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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

Sunday July 02 2017

One of them being taken by the people in my photo, and the other being taken by me, of me:

image

Taken on Westminster Bridge, in March of last year.

I’m standing in their screen, behind them, in case you were wondering.  MeaIwhile, I am wondering if they photoed me photoing them.  I don’t know what the V sign gesture is about.

I surmise that one of the many differences between photoers like me and Real Photographers is that Real Photographers abhor any trace of themselves in the photos they photo, whereas photoers like me rather like it when you can see me in the photo,although preferably rather dimly.

I am off socialising now.  I find that having already done my duty here makes socialising a lot more fun.

Wednesday June 21 2017

One of the many aspects of the horrible Grenfell Tower fire that makes it such a compelling news story is that the scene of the crime (which is what most now assume it to be) is so very, very visible.  This is not the kind of horror that can be sealed off by the police and hidden from view.  There it is, in all its photogenic horror, and there it will remain for quite some while yet.

Yesterday I lunched with GodDaughter 2.  She has been allowed no time to recover from her recital (the pizza in yesterday’s posting was consumed just after that happened), but instead has been plunged into rehearsals for this showVery hot, apparently.  Lots of stage lighting, and lots of standing around, as is the way with complicated rehearsals.  I, meanwhile, was also nearly immobilised by the heat, and just wanted to get home again and be truly immobile.  So, we spent less time together than we would have had the heat been less hot.

imageBut she did show me this photo, on the right there, which was taken by a friend of hers and along with a million other such photos, has been circulating on social media.  This particular photo was taken (I think I have this right) after the fire had erupted, and then been turned entirely black and dormant by the firemen.  But then, the fire got back into business, nearly a day later.  And I bet the heat made a difference to that too.

As for the politics of this, I don’t think Mrs May will recover from the bad press she has had as a result of this disaster.  (GD2 was very eloquent about that.) But my hope is that the Corbynistas are overplaying their hand.  People, says John McDonnell, have a right to be angry.  Of course they do.  But if too many of the people being angry are thought to be politicos who are merely pretending to be angry but who are really having the time of their lives, the Corbyn project might suffer.  I’m sure the Corvbyn high-ups are aware of this danger, but knowing what is happening with something is not the same as necessarily being able to stop it.  (Ask any fireman.)

In general I hope that what I heard Matthew Parris saying on the television on the night of the election is right, to the effect that the Corbyn phenomenon will now be subjected to the sort of serious critical scrutiny by the voters which last time around they bestowed only upon Mrs May.

Tuesday June 20 2017

Why do people get so angry about other people who photo their food before eating it?

Here is a pizza that I photoed, before eating it, when we all went out to dinner following GD2’s end of third year singing recital:

image

And very tasty it was too.  Thank you Da Mario‘s, if that’s how you say it.

Does the very thought of me taking the above photo, in a restaurant, annoy you?  Why?  Seriously, why?  By this I don’t mean: stop feeling annoyed you fool.  By why I mean why.  What is this feeling?

I’m not sure I can prove it, but I am rather sure that a similarly small but definite spasm of annoyance is felt when the same people who disapprove of food photoing observe other photoers using selfie sticks.

Yes, I think I have it.  What food photoing and selfie sticks have in common, beyond the obvious fact that both involve photoing, is that both practices are very visible.  If they bother you, they are hard to ignore, like a slight but irregular noise when you are trying to get to sleep, or people shouting near you in an already noisy (but predictably so and thus ignorably so) tube train.

The fact of these practices being so visible is what amplifies the annoyance.

Getting back to that food photoing thing in particular, why be annoyed?

Could it be that photography has now become something very different in recent years, but that some people need to do some catching up?  The marginal cost of the next photo you take is now: zero.  The marginal cost of the next phone communication you send: also zero.  So, taking and sending a photo of what you are about to eat is of no more consequence than just telling someone you are about to consume a rather good pizza, over the phone, with mere words.  A pizza photo says, quickly, what is in it, what sort of pizza it is, how big, and so forth, just as you might if you were talking about it.  A photo thrown into the conversation is just illustrated chit-chat.

