NOVA: Hunting the Edge of Space

I’m off to an appointment and some shooting this morning, but I wanted to stop in really quickly and mention last night’s NOVA episode “Hunting the Edge of Space.” <— That’s a link, you should watch it.

Sometimes NOVA episodes are a little annoying, because they repeat themselves. This episode does a little of that, but it’s all for good reason.

If you’re interested at all in the Big Bang, and you’re so adamant about not reading about it, or thinking that it’s a miracle on the same scale as turning water into wine, this is a good place to start to discover how and why scientists “believe” in such a thing as a big bang (I’m talking to you, Handsome Matt).

It amazes me how little people know about space, and how absolutely gigantic it is. It puts the “pale blue dot” into perspective. But it also puts visual science into perspective. Scientists aren’t all theory. There’s a lot of visual data that you can look at with your own eyes and attempt to make informed decisions.

There’s a part during the episode when the scientists train a telescope onto a small point of darkness in the sky. They peer into it with the Hubble (I think). The scientist talking says, “This is a point in the sky no bigger than the end of a straw.” In that single point, do you know what they discover?

Millions more galaxies.

There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on earth. If you took the time to learn just about optics and how difficult but rewarding capturing photographs of stars really is, you’d collectively shit yourselves. When Hubble shows us photographs, these are shots that I dream of taking.

This NOVA episode is all information that no one had when the bible was being written. The bible is completely ignorant of these things, despite its supposed divine revelation. From a non-theistic perspective, it makes relying on limited knowledge such as pages in a book written when ignorance was so prevalent that it took years to write stories down.

Think about it. The bible provides a blurry picture of the past 2000 to 3000 years. And by blurry, I mean there are miracles and supernatural events. Hubble takes photos of light that is millions of light years old in crisp, brilliance.

I don’t understand how people don’t latch onto the sheer fact that telescopes take pictures a gazillion times older than the bible purports itself to be.

I mean, you’ll trust someone who admittedly dreams about seven-headed dragons in the book of Revelations over someone who shows you actual proof of an expanding universe, and you say, “Yeah, I’ll take the imaginative dragon talk. That makes more sense.”

If it’s good enough for House …

That acerbic mother fucker House is a cool guy. Back when I was living all alone, I loved watching House. He’s most likely a non-theist. I don’t watch the show enough, but I’ve seen quotes floating around the Internets that he’s said some pretty nasty frank things about the religious.

Hell, I think Bones does a pretty good job at being skeptical on that show too. You gotta love the scientifically minded scripted shows on that otherwise painful correlation with the weirdest brand in “news” television known to the world.

I’ve been watching more of the show this season. I’ve only seen maybe 3 episodes. But it’s more than I’ve watched in a few years. For the most part, I enjoy the show.

I found out today that the finale episode of this season’s house is being shot on the Canon 5D Mark II, which is the camera that I shoot on. I just finished principal photography on one project with it, and I’ve been using it as my primary camera on event jobs too.

I shot this on it, but I don’t like the way it turned out all together:

What I don’t like is that I was forced to push through shooting. I didn’t get a chance to set up shots, to really give time to a few setups. It makes for a lot of ruined shots.

The camera is a little bit of a pain in the ass. It’s not really made to be a single shooter solution. I have to carry around a field recorder with me for gathering sound. Before or after an interview, I awkwardly confidently ask the subject to give me a clap (ha ha) right in front of his or her face. It’s amazing how many people don’t get the clap jokes.

I get the clap so I can sync sound later.

But holy shit, the image quality  on this camera is stellar … which is why it’s showing up all over the place. Have you seen that annoying commercial for the Samsung smart phone in which they break the world record for texting speed? In the upper right hand corner of the screen, the camera guy turns his lens to the side right at the end of the commercial to reveal that he’s shooting on a 5D.

Then there was this awesome shoot for DKNY that was shot gorilla style on the streets of New York for an episode of “Kell on Earth“.

I don’t care what the skeptics say. That commercial is awesome. They avoided getting city permits, and they shot all over the city. They got an awesome result, and it’s being watched all over the internet.

Tina watches the show. I was working the other night, and she called out, “I think they’re shooting on your camera!” It’s so cool to see how many people are really embracing the camera for video production gigs.

I’m having a really tough time convincing my clients that if they are going to be on a budget, this is the way to go.

The camera is amazing (did I say that already?). I can use all my lenses, and in the same moment as I shoot a photograph, I can be shooting excellent video. I hope to replace my other still camera with the 5D’s little brother, the 7D. Its sensor isn’t nearly as large, but its image quality is still sweet. Plus, I could probably benefit from the run and gun style, because the smaller sensor will offer a greater depth of field.

The hardest thing about running and gunning with the 5D is that the depth of field isn’t very deep … which means it’s not forgiving. Half the time you think you’re in focus only to find you’re not. It takes a few turns of the focus ring to get there.

I’m looking for more exciting work. If you know of any, pass it my way.