Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
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Thursday 13 November 2014

The Atlantic's CityLab blog brings us the work of Ignacio Evangelista, who has photographed European border crossings abandoned after the Schengen treaty came into effect:

Evangelista has photographed many of these checkpoints over the last couple of years. Aptly titled "After Schengen," his project reinforces the suddenness with which many of Europe's border crossings went silent. Brightly colored vehicle gates remain at some boundaries, but they stand open, implying a warmer "Welcome," rather than "Stop!" (the latter can still be found on weathered signs and asphalt).

Despite the irrationality sometimes associated with national borders, the Schengen Treaty is as much an anomaly as it is an achievement. Many nations within the Schengen Area—Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, and others—once represented a web of ambitious empires. The sudden abandonment of border crossings displayed in Evangelista's work, therefore, offers a reminder that Europe is in fact enjoying an historic era of peace.

I love borders. I have an idea for a coffee-table book, exploring borders and boundaries at various levels of abstractions, that I may just do someday.

One of these borders will surely be in the Baltics. The weirdest border checkpoint I saw was in Talinn, Estonia, at the ferry terminal. Finland and Estonia are both in the Schengen zone, but 25 years ago they were practically different civilizations.

Thursday 13 November 2014 14:08:33 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
Saturday 25 October 2014

The Nag's Head, Angel:

Coincidentally, this pub has the same name as my go-to pub when I lived in Hoboken, N.J., 15 years ago.

Saturday 25 October 2014 12:11:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Best Bars | London | Photography#
Monday 29 September 2014

CityLabs has a cool pictoral on the evolution of Manhattan's Meatpacking District from the mid-1980s to now:

From the High Line to the expensive shops and restaurants along the old cobblestone streets, everything looks quite different from when Brian Rose first brought his camera to the Meatpacking District. A young photographer in 1985, Rose spent a few days that winter walking around the area in the mid-afternoon, after the meat markets closed and before the sex clubs opened. Right around the time Rose took his photos, one of those clubs, The Mineshaft, was shut down by the city for permitting "high-risk sexual activity" during the worsening AIDS epidemic.

Rose never got around to printing the film from that shoot—until 2012. Blown away by what he saw when compared his photographs to those same streets and buildings today, he decided to re-create each shot. The result is an incredible set of then-and-nows in the new book Metamorphosis: Meatpacking District 1985 + 2013.

The neighborhood's transformation is epic, especially if you spent time in New York over the last 30 years.

Monday 29 September 2014 13:20:06 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
Friday 26 September 2014

And it's 5pm. And I'm still working on Thursday's work. Ex-cellent!

While I'm figuring out what part of the week I missed, read about how a group photographers explored subterranean London.

Friday 26 September 2014 17:08:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | London | Photography#
Friday 19 September 2014
Friday 19 September 2014 10:24:38 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Photography#
Wednesday 21 May 2014

Three more photos from Sunday's publicity shots.

Shaina Summerville and Stephen McClure:

Shaina Summerville and Parker, behaving for about 30 seconds:

Zach Blackwell, Shaina Summerville, and Stephen McClure:

My direction for that last one was, "Imagine something horrible. It's Sarah Palin. She's got a gun. She's coming toward you. And she's naked." They look truly horrified, don't they?

Wednesday 21 May 2014 16:56:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Tuesday 20 May 2014

I've got approval from Spectralia to post some publicity shots from Sunday.

Zach Blackwell:

Shaina Summerville:

Stephen McClure and Shaina Summerville:

More a bit later.

Tuesday 20 May 2014 11:39:55 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Monday 19 May 2014

I've had a few minutes to go through the Spectralia photos from earlier today. We attempted to get Parker in them, to play Crab, the dog, but he is the sourest-natured dog that lives. Observe:

Yet did not this cruel-hearted cur shed one tear.

Eventually we got a couple good shots with him. Eventually.

Sunday 18 May 2014 22:29:49 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#

The deployment, I mean. Everything works, at least on the browsers I've used to test it. I ran the deployment three times in Test first, starting from a copy of the Production database each time, so I was as confident as I could be when I finally ran it against the Production database itself. And, I made sure I can swap everything back to the old version in about 15 minutes.

Also, I snuck away to shoot publicity photos for Spectralia again, same as last year. I'll have some up by the end of the week, after the director has seen them.

