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Category archive: Digital photographers

Sunday March 18 2018

Ten years ago, plus another eleven days, there was a wedding photo session in Parliament Square, and I joined in, as I always do whenever I see this kind of thing happening:


I like how, top left and top right, they tied her train (?) to the railings, to get a better picture.  That gives you just a small hint of how much trouble all concerned go to, to get good photos.  Two Real Photographers, going at it for about half an hour.

And so totally absorbed in what they’re doing that they hardly notice me.  Or if they do, they don’t care.  Besides which, given what a spectacle, in a good way, they are making of themselves, they probably agreed with me that they were fair photographic game.

I wonder what sort of life they are living now.  A good life, I hope.

Saturday February 24 2018

No, I’ve not bought yet another camera.  I refer to the new Panasonic Lumix FZ150 that I bought myself, as a late Christmas present, in January 2012.  When I look back through my photo-archives it becomes clearer and clearer that this was the moment when my photos really started looking pretty.

On February 1st 2012, I posted nine of the photos I had taken on January 30th, of my fellow digital photographers.  Here are nine more photos of photoers, that I took on that same expedition:


In these photos, we observe some dedicated photographers, with their SLRs, some hobbyists with what are still only cheap cameras, and, inexorably on the rise, smartphones.

One more for luck, an example of a genre I grow ever more fond of, the perhaps rather (in this case very) blurry bird, in flight:


I cropped the original, to hide the photoer’s face.

Yes, I picked nine good ones to show you, back in February 2012.  Now I can easily show nine more just as good, and then another that I only now noticed.

That was the change that new camera brought with it.  Before it, I took the occasional good photo, and many bad ones.  When the FZ150 arrived, I took quite a lot of good photos, and as many bad ones as ever.

Monday February 19 2018

Yes, still ill, so still quota-photo-posting:


July 2009.

I like the hands.

Tuesday January 23 2018

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

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


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

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

Monday January 22 2018

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday January 15 2018

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


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

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

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

Sunday January 14 2018

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


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

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

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

Thursday January 11 2018

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


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

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

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

Wednesday December 27 2017

Last night, egged on by some Southern Comfort and Coke, I sneaked a posting onto Samizdata, at a very quiet time of the year, and after a long break from doing anything there.  I wonder how often, in human history, far more portentous events than that have been set in motion by the power of alcohol to turn “maybe later” into “what the hell I’ll do it now”.

The posting started with a photo of five hands holding five plastic glasses of something alcoholic.  Here is another photo of the same scene, at the top of Primrose Hill, this time with one of the participants also doing a photo:


And then I showed a photo of Perry de Havilland, taken on Christmas Eve at his home.  Here is another such photo, rather less exuberant:


And I ended with a quote garnered from Deidre McCloskey’s The Bourgeois Virtues.  Page 61 of my paperback edition features five such quotes.  I put one of these, from Benjamin Constant (and added that link to that piece about him) in the Samizdata posting.  Here is another, from Voltaire, dated 1733:

I don’t know which is the more useful to the state, a well-powdered lord who knows precisely when the king gets up in the morning ... or a great merchant who enriches his country, sends orders from his office to Surat or to Cairo, and contributes to the well-being of the world.

Neither do I know “which is more useful to the state”.  But I know which one isn’t contributing to the well-being of the world and which one is.  I think Voltaire rather gives his game away there.

Tuesday December 26 2017

After that trip to Primrose Hill with GodDaughter2, when my camera stopped cooperating, and I later got it working again, I went back there, on my own.  I couldn’t be content until I had taken as many photos there as I would like to have taken on the previous visit.

One of the better photos I took on that second trip, of photoers photoing, was this:


Is that guy photoing his photoer lady-friend, as she photos the view?  Judging by the red blob on his screen, which has got to be her bright red rucksack, I would say: yes he is.  What a peculiar man, wanting to take a photo like that.

Joking aside, there is something else about my camera that troubles me, besides having spent a day thinking it was completely bust.  Do you remember that day earlier this year when the sky turned yellow, because of some North African dust storm, or some such thing.  Well, when my camera is set on automatic - and when I use it it is always set on automatic – it does this all the time.  Everything comes out yellower than it should.  Blues are diminished into white.  The merest suggesting of actual yellow is intensified.  Not good.

The above photo, effective though I think it is, illustrates this only too clearly.  Notice how even my photo of the guy’s screen has his sky bluer than my version of the sky.  Which means that his screen must have been very blue.

I tried reading the camera manual, but unfortunately this is written in a Serbo-Croation dialect of Sanskrit.  Not one word of it makes any sense to me at all.  And I tried fiddling around with the camera itself, without any success.  I couldn’t even find anywhere on the www where I might be able to ask my question, and more to the point, maybe get some worthwhile answers.  Help.  I realise that Boxing day is not a good day to be saying such a thing, but I say it anyway.  By the time anyone gets around to reading this, the problem is unlikely to have gone away.

Thursday December 21 2017

GodDaughter2 and I recently went to the top of Primrose Hill.  This was the day I had to switch to using my mobile phone to take photos, because I thought my regular camera had collapsed.  (It was fine.)

With my mobile phone, I took two photos, which looked a lot like this …:


… and like this:


Those being photos of the exact same scenes – London, and the Feng Shang Princess respectively - that I took, but which GD2 took with her mobile phone.  Her photos are technically better, probably because her mobile is an iPhone and a lot more recent than my manky old Google Nexus 4, which I have had for ages.  But to me the more interesting thing is how different her London Big Things panorama looked to the one I took.  In mine, the Big Things are all lit up, but her Big Things are all dark.

It was that kind of day.  Photography is light and it is even better when the light fluctuates, and the same things looks quite different from moment to moment.

Which made it all the more frustrating that I thought my camera had stopped functioning.  I took a tiny few photos with my mobile instead of lots with my regular camera.  On the other hand, GD2 said she really enjoyed the walking and the talking we did that day.  I believe that this is probably not coincidence.

GD2 also took very few photos.  Mostly we walked, and talked.

This is why I prefer to photo alone.  It’s not that I hate people, and I certainly don’t hate GD2.  It’s just that me photoing all the time feels like me being bad company.  And that afternoon rather confirms this.  I didn’t photo much.  And it seems I was good company.

Wednesday December 06 2017

I am trying once again to clear open windows from my computer.  Two days ago I referred to something very interesting that had been hanging around for some time on my computer screen.  I am now doing this again.

This photo explains it pretty well:


This appeared at Dezeen early in October, and I’ve been meaning to mention it hear ever since.

You want more?  Here you go:

An app has launched that allows users to instantly identify artworks and access information about them, by simply scanning them with a smartphone.

Smartify launched at the Royal Academy of Arts in London last week. It has been described by its creators as “a Shazam for the art world”, because - like the app that can identify any music track - it can reveal the title and artist of thousands of artworks.

It does so by cross-referencing them with a vast database that the company is constantly updating.

There was a time when art galleries and museums would try to stop you taking photos, but those days are pretty much gone.  It was the smartphoners what done this, because there are just too many of them to stop with their photoing, and anyway this can’t be done because you can never really tell whether they are taking photos or whether they are just doing social media with their mates or catching up on their emails.  This app will end this argument for ever.  People are just not going to tolerate being told that they mustn’t use this in an art gallery, and if they do use it, its use will look exactly like they are photoing.  The key to stopping photoing is that you have to know when it is happening.

Thursday November 23 2017

Indeed.  And, I got him to hold the pose while I photoed it:


Okay, mine’s a rubbish picture, but: you get the picture, and in any case the fact that you can’t read the numbers is a feature rather than a bug.  I’m sure he got his picture.  He has already typed into his other little machine a note of my address and electricity score.  So it will be entirely clear to him which number he is confirming, or conceivably correcting, with his photo.

