Tuesday, 22 August 2017

religious nonsence (or the media selling the electric car barrow)

Sadly sustainable development has gone all out to attract the "Public" for some years, and while I did my Masters in Environmental Science I must sadly admit there is quite a few in the "cohort" who are neither scientific nor rigorous. The Electric Car Advocacy is prime among them.

Recently I see that the ABC has become a mouthpiece for the push in this direction as if they've already decided. Sadly rather than present unbiased information they unashamedly promote stuff that doesn't even add up ... for instance:


This unashamed piece can't even present the facts reasonably and chooses to cherry pick its data. It starts by asking the obvious question of: Are electric cars cheaper to run

and comes up with the quick answer of yes and yes, but as they indicate its not really that simple because it quickly emerges that its No and NO.

For instance they present this "analysis"

I would take issue that the "average" fuel economy is 11.1L/100Km ... shit my 1989 3L V6 Pajero 4WD station wagon gets that. My friends Subaru gets more like 8 and a Hyundai i30 more like 6 ... so you can half that figure for the cost to travel 100km for a petrol vehicle straight away.

However its even more disingenuous because they themselves are talking about longer distances, and in their own article say: "However, the RAC-installed recharging stations on WA's Electric Highway cost the user 45 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity, plus a $1 transaction charge."

So if we substitute the more correct 45cents for a highway journey it becomes more like $8.10 plus the $1 transaction charge making $9.10

So for the Electric car its $9.10 and for a modern car using 8L/100Km its $10.40 ... suddenly less attractive isn't it. It only gets worse when you factor in modern diesel engines in the 2L category are regularly delivering 4.5L/100km.

This does not mention how long it takes to "fuel up" while we know that to fill up and get going on the highway is usually a matter of minutes, for the electric its going to be longer.

Watt does it all mean?

People will fuzz out on this, but a kilowatt is a thousand watts, so assuming you have the need to put 18,000 Watts for an hour (that's what watt hours means) into your car and you can use the three phase 410 volt supply you will be needing to suck 45amps  (Watts = Volts x Amps and so 410 * 45 = 18450 )... for an hour ... Inconvenient this truth stuff isn't it.

Of course you can drop that to half an hour if you punch in 90 amps.

That would pretty much max out the capacity of the service station to supply (and keep its own lights on).

Imagine if there was 2 or even (shock) 4 cars attempting to fill up ... of course you've never seen so many cars in the servo have you ...

The truth - inconvenient isn't it ...

The article tries to suggest that you can make it even cheaper if:
The cheapest option for electric car owners is recharging at home using the electricity from solar panels and stored by a home battery.

So, you'll need to have a good 4Kw system on your roof running all day to charge your car to drive 100Km ... meaning you will negate that solar electric advantage of the house ... ohh, and you'll need at least 18Kw of battery too ...

Truth in Costs

Most car organisations will say that the true cost of ownership of a vehicle is depreciation, meaning what you paid for it minus what you sold it for. The cost of fuel is often insignificant.

So if you buy an electric car you'll also suffer greater depreciation because they cost more in the first place too .. expect 30% drop in the first year. The Nissan Leaf (a mid range car equivalent in spec to an i30) will set you back $51,000 while the Hyundai will set you back $20,950

So 30% loss on $51,000 is $15,000 ... most of the entire price of the Hyundai.


The article goes on to mention in one sentence:

Unless you are recharging using a renewable energy source, the power electric car owners are using still comes from burning traditional fossil fuels which, in WA at least, is primarily coal.
Yes, that's right ... it still means CO2

So like the article says near the end:
Electric future of the automotive industry 
Owners of electric cars say their cars are not the future, they are the past, because electric cars have been around since the mid-19th century.
Nothing has changed since then either, for in the past Electric cars have been the realm of the wealthy.

As is typical of propaganda, simply tell enough stuff that looks to be true (even though it won't pass scrutiny) and avoid all those inconvenient facts that get in the way of pushing your agenda.

