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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday January 23 2018

I haven’t taken many photos of people in silhouette, but I should do it more, because it is a really good way to photo people.  Maybe the problem is that a person has to be in the dark with lots of light behind him or her, and if you are like me and you just photo people out in the open, and you let the lighting be an act of God, so to speak, God only very rarely obliges with a silhouette.

But God did so oblige, on Jan 5th, which was the day I also took the first four of yesterday’s photos.  This photoer was under Blackfriars Bridge and hence in darkness, and behind him, we observer the Millennium Bridge, artistically out-of-focus:

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See also this photo, taken indoors, of Christopher Snowdon.

Does face recognition software work with silhouettes?  I just shoved that question into google, but answer came there none.

Monday January 22 2018

On the fifth and eighteenth days of this month I was in Lower Marsh, which is just south of Waterloo Station, as I often am.  On each of these days, there was bright sunshine, and cloud.

On each day, after I had done my business in Lower Marsh and continued on to Blackfriars Road, and to its two newly constructed edifices: One Blackfriars (the curvey one) and 240 Blackfriars (the “crystaline” one).

The first of these photos, !.1, shows One, and One reflected in 240:

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I love a good crane, and 1.2 is rather remarkable, because it shows (a) two construction cranes, (b) these cranes reflected in 240 Blackfriars, and (c) on the surface of that same building and above the reflections of the cranes, the shadows of those same cranes.  If you click on nothing else, click on that.

Photo 1.3 tells us where we are, and shows One of that road scraping the sky,

In 2.1, 2.3 and 3.3, we see another joy of winter, trees without leaves.

The final photo of this little set, 3.3, shows the tower of a crane with some of those trees, and is included because the colours are what you would expect with regular lighting.

Ah, but what if the lighting is irregular?  What if there is bright sunlight hitting a crane tower, but with dark cloud instead of blue sky behind it?  3.2 is what then happens.  Worth another click, I’d say.

And 3.1 shows clouds of a very different sort, again reflected in 240 Blackriars.  Also pretty dramatic.

1.1 to 2.1 taken on the fifth.  2.3 to 3.3 on the eighteenth.

What, no photos of photoers?  Was I the only one photoing?  Could nobody else see the epic dramas of light and dark, construction and reflection, scaffolding and skeletal trees, that I was seeing?  Apparently not.

On the fifth, soon after I had taken the first four of the above photos, my fellow photoers had been all over the man with the flaming tuba.

Photography is light.  But I guess for most photoers, mere light, bouncing off of dreary things like modern buildings, cranes, trees, scaffolding and the like, is not enough.

Sunday January 21 2018

Today I went to see a movie.  I and the person I went with fixed to meet beforehand at the statue in the middle of Piccadilly Circus.  I got there early, and took a ton of photos, of which only the photos of the rain-affected pavement were not terrible.  Here is one of these:

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Photography is light.

I tried photoing lots of umbrellas, and I succeeded, if by that is meant that I took a lot of photos of umbrellas.  But, they were all terrible.

Saturday January 20 2018

By which I mean that the content is what it is, but that the loading up is either very slow or, from time to time, non-existent.

If you had been trying to view this blog today, this is what you would have seen:

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I cranked up BMdotcom on my mobile, just to make sure it wasn’t my computer that was in some mysterious way causing this.  It wasn’t.

And yes, I cheated with the timing of this posting.  I actually stuck this up in the small hours of Monday morning, and backdated the date.  If this bothers you, have your lawyers call my lawyers.

Conversations are now ongoing about not only how to get fewer such collapses, but also about how to speed up the loading, to the point where a decent number of people might consider reading it, again, or even for the first time.  What I am thinking I will do is set up a new Wordpress blog, and leave this as Classic Brian, or some such thing.

Friday January 19 2018

Indeed:

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At the time I took that photo, in Lower Marsh, I was with someone else, and just grabbed the shot before moving on at once.  But I reckon it came out really well.

Wikipedia tells us of Mickey Mouse’s compiucated origin.  He was a replacement for a rabbit, and before a mouse was arrived at, it seems that many other animals were considered:

Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz, a film producer who distributed product through Universal Studios. In the spring of 1928, with the series going strong, Disney asked Mintz for an increase in the budget. But Mintz instead demanded that Walt take a 20 percent budget cut, and as leverage, he reminded Disney that Universal owned the character, and revealed that he had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to his new contract. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark, who together with Wilfred Jackson were among the few who remained loyal to Walt. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.

