Sunday, January 31, 2010

Descent

And to round off this day's series, a gorgeous abstract shot by the latest addition to my relatively small list of Flickr friends, SteffenTuck. I came across her artistic stream thanks to another Flickr friend, katemellersh. This particular photograph drew me in, and I am sure there will be more of her work to feature in my blog the coming months.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Breakfast in the wild

The unavoidable (fortunately) contribution to any series of Flickr favourites by my favourite photographer on Flickr, aftab. A magnificent piece of brutal wild life from his Namibia trip, with this bird of prey feasting on a freshly killed small bird. The bokeh is simply breathtaking.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

There they go-o-o!

A recent fave, albeit an older shot (October 2006), by my Flickr friend peggyhr. This fantastic daisy study just received a well-deserved third place finish in the prestigious Telegraph Kate Day photo contest, with the theme 'white'. Ms. Day commented: "And finally, I loved Peggy Reimchen’s macro shot of a dandelion head. She is also looking up and has got down really low to play with the perspective in this picture. A nice take on a popular shot." Fully agree.

All rights retained by the photographer.

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In his element

Let's close out January with another Flickr Favourites Sunday: four very different shots I recently faved at Flicker. We start with a spectacular action photograph by my Flickr friend sannesu. She has posted a series of great surfer's shots over the past few weeks, but this one has it all, composition, stance, expression, brilliant shapes of the waves, sense of dynamics. A master piece.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Men in film

The male counterpart to the recently posted magnificent video of dozens of actresses, morphed into one another expertly, by the same creator. You will see in sequence the faces of Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Errol Flynn, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Tyrone Power, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Marlon Brando, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn, Gregory Peck, Richard Burton, Jack Lemmon, Sean Connery, Sidney Poitier, Charlton Heston, Steve McQueen, Peter O'Toole, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider, Warren Beatty, Dennis Hopper, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Harrison Ford, Kevin Kline, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Christopher Walken, Mel Gibson, Sean Penn, John Travolta, Antonio Banderas, Tim Robbins, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Matt Damon, and George Clooney. With more Bach as background. A treat.

YouTube

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Holocaust

Few classical music works have touched me so much as Gorecki's third symphony from 1976, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. Here, on international holocaust remembrance day, is the third movement by soprano Isabel Bayrakdaraian, and the Sinfonietta Cracovia, conducted by John Axelrod. Images were taken from "HOLOCAUST - A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz". For the first time since its liberation, permission was granted for music to be heard in Auschwitz and a number of leading musicians were brought there to perform music for the film. Spine chilling.

YouTube

Order and chaos

Here is another recent shot where, based on comments and faves, I thought I had a decent chance on Flickr Explore, but without success. I took this one last weekend in the park near our home, whilst walking the dog, after a fresh batch of snow. The first time I noticed the contrast between the vertical order and horizontal chaos in this group of trees.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/8.0
Focal Length: 154 mm
ISO speed 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Noir

One of those film noir like images that my friend Il malmostoso excels in. This one saw more post-processing than usual, and to great effect. Left titleless by its creator, I improvised one.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Chhaya chhaya nibhu nibhu alo'r rekha

The obligatory inclusion of my favourite photographer on Flickr, aftab. The title is derived from a bangladeshi song, but more importantly, the shot itself is a masterly example of defining tranquility in two dimensions.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Monkshood

One of my favourite Flickr friends, both in terms of photography and general interaction (not to mention contributions to my blogs), is jenny downing. Here is a recent example of her great flower shots. The bee is a nice bonus, but what makes that shot for me is the fabulous combination of colours. And the feeling of a much desired spring it evokes.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Up in the heavens!

An atmospheric foggy shot demonstrating the versality of my British Flickr friend Adrian (adrians_art), who recently featured in my blog with a still life and one of his trademark landscapes with magnificent skies. To quote the photographer: "it feels as if those horses were floating in the sky or Up in the heavens!".

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Late in the afternoon

Let's have another Flickr Favourites Sunday - five recent and very diffrent shots I faved on Flickr. We kick off with the third gorgeous portrait in my blog this month by my great Flickr friend andy_57. This is so far the best in an intriguing series with the model Cynthia Muse. The lighting is as perfect as ever, and I particularly like the pose of the model in this shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Women in film

Back in October 2008, I posted a stunning video about women in art, by Philip Scott Johnson who managed to take 90 women depicted by famous painters and let them morph slowly but irresistably from one to the other. Well, he has been at it again, this time using famous actresses, to wit (takes deep breath) Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, Marlene Dietrich, Norma Shearer, Ruth Chatterton, Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, Carole Lombard, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Vivien Leigh, Greer Garson, Hedy Lamarr, Rita Hayworth, Gene Tierney, Olivia de Havilland, Ingrid Bergman, Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Deborah Kerr, Judy Garland, Anne Baxter, Lauren Bacall, Susan Hayward, Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Audrey Hepburn, Dorothy Dandridge, Shirley MacLaine, Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Janet Leigh, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Ann Margret, Julie Andrews, Raquel Welch, Tuesday Weld, Jane Fonda, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Kathleen Turner, Holly Hunter, Jodie Foster, Angela Bassett, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Sandra Bullock, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Halle Berry. More Bach as background music, and another absolute masterpiece. A must see.

YouTube

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Universe is winning

We have had four cellos combining to play metal music to great effect in the band Apocalyptica, and now we have eight king-size synthesizers in the band Hispanic Paradox combining to play space music to, well, not quite as great effect. This octet from San Jose plays it safe on their first CD, and selected well-known space songs to cover with their electronic beasts: the likes of David Bowie's Space Oddity, Pink Floyd's Interstellar overdrive, Elton John's Rocket man and Radiohead's Paranoid Android. The inclusion of a medley of Star Wars themes also is hardly surprising, and the only perhaps more striking choice is an amalgation of classical music themes as used in 2001 A Space Odissey, from Strauss to Ligeti. The end result is always somewhat entertaining, but honestly too much to take in one session. Pick and choose, and put 1 or 2 on the MP3 player.

