Getting a bit more active with music again

Music was my first love”

sang John Miles back in 1976, when I was just 19. And he was so right (and I even played that song with one of the bands I performed with). And what do you do during long and cold winter days and nights, when you don’t even want to think about going out with a camera? Right – I remembered music.

And so I read a lot; I had a bit of catching up to do since I last dealt with making or even recording some music. I stayed with free and open source software of course, and Linux has a lot of wonderful tools to get creative these days. I ended up with configuring the repositories of KXStudio on my machine, so I can still use Debian. And for Zuleikha, who started composing and writing her own first songs, I installed Ubuntu Studio on Mitchie’s old Lenovo Thinkpad SL500. And there are other guys making cool stuff like for instance AVLinux – their user manual alone is worth a look if you want to get up to this stuff real quick.

Mitchie’s old machine has only a Celeron, and 2GB of main memory – so it’s not the machine for some samples of Grand Pianos I downloaded lately (one Yamaha C5, ca. 2GB, and one Steinway, ca. 5GB). I guess it would struggle hard if you put up some audio and midi tracks in Ardour with it, but for Zuleikha it’s nice to start arranging and composing with MuseScore. So today a USB type AB cable arrived, and I hooked up the machine to Zuleikha’s Yamaha YDP-142R piano:

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Mobile Ubuntu Studio

It all started when Zuleikha got some nice and easy pieces from her piano teacher, like this one:

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Bluestone Alley, by Congfei Wei

I downloaded some free scores and tablatures for the guitar, and let’s see – maybe we’ll get some microphone to even record the small one playing her horn (and/or her friend Yuma, who’s perfect on her recorder)…

Of course I’ll also document this with the camera. Cannot wait. 🙂 So, with a bit of fantasy and dedication, winter is actually good for something.

As always, thanks for reading.

An awesome video production

In contrast to yesterday’s obituary, here’s another piece for guitar:

Silvius Leopold Weiss – ” Fantasie”, guitar Asya Selyutina

Like the title says, this is from Sylvius Leopold Weiss (see English and German Wikipedia pages), and the performing artist is Asya Selyutina.

Interesting how different an instrument can be. Anyway, here I liked everything, especially the camera and sound work. Awesome performance on this Baroque piece (which is some 300 years old) as well. And she plays a guitar hand-made by Peter Barton.

Oh, and in case you play the guitar yourselves, find the score with tabs, and midi as well as Guitar Pro files here. And yesterday’s Tango is here. Thanks go to Christian Liang for these.

Thanks for viewing and reading.

R.I.P. Roland

On October 29th last year, one of the world’s best guitar players, composers, and arrangers died – Roland Dyens (see English and German Wikipedia pages in case you didn’t know him).

Here he’s performing one of his better known own compositions:

Roland Dyens, playing his “Tango en Skai”

Also listen to his interpretations and arrangements of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunesia“, and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “A Felicidade“, the latter of which is now played by countless guitarrists around the world.

And if you play the guitar yourself, read this very good analysis of “his style of arranging and performing” (45 page PDF) by Michelle Birch.

R.I.P. Maestro.

Portraiture, naturally

Happy new year again, everyone.

I’ve been thinking about my (and others’) photography lately, and watched lots of videos, and read lots of other photographers’ blogs. I also looked at my own photos, and identified some favourite ones. Almost all of them are photos of family members (including “our” cat). And that reminded me of my original reasons to get better cameras since late 2009.

It’s this personal photography which is most important to me. Keeping memories about family, friends, colleagues, strangers, simply people I’ve met or with whom I live. Thinking about 2017, I’d say that I have everything I need gear-wise. Ok; I could use some more lights (and/or modifiers for them), or maybe some more lenses. But mostly I have what I need – a very nice and capable little camera with prime (single focal length) lenses, and a telephoto zoom should I need some more reach and/or the perspective you have with these.

