Friday, March 16, 2007


Finished reading "The Lies of Locke Lamora" by Scott Lynch. Rather good. Found on the "fantasy" shelves (where almost all of my reading material comes from), it's about a long con expert grifting in a city almost indistinguishable from early Renaissance Venice. With a revenge plot thrown in.

Though I bet my "summon author" spell fails miserably :)

Right now I've got a big pile of books to get through.

I read George R R Martin's "A Feast For Crows" at the start of the month; at the second attempt. I don't know why I never managed to get into it when I first got the book, as this volume is as good as the rest of the series so far. However, there is a definate "slowing down", both in terms of the pacing of the story and the appearance of the actual books themselves. Hopefully he's not coming over all "Jordan" on us. Though I still hold the Wheel of Time series in high regard, I just hope that RJ manages to get the epic finished.

Just finishing the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next sequence. Silly stuff. And a return to the sort of exchanges that opened the series, after all the BookWorld stuff in the previous two volumes. Not a series that I will feel compelled to re-read in the future, though.

After that, well I'm waiting on the first two books by Joe Abercrombie to arrive from Amazon (who are currently reporting a 4-6 week delivery window, unfortunately). If they don't turn up on time, then it might be K J Parker's previous paperback that gets read next. I really enjoyed her first trilogy and the second was also very good - but she does lose a few points as a result of my suspicion that she might be married to Tom Holt. Not so much because I don't like his books (I don't, but can't hold that against anyone), but because I didn't like him - or his views about my field of work - very much when I met him a few years ago.

I have some Games Workshop "Warhammer 40k" books to read at some point. Bought on a whim because from time to time, their background material could be quite readable - nonsense, but readable (and certainly better than most of their games). They are probably just the thing to read post-lobotomy.

And finally there's Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Peterson, which I am getting through at a rate of a few pages every few days. Highly recommended to all budding photographers who want to move the dial on their camera away from the "auto" setting once in a while. I'd recommend his "Understanding Digital Photography" over this one, though. There's enough repetition of material between the two books to make reading both unnecessary, but either gives a very good grounding in some of the technical aspects of photography using SLR-type cameras. It certainly helped me to understand what I was trying to do with my moon shots the other week.

I don't know if I mentioned at the time, but I was using an old 300mm telephoto lens. This meant that not only did I have to focus manually, I had to shoot in manual mode - setting an appropriate aperture and shutter speed, without the benefit of in-camera metering. Knowing not only what all those settings meant, but how to actually manipulate them to get the image I wanted, was pretty important.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

OK, forgive the broken links of a couple of days ago. I wanted to get something posted quick, and always planned to come back and do a proper job. We had a lunar eclipse last weekend. The Moon was full, totality was between 10.45pm and 11.45pm, and for once the skies stayed clear. It wasn't even that cold. It doesn't get much better than that. I stepped outside with the Nikon D40, a 300mm manual focus lens, and the world's worst tripod. I got some nice, sharp pictures at high shutter speed, but as the light from the Moon dimmed I had to use longer and longer exposures - at which point, a thumping heavy lens without a tripod collar on top of Jessop's finest £20 tripod was *never* in any danger of producing good images. Ah well. I clearly need a better tripod and some more lenses. Obviously. During the longer exposures I was getting a few dots on the screen. I had written them off as some sort of stuck pixel fault with the camera - they were in the same position vis a vis the Moon in each shot. Then I noticed they were in DIFFERENT positions on the actual image. Hmm, not a camera problem then. Turns out that the one nearest the moon is actually Saturn. Neat, huh? Oh, and I've just realised that I've missed tonight's episode of Life On Mars :(