Monday, 29 April 2013

built on solid foundations

There is a song written by Linda Creed called "The Greatest Love of All", as a young person listening to it I often wondered about the focus of the lyrics on the self. I felt it was somehow selfish.

As I grew older I became re-acquainted with the song and (having journeyed some more in life) understood how many people suffer from problems of self worth and self respect.

While I now understand the reference to the self esteem it still seems just a prelude to the greatest love ...

Linda was (so I am told) struggling with cancer when she wrote the song lyrics, so perhaps she was going through a bit of an existential crisis (suffering from breast cancer and struggling with understanding her own mortality).  Having battled with the loss of my lovely wife and in parallel battled with my personal health issues I think I can relate to personal existential crises. From the lyrics something that resonates with me is the theme of needing to love yourself and teach others to love themselves.
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

I agree with so much of that. However to make what easier? For me that comes in the lines:
Everybody is searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me
which is at the same time both profound and tragic.
It is profound because the truth is that you must love yourself before you can find strength and before you can even accept love.
It is tragic to me that so many people go through life never loving. Never loving themselves and also never feeling that love from somone else. Linda seems to have learned (from the harshness she found in life?) to depend on herself. Perhaps from that trust then came love.

Loving yourself is a truly important step, but should be the foundation for the love that comes from outside. Its like the base of the Maslow hierarchy if you will, a foundation to be built on to allow you to fulfill more in your life.

Great houses can only be built on strong foundations.

Only from the foundation of loving yourself can come the love for and from others. Without that base the love of others will fall on difficult soil. I believe that without that foundation, that accepting others love will be somehow skewed, as will the love you feel for others.

I'm glad that Linda found the love of her self, for it is a truly important step. But that she perhaps never found another to love her as she (I hope) loved herself is a tragedy. Without that it can be difficult or perhaps impossible to build a loving relationship with another. The love that my wife and I shared was built on the foundations of self respect and self love. From this we developed a relationship where love is given and love is received.

As I examine what I have lost in my wifes passing, I have come to understand just how fortunate I have been to have been able to feel that love (from her to me) and to be able to give her that love too. For no matter what has been taken away from me, I still have the love of myself and (it may seem strange) the love she gave me.
Love is made to be given, so my view is that Linda's song about the Greatest Love of All is just a prelude, a prelude to the greater love that can grow in the hearts of two people who love themselves and each other.

Learning to love your self is the first step on the road to knowing love.  I'd like to write as well as Linda, but I can't. So instead I'll just change the lines a little:

I found that the greatest love of all 
was happening to me.
I found that the greatest love of all
beside of me.
It is the greatest love of all
The song ends on a note of hope:
And if by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love
Sadly now I have gone from that special place, to a lonely one. But I have some strength to face it in the love we have. I say have because it can never die.


Saturday, 20 April 2013

its not warm when she's away...

From the time I fell in love with her every time we were apart I felt a little anxious and a little sad. Even when we began sharing a house, whenever she went away for some days (to help her grandparents for example) I felt sad.

But there came a time when I had certainty that she would always be there, that we would be together for all our lives. Of course I knew that one day I would be dead. Its strange that we both always acted on the obvious thing that I'd be the one to die first.

Life can be unexpected.

Tonight I was watching a movie, and there was this Bill Withers song on in the background.

Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
It's not warm when she's away.
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And she's always gone too long
Anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she's gone 
Wonder if she's gone to stay
Ain't no sunshine when she's gone
And this house just ain't no home
Anytime she goes away.

I know that she has passed away, but (unlike the dyed in the wool atheists) just don't know if "she's gone to stay". By this I mean simply ceased.

Perhaps I'm just twisting reality to see it as I wish, but little things keep telling me that while "shes gone to stay" that like when she walked onto that plane in Incheon that she still is somewhere, and that I'll make a journey to the furthest point in my world to be with her when its time.

Today I've been out riding around in the sunshine of a perfect day on the scooter and somehow feeling her presence. I felt overwhelmingly sad at times, perhaps because I can feel her presence. Personally I'd rather go through feeling sad when I feel her around than not feel her around.

