Saturday, June 21, 2008

The falling dominoes

Originally uploaded by enrique

The other day I went to the Ithaca Festival parade in downtown. It was a Friday evening with a bit of rain that could not spoil the event. They were giving free dessert and free drinks. There were lots of people. Some were by themselves, some were with their significant others, some with their full family. Old people, children, high school students, college students, the age spectrum was covered.

As I was there, standing, watching people parading and also those enjoying the parade, a question came to my mind: Why are we all here? And this was like pushing the first piece of domino that started a chain reaction of a long line of dominoes falling inevitably one after the other. The different dominoes looked like this: Why people have to do a parade? What do they expect out of it? Are they trying to show something? Maybe the pride or satisfaction of belonging to some association or group. Why do they need to do that? For other people the acknowledge the existence of their group? And why did the spectators go to see the parade? They were looking for some amusement? Where they looking to see something or someone? to run into a friend or the meet someone new? So many different people with different lives, different ideas and different thoughts but sharing one thing in common: being there seeing the parade. And while being at that we are not only doing that. People were taking care of their dogs, talking with their children, hiding from the rain, looking for a better spot, taking pictures, eating something, drinking something, feeling cold, laughing, cheering the parading, greeting a friend, scolding a kid, kissing, showing off their hair style... and I cold go on and on and on... Then I thought, it's so human... Is this what it is to be human? What would be to be not human? I don't know and probably will never know. After all, we are a just humans.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Panoramic of Tikal

Tikal panoramic
Originally uploaded by enrique

Thanks to puzz for the comment about the autostitch tutorial. I tried it out and the result was truly impressive, it does everything automatic! Best of all is that it also stitches in the vertical direction which Pandora can not do, I believe.

The photo shows the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park in Guatemala. The panoramic is the result of 17 single shots. I took these photos back in 2005 and gave up trying to compose the panoramic by hand. This time around I finally got what I wanted!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Panoramic of Galati

Galati panoramic
Originally uploaded by enrique

I found a very good tool to make a single panoramic photo out of several single shots. It's called Pandora and it is a plugin for Gimp (a free image editor) and it all works on linux! Pandora aligns the separate shots and tries to blend them smoothly. You still have to tweak a bit to achieve optimal results. The great advantage is that it saves the work of making a set of different layers for each photo and then adding a transparency to it in order to do the blending.

While joining the photos is real easy, there is a subtle effect that needs to be taken care: the vignettation. The vignette is the effect produced by the camera lens consisting in having the center of the image brighter than the borders. This can also be solved in Gimp by fixing each individual shot first. A quick fix is to mix the original picture with a radial gradient of transparency and white, from the center out, and playing with the opacity of the gradient until the vignette is minimized.

The picture above is the result of my first attempt at making a panoramic. This was taken in Galati, Romania. It shows the Danube in the upstream direction (left) and downstream one (right). The shape of the river is distorted due to the wide field of view.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Para relajarse y estudiar

En Guatemala, la expresión "parecés de pueblo" es dicha a una persona cuando se asombra por cosas que se consideran normales dentro de un determinado contexto. Como cuando alguien ve con asombro los altos edificios de una ciudad por primera vez.

Pues bien, con el riesgo de parecer que vengo de un pueblo, les muestro este video

¿Qué tal un lugar así para ir estudiar o leer un libro? Esta fue la escena de la que fui testigo el otro día en el student union (algo así como la asociación de estudiantes) en Cornell University. El tipo tocando el piano, estuvo allí unos diez minutos y luego se fue. Es un deleite estar en un lugar de estos. Las construcciones antiguas parecen castillos medievales. Los edificios no sólo son funcionales sino también elegantes, con muchos detalles arquitectónicos, tanto por dentro como por fuera. Pero bueno, la cosa no es gratis. Cornell es una universidad privada, los estudiantes de pregrado pagan alrededor de $50,000 al año de colegiatura.

¿Cuándo tendremos en Guatemala algo similar? Seguramente cuando paguemos algo similar.