Space Monkey Coffee
Saturday Coffee Walk
Really digging Fujifilm Raw Studio 📷
I learned photography by shooting on a Minolta X-700 and dragging my film back to a tiny darkroom at the newspaper. My feedback loop was measured in days – I tended to go into the office 20 miles down the road maybe twice a week. I developed very conservative habits because I wasn’t there to learn photography, exactly, I was there to learn how to take pictures for use in a newspaper with a film camera. Going digital years later reduced that feedback time a lot, but I’ve learned over time there’s better and worse feedback at better and worse times.
For instance, I have never really taken the time to figure out all the settings in Fujifilm cameras. The film simulations and tone controls are pretty simple to master, but then you get into the dynamic range settings, DR override, the color and blue chrome stuff, and it gets more complicated. Each setting does its thing, and they all interact with each other. You could spend all your shooting time trying to figure that stuff out instead of shooting, and it’s kind of a drag to keep a notebook around to write things down, or peep at EXIF later to figure out what was doing what.
Today I downloaded Fujifilm’s Raw Studio and started playing with it.
At its core it’s a raw file developer: You download raw files from your camera and process them into jpegs. There are other apps that do this (Lightroom, Capture One, Apple Photos), but Raw Studio has the distinction of allowing you to manipulate all the in-camera settings available on a given Fujifilm camera. Where Lightroom gives you generic controls for things like “Highlight,” “Whites,” “Blacks,” “Shadows,” Raw Studio has what you set in camera: “Highlight Tone” and “Shadow Tone.” Where Lightroom doesn’t have the Color Chrome or Chrome Blue settings at all, Raw Studio exposes them.
The slightly curious thing about the application is that it needs to be connected to your Fujifilm camera, which acts as a sort of raw file co-processor. I’d rather it were not that way, but it all works pretty transparently and cleanly: You connect via the camera’s USB-C port, the software picks it up, and that’s that. It doesn’t suck battery or do anything weird.
The thing I’m enjoying about the app is that it’s a great learning tool for all the creative options available in my Fujifilm cameras. I can get instant feedback on how, say, more shadow tone interacts with Classic Chrome vs. Classic Negative, or how the two color chrome settings interact with Provia, or which of the color filters for the monochrome Acros simulations give me what effects.
All that helps me make decent presets I can save to my cameras that will give me pretty good straight-out-of-the-camera jpegs without trying to figure this stuff out on the street. It also makes sharing in certain contexts easier. “Here’s a look I like, that encapsulates my style, and it’s in JPEG form where I can edit it in a simple mobile tool to fix the crop or straighten it or tweak small things.”
I can’t see myself discarding raw capture of some kind: I like editing too much to give up the flexibility and ability to reconsider an image years later that raw editing gives me. But I also like the thought of being able to build some go-to presets I can save in my camera that I know will work for certain moods and situations, so that sometimes post can just be cropping or little tweaks vs. a whole gamut of manipulations.
Like I said, this is fun.
Walking back from the U-Haul store.
One w/Astia and one w/Classic Chrome, both w/boosted chrome settings. Classic Chrome is a better foundation for those settings. Astia is a bit too saturated to bear the weight.
"Just let me shoot," revisited.
Well, having put several hundred exposures through my jpeg-forward workflow, I’ve re-learned:
- White balance matters to me just enough to not care for sticking to jpegs, but not so much that I use my gray card when I enter a new lighting area; so I should stick to raw because white balance is more fixable than a jpeg.
- Fujifilm’s in-camera settings, especially around color, take some work. I really, really want to like the chrome blue and color chrome settings, but the fine line between “that’s nice” and “aaaaargh! TOO MUCH!” is taking some finding. The reds, in particular, do something I don’t like. There’s some interplay between the underlying film simulation, saturation, DR, and tone settings.
And really what I’ve re-learned is sloooooowwwww dooooooown. A lot of the problems with a raw-based workflow come from the own-goal of trying to do post on a phone. Whenever I go back to something where I did post on a phone, or a small tablet on the train, my edits are overcooked. I remember going through this when I was using Instagram and felt a little imprisoned by feedback: People respond better to contrasty stuff with pops of color that bust out of the confines of a small screen. I already sort of drift in that direction, and I feel much better when I rein the impulse in rather than indulge it.
