Sunday, January 31, 2010

full moon collage (again)


whenever there is full moon/clear sky combination I feel compelled to take a picture. They are all very similar to each other - well, the moon is the same and my biggest telephoto lens remains 300. This doesn't really give a big picture of the moon itself - it comes out about 300 pixels across, so to use in collages I blow it up, overlay with different texture (paper in this case), increase contrast, sharpen etc. Occasionally I throw the results away - they are very similar to full moon pictures I already accumulated.

This full moon was very bright and pictures came out nice and sharp, so I am keeping them. And this was that rare occasion were I had to agree that a planet could be colored. Usually I see starts and planets as white with blue tint. This time Mars really was reddish, I could see it. and it came out as a (completely useless, of course), red dot on the picture I took

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

when lights are switched on


the lighthouse on Murano is painted white, with two wide black stripes that don't quite meet on the island side. You can I am not sure if there is any meaning to it, but it looks like somebody realized that there's not enough black paint and painted the sea side only - for the tower to look its best when you approach the island. How it looks when you are on the island was deemed less important.

the lights were being switched on everywhere on the lagoon when we were coming back to Venice from Burano,

Monday, January 25, 2010

celtic octopus


Timur is studying all things celtic at school at the moment. As a result, he got fascinated by celtic patterns and knotworks and produced dozens of his own drawing, celtic-y in various degrees, some better than others. But I think this celtic octopus is the best. Timur clearly figured that it's an animal made for knotwork. Maybe I should ask him to produce jellyfish (man-o-war type), too, and some seaweed for an epic "celtic aquarium" set

here is the central element, quickly vector-traced


Timur's drawings and Timur's drawing on shutterstock

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Arco Iris Samba band Haiti earthquake appeal


today Arco Iris samba band collected money for the Haiti earthquake victims. They did two standing sets around Cambridge Market square and a short procession around it.
There were three kids with collection buckets - two of them ours. People were quite astonishingly generous, and towards the end of the performance the buckets were full to overflowing. I don't yet know how much was raised, but it looked a lot.

Thursday, January 21, 2010



Such a pretty name.

I was browsing through the pictured I took in Venice and Padova in October, hoping to find something I missed when going through the folders first time. I didn't find anything new, but colors on pictures from Padova botanic gardens called for attention, and here is one of them.

The garden is small and mostly geometrically laid out and walled, with some space outside the wall dedicated to more natural layout. Apparently, it is the world's oldest academic botanical garden that is still in its original location (which I didn't really know up till five minutes ago, just knew it's old). Far as I remember, it's not cheap, considering the size - 4 euro, and our kids paid full price. It was worth it, though.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amaryllis (well, ok, Hippeastrum)


amazingly, it survived our absences over holidays. not that I expected it to become lonely or worried, but I semi-expected it to die because of temperature drop. we did leave the heating on, but on low setting and when we arrived from Lanzarote, the house felt freezing.

anyhow - it did survive, and now it's getting taller and taller and more and more top-heavy by day. it should be stripy when it opens. we'll wait and see.

PS - I think I know why it is misnamed so very frequently (practically always).
Misnomer "Amaryllis" seems to be a self-sufficient word which doesn't fall into two halves, doesn't ask for explanation and doesn't create a conflict in reader's or writer's mind. "Hippeastrum", on the other hand, falls into halves, wants to make sense and begs to be changed into "Hyperastrum". Granted, it's not clear what's so hyper about that astrum, but then - what could possibly be horsey (Hipper) about it? Wikipedia provides an explanation, but it only makes sense if you take into account the biography and occupation by the namer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I can stop at any time


I finally finished this scarf. it turned out really really long - I should have suspected something when description mentioned that each strip should be 3 m long, but the final result was still a surprise.

The original description called for wool in six different colors (it gives a weave where no color touches the same color), which I didn't have. Some happy time was spent trying to figure out whether you can get away with fewer colors and have a good looking weave. And yes, you can, with two colors you get stripy weave, you just have to figure out how the start should look like. This post, although it's looking like something about science, was prompted by those musings.

Monday, January 18, 2010


yesterday me and Timur went into Cambridge, hoping to see some of the events in 800 years of University programme (800th Anniversary Finale). clever cookie that I am, I intended to park at the Backs - but there are plenty of cookies even cleverer'n me around, or at least faster, so I had to turn around and park in the grand arcade.

the fact that we went to the backs first was quite lucky - there were pictures projected onto King's college buildings visible there, and in relative darkness and with no crowd they looked good. later on we saw the light show from the front, but there were more people so it was more difficult, especially from Timur's height. still, he was impressed.

but the main impression for him was the chronophage clock. I don't know how come that he didn't see it before. maybe he did, but in daylight, when it jumps out less. We stood there for a while, waiting for the blue lights to jump to the next notch. because of that I realized for the first time that the pendulum paused from time to time. I thought it was a glitch, caused maybe by the recent cold weather, but I just read herethat it's a feature.

while walking back to the car, Timur talked about the clock, wandering aloud what caused the pendulum to stop (now we know) and whether it'll get less shiny with time ("maybe not, you know, because there is this glass thing around it").

