Lately I have discovered another good bass teacher on Youtube, and from his first lesson on I thought wow, that’s a nice sound from his bass there…
… and on his web page, he writes about what gear he’s got. And yes, that’s a nice bass, and wow, even a hybrid one can sound good! Still it’s costly, and I was amused about his remark of that:
That night I made super secret marital arrangements with my wife to the effect that we would find the money to buy the bass, and I would be her slave for life. Our deal worked out pretty well for both of us, I think.
Chris Fitzgerald, about his 6,500$ hybrid double bass
Yes, double basses – a totally different price category than your usual electric “axe”, and no wonder, they’re not that easy to build. The cheapest Chinese models which are made of laminated woods (don’t know about the quality) start at around 600$ in the big shops, but a nice custom built by master luthier massive bass made out of wood which was stored for quite some years can easily be around 20-30,000 Dollars. Or Euros.
Here in Frankfurt, we have a shop which offers “Christopher” basses (also from China, but of decent quality). Their DB100 and DB200 models are fully laminated, the DB300 is a hybrid (laminated with solid top), and everything above is massive. Their hybrid model is listed at under 2.000 Euros, so I wanted to know a bit more, and searched Talkbass.com about them. And in this topic I found a very nice sounding recording of such a hybrid Christopher:
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? And yes, that instrument was played by someone who knew how to play a bass 🙂
Would be more than enough for me, if I had the money, the space, and the time to really practice it…
I had integrated the XLN Audio Addictive Keys (windows version) “Studio Grand” piano into Ardour on Linux – but Windows VSTs (virtual instruments) on Linux need something like Wine, and are more resource-hungry than they’d need to be. Meaning that yes, I can play nice sounds from that awesome Steinberg D grand piano somewhere in Sweden, but the cost is that I’ll get lots of xruns (basically buffer overflows) in my software if I need more than one of these tracks.
The solution? Free samples of course – and yes, they exist like free software does exist. So I just set up my latest key presses (on my 49-key MIDI keyboard) to use the free “Salamander” grand piano which is a nicely sampled Yamaha C5.
Maybe I’ll still buy PianoTeq for Zuleikha one day – first, the basic stuff isn’t that expensive, second, it’s a modeled piano, not a resource-hungry sampled one, and third, it even comes in a version for Linux. And this alone should be honoured. It also should sound much better than Zuleikha’s Yamaha Arius piano which she uses to record stuff (that one has a MIDI out of course).
This morning I published my 5th Wikiloops album of collaborations with friends from all over the world, some of whom I’ve never even met in real life until now. And because I published this on the 2nd day of Christmas, it got the title like in the headline. Looks like this:
I took another photo of Tuna, “our” cat today, like almost every day. She sat in a box and just looked too cute to be ignored. And tho I tried to get a sharp photo with ISO 800 first, it was too dark, and I always had a bit of movement from her – so I used ISO 6400 instead.
In the past this resulted in more or less borderline quality – good enough for small images on web pages or even for postcard-sized prints, but that was about it. Now? I’m amazed about how and/or what they did to the imaging process at Olympus, because if you treat the images with their own “Olympus Viewer 3” raw converter which does the same as the camera would, then even with the noise reduction switched completely off it now still results in very impressive photos.
I won’t stop there of course, and still treat the images with other programs afterwards, because in many if not most cases I prefer a black & white image to a colour one – but Mitchie is the complete opposite of me here, and to just show what can be achieved “in camera” (or with no further manipulation in OV3 which is the same), I’ll show you the originals here, both in colour and also in (in-camera) black & white:
As I just wrote above, I won’t stop there. The least I’d do to any black & white photo is to use my “midtoning” in RawTherapee, which, when applied to the b&w photo from above, would look like this:
I find that nicer than just accepting the grey tones; I strongly prefer these more brownish ones.
But as nice as the in-camera black & white images from Olympus cameras are already, there are certain programs which are dedicated to the task of black & white conversions which offer many more options than Olympus Viewer or any in-camera conversions could. One of them which is (was) free is Silver Efex Pro 2 from the former Google and former Nik companies (now this belongs to DxOMark IIRC).
With Silver Efex Pro 2 I often use just one of their many great presets, and the one I often like most is the “019 Fine Art Process” one, which brings out a lot of fine detail in those grey (and later toned) tones, and just refines photos, for lack of a better word. I also like the “Type 14” simple white border of SFX (Silver Efex Pro 2). Together with my usual midtoning in RawTherapee, the image of the cat would become this:
This is a very nice result already in my opinion, and again I’m amazed at how clean an image with ISO 6400 from a Micro Four Thirds camera can be these days.
But “clean” isn’t always my preferred goal – I used to develop black & white films myself when I was younger, and enlarge those negatives in our parents’ bathroom. And as I’ve written a few days ago, my most used films when I was younger mostly were either Kodak Ektachrome 400 colour slides, or Ilford HP5+ (ISO 400) or FP4+ (ISO 125) black & white ones (together with also using Ilford paper in most cases).
And of course modern programs try to simulate the look of films like these, even RawTherapee now has this. But SFX has a really nice simulation of Ilford’s HP5+, and together with the other treatments mentioned above, the photo would look like this:
Way more contrasty and harder (tho you could manipulate that as well), and more gritty than all photos above – this would be my favourite by far. The image may look grainy in your small browser windows (or even on mobile phones?), but this would still make a very nice 30x40cm (about 12″x16″) print. So in that regard, quality wise, I have arrived and made peace with digital. This last one I would sign and hang into a gallery if anyone on earth would be willing to pay for just viewing it 😉
To you, as always, thanks for reading and for viewing.
Edit, from a few hours later:
And just because Mitchie likes colour photos much more than single coloured ones, here’s a simulated colour slide from a Kodak Ektachrome 400 film, colour made with Color Efex Pro 4, and image border and exposure number made with The Gimp (“filmstrip” effect):
Since I’ve got my new camera (as a replacement for my old one) almost two weeks ago, I use it on Tuna the cat on an almost daily basis. And one photo from the first day was even “explored” in Flickr, but this isn’t my main motivation. It’s just that cats don’t have to pose, in fact their natural behaviour is what makes them so photogenic and so cute.
So here is photo number 140 from my new camera, with a simulated Ilford HP5+ black & white film look (and white border) again, midtoned as usual: