Werewolf Adventures – SuperMoon Sea

 Werewolf Adventures - SuperMoon Sea

It finally came! The largest moon of the year!

Auuuu! It was big…

Auuuu! It was shiny…

I knew it was coming but it took me by surprise anyhow. Things seemed just as normal as always. Fish were swimming, people fishing, tomorrow’s lunches looked promising… Sun wasn’t even properly down yet when it came. Like a huge fireball behind the hills, up it went. Giant red ball took over everything. Its presence was touchable. Fish stopped biting, wind stopped blowing, I stopped moving…
It was saying “stop everything and listen“. The message was powerful. I felt the hair on my back coming out.

Fishing rod was on the ground. People ran away. Waves started crashing the shore spraying thin layers of salty mist over the orange-lit rocks.

Running!

Poof… Pant…

Stairs, door, stairs, door… where was it? There! Backpack with The tool was waiting near the closet door, ready for action.

The calling was strong again, clouds must have cleared, white-yellow light shined the room’s wall through the window again. The majesty was ready!

Now back on the shore again The tool started firing. 28 times 30 second exposures. Majesty will be pleased.

Music started playing across the sea, the giant red feisty fire ball turned very bright white by now and found its place up, near the top of the sky, shining its cold light on the skin-changing wolves who danced in its celebration.

My torso was wet. I was laying down with The tool in front of me, pointing to the moon. Clouds briefly hid it again. Not completely, but just enough to weaken its influence. Time to run again, find a way to the room, close the blinds…

…escape the madness, and live another day…

It’s Not About The Camera – Making Great Photos With Shitty Equipment

Let’s spread some inspiration here and get people out shooting with what they have instead of waiting for the right job to get the right money to buy the right equipment to figure out they should have started earlier, shall we? 😀

 Not So Lonely - Revisited
Not So Lonely – Revisited

I had an interesting conversation on my latest Google+ post regarding “Not So Lonely – Revisited” photo the other day. It was the “you’re great but you’ve got a great camera too, I couldn’t possible do anything similar with what I have” type of conversation. Although Nikon D5100 is indeed great and the best camera I’ve ever had, it’s not really that great compared to some other Nikon or Canon or whatever else cameras.

While you can’t get any shot with any camera (and I believe no-one would argue that), it’s still possible to get really great shots with really shitty equipment (the “Not So Lonely – Revisited” included) and I’m currently in probably the best possible place in the world to show it.

The camera in question was a low-end smart-phone camera with about 2 MP resolution and sensor quality you can probably guess from this info. Since I’ve got a super-duper Samsung S3 phone camera, I tried to borrow an old phone with a shitty camera.

The worst I could find were an old Nokia and a Samsung SGH-M310. Both had the highest resolution of 0.3 MP but the Nokia’s lens was scratched and pierced beyond repair (and that’s, folks, why you don’t keep your keys and phones in the same pocket) so Samsung it was.

The procedure

The desired photo was supposed to be similar to the one in the post, so that meant long exposure, low light and wavy water (boat was optional 😛 ).

Fixing in place

ToolsYou’ll need to fix your camera in place somehow so it wouldn’t move while you’re shooting, just as you would with any long exposure shot. I used a tripod which costed about $15 when I bought it as new, 5 to 10 years ago, and I still use it. That means you could swap a cup of coffee from Starbucks for a tripod like this. Cheap enough?

Samsung SGH M310Since it’s a phone and doesn’t have a tripod mount, it’s easy to use some plastic cooking wrap and some duck-tape to fix it in place. If you don’t have a tripod, use the same ‘tools’ to fix it to a chair or a rock.

Shooting

Carefully choose where to point your camera. Sometimes it means getting near the smelly stuff (I still can't name the thing behind the tripod)
Sometimes it means getting near the smelly stuff (I still can’t name the thing behind the tripod)

Compose your shot carefully, set the camera to the highest resolution and finest settings (you still want it to do it’s best, right?). I played a little with white-balance but turned out it gave crappy results (what did I expect?) so I left it as ‘auto’.

