archives / tags

that guy in cuba

Date Tags photo

Obviously I remember quite clearly this photo and the entire NYT photo essay on Cuba . I remember it because it also came up on TOP along with a pretty much sterile discussion about how truthful or not were the color rendition in these photographs:

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pretty pictures of cuba

Date Tags photo

Last year I went to Cuba with my wife and my daughter. Before the trip I was overwhelmed with the weight of Cuba and its iconic tropes (the cars, the beautiful people, the cigars); after the trip I became annoyed with the whole thing however, realizing that the photographic essence of Cuba is as fake as the oversaturated, foamy waters landscapes that pollute the passionate photographer visual experience these days.

One little example: you know those american cars that nobody fails to mention each time you talk about Cuba? Turns out most of them they’re empty shells, the original V8 engines gone and replaced by cheap, reliable and easy to service Toyota 4-cylinder diesels. Overlooking this detail is a criminal act in my view. Photographing them like they were real american muscle cars from the 50s and not tourist traps is to betray the honesty of your photographs.

FAKE!
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late review of the fuji x-pro1

I think that camera reviews should be written either within 3 months from initial purchase or after a much longer time, like 5 years maybe. After a few weeks of use, any average photographer would know by heart button locations, quickly change the camera settings, know what’s the highest ISO and the minimum usable shutter speeds, how the autofocus works and so on. And obviously shot a few hundreds photographs in different locations and situations.

After this initial period, he is either using the camera (and enjoying it) or decided to look elsewhere. And if he continues to use that camera, he starts to find loopholes, alternative ways to go around certain defects, until he no longer remembers what was the problem in the first place — and the longer way to accomplish a task becomes the norm.

So this is the moment to write something about the camera; when you’re still excited by the toy, but you also think about the many things that could be fixed. When you can honestly tell others what works, what doesn’t, and find an argument to why you see yourself clinging to the toy until the end of times.

And that is really my plan here, to put down in words1 what I think about this Fuji X-Pro1 that I bought second hand a few months ago; an “old” camera (I believe it came out almost 5 years ago), that according to the general consensus deserves nothing better than a place in memory lane.

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backcountry pyrenees

October 2016, I finally get the chance to ride my Nicolai Mojo in a proper setting. And what a test it has been!

I have been riding for seven days straight on some wonderful trails mostly around the Huesca province in Spain, south of the Pyrenees. That means mostly Ainsa, for the more knowledgeable bikers, that may remember the 2015 Enduro World Series race.

And yes I should mention the geological significance of Ainsa too. In fact, I have been in this part of the world years ago — around 2006 if memory serves well — but honestly the emotions you get from riding on these rocks are way above those you get from studying them.

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fuji-me-too

The long Norwegian September is a period of the year when I’m still very much in holiday-mode, with my skin still burning from the southern italian sunshine, and at the same time dreading the dark winter ahead. It is a period when my congenital hatred for office life and rituals reach the highest peak; it is a period where all these first-world problems are channeled into the research of a new camera to play with1.

My trusted (and hypothetical) readers know that I have a subdued (and long-standing) attraction for Leicas. Prices and other factors have so far kept me from going that crazy route; perhaps one of these factors is Fuji, a historical brand that, a few years ago, pulled out of the blue a series of cameras and tools that rival Leica in terms of pure appeal (and probably destroys it if we consider the price/performance ratio). This is why I bought a second-hand Fuji X-Pro1 with a 35mm f/2 lens (smaller and faster than the iconic 35/1.4). All for the outrageous price of six-hundred euros. Compare to the cost of a brand new X-Pro2 or XT-1 before commenting on the stupidity of buying a 4-years old camera.

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geolandscapes

Date Tags photo Lang it

I have kept this yellow notepad for I don’t know how long.

It serves the basic purpose of taking notes but it’s tough and water resistant too. Real geologists use this kind of notepad when they’re out in the field to record events, log rocks, sketch outcrops, maybe draw funny faces too.

I am not a real geologist but I have had the opportunity from time to time to visit interesting places. I thought this notebook would be ideal to collect what I call my geolandscapes.

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capturing things

Date Tags photo

How can you capture the wind on a photograph? How can you make the viewer feel the cold or the warmth of a place? How can you make landscape photography communicate the sense of a place? Can a photo be a substitute for the simple, raw emotions that one feels when he’s out in the woods or in the mountains?

