Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

As 2011 draws to a close, my wife and I wish all the readers of this blog a great 2012. Make it a good one - dare to dream and dare to try to make those dreams reality. The past few months have seen us through two major decisions that will start next year. First, I have decided to take the option of early retirement in the middle of the year (at age 55) to fully enjoy life. Secondly, we have finally settled where our future will be. After a roller coaster of options throughout the year, with us seriously looking at Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Germany, we will in the end stay in Holland. We have bought a three centuries old house/shop combination in the medieval city of Kampen. My wife will be using the shop as studio and gallery to display her art, and I am sure that the medieval surroundings will do wonders for our photographic inspiration. We have dared to take the leap - I advice you to do the same!

Read

Somehow this fairly recent favourite taken from the stream of my Flickr friend aftab reminds me of the end of the year. Probably because of the symbolic meaning of the book in the sunset, calling to mind the closing of the chapter in our lives that was titled 2011. May 2012 bring all of us what we most hope and long for.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Keeper Dozen 2011

Picking my 12 favourite photographs of the year has become a yearly custom. It was triggered by a group at Flickr (Keeper Dozen), which was inspired by an Ansel Adams quote: "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." This year did not stand out in terms of inspiration to say the least - for a variety of reasons. Sill, I managed to select 12 shots that I am at least reasonably satisfied with. Here is the countdown from 12 to 1.

12. Psychedelic
Psychedelic
We kick of with one of my favourite themes: creating abstractions from water reflection shots. This Pollocky abstract was created in front of my eyes by autumn coloured leaves of London's Regent Park reflecting in the water. Six faves at Flickr, and probably my most popular traditional water reflection shot of the year.

11. Winter electrical sunset
Winter electrical sunset
Shot in the park near our home, with a bit more post-processing than usual to really push the colours. I like the interplay with the power lines, leading to the title. Only two faves at Flickr - clearly I think higher of it than most people.

10. I still got the blues for you
I still got the blues for you
Many people at Flickr wondered what they were actually looking at. Well, it is a glass ornament at my brother's place, but with the shot turned upside down for more effect. I particularly liked one comment: "Like a haiku about grey and blue". Also a fitting tribute for Gary Moore, whose song title I used, and who passed away later in the year. Six faves at Flickr.

9. Shanghai stairway to heaven
Shanghai stairway to heaven
One of my favourite shots from this year's trip to Shanghai - which was in winter and therefore yielded less pictures than in years before. I shot this one inside the Times Square shopping mall at Huahei road. I particularly like the dominating golden colours, the various levels of escalators, and the silhouetted figures as a centre point of attention. Three faves at Flickr.

8. Abstraction in reflections
Abstraction in reflections
Abstracted reflections feature regularly in my photostream, the reflecting medium usually being water, sometimes ice. This shot is different: the reflecting medium is the bottom part of a highway overpass, taken from a pedestrian bridge near the People Square of Shanghai in the evening. The traffic lights and car lights reflect to give a great abstract impression. Four faves at Flickr.

7. Kensington street art
Kensington street art 4
This is the fourth (and final) in a series of shots I took on a bridge in London's Kensington district, where the weathered wall structure made for pieces resembling modern art. My favourite of the series, I love the interaction of the shapes and colours. I could really see this hanging in a modern art museum. Three faves at Flickr.

6. Memento mori
Memento mori
This photograph depicts a grave inside a church in Medemblik. Thanks to the diagonal composition, it effectively creates a diptych symbolizing life and death. Although the diagonal as a theme occurs frequently in my photography, this one really stands out as a unique example. Three faves at Flickr.

5. Into the light
Into the light
A fitting counterpart to the previous shot. Strange how things go. I shot this scene in November on a foggy day in the park near our home. I was not sure whether it was good enough to share on the web, but in the end I posted it to Flickr last weekend. It exploded on me, rapidly collecting dozens of faves from fellow Flickrites, and even becoming my 52nd shot in total (but only my 2nd of the year) to reach Flickr Explore, the 500 most interesting photographs of the day. With 59 faves at Flickr (in just over a week...) my most popular shot of the year, and already in my top 5 of all time in that respect.

