Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
James Harris on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
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Category archive: Photography
Bookshops are doomed, if my behaviour is anything to go by.
I treat them not as shops, but as showrooms. In them, I inspect potential purchases. Then I go home and see what Amazon will charge for anything I see that looks interesting.
A bookshop is not the only place for me to look for books of interest, but it is definitely one such place. The books in bookshops tend to be the more popular titles. This appeals to me for two reasons. First, popular titles tend to be quite good, and are seldom totally bad. Second, popular titles plug me into what the rest of middlebrow England is reading. I thus break out of the libertarian ghetto which I mostly inhabit when internetting. Even if a book is total rubbish, it’s still total rubbish that many are reading, and in that sense worth me reading.
When in bookshops, I used to jot down titles of interest. Now I merely take photos. Digital cameras are not just for taking pictures. They are also for taking notes.
Here are last Sunday evening’s notes, snapped in the big W. H. Smith at Victoria Station:
In each case, click on each picture to get to the Amazon spiel about it.
It may well be that, given Buy 1 Get 1 Half Price offers, one could, in this or that instance, get a better deal for this or that combination of books than one might on Amazon. But Amazon is the way to bet. You occasionally miss out on small savings with Amazon, but you quite often get larger savings, so you end up well ahead. In this case, the big Amazon bargain turned out to be the Bryson book, which cost 1p plus postage (= £2.81). All that is required is a little patience.
The most expensive of these books, even after Amazon had worked its price magic, was the one about 1216. But I still ordered that one. It sounds really interesting.
Great as the impact of Amazon has been on the new books market, I surmise that its impact on the not-so-new book market has been downright epoch-making. (That Bryson book is not so new, having been released in 2011.) Indeed, I surmise that Amazon has created a huge second hand book market where no such market previously existed.
But this too impinges on the bookshop business, because the big cost of books these days is as much reading time as reading money. If people spend time reading somewhat ancient books that they like, they have less time for the latest titles, as sold in bookshops.
A few years back, I got interested in Ian Rankin’s Rebus books. I read one, liked it a lot, and decided to read them all, in order. Why? Because, thanks to Amazon, I could. For a lot less than a fiver a go, I got Amazon to send me second hand copies of every Rebus I didn’t already have. I don’t see how I could have done this satisfactorily without Amazon.
See also: public libraries.
Also, impact of digital photography on trade, discuss. I’m thinking of how much easier it is to sell something to a stranger, by post, if you can cheaply show them a photo, or even several photos. Very cheaply. The marginal cost of digital photography is: zero. Impact of digital photography on trade: epoch-making. With books, you pretty much know what you will get. But, a frock? An item of furniture? Without even a photo, forget it. With photos, you’re in business. Which is more terrible news for shops.
So anyway, back to that wedding. (Here are (1) and (2).) I’ve started so I’ll finish. All the pictures for all these postings are chosen, arranged, uploaded, ready to go. All that remains is for me to add a bit of waffle.
I should perhaps here explain that I was the first guest to arrive at the wedding, by more than an hour. Hence the number of photos here – the previous posting in this series, this one, and the next one - of things without people. It’s not that I suppose weddings to be better without people, or that I dislike people. Not at all. It is merely that near the start of my day, I suddenly had a lot of time to fill. So, one of the things I did to amuse myself was take photos like these:
Spot the odd one out, the unsentimental, here-and-now, nostalgia-free technology.
Is that what future generations will mostly see of the way we now live?
LATER: That was quick.
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.
Lunchtime O’Booze is the name given by Private Eye to a certain vintage of Fleet Street era (i.e. when they really all did work in or near to Fleet Street) journo. One of these (now long retired) characters was staying with me earlier this week, kipping down on my sofa-bed to be precise. Tony now lives in France, but he was over here for a few days, to participate in a lunch, with a dozen or more of his old Fleet Street cronies.
I met up with Tony on Sunday evening, and we dined out, very well. Thanks to my twiddly screen, I was able to take photos of him like this, with the camera resting in the middle of the table, and me just looking down at it:
Tony looks rather like one of those South African type villains in The Saint, which I have been watching lately from time to time, waiting for the IPL to start on ITV4.
Next day, Tony departed for the lunch. Ring me when it’s over, I said, maybe we can do something in the evening. Nine hours later, Tony rings to say he’ll be back soon, and eleven hours later he is. I feared drunken disruption. Which I would have survived. Tony has been very hospitable to me over the years. But the evening ended very pleasantly.
