Liveblogging a beer

Sitting at the next table over is a group of possibly Russian men drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon, playing cards. They’re using the thin paper stock of an airplane issued deck, or maybe it
came free with a cheap, unrelated purchase. Further along the row of rickety tables is an Indian gentleman with slicked-back hair and an American accent, even further still, a Buddhist monk and a couple of English chavs. The monk is not drinking.

Smoke in the air, with the sounds of so many different tongues it would be pointless to call them foreign (on whose behalf but my own?), it’s a scene romantics and film critics might fall over themselves to
identify as belonging to another time and place, Morocco in the 1940s maybe, Blade Runner’s hybrid America perhaps — given the hide and seek aromas of nearby Asian cooking and the aggressive buzz of neon — but also one that many of us take for granted here in Singapore.

A beggar approaches and manages to fleece a few dollars off those present. I am invisible to him. The monk numbly declines.

Fake HDR from Nokia N82

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Fake HDR test, originally uploaded by sangsara.
I never thought it would have been possible to make a convincing fake HDR image from a single JPEG, and shot with a Nokia N82 too. I kinda miss that phone (I gave it up in August for an iPhone 3G) whenever I see old photos from it, but only then, because everything else about it – from the creaking buttons, to the poor battery life and ancient, artificially resuscitated S60 OS – was a mechanical turd.

Panasonic DMC-LX3

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LaSalle campus, originally uploaded by sangsara.
Loving the 16:9 AR and 24mm lens on my new digital camera.

I did just buy a Canon IXUS 80 about 6 months ago, but that one was mostly for fun and because I was switching to an iPhone where the camera couldn’t match what I used to have in my pocket with the Nokia N82. In some ways, this feels like my first serious camera purchase. I’ve always sorta backed down from learning the finer (mechanical/optical) points of photography*, choosing simplified compacts where the most one has to supply is a focal range and maybe dial in the film’s ISO rating. With this one, I’ll probably have to learn a thing or two.

*Also known as the “I’ll fix it in post” approach.

— Edit:
It’s been a few days with the LX3, and I’m still very pleased with it. The interface is initially complicated, with a two different menus offering to help you change settings, with overlap into each other. One is designated a “Quick-Menu”, and is activated with the little joystick. In practice, it does live up to its name, and most people will probably use it for changing ISO speeds, AF modes, and so on. Many little things that could have been poorly implemented were thankfully well-designed. This is also the first camera I’ve owned that can accept software updates (there’s one out already), so perhaps my one major gripe will be addressed someday: The very handy Multiple Exposure mode is buried in the “Slow Menu”, and can’t be assigned to the shortcut button. Starting it up takes more than a few keypresses.

I did a solid day’s worth of internet research before getting it – the purchase was spurred by another friend’s decision to buy it, and my faith in his own inability to buy something without knowing all the alternatives, so what you’re getting here is effectively two recommendations – this camera outperforms anything in its class & price range so long as you’re interested in a wide-angle lens. It shoots RAW and the built-in noise reduction can be dialed up or down in JPEG mode to suit your preferences. If you’re looking for something with a long zoom, then this probably won’t satisfy you (but the Canon G10 might). The build quality is also fairly solid, with very few plastic parts, and should last for years.