Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Words and music

This shot was taken in 2007, one of the earliest shots I faved on Flickr. It was created by fellow Flickrite Mohsan at the Igor Stravinsky Square near the Centre de Pompidou. I love the cinematographic quality of this image, enhanced by the black and white treatment.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Absolutely charming......

Another famous Paris landmark, the Notre Dame. I love how my Flickr friend Nicolas Valentin has reduced this to such a small and still significant part of the overall shot, with much emphasis on the quay and the Seine, and helped by that dramatic sky.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Under The Old Lady's Skirt

To round off March, three of my Flickr favourites from the past, all shot in Paris. This is a highly original take on the Eiffel tower by my Flickr friend LilFr38. Awesome symmetry, enhanced by the unusual viewpoint and brilliant title to boot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Les jambes

One of those great Paris shop decorations - I spotted this one in the Montparnasse Monoprix. The female leg, whether real or artificial, is one of the most beautiful shapes in the world.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 28 mm
ISO speed 800
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sous le ciel de Paris

A logical conclusion of the two previous posts - featuring on the soundtrack of the movie An education, one of the quintessential Parisian songs in the version by la Greco. Wonderful.

YouTube

No. 7

In the aforementioned movie, the main character listens to this 1960 album by Juliette Greco, and my wife whispered to me that she used to listen to that album as well. It features an iconic cover, credited to Aubert and Farabola, and I was surprised that I could not find good images on the internet. This poster essentially shows the same photograph though.

All Music

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mottled

A deceivingly simple study, but so many details to take in, and the total image switches from abstract to nature shot and back continuously. A lovely piece of work by my Flickr friend jenny downing.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The last two chapters

The mind boggles, but at 24, Montreal's trip hop queen Hurricane Nicole has decided to withdraw from the scene altogether - after three consecutive million selling albums world wide. She goes out with a bang, not with a whisper, with her latest (and presumably last) album, The last two chapters. A double CD, with the main disc containing all new material - and the irony of it all is that it is probably the best she has released so far. Songs like Flight209, Spring in Winter, and Head over heels are destined to become absolute classics. In her typical independent way, she has forced the record company to include the second CD for free, rather than releasing the combination at a premium price. This bonus contains twelve tracks, combining some of her better B-sides, as well as 4 delightful live versions of her main hits. Please Nicole, change your mind, and make a come back after a time out. We will miss you.

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 Hurricane Nicole_.
[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 Nora Ephron: If pregnancy were a book, they would cut the last two chapters.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, La autre 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 Colonna MT 60 White and FoxJump 85 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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Fibich, the German Czech

Many people will be hard pressed to name a Czech composer beyond Dvorak, Smetana, Janacek, and possibly Suk and Martinu. Enter Zdenek Fibich (1850-1900), a contemporary of Dvorak who is far less heard than the quality of his works warrants. Being of mixed Czech/German descent, the nationalism of his more famous colleagues never dominated his output, which perhaps contributed to his neglect. His three symphonies in the German late romantic idiom are amongst his best works, highly melodic and emotional. This Naxos disc collects the first two (dating from 1883 and 1893) in great performances by the Razumovsky Symphony Orchestra under Andrew Mogrelia. Well worth investigating.

Amazon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fade to grey

Any Eighties' hit compilation should include this 1980 one-hit wonder from British New Romantics icons Visage, which included Midge Ure of Ultravox fame. Backed by a wall of synthesizer sounds, lead singer Strange whispers his sketchy lyrics, whilst an unidentified girl murmurs lines in French. Fade to grey is at the same time bizarre and catching, and can be enjoyed both as great music to listen to and as a fantastic dance record.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Photographing the photographer

One of the rare shots I took of my wife that she approved for release on the internet. This is on the inside square of Blois Castle near the Loire in France.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.002 sec (1/640)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Photoshop

Flickr

Monday, March 15, 2010

Composition part 10: create depth

The tenth (and probably last) 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, the ninth one, dealing with symmetry and patterns, 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 (Off the top of my head) illustrates the idea behind the compositional tool of creating depth - I had problems finding a suitable example in my stream, clearly, this is a tool I need to work on more. Transforming the 2D image of a photograph into a 3D scene in our mind can be helped by including objects in the foreground, middle ground and background. Here, the sculpture upfront and the painting in the back create a sense of depth that a shot of just one of these would not have had - whilst the open door in the back helps as well . Note also that the lines of thirds are applied for the positioning of the two art pieces, and that the sculptures legs double up as leading lines.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Scratch my back

