Posts which are either about or contain photography (by me or others). Incidentally, if you’re interested, I regularly post photos to Flickr.
Mar 12, 2009 Comments Off
The way it inspires people to collect examples of terrible or inconsiderate parking and share them with the world.
- Parking space hogs
- Stupid car parking
- I don’t know how to park a car
- Parking tards
- Bad Parking Iceland
- Bad Parking
- You park like an asshole
- Can’t park
- You park/drive like an asshole: Atlanta
- Examples of bad parking in Yahoo carparks
- Creative Parking
- Cars in Bike Lanes: NYC
- Police Parking
- American Parking Jobs
- Douchebag Parking Jobs
- Egregious disregard for the compact parking spot
- Parking wizards
- Self-Absorbed Bike Lane Parking Morons
- Parking idiots
- Gallery of fools
- I’m alright Jack
- 4×4 assholes
Mar 12, 2009 9
It’s my [mumble-mumble]th birthday today, and I’ve got a whole stack of half-written stuff I’ve been meaning to get finished and post here.
All in due course.
In the meantime, here are some toycam (Holga + UWS) pics from Sydney & Wellington.
Should I get a Blackbird.fly, do you think?
Also, because someone asked, and in full knowledge of how shameless this may appear, here’s my Amazon Wishlist.
Mar 4, 2009 34
I love camphones. I love “real” cameras, too – I own and regularly use a number of digital and analogue cameras including a Nikon D80, a Canon IXUS, a Holga 120N and a Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim. But the camera in my phone is always with me, and as a result, over the years I’ve found myself using it a lot to capture odd and interesting things spotted during my daily commute and everyday life.
Because some of the most interesting things which we come across in our daily lives aren’t pre-planned or anticipated, the camera in our phones is sometimes the only way of capturing an image, even though it can be very frustrating in terms of quality and available functionality. That makes it even more important to know how to get the best out of the tool which happens to be at your disposal.
I don’t claim to be an expert in mobile photography, but I do take a lot of pictures, and some of my mobile photos are among the most viewed in my Flickr photostream, precisely because I was able to capture something fleeting and interesting, but didn’t have the “proper” equipment.
The photo below, for example, wasn’t taken with an iPhone, but with my rather pedestrian Nokia 6230i, on the tube from Heathrow one afternoon. It now regularly appears (without attribution, I should point out – *seethe*) in those emailed/blog collections of “trick photography” or “neat optical illusions” or whatever, alongside others posed intentionally and taken using decent kit.
The thing about this photo is that if I’d used a “proper” camera, it would have undoubtedly have caused too much attention, and would have spoilt the composition. As it was, I was only able to get this picture by holding the camphone at a most strange angle by my face (perhaps the other passengers thought I was very short sighted, and just reading a text message?) but the crucial thing is that this photo simply couldn’t have been captured in such a spontaneous way without a piece of photographic capturing kit which enabled spontaneity: A cameraphone.
Anyway, with that in mind, I thought I’d share my tips for squeezing decent photos out of your iPhone, with examples where I have them – please add your own tips in the comments if you think I’ve missed something!
Feb 5, 2009 Comments Off
Jan 11, 2009 7
Last week (and for several before that) I was in California, visiting my lovely sister for the holidays, but in between Christmas and New Year we took a little nested vacation and scooted down Highway 1 (in a ridiculous shoe-like convertible) to Big Sur and the surrounding area.
We stopped briefly in Monterey, just long enough to visit the world-famous aquarium, in the rather tacky and awful Cannery Row bit of town. I’d recommend a visit, though not during a major national holiday as we did – the place was heaving and we could barely get near the tanks for great swarms of tourists schooling through the exhibits like the very fish they were there to see. Once you do manage to see the various installations up close, however, it’s quite stunning, though I must confess to a strong yearning for sushi when viewing the deep ocean exhibit. Well, it was lunchtime and all those yellowtail tuna looked lipsmackingly tasty….
