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Category archive: Digital photographers

Sunday October 15 2017

For me, it’s the most expensive penny I ever spend.  I’m referring to the toilet in Gramex, the services of which I often avail myself, in between hunting for keenly priced second-hand or ex-review-copy classical CDs.

This shop has kept moving over the years and is now seeking yet another new location, because its current location is about to be turned into a hotel.  But for now, until the 17th of this month, when you pee there, you beyold, in a very bedraggled state, a reproduction of a famous photograph, of New York’s Grand Central Terminal:

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There seem to be several versions of this photo, because more than one photoer noticed this remarkable phenomenon.  The phenomenon being how the presence of smoke or steam in the atmosphere turns any light that journeys through the smoke or the steam into a solid block of light.

This being well known to showbiz of course.  Here is a recent 6k photo, of a pop combo in action, being lit with smoke and searchlights.

The nearest I have ever got to anything like this myself is a set of photos I took one rather misty day in September 2015, when I was officially checking out the first of London Gateway’s cranes.  I have already shown this photo here, but here it is again because I like it so much:

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Here is another photo that I took moments earlier, which I have not shown here before:

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What I especially like about that one is that is shows how solidified light of this sort blocks out what is behind it.  You can’t see past such light.  But when there is no light crashing through and lighting up the mist, you can see through the mist.  Look how, when there isn’t lit up mist, you can see, past all the closer-up drama, another world of clouds, in the darker distance.

The above photo reminds me of another favourite photo of mine, this time where my reflection in a shop window, dark because back lit, makes it possible to see through the shop window into the shop, which otherwise you can’t because of brightly lit reflections from behind me.  In this case it is those bright reflections that are the solid light:

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That was photoed in the south of France, in Ceret, a town famous for its light and much loved by artists, in particular by Picasso.

I love that what we actually see through the shop window is someone else taking a photo.

Photography is light.

Thursday October 12 2017

I had a nice surprise today.  As time passes, the number of places I can buy the Gramophone and the BBC Music Mag keeps on diminishing, one of the few that remains being W.H.Smith in Victoria Station.  It was once again a beautifully lit late afternoon, and when I stepped outside the station concourse, I encountered this beautiful sight:

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Yes, the wraps have come off Pavlova.  And far sooner than I had been expecting.

Several of the above photos feature the new Nova building.  This fine edifice was awarded this year’s Carbuncle Cup.  The dreary grumblers who award this award think that it’s a badge of shame, but I generally find it, and its accompanying runner-up collections, to be a great source of information about interesting and often excellent new buildings.  Nova is wonderful, I think.  I intend (although I promise nothing), to say more about this enjoyably showy yet elegant addition to Victoria’s mostly rather lumpish architecture.

In 3.2, I got lucky with an airplane.

Saturday October 07 2017

From Michael J:

Is there anything better than sitting in a bar in one of the prime selfie taking spots in the universe?

Well, maybe I can think of a few things, but I get the picture.  To be exact, I got this picture:

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But where might this be?  I scrutinised the “properties” of this photo, in particular some numbers with the words “latitude” and “longitude” next to them.  So far as I could work it out, this was somewhere on the island of … Momix?  No, not Momix.  The island of: Rhodes.  But, that could easily be out by several thousand miles, given Michael J’s travelling habits and my analytical abilities.

Meanwhile, the most exotic place I’ve been to lately was the place where this photo was taken, by my friend Adriana:

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How cool is that?  And I’m not talking about the fact that this is ice cream.  This was my pudding when I feasted with Adriana and her Plus One here.  The ceilings were so far away you could hardly see them.  There were oil paintings beyond counting, often with no labels to identify the personages in them, presumably because People Like Us all know who they are without having to be told.  Or, they are all so posh they don’t care.

I left my stuff, including my camera, at the front desk, photography not being permitted.  Fair enough.  Don’t want any oiks casing the joint.  But her photoing an ice cream wafer, Adriana said, wouldn’t make waves.  Besides which, these days, how can you tell if someone is taking a photo, if all they are doing is waving a smartphone.

Thursday September 21 2017

imageClick on the thumbnail on the right to see why I’m presenting this photo to you, as a thumbnail.

Photo taken outside (as you can probably work out) Westminster Abbey in December 2015.

Saturday September 09 2017

So there I was, wondering around the other side of the City of London from where I live, as I like to do, and I saw this taxi with a tree behind it.  But the weird thing was, no matter which direction I photoed the taxi and the tree from, the tree was always directly behind the taxi:

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What gave?  Answer: the tree wasn’t and isn’t behind the taxi.  It was and is right on top of the taxi, made to look as if it is growing right up through it.  This taxi with tree was and is: Art.

