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Category archive: Digital photographers
Here is recent confirmation of the map app effect, i.e. the replacement of paper maps by electric maps.
The pictures below were all taken on June 4th of this year. Soon after that date I picked out these nine snaps of digital photographers doing their things, with a view to showing them here, but I never got around to doing that. I made my selections without any particular thought of maps. So far as I can tell, I picked my winners on a variety of grounds, three of them, it would appear, because of interesting backgrounds, in particular the one (2.1) with the word VISIONS to be seen in the background, on the side of what looks like a TV van. My selection is also biased towards facial non-recognisability.
Here are eight of the nine I picked.
And here is the ninth.
Was that ratio a fair reflection of the ratio for the entire lot of photos I took that day? No. It was not. I took about 350 snaps, of which about third to a half were of digital photographers. That’s a lot. Number of maps being flaunted by photographers: one. That one. Otherwise, no maps to be seen. This does not of course mean that no other maps were being carried. But it is telling, I think.
Four of these snaps, by my calculation, feature pictures being taken with smartphones. I think I was a bit biased towards that also, but the fact that I had so many examples of that to pick out is likewise telling.
Goddaughter Two is in town. She was already spontaneously talking about this map thing, before she knew I had any interest in it. She and a friend are now being London tourists. They are seeing a few maps, but only a few.
Change is not just the new stuff. It’s the old stuff that you don’t see any more.
JUST BEFORE POSTING THIS: Goddaughter One’s dad dropped by. He was recently wondering about maps, his question being: How do I best tell fellow engineers, visiting London for a footbridge conference, where London’s best footbridges are to be found? Give them a paper map and mark the bridges on that map? No. Paper maps don’t sell any more. At all. Ergo, they are rapidly ceasing to make them. Answer: Given them electric map references. They get you to within ten yards of each bridge, no worries.
I’ve recently been doing a lot of trawling through old picture archives, and in the course of this I found a directory devoted to Digital Photographers Holding On To Their Maps.
So here is an enormous clutch of such photos, with the little squares below all homing in on the maps. Click to see the photographers in action, if you wish.
The photos you get by clicking are exactly as taken, but the little squares involved quite a lot of enhancement - brightening, contrasting, sharpening, etc. - the better to reveal their mapitude.
If you don’t wish to click on any of these map squares, fine, but at least reflect with me on how the age of maps, on paper, like this, is now drawing to a close. The above snaps were snapped between 2005 and 2007. I wonder how many such photographs I’d be able to take now. Next time I go out snapping snappers, I’ll make a point of trying to see if paper maps are still being carried by photographers.
My guess would be, yes, just a few. This would be because the keener you are on photography, the more likely you were to have had a nice camera before the smartphone thing kicked in, and the less likely you might be to get a brand new smartphone, to replace your regular, mapless old phone. So maps being held by people with regular cameras are still, I am guessing, around.
But, nobody taking photos with a smartphone will now be simultaneously waving a paper map. Such a person already has a map.
It’s surely worth me adding that I got my smartphone entirely for its map app. It’s lighter than an A-Z and much lighter than all the A-Zs you’d need if you travelled much, and also much nicer than google maps printouts from my computer, because my smartphone, crucially, tells me where I am. For me, a smartphone is a book of magic maps which also does occasional phone calls and textings, not the other way around.
Going back to the pictures above, it’s not just the map-flaunting that is now looking quaint. So do a lot of the cameras. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. A picture collection is like a well stocked wine cellar. It gets better with age.
My attention has been drawn to some excellent photos by Michal Nuniewicz.
I, of course, particularly like this one:
A classic, in the genre recently referred to here.
Sub-genre: group selfie. An important sub-classification, I think.
Like the space in an Elizabethan court masque that the performers left for the courtiers themselves to step forward and take part, today everyone needs to work out how to create a stage on which the constellation of divas formerly known as the audience will strike their own pose.
