Black and white previews, 28mm-e. But in 4:3.

I read about and saw a video of Ralph Gibson lately, and man was it beautiful, especially his black & white photographs which often looked like they’re in a 4×5 or 8×10 (large) format. But the man had a Leica on his shoulder while talking at a TEDx event somewhere, and so I don’t know much about him.

Still, this (and some other video of Kai Wong showing the Ricoh GR1) led me to mount my Panasonic 14mm/2.5 lens onto my Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first version) again, and to set that little camera to black & white, with a simulated yellow filter. And I also started to take photos in portrait mode (high), rather than in landscape (wide).

One of the advantages of a mirrorless camera is that you’ll instantly see black & white in the viewfinder, so compared to the old film days it’s pretty easy to “pre-visualize” what you’re about to get. Here are three examples, which I converted and corrected a bit with Olympus Viewer 3 (on Windows) and with RawTherapee (on Linux), but they’re pretty much like out of camera:

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As always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Got my photo taken today

Today I took photos of four colleagues at work. I offered to make photos “on white”, since you can easily use them everywhere in the web, in presentations, even in the company’s countless online services. And one of the colleagues who helped me, Gunther, also took my photo:

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Wolfgang, Frankfurt 2018

Thanks for viewing.

One photo from today (July 8th, 2018)

Taken a short while ago, using two studio strobes and my 45mm lens:

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Piano practice in F minor using headphones, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

The photo also shows Zuleikha’s new watch 😉

Thanks for viewing.

Three photos from three days

We’ve been to Paris this week. And of course we took all the photos of all the monuments and famous places like everyone else does. Here are three of mine:

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City of Love, Paris 2018

Kunst or just Kitsch – what do you think? I thought of a double take on the “love” theme, showing “love birds” in front of a famous monument in the “city of love”, as we Germans often call Paris. And because I also thought of “street art”, it had to be converted into black & white of course, together with an “artsy” frame 😉 You can buy drawings like this everywhere, but ok, I’ve been there, I’ve taken this shot, so why shouldn’t I show it?

Ok; here’s another one:

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Zuleikha, Paris 2018

One of the reasons Zuleikha wanted to see Paris was to visit the Louvre, which we did of course (and that wasn’t the only museum we visited). Of course you don’t see much in just a couple of hours; someone calculated that you’d need 6 weeks if you stay 30 seconds in front of each exhibit shown in the Louvre. And after looking at lots and lots of art, I asked Zuleikha to stand at a window of the Denon wing of Louvre – a window to the North. That usually means good and soft light because each photon is reflected at least once before entering and falling onto your subject, which makes light from a North-facing window very flattering for portraiture. I also explained this to another woman and mum, who thanked me and then took photos of her daughter. Looking at art the whole day is nice, making your own is even better 😉

Here’s another image:

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Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre as seen from Musée d’Orsay, Paris 2018

As its title says already, you see a famous church (which was actually the very first place we visited) through one of the two giant clocks of another nice museum. Theoretically you could put your camera on a tripod there, with interval timer, and each photo would be different because of the people in the foreground. Of the few I took I liked this one best.

The highlight of the trip, for me? Without any doubt, that is the two (or rather, eight in two installments) Nymphéas in the oval rooms of Musée de l’Orangerie, by Claude Monet. Breath-taking. Cannot be shown in photos, you have to go there to see them. If you can’t, see Paris, France: Monet’s Dreamy Water Lilies for a first and short impression. It’s part of a longer version called “Paris: Embracing Life and Art” from Rick Steve’s Europe series of videos, so if you really cannot go and still get a glimpse of why Paris is a must see, then spend around 25 minutes to see it. But for water lilies? You have to go, and you have to sit there to really get it.

How nice to re-visit the City of Light after some 40 years or so.

Thanks for reading.

An ad. But wow, what an ad!

Watch this:

Seems that Yamaha has some real innovators in their ranks. Good for them, and this also gives hope for Ampeg, whom they just bought…

Enjoy. I know I did.

Pictures from a Sunday walk

I decided to go for a walk today – haven’t done that really since last winter. So I aimed for the Mönchbruch nature preservation area, which is approximately 3.2km or roundabout 5,000 steps away from our place, according to the “Google Fit” step counter in our mobile phones.

Here are some pictures:

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Because I didn’t go into the restricted area, and because I didn’t have my longest lens on the camera, I couldn’t get closer views onto the deer. Approaching them would have been useless anyway, with the wind behind me…

On our way back (Mitchie had met me there after a while) we also saw some new goslings:

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Meanwhile, at home:

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As always, thanks for viewing.

Some more virtual pianos, and a real one

About a year ago or so I’ve compared virtual sampled pianos myself, and I did that using a downloaded MIDI file with Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”, played by someone I don’t know anymore (forgot to save that information together my my download as I’m afraid of). Anyway, for the purpose of pure sound (and effect) comparison, you can read the articles:

Take Five backing track, version 3 (from April 28. 2017),
Take Five backing track, version2 (from April 27, 2017), and
Trying my hand on… (from April 1, 2017)

The first two of these links have the XLN Audio Studio Grand, which is a sampled Steinway, and in the “Trying” article I used the free “Salamander” download, which is a sampled Yamaha C5 Grand Piano.

