Limbs

Limbs

Spreading from a common body, reaching out in search of light, intertwined but solitary, a mutual goal but separate journeys. All supporting a common trunk to be alive, to support a life, to stay alive.

Long-term deep emission reductions, including the reduction of emissions to net-zero, is best achieved through institutions and governance that nurture new mitigation policies, while at the same time reconsidering existing policies that support continued emission of GHGs (high confidence).

TS. 6.1 – Technical Summary – WORKING GROUP III CONTRIBUTION TO THE IPCC SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT (AR6)

It’s all there. A multitude of pathways to reduce emissions. Many branches, a common goal: Keep the planet habitable. It requires systematic change in all sectors: energy, housing, transport, industry, land use, food production. All of the pathways that limit warming to ‘acceptable’ limits have one thing in common: they require change right now. Or to be more precise – the required change should have begun 2 years ago, or 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. But still, nothing changes. Since this last report has been released, several countries have released their new plans to drill for even more oil and gas. Business as usual; the trees will get chopped down, leaving limbs scattered around the corpses.

The Unexpected

The Unexpected

Necessary variation,
arbitrary contemplation,
forlorn forest, torn apart,
born in freedom, sworn by heart
to live, to give, inform, restart
what's wrong, what's flawed
does fall apart.
Without definite destination,
ahead a dreaded bifurcation:
What's right? What's left?
And what is left to say and write?
The obscure shadows of the night
do greet the swiftly fleeting light.
Blue flowers sprout across the ground
as doubt vanishes all around.

Photo Post: Perturbation

Photo Post: Perturbation

If finding an exact solution is not possible, perturbation theory provides a framework to build upon a known solution for a simpler problem. The resulting perturbation series can then be utilized to approximate the solution to the original, more complex, problem. If a simple picture does not work, perturbing it might result in the emergence of previously non-existent forms that produce structure. Thus, the more complex procedure while taking the photo can result in pictures of greater simplicity.

Implementing Conceptuality

Implementing Conceptuality

You can start with action.

A good friend.

Motivation is the beginning. It entails action, which gives positive feedback and, in turn, boosts motivation. Without motivation, there is no action – it’s a (sometimes vicious) cycle.

Or is it? I got reminded recently: the cycle can start anywhere.

I have been ill at home for two weeks. The internet showed me some ad of an artist who photographed plain paper. Admittedly, it looked quite boring. I had no motivation, but I started with action.

Step 1

Paper ready. Tape ready. A white kitchen table, a north-facing window. No idea what to do. The first hundred pictures are absolutely unusable:

Step 2

I figure out that pointing the camera down doesn’t work in this setup. I thought it could be nice, but it isn’t. Photographing at a slanted angle with respect to the light, together with a darker background, seems more interesting. Still, there isn’t happening much in the next series of tries:

Step 3

I already had the aperture wide open, but I didn’t place the paper correctly. I figure out that it gets better if only the edge of the paper is in focus. Then, the rest of the paper creates attractive effects in light and shadow:

Step 4

I am lowering the angle – parallel to the surface of the table. Minimizing or preventing the reflection seems more tidy. I can also increase contrast by using a black fabric behind the paper. Finally, I am getting something I enjoy. I wipe the first SD card to start all over:

Step 5

Go closer, omit everything unnecessary, any distractions. Clean and simple.

Step 6

Some last experiments to keep in mind for the next session: Playing with the foreground and using multiple papers. Now, I am motivated:

Details in the Shadows

Details in the Shadows

Deep within the shadows, the important details are hidden: in photography and in discussions.

Discussions are complicated as they require constant inclusion and exclusion. Often, the details are hidden in the shadows; but every detail is as important as the highlights. For example, the two items that are critical for a discussion are the two missing items, that which is missing and the reason for the absence of that item. This is one of the problems that we face in our discussions: What is the Missing Thing?