These are the things that lately have been on my mind. I’m pretty sure it all started with something that Andrew Molitor wrote on his brilliant blog. He keeps bashing on these points but right now I will not search those two or three relevant posts but here’s the gist of it (or more correctly, my interpretation):

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worst wedding photographer ever

Date Tags photo

Wedding photography is something like newborn photography; cheesy, kitsch and very very false. Obviously I’m talking about the kind of wedding and newborn photography which is most in vogue nowadays (i.e., the first hits you get when googling these keywords).

I just happened to read Milnor’s blog that featured an interview with some wedding photographer I didn’t know — and i still don’t know — but what was interesting was the little background story Milnor wrote so I thought about something:

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sirdal

Date Tags photo

the molitor collaboration

Date Tags photo

Forget what I said in previous posts. I may still have some sympathies for Laroque and Simpson and Johnston but I have reached a place where there are no more photographic heroes for me on the web.

Unless you count Andrew Molitor, of course1.

There are so many wonderful ideas on his blog, and once you start reading you realize what’s missing from the internet these days; the excitement that I still remember from the days when the web was young, when you could discover brilliance without the taint of money-making.

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rock physics templates

Yesterday I started to write a little background story to introduce a post on how I use Python and how fun and creative that is. However, the “little background story” started to grow and became something else entirely, so I decided to cut off the science part and leave it for this post here.

So here we are: this post ...

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geoscience and python

Since I picked up Python a couple of years ago I have enjoyed my everyday job more and more. It’s like being thrown back to my 12-year old self playing with a ZX Spectrum or Commodore-128, when all I wanted was to create videogames or do some other stuff1; only back then I didn’t have the perseverance and the excuses that I have now.

Excuses” is a fine word for what I do; I am assigned a task (or sometimes I go looking for one), and I see this task only as an excuse to solve the problem in a way that I see fit. So if there’s even a hint of repetition I will go and write a for-loop to do that. If I need to use a dumb-ass software that I don’t like I will write the dumb-ass piece of code myself2. Etc.

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a little camera

I wanted to get a Leica this time. For real.

You know Leica: stupidly expensive cameras that are more likely to be kept in a closet or worn like a piece of jewellery than actually used (it wasn’t like that before, when actual journalists back in the fifties used it as a fast, robust little camera to be used in the field).

Anyway, even if now they seem to be more of a fashion statement, I have always liked the impression of solidity, their simplicity, and that funky way of setting the focus1. But I would have never considered one for real if I had not played with the original Monochrom; that really changed something, the simple pleasure of using and holding this rather large, deceiptively simple and “dense” camera changed somehow my perception of Leicas. I will be honest and declare it right now that none of this matters when it comes to photography; but I’m talking about something else here, I’m talking about very elementary pleasures that are tangentially related to the actual making of photographs; the same pleasure that I get from using bycicles or a Faber-Castell pencil for example.

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get those flickr urls

Warning: this is serious nerdy stuff. Not for the faint of heart. Carry on reading if:

  • you know what Python is
  • you have a blog, but not the easy kind like Tumblr or Blogger, something that allows you to write in HTML (or Markdown), e.g. Pelican or Jekyll
  • you have a Flickr account and want to post links to photos or albums in said blog
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nicolai mojo

Since I last wrote about (stolen) bikes my friend Phil (from T-P 2010) convinced me to get a bike which I would have never thought of buying; a short-travel, full-suspension Norco with 29” wheels. The price was very reasonable too, which I think was essential for my decision.

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pelican lives

Date Tags tech

Well it seems I have successfully ported my blog to Pelican. After hacking my way through jekyll to make the site look like I wanted it to look, I had the irresistible urge to try out Pelican.

And I liked it so much it seemed logical to spend a few more sleepless nights to make it work. Honestly though, that ...

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last iteration

Date Tags tech

Yes I know, the last post before this one is dated March 2015.

But stuff happened, and I will write another time about our recent move to Norway. This is just a brief post to mark the day that I have finally uploaded to github the latest iteration of my Jekyll blog.

If you fancy a bit of history, in ...

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black and white

Date Tags photo

I have had this Nikon FM2 laying around in my house for some time now. It has not seen much action though.

You see, I started taking photos when I was sixteen or seventeen with a Yashica FX3, and I don’t really have any kind of nostalgia for those times when I had to wait days before realizing I ...

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The only type of competition I have ever enjoyed is two-wheeled racing; I have raced motorbikes and mountain bikes in the past (and I will probably continue to do so once this daddy thing wears off).

In this sort of competition there is no subjectivity; if you go faster than everybody else, you finish first. If you are slow, if ...

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