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Showing posts from December, 2006

Pattern Recognition

If one reads enough science magazines, one absorbs the idea that a key evolutionary survival characteristic is the ability for animals to recognize patterns. The hominid process of elaboration on this particular ability has resulted in things like superstition, the ability to recognize patterns where they don’t really exist.

Spring at Smith and Bybee Lakes isn’t a clear cut process. Trees rooted at the edge of an uncertain lake can’t decide if they’re waking from winter slumber or drowning. Yet life displays its exuberance to propagate in forms besides budding tree branches, like this head-start patch of Irises schooled in vowel forms.

In one of those annoying coincidences that are used by people to prove there aren't any coincidences, I had been told about Zen masters who spend inordinate amounts of time, painting and repainting Zen circles just days before venturing out to the lakes. Like most things about Zen, the importance of painting simple looking circles over and over large…


Last year (2005) at the end of October, my supervisor at work told me about a program called Hawkwatch. The Hawkwatch people set up a tagging operation at Bonney Butte, a place in the cascades where because of geography - valleys and mountain ridges - three major raptor migration paths converge.

The peak in the background is Mt. Hood. The location of the Hawkwatch blind is approximately several hundred feet beyond the big tree in the upper right hand corner. Outside of the blind is a stunt pigeon dressed in a little leather vest. It is the pigeon’s job to act as bait for the eagles and hawks that happen to pass by on their way to warmer climates. In much the same way that a herring can be tied to fishing-line to attract bigger fish, the pigeon is also tied to a line. Whenever the pigeon attempts to fly away, a Hawkwatch specialist inevitably yanks on the line and causes the pigeon to crash awkwardly, making it appear to be embarrassingly clumsy. This evidently is too tempting of a targ…

Pondering 'Depth of Field'

I was monkey-ing around with depth of field the other night.

FIGURE 1. In this image, the aperture value = 29, and the shutter speed , = 30 seconds under these dim lighting conditions.

FIGURE 2. Here, the aperture value = 4.5, and the shutter speed = 1.3 seconds.

There seems to be three main factors that affect the depth of field: The focal length of the lens, the aperture, and the distance of the subject in relation to the background and the lens.

Here I tried to limit the variables to just the aperture. For these images the global values are: An 18-55mm zoom lens (in this case the focal length was set at 35mm). I also had the camera set to aperture priority.

The sock monkey was sitting about 3 feet from the front of the lens, and approximately 4 feet beyond the monkey sits the monitor. The depth of field in Fig. 2 is quite narrow. The material in the chair immediately behind the monkey is already starting to blur (compare to Fig. 1)

The monitor sets up a backlighting situation which I tri…

Existing in "The Moment".

I was able to visit the coast on the day after Thanksgiving.

I had been dealing with an important audio-visual project and when I wasn’t planning for a trip, I was scanning pictures until early morning and if not, I was worrying about it. Either way, I wasn’t getting much sleep. And then I got blindsided by a cold that I couldn't get rid of.

So, on the 18th, the presentation went off without a hitch and I was finished and then all the details of Thanksgiving were over and suddenly I had a moment when I didn’t have to do anything (not counting a growing stack of dishes) and like I said, I was able to go to the beach.

But it didn’t appear to be such a great day to go to the beach. Snow was threatening to fall in the passes, and rain was enthusiastically falling everywhere else. Once or twice a patch of blue sky hinted at an alternative to November’s moisture onslaught, but mostly these hints proved to be cruel teasing.

By some cosmic gift of timing, I ended up at Oswald State Park in-be…