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Instrumental Invasion, 11/23/22 November 24, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Blu-ray, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Travel, TV.
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The November 23, Thanksgiving Eve Instrumental Invasion on WCWP took a while to develop, as Kenny Mayne would say. The playlist was created on September 27, annotations began on October 4 and weren’t completed until the 10th while in Staatsburg, the talk break script was drafted on the 12th followed by recording of the first hour, and the second hour and pickups were recorded a week later on October 19. I was going to record on the 13th, but my time mismanagement skills reared their ugly head, and I had a breakdown while rushing to complete errands. Thank goodness WCWP station manager Pete Bellotti talked me down. Per his advice, I suspended production on this show until after Homecoming Weekend, and production was completed on videos of two Saturday shows (Bernie Bernard; Mike Riccio and Bobby G.).

I usually have a wealth of inside information about this reference or that reference, but I’ve wasted enough time. So, click here to download the scoped aircheck or listen below:

Since writing the above text on October 19, I’ve published posts about Homecoming Weekend and what I now call the Dutchess County trip. Listening to “Far Away” by Robben Ford took me back to how far away I felt at times in the AirBNB on Connelly Drive. Watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on 4K Blu-ray on Tuesday (November 22), I realized I forgot to acknowledge Chuck Bennett’s trombone was also the “voice” of the adult Charlie Brown spoke to on the phone.

Happy Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping you get the long end of the wishbone like Woodstock (the bird, not the town half an hour northwest of Rhinebeck/Staatsburg).

Instrumental Invasion, 11/16/22 November 17, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Baseball, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Travel.
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The November 16 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded from October 4 to 6: one segment on the 4th, two on the 5th, and the last three on the 6th. Pickups were recorded on the 6th, 7th, and 10th.

The playlist was created on September 27, and annotated from the 28th to the 30th. Work on next week’s show and the backup Homecoming Weekend prerecord kept me from drafting the talk break script. By October 4, I was desperate to start recording. An opportunity to record opened up at my secondary location – the home of that heavily noise reduced audio due to the central air conditioning indoor unit running next to my desk (that probably won’t be an issue again until May). So, I attempted to record the first segment unscripted based on the annotations, but before I could record the second talk break, the opportunity disappeared. I scripted the first segment on the way home and recorded once I was home. The rest of the script was drafted on October 5 before recording the next two segments. Of course, the live HCW show (also with “Billy’s Bop” and “Forecast“) was unscripted, and I ultimately went that route for the show two weeks from now.

I needed a song to fill the gap in the fourth segment and I chose “Silver Street” by Chris “Big Dog” Davis. I didn’t know I had already played it last February 10 until cataloging on October 7 before the weekend excursion to Dutchess County. I drafted much of this blog post on my laptop at the AirBNB.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

An automation error kept underwriting and a legal ID from running at the top of each hour. Thankfully, I only missed the first two seconds of the show open.

Postscript: Today, November 17, is my 41st birthday. My age is the same as the uniform number worn by my idol, New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver (1944-2020), who was also born on the 17th. The photos below were in a Tumblr post.

New blog header November 10, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Personal.
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Instrumental Invasion, 11/9/22 November 10, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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The November 9 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded on September 26 (two segments) and 27 (four segments). Pickups were recorded on the 27th, 28th, and October 10.

The playlist was created on September 20, annotations were written between the 20th and 23rd, and the talk break script was drafted on the 23rd and 24th.

The 18:05 segment benchmark experiment is over. Next week’s playlist will have 18:10 segments in mind. It makes more sense to achieve a total of 1:49:00 than 1:48:30. I opted against remixing this show and the last two. I worked hard enough getting all the segment puzzle pieces to fit, and wasn’t about to work extra.

To make this week’s pieces fit, some ancillary information was edited out of talk breaks. The key omissions were disclaimers coming in and out of “La Fiesta” by Maynard Ferguson (cover). I suggested the listener lower their volume because of Maynard’s intense trumpeting – “you might want to lower the volume; it gets intense” – then told them afterward it was safe to raise the volume – “okay, you can turn the volume back up.” So, I apologize for any unanticipated discomfort.

For the second week in a row, the last song of hour 1 was by Beegie Adair and the last of the show was by Yellowjackets.

Kiss and Make Up” by George Benson was the latest CD 101.9 staple to air on Instrumental Invasion. (I know the station was resurrected on HD Radio and the internet, but it’s not the same.)

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below:

My new Canon EOS R7: test photos, growing pains, lessons learned November 4, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Personal, Photography.
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NOTE: Ordinarily, I shrink photos for blog posts, but all photos in this post are their original sizes.

