Rusted Railing

Rusted Railing

A moment of bright sun brings out the detail of a Brightly-colored caboose in an advanced state of decay at the Minnesota Transportation Museum Jackson Street Roundhouse.

Top of the Foshay

Top of the Foshay

Happiness Can Spread Among People Like a Contagion, Study Indicates

By Rob Stein – Washington Post

Happiness is contagious, spreading among friends, neighbors, siblings and spouses like the flu, according to a large study that for the first time shows how emotion can ripple through clusters of people who may not even know each other.

The study of more than 4,700 people who were followed over 20 years found that people who are happy or become happy boost the chances that someone they know will be happy. The power of happiness, moreover, can span another degree of separation, elevating the mood of that person’s husband, wife, brother, sister, friend or next-door neighbor.

“You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience,” said Nicholas A. Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University who helped conduct the study published online today by BMJ, a British medical journal. “But it also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious.”

One person’s happiness can affect another’s for as much as a year, the researchers found, and while unhappiness can also spread from person to person, the “infectiousness” of that emotion appears to be far weaker.

Previous studies have documented the common experience that one person’s emotions can influence another’s — laughter can trigger guffaws in others; seeing someone smile can momentarily lift one’s spirits. But the new study is the first to find that happiness can spread across groups for an extended period.

When one person in the network became happy, the chances that a friend, sibling, spouse or next-door neighbor would become happy increased between 8 percent and 34 percent, the researchers found. The effect continued through three degrees of separation, although it dropped progressively from about 15 percent to 10 percent to about 6 percent before disappearing.

The research follows previous work by Christakis and co-author James H. Fowler that found that obesity also appears to spread from person to person, as does the likelihood of quitting smoking. The researchers have been using detailed records originally collected by the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running project that has explored a host of health issues, to construct and analyze detailed maps of social networks.

The findings, Christakis and others said, provide striking new evidence of the power of social networks, which could have implications for public policy. Happy people tend to be better off in myriad ways, being more creative, productive and healthier.

Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post: Happiness Can Spread Among People Like a Contagion, Study Indicates

Thanks for the story Larry!

Early Bird Special

Early Bird Special

Recognize this lens? The effect of a long telephoto like this is a lot of fun. Especially when your circle of confusion has a hole in it! Extra credit if you have any idea what I just said…

Composition: Lines

Composition: Lines

The Nicollet Mall light rail station offers a great opportunity to demonstrate the concept of lines. Lines are mostly a man-made compositional element, in drawing and painting lines can be emphasized to show weight, character, form or lead the eye. An artist can darken them, employing chiaroscuro to suggest form or modify the composition to create lines of interest. A photographer is bound by the constraints of reality, thus I had to seek out lines carved into reality itself so nature would have to be left behind for the world of man.

There’s a touch of sky in the distance, but other than that, welcome to the world of man. Lines, glorious lines. The rails and power cable, curbs and building edges all lead the eye to my focal point, the oncoming train — the beast that lives all it’s life on lines.

Since I’ve left the natural world behind for this composition, I decided to go further and take the color with me. I’ve increased the contrast, saturation and fuddled with all the color balances to emphasize the manufactured reality and strengthen the lines. Speaking of reality, the light-rail fare went up 25 cents today.

It’s October First and another City Daily Photo Blog Theme Day.

Other blogs participating in the theme day:Albuquerque (NM), USA by Helen, American Fork (UT), USA by Annie, Arradon, France by Alice, Ashton under Lyne, UK by Pennine, Aspen (CO), USA by IamMBB, Auckland, New Zealand by Lachezar, Auckland, New Zealand by Baruch, Austin (TX), USA by LB, Avignon, France by Nathalie, Bandung, Indonesia by Eki Akhwan, Bandung, Indonesia by Harry Makertia, Bandung, Indonesia by Bunyamin, Barrow-in-Furness, UK by Enitharmon, Barton (VT), USA by Andree, Baziège, France by PaB, Belgrade, Serbia by BgdPic, Belgrade, Serbia by Bibi, Bellefonte (PA), USA by Barb-n-PA, Bicheno, Australia by Greg, Birmingham (AL), USA by VJ, Bogor, Indonesia by Gagah, Boston (MA), USA by Cluelessinboston, Boston (MA), USA by Ilse, Budapest, Hungary by agrajag, Budapest, Hungary by Isadora, Budapest, Hungary by Zannnie and Zsolt, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Karine, Canterbury, UK by Rose, Cape Town, South Africa by JSB, Cape Town, South Africa by Kerry-Anne, Cavite, Philippines by Steven Que, Château-Gontier, France by Laurent, Chateaubriant, France by trieulet, Chateaubriant, France by Bergson, Cheltenham, UK by Marley, Chennai, India by Ram N, Coral Gables (FL), USA by Jnstropic, Durban, South Africa by CrazyCow, Edwardsville (IL), USA by Mdflores, Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA by Gigi, Franschhoek, South Africa by JSB, Geneva (IL), USA by Kelly, Glasgow, Scotland by Jackie, Greenville (SC), USA by Denton, Grenoble, France by Bleeding Orange, Hamilton, New Zealand by Sakiwi, Hangzhou, China by zoe, Helsinki, Finland by PPusa, Hobart, Australia by Greg, Honningsvag, Norway by J., Hyde, UK by Old Hyde, Hyde, UK by Gerald, Islip (NY), USA by Bettye, Jackson (MS), USA by Halcyon, Jakarta, Indonesia by Santy, Jefferson City (MO), USA by Chinamom2005, Karwar, India by Yogesh, Knoxville (TN), USA by Knoxville Girl, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia by Edwin, La Antigua, Guatemala by Rudy, Lakewood (OH), USA by mouse, Larchmont (NY), USA by Marie-Noyale, Las Vegas (NV), USA by Mo, Lisbon, Portugal by Sailor Girl, Lodz, Poland by ritalounge, London, UK by Mo, London, UK by Ham, Madrid, Spain by Tr3nta, Mainz, Germany by JB, Manila, Philippines by Hilda, Manila, Philippines by Anthony, Manila, Philippines by Heyokity, Melbourne, Australia by John, Menton, France by Jilly, Mexico City, Mexico by Carraol, Middletown (MD), USA by Bernie, Milton, New Zealand by Milton Daily Photo, Milwaukee (WI), USA by karl, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Mitch, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Greg, Minneapolis (MN), USA by Scott, Molfetta, Italy by saretta, Monrovia (CA), USA by Keith, Monte Carlo, Monaco by Jilly,

Monterrey, Mexico by rafa, Muizenberg, South Africa by Pentaxjunkie, Mumbai, India by Kunalbhatia, Mumbai, India by MumbaiiteAnu, Nelson, New Zealand by Meg and Ben, New Delhi, India by Delhi Photo Diary, New York City (NY), USA by Ming the Merciless, New York City (NY), USA by Kitty, Norwich, UK by Goddess888, Orlando (FL), USA by OrlFla, Paderborn, Germany by Soemchen, Palos Verdes (CA), USA by tash, Paris, France by Elsa, Paris, France by Eric, Pasadena (CA), USA by Can8ianben, Pasadena (CA), USA by Petrea, Pensacola (FL), USA by P J, Petoskey (MI), USA by Christie, Philadelphia (PA), USA by Andrew Foderaro, Phoenix (AZ), USA by Sharon, Pilisvörösvár, Hungary by Elise, Port Angeles (WA), USA by Jelvistar, Prague, Czech Republic by kakna, Quezon City, Philippines by ann pablo, Quincy (MA), USA by slim, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea by Jules, Ramsey, Isle of Man by babooshka, Reykjavik, Iceland by Vírgíll, Riga, Latvia by Riga Photos, Roanoke (VA), USA by Tanya, Rome, Italy by Giovanni, Rotterdam, Netherlands by Ineke, Rouen, France by Bbsato, Saarbrücken, Germany by LadyDemeter, Saigon, Vietnam by Simon, Saint Louis (MO), USA by Strangetastes, Saint Paul (MN), USA by Kate, Salt Lake City (UT), USA by Eric, San Antonio (TX), USA by Kramer, San Diego (CA), USA by Felicia, San Francisco (CA), USA by Burd Zel Krai, San Francisco (CA), USA by PFranson, Schenectady (NY), USA by Buck, Seattle (WA), USA by Kim, Seattle (WA), USA by Chuck, Selma (AL), USA by RamblingRound, Sequim (WA), USA by Eponabri, Sesimbra, Portugal by Aldeia, Setúbal, Portugal by Maria Elisa, Silver Spring (MD), USA by John, Singapore, Singapore by Zannnie, Singapore, Singapore by Keropok, Sofia, Bulgaria by Antonia, South Pasadena (CA), USA by Laurie, Stanwood (WA), USA by MaryBeth, Stayton (OR), USA by Celine, Stockholm, Sweden by Stromsjo, Sunshine Coast, Australia by bitingmidge, Sydney, Australia by Ann, Sydney, Australia by Sally, Székesfehérvár, Hungary by Teomo, Tacloban City, Philippines by agnesdv, Tamarindo, Costa Rica by David, Telluride (CO), USA by mtsrool, Terrell (TX), USA by Bstexas, Terrell (TX), USA by Jim K, Test City (MA), USA by , Torun, Poland by Glenn, Toulouse, France by Julia, Turin, Italy by Livio, Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Jazzy, Twin Cities (MN), USA by Slinger, Vienna, Austria by G_mirage2, Wailea (HI), USA by Kuanyin, Washington (DC), USA by D.C. Confidential, Wellington, New Zealand by Jeremyb, West Sacramento (CA), USA by Barbara, Weston (FL), USA by WestonDailyPhoto, Willits (CA), USA by Elaine, Yardley (PA), USA by Mrlynn

Infrared Photo of a Fountain

Infrared Photo of a Fountain

This is the Heffelfinger Fountain in the Lyndale Park Rose Garden on the Northeast shore of Lake Harriet. It’s the second oldest rose garden in the U.S. and was designed by Theodore Wirth.

