February 25, 2008

Photography basics - a great technical walkthrough

What a nice train model, isn't it? Well, actually not, your brain has just been fooled, with the help of a bit of photoshop (well, maybe more than a bit) and some wise depth of field optical trick.
The original image is here. If by this line you don't care about the technical stuff behind, just stick to the neatness of this 'photoshopped' image and ignore the rest.

For all you photography enthusiasts out there, i found a great resource for learning about the basics of optics involved in the camera settings/parameters on Microsoft's channel 10 (which by the way, has lots of interesting stuff for geeks).

I've seen a few pages trying to take you through the principles of photography but none of them succeeded in offering detailed explanations for all the technical stuff like this one. And i hate physics, we should get this clear from the beginning, so I'm not a technical freak. But it's really useful to know the story behind all the camera settings to get a better understanding of what's actually going on with all the light and lenses. For me these articles filled some knowledge gaps i had for quite a while.

It tends to get a bit too technical, so it's not for everyone, but haven't you always wondered for example, what is the resolution of the human eye? Or what defines sharpness? Or, God forbid, whether you have become a bokeh whore (i'm not linking to this one, you should read and discover the meaning yourselves).

February 21, 2008

Homer Simpson, Rembrand style

My art section strikes again!

Well, if this ain't art, i donnow what is :D
Here's a cool collection of Simpsons paintings via clandestino.
And there's more funny stuff too

February 18, 2008

Movies ain't what they used to be

With all the political correctness - viewed in a broader sense - that censors most of the western culture's possible offensive parts, it's quite difficult to enjoy a movie that allows the director to display his ideas exactly the way he meant to show them, without any artificial barriers, all in the name of art.

This is what came to my mind after having seen ... ...novecento, a remarkable epic movie depicting generations of the same family of peasants in rural Italy living their anguished life throughout the politically divided environment at the beginning of the century.

The movie that lasts 5h in the uncut version, is molded on the lives of peasants and their fight for their rights and has some very raw scenes that make it so believable and natural. And believe me you can hardly get bored watching this movie. I had to do it in 3 stages because of the lack of time but it is quite captivating.

There were scenes in the movie that would be totally unacceptable in a contemporary movie in the name of political correctness or whatever you might call it, or even suppose the scenes would be allowed, it would be with the price of a very strong advisory rating.

I haven't seen many old movies so far, but i was surprised and bewildered at some of the scenes such as the slaughtering of pigs or a duck hunt that showed the agonizing birds which fell in the water. I bet quite a bunch of animals were seriously harmed during the making of this film, and if you come to think of it, why wouldn't they be if it's in the name of art? Why would we feel better knowing that ducks didn't die in a movie while we thrust our teeth in a juicy roast duck sitting in our comfy chairs? If this isn't petty hypocrisy then what is?

If countless animals get killed for food daily, why wouldn't a couple die on the screen? It doesn't look good? It's better not to know how that salami got to be in the fridge, or maybe that fur coat on the hanger? You betcha! (I haven't converted to be a vegetarian, but i was just thinking about this no-harmed-animals-in-movies policy)

Moving from the animal issue, there were scenes such as menage-a-trois with an epileptic, naked children, de niro naked, and other stuff more or less shocking such as massaging a horse's ass. I think these things spice the movie just at the right moments so you don't get bored watching.

One down side of the movie was the dubbing, because it was quite obvious none of the versions had the original voices (there's a stew of actors of different nationalities in the movie). I had the first 2h in Italian and the rest in English. I'm inclined to say the Italian part sounded better since it all happened there it makes it more believable, however DeNiro and Depardieu's original voices were dubbed. The English version allowed young DeNiro to talk but canceled most of the other characters' original voices which made them sound rather funny.

Another downside is that the director insists too much on the political aspect of the movie, himself being an advocate of communism in his youth. This results in pathetic scenes towards the end of the movie showing how the communist proletariat vanquishes the last trace of 'despotic ' ownership of the bourgeois ruling class. I was a bit disappointed by the movie ending this way, but I warmly recommend it nevertheless, at least to see the surprisingly young DeNiro and Depardieu(same big nose though)

February 13, 2008

Art nouveau meets manga

I ran into the website/blog of Audrey Kawasaki, painter and erotic artist, as she's described on wikipedia, the artwork is quite amazing, although i could see it a bit commercial, to put it this way. The detail on the lips, eyes is remarkable though. You can take a look yourselves at her recent exhibition online - isn't the internet great?!

Really, if you come to think about it, it's wonderful to be able to see beautiful artwork from your comfy seat in front of the pc, without having to pay/visit galleries. Of course the artists deserve not only verbal recognition but also some $. I'd even be willing to pay for seeing some remarkable artist's online gallery.

Although, as far as I'm concerned, I'm too little preoccupied of enjoying art in front of the screen and it's a pity. I guess I'm not used to this but rather to the conventional way in which I actually go to some gallery as if that place alone gives some higher importance to the works of art. I've actually seen some horrible crap at the modern art musem in Prague and wondered how in the world they got to be there. For example, a guy spilling the guts of a sheep onto a naked girl. There were life size photos in b/w and color (the color were simply too hard to stand).

