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Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
Michael Jennings on Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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Category archive: Computer graphics
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.
This posting is a test, which will involve great confusion to anyone trying to read this blog now, as I do this. And actually, quite a lot of confusion in perpetuity.
I am trying to work out whether these four squares will fit in the allotted sideways space (500 pixels). Once I’ve got them fitting properly, I’ll tell you what they are, and what that picture at the bottom is.
And right away, we have a problem. The square on the right has shoved itself under the first one, rather than where I was hoping it would be. This requires all the squares to stop being 123x123 (pixels), and must instead be resized to become 122x122. This could take a while.
Okay, all done now. And it didn’t take long at all:
Let me explain. I am planning one of my big photo collections with lots of squares, and before doing that I needed to know how big the little squares needed to be, to fit properly into 500 pixels. Just as well I did this test.
As to what the four squares above are, well, there’s a clue below. They were taken on December 16th 2006, the same day as I took all these photos.
The one on the left, as it turns out, is also in the original mega collection linked to above. I guess there’s just something about a canoe man falling over forewards.
The second … well, how could I have missed this first time around? Two geese eating what is clearly a whole pizza!
Number three is a particularly vivid example of the Things Reflected genre, and I like it a lot.
And I picked out the one on the right, because it is the exact same bridge, and the exact same view of it, as is featured in this posting, except that in 2006 there was no graffiti. So right there, the decline of Western Civilisation, happening in front of our eyes.
And this final picture is what happened on my screen when I was processing that last picture.
Moiré patterns. Because these patterns were the result of the photo and my screen colliding, I don’t know what you will see on all your screens. Maybe nothing, and you don’t have the faintest idea what I am talking about.
Anyway, job done. 122x122 it is.
In that 2006 postings, as with many of my large photo-collections here, there is a horizontal gap between horizontal lines of photos, but no vertical gaps between each photo. I prefer the latter arrangement. If there are gaps, they should be everywhere. Hence this test, beause I have never done a collection which is four little photos wide. Three wide, yes, but not four.
I knew you’d be excited.
This week, I have been in a particularly egotistical and silly mood here. (Which is allowed, because I say what is allowed.) This is because I worked extremely hard (by my pathetic standards of what hard work is) on this posting at Samizdata, and am now relaxing.
Yes, incoming from Rob Fisher:
I am fascinated about why old things look old. Certainly print quality is part of it. Change, too: the Heinz beans logo (which has never changed as far as I can tell) does not look old in the way that some of these logos do.
I’m guessing this is follow-up to what I said here about how photography used to make people from the past look overly solemn, and what Rob said there, in jest, about the past being all in black and white.
Mark Twain must surely have been a bit more merry, in general, than he looks in the photo of him there, now colorised but still very grim looking.
What a lot of the colorised photos look like is stills from “historical” Hollywood movies. You expect Brad Pitt, dressed in olden times clothes, to step forward at any moment.
As for the logos, it is noticeable (although this doesn’t apply to all of them) that in quite a few of them, there was a flurry of (often quite radical) changes in and/or up until the 1950s and 1960s, but somewhat less in the way of change since. Often the later changes (see for instance: VW) are mere polishing. It’s like they were trying to get it right, and then they do get it right and stuck with it. At first they didn’t know quite what a logo was for and what logos are. They they did know. That is reinforced by the Firefox logo, which started in 2002 and then did the one early change in 2003, and that’s it.
How has the internet affected logo design?
Sometimes mistakes caused by not holding the camera still can be interesting.
Today I took several photos (at Victoria Station, like the previous photo featured here) of the station electronic notice board saying where my train was about to go. Basically, I was taking notes to remind myself later of where I had been. But one of these photos went wrong. On the twiddly little screen on my camera it looked, on account of me having moved my camera vertically at the critical moment, approximately like as you see it, top right.
That one won’t last a second when I go through all these at home, I thought. If I was in the habit of deleting snaps on the fly, which I am not, I would have deleted that one straight away.
But now look at how it looked on my big screen, back home on my desk, this evening:
That’s the middle of the picture, to get how big it is when spread out sideways all over my big screen. Click on that bigger picture to get an even bigger version of the original.
I don’t think it’s just me. The smaller picture is much more legible. But the bigger picture is a lot more fun, on account of being less legible. It stops being annoyingly blurry writing, and instead becomes Art.
In May of this year, I visited something called Burgess Park, which is in South London. It’s a terrific place and it was a terrific day. I was on my way to Michael Jennings’s home, to watch a cricket match on his big telly, if I remember it right.
And while in Burgess Park, I of course took photos. It is a fine place from which to observe the Big Things of the City.
Trouble is, on that day, I suffered from a regular photographic disease of mine, which is a tendency for all my pictures to be twisted at bit, clockwise. Whenever I photo a Big Thing, I try to make it entirely vertical, using the grid on the picture feature for instance. But when I get home and see the pictures on my big screen, the Big Things, as likely as not, will be leaning over to the right. Alex Singleton pointed out that my photos, as chosen and shown here, also have a tendency to do this.
This is caused by some combination of my eyesight, the glasses I wear to correct my eyesight, and the little twiddly screen on my camera, which I think causes me to miscalculate such things as verticals and horizontals.