After a week of deliberation, research, and consultation with a Facebook group, I opted to make the Canon EOS R7 my next camera, and entry into the mirrorless realm, rather than the more expensive Nikon Z7II that I said I was considering in my PC build post.

My decision was influenced by the realization that the Nikon 18-300mm superzoom lens I bought last April for the D5500 is a DX lens (for APS-C cameras like D5500), and the Z7II is an FX/full-frame camera. If I used that lens on the Z7II via the FTZ II adapter, the photos would be cropped and the resolution more than halved. Instead of using all of its 45 MP (megapixels), I’d probably use 26. Plus, Nikon’s superzoom Z lens only has a range of 24 to 200mm. I could live with six less millimeters on the wide end, but not 100 less narrow.

I was uncertain about leaving the Nikon ecosystem for my primary camera (keeping the D5500 as a secondary one). I even took a risk the Thursday before WCWP Homecoming Weekend, October 13, by bidding around $1,800 for a used Z7II (shutter count near 8,000) on eBay that had its menu stuck in traditional Chinese (called “an Asian language” by the seller). I was willing to buy and then use the Google Translate app’s camera feature to translate to English so I could reset the menu language to English.

I still hadn’t been outbid come Saturday afternoon, October 15. Then, just as I was telling Bernie Bernard in WCWP’s studio 3 that I expected to be outbid before the auction ended Sunday night, October 16, I was outbid. That did it: Sunday night, I was going all in on the EOS R7 and bringing my interchangeable lens history full circle.

I was introduced to SLRs (no D prefix yet) in 1999 via my dad’s Canon EOS Rebel G. I used it at sporting events – such as a New York Mets game that year and in 2001 (16 days before 9/11) – and at some other personal events with the speedlight attached.

Here’s a photo from each:

After that second Mets game, I didn’t use an SLR camera again until my jazz fan/photographer friend Katherine Gilraine recommended a Nikon DSLR in 2012. Starting that May, I transitioned from a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 to a Nikon D3100. I started with only the kit 18-55mm lens and used the Lumix for long shots, but when I bought a 55-300mm lens in December, the Lumix was retired. I gifted it to my friend Kelly who still uses it today.

At first, I purchased a backordered EOS R7 camera body and backordered spare LP-E6NH battery from Amazon; due to arrive in early December and mid-November, respectively. All my other purchases would deliver between two and five days later.

Monday morning, October 17, impatience took over and I searched for a site that had the body available now and at a low price. Google determined Abe’s of Maine was the cheapest and I ordered from them for $200 less than I’d have spent on the canceled Amazon backorder. Members of the Facebook group reminded me of Abe’s bad reputation and gray market items. Message board threads I found on Google noted their shady practice of upselling. They weren’t even an authorized U.S. Canon dealer. I was in denial, latching on to this marginally positive thread post. Most retailers ship by the day after ordering, but not Abe’s of Maine. Instead, Wednesday afternoon, October 19, a representative e-mailed me to call and confirm my order. I naively thought it was that simple. Wrong! I dialed the rep’s extension, but another rep answered and routed me to the rep. He upsold me! Did I want the body itself and no battery or to pay more with the battery? And so on. Whatever I chose, I was going to spend more money. So, I vehemently canceled my order. And if I had thoroughly read the first thread I linked to, I’d have seen a post with the same problem:

… About 4 days after placing the order, I received an email asking me to call to “confirm” the order, which I did. The man thanked me for confirming because he wanted to make sure that it was really me and not somebody using my card. Fair enough. But then he pulled the old bait and switch, telling me that the US market version of the lens would be better and he could upgrade me if I wanted to pay more. I then told him that I didn’t appreciate the bait and switch tactic. He then said to me “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Is there something wrong with you?” Truly, he said this to me. I told him to cancel, and he said OK with no hesitation. My card was not charged and I got a confirmation of the cancellation. Just be aware that what you read about Abe’s of Maine is true.

Chet K, DPReview thread post, 2/22/21

Within minutes, a godsend materialized in my renewed Google search. An authorized Canadian Canon dealer, Excellent Photo in Quebec, was selling a legitimately new, factory-sealed R7 body for only $39 more (in USD) than I would have spent from Abe’s. Sold! It took less than an hour for Excellent Photo to ship the camera body! The FedEx driver walked it up my driveway Friday evening, October 21. I was so excited that I met him halfway instead of having him leave it on the front porch.

