I'm in San Diego for the SPIE Optics & Photonics meeting. More specifically Kishan Dholakia and Gabe Spaldning put together the Optical Trapping and Optical Micromanipulation IV conference, where I was the last (but not least?) speaker. Overall the meeting has a dual character with a lot of technical content (like lens- or mechanics-design, CCD/CMOS imaging, etc.) but also a strong academic following with 'plasmonics' and 'nanobiotronics' being the buzzwords of the month. Supposedly the attendance is around 5 000 persons, but it felt less crowded than the Biophysical Society meetings (3 - 4 000 people), maybe because people were spread out over many more sessions.
Travelling via JFK my baggage was delayed about 36 h, but otherwise the trip went fine.
I spent four days in
The Texas State Capitol building is - as any Texan will quickly point out to you - slightly taller than the US Capitol in
Inside you are greeted by two of the fathers of
The Lone Star of Texas inside the Capitol dome.
A machine used to punch holes in checks.
The senate meets in this room, recently restored to its original look. They're pretty effective at law-making, since they only meet for 140 days every two years.
Senators sit at these nice desks â€“ over 100 years old. No electronic voting here...
The Texas State Museum does not allow photography, so no pics from there. They have three floors of exhibits with the varied and interesting history of Texas. They also had a temporary space exhibition with some big rocket engines on display in addition to text, pictures and videos from NASA missions.
Then on to the bats! They live under the Congress avenue bridge, and come out just after sunset. Above sunset over town lake as viewed from the bridge.
The bats attract a lot of tourists and on-lookers, both on the bridge and under it.
Some more people waiting for the bats to come out. The photo looks much brighter than it actually was (photo taken sometime around 20:45 I think).
I had never photographed flying bats before, so the results were varied. First I thought I would stand under the bridge and shoot the black bats against the dark-blue sky. Well without flash that didn't work at all. Even at F/1.8 aperture and ISO3200 the exposure time is much too long to stop movement. With good eyes and a bit of imagination you can maybe see some bats in the above picture.
It works much better with flash! Shutter speeds of 1/50 or 1/100 nicely stops motion, and focusing was the only problem. I shot everything using manual focus since auto-focus didn't work. I forgot the camera in ISO3200 mode and fixed aperture of F/1.8, which might not have been the ideal settings with flash...
From the top of the bridge you get closer to the bats, but that also means that the manual focusing gets a lot more sensitive.
This is perhaps the best one of them all. I had a 4 Gb card in the camera and shot over 100 bat pictures, but a lot of them were de-focused, had motion blur or something else wrong with them. If someone has more experience with this type of photography, please do comment below!
These are all with the â€˜plastic fantasticâ€™ Canon EF 50/1.8 II, the only lens I travelled with since I wanted to save some weight. Excellent sharpness and coulor at times, but a bit long for some shots. My EF 17-40/F4L would have been more versatile, but also heavier and perhaps not as good for the night photosâ€¦ Maybe I need a shorter prime-lens too?
NIWeek went well. NI showed some cool new products and technologies. I definitely now need a multi-core machine for the new LabVIEW 8.5 which supports multi-threading! It's really a company that wants to listen to its customers and actively improve products. Also, the paper I co-authored for the NIWeek Paper Contest got selected as one of nine Category Winners - so that was good.
The 50th annual meeting of the Biophysical Society was held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 18-22, 2006. Here are a few pictures from Salt Lake City and Bryce Canyon which I visited afterwards.
Salt Lake City
Looking down Main Street
The newly built library. Architecture somewhat similar to the 'promenade' concept on the Silja Serenade and Symphony ferries ('floating hotel' type ferries between Stockholm and Helsinki).
A view from the roof of the library.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir hosts free rehearsals and performances, definitely worth a visit !
Antelope Island and the Salt Lake
The Wasatch mountains as viewed from Antelope Island.
An unlucky nail in the right rear tyre forced a quick pitstop and a change of car at Avis...
On friday we made the 200mile trip south of SLC to see Bryce Canyon National Park.
Driving through Red Canyon on the way south
I thought I felt a definite shortness of breath when walking up hills at this altitude - or maybe it's just lack of exercise...
The beginning of Grand Canyon in the distance...
An overview of Bryce Canyon
Teemu living on the edge
A formation called Natural Bridge.
Our group attended the 2005 Biophysical Society annual meeting in Long Beach, California.
Continue reading 2005 Biophysical Society Meeting, Long Beach
Mount Shasta, the second highest peak in California outside Sierra Nevada, 4322 m high. Last erupted around 200 years ago with a high probability of erupting again...
Another view of the peak hidden in clouds.
A landscape not so different from Finland ?
Wondering at the amount of snow (in June !) in Lassen Park. The road through the park had opened the same week. This was unfortunately a trip on which I learned the hard way about battery management for digital cameras. The batteries to my real camera (a 4 Mpix Minolta S404) died very early on and so all I have from the rest of the trip is taken with the then novel phone camera (like this pic), with not so satisfying results...