Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kurled up with Stephen King and my Kindle and my Kat

Kurled Up With Stephen King and My Kindle and My Kat
The Kindle and the book I was reading were Christmas presents, but I expect that many in the future will be from the Madison Public Library—not every book I read is worth $10-15 for permanent ownership of what is, after all, an electronic file.

I spent several days glued to my chair reading 11/22/63, Stephen King's spellbinding page-turner about traveling in time and trying to prevent the Kennedy assassination (we know how the main plot point is eventually going to turn out, but there's no telling how King is going to get there). Templeton was my companion during much of this time. Stephen King is no Marcel Proust, but this book is a poignant and sometimes lyrical meditation on time, memory and loss. It's not a typical Stephen King book but it's his best book of the last decade, and one of his best ever.

The Kindle, btw, is a wonderful device for reading really big books (11/22/63 weighs in at 850 pages). First of all, the Kindle is much lighter. With its database and search capabilities and the ability to highlight and bookmark things, it's easier to find passages you want to go back to than flipping through a lot of pages. And if you read for hours straight and your eyes get tired, you can just make the type a little bigger and keep on going.

The Madison Public Library has a growing number of Kindle titles. Many have waiting lists, but reserve a few and soon you'll have a steady stream of library books waiting for you to download to your Kindle. You can bookmark, highlight passages and take notes the same as with your own books. They're saved in the cloud on Amazon's server, so the next time you check out the book—or happen to buy it—they'll be there.

High ISO holiday goodies

Holiday Goodies
I grew up in the heyday of film, when fast emulsions were just starting to come in. I'd shoot Tri-X and push it from its normal ISO 400 to 800 and, very occasionally, all the way to 1600. The results may have been sort of grainy, but they were thrilling -- WOW! SHOOTING IN LOW LIGHT WITH NO FLASH! It just doesn't get any better than that, I thought. Little did I know.

Of course, now even some of the better compacts can shoot clean images at ISO1600 -- and that's in color. In the old days, pushing film was mostly the province of black and white photographers. Above ISO 400 or so, images got terribly grainy -- nice for special effects, not if not.

Today, with DSLRs, especially the full-frame versions, the sky is the limit -- go ahead, shoot available light in that coal mine. My D90 is no longer the state of the art when it comes to high ISO photography, but it still has not lost the capacity to amaze me: This was shot in VERY low light at ISO 3200 with High ISO Noise Reduction turned on and cranked up high. Back in the old days, someone who claimed to have shot this at ISO 3200 would clearly have been lying. Today, it's a digital file that includes the ISO.