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Mike Spinak
51,782 followers -
Nature photographer, author, and big softie
Nature photographer, author, and big softie

51,782 followers
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Here's a phone snapshot from Lucia Falls.
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Here's more Autumn beauty at the Portland Japanese Garden. I went back there to retake some shots I screwed up the day before yesterday, but the conditions had changed far more than I expected. Wednesday was the peak, and today was - surprisingly - too far past the peak to be able to get those shots. Nonetheless, I still found plenty of Autumn color for some new photos.
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Here's another phone snap of yet more Autumn splendor.
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Here's more Autumn splendor phone snappery from yesterday.
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Autumn was in its full glory at the Portland Japanese Garden, yesterday.
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Here's my sister, in her Halloween costume.
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Here's a phone panorama of my Ma doing a crossword puzzle, in her living room.
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I've often enjoyed the beauty of the varied, intricate patterns which form in the scum that floats to the top of dirty dishes full of soapy water, and I've wondered what causes them. I just figured out that these patterns come from high frequency, low strength vibrations traveling through the counters and floors from the refrigerator, microwave, and ventilation fan.
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"Google is turning Street View imagery into pro-level landscape photographs using artificial intelligence"

Those who know me can probably figure out my take on this, after reading the article:

By "pro-level landscape photographs" they apparently mean "pretty and / or striking photographs." However, the project does not seem to be making (nor even trying to make) meaningful photographs. I wouldn't be surprised if the people involved with the project, and Mr. Maggio who wrote the article, don't even realize there's a difference, nor even realize that's that "postcard shots" are merely the lowest hanging fruit.

I'm not deriding the project nor the people involved with it. The project still seems potentially very productive and worthwhile. I'm just saddened at the state of photography that the project researchers, or at least the journalist writing about them, are seemingly unaware that a picture can have substance, and they implicitly equate professional photography with merely making a picture dramatic looking, rather than with making a picture that has something worthwhile to say and says it powerfully. Something significant.

http://www.businessinsider.com/google-street-view-into-pro-level-landscape-with-ai-2017-7
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I've been using a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus for a little over a week, having switched from using an S4 for about 4 years. Here are some of my first impressions, for those who are interested. I hope this helps some of you who are considering the S8 or the S8 Plus.
The screen is outlandishly large for the overall size of the phone, going pretty much all the way from the left to right edges, and covering most of the top to bottom. The borders are tiny, making a very large screen fit into an only slightly large phone. I like it.
The screen is also stunningly high resolution and outstandingly bright, which I also like. The amount more detail that is visible in things like photos, videos, and phone games, is readily noticeable — more than I expected. The screen is bright enough to be visible without trouble in direct sunlight. I've heard that said about phones in the past, but this is the first one I've seen where that's really true. The screen is quite contrasty, which might fit your taste and uses, or might not.
The phone screen has curved edges on the sides. Personally, I'm not fond of this. It looks very high tech, but it's functionally questionable. There's usually some reflective glare along the edges when you are viewing the screen, except in the dark. My fingers are more prone to slipping off the edges when doing things like making digital paintings or playing games. I'm fairly sure the screen's more fragile, and it's certainly harder to protect. I'd rather have a flat screen, but it's not really a big deal.
The camera is excellent, both in terms of the hardware and the software. The camera in my S4 was pretty good, but this one blows that one away. Curiously, the S8 camera is about 12 megapixels, while the S4 camera was about 14 megapixels. That's not a problem for me; it's just surprising that they decreased the megapixels in a 4 year newer camera.
The panoramic photography feature on my S4 was perhaps my favorite thing about it. On the S8 Plus, it's very similar, but even better. The phone stitches the panoramas really quickly, giving up to 360 degree panoramas that are a little under 100 megapixels, with quite decent detail throughout. Even used handheld, there are few visible stitching errors. With a tripod, there are often none.
The regular camera takes lovely pictures. The dynamic range is better than you'd expect. It takes somewhat less noisy pictures than I thought it would in low light, though probably not good enough for serious use. The autofocus point and the exposure are easy to adjust. The detail is more than adequate for a handheld snapshot camera. While it's not a pro camera by any stretch of the imagination, I have no doubt that I'll be using some of the pictures I take with this professionally. The colors are nice. The camera is also quite responsive and speedy. It takes a picture the instant you tap the button, and it can keep instantly taking pictures as fast as you can tap it. It understands and responds to verbal commands more reliably than the camera on my S4. It autofocuses lightning fast. The ISO goes lower than I expected (down to ISO 50, it seems). The slowest exposure time I've encountered, so far, is 1/10th of a second. Many of the auto-exposed fast exposure times are weird. Looking through some recent pictures ... 1/1924th of a second; 1/1928th of a second; 1/2272nd of a second; 1/1508th of a second, and so on. Whatever... the software seems to auto-expose well.
The front facing ("selfie") camera is 8 megapixels, which is quite decent. The dynamic range, detail, etc., are way better than I expected. Even in relatively low light at higher ISOs, it's not bad.
The built in HDR feature in the phone's camera is unimpressive. It's slightly better than without, but not good enough. If you want HDR, you should still use a third party app that takes several exposures and blends them.
The headphones that come with this phone are surprisingly good. The ones which came with my S4 were good, but the ones that come with the S8 Plus are a lot better. Seriously.
The phone is very fast at everything. If I command it to navigate me home, it loads up and starts navigating in less than a second. When I download big apps, it downloads them really fast. When I charge it, it charges quickly.
I've heard the battery life on the S8 Plus is only so-so, but I'm finding it much better than I expected. I can use it out and about for a heavy day of photography, navigation, picture reviewing, watching videos, surfing the internet, etc., without running the batteries down. It only loses a few percent overnight while I sleep.
I expected the speaker on my S8 Plus to be worse than the speaker on my S4 (because the S8 Plus is waterproofed), but the speaker is actually much louder and clearer. It's by no means a top-notch speaker, but it's not bad at all.
This phone doesn't have a built in hygrometer nor thermometer (as far as I can tell), like the S4 did. Perhaps I was the only one who appreciated those features. Oh, well, their loss is minor, I suppose.
From what people have said when I talk to them, the phone's microphone seems good.
The phone software is pretty nice, but I'm not sure how much of that is because I'm using the S8 Plus, and how much is due to changing phone carriers. Anyway, it now allows me to make or receive normal phone calls through the internet, which means that I can use the phone normally where I live, despite having no phone signal out in the woods. The phone also offers video calling as part of its normal phone features, so long as I'm calling someone whose phone also has those capabilities.
"Bixby" is only half-baked, and should be considered bug-ridden, barely-functional beta-ware, rather than a great new feature. It's obnoxious that Samsung tries to make it impossible to turn off, and tries to make the dedicated Bixby button impossible to re-map for other uses. Fortunately, app developers have outsmarted the Samsung software engineers. Maybe Bixby will eventually become useful, though it seems like even if it were functioning properly, it's just an inferior clone of Google's assistant — which is already freely available on your phone.
I've heard people complain that the placement of the fingerprint sensor is too close to the camera. In my estimation, that is true. I don't care, because I don't use the fingerprint scanner, anyway.
There will be more to come, as I get more familiar with it.
Overall, I'm happy with the S8 Plus, so far.
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