Andrew Finden

Coffee at Findos

If you trawl the archives of my blog you’ll find many a comment by one Andrew Finden (who has two new blogs, an interesting one, and a professional one). Andrew is an old friend who has the honour of having a cafe in Toowoomba named after him. So when we were in Toowoomba for mission I checked it out with a couple of fellow coffee snobs.

Incidentally, the cafe is owned by a friend of Robyn’s from her school days, who is a guy I met through Andrew on a beach mission. He remembered both of us.

The coffee was quality. The best in Toowoomba. And the cafe has a cool website.

We even tried a syphon brew. A very nice Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.

Mad Skillz: Andrew on low light photography

Andrew isn’t just an opera singer about to hit the big time in Germany. He’s also a photographer of some repute. Here are his tips on low light photography. I’ll update this to include a link to his Flickr. If he’ll let me. I guess you’ll soon find out. Ahh, stuff it, it’s public domain. Here you go. Check his work out.

And here’s one of his photos – it is copyright so look but don’t touch (even though I’ve hypocritically stolen it – but we all know how I feel about copyright…).

A couple of years back I had a 10-tips article on photographing rock concerts published in JPG Mag (Read it here). So for Mad Skillz Week, here’s an adaptation of 5 tips for photographing in low light. Whether it’s a concert, candle-lit cuisine or the cool colours of the Eiffel Tower light-show, these tips will help make the most of difficult lighting situations.

  • No Flashing. Turn the flash off, it won’t help, and if it’s a classical concert*, it will get you kicked out. The flash will either not even reach the subject, or it will completely destroy an sense of performance or mood created by the low light.
  • The need for speed. This is where some manual control comes in handy. The idea is too get as fast a shutter speed as possible. If you can manually control this (like with SLR cameras and some digi-cams) you should aim for the hand-holding rule – a shutter speed that is equal to, or greater than the focal length of the lens (again, generally much easier with an SLR). Digi-cams with scene modes sometimes have a performance mode, otherwise, the portrait mode will open up the aperture, allowing for faster shutter speeds. If you have the option to turn the ISO sensitivity up, that will help greatly, though has the unfortunate side effect of introducing digital noise.
  • Closer. Related to the previous point – the less zoom you use, the slower the shutter speed you can get away with.
  • Brace. The best option is to use a tripod of some sort, otherwise, bracing the camera against a hard serface like a fence or a lamp-post can help reduce camera-shake. I keep a mini bean-bag in my camera bag so that I don’t scratch the camera in the process.
  • Squeeze. Another major cause of camera shake is pressing the shutter-release button. A gentle squeeze will help reduce the distrubance caused by pushing.
  • *Disclaimer: of course, you shouldn’t be taking photographs in professional performances, but if you happen to have a child star, then this will be of use.

    Comical discussion

    A week after the PZ effect my traffic is just about back to normal… But for some of us the fun continued after discussion on that thread concluded.

    Andrew Finden – opera singer extraordinaire (seriously, YouTube him) was in the blue corner, while a Canadian “stand up comedian” going by the name of Salvage was in the red corner.

    I am going to call Andrew the winner in their 30 round match up. Salvage, like so many atheists before him, made the mistake of assuming:

    a) that Andrew would be shocked to find out that Christians disagree about stuff.
    b) that Christians have no idea about conjecture about the historicity of the Bible.
    c) that Christians fail to grasp the basics of logic and argument.
    d) that they, the atheist, on the basis of their rejection of Christianity, are in a better position to understand and critique the Bible.

    He also couldn’t get past his notions of what Christians believe and actually engage with what it is that Andrew, and to a lesser extent me (he dismissed me on the basis of my disclaimer).

    I’ve been pretty proud of the way Christians have conducted themselves in these threads – firstly Stephen on the original thread and then Andrew have handled obstreperous comments with grace and aplomb.

    Free thinking

    Andrew and I have continued to discuss the implications of my “open source” Christian music idea.

    Clearly both sides of the argument contain truths – particularly when applied to Christian music. Songwriters want their ideas spread as widely as possible, while they also need to be paid to write if they do it full time. There’s another paradigm to consider when it comes to whether or not God “owns” work produced through spiritual gifts. Then he’d own the intellectual property, and the copyright.

    It’s part of a much bigger and broader argument about open source that’s going on in the upper echelons of thoughtful journalism – and a lot of the discussion is about the future of journalism and paid media in the context of the free media offered by the web.

    Malcolm Gladwell – one of my favourite authors is engaged in a debate with Wired Magazine editor, and author of a book called “Free”, Chris Anderson.

    Anderson wrote his book on the premise that “ideas and information” want to be “free”… that’s a nutshell summary.

    Here’s Anderson’s take on music and the Internet as quoted in Gladwell’s review of the book (which was negative)…

    “In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.” To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and “yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.”

    It’s a great article. Here’s another interesting passage from Anderson’s book, again quoted by Gladwell…

    “Anderson describes an experiment conducted by the M.I.T. behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of “Predictably Irrational.” Ariely offered a group of subjects a choice between two kinds of chocolate—Hershey’s Kisses, for one cent, and Lindt truffles, for fifteen cents. Three-quarters of the subjects chose the truffles. Then he redid the experiment, reducing the price of both chocolates by one cent. The Kisses were now free. What happened? The order of preference was reversed. Sixty-nine per cent of the subjects chose the Kisses. The price difference between the two chocolates was exactly the same, but that magic word “free” has the power to create a consumer stampede. Amazon has had the same experience with its offer of free shipping for orders over twenty-five dollars. The idea is to induce you to buy a second book, if your first book comes in at less than the twenty-five-dollar threshold. And that’s exactly what it does. In France, however, the offer was mistakenly set at the equivalent of twenty cents—and consumers didn’t buy the second book. “From the consumer’s perspective, there is a huge difference between cheap and free,” Anderson writes. “Give a product away, and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business. . . . The truth is that zero is one market and any other price is another.”

    Gladwell’s critique cites YouTube as an example.

    “Why is that? Because of the very principles of Free that Anderson so energetically celebrates. When you let people upload and download as many videos as they want, lots of them will take you up on the offer. That’s the magic of Free psychology: an estimated seventy-five billion videos will be served up by YouTube this year. Although the magic of Free technology means that the cost of serving up each video is “close enough to free to round down,” “close enough to free” multiplied by seventy-five billion is still a very large number. A recent report by Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube’s bandwidth costs in 2009 will be three hundred and sixty million dollars. In the case of YouTube, the effects of technological Free and psychological Free work against each other.”

    Chris Anderson has since responded to Gladwell’s criticism on his blog. He uses blogging and bloggers getting book deals as a case study. Interesting stuff and worth a read. Seth Godin – the “guru” – has chimed in on the subject declaring Anderson right and Gladwell wrong. The Times Online’s tech blog predictably took the side of established journalism and declared Gladwell the winner.

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