 

 

Remember to enjoy the view while taking photos :)
Remember to enjoy the view while taking photos 🙂

Shoot a few dozen shots with as little movement of the camera as possible. You will need all of them later. I wanted 50-100 but ran out of memory at 30ish. Turns out the phone has only 5MB of internal memory…

Bringing it all together

Your folder content should look something like this
Your folder content should look something like this

You’ll need to transfer it all to a computer after shooting and copy it to the same folder. You can use USB cable, Bluetooth, WiFi or whatever is available. I used Bluetooth to transfer it to a Nexus 7 and then FileExpert to transport it over WiFi using FTP to my computer. There was a malfunctioning in the Bluetooth so I couldn’t make it go directly.

Now is the time for the fun part!

Your shots most likely aren’t perfectly aligned. Hugin to the rescue!
After downloading and installing Hugin, use Command Prompt or Console (if you’re by any luck using Linux) to navigate to the folder where your photos are (use cd command ;)) and fire this command away:

align_image_stack -a out *

This will align all the images in the folder (and you’ve got only photos you want to work with in it) and save them as out#.tif, where # represents a four-digit number starting with 0000. This is only the temporary result so you don’t need to worry about that 😉

Next we use ImageMagick to blend them all together by firing this command:

convert *.tif -evaluate-sequence mean -alpha off OUT.tif

This will take all the aligned images and blend them using the mean of the pixels and save it as OUT.tif

This is where the magic happens. That reduces the level of noise in your result photo AND blends the exposures so you get the similar effect to the one you would get if you shot a long-exposure shot. Patrick David explains it very well in his post.

We’re almost there

Open OUT.tif in your favorite image editor, such as GIMP or Photoshop and edit to your liking. I straightened it out a bit, rotated by 90 degrees, played a bit with saturation and curves, reduced some noise and added a signature in the sand. Voila!

This is what you do with a crappy camera!

Take this, try it out, and share your results with me by tagging me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or in the comments below.
If I did this using 0.3 MP phone camera, imagine what you could do with your 10x larger (or more) smart-phone camera 😉
Do you have any nice hacks or techniques for improving photography you would like to share?

Not So Lonely – Revisited

 Not So Lonely - RevisitedI was here two years ago. Things were different. There was no road, it took some ‘hiking’ on the shore or a boat to get there, and I didn’t have a boat, so guess what it was. 🙂 For the last, toughest part, I went alone, my dad drove me to some point but stayed, no-one was crazy enough to follow me there.

Nevertheless, I felt connected with the nature and with the people of the world. It was positive. Good times.

Fast forward two years. People built a road, now you can drive a car all the way through. The shore as I remembered it was gone. This pier, a lone tree and a small ruin nearby were the only indicators that I’m really back.

But this time I wasn’t alone (nor lonely). I’ve had a wonderful companion, plus there were all these people using the road to check out parts of the nature that they previously weren’t able to. Except, that same road changed the nature they are visiting into something more familiar, less wild, in comparison almost like watching TV or visiting a ZOO.
Since they didn’t know it as it was before, they lost nothing, only gained a new experience, so they were laughing, kids were running around, parents occasionally yelling at them, blissful…
The road will also make the land more alluring to the tourists and/or investors so new houses or hotels may spring up, creating jobs and opportunities for the locals.
And the nature isn’t changed all that much (yet), only the pretty shallow waters and interesting foreground rocks are missing, they surely weren’t thinking of photographers when making this one…

Times change. For better or worse, depends on who you’re asking.

Things change. We adjust.

The Uprising Of Autonomous Robots

When the robot uprising begins, don’t try to take on our new overlords by throwing assorted household items at them. It won’t work!
Greg Kumparak

catcher

It’s not just the catching part what’s interesting here, it’s the way hand learns how to do it.

More and more parts of autonomous human-like robots are getting figured out across the globe. They are getting faster, lighter, and use artificial intelligence to learn the desired behaviour.

I’m creating a simple artificial life simulation for my thesis, and this interests me deeply.

A couple of years ago, I’ve seen first drones coming to life. They were home/lab built and required extensive knowledge to come by.
Today you can get them online for as low as couple hundred dollars. They get bigger, are used to carry stuff like cameras, in aerial photography, and companies like Amazon talk about using them as autonomous delivery systems.