To give you a further idea of what kind of lunch it was, here is a limerick, which Tony brought back from it:
An Argentine gaucho named Bruno
Said I’ll tell you something I do know
Girls are just fine
And boys are divine
But a llama is numero uno
And here is a photo, taken by someone else with Tony’s phone:
The big guy - a very big guy indeed - in the middle used to play prop forward for the Harlequins and is now a wine correspondent, the sort of bloke who has a special table in his home for drinking guests under. The ultimate oh-stay-a-bit-longer-and-have-another-one bloke. I think the guy on the right drives new cars for a living, in such places as the south of France, and then writes about them. Certainly, someone of this kind was involved.
Do not ask men like this to drink and drive. They just might do it.
As has already been reported here, I have been reading Pride and Prejudice on my Google Nexus 4 ultra-mobile computer-with-phone. And, in Chapter X of this book, I read this:
My highlighted version of that last sentence being:
“As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?”
So, in Jane Austen time, painters “took” pictures.
I thought that was only photographers. There does seem, does there not?, to be something peculiarly apt about a photographer “taking” a picture. After all, you could only “take” a picture with one click of a mechanical button, as I just did of my Google Nexus 4 with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150, if the picture was in some basic sense already there for the taking, in its entirety. “Take” gets across the difference between photoing someone and painting a portrait of them, by which I mean “making” a portrait.
Perhaps this “take” usage, to describe portrait painting, declined when the painters stopped claiming to produce what we now call photographic likenesses, and, under the competitive influence of actual photography, began to “make” pictures of people, the whole point ofand the whole justification of which was that a mere camera could absolutely not “take” such pictures. Such paintings are made, not taken. To accuse a painter of “taking” a picture would be to accuse him of adding nothing.
My thanks to my next Last Friday speaker Rob Fisher, for the link to these photos:
My inclination is not to discuss the matter of supposed overcrowding, more to note that here we have more Art without Artists. Although perhaps photographer Michael Wolf would say he is an artist.
The idea of that category of photo is that here is a photo of something real, which resembles (reduces the thing to?) abstract art.
Were all those abstract modernists prophesying the inceasing rectangularity of regular life to come?
Recently I recycled, at Samizdata, some thoughts about Art from favourite blogger of mine Mick Hartley.
On the subject of “as found” art, the sort when it’s Art entirely because the Artist says so, without having done anything else himself besides stick the thing in an Art gallery, Hartley said this:
The logical conclusion to this line of thinking would be that if anything can be art if its maker wishes it to be art, then anything or everything can be art – and we don’t need artists any more. Curiously this is an argument that artists themselves seem reluctant to make.
I just know that there is a connection between what Hartley says there, and Hartley’s (and my) habit of taking photos (and showing the photos of others) of industrial clutter, outdoor gadgetry (such as the communications kit you see on roofs), decaying infrastructure, etc., that resembles abstract art.
The point of such pictures is that you do not only perceive the objects you are photo-ing as things doing a job of some kind, that is, the way their original creators mostly, presumably, perceived them. You see them almost as disembodied effects, quite distinct from what the kit was originally built for, and often no longer even seeing what the objects once were or still are. You see them the way you see abstract art.
(Related to all this is that I like cranes, but what I really like is how they look (like very superior sculpture), rather than: how they work, which is best, which sort does what, etc. (Here is a Hartley crane snap I just found.))
I say you see all this stuff “almost” as disembodied effects. But I think a lot of the fun is that you can also see what they are originally, even as you observe their aesthetic pleasingness or oddity, or resemblance to some particular work of art or type of art. The pleasure you get is a bit like with those pictures which could be two different things, like an old ugly woman or a beautiful young woman, depending on whether you see that bit as an arm or a nose, or whatever. Is it what it merely “is”? Or is it Art?
Hartley is particularly fond of bright colour effects. As are many more recent sculptors.
In connection with all this, here are four snaps taken by me on Tuesday Feb 19th, when I went on a trip to check out Blythe Hill Fields:
Top left was taken on the way, through a train window. Bottom right was taken on the way home, at Whitechapel tube. The other two were taken in the Blythe Hill Fields vicinity.
Those Artists surely do still have a role in all this, because we photographers of abstract-art-like stuff are responding to their challenges. We are saying: We don’t need you. We can see our own Art, thank you. Mondrian rectangles? I’ll give you rectangles. Big crazy sculptures made of industrial waste? Why not photo … industrial waste? And so on. We are both acknowledging the power of and (some of us – like me and Hartley) seeking to diminish the power of the Artists.
The artists have been telling the rest of us to see and enjoy the real world in new and interesting ways, and we are doing that. They started this.
The question is not so much: Are the Artists necessary? They have been, to the process I have described. But: Can they stay ahead? Can they keep on setting new challenges, or do I and Mick Hartley and all the other As Found Art photoers end up being our own artists?
I am groping my way into this subject. The above may be a muddle. But there is something interesting in among all this, I think.