Ask youself this: who actually benefits from electric cars? Would it be the electric car makers, or are they really "just doing it for society".

Here's some evidence:

So despite selling a fraction of the cars, Tesla is worth as much as GM in terms of Market Capitalisation while running a loss not a profit.


Monday, 21 August 2017

Eating Grass Seeds

Probably few people think about it, but wheat, rice and oats are all from the same family of plant: Grass.

Being a bit different I often try cooking things "outside the dots" and substitute one grain for another. In this case I use oats as many cultures use rice. So while may think of Paella as being a Spanish dish, it relies on rice which originates from Asia.

In Europe Oats has a much longer history. Its hard to imagine that my earlier European ancestors did not cook more interesting things with Oats than the modern western (god help me, American) idea that oats = porridge.

So, without further adieu I'd like to present my Savory Oats "Asian style" with

  • Oats,
  • Fish, 
  • Ginger, 
  • Garlic,
  • Spring Onions,
  • Capsicum (or as it can also be called Paprika, but not the spice..)
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil, like sunflower, rapseed, peanut ...)
  • perhaps a touch of paprika (dried spice like Hungarian) for colour,
  • and a touch of Tabasco sauce
So we start with frying up the chopped garlic, ginger, fish, spring onions and capsicum. Gentle heat, not "immolation" material ...

next, we have the amount of oats we want (for a single serve I go with half a cup), ready to tip into the mix.

So we tip this in and then add an amount of water to make sure its all wet but perhaps not totally covered ...

Adding the water cools the pan but the residual heat will bring it back to the boil soon, so we cover it and keep an eye on it to reduce the heat as soon as it starts to gently boil ...

usually 5 or 6 min is about right, but its important to keep an eye on it till you get the hang of this so as to make sure its always a bit moist in there ..

At about the 6 min mark, lift the lid and give it a quick stir around, breaking up the fish.

Myself I usually want the oats to still be whole and visible, not turned to porridge, but to each their own.

So then serve it (or add a little more water and let it cook longer if you want  the porridge thing) and add a dash of Tabasco sauce (for those who like a more spicy touch) and some soy sauce.

and remember ... Oats is better for glycemic index than is rice, and is also accociated with lower cholesterol in the diet.

Have a glass of white wine with it too ;-)

processing the bird

I was out in the back yard today and there was this crested pigeon sitting on a branch, so I happened to be holing my GH1 and the FD300mm f4 (because the bird I was actually wanting to photograph flew away as soon as I tuned my camera on), and thought well ... lets photograph you.

So I came inside, pulled the SD card and moved the RAW file onto my phone and processed it with Snapseed. Here is a scaled version of that

This made me think ... hmmm ... I wonder what I'd have got with a PC based editor ... so I had a quick whirl in a photoshop alike product called RawTherapee

so its not ball tearing difference is it. In fact I kinda like what I could do with Snapseed and (drum roll) it took less time!

Lets zoom in



Not that this is the first  time to really see this or present it, but it is at least entirely different subject matter and shows that Snapseed stacks up across a variety of uses.

Like this guy...

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The night sky

Living up in the hills over a hundred km from the lights of a city the skies look lovely..

But one only has to look in that direction to see things on the horizon...

I read that soon half of humanity won't even know the Milky Way exists soon

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Minor purchase...

I suppose its funny in and of itself, but it does remind me of the (to me) annoying penchant for the Millennials to not just lather things with superlatives but really over do it

: maximum King Wang

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Views from the other side

Growing up on one side of the range, some how I never spent much time on the other side.

So it's been nice to explore a bit of that this week

Nice place

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Friday, 21 July 2017

a new T-Max

After such a good experience with the last one I couldn't resist

We shall see how I find it .. already there has been a few changes to this which I'm not fond of (removal of practicality for "king wang"). I can't for the life of me understand why every single bike has to appeal to the "scratcher" set ... I mean if you want one of those, go buy a R6 or something

naturally I had to buy another orange helmet ...

