Category Archives: art

Best movies, part 2

In my previous blag post, I’ve written about Ingmar Bergman and Krzysztof Kieślowski, my two favorite film directors. If you like their movies, you might like the following ones as well.

Андрей Тарковский (Andrei Tarkovsky)

Stalker – One of my best film-watching experiences ever. It was so different from what I had expected of a sci-fi movie. The sound was breathtaking. I was literally at the edge of my seat the whole time. The movie was inspired by the Roadside Picnic novel by Strugatsky brothers, which is also seriously cool.

Andrei Rublev – based on life of an icon painter, the movie depicts life in medieval Russia. The movie was a tad too slow for me, but I did enjoy the bell-maker side story.

Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson had a peculiar habit of starring non-actors in his movies and discouraging them from acting. The lack of acting, in a way, makes his movies resemble books.

A Man Escaped – Is about a French guy escaping from a Nazi prison. During the movie, the main hero mostly spends his time trying to disassemble his cell door with a spoon. Who would have guessed such a movie can be enjoyable?

Pickpocket – As opposed to A Man Escaped, I couldn’t really associate myself with the protagonist. If I find myself unable to find a job, I’ll watch this again for educational purposes. Cinematically, it was good though.

Diary of a Country Priest – Loved how the characters evolved in this film, though the priest himself was a bit of an enigma. I wonder whether Bresson was a christian or not. As a non-believer in the three-in-one god, I still greatly enjoyed this film.

Next in my watchlist: more Ingmar Bergman.

Best movies of …?

Orwen’s blog post best films of spring 2012 inspired me to write about movies as well. Actually, I’ve only started watching movies recently, and I haven’t seen many so far. Most new movies move way too fast for me, so I prefer to watch the older ones.

The post mostly consists of just a list of movies. If you’d like to see reviews, click on the links. The IMDb reviews are usually far better than anything I could produce. Just watch out for spoilers.

Let’s start with my current favorite directors:

Ingmar Bergman

Persona – The characters were hard to understand, the story unclear, the cinematography superb. All in all one of the best films I’ve seen, will have to watch once more.

Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries, but I wanna show off I can spell it out in Swedish) – A movie about life. Compared to Persona, Smultronstället was very easy to watch, though it did raise some interesting questions. I love movies with no antagonists.

The Seventh Seal – IMDb says: A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague. That’s pretty accurate. And I dig the rhyming squire.

Krzysztof Kieślowski

Trois Couleurs (Trzy Kolory, The Three Colours) – Inspired by the French flag and motto, they are Blue (liberty), White (equality), and Red (fraternity). I really liked White, though it’s the least acclaimed one. Red was very cool too. Probably I wasn’t in the right mood when watching Blue. And Jesus Christ, the IMDb trailers are so fucking terrible.

The Decalogue – ten short movies based on the ten commandments. Most are very good, the first and seventh are my favorites. I still haven’t seen the last one due to Mac OS not being able to write on ext3.

La double vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique) – more usually one person lives two lives but sometimes two people live one life. This movie is on my re-watch list (partially because I don’t recall many of the details). Also, it might be easier to watch than any of the above – if you don’t know where to start, start right here.

Stay tuned, next post is featuring Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Bresson!

Flickr inspiration

A lot of people who aren’t that much into photography think that I make amazing photos. I don’t. I just make a lot of photos. Then delete most, because they really suck. I publish those that suck slightly less. Read on to see photos that rock.

I’ve been spending time on Flickr and would like to present you few of the many great photographers I follow. I believe these are the best of the best. Don’t forget to click to see moar and bigger pictures!

Aremac

Aremac is the master of colours, ideas, simplicity and clarity.

Handrail with shadow Looking up!

Dropped Tree Friends

Deep Tracks Steigleitung Trocken

Brickstone Personalities Crossroad

Sister

Sis is nuts. She wins photo contests. Not flickr contests – real contests with real prizes, judged by famous photographers.

ladybug Fragile flower

Snow in Brno Sunrise on a meadow

just for fun.. Striped

Spider's beads Splash

Jason Lee (jwl)

Some people insist that children photography is boring. Jason shatters the myth.

