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

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Category archive: Photography

Wednesday April 16 2014

Here is a series of photos I took, all in the space of a few seconds, of IEA Director Mark Littlewood speaking at lunchtime on the Sunday of last weekend’s LLFF14, while also being rather dramatically photographed by someone else besides me.

I wish I knew how to display photos the way Simon Gibbs has displayed his set of LLFF14 photos here, so that you can just click once and immediately get to the next one.  All I can suggest is scroll down, and maybe get the effect that way.

imageimageimageimageimage

I enjoyed LLFF14 a lot, and not only because the thing itself was good, well organised, etc..  I think this was also because I did some preparatory thought about what I wanted to accomplish by attending and I then duly accomplished quite a lot of this, and that made me happy.  Signing up speakers for my Fridays, wangling invites to universities, that kind of thing.

Plus, I wanted in particular to learn more about this whole minimum income thing, concerning which I am deeply suspicious.  Again I find myself linking to a Simon Gibbs posting, this time entitled Don’t surrender the next 300 years for the next 15, although what good this lunatic scheme is supposed to do in the short run I do not know.  So anyway, I learned more about that, just as I hoped I would.

Just turning up at a event like this with no active idea of what then to do besides sit and listen, means you are liable to come away feeling (probably quite correctly) that you accomplished very little, and that can be depressing.  I did not make that mistake this time.

Thursday April 10 2014

In this:

image

Well, it won’t have taken you long.  But even so, impressive, I think.

The photograph is one of these.

I seem to recall that, in Total Recall (I wish), people’s homes were decorated not with static pictures, but with images that constantly changed.  We are definitely heading that way.

My computer screen now was amazingly cheap, and is by some distance the best one I’ve ever had, a trend that doesn’t look like stopping at all.  Michael J, I know, has two screens attached to his computer, rather than just the one like me.  That too is, I should imagine, a growing trend.  I might do that myself one day soon, if I ever get round to that remodel of my desk that I keep promising myself.  (At present it’s a total shambles, having been designed for one of those horrible pregnant out the back TV sets, and what is worse, one that I hated and immediately swapped for a better pregnant out the back TV, now long gone, of course.)

So, how long before the typical householder connects his computer to about a dozen different screens, scattered around his home.  I’ll never do this, because I have books.  Remember those.  Actually that isn’t very funny, because of course books still abound.  This is because, as Alex Singleton was saying to me only yesterday, the business of reading books off of electronic screens has yet to be perfected.  A few years back, screens to read books with were excellent, because they were built for that and nothing else.  But the arrival of the smartphone, tablet, phablet, thingy has actually caused book reading on the move to get worse, because there’s a trade-off now being made between reading perfectly, and thingy screen perfection.  What you want is a button on all those thingies, to switch to a perfect reading screen when you need that.

These thingies have got to the stage of being essential, but to put it mildly, they are not yet perfect.

An interesting moment will happen when screens are pretty much flawless at doing reproductions of great paintings.

Or to put all this another way, when people look back on our time, they’ll not be impressed with our screens, any more than I am impressed by the screens we had thirty years ago.

And with pictures of the quality of the one above, or of all the others in the set I found it in, being so abundantly available on the www, there’ll never be any shortage of stuff to show on all our screens.  And that’s not even to mention the ones we take ourselves.

Thursday April 03 2014

So, speaking as I was lately about Lego, and loving as I do bridges, how about this?!?!:

image

In Germany.  Done just with paint.  Excellent, I think.  Found here (scrolling down is highly recommended).  Which I found because 6k recently linked to the same site, concerning something else, also very entertaining.

Wednesday March 26 2014

On Monday last I attended a BBC Radio 4 event, at which Evan Davis interviewed Deirdre McCloskey:

image image

Yes that is the same screen, and it remained the same colour throughout.  In “reality” I mean.  If you were there, which I was.

