Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

MY LIFEHACKS #2

2 February 2013

WE JOINED FLIKR BACK IN 2005 JUST AFTER IT WAS ACQUIRED BY YAHOO!

[ logo Flickr wordmark.svg]My wife and I both enjoy photography – she studied it properly, and I have had a darkroom all my life. It has to be said that the darkroom got used less and less over the years as digital photography has increased.

In recent times, we’ve all changed. The world has changed.

  • Flikr has changed considerably; they offer a free terabyte of cloudspace for videos and photographs;
  • We all have mobile devices and wifi almost everywhere;
  • We have faster broadband;
  • We all want to share, but keep ownership rights and privacy controls (so instagram, facebook etc are no good);
  • We have loads of photos and videoclips of the children growing up that we need to back-up to somewhere safe;
  • Other members of the family have also been taking pictures and videos of their children, and more.

I recalled that my parents used to have a big cardboard box full of loose black-and-white photographs, small, square Polaroids, wallets with sets of pictures and nagatives in a flap-sleeve.  It was heaving with originals taken at countless birthdays, Hogmanays, holidays, Christmasses, Christenings and weddings. Where this box has gone, where these photographs are, I will never know.

I suppose many families have similar scenarios.  Someone gets the albums, and everyone else loses out.

In a photograph of two people, unless a copy is made, one person loses out.  This is why sites like flikr.com are so important – a picture uploaded there can be accessed by all the people in the picture anytime.  It can be downloaded and printed or saved as desired or required – or merely accessed on a device whenever and from wherever. This is a wonderful development to my mind.

The internet and computing in general is often annoying; there are  a lot of drawbacks, but when it all can help people, when it can enrich real lives, and record family history and events, then I am all for it.

Although I can’t see old pictures of myself and my family, I can certainly make sure that my children and my family can access every picture and videoclip ever taken of them by us from the moment they are born.

All anyone has to do is join flikr for free at flikr.com you can sign up or sign in with a facebook,  yahoo! mail or gmail account – it’s pretty easy.  Then upload some pictures and videoclips.  You can drag and drop to upload.

Then you can organise the pictures into sets.  You can rotate the pictures, and you get the picture converted into all sorts of sizes and from all sorts of formats.  You can even manipulate them online – remove red eye etc. It is very cool, and all free.

You can upload from phones and tablets and more besides.

UPLOADING – PROBLEMS AND SOLUTION

The biggest problem I found was uploading for the purposes of backing-up. Archiving thousands of pictures and clips was painful – the rate of upload, verification, conversion, and publishing was excrutiatingly slow – and often  would fail.  I got the official desktop uploader, but that was the same.  I tried a few other apps, and was about to either forget it or resign myself to uploading each video one by one over months… when I came across a program written in python that is wonderful.

This program not only uploads both pictures and videos, but it uses the folder path in Microsoft Windows to create folders in flikr. easy. It doesn’t care if the connection is slow, or if it you are disconnected; it carries on regardless and in the background. This is a game-changer, and really does make flikr a place you can upload an archive’s worth of files. I ran a little test first to get confidence, the feeling I got when I saw that it worked was something, let me tell ya. You have to edit an ini file – just tell it where the stuff is really. This is what it looks like when you open the file downloaded:

////start of code////

[DEFAULT]

#
# Location to scan for new images (no trailing \)
#
imagedir=d:\pictures <– I CHANGED THIS TO h:\photographs
#
#   File we keep the history of uploaded images in.
#
history_file=history

#visible 1, invisible 0
public= 0
friend = 1 <– I CHANGED THIS TO 0
family = 1

#set this to true if name of the auto generated flickr sets should be only name of the last sub folder e.g. Crete when folder is d:\testpictures\holidays\Crete\123img.jpg
only_sub_sets  = false <– I CHANGED THIS TO TRUE

