Here’s some reportage from the photoenthusiast side of the brain, including a shot by an actual real professional (and the difference shows), Ricoh rumblings, calibration, conversation, pictures by four different cameras, and two pictures of camera gear. I can gang together nearly-unrelated topics in a great big post like this because photo-hounds will read all of it and nobody else will read any; so efficiency is maximized.

Ricoh Rumblings · As noted here, the obsessive-photog world is all a-twitter about the Ricoh GR-D2. The zillion-dollar question: will it retain the virtues of the original GR Digital while improving that camera’s miserable low-light performance?

Pavel Odklizec has been doing some serious testing, and reporting over at the Ricoh Forums. The early verdict is that the GR-D2 does indeed represent a step forward in low-light performance, as well as image write speed and some other things too.

The downside is that its JPEG generator has some really irritating flaws, and (this is surprising) the prime lens may not actually be as sharp as the Ricoh GX-100 zoom operating at the same aperture. Hmmmm.

After the Rain · The other day when I gave the XBRL speech, I came out of the conference building just as a major downpour was easing off and the sun was setting with the light shooting sideways under the breaking clouds. The visuals were astounding: gold and blue in the sky, downtown’s glass buildings reflecting that and the ocean and each other; everywhere big shallow rainwater pools blazing back flatly. And, of course, me without any camera; due to some brain-fart I’d left the pocket-cam at home.

Pulled up at a red light on the way home, I leaned out the window and shot the rainbow with the camera in my phone; this is the first and I hope the only cellphone shot to appear here.

Rainbow in rainy winter dusk

When I got home, I charged up the stairs, slapped the wide-angle on the Pentax, and just managed to catch the last flickers of the sunset.

Trees at sunset

Lenses · Following that hasty lens change, the camera guts were scattered naked all over the table, and I was so amused by the contrast in glass real-estate between the little 40mm/2.8 “Pancake” and the big honking Sigma 30mm/1.4 that I had to take their picture.

Prime lenses: Pentax 21mm/2.8

Conversation · The other Saturday I was reading the paper and noticed that Lens & Shutter, the biggest local camera store, was having a mini-trade-show in combination with a big sale. So on Sunday I packed up the baby and went shortly after it opened. It was very small-scale: they had tabletop displays, people from Canon and Nikon and Sony and Pentax and Sigma and Hoya and a camera-case company and a tripod company and some other accessory vendors. Then off at the side, the camera store had an unadorned counter at which they were selling the on-sale goods.

It was really cool, having the selling part and the talking part separated. It wasn’t crowded early in the day, and all of the people were enthusiasts, so the conversations tended to be pretty deep and obsessive. I had nice chats with the Pentax and Sigma people, and I think I may have to pick up one of those wireless Pentax flashes. Good on ya, Lens & Shutter; markets are conversations.

Calibration · The one thing I did pick up at the show was a Spyder2express display calibrator. I only dimly understand the issues around colour, but I gather that people like me, who care enough to fiddle with prime lenses, really ought to calibrate, whatever that means.

Now I have. So I must be A Better Person, right? After the software and hardware have finished doing their thing, they show a “before/after” display, illustrating how all your photos used to look like crap but now look great. I’m a little suspicious of their objectivity, but things do look a little better. Well, except for the mild-straw colour I was using for my background is now a sort of livid off-mango and must be fixed.

Alex’s Camera · My friend Alex Waterhouse-Hayward scored an assignment to write about me in my capacity as notorious local Internet geek for the Georgia Straight, a mostly-harmless local entertainment-oriented free tabloid. He took an actual real sit-down portrait for the purpose, so I got to visit his way-cool studio. While I was there I pulled out my little pocket Canon and photographed his big camera:

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward’s Camera

Hey Alex, write a piece for us geeks on that camera and its lens and the tripod and all the other stuff you told me.

You can read Alex’s piece in the Straight but I’d rather send you over to the version on his blog. The writing is not as good as Alex’s usually is, because the Straight editors emasculated it. And the subject isn’t that interesting. I’d much rather read Alex writing about refrigerators and William Carlos Williams.

Here’s the picture.

Tim Bray by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Amazing what you can accomplish, given real talent and a few decades of practice.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Chris P (Dec 13 2007, at 20:39)

Hi Tim,

Calibration of your monitor to a known standard is what you do, if you want repeatable results when you are sending color stuff to a printing press.

Our pre-press folks (I work at a small newspaper chain) use the spyder device (or one very much like it) on a regular basis.

When it comes to electronic delivery, the results just aren't there, unless everyone calibrates their monitors, projectors, or who knows what.

It *is* one of those things someone sufficiently obsessed should do. <G>



From: foresmac (Dec 13 2007, at 20:58)


That portrait is awesome. A 6x7 can really make a difference. Believe me. One of the saddest days of my life is when I have to sell my Pentax 645AF.

Yet another reason I wished I lived in Vancouver. Think Alex would take my portrait?


From: David Smith (Dec 14 2007, at 13:49)

How times change - while I guess "The Straight" actually was harmless and "entertainment oriented" for the most part 35 years ago, I'm sure that not many of us thought of it in those terms... "Underground Press" was more the image. That went the way of Sweeney Cooperage and Kits as a low-rent neighborhood, I guess.


From: Alex Waterhouse-Hayward (Dec 14 2007, at 18:15)

It is easy to slag the Straight but in what really amounts to a one-newspaper town, this publication does provide us with investigative reporting, environmental reporting and information on arts events that may be out of the mainstream. In the 25 years that I have taken photographs for the Straight I have managed to capture on film most of the actors, directors, artists, writers, playwrights, directors, musicians (popular and not)and architects that are part of the cultural makeup of this city. Perhaps I will have to wait until I am dead before someone figures out that my files (35 years in Vancouver) represent a chunk of our culture that might not have ever been taken.

I tried to sell the idea of Tim Bray as a viable essay subject to other publications but only the Straight and its editor Charlie Smith showed interest.

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


From: Derek K. Miller (Dec 14 2007, at 20:37)

I like the photo even more with the markup on Alex's page.


From: kk+ (Jan 02 2008, at 16:05)

thx for posting this and thanks alex for your follow-up post. so many smart things to say.... i promise to do a better job following along! :P


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