A cold, foggy day in November, just before the sun brakes through. It’s cold.
Austria is governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives, with most influential ministries under control of the Conservatives, and the Head of Government, the Chancellor, being a Social Democrat. The Social Democrats have won the last elections, but effectively they had no other choice for a coalition, and that made them an ideal target for extortion.
When they signed their pact, one of the first things they did, was to increase the period of governance by a year, from four as it had been all through our recent democratic history, to five. Ostensibly they did it to be able to shoulder the “big problems”.
Well, this year the Conservatives broke the pact and in October we’ll have general elections, one year earlier than planned. The reason is, that the Conservatives have a new shooting star, some 30 year old Sebastian Kurz. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration during the past period.
Basically Kurz has one single topic so far, and that’s the refugee crisis. He also has one single success so far, namely that he negotiated with Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Croatia, in an effort to close the route through their countries for refugees.
Apart from that, Kurz’ primary achievement is, that he brought the Conservatives completely under his control. During a recent congress, his party granted him unprecedented privileges of leadership, something so far impossible especially in this traditionally fractioned political organization. He is now the much adored pop star of the Conservatives, the messiah who has stepped down from the heavens to lead his struggling party into a bright future. Or at least that’s what we are told.
Kurz also seems to be attractive to a lot of women of about my age, basically women who could be his mother. That’s what I gathered from a chat that I had to overhear on the train recently, and that’s what I hear over and again since. Something with his eyes, they say.
If you look closer, you can see that, apart from young Caligula’s age, there is not much that distinguishes him from other politicians. Personally he has dropped out of university for an early political career, and all through his short adulthood he has been a professional politician, being integral part of and being carried along by the party, that he now claims to be changing so completely.
OK, I don’t like him, that’s obvious, but what exactly is his program? If he really were head of the next government, what would we have to expect?
And this is exactly the problem. In a perfidious move the Conservatives don’t tell us. Kurz travels across the country, lets his eyes be seen, but the only thing else he does is, to raise fears of a new wave of refugees. His idea for keeping them out is to close the Mediterranean. He’s a big fan of the “Australian Model” of concentrating refugees in island camps, or if that’s not possible (which it is not), of sending them back to Africa.
I don’t claim to see no problems. Definitely there are, but just to close our eyes and pay for more border troops will not solve any of those problems. And worse: exploiting those real problems for political purposes is extremely dishonest, but that’s exactly what the Conservatives do. They speak of preparations to close Austria’s southern border to Italy, much to the dismay of the Italians and at a time when there is no reason for it at all – apart from the upcoming elections.
Ostensibly Kurz’ tour across Austria is an effort to gather people’s opinions, in order to come up with a widely supported program in early September.
This could be. I doubt it though. I think what really happens is, that they send him around in order to establish him as an untainted Saviour. At the latest point possible, they will come up with a deliberately vague program, impossible to vet, especially in such a short time. It will be a program that uses shiny marketing language, in order to hide what they really intend to do, namely what every “conservative” party in the world does, and that is to lower taxes for the wealthy, to let “The Market” reign supreme, to increase surveillance and to keep exploiting this planet as if we had a few to spare.
It’s a shenanigan, nothing more. I could be wrong, but I doubt it seriously.
This image is a good example for the “tone mapping” technique that I described a few days ago. The image from the camera also had a well distributed histogram across the full range of values, because cameras tend to do that, but while the sky was overly bright, the trees were dull and brownish at best. No gold was to be seen, and gold was, what I had in my memories.
Looks like an infrared image? It certainly does to me, at least in terms of tonality.
Basically that’s what happens when you pull back the highlights (-100 in Lightroom), raise the shadows (+70), pull up the whites until you get blown highlights (frequently around +60), compensate for too much brightness by dropping exposure (often by up to 1EV), adjusting the blacks for a full histogram, and finally fiddling with all that plus vibrancy, saturation, clarity and contrast, until things look right.
This has been my usual routine for more than a year. I do it with all my images. It’s contrary to the orthodox view, but it produces nicely saturated, richly contrasted images.
What I technically do is, I stretch the highlights. It’s kind of a tone mapping. In the end, although these adjustments look violent, I often find myself at a result that’s not very far from what the camera did. It’s just more controlled, more saturated, but in quite a pleasant way. Sometimes you almost don’t see it at all, sometimes, like in this case with that much yellow, you positively do. It can look unnatural (like all sorts of tone mapping), but I think, even if it slightly does so here, it does not look wrong at all. Ymmv.
How much detail do I need? The PEN-F has 20 megapixels, and with a sharp lens, one like this 75/1.8, I can actually get at the limits of this sensor. Then I crop to a square, which drops me down to 15 megapixels.
Would it be enough to print the images? Well, I’ve recently used a printing service to make adhesive prints for a few white doors here in Carinthia. They were 70×90 in cm, that is 28×36 in inches. Big enough for a door, decently sized for a wall. Most images used were originally taken with the Nkon D200 (10 megapixels), one with the Panasonic LX5 (10 megapixels) and one with the Nikon D300 (12 megapixels).
I’d say 20 is enough for my use. And even if I’d use them to make billboards, honestly, how close do you get to a billboard?
Of course there are uses for higher resolution cameras, that’s OK, and of course when Olympus makes the step to 24, that’s the most likely next step, I will likely upgrade and I will surely appreciate the increase in resolution. Don’t get me wrong, it will be welcome. It just won’t be needed.
Why I say this? Well, it’s this image and its abundance of detail 🙂