Thursday morning, October 20, inspired by my Excellent Photo experience, I looked for a retailer that had the LP-E6NH in stock and found Service Photo out of Baltimore (their listing), canceling that Amazon backorder. The battery was delivered by UPS Friday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, I researched Canon gadget bags that could fit the R7 with a control ring mount adapter and Tamron 18-400mm lens for Canon EF mounts. The dimensions on the 200ES bag seemed big enough, so I bought that on eBay. I bought the adapter, Tamron lens, and Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT from separate eBay sellers on Sunday night. The adapter is for RF-mounted Canon mirrorless cameras; what the FTZ (or FTZ II) adapter is for Nikon’s mirrorless Z series. It was another Thursday arrival, along with the smaller-than-I-thought gadget bag. The speedlight and lens were waiting for me at home late Wednesday evening. (Fun fact for Long Islanders: Canon U.S.A.’s headquarters are in Melville and Tamron Americas is based in Commack.)

My Amazon purchases were two SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB SDXC cards, a 72mm Tiffen UV filter for the Tamron lens, and a menu screen protector.

After the R7 body arrived Friday evening, I photographed my haul, the last photo of my D5500’s life as a primary camera:

Some of the R7 Facebook group were displeased with my choice of SD cards. I was unaware that there were two classes of UHS speed – UHS-I and UHS-II – and three video speed classes – V30, V60, and V90. (This post explains both sets of classes.) I had bought UHS-I V30 cards. I wouldn’t have fast write speeds or buffering when shooting in bursts. I told the doubting members what photography I specialize in, and they said I’d be fine.

To help pay off my purchases, I took photos of all my retired equipment and put them up for auction on eBay. Outside of a never-used video capture card, I listed my Nikon lenses, Nikon D5100 camera, JVC Everio GZ-HM320BU camcorder, and Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder. I included all accessories I retained (manuals, cables, batteries, power supply) or added (UV filters, SD cards, spare battery). (As of publication on Friday, November 4, I have sold all but the two camcorders.)

Preoccupied with the WCWP Homecoming Weekend recap, I didn’t set up and get acquainted with the R7 until Sunday morning, October 23. The camera with adapter, lens, and lens hood fit snug inside the bag (photos taken with my iPhone):

Once the first battery was charged, I began testing exclusively at 400mm:

Having success with my Nikon cameras’ JPEG fine mode, I never thought to shoot RAW. The JPEGs looked great, only having a smartphone camera appearance at a high ISO, and they were always 300 PPI. However, the Canon EOS R7’s JPEGs are 72 PPI like your average display, camcorder, or smartphone camera. Even with countless reviewers stating that there is no difference in quality, I didn’t like JPEG processing quality on the R7. So, I tried a RAW photo, my first ever:

I finally had a reason to use Adobe Lightroom – for exporting any RAW photos as JPEGs before editing them in Photoshop Elements 2020 (2023 version). Yes, I have regular Photoshop, and you can edit in Lightroom, but I like Photoshop Elements’ editing tools better. The photo above was edited in Lightroom, though, and the EXIF data showed that Lightroom exports at 240 PPI. Thus, I would now shoot in RAW, export to JPEG, and edit accordingly. If the photo is too sharp, I would despeckle.

I wasted an hour attempting to pair the R7 to my computer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Neither worked, but it does work with my iPhone while Canon’s CameraConnect app is open. I use that app’s location information feature so the GPS location is included in a photo. If I forget to open the app, no GPS tracking.

I noticed a USB-C port on the left side. Without a cable included in the box, I used my PlayStation 5‘s C to type A cable to transfer files to my PC. Then, I bought a two-pack of 3-foot USB-C to type A cables on Amazon. One cable was for my bag to use with my laptop, and the other is for desktop transfers at home. The connection feels loose, but not enough to snap off in mid-transfer.

I didn’t test on Monday, October 24, due to rainy weather, but on Tuesday the 25th, I brought the bag with me in my dad’s car for the camera’s ultimate test: does the IBIS (in-body image stabilization) work in a moving vehicle?

Not really, or at least not with the Tamron lens:

What worked on Sunday in my bedroom did not work in a moving vehicle. The lens seldom focused beyond 200mm, especially in low light. In sports or panning mode, it went in and out of focus with each successive frame. The traffic lights or road signs were visible, and then they weren’t. I even had focus issues in the conference room for the last of the above test photos. What’s worse, a little bit of dust found its way in front, even with a UV filter attached.

I felt awful, worse than with the PC build. In my desire for one lens to rule them all, I should have just bought Canon’s RF 24-240mm lens. And I did, with a hood, while attempting to return the Tamron. (I’d keep the control ring adapter for a future Canon EF lens and save the 72mm UV filter for the RF 24-240.)

