April 20, 2015

Moving on

Well, times they are a-changing, and suddenly I find myself with a new set of priorities, motivations, and goals in life. More good news on that later, I hope. Until then, I´m attempting to clear my desk, so to speak, finish a few things that I promised to do, simplify routines, and soforth. One thing is the blogging.

I have decided to continue all my blogging on "One Sketch a Day" and simply shoe-horn everything I like to write about into it, so nothing much will change, I think, except for the location. Also, I am leaving Blogger for Wordpress, which right now feels a bit weird to use, but I imagine I will learn it, as I once learned to use Blogger.

Hope you will see me there: One Sketch A Day.

April 9, 2015

A Walk on the Ice

I was this happy even after finding out that
my camera was useless.
My sleeping pattern is all messed up, but the bright side is that I am much more awake than I normally am during daylight hours. This gave me a smashing Easter day on the ice with the husband - also probably one of the last days the ice was safe to tread; spring is coming fast and early this year. I brought the nice camera, but failed to remember the memory card, which was still stuck in my computer. "That´s a new one", said the husband, but I couldn´t be very miffed - it was too much of a glorious day for being grumpy for more than a split second. The husband had his iPhone, which takes very nice photos, and I had my watercolour sketchbook, which I got out when we found a warm wall against which to take our small picknick of tea and cookies.

The ice road going from the northern harbour. 

Can´t have skaters tripping on dog poo. 

Our lovely resting spot, a boathouse near the Bergnäset bridge.

A slightly wobbly panorama from our spot.

The bridge.

The steel works far away. As you can see, there is no Easter holiday rest for those who work there, the steam comes from the coke manufacturing.

Luleå from the southern harbour. 

This old crane is a museum piece and a very distinct part of the skyline.
 Had to draw.

In several places there were kick-sleds (Sw. spark) offered on loan. They call these spots "sparkings" (as in spark + parking). 

Had to take a turn, it´s been ages. You can get quite speedy on these! 

April 5, 2015


Yesterday, we went to dinner at the cousin-in-law´s place, out in the country and quite a ways inland, where there is still full winter. I had the camera along, but of course had chosen the wrong lens for photographing birds; they have a bird-feeder outside the kitchen window and what a great twitching opportunity! Only the great tits (talgoxe) are plentiful where we live, more rare are the bullfinches (domherre, which is the archetypal Christmas bird), the willow-tits (talltita), and the snow buntings (snösparv). There was even, I think, a greenfinch (grönfink), though very far off. Also, twilight was falling pretty fast. Luckily, I can tweek quite a bit with this camera, but see in the dark it can not.

Bullfinch and great tit.

How can you tell a willow-tit from a marsh-tit (entita)? According to my bird-book, they are almost identical exept for the song- apparently the marsh-tit sounds like he is sneezing while the willow-tit sounds like a tease. The best clue, however, is where you are: pine-forest: willow-tit; deciduous forest: marsh-tit.

Two male bullfinches having a row.

A female bullfich trying to find a seat.

Snow buntings - in the snow.

The very distant greenfinch.

April 3, 2015

Easter Greetings

I may be a bit late with my Easter greetings (or am I too early? Easter is actually a sad holiday, wishing a Happy Easter seems somehow wrong), but I do want to wish you a very satisfying holiday, doing whatever you do. 

May it involve cute bunnies, chickens, and eating many chocolate eggs in good company!

April 1, 2015

The Spaceman and The Sock

You may not be into knitting, but I recommend that you read this post if you are the least bit dorky and nerdy. I should say that this blogger´s thing is to make people pose with the sock she is always knitting, else it might make little sense. I particularly found the last paragraph absolutely hilarious, about starting a new sock for this very special occasion.

I love the Yarn Harlot and have followed her since 2007. Her genre is knitting humour. It exists because of her.

March 23, 2015

The Wordless Skill

"If art has entered a Post-Skill Movement, so has the rest of life. There was a time when we had a different relationship to our hands, when simple skills of coordination required serious investment, and education was focused on the physical process. Our technology literally takes these skills out of our hands. Who cares about penmanship anymore? Just learn to type. What we lose in this, however, is that specular relationship to our bodies, the direct encounter with the material world sans prosthesis."
So writes MB Goodrich in this article on the art of shaving in Salon, and it made me think of something that recently happened to me. 