A final Hartley photographic link that also seems relevant.
I recommend trawling back through his blog, as I just did.
LATER: And, as if he’s determined to illustrate all of the above further, there is now this.
Panoramic view of London from the top of the BT Tower
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
Photoing people who are photoing food
Doing libertarian business at the Libertarian Home social
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
New crane up
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
Christmas Eve feast
Multilingual botanical gardens in Cyprus
An earlier tablet photographer
Michael Jennings on why iPad photoing is not ridiculous
Here are (a lot) more photos that I took on March 27th
A memorable scoreboard surrounded by empty seats
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
Another excellent spot to photo London from
Dream and reality in Mumbai
What’s up with that?
This is transport
Viaduct from above
University of California chickens coming home to roost?
Today I’m in a “How very odd!” mood
Street social services management integrated command sub-centres
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
Or maybe this will be my final camera
Another reason to like Colorado
I think I may have found my final camera
Quimper cat on Harley-Davidson
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
Five pictures of me
Lion steals camera
A photo taken of a taken photo of the photo being taken
Signs from the Frenchosphere
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom not threatened by the end of the Big Thing Boom
Another Assembly of Men
Shostakovich with cat
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Kyrgyzstan cemetery and awesome frogs
Mmmmm … scaffolding!
Quota photo by someone else
Raptor not being very stealthy
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Stunning aerial photo of Shanghai
Giant bull held up by scaffolding
On pictures that don’t get any bigger when clicked and on the power of the tangential
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
Shard in the clouds
From pop to purrfume
Digger and chain
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Arecibo Radio Telescope
Superb Shard pictures
Those cameras are getting cheaper
“There is electricity and water, but there’s no phone line …”
Wedding photography blogging
Mmmmmm … Asian skyscrapers!
Abandoned Bangkok tower
The curse of interchangeable lenses and how I want my category killer
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
More bridge magic
Advertising aimed entirely at me
Mmmmm … bookshelves!
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
Big Singapore Thing
Bay Bridge plus a new bridge next to it
Farnborough (3): On the photographic appeal of the Red Arrows
Lynxes and an A380
Another world cup photo of photographers
Photoing the World Cup
Pink railway clutter
I do love a steam train on a viaduct
Everyone who shows this picture needs to add that it is not Photoshopped
Soviet space leftovers
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
The bottom half of the Tokyo Sky Tree
Car in in front of sloping houses
The US Navy photos itself
Airplanes converted into architecture
Goddaughter One is now a photoblogger
Unphotographable sign threatening to photo us
“I can’t respond to any e-mails today …”
A horizon(tal) sunset slice
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Me taking pictures in a funny way while it’s still allowed
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Chained cat in Vietnam
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
The right to photograph
Awesome shot of Dubai
Reds against Blues in Munich
Two New York stadiums temporarily next to each other
Abstract satellite expressionism
Hasselblad hit by custom-built headquarters disease!
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Burj Dubai looking semi-sane
Three airplane photos
London cricket roof clutter
Giant Bean covered in mirror
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
Picture of an aftershock of the credit crunch rippling around the world
Strange purple cat with four eyes
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
Am I interested in dredgers?
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
Wuhan railway station under construction - with sunset behind
David Farrer photos
Shadows on rings
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
A little archaeology
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Great photo of David Blunkett
Back lit by the sun
Snapping the police
Small photos that look like something else
Photographers in bother
What The State looks like
Edinburgh’s skyline doesn’t suck
Bloke in posh suit holding Real Photographer camera like it’s a Billion Monkey camera!
The latest Canon DSLR comes without a twiddly screen
Billion Monkeys in New York and London!
Globalisation Guido – and other Bright Young Things
There weren’t a billion of them then
Instapundit turns into Idiot Toys
Signs of the times in Belfast
Another view over London
Unamazing photo of amazing road
Photoing the Police
Parliament photoed by a bus!
Flat train picture and regular train picture
Sailing photos – and another bridge for the collection
Billion Monkeys liked photoing the nastiest poster!
Star Wars mosque and rockets mosque
Seto Ohashi Bridge
Making the new look and feel like the old
My parents and my uncle and two aunts
Colonial Governor’s Mansion dwarfed by modernity
The exact same photos I would have taken
Sheep under wolf’s clothing
New addition to blogroll
Redirect to a piece on Samizdata about a camera
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
This and that on the Graham Norton Show
Wingtipping a V1
A thin bridge in Wales
Edinburgh’s Billion Monkeys must be chivalrous!
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Another great viaduct
London after dark from above
Craziness done with austerity
Towers above the Dubai fog
Heroic Billion Monkey falsely arrested by cop whom he photoed breaking law to get to chip shop!
