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Oasis

oasis

A patch of fertile land in the vast surrounding forest.

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Macro

macro

Another picture of pennywort flowers, I know. But they are very photogenic and make good subjects for macro photography. So let me tell you how this picture was taken.

This is my gear, the same that I had for the last 15 years, from the time when digital photography was all the hype and everyone wanted to be a photographer.

camerad300

The Nikon D300, 105mm macro lens and the external flash would cost you around 350€ used today (disregard the 18-200m zoom lens). They work great together and can give very sharp and beautiful results.

There are however a few things to do before pressing the shutter release.

  • I use the internal flash in master mode to control the external flash. This makes lighting very flexible. I often hand-hold the flash 90-180 degrees from the sun because the goal is making the light less harsh by filling in the shadows.
  • The camera is set to shutter mode with the shortest flash-sync time dialed in, 1/250s in this case. This is because the flash needs to compete with the bright sunlight and the short shutter time lets less of that in.
  • Exposure compensation at -1/2 stops, flash -1 or -3/2 stops. The violet and highlights easily get saturated at default exposure. And we want the flash to be less bright than the sun, again just evening out the light somewhat but not completely flattening the scene.
  • The two previous points have a welcome side-effect: The camera needs to choose the largest aperture it can in the current light condition, thereby rendering the background very much out of focus.
  • Then I compose the image and focus, first auto-focus to get close, then I hold focus and put it at the right spot by moving the camera ever so slightly.
  • I take several pictures before moving on. Not all will be a success with this quick method, not using a tripod, and I rigorously throw away all but the best one in a series.

This way I usually get the picture that I had in mind with quite little effort.

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Pygmy Owlets

pygmy-owlets

A 2017 picture of two young owls, click to enlarge. Also, make sure to check out r/Superbowl!

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Pennywort

pennywort

Swedish blåsippa, German Leberblümchen, Wikipedia tells us the Common Hepatia is also called kidneywort or liverwort because people used to believe it treats disease in these organs.

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Lego Science Tower

lego-science-tower

Last night I finally finished building my Lego Science Tower. The set is not official but originates from a crowd-funding effort by Bricklink. The sealed box had been sitting in my office for two years until I recently brought it home to have some fun with it.

You can see Newton's apple in the tree and Mendel's garden in front of the tower. The telescope on the top rotates and tilts by turning the knobs. Inside there is Pawlov's dog, Schrödinger's cat, a library and a chemistry lab, among other things. Overall a lovely design with ingenious attention to detail!

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Hearts Crossed

hearts-crossed

A ceiling detail in Strängnäs cathedral.

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Hugga Ved

hugga-ved

Winter is not completely over yet – we had 5cm of snow just the other day and it took two days to melt – but the preparations for the next one have already started.

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The Mill

the-mill

The mill in which the desk.

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The Desk

the-desk

Seen in an old mill nearby.

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Seeing Faces

seeing-faces

I was recently reminded of thispersondoesnotexist.com which is a site that displays a new computer-generated face every time you reload it. There are still some artefacts that give away the artificial origin (I chose two examples with few glitches for the picture above) but I think it is fair to say that these faces look convincingly real.

This means that they trigger the same reactions in our minds that pictures of real people do. I found myself reloading the page for at least ten minutes, becoming more and more mesmerized, reacting to facial expressions, sometimes falsely recognizing someone I know, and generally unable to convince the automatic parts of the brain that these are not people.

Do I have a point? Should we become even more sceptical of media than we already are? I don't know. But being a somewhat aware of the way we cannot help but react to faces, real or not, cannot be such a bad thing, a kind of meta awareness that hopefully contributes to resilience against manipulation.

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