#Start from scratch! If you want to delete first everything you have in your Flickr account then set this to true
#This is handy if you messed up your uploads before or just want to start from the begining.
#Once everything is deleted turn this feature off so you wont keep deleting your pics in your cron job!
#WARNING!!! IF SET TO true THIS WILL DELETE EVERYTHING (pictures and videos) FROM YOUR FLICKR ACCOUNT
#SO BE 100% SURE YOU WANT TO DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#NOTE: The tool will not start uploading pictures unless this is set to false in order to prevent delete-upload-delete-upload loops

remove_all_pics_first = false
////end of code////

That was pretty easy (you do not have to be a computer genius programmer or anything). Anyway, if you have thousands of files you want to upload and organise on flikr, you get this program from here: http://code.google.com/p/folders2flickr/wiki/Instructions

It’s all free of charge, and nothing bad can happen, so enjoy!

§

CECIL BEATON

5 April 2011

[Photo: Beaton by himself]At times in my life I have been overawed with certain artistic figures, almost to the point of being overwhelmed.  Cecil Beaton is like that for me. I once drove across the country to (of all places) Pittenweem to see an exhibition of original Sir Cecil Beaton photographs — it was stunning!

[ Photo: Princess Natalia Paley by Cecil beaton]A few years before this trip, I saw my first ever Cecil Beaton picture — it was of Princess Natalia Paley, and it stopped me in my tracks because of the background — I stared for a while before I realised that it was a bed, a frame of bed springs turned upright! I began to look out for his name.

So I knew some of his work before Pittenweem, but I could only have guessed at the depth and breadth of this man’s creativity!  It was an inspirational show! I immediately bought an SLR with different lenses, filters, a tripod, case, and darkroom equipment and took up photography.  Thanks to Sir Cecil Beaton!

He seemed to have been born at exactly the right time; he managed to photograph just about everyone of any worth since during the entire 20th century.  He caught war, he captured fashion and the movies, celebrities, personalities, stars, sportsmen, artists, writers, poets and musicians — and more besides, even Royalty! I think he took the best ever pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn.

[ Photo - Monroe by Beaton] [Photo: Garbo by Beaton]

Photography was a troublesome and expensive process, yet Cecil Beaton seemed to have more than his fair share of iconic, classic pictures.  He had a great eye for composition, he seemed to see in monochromatic, to really understand lighting and depth of field. This is no voyeuristic Weegee, no artsy Rodchenko, no Capa war pictures. This is glamour, style, styling, beauty — polished refinement.

I read that he was not overly technical and used only a few cameras, and I like that because I can identify with the relationship to things over the long term.

[Photo: Julie Andrews by Beaton]A well-known snappy dresser, he worked for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines, but he also did costume design for movies and stage, was a noted set designer, a renowned interior designer and he designed book covers as well as being a noted diarist.

He was in with the jet-setting in crowd himself, and that’s a pretty unique twist in today’s weird paparazzi -v- celebrity world. He knew everyone who was anyone, and they all knew Cecil.

Considering his high profile, his “circle”, and the times in which he lived, Cecil was a well-known and accepted bisexual — he had many affairs with men and women, and a very long and steady non-sexual relationship too (with Peter Watson), even that is kinda cool.

[Photo: Candy Darling and Andy Warhol by Beaton]Naturally he garnered loads of awards and accolades, and I can remember well the day his death was on the news in early 1980, only a few months after I had started taking pictures and developing them myself in my new flat. This really was the end of an era, a real golden era.  No one can ever be able to take pictures of the Queen AND Candy darling with Andy Warhol, who else has managed to capture personalities as diverse as Yul Brynner and Twiggy, or Winston Churchill and Margot Fonteyn?

He took risks, did quirky things (such as the upturned bed springs), used mirrors, smoke, lighting, and all sorts of ad hoc techniques to get the pictures he envisaged.  But mainly, he got the best out of his subjects; they seem to be unposed, disposed, and relaxed — even when he has them in this very strange environment. A real genius, seemingly born to record that period of taste and time.

[Photo: Twiggy by Beaton]

Everyone ought to have a Cecil Beaton coffee table book, for there is nothing better than to flip through a collection of his pictures, to get lost in them, to think about them, to be inspired, but mainly just to appreciate the whole experience of another world long ago.