In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. A male frog was also rejected. It would later show up in Iwerks’ own Flip the Frog series. Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. “Mortimer Mouse” had been Disney’s original name for the character before his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be.

Those two paragraphs are, at Wikipedia, crammed with links.  Follow the link above and scroll down to where it says “Origin”, if you want to follow any of these links.

I will, however, honour the amazingly named Ub Iwerks with a link from here.  I wonder how he was pronounced.  His dad was from Germany, and I think I know how they’d have said the name there.  But, Ub (!?!) was born in Kansas.  When it came to Amercans pronouncing foreign names, all bets were off.  My guess is there were lots of Germans where the Iwerks family grew up, and thus it was not felt necessary to do any name changing.

Blog and learn.

Thursday January 18 2018

It’s around this time of year that I start to anticipate the Six Nations.  But instead of looking it up and finding out, I merely begin to wonder about when it will start, and contenting myself with thinking: oh goodee, The Six Nations, soon.  As often as not, I only get the date of when it kicks off fixed in my brain when I walk past a pub in The Cut (which is the continuation of Lower Marsh (which I frequently frequent)), where they show these games on their TVs and where they are in the habit of having signs outside saying when the Six Nations will be starting (and continuing and ending).

So it was today, when I found myself in The Cut:

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The pub is called the Windmill.

I do not know what is going to happen in the Six Nations, whether England or Wales or Ireland or Scotland or France will win it.  This is because nobody knows.  It is the most wonderfully unpredictable competition.  I do know that Italy will not win it.  Everybody knows that.

Wednesday January 17 2018

Ten years ago yesterday, to be exact about it:

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Memo to self: go back to the same spot and take the same photo again, some time soon.

Tuesday January 16 2018

Remember a while back, when I showed you this photo:

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I took that photo back on January 5th.  As soon as I started working on it, I got sidetracked into realising that my camera was not misbehaving after all, i.e. not turning everything yellow.  Phew.

But the reason I started work on that photo was that it is an illustration of that special sort of weather that happens when there are both dark clouds, and holes in those clouds, through which light comes ripping through, sometimes lighting up buidlings that stand in front of dark clouds.  The above blue roof was not the first of such brightly-lit-thing-against-a-dark-background that I saw and photoed that day, and I felt sure that it would not be the last.

And boy was I not wrong?  As in: I definitely was not wrong.  Because, soon after photoing yesterday’s flaming tuba player, under Blackheath Bridge and its railway station, I climbed up into Blackheath Bridge and its railway station, and through the windows on the downstream side, I found myself staring in amazement at this:

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I seldom photo St Paul’s Cathedral.  I understand why people admire Ancient Architecture, but I find Modern Architecture more intriquing to think about.  But I couldn’t resist that.  That is not your usual St Paul’s Cathedral photo.  To me it looks not so much like a photo as like a collage, where I have stuck a cut-out of St Paul’s Cathedral onto a dark background, but chose paper that was too light for the Cathedral, to make sure it showed up clearly.

I knew that this effect would not last, and sure enough, it did not:

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That being a photo I took of St Paul’s Cathedral less than a minute later.

Here is a cropped version of the special effects photo above, to make the contrast even clearer:

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I know, lots of reflections in the glass windows of Blackfriars Station, through which the photos were taken.  Guess what.  I don’t care. So, the photos were taken through windows?  So what.  And actually, I think the glass may have increased the contrast, by darkening the sky somewhat bit, but not being able to darken the Cathedral, because it was just too brightly lit by the sun.

Photography is light.

Monday January 15 2018

So today I was up to my neck doing other things.  Well no not really, I just forgot about doing this, until it was bed time.  So, here are some photos of people photoing a man playing a tuba with flames coming out of it:

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Photoed by me, under Blackfriars Bridge (the one with a railway station on it), earlier this month.

I do not know why the man in the red and white hat was holding a bit of silver paper.  Something to do with food he had been eating?

This man is regularly seen playing his flaming tuba, all over London.  I myself saw him playing outside Embankment tube, not so long ago.  Also being worshipped by photoers.