Sunday 18 May 2014 21:36:34 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Business | Cloud | Windows Azure#
Wednesday 30 April 2014

Today wasn't nearly as pretty:

Wednesday 30 April 2014 09:56:24 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Sunday 23 March 2014

I debated this question with someone at a dinner a couple weeks ago. She suggested higher megapixel numbers told you more about the ego of the camera buyer than about the quality of the images.

I said it depends on how you're using the photos, but generally, more data yields more useful photos.

Here's an illustration, using a vaguely-recognizable landmark that I happened to pass earlier this weekend, and just happened to have photographed with three different cameras.

Sunday 23 March 2014 22:49:16 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Geography | London | Photography#
Thursday 13 March 2014

Calumet Photo, one of the last real photography stores, has closed abruptly:

Calumet Photographic, a Chicago-based camera supply and photo services provider that first opened 1939, has abruptly closed its doors and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.

Calumet said on its Facebook page that it was closing its stores in the United States, but that its European stores would remain.

In its Chapter 7 filing, in which a company prepares to liquidate, it listed between $50 million and $100 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in liabilities.

I rented lenses from them for my trips to Korea and Sint Maarten recently, and I found them truly helpful on other photographic issues. This is a big blow to photography.

Thursday 13 March 2014 15:51:42 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Business#
Saturday 1 March 2014

Parker, 14 weeksI'm David Braverman, this is my blog, and Parker is my 7½-year-old mutt. I last updated this About... page in September 2011, more than 1,300 posts back, so it's time for a refresh.

The Daily Parker is about:

  • Parker, my dog, whom I adopted on 1 September 2006.
  • Politics. I'm a moderate-lefty by international standards, which makes me a radical left-winger in today's United States.
  • The weather. I've operated a weather website for more than 13 years. That site deals with raw data and objective observations. Many weather posts also touch politics, given the political implications of addressing climate change, though happily we no longer have to do so under a president beholden to the oil industry.
  • Chicago (the greatest city in North America), and sometimes London, San Francisco, and the rest of the world.
  • Photography. I took tens of thousands of photos as a kid, then drifted away from making art until early 2011 when I finally got the first digital camera I've ever had whose photos were as good as film. That got me reading more, practicing more, and throwing more photos on the blog. In my initial burst of enthusiasm I posted a photo every day. I've pulled back from that a bit—it takes about 30 minutes to prep and post one of those puppies—but I'm still shooting and still learning.

I also write a lot of software, and will occasionally post about technology as well. I work for 10th Magnitude, a startup software consultancy in Chicago, I've got more than 20 years experience writing the stuff, and I continue to own a micro-sized software company. (I have an online resume, if you're curious.) I see a lot of code, and since I often get called in to projects in crisis, I see a lot of bad code, some of which may appear here.

I strive to write about these and other things with fluency and concision. "Fast, good, cheap: pick two" applies to writing as much as to any other creative process (cf: software). I hope to find an appropriate balance between the three, as streams of consciousness and literacy have always struggled against each other since the first blog twenty years ago.

If you like what you see here, you'll probably also like Andrew Sullivan, James Fallows, Josh Marshall, and Bruce Schneier. Even if you don't like my politics, you probably agree that everyone ought to read Strunk and White, and you probably have an opinion about the Oxford comma—punctuation de rigeur in my opinion.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy The Daily Parker.

Saturday 1 March 2014 14:27:44 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Aviation | Baseball | Biking | Cubs | Geography | Kitchen Sink | London | Parker | Daily | Photography | Politics | US | World | Religion | Software | Blogs | Business | Cloud | Travel | Weather | Windows Azure | Work | Writing#
Saturday 8 February 2014

When I last visited St. Martin five years ago, I struggled a bit to get through the heavily-defended border between the French and Dutch sides. I am happy to report that the two countries have made significant improvements to the border since then. For starters, they've put up a brand-new sign:

Unfortunately, it appears that an aggressor nation has taken over part of the French side:

All right, I'm wasting time writing a blog post when I could do it with something else. If only this Internet connection were faster, I could be offline a lot faster.

Saturday 8 February 2014 10:49:42 AST (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Friday 13 December 2013

I posted a photo of the Korean Joint Security Area the night after visiting it, while still in Seoul. Finally, today, one of my colleagues had time to assemble a high-dynamic-range image from a set I took for that purpose. I think it's a much better photograph:

Not only did I get the colors closer to reality (always hard to do with a laptop), but combining three different exposures into this one HDRI brings out the details in the shadowy foreground as well as on the DPRK building we were facing.

