Saturday, August 26, 2006

A place to stay

Buildings that stay in one place have been around for centuries. Before that there were movable dwellings. A few sticks covered with skins. When the herd moved on the dwelling place moved with them. When the grass was no longer, the skins were rolled up and the sticks bound together, and new pastures were saught.

Mongolians lived in yurts, Indians in wigwams, Arabs in tents, and the Jews had a tabernacle to worship their God

This tent was pitched in Helsinki for the night of the arts. It did not have a door, and from a distance it sounded that druming was coming from inside it. The rythms were ancient, played by modern people, living in flats with treble glazing, and central heating.

Behind the National museum on the night of the arts they sang opera. For opera it would seem you need opera houses. Big solid buildings made of marble or granite. Halls designed to give the best acoustics. Plush velvet seats and lights that can be dimmed at the flick of a switch. Dressing rooms, heavy curtains and an orchestra pit to house the violin players and the man with the big trombone, not to mention space for kettle drums and tubas. The singers take the stage in all their finery and it is all about glamour and glitz.

As I stood on Mannerheimtie I was caught between the two sounds. The pagan acoustic druming in a mysteriously closed tent, and the amplified tenor doing a mighty John Mc'Cormack.

I will let you guess which one I was drawn to.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A fishy story

In the summer the well runs dry, but this year because of the really warm weather the well was empty earlier than expected. Still, being a few meters underground the well is the coolest place to store food, since the summerhouse does not have any fridge, due to the fact it does not have any electricity.

So a side of salmon was put into a bucket and lowered into the well to keep it cool. However the bucket tiped over and the salmon fell to the bottom of the well.

It was then that the intrepid Riina decided to go down the well to recover the fish. She had read all the Tarzan books ever written and this looked just the job for someone imbuded with Tarzan exploits. It was all a matter of doing a spiderman thing, feet against one wall of the well, and your back against the other and edging your way down to the bottom.

For some reason, as with many things in life, theory is one thing and practice is another. The narrowness of the well, and her adult size was a bad combination, that no amount of Tarzan novel reading, could have prepared Riina to accept failure. Some ideas just don't work.

But in the best Zane Gray tradition a pow-wow was held and various suggestions were put forth as to how to recover the fish from the well. Grab it chop-stick fashion with two long sticks. Catch it with a fish hook. In the end Olli, since he had a REAL spiderman suit decided it was his duty to save the fish from the murky depths of the well.

The final solution was to loop a rope around Olli's armpits, which had been suitably padded with cushions, and Harrison Ford style, lower the minature spiderman into the dark pit of the well, to recover the precious fish for dinner. Was hunger his real motivation, or did he have the heart of a hero? Those philosophical questions will perhaps forever remain unanswered.

Rinna and Raisa donned thick gloves to prevent rope burn and gradually lowered Olli down the well, while Noa and Jasper added vocal encouragement. Having secured the precious fish Olli was hauled out of the well to the mighty applause to the rejoicing crowd.

Having returned triumphant from his adventure down the well Olli proudly held the slab of smoked salmon aloft. He was like a champion standing on the olympic podium, cushions still tied under his armpits, and the smile of victory on his face, while and admiring audience gazed raptly at the fishy prize in his hand.

There would be fish for dinner after all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Photographing the moon and other things

Camera: Panasonic DMC-TZ1
Exposure: 15 sec (15)
Aperture: f/4.1
Focal Length: 28.2 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/1677721600 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire

We think that if we know the details of something, then we have a better understanding of how that thing came to be. The existance of a photo depends on the presence of a camera and a person taking the photograph. That is only stating the obvious, but when I look at the information contained in the EXIF data that comes attached to every digital photo, then I have no idea what the Exposure Bias is, or what would happen if that value was changed, or even how to go about changing it.

I have a vague idea that the Aperture or F-stop deals with the amount of light getting into the camera and that it works in a way that the bigger the f-stop then the smaller the hole, and vica versa.

The ISO speed of the film gives some idea of how sensitive the film is to light. The higher the ISO speed then the more sensitive is the film to light, but since digital cameras do not have film, what is the point and what do the values really mean.

The exposure tim of 15 sec is easy to understand, since it was a dark night and the aperture had to be held open for a long time so enough light would get into the camera to be captured by that none existant film.

Sometimes I wonder if we analyse our lives like this, and we treat our lives as photographs. We think. I am a bad photograph because I have been exposed to long. I have a bad conscience and I am not sensitive enough. Or perhaps the photograph that we are depends on some value like 0/1677721600 EV and we have absolutely no idea what that means or how to change it or how it has affected us.

