Archive for March 10th, 2008

Spitzer investigated for link to prostitution ring

Ok, someone explain this to me please. What’s the big deal of having front page news of a guy having sex with a prostitute? As long as the club had a license to operate and prostitution is not illegal in the NY state (I don’t know, maybe it is), what’s the big deal? My problem is that by reading the articles both on BBC and CNN I can not figure out if what he did is possibly illegal or not. Nothing is stated about the legality of the whore club. Cause if it’s not illegal, then it’s no one business with whom this guy is sleeping with. Who knows? Maybe he can’t get it off with his wife anymore, and being a guy, he has needs. Getting it off with a whore says absolutely nothing about his work and his character as a professional.

The future is hear (pun intended)

According to current and former intelligence officials, the spy agency now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic emails and Internet searches as well as bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel and telephone records. The NSA receives this so-called “transactional” data from other agencies or private companies, and its sophisticated software programs analyze the various transactions for suspicious patterns,” writes the reputable WSJ.

The god-damned HV20 cellphone trick

Among HV20 users there is this magical method to lock+set exposure: the cellphone trick. You place a brightly lit white/gray cellphone screen in front of the HV20 and you follow a convoluted set of actions afterwards. And this is a “trick” that many people use, doing it because they think it works. They think that the HV20 has a “magical point” of f2.8 where no gain is introduced. Well, what they actually end-up doing is under-exposing. A sensor of a camera is what it is, it can’t be “overclocked” to perform better magically.

This trick doesn’t work. It’s a fucking myth. Stop using this stupid method. This is how this guy’s video ended up looking by using this method. Here’s another test video doing the same trick. Yes, the grainy artifacts are gone on the second half of the video using the “magical method”, but this is not because the method is magical, but because the camera UNDER-exposes. You can do the same thing without going to all of these weird steps, just under-expose. Here’s another test, again, it has no grain simply because the scene is under-exposed and it’s only saved because the candles are bright enough. But you don’t need this “trick” to get there.

Instead, do either of the following as long as your camera supports setting a custom white balance (all Canons do):
1. Buy a gray card (check the link on how to use it). As long as you can get close to your shooting subject, there is no substitute for the gray card, sans a light metering device. It costs $4 and you have no excuse of not owning one.

2. If you really want to use a similar method, at least use a method that works more precisely. For example, zoom all the way in to the same level as your shooting subject and fill the frame with a white or brightly lit point (e.g. a white shirt of a person, or a wall). Then, set the custom white balance at that point, and then zoom out. Lock exposure after zooming in, and compensate based on the brightness of what you zoomed on. As a plus, you will have an “ok” white balance too.

That’s the same method used by many photographers, and it’s one that works best without extra equipment. No cellphones, no extra steps. That’s it. Amusingly, the common wisdom in still photography (which is called “expose to the right”) says exactly the opposite: never underexpose, even if you have to increase the sensitivity/gain to get a proper exposure.

Update: The cellphone trick only makes sense if the exposure compensation doesn’t follow the same program curve as the exposure. Now, if indeed the exposure compensation follows a different program, *and* if that program doesn’t change the gain, *and* if the regular program changes the gain before going wide-open, it makes some sense, but none of those assumptions are documented anywhere.