Sunday January 14 2018

This is a strange photo, which looks somewhat like Modern Art, but which actually isn’t (a pleasing phenomenon which I referred to in passing in this recent posting of mine).  What it is is a photo of some home decorating:

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Aren’t you supposed to put the glue on the wallpaper, rather than on the wall?  Perhaps both?  Personally, I chose my wallpaper by not caring what it was when I moved in and thus keeping it as was, so I have never done anything like this.

Also, what are those peculiar white marks on the right?  They look like random smudges of white paint.  But why are they there?  Very strange.  Presumably something else was being painted before the wallpaper went on.

All is explained here.  It’s number nine of those thirteen photos, which I found out about here.

Saturday January 13 2018

Yesterday afternoon GodDaughter2 arranged for me to be in the audience (which was mostly singing students like her) of a master class presided over by American operatic tenor Michael Fabiano, a totally new name to me.  He should have been.  My bad, as he would say.  Very impressive.  Very impressive.

This event was the most recent one of these.  But they scrub all mention from there of the past, however immediate, so no mention there of Fabiano, which there had been until yesterday.

Here are a few recollections I banged into my computer last night before going to bed.  Not tidied up much.  I just didn’t want to forget it.

Sing, every note, all the time – switch off singing and then when you need to switch on again, you won’t be able to do it.

Singing is not just done with two little things in your throat.  Sing with your whole body, from head to toe.  Including your balls.  (The student singers he was teaching were all guys, two baritones, two tenors.) I hope you don’t mind me saying such things.  (Nobody did.)

You must sing to the people way up in the roof.  They must hear every note you sing.  Not just the people in the first five rows.

Don’t be afraid to take a breath - I’m a great fan of breathing when you need to breath – no seriously

First note is critical.  Final note is critical.  You can screw up in between.  But first note bad can mean they’ll hear nothing further.  Final note good, and that’s what they’ll remember.

Stay firmly planted on the floor.  Stand how you stand in the tube, when you have nothing to hold on to.  Don’t rise off the floor on your toes when it gets difficult.

Stay relaxed by going to your “happy place” in your mind.

In auditions, don’t be bound by rules that box you in.  Break those rules, do whatever you have to do to do what you do.  Applies to all artists.

Piano accompanists: play louder, like an orchestra.  Louder.  Twice as loud as that.  (He spent a lot of time conducting the pianists.)

Go for it.  (Said that a lot.) Be free.  Fly like a bird.  Never relax your wings (keep singing) or you fall to the ground.

In my opinion … this is my opinion ...

Make progress as a young singer by finding one or two people whose judgement you trust.  Follow their advice and work hour after hour, day after day, with them.  A hundred people advising is confusion.  One or two is what a young person needs.

How to make the transition from student to real singer?  With difficulty.  I began by doing 22 auditions all over Europe.  First 21, I followed the rules, stood in the spot marked X: nothing, failure.  22nd audition: disaster.  Fell over at the start, literally.  But laughed at myself.  Good middle notes, they knew I had a cold, but also a good personality.  Got work.  They trusted me to do better.

Mentor?  Renee Fleming was one.  Sang next to her on stage.  Her voice ridiculously small, on stage.  But, my agent way up at the back heard everything, and wept.  I then sat way up there myself and listened to Fleming sing equally quietly, heard everything and was equally moved

Sing oh well and sing ee well, and you’ll sing ah well.  (Think that was it.) …

And probably lots more that I missed.  But, I now find, you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.  However, the length-to-content ratio of watching something like this on YouTube is such that you, if you have got this far in this posting, are much more likely to make do with reading what I just put.  So let’s hope I didn’t get anything too wrong.  Plus: more mentions of this event, with video bits, at the RCM Twitter feed.  Fabiano also tweets, of course.  More reaction to yesterday there.

There were four student singers on show, first two being baritones, and in the second half, two tenors.  The most extraordinary moments of this event came in the second half, when the two tenors took it in turns to sing things that Fabiano has presumably sung for real, as it were.  And occasionally, to illustrate a point he was making, Fabiano would sing a snatch of the thing himself.

At which point, as the young people say these day: OMG.  His sound was about four times bigger than what the students were doing.  (The first of these moments got Fabiano a loud round of applause.) Fabiano’s talk, about filling the entire 2,500 people place, was a hell of a lot more than talk.  He does this, every time he sings in such a place.  The message was loud and the message was clear.  That’s what you guys must aim for.  That’s what it sounds like.

