Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
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Wednesday 1 July 2015

For no reason other than it was out last night:

Wednesday 1 July 2015 10:56:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Astronomy#
Friday 19 June 2015

Weather? Check. Photography? Check. The dog? Nope. The National Weather Service photo contest winners are very cool, though.

Friday 19 June 2015 13:50:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Weather#
Thursday 11 June 2015

Part of the reason one stays in an Agriturismo is to go hiking. This is a state highway (scala provincale) near the closest village:

Despite being as far north (46°27') as Quebec City and Portland, Ore., Dosso del Liro is surprisingly warm and dry, the perfect environment for these guys, which we saw all over:

These guys (common Italian wall lizards) are about 8 cm nose to tail, and very fast. We didn't even try to catch them. But they're also hard to photograph; I got lucky and moved very slowly for this shot.

Thursday 11 June 2015 10:28:01 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography | Travel#
Wednesday 10 June 2015

Northern Italian Alpine lake village, go:

This is another example of how a little HDR makes a big difference.

Tomorrow: photos from Thursday, including lunch in Lugano.

Wednesday 10 June 2015 17:52:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Tuesday 9 June 2015

When you're crossing Lake Como from Cadenabbia to Bellagio on a sunny day, it looks like this:

I've also uploaded a full-sized JPEG (15 MB) to Azure storage. Enjoy.

Tuesday 9 June 2015 17:02:44 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#

I can imagine why the Catholic Church build Gallio Palace on the shore of Lake Como:

We didn't make it to the palace because we were distracted by food. I'll have more to say about Wednesday's dinner in my next couple of posts.

Tuesday 9 June 2015 15:10:16 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#

The Venetian church, viewed from the terrace of the Hotel Danieli:

Monday 8 June 2015 20:39:18 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Monday 8 June 2015

I took 324 photos on Monday, so I'm not all the way through them yet. I'll just start with a photo of our hotel's lobby. We stayed at the Hotel Danieli, a 193-year-old hotel in a 600-year-old building:

This was our one hotel splurge. I do not know the exact bill, except that it was approximately the same as the next four nights' lodging combined.

Monday 8 June 2015 14:24:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Sunday 31 May 2015

I'd have photos to post already, but Adobe Lightroom 6 keeps dying on my Surface. It works when I install it, but the next time I try to open it, even after a reboot, it gets to the splash screen and stops loading.

I hope to resolve this later today.

Sunday 31 May 2015 12:33:56 BST (UTC+01:00)  |  | Photography | Software#
Wednesday 27 May 2015

As I'm still getting to know Lightroom 6 and its HDR feature, I wanted to revisit this one from 2013:

Here's the refresh. I think it's a more subtle result, and looks more like what I actually saw in Hampstead Heath:

On my next trip (in two days), I'll probably take a lot more HDR-ready images. The Canon 7D Mark II does a sort-of draft HDR in-camera, with a number of options for generating the raw files that my old camera didn't have. I'm looking forward to the results.

Wednesday 27 May 2015 09:57:23 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | London | Photography#
Friday 22 May 2015

Less than 24 hours ago, I put my old camera on Craigslist: $500 for the body, two old lenses, the battery pack and charger, and a 32 GB CF card.

This afternoon, someone stopped by my office, played with the camera for five minutes, handed me $450 in cash, and that was it.

Thank you, Craig. That was remarkably painless.

Friday 22 May 2015 17:07:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography | Business#
Thursday 21 May 2015

I'm not sure this produced a significantly different photo, but I've done another quick HDR image with Lightroom. First, the basic shot, posted the day after my visit to the Joint Security Area on the North-South Korean border:

Here's the first HDR attempt posted a week later:

And here's one with Lightroom 6:

The second HDRI used different source images, but only from a few seconds later. Are they significantly different? Maybe insignificantly? I must ponder...

Thursday 21 May 2015 13:57:36 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Geography | Photography#
Wednesday 20 May 2015

Upgrading my camera unfortunately meant I had to upgrade Adobe Lightroom as well. But I discovered that Lightroom 6 has a basic HDR feature, which I didn't expect. For a long time I've been taking bracketed images in order to make HDR images, and then forgetting about them. Images like this one:

For comparison, here's the non-HDR image I posted back in February:

In this case, the HDR imagery expanded the dynamic range of the image without making it look really bizarre. I think it's a stronger photograph as a result, though the bottom image is still pretty.

Wednesday 20 May 2015 15:22:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#

I've just upgraded my main camera to the same model's Mark II. The first shot doesn't seem that impressive, as it's a daylight shot of a familiar view. (There are noticeable differences in Lightroom, however.) But check this out:

That was shot at ISO-51200, 1/60th second at f/5.6. I mean, holy crap.

