Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They hit the town

One of the most fascinating shots I have encountered on Flickr in recent weeks. The silhouettes themselves are great, the reflections make it even better and those fabulous colours make it into a masterpiece - courtecy of fellow flickrite TJ Scott.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wild boys

And a logical follow-up of that post.... One of the best tracks of the eighties' chart huggers, a world-wide top five hit in 1984. Wild Boys is based on a book by William S. Burroughs about renegade homosexual boys. Director Russel Mulcahy wanted to make a film based on the book, and Duran Duran was going to do the music (or at least the title song). The movie fell through, so Russel decided to direct the video for the song they had made - and produced one of the most notorious and artistic videos of the decade! The song is heavier than most from this band, and has been highlighted as one of the main inspirations of the heavy metal movement that originated shortly thereafter. The video is the extra long version. Enjoy!
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Rio

And as a follow-up of the previous post, here is Patrick Nagel's art in its probably best known form: the cover of the 1982 Duran Duran abum Rio. Quintessential eighties' music and art.

All Music

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The wave

One of my own favourite architecture shots. This intriguing building, The Wave, is in the Dutch city of Almere, 15 minutes walking from our home. I caught it one early morning with really great light.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1250)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 10.6 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Through the sorrow ...

Self portraits constitute an intriguing photographic theme, and this is one of the best I have ever seen. My Flickr friend The0d0ra has not featured yet in my blog, because she had taken an extended time-out from Flickr. Glad to see her back, and certainly with stunning shots like this one.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Three white tulips

Today nine years ago we got married - and our marriage is still going strong. To celebrate, I post this painting especially for my laopo - white tulips, just like in her bridal bouquet. This 1912 painting is an early work by American photographer and painter Charles Sheeler (1883-1965), whose style later helped defined the precisionism genre. More on Sheeler in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So far away from L.A.

The French singer Nicolas Peyrac, born in Brittany as Jean-Jacques Tazartez, is one of the greatest singers of all time from his country. His strength lay in subtle ballads, which he could deliver in an honest style reminiscent at times of Jim Croce. By far his best song is So far away from L.A., which in spite of the title is mainly sung in French - only the short refrain is in English. He reminisces about a girl he met in the USA and fell in love with, interspersed with images of California.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scary monsters

David Bowie has always been an artistic artist, and his covers more often than not reflect this attitude as well. One of the best is the cover of the 1980 album Scary monsters (also one of his best albums by the way), designed by Brian Duffy.

All Music

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The soul of pleasure

When communism ruled in Czechoslovakia, rock groups were forced to please the party with their albums - or face obstruction - or worse. One of the more artistically successful bands of that time was Skupina pro Dustojny Zivot, a quintet from Presov, who have now reformed under the translated English name Party for Dignified Life, aiming at an international career. They have re-recorded their greatest Czech hits of the eighties in English versions, and although some couleur locale is lost this way, the results are still very interesting. Their sound is perhaps best characterized as new wave with plenty of synthesizers, rocking guitars and a drum machine that sounds terribly dated, but in a cute way. The songs deal with typical themes of the life in communist times, and one cannot help but feel that there is more than a bit of tongue-in-cheek in these reissued versions. An interesting addition to any collection, if not essential.

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 Party for Dignified Life.
[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 Aphra Behn: Variety is the soul of pleasure.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Communism in Presov, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Monotype Corsiva 85 Gold Metallic and Rebecca 60 Silver, 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.

Grofe, American tone painter

Perhaps the quintessential American composer of light classical music: Ferde Grofe (1892-1972). When he was not busy playing jazz, arranging Gershwin's Rhapsody in blue for orchestra, or composing movie scores, he found inspiration in typical American landscapes and themes for a series of concert suites that are well worth exploring. By far the most famous is the 1931 Grand Canyon suite, which has been recorded by most major labels - and Naxos is doing a fine job here as well. Less famous, but interesting as well, are the Huckleberry Finn inspired 1925 Mississippi suite and the 1961 Niagara Falls suite. The nickname he gave to the Mississippi suite (Tone journey) fits all three compositions like a glove. Excellent performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under William Stromberg. A highly enjoyable disc of an underrated composer.