Just another example of what mobiles contribute to the economy, not just by doing newsworthy stuff like transmit big gobs of money or send portentous messages to and from people on the move, but simply by helping workers to do little bits of work.  Often, mobiles and their cameras are used to record the progress of work.  This is using mobiles and their cameras actually to do the work, because this particular work is recording.

I know: smart meter.  Well, someone recently tried to install one, but for some reason it couldn’t be done, or not yet.

To really appreciate this, you have to have experienced what happens to your electricity bill when your electricity consumption is recorded wrongly.

Tuesday November 14 2017

A lot of the stuff at Digital Photography Review these days is about money-no-object high-end DSLR cameras, and about the many different money-no-object lenses you can shove on the front of DSLRs.  When DPRev descends from this Olympus (or this Canon or this Nikon) they usually then prattle on about the cameras on smartphones.

But this report, even though it says it’s about DSLRs, I did find interesting.  Canon have filed a patent for a new sort of bigger flip out screen, in other words a bigger version of the sort of screen that I for one could not now do without:

While a hinged DSLR rear display is nothing new, Canon’s patent shows a design that would allow for a large and reversible display unlike anything we’ve seen before. In fact, the LCD shown in the patent’s illustrations covers the entire back of the camera, making it necessary to tuck the rear dial and several buttons behind it, though several others are exposed on either side of the viewfinder.

I can remember when flip out screens were held in contempt by the DSLR fraternity.  But many of us digital snappers took to them with eagerness, having worked out that there are many photos that are pretty much unphotoable without such screens.  The one where you hold your camera as high as you can above your head, for instance, yet still manage to compose your photo accurately as you point your camera slightly downwards to capture a scene that you can’t yourself see directly because you are stuck in a crowd, but which you can see on your twiddly screen.

To be fair to Canon, after an initial period of head-in-the-sand stupidity, they have for quite a while now lead the way with adding flip out screens to DSLRs, and all the other big manufacturers have followed along.  There are still plenty of cameras available without flip out screens, for idiot Not-As-Real-As-They-Thing Photographers who take positive pride in not liking these screens, and maybe for some truly Real Photographers who truly do not need them.

As the report goes on to acknowledge, filing a patent and actually making and selling the thing patented are two different things.  But Canon’s new and much bigger variation on the flip out screen theme suggests that the huge added value of these screens is now widely understood by camera makers.

Tuesday November 07 2017

The usually ignorable but occasionally very interesting Dezeen has one of its very interesting posting up now, about a driverless bus/train, in China, which looks like this:


That reminds me a bit of those road-trains that they have in Australia.

The system works by scanning the painted road markings, using sensors on the underside of the vehicle. These sensors are able to detect pavement and road dimensions by the millimetre, and send travel information to the train whilst in transit.

Clever.  And a lot simpler than a lot of stuff involving seeing and avoiding people, and seeing and avoiding other vehicles, with multiple sensors and artificial intelligence and whatnot.  The people have to avoid this bus, just like they have to avoid trams now.  This is not a self-driving vehicle.  It is merely a development of the driverless train, like the DLR, but with computers and road markings to keep the thing on the straight and narrow rather than rails.

Driverless cars on regular roads, roads with no special markings, are still a few years off, I believe.  Too complicated.  Too many unknown unknowns.  But driverless buses like these, driving along predictable routes, will be no harder to manage than trams or trolley buses are now.

Nobody knows what the long-term impact of driverless vehicles is going to be, other than that it will be very big.  But one possible future is that lots of railways might soon be flattened into virtual railways not unlike this one, which will be a whole lot easier to travel along than a regular road.

Meanwhile, I love how, in the picture above, in the bottom right corner, there’s a guy who looks like he’s taking a picture of the cab of this bus, a can with nobody in it.