Then, a Facebook group member who got the Tamron lens to work with his R7 tried to coach me on how to get it to work for me. He said I needed to make some adjustments in settings, like turning off subject recognition, which was set to find people. I took another set of test photos with no focus issues:

Thinking the problem was solved, I canceled the Canon lens/hood order and Tamron lens return. Unfortunately, my troubles were far from over. There was an error message whenever I had the camera set to scene priority (sports, panning): “the attached lens does not provide stabilization for subjects.” In other words, my lens couldn’t take advantage of the camera’s IBIS feature. That meant the morning’s problems were back with a vengeance: in and out of focus, locked out of taking a photo due to no focus (red rectangle), motion blur. I lost my mind. Here are the passable test photos:

Back at home, the group member made another attempt to solve my issue. Once his guidance felt useless (referring me to a menu option I couldn’t find), I rage quit the group, rebought the 24-240 lens/hood, and renewed my return request to the eBay seller for the Tamron lens. Once the seller said they’d have a return label ready for printing, I took the lens and its hood off the body and put them back in the box with all manuals and warranty info, sealing the top and bottom with whatever bubble wrap I could find. On Wednesday, October 26, they provided the label and enclosed invoice, and I brought everything to The UPS Store for shipping.

As with the PC build, the Technology Connections Discord chat server finally got me to realize what the R7 group members were trying to get me to understand: Canon’s RF lenses are full-frame; the R7 is APS-C. The image will be slightly zoomed in but not cropped, the opposite scenario of Nikon DX lenses on the Z7II. 24-240mm is more like 35-350mm. And that’s when I did what most of the group preferred: buy an RF-S 18-150mm lens and RF 100-400mm lens (after canceling the 24-240 order). I bought Chiaro Pro UV filters for the lenses, 58mm and 67mm, but not hoods. I’d have to make do without them for now.

I rejoined the group, apologizing for my sudden departure, and letting them know what I had done. They were pleased, but the Tamron lens member warned I may still have the same issue with the RF lenses. I told him I would reach out to him if I did.

In the midst of Tuesday’s craziness, my dad and I swapped camera gadget bags. The Canon 200ES now houses his Nikon gear and I have his old AmazonBasics bag.

The new Canon lenses and Chiaro filters arrived on Thursday, October 27. Well, the filters and 100-400mm lens were new, but the 18-150mm lens was used with a 9+ condition rating from B&H. Here’s how they looked out of the boxes:

My next task was to apply the 18-150 lens to the R7 body:

Then, test time:

I switched to the 100-400 lens…:

…and tested that:

I was impressed with the results, and surprised by how the R7 compensates for the flash on its own. The last four photos were nearly identical.

The true test was to come on Halloween morning; Monday, October 31.

In the meantime, let’s see how the gear fits in Dad’s AmazonBasics bag while the 100-400mm lens is attached:

…and the 18-150mm:

The top compartment houses the spare USB-C to Type A cable and the rear cap of whatever lens is connected:

The cable in action on the desktop:

Opening the RAW photos in Lightroom…:

…and exporting as 240 PPI JPEGs…:

…to edit in Photoshop Elements:

The RAWs and JPEGs together:

After the JPEG export, I only keep a few RAWs for reference.

The Tamron lens was delivered to the seller on Friday, October 28, and a refund was issued. My nightmare was over. Yet, I occasionally saw photos posted to the R7 Facebook group taken with lenses like the one I returned – or Canon EF lenses. Their photos were crystal clear and perfectly focused. I guess I just need to “git gud” (get good), as the meme goes.

On the evening of Saturday, October 29, I discovered I could use Adobe Lightroom Classic to export RAW photos at 300 PPI, just as the Nikons natively saved fine JPEGs. Here’s the last October 27 test photo at 300 PPI:

The quality and file size were the same, which confirmed what reviewers like this said all along: the PPI doesn’t matter like it does for DPI (dots per inch) when scanning film or prints. (The first Mets game photo was at 400 DPI and the second at 500 DPI.) So, I stuck with 240 PPI exports in regular Lightroom.

I had an earlier opportunity to test the lenses on Sunday, October 30, during a drive to the supermarket, but I opted to wait until Halloween. The wait was worth it! My test with the RF-S 18-150mm lens in the morning was a success! The IBIS seemed to do its job and the R7 had no trouble focusing. I mainly shot in sports mode with a few in auto mode.