So I started the new year with what I like the most: take some portraits, naturally. Like this one:

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Zuleikha, January 2017

A propos the title of this short article, “Portraiture, naturally” – got that one from a video of British photographer David Thorpe on Youtube. David is a very interesting photographer, and both his Youtube channel as well as his blog are very worthy of having a look and read. Like us, he has discovered the Micro Four Thirds system as pretty much ideal for his needs, and this after a life-long career as a photojournalist. I’m always glad when I discover people like him, and some of his writings are just so funny – take for instance his description of a “gentleman” from his article about “The Gentleman’s Lens“:

“The gentleman has always held an emblematic status in England. A gentleman is good at what he does but not superb. That would involve too much effort, which is ungentlemanly. A gentleman is superior but without effort. Effort would imply that he is concerned about what others think. That would be pandering and decidedly ungentlemanly. The essence of a gentleman is summed up by the old English aristocracy’s mode of dress. For example, an expensive, but not too expensive jacket which has been allowed to become a bit ratty, with leather patches on the elbows and frayed – but not too frayed – lapels. The message of the jacket is that the wearer has enough money but not too much (vulgar!), though almost certainly more than you because he allows a good quality jacket to become scruffy whereas you, not being a gentleman, would probably have had it repaired or – horror! – bought a new one. The message is that so superior are you that you do not even deign to compete.”

Time- and priceless, just as his discovery why gorgeous women in glamorous bars never give him a second look (that’s in another of his articles, but I’ll leave that discovery for yourself). The man surely can make you laugh. And he has world-class photos.

Ok, enough for now. As always, thanks for reading.

Happy new year!

We wish all of our readers a happy new year 2017. Since I’ve only made some crappy fireworks shots until now, here are some last ones from last year. Taken Thursday, Friday, and Saturday:

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Arno, playing with Tux (the Linux penguin mascot)

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Cold

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Tuna, December 2016

That last one was taken with the “kit zoom” (of the E-PL5) on my E-M10 camera at 17mm. The camera was still set to an upper auto ISO limit of 3200 from Zuleikha’s birthday party in a dark bowling center, and because of the limited opening of that lens at 17mm (around f/4 or so), ISO 3200 was what my camera used here. This was a few hours before the end of 2016, and little did Tuna know about the upcoming fireworks, and that she’d be hiding under some beds again… those crazy humans!

Thanks for reading.

With the best wishes

We here at lonien.de wish everyone who celebrates it merry Christmas, nice holidays, and a happy new year 2017. Plus many more to come.

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Self portrait

And as always, thanks for reading/viewing/visiting.

Cat cookie

It’s two days before Christmas. Wow, the year was short, at least in retrospective. Today Mitchie and Zuleikha, who’s on holiday already, made some cat cookies, so I took a picture:

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Cat cookie

Taken with the Olympus E-PL5 camera and the 14-42mm zoom lens set to 17mm and f/4. I “muted” the colours with the Olympus Viewer 3 raw converter, and desaturated (-3/100 clicks) a bit further in RawTherapee.

Somehow I love the 17mm focal length, and because I don’t have this and that, I use the “kit zoom” when I want it. That 17mm Olympus lens is recommended together with the successor of my E-M10 camera for kid photos, here. And this whole trip to Europe was also taken with that single focal length, which shows how versatile that can be.

No affiliate links here, just a tip if you need a camera for family and travel photos.

And as always, thanks for reading/viewing.

If your camera…

Yesterday I took some photos of Mitchie who was sitting on our sofa, knitting. The only light was our small LED reading light with approximately 5 Watts or so – and since she was moving, I had to raise the sensor sensitivity (or amplification) to about ISO 6400, or even ISO 8000. With settings like these, I ended up with times like 1/10th to 1/15th of a second at an aperture around f/2.8.

Of course the results were not really optimal, so I started looking and comparing, like here. A Sony A7 Mk2 would be at least a stop better than my camera, a Nikon D750 easily two stops, and a Canon 5D Mk3 (an older model, but I wanted to stay roughly in the same price range) would be somewhere in between.

But while dark things in low (or almost no) light are one thing, I remembered that my camera also had the advantage of having built-in sensor stabilization (which that Sony also has), so I started comparing the Nikon’s and Canon’s ISO 12800 with 6400 on the Sony, and with 3200 on mine – which equals out the field considerably.

But ok, two stops lower also means times x 4, which would be counter-productive, at least for moving subjects. So what to do?

Simple: more light, as Goethe is believed to have said. Tried and true:

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Tuna the cat, December 2016

I took this photo of Tuna some minutes ago, while it is dark outside already. So I used my compact flash at 1/4 power on my computer desk, reflected over the wall, and one of my studio strobes at around 1/10th of its maximum output reflected over the opposite wall (behind me in this photo, you see it reflected in her eyes).

The aperture here is f/2.5, but with the really bright flash light I could use the sync time of 1/160th of a second, at ISO 200. Much better than my efforts from yesterday.

So if your camera isn’t as good as others in low (or almost no) light – simply add some. Better, far easier, faster, and also cheaper than to become envious and to think about other and supposedly better cameras…

As always, thanks for reading.