November 2, 2005

Nikon D200 vs Canon EOS 5D

Nikon shooters around the web are abuzz about Nikon's new D200. In general the response to the specs has been positive (I don't know anyone who has actually handled one). Am I the only Nikon guy disappointed by the package? To me it looks like D70 with a slightly better chip/software. I've never been a Canon guy, but the EOS 5D has a couple of features that make me look over to the other side. Specifically I like:

1. The chip in the 5D is the size of a 35mm film frame so there is no lens focal conversion factor. On the Nikon the conversion factor is 1.5x. Because the chip is bigger the image in the viewfinder is also bigger. On the new Nikon they put a magnifying lens in the viewfinder to make the view seem bigger, but that's no substitute for the real deal.

2. The 5D is 12.8 megapixels... a step up from the D200's 10.2. Many people wills say, so the 5D has 2.6 extra megapixels, is that worth the extra $$$.. I would say no if megapixels alone were the deciding factor, but...

3. My photographer friends are all reporting the 5D has much better low light resolution and significantly better noise than the D200. I'll have to test this out myself...

Of course the 5D is almost a $1000 more than the D200 which is already expensive... so ultimately I'm not that tempted by either camera. The Nikon isn't enough of a step up from my D70 and the Canon is much more expensive especially when considering it would be all new lenses/accessories for me. If Nikon (or Canon) or anyone else really wants me to plunk down for a new high end digital I want a camera that is the form factor of an FM2 or Leica M6 ie small. I want a big chip with no lens conversion factor. I want at least 12 megapixels. i want much better handling of high dynamic range lighting situations. And I want a relatively simple camera without a ton of modes. Manual, aperture priority, and shutter priority is just fine with me. (As an aside you might ask why I don't consider the Nikon D2 as it is close in price to the's simply too bulky.)

To see what really gets my camera geek heart racing step on over to bostick & sullivan's site and check outthe Hobo.

November 4, 2005


November 5, 2005

Firefox G5

A Canadian by the name of Neil Bruce Lee has been compiling G5 optomized versions of Firefox. If you are a Mac G5 person, you want to use this. The speed (especially on duals) is almost startling. There are still a few bugs (the google search box is dead on my machine), but the speed is worth the tradeoff. And while you're optimizing, why not check out fasterfox as well.

November 5, 2005

Two Rauls

November 7, 2005


November 7, 2005


The problem with waiting until you kid is 11 months old before baptizing him is that he might just want to jump in the water.

November 9, 2005


Happy 6:02AM. Or not so happy 6:02AM. Why am I up at this ungodly hour? Well, I fell asleep while reading (The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes if you must ask) and woke up a few minutes ago, book still in hand. Lights on. Clothes on. Arms dead asleep rendering me floppy.

It was dark a few moments ago but the light came into the sky with startling speed. Why is it that sunrises are so fast while sunsets linger? I have a dilemma. Our baby will wake up in about 45 minutes. Should I wait until he sits up and starts calling for me to rescue him from the bed or do I try to squeeze in an extra wink of sweet sleep, knowing that I will wake up more tired than I am now? I think I chose sleep.

November 10, 2005


When I was in Marathon, Texas last week I talked to a guy named Sam at an auto body repair place. He was a tall quiet fellow wearing a jumpsuit with the name Juan stitched over the pocket. He was covered in oil and he tended to cover his brown teeth when he smiled. The furthest he had ever been from home was El Paso which was about 2 hours away. "Far enough for me," he said.

As Marathon only has a few hundred people he instantly recognized me as an outsider. "Where did you come in from?" he asked. When I replied "Brooklyn" he almost started. "I watch movies. I know Brooklyn. I dream of New York sometimes. It looks like paradise." He went on to ask many questions about my life and I about his. He said one day he would drive to New York in his truck, that he would drive over the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park and eat a hot dog. I asked him what he would do after that. "Walk," he said. "Look at all those people." He was particularly curious about brownstones, the subways and girls ("There must be a million different types! I imagine it's something.")

Today while walking around town I tried to see the world through Sam's eyes... All the faces outside the taxi window. The umbrellas and the rain. Everything new and exciting. Something indeed. I hope he makes it here one day and somehow I think he will.