4. Shanghai patterns
Shanghai patterns 2
Recognition of the potential of patterns is one of the virtues of having a good photographic eye - and I have been told that I have that. This is a shot of a gate in Shanghai, transforming it into an abstract composition that is quite pleasing. Shot with a point-and-shooter rather than my mirror reflex. Faved four times at Flickr.

3. Dragon
Dragon
A water reflection shot totally unlike any other I have ever taken. It is the reflection of a branch in water, post-processed to b&w to get an oriental feeling - like a Chinese ink painting of a dragon. Rather strong on composition as well, which resulted in an entry in the esteemed composition blog by my Flickr friend Rick (word artist). With 8 faves one of my more popular shots of the year on Flickr.

2. Ye Olde Eye
Ye Olde Eye
This year I have experimented in several shots with creating surreal landscapes by making a modern architecture shot look ancient with selected post-processing. This one is my favourite of the series. It is of course the famous London Eye, as seen from the North bank. The shot itself was nothing special (it is included in the link), but adding a texture (taken from the stream of fellow Flickrite SkeletalMess) really makes it unique. Five faves at Flickr.

1. Abstraction in red and blue
Abstraction in red and blue (lines and curves)
The clear winner of the year for me. I shot this abstract in Leverkusen - can't even remember what it was, most likely a detail of a modern sculpture. It became the first of two shots of mine this year to reach Flickr explore. With 48 faves, my second most popular shot of the year at Flickr.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The best art books of 2011

An interesting art-icle by Bob Duggan on his personal choice of the best art books of 2011. I like how he covers various subjects (from architecture to fine arts) and styles in his selection. Well worth reading, and there are definitely a few in the list that I would like to get my hands on myself - such as the retrospective on de Kooning that I picked as illustration.

web site

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an exhibition

Between 1986 and 1999 I built up a considerable collection of classical music CD's (exceeding 2000 CD's in total). For various reasons I have played them a lot less in the past decade, but I am embarking on a rediscovery tour that I intend to share in this blog. In the fifteenth installment, I re-examine that perennial favourite by Russian master Modest Mussorgsky (1839 - 1881): Pictures at an exhibition. Mussorgsky is recognized as one of the most original romantic composers, and if he had not succumbed to his drinking problem, who knows what more he could have achieved than he already did. As it is, several of his compositions have entered the standard repertoire. Pictures at an exhibition is his most famous, a suite in ten main movements composed for piano in 1874, although most people will know it in the orchestrated version created by Maurice Ravel. It was inspired by ten paintings by Viktor Hartmann, which are linked by a recurring promenade theme. For this post, I am comparing both the original and the famous orchestral transcription, but also four other transcriptions for orchestra, one for wind band, one for saxophone quartet, one for piano trio, one for two accordeons, two for organ, one for guitar, one for jazz band, one for synthesizer, one for rock band, one for heavy metal band, and one for avant-garde instrumentation. If you wonder what happened to the Classics revisited topic - this one has taken forever to complete, because I kept on finding new versions!

The original composition has the following parts:
[Promenade]
The Gnome
[Promenade]
The Old Castle
[Promenade]
Tuileries (Dispute between Children at Play)
Bydlo (A Polish Ox wagon)
[Promenade]
Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells
Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle
[Promenade]
The Market at Limoges (The Great News)
The Catacombs (Roman sepulcher) - With the Dead in a Dead Language
The Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba-Yaga)
The Great Gate of Kiev

Original version for piano solo (1874)
My version: Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca, 1983, 33 min)
It took me 43 years after I listened to the orchestrated version at age 11 to explore the original piano version. Unbelievable but true. And I was completely blown away by it, against my own expectations (I tend not to like piano pieces as much as orchestral pieces, generally speaking). The scenes come alive just as well as in the best orchestrations, and this is a feast from start to finish. Highlights: all of them, but in particular the promenades, Bydlo, and the Ballet of the chickens.  Hors concours, and possibly the best piano work ever composed.

Orchestrated version by Mikhail Tushmalov (1886)
My version: Munich Philharmonic/Andreae (BASF LP, 1974, 23 min)
A fascinating rarity: the very first orchestration of the piece, which was carried out by Russian-Georgian opera conductor Tushmalov, a pupil of Rimsky Korsakov. He omits several movements (Gnome, Bydlo, Tuileries, most Promenades), but the ones remaining sound truly Russian to me, if not particularly stunning. Of historic importance, definitely, but in terms of listening pleasure succumbing to many later orchestrations, both in terms of brilliance and completeness.

