Taken from a post at The Big Picture featuring a series of photographs shot during the 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. This is from the opening ceremony, and I like how it combines news with really great photography. As always, all rights retained by the photographer (Donald Chan/Reuters).
We encountered this window decoration last month in the nearby city of Genemuiden. Shooting through the glass was a challenge, but I like how this turned out. So did others: it became my 69th photograph to appear in Flickr Explore, the 500 most interesting shots of the day.
Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - realizing 70+ this time.
The seventy fifth concerto deals with the jazz band (image source). This is the first of a few concertos written for special groups of instruments. A concerto for jazz band and orchestra was composed by Rolf Liebermann. I have selected this concerto in the version with the NDR big band and the Bremen Philharmonic Orchestra under Guenter Neuhold, available on a Naxos CD.
When we think of vintage Vogue covers, we usually have the gems of the twenties and thirties in mind. Well, here is a beauty from a few decades later. A nice combination of fifties' illustration style and a subject which could have been used the same way much earlier. Once again, I could not retrieve information about the illustrator.
After another prolonged absence, my Flickr friend Philipp Klinger has returned once more to share his photographs with us. This is one of the best in his impressive portfolio: the DC tower in Vienna captured against an ominous sky. Perfection. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.
This beautiful architectural alphabet in classical style was created by Antonio Basoli around 1800. A native of Bologna, he used the Italian alphabet, which explains the absence of j and w. I created the mosaic above with the tools at BigHugeLabs, but do click the link to sample each letter in stunning detail.
No, this is not scheduled for the controversial FIFA football world championships in Qatar 2020, although it is not that far off geographically. The Rock Stadium, designed by MZ Architects, is scheduled to be built in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. A beautiful example of embedding a building in its environment. More on this building can be found in the link below.
Of the recurring topics in my photography, abstract images tend to stand out. This has inspired me to write a series of blog posts on the subject, as seen through my lay-man's eyes (I never received any formal training on photography). In these posts, I will tackle the following six (not mutually exclusive) themes: distorted reflections, architectural abstracts, wear and tear, zooming in, abstracted art, and miscellaneous situations. A general introduction was posted here; the first contribution (on distorted reflections) was posted here.
Architectural abstracts (the second of the themes) are usually based on line play, rather than the sometimes extravagant colours that we encountered in the previous contribution (distorted reflections). As always, there are a few things one should keep in mind when approaching this subject. First, to create abstract images from architectural structures, modern buildings and bridges tend to be far more suitable than older ones, but as always there are exceptions to this rule. Second, perhaps more than for any other theme in this series, perspective is a key parameter and can create an abstract feeling where one would not expect it in the first place - do play around with an unusual point of view, and/or rotations in post-processing. Third, in terms of composition, our old friend the diagonal will often play a paramount role. Fourth, where lines and shapes are dominant, conversion to black and white should always be considered (even if it is not by definition the best choice) - and keep in mind that good black and white photographs usually have a high degree of contrast. Please click here to see 12 selected examples from my Flickr photostream with some background information.
This 1982 single by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) is not the most successful in their discography, but it does sport a beautiful cover, cashing in on the popularity of science fiction of those years, and featuring the iconic ELO spaceship that appeared in several of their album covers. More about ELO on the linked Wikipedia page.
This week, movie lovers lamented the passing of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. The world of classical music was even dealt a triple blow, with the passing of soprano Christina Deutekom, conductor Frans Bruggen, and composer Peter Sculthorpe. Especially the death of Australia's Sculthorpe, one of my favourite contemporary composers, made me sad. In his memory, his eighth string quartet Aborigines of Australia, played by the Kronos Quartet. Rest in peace, all.
Heartbreaking. The linked blog post at Bored Panda presents the story of UK artist William Utermohlen, who was diagnosed with the mentally debilitating Alzheimer's disease in 1995 at age 62. He decided to document his deterioration by a series of self portraits over the years that show an artist watching his mind slip away from him bit by bit. Utermohlen passed away in 2007.
Earlier this week, we lost two Hollywood greats, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. For Williams, I could not find an image suitable for the blog, but of course, the beautiful Lauren Bacall has graced many vintage magazine covers. I picked this one from Photoplay. Rest in peace.
