Tag Archives: Christmas

2612 – Lonely Stranger

I’m back to the new zoom. The macro lens is gone, the battery grip for the OM-D E-M5 was sold immediately, but the E-M5 itself still waits for someone offering a reasonable price. Obviously the market is flooded by all those who, like me, upgrade to the E-M1, and used E-M5s with lower shutter counts sell for 20 to 30 Euro below of what I ask.

I may slightly go down with the price next week, but I’m not in a hurry 🙂

Of course I could also keep the E-M5 as backup body, but then, that’s what the Panasonic LX5 is for. I am no professional, I don’t have to honor any contracts, my only need is for one image to post per day.

The Song of the Day is “Lonely Stranger” from the Eric Clapton album “Unplugged”. Hear it on YouTube.

2270 – If the Stars Were Mine

Ownership. It came up in the comments to yesterday’s post, and somehow a lot of my thought lately has circled around that concept of ownership, how we as a society have approached it in the past and how we do now, what it means and what it should mean in a perfect world.

What does it mean to own something? What can we own anyway? Are there things that cannot be owned, and if so, why?

If there is an intuitive answer to what we “can” or “cannot” own, who or what determines this ability or inability? Is this a matter of moral doctrine or is there some intrinsic law, and if so, is that law immutable?

Things have changed radically in the last 20-50 years. It has gone out of fashion to ask questions, to challenge the pillars of our political and economical system. On our way to a hyper-connected, hyper-monitored society we have lost the Brechts and the Sartres along the way. Here we are in the middle of the biggest machine mankind ever constructed, the Internet, and we leave it to the corporations and competing secret services, happy with cheap porn and mindless chatter. Meanwhile corporations and their owners begin to let us feel what they mean by owning ideas and concepts.

For me this means realizing that I know nothing. I have to go back, have to at least get a feeling for what at the beginning of another age, the Industrial Age, was discussed, what changes were predicted, were seen as historic necessities.

Immediately that means to read Karl Marx and his “Kapital”. Of course that is not enough. One would need to read John Stuart Mill, as Marx criticizes him, would need to read Hegel, as Marx sometimes builds upon him, of course all that must remain completely arcane without a profound knowledge of Kant and …

I’ve been there. Once I’ve tried to prepare for a role-playing game that would take place in ancient Mesopotamia, and in my desire to research some of the historic background, I read about all ancient history in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Egypt led to Greece and Rome, from there I ventured into Byzantium and the crusades, and that’s where I stayed for a long time. I read every history of the crusades and of Byzantium available on the market. The original purpose, the game, was long forgotten, and while it was interesting, I probably can’t do that with all of philosophy 🙂

The second time I immersed myself so totally into a subject, was when I bought Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”. I had the desire to go back in time, find the roots of late Baroque music, and I went back via Purcell, Monteverdi, all through Renaissance, to the very specific topic of “L’Homme Armeé” masses, back to the Ars Subtilior of Ciconia, the Ars Nova of Guillaume de Machaut and my beloved Philippe de Vitry, back to the Cantigas de Santa Maria, the Trovères and the troubadours of long gone Occitania.

There I stopped. Music stopped as well. The Gregorian Chorale would have been left, but that did not interest me any more. Instead I went back to Baroque, to Haendel, Bach, and via Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner (where I spent a long time) all up to Berg, Webern and my equally beloved Schönberg.

This unexpected journey, going there and back again, left roughly 1000 CDs on my shelves and took about ten years.

Again, I can’t do that with philosophy. My life is limited and we are well past a time when a learned person could read everything that matters. This may indeed be one of our central problems, namely the loss of our history, the loss of what has already been thought. It’s still there, you can download it from Amazon, look it up in the Wikipedia, but it is largely inaccessible to the masses, if for no other reason then for its volume.

I don’t expect Marx to give answers to the problems of our time. I expect him to give answers to the problems of his time, and I expect me to be able to see where exactly things went wrong. Maybe we can build from there.

The Song of the Day is “If the Stars Were Mine“, one of the few songs in my possession concerned with ownership, although in a decidedly non-Marxian way. The Image of the Day is an old image chosen because it fits the title 😀

Hear Melody Gardot’s song from her 2009 album “My One And Only Thrill” on YouTube.

1889 – There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree Mother

Oh, it’s that wonderful time of the year again. Shopping gets painful and collecting a parcel at the post office must be considered suicidal. Both I did yesterday 🙂

And when suddenly the lights go out, well, maybe they’re burning Big Louie tonight! The Song of the Day is the wonderful “There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree Mother” from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s 1972 debut album “Framed”. Hear it on YouTube.

1521 – Christmas Market In Vienna

The Christmas market on Spittelberg (which is not a mountain at all, but a picturesque part of Vienna with a strong artistic community) is one of the more interesting in Vienna. Narrow lanes in a historic setting, a focus on craftwork, and all that among restaurants and pubs. It’s a nice place.

The Song of the Day is the “Adagio” from the “Christmas Concerto” by Arcangelo Corelli. I have a recording by Roy Goodman and The Brandenburg Consort. It’s only available on CD though. Amazon will tell you they have it as MP3 as well, but the link leads to a completely other version. But then, just browse around, much has been published since I was focusing on Baroque. YouTube has a playlist with the complete concerto by Roy Goodman.

1169 – The Last Christmas Tree

Here in Carinthia it’s colder than in Vienna, and in the morning – when this image was made – there was still some snow left.

