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SFF Music Video of the Week - #88

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Anything that includes Max Headroom is, in my books, automatically SFF. A music video about Max not being able to sleep? Doubly so. If you don't know who Max is - watch this, and be amazed at just predictive it is.  Further, not only is Max not  CGI, there is a real actor under the astounding prosthetics.  Roll forward a year, and this video gets released by the synth-pop legends of the 1980s, Art of Noise.  Enjoy Paranomia.  

A theory about conspiracy theories

 Recently, someone I follow on Dreamwidth had a long and quite wonderful rant about classism and vaccines. This lead to them talking about one Rudolf Steiner and his classist, racist, antivaxx writings, which had the effect of making the upper echelons of German society lean in an antivaxx direction.  Being the sort of person I am, I started thinking "Gee, that would make a great conspiracy theory - Steiner was deliberately trying to weaken or wipe out the upper classes in Germany."  Then I started thinking more broadly.  What about Stalin? He did huge amounts of damage to Communist Russia, what if he had been put in the role on purpose? Torquemada? Pol Pot? Hitler? And what about some of the modern 'influencers'?  It all sounds like the basis of a great 'hidden history' series of stories. So what sort of people would do such a thing? And why?  And that's when it hit me. This is how conspiracy theories start. Looking for someone to blame for all the things

SFF Music Video of the Week - #87

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Pit fights. One of humanity's more pervasive and hideous creations. They come in so many forms - cocks, dogs, bears, even people. All forced to fight each other for the sake of betting and not being the one in the pit getting ripped apart. Almost anything with teeth, claws, or fists ends up in one of these things somewhere. We even do it virtually (yes, Pokemon, I am  looking at you.) But what about stuffed toys? Cute, fluffy, pastel stuffed toys? Utterly harmless, right?  That's what we have for you today folks - a vile pit fight between stuffed toys. Overseen by a greedy gangster type, who has the game rigged. Of course. Because he's always going to get his buck, isn't he? Welcome to the world of "Radioactive" by the US band Imagine Dragons from 2012. 

Late night thunderstorm

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We had a thunderstorm to the north (and west) of us last night, and I was lucky enough to catch a few of the strikes. Unfortunately, the bulk of the action was over 120km away. Even so, we got quite the show - and it demonstrates how far lightning is visible! This first shot, the strike was about 40km away, out to sea. Single strike to the West. 115mm, f/5, 30s, ISO100, Samsung NX1, processed in Snapseed. The strikes in this shot were approximately 120km away (according to the strike map). Composite of multiple strikes to the North, over the lights of Hillary's Boat Harbour, heavily cropped. 50mm, f/4.5, 30s, ISO100, Samsung NX1, processed in Snapseed. Sadly, the storm mostly collapsed after this, and we packed it in after another 20 minutes of no strikes. Naturally, as soon as we got home, we heard thunder.

NashiCab Recipe

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OK, so here in OZ we have instituted a regular get-together of state and federal heads to discuss issues around The 19, and how to deal with it. Officially it is called The National Cabinet.  Enter the ABC Coronavirus Live Blog - an informal stream run by the ABC Newsroom to allow readers to ask questions and get clarifications about the various restrictions, lockdowns, vaccine rollouts, and so on. It has developed into quite the tight-knit community, with their own in-jokes (Hi Barbara - how's the pool-boy doing?) and their own slang. One of the central pieces of which is the nick-name for the National Cabinet - forever known as the NashyCab. Which resulted in extensive speculation about just what that was. Over the past couple of weeks, we have entered Nashi season here, and my chance to strike has arrived. I now present, for the first time in public, The NashiCab. The Ingredients For the Nut Crumble 200g Almonds (or Macadamias) 60g Butter 50g Brown Sugar 50g Raw Sugar For the Cr

SFF Music Video of the Week - #86

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Some Symphonic Metal this week, with an awesome post-apocalypse theme running. Two survivors in a world blasted by nuclear war working on a way to bring life back. Great music (and remember that I am not really a fan of metal), and a fantastically uplifting story combine to make this a great entry in this list. For bonus coolness points, the band-clip sections respond and relate to the story-line as well.  Hold onto your seats for "Paradise (What About Us?)" by Within Temptation from their 2014 album "Hydra".

