Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best of 2012, Picture Edition

I'm going to go over some of my favorite pictures from this year. They might not be the absolute best I've taken this year, nor might they be my favorites in another month, but here's my top ten of 2012 (at the moment).

10. I was out today walking with friends and Neil's white german shepherd Lola. She loves running in the deep snow and I managed to catch her taking off across the field with a mouthful of snow in mid-chomp.

9. The mineral cleavage videos that I was working on last winter produced a big mess. And the pile of cleavage fragments looked quite lovely.

8. Back around Halloween, my pal Kelly and I dressed up as Adam and Jamie for a costume contest. We didn't win (not sure why), but I really like how some of the pictures turned out.

7. It's not surprising that pictures from my trip to Scotland and Iceland made the list. I'm not completely sold on the exposure or color here, but I really like the elements of this scene.

6. Our trip was fortunate in that we had sunny, clear weather for most of the time we were in both Iceland and Scotland. The guy we bought kebabs from said we were there for the three days of Iceland summer.

5. We visited the Orkney Islands for several days. Fascinating place - particularly because of the extensive use of bedrock as building material. Here's the neolithic settlement of Skara Brae.

4. While filming the Bee slow-motion video at Neil's, we also worked on some of his other hives. Neil mentioned that one of his favorite views was lying on the ground, looking up at the hive.

3. The Quirang on the Isle of Skye. Such an amazing place - there's a reason it's used as a movie setting.

2. Our trip to Iceland included a trip to Gulfoss - and the sunny weather made some wonderful rainbows.

1. And no trip to Scotland would be complete without a trip to Arthurs Seat and the Salisbury Crags. You can see the hill with Edinburgh Castle in the background.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Best of 2012, Video Edition

The year is drawing to a close. I've been meaning to update the formatting of the blog so that I can show larger pictures and videos. Everyone's going through their archives and compiling "best of" type lists. I can't argue with that, so here are my 10 favorite videos that I made this year... This years list is going to feature the new high speed camera that my department got about a year ago.

10. A day in the Image Lab

A Day in the Image Lab from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
Ever wonder what it is that we really do? Here's a little view of what goes in to making some of the high speed videos.

9. The Angry Bluebird

Bluebird Toughness from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
We had a male bluebird decide that his reflection in our window had to go away. It took some creative window treatments to dissuade him, but given the fact that he and his mate fledged about five or six chicks this last year, he seems to have done okay.

8. Smashing Roses

Roses from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
We had some leftover liquid nitrogen - and what else is better than smashing frozen flowers?

7. Hummingbirds

HummingbirdMontage from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
A staple of any high speed library. Hummingbirds are fascinating and the only way to really understand how they do what they do is with a high speed camera.

5. Frames of Reference

Frames of Reference from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
Water balloons are always cool. I like this one because it takes people a few beats to figure out what's going on.

6. Waterballoon Bursting

WaterBalloonGlissando from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
Water balloons are cool. Bursting them is also cool. Slicing them with a straight razor even more so.

4. Coffee and Cream

Coffee and Cream from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
Drops of water are another staple of the high speed trade. Here's some non-dairy creamer dropped into coffee. I think the overall effect is quite fascinating and deserves some additional study.

3. The World in a Drop of Water

World in a Drop from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.

Here's a demonstration of optics. It took a few tries before I got the right effect, but pulling on the transparent picture of the continents works quite well.

2. Ping Pong Ball Reactor

PingPongReactor-Long from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
This is the latest effort - it's mostly normal-speed video, but it's the first time I've included time lapse, normal, and high speed footage into the same movie. I like the combined narrative that they provide.

1. Rubber Duck Volcano

Rubber Duck Volcano from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.
The top spot goes to what can only be described as our most epic project to date. Liquid nitrogen, 35 gallons of water, and over 100 rubber ducks.

Special Mention: Pouring Bees

Installing the Bees from Matt Kuchta on Vimeo.

I'm including one more, because it deserves special attention. If you've ever wondered how keepers get bees into a new hive, this is what it looks like at almost 100x slower than normal speed. There are times when I get really awesome opportunities to do things outside my normal (as much as it is) routine. I had the chance to take the high speed camera and visit Neil Gaiman (yes, that one) as he was installing new bees into his hives. And for the record, if you get a call asking if you'd like to visit Neil and get video of him shaking thousands of bees out of a box, you say yes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nothing of note.

Nothing of note today for me. Nope. Given today's news, I've got nothing worth talking about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Art and Geology: A Revised Rock Cycle for Class

Thinking about art and geology, one of the ways I most often use art and design is in the creation of diagrams and sketches for my students to organize information.

Based on Andrew Alden's suggestions, I revised the rock cycle diagram I use in my intro geology lectures. I included a few extra graphic elements to imply some of the physical appearance or fabric of the rocks themselves:
I haven't labeled the arrows (processes), but that's in part because I want my students to be able to connect the term with the specific idea. They'll get this sketch as a reference, but it's up to them to build in the added context.

My metamorphic rock icon looks like bacon... mmm, bacon.

I've also been working on making easy-to reproduce, simplified representations of tectonic boundaries. Real tectonic plate boundaries are very complex places, with lots of things going on. And at scale, they don't look like much, so I tend to hyper-exaggerate the proportions to make the interpretations easier.
It's still a work in progress and they're only intended to show relative motion between the plates. Concepts like flux melting along a subduction zone or normal/reverse faulting along convergent boundaries are material for other, more detailed sketches.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Art for the Geoscientist?

Callan at Mountain Beltway posted about some "dream courses" he'd like to teach. The post came from the call for posts by Shawn at Vi-Carious in the Accretionary Wedge blog carnival - which I've not had the time to participate in this semester. But Callan's idea about "Art for Geologists" struck a chord with me.

Having double-majored in Studio Art and Geology means that this idea is close to my own personal interests. And I've been thinking of creating a series of posts related to discussing techniques and practices that would highlight techniques and methods of visual communication/representation - particularly photography, but perhaps also some ideas on illustration. Judging from Callan's cartoons and sketches, I'm not the only one who thinks this way. So I'm just tossing out a thought and informal poll regarding interests and ideas.

Would other bloggers find it interesting? Would this be something that might find interest outside the geoblogosphere? Leave a comment, post ideas on your own blog, send emails, whatever - I've got things I want to write about, but I'll give preference to things that others would find interesting, too.