Mediacity Timelapse

This was the last Time-Lapse I shot while living in the UK, all of the footage was shot in Media City, most of it from my balcony overseeing the BBC Studio Complex. It was shot for about 3 months as it is somewhat challenging finding decent weather up in the North. All of the footage was taken with the Canon 550D with various lenses, from a wide angle lenses to my personal favourite the Canon 24-105 mm EF f/4L IS USM.

Moonlight Breeze from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

Kepler 186f

A clear sign that I am terribly behind on my usual readings is that I only came across the latest publication Kepler 186 today. As a reference point, Kepker 186f is the first planet with a radius similar to earth ever been discovered in a habitable zone. That is to say that the distance between the planet and the star that it is orbiting puts it in an area that could theoretically sustain life. It's worthwhile notinh that the concept of of life needs t be put in context to the environment that we are observing. 

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," Thomas Barclay

While Kepker 186f is close enough to its star to make it possible to have water in liquid form, nothing is really known about the atmosphere or composition of the planet at this point. This is a major milestone, not so much because of the discovery of the plant itself, but for what it means; It proves that planets of similar size to Earth in habitable zones exist, and considering Kepker is orbiting an M dwarf, the likelihood of other planets orbiting similar stars in habitable zones is very high. 

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."

The melody of long lasting organizations

Today I came across a fascinating talk by Keith Yamashita on what great visionary leaders and CEO's have in common, how they use their power to envision what does not yet exist, and how they create the culture for their organisations to succeed and endure. Keih worked along side some of the most prominent leaders in the Valley; during the early days at NeXT with Steve Jobs helping to materialize Steve's ideas and Vision, and later alongside Mark Zuckeberg on Facebook. 

It was so interesting to get the perspective of someone that was there as these leaders were making critical decisions that would affect the outcome of an entire industry. Keith has this special demeanor that makes it possible for him to connect with an audience at a personal level making his talk so captivating.

The process leaders use to set-up an organization to deliver a vision always captivated me. I like the idea that the Culture of a company sets the tone from which everything else emerges, creating this self-sustained organism that outlasts its creator. Keith made this brilliant analogy between a melody created by Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite first premièred in 1892, and its later reinterpretation by Duke Ellington in 1960. While the composition technically is different, there is a consistency to the tone of the melody that resonates the same tone as the original composition. "A Strong Character and well-defined essence can remain true even if their expressions change over time" Keith Yamashita 

All of this reminded me of a this really great talk that I listened to about what it means to build a long lasting company, and how setting the right cultural tone can make a huge difference further down the line. Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing this first hand in the organization I work for, the impact of having inspiring leadership in place is remarkable.

It is curious to me that Apple is often given as an example of a company with a very strong culture, however it does seem very much like the company's culture is still reliant on Steve Job's charisma and has not yet been able to move forward despite Tim Cook's efforts. One of the traits of long lasting companies is that the culture that was set by the founders tends to act as an independent organism that sets the environment for the organization to thrive.

I am not entirely sure this is the case for Apple, the fact that Steve Jobs felt the need to leave a product development plan for the next generation of products  lead by a leader that he meticulously chose is not very comforting. In an organization with a strong prevalent culture, the organism should be able to take care of itself. 

Candileer Overlooking Singapore

I can't believe how long it's been since I have added new photos to my portfolio. Last week I took my old Canon 550D for a ride and decided to take one of my favourite lenses of all time, the little plastic all purpose - 50mm canon L Lens

There is something so raw and slick about this lens, its fast, lightweight, but it outputs a real clear and nice image. Half way through my walk I regretted not having brought a wider lens, but it would not have done me much good without a full frame sensor behind it. 

I only managed to take a couple of shots, but had lots of fun with the old Rebel 550D, what a fantastic camera!

The Reunion

Since I have moved to Singapore I have been falling in love with the Asian culture again. Interestingly, while I lived  most of my youth in Asia,  I may have been too young to appreciate the subtleties of life, because this experience has been so much more fulling and rewarding. 

Singaporeans truly understand what living should be all about, and while it is true that they work extremely hard, perhaps even more so than in most European countries, there is also joy, a lot of joy. Locals seem to have this distinct ability to appreciate the small things in life, I see this everywhere around me, from enjoying a simple meal with friends to just appreciating a walk around the beautiful City, whatever they chose to do, they seem to be in the moment making the best of it.

There is also friendship, honesty and family values . In Singapore, people still believe in all of these things, and one can't help it but wonder whether the reason why the city has flourished the way it has is really down to it being a business haven, or that the people that make Singapore what it is created an environment for any seed that is planted to grow and flourish.The more I am exposed to Singaporean culture, the more I believe the later is the true reason why Singapore is so special. 

I was talking with my friend Clarence Lin about what the Chinese New Year, and he sent me this video that explained that the Reunion meant for Singaporeans. There is something so genuine and and moving about this video that I could not resist sharing with you, it truly resonates the way I see Singapore and how magical it is. "kung hei fat choy"! 

Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park

Very short video of what it felt like living in Didsbury. I had this material to process for ages, it was never meant to become a short visual film, but going though some of the shots, it felt wrong not to share them. Also, as I was going though the source footage with my editor, everything started coming together rather nicely. I feel the end result is a very good representation of how wonderful and magical Didsbury is. 

Blissfull Didsbury from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

The Bliss of Didsbury

A year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. Didsbury is a pitoresc village/small city part of Lancashire, about 5 miles away from the City Centre of Manchester. There is a blissful harmony that is difficult to explain surrounding Didsbury. It does not have the downsides of a of city, but has everything that modern life has to offer; shops, restaurants, parks, hospitals and schools. 

The entire area is surrounded by nature, giving it a sense of serenity and tranquillity that stretches deep down from the parks to the main road. Of all the wonderful places Didsbury has to offer, the one that probably marked me the most was the Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park. Natural parks around the UK are renowned for their beauty and how well they are preserved, but this one is something else. 

A perfect balance between Man's craftsmanship and what happens when it is aligned to preserve and protect nature. I will never forget my long walks in the park after work, feeling that cold smooth breeze in my face while looking at a crispy golden sunset in the background.

I really regret not having taken my camera out more often, but I had just moved to the UK and had too much going on. I still managed to get the camera out of the bag in a few afternoons, and below is the result. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

The above shot was taken deep inside the Fletcher Moss, a solitary carving in a tree facing the sun rise, almost as it was carved intentionally in that place, with the initials facing the sun rise, letting the sun smoothly strike the back of the tree during sun-down. The photo is slightly over exposed, but that's exactly how it felt when I was shooting it. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

This shot was taken right at the entrance of the Park, entering from Parrs Wood Road, probably my favourite shot of all of them, not just because it was a gorgeous sunset, but because it was taken instinctively; camera in full manual, almost got the exposure right on the first click, barely thinking about settings, that's how photography is supposed to be, instinctive, raw and visceral! It turned out slightly underexposed, but looking at it, its exactly as it should be.

Click to download/view this photo. 

The location of this next shot is only a few meters away from the lake, a huge field that surrounds the park with tall leafy trees around it. A narrow pedestrian path circumvents this area, leaving a massive area right at the centre of the park with wild, untreated, beautiful vegetation.  

It feel as if Didsbury was not part of Greater Manchester at all, no cars or any sign of the modern World can be heard in this location, the sound of the wind going through the trees, flowers and grass is about the only thing that can be heard here. This photo is straight from the camera, no grading or editing done whatsoever. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

Unfortunately I did not do a very good job in capturing the wonderful atmosphere around this area. It was very autumnal scene with wonderful yellow leafs scattered though the floor, contrasting with the dark green vegetation around the park. A serene bench discretely placed between two trees made this irresistible to shoot. 

Speaking of benches, most of them are actually named on behalf of people who passed away, the names are carved in beautiful metal plates on the benches. I am not entirely sure if this is common practice in the UK or unique to Didsbury, but ever-time I sat in them I could not help it but feel I was in good company. 

Didsbury is truly  remarkable place, and if I ever live in Manchester again, I know exactly where I am going to be living. If you are interested in more shots from the Fletcher Moss Park, check out this post post that I published during my first couple of weeks in Didsbury

For more information about Didsbury, I suggest you visit the "Didsbury Life" site, it is a really great resource for anyone planning to move into Didsbury, it was really useful when we moved in and I still check in on once and again. You should also follow Helen on Twitter, she does an amazing job keeping Didsbury residents updated with community news and events.

Selling out

A couple of years ago when I first heard that Google had acquired Aardvark, it was immediately apparent, at least for me, that it would not be long until yet another start-up would be swallowed by the all mighty Matrix, stripped of its soul and purged into the oblivion!

A bit overly dramatic, but the point is, nowadays big companies do not seem to be shopping around for technology anymore. In fact, companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo could not care less about the underlying technology of small companies.

The product itself is seen as nothing more than a showcase for the Human potential behind it, as the probability that any small enterprise can become a real threat is very slim, not because small organizations cannot triumph, but because it is increasingly more challenging for them to resist the temptation of selling out when that ever so tempting big pay check is put in front of them.  

This is part of a wider challenge in the industry.

It is ever so common to see start-ups that aim to get sold at some point, and this is by far one of the biggest threats to innovation that is plaguing entrepreneurship. Starting something with the intend to sell it further down the line diminishes the level of commitment that is required to truly move something forward.

This stales innovation as anything with the potential of creating disruption gets absorbed into a larger organization, that ultimately, is not very interested in radical change.

Most of the established successful companies made it because they were lead by founders that truly believed in what they were building, they were passionate, obsessed and resilient to anything that got in their way. Once they finally made it, they understood the power behind sustained focus, which is why these companies actively pursue and any pocket of innovation that might be rising around them.

Companies like Google know this too well, afterall, they were born out of these seeds themselves and they know that if given the right time, their most fierce competitor might be born out any of these small pockets of innovation.