But photography, traditionally, has tended to be a much more slow, solemn and artistic and expensive thing.  And the more artistic and cultured you are, or think that you are, the more you will know this.  Do these damn people think that every damn food photo they commit and emit is some sort of eighteenth century Dutch still life painting?

Well, it kind of is, or kind of can be.  But basically, no.  If you think they think this, you’ll think them very silly.  But, they don’t think this.  What they are doing is not Big Art, even if at its best casual photoing can resemble Big Art.  What they are doing with their food photos is small talk.

Could that be something to do with it?

Also in play are the more ignoble feelings aroused by others (a) enjoying themselves (b) not caring who knows it, and (c) not caring, in particular, about you and any moans you might have about what they are doing and how they are drawing attention to themselves.  You just know that if you said to them: Excuse me, would you mind not doing that? - they’d say something along the lines of: yes we would mind not doing that, get stuffed.  Eat you own damn food and stop complaining about us photoing ours, you idiot.  And they’d be right.  And you’d know it.

Monday May 22 2017

Time was when I think I did more bridge postings here than I seem to do now.  Maybe it’s just that I have seen, and said things about, most of the world’s bridges that interest me.  But I have the feeling that rather fewer new bridges are being built these days, and that those that are being built tend to be rather smaller.  Footbridges, in other words.  There’s nothing at all wrong with a pretty footbridge, but there is something super-splendid about bridges like the mighty Millau Viaduct.

Or the mighty Forth Bridge.  Which has been photoed a million times.  What more is there to say about this wondrous structure?  What more is there to see of it?

Well, feast your eyes on this photo:

image

This was first posted here, and was there noticed by Mick Hartley, to whom thanks.

It’s a long time since I’ve seen a more perfect example of the modified cliché photo.  Photoes of the whole of the Forth Bridge are everywhere.  But I have never before seen a photo of only the top bits of the Forth Bridge, with cliché Scottish countryside blocking out the bottom bits.  Brilliant.  It even includes a cliché tourist steam train at the bottom.

I wonder, was this photo taken with a drone?  If so, we can expect to see many more such familiar-thing-photoed-in-an-unfamiliar-way photos.

A big reason I have loved all the twiddly screens on all my cameras is that they have enabled me easily to take pictures from both above and below my usual height.  A drone is like the ultimate version of that, because with a drone you can hold your camera hundreds, even thousands, of feet up.

Which I can only do when I’m in an airplane.  (See Millau Viaduct link above.)

Sunday May 21 2017

Last Friday, Kumar Sangakkara had the pleasure of standing next to a newly unveiled portrait of Kumar Sangakkara, at Lord’s:

image

I love the contrast between the grimly formidable Kumar Sangakkara in the oil painting, and the ever-so-slightly goofy expression of Sanga in the mere photo.

Few players get the chance to walk past their own portrait on their way out to bat, and even less have the honour of doing so at Lord’s.

Friday was day one of Middlesex v Surrey.  So how did Sanga do for Surrey in that game?  Okay.  Today he completed his second century of the match, and will bat on tomorrow morning.  Without him, Surrey would be dead and buried in this game by now.  With him, they should get the draw, despite being behind on first innings by nearly a hundred.

This evening, Vithushan Ehantharajah of Cricinfo was waxing very eloquent about the great man’s batting:

Kumar Sangakkara‘s sense of occasion was evident once more in this London derby as he scored his second century of the match, while also passing 20,000 career first-class runs. Sangakkara’s 60th century in the format, from 174 balls, was played out in a thick cable-knit sweater despite the glorious sunshine that accompanied him for much of his jaunt. The ice in his veins must have been working overtime.

This knock saw Sangakkara become the first Surrey batsman to score twin hundreds in a Championship match since Arun Harinath - a Surrey academy product of Sri Lankan descent who Sangakkara picked to play him in the movie of his life (true story). Both centuries in this match were brought up with a three through extra cover. Both allowed Surrey to rest a little easier.

