Sunday, January 30, 2011

purple and yellow

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Sometimes the gods have no taste at all. They allow sunrises and sunsets in ridiculous pink and blue hues that any professional artist would dismiss as the work of some enthsiastic amateur who'd never looked at a real sunset. (Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time)

Very true. And an artist given a task of inventing a flower will probably shy away from combining complementaries - purple and yellow. They clash, plus if you actually let those hues run into each other in, for example, watercolor, you will get a muddy shade of neutral.

Red rose will similarly have little chance of coming into existence if it had to be re-invented. Although some green and red mixtures give really intense black, which is a lot nicer'n mud any time, except possibly four am, when nothing matters anyway.

Incidentally, I really like Terry Pratchett books. Not the latest ones, mind you, but there are a few novels in discworld series that are my firm favourites - I have copies and re-read them from time to time.

irises on shutterstock

Thursday, January 27, 2011

sea monster. or something

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Negative of Clematis vitalba (Old man's beard) seedhead picture. It looks lot more dramatic this way.

At least, I think it's the right species name

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

time for a new camera musings

A few days ago Photoradar discussed features that they'd like to see in the nearly-all-new Canon 6D. Which reminded me that here I am, still with my 5D mark I.

To be perfectly honest, most of the potential features that they list there doesn't bother me that much, apart from maybe flash transmitter. But take the first potential feature discussed - pixel count increase: well, 21 Mpx is a very respectable pixel count for a sensor, and the raw files are huge already, so big increase in sensor will demand a simultaneous computer update, don't want that. Continuous shooting rate increase doesn't matter that much in my case, etc, etc.

I am very very interested in what exactly 6D will look/feel/work like, but I think I will be very happy to replace my camera with canon 5d mark II, which is a very nice camera by all accounts. Plus, price on it went down somewhat since it first became available - probably due to the expectations that a newer version will be along soon.

Maybe I will treat myself to a new lens later, with all the money I'll save. Considering the prices for good glass, that probably means that I will spend more overall, but hey

Monday, January 24, 2011

feeding frenzy



Very occasionally, when we go to garden center, we buy fish food and feed the fish in the big tanks. And tell you what - those guys behave like we are the only people ever to feed them. Here they were, placid and hardly moving (above video). And look what happens when you drop a few bit of food into the tank. They push and shove and don't behave at all. Shocking really for such expensive animals.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

HOW much did you say?

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"... has told me that you also owe Workshop £28-50 for a damaged bow..."

Timur's getting to be a really reluctant model - something Yuri was for ages by now. He probably won't agree to pose today at all if I didn't remind him that he lost 28.50 by fooling around at music workshop, dropping his violin bow and damaging it beyond repair. I suppose I should have made him pay that from his allowance money but - well, I think he agreed to pose only because he thought that I will do precisely that otherwise.

Timur's (mostly) pics at shutterstock

Monday, January 17, 2011

yellow one

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now yellow phalaenopsis is starting to bloom.

Timur is an unusual boy - he quite likes shopping. But his concept of shopping is the most primitive one - if you go shopping, you gotta buy somethings, and that's that. To go and look at what's there and go away empty-handed - that type of shopping he doesn't understand.

Consequently, when we are in the shops, he keeps suggesting things that we can buy. Last time in scotsdales garden center, when we were looking around houseplant section, he said "Mum you do have orchid, don't you? Look - there's orchid food".

I manage to wriggle out of buying it. We have orchid plants, but they bloomed a few times each without any "food", so I figure I shouldn't start spoiling them now. I am not sure how they get whatever they need, but their aerial roots are doing nicely. Maybe they catch an occasional fly with them or something - I don't really want to know

orchid pics at shutterstock

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Madeira fireworks

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it's just a cover picture, not really taken in Funchal.

I want to write something about amazing NY fireworks which we saw three years ago. I didn't write anything back then, want to fill the gap now.

We did know that NY fireworks were going to be spectacular, and we also heard that the best way to enjoy them is from the water - booking a ticket with one of the tourist boats. But by the time we arrived, most of the larger boats were fully booked, and the ones that were still available failed to impress. So we made plan B - to go down to the harbor in the evening and stay there till midnight. And then _somehow_ get back to the place where we lived - self-catering cottage inside a large quinta (estate), far-ish from the harbor and, more importantly, long way up from it.

Luckily for us, the quinta owner turned up on the 31st and invited us to watch fireworks from the grounds of his house. I think he invited pretty much everybody who stayed on the estate, and about fifteen people turned up.

In the evening I tried to get kids to have a little sleep. Didn't work really, for two reasons: a. it seems that locals had private supplies of fireworks comparable in volume to official ones, which they were exploding with increasing frequency as the midnight approached, and b. the place was full of extremely nervous and loud dogs. Deafening combination.

So. I don't know what it looks like from the boat, but I think we got a better deal. From the terrace we could see all of Funchal, illuminated and decorated. We could see the cruise ships that came there and formed a big semicircle in front of the harbor - illuminated and decorated, or course. We could see most if not all the firing points for Funchal, and we could see a big burning year sign quite clear - so clear in fact that Yuri was worried that it will start a forest fire. Fireworks were incredible. They only last about 15 minutes, but there was never a pause and they keep changing and they are color-coordinated, etc, etc.

For other photo maniacs out there - tripod and remote release essential, and set your camera beforehand. Don't try to zoom in and out and search for blasts with hand-held camera, you will not enjoy the show and won't get many good pics either, there is no time.

And my personal recommendation is _not_ to book a ticket on a boat. We were simply lucky, granted, but I think if you do some homework you can find a place which is well up from the water and has unobstructed view towards the town.

fireworks at shutterstock

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year Cardiff

Last Year we went to Edinburgh for New Year. It was nice, but this year, what with all the travel disruption, we decided to go closer and less to the north. London fireworks would be a great option, but everywhere you look you see warning of how crowded those are, and after being in large crowd last year at Hogmanay we didn't really want a repetition of the experience. So we went to Cardiff.

I was a good choice. We stayed at the Cardiff Bay area, which is full of restaurants and have a particular attraction for Timur (and Yuri, although he won't admit it, what with being in his teens) - Techniquest. It was open till 5pm on New Years eve, so we had just about enough time to press the buttons, pull the levers and bash things with other things.

There were two firework displays - one in the evening at about 6, I think, close to the Castle, where you had to pay. didn't go to that one, went for an enormous meal instead. Another one was to bring in the NY, at the Civic Center, or "by winter wonderland" as locals, including person I spoke to in the tourist info, referred to the location. I tried to find out where exactly it was, but I shouldn't have bothered since taxi drivers know anyway (well, they have The knowledge).

Said winter wonderland is a big funfair, with ice-skating, some live music and "John Lewis Wheel" - tall-ish ferris wheel. We had a spin on that.

Fireworks themselves were short - I didn't time, but I think about ten minutes maximum. I liked it, but I must say that nothing I've seen so far beats Madeira New Year celebration which we've seen a few years ago. That was also just about 15 mins or so, but the amount of fireworks exploded was enormous. But then, it's perhaps an unfair comparison, Madeira's fireworks being in guinness book.

Maybe we'll write to the council and suggest they do fireworks in the bay next year though. It'd look a lot better and there seem to be plenty of space.

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I didn't take my camera with me, so don't have anything new to show. This picture was taken on Cardiff Castle grounds, and it's three-years younger Timur who's walking the paved road.

at shutterstock