But digital cameras, when set on “automatic” as mine always is, have minds of their own when it comes to colour.  One picture happens to have a lot of a certain colour in it, and it changes the overall colour of everything to compensate.  For instance, when you take indoor pictures but there is outdoor sky to be seen, then even if in reality the sky is deepest grey, the camera turns the sky deepest blue, and the indoor bits orange.  Likewise, when the sky is blue, but if you are outdoors, the camera, for no reason, is liable to fill a clear blue sky with pollution and turn it a sort of slate colour.  What was happening here is that these two pictures are both cropped.  But the left one was only cropped a bit, while the left one was cropped a lot.  And the stuff that got cropped out of the left one meant that the screen was no longer green.  It was blue.

As to what Deidre McCloskey actually said, well the thing I was most intrigued by was that she was entirely cool about being asked about how she used to be Donald McCloskey.  In which connection, don’t you just love how that circumstance is alluded to in this:

image

That’s an article reproduced at her website.  So, is that her handwriting?  Could well be.

I doubt the medical side of the switch was as easy to do as that.

The libertarian propaganda side of this is that McCloskey is a character, rather than just a boring bod in a suit.  The usual evasive sneers against pro-capitalists just won’t work on her.  And I even think it helps that (maybe because of those medical dramas - don’t know) her voice is a strange hybrid of male and female, often sounding a bit like electrical feedback.  She also has a slight but definite stutter.

The reason I feel entitled to mention all this is that it clearly does not bother her, or if it does she has learned very well to stop it bothering her, and indeed to make a communicational virtue of it all.  I guess she figures if you are saying interesting stuff, it really doesn’t matter if your voice sounds a bit funny and if people sometimes have to wait a second or two before hearing the next bit of it.  In fact it probably even helps, because it gets everyone listening, proactively as it were, guessing what is coming instead of just hearing it.

See also: Hawking.

Sunday March 23 2014

1955: Here.

2014:

image

I think that’s my most recent selfie, taken at the beginning of this month.  I took it in Croydon Road, Beckenham, while on my way to visit friends.  Shop windows often include you in the pictures you take through them, even if you are not trying for that.

I of course have more recent pictures of others taking selfies of the more usual sort, where their own faces dominate the pictures, but with famous Big Things in the background.  So yes, let me try to dig out the latest of those.

Here we go:

image

Although, note that there are two different smartphones being used there.  That was taken from the southern end of Westminster Bridge, looking down to the riverside walkway.  They are presumably trying to include the Houses of Parliament in their backgrounds.

Friday March 07 2014

Incoming from 6000, aware of my Feline Friday habit, about a 16th century plan to use cats and doves as weapons of war:

image

Asking for trouble, I’d say.

Thus encouraged on the cat front, I went looking for other weird stuff, in the cat category.

I found this, which is a camera decorated with a logo that is part Hello Kitty and part Playboy Bunny.  Weird:

image

I guess the Kitty is wearing those big pretend rabbit ears.

And weirdest of all, beauty bloggers are decorating cat claws:

image

It seems that doing crazy things with cats is a permanent part of the human condition.  Although to be fair, the excuse for the pink claws above is that they stop your cat from scratching the furniture.  And I suppose making them brightly coloured means you can see at once if the cat is wearing them, or has managed to get rid of some of them.

In the latest manifestation of the original Friday ephemera, there are no cats.  Not this time.  But 6000 included the weaponised cat notion in an ephemeral collection of his own.  His final ephemeron was an octopus photo.  That also just about qualifies as feline, if you focus on the final three letters.

Tuesday March 04 2014

Incoming from Rob Fisher, about a Bitcoin vending machine in London.  I wonder how that works.  It would probably defeat me.  There was no mention of this on Friday night, when Dominic Frisby spoke at my place about Bitcoin, or not that I heard.

Now that I am mentioning incoming from Rob Fisher, there was also earlier incoming from Rob Fisher about a Lego photographer, which sounds like someone merely photographing Lego.  But it’s a lot sillier than that.

While saving the Lego Photographer I came across a photo I had saved in the same directory of a Lego Hawking, so here is that also, on the right there.  I found this photo of Lego Hawking … somewhere on the internet.  Google Lego Hawking and you’ll get many hits.  Best to get all such nonsense blogged and forgotten, all in one go.

image image

Sometimes I blog to remember (and I intend to remember the Bitcoin vending machine), sometimes I blog to forget.  Welcome to the hotel BrianMicklethwaitDotCom.