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Cold Inside the House

this is an older post from another blog of mine, but its quite relevant again to me (having just come back from Finland...

One day, walking around the shopping center I saw this advert for cold and flu medicine. It reminded me of one of the mysteries of life in Australia

That while its not typically cold here during the day we get quite cool in winter overnight. A lack of thermal insulation in most homes means that the heat leaves quickly over night and the radiant insulation (slowing the sun from heating the house) means that in winter we tend to be cold inside our homes, despite pouring a few kilowatts of electricity into the home.

I can only assume that its a tradition we have followed from the English.

Academics ponder the issue but builders keep churning out the same designs and Aussies keep buying them.

They then sit around inside complaining about how cold it is while just having argued that "it doesn't get cold in Australia". They even defend the perpetuation of this ... Strange how its often actually warmer outside ...

Why don't we laugh at Australian chimney and fireplace design next


Thursday, 1 June 2017

of waves and motion (and bell curves)

I've been considering an idea of modelling society based on what we know in two areas; social science and physics.

As a picture paints a thousand words I'll leave my description of my diagram brief.

The levels intelligence within society are described by a bell curve (lets not discuss how skewed that is here). Knowing that society is a dynamic thing I looked to the behaviour of waves to see what happens as society becomes more shallow.

A standard wave changes shape as it moves into shallow waters

and eventually as the wave reaches the "social media shallows"  the mediocre and dumbos form a dumper that pummels the higher intelligence groups.

An intelligent person (surfing the wave) must observe this formation and know when to "flick back" and not get smashed against the rocks by the rest of the wave.

I cite the "Cultural Revolution" as a clear example.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

the camera you have with you ...

despite my overwhelming urge to pound my phone into a rock every time I try to type on the fucking thing (only those who can't type, have never used a decent QWERTY keyboard and can tolerate so many spelling errors and interpretation errors could confess they like on screen keyboards) the phone makes a good camera. Not least because its always  with you. Like today, I was out wandering around and enjoying the beautiful weather when I looked back (in anticipation of some good backlighting) and found just that:

These days I reflexively put the camera into RAW and then I've got that too. I've earlier found that this combination is about 85% of the quality my GF1 (with the 14mm f2.5 lens) gives.

The camera app did a pretty decent job of this challenging lighting situation (I'd tapped on the brightest cluster of leaves over there mid lower right) but RAW and Snapseed enabled me to pull the highlights down in development and sharpen up a good image.

Here is a full segment

Based on my experience with printing I reckon this'll be good for 52.6 x 71.1 cm (20.69 x 27.97 inches).

I reckon this'll go nicely on a wall back in Australia (to remind me of here when I'm there).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

bicycle usage preference in Finland

Growing up in Australia I've pretty much always had "derailleur" style gears. I say "pretty much" because as a kid under 10 I had a "Dragster" style bike (like this, but I don't have a picture of mine)

 which pretty much got changed into something which would later become (yes, I'm old) BMX.

One thing about that bike that non of my other bikes (until I came to Finland) had was a "Sturmey Archer" style "internal hub" gear system.  For those unfamiliar with them (and mistakenly thinking that that shifter was just for looks because "that bike doesn't have gears" this is what they look like:

Clean, and simple, with no requirement to bend the chain as it moves across the lower cassette.

I quickly discovered (with my first 10 speed bike) how sensitive the rear hanger was (riding though bush all the time) to impacts and how often one needed to tune the system (something many folks could never properly do) or it wouldn't shift properly, would make a "rattle" sound all the time (while it was partially attempting to climb up or drop down on the cluster.

A great example on how you need to adjust your derailleur:

My last bike in Australia was a Giant Yukon, which I loved and rode to work (and on trails as well as for general exersize) quite a bit for many years. Finally after some thousands of Km (literally) I needed a new rear cluster, but the Shimano Deore with "Rapid Change" worked great for me with only occasional adjustments and I loved the ability to keep a decent cadence and constant energy irrespective of slope or headwind.