§

MY PHOTOS OF GLASGOW 1

5 June 2010

I was mesmerised by the pattern of light on an old brick building on Finnieston Street.  As the sun set, it reflected off the highly mirrored finish of the tall Sky Park building.

[davedevine's fone snap of Building on Finnieston Street]

I saw a similar effect on Gordon Street, with the Ca’D’oro building, along with rainbows and a nice reflection:

[davedevine's fone snap of Ca'D'oro building]

And again with the old Dental Hospital entrance up near the Art School.

[davedevine's dental hospital reflection]

As a result, I began to notice more and more the reflections on buildings’ surfaces. I noticed the Gaelic School reflected the RSNO building nicely.

[davedevines's picture of the RSNO reflection]

Churches make good subjects, so I took two pictures with my mobile phone one lunchtime on Bath Street.  The subject is Renfield St Stephen’s church restored spire.  There are two office blocks across the road, the first picture is 225 Bath Street’s entrance, which is clear glass.

[davedevine's fone snap of Renfield St Stephen reflected on 225 Bath St] [davedevine's fone snap of Renfield St Stephen reflected on office Block on Bath St]

The second picture shows the church reflected in the highly mirrored building directly across from the church.  I took another picture of this building from a different angle and disregarding the church’s reflection:

[davedevine's fone snap of office block on Bath St]

I realised that there are quite a lot of buildings that attempt to be invisible by being mirrored to reflect the Victorian surroundings.  In some cases the building is almost invisible when reflecting the sky:

[davedevine's fone snap of the Crowne Plaza]

Invisibility can make a building light and feint, and nonemoreso than the new Springburn College — known as North Glasgow College, which is formed in plan by two squashed boxes separated by a sharp or acute triangular portion. The pointed bit really is pointed, and vanishes into the sky, being mirrored on both sides.

[davedevine's photo of NGC point]

[davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College] [davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College] [davedevine's picture of North Glasgow College]

Sometimes a building will be shiny and silvery, but not really act like a mirror.  There is a very strange building in the IFSD:

[davedevine's picture of foil-wrapped building]

It is like a foil-wrapped building, and it still can reflect the sky to become almost invisible.  However, this picture was taken from a narrow lane at the rear of the building, so it mainly serves to reflect light into a dark area.

I like reflections of their own sake — buildings that were not designed to reflect can sometimes do so by virtue of their glazing — a=to great effect if what is reflected is noteworthy.  I spotted this window in the Park Circus area:

[davedevine's fonie snap of park circus reflection]

Another picture from the next street has a massive mirror to lend light and a feeling of spaciousness to a moat area:

[davedevine's fone snap of mirror at park circus]

The above point of the North Glasgow College, reminded me of a picture I took with an old Nokia phone of the Science Tower:

[davedevine's Nokia phone picture of Science Tower]

I like looking up at tall buildings; it certainly beats looking down!

[davdevine's mobile fone snap of office block] [davedevine's phone camera shot of flats on Broomielw] [davedevine's cameraphone snap of the Eagle Building]

[davedevine's fone snap of Beresford on sauchiehall st]

No article on pictures of Glasgow could miss out The Stobcross Crane or the Armadillo landmarks, and of course, the Clyde itself — perfect for reflections. These three cameraphone snaps were taken from the Squinty Bridge (Clyde Arc).

[davedevnie's sunrise over the clyde taken by phone camera]

[davedevine's Clyde Arena camera phone snap] [davedevine's fone snap of crane and clyde]

Hope you enjoyed seeing around my home city of Glasgow through my eyes and the lens of my old trusty Sony Ericsson phone. There are beautiful things all around us all the time — if you choose to look for them.

§

CHIC HENDERSON

31 October 2009

I just got a call from Chic Henderson from Auchtermuchty.  It was good to catch up with the auld rascal.  He’s 66 now, so he is not motorcycling as much any more — but he still seems pretty active in the Scottish and Irish folk music scene; his bands (The Randan Ceilidh Band) have several CDs, and he’s working on a new one right now.

