Saturday, April 30, 2011

Active shoes and weather

I wrote earlier about "active weather", and today we had it: sunshine, clouds, rain, sunshine, rain, clouds, sunshine, ... For a photographer, it was great indeed.

And then about shoes: as I have written a few times, I bought in March new hiking shoes made by Sievi. Now after six weeks and 150-200 km of use, I feel quite good about them.

The Sievi shoes are sturdy, waterproof, and very good on rough terrain. But only when the weather is cool enough, 10 °C or less. I wore them one day when it was wet and +18 °C, and it wasn't so nice then. But today it was cool, only about +8 °C, after the rain.

While walking together with the wife, we saw some things not good at all: someone is using the roadside for dumping their old home electronics. Not nice. (Maybe be this is what the Basic Finns party means when they say that "green is out".)

And one more word about the Nokia E7: I found another use for the device. It is good for taking self-portraits when out in the forest, thanks to the reflective display.

Views on water

Water is a good helper for taking photographs, in multiple ways.

Friday, April 29, 2011

End of week - some thoughts about the Nokia E7

Today was a busy, busy day at work, pondering big things with colleagues, trying to get some sense out of things happening. But it was good, learning things together.

Here are some hasty shapshots from today. Not much time for that, or energy.

And then: devices. I'm still learning the Nokia E7. And no, I haven't used it for taking photographs much, and none of the photographs has been any good.

Also, I'm finding some irritating things, such as the fact of accidentally activating some function by touching the touch screen. Always, always remember to lock the phone!

A colleague has used the E7 for a couple of months, and said that it is not a good phone. Lots of hassle with it.

And indeed, I have noticed that there are usability issues, some minor, some potentially major. For example, the Nokia Ovi service seems to be occasionally flaky, needed several attempts to connect. And it is often slow.

And because things are complex and not easy-to-use, they stay unused. As an example, I haven't used the map service much, after the first experiments. It just is a little bit too hard to use.

There is a general feeling of being-not-ready, of rough edges, of not being simple to use. Very different from Apple who polishes until their devices are something to be proud of. Or so it seems - I have never really used an iPhone or an iPad, only seen them being used, and heard a lot of testimonials of their virtue. (But I sort of know the feeling, being an MacBook Pro and iMac user.)

Finally, regarding the Nokia E7, there is the fact that Nokia is kicking Symbian out. Nokia is moving symbian experts away from the company (to Accenture) in preparation for the Windows phones to be developed with Microsoft.

The E7 phone is thus one of the last of its kind, a dead end. It could have been great, there are some things which are good. But the rest, not so.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A frustrating photograph

The first photographs shown here was taken yesterday, and I thought whether it is any good, and finally at the last moment deleted it from the posting from yesterday. But it is still bothering me, something in it is poking me but I have no idea what. So I included it here.

The other three photographs were taken today. The spring advances really fast now.

My Nokia E7 learning curve wasn't today as steep as it was yesterday. I'm slowly learning how this smartphone works.

As a camera the best feature of the E7 is that it works, and is reasonably fast. I haven't yet found out whether there is a macro mode, doesn't seem to be, so closeups don't seem to be possible. But the shutter lag and starting up are fast enough, so no complaints there.

I'm now starting to appreciate a touch phone, it seems to be mostly a good idea. This is despite the occasional strange things happening due to not locking the phone and touching the display by accident.

When connected to the wifi/wlan at home, the phone works really fast in reading e-mail and rss feeds. I even managed to do some software updates to the phone.

Overall, the E7 is the best phone which I have even used, despite the fact that it really isn't such a great thing as a phone - it is the other things that make it good. Using the calendar is relatively easy, as is writing e-mail, thanks to the built-in qwerty keyboard. Also Exchange integration seems to work reliably and fast.

There is however one blemish, and it is the fact that the software doesn't seem to obey any consistent graphical user interface (GUI) standards. Also, settings and applications are scattered here and there, although a bit less randomly than on the Nokia E90. But it is crazy that for some applications both horizontal and vertical modes work, but not for all. And GUI elements differ greatly from one app to another.

Another problem was that at first I didn't manage to get the Nokia Ovi service (and shop) to work. After several repeated attempts things finally started to work. Same happened with the Ovi software update - only after half a dozen tries I managed to download and install it.

But now the phone works well, and I even have some (free) apps on it, for example a weather app. I guess next comes the step when I run into some real problems. But I hope not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Japanese gardens - and the role of the photographer in society

Joerg Colberg wrote an excellent posting (or rather an essay) on the role of the photographer in modern society. Here is a short quote: "The role of the photographer should be [...] to help or guide or make other people see things differently [...] The moment a photograph has done that to a person it has moved beyond the realm of the illustrative and decorative. That’s when it gets interesting."

This is worth thinking about. Indeed.

Another matter. I am currently reading - very slowly - the book Mirei Shigemori - Modernizing the Japanese Garden (Stone Bridge Press, 2005). The text of the book was written by Christian Tschumi and the photographer was Markuz Wernli Saito. This is an excellent book, as everything works: text, illustrations, photographs. This book feels like a japanese garden: deep, contemplative, rich in context. (I wrote some thoughts about the book in Finnish here.)

And yet another matter... My mobile phone, the Nokia E90, which I have both liked and disliked, but recently grown sort of fond of, finally met is end - just too much trouble to keep it going. (Not to speak of meetings and phone calls missed because of the phone acting up.)

The replacement is a Nokia E7, a touch screen phone with plenty of features. I tried out the camera, and although it is not as awful as on the E90 - where the focus and shutter lag could last randomly up to several seconds - it really isn't much to say about. I took some sample photographs.

What the Nokia E7 camera is good for is taking photographs of notes written on whiteboards or on paper - the same as with the E90. And with 16 GB of built-in memory, there is plenty of space.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter landscapes

Here are four more photographs taken during the Easter weekend, at Hämeenlinna and on the road back to home. The last one shows the Easter decorations at Riihimäki, quite colorful.

Visiting the castle at Hämeenlinna

Here are photographs taken yesterday at the medieval red brick castle at Hämeenlinna. It is a calm place, even on such a sunny day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

City of Hämeenlinna

We visited during the Easter weekend the city of Hämeenlinna, about 100 km north of Helsinki. Here are some views - it was warm and sunny.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reading Camera Lucida

I finally got to reading the book Camera Lucida by the French sociologist Roland Barthes, translated into Finnish as Valoisa huone (originally La Chambre Claire). The Finnish translation helped to read the book, and it was not as dense or obscure as I had feared.

But still, it will be probably years until I know what the book is really about - I have to read it again at some point.

That the single thing which makes a photograph into photograph is that it represents something that has been, and thus makes past as real as the present, although killing the past at the same time, this was interesting. But all the subtle implications, aspecially concerning the madness of photography, these require further thought.

We went today to the Luukki outdoor park, and it was nice, temperature at +17 °C, bright sunshine. I don't think these photographs are mad, although perhaps they should be, mad with the joy of spring which was, but is now (at some future moment) gone.

Also, there will be a break in the postings here.