Saturday, January 19, 2008

Police apologise to photographer

[The magazine spells "apologize" with an S. British spelling perhaps? But it seems both spellings are correct.]

I think this might be a good page to carry with you for street photographers, at least in the UK, in case a policeman or security guard tells you that you are not allowed to photograph in a public place.
It is a scan from Professional Photographer, the February 2008 issue.
With the possible exception of France, which has some privacy laws, I think the whole of the Western world pretty much has full "freedom of cameras" in public places.

Quote: a spokesman from the Bureau of Freelance Photographers says:
"[...] in a public place you are allowed to photograph anyone or anything you like. Ironically, it's often the police who aren't clear about this."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Web fantastic

Isn't the web fantastic?
For example, you haven't been able to buy Konica SLR cameras or lenses for two decades... and yet somebody has carefully compiled, formatted, and published a page which lists all the lenses once available, with all relevant data. Imagine trying to find this kind of information without the web, it would take days or weeks if you could find it at all. With the web and Google it's 12 seconds away, faster if you're a good typist.


It's a sickness, but who feeds it, and what's the cure?

"'Leave her alone, you dirty scum! Why don't you just leave her alone?" As two paparazzi scramble on to the pavement to catch Amy Winehouse emerging from her Mercedes van, a pair of young women bustle out of a cafe. "She's just trying to lead her life!" they scold, before pursuing the singer into the newsagent's. "You doing all right then, love?" the pair cluck. One throws an arm around Winehouse, drawing her tight, while the other steadies her mobile phone camera for the shot. "Now then, Amy," the woman exhorts. "Smile!""
"The only real moment of drama is a confrontation between our photographer and one of the paps, who flies at Kalpesh, roaring, "Don't point that camera at me!""

That's funny. It seems the situation feels a lot different when it's reversed, eh?
"She darts into a shop. I stop and catch my breath. And then, all of a sudden, a great wave of revulsion crashes over me. I'm stalking Amy Winehouse."
"We're just a bunch of guys trying to get the photographs," he says simply. "The people who buy the magazines and want to see these photographs, they're the fucked-up ones."

My summer of Love

My summer of Love
Excellent cinematography.
Great acting.
Two beautiful young women making out.
How can you miss?
A clip.

USA link:

UK link:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Vintage color

Color photos from the forties.

Interesting detail, that apparently the Library of Congress has posted these on Flickr! I didn't see this coming.
(Does anybody know if one can set a different default picture size on Flickr? I want them big.)

Color photos from before the sixties are not common, and it gives the past a different life, I think.

Thanks to Mental Floss for quoting this wonderful exchange from the bygone comic strip Calvin And Hobbes:

Calvin: Dad, how come old photographs are always black and white? Didn’t they have color film back then?

Dad: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs are in color. It’s just the world was black and white then.

Calvin: Really?

Dad: Yep. The world didn’t turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too.

Calvin: But then why are old PAINTINGS in color?! If the world was black and white, wouldn’t artists have painted it that way?

Dad: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.

XO laptop

Review of the XO laptop. Thanks to Hannah for the link.

Who can get girls?

I've noticed a tendency for comments on this blog to sometimes stray off-topic and get onto "who can get girls". :-)
I was sent a book by the author, a book about introducing the mysteries of sex to young men. But even though I'm middle aged, it seems it can even teach an inexperienced fella like myself a couple of things. Anyway, it contains this interesting bit in the introduction:

I knew a guy, his name was John. He was so dreadfully fat that he could barely walk, he had to pay for double seats in an aircraft. John loved good food and could never get thin for long. He spent a fortune going to fat farms to lose a few pounds but then put them on again. He was grossly ugly, but he knew how to charm girls. He had a long string of the most beautiful women, not just one or two, many. He died young from over eating. Vogue magazine would have given anything to have been taking pictures of the dozens of gloriously elegant, very beautiful, women who showed up at his funeral to mourn their loss.

Incredulous, I asked the author about the veracity of this story. He expanded for me via email:

John was the owner of the company I worked for . He died at 40. It was a real experience to watch him at work seducing a girl. We had a company function entertaining all the staff of a client company. I arrived in my car at the venue and parked my car. John drove in parked next to me. He was alone .

