Plants Are World Travelers

first_imgWe think of plants as stationary life forms anchored to the soil, but National Geographic News reminds us that they have remarkable ways of getting around via seed dispersal mechanisms.  Some fly through the air with parachutes or helicopters, some float in the water, and some rely on animals.  It appears that some exotic species may be vanishing because animals they relied on for dispersal have gone extinct.A wonderful film that reveals the hidden world of seed dispersal is the award-winning Moody science classic Journey of Life.  This is a must-see nature film.  Follow delicate packages of life as they travel through the air, across oceans and continents, down rivers, through fires, ride on birds and monkeys and cows, roll through the West, explode across the field and even crawl across the soil and drill themselves in the ground.  The time-lapse and slow-motion photography is stunning.  This “sermons from science” film ends with an analogy to another seed spoken of by the Lord Jesus in one of his parables: the word of God.  The film would make a great introduction or conclusion to a local nature hike.(Visited 20 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

The World of Diffusion Filters

first_imgA diffusion filter softens your image and generates a haze around bright objects. Learn how this can add style to your video project.Top Image via Tiffen.Some filmmakers and videographers think you shouldn’t add an effect in-camera that you could easily take care of in post-production. However, filters can help you capture a broader range of visual information without the sacrifices you might have to make to your image to get this same effect in post.For example, years ago I won a filter pack from Jessops and quickly learned that a gradation filter would allow me to capture more detail in the sky without distorting the highlights from the color profile in post. It changed everything. Over the years I’ve now collected a good range of filters that have different properties and effects. One type of filter that I’ve come to love is the diffusion filter. An image captured through a diffusion filter looks hazy, dreamlike, or even romantic.How Does It Work?The diffusion filter creates a haze by spreading out the light across the etched filter surface. It’s entirely different from blurred or out-of-focus images — a diffused image retains its contrast and sharpness. This is the effect of bending a percentage of the image-forming light from its original path to defocus it. The minuscule patterns on a diffusion filter will also help alter the bokeh.Image via Tiffen.There are many Brands to choose from, but the most reputable are Tiffen, Hoya, Promaster, Sunpak, Fotodiox, and Cokin. They come in grades of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and so on. Different brands use different strength systems.The following is the Tiffen Black Pro-Mist in use. You can see on the right that the image has a beautiful haze around the light and softens the details of the actress while retaining the sharpness of the individual hairs and details of the eye.When To Use a Diffusion FilterOften, in contemporary media, cinematographers diffuse an image to inform the audience that we are no longer watching a film set in the modern time or the real world. Even those who are not versed in the language of cinema can subconsciously pick up on these visual cues.Many films from the Golden Age of Hollywood have a haze to the image because of the lighting, film stock, lenses, and the use of netting. Replicating that by using a diffusion filter can simulate these motifs for the audience.Image from The Furies (1930).Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is set in the early 60s, and it makes use of diffusion to create its look.Is this to say that all films set in the past need diffusion? Absolutely not. Many, do not. However, it is a beautiful aesthetic to call upon if you need to enhance the periodic elements.Likewise, it can also be a useful tool to create a dreamlike scene.Image from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.Lower-strength diffusion filters can soften wrinkles and give the face a more flawless look. Many people will simply rely on After Effects to correct these imperfections, but if you’re pressed for time, getting the shot in-camera is always the best, and perhaps the purest, option. There are specific filters, such as the Tiffen Softnet, specifically for this purpose. The Softnet filter mimics the use of placing a net behind the lens, which was an early way to diffuse an image.Some of the earliest ‘portrait’ diffusion filters still in use today are ‘nets.’ Fine mesh, like a stocking, stretched across the lens, has made many a face appear youthful, flawless. The Tiffen Softnet filter series, a modern update made of special fine net laminated between clear optical glass, provides a greater effect on small details, such as wrinkles and skin blemishes, than on the rest of the image.You can also produce the diffused look with a plug-in such as Magic Bullet Looks. While it produces a similar result, it’s not unlike trying to make digital footage look like 35mm film — there’s nothing quite like the real thing.How to Use a Diffusion FilterFocal length will affect the level of diffusion. Using a ¼ Promist on a 180mm lens will result in more diffusion than it would with a 24mm lens. For this reason, it’s advantageous to drop down a level of diffusion when substantially increasing the focal length. In addition, make sure your talent is well lit. As you can imagine, the haze effect is all but lost on a dark set.If you’ve ever used a diffusion filter outside with a wide angle lens, you may have noticed that smaller details tend to become lost in the image. This is because the diffusion pattern tends to become too strong for small details when shooting wide angle. You should use the lowest level of diffusion for an extreme wide shot, or keep your shots tight.Image from Inside Llewyn Davis.Further, while the effect works best when used with a well-lit subject, you want to avoid strong light, especially harsh sunlight. Excessive light will wash out the image.For more insight into which diffusion filter to buy, I highly recommend reading through Tiffen’s lengthy but educational post about their diffusion filters and what they do. Each filter type has an accompanying video that demonstrates the effect of the filter in action.Do you have a favorite diffusion filter? Let us know in the comments.last_img read more