The test with the RF 100-400mm lens was equally satisfying once I figured out the car windshield was making 400mm photos blurrier than normal. The wider the focal length, the clearer the photo, and the IBIS is more likely to work. Of course, this is common knowledge to more experienced photographers. Two members of the R7 Facebook group mocked my naivete, and chastised my use of a UV filter because the windshield is already UV-protected. Others politely informed me that wide angle will always provide a clearer view, windshield or not. As for my intended use for road and street sign photography, image stabilization is best at counteracting my hand’s instability, but not so much for motion blur or road vibrations. The photos at a wider length on the 100-400 were clearer, and most photos on other lens were stabilized to the point that motion blur was minimal. Still, on Tuesday, November 1, I sharpened those photos and then despeckled them. This is on top of any other adjustments to a given photo; they are seldom untouched.

Tuesday also started the post-editing practice of going back ino Lightroom to watermark photos I publicize on this blog or social media. Again, I naively held out for over a decade. Live and learn.

Here are the Halloween test photos, starting in the morning with the RF-S 18-150mm…

…and the RF 100-400mm in the afternoon:

I noticed the first quarter (waxing) phase of the moon on Tuesday night and took this photo:

The R7’s higher resolution (6984×4660) and RF 100-400mm’s longer focal length than if I used the D5500 and superzoom 18-300mm lens allowed for a decent leftover resolution: 1993×1572. This photo removed any doubt about taking a moon shot with the UV filter attached.

Tuesday’s photo was in sports mode and the camera automatically chose ISO 6400. Two nights later – Thursday, November 3 – I tried again in shutter priority mode at ISO 100. At first, I only took one photo at a time, at 1/1,000 sand 1/500 shutter speeds. I stayed at 1/500, but switched to burst mode. Out of 58 shots over three sets of bursts, the last one was the best:

The cropped resolution is 2179×1770

The 30th was a close 2nd:

2266×1956

Earlier Thursday, after a morning treadmill run, I noticed the camcorder bag I inherited from family friend Janine looked pretty big. I brought it upstairs in the evening and it was too big, with room to spare! It was also heavier than the AmazonBasics bag, but again, it was free beggars can’t be choosers. Here’s how it looked:

Dad’s bag now houses my current camcorder, a Panasonic HC-X1500 with VW-HU1 hand unit.

So many lessons were learned in my first ten days with the Canon EOS R7, and I will probably learn more in the weeks and months ahead. I haven’t even tried shooting video yet, speaking of camcorders. Wish me luck with it all.

Thank you for reading and viewing.

Instrumental Invasion, 11/2/22 November 3, 2022

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Animation, Audio, Film, History, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sci-Fi, TV, Video.
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I replaced my thumbnail/show banner photo with a selfie taken with my new camera. You can read all about that tomorrow. (11/10 UPDATE: Read here.)

The November 2 Instrumental Invasion on WCWP was recorded and mixed entirely on September 19, the first one-day record/mix since June 27 when I worked on all of the August 17 show and the first segment of August 24. I made a timing error when remixing the third segment, which I didn’t notice until September 20. An extra liner and a pickup were required to add five seconds so that “+:13” on the playlist below was true. Additional pickups were recorded on October 10 (after returning from Dutchess County) to correct a factual error about bassist Harvie S‘s “Pyramid” composition, and then to react to a shorter replacement liner.

The playlist was created on September 10 (a day after last week’s show) and annotated on the 14th (after completing last week’s annotations). The talk break script draft began on the 16th, but didn’t resume until the 18th once production was completed on the prior show.

Incumbent Waltz” is the seventh Vince Guaraldi-composed music cue for a Peanuts special that I’ve played, and a timely one with the midterm elections next Tuesday. Here’s where you can buy those Glenn Cronkhite Custom Cases I referenced in the backsell.

Two songs that aired previously are listed below with the first air date (in parentheses) and the reason for playing again:

I originally had the 2011 version of “Altair and Vega” by Bob James and Keiko Matsui in mind last July 14, but a different timing error – miscalculating the song’s duration – required a replacement. I made up for that this week, complete with the story of Tanabata/Hoshimatsuri, a festival centered around the two titular stars. You can read the Wikipedia entry in the previous sentence, but I also recommend this short video by GTV Japan:

Coincidentally, the show last July had a Star Trek reference leading into the first song. This week’s first song, complete with my paraphrase of the opening spiel, was Maynard Ferguson’s cover of the “Theme from Star Trek.” I had no idea Larry King adopted it as his radio show theme.

Click here to download this week’s scoped aircheck or listen below: