Monday, August 31, 2009

Don't look back in anger

A fitting song for today, given the Oasis blow-up. Undoubtedly, their 1995 album (What's the story) Morning glory is a landmark of the nineties. On their second album, the ripping rockers of their successful debut album (Definitely maybe) are replaced by great rock ballads, which gave them hit after hit in the charts. Don't look back in anger is actually the fourth hit single from that album, issued after the runaway success of Wonderwall. Oasis had saved the best for last, they have never sounded better than in this Beatles sound-a-like ballad, with its soaring chorus - even the lyrics echo Lennon: "So I start the revolution from my bed".
Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant masterpiece, one of 200 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black widow

A beautiful and mysterious portrait that I faved a few weeks ago. It is by fellow Flickrite scylla2008. Like the first commenter said, very dramatic, as if it were a scene from a movie. Excellent - and great title to boot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Copenhagen colours

A picture I faved about a month ago, but did not get around to posting here yet. It is by fellow Flickrite Hanjosan, a beautiful colourful shot taken in Copenhagen. I love the contrast between the marble columns and the coloured drapings, and of course the single girl emerging from the columns is the icing on the cake, transforming a great scene into a superior one.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Blow up the planet

The debut album by Nanjing's Rose Theatre is one of the weirdest albums I have heard in years. In the press release, the band state that they were heavily influenced by prog metal pioneers Dream Theatre, which is even reflected in the band's name. And yes, there are compositions lasting over 10 minutes on this album, with the expected metal riffs - but these riffs are interspersed with traditional Chinese instruments played in new age style, most notably the erhu played exceptionally well by their bass player Zhao Ling Hong. The overall effect is confusing to our Western ears, but apparently they are making quite an impact in China. Weird.

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 Rose theatre.
[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 Nancy White: If we can connect in some tiny way with a human that doesn't agree with us, then maybe we won't blow up the planet.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Abstraction in red tones, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Arial Bold 30 Red and BN Fontboy 75 Yellow, 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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Amsterdam Angel

Ten years ago, August 1999, I took my (then) girl friend - later my wife - to Europe to meet the family. For her it was the first trip outside Asia, and just as overwhelming as Asia was for me. When we came back to Singapore, this was one of the first paintings in which she used the inspiration of her Europe experience.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Ghosts

One of the most beautiful singles of all time - and one of the most beautiful covers as well. Japan's Ghost was a surprise UK top 10 in the early eighties, and marked the swan song of the band. It made way for a solo career of lead singer David Sylvian, who also takes the lime light on the cover art for the single, as well as for the corresponding album Tin drum, which featured earlier in the beautiful album covers series. More about Japan on the linked wikipedia page.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Le Coquelicot

Let's inject a bit of colour into the blog. One of my favourite artists from the French Fauvist expressionist movement is the Dutchman Kees van Dongen (1877-1968). Especially his portraits, such as the one depicted above from 1919, are excellent pieces of art. He once remarked of his popularity as a portraitist with high society women: "The essential thing is to elongate the women and especially to make them slim. After that it just remains to enlarge their jewels. They are ravished." More on van Dongen in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Black is beautiful

Another recent favourite of mine that did not get much reaction - but a clear candidate for one of my best shots of the year. I came across this subject in an Antwerp fashion store. Whilst my wife was looking at the clothes, I was peeking behind one of the interior walls to stumble upon this perfect scene. The vignetting, a rare feature in my pictures, was done to get rid of a too white spot in the top right corner.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik

Flickr

Monday, August 24, 2009

Now

The second of two very different time-themed photographs that I faved this weekend. This one is by my Flickr friend aftab. Subdued and subtle - and yet so powerful. In his own words: If you wait long enough, your dream might come true. If you wait too long, you may miss out on all opportunities. Time heals scars. It may make them uglier too. What is the right time then?Almost always, it is NOW, because, time waits for none. So true.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Is time linear?

The first of two very different time-themed photographs that I faved this weekend. This one is by my Flickr friend Philipp Klinger. Brilliant line play, shot in the brand new Guillemins train Station in Liege, Belgium, designed by the famous spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Befunky cartoonizer

The most interesting on-line fun with photographs site I have discovered so far: the cartoonizer section of Befunky. Simple and straightforward: upload, click, save, and your shot has been transformed to a high quality professional looking cartoon. An example, based on my photograph Sure tastes yammy, is shown above.

link

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Schmidt, the tarnished Austrian

Even more than Richard Strauss, Nazi sympathies have managed to tarnish the reputation of Austrian composer Franz Schmidt (1874-1939) forever, one of the reasons why his works are rarely performed. Granted, it was partially his own fault (although it appears it was more naivity than real sympathy that made him welcome the national socialist overlords), but his fall from grace is unwarranted. He was an accomplished composer, espcially in the symphonic oeuvre, building upon the legacy of Schubert and Bruckner, with a hint of modern influences - still, late romanticism would be the most suitable description of his style. His best works are his four symphonies and the opera Notre Dame. The symphonies span a large part of his active years (1896-1933) and all of them are well worth hearing. The fourth is probably his most performed work, but it is not available yet on Naxos. Never mind, because the first symphony, which was released recently on Naxos, serves as an excellent introduction to his oeuvre. Astonishingly mature for a 22 year old, this 45 minutes four movement work evokes Bruckner, Brahms and Reger, whilst firmly making a claim as the first work of a great symphonist. Excellent performance by the Malmo Symphony Orchestra under Sinaisky and exemplary recording. The remaining tracks are interesting as well: three instrumental excerpts from the first act of his acclaimed opera Notre Dame. Warmly recommended.

Amazon

Woodstock

At the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the legendary festival. The band around Ian Matthews is only remembered nowadays for their only hit, a cover of Joni Mitchell's great ballad Woodstock, which was a #1 in the UK and a top 20 in the USA. The song gives a perfect impression of the peace and nature loving Woodstock generation and the finishing lines are amongst the most impressive - if naive - ever penned: "By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong and everywhere there was song and celebration. And I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky, and they were turning into butterflies above our nation. We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden".
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Staircase in red and white

Another one of those fascinating architectural abstractions that my Flickr friend yushimoto_02 [christian] excels in. Shot inside a Munich office centre, this has all the qualities of an abstract cubist painting.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Night of the demon

A fascinating piece of amateur video art found on YouTube. The 1957 movie Night of the demon (called Curse of the demon in the US) inspired Kate Bush in the writing of her songs Hounds of Love and The Red Shoes, as well as her short film, The Line, The Cross & The Curve. This video takes footage from the movie, interweaved with footage of Kate performing her music. A treat.

YouTube

Friday, August 21, 2009

Before and after science

One of the best albums of the seventies, and one of the best designs as well: Brian Eno's 1977 landmark album Before and after science. The design is based on a photograph of Ritva Saarikko, with excellent post teatment and tasteful use of title and artist.

All Music

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Seeing red

This shot made less impact on Flickr than I had hoped for - it is one of my own favourites from my stream. I shot it last Thursday in Antwerp, in the window of a clothes shop.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 26.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love has reasons which reason can't understand

And here is the shot by my Flickr friend aftab. that I just referred to in the previous post. Wonderful atmosphere, brilliant light play, and perfect reflections of the birds. Excellent choice to keep them so small in the frame, works far better here than a close-up shot. And as usual a great and thought provoking title as well.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Yesterday

It has taken a while for me to post this one, as my wife did not have it in her Flickr portfolio. A recent shot by my Flickr friend aftab reminded me so much of it, that we went ahead and took a photograph of it. This is actually the painting that drew me into her gallery - and drew me back in a few minutes after leaving it when I decided to buy it. It does seem like yesterday (her choice for the name) - the start of a romance that has meanwhile lasted over 10 years.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Monday, August 17, 2009