That’s to be found under this headline:
The Long View: Bob Dylan and the selfie: The world’s now a stage and we’re all performing
And under this photo:
Are yes, selfies. Says Sidwell, re this new word:
Even as I cling to my old-fashioned desire to take photographs of the things that I see, “selfie” – the new nickname for a photographic self-portrait – has been declared Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, following a 17,000 per cent increase in usage year-on-year.
I have been long been studying this phenomenon. We may not have had the word “selfie” in 2007, but there were already many, many people doing selfies:
That being one of my all time favourites from my selfies archive.
LATER: Incoming from Michael Jennings:
Taken, says Michael, on a ferry between Greece and Albania in July.
Increasingly, I am coming to think of the summer as the photographing season, and the winter as the time when I look back through what I’ve got and tell you good people about some of it, and generally try to catch up with myself.
So, this summer, obviously, there was The Wedding. But there were also other weddings. Weddings serendipitously encountered, at places like Westminster Abbey (Aug 19) …:
… or in the Kings Road (Aug 31):
Am I entitled to steel the souls of other people’s weddings like this, by not only photoing them but also by sticking up some of the photos on my blog? I say yes, and I am the one who decides because if I decide yes, nobody stops me. Probably someone could stop me, but nobody does. And how can you stop photoing outside Westminster Abbey? Can’t be done.
The way I see it, if you make a big public show of yourself like this, in a public place, you are fair photographic game. The guests are all snapping away, so why shouldn’t a stranger join in? And more to the point, how would anyone Official be able to decide, right then and there, who is a digitalised guest and who is merely a digitalised wedding crasher? Can’t be done.
So, there the photos are, of the brides, the grooms, and of course of the photographers, Real and digital.
These two sets actually make a nice contrast. In the first, we see the Real Photographer in action, waving his arms around to telling the bride and groom where to stand and how to stand and what to look like they are feeling, like the whole show is for his benefit, which this bit of the event sort of is. And the bride and groom pose anxiously, communicating love as best they can, but actually looking more like dutiful than adoring.
And in the second, we see the wedding party emerging from Chelsea Town Hall, to confront a digital scrimmage, with all concerned looking thoroughly relaxed and happy and celebratory.
I recently read a piece, somewhere (sorry about no link – commenters?), about how in the Old Days, i.e. the days when there was Extremely Real Photography (tripod – stand very still) or no photography at all, people made a point of looking severe and grim in front of the camera, on those rare occasions when they encountered one, because if they relaxed they risked looking like a total prat, in what might well be the only photograph that anyone ever took of them or ever remembered them by. As a result we now get a relentlessly false picture, literally, of what life was like for these people in times gone by. We, on the other hand, treat any particular snap that someone snaps of us as no big deal, and we grin away to our heart’s content, and trust our mates mostly to pick the picture that makes us look okay. The whole idea of the Uptight Victorian, said this piece I read, compared to relaxed and happy us, is a consequence of the changing nature not of life itself, but of photography. Interesting idea, I think.
And I further think that these two sets of photos illustrate this contrast rather well.
Yet again I trawl through the photo-archives for diverting stuff to do here, quickly. These two date from August of this year.
First, in Great Peter Street, SW1, a particularly choice piece of Roof Clutter:
Well, I like it. This is my blog, and if I decide I want Roof Clutter, Roof Clutter there will be.
But this next one is truly bloggable, because truly weird. It was taken just minutes before the one above, and is a particularly choice example of the Other Person’s Screen genre that I have always been fond of, and now like even more because some photo-screens have suddenly become so very big:
That’s that pub in Victoria Street, with the new radar-invisible 62 Buckingham Gate behind it.
So yes, this time last week Goddaughter One and I went on a photowalk in the Hackney Wick area.
She sent me this photo that she took, of me photoing:
If you want to make an old man look bad, have him bend down.
This, with much rotating and cropping to avoid total embarrassment, is the photo I was taking:
I think we can agree that her photo is uglier, but more interesting and amusing.
Here is a photo I took of her:
If you want to make a young woman look good, have her bend down.
As for the photo that Goddaughter One was taking, well, I don’t have that. In general, though, she does this kind of thing quite often, e.g. when she spots a plastic bag floating in the canal. Commonplace, even ugly, objects can become very beautiful when photographed with a lot of skill, such as Goddaughter One possesses. (She is a professional, having recently had one of her photos on the front cover of the RIBA Journal.)
So, in the absence of the exact photo that Goddaughter One was taking when I took that photo of her last Sunday, here is a canal effect that I photoed, and would have photoed more had I realised, as I only did when I got home, how amusing the effect was and is. I refer to the way that a certain sort of water weed growing on the surface of still water (actually water that the water weed itself makes still) can make that surface look like dry land.
This effect is greatly enhanced when there are ugly things that are very light floating on that surface, with the water weed somehow seeming to push those objects upwards to the point where they appear simply to resting on the top of the surface, just as if it really was dry land:
Were I a bit cleverer with my camera, and were my camera also a bit cleverer, that could be an award-winning photo of the sort they print out and put in art galleries. Well, that’s what I think.
Yesterday I was out and about, in the Kings Road. But I forgot my proper camera and Sod’s Law went swinging into action and put a great big old Wedding Celebration under my nose just after I got off of the bus, right outside Chelsea Town Hall, with guests clogging the pavement and everything, getting in the way of people trying to just go along the pavement. They were dressed to show off. They were showing off. On the pavement. Fair photographic game, I decided. If you shove your wedding under the noses of the world, on one of the world’s pavements, the world is allowed to take photos. But then I discovered the ghastly truth: no proper camera.
But, I had my Google Nexus 4. And it was a sunny day and it did okay:
I noticed a couple of really old cameras in the throng, but none of my pictures featured any of those, or not close up so you could see the oldness. Shame.
Weddings, it occurs to me, are where old cameras are likely to appear, in the hands of people who have such cameras, but seldom use them (maybe because they used to use them a lot but then stopped) and hence felt no need to replace them. But then, when there’s a wedding, they dig them out and hope for the best.
Here is one of my favourite recent snaps, taken in that garden just up river from the main Parliament building:
Click if you want the bigger original picture, which is not much different.
And yes that does look like a cassette, that he is using there to take snaps of his own (oblivious of me taking a snap of him of course).
So, a close look at the cassette:
I googled cassette iphone case and found lots of iPhone cases like this one, but not that exact one. Maybe it’s not an iPhone, but an Android phone.
I also like the water bottle.
More thoughts from me on the impact of digital photography on our world, and an appeal for sofa help, here.
One of the laws of life nowadays is that as soon as you buy your ideal gadget, an even more ideal version of it arrives, and you think, ooh, I wish I had waited and got that one instead.
Within weeks, or so it seemed, of me buying my Lumix Blah Blah 150, out pops the Lumix Blah Blah 200 which does everything the Lumix Blah Blah 150 does, but even more. In that case the improvement was photoing in low light, which is something I like to do quite a lot when photoing speakers at meetings, indoors.
And now, I buy a Google Nexus 4 Smartphone, which is okay, in fact very okay. But this looks even better, this being a Samsung Blah Blah, which is a smartphone, but with a substantially bigger screen. The Google Nexus 4 is Google’s answer to the question: What is now a great Smartphone? A smartphone being the size of regular Smartphone. Samsung, on the other hand, asked the question: What is the maximum size of screen a Smartphone can reasonably have? Which I think is a better question.
Here is a picture that shows the difference. On the left is a regular Samsung smartphone, which is the exact same size as my Google Nexus 4. On the right is the new Samsung Blah Blah, which is a smartphone, but bigger.
Although I can get typing done happily when I am out and about, I have to admit that a bigger screen would be better. That way you get a smartphone and a tablet. A “phablet”.
I first set eyes on this Samsung Phablet the night before last, when I attended a meeting also attended by a friend of mine who already had one, despite the fact that this particular phablet has yet to be launched in the UK. He showed it to us. I was impressed. His was bigger than mine.
A recent piece about this Samsung Phablet (sorry – have forgotten where this was) said: Who the hell wants a smartphone this big? Well, I do. Better for typing, better for reading books, better for everything, and well within my geriatric weight limit.
The thing is, you want everything done when you are out and about with one machine. What you (by which I mean I) do not want is to be lugging around a phone and a “tablet”, which is why tablets are a no-no for me, as yet, unless you go for something like this. This Phablet changes that completely.
Despite me having missed this particular bus this time around, I really hope that this phablet formula catches on. The good news for me is that the Samsung Phablet now costs around four hundred quid, and I paid only a bit over two hundred for my Google Nexus 4. But with luck, phablets will soon be only two hundred quid, and I will be able to buy one with a total cost to me of buying a phablet now. And of course the two hundred quid phablet in a year’s time will be a year better than the phablet is now.
And note this. If Rob Fisher is right (I think he is) about what a good idea it is for all your computing to be done with the same little box of tricks, this phablet, being bigger than the smartphone, will accommodate more tricks.
To anyone who says, but talking into this gadget would be ridiculous, I reply: no, it would not. I might look ridiculous to you, but I do not care what looks ridiculous to you, only what actually is – or, in this case, is not - ridiculous for me.
The same rule applies to taking pictures with a tablet. Does this look silly to people to whom it looks silly? Yes. Does it make sense to those who now do this? Yes, perfect sense. Get used to it. Photoing with tablets is here to stay. Ditto photoing with phablets, when people start doing that.
Here are a couple more pictures of smartphone-tablet-phablet related kit that I encountered while trying to learn more about the Samsung Phablet. First, a gadget for combining a smartphone and a pair of binoculars:
This is not yet a thing you can buy. Watch the video there and you will learn that so far this is just an idea, which is still at the stage of soliciting investment.
And here is a picture of a zoom lens that you can attach to a tablet.
This seems like a slightly better idea. But what do I know?
The person writing the article with this picture at the top of it does the usual this-looks-ridiculous routine. But personally (see above) I don’t think it is ridiculous.
I really hope I get to see someone doing this, and photo them myself, before cameras inside tablets get to be so good that you don’t need to shove more lenses on them from outside.
That mobile phones have cameras means that even regular people now always have a camera with them. Already, mobile phone cameras are quite good. Soon, they will be as good as all but the best cameras, to the point where ever more people will be satisfied with their mobile phone cameras, and accordingly won’t want to be bothering with dedicated cameras at all. This transition is already under way, a fact which I regularly track whenever I roam about London snapping (among other delights) my fellow snappers and their snapping machines.
This photographer, for instance, looks like he’s using a “phone”, the inverted commas there being because these things are so much more than phones, to the point where the phoning is almost an afterthought. As Michael Jennings said last night, it really is something of an accident that we just happen to call these things “phones”.
Here is a photo I took with my Google Nexus 4, very soon after I got it, of Randy Barnett (already featured here in this earlier posting - bottom right of the first lot of pictures there), speaking at Freedom Forum 2013:
As you can see, the quality is okay, but only okay. Compare with the zoomed photo (at the link above) of Barnett, and you can easily see the difference that a better camera makes. If the Google Nexus 4 camera has a zoom feature, I have yet to discover it.
As the picture above shows, I (of course) had my regular camera with me at FF2013. But last night I was out and about for a short while, without that camera, only the Google Nexus 4. I was dining at Chateau Samizdata, and collecting Amazon stuff that I have delivered there rather than at my own front door, because at my own front door there have been robberies. So anyway, a recent arrive at CS was a keyboard, for use with the GN4, but although pre-warned that this keyboard would require two AAA batteries to make it go, I had forgotten to bring these with me. So, I nipped out to buy some. Without my regular camera.
Sod’s Law decrees that whenever you are out and about without your camera, interesting things will immediately present themselves to you. And one such interesting thing did, in the form of a sign making use of the double meaning of the word Pole. But, Sod’s Law was held at bay by my GN4, which I did have with me, in my jacket pocket, because keeping the GN4 in my jacket pocket at all times except when I am using it is The Rule. Snap snap, which fortunately I had more or less learned how to do:
The GN4 may not be much good for distance Big Things, and the like, but it is fine for a sign.
And since the sign was the point, even though I do like scaffolding, here is the bit of the picture with the sign:
No computerised trickery there, apart from the cropping. More than somewhat blurry, but entirely legible, the whole point of letters being that they hack their way through exactly such communicational barriers.
The speakers at the Liberty League Freedom Forum were an impressive lot. I intend, Real Soon Now, to be writing at greater length (at Samizdata) about what some of the speakers said. In this posting here, I will concentrate on shoving up photos.
Here are some snaps of just a few of the speakers in action:
Top left: Douglas Carswell; top middle: Terence Kealey; top right: Mark Littlewood.
Bottom left: Sam Bowman; bottom middle: J. P. Floru; bottom right: Randy Barnett.
I did not attend anything like all the sessions, not least because many of them were simultaneous. But we all crowded into the big hall to have lunch on Saturday and Sunday, and there were a couple of speeches there also, from Mark Littlewood on the Saturday, and from J. P. Floru on the Sunday, both of whom are shown above, doing their lunchtime talks.
Impressive though the line-up of speakers was, and hard as it often was to choose which speaker to listen to, the real star of the occasion, for me, was the audience that the Liberty League people had managed to assemble for this event. It would have been quite something for me to have listened to a succession of very good talks. It was something else again to be part of a 200-strong audience listening attentively to those same talks, most of them of less than half my age.
So, here are some crowd shots:
The more I study the world and its ways, the more importance I attach to the influence of gatherings like this one. Getting a couple of hundred of Britain’s most committed libertarians and free marketeers together over a weekend, and permanently connecting them with each other, will have network effects beyond calculation, especially when you consider how much easier it now is to do networking electronically.
So who put this event together? Well, I did some asking around, and three people kept getting mentioned:
Left: Anton Howes; centre: Christiana Hambro; right: Stephen Davies.
The latter two are both briefly biographised at the IEA website, and Anton Howes is likewise described on this list of Liberty Leaguers. Hannah Besford, Will Hamilton and James Lawson, also on that Liberty Leaguers list, also got several mentions, not least in the conference progamme (i.e. on page 2 of this), as having contributed importantly. Notoriously, when credit is to be shared among humans for their cooperative achievements, there are frequent mismatches between who gets given the credit and who did the actual work, so my best guess could be seriously off. Nevertheless, my best guess is that the three people pictured above were the prime movers (certainly among the prime movers), all three of them having decided independently that what the British free market/libertarian movement needs is a succession of gatherings like this one, wherever in the UK it makes sense to stage them. So, that is what they have been doing, this latest London event being merely the biggest of such events so far. There have been several others during the last few years, and it looks like there will be many more. I certainly hope so.
So here are three more digital photographers digitally photographed by me on March 5th, to add to the ones in this photo-collection:
I chose those for all my usual kinds of reasons, to do with focusing and composition and suchlike, which is not major my purpose now.
What I have done is reduced the size of the little photos above, that you click on to get the real photos, from 166 pixels wide to 165 pixels wide, and shoved a small space in between. I’m hoping that 165 x 3 + 2 spaces won’t go beyond the 500 pixel limit, but only posting it will tell.
Which means that this posting is liable to be posted, and then reposted a few times, while I work out what works. I can’t tell from within my blogging software whether these new spaces and pictures sizes are a good fit, or if I’ll have (e.g.) to make the pictures a bit smaller.
It goes with saying (surely a more rational way of saying “it goes without saying”, if you immediately then say it) that I am a bit apologetic about this disruption. But in truth, not very apologetic.
