Childhood and environmental conscience in Switzerland

I attended the Green Cross International event in Geneva and took pages and pages of notes. There was a lot of information and a focus to provide COP21 in Paris with a message from Geneva, Humanitarian city to Paris and the leaders present for that conference.

Dr. Somthai Wongcharoen – Founder, Wongpanit Group of Companies (Thailand) made a speech about the company he started in 1976. He saw waste not as a problem but as a resource. Through encouraging people to bring their rubbish and paying for it, by establishing recycling centres around the world he helped turn waste in to commodities. During his presentation the topics he covered were familiar.

That’s because in Switzerland PET plastic has been recycled for 25 years, a quarter of a century. It is an inherent part of my character that I will recycle plastic bottles whenever I can. Recycling culture in my village is strong. For several years now we have had a recycling centre rather than a dump. Aluminium, PET plastic, other plastics, paper, and cardboard are all recycled. So is garden rubbish. The amount of rubbish that heads to an incinerator is now a third of a bag every three weeks. In other words I drive to the recycling centre and drop off recycling in the appropriate places and the waste that heads to an incinerator is minimal.

This is such an ordinary part of my life, as a person living in the Canton de Vaud that I feel bad about throwing away rubbish in garbage bags rather than sorting it. Recycling is easy. I started as a child and continued as an adult. It is nice that it has become such an important part of village life.

It seems funny that just 20 minutes from where I live recycling culture is so much weaker. I’m thinking of Geneva. In Geneva people still treat rubbish the old fashioned way. They don’t sort it. This is an abberation and I hope and want Geneva to follow suit. I want to see more places like we see in Geneva train station. In the train station you can sort your rubbish by PET, Paper, Aluminium or other. This is a fantastic initiative by the CFF and needs to spread to conference centres, places of employment and more. If you sell aluminium cans or plastic bottles you should offer a place to recycle these resources.

I will leave you this video to show how waste management can be seen as resource management.


THE PURSUIT OF ENDURANCE – A documentar screening

For those who appreciate documentary screenings there will be the Screening of The Pursuit of Endurance at the CICG in Geneva. This event will take place on Tuesday 6th of Octobre, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM The event is free and will include a Q&A session.

This screening is happening within the context of the 2015 Conference for a Green and Inclusive Economy from the 6th to the 7th of October 2015.

The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and 4K recording

On Friday I received the Sony Xperia Z5 compact and so went to film some cows coming down from the mountains at 4K resolution using the H265 Video codec. I then found out that none of my current editing solutions accept H265. For this reason I spent the next day getting beauty shots of Nyon, handheld and in full automatic.

From the variety of scenes above you can see where the camera is well suited and where it struggled. You will see that the camera focus pumped when filming the boat sailing on the lake. I notice also that in the foliage of the trees it had a tendency to underexpose and loose detail. For this reason it is better to take video in manual mode.

Image stabilisation seems to work well and does stabilise the image effectively. As I do not have a 4K monitor to review this footage on I am not certain whether some jitter is due to downscaling or whether it is related to image stabilisation.

At Nyon gare I filmed two trains moving. In one case the train was a direct train and in the second case the train stopped. In the first instance you will see that the rolling shutter was only a problem when I panned to follow the train’s movement.

Autumn Red – 4K footage

Autumn is here and the leaves are turning. It is a good opportunity to go out and take video and photographs of trees and their red and brown leaves.

This was shot with the Sony Xperia Z3. Image stabilisation was on. The mobile phone is so light, and the resolution so high that hand held shots are unrealistic. A tripod, monopod or other tool is needed to stabilise the camera. Sony has developed new technology which should help with image stabilisation. I look forward to seeing how stable Sony Xperia Z5 compact footage will be.

Day In Auschwitz

“If you were young and healthy and if they needed labour then you were selected as slave labour. You would have suffered a slow death rather than a fast one”. This soundbite is 13 minutes in.

In this documentary a concentration camp survivor takes two girls who are the age she was when she arrived through the camp and tells them about her experiences.

We owe it to future generations to keep re-sharing these accounts and documentaries to prevent such actions from ever happening again.

I have just finished watching the documentary and I feel almost shell shocked. I have been to the camp and I have read about the topic. I have also watched a number of topics on this topic. What makes this the most poignant documentary is that this woman, this grandmother of eight is making sure that future generations are aware of what Auschwitz life was like. She tells us about survival.

4K video and mobile phones

In December I filmed some events at a staff party in 4K and never did anything with that footage because it was a private event. Two or three days ago I went to Geneva with the Sony Xperia Z3 compact and filmed some street scenes as well as the locks closing and transferring a small boat from the Rhone to the Lac Léman. I look forward to seeing what the Sony Xperia Z5 compact can do.

The boat being raised from river level to lake level

I filmed these scenes as a wide shot because I didn’t have the choice but also because 4K is ultra high definition. For me this is an opportunity to film things so that viewers can see context. Imagine landscapes, cityscapes and sports events in 4K or even 8K. With images good enough to fill a wall or two IMAX quality footage will become common place and at a fraction of the price.

SES, NASA and other groups are making serious progress in to providing their audiences with UHD content. Swiss cable operators are also advancing towards this new and emerging market. One of the interesting and key selling points is HDR as well as UHD. With cameras such as the FS-7 among others, capable of shooting in raw the latitude that screens and cameras will capture is closer to what the human eye can see. The limitation for now is the contrast ratio. New legislation will have to be approved to permit brighter screens for example.