Gears work. But most riders just don't know the first thing about how to use their gears properly, especially with a Derailleur system. For instance you can't just sequentially shift UP or DOWN, as you need to keep the rear sprocket more or less in line with the front sprocket, especially if you have more than 5 gears on the back sprocket. So as you shift up you eventually move from the smallest sprocket on the front to the middle, but you should do that before you've gone to the smallest on the back. Probably this will mean you'll need to change back down on the rear before changing up on the front ... which the rapid change system allows you to do (but you still need to be careful to not make a tangle of it).

It may sound complex but eventually it becomes second nature (or you just fluff it around like most people do).

Then I came to Finland where "entry level bikes" have most commonly got no gears (meaning a single gear fixed gear but with a coaster clutch / brake system not a "fixie") or a (most commonly Shimano Nexus) 7 or 9 speed hub. By most commonly I mean most of them.

These systems have the advantage that you just shift up or down with no thought of "do I need to change the front sprocket" ... just change.

Dead Simple ...

To show how common this system is here, here is a "for instance" just walking along and decided to film "poll" at my local small supermarket:

Note the number of mudguards and racks in that video. Its easy to see that bikes here aren't like most Australian bikes, they are clearly fundamentally practical transport. Because (unlike Australia) many people ride bicycles all the time, in all weathers for most of their daily stuff (like going to the shops or stuff like that).

After using my hub now for a few years I totally love it. Actually it was pretty much love at first pedal. Indeed while I see that "derailleur" style has some advantages in competition, almost none of that translates to street.

I have seen occasional posts on bicycle forums in Australia enquiring about these systems and usually they're regarded as "expensive" ... which is weird because in Finland they are fitted at almost the bottom end of the market. I expect its just another example of Australians being shagged up the butt for stuff because (either) the retail system just wants to simplify and have one thing to pedal (or the bike shops are populated by dedicated enthusiasts who just can't see the point of not being "comitted").

My bike (with the Nexus 7) has been a great transport unit and I paid 50 buck for it second hand (in really good condition. A real "low maintenance practical work horse" and my daily driver over here since 2013 (without as much as a screw driver put to it).

I wish Australians were as wise as Europeans.

PS: lastly if one is to get hung up on issues like efficiency , then I suggest reading this good reply on a forum here, its a good one.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting DoF at a distance

one of my pet "disturbances" is people taking pictures of a tiny toy on their keyboard from 5cm away and going on about the DoF and Bokeh of their new lens, especially when its clearly going to be useless at "normal focal distances"

The only way to get DoF is by pupil diameter, not "f stop" ... the bigger the pupil the shallower the DoF

Of course to get that pupil bigger for the same angle of view one needs either a bigger f stop OR a larger format. For instance a 50mm lens on a FullFrame camera has a pupil diameter that's about 25mm at f2 ... while the pupil diameter of a 25mm lens on a 43rds camera (capturing the same view from the same spot)  will be 12mm. Meaning less DoF

So I thought that (not having a full frame or a good 50mm f1.4 lens handy) that using my 45mm f1.7 would do the job at imaging my favourte tree if I stitched together an array of 4 shots (as it would approximate a 50mm on a full frame single frame grab).

Here that is:

Seems that while its better than my earlier attempt with the 20f1.7 (single shot with m43) it looks like its not really doing what I want ... a pixel peep (or a big print) shows that it does indeed have better DoF popping it out of the background, but not as much as my 4x5 had (standing pretty much in the same spot).

Well its better and shows more "separation" from the background.

So, I was right but there was a lesson to be learned

On a larger (again) format (like what is called Large Format) a "normal lens" (like the 50mm) is a 180mm lens and (my f5.6) lens yeilds 32mm at "wide open".