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 Hispanic Paradox.
[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 Rick Cook: Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, In a galaxy far far away, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Subway 60 antique white and Imperium 65 antique 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.

Les deux Parisiennes

As I have stated before, one of my favourite artists from the French Fauvist expressionist movement is the Dutchman Kees van Dongen (1877-1968). Seeing more of his work in the Paris musea during our trip last September has only strengthened my appreciation of his art. This painting dates back to 1907 and also reflects some of the elements in the style of my wife's art. Exquisite.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lizzy

One of the best and one of the cutest animal photographs I have seen for a long time - and of course we have my Flickr friend aftab to thank for it. The shallow dof in this gekko shot is flabbergasting and extremely effective. I would love the picture even more had I not had my share of problems with these creatures whilst living in Singapore. One of them nested in my laser printer, another in the coffee machine.....

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Parallel universe

Earlier this month, my wife was having business discussions in the bar of the Amsterdam Movenpick Hotel - and I took the opportunity to stroll around the bar and the reception area with my camera in search of subjects. This is my favourite shot of the evening, very zen-like in its minimalism. Given the rapid series of comments and faves, I expected this to make Explore, but it did not.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 51 mm
ISO speed 1600
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dancing with the swans

This is the type of minimal shot that I have first seen some time ago in the streams of my Flickr friends macaz1977 and Shaun Keenan. Recently also one of the very first friends I made at Flickr, Lars van de Goor, embarked on this style. And with fantastic results. The best so far is this shot of dancing swans, which would be great in itself, but which gains tremendously in the minimalistic reduction. Even better when viewed on a white background.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Only revolutions

Even in 2009, it is possible to beef up your album with a beautiful cover, as demonstrated by Scottish punk revival band Biff Clyro. The AllMusic page on this album is virtually empty, so I link to the wikipedia entry instead, on which StormStudios is credited with design and photography.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A man is uninteresting

The debut album of the young Vancouver based singer/song writer Kelly Harms is a fascinating one. Sounding like a cross between Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan, Kelly is equally at home in tender ballads and rocking songs. Fifteen high quality self-penned gems all around the theme of broken relationships - but she is not pining after what might have been, just shrugs her shoulders and moves on. The sixteenth song is a fascinating cover of Garbage's Cup of coffee - and she gives Shirley Manson a run for her money here! Will this album sell millions? Unfortunately not, especially since in spite of her good looks she has refused to do a video clip for one of her songs. But ten years from now, when the likes of Lady Gaga will have been reduced to a footnote in music history, people will still be playing Kelly Harms.

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 Kelly Harms.
[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 Marlene Dietrich: Without tenderness, a man is uninteresting.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, La Rouennaise, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Harlow Solid italic 85 Red and Chick 60 Purple Strong, 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.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Believe

The death of Teddy Pendergrass prompted me to post this Flickr favourite from a few weeks ago, one of many by my Flickr friend aftab. It feels appropriate for the occasion. And as I said in a comment on this shot, a bokeh from heaven.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

The love I lost

And another great artist has passed away: Teddy Pendergrass, lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes during their most successful years, died this week at age 59. The band in which he sang the lead was one of the most successful of the Sound of Philadelphia, one of the few soul categories that regularly hit the charts in Holland in 1973/1974, in my late teens. I always had a weak spot for this particular song dating back to 1973. The video is useless, but the sound, which is the complete album version that was distributed over 2 45rpm sides, remains a treat. RIP Teddy.
Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player)

YouTube

1000

Well, it took just over a year after the purge and restart to reach post #1000 again - and I'm pretty sure that's a lot quicker than in the first incarnation of this blog. Glad I made that decision October 2008 - it's still fun doing this, and that's a big improvement on the situation earlier that year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Abstraction in winter tones

This is definitely one of my favourite shots of the last weeks. I spotted this little scene at a local construction site, whilst walking to the supermarket (yes, I take a camera along almost all the time). The cable spools, decorated with a bit of fresh snow, make for a satisfying abstract composition.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.013 sec (1/80)
Aperture: f/3.2
Focal Length: 16.1 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Luscious

One of the "softer" creations of my wife during her European Shanghai Expressionism period, and in fact reaching back in many aspects to her Singapore period. Subtle pastel tones, and more details in the face than usual. The oriental feeling ist still very pronounced though.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Monday, January 11, 2010

Composition part 9: symmetry and patterns

The ninth 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, the third one, dealing with framing within the frame, can be found here, the fourth one, dealing with leading lines, can be found here, the fifth one, dealing with viewpoint can be found here, the sixth one, dealing with cropping, can be found here, the seventh one, dealing with especially shaped crops, can be found here, the eighth one, dealing with balancing elements, 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. This shot (Abstracted architecture 2009-3) illustrates the idea behind the compositional tool of symmetry and patterns. The patterns created by the windows, and their interaction at the cross-section between lines and curves, makes for an aesthetically pleasing composition. Slight imprfections tend to further enhance the quality of compositions like these (I refer to them as spicing up the shot), in this case the few open windows breaking the lines are such an additional benefit.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Let relics weep again (and again)

And to round off this quintet, a fascinating landscape shot by my brooding Flickr friend Il malmostoso in his native Italy Gadara (Umm Quais), Jordan*. Stunning in its simplicity.
*) thanks to the commenter pointing out my mistake.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr