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07 January 2011

Happy New Year and 6 years of ch-athens

Another, quiet year passed for this weblog

So, it's already January 7 and only now I'm writing my traditional New Years post. As this weblog was started as a new years resolution 6 years ago, I used to write a post about that most years. Some years I wrote that stuff on January 1st at 2am, other times it was the afternoon of the 1st or a few days later. Now it's a week later, which I think shows best that this blog has slacked down a lot.

My stats say there were (for all my site, not just the blog) 142486 visits and 199742 pageviews. Looking at the overall stats I posted last year, that's a slight increase over last year. It also can't really be compared to the years before, as I used to count hits on the RSS feeds back in those times. Sometimes I think most fluctuations in the stats are due to the spammers getting past my defenses sometimes a bit more or sometimes a bit less.

The biggest hits according to my stats were again the (German) tutorial for using OS X on the terminal and then one post about how to do date calculations in the shell. I'd like to claim that the good old Unix shell is a success, but honestly I think that google just sucks to an extend not seen before. Those guys have just given up, searching on google for most anything that is in relation to something that can be bought (i.e. almost everything) turns up mostly spam sites.

Ha, rants aside, I'm slacking on this blog. I'm distracted by my "other hobby", photography (which occasionally even results in posts with some photos) and not much into the "discovering Athens" posts any more - the stuff that got this weblog started.

Summing it up, my new years resolution from 6 years ago is still running, slowly. I'll see where it takes me from here, but I'm neither putting pressure on myself nor am I yet ready to let things go off. I'll just stay tuned to see what happens next.


Posted by betabug at 17:58 | Comments (3) | Trackbacks (0)
10 January 2011

Griechische Ostern 2011

Orthodox und katholisch... dieses Jahr an einem Tag
 

Das Jahr 2011 ist frisch angebrochen, also ist es wieder mal Zeit für so ziemlich den einzigen Post im Jahr, der tatsächlichen Informationsgehalt hat: Die Griechischen Ostern fallen 2011 auf den 24. April - gleiches Osterdatum also wie für den Rest von Europa.

Schon 2008 habe ich beschrieben, wie das Datum des Osterfestes berechnet wird, da geht's um den Mond!


Posted by betabug at 16:07 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
11 January 2011

Hiking Misty and Sunny Parnitha

Short and sweet walks
Parnitha in the Mist

The last weekend we had wonderful sunny weather. On Sunday I went with some friends for a short hike in Parnitha, the mountains/hills near Athens. In November we had been hiking there too, at a slightly different spot, with another friend and in much different weather: As you can see from the picture, back then we had a cloudy, rainy day.

No matter if sunny or cloudy, it feels good to be walking on something that isn't concrete, smelling fresh air and trees. The sad thing with Parnitha is when you hit on some of the burned parts. There is a lot that isn't burnd though.

I had the Firstflex with me then, loaded with some black+white film (Tri-X). Not always the best choice, but good for some misty and misterious pictures sometimes. The problem is that this old camera is all soft and misty by itself, couple that with cloudy weather and pictures can get really soft. I'm not yet so sure which of the pictures I really like, so for now I'll put only one of them here.

This Sunday the weather was much warmer. So lots of Athenians had the same idea and the areas close to the roads were crowded. We also hit on some motorcycles and quad bikes, smack right in the protected national park. I can understand that Parnitha is one of the few, close "recreation" areas Athens has, so lots of people go there - I would be well prepared to run into lots and lots of hikers (didn't happen), but taking a loud and destructive hobby into a protected area... not good.


Posted by betabug at 19:16 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
12 January 2011

Quick Contact Cheat

Can't wait! Can't wait!
Small piece of a contact "cheat", showing some Tri-X

Yesterday evening I developed 2 films (135, Tri-X, in Diafine). They were drying in the bathroom when I went to bed, dry when I woke up. I cut them up, then I was on my way to work... as usual with this kind of thing, the big question is: "What is on the film? Anything good?" In the good old days of darkroom work, we'd do a contact sheet. Nowadays I do what I could call a "contact cheat".

