3791 – The Bridge

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Mar 072017
 

Maribor in Slovenija is a beautiful town not far away from the Austrian border. It lies at the same river Drau/Drava as Villach, only about 150 km downstream. It’s one of those towns that not only nominally lie at a river, it’s one of those that really make use of that position.

You don’t see the promenade in this image, you don’t see the the restaurants and cafés along that promenade, but they are what make the difference.

Historically it’s of course understandable. Today’s rivers are regulated and relatively safe. You see the perils of building too near the river in some of those cities that are situated at the confluence of two or sometimes three rivers. The city of Steyr in Austria is regularly flooded and so is Passau in Germany.

In Maribor the main city is safe at something like 30 meters above river level. A cascade of restaurants and cafés, warehouses and workshops falls down to the river, and that’s where the most beautiful spots are.

3790 – The Baptistery

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Mar 062017
 

Speaking of flying over Paris as an eagle, you may ask yourself if I ever felt motion sickness.

Motion sickness is really a problem with VR games. It sets in, because what you see does not match what you feel. In the game you move at high speed, you avoid obstacles, but you don’t feel the forces that your body has learned to expect in real life.

It’s a big, big problem and developers address it in very different ways. Some games don’t let you walk, they let you teleport instead. It sounds unintuitive, it most likely is, but it surely helps against motion sickness. Others try to give you a reference frame. As an eagle, for instance, I always see part of my beak and some feathers. They never move. In car games you have the car itself as reference frame, in other games you are on a roller coaster or something like that. The important thing seems to be the never moving frame.

This is something that greatly interests me. You have a problem and a lot of people try very different things to solve it.

The other thing that made me buy the Playstation VR is, that this is a new paradigm. It’s a little bit like the advent of smartphones.

In the beginning we had many comanies trying all sorts of things, and then Apple finally found the glorious solution. I had ignored smartphones for more than two years, but then I deemed it necessary to learn the new tricks. I had to do it in order to stay relevant in my own profession. Today it’s all smartphones and tablets, and at work we have finished two apps this year. In the long run I expect VR (and especially augmented reality like Microsoft’s HoloLens) to become a big thing.

But, what about motion sickness now? Does it work?

Yes. I can’t fly much longer than half an hour, but the reason is not motion sickness, it is shear exhaustion. So, yes, it works. At least while I fly.

Oh boy, when I remove the VR gear and am back in the real world, the world refuses to behave as it should. I can look where I want and I don’t move. I can tilt my head and nothing reacts as it had for the last 30 minutes.

Have you ever been drunk? Real drunk? The kind of can’t-walk-a-straight-line drunk? Yes, that’s what it feels like, and it does not go away for hours.

There you have it: fly for 30 minutes, pay for a few hours. And still, it’s worth it 🙂

3789 – The Secret Map

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Mar 052017
 

Before I began taking photographs, I played a lot of computer games and even made two maps for the game Unreal Tournament 2004. I spent lots of money on graphics cards and fast computers.

Then all changed. Today I don’t even have a computer capable of playing current games. Ten years old “Half Life 2” runs pretty well on my Mac, but forget about “Far Cry 4” or anything like that.

Two weeks ago I bought a Playstation 4 Pro. I did it mostly for VR, but – as everybody else has likely found out – there are not that many good VR games currently on the market.

The seemingly best one is “Resident Evil 7”, a horror game that lets you creep through a decrepit house somewhere far away from any other people than the members of a psychopathic family who are out to kill you. It’s all dark, dirty, mouldy and full of insects. Guess what? I am not interested 🙂

The VR game that I did buy is “Eagle Flight”. Here’s an in-game video on YouTube. Basically you’re a bird and you fly over and through a Paris without people, reclaimed by nature.

The game has a great and intuitive control system that lets you fly wherever you look. Tilt your head to the right and you make a turn to the right, tilt to the left and turn left. It’s that easy. There are only two buttons on the controller, one to accelerate, one to slow down.

That’s exactly what I was looking for. I think VR works great for horror (“Jump in your face” was never so real), but it also works great for flying. My preference is clear, I prefer flying 🙂

3786 – The Old Window

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Mar 022017
 

Here are two more details of yesterday’s old house.

And what else? Nothing new photography-wise. I’ve taken a few usable images so far this year, but most of them on two or three days.

Instead I work and … play computer games. I haven’t done that in many years, and from time to time it is great fun 🙂

3784 – Garnets

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Feb 282017
 

Radenthein is a small town in Carinthia, in earlier times mostly known for its garnet mine. Today it is a museum and children can pick their own garnets from the stone. Once they have a few, the stones can be brought to the shop, where they are cut and polished. It’s a nice idea and seemingly a big success.

An interesting fact that I learned was, that in the 1500s, the high time of Radenthein’s garnet production, the stones were not cut and polished in town, they were transported to Prague. There the emperor employed the best of Venice’s jewel cutters.

Sounds cool, working as an expert for the emperor? Forget it. They lived miserable lives, had to work lying flat on their bellies, pressing garnet against rotating grindstone. The position was unnatural and crippeling, the dust ruined their lungs. So much for being an expert.

Jan 072017
 

Most of the pictures you’ve seen lately were still taken with the Olympus PEN E-P5, an extremely competent camera of the same generation as the OM-D E-M1. The optional electronic viewfinder VF-4 has the same magnification and the same overall quality as that of the E-M1. This camera now sits in a cabinet and waits to be sold. I’ve replaced it with the PEN-F, a camera with a built-in EVF of less magnification, but with a higher resolution sensor and overall even more pleasing aesthetics.

The OM-D E-M1 is also waiting to be replaced by the E-M1 Mk II. Sometime last year, mine has fallen to the ground while we were in Aix. I had to replace the sunshade of the 12-40/2.8 and the camera suffered some scratches. No other damage was done, but of course that devaluates the camera.

The new one will cost 2000 €, and when I checked today, I found that E-M1s are currently traded at around 400-500 €. That’s less than a third of what I paid two years ago. Sometimes I think I should not sell it at all and instead use it as a second body. Only that it would actually be the fourth, and that in reality even two cameras are an overkill for my needs.

What I do now is, that I either travel light with the PEN-F and a triple of silver primes, or I use the heavier pro equipment with the E-M1. Would it make sense to carry the E-M1 and the E-M1 Mk II at the same time, one with the 12-40/2.8, the other with the 40-150/2.8? In certain situations, yes. Would I do it? Almost certainly not 🙂

But then: sell such a beautiful camera for almost nothing? Or not upgrade at all? Well, even first world problems are problems 😀

3730 – In the Church of Kellerberg

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Jan 052017
 

“Kellerberg? Kellerberg?”, did I ask myself, “where is Kellerberg?”. I had to ask Google, and they told me it’s north of Villach, maybe 10 kilometers away.

It’s a small village along the old road. Normally when I drive that way, I take the highway, and the few times that I took the old road, I passed through without even recognizing the village.

Not so this time. I checked if the church was open, went in, took a few photos, and in the evening I added “Kellerberg” as a keyword in Lightroom. Then I forgot about it 🙂