Yes, this is infrared. I’ve posted a few of these over time and y’all demanded more of them, so here ya go.

I’ll be bringing you photos of the parks and trails for most of the month; I’d like to prove the beauty of this city’s greenspaces before I begin the State Fair. The State Fair is big deal here, it runs from the 21st thru Sept 1st. There’s tons of fun there, but it’s mainly about things you really shouldn’t be eating — on a stick. Batter-fried cheese curds, Batter-fried candy bars, Batter-fried oreos, some obscenity called a scotch egg and walleye-on-a-stick are a few crowd pleasers of yore. The latter I’ve not seen, but my dad is fascinated by — since he won’t come up here, I gotta go find one. So enjoy the pretty pictures while they last.

Infrared Greenway Bike Trail in Minneapolis

Infrared Greenway Bike Trail in Minneapolis

Here’s yesterday’s location, only in infrared. I keep forgetting that I can do this. I waited all winter for the bright green foliage of summer so that I could take my infrared camera out.

As you can see from these two photos, the foliage reflects infrared light so they appear as crystal white masses. The sky goes black and the clouds go white. There are special cameras for taking infrared, but a lot of point-and-shoots can do it. I’m using a Sony F828 for this. If your P&S has a “night mode”, then it probably does a decent job of infrared. The easy way to test it is to point your TV remote at the camera lens and push a button. If you see a light coming from the remote on the screen, your camera see IR. Then you need a filter. Light colors are measured in wavelengths and the filters are numbered accordingly, 720nm, 820nm and 1000nm are the common ones. The first two do a good job, the 1000nm is hard to work with, with so little light, you need a tripod.

If y’all like these, I’ll take some more…

Happy Bastille Day!

Happy Bastille Day!

OK, this is from July 4th in Minneapolis, but I wanted to wish our fellow revolutionary brothers & sisters a bon quatorze juillet! France is, after all, the home of the City Daily Photo Blog, thanks Eric!

Believe it or not, I took this night photo hand-held with a telephoto lens. Yes, it’s the Nikon 70-300mm VR to the rescue. 1/6th of a second at f/4.5 and a focal length of 165mm. If you breath slow enough, you don’t need a tripod!

It’s possible that my former co-worker/mentor Mike Smith was right that if you drink enough caffeine, you jitter fast enough that you appear still. Either way, VR or Image Stabilization rocks!

Railroad Abstract Photography

Railroad Abstract Photography

Railroads are a great source of abstract photos. This one was caught on the move; you can tell by the blurred grass on the far side.

Everything on a train is there because it’s supposed to be there. There’s very little decoration, it’s all working mechanical parts, which make for great abstracts. For a tutorial on abstract photography, check out my post from Monday. Basically, you are making the compositional elements prominent and reducing the realistic elements. Railroads and other industrial settings are great in the sense that these purpose-built machines are very simple in their design. Large solid parts, little detail or at least consistent repeating details.

How to: Abstract Photography

How to: Abstract Photography

Behold, the majesty of the Grand Lighting Tower of the Linden Yard. Ok… so the yard is now a city dump and the lights haven’t been on since we stopped building nuclear reactors, but still, from the right angle, it’s pretty cool. There is a lot going on in this shot, and I had fun at every step:

The Composition

This is a classic pyramid composition, offset to the left to follow the Rule of Thirds. Pyramids are very common compositions in design and painting. they draw the eye in and focus it to a central point, giving depth to the image. One of the great things about photography is that you don’t have to convince the viewer that it is real. This would make a lousy painting because it is abstract to the point of being incoherent — it would be dismissed as abstract. As a photo, you know it has to be something, so you figure it out. Abstract images loose their sense of space because the geometric shapes and strong lines destroy the organic real-world cues. By finding objects with simple lines and shapes, you can compose and image in which they dominate the space.

The Technique

This was shot with my Nikon D200 and the Nikkor 70-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6. Settings: Focal length 70mm, ISO 100, Aperture F/16, Shutter 1/80 sec, no flash. I placed the camera against the tower and worked out the composition. I took several photos at different settings with different compositions.

One of the big mistakes many amateur photographers make is that they don’t look at the entire image. They center the subject and shoot. I really enjoyed how I was able to get the top left light to fill the corner. Digital photos are free: take as many as you can. Keep moving the camera around and see what you can make.

The Processing

I love Adobe Lightroom. I can change an image in so many directions quickly without damaging the file or having oodles of layers to manage. I increased: exposure, recovery, blacks, vibrance, contrast, clarity and… Cranked the tonal curve and increased the luminosity and saturation of some colors. Add in a little Lens Vignetting and it’s done!