Yes, this is one of those many places where hurt-your-foot-if-you-drop-it work has recently been replaced by “creative” work.  (The sneer quotes are not because creative work isn’t, but because other work so often is also.)

Here is a map of this place, together with a description of what has been happening there recently:

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When exploring a new place, I always photo maps and signs which explain everything.

This map looks, I think, rather like one of those illustrations in a birds-and-bees instruction manual for adolescents.

More about Orchard Place here.

Thursday September 07 2017

Yesteryear as in: photoed by me ten years ago today:

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Guesses (and I do mean guesses (though the guesses took me ages)) as to what they are, and when they were first manufactured:

Top left: Sharp Viewcam VL-AH151 camcorder - 2002

Top right: Sony DCR-DVD610 DVD Handycam - 2008 (doh!) 2007

Bottom left: Sony Handycam DCR-TRV265E - 2004

Bottom right: Samsung Sc-d363 Ntsc Camcorder Mini Dv 1200x - 2005

Regular still cameras from ten years ago look very dated.  But things that look very like regular cameras used to look are still in use now, despite the rise of smartphone photoing.  They’re just a lot better.

Video cameras from ten years ago, on the other hand, now look absurdly, wildly, ludicrously dated.  This is because they are (a) often much bigger than almost any cameras are now, and (b) have been pretty much entirely replaced by smartphones, which are tiny.

Tuesday September 05 2017

In January of 2016, a year and a half ago now, a friend and I checked out the top of the Walkie Talkie, and we liked it a lot.

I, of course, photoed photoers, of whom there were, equally of course, an abundance.  And although at the time I collected the best photoer photos together into their own little subdirectory, I never got around to putting the selected photos up here.  But I chanced upon them last night, and I think they deserve the oxygen of publicity.  So, here they are:

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As the years have gone by, I have come to like photoing photoers as much for the places they photo in and the things they photo as for the photoers themselves.  From the above photos you get quite a good idea of what the top of the Walkie Talkie is like and what you can see from it.  The weather that day was rather dull, so the actual views I took were rather humdrum.  These photoer photos were better, I think.

The Walkie Talkie Sky Garden advertises itself as a sky garden, but it is more like an airport lounge with plants, that has itself taken to the air.  Getting access to it is like boarding an airplane, with luggage inspection and a magnetic doorway you have to walk through.  In this respect, as well as the splendour of the views, the Walkie Talkie resembles the Shard, which imposes very similar arrangements on all who wish to sample its views.  But sky garden or not, I liked it.

One of the many things I like about the Walkie Talkie is that its very shape reflects the importance attached by its designer(s?) to making a nice big space at the top for mere people to visit and gaze out of.  As well as, of course, creating lots of office space, just below the top but still way up in the sky, for office drones to enjoy the views from.  Their work may often be drudgery, but at least they get an abundance of visual diversion.

In its own way, the Walkie Talkie is as much an expression of the economic significance of views as those thin New York apartment skyscrapers are. The difference being that in a big office you don’t have to be based right next to a window to be able, from time to time, to stroll over to a window.  So, as the building gets taller and the views get more dramatic, it makes sense to fit more people in.  Hence the shape of the Walkie Talkie.

If one of the jobs of a Walkie Talkie drone happens to be to try to entice clients to come to the Walkie Talkie, to have stuff sold to them, well, those views might make all the difference.

Note that Rafael Vinoly designed the Walkie Talkie, and designed the first of those tall and thin New York apartments.  These two apparently very different buildings have in common that both of them look as they do partly because of the views they both offer.

I also like the Walkie Talkie because so many prim-and-proper architect type people dislike it.

Tuesday August 29 2017

Roofs?  Rooves? Apologies if roofs sounds wrong to you, but it now sounds a bit better to me.  English eh?  What can you do?

Anyway, yes, the roofs(ves?) … of London Bridge Station, newly erected, as photographed from on high (from a helicopter) by on high specialist Real Photographer Jason Hawkes:

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That being another of the Real Photographs in this collection, featured here already, a few days ago.

To get that bigger, you’ll have to follow the first link above.  I’m guessing that Jason Hawkes might not be bothered at me showing a smaller version of one of his Real Photographs, but that he might be miffed if I appropriated a far bigger version.

What I, and I am sure many others, find entertaining about these roofs is how they look more like a work of Mother Nature than of Man.  No straight lines anywhere, and no two curvey lines exactly the same.

