Autumn Leaves | Scanned Images

Fellow bloggers Steve and Steve often include beautiful close-up photos of leaves in their posts. They inspired me to try imaging leaves in a different way. I decided to use a flatbed scanner. During a recent walk, I picked up three examples that were colorful and still in good shape. I got a pin oak, maple, and ornamental pear and headed home.

First up on the scanner was the oak leaf. I placed it face down on the glass and set the resolution to a high value of 800 dpi. I wanted to get lots of detail in the scanned image.


Pin oak | 800 dpi | Reflection setting

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Cuba Visit | Part 6 Final Impressions

Jim in IA:

Our final post of the series.

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie

We’re going to wrap up our trip with a few thoughts and favorite photos from each of us.

From Melanie:

Often I suggest going somewhere — “We should go to Portugal!” “We should go to Turkey!” Even imagine much less exotic locales — “we should go to Missouri!” Agreeing we should is easy, but scheduling it into our lives is harder. Imagine my surprise when I came out of the copy shop in February to hear Jim say, “We should go to Cuba!”

He’d been listening to our local jazz station, KCCK, on the car radio. They had a group tour to Cuba scheduled for October. Given all the political changes between the two countries, we knew this would be a prime time to go, so we said “Yes!”

We hadn’t been on a group trip before. One question I had was if I would feel…

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Cuba Visit | Part 5 Viñales Valley

Jim in IA:

Out of Havana to the countryside…

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie*

[*Melanie’s note: I was drowsy all that day and slept on the bus a good chunk of the time we were on it. Most of these observations are Jim’s.]

The final full day of our Cuba visit involved a bus trip more than 2.5 hours west of Havana to a national park called Viñales Valley. The highway was similar to other modern four-lane expressways. We stopped part way at a nice rest area complete with palm trees and a coffee-snack bar. As in other locations in Cuba, random dogs seemed to wander around.

Viñales Valley is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The dramatic limestone karst landscape presents tall mountains and rounded humps scattered throughout the agricultural area. The valley’s primary crop is tobacco grown as it has been for generations. It is a manual, labor-intensive process. The following brief film by UNESCO…

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Cuba Visit | Part 4 Daily Life

Jim in IA:

Observations about daily life in Cuba.

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie

If all we showed you were tourist sites, you would miss some of the most interesting parts of our trip. Below we give some impressions of the food and housing, utilities, transportation, and employment we saw. Needless to say, we are not experts and it’s possible we got some things wrong. However, this is our understanding as best we can convey. If you would like to know more, an interesting source of information and data is available from The World Factbook of the CIA.


As tourists, we ate very well in Cuba. Our hotel’s European-style breakfast buffet included a vast array of breads and pastries, fruits, sausages and other meats, potatoes and eggs. Lunches and dinners were at government-owned or privately-owned restaurants. Though we had rice and beans at several meals, meat was always on the menu. Our first dinner in Cuba included roasted chicken, while…

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Cuba Visit | Part 3 National Pride

Jim in IA:

Thoughts and pictures about Cuban national pride.

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie

2015_1022Cuba_19So much imagery we experience of Cuba stems from immigrants washing up on the shores of Florida on rafts or tiny boats. The Mariel boatlifts of 1980 and other stories of refugees can make us think everyone is trying to escape the small island. On the contrary, Cubans are incredibly proud of their country as it is, as well as its past and burgeoning future.

Their literacy rate and education system, and high-quality free healthcare, stem directly from the revolution of the 1950s. But we found some points of pride that cross a longer history. There is a sweet and odd fixation on Ernest Hemingway and the decades of his prominence there. Baseball, the national sport, holds fascination for most. Below we share a few pictures and thoughts on these areas of national pride.


Literacy and Education

After the Cuban revolution, one of the first actions of the new regime was…

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Cuba Visit | Part 2 Architecture

Jim in IA:

Architectural features we noticed in Cuba.

Originally posted on Our View From Iowa:

by Jim and Melanie

As mentioned in our Cuba Visit | Part 1, the architecture of Cuba captured our attention. We were told that about 12% of existing buildings are from the colonial era of Cuba, from 1515 to 1898. Eighty percent is from that point of independence until the revolution, in 1959. And about 8% has been built since then, mostly with Soviet influence and help.

When we left the airport on entering the country we soon saw the affect of the last 8%. On one side of the highway, ugly concrete apartment buildings rose up in groups. Though still used, they looked damaged and abandoned. (The worst of the Soviet buildings, though, is the Russian Embassy. The link is for the googled images of it and in fact, it’s worse in person than in the photos.)

On our second day we went to the Presidential Palace, now used as the…

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Venus Jupiter Conjunction

We enjoyed a visit to Cuba between October 21 and 26. Posts about our trip are here. One special event was taking place during that time which I enjoyed each morning before dawn. The bright planets Venus and Jupiter were high in the eastern sky. Because of the orbital movements of Earth and those planets, their relative positions changed each day.

I went out onto the balcony of our hotel room and set the camera the same way each day to get a photo of them over the skyline of Havana. Here is the typical view around 6:20 am. Venus is the brighter of the two in the upper right. It is much closer in orbit to Earth at this date than is Jupiter. The tall buildings don’t really lean that way. It is due to the camera lens. Click for a slightly larger view.


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