We’re at the phase where most of the needed technology exists, scattered around the world in different labs, developed by different teams. Collecting all that into one product, providing SDK with “smart stuff” built in, and packaging it into an affordable packet, will take some more time.

Whoever does it first, will start a revolution bigger than the smartphone, and I want in!

A Peace Of Mind

This beautiful place is situated on south-east of Kostanj cove on island Ugljan, and there isn’t much info I could find about it. Sources don’t agree on most of what I was able to come up with… People either don’t know, or just don’t care. So instead of being a historian, after spitting out little what I found out, I’m going to try to describe you the feeling of being there.

That will make you appreciate the place much more than any (in)accurate historic information could.

This precious thing (st Jerome church) was built in either 13th or 15th century in either Gothic or Romanesque style. Details, eh?
It was rebuilt to a current state in 1996.
through efforts of parishioners and congregation Brethren of the Croatian Dragon“. (Družba “Braće hrvatskog zmaja”). And that’s about it. If you have any more (or more accurate) info, please let me know 🙂

It’s very remote from the nearest place you can come to by car. The usual way I come here is by foot via long, curvy and narrow (about meter or few feet wide) concrete path on the shore where waves occasionally kiss the path.
The concrete part of this path ends before you reach the church so you have to climb up into the thick pine forest and continue your trip. After a while, the forest thins down and you get to see a little glade with a tiny church on it’s highest point on your left and you’re there.

Even in the peak of summer season, you will rarely see people there. Sometimes they put up tents on the glade and spend their afternoon or a night or two but they are mostly just passing by to the Kostanj cove not far away.

After an hour or so walk by the sea, it’s finally time and place to sit down on the thin grass and pine needles, and relax, listen to crickets and wind, enjoy the sun and feel the unity of nature and everything.
Let it sink in and suddenly you have a different perspective on the world and your problems. Just allowing yourself to breathe as the nature breathes, solutions start to represent themselves in a clear and memorable way.

It’s quite unique experience repeatable only by coming there again.

Stranded Or Free?

 Stranded Or Free
This question is similar to the half-empty versus half-full glass. It’s a matter of preference. Of viewpoint.

Here am I sitting, thinking about stranded versus free and getting a deadlock. It’s a really tough issue to address.
Glass is easy, it’s always full, really, it has air in it.

Let’s set some ground-rules, life is unpredictable, you never know what will happen next, you can only assume and hope. Like Heraklit once said “Only change constant is”.

You can be hanging on a tree, being part of something bigger, enjoying the community, trying to fit in, maybe even fitting in perfectly and enjoying it. Or you can break of, hit the sea, and see where the waves take you.
The tree may fall down, die of, or get hit by a lightning and burn up, or things can go smoothly and you live this one season, and plant the seeds for the young plants to start their life in the shadows of giants, fighting for little sun, just as this giant you’re hanging of, did.

Breaking of, hitting the sea, you get outcasted by the “big whole” who won’t ever take you back again. Waves will take you to far away places, or those near by, depending on the will of gods of the sea, or mother nature, or whoever you want to call in for help. You get to rot away in the sea or washed out on a sandy beach, or a rocky one. Someone might pick you up and throw you back in, or further away on some fertile ground, or the sand may eat you out. You might be getting a new chance of life. You might start a new great “big whole” of your own on a place where it has never been one if that’s your thing, and share the inheritance of your ancestors, or you can be a lone wolf and travel the seas as long as the lady luck lets you. Whatever you like better.

Those who stay and succeed, keep the forest alive. Those who leave and succeed, make the forest spread and grow beyond anything before imaginable.

You can fail anywhere. Not every seed becomes a tree. If you have to, fail on the trip you like. That way you may not get to your destination, but you’ll like living it.

Stranded or free?

Whatever you want it to be. If you’re at a place where you want to be, you’re free, if you’re not, you’re stranded.

No road guaranties to lead you to satisfaction, take the one that satisfies you on the way.
There is nothing wrong living the way everybody else does if you like it, keep the forest alive!
If that’s not for you, we could use more explorers 😉

This takes your risk away!

So what is it? Stranded or free?