Tuesday February 25 2014

Mick Hartley’s latest little clutch of photos illustrates one of the things I particularly like about his photography, which is his relish of colour.  He even points spells this out in the title of his posting.  I have nothing against black and white photography, especially in the decades when it was that or nothing, and neither does Mick Hartley.  But there is something rather fetishistic and fake-arty about how black and white photography continues to be worshipped, long after colour photography became easy to do.

Often colour is deeply embedded in the story that the picture tells, as in this photo.  This is not one of Hartley’s own, but he constantly picks up great photos done by others on his radar (this one being number nine of these twelve):

image

No prizes for seeing why I particularly like that one.

But it’s not just the photography aspect that I like.  I also like that the anonymity angle is also covered.  I more and more tend to prefer anonymity in the pictures I take myself of other photographers, and post here.  Often it happens because the camera covers the face of the photographer I am photoing.

I went rootling through my archives for a snap of someone whose face is partially hidden, and found this snap, of which I am very proud.  Here, the anonymity job, albeit only partially, is done by a big pair of sunglasses.

I also like the colours in that photo.  Snobbery about blackness and whiteness, and especially about blackness, also extends to what colour cameras ought to be, doesn’t it?

Saturday February 22 2014

One of the things I did today was copy, from one TV hard disc to another, a documentary (fronted by Richard Hammond) about the D-Day fighting that took place on Omaha Beach.

One of the shots at the end of the programme looked a lot like this:

image

That is one of the photos at the bottom of this page.

I recall flying over the Normandy Beaches, on the way to the South of France.  Later in the journey, I took snaps like this one, of the Millau Viaduct, but I don’t recall seeing anything like that cemetery.

Wednesday February 19 2014

There are some spectacular pictures now up at English Russia, taken from the air over the Russian Far East, i.e. Vladivostock and surrounding parts.

Here is a good one (scroll down at page 3 of the posting):

image

What’s good about that is that it shows how roads stop fires.  On the right, fire!  On the left, the other side of the road, no fire.

Other pictures in the set include several of two rather spectacular bridges in Vladivostock, of which this snap is my favourite (scroll down at page 2):

image

That is the bridge over the Golden Horn Bay.  The other and bigger Vladivostock bridge joins Vladivoskock to Russkiy Island.  See this Guardian reportThis map, if you reduce its size and go north a bit, shows where both the bridges are.

Monday February 10 2014

Mick Hartley links to some pictures of people forming human sculptures.  He chooses his favourite.  I choose this one:

image

One of the speculations I offered in my recent talk about the impact of digital photography was that digital photography has greatly encouraged this kind of temporary art.

Recently I heard tell of some kind of performance art event where cameras were forbidden.  My googling skills did not enable me to track down any report of such an event, but I am guessing that one of their motives was to avoid the creation of an object, which someone might later buy, and then (perhaps for a great deal more money) sell.  And I further guess that the “artists” in question were being deliberately contrary, as artists typically like to be these days, and chose to do the daft, counter-intuitive thing.  The obvious response to temporary art is to take pictures of it, to make it permanent.  So, said the artists, let’s forbid that, and be different.

But most people who do something “creative” want some kind of record or product of their efforts, something to show for it.  Literally, some thing, to show.  And the fact that it is now so totally easy to create such things, such records, and communicate them far and wide to friends and family, real and virtual, must surely increase the attraction of doing such temporary art.  Art, that is to say, that in the past would have been temporary, but which can now be made permanent.  See also: painting, sand castles, ice sculptures.

As to what these particular people are communicating with their body assemblages, what it speaks to me of is the futility of life in the world now, for young people, educated, unemployable, unneeded, probably in debt.

Saturday February 08 2014

Mick Hartley provides a horizontality opportunity:

image

That’s the view he saw, yesterday (unless I am much mistaken), from Alexandra Palace, one of the quite numerous sweet spots for photoing the Big Things of London.

That sky that I just sliced out was rather special yesterday.  The air was clear.  The sunshine, of which there was plenty, was bright.  So, there were lots of those brightly lit things against a dark cloud background.  And lots of contrasts between this photo and that photo of the same things.  Lovely.

Thursday February 06 2014

I think it just possible that I may have invented that clutch of blogging phrases involving the word “quota” - “quota post”, “quota photo”, or (my favourite, I think) ”quota quote”.  I rather doubt it.  More likely I invented such phrases simultaneously with several other bloggers.  But, if I did invent this quota stuff, kudos to me.  Either way, I do genuinely suspect that 6k at least caught this usage from me.  This being because, like me at the moment (although not always), he (always) likes to stick up something every day.  Despite him having a life, a job, a family, and other such peripheral blogging paraphernalia.

Often, it’s a quota photo.  Like, for instance, this one, …:

image

… which I hereby steal, because I like it so very much.  (The rest of that days 6k photo-output from that day can be viewed here.)

I had been trying for a while to work out just what it was that I found so particularly appealing about this snap.  What was it that I found so particularly … particular?  Then, I got it.  It looks to me, not so much like a real sea, as like a static, plasticated sea, as made by a really, really good maker of models.

The sea looks like it is made not of sea, but of solidified glue, or that see-through plastic stuff, called whatever it’s called.  Throw a tiny ball bearing at this solid sea, and the ball bearing would just bounce off, with no splashing, and making the same noise it would make if bouncing off a table.  The immobile sea would remain immobile, untouched, impervious.

The effect of a solid object rather than a regular sea is, I think, partly the result of the lighting.  The effect is more like the way a lamp is reflected in a shiny table top than the way we usually see light on the sea.

But most of all, it looks somewhat weird because it’s a photograph.  Photographs freeze moving objects into static objects, and sometimes this makes them look entirely different and unrealistic.  A video of the sea would look sea-like.  Videoed sea swallows ball-bearings, just like regular sea.  Just not this sea, as seen and immobilised by 6k.

All this because 6k likes to have something up, often.  And that’s the point of quota posting, for those of us who are suited to it.  If you have reasonable taste, then the mere fact of starting doing a blog posting ensures not only that something will go up, but that, really quite often, something really quite good will go up.  Like this photo, which I consider to be very good indeed.  Often what takes the time, with blogging as with life, is not doing it, but getting round to doing it.  The actual doing is often quickly done, and often very well done.

Some of my best blog postings have happened because I wanted to put up any old something, however bad, and it turned out really good.

Tuesday February 04 2014

Here:

image

To the right of this image is to be found the following verbiage:

The reasons for why East London has seen the flowering of street art are manifold. The post-industrial legacy of Shoreditch’s crumbling low-rise warehouses, not only provides an environment in which the artists and designers can do their work, but East London’s proximity to the City of London provides an economic source of support for the artists and designers; and finally Shoreditch with its building sites, old dilapidated warehouses provides a canvas upon which those artists can display their work and increase their commercial value.

Mostly revolutionary chic to pay the rent, I’d say.  Which, on balance, I quite like, because it gets up the noses of the real revolutionaries.

Plus it gets up the noses of the Art Twats by being understandable and entertaining without them having to explain what it means.

More East End street art here.  In fact, lots more, if you scroll back through the archives there.

Monday February 03 2014

Here are an extraordinarily large number of photos of the Airbus A380, showing off at a Russian air show.

Here is one of my favourites, in the photoing-planes-from-above-and-yet-also-from-the-ground genre, that the A380 so likes to encourage, when showing off at air shows, the point being that for such a big airplane, this is a bit surprising:

image

I could be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a slogan like that – “Own the sky” - would be used in the primmer, prissier West, now so much more environmentally hesitant about jet airplanes.  Not environmentally hesitant enough to actually stop flying them and flying in them, you understand, but environmentally hesitant enough for everyone to pretend they feel bad about it.

I got a very similar shot of the A380 when it performed the same kind of dance routine at Farnborough, in the summer of 2010:

image

No mention of anyone owning the sky then, there.

Another difference you can see there - see planely, you might say - is the difference a better camera makes.  Happily my 2010 camera is not the one I use now, which is rather better.