Orchestrated version by Maurice Ravel (1922)
My version: Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Guilini (DG, 1976, 35 min)
This is the most famous orchestral version, and actually the very first piece of classical music I listened to (I was 11, and this was used in a music class at high school), Incidentally, this was one of the first CD's I bought in the mid eighties. It remains a favourite, right from the fanfares of the opening promenade to the closing majesty of the Great Gates of Kiev. Ravel's orchestration is superbly refined, confirming once more his mastery in that subject. Every movement is brilliant, but I especially like the haunting saxophone in the Old Castle and the fireworks in Baba Yaga. This is absolutely hors concours.

Orchestrated version by Sergei Gortschakov & Leo Funtek (1922/1955)
My version: Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Saraste (Finlandia, 1996, 35 min)
A rarity, this version chosen by conductor Saraste alterantes two orchestrations, rather than picking one. Funtek's orchestration dates from the same year as Ravel's - and actually predating the most famous one by a few months. This version is more faithful to the piano piece, and takes less liberties than Ravel's effort. It is still highly effective in its relative simplicity. Gortschakov's from 1955 is more daring, and the combination works better than one would expect. Not as brilliant as Ravel by a long shot, but definitely worthwhile.

Orchestrated version by Leopold Stokowski (1939)
My version: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Serebrier (Naxos, 2004, 29 min)
Leopold Stokowski was (in)famous for his transcriptions, but his take on Mussorgsky's masterpiece has a much higher degree of integrity and natural feeling than many of his others. The main controversy here is his decision to skip two movements (Tuileries and The market at Limoges), as he considered the compositions (not just Ravel's treatment) as too French, and possibly by Rimsky-Korsakov rather than Mussorgsky. |In the end, respect for the maestro's work, but I still prefer other versions, especially given that this is incomplete.

Orchestrated version by Vladimir Ashkenazy (1982)
My version: Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca, 1983, 33 min)
Considering Ravel's version too French, Vladimir Ashkenazy decided to create his own orchestration, trying to stick more closely to the Russian feeling of the original. In some ways he succeeds very well - I particularly like his more subdued version of the promenades. Less refined than Ravel's version (on purpose), but very skillfully done. Would this have been the only orchestrated version, it would have become as famous as Ravel's - now it still ranks somewhat lower. But it is well worthwhile to own this version in addition to its more famous companion.

Orchestrated version by various composers, compiled by Slatkin (2004?)
My version: BBC Symphony orchestra/Slatkin (BBC Proms, 2004, 36 min)
A bit of a mixed bag, this compilation by conductor Leonard Slatkin of separate orchestrated movements by Ellison, Gorchakov, Goehr, Naoumoff, van Keulen, Ashkenazy, Simpson, Cailliet, Wood, Leonard, Funtek, Boyd, Ravel, Stokowski, and Garnley. Some of the less known orchestrations have a bit of extra flavour that is worth while (bells in the first promenade, piano in the old castle, choir in the Great Gate), but in the end, there is a lack of sense of continuity (especially in the transition to the Great Gate of Kiev), and of all the orchestrations I have listened to, this is the one I am least likely to play again.

My version: Brass ensemble version by Elgar Howarth (1978?)
Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (Decca, 1978, 36 min)
I know several brass ensemble versions of famous classical music that I think work well. This is not one of them. The tempi are far too slow, turning the promenades into funeral marches, and the brass instruments do not begin to match the sonority of the full orchestral versions, nor the immediate impact of the original piano version. Probably fun to play, but no need to have this version in your collection.

Organ version by Jean Guillou (1988)
My version: Jean Guillou (Dorian, 1988, 36 min)
I always thought that the organ would be a splendid compromise between piano and orchestra for this composition. Granted, I am not a fan of Guillou's playing, but this version (the first organ transcription I got my hands on) did not work as well as I had anticipated. Very heavy handed, and as usual with this player/arranger, I get the feeling it is more about Guillou than the composer he is playing. The only track that really apealed to me here is Bydlo.

Organ version by Hansjorg Albrecht (2008)
My version: Hansjorg Albrecht (Oehms, 2008, 36 min)
Clearly superior in my opinion to the Guillou version, the Albrecht transcription succeeds very well in some parts (first promenade, the old castle), but falls flat in many others, including surprisingly the Tuileries, Bydlo, the chicken ballet and the very slow second promenade. For all its merits, it clearly falls short of both the piano and the orchestral version.

Guitar version by Kazuhito Yamashita (1980)
My version: Kazuhito Yamashita (RCA, 1999, 35 min)
An astonishing tour de force. One would not believe a single guitar to be capable of such a broad range of dynamics and emotions, but Yamashita makes a very strong case for this version. In the end, it has to yield to the original piano version and the best orchestrated versions, but it is definitely worth listening to - in the hands of capable guitar players, this would make a brilliant live concert. I particularly like the Old Castle in this rendition, but the usual fireworks of Baba Yaga and the grandeur of the Gate of Kiev are a bit too much for the instrument.

Two accordions version by Crabb/Draugsvoll (1997)
My version: James Crabb and Geir Draugsvoll  (EMI, 1997, 31 min)
Why not? Two accordions is one way to fill the gap between the piano version and a full-blooded orchestration. Then again... why? The musicians definitely give their all in this version, but in the end it comes off as a poor man's orchestra version. There is no added value that I could discover.

Wind quintet version by Joachim Linckelmann (1999)
My version: Wind Quintet Staatskapelle Berlin (Sony, 2003, 32 min)
Accomplished but lacking spirit - those were my first notes and I stick by them. Perhaps predictably, the old castle and the promenades come off well in this version, but in the end there is not enough here to hold my attention.

Piano trio version by Grigory Gruzman (1994?)
My version: Shostakovich Trio (not issued on CD?, unknown, 31 min)
Another combination that makes you wonder: is this going to work? Well, it does not really in my opinion. Where the violin and cello play a subdued secondary role there is insufficient difference with the piano version, and when they try to come to the spotlight, they do not succeed very well either, except in the Old castle and Bydlo (then again, I much prefer the full orchestra here), and especially the Catacombs. The craftsmanship is clear, the result is not quite satisfactory.

Saxophone quartet version by Johan van der Linden (1987)
My version: Aurelia Saxophone Quartet (EMI 1987, 30 min)
The saxophone quartet is a versatile and playful combination of instruments, and I had high hopes for this version. I was not disappointed. Not surprisingly, the promenades and the playful parts (Tuileries, Chickens, Marketplace in Limoges, Baba Yaga) are the most successful, but also the other movements are well suited for this instruments combination, even though there are times that one wishes for a more dynamic range, especially in the slower works like the Ox cart and the Great gate. In the end, this does not displace the original or the best orchestrations of course, but it is a fascinating fresh alternate take on this masterpiece, and I recommend it warmly.

Jazz band version by Allyn Ferguson (1962)
My version: Allyn Ferguson Band with Paul Horn (WEA, 1963, 27 min)
A fascinating version for big band style jazz band, with some improvisation around the main melodies, and in general at a brisk speed. At places this works very well (promenades, bydlo, chicken ballet, baba yaga), but the old castle and the catacombs lack some mood at this pace, and the gates of Kiev some majesty. All in all, this is still a commendably fresh look at this masterpiece, in a believable transcription to jazz style. Really recommended.

Progressive rock band version by Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1972)
My version: ELP (Island, 1972, 34 min)
My version: ELP (Polygram, 1994, 15 min)
I love classical music and progressive rock, so the combination should be pure gold, right? Wrong. The 1972 live concert comprises a relatively small selection of the Mussorgsky suite (four paintings and three promenades) unfortunately interspersed with three original ELP compositions, that in terms of atmosphere in general do not really fit in. Especially Emerson's organ noodling in the track called Blues Variation (in-between the Old Castle and The hut of BabaYaga) is completely out of place, and defies the purpose of creating a stroll through a gallery in music. Focusing on Mussorgsky's work, the promenades are boring and terribly heavy handed, the Gnome and the Old Castle mediocre. Predictably, the Baba Yaga sequence fares best in the musical fireworks that ELP set off, even their own interlude here fits the mood (if only they had not introduced lyrics as well here). Then again, the ending with a raped version of the Great Gate, including singing that was a bad idea to start with, and is of a quality below acceptable even for a live record, is the worst of a bad effort. Their 1994 studio re-make is better in terms of singing and recording, but omits even more of Mussorgsky's work, with only two promenades, the gnome, Baba Yaga and the great Gate, whilst keeping their own composition The Sage. Their efforts made me introduce a new category in the evaluation: "avoid".