Despite only having my Nikon D80 with standard 18mm lens and a paltry 3.5 aperture, I managed to take a good number of pictures, some of which I’m really proud of indeed.
At the very end of a year in which I’d not really had enough time to spend on photography as I would have wanted, I was pleased to be able to squeeze some good shots out under the constraints of a rather puny lens, very dim lighting conditions, reflections on the glass and approximately 8,000 people getting in the way every time I tried to take a shot. Despite all that, I’m chuffed with the results. So consider this a happy new year hello to anyone still reading this thing, combined with a public resolution to take more photos, in more interesting places, using more techniques, during 2009.
Plus, I hope you’ll permit me a smidgen of proud self-indulgence as I share some of my favourites after the jump.
Nov 27, 2008 6
I don’t often write about work-related stuff here (keep meaning to, just no time), but given that I’m at home with a stinking cold (no voice and you really don’t want to know what’s pouring out of my face…I barely want to know myself), and I’m particularly proud of this project, I’ll make a happy exception.
Since Obama’s historic election win, a few weeks ago, I’ve been quite heavily involved with the Message for Obama group on Flickr, which started out with a few snaps from my iphone (like the one above), taken around the Guardian offices, and snowballed in members and submissions over the following days and weeks. In fact, contributions are still rolling in, and the group continues to grow.
If you’ve got five minutes to spare, I heartily recommend having a flick through the slideshow of images in the pool. Fascinating viewing.
It’s three weeks exactly since the group was created, and I’m chuffed to say that there’s now an accompanying book, containing some of the most striking, thought-provoking, funny and interesting images and messages from the Flickr pool (with full permission from the contributors), as well as exclusive images commissioned from Guardian photographers around the world, capturing the global reaction to the election result.
The images selected for the book are representative of a wide variety of political views, cultural perspectives, positive and negative views as well as photographic styles. It’s absolutely not a giant backslapping happyfest, though it does in aggregate capture the interesting mixture of hopes and fears, joy and disappointment, expectation and relief which were all being exhibited during the time after the election result.
So the last few weeks have, for me, been full of corresponding with Flickr users and publishers, keeping permissions records, laying the book out gradually using Blurb’s BookSmart software, keeping an eye on the group and weeding out the occasional flurry of images of kittens, weird folk-art, gimps with their cocks out, rippling soft-focus flags etc.
(Aside: Seriously – you’d think the clue to the group’s criteria would be in the name of the group: is it a Message? Is it for Obama? Is it something that you’d like to address directly to him? No, it’s a picture of a rabbit. While I realise that may well be your personal tribute to the president-elect, in furry/naked/flag-waving/bad-photoshop form, unless you actually make part of it a message (title/description if nothing else) then it’s not a message for Obama, it’s a picture. Or people failing to grasp the rather simple point that a picture of the words “Obama is Rubbish” or similar is actually a message ABOUT Obama, which still isn’t a message FOR Obama, and that removing it from the pool has absolutely nothing to do with censorship (you could’ve happily put a message in which says “Dear Obama, I think you’re rubbish!”) and everything to do with our rather literal interpretation of the format. Sheesh.)
Anyway, after many late nights and computer fails and transatlantic phonecalls, the book is now available to buy from Blurb and I think looks rather spiffy, actually.
There’s much more background about how the project came about and my involvement in it in this interview I did with the lovely Mr Hg, for instance:
What has been the most striking aspect of this project for you personally?
The amazing creativity and thoughtfulness of contributions to the pool has been incredibly inspiring. It would have been easy to have ended up with a thousand webcam pictures of people with their thumbs up saying “nice one!” but actually, people have found interesting ways – and words – to express their hopes and fears about an Obama presidency.
Plus there’s quite a bit more detail in the comments of this article on the Guardian site (in which I attempt to put right some misconceptions about the project from people determined to believe the worst. Sigh. See that windmill? Excuse me while I wander towards it…)
All the Guardian’s profits from the same of the book will go to the Katine development project, which is a very worthy cause. So if you’re wondering what to get for the democrat/republican/interested outside observer/Palin impersonator in your life, look no further…
A couple of taster screenshots after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »
Jun 9, 2008 9
On my last trip to the US, in early May, I picked up a Flip Video Ultra and I love it so much I want another one, even though the one I have is fine and I clearly can’t use two at once.
