Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

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Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

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Spotted on Brighton pier. Remember, it’s dangerous to swim or dive unless someone from security is helping…

A Walk Up The Fife Coast

Monday, January 14th, 2008

This VoiceThread tells the tale of a walk I made last summer

Eurobad ’74

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

In my first job I occasionally had to spec up interiors for photo shoots for bathrooms and kitchens. It was an interesting process, especially if I got to go to the shoot (though we had a ban on the use of models, so no fun there I’m afraid!)

When cleaning out an old filing cabinet I found an ancient catalogue from the late 70s, full of brown and ‘avocado’ bathroom suites (and, much to my annoyance, the occasional half naked model – why were the 90s so prudish??). The interiors and the kitchen and bathroom suites were awful, much like those presented on Eurobad ’74 “an exhibition of Europe’s worst interiors of 1974”.

Some of these, if you still have them in your home, are probably fashionably dated now. I think I developed my hatred of brown and orange from having to grow up in the 70s. Never mind, the 80s would bring rescue in the form of… grey.

Incidentally, one little snippet of info I can bring you from my experience in the plumbing trade is this: the most popular choice of bathroom suite colour is… white.

Via It’s nice that. (a site run by two of my former students, incidentally!)

Subversive Diana Poster

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
Subversive Diana banner

Spotted at the Diana 10th anniversary gathering, Kensington Palace 31 August 2007

NBC in Kensington Gardens

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
NBC Woman
NBC woman
NBC woman picking her nose
NBC Woman

I spotted this reporter outside Kensington Palace last week, there to cover the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

She didn’t seem particularly engaged with what was going on and I got the impression she was increasingly frustrated – I glanced at the screen in front of her and it seemed while everyone else was covering the 11am ‘service’ live, she was being bumped down the running order for sports news.

When she did go live I carefully ‘wandered’ in to shot. I hate it when people do that. But at least I can now put ‘appeared on NBC News’ on my CV…


Saturday, August 25th, 2007

I photographed this cat last week while on a walk in the Scottish countryside. It was staring intently into the long grass, presumably waiting for something warm, small and furry to show itself.
It’s not a great picture but I love it.

I fought the Law…

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Dundee is dominated by a massive hill (the photo above doesn’t tell the whole story – I took it when I was nearly at the top) called the Law (it means ‘hill’), formed by the plug of an ancient volcano. A smaller one forms Balgay Hill which is just up the road from me and is home to Britain’s only public observatory.

(Balgay Hill, above)

After a year of promising myself I’d do it, I finally got round to walking up the Law the other week and it was well worth the effort. The views from the top are stunning.

The photo above is the view across the Tay (known as the Silvery Tay for obvious reasons) to the Kingdom of Fife.

This photo shows the Tay Rail Bridge. The first one collapsed famously one New Year’s Eve just over 100 years ago, killing everyone on the train. Spookily, you can still see the original piles next to the current bridge. At the time it was the longest rail bridge in the world and is still the longest in Europe, apparently.
The white building in the bottom left corner is the life sciences building at the university. My office is just behind it.

To the north you can see all the way to the Sidlaw Hills, but between here and there are relics of Dundee’s industrial heritage. Several of the old textile mills, some of them massive, remain and even where they’ve been knocked down some of the chimneys remain. Its shipping heritage (Dundee was home to ship builders and Britain’s whaling fleet until relatively recently) can be seen in the east of the city.

At the top of the Law is a large war memorial that towers over you, and over the city. The lamp is lit on a few occasions each year, in particular Remembrance Sunday, and can be seen for quite some distance. This photo doesn’t do justice to the scale of the thing.

When youreach the summit you can see over towards the east and the mouth of the Tay where it meets the sea. In the distance you can see Broughty Ferry and its castle on the left, and Tayport and its large sandy beach on the right. Just past Broughty Ferry is Carnoustie where this year’s Open golf tournament was held.

At the moment a large pod of bottlenosed dolphins is making this part of the Tay its home, as it does each summer.
The bridge in the distance is the Tay Road Bridge that replaced the ancient ferry service connecting Angus to Fife.

You can see all the photos I took here, or as a slideshow.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

There is a bit of a tradition for barbers and hair salons to have silly names like “Beyond The Fringe” or (if up a flight of stairs) “A Cut Above”.

Last year I found one in St Andrews, pictured above, called “Sun Tan Drews” (ho ho). I put it up on Flickr and was recently invited to add it to a group of other punny salon photos. There are 138 at the moment and they’re well worth a look if only for a bit of a groan.

Click here for a slideshow, or click here to visit the gallery.

Best views in Britain

Friday, August 10th, 2007

The Guardian has a selection of some of the winners in ITV’s upcoming series Britain’s Favourite View.

There are some great images there, well worth a look, but my favourite, more because it reminds me of home than anything else, is the photo above of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales (next to the wonderfully named Arkengarthdale).
It’s a massive region of England and I don’t think I was ever bored visiting because you can always discover something new – a working blacksmith, standing stones, gorgeous views, the giant golfballs of the US Air Force’s Menwith Hill monitoring station, or one of the many waterfalls in the area.

Worth a visit if you’re ever in the country and a great alternative to the usual sites (plus it’s close to York, Ripon, Durham and other cities). (And no, I’m not being sponsored by the Tourist Board…)

The secret of great photography? Use someone else’s…

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

BBC News reports:

Digital photographers could soon be able to erase unwanted elements in photos by using tools that scan for similar images in online libraries.
Research teams have developed an algorithm that uses sites like Flickr to help discover light sources, camera position and composition in a photo.

Using this data the tools then search for objects, such as landscapes or cars, that match the original.

The teams aim to create image libraries that anyone can use to edit snaps.

James Hays and Alexei Efros from Carnegie Mellon University have developed an algorithm to help people who want to remove bits of photographs.

The parts being removed could be unsightly lorries in the snaps of the rural idyll where they took a holiday or even an old boyfriend or girlfriend they want to rub out from a photograph.

(In the example above, the house in the first photo has been isolated and replaced with boats and the rest of the lake found in someone else’s photo of the same scene, taken at a different spot)

To find suitable matching elements, the research duo’s algorithm looks through a database of 2.3 million images culled from Flickr.

‘We search for other scenes that share as closely as possible the same semantic scene data,’ said Mr Hays, who has been showing off the project at the computer graphics conference Siggraph, in San Diego.

In this sense ‘semantic’ means composition. So a snap of a lake in the foreground, hills in a band in the middle and sunset above has, as far as the algorithm is concerned, very different ‘semantics’ to one of a city with a river running through it.

The broad-based analysis cuts out more than 99.9% of the images in the database, said Mr Hays. The algorithm then picks the closest 200 for further analysis.

Next the algorithm searches the 200 to see if they have elements, such as hillsides or even buildings, the right size and colours for the hole to be filled.

The useful parts of the 20 best scenes are then cropped, added to the image being edited so the best fit can be chosen.

Early tests of the algorithm show that only 30% of the images altered with it could be spotted, said Mr Hays.

The other approach aims to use net-based image libraries to create a clip-art of objects that, once inserted into a photograph, look convincing.

‘We want to generate objects of high realism while keeping the ease of use of a clip art library,’ said Jean-Francois Lalonde of Carnegie Mellon University who led the research.

To generate its clip art for photographs the team has drawn on the net’s Label Me library of images which has many objects, such as people, trees and cars, cut out and tagged by its users.

The challenge, said Mr Lalonde, was working out which images in the Label Me database will be useful and convincing when inserted into photographs.

The algorithm developed by Mr Lalonde and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon and Microsoft Research analyses scenes to find out the orientation of objects and the sources of light in a scene.

‘We use the height of the people in the image to estimate the height of the camera used to take the picture,’ he said.

The light sources in a scene are worked out by looking at the distribution of colour shades within three broad regions, ground, vertical planes and sky, in the image.

With knowledge about the position, pitch and height of the camera and light sources the algorithm then looks for images in the clip art database that were taken from similar positions and with similar pixel heights.

The group has created an interface for the database of photo clipart so people can pick which elements they want to add to a scene.”