Peter Gabriel's newest release is a stunning set of covers from the likes of David Bowie, Talking Heads and Radiohead. I need to give it a few more spins before making up my mind about this project - first impressions vary (per song) from brilliant to disappointing. One thing is clear though: the minimalist cover design by Marc Beesant is perfection.

All Music

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The most beautiful things in life

The most beautiful things in life... are not things, to quote the creator of this beauty. If someone wanted to start a picture dictionary (pictionary is unfortunately already taken), then this image should go under the heading "Love". Another masterpiece by my Flickr friend aftab.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

The blindness of strangers

It is impossible that you have not heard the wild speculations around this new band. Borocera have never given any background information, but persistent rumours are that it is actually a supergroup of some of the best-known rock artists of all time. Just which artists exactly is not clear. Names that are going around include Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, Bill Bruford, Tony Levine, John Entwistle, Adam Clayton, Phil Manzanera, Ritchie Blackmore, to name but a few. Even the album cover with its faceless crowd, reflects this uncertainty. And after all, maybe it is just a clever scheme by the record company. Whatever the truth is, The blindness of strangers is a great album, with 12 instrumental tracks in the best classic rock tradition. 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 Borocera.
[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 Adrienne E. Gusoff: I have often depended on the blindness of strangers.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, With the faceless crowd, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were JudasPriest 60 Silver and Sever 70 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.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Lady of the Lake

A stunning creation by the latest addition to my select group of Flickr friends, K ~ ~. A beautiful example of underwater photography, recalling both classical paintings such as Millais' Ophelia, and the photography of Toni Frissell.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Even better when watched on the white Flickr background to fully appreciate the delicate minimalistic art of this type of shot that my Flickr friend macaz1977 excels in. Very compelling and highly artistic.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Friday, March 05, 2010

If you really want to kiss me...

...do now - for 5 minutes I have been bending my neck like this and it hurts! A playful title for a delightful wildlife shot by my Flickr friend aftab. I love zebra's, and this is amongst the best zebra shots I have ever seen.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Beach, the female symphonist

The title best female composer of all time should go to Sofia Gubaidulina, who has featured before in this blog. However, if we restrict it to female composer of symphonies, American Amy Beach (1867-1944) would get my vote - even though she composed only one. Her Gaelic symphony from 1896 ranks amongst the best late romantic examples of the genre. The 42-minute four-movement Symphony makes use of Irish tunes as well as original tunes that she wrote in the style of Irish folk songs, melodic and immediately attractive. On this Naxos disc, it is accompanied by her other major orchestral work, the 1899 piano concerto, which clocks in at close to 40 minutes as well. A luscious grand romantic concerto recalling the likes of Grieg and MacDowell, which reminds us that Ms. Beach herself was a celebrated concert pianist in those days. The performances by the Nashville Symphony under Schermerhorn, with pianist Alan Feinberg, are exemplary, as is the recording. An essential disc of an essential composer.

Amazon

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Riot of colours

This is my most frequently faved shot of the year so far. Simple things can turn into interesting photographs - in this case, a number of coloured clothes hangers in the Rijksmuseum Twenthe.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 96 mm
ISO speed 1600
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Monday, March 01, 2010

Frederic Chopin and George Sand

Today 200 years ago, Poland's greatest composer Frederic Chopin was born. For this occasion, a suitable painting by the French artist Eugene Delacroix, who has not featured yet in my blog. The romantic movement Delacroix represented is not directly to my taste, but in works like this one he appears to pave the way for the impressionists. Interestingly, the work is more often than not shown in a cut version, with just Chopin's head.

Just hiding

It's been a while since I posted about my wife's art, because she does not allow her latest works to appear on the internet in preparation for a series of exhibitions later this year. So here is a creation of a few years ago, very oriental in its expressionist idiom.

The Art of Lu Schaper