Sunday, October 31, 2010

The red witch

As Halloween draws to a close here (and midnight approaches....), what better way to close out than with this recent favourite from my dear Flickr friend andy_57. Once more he has been able to get the lovely Oksana in front of the camera, resulting in what is probably the best Halloween shot I have ever seen on Flickr.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Trick or treat

My original shot of this mannequin doll in Portugal was already a bit scary, but the after-treatment with the on-line Picnik programme, applying one of their Halloween gizmo's, really brought out something extra. It gives me the impression of looking through the peep hole of a door to see who just rang the bell on Halloween.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 134 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0, Picnik


Halloween II

Last year's Halloween, I took the opportunity to start the then new subject of movie posters with that classic of the same name. This year, the logical follow-up is Halloween II - and although the movie sucked wookie, the poster is still classy and scary.

More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.

Night on bald mountain

Happy Halloween! For the occasion, one of the scariest pieces of classical music ever written, Mussorgsky's Night on bald mountain, as featured in Disney's masterpiece Fantasia. Incidentally, this is neither Mussorgsky's original version, nor the more popular arrangement by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, but a version created especially for the movie by Leopold Stokowski.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Flight of fantasy

Probably my favourite shot form the holiday. Architectural details on a wall of a Barcelona building, resembling toy airplanes thanks to their shadows. Minimalist and special - certainly when viewed on the white Flickr background. And it got a very favourable response at Flickr.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.04 sec (1/25)
Aperture: f/36.0
Focal Length: 115 mm
ISO Speed: 400
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Friday, October 29, 2010

Love is.....

...when you add salt and life tastes sweeter, to quote the photographer, my Flickr friend aftab. Wonderful still life, perfectly rendered in monochrome. And marvelous quote as well.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Thursday, October 28, 2010


Exquisite. That was the one word comment I left on this shot of a white rose the moment I saw it. And I still think it pretty much sums it up. Another masterpiece by my Flickr friend Caecilia Metella.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Terror at the slaughterhouse

Fake... fake... fake... Nothing is original about this debut album. First off, in spite of the hype and the use of Russian letters for its name, Kirov Plant are NOT from Volgograd - but from Manchester. Secondly, their music is not as the press package suggests "a refreshing new look at progressive metal", but a third class watered down version of this style which has been done infinitely better numerous times. Thirdly, the melodies and riffs are hardly disguised straight copies from the likes of Metallica and Dream Theater. Awful, awful, awful.

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 Kirov Plant.
[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 Craig Volk: I'd rather get my brains blown out in the wild than wait in terror at the slaughterhouse.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Slaughterhouse Five, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Gargoyles Normal 85 silver and Rushkin Regular 70 silver, 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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Fortunately, my Flickr friend sannesu continues her experiments with glasses, liquids, light and a camera, resulting in yet another fantastic abstract.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Sunday, October 24, 2010


Watching this classic right now at TCM for the umpteenth time. No need to say anything about the movie ( is there anyone who has not seen it?), but I quite like this poster, designed to lead your eye through the frame.

More on this movie in the IMDB article linked to below.

The moment

And what a moment it must have been. To quote the photographer, my Flickr friend aftab: "One humpback blows mist. Another dips deeper. A lone gull hovers. I was there in this remote corner of Alaska to watch the drama unfold. It was a privilege. Life has been a privilege. People. Precious moments."

All rights retained by the photographer.


Saturday, October 23, 2010


One of the all-time classics, this Roger Dean cover for this great Yes album, even better in the flipped open double front/back combination. Further comments are superfluous.

All Music

Friday, October 22, 2010

A bouquet of thoughts

What better way to mark the second anniversary of Art for Art's Sake new style than to post a recent floral favourite from the stream of one of my followers and supplier of many great ideas for my two blogs: my dear Flickr friend jenny downing. My aversion for flower photographs has been termed "legendary" by another Flickr friend, so this is a really special shot. Magnificent colours and bokeh. And pansies happened to be my late grandfather's favourite flowers - incidentally, in Dutch they are called viooltjes (little violins).

All rights retained by the photographer.


Thursday, October 21, 2010


During our holiday, my wife used her new iPad to keep in touch with the (virtual) world, but also used this new device for some digital creations (with the Art Studio program she downloaded). At my request, she allowed me to post one.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rock chick

The model shoots that my Flickr friend word artist has been embarking upon recently yield fascinating results, but none more special than this one. The model (JeSs Cheung) is beautiful, but to go for this unusual pose is sheer brilliance on behalf of the photographer. Fantastic result.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Stravinsky's ballets

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 eighth installment, I re-examine the ballets of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971). Often denoted as the most important composer of the 20th century, I personally find many of his ballets far more worthwhile than his other works. Although I don't have them all, what I have should suffice for an interesting comparison, spanning almost half a century of his oeuvre.

My version:London Symphony Orchestra/Abbado (DG, 1975, 19 min)
A century ago, this must have sounded daringly modern to ballet audiences used to the melodic Tchaikovsky ballets of just a few decades earlier. Strong orchestral colours, lovely tunes rooted in folk songs, and a musical palette that owes a lot to the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. It works in the concert hall as well, even though it is less easy to visualize - it can stand on its own as a great piece of music, if just falling short of the splendor of its two successors.

My version: Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Dorati (Decca, 1981, 34 min)
Petrushka is the story of a Russian traditional puppet, made of straw and with a bag of sawdust as his body, who comes to life and develops emotions. The music is a notch more conventional than the Firebird, a delightful blend of folk song like melodies, exciting dance rhythms and wonderful instrumentation. The music and the images it provokes is so strong that you can imagine the dancers yourself whilst listening to it. My second favourite ballet score of all time. Essential.

