Friday, July 31, 2009

Shadows of the past

Sometimes you come across really great images on the web, but without information attached to them. I decided to start a new subject for these, titled A is for anonymous. I will include the link where I found the shot, and anybody who can provide more information on these pictures, please leave a comment or mail me. It was love at first sight for me when I stumbled across this one. Very creative photoshopping, resulting in a beautiful evocative scene.

link

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 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.

The 2009 Venice Biennale

Oh Brother. The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years in Venice, and is supposed to showcase the best of modern art. I have not been able to visit it, but judging from the linked overview I am not missing much. I know, 90% of anything is crap, but 99.9% of so-called modern art is crap. The leading picture of the linked article, shown above as well, is a typical example of a con-artist at work. In this case Italian conceptual "artist" Michelangelo Pistoletto who has been able to convince sufficient people that breaking mirrors is art, to make the final cut. Of the other art works featured in the article I find some mildly interesting, and I would have appreciated seeing them in galleries (in particular the photographs numbered 9, 12, 13 and 18), but they are not leading works of art in my book, and the less said about most of the rest the better.

web site

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

Acceleration sofa

Sofa so good... this modern design furniture by Copenhagen based designer Phillip Grass appears to come straight from the set of Star Trek. "My design is futuristic with a sense of acceleration and speed; organic with seamless flowing forms," says Grass. "Simple, well-balanced and peaceful, while simultaneously creating a sense of awe."

web site

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

Suicide is painless

Sometimes you come across really great images on the web, but without information attached to them. I decided to start a new subject for these, titled A is for anonymous. Normally, I will include the link where I found the shot, but this marvellous created still life came by email without any further information. Anybody who can provide more information on these pictures, please leave a comment or mail me.

EDIT: this is the first in the series where I eventually managed to find the creator. His name is Balla Tamas, this photograph is called Final exasperation, and the website is linked to below.

link

Hiding in the city by Liu Bolin

Is it great art? No. Is it intriguing and fun to look at? Yes. Does it beat 99%+ of all conceptual art out there? Hell, yes! The Chinese artist Liu Bolin has specialized in becoming the (almost) invisble man, merging into the background of selected scenes by being painted, as a silent protest. You can find more background information and more of Liu's work on the linked site.

All rights retained by the artist.

web site

Audrey

More photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. Here is an original shot created by their member gecokat for the Photigami 6 contest - creating images from one basic shape. Marvellous result, emphasizing also how quickly our minds recognize images from a few lines - in this case of course Audrey Hepburn.

All rights retained by the creator.

Worth1000

Friday, July 24, 2009

Solar eclipse

The solar eclipse earlier this week in large parts of Asia obviously resulted in numerous photographs published in the media. I like this one best, possibly because of the Chinese angle. A great collection of shots on this theme can be found on the linked site.

All rights retained by the photographer.

web site

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.

A map of the Universe

More fascinating fractal art by chriscreek. The title fits the image perfectly. An outstanding fractal image.

All rights retained by the creator.

Flickr

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

Kakao Hildebrand

It is of course almost impossible not to do something on the lunar theme today... my original plan to include a YouTube video of REM's Man on the Moon was foiled by the dimwits at Warner's who think that eliminating their songs from that site will result in more CD's being sold, and to find a suitable painting turned out to be difficult as well. But here is a great moon themed vintage poster by the German chocolate manufacturer Hildebrand.

Vintage Posters

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