Perhaps a Full Frame with a 50mm @ f1.8 (using a 1.4 lens so as to not get too much corner darkness) would do it. However when one is using even 100ISO full sunlight will require super short shutters (or a ND filter) if you're using f1.8 ... Then there is the highlight clipping to deal with...

I still keep my 4x5 camera and some chemistry around for just this sort of specalised thing (and its cheaper than a Sony A7).

way to precious

WARNING: This may have content which is offensive to some. Please read no further if you're that precious.

The "Alt Right" tends to label the "Alt Left" as Snow Flakes ... not the least because they vanish when there is any pressure.

Today I get an email notification that a friend of mine on on Twitter (who hardly ever says much) has retweeted something. So I go and look ... to find this:

I wondered what "horrors" lay there that this sensitive material bore hiding from a sentient adult. Scenes of torture and human dismemberment? Pictures of Donald Trump masturbating nude?

So I went to review my settings and it still didn't show ... so I had to actually uncheck the "Hide Sensitive Content" under "Safety"

to reveal:

FFS people : grow up

Friday, 12 May 2017

Electric Cars ... one day

I just couldn't resist posting this

..as usual, Elon Musk managed to fool those who were only focusing on the headline numbers, which were both good and bad: while TSLA missed earnings, reporting a (non-GAAP) 4Q loss per share of $1.33, or $215 million, far worse than the consensus estimate loss of $0.82. On a GAAP basis, the company reported a loss of $330 million, or $2.04 per share, compared with a loss of $283 million or $2.13 a share in the year-earlier quarter. This amount to a loss of over $13,000 for each of the 25,051 cars delivered in the quarter.

As I've said many times before if it worked it would be working already (oh, but I fogot about the conspiracy theories)

As I've also said, if we want to use electricity to power vehicles we need to change the paradigm entirely. Stop making them as heavy as vehicles are today (because the power needed is related to the weight, turns out Newton is still right) and start making urban environments that don't need cars to simply get you from where you live to where you work / shop.

I know people can't grasp numbers, but hopefully those don't read my blog (or if they do then just accept that this is right).

From this Tesla source: https://forums.tesla.com/forum/forums/battery-size-base-model

What will the battery size be for the base model that provides <= 215 miles of range? A 70D is 240 miles, and a 70 is 230 miles. A 60 was about 210. Since the 3 is 20% smaller, does that imply it would get about 20% more range for a given battery size, or is it non-linear? 
Seems like they should be able to pull off 215 miles with a 50kWh battery on Model 3.
If you think about that number and what it means, I used a total of 800kWh in my whole house for the entire quater which was winter (in Australia so not super cold).

So to drive for a week (or in reality probably less) a Tesla will use about what I need for my house (fridge, freezer, hotwater, lights ...) in the same period. Oh and that assumes charging is 100% efficient (which it isn't) and you don't tear off at the lights or drive in hilly areas.

Get a grip folks ... where the hell is that energy coming from and how will you get it there?

If you want to be green and sustainable - ride an electric bicycle or better yet pedal the thing and get some exersize too.

Stop paying to be serviced by a service industry which sees you like the way Pastoralists use the term service.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

An open letter to Sophie

Dear Sophie

I fully concur with your position that being a widow is nothing like being divorced (which is a kind of breakup).

I listened to your audio "standup" and would have laughed more if it wasn't for the fact that it didn't seem like comedy so much as a documentary.

I think your main point of focus should be that you still love your husband (just as I still love my wife) and that should form the basis of all your decisions. I believe that even in their absence your knowing what they would have wanted can help guide you.

You need to take your time and be cautious about your desire to "step out" (laudable) or "listen to friends" who tell you about what you need (when they barely understand your situation). Of course you need socialization, but as you've found out the "dating game" is actually a horror show with the potential to strike deeper wounds into an already hurting heart.

Back in 2013 I wrote this blog post, where I compared the situation I was in (similar to that you are in) to being cast into a pit. Just as I too was climbing out of my pit others around me were also climbing. While we may or may not have the same destination in mind one needs to be mindful that they don't see you as a disposable handhold on "their way up" and not mind if you get knocked back.