My version [1]: London Symphony Orchestra/Abbado (DG, 1976, 36 min)
My version [2]: Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Dorati (Decca, 1982, 34 min)
Two years after Petrushka, Stravinsky dropped a musical bomb on an unsuspecting Paris audience. The primitive setting of the ballet (translated as The rite of spring, and depicting a pagan ritual) and the almost barbaric rhythms caused a riot, and not in a positive way. The composition remains one of the most important in all of classical music, with exquisite instrumentation, wonderful melodic snippets, and a pervasive rhythm. You must have heard it - and if not, you must hear it. Hors concours, one of the greatest compositions of all time.

My version: Northern Sinfonia Orchestra/Rattle (EMI, 1978, 39 min)
It is very difficult for me to remain even partially objective about this work, as I very much do not like the neo-classical style this helped create. It is undoubtedly original in its collation of fragments from music dating back to the likes of Pergolesi, and the inclusion of solo voices (Jennifer Smith, soprano, John Fryatt, tenor, Malcolm King, bass) in a ballet composition. In the end though, I still do not like this one no matter how hard I try.

My version: London Symphony Orchestra/Thomas (RCA, 1997, 18 min)
One of his less often played efforts in the genre, and subject of a delightful anecdote: it was commissioned by impresario Billy Rose for the revue Seven lively arts. Rose was bothered by the orchestration and sent a message: "great success - could be sensational if you authorize retouch orchestration by Russell Bennett" - to which Stravinsky replied: "satisfied with great success". The music as such holds up pretty well without ballet images, with strong melodic lines, and frankly should be heard more often in the concert hall.

Agon (1957)
My version: London Symphony Orchestra/Thomas (RCA, 1997, 24 min)
This neoclassical ballet has no story as such, but consists of a series of dance movements in which various groups of dancers interact in pairs, trios, quartets etc. A number of the movements are based on 17th-century French court dances such as the saraband, galliard and bransle. The music ranges from solemn to sensual, with plenty of rhythmic surprises, and full of orchestral colours. In the end though there are too few tuneful moments to hold my attention.

Summarizing recommendation, based on my own taste:

Hors concours: The rite of spring (Le sacre du printemps)
Essential: Petrushka
Important: Firebird
Good to have: Scenes de ballet
Not required: Agon, Pulcinella

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Father Son

For the occasion of my father's birthday. I blogged a video of this beautiful Peter Gabriel song before (here), but this version has a far better video, including footage of Peter with his own father, a great creation by director Anna Gabriel. About the song: the album Ovo, produced in 2000 for the London Millennium show, does not stand out as a highlight in Peter Gabriel's distinguished career. A weird mixture of different styles, from rap to jigs to ambient, aiming to represent the various cultural influences of modern London. Ambitious, yes, successful, no. It is typical though of his immense talent that even in a somewhat failed project you will find a real gem of a song, the beautiful ballad Father, Son.
Art Rock score: 9/10 (very strong song, one of 650 best songs of all time)


Monday, October 18, 2010

Sans merci

Actually, I am posting only a relative small selection of the many shots I already faved in the stream of my Flickr friend Caecilia Metella. Like aftab, I could dedicate a separate subject to her photographic art. This beautiful abstract is a perfect artistic interpretation of a vase of dried sedge against the lit window of a stairwell.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Much rides on her dreams

My Flickr friend SteffenTuck keeps posting delicate masterpieces of an abstract nature. This one thrives in the cold tones and that spot of light. Marvellous.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Water art: ... move over Picasso

Water art is one of the most striking themes in the stream of my Flickr friend peggyhr, and this one sure is one of her best. Love the title as well - very appropriate given the Picasso associations this upside down reflection shot induces.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Invisible ties always tethered my dreams

Not as completely abstract as some of her shots, but this Escher-inspired image by my Flickr friend kate mellersh is well suited for today's topic. Fascinating horizontal/vertical cross-post-processing to get this effect.

All rights retained by the photographer.



A beautiful shot by my Flickr friend jenny downing and a brilliant title if you know a little bit about mathematics. Love the shape and the countless silvery droplets.

All rights retained by the photographer.


First impressions

Due to the series of pre-posted contributions during our holiday, the Flickr Favourites theme has suffered somewhat this month. Time to correct this with a series of fascinating shots, flirting with the abstract theme. My Flickr friend aftab turned out another masterpiece with this fascinating insect macro, where the coloured background adds considerably to the overall effect.

All rights retained by the photographer.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Liquid colours

This is a shot I am not too keen on myself - I find it a rather straightforward water reflections shot, of which I already have seen a lot on Flickr, and a lot better than this one, even in my own stream. Still, it got a lot of positive feedback and a large number of faves on Flickr, so others apparently see more in it than I do.

Camera: Canon EOS 400D Digital 10 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture: f/8.0
Focal Length: 200 mm
ISO Speed: 200
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0


Thursday, October 14, 2010


Time for some unashamed eye candy. Australian actress/singer Natalie Imbruglia is one of the most gorgeous singers of all time, and it is understandable that her album and single covers make use of that fact. I particularly like this one, dating back to 2007.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Camille Vernades

A beautiful art deco vintage poster of French actress Camille Vernades. This one was created in 1937 by Charles Kiffer, whose posters chronicled French theater for five decades.

Vintage Posters