To put this into perspective: in order to take that shot with the Tri-X Pan film I used as a kid, I'd need a 2-second exposure at the same aperture—a 7-stop difference. The mind reels. Yes, it's grainy, but it's still crisp and accurate. (It's B&W because the sodium vapor street lamps don't produce any red light, so there's no way to correct the colors.)

The 7D I got four years ago was the first digital camera that was as good as the film cameras I used to use. This is the first one that's better.

Here are the stats, updated from 2011:

Wednesday 20 May 2015 11:46:27 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Tuesday 19 May 2015

...with my new camera:

More details forthcoming...

Tuesday 19 May 2015 18:32:39 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Photography#
Sunday 26 April 2015

This was the view at the top of North Pond on my walk this afternoon:

Sunday 26 April 2015 17:53:26 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Photography#
Friday 17 April 2015

...and also preparing for a fundraiser at which I'm performing tomorrow:

And did I mention Apollo After Hours?

Thursday 16 April 2015 20:31:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Photography | Software | Blogs | Weather | Windows Azure | Work#
Thursday 9 April 2015

My to-do list today only has 14 items on it, of which 6 are checked off already. The actual time it will take to accomplish the remaining eight items varies between 20 minutes (laundry, tonight, essentially a fire-and-forget activity) and four hours (Staging release of the Holden Adaptive Platform).

So, once again, I'm going to shove a bunch of articles to my Kindle:

Now to do the next few things on my list...and watch the thunderstorm outside my office window.

Thursday 9 April 2015 11:52:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | Kitchen Sink | Photography | World | San Francisco#
Tuesday 17 February 2015
Tuesday 17 February 2015 12:17:23 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Travel#
Friday 13 February 2015

Another big walking day in sunny weather took me up to Bernauerstraße and the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial):

That's a mostly-preserved but partially-reconstructed section of the wall at the corner of Bernauerstraße and Ackerstraße, near the site where the first person trying to flee over the wall was killed. It's hard to imagine that the place I'm sitting now was once in East Berlin, just a few hundred meters from the place by the Wall where Reagan gave his famous speech in 1987.

I ended the walk at the DDR Museum, which outlined what life in East Germany was like from 1945 to 1990. In between I walked down Big Hamburger Street Große Hamburger Straße, in the old Jewish quarter, and stopped to check email (and have some non-German beer) at Sophie'n eck:

This is just a few meters from the monument to all of Berlin's Jews killed during the Holocaust. More grim history.

It's also fairly close to Museum Island which—wait for it—is an island on which sits nothing but museums (and the occasional cathedral). Here's the view looking downstream from the northern tip of Museums-Insell:

Upstream a bit is the Berlin Dom, which is not a BDSM maneuver but is still big, intimidating, and German:

Note that all of these photos are from my mobile phone. I have a few hundred on my real camera, but they're inaccessible right now because I forgot the proper cable. I aim to have some of those photos up by Wednesday or Thursday.

Tomorrow I'm off to my second-favorite city in the world, where I have set aside time and calories to park at Southampton Arms for a couple of hours.

Tonight, though: I've got another 6,000 steps to go. I missed 20,000 yesterday by just a handful, but I have over 100,000 for the week, putting me almost up to 80 km. (I've yet to hit 15 km in a day. Maybe tomorrow?)

Friday 13 February 2015 20:22:45 CET (UTC+01:00)  |  | London | Photography | World | Travel#
Wednesday 11 February 2015

Unfortunately, it's my Canon. So even though I promised photos, I'll have to get an old USB cable tomorrow in order to post any.

Fortunately, I have a phone on my camera, so I was able to photograph this Apfelstrudel goodness that I'll be walking off for the rest of the week:

Wednesday 11 February 2015 21:20:28 CET (UTC+01:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Photography#
Tuesday 23 December 2014

You may have noticed that the photos I've posted lately have unusual aspect ratios and sizes. This is because I have been lazy.

Usually, I upload photos from my camera or phone to my laptop, process them with Adobe Lightroom, and crop them to a pleasing 2:3 aspect ratio. Lately, though, I've just shot them through Google Hangouts from my phone. I have little understanding of Google's choices but they seem to be around the byte count and not around the dimensions.

Here, for example, is a shot of O'Hare Terminal 3 from this morning:

Google did that one at 1236 x 695, at 249 kB. The original is much larger (4 MB), but the same aspect ratio.

I may re-edit the photos later, after landing.

Update: here's the same photo after going through Lightroom:

Tuesday 23 December 2014 11:26:08 CST (UTC-06:00)  |  | Photography | Software | Travel#
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#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International 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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