While I'm not saying to "withdraw and not take risks" I am saying to be wary of the risks. A good climber knows to take their time (and use a safety line).

You've already seen that the "dating game" isn't far from the "gladitorial game" and it seems that players are in it to "win" not form partnerships (and I seriously doubt many even know what that means).

To my mind people in that "game" are like serially abused victims. People who have been in and out of "love" and been hurt so many times that they have both barriers and baggage.

Of course we all come with baggage ... recognition of that is important. But (without knowing) I'd say that 2 years is still "early" and that while you may have desires you need to also temper them with your capacity and your fragility.

Having joined a forum or two on grief when I first found myself this way (a widower) I read of enough cautionary tales about people (with kids) moving into relationships and (for instance) having the new partner resent the partner who had passed on and even tried to re-establish themselves as the "new mummy" for the kids. Dreadful stuff.

Myself I feel that the bond between myself and Anita was special and I remain unwilling to allow that to be destroyed or injured by an uncaring person.

Give yourself time and be reflective. You had a love and a life and you need to probably spend time in grocking that more. I've put great emphasis in the last years into learning everything I could from the many lessons that Anita was teaching me (well, that we were teaching each other). I've wanted to do that because

  1. I liked the person I was becoming with her influence
  2. I respected and cared deeply for her, in her absence all I had was that
I have a number of posts on my blog about my approach to reconciliation with her loss. I have put a "tag" in the topic cloud on Grief which mainly deals with my feelings and my observations. It is unfortunately presented in "newest first" order (so looking backwards from my time perspective) but there may be something of benefit for you in there (link), who knows.

One of the strong "mother figures" in my life lost her husband with two girls (of high school age) back when I was in primary school. I've known her my entire life more or less. She eventually remarried to a fine (migrant German) man who I am also very fond of. We were neighbours when I was a child and again neighbours when Anita and I moved back into my childhood home.

The importance of that relationship is that she was (after many dark years) able to allow someone into her life and he was (being divorced) able to accept that she loved both him and her deceased husband. Equally and with no favourites. Just like it is with the children you have - love is love and it is unconditional
Lastly we are of different ages and so perhaps we have entirely different goals. As a man who is 53 I am too young to just die (like my grandfather did) at the loss of my wife and old enough to recognise that the sort of relationships I had as a younger man are just that ... the sort of things done in youth.

I know that the road will be long, and I know that there will be more dark nights and tears shed, but that's not something to be afraid of.(see "the crying"). You have lost something which was a part of you, not unlike losing your legs. You will always feel phantom pains from lost limbs (so I'm told by many who have lost them) and so your loss is not just "some one" it is indeed part of yourself that has died too.

... I can only wish you strength.

Best Wishes

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

cliché as oral social knowledge

If you read the dictionary you'd get a negative view of cliché; something like this:

which hardly seems like a positive thing. Over the last few years I've had a few clichés delivered to me by people who meant well.

Anyone with an ounce of experience knows the old cliché of "its the thought that counts not the gift". That people wish to give something but are poor does not devalue their desires or intentions or genuine care or demean the gift.

Even myself in describing my situation to people have found myself uttering what are clichés because frankly they sum the situation up. Earlier I'd rejected using them (when forming up my words) but ended up in reflection seeing that the cliché actually phrased what I wanted to say neatly and succinctly.

Was this because I had simply heard it so many times I was unable to see things another way? I don't think so. I have come to realise that like many memes these phrases have been honed by master wordsmiths who themselves probably felt what the cliché was about.

The problem I have however is that while our words give us a way to transfer this data, words do not have a way to transfer wisdom. So cliché is in some ways the goal, just without the road map there.

The roadmap is wisdom. Without wisdom we are unable to find our way out of what troubles us, even if we can hear the guidance of a cliché and know that its trying to communicate something. Cliché is not just a "worn out phrase" any more than "love is never old" or "loss is hard to deal with" are any less true over the centuries.