Heavy metal band version by Mekong Delta (1996)
My version: Mekong Delta (IRS, 1996, 36 min)
The German progressive heavy metal band Mekong Delta issued their version in 1996. It is a rather straightforward transcription, including all original Mussorgsky pieces, but the rock instruments really give this its own characters. It works surprisingly well, especially the various promenades, the ominous Gnome, the hilarious Chicken ballet, and the impressive Catacombes . Perhaps the greatest surprise is The old castle, which sounds completely different than any other version of it, and is still convincing. The only small disappointment for me was Baba Yaga, which comes over as relatively bland and uninspired. Unless you are a die-hard "classical music only" lover, this is a fascinating alternative, and well worth exploring. The best rock version of a classical music piece I have ever heard. The album also includes their versions with an orchestra, but I prefer the rawness of the band on its own.

Electronic version by Isao Tomita (1975)
My version: Tomita (RCA, 1975, 37 min)
Listening to this one, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. The musicianship by Japan's electronics wizard avant la lettre Isao Tomita is clear, but the atmosphere is totally wrong in these renditions, especially the promenades (in one of them, one gets the impression of the spectator crawling slowly over the museum floor). The sci-fi effects created and the synthetic voices totally do not match the themes in most cases. An exception is the chicken ballet, which sounds quite appropriate. The hilarious factor overall is so great though that I can't bring myself to give the "avoid" score.

Avant garde version by Kawabata Makoto and Tsuyama Atsushi (2010)
My version: Zoffy (Nebula, 2010, 33 min)
A recent version by the duo Makoto and Atsushi, operating under the name Zoffy, in a live recital. A mix of instruments, including for instance synthesizer, electric organ, bouzouki, sitar, tambura, and hurdy gurdy, with instrumental sounding voices thrown in for good measures. It is fascinating and at times almost unrecognizable in its weirdness, and would probably indeed work well as a live concert. 

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste (classical):

Hors concours: Original piano version, Orchestrated version (Ravel)
Essential: none
Important: Orchestrated version (Ashkenazy), Orchestrated version (Gortschakov & Funtek)
Good to have: Orchestrated version (Tushmalov), Orchestrated version (Stokowski), Saxophone quartet version (van der Linden), Guitar version (Yamashita)
Not required: Orchestrated version (various, compiled by Slatkin), Organ versions (Guillou, Albrecht), Double accordion version (Crabb/Draugsvoll ), Brass ensemble version (Howarth), Piano trio version (Gruzman), Wind quintet version (Linckelmann ).
Avoid: None

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste (jazz/pop/rock):

Hors concours: None
Essential: None
Important: Jazz band version (Ferguson)
Good to have: Heavy Metal band version (Mekong Delta), Avant garde version (Makoto/Atsushi)
Not required: Electronic version (Tomita)
Avoid: Progressive rock band versions (ELP)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Awkward classical music photos

This type of web site with the appropriate title "Awkward classical music photos" might seem more Potpourri material, but the classical music angle makes it appear here. A hilarious collection of classical musicians and their photographers trying just a bit too hard to be different.

web site

Unusual concertos [16]: Coloratura soprano

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - aiming for 50+ this time.

The sixteenth concerto deals with the coloratura soprano as the musical instrument. A stretch? Soviet composer Reinhold Gliere did not think so, as he created a beautiful coloratura concerto in 1942 - the only other composer that I am aware of to have composed this type of concerto after him is Germaine Tailleferre. The Gliere concerto is performed in the selected sample by Joan Sutherland and the London Symphony Orchestra under Richard Bonynge, from a Decca CD.

