the first signs of melting

Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

This picture was taken today, Sunday afternoon as the first rays of sun that actually felt a bit warm were melting some of the ice, and making water flow. There are some more shots, both outdoors and in, from Laura’s party which was yesterday evening, in:

red squirrels and other moving objects

Red squirrel reaching
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

Morning walk in Hatanpää area (Tampere) was supposed to be mainly landscape photography, to test out the new Canon wide lens, but the overall dark grey, and occasional horizon purples did not support that so much. I did take some shots that belong to the group of introverted and a bit melancholy still life pictures that I seem to compose quite often, though. Finally I ended up in Arboretum park which is feeding ground for some rather well-fed red squirrels and great blue tits (talitiainen in Finnish). There were also couple of “regular” blue tits (sinitiainen), which are smaller and not so common over there. I like working with animals, even if they are so much more challenging to frame and light in the way I like than all the other objects that do not fly around at nervous high speeds.

lens: ef 17-85mm f/4-5.6 is usm

Time to move forward: the Canon kit lens is now officially retired, and I got a EF 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM as my main, general-purpose lens. It is by no means perfect, there has been much critique pointed at the softness/unsharpness and barrel distortion at wide angle, but there is no point for me investing into L series lenses at this point. The image stabilizer improves conditions when shooting in natural light, as I always do, and the zoom range is also right. It would be great to get into summery meadow to test it, but indoors and winter landscapes must do for now.

updating flickr

Alder cones in winter
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

I have really started to like Flickr and the way it makes tagging, categorising, sharing and discussing digital photographs easy. I decided to go “pro” and paid for an year’s account that gives 2 GB of monthly uploads and unlimited photo sets. Currently I have the classic ones: Travelpics, Summerpics, Autumnpics, Winterpics. It is interesting to explore all those collections of photos other people around the world are taking, uploading and sharing. Some of them are simply amazing, and taken as a community phenomenon, there is so much added value attached to them. In the case there were several competing services like this, the field would be much more fragmented – so, a Flickr monopoly is a good thing, eh?

Ridges of ice

Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

A walk in -22C today, getting some half-baked shots of winter light and ice; I was freezing and my equipent were soon on their edge too, the Sigma zoom getting stuck and rigid (no autofocus in those temperatures). But I am happy I did it: a morning walk listening to the deep rumble of Pyhäjärvi ice cover cracking in mile-long crevices was an experience worth the discomfort.

Edit: I keep a (low-bandwidth) copy all of these shots in my own server:

time goes by, digi-tv

time goes by, digi-tv
Originally uploaded by Frans Mäyrä.

The most powerful technology in the history? Perhaps clock, according to some techno-historists. This Saturday, at 12 noon, Peeko Näränen has his thesis defense, subject: digitalisation of television in Finland (not so smooth process).

game education, jane mcgonical

Today I was speaking of games literacy and game cultures for an audience of educators in “Media Education Fair” they organised in Tampere Finlayson area. Good discussions, it is just so frustrating to know how slowly we can see games entering the phase of more diverse content, and increased applicability in normal classroom situations, for example.

As an advance notice, please mark into your calendar Jane McGonigal’s talk, taking place in Helsinki (and Tampere via teleconference) next Tuesday. (See: News and Events at the University of Tampere, UTa.)

open lab

Yesterday, our department had an “open doors” day, and all interested were invited to hear and see what we are doing. The event was rather intimate, and took place in our “coffee room – library”, but there was whole afternoon (and late into the evening) people coming to hear the presentations, and discuss new media, technology, and their human-centred research. I think not so many other departments do this kind of presentations of their work — wonder why? (The selected video recordings of the day should come into the net at some point soon.)

ms raw thumbnailer and viewer

Apple has long been the favourite choice of digital imaging aficionados, but also the Windows world is trying to come along. MS has updated their RAW image viewer, and it is going to be a part of the future OS version. RAW images, described as “digital negatives” portray the image data exactly as it was captured by the sensors of the camera. Since their large file size and tricks of handling and editing, RAW files are not as popular as compressed JPEG files among consumers, but in professional photography they have distinctive benefits. As the screens, disks and memory sizes in computers are getting larger and better, it becomes more attractive to use image formats that do not damage the original data, like compressed file types do. Paul Thurrott’s article on Longhorn RAW image support is a good introduction to the Microsoft plans in this area, and the Win XP RAW image viewer is something we can use currently. But the large sizes are still putting high demands on your system – but updating the hardware is of course what we are expected to do too, all the time…

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