Philip-Lorca diCorcia (born 1951) is an American photographer, who specializes in carefully planned street shots. The one above is perhaps his best known image, also because it was the subject of a high-profile court case. It depicts Ermo Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew, one of diCorcia's New York random subjects. Nussenzweig objected on religious grounds to the publication of this photograph, but lost the court case. More about diCorcia (and the court case) in the Wikipedia entry linked to below.
I have decided to revive the Imaginary Albums category, with one small change in the rules (see below). First the usual imaginary review:
It took the French neo-prog band Authon three years to come up with a follow-up album of their highly acclaimed debut, Parisian Affairs. Their sophomore release's title hints at the underlying causes, which were explained in detail in a recent interview at Innervisions with their lead singer Daniel Dagorn. To make a long story short, the unexpected success went to the heads of several band members, resulting in endless discussions on what direction to take and little or no actual music. On several occasions, the temptation to pull the plug on the band was difficult to overcome, and only the departure of two of the five original members last year made it possible to have a fresh start. Bitter lessons from the past is a strong second album, in a similar new-prog style as their debut, but with longer and better developed songs, and a further improvement in melodic quality. The French accent of Dagorn is still clear, and may or may not work for you. But do give them a try if you like bands such as IQ, Arena and Quidam.
The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:
 The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Authon.
 The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album (from 2014 onward: any part of a random quotation will do). The random quote that came up was by Sidney J. Harris: A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future..
 The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, The cannons of Paris, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Algerian 100 Black and Chiller 65 Black, respectively.
Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.
More photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced Photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is a shot created by their member bajazet for the Armored Animals 9 contest. Granted, it is a stunning piece of Photoshop, but it also makes you think. The way we treat these intelligent animals, locking them in zoos, is bad enough, but I am sure that there would be people who would actually pay to see them fight (and be killed) as gladiators.
I was glad to have my compact camera with me when we came across this scene in the window of a local shop. Conditions were not ideal (flare from the shop lights, photographing through the window), but the result is still fun. And it became my 68th photograph to appear in Flickr Explore, the 500 most interesting shots of the day.
I had never heard of this 1929 movie by Dziga Vertov (original title Chelovek s kino-apparatom), but I came across the poster recently and was hooked. Strikingly modern for its age, and very effective.
Das Motorrad (the motorcycle) is a German magazine that first appeared in 1901 and is still published today as Motorrad, the largest motorcycle magazine of Europe. This dynamic cover of the Art Deco age is very beautiful, and it is a pity that I could not find more information about its designer.
The 1995 Radiohead album The bends has been on heavy rotation once more in our CD player the past week. The absolute highlight is Street spirit [fade out], which ended at #13 in my countdown of all-time favourite songs, but Fake plastic trees is excellent as well. A marvelous acoustic style ballad with poignant lyrics about the empty and fabricated modern life - plastic trees is not bad enough, by adding the fake in front of it they make a very clear statement. Art Rock score: 10/10 (outstanding song, one of the 200 best of all time).
About me: Dutchman, married to a beautiful and highly talented artist from Shanghai. Although my education (PhD chemistry) is very much associated with the left side of the brain, I like to use my right side for my hobbies: music, art, photography.
About this blog: I started this blog in August 2006, just wanting to share what I considered interesting pieces of visual art and music. I suffered from blogging blues for most of 2008, but making a fresh start in October of that year has done wonders for my inspiration. In case you did not notice, most posts end with a small symbol... just click that for the relevant link. All pictures in my blog are hosted on blogger - if some do not show up (the red cross syndrome) it is a blogger hiccup. Right click and selecting "show picture" should do the trick.
My other blogs: In December 2009 I started a parallel blog, Art's Potpourri, for subjects that I think are interesting, but not fitting for my main blog.
In January 2013 I revived an old music blog: Countdown to Ecstasy will list my 100 favourite pop/rock/ballad songs from five decades.
Most of the images used in this blog are either mine, or they are used with explicit permission of the creators. Some of the images are sourced on the internet and I consider them common use for a non-profit blog (such as album covers), or I use them with a link to the site of the creator/owner.
If you find a picture on this blog that you are the copyright owner of, and object against the use, please drop me an email and I will remove it.