He tells me that he toured Germany and the Baltic states again this year as a duo called Ardbeg — and that this will be his tenth year going out to South Korea for Saint Andrews at the Caledonia Society!

I met Chic in the late 1990s at the same place where I met my wife!  He was a draughtsman for one of our sub-contractors on site.  When I returned from my Swedish sojourn, Chic and I used to play Scottish folk music in Glasgow and Fife pubs.  It wasn’t what I was used to — it wasn’t my usual scene, but it was great fun!  We used to mess about with Toni Wood back then as well.  Chic had a project to photograph every Scottish castle when he wasn’t moonlighting as a weekend wedding photographer! Chic got up to 2000 Scottish castles — check out his site at www.scottishcastles.org.uk

Chic has posted some videos on YouTube under the name ChicChanter — check them out at www.youtube.com/user/ChicChanter. Check out The Randan Ceilidh Band too — www.randanceilidhband.com. Muchty Music is still selling the CDs by the way — www.muchtymusic.co.uk.

§

WEEGEE

5 December 2008

Who’s Weegee?

Well, for me, Weegee is the name I kept coming across in my photography books in the 1970s, then later in album covers and book jackets in the early 1990s.

Weegee was an artist — a photographer — based in New York, USA. I later found out that he was born in Poland as Arthur Fellig, and that he died in 1968. But all that’s unimportant. It’s his pictures that matter, that’s all.

[Photography by weegee called 'coney island']I came to Weegee through a picture I found hilarious and fascinating at the same time. It is known as “Coney island” and is just a massive crowd of people at the beach on a hot summer’s day.

It is rude to stare, but this photograph allowed close inspection of everything and anything that caught your attention — a voyeur’s pleasure! Every time I looked at it, I would see something new.  I appreciated that Weegee had climbed to some high vantage point, and I understood the irony of having a “sea” of people at the beach.  I am glad this is not in colour; black and white is what allows things to be seen that otherwise would go unnoticed.  One would need to be Diane Arbus to make this sort of thing work in colour!

[Picture of George Michael Album Cover 'Listen without prejudice vol1']George Michael’s  album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 (1990, Sony), was clearly influenced by Weegee’s  “Coney Island” — in fact I thought it was Weegee’s!

You see, that’s the thing about Weegee: he influenced so many, and his stuff crops up in the most unlikely places.  For example, his “Hell’s Kitchen” was used as an album sleeve by saxophonist John Zorn for Naked City on the Warner label (also, strangely, from 1990).

[Photograph by weegee 'Hell's kitchen']

Now, I can’t say that I like “Hell’s Kitchen”; it is a crime scene of murder weapon and victim — not the nicest of subjects! However, Weegee makes such gory situations interesting by then turning his camera onto the crowd of onlookers and passers-by — and we get LEVELS of voyeurism!  We are voyeuristically looking at what a voyeuristic photojournalist sees when looking at crime scene voyeurs! This is “Their First Murder”:

Their First Murder]

OK, I will give you that the label, the title, is important; it makes you look at the picture again — and more critically, but I think that without knowing they were looking at a homicide crime scene, the picture is still fabulous.

There are so many pictures of Weegee’s that I could go on and on about here.  Go search them out, or buy a book (you won’t be disappointed). The point I am making is that Weegee was the first photojournalist that struck me, and these were the first of his pictures I noticed.

This was “news”, but it was not snaps of of celebrities, politicians or sportsmen, just real people (warts and all). They are stark, and uncompromising, and at times describe how low life can get, and how ugly people can be, and what ugly things people do.  Weegee was the first to take this approach, he worked very hard, and while his pictures may be envied, no-one would envy Weegee’s working life on the cold, hard streets of the Naked City!

Note that Weegee’s book was called “Naked City” — and this inspired the TV show and so forth!

§

RODCHENKO

6 December 2006

[Picture of Osip Brik by Rodchenko]It was the picture first.  Not the story, not the context, not the label, just the picture.  It caught my eye and has stayed with me ever since. The photograph is called “The Critic Osip Brik”. I was just 17.