Scarborough Beach Amphitheatre - Cyanograph vs digital

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Scarborough Beach Amphitheatre, 16:15, 45 minute exposure, 45mm f/1.2 VR lens on A7 paper. Processed in Snapseed. The same scene shot with a 20mm APS lens... ƒ/16 , 1/5s,  20 mm , ISO100 Samsung NX300 I find the cyanograph distinctly intriguing - if you are familiar with the scene, you can recognise most of  elements, but even without that familiarity there are some that can be identified. It is also interesting to note that the hessian sack curtain in front of the DJ is effectively invisible in UV!

This Experiment Failed

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(End credits, Excel Saga) Yes, today I have a very sad tale to share in my cyanography experiments. You remember last time, I shared this: Well, I have experimented further with inkjet photo paper, and made some very unpleasant discoveries along the way. The first is the streaking - without using a non-contact application method, I am not going to avoid it. The gel surface is just too fragile. So if I want to persist with this, it will be out with the air-brush. I somehow doubt I am going to find spray-cans of cyanotype sensitiser, after all.  The second is in washing. Because there is no cellulose for the Prussian Blue to bond with, the washing inevitably destroys the image, meaning that you cannot preserve the image long-term. This also means that you end up including the un-exposed chemicals in the scan, which adds considerable grain and loss of contrast - especially in the high-tones of the inverted image.  This second issue is essentially insoluble, which is a pity, as it would h

SFF Music Video of the Week - #85

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Right then, so we meet some old friends again this week, this time with a wonderfully bizarre and surreal animation that still manages to be at least somewhat in-genre. We have spies galore (and a cat as well, but only the one - yes, I'll get my coat), televising pigeons, and people's heads being turned into TVs. Not to mention HUAC, and many many others. All of this and it still manages to form a narrative - albeit a downright strange one.  Be ready to bop along to "The Communists Have the Music" from the 2018 album "My Murdered Remains", by the incomparable They Might Be Giants. 

Scarborough Beach twilight markets, March 25, 2021

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We usually head down to Scarborough Beach for the twilight markets that are held every Thursday during the warmer part of the year. There is a dizzying array of food trucks and various DJs and live performances to keep the crowds entertained.  "Wait. Crowds?" I hear you ask? Yes, crowds . Although the shots below don't really show it. Here in W.A, we've been making the most of our isolation from the rest of the country, and have managed to avoid any significant outbreaks after the initial surge. So far, anyway. We had one potential outbreak a couple of months back, and so we immediately went into a two-week lockdown, which everyone agreed was a great move if it meant that we could avoid a full outbreak. This is all a long way of saying that we are operating in an effectively pre-COVID state (contact tracking logs notwithstanding), aside from interstate/international travel. So things like public festivals are very much taking place as often as we can manage them. All

More adventures in cyanography

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I continue to play with in-camera cyanotype imaging. My latest experiments have involved using inkjet photo paper as a substrate, and in particular in using it as a cyanotype film roll in a medium format TLR. The results have been rather pleasing.  GoSun Fusion. f2.8 90 minutes. SooC. GoSun Fusion. F2.8 90 minutes post-processed. This first one shows just how much detail you can get out of the process - and also the hazards of using a brush to apply the solution to a high-gloss paper. Nevertheless, I think the result is rather effective, and reinforces the juxtaposition of the very old technique with the ultra-modern subject. Garden, SooC f2.8 90 minutes Garden, post-processed. F2.8 90 minutes. In this case the brush streaks are even more obvious, as are a number of blemishes in the coating. When coating non-gelled surfaces, a bush is OK, and a glass spreading rod even better, but neither work particularly well with a high-gloss gel paper. That said, again, the result is intriguing, so

SFF Music Video of the Week - #84

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This week's offering is one that I really have trouble explaining. What just happened? I'm keen to hear what others think, because I understand all the bits, but the whole eludes me. Meantime, there is a wonderful abandoned fun park, and look out for the old-school HP calculator! From a technical aspect, this is by the same production company that brought us the "Macher Institute of Bio-Aural Epidermal De-Speakering" from the Seasons track "Of Our Discontent" ( Week 9 ), Wasted Potential Productions (who are now mostly a concert production company).  It features singer Miya Folick , as 'Clara'. She the one with the camera, and who get woken up by 'Paisley' (Emily Whetstone) in the opening scene. Neither are in the band performing, though. So, from 2011, here are Thrushes with "Trees" from their album "Night Falls". And please do tell me what you think happened!

SFF Music Video of the Week - #83

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This week we've got another entry in the list of "Scientists messing with things they shouldn't, and without proper precautions".  On top of that, I suspect the Ethics Committee would not approve. So, here is 2012's "Dance" by Uppermost, from the album One.