As I've cut the film and placed it into a protective sleeve, I hold it up to the window and take a picture with my mobile phone. For 120 film, one picture is enough, for 135 two pictures (lower and upper part) work better. As I get to work, I transfer the pix to my computer. I open them in a simple image editor. Obviously they show the negatives, pretty washed out too. First I invert them, then I go into the "Levels" function and hit the "black point" way up and the "white point" a little bit down. The histogram shows the right points quite obviously. But also the pictures start to look almost right too.

Just like on a real contact sheet, these adjustments are done for all the pictures together. So I can see which negatives are over/under exposed. I get an overall idea of the composition and "what's there". Sometimes it's not so easy to make out what a picture actually shows... but that's just like a real contact sheet too. And I can fuss over my "new" pictures all day long, till I get the time to scan them :-)

The "contact cheat" shows the pictures larger than you see them in the example picture. So in some way it's better than a real contact. On the other hand it's not as sharp as a good contact sheet.


Posted by betabug at 10:14 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
13 January 2011

Mixed Up Some D-76

Old School
My new batch of D-76

Tuesday evening after developing my films, I mixed up a new batch of developer. This time it's Kodak's D-76. One of the older and most standard developers around. This is nothing fancy and special like the 2-bath Diafine I used for the last 20+ rolls of film I developed (and which I'll continue to use).

The reason I got good old D-76 is that Diafine ruined me a roll of film from my Arca-Swiss. You see, Diafine sometimes has this bad habit called "Bromide drag" or "Bromide stains". Essentially it gets pictures developed with strains of lighter parts. Not nice, especially not in the skies of carefully crafted landscape pictures.

Truth be told, I haven't had the problem with Diafine ever since. I had adjusted my agitation, which is the point most people blame for bromide drag. I also stayed away from the upper part of the allowed temperature range. Diafine can be used according to some between 20 - 28º Celsius, while I saw others say 20 - 24º Celsius - I now go to maximum 24ºC.

Outside the Megaro Mousikis, about Christmas time

So I'm still happy to use Diafine for the Tri-X I load into my handy little 35mm Canon F-1 (only about 1kg) to go and make fancy night shots in the city like the one above. I'll also use it for Tri-X in the 6x6 Firstflex, where fine grain doesn't matter that much either. But the Fuji Acros 100 I use with the Arca-Swiss I want to develop the old fashioned way. With the Arca I don't need fast film speed (it's always on a tripod anyway), I don't really care that much about fine grain, but I want even development.


Posted by betabug at 14:27 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
19 January 2011

Valley of the Muses

Hiking for the New Year's Cake
View on the Valey of the Muses from above

Last Sunday I was hiking with the folks from the Krystallis hiking club in the Valley of the Muses (κοιλάδα τον μουσών), near Thebes. That's the valley as seen from above in the picture. We were there for the traditional cutting of the new years cake. We did about 4 hours of hiking, starting way down in the plain...


Continue reading "Valley of the Muses"
Posted by betabug at 10:15 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
21 January 2011

Gut Essen gehen... lange her

FouFou zu Besuch
 

Letzten Donnerstag klingelte mein Telefon und unerwarteter Besuch meldete sich an. Am Freitag kam mein ehemaliger Mitbewohner Fabio zu Besuch. Der war ja schon länger nicht mehr hier, er wohnt jetzt in Genova. In den paar Tagen, die er hier war, wollte er natürlich gut essen gehen. Wir waren im Lesvos und beim Barba Gianni, beide in Exarchia.

Was mir dabei vor allem auffiel: Lange schon nicht mehr dort gewesen. Überhaupt, schon lange nicht mehr richtig gut essen gegangen. So wie wir das früher mit Freunden sicher ein- bis zweimal pro Woche gemacht haben. Fabio hat sich auch gewundert.

