More Rambling Hither and Yon

Back to Blackie Sherrod mode, I’m scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to “Whispering” Bill Anderson…

Photography: Vignetting of photos is the darkening of corners of the image by limitations of the lens — either its own field of view or by an accessory such as a lens hood or baffle. Vignetting is an equipment artifact, much like exposure bias or dust specks on the mirror — and like the others, can and should be removed digitally to render the image as true to the actual scene as possible. I love the vignetting controls for digital raw images in “Bridge,” a semi-autonomous app for Photoshop CS2. Just slide the bar this way or that, the vignetting is gone, and the photo looks like it did through the viewfinder. I only wish Photoshop would open and process RAWs directly, including vignetting adjustment, instead of through a memory-hogging, CPU-cooking helper app.

An idealistic rant was inevitable, so here it is. While removing introduced artifacts is perfectly OK, I’m fanatically opposed to digital alteration of photos. Alteration means adding features which weren’t there or subtracting things which were. That’s just plain dishonest and unethical, and has no place in true photography. Digital art– yes…but don’t call it photography anymore. Read the photography boards. You’ll see those who alter their images, without advertising them as composite images or digital art — make up all kinds of excuses for their deception-by-omission. Simply, it boils down to pure, unadulterated greed — make a buck by tricking people who most often don’t have the expertise to know better. Add a tornado where it wasn’t, or a lightning strike, or morph them together from separate images, and you get…the beautiful lie. Many of the fakes are starting to get convincing even to experts in the subject matter, as more and more of the unethical subset of “experts” employ realistic alterations (tornado under wall cloud) instead of unrealistic ones (tornado from mammatus).

NFL musings: So far this season, the Minnesota Vikings look like this year’s version of the 2005 Cowboys. Their first three games (record 2-1) were tight, close, defensively dominated snot-knockers. The Jaguars look really powerful, especially on defense, and despite their close loss today in Indy. If they win the rematch in Jacksonville, the Jags are the favorites in the AFC. The only team that has moved almost at will on them was the Cowboys — and only for one quarter. Then Drew Bledsoe suddenly morphed into Neil O’Donnell and hurled wayward passes all over the place, like fireballs from a spinning Roman candle. Still, I’ve got guarded optimism for the Cowboys to make a good deal of racket in the playoffs this year. No NFC team besides Seattle looks especially powerful; and with a less experienced 2005 defense, the Cowboys battled the SeaHags right down to the wire in Seattle.

I thought the Giants would be tough, and given their talent they still could be. But I don’t recall too many (if any) Super Bowl champs who got smoked for 5 touchdowns in a half during the regular season, as their defense did today.

And back to the ol’ home state: How awful is a Toxins defense that allows the QB (Mark Brunell) of a team that played like dog crap in its first two games (Deadskins) to reel off 22 straight completions? Because they were playing against Hated Evil Enemy Number One, I actually cheered for the team from Houstink today; and they let me down. Coming to theaters near you: The Invisible Man, starring Mario Williams, co-starring the Toxins’ secondary.

Currently reading: Landry’s Boys by Peter Golenbock. Great interviews and anecdotes from many former Cowboys, about the good, bad and ugly, and the early championships… Of the many books I’ve read about America’s Team, so far this one’s packed with as much insight as any into the era covered.

Want to read: Godless by Ann Coulter. Isn’t it amazing, looking back over the decades, how proudly the leftward movement has promoted the idea of the smart, tough, blunt, strong-willed, opinionated, powerful, and outspoken woman — that is, until the rise to prominence of this smart, tough, blunt, strong-willed, opinionated, powerful and outspoken conservative woman. Now listen to ’em whinin’ and moanin’, like schoolyard bullies who have been figured out, their bluffs called, their own faces rubbed in the dirt, having to swallow a dose of their own medicine. Methinks there are a lot of self-styled “progressives” who, in their bleeding little hearts, don’t like being ideologically “beat up by a girl,” and would never admit it for fear of revealing their sexist hypocrisy. Hee hee…it’s great. I really need to check out this tome that’s causing so much long overdue heartburn amongst the latte-sippin’, Michael Moore worshippin’, Blue State sociopolitical crowd.

Want to read: Krakatoa by Simon Winchester. I’ve had this book for 4 years and just haven’t read it yet. No excuses…well, except the fact that Elke’s reading it now and I have to wait. 🙂

Volcano visits: It was good to finally check out a couple of American volcanoes this summer, up close and personal. I’ve wanted to visit Mt. St. Helens ever since the 1980 eruption, and we finally go to do that. It’s having a long-term steam eruption and building a spatter cone behind the one that erupted with some lava production two years ago (photos coming soon to SkyPix and elsewhere). We visited Mt. Rainier…a huge, impressive, glaciated mountain and dormant volcano. Geologists promise that one of these days, that sucker is going to get shaken by a strong quake, or the soft, hot, watery volcanic rock inside will get too unstable to support the wight of rock and ice above, or the heat from below will melt enough ice to send whole glaciers careening downslope. Any of those dreadful but fascinating processes easily would set loose millions of tons of mixed-phase material from the steep slopes, and a massive ice/water/mud flow (lahar) would charge downriver toward Tacoma and Puget Sound. Quite a few subdivisions in the southern suburbs of metro Seattle-Tacoma are built on old mudflows from Rainier that happened not long before European arrival, and they’re basically doomed. It’s only a matter of time — 1 year or a thousand?


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