Bass Amplifier

I was asked to join a band lately, what an honour! More to that later, after first rehearsals and after they’ve accepted me as a new player. Plus the Wikiloops members’ meeting 2020 was announced, and I’m very much looking forward to that (like everyone who has attended one earlier I guess).

Time to get a bass amplifier.

During last years’ Wikiloops meeting we’ve had Marc’s small Markbass Mini CMD 121P which is one of the most sold bass combos out there, and it’s incredible. Small, light, loud. You see it behind my right shoulder in this photo:

Photo of me at last years’ Wikiloops members’ meeting (Steinfeld 2018)

There was more gear like Gijs’ stack behind me, plus some smaller amps upstairs in the acoustic/unplugged area. But whenever I played I used that small Markbass. It was perfect except that I personally prefer 15″ speakers to the 12″ it had/has built in.

So for the new band, and for next years’ Wikiloops meeting and any other events where I might have to be heard live, I wanted to get something like that Markbass amp, but with a 15″ speaker if possible. And there are several, and I took the cheapest option. Its name is Markbass CMD JB Players School, and its speaker is black instead of orange, and this is how it looks beside my bass:

My bass, my amp, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Fits just perfectly in the trunk of our small Toyota, but not – as I had hoped but not measured – under our small Ikea tables (guess that 12″ would have fitted, but oh well, one has to make compromises, right?).

And yes, I have tested it against the Mini CMD 121P, and in my opinion, for my taste, and with a (fretted) P(recision) Bass it sounded better than its smaller, lighter, but also more powerful and more expensive brother. A propos loud enough: someone on assured me that the one I bought is loud enough in a Big Band context, plus all these modern amplifiers have DI-Outs (and the ones in Markbass amps can even be switched pre or post pre amp just as it should be) – so in case it gets really loud, there’s always a cable running from the amp into the mixer (or recording device, whatever).

Perfect for what I need. And cheaper than the lens with which I took its photograph 🙂

As always, thanks for reading.

Some recent photos taken around my desk

Working on our server is about finished, with only minor issues left. I have to thank Michael from Frankfurt who is the lead developer of our admin tool which is called ‘Froxlor‘, and who is known as ‘d00p’ in the forums and IRC channel of his program. He helped a lot, also directly on our server (thanks again Michael, and my offer for coffee still stands).

Last Sunday, in between those server works, I took this photo from Tuna from under my own chair, using my 50mm/2 macro lens from the digital Olympus Four Thirds system:

Lazy Sunday Afternoon, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

I cropped it into a 3:2 format like from a film camera.

And a few minutes ago I took a photo of our bird feeder from my desk ‘workspace’, through the closed veranda door, using my newly Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm lens fully zoomed out at 100mm, and wide open at f/5.6:

Taken from my desk “workspace”, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

And because this one was taken through a glass door, I tried the ‘Clarity’ and ‘Dehaze’ filters in Olympus’ relatively new ‘Workspace’ raw developer (on Windows). Made a screen shot from these settings, kind of a ‘making of’:

Settings of ‘Clarity’ and ‘Dehaze’ in the relatively new Olympus Workspace raw developer

Interesting, isn’t it? Almost like using a polariser filter which we used in the old film days when taking photos through glass surfaces. You still can’t beat them even in digital (laws of physics), but you can come pretty close already.

So this is what I see if I look left from my computer. As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

“Developed” using RawTherapee

I’m still “having fun” with our server, and with some of the software on it. Not much time for music, photography, or any other hobby. So I thought I’d show a photo which I took lately when I had the 50mm macro lens on my camera to “scan” some negatives (from Zuleikha’s films). And while I had RawTherapee open on my Linux box, I decided to use that to make a jpg out of the raw file from the camera. So here’s Tuna from last Sunday or so:

Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Love the colours in this one. A good contrast between the cat and the sofa. Oh, and I cropped it into 3:2 like all the “scans” I made from Zuleikha’s films.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

A photo on film, “scanned” with a new method

Zuleikha and her class have been to Eastern Germany lately, to Weimar and Erfurt. And before she went she asked if she could use my film camera for the trip, and I said yes of course, and also bought her some additional rolls of film (that Kodak Gold 200 is less than 8€ for 3 rolls, so really not that expensive).

When giving her films back for development, Zuleikha opted for the cheaper of two available papers which was ok – the prints look really nice. But what she couldn’t opt for with this method were CDs with scans, so she got back just the negatives together with the prints (including an index print). So I “scanned” some of her negatives with taking pictures of them again. Can’t show you the ones with people in them, so let me show you one of the music school in Weimar instead:

Musikschule Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Weimar 2019

About my new method: I used the Google Nexus 5 mobile phone as a background light, first placing the negatives right onto it. But that made the structure of the LED light grid show as a result, so the negatives had to get a bit of distance to that surface. For that distance I used (borrowed) 2 pencils on which I laid the film stripes. To get them flat I put a small glass plate on top. My camera was mounted on my tripod reversed (with its center column pointing down instead of up), and I had my macro lens mounted on my Olympus E-M10 Mark 2 digital camera. I took a custom white balance of the background light, set the lens to f/4 to not get that background light grid sharp again, and used a timer to get rid of any camera shake through my touching it.

And that’s about it. I made a template in RawTherapee for the conversion to positives and for a bit of level adjustments, and now I can make a batch of these conversions quite fast. So tomorrow I’ll ask her which ones she’ll need for further distribution, or for making more (most probably postcard-sized) prints to give them to some friends or so.

Oh, and she did a really good job. Her photos are stunningly beautiful, and once more I’m very proud of our “small one” (who is taller than her mum since a while) 🙂 And I’ll also take some more film photos next time. It’s really quite different, and I like the results a lot, this time even in colour.

As always, thanks for reading.

After the meal and before the fight

Just heard her outside with what was probably the black & white cat which I saw the other day. Tuna is always fighting, probably protecting her territory. In the photo she was cleaning herself after eating, and I took this hand-held with ISO 6400 and 1/10th of a second at f/1.4 (my lens wide open):

After the meal and before the fight, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2019

Midtoned as usual, and cropped 3:2 like from a film camera. Oh, and I haven’t used any noise reduction whatsoever, so this is *much* better than film IMHO. And with 1/10th of a second hand-held, what saved me here is the wonderful IBIS (in-body image stabilisation) from my camera. So I couldn’t have done the same with film anyway.

As always, thanks for viewing, and for reading.

Some more videos from my watching history

Here is some stuff that I found useful and/or interesting and/or inspiring. First, when Zuleikha came back from her recent trip with her class, she talked about having seen a large format camera – so I thought I’d show her how to use these, and what results to expect:

Steve scans his 8×10 negatives with an Epson flatbed scanner set to 2000dpi – which means that he’s getting an image of about 320 Megapixels. Almost overkill even for good computers, and enlargements of 60 inches on the long side shouldn’t be a problem either.

The interesting thing about Steve is that he’s also using smaller formats (like his Bronica 6×6 film camera) and even Micro Four Thirds – with almost identical results for his purposes. See here:

Yes, he puts a bit of “grain” into the images, and that makes them almost look like film. It’s not so much the camera, it’s how to use one.

Oh, and I’ve seen – and heard – iamNEETA unplugged in a Malaysian TV3 show. And yes, the girl can really sing (and the boys play). Listen to ‘Ilusi’ again, and also to ‘Sakit’ – both from the ‘Sweet Dreams’ series:

Awesome, aren’t they? No wonder that their music is used for the movies… and I wish them luck for their future careers, just like I wish for the actors and actresses of ‘Sweet Dreams’ as well.

As a last tip for now, one of our own. Martin, a friend from Wikiloops offers a new Youtube channel with tips on how to play the drums. And he also does an awesome job. Here’s his introduction, look at his channel for further lessons:

Always a pleasure and an honour to play with Martin. Enjoy.

And as always, thanks for reading / watching / listening.

Me on film, August 2019

Got my first film back from the lab, together with some prints (10x15cm), and scans on CD which aren’t very good or high-res (but we knew that already, doesn’t matter since these are cheap).

I’m not too convinced with the colours from their Kodak Gold colour negative film (200ASA), so I tried a black & white conversion using RawTherapee, and added a white border in Darkroom with the last image from that film. Looks like this:

Me, on film

Not too bad, my “full frame” camera from ca. 1972 or so, hm? Scaled down to your usual image height for screens like here (1080 pixels high), or even printed on 10x15cm paper, the results are very nice. And I’m sure that they’d be even better if I would scan the images myself (and maybe I’ll do that with a few prettier ones).

Edit: just converted another one to black & white, same method as above:

Zuleikha, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2019

As always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Found via PetaPixel: a short intro to Darktable

This one might be interesting for all of you who don’t like or want Adobe’s subsription-based software (and in music, there are companies like ProTools which do the same). It’s about a free Lightroom alternative, and yes you’ve read that right, it’s both free as in cost as well as free as in free speech (and as such, rights), which is even more important.

It’s available for all major operating systems like Linux, Windows, or MacOS, unlike RawTherapee which I mostly prefer. But it tops RawTherapee in features, especially in the masking explained here, and as such, in its local processing capabilities. Other standout features which I’ve mentioned already include the map for instance, or the profiles for denoising an image.

So go and read PetaPixel, and watch the video right there, or in Youtube.

And as always, thanks for reading.

A new tripod ball head for Mitchie

Got this Manfrotto MH494-BH for Mitchie’s 190-series tripod today:

A new Manfrotto Mini Ball Head 494 for Mitchie

And yes, that’s her camera and lens.

Oh, and like the photo in my last blog post I used RawTherapee 5.5 (and only that) on my Linux machine to make this with a simulated Kodak Portra 160VC film. Also cropped it to a 4:5 format. Took it with my E-M10 Mk2 and the 45mm/1.8 lens at f/2.

Mitchie’s new tripod head feels and operates very nice, and for the size of her camera it’s the appropriate size as well. And it has friction control and even a panoramic mode – cool.

Thanks for reading.