Was ihm auch aufgefallen ist: Wieviel teurer alles geworden ist, nicht unbedingt das Essen im Restaurant, aber vor allem die Produkte im Supermarkt. Die vielen Taxis, die Nachts am Syntagma rumstehen, waren ihm noch gar nicht aufgefallen und vom Benzinpreis (locker doppelt so teuer wie vor 2 Jahren) hat er ohne Auto auch nix gemerkt. Ist halt kein Wunder gehen wir nicht mehr so viel auswärts essen.


Posted by betabug at 10:22 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
25 January 2011

Watch out Super Mario!

Rolling Up Sleeves to do some plumbing
 

The faucet in my kitchen was dripping. For ages. The tank of the toilet was running. So, well, I needed a plumber, but those are kind of hard to come by in this city. The first image that comes to mind when thinking about a plumber here is that it will be incredible hard to get hold of the guy - phoning him 3 times a day for a week till he finally comes over - and when he comes over, the plumber gets served coffee and sweets, because he is such a rare and special species.

I avoided all that, by going to a big Do-It-Yourself store and buying some parts for a total of 8 Euros. I got a new float valve assembly and some gaskets. Changing the float valve assembly was easy and straight forward. Fixing the dripping faucet took me much longer. Basically the problem was figuring out the way the faucet works. My first line of action had been to put in various gaskets where it looked like there should be one and where there was gunk that looked like a dissolved gasket. That didn't work. For most of the time I either had a dripping faucet or one that was closed all the time.

Finally I noticed that one part that looked like metal was in fact a badly malformed gasket - the very and only one that needed changing. From that time (about an hour after I started out), things were done in another five minutes. Taking out that gasket was hard, but it yielded in the end. Some tries to assemble the stuff in the right order and voilà, a proper faucet!


Posted by betabug at 20:13 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
26 January 2011

Streetlight Photography

Not quite dark, not always quite there
Dry Ship Yard, Paleo Faliro

Over the course of this winter, I've occupied myself partially with what I call "streetlight" photography. Meaning that I have loaded some Tri-X in the Canon F-1 and carry the camera with my after dark. The reason for this is mainly that it's already dark when I leave the office. But it's also a chance to learn something about the technical and aesthetic aspects of handheld night photography in the city.


Continue reading "Streetlight Photography"
Posted by betabug at 18:58 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
30 January 2011

Snow on Flambouri

Scramble, scramble

This morning at 7am, the alarm in my phone sounded. I switched it off. Then I was lying there, thinking. Trying to decide. Should I get up? Pack my things and head out, across Athens, to meet some friends early in the morning and head up to the Parnitha mountain region? Or should I just stay in bed, get another wink of snow and slack off a slacky sunday? Guess what, it took me some time, but I got out of bed. I packed my things, I headed for the bus.

So at about 10:30 we were three guys, heading up the mountainside from the base station of the cable car. I've gone up there before, on a nice hiking path to the "Bafi" hut. But instead of going that way, we crossed the bed of a little stream and started scrambling up a rocky mountainside. It wasn't steep enough to warrant ropes and stuff, but there were some parts, where I was wondering wtf I was doing there.

After a short while, there started to be some snow on parts of the rocks (where the wind hadn't blown it off). That snow started to be partially frozen and there was more of it the more we went up. Another adventure happened when one of my boots got stuck in a crack in the rocks. Really annoying situation. Well, no matter what, we made it up to the "Flambouri" peak. We were going along the top of a rock face that is a climbing field. I was quite happy when we weren't too close to the edge.

Repeatedly while scrambling up using my hands, I had the thought that "hopefully we won't go down the same way again". At the same time I looked back from time to time, memorizing the way down, because if something bad happens, that could be just where I would have to get down in a hurry.

Lucky me, a short while after the ridge and the peak, we got to the hut and followed a more conventional hiking path down. There was a little bit of snow around, maybe 5cm. First snow I've trodden on this year. Lots of trees were frozen over. I had the Firstflex with me, which didn't help while scrambling, but it allowed me to take some pictures of frozen trees and rocks.


Posted by betabug at 19:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)