Twiske walk, Saturday 1 November 2014

We’re having an incredibly mild autumn right now. Today was forecast to be sunny and warm, 17-19°C, possibly a record temperature for November. We decided to go for a walk around Het Twiske to make the most of a fine day. Not a super-long walk, just a 15km loop.

This was also a chance for me to try out my “new camera” in good light conditions. I’m back to using the iPhone 4 that used to be Abi’s, then mine, then Alex’s. In the last year or so I’ve got used to having a decent if not great camera always with me, in the form of a Nexus 4. Although I wasn’t a fan of it initially, Dropbox’s automatic camera upload feature has become an integral part of my photo workflow:

  • Take camera out of pocket
  • Fire up camera from the phone lock screen
  • Take picture
  • When back in wifi range, sync pictures to Dropbox camera uploads folder
  • When back on my Mac, sort pictures in camera uploads into named folders

The iPhone 4 is stuck on iOS 7. I can take pictures from the lock screen, but only with the built-in Camera app, which (in iOS 7) doesn’t allow you to separate focus and exposure. Last weekend at the Art of the Brick exhibition, in museum lighting conditions, that’s exactly what I needed, so I tried out VSCO Cam to see what it was like. It seems like a nice enough app, albeit very slow on the iPhone 4. But the fact that I can’t access it from the lock screen without punching in my PIN meant that taking photos took longer, and felt less spontaneous. Also, VSCO Cam saves photos to its own storage area, and doesn’t drop them into my Camera Roll automatically, which means that the Dropbox sync doesn’t happen automatically, which breaks the rest of my workflow. Overall: nice app, but doesn’t work for me.

The actual photos I got from the iPhone 4’s camera (see previous post) in the dark were okay, but not spectacular. I had been hoping that in better light, they would be as good as the Nexus 4. If they weren’t, then I might stop taking so many casual pictures, which would be disappointing. I could go back to the Nexus, but I’m explicitly trying to get away from Android. I could upgrade to a newer iPhone, but new phones are pricey, and I’m trying this experiment to see if I’m happy using an older model. So here are some of today’s results:

Abi on a bridge in Het Twiske
Abi on a bridge in Het Twiske
Abi on a bridge in het Twiske
Abi on a bridge in het Twiske
Toadstool recursion
Toadstool recursion
Twiske planetary rings
I saw planetary rings here. Maybe I’ve been playing too much Elite: Dangerous
Twiske leaves
Grayscale makes everything looks cool

Maybe I should have taken the Nexus along to make comparison shots. Overall, I found the iPhone 4 shots to be fuzzy, and too dark where I wanted to capture detail. (That’s quite probably a result of not being able to separate focus and exposure, which I could fix if I were willing to use a different app – but see above.) Also, lots of the images were skewed towards blue, which I toned down in Acorn. (I’m still on the lookout for a nice, simple post-processing app for the Mac.)

Improvised shelter in Het Twiske

Towards the end of the walk we came across a curious teepee-like shelter made of long stripped branches and spindly tree trunks. It’s about ten meters off of a side path, so it’s not even hidden. No idea who built it. It reminded me of the story of the North Pond Hermit that I read about recently:

His name, he revealed, was Christopher Thomas Knight. Born on December 7, 1965. He said he had no address, no vehicle, did not file a tax return, and did not receive mail. He said he lived in the woods.

“For how long?” wondered Perkins-Vance.

Knight thought for a bit, then asked when the Chernobyl nuclear-plant disaster occurred. He had long ago lost the habit of marking time in months or years; this was just a news event he happened to remember. The nuclear meltdown took place in 1986, the same year, Knight said, he went to live in the woods. He was 20 years old at the time, not long out of high school. He was now 47, a middle-aged man.

Knight stated that over all those years he slept only in a tent. He never lit a fire, for fear that smoke would give his camp away. He moved strictly at night. He said he didn’t know if his parents were alive or dead. He’d not made one phone call or driven in a car or spent any money. He had never in his life sent an e-mail or even seen the Internet.