You can also listen to these three versions here if you wish:

(XLN Audio Studio Grand, Jazzish Preset)

(XLN Audio Studio Grand, tweaked with ‘cellar reverb’ by me)

(Salamander (Yamaha C5) Grand, which comes as a free download)

I like them all, and they’re more than enough for what I could play on any of these. But they’re nothing when compared to the real thing. Here is Bill Laurance, playing a Yamaha Concert Grand in Union Chapel, together with some of the Snarky Puppy musicians, and some classical strings and a horn:

The difference between a virtual piano and a real one is not only the sound – it’s more the feel, and hard to describe, but even *I* (as a non-piano player) can feel it. To understand what this is about, watch Josh Wright who explains it far better than I could (also demonstrate):

Enjoy… and as always, thanks for reading.

Virtual pianos

We’ve had an interesting discussion lately on Wikiloops. It started with played vs. sequenced (or programmed) stuff, and I also took it to using natural vs. sampled or even modelled instruments.

The “king’s class” as we would say here in Germany are of course pianos (and I also took a piano sound as an example for what I was writing about in the Wikiloops forum). Yes, of course a Steinway Grand from Hamburg (or from New York, depends on your taste) is the non plus ultra. But not everyone can afford such an instrument (at around 150k upwards or so), or has the time to wait for it being built (2 years or so), or has the space for it (about 2.7 meters in your living room).

So compromises have to be made. Next best thing would be a smaller Grand, or even an upright piano, and the latter ones now even exist as hybrids, like the Yamaha N1, 2, and 3 series. Still 5 digit, still take some space because they’re a bit bigger than your usual upright. But at least these can be played more or less “silent” already.

Which is the next big point. If you live in a rented apartment together with other people living in other rented apartments around you, you might need to play and/or practice and/or record more or less silently – and this is where virtual pianos come into play. Meaning that you still need some kind of keyboard, best a weighted one (a Kawai VPC-1 would be a nice example), plus some software for your computer, either sample based, or a “modelled” piano. Or you can have some integrated solution like a Yamaha Clavinova and its siblings from other companies.

So which one is best, and how do they sound like? Well listen to some here (it’s not a complete overview over the market, but it has some nice ones. Would love to have the XLN Audio piano included which came with my Focusrite interface, or even some free ones which you can download as well). Listen and come up with your own judgement:

Zuleikha briefly listened to these yesterday evening before she went to bed, and she liked some of the upright simulations and models. Pianoteq are “modelled” pianos which never existed, so no recorded (Giga-) samples, which makes them small and therefore suitable also for older or less capable computers. They even offer Linux versions I think. And while I don’t like the Pianoteq upright much, Zuleikha did. She plays a cheap Yamaha Arius here, a Yamaha Concert Grand in her music school, and lately played some nice Kawai uprights in a local music store.

So what’s your opinion? I did a comparison for myself already and decided that XLN is nice, but so was the free “Salamander” Grand (search for it, you can download samples with a few Gigabytes of size if you’re interested). Pianoteq would be interesting since all sample based instruments cut off differently than modelled ones. But I’m no piano player – and if you are, you have to come up with your own judgement.

Thanks for reading.

Edit: as Zuleikha told me, the music school has moved that nice Yamaha Grand, and now they’re back to an upright for her classes as well. Anyway…

An interview with Paul Davis

Almost a year ago, I reported about the keynote speech of the Linux Audio Conference 2017 at the Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne (UJM). That one was given by Paul Davis of Jack and Ardour fame, and very interesting not only for Linux Audio users. It’s still online if you want to see it.

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Ardour, and some of the Calf Plugins (which are available on Linux only), running on my computer, to work on vocals of a great singer who’s on Wikiloops)

Now, as I found via the Ardour site (and via the Linuxaudio Planet first to be correct), there’s an interview (from January 2018) with him again, by Darwin Grosse of Cycling 74, at the Art + Music + Technology site.

Find the 1 hour podcast and interview with Paul there.

It’s always interesting to listen to people like Paul, and this time you’ll learn a bit more about his personal history, how he got into music making with computers and Linux, and also about the close relationship between Ardour and its commercial sibling, Harrison Mixbus. Another thing I didn’t know so far was that the founder of Ableton was also heavily involved in Ardour at some point.

Paul also talks about the differences of linear workflow tools like Ardour, ProTools, and Cubase (just to name a few), and newer products for a more groove oriented workflow, like Ableton Live, Bitwig, or Fruity Loops (again, to name only a few).

Especially interesting for beginners, or for people who might play with the idea of switching over from Macs and Windows-based machines to Linux Audio are his two advices, like:

1. if you have already a workflow, and that is based off of plugins which might exist for Windows and/or Macs only, best forget about it, and

2. if you’re still interested and just don’t know where to start, try AVLinux.

(to which I might add that yes, AVLinux has the best of all available documentations about it all that I personally know of, but there are others which do more or less the same, like KXStudio, or even Ubuntu Studio (Zuleikha is using the latter on an older laptop, and all of them can be downloaded as Live images to put them onto a bootable USB Stick). The repositories of KXStudio are probably the way to go if you happen to run Debian Linux already, like I do.)

So in case you’re interested, go and have a listen. I always learn a lot from just listening to guys like Paul. And we owe them a lot.

So this is recommended listening for musicians, and even for video producers, or film music composers.

As always, thanks for reading.