The Graceful and Inspiring Leadership of Matthias Schmelz

A great Man once said that kind that “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain, very few people I have come across in my lifetime were able to reinstate every positive teaching that I was taught as a child. Basic fundamental things like treating people as you would like to be treated, establishing trust through actions not words and giving without any intend to receive anything back. 

As we grow older all these things seem to progressively fade away as “life” takes over. The values are still present, but somehow become less important when challenged with the adversity of the day to day life. 

This is of course an excuse, an easy root, and it is fundamentally wrong. I find that strong core values are by their very nature resilient to external adversity, they withstand persecution, aggression, and even the most vile of wars

I believe that people by nature want to do the right thing, even in the darkest of times, they will follow a leader that is driven by the right cause and the right principles. People follow ideals, not people. 

Matthias resembles all of this. He understands that great Leadership is about establishing the right path for people to follow. Its not about forcing people down any specific root, but about laying the right foundations for people to “follow their bliss”. 

Matthias Schmelz always wanted to be a writer all of his life. Its very interesting to hear him talk about how his journey has lead him to his childhood dream. His story resonates other stories from truly successful and people, that set out on a journey slightly different from the destination that they hoped for, and end up exactly where they dreamed in the first place. 

I first met Matthias back in 2010 while working for a Digital Agency. Matthias was one of those clients that gave me so much more than I gave him. Being inspired by people you are doing work for and working with is very rewarding, this was without a doubt one of those cases. 

Our work relationship very quickly developed into friendship, and a couple of months later, Matthias invited me and my family to join him with his family and friends in an amazing adventure through Baltic's enigmatic destinations on board the Wind Star Cruise ship

During this time, I had the honor of meeting some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Unsurprisingly, Matthias’s family was as gentle, kind and magical as Matthias. There was just something intangibly special about everyone, from his beautiful wife to his gorgeous children. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mathias’s Mother, and it became very easy to understand why he became the Man that he is today, there was this contagious aura of kindness and wisdom around her that deeply touched myself and my family. 

A couple of months prior to the cruise trip, I experienced the same feeling while visiting the Rainbows Headquarters in Lisbon. Seeing the way Matthias treated his employees was a breath of fresh air in a time when the relationship between employee and employer is increasingly more abrasive and less meaningful. 

As people passed by us in the elevators, hallways, and the companies canteen, they looked at Matthias with a certain reference, there was respect and admiration, but there was also inspiration and a sense of connection. This was not an imposed or mandatory reverence, it was genuine recognition and appreciation. 

It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that Matthias was one of those rare inspiring leaders that Jonathan Perks talks about that aligns all of the principles of "inspiring leadership" into his actions. 

Inspiring leaders always look for the best in people. They inspire staff to be the absolute best they can be, and they do this by aligning theyr actions to how they think and what they say. Inspiring leaders truly care for the people they lead. People can tell if someone genuinely cares for them, Matthias and Fernanda care about the people that work along side them, making Rainbow much more than a company, its a place that enables and empowers people to achieve their dreams. 

A couple of years have past since our wonderful voyage together through the Baltic sea, and since then, Portugal has been challenged with the biggest economical recession since the 70s. 

In a time when established companies are closing down every day, Matthias and Fernanda keep driving and pushing the company forward. To survive and flourish in times like this, it takes more than leadership, it takes inspiring Leadership. 

Matthias is a friend, but he is also a source of inspiration, to me, he resonates what a caring leader should be like and exemplifies what can be achieved when someone follows their bliss and encourages others to do the same thing.  

Sophie and the Glory of independant Film Making

A couple of Months before Sophie started to become a reality; I remember having a very interesting conversation with Phil Arntz, the film’s director, on our way to the Center of Manchester about the script of the film. 

Phil has this unique angle from the War seeing that he is from German descent. It was so inspiring to hear someone that was born generations after the war understand what it meant and its impact in every Human Being's destiny from that point forward. 

In those times, Wars meant something, the people that fought them actually believed they were fighting for something, greater than just Money, oil, or power. Wars were personal, they were not fought to indulge the press´s appetite for fear or shock, they were not fought behind computer systems and computerized flying drones. People fought wars, they died in them.

Sophie reflects this feeling of solitude and separation from everything that is familiar and safe. As we follow this abandoned soldier’s ordeal through the cold and abrasive trenches, we can’t help it but feel a sense of inevitability In how this journey is going to end. There is beauty to this inevitable predicament that is captured to perfection in the film.

It’s hard to believe the film was shot under £3k, and the only way someone would be able to pull this off is to build an exceptional team emotionally committed to the project. Robin Varley’s performance is well beyond anything I have seen this year in a short film. Its engaging, intense, he surrenders himself completely to the character.

Technically, Phil Arntz work is very easy to single out. There is just something about the way he frames shots that is very particular to him. It is a cinematic look that is not something that a lens or an expensive camera will necessarily give. Its part of the DNA of a great Cinematographer.