even mean what the conspiration theory says it means, only that it is so much more likely that it literally means what it means in any other pizzeria as well, namely the very stuff that they make and sell: pizza, cheese, bread, soup and wine.

3631 – The Flash

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3631 – The Flash
Sep 272016
 

I have not yet sold my E-P5. When the PEN-F arrived, I removed the battery and the SD card, and then I put the camera into a closet. Today I took it out for a comparison.

What can I say? I miss the big viewfinder! Yes, the VF-4 sticks out from the E-P5, it mars the beautiful design, it just doesn’t look that classy. Looking through it makes a world of a difference though 🙂

It’s really like the difference between APS-C and full-frame. You notice the change and it’s a big one.

I’ve tried the same with the E-M1, and of course as it shares viewfinder specs with the VF-4, the result is the same.

Then I noticed something interesting: both the E-M1 and the E-P5 were pretty much off colorwise and they were also darker. The PEN-F on the other hand was incredibly accurate in reproducing what I saw.

There was also another change. Exposure parameters blended into the viewfinder image had some amount of transparency. Or had they? Now that I try to reproduce it, I find that I can’t. That’s funny, because I’ve already noticed it another day. I don’t think I’ve just imagined it.

Yes, indeed, I’ve just checked, there is an slight amount of transparency in the overlay. It’s still fully readable, but it is slightly less intrusive.

Another slight annoyance is, that with the position of the eye sensor on the PEN-F, stray light easier enters the sensor, especially when the sun comes from the back. If that happens, the EVF blanks out. This doesn’t happen when I hold the camera properly to my eye, but sometimes I don’t. I suppose it also may happen when you wear glasses.

Basically this all boils down to the fact that I like the new viewfinder better (if it is indeed the viewfinder and not just changes in metering and white balance accuracy), but that the lower resolution hurts. I’d like to call it a draw, but it isn’t really.

Is this a reason to switch back to the E-P5 and sell the PEN-F? No. If there were no other advantages but the better design and the convenience of the integrated viewfinder, I’d say yes. Fortunately there’s more to this camera. We’ve already discussed the exposure compensation wheel, and tomorrow we’ll talk about image quality.

3574 – The Meaning is Clear

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro  Comments Off on 3574 – The Meaning is Clear
Aug 012016
 

The 60/2.8 is by no means a long lens, but it is long enough to start playing tricks with compression. Here I’ve used f9 to get as much even sharpness as possible. The result is nicely confusing 🙂

Along with that, the image is also a good example for why I so often don’t need shallow DOF at all. More often than not the opposite is true.

3514 – Sidelight

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3514 – Sidelight
Jun 022016
 

The Freedom Party scrupulously planted unfunded rumors, and despite all the smut everything went correctly. That’s how I’ve explained, that’s what I believe and that’s what I can back with some experience and insight.

A lot of my compatriots don’t do so. I can’t tell you any percentages, but you feel it in the commenting sections of the newspapers. 10% of the electorate may be convinced of having been cheated, but the percentage may be much higher. It may even go up to 30%.

It is a matter of trust. It’s how people present the bill for decades of democratic abuse. And why not? In the wake of Snowdon’s revelations, is there any crime against the democratic spirit that you can rule out with confidence? For any government?

And while I think about all that, I also think about the primaries for the presidential elections in the US. Major irregularities in Nevada. The DNC calling it quits before California has even be asked. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Hillary Clinton trying all the dirty tricks to cheat Bernie Sanders, the only one who will without a doubt stop Donald Trump.

At least that’s what I read on the Internet. What do I know? Do I know at least as much as Hofer’s frustrated fans know about our own election? I doubt it.

We all live in a filter bubble. When I say “The Internet“, I should instead say “The part of the Internet that I have chosen to recognize“.

Any first-hand information from the US? Is Bernie cheated? Is it just the same rumor mongering that our Freedom Party practices?

3454 – Three

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro  Comments Off on 3454 – Three
Apr 032016
 

If it doesn’t help to close your eyes and pretend, if it doesn’t help to vote for racism and xenophobia, what does then? And if it doesn’t help to keep refugees out, do we need to take everyone who knocks on our door? We can’t, can we?

Well, a good start would be to stop bombing the world to peaces. It may seem surprising, but it does not work. It never did.

You know, from the perspective of a young Iraqi or Syrian or Lybian, say, someone just old enough to fight for the IS, what we, the “Civilized Western World” did to their countries, may not seem so very different from what they try to do to ours. Bombs in Paris and Brussels? Hundreds of deads in our metropoles? Yes, it’s tragic, but do you realize that things like that happen every few days in those countries? And guess who keeps the fires burning?

Is Assad a dictator? Was Saddam Hussein? Was Gaddafi? Yes, sure. But then, before our attempts to foster a regime change, it was definitely possible to live in those countries, or can you remember hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Lybia during the 1990s? I can’t and I’ve been around for 52 years now.

The problem is, that we offer the victims of our wars nothing but lies. Those lies may convince our voting public long enough to keep it from opposing war (“Weapons of Mass-Destruction” anybody?), but to the targets of our aggressions it is completely clear that we lie. So, really, what can you expect of a young man whose hopes you’ve just shattered, whose country you’ve just destroyed, just for a geo-strategic advantage, just because after 911 “something needed to be done”, just because you could and just because his country couldn’t protect him?

Those young people fighting today in the middle east, you can be certain I have no sympathy for their cause, no sympathy for their methods. But I understand why they do what they do. If you are 18 years and from northern Iraq, you’ve been living under the conditions of war since before you had the chance to go to school. War is your reality, and if you ask someone who can remember how peace was, he’ll tell you exactly how the hell you’re living in came to pass. Mission Accomplished and Democracy to the World? To the sons of those who die from our drones, the daughters of those incinerated by Hellfire missiles, our words and excuses are nothing but crual, sick jokes.

It’s an assymetric war, but so was Vietnam, and just like Vietnam it can’t be won. What will we do, once we have everyone against us? Extinguish them with nuclear bombs? All of them? The whole Middle East, just sparing Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates? Is that it? Won’t work either, huh?

3419 – Firefighters Only

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3419 – Firefighters Only
Feb 282016
 

Today we are in Villach, the place where I live now in Carinthia. It’s only 35 km west of Klagenfurt, the town where I was born, but it has much better weather and less fog.

This is the wall of a local cinema with a sign that keeps us from parking across the firefighter’s entrance. I like the symmetry of the composition along with the asymmetry of the shadow pattern.

No idea what movie I saw 🙂

3411 – A Photographer’s Shop in Schladming

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3411 – A Photographer’s Shop in Schladming
Feb 202016
 

Schladming is one of those places in Austria where high-profile ski world cup races take place. It’s among the likes of Kitzbühl and Sankt Anton am Arlberg. It’s less glamorous than the other two, but it is famous nevertheless.

I was there on my way to the monastery that we’ll visit in the next post. I’ve never been there and it was exactly the right time and place for lunch.

Sitting outside, waiting for my meal, I noticed the sign of a photographer’s shop, a mural on the side wall of the house, and I found it sufficiently interesting to dedicate a post to it.

Thus: if you’re ever in Schladming and you need a photo to be taken of you, Foto Kaserer is the place.