Coming back to the subject, there probably are lots of amazing works out there on the net. I'm going to start a new art label and try to fill it with what amazes me.

February 12, 2008

Daca nu v-am convins pana acum :p

...despre minunile calatoritului relativ mocca prin lume, iata un articol cu greutate tocmai din dilema veche in care un tip ca oricare dintre noi, descopera cu reticenta necesara, cat de faina este ideea de couch surfing.

Viva la revolucion! (apropo de turismul in haita, industrial)!


February 7, 2008

Venice pictures

They're now here, watch them while they're steamin'.

Exploring Europe on dire straits

I ran into the travel blog of Kris Mole, a guy just like you and me who travels around Europe.
So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

The catch is, he's doing it without spending a dime, not because he's cheap or anything, but because he just doesn't carry any. I'd like to think he doesn't believe in money, that there are things more important in life than a bunch of printed papers everyone gets crazy about. He's wondering around Europe, relying on the kindness of people instead, a much more valuable attribute.

By now he might look like a beggar to you, but he's not. He's raising awareness and more importantly, funds, to support cancer research, having been motivated to do so by his aunt who died because of it.

It's a very original way of doing it and I really admire him for having such guts to take on this adventure, that's why I encourage you to support him if you can. This goes especially to my Romanian friends that should check out his posts about Bucharest. I was really surprised to see what a good impression it has made on him :)

And if he gets to inspire any of you to do such crazy things, make sure you tell me about it :p

February 6, 2008

Romania, official guest of the carnival in Venice

Starting this year the Carnival in Venice will invite a nation to display its culture. It sounds very nice and it will certainly add more appeal to the festivities that are already very popular.

One of the very pleasant surprises of the carnival was when I found out that Romania was the first nation to be invited to the Venice carnival. This poster actually advertises only the Romanian events of the carnival, spanning across the whole period of the carnival. I heard that in total there were around 200 artists taking part in the artistic events.
During my short 12h stay in Venice I wasn't able to attend any but I'm sure they stood up to the height of the festival :)

Looking forward to seeing Italy as an official guest of the medieval festival in Sighisoara, for instance :)

February 4, 2008

12 ore la Venetia

Probabil unele din cele mai bine petrecute ore din toate calatoriile de pana acum in ciuda unei vremi destul de nasoale: cer infofolit in straturi dense de nori din care ploua mocaneste.

Pana acum, vremea a fost un factor destul de hotarator in calatoriile prin care ne-am aventurat, si am observat ca facea diferenta cand venea vorba de cat de frumos ni s-a parut locul respectiv.

Cu Venetia a fost insa o cu totul alta poveste, vremea, desi cam trista, a fost un factor aproape neglijabil pentru ca orasul este absolut minunat si nimic nu mai conteaza; cred ca se poate merge acolo si de sfarsitul lumii si cu siguranta asta n-o sa impiedice pe nimeni sa se simta minunat in Venetia pentru acolo e o alta lume deja :) . Mai ales de carnaval!

Am plecat cu oferta unei firme de autobuze din Praga care propunea o 'calatorie de cultura' de 24h(pe autobuz) si 12h in Venetia. A fost obositor, a plouat dar a meritat din plin! Venetia e unul din cele mai frumoase orase in care am fost alaturi de Praga si Lisabona as putea spune, pentru ca nu prea se pot compara orasele, fiecare e special in felul sau dar unele te impresioneaza mai mult decat altele.

Asadar, la 7:30 eram in singurul loc in care este acces rutier in Venetia, piazzale Roma si de-acolo am pornit-o (8 romani eram in total) cu grupul de cehi, indieni, asiatici si alte natii conlocuitoare din Praga care s-au imbarcat la calatoria asta, catre piazza San Marco, centrul Venetiei in care exista palatul Dogelui, catedrala San Marco si Biblioteca.

De cum am vazut primul canal si am pasit primul podulet am fost vrajit de oras si m-am trezit cu un zambet larg pe fata, pe care, pentru ca nu ma deranja, l-am lasat acolo sa-mi bucure spiritul mai toata ziua si sa faca in ciuda ploii care oricum nu conta. Ploaia parea ca face parte din peisajul atat de acvatic al Venetiei.

Acum, ca o paranteza, ar trebui sa explic putin optimismul debordant cu care am atacat problema ploii din Venetia: mi-am luat bocancii destul de impermeabili, si rezerve care ar fi intimidat si cea mai torentiala ploaie: vreo 3 perechi de sosete, pantaloni de schimb, si, la piece de resistance, prima mea umbrela cumparata cu 50Kc(2 euro) de la IKEA care merita o medalie pt a nu se fi dizolvat la prima utilizare.

