Saturday, October 31, 2009

Johannes and Clara around the globe

Johannes and Clara began their trip around the world today, with good timing considering the gloomy months that await our fair region. In the coming three months, they will visit North America, Oceania, China, southeast Asia and India.
Best of luck to you! Your cacti look healthy and spiny, I will see to it they stay that way...

Follow their adventures on Clara's blog and Johannes' blog.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trees in Fashion

From UppsalaHöst09
A golden birch.

To celebrate the end of the season, trees have dressed in their most elegant and eye-catching outfits. Like models heading for the gala event of the year. And these models are well aware of their best colors.
They are the same every year, always right.
Click on the image to see this year's tree fashion!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autumn in Wik

This Saturday my choir visited Wik Castle for a theme day on "Living Early Music". On a coffee-break I snuck out to capture the autumnal colouring of the surroundings with the trusty old camera.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Little Sleep Cinema

Tonight, I joined Johannes and Clara to attend a screening of the Uppsala International Short Film Festival. The block was presented in the oldest cinema of our city, Slottsbiografen. Inaugurated in 1914, restored in ´94, with beautiful wooden panels, paintings and ... comfortable seats. Yes, you know where this is going.
The first feature was an animation by the Canadian Cordell Barker about a train chasing down an unsuspecting cow, naturally in an amusing presentation. Plenty of sounds and moving elements to appeal and excite the primitive parts of the brain.
The difficulties started by the second short, which dealt with a man finding himself marooned in an arctic circumstance following an accident of some sort. His head injury and/or hypothermia provoked strange illusions (not in me, in the film), until he lies down and succumbs. At least, that's what I think happened. A few nods, but I was still in the game.
The next topic to be projected on the silver screen was the Skype-conference between a Romanian man and his son in the U.S., and their joy of the son´s wedding. Not inexplicably, my brain decided it was sleep time.
It is always a bit embarrassing when the nod-offs become more than a subtle twitch. It must be obvious to the person sitting behind you that you're not exactly taking in every cinematic facet of the film. If this should occur, it can be remedied by a quick and clear reaction to something going on in the scene. Grabbing your chin in a thoughtful way can work, or joining in on a laugh that you don't know the reason of. But most likely, the person behind will see through this and value your respect for the flick even lower. So be it, you will have done what you could.
My attention had returned by the time a guest was presented to the audience. It was a collaborator on the "Romanian Skype-conference" thing, and was now accepting our questions. I was about to raise my hand and ask how the short had ended, but refrained.
By that time and for the remainder of the screening, my perception was as acute as an eagle's, and I could follow the programme in detail. It ended with "Poste Restante", a 14-minute-long tale about undeliverable mail. It was the story that touched me the most, and I sent the organizers an appreciative thought for saving the best for last.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Photo Safari

For my birthday, I got a quite unusual present. A personal photo expedition with a professional wild-life photographer.

This is what happened:

On a day like any other, at 7 a.m., I was picked up in a 4x4 jeep. "I am going to take you to places around Uppsala you never dreamed existed". I´m exaggerating what he said to make the story a little more dramatic.
The sun was still falling in from a sharp angle and my guide squinted beneath his wide-brimmed hat as we navigated through the early morning traffic.
The first stop on this wild-life odyssey was the municipal water purification plant. More specifically, the fields where the "mud" is laid out to dry. I´ve never seen such fertile soil. Among the vegetation that sprawled with unrestrained lust for life, I noticed an abundance of tomatoe-plants. "They pass right through the human body unharmed", the guide explained. He meant the seeds. The reason for this stop was the long-legged birds that usually descend upon these fields, attracted by the water mirror. Unfortunately, the fields were dried out this time. "So, no birds, I´m afraid", he said. "Well, no smell either", I could´ve added as a positive side-note. But I didn't.
Nonetheless, the location offered some interesting motifs. There was a light fog that rose as the morning sun touched the ground, some bluethroats (blåhakar) that presented themselves and a large number of cows grazing on the field beyond.
At times, my guide went silent and immobile. He would stay like that for several minutes, his only vital sign being the uttering of incomprehensible words in a low, hushing voice. If he hadn´t had a camera stuck in front of his face, I would´ve been seriously concerned for him.

As we headed out of the city toward the final location, the guide turned to me, squinting beneath his wide-brimmed hat, and began to explain the mysteries of the red-winged grasshopper. "It is to be found only in two places in the whole of Uppland - a rare species, it is. At this place where we are going there are many-many, but you will most likely not capture a single one in flight with your camera. Trust me, I've tried. Most elusive, you see." While saying this, he did of course look at the road as well, being a safety-conscious driver as he was.

As the jeep stopped, the doors were opened gently not to discompose any natural scene that may have formed in the absence of people and that may be sensitive to inelegant sounds. Soon, we concluded that such scenes were not at hand, and continued toward the grasshopper location less discretely. The site in question is an island of untamed nature in an agricultural sea, not far from a major highway.
Just as the guide had briefed me, the red-winged ones were numerous. Quite easy to spot and follow with the eye, but most uncooperative with the camera. You see, from the ground where they usually are, they jump away and then open their wings. So, even if you had focused on one, it was hard to tell where it would be while flying.
After some chasing around we retired to the car, returned to the city and I was left where I had started. "So long, and remember...", the guide concluded with a squinting look before he pressed on into the day, like any other.