Poem for a Wednesday

Fields of Gold
1/800s, f/10.0, ISO 400, 30mm (HDR)


As you set out for Ithaca
hope that your journey is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laestrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare sensation
touches your spirit and your body.
Laestrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope that your journey is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and learn again from those who know.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so that you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would have not set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithacas mean.

C.P Cavafy (1910, 1911)


30s, f/4.0, ISO 1000, 24mm

It had been a while since I had experimented with shooting the night sky.  I've always been fascinated with astronomy.  I worked at a planetarium in high school and recall how frustrating taking pictures of stars would be with a film camera.  With the instant feedback of a digital camera, it's a lot easier to get a decent photo of the night sky without investing a lot of time in sorting out the right exposure.  Trial and error really go a long way here.

I took these two shots on a cold January night near Hornbæk in Denmark.  Hornbæk is about an hour north of Copenhagen and near the water.  It's a popular spot for summer houses but in the winter time it's pretty quiet.  And there is very little light at night.  On a clear, cold winter night, the night sky is absolutely breathtaking.  The first shot is a 30 second exposure, featuring most of the Orion constellation.  Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky is also visible on the left side behind the trees (or try following Orion's belt to the left).  In the second shot below, the exposure is about half an hour long.  It captures the stars as they appear to rotate around the North Star (of course the stars don't really move but we/Earth does).

33m, f/4.0, ISO 800, 25mm

Behind Every Single Window

Copenhagen Courtyard
2s, f/4.0, ISO 800, 24mm

Yesterday I got the chance to check out a rooftop in the Nyboder neighborhood in central Copenhagen.  What a treat.  I'm always excited at the chance of getting to the top of buildings--especially in the center of a city.  The views usually reveal something interesting that you won't experience from just walking the streets.   This time I got to see a multicolored, magnificently-lit courtyard.  A sort of behind-the-scenes-look.  And it got me thinking of Dan Turèll's old poem "Behind Every Single Window" (”Bag hvert eneste vindue").  Here's an excerpt:

"…You walk down through a long street
which you know or maybe don't know
in your own city or an unknown one
and you raise your eyes and look at those thousands
of shining lit-up windows
and you know that behind every single window people live
and that simple thought everytime is so new and strange"
behind every single window people live
people with real live problems
as concrete as a fist in the kisser
behind every single window men and women are breathing
easy or with trouble
each in his own rhythm..."

Dan Turèll, (1979) 

Poem for a Saturday

Fields of Gold
1/160s (bracketed HDR), f/5.6, ISO 800, 30mm


We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going?
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Czeslaw Milosz (1936)


Slivsø (Sliv Lake, Denmark)
1/640s (bracketed HDR), f/8.0, ISO 400, 24mm

Here's a shot from Slivsø (Sliv Lake) near Haderslev in Denmark.  The lake is one of the largest in southern Denmark but was drained and used for farm land for almost half a century.  It's a beautiful spot any time of the year but it feels particularly peaceful in the winter.  I used moderate HDR processing to capture the details in the sky.

Ducks in the Snow (橡皮小鴨)

Ducks in the Snow (橡皮小鴨)
1/400s, f/1.2, ISO 400, 50mm

Las month, I visited Denmark for a few weeks.  It was the harshest winters in decades and sadly so cold that it was difficult to get out and shoot a lot.  I decided to do a winter version of a picture I shot this summer on my parents' lawn.  The shot has the same happy, whimsical feel as the pervious one, and I like the contrast between the yellow ducks and the white snow.  This time I used the 50mm f/1.2 with the lens wide-open.