The first-innings deficit was 82 when he came in with Surrey 16 for 2. Toby Roland-Jones, having removed Mark Stoneman for a 10-ball duck, squared up Rory Burns and trapped him in front. Even at stumps, Surrey were not quite home and hosed. They resume on the final day 96 ahead, with six wickets remaining but no full-time batsmen to come.

This is usually the part of the report which tells you about the cover-drives and cuts behind point: the ones you have probably seen a thousand times over. You know: feet still, weight decisively either back or forward, hands through the ball with the gliding devastation of a man carving an ice sculpture with a light sabre. Or the defensive shots, which are just as serene.

Every block is a cover drive without the malice, each leave a statuesque pose making a mockery of anything you might find in a Florentine piazza. By way of housekeeping, there were 14 fours in this innings (so far).

Instead, consider this a public service announcement. Go and see him. Somewhere. Anywhere. Find the time, the money and the moment to watch Sangakkara before he decides the game has nothing left for him. He is 39 years of age and, luckily for us, has decided county cricket is where he wants to be right now. Until he decides otherwise, English cricket has a global great in its back garden. All you need to do is look out the window.

I already looked.

Saturday April 22 2017

Indeed:

image

The history of this particular picture is that GodDaughter 2 and I were in Waterstones, Piccadilly, which is one of our favourite spots.  She loves all the books.  I like the books too, but I love the views that I can photo from the cafe at the top.  This is not very high up, but it is high enough up to see many interesting things, and familiar things from an unfamiliar angle, of which, perhaps or perhaps not, more later.

So, anyway, there we were in Waterstones, and we were making our way up the stairs to the top, rather than going up in the lift, because I needed the Gents and GD2 needed the Ladies.  All of which caused me to be waiting on the book floor nearest to the Ladies, and that was where I saw this book.  I had heard about it, via a TV show that Hockney did a few years back, and I did a little read of the bit that really interested me, which was about how very early photography intermingled with “Art”.  I wouldn’t have encountered the book itself had it not been for GD2 and I both liking Waterstones, and had it not been for nature demanding GD2’s attention.  So, this is another picture I owe to her, to add to this one.

The way Hockney and his art critic pal tell the story of how early photography and the Art of that time intermingled is: that all the other Art critics say that the Artists were zeroing in on a “photographic” looking style, through their own purely Artistic efforts.  Nonsense, say Hockney and pal.  The Artists were already using the early stages of photography, and if my recollection of that television show is right, that this had been going on for quite a while.  They were using photographic methods to project a scene onto a surface, and then painting it in by hand.  These paintings look photographic because, in a partial but crucial sense, they are photographic.  Later, the photo-techies worked out how to frieze that image permanently onto that surface, by chemical means rather than by hand copying.  Those Art critics want to say that the Artists lead the world towards photography, but the influence was more the other way around.  Photograhy was leading the Artists.

This fascinating historical episode, assuming (as I do) that Hockney and pal are not making this up, shows how complicated and additive a technology like photography is.  It didn’t erupt all at once.  It crept up on the world, step by step.  And of course it is still creeping forwards, a step at a time, in our own time.  Early photographers couldn’t shove their pictures up by telephone onto your television screen, the way I just did, if only because television screens didn’t happen for another century.

Meanwhile, the book trade is creeping forwards.  In the age of Amazon, am I the only one who sees an interesting book in a bookshop, looks at the price, says to himself: I can do much better than that on Amazon, and contents himself with taking a photo of the book’s cover?  Are we bad people?

For this book, the difference is thirty quid in the shop, but twenty quid or even less on Amazon.

In that talk I did about the impact of digital photography, one of the uses I found myself emphasising was using digital cameras for note-taking.  How much easier and more exact to make a picture of this book’s cover with one camera click, than to record its mere title with the laborious taking of a written note.

Wednesday March 22 2017

Incoming from Michael Jennings, who encountered this sign at (a?) (the?) Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan:

image

Hm, what to do?

Easy.  Use a drone instead.

LATER: See first comment.  It’s this:

image

There can only be one fort like that.

Categories updated to include Architecture, History, Sport, and War.

Blog and learn.

Sunday March 12 2017

I’m still photoing photoers, basically because the photos of photoers I took about a decade ago get more interesting by the year, and so, I’m betting, will photos like these, which I took in Trafalgar Square, last October:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

The difference from ten years ago is that I avoid photoing faces far more than I tried to then.  That means, as explained in this earlier posting, that I find myself photoing a lot of hair, as above.  Although, 3.3 is the hair on a lady’s sleeve, and the guy in 2.3 has no hair.  But, he has a hair style.

But I’m not a hair fetishist.  I’m just a not-face photoer, when I’m photoing strangers who are themselves photoing.

There was a posting at Mick Hartley’s yesterday which showed that concern about photoing the faces of strangers and thereby in some way stealing from them is not new.  Hartley reproduces a great pile of photos, photos like this:

image

Scroll down to the bottom of Hartley’s posting, and you will encounter quotes from the man, Richard Sandler, who took all these ancient black-and-white photos, of strangers.  Go to where Hartley got these pictures and the quote, and you’ll get one of the questions, as well as the answer.

Have you had anyone ever question your motives in the street? Did you ever piss off anybody?

Occasionally people get angry and they have a right to, I am stealing a little something from them. Also for many years I used the strobe on the street and so there was no hiding what I was doing ... it can be startling. I have been kicked, spit on, and chased, but not very often. Once a woman with a rabbit pursued me for 30 minutes because I had flashed her and her pet.

Hartley also quotes Sandler saying this:

I think those were more interesting times because the warts of corporate/capitalist society were more visible then they are today, and those contradictions could be photographed more directly than now ... also every third person was not virtual, being on the fucking phone and not really on the street ....

Two things about that.  One, there is something rather exploitative about these photos, as he goes on to admit, sort of like an old school colonist photoing the natives.  Second, why the hell are “fucking” phones not themselves fit objects for his photoing?  Not really on the street? Come on.

They are certainly fit objects for my photoing.

Could it be that Sandler is suffering from a dose of professional jealousy?  Suddenly, the damn natives can photo the warts of corporate/capitalist society for themselves.  And nowadays, they don’t even have to use a dedicated camera.

And as for flash, well, the latest cameras hardly need them.  They can pretty much see in the dark.

Thursday February 23 2017

Another drone application hovers into view:

image

Yes, it’s UPS:

“This is really a vision for the future for us,” UPS senior vice president for engineering and sustainability, Mark Wallace, said in an interview with Business Insider.

The drone will work as a mechanized helper for the driver, reducing the number of miles a driver will need to drive. According to Wallace, UPS can save $50 million a year if everyone of its drivers reduces the length of their delivery routes by one mile.

UPS sees several potential usage cases for its autonomous drones. This ranges from inventory control at warehouses to the delivery of urgent packages such as medical supplies. However, this latest test is geared towards the company’s  operations in rural areas where drivers have to cover vast distances between delivery points.

But all this is still some way off:

Currently, the technology [is] still in the testing phase and UPS doesn’t have an exact timeline for its introduction into service, Wallace said.

Timeline being the twenty first century way of saying: time.  See also learning curve (learning); learning experience (fuck-up); etc.

I once had a job delivering number plates, in a white van, all over Britain.  Much of it was lots of unassembled number plate components in big heavy boxes, to big suppliers, which we delivered direct.  And the rest of the job was one-off finished number plates to motorbike shops, which the other drivers often used to deliver by posting them.  I always went there direct, because I enjoyed the drive, but either way the economics of those one-off number plates was ridiculous.  A drone to do the final thirty miles or so would have been most handy, if it could have been organised.  (A digital camera would have been very nice also.  But alas, I had to wait a quarter of a century for that.)

