Friday, July 31, 2009

Running up that hill

One of my favourite singles from one of my all-time favourite female singers: Kate Bush' 1985 hit Running up that hill. And one of my favourite photographs of her to boot. Excellent design and surely one of the best single covers of all time. More about Kate Bush on the linked wikipedia page.

No man is worth your tears

"No man is worth your tears, and when you find the man who is, he'll never make you cry." My Flickr friend aftab. is not only the most consistently faved photographer on Flickr for me, he also often adds thought provoking lines to his shots. And the photograph itself is so expertly done, the woman silhouetted and in exactly the right pose, the whole composition marvellous. Unique and inspiring.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Thursday, July 30, 2009

And in other news...

... here is one of the rare shots of my wife that she has approved for release on the internet. I took it in a small restaurant in Putten, where the decoration consisted of a framed tableau of newspapers. The postprocessing is by my wife, final crop my choice.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.04 sec (1/25)
Aperture: f/4.5
Focal Length: 42 mm
ISO speed 800
Post-processing: Photoshop 7.0, PortraitProfessional 5.0, Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Octopus

One of the older albums in this series, UK prog rock band Gentle Giant's 1972 Octopus. Intriguingly, it was released in two really different covers, and both are beautiful, as shown in the animation above. The free-reigning octopus in red tones, designed by grandmaster Roger Dean, was the cover for most of the world, whilst the USA for some reason opted for a different cover, the canned blueish octopus designed by Kerry Kneitel and Charles White.

All Music

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

San Giorgio Maggiore at Twilight

A logical follow-up of the previous post - this is real art with a Venice connection. Claude Monet (1840-1926) visited that beautiful city in the fall of 1908 and returned with 37 new paintings - as a painter of water and monuments, he experienced the shock of encountering a city that unites both. And although the subjects are of course touristic, even for that time, his unique style turns them into masterpieces. Personally, I like this one the best.

More on Monet in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Je t'aime

Last Sunday was a good day to come across great images by fellow Flickrites I never had encountered before. A case in point is this hauntingly beautiful creation by Jerri Johnson. And the rest of her stream turns out to be quite worthwhile as well. Highly recommended.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Shikoumen 26

A fairly recent work by my wife, depicting a Shanghai girl in qipao (cheongsam) dress at the entrance of a traditional Shanghai shikoumen house - of the type that we live in.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Monday, July 27, 2009

Water

A striking image that I stumbled upon yesterday. It is by fellow Flickrite Quizz... , and I absolutely love the setting, the composition and the execution. A brilliant shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Sunday, July 26, 2009

First impression

The most recent shot I faved on Flickr, just a few hours ago. And of course, once more by my Flickr friend aftab. - and I still have quite a few recent faves by him that I did not have time to put here yet... This one is a brilliant impressionistic study, showing once more how a really great photographer can take an overused subject and still turn out a master piece.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Summer (the first time)

With the summer apparently starting after all in Holland, an appropriate song. American singer-song writer Bobby Goldsboro will forever be linked to the 1968 chart topper Honey, an oversweet tear jerker, which incidentally did feature in my top 10 songs when I first made a list in 1973 - and one of the few where my opinion has changed radically. Far superior to that song is one of his last hit singles, the self-penned Summer (the first time) from 1973, an evocative depiction of the deflowering of a 16 year old boy by an experienced woman on a hot summer night.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Death becomes her

This is a bit of an experiment for me. About 10 days ago, we visited the small Dutch town of Harderwijk, one of the Dutch members of the Hanse trade league many centuries ago (like Hamburg and Bremen in Germany). That day was the start of the yearly commemorative festival with dozens of locals dressed up and acting like it was the late middle ages. This particular scene was the rather gruesome deathbed of a young woman. I decided to mix my shot digitally with a texture by fellow Flickrite Ervin Bartis, aiming for a painting like effect. I realize the result will not be to everyone's liking, but personally I am satisfied with the way it came out.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/640)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 29 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0 (including digital merging with texture)

Flickr

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Netting

I'm always in awe of great bokeh shots, possibly because I can't seem to produce them myself. However, this shot by my Flickr friend jenny downing is more than just a great bokeh. Excellent composition, original subject and wonderful colours.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Cambodia

The gorgeous Kim Wilde was very much one of the faces of the MTV area in the eighties. However, unlike many MTV faces of today, her music was actually worthwhile as well. Cambodia is one of her best songs, and I was pleased to find out that it came with such an interesting cover, depicting the song's story in cartoon format with more than a hint of Lichtenstein. A great variation on her album covers of that time, that understandably focused on her face. More about Kim Wilde on the linked wikipedia page.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Composition part 1: the rule of thirds

After two short discussions on post-processing (1 and 2), the first in a series on basic composition rules to further enhance the quality of your photographs if you are not aware of them yet. I am using an article on the site Amateur Snapper as a guideline here, but providing examples from my own stream. Basically, the rule of thirds requests you to mentally divide your image into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines. In general, it works best if the most important elements in the shot are positioned close to these lines, or even better close to the points where they intersect. In this example from my stream (Washing), the woman and the bucket are placed on the left vertical line, whilst the two most important elements, her face and the bucket, are on intersections. Another good example is shots with a horizon in them - put that on one of the horizontal lines. Like all rules, there will be exceptions where other approaches work even better, but as a general guideline I have found that this is the most important rule to follow to improve the composition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The hell she is

When searching for new singer/song writers in the style of say Jeff Buckley, Shanghai would not be the first place to go to, you'd expect. Wrong. One of Shanghai's most popular singers, 26 years old Hao Haidong, has released a first album in the English language after three millionsellers in the local Shanghainese tongue and one in mandarin. His English diction is surprisingly good, and the translation of his texts to English expertly done. The hell she is contains 15 songs on the theme of relationships, for better or for worse. Instrumentation is sparse, mainly his own guitar play and drums, with the occasional erhu sounds thrown in to remind us in which part of the world we are. Highly recommended.