November 11, 2005

The Motel Chronicles

I'm a big Sam Shepard fan. This is an excerpt from the Motel Chronicles, a book I reread now and then:

They caught him with a stolen print of a cottonwood tree. He was in the parking lot cramming it into the bed of his pickup. When they asked him why, he told them he wasn't sure why. He told them it gave him this feeling.

He told them he saw himself inside this picture lying on his back underneath the cottonwood. He said he recognized the tree from an old dream and that the dream was based on a real tree he dimly remembered from a long time ago in his childhood. He remembered lying down underneath this tree and staring up through the silver leaves.

He remembered voices from those leaves but he couldn't remember what the voices said of who they belong to.

He told them he was hoping the picture would bring the whole thing back.

November 12, 2005

Sometimes our kid seems so lost in thought.

What's he thinking about?

November 13, 2005

Mysteries of State Street

There's an old guy who lives down the street from me. The outfits vary, but he wears sunglasses and a tweed hat year round. Now that it is fall he also wears a trenchcoat. On sunny days you can find him sitting on his stoop or hanging around outside the deli on Henry & State reading the newspaper or chatting up the little old ladies. I've never seen him without a camera-usually a little Olympus, but sometimes a Leica. He fires off pictures inconspicuously, fast and smooth. Yesterday I found myself next to him at the deli "Why the camera every day?" I asked. "Because I want to remember." he said with a slight smile. Today I noticed him down the block. He snapped my picture, tipped his hat, and continued on without breaking stride.

November 16, 2005


did you yawn? You know you want to. Hard to resist the word. YAWN. Annoying isn't it. Why is yawning a such an addictive reflex unlike say blinking or coughing? I've read it's so catchy because it's a herd instinct. Wikipedia compares the sympathetic yawn to howling in wolves... That explanation doesn't really do it for me but I haven't found a better one. Other facts: the first yawns are in the womb; contageous yawning doesn't usually occur in babies until around 12 months; pandiculation is a word meaning a yawn + a stretch; yawning is contagous between species; men yawn more than women.

November 18, 2005

Changing the Engine

Since 1999 this site has been run by Blogger. Administration was mainly trouble free. But lately blogger has been breaking down. More often than not over the last month or two I've had to publish posts multiple times in order to get them up on the web (the tool hangs at 50% or 75% etc and has occasionally been leaving me with no site at all). These problems seem to be getting worse and worse. This all goes against my "spend little or no time on administration" credo.

Google's buyout of blogger from pyra bought blogger enormous popularity and the popularity is the poison pill. Blogger's feature set has been stagnant for years and my guess is that most of new engineering is going into dealing with the massive numbers of new users. Blogger's limitations have always annoyed me.... little things like the lack of a simple way to include a "back" link to get to the previous post and lack of categories for posts.

For me the obvious solution is to switch to Moveable Type. I already have MT on my server (it is the engine that runs my photoblog), it's free, and it adds many of the features Blogger lacks. The only downside I see to migrating is that I will probably lose all the comments people have made over the years. It will take a day or two to make the switch, but in the end the site will return just as it was. I will try to maintain the url structure and keep everything in the same place (rss feeds and so on). So in a few days there should be a better more flexible site complete with search, categories, and a back button. Until then.

November 20, 2005

North Korea Links

Probably because of Christopher Norris' excellent photoessay on North Korea in last week's Time Magazine (Real Audio interview with the photographer), I've had lots of traffic to my North Korea links... so I thought I would throw up a few fresh ones:

A FAQ about North Korea from the official DPRK website. My favorite question (because it implies people are asking it): Q: Can I join the Korean People's Army? A: No, only Korean nationals with DPRK citizenship Also interesting the FAQ is dated "Juche 94".

The site also features CDs by the People's Army Chorus for sale.

North Korea Stock Photography - These basically cover all the stops on the official tour.


A North Korean Travelogue Collection.

November 23, 2005

balloon man

This is the season of birthday parties for my son's little buddies-many of the parents we hang out with have kids who were born plus or minus a month of our kid, so the tide of fiestas has begun.

Birthday parties for one year olds are strange as the kids themselves have no concept of time. A friend of mine, half of a childless couple, on hearing of the party, snorted, "If you ever find me at a birthday party for a one year old take me out in the back and shoot me..." While I was never quite that cynical, as I navigated the line of strollers to get up to the apartment I heard David Byrne in my head "How did I get here..".

