Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Sky is Blue - even at night

Something which is important in photography is learning to see as the camera sees. For the camera sees things differently to us. Digital cameras see things differently to film cameras too, so its not just which is better. Its which does what you want better.

Take for instance exposure.

This is a shot of the full moon lastnight as it was rising. The sun had gone down already some hour or so before and the time was already 6:30pm

You can see that the light from the moon is making sky blue.

Yes, just like daylight but only lots less bright.

We don't see it this way because our eyes are not as sensitive in the darkness as the camera sensor is and we can't really accumulate our readings as a camera can when taking a long exposure. So we just see that the sky is hazy. Actually when its darker our eyes don't have colour vision anymore, which further explains whey we only see a glow in the sky rather than the colour.

Looking across the neighbours roof at nearly 10pm the mercury vapor lights of the road are showing on the trees in the distance with their characteristic colour cast and the moon is lighting the sky and clouds just as the sun would do. Making the sky look blue

You can even tune the exposure to see the stars.

as one or two can be seen faintly here. You can rightly guess that full moons aren't good nights for astronomers :-)

Its an eerie light cast by the moon which we can not see as the camera sees.

In learning to master the camera and take control of the images we can get from them we need to grasp that the camera is not completely like our eyes and we need to learn to see as the camera does to get it to produce images that we can see and find pleasing.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Legionnaire Effect

Once upon a time it was said that the French would join the Foreign Legion to escape the pain of a lost love or a broken heart.

I can only guess that they had no idea what they were signing up for in the passion of the moment.

Undoubtedly what they found in many cases was hardship and challenge far greater than they anticipated.

But perhaps this hardship and difficulty was something which was important, something critical even in getting them to pass through the pain of a love lost.

For our society is so well ordered and our lives so protected that when something really strikes at the heart, as only the loss of a dearly loved one can, that we seldom have anything truly challenging to make us get up off our arse and get going.

Its very difficult to make that motivation out of only will power alone.

So being in a situation where you find you are struggling for your life causes you to either be killed or struggle. Struggling to save your life, to get through the real and present danger that challenges you provides an urgency to do things that our instincts rise up to.

People have said to me that my own personal situation has been some kind of kick in the guts when I was already down.

But it has been more than a kick in the guts. It has been a situation which confronts me with the very real possibility of my own death.

It has taken me from the abstract notion of pondering my own death (at a time and manner of my choosing) to the real possibility of being killed by a bacteria (or perhaps from the treatments I am given to prevent that bacteria from killing me).

This time bomb in my chest (from the surgery in late 2011) has forced me to look deep into myself and see if I am made of the sort of stuff that can stand up and fight no matter what sort of shit is happening.

Despite wanting to lay down and cry (which I have of course been doing) I have stood up and researched this attacker and come to understand what is happening.This situation has essentially been my version of (without choosing to) joining the Foreign Legion.

I have often said that it is our responce to adversity that identifies our strength of character, that in adversity we often only become what we can truly become. Humans it seems to me do not show what they are really capable of in times of comfort and indulgence (though I assure you I do miss those gentle times together on the fouton or sitting on a mountain side looking at the beauty of nature).

I don't really know just yet if this bacteria will or won't kill me, but for sure it has forced me to do more than sit and examine my own losses.

Back in 1976 a mystery disease struck down some hundreds of people and killed 34 of them. This was the first time that the bacteria called Legionella was identified. It came from the Airconditioning systems of a hotel. My bacteria and the loss of my wife, reminded me of the struggle that romantic writers described that would drive a man to join the Foreign Legion and try to get over their losses

So I have decided to call this effect in my life the "Legionnaire Effect".

Perhaps others have had something similar influencing their path in grief. I can't say its helped me to get over my losses, but it has somehow made that pain stand out less by pouring more pain onto it. Sort of like hitting your thumb with a hammer to get rid of a headache I guess ...

Monday, 18 March 2013

now THATS a spider

I was talking to some one recently who had a spider living on their window. Their descriptions of it were such as my reaction was "well, gee, I think you should kill that".

I'm not normally worried about the typical spiders we get here in Australia around the house, but when she  showed me a picture she'd taken of it (cos I was curious if she could show me that) I was more sure "I don't want THAT around my house thanks!"

Zoomed in more you can see it has quite good fangs.

bloody nora.

Anyone know what it is? (well dead now, but what it was)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

paths in life: divergence and congruence.

I was thinking about something that Charles said in a recent comment on my blog and it led me to this thought.

If life is a path which we are on, that often brings us onto similar paths with others. As we travel together we can find that we enjoy our time together and become friends. Sometimes our brief encounters are enough to realise that this person is important to us, and we alter our journey to be with them.

