planning for trips

2017-05-15 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Our department at Hokudai gives us 6 months of sabbatical leave exactly once for each professor's tenure. This is considerably less than many other schools (1 year of leave after 6 years of teaching is common). Noriko's and my leave is summer, fall, and winter of this year.

We've been busy planning and paying for our flights. We prefer flights that let us sit together, without having to sit next to somebody else. Reserving a few months before the flight allows us to select the seats we want, and that determines which flight we take.

One of our destinations is Southampton, UK. I am giving a presentation at
EUROCALL-2017, hosted by the University of Southampton.

"I found a cheap ticket!", I thought. The total cost rose from 100 euro to 346 euro (391 US dollars) after adding various costs that are necessary. Still, not too bad.

playing with my camera

2017-05-12 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Upgrading the focusing screen on my digital single-lens reflex camera breathed new life into it. I am excited to use what is now a much easier tool to toy with.

Heavy rains yesterday washed away the pollen and dust in the atmosphere. (Much of the dust blows in from deserts in China.) This morning, sunlight pierced the crisp cool air, and laterally illuminated moist vegetation. I took pictures on my way to work.

Lensbaby lens emphasizes one part of the image by blurring the rest. See that only the trillium in the center is in focus, although the rest are at roughly the same distance from the camera.

The Lensbaby company is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Maybe they and Professor Clark are enjoying similar weather today.

See how the tree is in focus while the surface of Ohno Pond is blurred. Just showing you the optical characteristics of the lens. Not that my composition is great.


Reflection on water is clear but the surrounding rocks are blurred.

My photographs of architecture are almost always in postcard-perfect focus. The Lensbaby might arguably draw the audience towards a section of the building, such as my office show here.
The blurred images are wildly distorted.

Distortion can stimulate fleeting interest. Here is a night shot of lightfish swimming from the city lights of Sapporo.

my former students

2017-05-11 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I visited my former students who are now full professors at Hokkai Gakuen University.

Takafumi Utashiro teaches the teaching of Japanese language. I observed his class today. His students impressed me with their enthusiasm.

HIroya Tanaka has a heavy teaching load in English language. His research in and development of vocabulary acquisition tools is helping my graduate student Ivy Lin.

camera focusing screen

2017-05-08 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Finally, after 3 years of procrastinating (actually 2 years and 11 months but equally embarrassing), I replaced the focusing screen on my camera.

Focusing screens are located beneath the pentaprism on single-lens reflex cameras. This photo shows the camera placed upside down, so that the focusing screen (the rectangular frosted sheet of plastic with etched lines) is viewable on the bottom of the photograph.

Some years ago, shortly after purchasing my camera (a
Pentax K5), I replaced the factory-original focusing screen (pictured below) with a rule-of-thirds grid pattern (pictured above).

My new focusing screen is a
Canon screen (model Ec-B, split-image) that was modified by a company in Taiwan. I wanted split-image focusing because I am used to it, my lenses are manual focus, and my camera's autofocus algorithm is slow in displaying its results.

requires dexterity rather than knowledge of tools. The photo below shows the focusing screen removed from its metal frame.

A close-up photograph of my former focusing screen (a Pentax type ML-60) shows that my new screen is roughly on focus.

A split-image focusing screen has a circular area in the center. The circle is split into 2 halves. When an image is in focus, the image appears perfectly through the circle.

The picture below shows the view through my camera's viewfinder. This photo was taken by another camera looking into the viewfinder. Look at the edge of the white book. The 2 semicircles cut through the letters "M" of "COMIX" and "R" of "HARTA".

When the image is out of focus, the image is broken side by side. See how the edge of the white book is shifted horizontally.

With split-image focusing, the focusing technique consists of (a) finding a line or an edge, such as a person's face against a blue sky, and (b) turning the focusing ring on the lens such that the line in (a) is connected.

In the picture below, I focused on the inside (closer to camera) edge of the button on the 2nd (middle) valve of my trumpet. I used a low F number at a relatively close distance to achieve shallow depth-of-field. I am satisfied that my focusing screen is accurate.

Focusing is much faster and easier than before! With manual focus, split-image focus is my favorite!

flowers at hokkaido jingu

2017-05-05 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- For the first time in at least 10 (maybe 13) years we took a few days off during Japan's Golden Week (a string of holidays interspersed with work days).

Sapporo summers are brief. Plums, cherries, magnolias ... all flowers bloom together.




We prayed for peace and health at the Hokkaido Jingu, a Shinto shrine with a checkered past.

The supreme Shinto priest is the emperor. His family crest (a 16-leaf chrysanthemum) adorns the shrine.

I saw for my first time a reproduction of the
Imperial Decree on Education (教育勅語) signed by Emperor Meiji. I have read, heard, and said the decree numerous times.

May 5th is Boys' Day (which is a holiday, unfairly and unlike March 3rd Girls' Day). Carp streamers wish boys well. Chinese mythology says carp, when jumping over waterfalls, transform into dragons. Religion in Japan is a mix of indigenous Shinto, imported Buddhism of various varieties, and some Chinese and Korean mythology and superstition.