More at Jonathan Gewirtz
What a lot of circles
Portable copiers and copying jokes
Billion Monkeys close up and London from far above!
To Greenwich by train and back by bus
Modern above ancient
More Beijing smog-blogging
Star and stripe
The new Lowe look
Bird’s Nest in smog
Tea with CDs
I’d be cheering
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
Edward Burtynsky photos the towers of Shanghai
Photos are better
A sculptural suggestion
Fred joins in with the pilates demonstration
Flat Red Arrows
San Francisco from Sausalito
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Slow day here
Outstanding and numerous aerial photos of St Petersburg
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Celebrating a victory
The Gatwick Beehive
Signs of civilisation
The moving bridges of Chicago
I love the internet
David Farrer in the Jedburgh mist
Making the Mississippi Delta make more land
Picture of Taipei 101 that came with Jesus
Flat horse pictures
Dot matrix printing in the sky
Flat viaduct and spiral bridge
Photo that hits the mark
More horizontal thinness
Thin picture redirection
Go to America and get a Dell Laptop
Not obviously but maybe …
Guess the city (2)
Guess the city
Thin camera picture
Spherical trouser sculpture
Billion Monkey murderers!?!
Michael Jennings photos Disney Hall
Billion Monkey madness and a proper picture
Billion Monkeys on Table Mountain!
Pictures of the year
Bristol footbridge photo
A Real Photographer comments
It’ll never catch on
Great but not great
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
Photography is not dead
Millau Viaduct with goats
More St Pancras snaps
Billion Monkey lady does … “Heinrich Photography”?
The qualitative difference made by quantity
Digital Camera Review error
Fourteen British viaducts
The Eee PC is too big
Cameraphone with 3x optical zoom
Russian weirdness for the Anglos
Short posting with short photograph
American war memorial by the sea at St Nazaire
Berlin Billion Monkeys photo rat and cheese sand sculpture!
Billion Monkey in shiny robot head!
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
Another angle on pylons
Fly-pasts - air displays - crashes
Feral Real Photographers and naughty Billion Monkey!
Further pictorial shallowness
Big Solar System things
At the dogs
Adriana and Ivan in Addis
Dave Gorman sees faces!
Old cranes - new cranes
Short picture of a long distance
Billion Monkeys photo spaceship launch!
A new tower in Manchester
Real Photographers worship the Logo
Photo-ing the weather
Pictures with words
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
Bicycling Billion Monkeys!
Toy train to Darjeeling
Wedding photo tips anybody?
The Big Things of London
More Magic Andy sand sculpture
Billion Monkeys photo their own demo!
Shadow and light near Tower Bridge
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
New Moscow road bridge
Taipei with skyscraper
Church dwarfed by modernity
Tall chess men and tall buildings in the evening
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
Not much of a mystery detail
New footbridge in Edinburgh
Me on a bridge by Goddaughter One
Norman interested – Harry has some wildness in his genealogy
The Nanpu bridge approaches
Robot car park in New York
Printer in your pocket
Other people’s photos (6): More bridges
Other people’s photos (5): Red balloons on a monochrome bridge in Paris
Other people’s photos (4): Kitten on man’s head
Other people’s photos (3): Ice storm
But what about the iBattery?
Pictures of the world for the world
London photos by Fabio
Alice in Fortnum and Mason
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Deceiving the eyes of Paris
More ways to use the best pictures
Top tips from Viz
Everyone likes Magic Andy
Man may not sit on Art bed and be photoed by Billion Monkey lady friend!
Billion Monkeys get instant feedback!
Sssssssss!!!! White man! Take my photo!!
Samizdata cranks it out
A digital SLR that a Billion Monkey could lift!
Classical music Natalie
Shaftesbury Avenue over half a century ago
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Bruce Nicoll (Real Photographer) - some photographs and an mp3
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Something to bore everyone
Billion Monkeys and a flock of sheep!
Ethereal India photo
Never so much fun again
Billion Monkeys at black and white wedding!
Cricket with landmark
Also no relation
Fame at last
Fish eye photos
Billion Monkey photos baby birds!
Billion Monkey photos flats in Bombay
Billion Monkey takes photos of Mexico City from helicopter!
The Falkirk Wheel
Flickr blog in and Flickrzen out
The Billion Monkeys of Australia will continue to photograph oil refineries
Sun behind the clouds at Bognor
Fishing rods in Istambul
Antlered lady in Lewisham
Inflight entertainment and information
Is Africa about to look boring?
Speeding up the mess
Just jumping would have been quite sufficient
Car bomb in Bogota
Daniel Cuthbert - wrongly convicted “hacker” - and photographer
Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said
Celebrating or violating?
Photography in public places (and it all depends what you mean by public places)
Lady photographer doing it in the road
The joy of blogrolling