Composition part 3: framing within the frame

The third in a series on basic composition rules to further enhance the quality of your photographs if you are not aware of them yet - the first one, dealing with the rule of thirds, can be found here, the second one, dealing with the background choice, can be found here. I am using an article on the site Amateur Snapper as a guideline here, but providing examples from my own stream. One of the fun things for me in posting this series is the realization that I am really underusing some compositional elements. A case in point is the frame within the frame, utilizing a naturally occuring see-through element as part of the composition. I was hard pressed to find an example in my Flickr photo stream, as the best one that I found had already been used in the My photography series (Morningmood), but in the end the above Shanghai shot (The photographer) qualifies. To quote the Snapper site: The world is full of objects which make perfect natural frames, such as trees, archways and holes. By placing these around the edge of the composition you help to isolate the main subject from the outside world. The result is a more focussed image which draws your eye naturally to the main point of interest. Once more also, we have the rule of thirds in this composition. The supporting lines of the central square are very close to the imagined rule of thirds lines and the main subject, the photographer, is located on the left centre line of the thirds grid.

Reactions welcome

After over 3 years of blogging I have gotten used to the lack of comments left by readers, even though I get 100-200 views per day. A new Blogger gadget has just made it easier for you though to let me know what you think of a post in the blog - just click one or more of the boxes at the bottom of a post if the post appealed to your taste. I will give this a try for a few weeks to see whether it has any added value. :)
EDIT: well, that did not generate much reactions either, so I switched it off again.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On the origin of rainbows

Let's close out the weekend in a colourful way - with this gorgeous shot by fellow Flickrite Harpagornis. Absolutely unique, including the way he prepared for it by fingerpainting on a window thus using the sky as painting background

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Multatuli

This shot of mine was the 25th to make Flickr Explore, the 500 most interesting photographs of the day. The sculpture, in the center of Amsterdam, is that of the Dutch author Multatuli. The addition of the girl is a nice bonus to increase the contrasts. Black and white is a logical choice for the shot, and as a matter of fact, the majority of my explored shots have been black and white.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Some good, some bad

Obscure but fascinating Krautrock. Oberuckersee were a five man band from Dortmund, who recorded four albums in the years 1972-1977. Although they hardly made the radio waves - except for a 1974 single Spritzer that made no impact on the charts - they had a loyal fan base and their concerts were always sold out. Not suprisingly, the record company could not be bothered to transfer their albums on CD, but the four surviving band members have persuaded them to go for a one disc compilation, endeeringly titled Some good, some bad. A must hear compilation if you like this style of music.

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 Oberuckersee.
[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 Henry Bromel: We all carry around so much pain in our hearts. Love and pain and beauty. They all seem to go together like one little tidy confusing package. It's a messy business, life. It's hard to figure--full of surprises. Some good. Some bad.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Laundry wall, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Croobie 45 GoldMetallic and Showcard Gothic 40 White/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.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paris plage

A stunning image, taken by my Flickr friend Jan Ronald Crans on the beach in the centre of Paris. About the last place in the world you would think of when you look at it. I get associations with the steaming jungles of the Caribbean islands instead, even with a sense of danger. Marvellous photograph, resembling a still from a movie.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Friday, August 14, 2009

Angel

Portrait photography is a sub-genre that I have very little experience with, but which seems difficult to accomplish. Self-portraiture is even more difficult, especially if you are as unjustifiably critical of the way you look as my dear and beautiful Flickr friend Ambreen (story.teller, who made previous appearances in my blog under the name batedbreath). In her own words: I was trying to do the 1930's make up because I have a shoot with someone next week. I wanted to show her what look I wanted, but this turned out more like the 1950's I think (the eyebrow is much thinner and rounder in shape in the 30's). Oh well. Well, whatever decade you want to put to the result, this is a gorgeous self-portrait of a very attractive lady.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bliss

I was surprised to see that I had not posted this painting by my wife yet in the blog. It is one of my personal favourites, and a good representation of the more romantic side of her Shanghai Expressionism style.

The Art of Lu Schaper