Presents

Today was my 62nd, and these were my presents:

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Studio monitors, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019
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Das Kontrabass-Buch, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This second one was interesting, because I could go and visit the author’s shop in Frankfurt to pick up my copy. And once I was there I couldn’t resist to lay my hands onto some of the instruments they had there, so I briefly played contrabasses ranging from 1500€ to about 12k€ or so. All of them were nice, some were really nice…

The two main brands in case you’re interested are Christopher (Chinese), and Gasparo (Romanian). And then there’s the stuff which is a bit more expensive, like the German Wilfer or Stoll ones… but like I wrote above, there are nice ones in each range.

Anyway – thanks for reading, as always.

Me again, from ten days ago

Here’s the photo which Zuleikha took of me ten days ago, this time in midtoned black & white film simulation, and cropped into a 3:2 format:

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Wolfgang, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

As always, thanks for viewing.

My weekend of week 6, 2019

Yesterday I had some “fun” (read: work) again with Mitchie’s new computer. It started with lots of slow updates of Windows 10, about which I wrote already in my last post, and it went on after I finally got a nice new external casing for her SSD which came with the machine.

As it turned out, I had forgotten or at least not considered the fact that before installing both Windows and then Linux on her new SSD I had switched off SecureBoot in the machine’s UEFI (formerly called ‘BIOS’). Tho Ubuntu could have dealt with it as well as Windows, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. But what I hadn’t known and considered was the fact that Lenovo was so friendly as to turn on Bitlocker encryption on the drive as well, so even with jumping through several hoops to even get that key from Microsoft, I still couldn’t get Windows to de-encrypt the whole shebang again. In the end I gave up on this – there are things to do during your lifetime which are more worth of your time than dealing with stupid stuff like this. And the fact that a commercial vendor like Microsoft has keys to your machine which they don’t even tell you about seems more than questionable to me… So I formatted that old SSD and put a FAT32 partition onto it, so that it can be used as a bigger (and much faster and more reliable) USB “stick” with 128GB.

One more positive side note about Lenovo: their support pages are first class. If you allow them, they scan your machine and install all the drivers (for Windows of course) you might need. That’s almost as good as Linux which simply installs them without even bothering you with it.

Another topic:

Mike Johnston wrote a nice short article titled “Mike’s Seven Laws of Lenses” on his site The Online Photographer. And – not for the first time – he included a photo of a lens which he seems to love, and which I even have:

Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm/1.4 on Mike’s page

This is a nice one indeed, and well worth having should you consider a Micro Four Thirds camera (or even have one already). With my copy of that lens I took the following snapshot of Mitchie’s new machine, with the additional SSD leaning against it:

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Mitchie’s new machine, with an additional SSD leaning against it, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This is btw such a dark scene that I had to underexpose it in camera with -2.3EV to keep the blacks real black (pictures such as this one confuse the metering of even the best cameras, they would turn the photo into an average grey instead of mostly black). Anyway, you see her new “USB stick” (her old SSD) and its size as well. The machine with its 13.3″ screen is tiny, the drive even more so.

So that was my Saturday. My Sunday started with getting another new piano which was described in an article (in German) on Delamar – an online magazine from musicians for musicians from Darmstadt (ca. 18km from here). That virtual piano was interesting me because it’s some kind of hybrid between a sampled (=recorded), and a modeled (=computer generated) one, and because the sound sample on Delamar’s page sounded really nice (and some of its users even claimed that it’s better than the commercial modeled Pianoteq which I’ve tried (and liked) on Manjaro lately).

Of course like so many other “freebies” this piano comes as a Windows or Mac plugin only – but thanks to falkTX’s Carla the loading of an unencrypted Windows VST is no problem on Linux anymore (except of course that you’re running an additional Wine layer to emulate some Windows resources on Linux, but that’s not falkTX’s fault). So after downloading that freebie I could look at and listen to it on my Debian machine – looks like on my screenshot of it:

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the freebie “NeoPiano” from Soundmagic, a Windows VST running on Linux (thanks to falkTX and his Carla plugin rack)

And yes it sounds nice tho I haven’t tried much until now. But now that Zuleikha has Mitchie’s old Core i5 notebook from Dell, she will be able to test it as well – she’s the pianist in the family, not me. 🙂

So next time Zuleikha comes up with a new composition of hers, we can compare it against the commercial xln Audio ‘Addictive Keys’ Studio Grand (a Steinway D sampled in a studio somewhere in Sweden), and the other free ones we have already like the Salamander (Yamaha C5) or the ‘Piano in 162’ (another Steinway). The files she uploaded to Wikiloops so far were all done with the commercial xln one.

And now let’s have some more coffee, and a piece of cake 🙂 As always, thanks for reading.

Windows Updates

They last forever, really. I updated Mitchie’s new notebook to the latest version of Windows 10 which took all morning and even half of the afternoon. They seem to use some sort of throttling, because neither the CPU was busy, nor was the RAM full or the disk really the bottleneck. And if you’re used to the speed and elegance of a modern Linux machine (even with my already ‘ancient’ Debian stable), then you fall asleep when you have to wait for Windows…

Anyway, hers was finally done, and so I checked mine which updated faster (I do it more often, on Mitchie’s machine it was the first time ever, with a quite old boot image of Windows 10). Still, an out of the box Linux install *and* update is way faster – tho it also brings in much more software compared to a bare naked Windows.