Democracy Pencil

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 West Aussies - don't forget to vote tomorrow! (The AEC is supplying individual pencils rather than tethered ones this year, to assist in disease control)

And that was some weekend!

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Well, that was a fairly epic long weekend. The epic bit started on Sunday morning, when we dropped by the Stirling Farmers' Market to pick up our tomato order. 45kg of them. Plus capsicums, onions, apples, chillies, and some other vague veggies. Then it was back home, and dusting off our old Weber kettle BBQ, and pulling out the GoSun Fusion. Into each we tossed as many tomatoes as would fit (in trays in the Weber), and set them to roasting. Inside, we started chopping onions, more tomatoes, and capsicums - which then went straight onto the stove to become salsa.  Around the same time, we bolted the tomato mill to the kitchen island, and brought in the first batch of tomatoes. These went into the mill, and quickly became the first of many batches of passata. The squeezings joined still more tomatoes, onions and apples in another pot.  By the time we hit 11pm, we had produced and processed in the preserver 22 bottles of passata, and 10 jars of salsa, representing about 3/4 of the 45

SFF Music Video of the Week - #82

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As one of the icons of the 80's it should come as no surprise that Thomas Dolby is showing up again. This time he's channelling his inner villain, and looking very suave doing it. So here is 1982's "Radio Silence" from the iconic album "The Golden Age of Wireless", by Thomas Dolby. As a bonus, I have previously featured "Europa and the Pirate Twins" back in Week 16.  Here we have Thomas' son, Harper with a very topical pastiche of that classic.

SFF Music Video of the Week - #81

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Welcome to the 3x3x3x3 installment! This week let's have a look at a Norwegian singer who released this track about the healing power of letting your emotions out at the ripe old age of 21. A powerful message about how does not make you weak to express yourself emotionally - in particular that it is OK to cry. An uplifting song that should be heard more in these especially trying times. As for the video ... well, she's got plants growing from her eyes. I'm choosing to interpret the whole thing as a coming-of-age tale for a dryad who does not know (or is rejecting) what she is. (I am certain that the actual intent is as that the growth of the plants are a metaphor for tears, and their cutting is the suppression of sadness. The releasing of the scissors and running being the acceptance of sorrow and the growth it brings.) So, here is 2019's "The River" by Aurora. 

Serpent of Fire by the sea

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 This evening we stayed longer than usual at the Scarborough Sunset Markets , and got to see the fire-dancing side of the performance group  Serpent of Fire .  They were great fun to watch, and were more than happy for me to take some photos of them. So have a look at these very cool folks!

Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 30 Results

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 So Round 30 of the Photography Scavenger Hunt is over, the judges have had their say, and the photos have been revealed. I did surprisingly well, with a couple of placings and a few HMs. So, have a look at everyone's wonderful work, especially our winner, Eric Raeber, and think about signing up for the next one, which will kick off in a few weeks. https://scavengerhunt.photography/round-30/ A collage of my entries

Things that annoy me about the 2021 W.A. Election

 So in a few weeks time the W.A. population go to the polls. The incumbent party (Labor) is riding an unprecedented wave of popularity, mainly due to our Premier, who basically got us through The 19 with minimal deaths, and a roaring economy.  The other side (Liberal/National coalition) has had their former leader jump ship just a few months ago, and have a perfectly decent, young, attentive, and (for a politician) honest chap in her place. He is largely resigned to the fact that he is not going to win. The Greens are just plugging away with a 'Keep them both honest" theme.  So what is annoying me? 1/ The Labor party is choosing to target the Opposition Leader's youth and the fact that he's only been in Parliament for one term. Not a good look, and Labor can do better than that. 2/ The Coalition is basing their campaign on the idea that Labor must be prevented from gaining control of the upper house (the Legislative Council) - or as they call it 'full control'.

SFF Music Video of the Week - #80

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So this week we are back with another Lindsey Stirling effort, with vocals by Dia Frampton (no relation to Peter).  This time we go full animation and down the daikaiju alleyway in a delightful little romp that is a healthy antidote to the current times. There are tropes a-plenty, and many of them averted, inverted, or otherwise played with, and, when it comes down to it, it is just plain fun. Enjoy "We Are Giants" by Lindsey Stirling (featuring Dia Frampton) from 2015.

Another thing I have learnt while shooting cyanotype.