Amazon

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vampiric rain

The third time that my Flickr friend Il malmostoso features in the blog, and it will not be the last. In all its apparent yet deceiving simplicity, this is such a strong and emotional shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Longing for the other side

One bird deserves another. This shot of mine dates back to January 2008. On a short bicycle trip we encountered a flock of geese, and fortunately I had a camera at hand. The trick here is to shoot from a really low angle. Birds, and inparticular water fowl, occur frequently in my photo stream, but this is one of my own favourites.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 15.4 mm
ISO speed: 50
Post-processing: Picasa 2.0

Flickr

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seeing red

The second of two of the best portrait photographs I have seen on Flickr. This one is by my Flickr friend macaz1977. A self portrait, with added effects created by means of a laser pen. Highly creative and a great result.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Yikes!

The first of two of the best portrait photographs I have seen on Flickr. This one is by my Flickr friend andy_57. Perhaps the more conventional one of the two, this packs a punch of emotion. Marvellous composition and a very powerful shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wildflower

Skylarks 1972 hit Wildflower is one of those songs that I loved when I was a 16-year old discovering pop music in 1973, and still do. I was delighted to find this tender love song on a compilation CD a few years ago, and re-listening confirmed just how good it is. This single by a little-known Canadian band caused some controversy in America in its days when it hit the US top ten: was this a white group trying to do a black song or a black group trying to do a white song? It turned out to be the latter. The video matches the 45rpm version, in which about a minute's worth of music has unfortunately been cut.
Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant masterpiece, one of 200 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Rumours

More of my wife's art in her unique Shanghai Expressionism style. And once more including the trademark featureless faces.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And that makes ten

My recent lack of inspiration to go out and take photographs has one positive side-effect: I am looking at older unused shots of mine with fresh eyes. This one dates back to 2007, a simple shot of trees reflected in a puddle that I had originally dismissed as boring. However, turned upside down, with a bit more Picasa postprocessing than usual, and topped off with a lomo-like treatment with the on-line editing tool Picnik, I got something rather special, akin to an impressionist painting. Apparently I am not the only one liking it - this is the tenth shot of mine to make the mysterious Flickr Explore list of 500 most interesting shots of the day.

Camera: Konica Minolta KD-400Z 4 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.005 sec (1/189)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 8 mm
Iso speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik Lomo effect

Flickr

Monday, March 09, 2009

Poly black

Continuing the theme of abstraction in photographs. There are a few photographers on Flickr who consistently turn out such great shots on this theme - and tina_manthorpe is surely amongst the best. To see black polythene wrapping for hay bales as a photographic opportunity is one thing, to turn it into such a great abstract shot is quite another.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Staelesque abstract

If you keep your eyes open, you can spot abstract themes for photography all around you. This one originally dates back to 2007, and is actually a close up of an old door in Amsterdam that was about to get repainted. It very much reminds me of the art of Nicolas de Stael, one of my wife's favourite painters (see also next entry).

Camera: Konica Minolta KD-400Z 4 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/467)
Aperture: f/4.7
Focal Length: 8 mm
Iso speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Action brings new strength

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, 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 Downham West.
[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 Evenius: The undertaking of a new action brings new strength.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, China Now 8, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Chinese Takeaway 30 Gold Metallic and Boomerang 60 Blue, respectively.

Meanwhile, fellow blogger arnel has started Heart on my sleeve, a dedicated blog for this album cover game, following the original guide lines. Well worth exploring - it is clear that he has great talent for design.

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, March 07, 2009

Zarathustra

Within seventies' prog rock, there are a surprisingly high number of great albums originating from Italy. One example is the 1973 record Zarathustra by Museo Rosenbach. This album also stands out by its cover art (Kazvnori Akita and Caesar Monti), inspired by classical visual illusions paintings. As the AllMusic page contains virtually no information at all about this album, I link to the Prog Archives page instead.

Prog Archives

Friday, March 06, 2009

Corn cob

Going back in time - 18 months to be precise. This shot by my Flickr friend Carl Carl was one of the first shots I faved at Flickr and it had a profound effect on (part of) my own photography style. It showed me the possibility of treating architectural features in a virtually abstract way, something I have been doing regularly since then.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lemon on ice

The title is a play on words - in Dutch. This vintage French car is by the manufacturer Citroen, which in Dutch is also the word for lemon. I came across this so far unused shot in my archives - it was taken during the days when an icy fog turned all of Holland into fascinating scenes. In addition to the usual minor Picasa postprocessing I have given this so a lomo-like treatment with the on-line editing tool Picnik. That treatment works pretty well here in my opinion - and this became my ninth shot to reach the Flickr Explore pages, the 500 best shots uploaded on a day.

Camera: Samsung NV10 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 7.84 mm
ISO speed: 100
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik Lomo

Flickr