Asa, ramasesem la primul pod trecut... au urmat multe altele pana la San Marco, si nici n-am simtit cand a trecut aproape o ora pana ce am ajuns acolo. Am trecut printr-o sumedenie de pasaje care mai de care mai inguste si am savurat goliciunea lor din orele diminetii care le permitea sa mai rasufle un pic de hoardele de turisti care le umpleau in restul timpului. Pentru mine a fost un privilegiu sa descopar orasul care mai motia juma' de ora inainte sa se trezeasca sub pasii zgomotosi ai turistilor, cu stradutele lui cu pavaj din piatra umeda, o fereastra deschisa de la care un mosulica se uita contrariat la noi - ce statut e sa fii locuitor al Venetiei! -, gunoierii strecurandu-se cu dibacie cu niste caruturi speciale pana la cel mai apropiat canal unde ii astepta o barca care colecta gunoaie, o piata de legume pe o straduta ingusta peste care am dat intamplator si un vanzator care a exclamat impaciuitor cand ne-a vazut pe toti incercand sa trecem printre laditele cu zarzavaturi si fructe impecabile, "c'e posto per tutti!", mirosul proaspat de patiserie care dezmierda sagalnic nasurile noastre. Totul pare sa fi fost organizat intentionat incat sa te treaca prin experienta intima a parcurgerii orasului inainte de a-i descoperi centrul, spatiul deschis cu generozitate al Pietii San Marco unde adevarate bijuterii arhitectonice care privesc catre deschiderea lagunei, te lasa cu gura cascata.

Cat ne-am mai invartit noi pe-acolo - apropo costa 1euro sa mergi la buda la venetia, un fel de monopol al primariei care vinde chiar abonamente! pt asta - piata a inceput sa se umple de turisti si deja presimteam ca n-o sa mai pot savura goliciunea orasului. A fost totusi suficient caci altfel si-ar pierde farmecul, ca si alte goliciuni dealtfel, care vizibile tot timpul si-ar pierde la randul lor orice urma de mister si nu ar mai trezi niciun interes.

Fiind totusi destul de dimineata, am profitat sa vizitam palatul Dogelui la orele respective. Citisem pe autobuz ca n-ar fi foarte impresionant dat fiind ca dogele era numit democratic spre deosebire de un rege bunaoara care se bucura de mai mult lux. Intr-adevar camerele dogelui nu impresionau mai ales ca nu aveau mobila (dogele venea si pleca cu mobila de-acasa) dar camerele oficiale m-au impresionat profund, de la incaperi cu aer ezoteric in care se reuneau consilii restranse si privilegiate, la o sala uriasa in care se reuneau toti nobilii Venetiei. Sala asta are aprox 50m pe 25m si e destul de unica in lume, avand si una din cele mai mari fresce din lume, pe intreg peretele de 25m. Impresionant.

Cand am iesit, pe la pranz (da, e mare palatul asta si merita cei 12euro pt bilet+4 pt ghidul audio), deja piata era un furnicar de oameni care se concentrau palcuri-palcuri in jurul personajelor mascate care-si faceau aparitia subtil pe dupa coloane. In catedrala San Marco n-am mai intrat ca era o ditamai coada. Am luat-o hai hui pe 'faleza' din fata pietei si ne-am aventurat(dupa ce am cumparat strategic o harta, ca gratis nu se gasea) pe stradutele labirintice care duceau in inima orasului. Din loc in loc, stradutele se deschid in mici piete foarte pitoresti unde ar fi trebuit in mod normal sa fie niscai activitati carnavalesti, daca nu ploua. Intr-una din astfel de piete miniaturale am vazut un turn destul de inclinat care datorita vreunui motiv obscur, nu e deloc celebru ca var-su mai decorat din Pisa. Poate decoratiile care-i lipseau sunt motivul, sau poate ca venetia are prea multe atractii ca turnul ala sa mai conteze.

Am reusit sa vedem toate cele trei poduri importante de peste canalul principal care imparte oarecum orasul in doua, as zice ca cel de la Accademia ofera cea mai spectaculoasa priveliste. Ponte di Rialto e mult prea aglomerat deobicei si, imho, overrated.

Cel mai fermecator lucru din venetia insa este sa te pierzi pe stradutele intesate de canale si piete pitoresti si sa nu ai nicio graba sa gasesti drumul catre o destinatie anume.

In conditiile in care trebuie insa sa gasesti rapid o destinatie, disperarea nu este decat la un pas departare, mai ales cand nu ai o harta, pentru ca daca locatia nu e unul din punctele de atractie e aproape imposibil de gasit. In situatia asta am fost oarecum cand a trebuit sa ne intoarcem pentru ca am subestimat vag timpul necesar de intoarcere, neluand in calcul posibile erori de navigatie. Asa ca la un moment dat am luat-o la pas grabit pe stradutele labirintice si nu am mai beneficiat de senzatiile incantatoare de dimineata. Am vazut totusi cu ocazia detour-ului si ponte degli Scalzi, langa gara (noi trebuia sa ajungem la autogara) pe care l-am traversat inutil (aceasi eroare de navigatie).

Important este insa ca am ajuns la locul stabilit si duminica dimineata am ajuns in Praga unde tocmai rasarea un soare ironic pe un cer supersenin, dar rece.