The reason I am doing this is that I have now got my Google Nexus 4 supersmart mobile phone, and have been looking at how this blog looks on it.
Point one: obviously all the regular stuff on the left that you don’t read should be on the right. That may one day happen, and may not.
But the other thing is that when I do these little clutches of lots of little clickable photos, then on the GN4, just as on my computer, I get a small white space between each horizontal row of pictures and the next row down, but not between each picture, sideways. If you get my drift. And a much better arrangement would be to have spaces between each picture, if only to make the pictures easy to see as separate pictures, especially on something like the Google Nexus 4.
So now you know.
A BIT LATER: Too wide. The blurry digital photographer behind the focused leaves, who was supposed to be on the right, has moved himself to a new row below of his own creation. So now I will make the small pictures 164 pixels wide rather than 165. Isn’t this exciting? Well, probably not.
A BIT LATER STILL: Done.
I’m still on about last Tuesday, and about what a fine day it was to be taking photographs, and about what sort of photographs I took.
I confirmed that the weather was going to be just as fabulous as the weather forecasters had been saying for the best part of a week that it would be, from the moment I stepped out of my front door. Because, what I then felt was that very particular early spring experience, namely: feeling warmer than I did indoors. It comes from the bricks in my home being a heat store, or in the case of winter a cold store. To be more exact, the sun outside is hot and it warms up the air outside a treat, but it will take way longer for it to warm up those bricks, still busy sucking the heat out of my indoors.
So, I was in a fine mood from the start, and duly ticked off my official objective (plus second semi-official objective close by), so that the other half of the fun might begin. For me, the point is to get out there, preferably to places I have not visited lately, on a fine day, and to make sure I set forth with appropriate resolve and soon enough for it still to be light, I need an official objective. Those coloured buildings served that purpose very well. But then, there followed the unofficial pleasure, so to speak, of just meandering about and noticing things.
If you only click on one photo of those below, click on the first one, top left. That scene was actually quite a long way away, but thanks to the brightness of the sunshine and the power of my zoom lens, it looks like I’m right next to it.
Otherwise, there are my usual preoccupations. There is scaffolding, the other scaffolding being on Blackfriars Bridge, middle middle, where they are still finishing the new station on the bridge, with its oddly fluctuating roof. There are cranes, the same cranes each time, I suspect, on the top of a new erection arising somewhere on the other side of the river, between Waterloo and Tate Modern. And there is a particularly choice reflection effect, this time (I am almost certain) Tower 42 (the NatWest Tower that was) torched by the evening sun and reflected in the glass at the top of Tate Modern. There are bridges, no less then three in the picture bottom left, and five different bridges if you also count the ghostly columns of the Blackfriars Bridge that never was, next to Actual Blackfriars Bridge. And seven if you could the three views of the Millenium Footbridge as three different bridges. There is the Wheel, twice. And photographers of course, thrice.
I sought out the river because, as the light began to fade, by the river there would still be a huge (completely cloudless) sky full of the stuff to sustain me, in contrast to the streets north of the river where the light struggles to reach ground level.
My destination yesterday was The Shard, and I’d have gone straight there, from Pimlico Tube, had I not wanted to buy some sticky tape for my winter insulation system. But the sticky tape shop was the opposite way from Pimlico, near Victoria Street. And once in Victoria Street, as already recounted, I reckoned there was time before it got dark for me to walk down past Westminster Abbey and photo some digital photographers, which I haven’t done for a while.
With results I am very pleased with.
Two ladies each holding two cameras:
And two bag ladies:
I love that cross-legged pose. She’s photoing Big Ben, as you can see on the screen of her camera.
Excellent gloves throughout, I think. Apart from the guy in blue, who makes up for that with an excellent bright red camera and a prominently displayed website.
Once again, I’ve shown people in ways that will make them harder to recognise, like with these earlier ones. I am now looking for shots like this even as I take them.