So here’s a screenshot from my own machine – on which I use Windows occasionally only, when I need my camera makers’ raw converter or the control software for my audio interface and such:

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Sometimes even I use Windows…

As always, thanks for reading.

A Yogi Yoga for Mitchie

Today is Mitchie’s birthday, and it was time to get her a new notebook. The challenge was to find the right one, because pretty much nothing of the machines currently on offer fitted exactly the criteria of what she wanted and needed.

So in the end it became clear that we had to go modular – or better known as finding an offer of ‘built to order’ – pretty much as you would configure a car.

Not all vendors offer that, and even of the ones who did, no one really had the machine for her. Which means that part of the build had to be done by ourselves – not a big problem, because I’ve done this professionally in the past.

So this is what she got for her birthday today:

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A Yoga for Mitchie, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

This is a Lenovo Thinkpad L380 Yoga, which I ordered for her with Windows 10 Pro, an Intel Core i5 8xxx (8th generation) CPU, 16GB RAM, and the smallest SSD drive on offer which has the size of 128GB. And that one (with Windows on it) I took out right away, and replaced it with a Samsung 970 EVO NVMe drive with 1TB capacity. The other SATA drive with 128GB will be put into an external USB2/3 casing.

On the blank Samsung SSD I installed Windows 10 Pro first, and then Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. For Windows I had to search for a WLAN driver, with Ubuntu everything worked out of the proverbial box – including the Wacom pen which comes with that ‘Yoga’ device with its 180 degree rotatable touchscreen, which turns the machine into an artist’s tablet, and with a touch-sensitive pen as the cherry on top.

So that is what she/we wanted: a not too big (13.3″) device with a not too fast (i5) CPU, but with enough RAM (16GB) and hard drive (1TB), topped with a touch-sensitive full HD screen and even a pen. The cost? About half of a readily-configured machine which would have had everything except one thing or the other (and definitely not two operating systems, but that’s a story for another day. I’m waiting for the first vendor to offer – legally of course – machines with Apple, Microsoft, and Debian preinstalled).

It’s a nice machine. Especially with Ubuntu instead of Windows (which we need once a year for tax declarations – and the machine itself is tax-deductible of course). It even feels nice, and in no way cheap (which it wasn’t).

For those who are interested, here are the German Lenovo product page, and the Ubuntu compatibility page.

And now Mitchie needs a prescription for bifocals to read text in FullHD on a 13.3″ display…

Thanks for reading.

Guests on the albums of others

Both Zuleikha and me were included in the albums of other musicians on Wikiloops lately. A bit over a week ago, “Jypeka” included Zuleikha’s “You stood by” in his album “Romantic Classic“:

You can listen to the included track here as well:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

And I was included in Uloysius’ album “Into the blue 1” with a remix from “ArkRockStudio” of “I’m not Quite Ready for That”:

And you can listen to that track here as well if you like to:

This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com.

So if you’re interested in classical violin music or in a nice Blues sampler, consider to listen to the whole albums on Wikiloops for free, or download them with printable covers if you want them as physical media.

Thanks for reading and/or for listening.

Old lenses, and film simulations

I love my old manual lenses from the film SLR cameras, like my Olympus OM-2n. I have two 50mm lenses (f/1.4 and f/1.8), and Mitchie has another 50mm/3.5 macro. Zuleikha has a fourth 50mm/1.8 on her OM-1 film camera. Plus I also have a 135mm/2.8 lens which is quite wonderful.

The difference between these lenses and more modern ones is that they are manual (no autofocus), they aren’t as “bitingly” sharp – so more forgiving for portraits which is a good thing IMO, and they’re also less contrasty and often deliver a more pleasing look when compared to the more clinical modern counterparts.

I also loved using film when we were younger, mostly Kodak Ektachrome 400 colour slides, and Ilford HP5+ black & white film. I still do that today from time to time, but time hasn’t stood still, and film and those chemicals have some costs which add up quickly. So let me show you how I sometimes use those old lenses on a modern digital camera, and then simulate those films. Here are two examples:

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Zuleikha, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

That is a photo of Zuleikha, taken with my 135mm/2.8 lens fully open, mounted (via adapter) to my OM-D E-M10 Mark 2 camera with ISO3200. I used an Ektachrome 400 simulation from Color Efex Pro on this one, and I will show you the differences in a moment.

Here’s another one:

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Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

That is of course Tuna the cat, taken with my OM Zuiko 50mm/1.4 lens at f/2.8, mounted (via adapter) to my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark 2 camera which took ISO6400 for this one. I used an Ilford HP5+ film simulation from Silver Efex Pro for this. Plus I midtoned this as usual with RawTherapee.

The differences to digital images? Have a look at the thumbnails in my file browser (Nautilus of the Gnome desktop):

The black & white photo preview has more contrast, tho I reduced that about 10% in SFX already. And the colour preview shows that even in those ancient times, people knew about colour science, didn’t they? That simulated film image looks a lot less dull and boring than its “digital” counterpart (and yes, of course they’re all digital, but still I hope you’ll get my point).

I should do this much more often. I love manually focusing such nice lenses, and I also love the results.

Thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Cat on girl

Took this with two of my studio strobes last evening:

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Cat on girl, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Thanks for viewing.

Still no camera…

I’m still waiting for my camera, so in the mean time I used Mitchie’s again today to take another photo of the cat. Used Rawtherapee on Linux only this time to “develop” it from the raw file:

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Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

I’m writing this with the new editor in WordPress 5, new from this evening.

Interesting…