Milton Perrin /

AF-F This

The addition of video to SLRs is a logical and nifty idea, though in practical use it has some limitations. Auto focus is iffy at best, and the ability to manually focus moving objects really takes some practice. During the recent El Tour de Tucson I tried the various options in AF-F mode with the D800. I was asking a lot – to follow multiple riders coming towards the camera at a pretty good clip. Sometimes it did ok, other times it lost it and just kept hunting. I tried the options, 9-point, 21-point, 3-d. None seemed much better than the others for shots similar to this using a 80-200mm D. I left the sound of the focus motor to show it’s gyrations. Not great, not terrible, though a lot of testing will be necessary to trust it, if ever. Should have used manual exposure too, at least for now it’s really a manual thing for optimal results.

Virgil quick come and see, there goes Robert E. Lee

This week marks 150 years since the battle of Antietam. 23,000 Americans dead, wounded captured or missing. A self-inflicted wound, recorded for posterity by some of the first modern battlefield photography by Mathew Brady and his associates, depicting death, dismemberment and rot in its black and white glory. There are also wonderful photos of Abraham Lincoln (he was tall) and his generals including General McClellan though. Soon after Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation – a high price to pay but perhaps the only way. 150 years later American soldiers are not fighting on U.S. soil but still facing death and dismemberment for dubious political reasons. You’d think we would have learned a bit by now.

I’ll Have It My Way

The lowly hamburger is the root of our national polarization. When I was a kid Lyndon Johnson was president and McDonald’s was small and still had the big golden arches spanning the building. You ordered the skinny burgers and fries and a milkshake and that was that. I don’t recall any customization, even when the Big Mac came along – it was just a Big Mac. LBJ would go in the back room and do whatever he did to get things done. Over time the marketers discovered the “Have It Your Way” approach. Yeah, that’s it, I don’t want no pickles, or I want extra onion, or no lettuce. And Congress followed suit. I want government my way, just like like my Whopper. Why compromise? If government is the restaurant and the diners are the people, if everyone gets exactly what they want, it makes the restaurant less efficient, more prone to error and ssssllllooowww. I get what I ordered eventually but at a high price and sooner or later the restaurant goes bust.

Nikon D800 – Excellent But Quirky

I’ve now shot a few commercial jobs and a wedding with the D800. Overall I’m very pleased with it. The amazing resolution is showing the limitations of the glass more than anything, particularly if you need to go beyond f16. It’s still not perfect, though some quirks may be operator error. I’ve experienced the lockup issue which is supposedly fixed by the firmware update I haven’t applied yet. I’m hoping the next update will address the green cast in the monitor. It’s annoying, especially compared to my trusty D300. Sometimes I’m in yucky mixed lighting situations – a little fluorescent, a little tungsten and (don’t ask) a little daylight. I could at least give a semi-reasonable guess looking at the D300 monitor. The D800’s green cast makes manual adjustment pure Kentucky windage and its odd auto white balance at times makes it a pure post thing. I haven’t tested the left focus yet and haven’t noticed it, but I have had some odd focus at times in the actual images. Hopefully it’ll all get straightened out in time, it’s still a fine machine.


A recent auction at Christie’s brought in a cool $388 million or so. Art by Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Alexander Calder etc. Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” recently sold for $120 million – $120 million! A Rothko for a cool $87 million.

In a recent biography by Sue Prideaux she wrote that in 1895 Munch was at his brother’s funeral. A relative said: “Why don’t you paint something people will buy, Edvard? I know perfectly well you can do it. When you think of it, it’s really inconsiderate of you, especially when you know how poor we all are.” [Note: I haven’t actually read nor heard of this book or author but found it referenced on a website – and it currently has five stars on – another bizarre fact of modern life how we base an opinion of things on how many stars it has. But it must be a good book. I apologize ahead of time for inaccuracies.]

Munch, Rothko, Van Gogh, Pollock etc. I’m sure they had moments of joy and happiness to go along with (possibly) more moments of poverty and despair. I wonder what each would think if they knew the current status of their work. Pride? Disgust? Anger? Apathy?

Digital Man Ray

I wonder if Man Ray or Marcel Duchamp (for example) would spend hours learning how to push pixels around if they were working today? There’s so much information on the internet about making, taking, tweaking, pre-setting and posting images using all kinds of tools imaginable but very little about what the image is really trying to convey. If anything. Which breeds lots of very shiny seductive images (and films) that are mighty pretty but have the soul of a styrofoam cup. But a very nice styrofoam cup indeed.