The good news is that the first tenor in particular (Thomas Erlank), was taking audible steps towards being an opera star, after only a few minutes of badgering from Fabiano.  I think you’re great, said Fabiano, which is why I’m being so hard on you.  Fabiano didn’t say those exact words to any of the others, so that will definitely have counted for something, in Erlank’s mind.  You could see him getting bigger, as Fabiano both talked him up and hacked away at his mistakes.

Of the others, the one who particularly impressed me was the second baritone (Kieran Rayner), who looked and behaved like a trainee accountant, but who sang like a trainee god.  By the time Fabiano had been at him for a bit, he started to get a bit more like an actual god.  The sheer sound of Rayner’s voice was beautiful from the start, I thought.  As did Fabiano.

Fabiano made a big deal of vibrato, which he seemed almost to equate with singing.  But vibrato is, for me, a huge barrier.  Rayner did do enough of it to satisfy Fabiano, but not nearly enough to put me off.  I mention this because I believe that I am not the only one who feels this way.  Too much wobble, and it just sounds like wobble and nothing else.  Singers who overdo the wobble never break past that oh-god-it’s-bloody-opera barrier.  But not enough vibrato, and they don’t get to fill those 2,500 seat opera houses.  And even if they do, no OMG, Fabiano style.

Final point, by way of summary.  When each singer did his performance, Fabiano made a point of going to the back of the hall, to hear how it sounded there.  Fabiano made no bones about it that what concerned him was not how you or he felt about it while doing it, or how Renee Fleming sounded to him when he was standing on the stage right next to her.  What matters is the effect it has on the audience, all of the audience, including and especially the audience in the cheaper seats.  Are they getting what they came for and they paid for?

Deepest thanks to GD2 for enabling me to witness all this.

Friday January 12 2018

I only just noticed it, but I do like this blog posting title from October 2016, from Archbishop Cranmer:

Brexit, pursued by a Blair

Blair wants another referendum, with an opposite result.  The Archbishop doesn’t.  But then, the Archbishop wants Brexit and Blair doesn’t.

The Archibishop quotes Blair:

The issue is not whether we ignore the will of the people; but whether, as information becomes available, and facts take the place of claims, the ‘will’ of the people shifts.

But what if, after Blair then gets the result he wants, and the matter is then, for him, settled once and for ever, yet more facts become available, replacing Blair’s claims, and that ‘will’ shifts again? Back again to Brexit being the good move?  What if the EU then goes to hell and takes the UK with it, and the voters then want out, again?  Then what?  Then: the matter is settled, time to move on and stop grumbling.  So, why is it not time for Blair to move on and stop grumbling, now?  It comes down to the Divine Right of Blair.  Is that a thing?  I say: not.

Via Dan Hannan.

For those who don’t know their Shakespeare: the original stage direction.  It’s famous.  You should know this.  Now you do.

Thursday January 11 2018

Yesterday’s photo, taken at Primrose Hill before Christmas, was very pretty.  That lovely light you get when the sun is low, which it always is, which is nice because it’s nice, and nice because it means you can see what’s on people’s screens.  Trees uncluttered by leaves.  Distant Big Things.  Wonderful.  Which is why there were so many other photoers in action:

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No computer-recognisable faces, but lots of winter clothing, including woolly hats and woolly gloves.

18 photos there, and just two of them (2.1 and 5.1) do not feature smartphones.  I chose the photos entirely for artistic impression.  It merely turned out that way.

See also 1.3.  It looks like she’s holding a giant cock of the unmentionable sort.  But, it’s a glove.  So (see 4.2): No Bad Vibes.

Wednesday January 10 2018

One way to photo and show strangers is to pick an angle that omits their faces, or have things in front of their faces.  Another is to do it from a sufficient distance to have no visible faces:

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That crowd photoed by me on December 18th, on top of Primrose Hill.

Click on that to see why I so much prefer trees in the winter, rather than when they are smothered in leaves.

Incoming from GodDaughter2:

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Pimlico in Kensington, said the email, photoed near her place of work.  She knows the kind of thing I like, doesn’t she?

Are such vans rare and exotic in Kensington?  I see them all the time, in and around Pimlico.