I think I will also take a swing at using Fuji’s desktop raw processing software, because that’s a way to take a raw image and apply Fuji’s own settings to it on a desktop and big screen, where I can look for those Goldilocks settings without more “shoot, process, learn, iterate” on the parts I want to spend less time on. I’ve seen enough stuff from Fuji’s own brand ambassadors to know there’s something there, so it feels worth an hour’s time to run through a few variables and see where it leaves me.
Anyhow, this is my idea of fun.
Ben being home means more things like this. I know I don’t want to understand TikTok, so I like this Stallmanesque arrangement of having TikTok brought to me every few months as a YouTube link. I’ll nurse this one until mid-December. “Get it!”
I understand why Apple prefers to tie the idea of depth of field to “portraits.” But if you’re then trusting me to set the computed “f-stop” during edit, why not just make “aperture” a manual control I can have in normal mode? 📷
(Or am I missing something?)
O: redo Ben’s room KR: Retain all fingers 10/10 ✅ KR: … KR: …
Every morning at tea time:
Me: “Hey, Siri. Set a timer for three-and-a-half minutes.”
Siri: “Three minutes and thirty seconds, counting down.”
Me: “That’s not what I said. 😒”
Al: “it’s the same thing.”
Me: “No it’s not. I don’t have to explain.”
About that room
Last night after a 12-hour day of learning how to put down flooring then putting down flooring I tacked down some baseboard on a single wall so that I could at least narrow my vision a little and see the end of the project, which has consumed a big chunk of November.
Everyone had to deal with their own lockdown stuff in some way or another. In our family, it took the form of not having a ton of space by the time we’d flipped a few rooms into offices.
My first swing at it involved building a cover for our tiny patio. That gave us a space to spill out onto and opened up the possibility of having guests over. We spent election night in 2020 out under that cover with our intentional family and a propane heater.
My second swing at it was to turn our garage into a movie theater (“the Coviplex”). We could have people over, open the garage door, roll out the propane heaters and have movie nights. Ben’s godmothers agreed to sit through the Marvel movies through Avengers: End Game.
Me: I’m surprised you were up for that. I mean, it’s just, like Extruded Cultural Product.
Kathleen: Well, yeah. It is. It’s still fun.
It’s sort of strange to look at both those projects now. I can remember the energy that went into them, from figuring out how to do things like build a patio cover to coding standards to how to do drywall. One aspect of my ADHD is hyperfocus, and it was on full display. I didn’t think of what I was up to as “a little DIY project,” I thought of it as a sort of folk engineering. I wasn’t interested in simply building a thing, I wanted to build it in such a way that I could also take it down in a day. I spent a lot of hours just watching and rewatching videos and reading tutorials.
Meanwhile, Ben was upstairs being a teenager. He liked the patio cover for sure – it was separate from the other living areas and we all fell into treating it like a shared resource, not a shared space. You could go sit outside and stare up through the cover at the towering pine in the yard nextdoor and listen to birds in silence. But the theater didn’t really land with him. It was a little too shared.
One day he came down and said he just didn’t have enough room. Our house is sort of weird to the extent that, from the curb, it looks like a plain old two-story home. The lot it was built on, however, is closer in size to the slivers you see “tall-and-skinnies” built on … it’s just turned 90 degrees because it is built across the width of a former back yard, not the depth of a subdivided lot. So Ben’s room is sort of shallow and wide. By the time his desk, stereo stand, and bed figured in, he had a tiny patch to stand on.
His take was to figure out some kind of rearrangement, but we talked it through and there wasn’t much to do with it. It was sort of like a sliding-square puzzle. In the end, there was only so much square footage and not a lot to optimize with.
So I mentioned the idea of a loft. He didn’t like it at first: He’d had a skinny Ikea one when he was much younger and it didn’t add a lot of utility. So I showed him pictures of the kinds of lofts that turn up in dorms, where you get a full bed, better floorspace, and construction meant for an adult body. We back-and-forthed on some general design ideas, and I finally found one that he liked.
It felt good to do the project: I’d learned a lot about basic household carpentry over the previous year building the other two projects, and felt comfortable taking a basic plan and improvising on it to suit his space. One design thing that was important to me was to make it feel utterly solid, so I built it to fit exactly so, and bolted it in so that when he climbed the stairs or leaned against a post, it simply did not move.
That gave him more space, and also subdivided the room so that he had a place to hang out and watch t.v. or play with his Switch, and his desk area. It was pretty comforting to sit down in the living room or in the garage movie theater and hear him playing music and dancing because he had room.