Go here

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Glissando

It is quite a feat to pull of taking such a high quality shot at the spur of the moment when confronted with the scene on the street. Kudos to my Flickr friend jenny downing for pulling it of. Great composition, wonderful details, all around a very strong photograph. And somehow fitting for the festive season, evoking Chistmas carols by Salvation army wind bands.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

In Memoriam Helen Frankenthaler

Earlier this week, the international art world lost one of its most influential female members, when Helen Frankenthaler passed away at age 83. She created the Colour field method of painting, producing wonderful abstract expressionist works in the process. There are many good obituaries about her on the web right now. I have picked the one in the New York Times to link to.

web site

Dreamy windows by Anne-Laure Maison

It sounds like such a simple idea, but the results are so beautiful and convincing. French artist Anne-Laure Maison creates these collages from images of lighted doors and windows that she took herself at night. A stunning and original variation on the usual collage theme, resulting in fabulous dreamscapes.

All rights retained by the artist.

web site

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kensington street art

This is the fourth (and final) in a series of shots I took on a bridge in London's Kensington district, where the weathered wall structure made for pieces resembling modern art. My favourite of the series, I love the interaction of the shapes and colours. I could really see this hanging in a modern art museum.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/8.0
Focal Length: 42 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Monday, December 26, 2011

River

On various music bulletin boards, questions have been asked these days about members' favourite Christmas songs (mine is Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl by the way). I was surprised how often this Joni Mitchell song that I had never heard of was mentioned. So here it is. And it is indeed great.
Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player)

YouTube

I'll be home for Chivas

This 30 years old Chivas Regal seasonal ad may be less creative than most featured under this heading, but it is well constructed and has a nice play on words to boot. And I love this particular brand, so there.

Creative Ads

Kung Fu Santa

Suitable for the Christmas weekend and funny to boot, here is another piece of photoshop brilliance taken from the advanced photoshop contest section of Worth1000. This is a shot created by their member Dark77 for the (Un)Holiday movies 5 contest - famous movie posters given the holiday season treatment.

All rights retained by the creator.

Worth1000

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Repost: It doesn't have to be that way

A re-post from the artchives (original posting date 25 Dec 2008) - with the blog in its current form over three years old, I intend to dig up some of the older posts once in a while.

For me, christmas songs do not come much better than this. The great late Jim Croce (1943-1973) created some of the most beautiful songs of the 20th century and this one, recorded the year he died in a plane crash, is a perfect example of his art. The first verse immediately sets the scene for another of those lost love ballads that he should have gotten a patent on: "Snowy nights and Christmas lights, icy windowpanes, make me wish that we could be together again. And the windy winter avenues just don't seem the same, and the Christmas carols sound like blues, but the choir is not to blame." Beautiful song, and the fact that the "video" is a continuous still shot just has to be accepted.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Vogue Christmas 1929

A beautiful Christmas special cover of Vogue dating back to the roaring twenties, for the occasion. Merry Christmas everybody!

link

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lights of Christmas

Artistic or kitsch - whatever you decide, it definitely is a topical piece of photojournalism for the Christmas weekend. This is the façade of Sydney's St Mary’s Cathedral lit up with a nativity scene during the Lights of Christmas celebration.

All rights retained by the photographer (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images).

web site

Merry Christmas Everybody!

With the Christmas weekend starting today, my wife and I wish all readers of this blog a merry Christmas! This shot was taken a week ago in our future home town of Kampen. No, it is not me in the pic (I am taking the shot).

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gathering storm

My Flickr friend andy_57 features in this blog regularly, but more often than not with his gorgeous model shoots - the gorgeous referring to the models and the photography both. His landscape shots are great as well, and I particularly like the series he did recently at Hole-in-the-Wall Beach, Santa Cruz County, California. I recommend browsing the complete set, but this is my favourite of the lot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

The Adastra superyacht

What is it with yachts that brings out the best in modern designers? Here we have another yacht design that is jawdroppingly beautiful. Then again, it did take designer John Shuttleworth five years to come up with this gem.

web site

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas at the Victoria and Albert

Taken from a beautiful overview of pictures of London's Christmas decoration, this one stood out for me. Not only because we have been to the Victoria and Albert Museum in October (most of the locations featured in the link we have seen that week), but because it is so different from the usual Christmas trees. It was created by design duo Studio Roso, contains over three miles of elastic cord and is over four meters high.

All rights retained by the photographer (via V&A images).

web site