Alexander Rodchenko was Russian and an artist.  He gave up painting in favour of photography back in the 1920s.  Was he right, was art a waste of time now that we have photography? Hmm, interesting.

In any case, Rodchenko’s picture made me wonder about its subject — who was this curiously named man?  What a face!  The spectacles, the reflection of Russian, the composed features, the moustaches.  It somehow fitted the description for me of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Poirot!

My investigations at the Mitchell Library introduced me to the “Futurists”  — Brik was a Russian avant garde writer and literary critic, was one of the most important members of the Russian Formalists” as well as one of “The Futurists”. Brik was one of the co-founders of the magazine “Leftist Front for the Arts” or LEF, which was a championed Russian “Constructivist art”.

I was amazed — that this ostensibly very conservative, almost prim person — a potential Nazi — could be such an anarchist! WOW!

And for me at 17, reading about the Russian Futurists was earth-shattering! My research led to the Italian Futurists and the German Dada movement.

The Futurists were fascinated with the dynamism, speed, and restlessness of modern urban life. They were out for attention, for challenge — for controversy — mainly by slagging off the art of the past as being boring.

Of course this clicked with the new wave — the “punk” movement of which I was so engrossed.

The portrait is iconic as an art object, and it showed me that you cannot judge a book by its cover.  I guess you could say that this is a bad photograph if it doesn’t make clear that Osip was radical and anti-establishment. But hey — that’s what that type of person looked like back then!

The name Osip Brik, and the picture are as part of me as anything can be.  I looked at this face every day for a decade, having it as a postcard that I carried about in my wallet.  Some people, on seeing it, has reckoned he was Jewish, others that he was a POW Commandant!  He’s been called right wing fascist, and communist — he’s been a villain and a hero, a mild mannered banker type and a cool, calculating killer!

This is therefore one of the most enigmatic images ever recorded on film.

As for Rodchenko, well, as a result of this picture I have grown to love so many other pictures of his that it may be said that Rodchenko is a seriously major influence on my life and approach to life.

He did the official film poster for the movie, “The Battleship Potemkin“, in 1926 — now, in case you don’t know, this film has  been voted one of the most influential films of all time on many occasions, and was named the greatest film of all time at the World’s Fair at Brussels, Belgium. It is a silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein about a real life  uprising from 1905 when the crew of a Russian battleship rebelled against their oppressive officers of the Tsarist regime.

I have a lot of “coffee table” photography books, and I adore Rodchenko’s photographs. His eye was amazing — weird angles made me take family Christmas snaps standing on a chair to get a tall perspective!

Rodchenko has been an amazing influence on all sorts of people — even to this day.  Just look at this picture belonging to a collection of the Musée d´Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, entitled,  Rodtchenko, la révolution dans l´oeil.

[Picture of

Now compare it with Scottish Pop band, Franz  Ferdinand’s album cover for “You Could Have It So Much Better”:

[Picture fo Franz ferdinand's 2nd Album Cover]And Rodchenko’s stairs and shadows surely must have influenced another Glasgow artist, Jim Lambie — who uses black and white tape to create something of the same effect (the picture here is of his exhibition, “Forever Changes” at GOMA”).

[Picture taken by Rodchenko of shadows and stairs]jimlambie_goma

Rodchenko has endured as one of my all-time favourite photographers, and Mr Brik has been a close friend for a great many years (I even had him on a tee shirt).

§

CAPA

10 November 2005

I have had a darkroom all my adult life; photography has always been so important to me — and to my wife (she takes fantastic pictures, much better that mine).

Naturally we have lots of coffee table photography books, and every-so-often they are consulted to remind us what we should be striving for.  Some photographers have taken pictures that have been so inspirational to me in so many ways, but I ought to add here that which is all too often omitted — that some pictures become friends, they live beyond the intention, the moment, or the context of the artist’s life.

  • The first picture that I can recall affecting me that way is by a chap known professionally as Robert Capa. It is probably one of the best known photographs ever taken.

Capa was in Cerro Muriano on the Cordoba Front during the Spanish Civil War.  It was taken on 1936-09-05, and is called known as The Loyalist Militia Man at The Moment of Death. The Militia man has been identified as Federico Borrell García, from Alicante.

