Avatar: The Second Nature?

Planet Pandora in Avatar (2009)
Planet Pandora in Avatar (2009)

I just saw Avatar (dir. & written by James Cameron), in 3D, and I must say I am impressed. Not necessarily deeply moved like some other great films I have seen, but impressed as in made to think about cinema and the role it will have for us in the future.

Many people who have written about Avatar have started by dropping a long list of other movies it has borrowed from; my take would be Avatar is “Aliens meets Dances with Wolves meets Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” style of movie. But there is enough originality in this particular blend that the intertextual or -medial reference listings do not make justice to its real essence.

Looking at the film through the thick and rather dark 3D goggles, I felt the basic scenario built around the avatar technology of the movie was sort of metaphor for my own situation Continue reading “Avatar: The Second Nature?”

Bird table in the night

Lumiyö / Night with snow, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

These days you can find pretty nice bird tables, like this little house we have now in our front yard. It was originally designed to be hung from a string, but it was pretty easy to hack into a suitable stick. So, now we have a regular show going on, with five pheasant, a flock of small birds and a squirrel fighting over the nuts and seeds.

Quiet at the night time, though. The photo was taken at the point when the snowfall had turned into light rain (of water), using my trusty old Canon EOS 350D (exposure time 3,2 seconds, I was using a Manfrotto stand), and I admit a serious graving of 7D with its environmental sealing and advanced autofocus point selection system… (More here: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos7d/ )

Testing HD video

Got finally a camera today that can produce HD (720p) video clips. Testing the low-light characteristics of Canon PowerShot SX200 IX in the shot below: night time, HD and imported directly from .MOV into Youtube — the you can see that auto exposure creates lots of grain. Still some nice sky tones. (Click the “go full screen” symbol below, in the low right corner of the player.)

There will be a couple of more experiments posted into my profile later. My first impressions of this small camera are positive. It is surprising to see how versatile system this kind of pocket camera can today be. Digital photography has gone long way, at least as far as technology is concerned.

IT in the garden

Lying in our garden swing, I can currently see six wifi access points — that’s urban nature for you! 🙂 Comparing LCD screen and paper (Luontokuva magazine), it is clear that traditional paper is still far superior when reading anything outside. The screen in AA1 is very good, but still very pale in sunlight. Wonder if e-ink/ebook reader screen would make a real difference to the benefit of IT? At the moment — closing this webtop and app is the best way to relax, so: enjoy the summer, everyone!

Planet Earth in HD

There are only few Full HD television series or movies I have got so far, and the king of them all currently is the four-disc Blu-Ray box of Planet Earth series by BBC. To a friend of nature documentaries, the selection of ‘spectacular’ animal species and situations (starting with the amazing Emperor Penguins guarding their single egg through the Antarctic winter), but the use of moving, flying cameras and HD video makes the planet really come to you in a way I have not experienced in any other visual media before. It is pity though that the localised version on sale here in Finland does not include the great Finnish language narrations that were prepared when the series was broadcast on the air by YLE, the national broadcast corporation. I really like and respect David Attenborough, but while we watch these with our family, it would be nicer to have Finnish audio, rather than the subtitles over the HD image. Particularly as the subtitles these disks carry have much inferior translations than what YLE used in their broadcast versions. I have wondered even before why BBC/2 entertain does not use the expertise of YLE when putting DVD versions of their series on sale here in Finland, and in this HD version the use of subtitles only is even a worse choice. I also truly miss the making-of documentary and the extra three “Planet Earth: The Future” episodes (those were included in the DVD release but omitted from the Blu-Ray box.) The series itself, nevertheless, is mind-blowing, and will truly fullfil its promise to show us our planet as we have never seen it before.bbc_planet_earth_blu-ray-box

Winter Shoes

The greenhouse effect takes its toll, and winters are no longer what they used to be (in Finland: white). Walking the rainy streets, I have been looking for shoes that could handle the constant “interim” climate that we are now living in. Got mysef a pair of Merrel Outland Mid Waterproof models yesterday — they feel great and the quality of design is convincing, but lets see how they handle out there. More:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Merrell+Outland+Mid+Waterproof&btnG=Search

Autumn vacation

I have been spending this week with my family, after a few months of busy working and traveling schedule. It has been mostly raining (slowing down some of the gardening work), but this has allowed me to spend more time with my son (pictured). Luka is growing very fast, running around and learning new words and tricks every day. Glad we got these few days together to learn to know each other a bit better (last autumn, when he just had born, I was all the time traveling around the world, and promised to change the situation this year).

Visiting Admiral

This and the next two weeks are probably the busiest ones in entire Autumn term (at least that is what I keep telling myself — we’ll see). There are many wonderful things in this fall, too, including spectacular crop yield of mushrooms. Also, Laura’s work on flowering plants is starting to yield results, as this visiting Admiral also proves. Other regulars have included peacock butterflies (neitoperhonen) and Camberwell Beauty/the mourning cloak (suruvaippa).

Unknown butterfly

This came flapping inside our car in last Midsummer day (23.6.2007). I have been looking around to identify the black-and-while beauty, but with small success so far. Any ideas? There were several of these flying fast around small path/road cutting through mixed woods in central Häme (a bit north from Tampere).

Bumblebee house

Bumblebee house
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

My birthday present this year: a bumblebee house. With its small colony of “kontukimalainen” (wonder what that species is in English?) these busy new neighbours of us will hopefully take care of visiting all the flowers in those fruit trees and berry bushes. Search for “pörrinpesä” if you are interested in getting your own.