Anyway, as I went to write this I turned on my tablet and was surprised to find a 'theme' of raindrops had been applied to my FTP app, yet I had applied no theme. It was like a little smack in my face (or a tug on my ear as she used to do).

My heart is inclined to feel that she put it there. She liked rides on the scooter, so I'm glad she could come along.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

a stitch in time

and you should never under estimate the benefit of a fresh piece of cloth.

So while you can sometimes make something with stitching things together, you can't always use stitching (or HDRI) to make up for the short comings of gear.

Conventional "wisdom" out there at the moment seems to be use image stitching techniques for making your wide angle lens wider (or your normal a wide). Such as this image ...

This image was made with a mild telephoto and stitched together from 5 images taken in portrait to make a highly detailed wide format landscape.

Sadly however this doesn't always work, as nature often is not as patient as me and spoils things by moving.

So when I tried to align these two images the churning clouds have moved between images and re-orienting the camera to make adjustment difficult / painful / tedious or plain old impossible. The above image was (as it happens) taken with my Bessa I on two sections of 6x9 film. I wish I had of had my 6x12 camera and a 75mm lens.

Sometimes there just is no substitute for one take.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

tuning focus on an Epson Perfection scanner

For people who like to tune their flatbed scanners with some 'adjustment' one of the things people most commonly do is adjust the height of their film holders to get the film in the place where its focused.

This is because Epson Perfection scanners are not really calibrated in the factory (well come on, they only cost $700). So for those seeking the best out of their scanner dollar (and lets face it, you can't buy the Nikons anymore) we try to make the tools we have just that bit sharper than they are 'out of the box'

I thought I'd share with you the little shortcut I use to find the sweet spot. Its a stack of coins. In this case its the 5c coin.

Sticking them on the glass so that they hang over each other one can see pretty quickly where the focus point is.

Obviously coin 1 is on the glass ...

Its at coin 4 through to 5 that things appear their sharpest. So, now by measuring the coin thickness you can quickly set up your Better Scanning holders to get the best out of your film scans.

How much better?

Well about like this:

and this is a 100% crop of a 1200dpi scan of a slide which I wasn't really that happy with (crummy lens). Chalk and Cheese isn't it ...

Hmmm ... speaking of which, its time for some cheese to go with my red wine I think...

Happy Adjusting

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bessa I with Colour Skopa lens

I have had 2 Bessa cameras now I find that I like them. I found that  I prefer the simplicity of the Bessa I over the Bessa RF cameras and some time ago sold my RF. Sadly I made an attempt to service the shutter on the first Bessa I I bought (blog post on that here) but ended up damaging the threads of the lens when disassembling it. I have been variously distracted in the intervening time with things that some readers of my blog will be familiar.

For some time I have been looking for a Skopar lens version on eBay and recently I picked one up. Its a tidy camera with everything in largely good order (except that the shutter is a bit sticky, but I'm not going to touch this one ... yet).

I put my first film through it this week and was stunned by the results. I uses a roll of Fuji Superia X-TRA 400 through it and scanned the results on my Epson 4870 flatbed scanner.


The camera is not without issues (who isn't) and light leaks interfered with a number of the images, and operator error interfered with a few more. However where I didn't screw it up (not withstanding the light leaks, which were probably operator error too) the stunning shallow depth of field on what is essentially a mild wide angle showed me just why it was I loved this format.

Further the sharpness of the lens from side to side is (in my view) sharper than the Vaskar lens on my earlier one.

I was so impressed with the sharpness and detail I went and took another shot of the same scene as one of the negatives (without a flaw) with the GH1 so that I could make a comparison. It is this which I wish to show you in more detail.

 Bessa I - overview

GH1 - overview

Anyone who has done much with colour negative knows that scanning colour negative to get exactly what a digital camera gives is nearly impossible, so please forgive the colour differences.

However firstly I'll point out that the 6x9 camera produces an image which is a ratio of 2:3 where the GH1 produces one of 4:5 (well in this setting). I happen to like 6x9 as its the same image dimension ratios that 35mm is.

