About Darker Than Black - Gemini of the Meteor
I quite enjoyed the original Darker Than Black, ending and all, but I'm still not sure what I think about the second DTB series because I still haven't made up my mind about the ending. I'm pretty sure that the creators intend for the ending to be considered a good one, but I can't decide whether it's a good ending or actually a disturbing and creepy one.
Apart from that, I liked it and it's a good series. It's more straightforward and less wandering than the first one, but that's because the first one was longer and was taking an indirect way to introduce us to all of the characters and their world. The second series just threw us into the main plot right away.
(I have avoided looking silly about several things in Gemini through the simple means of not writing them down here at the time, unlike what I did with Kampfer. Possibly this spoils the fun.)
The Nikon DSLR trick with Auto ISO and Manual mode
Nikon DSLRs have a reasonably smart automatic ISO mode, where you set your minimum shutter speed and maximum ISO and when the camera has hit the minimum shutter speed it starts raising the ISO. They are also famous (or infamous in some quarters) for not turning off Auto ISO if you go into Manual mode, contrary to what you might expect.
(What happens in this semi-Manual mode is that the camera works out its idea of the correct exposure and then attempts to get there purely by changing the ISO.)
I actually sort of like this, because it enables a trick: it essentially turns Manual mode into a combined Aperture+Shutter priority mode, and in turn what this does is give you a convenient way to vary auto ISO's minimum shutter speed as conditions change:
- if I am shooting braced or with better support than expected, I can switch to M and drop the shutter speed down to lower the ISO.
- if I switch from one end of a zoom to the other I can either drop or raise the shutter speed as necessary (depending on how I set my minimum shutter speed).
- if I am suddenly taking pictures of action or something else where I want a fast shutter speed, I can increase the shutter speed without moving from my preferred (or necessary) aperture.
(Life would be somewhat simpler if Auto ISO also let us pick a minimum aperture; even though I can shoot a 50mm f/1.8 wide open, I often don't want to and I'd rather raise the ISO a bit and be at, say, f/2.8.)
Using Manual mode this way means that you really want to be able to control exposure compensation, and in turn this probably makes this trick unusable on bodies with only a single control wheel (where you lose access to exposure compensation in M mode).
The one thing that I really have to remember when doing this is to pay attention to the ISO and to the exposure meter, because the camera can overexpose if you push it. Generally if I'm doing this I want the ISO to always be above base ISO; the ISO going to base ISO when I'm at a comfortable shutter speed is a sign that I should switch to another exposure mode, because M mode probably isn't getting me anything useful.
The novelty of frozen brakes
A disconcerting novelty happened to me a few weeks ago: my front brakes froze solid. As far as I can tell, I mean that literally; not just that they seized up, but that they seized up because they were frozen. As you might imagine, it was more than a bit disconcerting to squeeze the front brake lever and have it have no give at all, especially since the front brakes are the more powerful ones where you do most of your braking.
(This is not always the case for me, but that's another entry. Someday.)
My best theory on what happened is that in previous days some water had worked its way onto the brake cable and into the front cable housing (perhaps from spray thrown up by passing cars) and had not drained away. When I took the bike out in sub-zero temperatures with significant windchill, the water froze and locked the cable and the ferrule together. Exposing things to warmth and working the front brakes improved the situation by melting things a bit and breaking the binding action, although they were not entirely better.
Ah well, winter biking can be interesting. (If it was easy and painless, everyone would do it.)