Shahid Afridi slams PCB, retires from international cricket

first_imgFlamboyant Pakistan all rounder Shahid Afridi has announced to quit international cricket in protest of his removal from the captaincy of the national one-day team and said he will not consider to return till the present board under the chairmanship of Ijaz Butt is in place.”The people have given me lot of respect and love and I don’t want to waste that working with this board who don’t know how to respect players,” an angry Afridi said.In a scathing attack on the Pakistan cricket Board, Afridi, 31, described the current set of administrators as “disgraceful people”.Afridi, who announced to quit international cricket to protest the board’s decision of removing him as the captain of the one-day team, told Geo News channel that nothing is greater to him than his self-respect. The experienced all rounder said till the present board under the chairmanship of Butt is in place, he will not play international cricket.”I want to make it clear that till this board is there I will not play international cricket. When it goes and if people want me to play on I will consider a comeback.”However, Afridi said he will continue to play in domestic and league matches. “I will continue to play domestic and league cricket but not international cricket… It is not worth my while under this board which gave me no reason nor did it bother to hear me out before sacking me as captain,” he said.”I don’t want to work with such disgraceful people. I don’t know on what grounds they sacked me as captain. I worked hard on building up a broken team and turned it into a fighting combination. We played in the World Cup semi-final and yet they sacked me without hearing me out.”advertisementThe retirement follows on the heels of Afridi’s sacking as ODI captain despite Pakistan’s 3-2 success against West Indies. Though the board did not any give official reason for the removal, it was believed to be the result of growing differences Afridi had with coach Waqar Younis, in particular over matters of selection.Afridi also claimed there was a group of people belonging to the Punjab province in Lahore who had always been against him. “This group has always kept on working against me. They are the ones who keep on filling the Chairman’s ears against me. Maybe they don’t want me to play because I get in the way of their plans.”The all rounder also alleged that as the captain he was never consulted in selection of teams, nor was he sure about his captaincy before a series till the last moment. “This board never gave me a feeling of assurance that I would be captain. I would not know before a series until the last few days whether I was going to be captain and I can’t continue to play under these circumstances.”Afridi also made it clear that he had spoken to some of his elders and seniors before taking his retirement decision and they supported him. It was after returning from the West Indies that Afridi ruffled the board feathers when he told the media he did not like people interfering in his work – an obvious reference to row with head coach Waqar Younis over selection issues.After issuing him a notice for speaking to the media on team issues in contravention of the players code of conduct, the board while announcing the squad for the one-day series against Ireland replaced Afridi as captain with test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who on Monday led Pakistan to a 2-0 win over Ireland.Afridi, after he was sacked for captaincy, pulled out of the series against Ireland telling the board he wanted to stay with his father who was under treatment in the United States, but he reached England from the US and on Monday made his retirement announcement from London. He also defended his statement, saying he had only spoken the truth and nothing else.”I didn’t speak against anyone nor did I criticise anyone by name. What I said was for betterment of team. But if they don’t want me to speak the truth than I can’t accept working with such people,” he said. “I didn’t want any problem what I said was keeping in the benefits of the team. I can’t continue to play under a board that does not respect senior players,” he added.Afridi last year had already retired from Test cricket after losing the first test to Australia at Lords. Afridi in the 325 ODIs, he played, has scored 6695 at an average of 23.49, but at a staggering strike rate of 113.82. He also bagged 315 wickets at an average of 34.22. He holds the record of the fastest ODI century in 37 balls. In 43 T20s, he managed 683 runs and got 53 scalps.advertisementThe all rounder has played 27 Tests in which he scored 1716 runs (avg 36.51) and garnered 48 wickets (avg 35.50).- With inputs from PTIlast_img read more