Sunday, January 17, 2010

pixie hat


well, it didn't all fit in the picture, but it is a pointed hat, believe you me. it's the hat that was bought in edinburgh to fight off the new year eve frost, at the same stand that the previous post show. it does fight the frost and also looks extremely cute on Timur, so it's multifunctional really

see the tip pf the hat here :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

last glow


photographing sunsets is something that everybody does, and it's extremely difficult to produce something even close original in this area. so I didn't even try.

But - I just developed an instant theory why the sunset-y photographs are almost frowned upon by photographers - well, you know, they are generally landscapes, and landscapes are supposed* to have "an interest in the foreground", right? and what sort of foreground can you have in a picture where the main subject is sunset? - well, you can have a silhouette (human, dog, horse, bird, building, boat, standing still, moving whatever), but if foreground subjects are too big or you drag them out of pure outline with a flash, sunset is not a main subject any more. So it's somewhat difficult. Still, it's even more difficult to refrain from snapping away.

Anyway. Matter of fact, there was foreground interest in the original frame, but I choose to cut it off. It's (surprise, surprise) a photographer squatting on the water edge


* - I dunno why, one on these rules.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

no such thing as bad weather


about Edinburgh again - it was cold there over the new year, but no that cold (granted, it got colder later, but we were already gone by then). There is a saying which goes something like "there is such thing as bad weather, but there are badly chosen clothes". (I was going to write "russian saying", but I am not sure that it is russian). So, the weather was *good*, but -

we found ourselves somewhat unprepared for cold, especially, unexplicably, Timur. I even had to pull off my over-the-knee socks from under my jeans (it's not easy, I tell you, balancing on one foot on ice) and put them on his legs a few minutes before midnight.

Next day he bought himself a pair of gloves with union jack knitted on them from this stand. He haven't lost them yet, which probably means that he likes them. The stand is a part of little winter fair just under the Scott's monument - check it out if you have a chance, they have some amazingly cheap hand-felted hats too (Kirill got himself one).

Saturday, January 09, 2010

yes, it's smoke on the water

smoky ocean

while collecting our stuff for Lanzarote, I forgot to take the tripod (I also forgot to take my driving licence, and a few other bits and bobs) So to make long-exposure shots, almost an essential seaside activity (well, yes, I might be a bit obsessive about it), I had to make do with some friendly stones, my backpack and my jumper for support

While waiting for one of the fames to expose, I heard a small noise behind me. I don't know whether it was a general feeling of being safe there, or my overall mindset, but I didn't think "mugger", I thought "another photographer". I was right, of course.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Lanzarote, Timanfaya National Park

we went to TimanfayaNational Park on Christmas day. It was open, but the day was overcast. I am told we've missed a lot because the light didn't allow to appreciate the colors in volcanoes. True, most of the photos turned up in different shades of black (almost like in the land of Death on Terry Pratchett's books). Some of them do show some of the true colors, and this is one of them. Fantastic place.

check out the geyser demo here
they also demonstrated "burning bush" effect - throwing a bundle of sticks into a shallow hole in the ground - it starts burning after a while, because of a magma camber relatively close to the surface. Alas, no video for this one.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Lanzarote sunset


I don't expect that any of the stocks will take this type of sunset image, reason for rejection being "over-filtered". It's true that it didn't come like that out of the camera. However, I strongly suspect that the almost untouched version, if accepted and sold, will eventually appear in about this state, i.e. overprocessing will be done by the designers. Well, never mind

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year Edinburgh

snow over Edinburgh castle

it took us over seven hours to get there and approximately the same time to come back. It would have taken less, but it was snowing on both occasions, and one-lane portions of A1 were moving with the speed of most cautious driver (which is fair enough, I tend to choose life too).

It's a lively city to visit at this time of year, and a lot of stuff is going on. Some of it gets canceled due to severe weather, but there is always plenty left.

Some words of caution - "New Year street party" (the one on Princess street) is NOT suitable for kids, honestly. We got a contradictory advice from 1) Tourist information center ("it's a lovely atmosphere!") and 2) Tickets Scotland, or whatever it was called ("it's not recommended for under 16's, but if you are happy with it, they can come in"). In the second case the lady, while her info was correct one, was not emphatic enough, I feel, maybe because they sell the entrance tickets for tenner a pop. The position of the party did provide the best view of the firework display, so it wasn't entirely bad, but generally, if you need to watch over somebody, especially kids, do take into account the fact that it is a relatively dense crowd of very merry and mostly very young guys and gals, and it is not the best choice. You'd be much better off on the Royal mile close-ish to the castle, where the main firework display happens.