Zagreb Cathedral

 Zagreb Cathedral

The Zagreb Cathedral stands on Kaptol as the tallest building in Croatia! Its spires can be seen from many locations in the city. This particular shot was taken from Lotrščak Tower on an autumn night.

This, typically Gothic cathedral, is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus.

Interesting History

Construction of this monument started in 1093. Few hundred years later, in 1242, Tatars destroyed it. Another few hundred years later, in 15th century, the Ottoman Empire invaded Bosnia and Croatia, triggering the construction of fortification walls around the cathedral, some of which are still intact. Fast forward couple more centuries later (17th), a fortified renaissance watchtower was erected on the south side, and was used as a military observation point, because of the Ottoman threat.

Cathedral was again severely damaged in 1880. This time due to natural causes, earthquake…
The main nave collapsed and the tower was damaged beyond repair. The restoration in the Neo-Gothic style was led by Hermann Bollé, bringing the cathedral to its present form.
As part of that restoration, two spires were raised 108 m (354 ft) high on the western side. You can see one of them still being restored.

Let’s say the cathedral had its ups and downs with both, people and nature being against it.

It’s still standing tall, awaiting next disaster trying to bring it to the knees…
So far it has no knees so I don’t see that happening any time soon 😉

Few Simple Guidelines To A More Meaningful Life

 Powerful SimplicityRelax. Free your mind. Accept it. You’re here. And you ought to stay for a while.

Boredom

You might just do something meaningful. Boredom doesn’t like it. Boredom tries to stay away from meaningful.
By all means avoid everything meaningful if you like being bored. Being bored is hard while you do meaningful stuff.

This is the same logic I saw in a Charlie Brown comic a while back on a different subject. It made me smile. Then it made me think. Then it made me change my posture. It was a posture related gig.

Meaningful

Meaningful doesn’t mean the same to me and you. Don’t do stuff I find meaningful. Unless you find them meaningful too. In which case let’s do them together. And I really mean it. 🙂
Apply the same rule to everybody else.

Friends

Friends are weird. You find some random human and think to yourself ‘Hey, I like this one’, and then you go and do shit together.” – read the fortune cookie. Or was that a digital equivalent to a fortune cookie (yeah, text in an image). Except you can’t eat an image, eh…
When did people stop making choices on the course of their life in the same way they choose their friends?

Simplify

Simplify.
Clutter sucks. Clutter shields your view. Clutter makes you miss things. Obvious things.
Things like there are some friends who you didn’t choose based on the fortune-cookie rule above. But you call them friends anyway. Because they are always here. They are always here because you’re a tool. You’re a tool to them. They use you and abuse you. They are the clutter. Loose them. You’ll have more room for those you like. Simplify.
Apply the same rule to everything else.

Final

Final and probably the most important.
There are places in time or in space where you would like to be. There are also things you like and enjoy doing. And of course there are people who you like to spend your time with.
Life is like dance, it doesn’t consists only of steps you make, but of the motion between those steps. Steps are here just so you know where you are on the dance-floor. Dancing is everything in between.
Let’s make a straight-forward sentence out of this:
Locate the places where you wanna be, things you like doing and friends you wanna keep around, and then find a way to get to that places using means you like doing. Don’t keep track. Improvise.

What steps are you taking?

Offices In The Sky

Sky Office TowerReaching 22 stories high, these twin-tower sky offices are built to represent a landmark of the western entrance into Zagreb, capital city of Croatia.

Sky Office Towers are built with green in mind. In addition to recycling, sustainability promotion and education, supervising energy consumption and reduced waste amounts, it adds an overall feel of green by hosting Sky Garden.

Sky Garden

Sky Garden is a two-story-high space on the 7th floor between the elliptic towers.
In addition to a panoramic view of the city it has trees planted and wooden benches. It provides a quick getaway from work and allows people to rest a bit all while being wirelessly connected to a high-speed internet connection. I’d recommend not using it if you want to truly get away and rest 🙂
Meteorological station on the roof of the tower is connected to the central supervising system and makes the adjustment of all the systems to the outdoor state, possible.

Is this the kind of place you would like to be working at, or youre more of a something different?