The serious point: drones are useful tools for running big and visible and trustable (because so easily embarrassable and controlable) businesses, for example the big and very visible enterprise that provided this.  Drones are, basically, tools for workers rather that toys for funsters.  They may supply fun, but they will mostly be operated by workers.

In London anyway.  Things may be different out in the wilds of the countryside.  But even taking photos out in the wilds of Yorkshire involves – I bet – getting some kind of permit.  If not, it soon will.  Because there will be complaints, and drones are highly visible.

Also audible, yes?  Anyone know how noisy drones tend to be?  6K?  How noisy is your drone?

Tuesday November 08 2016

Incoming from 6k telling me about a scheme to light up London’s bridges.  (I often hear about London things from him.) This Guardian piece doesn’t, or not so I noticed, say explicitly whether this is intended to be a permanent arrangement or temporary, but it seems like it will be permanent.

Plans to light up London’s bridges in what would be one of the biggest public art projects the UK has ever seen have taken a step forward with six schemes shortlisted.

I agree with the Guardian that this picture, which is of this entry, is very enticing:

image

There’s a ton of verbiage attached to each of the six entries, but artistic verbiage is one of the things in the world that I respect the least, right down there with a few other things that I don’t respect at all.  Which doesn’t mean that the winning scheme will be bad.  It could be terrific.

The proof of the pudding will be when we all start photoing it.

No public money involved at all.  So they say.

Thursday September 08 2016

I’ve visited the top of the Tate Modern Extension several times in recent weeks, so this story particularly entertained me:

Tate Modern visitors accused of spying on Neo Bankside residents

Here’s the story:

Residents of the Rogers Stirk Harbour-designed Neo Bankside apartments have threatened legal action, after Tate Modern opened an observation deck that provides views into their private apartments.

The 360-degree rooftop viewing deck is one of the headline features of the Switch House – the 64.5-metre-high Tate Modern gallery extension by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened to the public in June.

But residents of the adjacent apartment complex have claimed that gallery visitors are using zoom-lens cameras and binoculars to peer inside their glass-walled homes and take photographs.

Having failed to reach a solution with Tate, the homeowners are now seeking legal action to regain their privacy.

I was particularly diverted by this bit:

So far the only change has been the addition of a sign asking Tate visitors to be more considerate.

Dezeen does not show any picture of this sign, but here, I can, because I photoed it several weeks ago:

image

I remember thinking at the time that this is almost contemptuously perfunctory.  I’m not surprised that it failed to subdue the snoopers

I believe that, as London gets more and more interesting, and full of more and more intriguing Big Things, there will be more and more such viewing platforms like this one at Tate Modern.  So, this problem of what you can see from such platforms that people don’t want you to see isn’t going to go away.

And the problem gets far worse when you consider that zoom lenses are only going to get ever more powerful.  I often joke here that my camera has better eyesight than I do, and it’s true.  But pretty soon, all cameras will have better eyesight than everyone.

It could be that about half of this particular viewing platform will be shut down, in which case, I need to make sure now that I have seen everything from that part of it that I can, before this happens.

I’d prefer the other idea, which is that these people living in glass houses should have one way mirrors installed, so they can see out but the rest of us can’t see in.  But then, expect the internet to be awash with before/after photos.

Wednesday August 03 2016

Indeed.  I find sunsets hard to photo effectively.  Photography is light, but the more that light, the thing itself, is what I am trying to photo, the less my pictures seem to see the amazing thing that I personally just saw.  A sunset of truly spectacular vulgarity and garishness presents itself to me, and I snap away.  But the snaps, although vulgar and garish, tend to have none of the extreme vulgarity and extreme garishness that I remember actually seeing.

Towards the end of last month, however, while awaiting a train at Bermondsey South railway station, I observed a sunset of an extremity so extreme that this extremity managed to communicate itself to my camera.

Here are two of the eight or so pictures I took of it.