When I was up at the top of the Shard with GodDaughter 2, way back when we were, I also photoed these roofs, which makes sense because they are right next to and at the bottom of the Shard:

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That one, after I had done lots of post-production on it with my Photoshop clone, came out looking okay, although before all that it was looking very iffy.  Amazing how much “sharpen”, for instance, sharpens.

This next one, on the other hand, although a fine view, is ruined as any sort of attempt at Real Photography by that great slab of reflection, bottom left.  No Real Photographer would dream of standing behind shiny sheets of plate glass of this kind:

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With a lot of rotating and some sharpening, I rescued, from the original above, the revised version below:

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But you miss out on the big picture with that, I think.

Somehow, you need to be able get rid of those damn reflections.  Hire a helicopter?  Get a drone?  Helicopters are all fine and dandy for the likes of Jason Hawkes, but the complications of all that would be way beyond me.  Besides which, it’s the cheap shots that we can all take that interest me the most.  For me, throwing money at photography removes a major slice of it’s deeper meaning.  Which is: We can all now do this!

So, how about doing what this guy was doing?:

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This was my first visit to the top of the Shard, but I’m guessing he was not having his first visit.  He did what I did, first time around.  On his first visit, just like me, he took a lot of photos with lots of reflections in them.  But then, he returned, with a possible answer that he had made a point of bringing with him.

What this guy did looks promising, but I reckon I could maybe improve on this.  The problem this guy still has is that he still has his camera and worse, his bright and lightly coloured fingers, all out there in front of his big black rectangle.  What is needed is a big black rectangle with a hole in it, through which to poke the camera.  That would surely defeat the reflections much more completely.  And, unlike with his arrangement, you’d still be able to see what your picture was consisting of, because you’d still be able to see it on the screen or through a viewfinder (if you are viewfinder inclined, which I am not).

Unless of course you don’t want to defeat the reflections.

But, assuming you do, how big would such a rectangle have to be?  Would a rectangle small enough to fit easily into my bag be big enough?  I must do some experiments with a nearby shop window.

Monday August 14 2017
Sunday August 06 2017

Yesterday’s posting featured photoers whom I photoed at the top of the Shard, last Friday.  But I saved the most striking looking photoer whom I photoed that day in that place for a separate posting in celebration of him, this being that that posting.  If this guy did not want strangers to photo him and celebrate him on the internet, then he made a big mistake when he made himself look like this:

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Next is a photo which shows the man’s hands and arms in a little more detail:

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And finally, this photo, which I include because it was the least bad photo that I took featuring the tattooed photoer, from the point of view of what we can see out in the big world of London beyond the Shard:

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In the top of these three photos, we can just about make out the Wheel, on the left.  In the second, we can just about discern the NatWest Tower (as was – now “Tower 42"), and also the top of the Walkie Talkie.  But this last photo is a lot easier to scrutinise for recognisable buildings.

Not that it’s a good photo of the scene.  In particular, that smudge of red in the middle would trouble a Real Photographer far more than it troubles me.  That would be the reflection of the tattooed photoer’s own shirt.

Saturday August 05 2017

Yes, there were quite a few photoers up there yesterday.  But not as many as I think I was expecting.  Amazing to relate, most of the people there seemed just to be experiencing the view while they were looking at it.  And talking to one another.  And having drinks.  I know, weird.

But there were a few normal people there, concentrating on taking photos, and here are some of the ones I photoed:

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In last night’s posting about this expedition, I mentioned the reflections I was getting from the windows.  I kind of think that this doesn’t matter with these particular photos, which is why I am showing them here so soon.  In the foreground there are photoers, and in the background there is what there was in the background, including reflections, and sometimes even some rather pretty reflections, and also a lot of architectural detail, top of the Shard style.  These photos therefore require no elaborate thought, or cropping, or preemptive cringe commentary saying: this is interesting because of what you can see out there or down there, despite the damn reflections which I’m really sorry about.

I chose the above photos because I thought they were nice photos.  I wasn’t bothered about what cameras were involved.  So, it is significant that eight out of nine of the photos feature mobile phones rather than old school, dedicated, specialised, digital cameras.  The only exception is 3.2.

I hear it everywhere I go.  The cameras on mobile phones get better and better.

Will my next camera also be a mobile phone?

Saturday July 29 2017

Digital photography has completely transformed graffiti, by making each item of graffiti easily photoable, before the next one comes along and superimposes itself upon this one.  All “artistic” graffiti can survive, in digital form.  It thus makes more sense than it did (and it doesn’t matter how much sense that was, merely that it increases) to do arty graffiti.

