Used, abused and thrown in the mud

Field of Christmas Trees

With Christmas 2013 arriving at a precipitous pace, I am reflecting again on how all these beautiful pine trees will be cut in short order, tied by a restraining rope, and shipped unceremoniously hundreds or even thousands of miles to millions of homes. For a brief stolen moment, they will be warm, perhaps even sweating under the intense lights and heat of the holidays. But is this an end of life they were really meant for?

Our Christian tradition brings us many feelings of comfort at Christmas, in great part supported by the Christmas tree and its green and perennial symbolism. In my view however, there is also a dirty side to cutting the Christmas tree: it will die after a very brief length of its purported life. Is this really what nature intended? I am always amazed after the winter holidays to see the many dried up Christmas trees littering my neighborhood’s street. They lie there sometimes for several weeks until they are collected and discarded. The image below attempts to convey this sense of lost purpose.

I hope that you, dear reader, will agree and find creative and great ways to express the joy of Christmas, for example nicely shown here.

Night lights with an Infrared filter

I have had a lot of fun recently doing night photography. I became intrigued with the prospect of doing the classical car light trails, but using long exposures through an IR filter (Hoya R72 Infrared). At night, there are of course not many sources of scattered IR light, but I was curious about the results.

Los Angeles freeway traffic capture in Infrared I
Los Angeles freeway traffic capture in Infrared II

The images in my Los Angeles gallery on PBase speak for themselves. Interestingly, the results are somewhat soft, probably through diffusion of IR light, compared to the same view seen without an IR filter. This provides an ethereal feel to the image, which I like. I have not tried very long exposures yet (i.e. longer than the 30 seconds limit of my digital camera), but I will soon.

The only challenge with IR photography when using an IR filters in front of a lens is the need to prefocus without the filter on, and then make sure that screwing the filter back does not disturb the lens’ focus. I used Canon’s excellent 85 mm f/1.8 prime lens for this work (58 mm filter size), but any other lens would be fine. These filters can be expensive, so if you are trying this technique for the first time, it is a good idea to rent the filter, or purchase one of the smaller filter sizes like I did.