Thanks, Matt.

Friday 13 December 2013 14:57:55 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Thursday 28 November 2013

Yesterday, on the Siberia side of the Bering Sea:

Our flight path yesterday followed the terminator as the earth turned. The sun stayed right on the tip of the left wing for about 90 minutes before we jogged slightly west over Kamchatka.

Friday 29 November 2013 04:47:01 KST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Aviation | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Tuesday 8 October 2013

I've held off posting this one from my walk through Hampstead Heath last month because it needed a little Photoshopping. Today at lunch one of my colleagues let me use her laptop for five minutes. Voilà:

I'll have to round up some of the HDR sequences I've shot over the past couple of years...this is fun.

Tuesday 8 October 2013 13:29:57 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | London | Photography#
Tuesday 20 August 2013

A couple I know asked me to take some photos of their 10-month-old daughter recently. Et voilà:

Tuesday 20 August 2013 07:57:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Monday 24 June 2013

The publicity photos I took a couple of weeks ago have started getting published. Spectralia's first news release went with this one:

I'll keep posting the ones they use.

Monday 24 June 2013 10:14:35 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Saturday 22 June 2013

It helps if you can get a few hundred meters off shore:

That was Thursday Night, on the Sarah's Inn Cruise for a Cause. We got excessively lucky with the weather, so I brought my real camera with me.

This morning I did some more publicity stills for Comedy of Errors; I'll post some of those as soon as I have approval from the cast.

Now I'm off to Wrigley. The Cubs won last night, but so did the Brewers, so we're still tied for fourth.

Saturday 22 June 2013 14:01:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Tuesday 4 June 2013

On Sunday the Spectralia Theater Company had me shoot their publicity stills for this summer's Comedy of Errors production. The play goes up this summer at several Chicago Park District parks as part of the Bard in the Parks program.

Doctor Pinch (Don Johnson) and Antipholous of Ephesus (Peter Ash):

The Courtezan of Ephesus (Mary-Kate Arnold):

The play opens June 29th at Ravenswood Manor Park in Chicago.

Tuesday 4 June 2013 08:49:59 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Saturday 23 March 2013

At last night's performance, the venue used dim, magenta lighting on the stage that made poor Lauren O'Connell look like a pink ghost. Here's one image exactly as it came out of my camera:

Fortunately, I shoot raw photos, which take up lots of room (about 22 MB each) but with the benefit of lots of uncompressed image information. It's therefore relatively easy, using Adobe Lightroom, to correct for it. Magenta lights are pretty grim, though; the only reasonable correction was to make it black and white:

Had I shot these as JPEGs, the correction would have been almost impossible. The raw format stores light in four layers, much like physical film does. JPEG compression "develops" it all together.

Plus, I have my camera set to interpolate a black frame under an exposed frame when shooting above ISO 1600. (This photo was shot at ISO 12,800.) That gives the processing software even more information to help produce a usable image from horrible conditions.

Saturday 23 March 2013 09:46:47 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Friday 14 December 2012

This caught my eye as I walked to work from the El this morning:

History buffs and Chicagoans may recognize this spot as the place where the Great Flood of 1992 started.

Friday 14 December 2012 10:22:12 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Tuesday 19 June 2012
Tuesday 19 June 2012 15:17:48 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Sunday 17 June 2012

As promised, Parker's birthday photo from yesterday:

1/250 at f/5.6, ISO-3200, 116mm

Sunday 17 June 2012 08:49:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Wednesday 6 June 2012
Wednesday 6 June 2012 09:48:52 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Jokes | Photography#
Tuesday 1 May 2012

I'm traveling for business right now so I don't have my real camera with me. I do, however, have a little pocket camera. I'm not disparaging the thing; it really does take better photographs than any digital camera I've owned except for the two SLRs. But after just shy of 29 years of photography, I've learned a couple of quick and easy techniques to help it along. (I wish I'd known these things when I shot on film, but who could have predicted the mind-blowing power of this decade's digital image editing software when the pinnacle of faithful photographic reproduction was Kodachrome 25?)