This is a place across the field from our house where Christmas trees were sold, and only one seems to be left. Good job 😀

In the meantime the snow is all pretty gone, not because of warm weather like in Vienna, no, it’s because we had heavy rain all through the day. No weather to go out, and indeed I didn’t 🙂

The Song of the Day is “There’s No Lights On The Christmas Tree Mother, They’re Burning Big Louie Tonight” from the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s 1972 album “Framed”. See a very intense live performance from the Marquee on YouTube. Sound quality is meh, but that can’t take away from such greatness 😀

799 – Imaginary Friend

Three weeks ago, the morning after the first real snowfall, my first view out of the bedroom window was greeted by the friendly smile of a snowman. Alas, in the evening he was already missing arms, and the next morning rain had reduced him to a small, indistinct heap of snow. Still, I’ll remember this smile as something that went into my heart.

I can’t see today’s snowman from the bedroom, but whenever I look out of the living room, I see him, waving his arm, wishing me a good morning or a good night, and – call me sentimental, call me senile (I’d sure have, years ago) – I like this snowman. Sometimes I wave back and smile.

The image is an HDR from five bracketed exposures, shot from the tripod with the Nikon 70-300 VR (oops, I failed to de-activate VR, but it does not seem to matter with this lens), tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro 3.1, blended with the original middle exposure, and then some usual stuff applied.

Sometimes I’m asked with incredulity “What? You don’t know the band XYZ??”, and it’s true, although they’ve produced mega-hits (is anything not mega today?), I may still have never heard of them. I don’t hear radio, I almost don’t look TV, I have no children, I don’t read music magazines. Years ago you found me browsing the shelves of music stores, but now I mostly buy my music through Amazon. Most music stores have closed anyway, or if not, they have fired most of their staff, and now display just the “mega-hits” of the current “mega-stars”.

It’s just as well. If something is really good, I’ll find it sooner or later. I found the Cowboy Junkies only 20 years after their inception via Bill Birtch, I find much by browsing lists and recommendations on Amazon, I find thing by chance, I get personal recommendations, don’t worry, instead of drying up, I have to restrict myself to not browse too much.

Catatonia is such a band that I found by chance, browsing the shelves of a local media store. Today’s Song of the Day “Imaginary Friend” is from their 2001 album “Paper Scissors Stone”. I bought it when it was new, forgot about the band, and only now, while looking the album up on Amazon, I found that they already broke up. Well, at least they seem to have been quite productive in their time.

I found no video, but Deezer has the complete song on some “Platinum Collection“.

793 – In The Bleak Midwinter

Traveling by train has its benefits, for example that it allows me to catch up. This is the second entry today, and I promise that it will be much shorter than the last.

Having done not much more today than post-processing yesterday’s images, I was not inclined to try another expedition up the mountain, especially as the weather had not changed at all and there are not many places along the road where you can park your car. I expected to get more of the same, and I even thought about using one of yesterday’s images for today. Of course my conscience won the battle and here we are with another image taken out of my study’s window. Amazing, huh?

The strange sculpture is in the middle of a roundabout, and Santa Claus sells christmas trees. Idyllic, isn’t it?

The Song of the Day is “In The Bleak Midwinter“, taken from Cyndi Lauper’s 2004 album “Merry Christmas Have a Nice Life”. Hear it on Deezer.

431 – They’ll Be Home For Christmas?

Funny how it sometimes turns out. I had a completely different image in mind all day, I had an idea what to write about it, but it somehow didn’t materialize 🙂

And then, when I saw this image, the street, the Christmas decoration, the traffic, all the cars heading somewhere home, and when I heard Holly Cole, the great, reliable Holly Cole, always good for a Song of the Day, sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas“, then I knew this can’t be wrong, can it?

The song is from her 2001 album “Baby, It’s Cold Outside“. Not your typical Christmas album.

411 – The Beat Of The Night

Wouldn’t it be much better if I could write about the “heat” of the night? OK, a guy may dream, yeah?

Yesterday we had Christmas decoration in Josefstädter Straße as seen in the morning, plus a nighttime view from last year, today it’s another night shot.

What else? Oh, the Nikon D300 has come to Austria (and everywhere else). What a difference to the launch of the D200. Then it was almost impossible to get one for months, today I have seen it in two shops that I’ve come by, and one of them had two of it in the window. It looks good. Very good. I’m curious for how long I’ll be able to resist 🙂

The Song of the Day is “The Beat Of The Night” by Bob Geldof. I have it on the excellent compilation “Loudmouth“. The Germans have a sound sample.

410 – New Stars In The Sky

We had a relatively sunny day for a change, but of course this does not mean so much when you’re at work for the whole day, busily programming your way out of quoting hell. You don’t know what quoting hell is? Lucky you!

But even when you’re out on the streets: at this time of the year you always feel like being at the ground of a canyon. Sure, there is sun, somewhere up there, but you are damned to march in the shades forever and ever.

One way to get around the problem is, to take images with a long lens and along the canyon walls, preferably when the canyon runs west to east. Just like Josefstädter Straße in this image.

Nikon 18-200 VR at 200mm, f13, 1/80s.

At night the Christmas decoration, these globes that by day almost look like barbed wire, glows eerily blue. Have a look at an image from last year, made in the evening, looking the other way, and using the Sigma 30/1.4 at f6.3.

The final image that I want to share is from this afternoon. It’s a strange kind of graffiti: paper glued to a wall, and on that a stenciled motive. Seems to be the most efficient way to ruin as many walls as you can in your precious time. Still, it’s cute how the gibbon runs 🙂

The Song of the Day is by Air and it is called “New Star In The Sky“. It’s from their 1998 album “Moon Safari“. Hear the whole song on YouTube.