Answer: Photoshop, or whatever I use instead of Photoshop. Rotate. Crop. Easy.
Well, yes, when only one photo is involved. The rotate thing is easy, and cropping is not a problem either, because it doesn’t matter what the ratio is of width to height for the resulting picture. But, if I am doing a whole clutch of photos, the only way I can make all the small photos I show here, using my Photoshop clone, is to make square exerpts from the big pictures. Which is fine. But I would also like to be able to make small versions of the originals. And if the originals are no long exactly 4x3 in proportion, that means the small version won’t be either, and hence won’t be the exact same size as the other small photos.
What I needed was not just the ability to crop exact squares of whatever size makes sense, but also to crop with a rectangle that retains its exact proportions. This, my Photoshop clone does not have, or if it does, I have not been able to find it.
I wanted, some time in late May or early June, to put up a clutch of those Burgess Park photos, but since so many of the otherwise most suitable snaps were suffering from clockwise twist, I gave up and then forgot about it.
However, recently, in order to do video (I hope to tell you about this later but promise nothing) but also in order to be using the programme that the rest of the world also uses for photo-manipulation, I purchased Adobe-Premier-and-Adobe-Elements, Adobe Elements being the down-market (plenty good enough for me) version of Adobe Photoshop of the sort now used by pro designers and photographers. And my version of Photoshop Elements does have a proportional cropping (if you get my drift) facility.
Which means that I can now rescue pictures like this, good, but twisted, ...:
… buy doing this to them with Photoshop Elements ...:
… resulting in this picture looking like this, good, and not twisted, or at least not nearly as twisted as it was:
Hurrah. I can now show you a great clutch of pictures of and from Burgess Park. Which I will not do now as this posting is already a posting and postings should, as a general rule, say just the one thing.
The Big Thing on the left that looks like a kitchen refuse tub is the notorious Walkie Talkie, notorious because it recently got itself into all the papers by frying nearby shops.
I am now making use of three distinct photo-manipulation programmes, which is ridiculous but there it is. That’s what is happening. I use my Photoshop clone because I do, and it works. I use Paint.NET because I can’t make my Photoshop clone do screen captures, like for the middle picture above. So I use Paint.NET only for that, and save the captured mega-image as a .jpg and then sort it out with my Photoshop clone, because I am used to that. And now I use Photoshop itself, for the reasons explained above.
The twenty-first century is complicated.
Now that I look again at the photo above, having done everything above this paragraph several hours ago, I suspect this picture needs to get ever more untwisted before it’s exactly right. I now suspect another cause of me getting this kind of thing wrong, which is my tendency, due to the local vicissitudes of my desk, to not look at my big computer screen from exactly in front of it, but instead a bit from the side.
The twenty-first century just got even more complicated.
LATER: The above rotation was just the one degree.
Here is the result of rotating two degrees:
Better, I think. Though this time, I just used The Clone, because I know my way around it, so the proportions got shot to hell. But at least I think The Big Things may finally be pointing exactly upwards.
Is that a picture of the world’s smallest cat? Apparently a lot of people on the wwwaffler think that it is. But sadly, not.
On a more serious feline matter, I note that the blog Counting Cats in Zanzibar seems to be suffering very badly just now, although I would love to be corrected with the news that it is merely me that doesn’t know how to get to it and all is well. As I recall, they lost all the comments - as in: their software refused any longer to display them. Presumably some kind of rebuilding process is now under way. Hope so. I wish them a speedy recovery.
LATER: Sorted - I think. Again: hope so.
Meanwhile, very bad luck. If you know nothing of cricket, trust me, this is a right handbagging:
I don’t remember it ever getting as bad as that in any Prep School game I ever played in. Or ever watched. Or ever heard of. Not even when we slaughtered Staines Prep, as we always did, did it ever get that bad. For Staines Prep.
Compared to that, this was quite a close run thing.
But well played Ayako Nakayama, who top scored for Japan Women with 12.
LATER: Better. A loss but absolutely not a humiliation.
Nakayama not out 17, which was top score for Japan apart from Extras. And she can bowl.
Perry de Havilland doesn’t like it when we discuss Blog Admin in comment threads. Fair enough, his gaff his rules. But here in the privacy of BrianMicklethwaitDotCom, I can say whatever I like about such things. And today, a couple of Samizdata screen captures:
That’s the bottom of the latest Samizdata posting from Johnathan Pearce.
Note the big gap, between the last of the actual text of the posting, and the bit where it says the date and the number of comments.
JP always seems to get this wrong, by piling in with about half a dozen carriage returns at the bottom of what he has written, which WordPress faithfully reproduces.
Until WordPress is told otherwise, by an editorial elf:
I see I sliced off the thingy at the very bottom of each posting in that second screen capture there. This was, I think, because I do like vertically narrow pictures, as was a regular theme here a year or two back. But either way, you get the picture.
The other thing JP always seems to get wrong is the indentation on Samizdata quotes of the day. The text of these is supposed to be not indented, but JP always seems to indent it. And I really do mean always. It’s the exception when he doesn’t do this.