There are many times that I have wished for someone to help guide me, but I come to see that because "we are all on our own journeys" meaning that no one else really knows the way for me either so I in the end have to just "go it alone".

They say "time heals all wounds" ... which I can assure you it does. But healing is not the same as never being wounded, the bleeding may stop, but there will always be scars.

So don't be ashamed to offer a cliché if your heart is really in it. (even if you don't really grasp it, I know from experience you'll be sorry you did really grasp it)

Friday, 5 May 2017

thought for the day

The English language lacks a non gender specific third person infinitive (and they doesn't work here) so I encourage you to translate the "he" into "she" as needed...

I've observed a lot more tails out there than heads, indeed the distribution is best explained by ... well the "normal distribution" ... so refer to this when challenged by those "face palm" moments

(*warning: sufferers of Dunning Kruger Syndrome will be confused by the above)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Vappu - off to a shaky start

So, this weekend I was off with some friends out in the beautiful nature of Finland enjoying Vappu. (Vappu for folks who don't know what it is)

It was off to a shaky start (in fine Finnish spring tradition) with some iffy weather. Starting out with sunshine and warmth the day before and ending the 30th with something less fun:

We didn't let that put us off, and instead worked on fixing the pontoon for the jetty out in the sleet.

Perkele himself rewarded our Suomen Sisu with beautiful weather the next day.

Which led to some really fine sunset

and (as looking along the length of the jetty from the house is looking North) a glimpse of the coming "Midnight Sun" in a few months

with "sunset" moving along the sky line till it reached this minimum before "dawning" again.

Our accomodations were humble but entirely delightful.

Gotta love "The North"

Sunday, 23 April 2017

my favourite tree

This little guy is on the side of a road and from the first time I saw it (travelling from Joensuu to Kouvola) I wanted to take a shot. On this occasion (just 2 days ago) I had with me my Panasonic G series (GH1 and GF1) cameras and picked the 20mm f1.7 lens to attempt to get the best background diffusion.

Which is still futile to my mind. That isn't the best shot from the day, I'd pick this one for that:

But as you see its just not standing out from the background. I've tried many lighting situations (well natural lighting) and the combination of its size the required distances make it a tough shot.

I have found that in many ways its the classic photographers conundrum. It looks like its a matter of just getting in there but it really isn't.

On driving past you focus on the tree, but the brain picks it out like a telephoto lens while the fact that you're looking out the window of a moving car makes the background and foreground vanish (thanks to the brain) and you see just the tree.

In practice a telephoto won't work because being in a car on the road is higher than the surrounds (and its a highway) and as well there are many obstacles which your brain filters out (like foreground trees).

I've been back in many seasons and many years to try my luck. So far the hardest work produced the best results. Anita and I skied in from the other side (through the forest behind it) and I waddled around that rocky area (which has parts over 2 meters deep when covered by snow) and found this angle.

For this I took my 4x5 camera and shot with a 180mm lens (which is about normal or equivalent to a 50mm) but having a huge pupil (remember DoF is what puts backgound out of focus and its pupil diameter not simply F stop) was helpful in making the background a bit more out of focus. The film was ADOX 50ISO which is an old formulation emulsion.

I think its the best result when you look at a large print and yields the best detail of anything I've used as well as the best background isolation.

The funny thing is that each time I walk around there I seem to settle on the same location each time without having any record of it with me. This is the first shot I ever took of that tree, with my Nikon Coolpix 5000 camera. I took it using NEF (which is RAW) and just reprocessed this again now with Snapseed ... its not the sharpest but its also not bad.

I pondered this shot for some months after I took it in 2008, and felt that not only was more detail needed (the resolution of the digital was not good enough) but more background isolation too.

So this one of those thing where the only thing which really has improved the image is going back to 1940's technology (and 4x5)