I am also curious about what else is in the shadows. What other issues are we missing? Why are we not seeing them? What is in the shadows that we do not see? The discussion is on the edges. The motives are unknown. The evil is lurking in the shadows, and the hatred in the hearts of those who know not good from evil. The evil is out there. The problem is that the evil is in all of us. There is a darkness in us that does not understand good and evil. There is a darkness in us that knows not the difference between right and wrong. There is a darkness in us that does not see the light. There is a darkness in us that only sees itself.

It is the nature of shadow to not be quite there. The shadows of photography are what can make a picture: a collection of still moments frozen in time. And for this reason, the use of shadows is a powerful technique that must be used judiciously. Shadows can be very useful, but they can also be very misleading, especially when used without understanding their nature and proper placement. Shadows can be the cause of serious, even fatal, issues in photography. When used wisely, however, shadows can make a photograph interesting and unique.

The hidden picture is just as important as the clear one. To the rest of us, the detail is, if not irrelevant, at least a waste of time. So why even talk about it? Why even photograph it? But if it is hidden and you cannot see it, it is not really there. This is the paradox of hidden details.

All non-italic text in this post has been automatically generated by a computer program, based on the first sentence.

The Fine Line

The Fine Line

Let me set the stage for a challenging act of balance:

A thin wire rope stretches between two poles. Right in the middle: the artist, high above the ground. Elegant, delicate, confidant. He must maintain balance, otherwise a deep plunge will end the performance quite abruptly. The artist firmly wraps both hands around a long rod; by doing so, he can compensate oscillations of rope and body. Looking straight ahead, knees slightly bent, there is only one way to finish this act of art: Walk forward, maintain balance, reach the save pole, relax; and turn around because the way back awaits.


But two opposing forces disturb the performance – while the actor is confident in his skills, his balancing rod causes imbalance: Attached to one side are his own aspirations, causing a slight, but constant, tilt towards the left. On the other side of the rod are the well-intentioned demands of the spectators pulling him towards the right. In order to survive, own intentions and the will of the spectators need to be integrated to accomplish the feat.

The feedback is essential to learn and improve; but own aspirations are important to maintain motivation and the drive to create. Balance between both has to be maintained. Asking two persons will give you three opinions – and then there is your own as well.

I became aware, that the noise of many will point you in all possible directions. But the voice of a few will show you the right path. So, listen to honest feedback of trusted ones whose only goal is your own success. But sometimes, only yourself can know what is appropriate and how balance can be maintained from start to finish – and all the way back.

Movement

Movement

I am accustomed to movement in different activities such as juggling and bouldering. Complex body movements, precise homogenous arm motions, balance, or momentum.

However, one major issue in photography is not movement itself, but the opposite: to keep the camera stable during exposure to light. Blurred images are undesirable – at least most of the times. Therefore, tripods and optical image stabilization are common techniques to reduce camera motion.

Recently, I am intrigued by images that are blurred; thereby, they can carry emotion and feeling, but in return they often have less tangible subjects. I just recently learned the term for this technique: icm (intentional camera movement).

Abstract scene from local woods – directly out of camera without post-processing.

Getting the proper movement is key; and I am still at the very start of playing around with different movements and getting them right. But especially when conditions are difficult for ‘normal’ photos, movements can create appealing abstracts.

Direction: Hawthorn

Direction: Hawthorn

There has been too little time to appropriately maintain the blog lately. Lots of work, some routesetting, and other hobbies devour my time. I also often feel restless when I have some free space, it feels like I need to use these hours in some meaningful or productive way – whatever that means. When I have a free evening I mostly go outside to take some pictures. Last week I was on a small hill south of our home town for the sun set. After many days of rain, the sun finally showed again and all plants sprouted, especially the hawthorn.