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:

[1] 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 Hao Haidong.
[2] 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. The random quote that came up was by Ellen DeGeneres: My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Shanghai silhouettes 2, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Elephant 40 Black and Chinese Takeaway 30 White, 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.

Ripples

The title is mine, the shot is of course once more by my Flickr friend aftab. . The colours are marvellous, but so are the shapes of the leaves, like ripples in an ocean - which inspired my title. A very poetic haikuesque shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ever

The British neo prog band IQ is widely recognized as one of the best in that genre, and they are personal favourites of mine as well. Their cover designs are usually high class as well, often featuring art work by lead singer Peter Nicholls. One of their best in that respect is the 1994album Ever, where Nicholls was responsible for the illustration as well as the complete design of the cover.

All Music

Touched by love

Time for a superb soft and romantic shot by my Flickr friend word artist. A rhapsody in white and cream tones. A good example how you can take an overused subject like rose pictures and still come up with a striking personal image.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shanghai silhouette

My 22nd shot to make the Flickr Explore pages, the 500 most interesting photographs of the day. An image I feel I can hardly take credit for, except spotting it on a wall at the backside of Shanghai's French Park, doing the postprocessing on the shot and deciding on the crop.....

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 13.1 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bodiam under a rainbow

It has been far too long since I showed a shot from one of my favourite photographers on Flickr, adrians_art. This is a great example of his style, taking the English landscape - in this case Bodiam castle in Sussex - with unbelievable skies and turning them into art that Constable or Turner would have been proud of.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Dum dum girl

Rather than trying to sneak great 45 rpm covers under the beautiful album covers thread, I decided to give them their own heading. We kick off with one of the most underrated bands of all time, Talk Talk. They made some of the best synthpop of the eighties and pioneered the post rock genre with their later albums. And their covers designed by James Marsh were always worthwhile, as shown here for their 1984 hit single Dum dum girl. More about Talk Talk on the linked wikipedia page.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Langlois bridge at Arles

In the series Paintings, I like to draw attention to masters outside the most well-known, or alternatively, to lesser known paintings of the best known artists. This one obviously belongs to the second category. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) is widely known for 20-30 of his most famous works, but there are so many other great ones in his repertoire. The one depicted above, from a series on this theme of a bridge in Arles created in 1888, is actually my favourite one, ever since I had a reproduction hanging in my room when I was a teenager. I have seen the original a number of times, and it was a special experience a few years ago to visit Arles and actually see the bridge itself which is well preserved. More on van Gogh in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Unchainable

Perhaps it is time to start a new subject, Flickr favourites by aftab. ..... A quick check on Flickr just now showed that 15 of my 36 most recent favourites are by this dear Flickr friend alone. Here is an image that left me wondering what the subject actually was - apart from the chain, that is. Here it is in his own words: "It is the top of a fence (an iron pipe), it was morning, pipe was moist with morning dew, camera was facing the sun, the pipe had a moist shine from the soft morning sunlight, I knew I will get some interesting bokeh from that shine, I held the camera just by the pipe and used 180mm macro lens to focus on just one wire of the fence." An absolutely fantastic shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Crumb, accessible avant-gardist

Avant-garde is an art term destined to scare away 99% of the potential public, be it in fine arts or classical music. However, in my opinion, many people would appreciate the music of the American composer George Crumb (1929) if only they would listen to it. Enter Naxos as usual. This CD contains two beautiful pieces for small ensemble. Songs, Drones, and Refrains of Death, dating back to 1969, is a setting poetry by Frederico Garcia Lorca for baritone, electric guitar, electric double bass, and percussion. It is definitely modern and avant-garde in its treatment of the voice as an additional instrument, yet it is surprisingly accessible. The second work, Quest, is more recent, with a first performance in 1994. It is scored for acoustic guitar, soprano saxophone, piano and electric harpsichord, harp, and percussion. The guitar has the most prominent part, but the soprano saxophone also has long solo sections. The music is mystical and reflective, whilst the use of the varied percussion section adds to the strange compelling character of this work. Excellent performance by the Ensemble New Art under Fuat Kent. Highly recommended as an introduction for an undervalued contemporary composer.

Amazon

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Stop and go

We have encountered my Flickr friend chriscreek a number of times with his fractal art masterpieces, but this is the first time he features with one of his regular photographs. It is a shot of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, and as one commenter put it, a clear depiction of the American dream. A classic photograph, enhanced by the choice for black and white.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quatorze Juillet

An older painting of my wife (Celebration in Rouen, dating back to 2003) in honour of the French national holiday. Very much in her transition period, before the Shanghai Expressionism style really kicked in.

The Art of Lu Schaper