(You know what I mean: sometimes you just want to get something again to be able to experience the joy and excited jolt of discovering how nice it is in the first place all over again. Like a [insert gadget name here]-virgin, touching it for the very first time. That’s what I want, every day.)
Anyway, I thought it was worth jotting down a few of my thoughts about the camera specifically (in case anyone fancied getting one – they went on sale in the UK today) and also a few broader thoughts about my approach to video in general (after the jump).
Let’s start with the bad stuff.
Less good things about the Flip:
- No real zoom – it’s understandable, given the form factor of the device, but it’s a little weedy nonetheless. You can at least zoom while shooting, though, which puts it one step above the video I can get from my Canon Ixus.
- The big red light on the front when recording makes candid stuff hard. Not that I would creep up on people, obviously, but it’s very clear that you are recording.
- It seems to have a tendancy to record its own operating noise when really quiet (see the mesmerising waves video for example)
- Apparently there have been compatibility problems with OS X 10.4 though I’ve experienced no problems with that opertating system along with Windows XP.
- It feels a bit plasticky and it attracts dust like a magnet. This might say more about the state of the bottom of my handbag than anything else, of course.
- You’ve got no fine control over video settings etc. It’s point and shoot…and that’s it.
- The quality not that much better than a newish camphone (at worst) and on par/worse than a decent point & shoot.
Good things about the Flip:
- Cheap: mine was about US$150 from Best Buy, though they’ve just gone on sale at Amazon UK for £99 – yet again, the UK loses out when it comes to pricing…But even at under £100, it’s just cheap enough to be not an enormous tragedy if it gets trodden on at a festival.
- It’s stupidly simple: It Just Works. Big red button to start. Big red button to stop. Up and down to zoom (or volume control in playback mode). Left and right to browse videos on the disk. The bin icon to delete and, play to, er, play.
- It doesn’t look like a camcorder, which means I feel better about carrying it around and whipping it out in odd places. In fact, it looks like a phone, sort of.
- It’s been designed to be held like a thing you hold at the end of your arm, as people do these days, rather than as a thing that is like a camera and needs to somehow resemble an old camera with a viewfinder etc – it’s vertical and fits nicely in your hand which makes it more stable, though a friend pointed out that the location of the on/off button is unfortunately probably slightly better situated for right-handers (I don’t think it matters, myself, but then I’m not sinister…)
- It’s very portable – light, compact, no fold-out screen, which means less to break or damage. That also means it fits in places other cameras wouldn’t like – bluetacked to the dashboard of my car, mounted via gorillapod to a bike helmet or possibly even a kite. Actually, I haven’t tried it on a kite yet, but I bet it’d work – it’s light enough. Hmm..
- No cable or software required to get video off the device. It’s got a (rather phallic, admittedly) flip-out built in USB connection, and it just works like an external drive. It comes with its own video management software built in that interfaces with YouTube and the like, but if you don’t want to use that, you don’t have to.
- You can record up to an hour in one go – most camphones/p&s have a file size limit which means you can’t do that. So it’s more useful for recording interviews, presentations, journeys…
- It takes two AA batteries, so no chance of running out at a crucial moment and being unable to replace them from just about any shop. No charger required (and since I travel these days with about eight mains and/or USB chargers/cables, that’s quite a relief) and the battery life is surprisingly good, actually – definitely several weeks of light use, and it does give you a good amount of warning before it conks out.
On balance, like the Asus EEEpc (another thing I got a while back and yet have singularly failed to write about here…sorry), the benefits (and cost) definitely outweigh the negatives, or at least they did for me. And besides, it’s a gadget. And we all know how I feel about gadgets.