First among these techniques is to use a gray card whenever possible. This is a simple piece of cardboard that has a color-neutral, 18% reflective surface, that allows you to calibrate both the exposure and colors of a scene. They cost less than a take-out coffee and take up almost no room in your bag. They do two things: first, they tell you how much light is available on a scene, and second, they tell you what color the light is.

The first is harder to explain than the second. Suffice to say, your little pocket camera constantly has to guess at how much light to let in. Your eye does this automatically, opening and closing your iris as required for you to perceive, almost always, that there's just the right amount of light available. Cameras, being mechanical and not having brains, have to guess. The human eye can look at two different scenes, one of which having 32 times more light than the other, and not register a difference. If you walk under a bridge on a bright, sunny day, you can still see.

Cameras, being mechanical, can't do that. Modern cameras have automatic light meters that make really good guesses, and so most of your photos come out fine. But they make a lot of mistakes, too, particularly when the thing you want to photograph is really dark or really light.

Gray cards fix that. Your camera's light meter assumes that the average scene reflects 18% of the light falling on it, and adjusts the exposure to fit. A gray card really does reflect 18% of the light falling on it. So if you meter off a gray card, the photo will be correctly exposed.

Gray cards also fix colors. If you're in a room with incandescent light bulbs, your brain automatically corrects the colors of the things it sees. You know that's a white bedspread; you know that's a blue book cover. So your brain tells you, that's a white bedspread, and a blue book cover.

Cameras, however, don't have brains. And cameras can't see colors that aren't there. And incandescent light bulbs are orange. The consequence of these three facts is simply that a raw photograph of a white bedspread under incandescent light bulbs will look orange.

Here, for example, is a photo of my hotel room as the camera saw it:

Keep in mind, this is the correct exposure. I know this because I took a picture of my handy-dandy gray card before snapping this one. Not only did the gray card show me the correct exposure setting, but it also showed me the correct colors of the same scene, to wit:

Again, my real camera would have done a better photo, but at least with a gray card (and Adobe Lightroom), I can get reliable colors and exposures with a cheap little pocket camera.

Monday 30 April 2012 23:18:10 PDT (UTC-07:00)  |  | Photography#
Sunday 18 March 2012

Two photos from yesterday at a plausibly recognizable location:

The rain didn't even bother me, because it looked like this:

More when I get back to Chicago.

Sunday 18 March 2012 15:41:08 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Friday 16 March 2012

When visiting a familiar place, it helps to sit on the plane next to someone who lives there. The local person, recognizing that you've already done the tourist stuff, can recommend places that you might not see otherwise. I had this good fortune yesterday.

This afternoon I traipsed around Marylebone, which is just north of Hyde Park. My seat-mate recommended two places specifically, so I went to them. First, Daunt Books, on Marylebone High Street:

I love bookstores; I miss real bookstores; I could spend a day in this one:

After wishing for half an hour that I could buy half a tonne of books, I went around the corner to La Fromagerie. Next time I'm in London, I'm going to eat everything in the store. Even the little cold cheese room made me swoon. Instead of getting a 10-kilo variety pack, I settled for a simple, £2 medallion of unpasteurized goat cheese. Words are insufficient to describe it, other than to say, it was yum.

Then I hopped on the Tube to this famous location:

Yes, that's Abbey Road, and those are a bunch of tourists blocking traffic. In the 30 minutes I hung out there, no fewer than 10 groups posed on the zebra crossing. (I confess, I took photos for two of them.)

Now, off to find food and ale. Relatively early bed tonight: tomorrow the Chunnel.

Friday 16 March 2012 17:14:27 GMT (UTC+00:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Photography | Travel#
Thursday 19 January 2012

The Economist this week examines the imminent death of Kodak, which in the 1970s commanded 90% of the film market:

Then came digital photography to replace film, and smartphones to replace cameras. Kodak’s revenues peaked at nearly $16 billion in 1996 and its profits at $2.5 billion in 1999. The consensus forecast by analysts is that its revenues in 2011 were $6.2 billion. It recently reported a third-quarter loss of $222m, the ninth quarterly loss in three years. In 1988, Kodak employed over 145,000 workers worldwide; at the last count, barely one-tenth as many. Its share price has fallen by nearly 90% in the past year (see chart).

Despite its strengths—hefty investment in research, a rigorous approach to manufacturing and good relations with its local community—Kodak had become a complacent monopolist. Fujifilm exposed this weakness by bagging the sponsorship of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles while Kodak dithered. The publicity helped Fujifilm’s far cheaper film invade Kodak’s home market.

Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm. Working in a one-company town did not help, either. Kodak’s bosses in Rochester seldom heard much criticism of the firm, she says. Even when Kodak decided to diversify, it took years to make its first acquisition.

Management matters. And all things end. It's still sad.

Wednesday 18 January 2012 18:01:57 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Business#
Friday 13 January 2012

...at least for a few days. From last night in Chicago:

And:

Friday 13 January 2012 16:22:10 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography | Weather#
Saturday 7 January 2012

The Red Rooster, Chicago:

Canon 7D, 37mm, ISO-400, f/5.6 at 1/60, here.

Saturday 7 January 2012 17:09:54 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Sunday 1 January 2012

In 2011, I:

  • took 8,198 photos, including 4,352 in Chicago, 881 in Japan, 588 in Portugal, and 337 in the U.K. (and only 71 of Parker). This is almost as many as I took in 2009 and 2010 combined (9,140), and more than I took in the first 8 years I owned a camera (1983-1991, 7,671).
  • flew 115,845 km but drove less than 4,500 km
  • visited 5 countries (the UK, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Japan) and 8 states (California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) in 35 trips. Sadly, this meant Parker boarded for more than 100 days
  • spent more than 186 hours walking Parker, which partially made up for all those days being boarded
  • wrote 539 blog entries, with the most consistency in the blog's 6-year history (averaging 1.48 per day with a standard deviation of only 0.11)
  • got 2.3 million hits (object views) on the Daily Parker, and 1.7 million on Weather Now, including 47,956 and 181,285 page views, respectively. According to Google Analytics, the blog had 28,613 unique visitors, and Weather Now had 26,539.
  • read only 34 books, but as these included the first four of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series, it should count as 46
  • started and ended the year in the same place (Duke of Perth, Chicago)
  • went to only 8 movies, 3 plays, 3 concerts, and 3 baseball games, which is terribly sad

Oh, and I also got a master's degree. (Almost forgot.)

Sunday 1 January 2012 11:56:32 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Cubs | Duke | Kitchen Sink | Parker | Photography | Travel#

First photo of the year, in fact:

Sunday 1 January 2012 10:47:26 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Parker | Photography#
Sunday 25 December 2011

Codey might want to play tug, but Roger couldn't care less:

Saturday 24 December 2011 19:13:44 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Photography | San Francisco#

Codey waits for me to put down the black flashy thing and start playing tug again:

Canon 7D at ISO-6400, 50mm, f/1.8 at 1/250, just a few minutes ago.

Saturday 24 December 2011 17:41:35 PST (UTC-08:00)  |  | Photography | San Francisco#
Wednesday 14 December 2011

I forgot to post this photo from the Tsukiji fish market earlier:

Wednesday 14 December 2011 17:55:00 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Sunday 4 December 2011

Two of them, the first in Kyoto:

The other in Tokyo:

Sunday 4 December 2011 15:25:10 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Wednesday 30 November 2011

Tokyo at night, with a 6-second exposure:

(Here's the daytime view.)

Wednesday 30 November 2011 17:16:54 JST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Tuesday 29 November 2011

Yesterday I took the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto and back. The 476 km trip takes two hours and twenty minutes, averaging 200 km/h including stops.

The best we have in the U.S. over the same distance, the Acela from Boston to Philadelphia (511 km), takes just over five hours on a good day and more if it snows. Chicago to St. Louis (457 km) is scheduled for five and a half hours, but I haven't ever made the trip in under six.

The U.S. made different choices than Japan (or Europe: London to Newcastle, 483 km, takes 2 hours and 50 minutes), because our vast depopulated spaces made an automobile-based infrastructure deceptively appealing. Wouldn't it be incredible if the U.S. experienced some kind of economic situation where it made a lot of sense to start correcting that monumental error? Oh, right.

In any event, I left the Tokyo train station a little past 10 in the morning and got to see this by 2, which is really the point:

Tuesday 29 November 2011 09:27:19 JST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Photography | US | World#
Monday 28 November 2011

Exhibit 1, a very fast train:

Exhibit 2, autumn at Tenryu-ji, one of 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto:

Exhibit 3, a juxtaposition of transportation technologies:

Explanation, to the extent required, follows tomorrow morning.