After shooting panoramas and macros, I also tried some new techniques for abstract nature photography as such images always appeal to me when I see them online: Images where it is unclear what exactly is depicted, images that leave room for interpretation but follow patterns. The first 100 tries were uninteresting, but then I changed settings substantially and started playing with the lens zoom while shooting longer exposures:

After another 300 photos I felt somewhat satisfied with the results that also were quite unique from what I have seen. The hawthorn and my 10-24mm lens made a nice combination with the evening light, resulting in textured hawthorn spirals:

When I started the blog I had little idea in which direction it would evolve. So far, I like the loose combination of computer science topics and everyday life observations accentuated with my latest pictures. However, the writing often takes longer than taking pictures and my backlog of pictures is slowly building up. Thus, I am thinking about some new blog post format that mainly consists of pictures, but I didn’t come up with an appealing idea yet. If you have any, please let me know! Additionally, I would like to make some longer blog posts about specific interest of mine (if time allows), as well as integrate further hobbies into the catalog of potential topics. So, in general, the blog will probably become more diverse, as the hawthorn pictures in this post: Sometimes great vistas, sometimes specific details, and sometimes quick abstracts.

Replication / Innovation

Replication / Innovation

Replication is one of the basic building blocks of science. The replication crisis is still ongoing: many scientific studies regarded as milestones, especially in the social sciences, cannot be reproduced. Also in natural sciences it’s equally difficult to define experiment protocols in such a way that they can be successfully replicated. Replication is also one of the basic building blocks of learning: it can be seen in animals when they imitate their parents behaviour from a young age on. The same is true for humans, also later in life when picking up new skills: In every new hobby, we first have to replicate what someone has done before us.

I have had a few different hobbies in my life that I pursued thoroughly and in most of them I never got over the step of replication. Art seems to be somewhat different: Already the first picture I took is unique. But even though I am immediately creating something novel when taking any photograph, the techniques and contents of my shot are far from innovative. Instead they are also largely influenced by what I have seen from others, what inspired me, which techniques I got thought, and so on. The two lonely counter-examples for me, where I got beyond replicating, are probably 1) route setting for climbing (at least to some extent), which I see as an art, 2) and my work.

Only after I replicated for a long time, with different role models, from different styles, with different materials, I was able to slowly move on: from replication to innovation. I could find my own style by mixing what I learned. I could create a new method by expanding on learned skills. For work, this has required over ten years of education and, hence, over ten years of replication. But slowly I feel that I am not only replicating anymore. From time to time there is some innovation. And if I keep going, the same will apply to photography some day.

Black and White Spring

Black and White Spring

I don’t like thinking in black and white. I don’t think liking black and white-thinking is sensible: There is always an in-between, an uncertainty, missing knowledge. My side is not correct and your side is not wrong, truth is on both sides. While it’s easy to say, it’s hard to act on: Being empathetic in heated situations, seeing purpose when everything seems empty, or noticing progress when stagnation feels permanent – it takes effort to spot and point at the grey areas. It is exhausting to discuss the subtleties and understand the intricacies of the in-between.
And still, sometimes it is necessary to treat things as if they were black and white, because otherwise we would still be discussing the shades of grey – as long as we are aware of the underlying simplifications. Maybe we should just do it as in modern photography: Take the picture in color, from purple to pink, from dark corners to bright skies, include all shades in between. And then: Edit and redact it, remove undesired colors, increase the contrast, do it careful, and you are left with a delicate black and white version of truth while knowing the steps you took to get there.

I am very happy how the images from today’s morning walk turned out: First, everything looked quite dull and I couldn’t find anything interesting. On my first passing of this field, where small water droplets gathered at the growing seeds, I quickly moved onward when the first pictures did not turn out as expected. I had the wrong settings and not enough patience to find an interesting perspective. Then, on my second passing on my way home, I tried it again and this time I did not want to give up. And after many, many failed attempts of pictures that only showed grass and water droplets, I was able (at least to some extent) to capture the beauty I was hoping to find: Small sceneries of nature in light and shadow that allow the imagination to roam free. Now, I not only see grass and water droplets, but I can see small individuals, I can see groups of fairy-tale characters, I can see them holding lanterns to find there way through illuminated towns in the dark between moon-lit flowers.