Career women in Pakistan face uncertain future due to ‘Islamisation’ drive

first_imgCareer women in Pakistan face an uncertain future as that Muslim country continues its relentless “Islamisation” drive. If Pakistan’s Federal Shariat (Islamic) Court accepts a recent petition challenging the appointment of women to judicial posts then all the lady magistrates and judges would be retired from service.The main point of,Career women in Pakistan face an uncertain future as that Muslim country continues its relentless “Islamisation” drive. If  Pakistan’s Federal Shariat (Islamic) Court accepts a recent petition challenging the appointment of women to judicial posts then all the lady magistrates and judges would be retired from service.The main point of contention in the case filed by a lawyer and former student leader, Ansar Burney, is that lady magistrates and judges are working in courts without observing ‘purdah’ and discharging the functions of ‘Qazis’. This, according to Burney, was against the injunctions of Islam and against the spirit of the Constitution of Pakistan which says “the state shall exercise its powers within the limits described by the almightv Allah”.The petition has come in the wake of a nation-wide controversy sparked off by a religious scholar, Dr Asrar Ahmed, who alleged in a TV programme that women were responsible for the increase in sex crimes and therefore should not be taken in government jobs, and should be retired and sent home. Asrar’s remark has stirred a hornet’s nest among the educated and working women who hit back by demanding his removal from the Federal Council (Majlis-e-Shoora).Dr Asrar Ahmed: Defiant zealotResignation: A defiant Asrar, whose controversial views find as staunch a band of popular supporters as those who decry his views, made a dramatic announcement of his resignation from the Council last fortnight. According to him, the resignation had nothing to do with the demands of the women, but after having been associated with the Council for about eight months, he suddenly found it to be a “political body”.”The Council has become a nominated parliament instead of a consultative body. It is just wasting the nation’s time,” says Asrar, a doctor-turned-preacher who was once associated with the now defunct party Jamaat-e-Islami.advertisementHowever, the general belief here is that Asrar resigned because he was opposed to the presence of women in the Council. He has repeatedly voiced his demand for the removal of women members from the Council maintaining that they had no role to play and should not even be consulted on administrative matters. The debate on the status of women in the Muslim society of Pakistan has acquired a new sense of urgency in the nation’s media in the wake of this controversy.Pakistani women also suffered another setback recently when President Zia-ul-Haq ruled that they would not be allowed to go abroad to participate in sports events. The President, however, made it clear that women would be allowed to form teams and play within the country “fully observing the restrictions imposed by our culture and civilisation”.But, contrary to the President’s ruling, girls were barred from participating in the recently concluded national games in Peshawar. Even foreign girls including Indians were not allowed to take part in the games.Commenting on Zia’s statement, Naushaba, a young athlete from Karachi said that it was very disappointing and felt that it has left sportswomen in Pakistan in a quandary. Despite protests from hockey players and athletes, the Government appears determined to implement the ban.Reassurance: Strictures on women extend to other fields as well. There has been a lot of delay in the setting up of women’s universities in the provinces. The draft prepared by experts is presently under study at the Law Ministry. Even if it is accepted by the ministry, it has yet to be placed before the Cabinet for final approval.PIA airhostesses: An uncertain future for working womenWomen educationists feel that the draft may never get the official seal of approval. More so because the only lady secretary in the Government, Gufzar Bano, has gone on leave preparatory to retirement. She was the only top-level woman bureaucrat capable of pushing the draft.Women in Pakistan are not very confident about the reassurance of Zia that working women will not be sent home, especially since the President’s remarks were followed by a ban on women athletes from competing abroad. Interestingly enough, Asrar’s controversial TV programme ‘Al-Huda’ – based on Islamic teachings – was banned in the wake of his remarks on women. TV bosses apparently succumbed to pressure from women’s groups. In a touch of irony, two young women lawyers of Karachi – Begum G.M. Tamseel and Begum Tamseel Javed – have moved a civil court challenging the ban and seeking an injunction to continue the programme. The case continues.Pakistani women anxiously await the final outcome of these cases. The decision of the Federal Shariat Court would be binding on Zia as well. If all the lady magistrates and judges are sent back home it is inevitable that women workers in other government departments are in for a rude shock.advertisementlast_img read more