December 16th, 2013



So as I mentioned I cleaned up Paul's old Nikon N2020 35mm film SLR camera, added a 50mm f1.8D AF NIKKOR normal lens, loaded it up with 4 AAAs and a roll of Kodak Gold 200 24exp. Lightweight. Autofocus, auto exposure. I normally don't use Program mode, but the N2020 treats AF NIKKORS as AI-S lenses, so it switches from Program to Program-Hi automatically based on focal length. Wanted to test how well Program mode works.

Most of the outdoor shots were taken out of the driver's window of the Bravada or the Blazer.

Walgreen's doesn't do a great job of digitally scanning, but its convenient. If I find a really great shot, I'll take the negative to a more expensive lab or get my own scanner.

First Light in its new role -- the new snow down our driveway, Monday before Thanksgiving. The snow looks crispier white than from the D1 digital camera. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Reset to Aperture priority mode so I could control the f-stop and reduce the depth of field. Cropped shot of milkweed pod in the early snows, Thanksgiving Eve. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Indoor daytime shot of Mrs. Dr. Phil, no flash. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

December 1st, charging the 1996 Blazer's low battery. While it wouldn't start before the charge, I didn't lose my radio presets. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

December 12th, snow falling outside a Grand Rapids Medical Mile doctor's office. The new LED lit traffic signals don't generate enough heat to prevent snow and ice buildup. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Cropped shot of a milkweed seed caught on a branch in the front yard.
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Last year they cut down most of the big trees on the north side of this road, but there's still this large, pair of bare trees on the south side. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Probably my favorite shot from Friday the 13th. Scrub second generation trees infiltrating our stand of jack pines. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2013 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Bottom line -- acceptable for basic pictures under harsh lighting conditions for a fully automated camera.

Dr. Phil

The Earlier Journey Continues

I Can't Believe I Didn't Post About The Hobbit Part I

Well, yes I can. It opened on Friday 14 December 2012 and I was smack in the middle of Grade-A-Thon and would've had to take a break from the papers, etc., yadda, and so on.

Had I written a review last year, it would've commented that Martin Freeman, Watson on BBC's Sherlock opposite Benedict Cumbersmaug or something like that (evil-grin), made a most excellent hobbit out of his element, first with an invading horde of dwarves in his pantry and then far from The Shire. The Hobbit as a book was always the lighter, more children's book to the massive intricacy of The Lord of the Rings and much more of a dangerous adventure. A fact some of those criticizing the movies fail to appreciate, that Peter Jackson is bringing it up to speed. (I once made the mistake of rereading The Hobbit after a re-read of the trilogy and found myself extraordinarily disappointed, instead of enjoying Bilbo's adventures in a time when he didn't know how bad things were going to get.)

While I liked it a lot, I did grow annoyed at the Indiana Jones and the Endless Unrealist Mine treatment of the battle with the goblins. And one can be forgiven for having to remember whether these are dwarves or Klingons. But Thorin Okenshield had a vast dignity to him and the backstory of Smaug's removal of the King Under the Mountain was good theatre, practically operatic.

And then, despite the some 168 minutes, it was over too soon.

So after some poor weather on Saturday, it was off on Sunday to Holland.

The Hobbit Part II: The Desolation of Smaug 3D [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #5 11:55am 2x$9.50

Hobbit 2 is a better film than Hobbit 1. The first provides the setup, then stuff gets real in the second. I've heard complaints that there is no recap -- no introduction for those who didn't see Part I. I say tough. The Hobbit isn't that long a book that you can't keep the plot in mind. And they do open with a nice Twelve Months Ago scene in The Prancing Pony in Bree to get you up to speed. (The Kindle's auto correct of Bree to Beer is rather humorous under the circumstances.)

Chekhov's Black Arrow surfaces, which means it'll get played in the third act. Evangeline Lilly makes a fine elf. Those who complain that neither Lilly nor Orlando Bloom appeared in the book, should remember that there are a lot of things implied and characters never described in the book. That Jackson makes the connection with the son of the elf king and doesn't go with stock Central Casting for Just Another Male Elf is quite fine with me.

Overall, the 3D and special effects are lovely. And no one does giant stone figures like Jackson, whether the Argonath in LOTR or the stairs leading to the secret door under the mountain. I've a few issues with thermodynamic heating rates, but the Dragon is magnificent. I particular liked the rain of gold coins when Smaug gets up.

Whether under the Lonely Mountain or in the lair of the Necromancer, it doesn't look like Middle Earth is very ADA compliant -- there's a LOT of steep stairs. And entropy is a real bitch. How many stone stairs and bridges crumble as any of our heroes pass by? Reminds me of Sorcerer/The Wages of Fear -- you pass this way, but once, and there's no turning back. All that glory in ruin, turning to dust. It adds a great sadness and a great sense of history to Middle Earth. And also a feeling that it's populated by insane architects.

Of course, as the middle movie, The Desolation of Smaug pretty much has to end on a cliffhanger. Or rather Bilbo and the dwarves are left behind and the Dragon is heading off to eat a city. My physical therapist said she was upset that we saw Smaug fly away, but no desolation. I pointed out that the title phrase is uttered by wise old Balin when Bilbo asks about the ruins on the side of the Lonely Mountain. That's Dale -- the Desolation of Smaug. Pretty chilling, since we'd had some forewarning of Dale's fate.

BTW -- Yesterday I read in a e-newsletter that there is an Extended Edition of The Hobbit Part I, and the reviewer felt that the additional thirteen minutes made it a better movie. I know that all three LOTR EEs were well worth the investment. Despite the sprawling length of the Peter Jackson movies, there's always stuff that ends on the cutting room floor which should have been included. I'll have to get ahold of the Blu-Ray Extended Editions at some point. We didn't do a pre-lab prior to seeing The Desolation of Smaug.

And why am I humming Leonard Nimoy all of a sudden?

Highly Recommended

Trailers: All 3D all the time... The Nut Job is an animated parody of the LOTR, sort of. I might actually watch this sometime. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 looks to jazz up the webcrawlers flying through the steel canyons of the Big City. Guessed I missed AS-M 1 somewhere along the line. Edge of Tomorrow is based on All You Need Is Kill -- a Japanese military science fiction novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Nick Mamatas, the editor at Haikasoru/Viz Media, shepherded the English translation. He commented the other day that dispite whitewashing the characters and Tom Cruise, the trailer suggests they didn't do too much violence to the novel. Think Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Definitely will see this one. There were other trailers, but I don't remember -- I think there was one other that was a strong possibility. Sort of Jason Bourne-esque.

Anyway, that was our Sunday afternoon. Good popcorn. And maybe that's the final word -- LOTR is epic, The Hobbit is popcorn. But like Holland 7, really good tasty popcorn with few bad kernels.

Dr. Phil