The scene was surreal... 15 or so kids and twice as many adults mostly crawling around on the floor. As is usual at any party I found myself in the corner observing the scene (apparently I was bouncing a balloon off my head and according to my wife "looked like a crazy person"). Anyway at these parties kids crawl over each other and touch each others faces, as the parents ever watchful compare their relative progress ("my kid eats peas and broccoli!" "Well my kid eats asparagus!") and swap tips on sleeping problems and baby gear. There was one little girl who called all men "dada" and all women "mama" (well except for the short haired woman who was taken for a dada) and there was a boy who called everything "cat" or "not cat" and one boy who spent the whole time on his back staring at the balloons on the ceiling. Some kids clung to their parents for dear life whereas others explored everything, invariably seeking out the things that could potentially electrocute, maim, or smother them. I played peek-a-boo with my son who was across the room but still checking in on me. And I with my balloon was thinking how good it was to be one of these kids, in a world that is divided into cat and not cat and ma's and dada's and where a guy hiding his eyes with a blanket brings so much unencumbered joy.

November 26, 2005


For most of my life Thanksgiving meant going somewhere. Going home, going to someone's parents house etc.... But yesterday I realized that we're now at the point in our lives where our house is the one people come to. As usual Jenn spent days putting together an incredible spread. And now that the day is over, the Gutierrez family tradition of turkey tacos. Yum.

November 26, 2005

This afternoon around here

November 29, 2005

The Elephant Vanishes

About a year after I graduated from college I was on a train out to Amagansett when I realized I was sitting next to Andre Gregory. Fellow cinephiles will know that Andre Gregory is the Andre from My Dinner with Andre, the Louis Malle film beloved amongst a certain circle of film geeks. I'm not one to be starstruck or the type to chat up a famous person for no reason, but in this case I had to say something. He was listening to music with headphones, it was playing loudly and I knew the recording, so when he was changing tapes, I asked him if it was the Bulgarian Women's Choir. He nodded. Then I asked asked if he was Andre Gregory. "Why yes, yes I am, " he replied seeming pleased. For the next 40 minutes or so we had one of those intense convoluted conversations that I can best describe as being something like the one in the movie covering topics ranging from Japanese cinema to the polar bear in Central Park to the suicides of friends. For every question I asked, he asked two more. It was thrilling... my own private conversation with Andre. He exited the train before me, but before he left, he invited me to his production of Uncle Vanya at the Victory Theater. He gave me a date a fortnight in the future and told me not to be late.

Now this was the early 90's and Times Square was in it's last throws as the old dirty Times Square of lore. The transformation into a sanitized tourist mall had not begun. The Victory Theater (as well as most of the other theaters on 42nd street) was a decrepit ruin. In the twenties the theater then known as the Belasco featured the A-list of vaudeville: Mary Pickford, Tyrone Power and Lillian Gish.

Houdini built a swimming pool under the stage to catch his elephant Jennie after he made her "disappear". Houdini's act later moved to the Hippodrome, a much bigger house, but he was said to have always had a soft spot for the place. Later the theater housed the first burlesque house on Broadway. During World War II it became a B movie palace, and then for many years the Victory was a XXX skin flick palace. By the 80's it was shuttered.

When I arrived for the play that fall day in 1991 I had to step over a sleeping junkie to get to the theater door. The lobby was dark and smelled of urine, but upon entering the theater there were a small group of actors on stage around a dinner table. Mr. Gregory welcomed me like an old friend. A few more guests arrived, but the actors outnumbered us. We sat up on the stage and so began a production of Uncle Vanya so intense that it was as if I had unwittingly stepped into the living room of a very dysfunctional family. In my memory I held my breath most of the two hours. I don't think I've experienced a film or a play since that begins to compare. Wallace Shawn played Vanya.

I mention this now because we saw a play this weekend at a theater a few doors down from the Victory, now the New Victory ("The Ultimate theater for Families!" proclaims a sign outside) this weekend. 42nd Street is unrecognizable with crushes of tourists so dense navigation is difficult. We saw a play that was competent and polite, the out of town audience applauding nicely. Afterwords we had dinner with one of the actors, a friend of Jenn's. As they spoke I kept thinking about the Victory and how lucky I was to have been on the train that November day and to have witnessed one of those small scenes that make New York New York.

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