I set the zoom on the GH1 to give the same horizontal width as the angle of view of the Bessa.
I scanned the film at 1200 dpi. Both cameras thus produced an image which was more or less 4000 pixels wide. Of course I could probably get 2000dpi out of the scanner without difficulty and looking at these images I'm inclinded to believe that I would indeed get more detail out of the film ... it would not just be the scanner equuivalent of 'upscaling'

So, lets have a look at the details:

Bessa - segment 1

GH1 - segment 1

Dam that's close ... ok, lets look over to the skyscrapers in the LHS background

Bessa - skyscraper segment2

GH1 - skyscraper segment 2

I think that the Bessa is actually resolving the details in the buildings better than the GH1 is. That's astounding as at this level (100% pixel view) we are clearly at the limits of the GH1s capacity and yet there is scope for better out of the Bessa negative

Bessa - segment 3

GH1 - segment 3

Well again (forgetting tones) the Bessa has done a better job of resolving fine details in the leaf (particularly that fresh frond that is vertical and as yet unspread).

If you disagree that there is enough in it to call, then that means that simply this is a tie. So I will go as far as saying that this digital camera which was released in 2010 has caught up to what 6x9 film cameras with box brownie film could achieve back in the late 1950's. Certainly when I did this with my Canon EOS 10D the Bessa with the Vaska lens was its equal.

This does not mean that I'll stop using the GH1 (or any other digital camera for that matter) but does re-enforce why I keep using the Bessa. For there are times when Negative can capture a better image than digital can (such as high contrast situations). My initial view of what to use the Bessa for was for those times when I wanted to have something light weight as a backup camera and didn't want to drag the large format camera around with me.

For me this shows that if you are wanting to use a 6x9 folder for some images, that you don't have to feel that you are not going to get top notch results. If you aren't getting results like this out of it, then you are doing something wrong or you have not set your camera up properly (AKA doing something wrong)


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Carl Sagans beliefs

I read this today, and was somewhat moved by it.

I agree that knowing life is brief and precious is paramount to making the best choices you can in life, and that seeking refuge in illusions is pointless and probably distracting. However I feel that in the search for verifiable truth Carl and Ann have closed the door to things which may exist.

That was their choice and I can understand it helps to focus your attention on the now. Not missing those moments which are in reality not a certainty and all too fleeting.

Unlike Ann Druyan, I am uncertain if I will ever get to experience my wife again.

Unlike Ann and Carl, we were uncertain of any reunion in something beyond our perceptions of the universe. Which is different to being certain there will not be.

My wife and I most certainly took each day as a gift, living and loving perhaps to the real expectations of what two humans can do. Unlike this couple we were taken from each other suddenly and unexpectedly. I cherish and loved every moment of our years together, it was altogether too short. Being greedy, I wanted much more.

You know if you talk (as Carl and Ann have) about the vastness of the cosmos and how people come together it somehow implies that those spirits could have existed in different worlds.

This begs the question then of:
  did those spirits come from somewhere or only from the stuff (the atoms) that is here?

If not then it is just the patterns that were formed from stuff and situations here on this planet. In which case it vastly lessens the odds of meeting (compared to the entire cosmos).

My wife and I came from as far apart on the planet as two people could possibly come together from - her from Finland and me from Australia. Almost at the opposite sides of the sphere upon which we reside.

To me the chances of our meeting were astronomical too. Yet in a place which was distant for both of us, we came together by chance.

Is this all just random?

Certainty I have no answers to that question. But just because I reject the answers provided in the dogmas of many religions does not mean that I feel that all there is to life is death.

There is too much that we can not yet see or comprehend to say with certainty that we simply start and then stop.

As yet science can not grapple with this concept. So it seems to me to be a kind of arrogance to attempt to suggest that physics proves there is no spirit that endures. The truth is that it is a question which science can not yet answer.

Still (of course) I struggle to find a meaning and a purpose to my life in the void left by her departure. I question too much to be able to simply accept the fairy tales which the worlds religions promulgate. I am certain that just as no human can truly comprehend infinity, no human can really grasp all the possibilities and realities which make up the universe.

For as quantum phyics is showing us, the universe is a strange and infinite place.