Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Learn composition by example: Subtlety

If you have been following this blog, you may remember a series of short posts about basic composition techniques in the Art-iculations category. These were written for beginners by a beginner (moi). My Flickr friend Rick (word artist), a very accomplished photographer with a brilliant sense of composition, has embarked upon a similar series for the Flickr group Learn Composition by Example, providing far more information and examples than I did. Previous posts on this subject can be found here:
Leading lines
Negative space
The S-curve
The diagonal
Recently, he posted his thoughts on subtlety as a composition technique, with 19 photographs as illustration of his points (also to be found in his blog), ranging as usual from the most basic to the advanced very subtle and thought provoking uses. For this topic I have picked a shot by my Flickr friend Dalinean (Sunset), which Rick picked as an example of subtlety in the form of a hidden subject. He commented on it as follows: "One cannot avoid but being captivated by the spread of banded texture in the sunlit sky here. And in itself, it would make for a beautiful image. But it is the direction those streaks lead us that holds the true gem: two silhouetted trees in the corner, anchoring the image: the true stars." Like the others in this series, highly recommended to expand your compositional horizon.

web site

Monday, January 30, 2012

Looking for Blofeld

This shot dates back to 2008, during our visit to Beijing. For some reason it is currently attracting hundreds of views at Flickr, without specified source. I do not think it is special, but apparently some people do, so I decided to share it here.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture: f/4
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Frozen Dreamland

My Flickr friend ebergcanada has been absent from this blog far too long - a recent visit of her stream yielded a string of favourites to choose from. I picked his one for obvious reasons: an appropriate and gorgeous ice cold shot, just as winter finally reaches Western Europe this year. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chelsea Monday

In Imaginary Movies I will be posting some fake movie posters I created (including a fake review), with two recurring themes: the title is based on a pop/rock song, and the image is from my Flickr stream. This one takes a Marillion song in combination with my shot Embrace.

The cinema release of Chelsea Monday comes as the attention for the London 2012 Olympics is increasing. It is one of the best sport themed movies I have seen for a while. The basic premise is simple enough: two young athletes, both among the favourites for their discipline, happen to meet shortly after their arrival one Monday in the London Chelsea district - two weeks before the start of the games. Both Ukrainian steeple chaser Igor Kovlibenko and Canadian sprinter Jenny Matucewicz have so far lived 100% for their sports to fulfill their golden dreams. Their chance encounter leads to a whirlwind romance, which threatens to get in their way of their - and their coaches - ambitions. A complex but convincing mixture of subplots develop from there, leading to a dramatic finale on the opening day of the Olympics. Sterling performances by the two leads, Julia Cole and Todd West. A gripping movie.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Saint-Saens, refined romantic

French composer Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) is another example of a well-known composer where the masses only have heard a few of his works. The mighty and magnificent third symphony (with organ), the symphonic poem Dance Macabre, and the Carnival des animaux - and that's about it. His ten concertos get far less playing time than they deserve, his Requiem is an almost forgotten masterpiece, and his chamber music is elegant and refined, among the best of the late romantic period. I recommend the Hyperion CD series for most of his chamber music, but for this post I have picked a Naxos recording of his beautiful and virtually unknown string quartets, composed in 1899 and 1918. Excellent playing by the Fine Arts Quartet. Very rewarding music, highly recommended.


Sunday, January 22, 2012


His previous contribution under this heading was a glorious sunset shot, but here we have my Flickr friend andy_57 return to one of his gorgeous model shoots. And gorgeous she is, one of the most attractive model he ever had in front of his camera - and that is against quite some competition. The lighting is as expert as always with this accomplished photographer. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Links [16]

Once more an overview of interesting links on topics related to the blog, that I encountered recently, but that will probably not make the blog as separate entries. The picture above is by myself.

Retro Paris (Robert Doisneau).
Weather Pictures of the Year 2011.
Britain's Finest Follies.
Mahler's 9th Interrupted by Cell Phone.
London Art Fair 2012.
The Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Saturday, January 21, 2012


No particular reason to post this today, and I don't know this 2005 Luc Besson movie at all, but I came across it a few weeks ago in a blog post on best movie posters, and I agree it is a gem. More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A ringed planet

A strong imagination is a prime asset for a photographer. And this particular shot demonstrates a very strong imagination indeed. My Flickr friend peggyhr has appeared a number of times in my blog, mainly with her fantastic water reflection shots. Here is a different side of her - look what happens when she makes us look at her tea pot from a different angle! As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Land of confusion

The progressive rock band Genesis is one of my all-time favourite music acts - when they went for radio friendly pop/rock in the eighties they lost me, with a few exceptions. Land of confusion from 1986 is their best song from that period. The video is one of the best of all time - starring puppets from the UK sketch show Spitting Image. The cover design for the single also uses Spitting Image puppets - in this case of the band members. Apart from the fun factor, as well as it being a parody of the cover of With the Beatles, it is also an interesting cover from a photography point of view, with excellent use of extreme contrast of light and dark. More about Genesis on the linked wikipedia page.