Is there such a thing as perfect values to give a perfect photo? I think not. Even if everybody set the controls of their lives to perfect values, there is no garuentee that the photo that is their lives would turn out OK, since some have shakey hands and others use a tripod, some use a Nikon, and some use a Kodak, some are born with a golden tripod in their mouths, and millions of megapixels in their bank account, some only have a cheap Holga and discount film from a bargain basement, yet they make better and more exciting photos of their lives than those who are more privilged.

Then there is the question of composition and framing. Some people do not have the eye for the right thing. The always seem to make the wrong choices, always make the wrong settings, and the photo of their lives is blurred and out of focus.

Perhaps we are who were are because the Flash did not fire

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Finnish fireworks competition

The last camera I had it was impossible to take photos of fire work displays. By the time the shutter clicked the fireworks were gone. My new camera does much better.

The run up to the fireworks night was not so good since I failed miserably trying to take photos of a full moon which was blood red... (something to do with the smoke and pollutants coming from the forest fires in Russia). Then I tried to get the photos by holding the camera steady in my hand, but at a 10x zoom and on a dark night with a long exposure it is just impossible to focus.

And even though the new camera has an anti-shake mechanism the moon was dancing about the LCD screen like a skittish firefly. So for the firework night I invested in a tripod, and read up on how to take firework photographs. The TZ1 has a fireworks setting.

On the night I went to Lautasaari, and was surprised that there were hundreds of cars rolling off the Lansivyla and down to the beach. It was impossible to find a parking space, andI eventually found a space about a kilometer away, down an alley-way and parked up on the pavement. When I finally got to the beach area it was thronging and it was difficult to find a place to set up the camera.

The camera in "firework mode" does a longer exposure and it is noticeable that it takes time to write to the SD card, and I seemed to be missing some of the most spectacular displays, so I set the camera to "burst mode" and just held the shutter down so there was a continuous capture onto the card.

Over an hour period between the shows I must have shot over 200 photos. Some of them were rubbish but some I felt were excellent. The battery was half drained by the end of the night, and when everyone had left I sat down by the seashore and edited out the bad photos. So at the end I had about 50 photos of the event which I liked.

It was then that I noticed the crescent moon over the docks and I set about trying to capture the moon I missed about a week ago... but that is another story.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Run and Spit dance

Run and Spit dance
Originally uploaded by HyperBob.
The run & spit dance is not very complicated. I basically has two major moves to it, namely running and spitting. You can also flail your arms about like a windmill, and shake your hair about wildly until it gets all tangled and knotty

The dance has been successful if you hair gets in such a mess that your mother can not get a hair brush through it, and it can be counted a roaring success if in the aftermath, as your mother brushes your hair, she exclaims, "Your knotty."

You can then argue in depth with her that you are not naughty, and that she should join you the next time in the run & spit dance, cos it is a dance to bring you joy.

Your grandfather remarks. "Modern people try to solve their problems by being rational, whereas primative people solve their problems by dancing," and wonders if the run & spit dance was a rain dance, to end the drought in Finland.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sunflower Sutra

Sunflower Sutra

I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and
sat down under the huge shade of a Southern
Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the
box house hills and cry.
Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron
pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts
of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,
surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of
The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun
sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that
stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves
rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums
on the riverbank, tired and wily.
Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray
shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting
dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust--
--I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower,
memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem
and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes
Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black
treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the
poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel
knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck
and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the
and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,
crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog
and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye--
corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like
a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,
soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays
obliterated on its hairy head like a dried
wire spiderweb,
leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures
from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster
fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,
Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O
my soul, I loved you then!
The grime was no man's grime but death and human
all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad
skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black
mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance
of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial--
modern--all that civilization spotting your
crazy golden crown--
and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless
eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the
home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar
bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards
of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely
tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what
more could I name, the smoked ashes of some
cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the
milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs
& sphincters of dynamos--all these
entangled in your mummied roots--and you there
standing before me in the sunset, all your glory
in your form!
A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent
lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye
to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited
grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden
monthly breeze!
How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your
grime, while you cursed the heavens of the
railroad and your flower soul?
Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a
flower? when did you look at your skin and
decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?
the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and
shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?
You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a
And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me
So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck
it at my side like a scepter,
and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul
too, and anyone who'll listen,
--We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread
bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all
beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're blessed
by our own seed & golden hairy naked
accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black
formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our
eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive
riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening
sitdown vision.

Allen Ginsberg

Berkeley, 1955