In single-Dad mode on this brilliant Sunday morning, I decided to pack the urchins up after breakfast and take them down to Granville Island. It’s one of Vancouver’s nicest things and too often we abandon it to the tourists (In fact, on this occasion I helped a posse of Germans figure out the parking-ticket machine). Well, and I had a new camera burning a hole in my pocket.

First, let it be recorded that the trip was a smashing success. I got new slippers at Circle Craft (which is really very good), the boy got a new rocket at the toy store, and the girl got to toddle around, drop pebbles in the ocean, and chase birds; plus a cookie.

While she and her brother were dropping things into this narrow gap between the docks, I was pointing the camera into it. Puzzle: Why are the reflected words in the second shot not mirror-imaged?

Looking down between the docks at Granville Island, Vancouver
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Looking down between the docks at Granville Island, Vancouver

Any Granville Island visit with children must include the Kids’ Market, and there’s a store there that sells kites (and lots of other stuff, including the rocket the boy got) which I’ve always found beautiful.

Toy store at Granville Island Kids’ Market
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Toy store at Granville Island Kids’ Market

Oh, and the camera. What do you think?


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From: Jacek (Feb 18 2008, at 01:36)

"Why are the reflected words in the second shot not mirror-imaged?"

Because DOCK is nice and symmetrical? In other words, sure they are! 8-)


From: Sander (Feb 18 2008, at 01:37)

puzzle solution: because they're upside down.

Those toystore shots are impressively sharp for handheld at 1/45 and 1/55 - and only a stop or so underexposed. Does this camera come with image stabilization, or did you sharpen after resizing?


From: Alan (Feb 18 2008, at 03:05)

Nice photos Tim - beautiful blues. Re: your puzzle - it's because the letters DOCK are symmetrical through the horizontal axis - (but the preceding word's last couple of letters, R and Y are not) - and the sign is being reflected vertically!


From: Jeff Gordon (Feb 18 2008, at 05:00)

First, I love Granville Island, too. I would love to be there now. OK... actually, the words ARE mirror imaged. But that would be horizontally mirrored, not vertically. So, when you're looking at "DOCK" - it'll appear the same mirrored or not. Test this yourself. Take a notecard and write the word DOCK in the middle of it, taking care to make all of the letters of virtually identical height.

Now, fold the card in half, horizontally, so that the letters are folding down on themselves. Whether you fold the top down and then unfold the bottom up and away from you (so that the word now faces away from you), or if you fold the bottom up and then unfold the top down and towards you the net result is still the same (a person sitting across from you will see the word written backwards).

Without moving your body, bring the card to you so that you can look over the top edge of the card and down upon the word, it'll still be readable as "DOCK". Ta da.


From: Brent Rockwood (Feb 18 2008, at 06:51)

Of course, the reflected words in the shot are mirror imaged. It's just that "DOCK" looks just the same when it's upside down.


From: sdg (Feb 18 2008, at 08:04)

> Puzzle: Why are the reflected words in the second shot not mirror-imaged?

They are - top to bottom! :-) See the "Y"?

What kind of "rocket" for your boy?

Perhaps off topic: I still have some of my real Estes model rockets in my basement; seems like there are not many kids into it these days.


From: John Hart (Feb 18 2008, at 11:31)

The mirror-image question is an interesting one. Dock is, of course, flipped vertically - but Tim I thought you were asking "why isn't the text reading right-to-left as reflected text usually is?"

That took me a bit more puzzling. The text continues to read left-to-right because, despite being inverted, you are viewing it from the same front-vs-back perspective as you would be if you simply pointed the camera up directly at the sign.

"Normal" mirror text, by contrast, lets you read something whose text is facing away from you & thus, without the mirror, you would not be able to see without turning around. It's this virtual "turning around" that causes left/right inversion, not the mirror per se.


From: Tim (Feb 18 2008, at 16:10)

Sander: I used Aperture's "Clarity" function, which amounts to sharpening. Yes, the camera has anti-shake and first impressions are that it's a lot more effective than the Canon 730IS it replaced.

I have the exposure correction at -0.7EV any time there are bright highlights. It doesn't look underexposed to me, it looks like what I saw when I looked up.

As for detail, it helps that I didn't crop those at all.


From: Sander (Feb 20 2008, at 15:01)

Tim: Have you ever calibrated your monitor? It's always hard communicating about what different people see on different screens, but yeah, the shots do definitely look underexposed to me. (For example, look at the actual color of the white hoops in the center of the bottom of the last shot.)

Of course, since most people these days have a screen which is set far too bright, and most photos will never get printed anymore, I suspect one could argue that underexposed photos are actually better for most viewers. Hmm...

I also have a suspicion that the Ricoh is better at metering difficult situations than your previous camera, so you might want to reconsider that default exposure compensation measure, or at least do some side-by-side comparisons.


From: William Hesse (Mar 04 2008, at 13:25)

The letters in the sign are flipped top-to-bottom, as everyone else has pointed out. This reminds me of my favorite way to pose the question to undergraduates:

"Why does a mirror swap left and right?"

I claim to them that the answer is "Gravity" (the reason that we don't turn around by putting our head where our feet were).


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