So now here comes the hypothesis, along approximately similar lines: that digital photography is making New York skyscrapers taller and thinner, by making the views that you see from them more valuable, because digitally photoable.  Well, that isn’t a surprise, because having written that, I summarised it into the title of this posting.

imageI found myself thinking this when I went from a report about how a tall thin New York skyscraper project has stalled (allegedly because one of the parties failed to realise how expensive New York construction cranes are), to a not-so-recent article about tall thin New York skyscrapers in general.

Key quote, from “Skyscraper Museum creator and director” Carol Willis:

“The unprecedented per-square-foot sales price – from $4,000 to as much as $11,000 for these exclusive condos with their trophy views – makes them very profitable for developers, even though they are also enormously expensive to build.”

I am not saying that I know how valuable “trophy views” are or were, nor that I know how much the ease of photoing them has increased that value.  I simply assert that this value, in New York, has increased, because of digital photography.  Do you think it hasn’t?  Do you think that digital photography has decreased that value?  Perhaps the latter, for some.  But for most people, surely not.

That being so, you would expect skyscrapers to get taller and thinner, to provide more views and better views than previously.

It makes sense that the impact of digital photography in the form of taller and thinner skyscrapers would happen in a city that offers great views in all directions, and views (see the graffiti thoughts above) that are constantly changing, like New York.

Nor, by the way, am I saying that this is the only reason why New York skyscrapers are getting taller and thinner.  I am sure there are a lot of other reasons, like: only tiny sites being available these day, zoning laws changing to allow greater tallness and thinness, technology ditto, a general rise in demand caused by New York being a good place to live, billionaires getting richer, and many other such imaginable reasons.  I merely assert that digital photography is one of these reasons.

Photo of 432 Park Avenue (designed by the Walkie Talkie guy) when it was under construction, here.

Saturday July 22 2017

So there I was on Westminster Bridge late yesterday afternoon, and I encountered a pair of Real Photographers, taking Real Photos of The Wheel.  I persuaded them to let me take this shot:

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It was only when I got home that I noticed that strange object on the top of the camera.

Close-up:

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What is that?

On inspection, it look like a multiple set of spirit levels, so I typed something about “camera spirit level” into Google, and immediate got offered things like this for sale.

This being:

FOTYRIG Hot Shoe Level Three Axis Triple Bubble Spirit Level For Any Standard Hot Shoe Including Canon and Nikon Digital and Film Cameras

Although the one I saw may not be the exact same brand of triple spirit level, this is definitely the kind of gadget I was looking at.

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Description:

- Quickly and easily adjust your camera angle so that all your photos come out perfectly leveled.
- The three axis levels provide even greater and precise control. It helps you achieve a finer degree of accuracy in capturing the perfect image.
- Used for panoramic photography, photo stitching, architectural photography, and perspective control.
- A must have when shooting with a tripod! Just slide the bubble level in your cameras hot shoe!
- Works with Most of DSLR cameras with a standard hot shoe mount.
- Made of lightweight, clear acrylic.
- Size: 25mm (1") x 25mm (1") x 25mm (1").

Photo and learn.  Blog and learn.

I sympathise about the need for a spirit level when photoing The Wheel.  Unless you are exactly sideways on or exactly in line (so it looks like a tall and thin tower), knowing exactly which direction exactly upwards and exactly sideways are cab be very difficult.  Whatever decision you make can look wrong, and whatever you do feels wrong at the time.

Monday July 03 2017

More photos of photoers.  I knew you’d be excited.

Ever since the Tate Extension opened about a year ago now, I’ve been popping up to the top of it every so often, to check out the changing scene that is to be seen from there.

But I have also discovered a whole new genre of photo up there, provoked by the big dots on the glass screens that divide the inside of the top from the walkways outside, where you do the viewing from.

Often, these dots give me something to focus on, while still capturing, out of focus, the postures and gestures, rather than the facial likenesses, of the objects of my attention.  Or, the dots, themselves out of focus, provide some visual diversion.

Almost always, the photoers are in silhouette, again good for avoiding facial identifiability.  Also, silhouettes show up pretty well on my current crappy little computer screen, which I think I will soon be replacing.  So now is a good time to be doing this posting:

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Occasionally, the light behind the photoers is enlivened architecturally, which I like.  But as often as not, not.  And as it happens, I think my favourite of these is 2.1, which features no architecture at all.

But I also like 2.3 and 4.1, which do feature architecture, because of the architecture.

Sunday July 02 2017

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

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Taken on Westminster Bridge, in March of last year.

I’m standing in their screen, behind them, in case you were wondering.  Meanwhile, 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.