Category Archives: Life

Earth Day Thoughts

Protecting the environment isn’t just about saving the planet. It’s about saving ourselves. It’s about being responsible custodians of nature not just for its own sake (though that’s important too), but so we can keep relying on it…instead of sucking the life out of everything we can like there’s no tomorrow, leaving a world that’s too inhospitable for us to live on in any sort of comfortable civilization.

Tens of thousands of years on, the planet will recover from just about anything we throw at it, as long as we stop messing things up at some point (like, say, dying back to subsistence level as famines and wars over the remaining resources kill us off). It may take longer for biodiversity to recover, but it will happen eventually, as it has after each great extinction event — though always taking new paths to replace the possibilities that didn’t make it.

But I don’t have 10,000, 100,000, or a million years to wait for things to recover, and neither do you.

I miss the optimism of the 1990s, when the message I got was “Things are messed up, but we can fix them.” Remember when we were more worried about running out of oil than about the effects of burning it? Now the message I keep seeing is, “Too late! We’re all screwed!” Especially with large entrenched interests trying to not just fight the gains we’ve made since the 1970s, but actively roll them back.

Maybe we can’t solve the problem completely anymore. But at least we can try to mitigate it a little.

Indignant geese.

Going Mirrorless: WonderCon 2019 Cosplay Photography

Last fall, I conceded that phones have caught up to casual cameras and I’d have to get a nicer one to get better image quality. Well, I finally bought a mirrorless camera. The kiddo found my old SLR, and we’ve split a few rolls of film (re)discovering how to shoot with it. Then he started asking about a modern digital equivalent. Since it was going to be two of us using it, not just me, I felt like I could justify the expense.

I read a bunch of reviews and asked around for advice, finally settling on a Sony Alpha a6000. It’s a few generations back in their advanced amateur line, making it a bit more affordable.

We brought the new camera to WonderCon, and I made some discoveries:

  1. It actually handles the light level inside the convention center!
  2. I’ve gotten waaaay too used to just capturing costumes when shooting cosplayers, instead of composing interesting shots. Most of the photos I took on Saturday had good image quality, but were ultimately just snapshots.
  3. Because of #1 and #2, I ended up with a lot of busy backgrounds. I tried to cut down on the distraction by adding vignetting to some of the photos afterward.

Originally we planned totrade off who had the good camera, but he ended up wearing his giant Minecraft Spider Jockey costume the entire time, so he didn’t have much opportunity to take photos. In the end, he only took one all weekend…but it was the best-composed shot of the entire day!

Women dressed as Joy, Sadness and Disgust from Inside Out

I took the lesson from that, and while most of my pictures on Sunday were still utilitarian snaps, I did manage to take a few that I think worked out better, like these three:

My full cosplay gallery is on Flickr, including these four photos and all those snapshots.

The Google+ Rescue Mission

In advance of Google shuttering their third(?) attempt at a social network, Google+, I’ve retrieved a full archive, and I’ve trawled through it looking for anything that I want to keep online after the shutdown. Most of them were cross-posts of one sort or another, or (early on, especially) the kind of random social media status that maybe has value in the moment, but not down the line. I found around 30-40 posts worth keeping. Some had their own merits, some fit in with other posts here on the blog.

Rather than just import them verbatim, I’ve decided to do some minimal cleanup. No major rewriting or anything, just the kind of things that I’d be willing to silently change on an old blog post that was already here:

  • Fix up the formatting
  • Fix typos
  • Link to related posts
  • Add a quote to linkblogging posts if they need more context

Yeah, it’s slower than copy-paste or direct import (I never did get around to writing the converter I wanted to), but there’s no rush for old news, and I’ve got copies to work from even if I’m not done by April 2.

Waxing and Waning Moon

Tonight’s waxing crescent moon, taken with the really long telephoto lens. It’s passing in front of the Hyades star cluster right now, which I’d love to get a photo of, but the moon is just waaay too bright to capture the background stars! Plus I’m still getting used to the controls on this camera.

And here’s another moon shot I took in January, about a week after the lunar eclipse. I used a different camera, while it was in a different phase, on the opposite side of the sky…

Same moon, though! 🙂

Supercameratelephotolensisoutoffocus

Blurry leaves on a twig in front of an even blurrier background.

Super camera telephoto lens is out of focus
Even though the tripod’s set, the blur is really bogus
If you use the automated setting hocus-pocus
Still the telephoto lens is slightly out of focus!

(The background is supposed to be blurry, but I had a lot of trouble focusing on the foreground with this lens. I guess it’s just going to take practice.)