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February 8, 2018

A sad news. A feeling of loss. My dear friend, Jerzy "Jurek" Knapik passed away last Sunday in a Warsaw heart clinic.

We've been close buddies and classmates at the University of Łódź, Poland, for five years; then we got jobs in the same research group. Partying together, hiking together and doing physics together — until our ways separated: I ended up doing air traffic R&D in the U.S., while Jurek represented Poland at the U.N. Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.

After retiring, Jurek looked me up on the Internet, and for the last year we've been talking on the phone at least twice a week, like if that 30-year break never happened.

Photography, computers, and technology in general were among many interests we shared. Last November he said he regrets we won't see the inventions and gadgets coming after us. In the meantime, he was enjoying his brand-new Sony superzoom.

He also became an expert in (of all things) miniature Nativity scenes from around the world, and his massive collection has been hosted by a number of museums in Poland.

We've been planning to meet in person late January, but this is never going to be.

Jurek and me
Students at Physics Lab, U of Łódź, 1966

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February 3, 2018

I'm back home in Maryland. We made our connection in Copenhagen just in time, and the Airbus 340, used by SAS on transatlantic flights, has individual USB power outlets.

(At 5V/1A they are not enough to recharge a depleted GPD Pocket, but will keep it, if barely, going. This will not work with a "regular" ultralight.)

Here is the Warsaw airport main terminal, as seen from our window at the hotel where we spent the last night before the departure.

All bugs, glitches, and idiosyncracies aside, Pain Shop Pro shows its flexibility and power when used for images like this one. Fill Light and a tad of Local Tone Mapping did a most pleasing job of tonal adjustment (especially, but not only, of extracting the shadow detail).

The monochrome version, my choice, was done with the B&W Film tool, with blue filter applied. Yummy.

Olympus E-M1 II, MZD 12-40/2.8 at 40 mm
AP (-.7 EV): 1/160s at F/3.2, ISO 6400
In-camera JPEG, postprocessed in PSP 20 and Neat Image 8

The last step of postprocessing, noise removal, was done with the Neat Image plugin (mostPhotoshop plugins work with PSP just fine). This is my favorite noise-removal tool, and I'm happy to report that the current Version 8 seems to be a major upgrade, unlike the previous steps to Versions 6 and 7. Most of all, there is an option to use a more effective algorithm (thee times more CPU intensive), small but nice changes in user interface, and more control (only if you need it) over the process parameters.

My experience with the new (slow but efficient) method of noise removal is limited to two dozen or so of high-ISO frames so far; not enough for any conclusions, but the results look very, very pretty. (If I could find some time to do a comparative sample series...)

Overall, this is the most comprehensive Neat Image update I can remember, and I think it is worth the $35 asking price (a new licence costs $70). If you don't have a plugin-compatible host application, there is also a stand-alone executable at the same cost.

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January 1, 2018

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm meeting 2018 in Poland; back in the States in four weeks.

My laptop's fan finally died; I had it replaced in a repair shop with one I brought from the States. The system, however, does not seem to use the fan; worse, it stopped charging the battery. I replaced the battery with one shipped from Hong-Kong, still no luck. Back to the shop tomorrow. I'm glad I have a full, up-to-date backup, almost a terabyte of it.

Thus, for the last two weeks my only computer has been the tiny GPD Pocket, and I must admit the little sucker is proving itself quite admirably. I'm using it mostly for Web development and some lightweight image postprocessing; no CPU-heavy tasks.

Olympus E-M1 II, MZD 12-40/2.8 Pro @40 mm
AP (-1EV): 1/8 s at F/3.2, ISO 400, Auto WB
Tonal adjustment in FastStone

My Exakta section underwent a serious facelift last week. Mostly formatting cleanup, but not only. It was neglected in the last few years. Not that it matters: in this area events move at their own, slow pace, year-to-year rather than week-to-week or faster.

First of all, I wasn't aware of a new book: Exakta — a Brief History of Excellence (see here). There is but one problem with it: it is in Polish, and the plans for the English translation, while announced, seem rather foggy. On the flip side, Polish happens to be my native language, so when I discover something of interest, I'll share it with you.

Interestingly, the authors chose to use in the book my star notation for Exakta and Exa version taxonomy.

I am glad to report that Camerapedia, the most comprehensive Web reference on camera models, also started using the same classification for 35-mm Exaktas and Exas.

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Posted 2006/01/30; last updated 2018/02/11
Copyright © 2006-2018 by J. Andrzej Wrotniak