But the thing about all of this is that it was a holding action. He still couldn’t see his friends. We’d ultimately only reclaimed about 24 square feet. My half of a 2-up army barracks room had felt more spacious. The context was still out there.
So it made some sense when Ben decided he was ready to move out after high school. The actual chain of events was a little abrupt, but I remember that same restlessness and readiness to move, and in my case it wasn’t informed by two years of relative lockdown.
One thing that didn’t work for me, as a teenager, was that my parents actually moved out of state just after I graduated from high school. I stayed back for the summer so I could earn some money before starting college. The first time I spent the night “at home” after going to college, it was as a guest in my parents' home – my brother and sister had rooms, but I didn’t have a room there. It was profoundly dislocating.
Ben told us he felt like he’d outgrown the loft, and that in some ways it was a reminder of things that were hard for him. I completely got that, and my first impulse was to simply remove it and just somehow reclaim the space … he was moving out, after all. But I remembered that feeling of sleeping in a guest room in my parents' house, so I asked him what he’d like: Did he still want to have a room of his own in our home, even if he was moving out? What should it look like? Could I take the loft out? I asked about everything, because wherever we are and whatever house we’re living in, wherever he spends most of his time and however much time he spends in our house, we are some kind of home.
I did ask him to clean the room out and pack as much as possible of what he wasn’t taking with him. He made an effort, but was more focused on moving on to his adventure. We spent October aware that his room needed some work to get it into a place where we could even work on it. The loft needed to come out, things he’d left behind needed to be packed. The loft had created its own share of issues to be addressed. In October I was also trying to wind down a job in one of those situations where I felt more responsibility to individuals than I did the organization, so the month was spent pointedly not going in that room or thinking too much about taking the loft down. I was worried I’d biased in favor of sturdiness and solidity over deconstructability. I gritted my teeth and stuck to my plan to have the room ready by Thanksgiving, but not starting until November 1st.
The loft teardown went pretty well in the end. I’d expected I’d need a second set of hands and was braced to get a few bumps on the head and some muscle strain. As it was, it took a few hours on a Saturday afternoon on my own. No bumps on the head. There were a few stripped screws, but easy enough to drill them out.
Over the past several weeks, as I’ve worked away, I’ve sent Ben little teaser photos: The loft in the process of being disassembled, the room stripped of carpet and molding, the first coat of paint, the first test run of flooring. Each time it’s a little bittersweet and a little tentative. Part of stepping back and letting him leave the nest meant putting ourselves on a budget for his time and attention. I love texting in a way I never did before because we can have small moments of connection without the weight of letters or phone calls.
The deconstruction photos weren’t great for him. A partially deconstructed loft looks a lot like a partially constructed one. I don’t think he liked the reminder of the periods where I was absorbed with making space. Like I said, it was a good thing to do, but it wasn’t happening for a good reason. The context cannot be set completely aside.
He has warmed up as things have progressed, and it felt good when the implicit finally became explicit after I sent him a picture of the room stripped to the plywood floor:
“I actually really love this because it is scrubbing away the the past in the most literal sense.”
Morning coffee walk
Floor’s done! Finishing the trim tomorrow. 😅
I never thought of an Apple Pencil as a thing that could fail. Only writes on one side of the tip, picks up false double-taps & flips to erase mode at random. I mean, OF COURSE they can fail. They just don’t look like they have any parts in them. Mine must have a magic leak.
I just buttoned on Metafilter (again). I like what I’ve found on micro.blog, and I like my (tiny) circles on Twitter and Masto. I can use my “me” voice those places. I stopped feeling like that on MeFi w/o too much 2nd-guessing. Wish ‘em well. Making light continues apace.
It’s table saw day, too, so it’s time for my traditional power tool microfiction:
He approached the table saw with the confidence of a man who once took a shop class in middle school.
On later reflection he forgave Mr. McClintoch’s surliness, which might have saved him.
Newt has lived here for 10 years. She’s always avoided me, to the point of leaving the room when I come in. Since Ben moved out, though, she’s decided I’m okay enough to be my lap cat. She lets me pet her for about 3 minutes before running away.
I’ve played plenty of Sudoku, but don’t know much about it. This app added a button that automates the “first pass, whatever is possible” penciling. Just realized how much of Sudoku is “the enemy isn’t this grid with these numbers, it’s your ADHD.” At “tough” difficulty, anyhow.
Painting is done! Last-minute things + the flooring tomorrow.
Sunday morning coffee crew