I’ve cobbled some of the videos I’ve taken with the Flip into a set on Flickr, here, which is apt because Flickr starting to allow video is actually one of the reasons I got the camcorder in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
Apr 23, 2008 2
Excellent news for photography lovers with access to central London: there’s an exhibition of photographs by Don McPhee on at the Guardian Newsroom in London (60 Farringdon Road, opposite The Guardian offices), running from last Friday, April 18th through to the end of June.
In case you don’t know who he was, Don McPhee was one of the photographers who really helped to define the visual style of Guardian news photography over three decades of working with the paper before his death early last year. If you’ve been reading the paper for a while, you will have seen his images, and I’m sure there are many you’ll recognise in the retrospective.
Most of his work was black and white, and he had an amazing eye for composition and delicate humour in his work. He was especially known for his portrayal of life in the North – something which was especially evident in his coverage of the miners’ strike in the early eighties, during which he produced iconic images, many of which can be seen in the exhibition.
I’m not writing this and recommending this exhibition because I’m a corporate
schill shill (sorry for typo) and I work for The Guardian these days: I’m telling you about it because ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been inspired and moved and amazed by Don McPhee’s work, and the fact that I now work for the same organisation which used to commission and publish him is the icing on the cake.
This image of my teenage bedroom, taken when I was, I think, 14 or 15, reveals that (as well as being a bit serious and gothy and having a cold), I used to spend a lot of time going through the paper every day, cutting out the most striking pictures – many of which were McPhee’s work – and building an enormous collage, which eventually expanded to entirely cover my bedroom walls.
I was curious about how they were composed, intrigued as to how they told or related to a specific story or revealed a particular aspect of an individual or situation. It was probably my love for this body of photographic work and the particular visual vocabulary of styles it uses – documentary, juxtaposition, social observation, everyday, candid, striking – which has embedded in me a lifelong love of photography and taking photos myself.
If I can achieve a minute percentage of the creative results that Don McPhee managed, then I’ll be incredibly happy. I’ve got no pretension that I am a photographer, though: I just take photographs. But I’ll admit to being heavily, indelibly influenced by his work (along with others, like Martin Parr), and proudly so.
In any case, if you are in or around London in the next couple of months, do check out the exhibition if you get a chance. It’s free, a real treat, and well worth a visit (the attached cafe does a nice blueberry yoghurt muffin, too).
There’s an excellent gallery of the sort of thing you can expect within the exhibition, here.
More Don McPhee loveliness online:
- Working with Don: Whilst covering the 1988 US presidential elections for The Independent Brian Harris found his visual style changed after teaming up with rival press photographer Don McPhee of The Guardian.
- The Online Photographer obit
- Gallery of shots from his Manchester exhibition
- Maxïmo Park explain why they wrote a song about Don McPhee
Mar 30, 2008 3
From the top of the bus the other day, while stuck in traffic, I took this (rather crappy) image of a fish & chip shop on Gray’s Inn Road, and its Friday night clientÃ¨le.
Looking at the image later, I thought there was something familiar about it in a way. It’s just occurred to me that there’s something quite Hopper-esque about the scene…
Mar 10, 2008 4
A few weeks back, I attended a Flickr minimeet at the London Transport Museum and took a bunch of photos which you can see in this set on Flickr.
Now, the nice people from the LT Museum would very much like to feature a bunch of photos from the event on their site, and yet cannot decide which of the 680(ish) taken on the day (or rather, uploaded to Flickr from that event) should make it onto their site.
Which is where you come in.
I’ve written a blog post about my experiences at the museum over there on the event site, and I would be most obliged if you would chuck in a vote for one of my photos while you’re there. You can vote for as many photographers as you want, but you need to choose between a pair of photos for each person.
My pictures can be found on this page (and in context of the blog post about the day here), and they are, respectively “Live in Metroland” which is a carriage door handle from the heydey of the MetroLand exodus
and “Ducks”, a reflection of the museum architecture in a thirties-esque living room display.
Much obliged. x