101 uses for gaffers tape Laundry day

pumpkin Big & Small

If I lived under the sea sea sea...... Mirror Mirror on the wall....errr grass

What's cookin? Dinner Time

Lady Tori

I’m a sucker for good bokeh. And Lady Tori delivers the highest quality.

It's not easy being green Pure Morning

Cold Wishes Filling The Day With Joy

Break You Down Vintage Life

Soft Dreams Misty Morning

Ben Heine

…of the pencil vs. camera fame.

Symphony Urgent Landing

Pencil Vs Camera - 30 Pencil Vs Camera - 29

Pencil Vs Camera - 19 Pencil Vs Camera - 3

Pencil Vs Camera - 11 Pencil Vs Camera - 12

Katarina

A bit over the top kitschy HDR. But Katarina can pull it off better than most.

Endless view A new day-winter landscape

All's well Over the mountains and the sea.....:)

What if the world would have two suns... :))) Lunar world

Sky arc II Green velvet

It’s just six amazing photographers, but the post is already getting too long, so I’ll cut it off.

If you want more, go see images of Mattijn, Monkeyman, Dimitri Depaepe, James Neeley, Miguel Rita, Sparth, isayx, kktp, Cornel Pufan, Philip Klinger or Ali Shokri.

Exposure bracketing

I have an old Canon 20D. I’m pretty happy with it, the large pixels behave well in low light conditions and it’s got reasonably comfortable handling. There’s just one thing that’s been really bothering me, and as far as I know, all the other cameras suck just as much as mine.

Exposure bracketing was implemented by someone who hates HDR, photographers, and humanity altogether.

I use continuous shooting mode (hold the button down and the camera keeps shooting as fast as it can until it chokes). First, I have to press the button and hold it for exactly the right amount of time to get three pictures. In the beginning, it used to give me a headache, but after some time I got used to it. It’s stil an inconvenience, but a rather minor issue.

There’s something I don’t get at all: Why do I even have to shoot more pictures to get more dynamic range?

If the wonderful RAW format had for example 32bit depth instead of 12 or 14, we wouldn’t need bracketing at all! You would just take the longest of the exposures, and the camera could record all the data without overblowing the highlights. Or, if that is too much hassle, it could make 3 “virtual” RAW files — by simply taking a snapshot of the sensor’s state at three different times during the single exposure.

Given the amazing feedback I’ve been getting here lately, I don’t expect an answer. But I do wonder — is there anything in the way? Or are camera manufacturers incompetent?

PS: Yes, HDR is an instrument of the devil. If you look at my recent pictures, you might see that I realized that aready. But sometimes, sometimes I like to go to the dark side…

Earth from above, in black and white

On my way from Korea back to Europe, I had an amazing flight.

My original flight got cancelled. But Finnair quickly found a ticket with KLM for me. Direct flight to Amsterdam.

When getting the ticket I asked for a seat next to a window. I thought that the guy didn’t understand or care what I said. He seemed completely oblivious to my request.

But as you can see, I got the seat next to the window.

The weather was great. There were amazing clouds as we flew over the yellow sea.

This is somewhere in northern China. That’s what the flight attendant told me.

The Gobi desert.

Slightly cloudy.

Patterns. If you look closely you can see few roads down there.

I’m really happy with how these pictures turned out.

This flight, especially the amazing Gobi desert, was one of the strongest experiences in my life.

PS: You can view bigger versions of the pictures in my photo gallery. Also, check out my flickr photostream.

Korea, here I come

My blog is dead. Long live my blog!

My plans have changed. I am going to Korea for three months to study go. Then I’m going back to Amsterdam, almost moneyless, to begin the new life.

You can have a look at amazing amounts of new photos.

The EGC was mostly eneventful. After a promising first week, second week was a small disaster.

I am in Amsterdam now. I love Amsterdam.

Tomorrow, I’m flying to Korea. I was urged (by several people!) to put some info from Korea here — I will try not to disappoint you.

Good night.

LSG 2009, pictures, and my life in general

LSG has ended. It was too short but a lot of fun. I’ve made about two bazzilion photographs, which I’ve managed to reduce to just 212. You are invited to see pictures from LSG 2009. They are mostly portraits, as I’m still in love with my Samyang 85/1.4 and I mostly refuse to use the kit 18-55mm lens.