Friday, January 13, 2012

World of reflections

A stunning study of reflections, helped by a dramatic sky that would not be out of place in Jan Saudek's work. An absolute masterpiece shot in the Paris La Defense district by my Flickr friend Philipp Klinger. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bruch, in the shadow of Brahms

The German composer Max Bruch is a well-known name, but mainly for a very few compositions. Beyond his perennial favourite violin concerto, only the Scottish fantasy and Kol Nidrei have gained interest from the masses. The rest of his output is grossly neglected, possibly because his style is perhaps too close to Brahms without the spark of absolute genius. Still, it is very rewarding to explore his oeuvre. His three symphonies do not really stand out, but his chamber music is excellent, in particular his two string quartets which I rate higher than Brahms' three. But the highlight of his work is his three violin concertos. Yes, he wrote three of them, even though only the first is heard on a regular basis. As an introduction to the composer, this Naxos disc of the later two less known masterpieces, in the version by Maxim Fedotov and the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra under Dmitry Yablonsky. If you like violin concertos from the romantic period, this disc is a must.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Smetana Piano Works by Jitka Cechova

I simply love the design for this relatively recent series of CD's covering the piano music of Bedrich Smetana. The Czech label Supraphon has made optimum use of the beauty of performer Jitka Cechova in these retro-sixties covers that are charming in their simplicity. The photography is courtecy of David Port.

Trying to please everybody

The second album of the British neo new wave band Shakespeare's Landlord has been released last week, and the title illustrates a keen sense of humour of the five members. Trying to please everybody was exactly the gist of the criticism they got for their debut album last year. The general reaction was that Submerged was a promising release, but that the band was striving too hard to get appreciated by too many different listeners. Their second release shows a lot more consistency in their approach, and is a clear step up from an artistic point of view. 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 Shakespeare's Landlord.
[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 Bill Cosby: I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Liberty decoration, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Judas Priest 50 Gold Metallic and Informal Roman 55 Gold Metallic, 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, January 08, 2012

Invitation for a dream

Here is one of those gorgeous shimmering soft focus abstracts that my Flickr friend sannesu excels in. A wonderful dreamscape in an exquisite colour scheme. It is definitely one of her best in this style. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Friday, January 06, 2012


My first creation I posted on Flickr this year. I took an earlier water reflection shot (Psychedelic too), originating from our October London trip, and created a diptych by combining it with a flipped version of itself. The frame was added in Picnik. I think this combination evokes the abstract paintings of Gerhard Richter. One of my favourite shots of recent months, and getting good responses on Flickr as well.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 200 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0 including Picnik


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Water organics

Probably no-one has suffered more from my decision a few months ago to post only a small proportion of my Flickr favourites than my Flickr friend Lorraine Kerr (caeciliametella). I have already skipped a number of her best shots, but this one definitely needs to be included in my blog. A fascinating abstract, created by photographing a red silk cushion, overlain with texture. Simply beautiful. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Dancing barefoot

I was amazed to read on another site that American singer/song writer Patti Smith turned 65 last week - how time flies indeed. She may have had her biggest hit in 1978 with Because the night, but Dancing barefoot from the 1979 album Wave is even stronger. Rarely has the overwhelming feeling of falling in love (reflecting her recent real life marriage) been described so beautifully: "Here I go and I don't know why - I spin so ceaselessly, till I lose my sense of gravity... ". Throw in a great melody and effective instrumentation (great guitar riffs), and you get one of the better songs of the late seventies. Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time).


Monday, January 02, 2012

Seldom Blues

To be honest, I have no clue what this 2004 jazz album sounds like, but I stumbled upon the cover and really liked its symmetrical design. It has a lovely neo art deco flavour to it - possibly credited to Robert Hoffman.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

My sense of order fell apart

In many ways this gem by my Flickr friend kate mellersh - who has been absent from my blog for far too long by the way - is symbolic for the coming year in the lives of my wife and myself. The predictable life of a daytime job with regular income goes out of the window per 1 May, for retirement and starting a new life in a different city, as well as opening an art gallery. It is a fascinating challenge, if slightly bewildering. The shot itself is a brilliant variation on a theme: these types of shots usually have the straight lines at the bottom. This version works perfectly. As usual, all rights retained by the creator.


This disaster movie directed by Emmerich itself was absolutely abysmal, but the poster series was well done, and the title is of course unavoidable today. More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.