Friday, January 28, 2011

Macro Photography

I wrote before about my new Sigma lens (300 mm), which also has a macro function. If you set it between 200 and 300 mm you can take incredible close-ups. I tried indoors the other day because it was too cold outside to stand there and fiddle with camera equipment. One reason I also had a good go at it was that I initially feared that I had damaged the auto focus before I knew how to operate the lens. I had accidentally left it in auto focus mode, and then I tried to change the focus manually. Not good!

Luckily I had not ruined my Christmas present and it focused beautifully, albeit noisily. It is not as quiet as the standard kit lenses, but I don’t mind. Like one reviewer on Amazon said, I don’t think it will scare birds in the woods too easily.

I have three examples for you, nothing fancy or pretty, just ordinary objects. The first one is of a Swedish little wooden horse, part of a Noughts and Crosses play set. The red fella is only four or five cm long approximately, but click on the picture and see how large you can make him. It regrettably reveals the dust on top of it with ease!


The second one is a detail of a vase of ordinary size. The depth of field is very shallow, so much that the string to the right is completely out of focus.


The last object is part of a candle snuffer, the bell being approximately five cm high. Again, look at the detail when you have enlarged it.


I think I will enjoy learning to work with this new lens. It does both long distance and extremely short distance. If I then set the camera to the optimal quality image, it will be possible to magnify with great detail up to poster size. But where do I find a printer that can cope with that? Only joking…


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh Dear! Me Too …

In the end I gave in, despite putting up strong resistance for several years. I did not need it, I thought. I am a blogger, although I have been far too busy of late to find time and space to both read and write.

Lately emails and phone calls have been very frequent between myself and Sweden due to events and situations in “the old country”.

On Saturday my brother said “But you are the perfect person for it, your circumstances make the ideal and optimal setting for it. If you join you will be constantly updated about what is going on. You will feel the physical distance disappear.”

So after thinking about it for half an hour, I finally set up an account and joined 175px-Facebook.svg . Easy peasy, lätt som en plätt, as we say in Swedish. I had been advised how to find my first “friends”.

I requested to become “friends” with people I have known all my life, which sounds a bit odd actually. All of these had their own “friends”, and mutual “friends”, who in turn had other “friends”, and so it went on.

Within half an hour others had detected me and requested to become my “friend”. I started to understand how it worked. My circle of “friends” began to widen almost organically. There was an abundance of suggested “friends”, most of whom I had no knowledge of whatsoever. I recognised some faces and names, but not necessarily in combination. Names from my past appeared on the screen in front of me, and then welcome greetings started coming up on my “wall”. I also had a message from somebody with an explanation of the difference in visibility between the “wall” and my “message” box.

When I clicked on “Friends”, the whole world seemed to stream up from below onto my screen. It would not take much to get really silly and try to make everybody my “friend”. I actually thought of the old song “Everybody Is Trying To Be My Baby”, as sung by The Beatles once.

I soon realised that I had to be selective and restrict myself, not to go into overdrive and try to break some record. I really just needed another means of communication with, in the first instance, my family.

I have not explored all features of Facebook yet, only really just opened my account, but I already know so much more of what is going on in some people’s lives, all those little things you get to hear when you bump into each other at the supermarket. I believe Facebook is trying to transform the whole world into a small market square. The trick is, I suppose, to find a balance between the advantage of virtual proximity and one’s need for some privacy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christmas Aftermath

It is always wonderful and uplifting to visit Sweden, to see relatives and friends, in particular my two grandchildren. They give so much joy, but also unpleasant reminders. I seem to catch one cold or other every time I see them. They are used to, and possibly immune to, a wide range of germs, bugs and bacteria, but I am not. Their nurseries are like crucibles of everything contagious. The children act like little middle men, like bridges, like carrier pigeons of colds and other curses. It took me over two weeks to get rid of this last nasty cold. And this came at a time when I work more hours than I normally do.

Outside it does not look like Christmas anymore. The snow has gone and we had 12 degrees today. It is dark, wet and windy. The extra light reflected off the snow has been replaced by some dark matter, which does not lift your soul exactly.

On the other hand I have just received a belated birthday and Christmas present from my wife. I ordered it from Amazon in the UK, but since it has to go through the military sorting office in London, it normally takes another five days to get here. It is a third lens for my Nikon camera, a Sigma 300 mm lens, which is both heavy and looong. I will be needing my tripod for it when it is fully extended in order to get sharp images. This is particularly important since there is no built-in vibration reduction (anti-shake) mechanism.

I am hoping to be able to take better close-ups of for instance birds, and also to experiment with macro photography. It is possible to achieve pictures with great detail. So hopefully I can show  some examples of that once I have practised a little. I just need to hold my breath and steady my hands.

Signing off with two pictures of days now long gone.

DSC_0871 DSC_0996

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Happy New Year Everybody!

Well, December was apparently the coldest in the UK since the Met Office started monitoring the weather a long time ago. But we went to Sweden to spend time with relatives and friends, and the coldest temperature the car thermometer registered was –22 degrees.


The whole country was covered in masses of snow. You needed your long-johns and thermals, that’s for sure, and woolly hats and gloves …. but it created some beautiful scenes for free…


…and some funny ones as well.


In Stockholm my grandchildren could not go on the swing …


… although some kids played outside in Malmö …


… my two little darlings had to play indoors most of the time…

DSC_0925 DSC_0937

While the snow caused some people problems …

DSC_0995 DSC_0994

… others took the opportunity …

DSC_0979 DSC_0970

… but most of all, it was beautiful!

DSC_0958 DSC_0963

DSC_0967 DSC_0848 Happy New Year