You might be also interested in my gallery from Warsaw go tournament, or more generally in my pictures from the year 2009.

Again, I have no time to write much more, but hopefully all the pictures will keep you interested for a while. European Go Congress is coming up shortly, so I’m not getting a break in go nor in photography… And then — well, there’s time to slack off, travel, play go, make pics, drink vodka, and have fun, and then there’s time to work. Time to work is getting close, and to my own surprise, I’m sort of looking forward to it. :)

Gödel, Escher, Bach

I just finished reading Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter. I’ll wait for you to at least read the wikipedia description of the book.

Done? Ok… The main surprise for me was how many seemingly unrelated topics the book touches. Logic (Gödel), graphic art (Escher), music (Bach) to start with. But also mathematics, molecular biology, genetics, philosophy, zen buddhism, formal systems, artificial intelligence, programming, recursion and self-reference, various paradoxes, and much much more.

It is easily the best book I’ve ever read, although I can’t claim to have understood everything. If you want to borrow my copy, I’d be glad to help (the book is sort of expensive and really hard to get in Czechia).

DSLR — first impressions

I’ve wanted a DSLR for a while. At first, I wanted to buy an entry level camera like Canon 1000D, but after I found out that the price of a used Canon 20D (semiprofessional camera, about five years old model) was considerably lower than price of 1000D, I just had to buy it.

1000D has more megapixels, but that’s about where the advantages end. 20D is more sturdy, has better handling and controls, rubberized grip, bigger viewfinder, higher frameburst rate (5 shots per second) and better high iso performance.

I decided to buy two lenses (neither money nor space for more :-)). The first one was the kit 18-55mm with IS (maybe buying used lenses isn’t such a good idea… but hey — it was cheap). As the second one, I originally wanted to buy Canon 50mm f/1.8, but I wanted also a little longer lens (I already have 50mm covered by the kit lens) and after finding the new Samyang 85mm f/1.4 with manual focus, it was an easy decision. That said, I’m still fighting with getting the focus right (it is very very hard, as almost everything appears in focus in the viewfinder… I wish I had live view and could zoom in to get preview of focus).

I am really happy with the high iso performance. With Canon 20D at ISO 3200, the noise is somewhere between ISO 200 and 400 on my point & shoot Canon A590. Five shots per second is very useful whenever you are shooting something moving unpredictably (kittens!).

I hope I haven’t become an equipment-theoretician freak yet. :)

New look again

I was thoroughly bored with the previous theme, and although I tried to revive it with the new header image, it was still bugging me. So I created a new one.

I had a draft of a new theme lying around for quite a long time, so I made few adjustments to it: made the code much longer and much less clean. But it seems to work.

Features of the new design include, but are not limited to:

  • big letters in headings (big letters rock)
  • even less images (none, except the two links to flickriver, smilies and images in posts)
  • half-fixed-width half-fluid design (the design is fixed width, but the sidebar is fluid — works well for many different widths of browser (800px — the sidebar isn’t displayed, it’s accessible through scrolling; 1024px — sidebar in one column, 1280px — two columns, more px — more columns (it is capped at three columns)))
  • emphasis on typography (lists, blockquotes, etc. are styled properly)
  • lines vertically in synch (left column, middle column and sidebar)
  • the old color scheme, I mostly like it and more importantly — couldn’t find a better one at the moment :)
  • justified text (I’m still very unsure here — justified looks way better, but left-aligned is more readable)

Bugs of the new design include, but are not limited to:

  • IE6 sometimes messes up the sidebar, not quite sure why
  • Opera doesn’t keep lines in synch when there are smileys (and I thought I had the solution, sigh…)
  • IE doesn’t align the comment date in the comment list (will look into that later)

Also, I spent ages dealing with various bugs in IE that caused things to disappear.
One such bug caused the sidebar not to appear (it was an absolutely positioned element next to a floated element — don’t ever do that), another sometimes caused titles to disappear (they were relatively positioned, now that they are static it seems ok, but I have no idea why). When repairing the sidebar, I had to move it in front of the actual content in the markup, which is wrong and I know it. I am sorry to all lynx/links users out there.

Bug reports, remarks and suggestions are welcome! ;-)