Monday 28 November 2011 22:48:36 JST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
Sunday 27 November 2011

Every year, the Economist publishes the Big Mac Index, "a fun guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of a basket of goods and services around the world." The current spot price of a Big Mac in Tokyo today is ¥680: just under $9. Yes, NINE DOLLARS.

This fact might cushion the surprise I experienced this evening when I discovered that four small chicken skewers (yakitori), one medium bowl of rice, and a beer, cost $32.75, including tax. This wasn't at the Tokyo equivalent of Charlie Trotter's; this was at an anonymous izakaya near the Shinjuku train station.

Now, friends and enemies alike will tell you that I routinely spend that much at, say, my remote office. There's a tip, for starters, not to mention the occasional disnumeria after I've spent an afternoon there. Only, at Duke of Perth, that amount goes a little farther.

I've noticed other things beside the angina-inducing prices in this city. In no particular order:

  • I stand out. I've traveled all over the world, and in no other city (except possibly Shanghai) do I stick out more obviously than I do here. I find no small irony in that here, people don't know whether I'm American or Albanian; but they know I speak English, they know I'm not from these parts, and they know I'm the most likely person in any crowd to act unpredictably. It's not just me; all European-looking people look out of place here. And we all smile wanly at each other on the streets. It's odd.
  • Shibuya at night looks just like you'd imagine, sort of Piccadilly Circus, Times Square, and North Michigan Avenue smashed together and fed amphetamines. I'm glad I had the experience. People who know me will understand how happy I am to report that I have been to the most crowded, most chaotic, and most commercial place I have ever seen (i.e., the Shinjuku train station), on my way to the most crowded, most chaotic, and most commercial place the world has ever seen (i.e., Shibuya Crossing at 5pm). And this was Sunday night. Tomorrow, when both the train station and the shopping area are actually busy, I might avoid it. In fact, since my access to the rest of Japan depends on going through the busiest train station in the world, I may start fantasizing about renting a cabin in upper Manitoba for my next vacation.

Obligatory Shibuya-at-night photo:

  • No one here speaks English, but it doesn't matter. I've encountered none but helpful, patient people for the last two days. The price of dinner tonight may have made my baby cheeses cry, but the wait staff really dug in and helped me find the right words in my little dictionary. They were also enormously impressed that I know how to use chopsticks, which puzzled me, because I haven't encountered too many Americans who can't. Perhaps they thought I was British?

None of these things really bothers me, by the way. Well, all right, the crowds in Shibuya did, but it's Tokyo, so there are crowds, so what? I mean, we don't have this back home:

Sunday 27 November 2011 21:11:09 JST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Photography#

Lonely Planet has by far the most helpful guidebooks in English. Their Tokyo City Guide recommends hopping on the Yamanote train to get an overview of the city. The train goes around central Tokyo in a little more than an hour; when combined with an all-day rail/subway pass (¥1580), it gives you a good overview of the place. Here's the inside (counterclockwise) train pulling into Tokyo Station:

More photos at The Daily Parker.

Sunday 27 November 2011 15:36:52 JST (UTC+09:00)  |  | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Monday 14 November 2011

Last one from Saturday's photo shoot with historian Mimi Cowan:

ISO-3200, f/5.6 at 1/250, 250mm, here.

Monday 14 November 2011 13:34:27 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography#
Sunday 13 November 2011

Historian Mimi Cowan needed new headshots for her professional CV. So yesterday, we got a few:

ISO-800, f/5 at 1/250, 116mm, here.

And if she releases a solo album, we got the cover photo:

Sunday 13 November 2011 08:13:30 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Friday 4 November 2011

From last weekend, yet another Daily Parker duck:

ISO-200, 1/250 at f/8, 55mm, here.

By the way, can anyone identify the species?

Friday 4 November 2011 13:12:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Saturday 29 October 2011

This afternoon, North Pond, Chicago:

Canon 7D, ISO-100, 1/125 at f/5.6, 18mm, here.

Saturday 29 October 2011 15:59:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Saturday 1 October 2011

On a quick weekend in Montréal, where it's mostly grey and rainy, I find bits of color:

14:15 ET today, Canon 7D at ISO-400, f/5.6 at 1/100, 55mm, here.

Further down the street:

Saturday 1 October 2011 17:19:03 EDT (UTC-04:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is a software developer in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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