[Picture called It’s an amazing picture.  It initially haunted and troubled me, and I hated it.

Then I found out that some people think that it is a fake. Oddly enough, that made me feel a whole lot better about the picture; it has become symbolic now, for me.  It is so familiar now.  It describes perfectly  for me the insanity of war, that a son/ dad/ brother/ friend can take a living step and be dead before completing the action — dead while actually moving.  Dead in a moment.

Yet the man is the only thing in the frame, the brilliant white shirt against the sky, the shadow adding so much, the lack of cover — nowhere to hide.  The lack of armour, of uniform, or support — this is a bloke with a gun, not a trained killing professional. This is an (ironically named) civil war. He’s a civilian really.  It’s obviously sunny, but thank goodness it’s a monochrome picture; colour would not work.

I am not sure it matters if this is the moment of  Federico’s death; the image speaks for itself, and does it’s job without the need for explanation or background information — it is powerful to me without being gruesome or gory (there are plenty of them available I’m afraid).  This goes beyond photo-journalism and becomes “art”.

[Picture of D-Day Landings by Capa]Personally I do think now that it is genuine — not a staged scene. Capa was perfectly capable of getting that close  to the action — look at his D-Day landing pictures for proof of that. He was known as a war photographer — in fact he was blown up as a result of stepping on a landmine in Indochina (Vietnam) in May 1954.  He died holding his camera in a war zone.  Earlier he lost the love of his life, war photographer Gerda Taro — she was killed in the Spanish Civil War.

But it was not all war and scary stuff; Capa was a colourful chap — as a Jewish Hungarian refugee, Endre Ernő Friedmann picked “Robert Capa” as his professional name because “Capa” means “shark” in Hungarian, and “Robert Capa” sounded American. He founded the famous agency, Magnum Photos in 1947 with Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Vandivert, David Seymour, and George Rodger.  He also dated the movie star, Ingrid Bergman and lived in Hollywood with her until 1947.  Their pal, the famous film director, Alfred Hitchcock based his movie, Rear Window, on their turbulent love affair!

I have to say here that I am not a war person, I certainly do not search for those types of pictures or anything like that.  Having said that, I do admire Capa and the work of the Magnum guys immensely — it’s just that I prefer those picture that offer something, you know, different, something extra. To explain this a bit better, look at the following picture:

[Picture of killer pilot by Capa]It’s not the fact that it’s a war picture, what I like about this is the expression on the pilot’s face — along with the tally, the suggestion of cockpit, and the angle of the composition.  It shows that Capa was a great photographer, technically, instinctively, and compositionally — what a good eye and idea, and that’s what it’s all about.

Powerful and memorable objects in their own right — that’s inspirational and aspirational!

§

CHARACTER!

6 February 2005

What a laugh we had when we came across these old snaps of me. They were taken in 1989 or 1990 as part of a massive photo shoot for publicity for a band I was in that was just getting a record deal together.  I was snapped, smoking, drinking coffee, standing, sitting, playing the bass, walking in the rain with my collar up, wearing a hat, and with a variety of hairdos! These are a mere taster of the results of three days’ work. As you will no doubt have noted, I have always had an high forehead, and so I basically have not really changed all that much. Ever since I was a kid I have been told that I am balding because of my hairline, oh well!

[Picture of DCD for publicity material] [Picture of DCD as Stan Laurel]

I plan to quit smoking as soon as the baby’s born. The funny thing is that  I will probably look like the one on the right during the birth! Maybe I will start balding with all the fretting over this birth! jeez!

§

PUBLICITY PICTURE!

5 October 2004

[Picture of Publicity Photo of dcd from the late 1980s]Will you just look at the pose in this picture! What were we thinking? LOL. I look lost in thought, probably wondering why I was being photographed with a curly perm!

This was a publicity shot, and it was used on recordings and so forth back in the day.  Aye, back before I was married! Long ago, in the mid 1980s when I didn’t mind having daft hair and daft trousers!

§