I stumbled upon this photo recently and was surprised to learn that what this man is holding is actually a working camera, and quite a cleverly made one at that. The photographer is Miroslav Tichý (1926-2011) of the Czech Republic, a blend of creepy old man and visionary artist. His specialty was taking surreptitious photos of young women with homemade cameras that he fashioned out of odds and ends, with a pulley system using thread spools to advance the film. Continue reading
This has been out for a few years but isn’t as well known as it should be, judging by its paltry 71,000 YouTube views. (“Paltry” is a relative term here. Think of that pop star you don’t like and compare the numbers from their latest video.) Filmmaker Marsel van Oosten spent two years creating this magical minute-and-ten-seconds, shooting thirty photographs for each second of video. The result is a stunning look at the night sky in the one of the world’s exotic places.
While the land that frames the view differs from place to place, in theory that amazing night sky is available anywhere, with specific star content varying based on your latitude. But in reality, we city-dwellers live under an impoverished sky lit by hundreds (and maybe only dozens) of stars. To truly experience the night sky the way our ancestors did, you have to go someplace without much “light pollution.”
I remember the first time I saw the night sky in its full glory, many years ago in a remote part of western South Dakota. It was a crisp night in March, with a bit of breeze in the juniper trees and an occasional lowing of cattle. Before the moon came out the sky was inky black between the stars and for the first time I understood the aptness of the name “Milky Way,” which had always seemed like a bit of poetic license.
A video is no substitute for the real thing, but it’s something, and if it spurs you to go out in search of dark sky, it will have served a good purpose.
(I learned of this video from the always-wonderful Open Culture.)
Thoreau describes the remarkable clarity of Walden Pond, the water of which was “so transparent that the bottom can easily be discerned at the depth of twenty-five or thirty feet.”
It’s one thing to say that. It’s quite another to show it and make it vivid. Here’s how he does it: Continue reading
Flowers won’t be blooming too much longer where I live. This late in the season a frost could do them in at any time. I find myself looking more closely in October than in, say, July, when the summer still seems endless. When you feel the nights growing colder, you know it’s time to enjoy the season before it changes.
“This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself.” —Henry David Thoreau, “Solitude,” Walden Continue reading
“At a certain season of our life we are accustomed to consider every spot as the possible site of a house. I have thus surveyed the country on every side within a dozen miles of where I live… Wherever I sat, there I might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly… Well, there I might live, I said; and there I did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how I could let the years run off, buffet the winter through, and see the spring come in.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden Continue reading
Spring is here, at least where I live. I drifted in my kayak closer and closer to these turtles but they didn’t move, even when I was practically on top of them.
Do yourself a favor and get outdoors. There’s so much going on this time of year, but you have to get out there and look for it. It’s amazing how much fun you can have at a city park with an inflatable kayak and a point-and-shoot camera.