As you may or may not know, I am posting a sketch every day, as a promise to myself to practice at the art of drawing and improve my skills. There is nothing like a bit of pressure, and I am fairly good at putting some on myself. Sometimes, I have forgotten to do that drawing, and one night, I had already gone to bed when I remembered. It was a bit chilly, so I just reached for a handheld mirror and a piece of grey-tinted printing paper (I sleep some nights in my study, so these materials are pretty close to hand) and did my drawing lying down under the duvet, more or less. 

For a drawing that was initiated by a sense of duty, once I got into it, I executed it with some care, and was fairly happy with the result. I put some highlights in there, and so far, it´s the only time they have worked really well for me. I published, and felt pleased. 

A week later I ran into a friend who apparently looks at the drawings sometimes, and he complimented me on my skills. But, he said, that self-portrait you made, and he tut-tutted a bit, meaning that it wasn´t very good. You do not look like that, he said. 

I had to go back to it to see what he meant. Ok, so it looks like a person looking down at something, very attentively. I agree, not my prettiest face and certainly now how a man a bit taller than I would see me. But it never occured to me that this was a representation of me or that anyone would consider it somehow representative of how I view myself. For me, this was, and is, a pretty successful drawing, the subject being irrelevant. At another place in the article, Goodrich writes this about having to learn your face while shaving with a straight razor:
"Young women, too, learn their faces when they start to use makeup, but unfortunately they learn to see their faces for their flaws. But shaving is almost clinical. It’s about gradients and textures—materiality rather than image."
Drawing does that to your self-image, too, makes your gaze upon yourself clinical. The judging comes later, and is focused on the drawing, on whether or not I succeeded in transfering what I saw to the paper. That chin, is it a double chin? That line, is it a wrinkle? Words don´t come into it, it´s just the eyes speaking to the hand. (If you are a typist you know how this works: you can work at a manuscript, typing away at speed, while thinking about what to make for dinner.) Most adjectives are judging, either in themselves or in relation to the context in which they are used. 

I am pretty chuffed I have come to a place in my life where I can do this. I was pretty proud of this drawing before, I am even happier about it now. 

March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse!

Ok, so I was not prepared. I don´t know what I was thinking. I have seen eclipses before, and this is what I have done: poke a small hole in a piece of cardboard or similar, then project onto a surface and watch the thing happen. I don´t want to look into the sun, even with special glasses, it seems unhealthy. But I thought I would photograph the projection, anyway. This was the setup and if it looks awkward it is because this was the only place where the sun shone in between 10 and 12 today. It´s my stove. (It occurs to me now that I might have been able to catch it on our second floor, shining on my laundry, but as I said, I was not prepared.)

That´s just a lowly envelope taped to the kitchen ventilator and a
black plastic box turned on its side.

I got two reflections. 

This was the best photo I got, at precisely 11 o´clock. Then it occured to me that I have a camera of some ability in my hand. Perhaps I could photograph the sun?


Well, with some hurry I first dug out the tele lens and put that on, which gives me 200 mm, turned to Manual and set the shortest time I could, a 1/6000 of a second, the smallest aperture, 32, and set the exposure down as much as I could from that. That worked a bit better, but still pretty fuzzy.

Then it occurs to me that I have a tripod. (It´s been a while since I took photos, as you can tell.) That makes one heck of a difference.

Slightly astigmatic, but kinda interesting.

Here I activated the delayed exposure button, to minimize
the handshake effect (in spite of the tripod).

But what really made it good was this little setup. Those are two sunglasses taped onto the lens. You take what you have, right? That took care of the astigmatic effect (I´m sure it has a name, but I don´t know what it is). I got this fairly sharp image at about 11:15, så the eclipse maximum was over, but still pretty good.

I didn´t get this close with the lens, but chose the RAW format and then
cropped all the photos later in Silky Pix. 

Also kind of interesting, a plastic paper towel holder reflected the sun onto the ceiling, and you could see the eclipse in the reflection!

After the eclipse. 

And below are photos of the last half hour of the eclipse. I got more light effects in the end, after the cloudiness cleared up completely. You wouldn´t think clouds would be good on an occasion such as this, but they helped, actually.