3439 – Curves in the Sky

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Mar 192016
 

This is the same sculpture as yesterday. The image has been taken with the same lens, the superb Olympus 7-14/2.8. As you see and just as in yesterday’s image, there are some nice and unobtrusive flares. I could easily have taken them out, but they are of the kind that other people sometimes put in in Photoshop, so I didn’t bother 🙂

The sun was right outside of the frame. I suppose my Olympus 9-18 would have fared almost as well. It’s better than Sigma’s 8-16 that I had on the Nikon D300. Sigma’s flares are normally small, but they are intensively green.

And the Panasonic 7-14? Well, don’t get me started on that. I can only imagine the purple explosions all across the image. It’s an interaction with the Olympus sensor though. As far as I’ve heard, the Panasonic 7-14 does very well on Panasonic cameras.

Mar 182016
 

You’ve probably seen a lot of such images. I follow a number of architecture photographers on Flickr, who use such a style of black and white images, frequently coupled with long exposures.

I always wanted to know whether an image taken on a bright, sunny day can be converted in that way without resorting to optical filters and without Photoshop. There’s nothing wrong with Photoshop, but for my daily work I much prefer the simplicity and speed of Lightroom.

Well, here we are: it works. This image has been processed exclusively in Lightroom 🙂

3410 – Heaven and Hell

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Feb 192016
 

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Back again in Klagenfurt, the town where I was born. Today is February 13, 2016. These images were taken on September 7 last year. That’s how long it has taken us to get through the Lisbon portfolio. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did.

Why exactly I’ve been in Klagenfurt and why exactly I’ve been in that church, honestly I can’t remember any more. It wouldn’t make much of a difference though, I assume.

3409 – What’s in a Name?

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Feb 182016
 

Wikipedia calls Fernando António Nogueira Pessôa one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and one of the greatest poets in the Portuguese language. He left a small number of published works and a trunk with 25,574 unpublished pages. Editing is still in progress.

An interesting aspect in Pessôa’s work is his extensive use of heteronyms. Pessôa used more than 70 of them, voices of different aspects of his own personality, each of them given a name of its own.

The statue of the poet is in front of the café “A Brasileira” in Rua Garrett. My hotel was next door and I took the image immediately before getting down into the Underground and out to the airport. This is my last image from Lisbon.

3341 – A Fish In An Awkward Position

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Dec 122015
 

Here’s another detail from Miradouro de Santa Luzia. If there is anything remarkable at all here, then it is the superb highlight detail in this image. In the reality of bright noon light everything was just white and hurting the eyes. The original from the camera did capture the highlight details, but at the expense of an overall dull, grayish appearance. Processing from RAW made a world of a difference. I like this image.

3338 – Things Never Change

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Dec 092015
 

In old Lisbon things are as they always were: Readers keep reading, dogs keep watching and warriors hold to their swords 🙂

We are still in Lisbon’s Cathedral, but from the cloister we have returned to the ambulatory. Here we find graves of queens and kings of old.

As we will see in a while, later royalty was buried elsewhere, in a monastery built in the 17th century. On this blog and at current velocity it will take us a week to get there 😀

Dec 042015
 

Nice number, huh? I started this blog in October 2006, that’s more than nine years ago. There were times when I tried to promote it, when I wrote gear reviews and Photoshop tutorials, and really, those post still carry traffic.

At least that was so the last time I looked, which was probably half a year in the past.

OK, now I’ve looked. During the last month I had aroud 50 page views on average, on a few days as low as 25, some spikes going to 100. That’s pretty much 10% of what it was in its high times. I don’t care. It’s ok.

I have many more views on Flickr, about a 1200 a day, 1700 on good days, rarely below 700. Of course it’s much more when I get explored once every few months. Do I care? Yes, enough that I post regularly, enough that I routinely put images into groups. But then, this will also go away and in the long run we’re all dead 🙂

And this blog? It is where I write down thoughts, where I publicly rant, where I share experiences, where I not only display images, but also put them into a context.

The context of this post is the ambulatory of Lisbon’s cathedral. Behind it lies the old cloister, and that’s where we go tomorrow.

Nov 192015
 

Some days ago I read an interview in one of Austria’s few better newspapers, “Der Standard”, where Johanna Mikl-Leitner, our current Minister of the Interior, abused the victims in Paris by one more time asking for fast-tracking the new “State Security Law”. That law was proposed by her “conservative” party and it includes about everything that totalitarian fanatics could ask for.

If you don’t know, small Austria is a federal republic consisting of nine provinces, one of them is the city of Vienna. Among the absurdities of the proposed law are the usual things like increased surveillance, the right for police and secret services to hack computers, the explicit absence of any kind of supervision by a court, strict secrecy, well, you know the catalog from wherever you live.

A charming and specifically Austrian addition to the bunch of measures that didn’t help the French (who already had them all), is the introduction of nine new secret services, one for each province, intended to protect the constitution, and thereby explicitly targeting Austrian citizens (and maybe the head of the provincial governemnt of the neighboring province, if that is ruled by another party).

I posted a comment to that interview, stating that we don’t need more secret services. What we need, I said, is more democratic control of the services that we have, more transparency.

When you think of it, transparency is a form of institutionalized distrust. I think that’s well deserved for our politicians. Anyone trusting in politicians and what we are told by governments has slept under a stone since before Snowdon, since before the banking crisis was “solved”, yes, since before the second Iraq war. Thus transparency and the strictest code of behavior for public fuctionaries seems to be a promising way to get out of the mess of corruption and to restore (or for the first time establish) a policy working in the interest of the people. Don’t ask me how to get there in a system where all decisions are made by politicians, but this big little detail is not our concern today.

And then, while I was pondering the concept of transparency for the next few days, I suddenly realized that maybe there be dragons.

It might not immediately be obvious, but in our history we have two examples of policies of institutionalized distrust. The first (and I admit I don’t know much about it) is the French Revolution. The early leaders all ended under the guillotine; as we say now, “Revolutions Devour Their Own Children”.

The second example, and that’s what I currently read a lot about, is the Soviet Union.

In the communist party we had the perfect example of total distrust of anyone against anyone else. Regardless of your achievements, one wrong word could bring you under scrutinity, most of the time followed by years in the Gulag, sometimes even by an execution.

In both situations the distrust was used by a strong leader to establish an effectively autocratic system.

Yes, Napoleon left us a number of important achievements like the Code Civil, the basis of all modern civil law, and I doubt that I would want to live in a world that had not gone through the French Revolution and Napoleon’s wars for dominance in Europe, but nevertheless, he was an insane dictator, although maybe without Hitler’s primitive bestiality.

Stalin is another, more complex case, and again I don’t know enough. We’ll get to the communists and Stalin in another post.

For now it’s important to point out that transparency can and always will be used as a way to attack political opponents. If you don’t trust anyone, everything about everyone will be collected, archived, and at one point in time it will be used.

At the moment we have a political system trying to establish maximum transparency in the most asymmetrical way: all has to be in the open about us, everything has to be secret about them. That’s clearly wrong, but even if we ever manage to reestablish a balance, the fact remains that transparency is a double-edged sword. It can enable democratic control, but it can also be abused as a terrible weapon in the hands of the unscrupulous.

I have no solution to this conundrum. Do you?