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 Here is a scene I shot this afternoon: Here is the same scene as a cyanotype (reflected, unwashed, and still a negative): One thing really stands out for me - and that is how little the grass reflects UV. Here is a crop of the two images overlaid and scaled. There are some inconsistencies, due to the differing characteristics of the lenses, but you can see how little the unshaded grass is exposed. And the shaded grass is almost completely unexposed.  And, indeed, checking the research, I find that one of the lowest natural UV albedos is from grass, at 0.02. ( https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3846/1648-6897.2008.16.83-88 ) So my little hypothesis appears to have been borne out by independent research, and a source of other information about things I cannot see when taking the cyanographs, which will help me plan future exposures.  

SFF Music Video of the Week - #79

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Ok, time for a big jump back through time. The year is 1977, and Star Wars has just come out. Around the same time, a sound engineer's collaboration with a songwriter had just released their second album. Their first album explored the dark writings of a gothic writer and essayist. This one looked at the likelihood of robots and AIs ultimately subjugating and/or replacing us as the dominant life-form.  Originally inspired by the works of Asimov, they could not get the rights to one of his most famous stories, and so they were freed from the Three Laws and their essential optimism. To solve the lack of rights, a simple punctuation change was employed. They deleted a comma. I am talking about the second album by The Alan Parsons Project, 'I Robot'. APP's first commercial success at the time (Tales of Mystery and Imagination did not sell well until some years after release), it went platinum, and effectively launched the project's on-going success. This video is ... lo

Photography Scavenger Hunt Round 30 Behind The Scenes

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There is a tradition amongst the members of The Photography Scavenger Hunt of showing how  their various clever images came to be. Normally this is a "Here is how I made this particularly clever shot" sort of thing. Not this one. This is about the whole series of images. And I'm not actually going to show any of the ones I used.  Why? Because I'd like to think that I have been especially clever this round, even if I did not submit all ten images. And because it is so cool! First up, I have used a bunch of cameras. No big surprise there, lots of people do. But this is one of them. Mk1 Camera. There are a couple of special things about this camera. Firstly is that I built it myself. The second is that it has no shutter.  "Wait!", I hear you interject, "If it has no shutter, how do you control the exposure?" The answer lays in the the other side of the equation. What it is that I am shooting onto. Because it is not photographic film. Or even photograp

Cyanotype In-Camera Imaging - Part 3 - Final Thoughts

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38mm f/1.5 120 minutes. Back Garden.                                        There are two things that are very attractive to me about shooting in-camera images with cyanotype. One is that it is cheap, very cheap. No dark room, no expensive and troublesome to dispose of chemicals, no film - just the solutions and paper. The other is the curious juxtaposition of almost instant availability of the image afterwards against the long period of shooting.  This is one of the most rewarding aspects of the technique. You have almost instant gratification upon recovering the negative, combined with the forced patience required in setting and taking the shot. Added to that is an amount of uncertainty about exactly how the shot will turn out - because we cannot see exactly how much UV is reflecting off the surfaces being imaged. This makes the process very exciting. Not to mention the sometimes very alien scenes that result. Combine this with the very limited optical capabilities of also using hom

SFF Music Video of the Week - #78

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You can always rely on Swedish House Mafia for solid dance/trance track with a sponsored music video. And you can rely on a certain vodka brand to throw lots of money at all sorts of videos. In this case we have a robotic avatar greyhound race, a bunch of escapees from Bladerunner, and a plot that really goes nowhere very fast. Much like the music, really. But, it does technically fall into my remit, so here is 2012's "Greyhound" by Swedish House Mafia. 

Cyanotype In-Camera Imaging - Part 2

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In Part 1, I went over some history, and the things you have to think about differently when working with in-camera cyanotype. In this part, I will provide a simple design and instructions on how to build it.  The design is based around the lens of a Google Cardboard VR headset. These are cheap and easy to obtain. There are two common versions - one is roughly f/1.5 and the other about f/1.2, and they also have differing diameters. As this also results in different focal lengths, there needs to be a couple of changes to support both versions. Further, the design is flexible enough that almost any lightweight lens can be used with some modifications to the dimensions.  Materials Black Gaffa Tape. Not duct tape, gaffa. It makes a difference. Clear packing tape or good-quality sellotape. 2 A4 sheets of dark (not black) 210-250gsm card 1 25mm diameter/38mm (f/1.5) or 37mm diameter/45mm (f/1.2) lens (or similar, see below) 1 small coin or metal washer An A7 piece of baking parchment, wax p