Sometimes we just happen to share the same spaces on our journey.

Sometimes we meet people we don't like and alter our lives to avoid them.

After enough time spent together we may feel comfort in the familiarity and want to keep walking shoulder to shoulder. Yet its possible that the other person has begun to alter their course in another directions for reasons which have nothing to do with us. Their personal priorities are taking them away on another path in life.

Despite the desire to keep company, life is showing that our paths lay in different directions. So its wise to allow that divergence to occur without distress or discomfort. Even if you feel it wasn't your desire or choice to diverge.

a view out my window this morning

I got up this morning and looked out the window to the south to check out the mountains (as I do almost every day of the many years that I have lived in this house).

Today the skies were clearing from months of rain and storms.

There was even a hot air balloon in this sky above the old wetlands (now a swank housing estate that I hate).

Somehow it made me feel good, to wake with the sunshine in my window and see some beauty in the world.

I love sailboats (smaller ones in particular) an somehow the silence of flight that hot air balloons afford attracts me for the same reason I love sailing (well ok, they make a lot of noise when the gas burns that's for sure).

The textures of the sky and the clouds were as always delicious.

I love these mountains and will always regard them as my home. Some images from there (taken over my years of hiking there)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Barely an hour goes by

that I am not confronted with either sensations of loss of my wife or personal pain with the recovery process from my heart surgery infection.

Most certainly I did not want to be alone. I did not want to be coming home to an empty house (a house we had striven to turn into our home).

I did not want to be eating my meals alone nor sitting alone in the evenings.

I did not want to be going to bed alone, nor waking alone, to go downstairs to an empty quiet house.

Like the character in Cast Away I have only the VAC pump ticking away as my companion. Of course I called it Wilson.

The discomfort of my chest wound (opened up to attempt removal of whatever may be infected) makes the daily chores of cooking, cleaning and washing all the more arduous than they would be if it was just me coping with her loss.

I struggle to stay alive and keep my health good to maximize my healing from the wounds the surgeon gave me (in order to keep me from dying from the infection I got from the surgery intended to save my life).

But to what end do I struggle? To be alone? To live without her by my side?

I live but I am barely living.

The silence is broken only by the struggle to remain alive and healthy and keep working.

The silence and absence of communication from many who professed to be my friends makes me wonder if they are really that? Perhaps they are simply unable to cope with the burden of calling me from time to time to say "hi"?

Why do these people remain distant and invisible when I could use their support and love? On occasions when we meet they say "you know we are thinking about you" ... sadly I don't. I must have missed out those telepathic genes.

When I have struggled with long and difficult tasks before there has always been a goal. When I have struggled to survive before there has always been a reason to live.

Am I struggling now simply out of habit?

My mother in law tells me that no one knows how sad she is, that no one knows how much she has lost.

Well I think I might have an idea.

If ever I find a point to my life without her you'll be the second to know (after me that is).

"come sweet slumber, enshroud me in thy purple cloak. ... Huh doesn't even rhyme"

Monday, 11 March 2013

Film: pulling images out of the mists of time

This weekend I thought I would give some time to a project which we started back in 2010.

My wife was ferreting through a cupboard back at her parents place in Finland before we came to Australia. She came across an old 110 camera which she recognised from her childhood.

I noticed that it had film in it still. I knew from buying my Pentax 110 series camera and lenses that this film was not processable in Finland. I said "for sure we can get it processed back in Australia. It turns out I was right.

Not unexpectedly however it seems that the film was more or less ruined from more than 20 years of sitting in the camera in a cupboard. None the less I could see something in the murky ink of each of strips, so I was willing to give it a go. This image (below) is what the film looks like to the eye on a light box.

Firstly I tried firstly my Epson flatbed scanner (the 4870) and was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to get as good an image as I'd like.

A bit of fooling around with strip holders and I was able to feed it into my Nikon LS-4000.

As per my normal view of scanning as if a positive, adjusting the levels and then throwing in some extra bits that the Nikon has (such as multi sampling) I was both pleased and surprised to be able to get the images off the film. This is one of them

Given the blackened murky neg I had to start with this isn't too bad. Sure its grainy and the colours are off, but keep in mind that this film has sat in the camera undeveloped for way past its ideal.

Actually if anyone remembers the prints one normally got from 110 its actually pretty darn good.

None of the images are prize winners, but its been great for the family to see images of long lost events and people who are sadly no longer with us.

This exercise has left me wondering about the age old question I have had over the archival nature of digital.

If someone left a consumer grade digital camera in the cupboard for 20 years from today, will anyone be able to get at those images? Will we have media readers to access the SD cards? Will USB even exist then?

Interesting question isn't it.