Also involved was … a Shard …:

image

… and a crane and a BT Tower:

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Actually, the crane and the BT Tower can also be seen in the top of these two snaps, the bottom one basically being a closer-up version of the left of the top picture, homing in on the BT Tower, and ignoring the Shard.  The reason I include both is because they actually present two distinct takes on the sunset.  In the top picture, we get that weird slab of purple cloud, and the Shard.  In the bottom picture, there is no Shard, and that’s not good, but by zeroing in on the weirdest bit of the sunset, I show you that in all its weirdness.

I regularly photo sunsets, as I say, but I seldom show the results here, partly because my photos just don’t seem to do the sunsets justice, but also because sunsets are routinely photoed by far better photographers than I am, who give far more thought to the technicalities of photoing sunsets than I do.  Type “sunset” into google, specifying that you want images, and … well, you get the pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  What on earth can I add to all this?  Very little indeed.  However, the above two sunset photos of mine do not look out of place in this company.

It is noticeable how the most effective sunset photos often have other things on show besides the mere sunshine, clouds etc.  Often the things in question are animals of some sort, in silhouette.  Or trees.  Or people.  My silhouetted things are of course a couple of London’s Big Things.  And a crane.

Friday July 29 2016

Indeed.  Photoed by her in a zoo in or around Quimper, where she is staying at the moment.

First, an elephant.  At first I thought there was a camera smudge in this, in the middle.  But the elephant is chucking dust over itself, and also some into the air:

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GD2 particularly drew my attention to its legs.  Also indeed.

And here are some monkeys, looking very learned:

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This picture cries out for a caption competition, but caption competitions don’t seem to work here.  By all means try to change that if you’d like to.

These - I think - very nice photos were apparently taken with an iPhone 6.  Impressive.

Sunday July 24 2016

Indeed:

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It’s number seven of these.  Missed it when this was first shown.  But it’s never too late to show Big Things in alignment.

Thursday June 30 2016

6k writes about the long journey from journeyman amateur snapper to Artist:

I don’t pretend to be a photo ninja. I can point, and I can shoot, and sometimes the results can be pretty good. Very occasionally, they can be startlingly good, but only very occasionally. I need to work more at not just pointing and shooting to increase the percentage of those startlingly good shots. We’ll get there.

There follows a picture of a bird spreading its wings.  In other words, the capture of a fleeting moment.

6k photos his family quite a bit, as they do things like explore the spectacularly beautiful coastline near where he lives, in South Africa.  Photoing your loved ones is also a matter of capturing the exact right moment.

With me, I think I get nearest to Art when I’m lining things up with each other.  I have a mental list of things I like, and a picture counts double in my head, if I can line a couple, or maybe even more, of these things.  The most characteristic of such alignments over the years have typically involved a digital photographer, with a London Big Thing in the background.

Here are a couple of efforts I might pick out to enter a competition, if someone told me I had to do that:

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In these two cases, there is also an element of me waiting for the right moment, or more accurately me snapping lots of promising looking moments and picking out the best one.

Those two are from this huge collection of unrecognisable photographers, which I doubt many of you scrutinised in its entirety.  So there are two of them again.  I particularly like the one with the blue balloon.

And here is another exercise in lining things up, captured just a few days ago.  This time, the object at the front is a plastic water bottle, resting on the anti-pigeon netting in the courtyard outside and above my kitchen window.  Behind the bottle is a thing that regulars here will know that I like a lot, namely: scaffolding!  This being the scaffolding at the top of the big conversion job that’s being done across the courtyard from me:

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That picture involves something I don’t usually like to do, which is cropping.  The original snap was rather bigger.

I don’t know what exactly I’ve got against cropping, but it feels to me like only one or two notches up from cheating.  Maybe I take rather excessive pride in (the Art of) getting the snap I want to emerge straight from the camera, no muss, no fuss, no photoshop.  The truth, of course, is that cropping is itself very much an Art.  But because I don’t do cropping that much, I probably could have cropped this photo a whole lot better than I actually did.