Tourism and marketing

Tourism boards, car manufacturers, watch manufacturers and many more industries will benefit from UHD because it will allow them to show their products in ultra high definition. Look at the image I have looking at the Ile Rousseau. You can see more detail and you can get a real feel for the place. If you went to Krakow, to the London eye, to the Eiffel tower you could see not only the famous landmark but people walking and possibly even which camera they’re using. It will give advertisers IMAX quality footage at a fraction of the price, and without the barrier to entry of an imax theatre. Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium already offers a 4K monitor.

UHD is already several years old but with Sony’s 4K mobile phones, Samsung’s 4K displays and Apple’s 4K recording capability there are many brands that are providing people with the motivation to buy 4K capable monitors or televisions. I read an article that mentioned 2019 as a key date. It was for when regulators would be ready for UHD content.

Slacklining on a bike – A six month challenge

We have seen videos of people slacklining and we have seen videos of people mountainbiking but having a video where we see people slacklining on a bike is less common. This video shows us some beautiful landscapes with cycling somewhere in shot before descending the mountain towards a slackline and crossing. Kenny Belaey managed the feat.

The images are impressive and what makes this edit stand out from others is the way in which we can hear the breathing of the athlete. Those of us who often push ourselves towards our fears are familiar with it. I love the moment when he makes it across and can’t believe it. I’ve had moments where I breathed like that after particularly challenging segments on via ferrata.

He trained for 6-7 months to get the experience and skill required to balance. The making of is interesting.  The video was shot in La Plagne, France. Spot the drone when he is practicing.

In the near future we will find more and more videos like this, where one extreme sport is combined with another. Pro athletes will have to master more than two sports at a time and so the images will be all the more spectacular. We will see them set up longer slacklines and they will make them longer. It’s about the spectacle. As this variant is in it’s infancy we see the use of safety equipment but in future versions this equipment may be gone.


Totem Escalade – Bouldering in Gland

The three common forms of climbing are Rock, climbing, via ferrata and bouldering. Rock climbing is an excellent and amusing sport that requires living in the right place, having the right equipment and knowing the right people. I enjoy the sport but have not found a group to go with. Via Ferrata as I love to call it is Rock climbing for tourists. The equipments and routes are set out and prepared so that those with the correct experience, head for heights and equipments can explore the landscape in an interesting and dynamic fashion. The last of these is bouldering. Bouldering is a form of climbing without ropes. In the wild it requires finding a bit of rock and studying the rock to find a route.

On Sunday I noticed on Facebook that a new indoor climbing place was opening in Gland. Totem Escalade is an indoor bouldering place where you can practice climbing indoors. As autumn and winter approach this is welcome. It is based by the bowling in Gland, next to where a night club used to be. It has a central structure off which are four climbing surfaces with coloured paper to mark the grade of the climbs. As you progress you can attempt harder and harder routes.

Bouldering is physically demanding and develops upper body strength. You need to use your arms, fingers and back muscles to hold on and make progress along the route you have chosen. As you try a number of routes a number of times so your strength will begin to fade. After two hours of enjoyment my hand muscles were done. I can still feel them as I write this blog post.

I love that a climbing wall is so close to Nyon. For years I have been looking for this. Now that I know about this climbing wall I will be a frequent visitor. I want to improve my technique and I want to increase my strength so that for the next via ferrata season I will be that much more comfortable.

Via Ferrata du Diable – Aussois

The Barrière de l’Esseillon are a line of fortifications two hundred years old and capable of holding two thousand soldiers in total.The fort Victor-Emmanuel is still standing and in it’s day could hold up to one thousand five hundred troops. This fort overlooks the via Ferrata.

Some drone shots of the region in winter

The Via Ferata du Diable is a series of via ferrata routes located around a bridge called Le Pont du Diable (Bridge of the Devil) which crosses the river L’arc (The Bow). This set of via ferrata varies from two easier ones that are suitable for children to four via ferrata that are suitable for various skill levels as long as you are not afraid of heights. The last one is going to challenge your courage and stamina because it is high off the ground and there are overhangs.

The via ferrata are numbered so if you do them then do 6 followed by 3, then walk back and do four and five so that you complete a loop without back tracking. If you want to do the seventh then be ready to be high off the valley floor, to cross a monkey bridge, a nepalese bridge and a more conventional final bridge. There is an escape route but by this point you might as well finish the via ferrata and walk back.

Chamois at La Dôle

A chamois silhouetted against the clouds up at la Dole
A chamois silhouetted against the clouds up at la Dole

When the weather is cold and grey as it is today people are not tempted by a walk in the mountains. Chamois at la Dôle are more relaxed, especially up at La Dôle. They are hidden by the clouds and if humans are coming then they will smell them long before we get to see them.

On Friday of last week we were lucky. With a friend we decided that we would eat lunch at La Barillette after going for a short walk up from the radio mast to the Sky Guide facilities above.

There was a light drizzle and the clouds were playing. At moments we could see the top and at other moments it was hidden by clouds. We walked up the path and saw a few cows spread about the landscape.

As we started up the steep path and arrived to where the path flattens we could see two or three chamois in the distance. I thought at first that it was just the mother I had seen several months earlier with her young one. As we approached and as the wind blew away some clouds we saw a full herd.

A herd of Chamois up at La Dole
A herd of Chamois up at La Dole

This was excellent. It is rare to see so many of them so close together like that and from such a short distance. At moments we were just metres away from them. It was a rare and welcome privilege.

Chamois approaching the cliff edge
Chamois approaching the cliff edge