For a bloke who has been a steady contributor to Samizdata for over a decade this is very odd. I guess it is because he is so highly valued – and quite rightly so – that PdeH doesn’t make a fuss, but instead just laughs about it.
My latest Samizdata offering is this, about some Greenpeace people climbing up the Shard.
Now I am going to add lots of carriage returns here, to see if ExpressionEngine does this. No sign of a problem from within the posting process, but some things only show up in the final, on-line version. So, let’s post this and see.
No, no problem. No big space in the final version.
Now let me try putting a big gap between this paragraph ...
... and the next one. How does that look?
Again, no big space there. Which is actually a bit of a problem. Sometimes you want a space.
Just had an email about some new postings at the Norlonto Review. Remember the Norlonto Review?
Click on that to get it bigger, and with all the stuff below that you can read.
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
I was at Wembley last Saturday, to see Wigan beat Millwall in the FA Cup semi. I am doing a longer posting on the crowd violence that happened during the second half, but will also be referring also to the architecture of the place. Hence me posting this picture here now:
The point being that the Arch, as seen from inside the stadium, is not that special. It only gets interesting photographically if something else happens in front of it, or beyond it, like if a helicopter were to crash into it or if behind it there was an eclipse of the moon, or in this case if there are balloons in the frame. The Arch’s purpose is to draw attention to the stadium from outside, and especially from afar, rather than to make much of a difference to the experience of actually being inside the place.
The Arch does make the process of approaching the stadium from Wembley Park tube more interesting than it would otherwise be. Here is a shot I took after the game, looking back at the stadium, in the wet and gloom of the evening:
Talking of shots like that, does anyone know how to get rid of that upwards perspective effect, in the programme I use (ArchSoft PhotoStudio 5.5)? I want to widen out the sky there, if you get my meaning. I want to make the buildings, on the left especially, go upwards rather than inwards. Any suggestions?
LATER: My favourite Wembley Arch picture.
This is a test file. I am practising typing on my new Google Nexus 4, but would prefer a keyboard. A keyboard is on order.
lt is strange not using a mouse.
Now I will attempt to transfer this file to Dawkins.
What is this new device going to be christened?
Well, what I did was copy and paste the text, rather than transfer the entire file. Worked okay. Then I did further rewriting, which is far easier on Dawkins. But, I used the Dawkins mouse. Won’t have a mouse when on the move. Michael J says I’ll get used to not using a mouse, but that doesn’t now feel true. A mouse is far more precise than a stubby finger, surely.
The main thing I’ve done with the new GN4 (there does have to be a better name than that, doesn’t there?) is re-reading Pride and Prejudice, in an e-book copy that has quite a lot of mis-scannings in it, occasionally quite confusingly. You get what you pay for, I guess, and I didn’t pay anything for it.
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.
Here is another for the Digital Photography Imitates Art collection. I encountered this scene in the Tachbrook Street Market earlier this week, off Warwick Way, just as they were tidying up at the end of their afternoon.
I am sure the guy in the van clocked me as more than somewhat of a perv, but in my opinion photographic talent has a large dose of not caring what others think of you while you’re taking the picture, and another big dose of caring only about the picture.
So here it is:
It was only when I got home that I realised that I had one of those now-you-see-it-this-way-now-you-see-it-that-way pictures. One moment, I am seeing this as the back of a headless, legless, nude mannequin, which is what it was. Next thing I know, I am seeing it as the front of a headless, legless, nude mannequin, but very weirdly lit (from below) and very badly photoshopped into the picture, with strange white lines around it where a much less obvious join ought to be, which is what it was not, but still I see that. Do you agree? Course you do.
Here are two more snaps, just to show more unambiguously what was going on:
I think it’s the superior road surface that makes all this look like art. If it had merely been somewhat crumbly tarmac, it just would have been a few coat rails and a mannequin. Not art at all.
“Grubbings” is a word I inherited from my late father, along with his fondness for the thing that grubbings describes. Grubbings are big building projects in their early, especially below ground level, stage, when they are … well: grubbing, rather than building upwards. My father loved grubbings, and so do I.
It’s often hard to photo grubbings, because they often put a high fence around them and there’s no convenient high-up spot nearby to look over. But at this site, you can climb up some steps (top left) to a Centre Point entrance on the first floor, and photo through the mesh that you see in most of the other pictures.
Even with the internet, it can be hard to know how these kind of things are going to end up. Okay, here are these computer fakes of how they had in mind two years ago for it to be, but who knows if that’s still what they’re thinking.
There is also the fact that there are often so many images of how, at various stages in the design, they envisaged things looking, that it’s hard for a more casual onlooker to keep up. Simpler to just wait and see.
It reminds me of how the Brits confused the Argies during that Brits versus Argies war. Instead of not telling the Argies their plan, the Brits did tell the Argies their plan, and all the other plans the Brits might just as likely be following. The British newspapers were full to the brim with every imaginable plan. And the Argies were baffled, trapped in the headlights of too much information, all of it suspect of course. That’s sometimes how I feel when trying (admittedly not very hard) to find out how some big grubbings in a big city like London are going to end up looking.