John kept thirty people in fits of laughter all through dinner. Told every one the history of the wines he had ordered and described the estates, threw in jokes all the time. After dinner the whole crowd were moved to a coffee lounge. It ended up with the whole crowd standing round the place were john was sitting all interacting with him, lots of jokes lots of stories. I watched as john picked his girl for the night. First he started looking at her when he told a joke as if he was telling it only for her. Then he started to reach a hand over and take her hand while they both laughed. Then he got her to move nearer and started to laugh into her eyes and hold her hand while they laughed.

He was a gross fellow but he had picked himself the prettiest of them and took her home with him that night.

Because of being severly overweight his clothing always looked a mess. Being over weight like that made him sweat a lot so under his arms his shirt was always wet.
I think you get the picture a dreadfull gross ugly man, but oh, what charm.

I had always known he had a lot of woman but the funeral was an eye opener and they cried their hearts out.

John not being there the company folded.

I think the funeral part is interesting. It shows it was no superficial one-night charm John worked on these women.

I suspect the essence of his "secret" was a deep and intense affection for women, which they felt strongly.
I also think this can be faked. But that will only get you the sex, not the love.

It should perhaps be said that life has shown me that people who get lots of sex (or money) are usually no happier than others, or happier than they were before, since happiness comes from within (cliche, but true). But this is hard to learn if one keeps yearning constantly for sex or money and never getting it. So finding a way to get them will surely help lessons in life. :)

The author mailed me this:
John kept getting them, I saw a few of them several times, but not one of his women stayed in the picture for very long. I would say max two months.
He never said and I dared not ask where any of them had gone.
He was getting them but not keeping them. From what you say on your blog I am wondering if all the jokes and laughter hid a very unhappy man.

I think we can guess, looking at the way he had to keep eating, and maybe even how strongly he Had To Get Women too.

Pogue this week

There are a couple of good recent posts and a fun video at David Pogue's blog.

See the light

See the light.
Aliens fishing, or the big guy dropping in?

Art and not-art

One of the things I have pondered most of my life (beyond "what do women want") is "what is the essential different between something that is Art and something that is not?"

This essay was published in an early volume of the SF anthology series Writers Of The Future around twenty years ago. Back then I thought I understood it perfectly. But now I'm less sure. It seems to me the definitions of "two-way communication" and of "contribution from the viewer" have to be awfully broad for this to work. What do you think?

Prostitution and morality

Once in a documentary on pornography somebody pointed out that in many countries, if you pay somebody to have sex with you, that's illegal... but if you point a video camera on the act, and you say you're making a pornographic film, and you're paying her not for having sex with you, but for being an actress, then it's legal! Isn't that funny?

I wonder why most of the world's populations are up in arms about prostitution. It's not illegal to have sex. It's not even illegal to have sex outside of marriage. And it's not illegal to have sex with a hundred people per year. And it's not illegal to pay somebody to do you a favor. But if that favor is sex: boom, illegal.

Sure, there are tons of problems involved with it, like sexually transmitted deseases (STD) and so on, but all of those problems are the same with generally promiscuous people, the payment has nothing to do with it. And I don't think anybody has tried to outlaw promiscuousity. Why does the payment change everything so radically?

I don't think the purpose is to protect the prostitute. Legality and regulation would do that much more effectively. I think the reason is some emotional response to a deep feeling about "immorality".

This is supported by the fact of an Italian supreme court decision in recent years: that there is no difference between paying for sex in person and paying somebody for virtual sex over the Internet. Clearly the STD dangers and so on are not present, but it is still regarded as equally immoral and illegal!

Letters from working girls
Letters from Johns

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The day I discovered I'm not a photojournalist

"The day I discovered I'm not a photojournalist", nice article by Mike Johnston.

News from Apple

An eagerly awaited product has been announced by Apple today.

If you want to watch the keynote without any spoilers, I will link to it when it appears on Apple's site.
Update: OK, here is the keynote.
There are many interesting things talked about, but if you wish to skip to the Big News item, it starts at 0:54:20.
That is a sexy product though. Must-have for connoisseurs.

... Randy Newman's first song near the end there... Gee, I don't know many people who could come up with that, nor get away with it. I think only somebody his age could have the guts.
And the next one... "I want to play a song I wrote for Toy Story... I actually wrote a great love theme, but they cut Buzz and Woody's big love scene..."

That new notebook: the solid state drive option is pricey... but it makes the machine faster. And should make it quieter. (Usually with a good notebook all you hear is the HD.) I wonder if it will save a lot of battery power too?

Update: rundown on the MacBook Air on TidBITS.

US/UK pricing

A Wacom Cintiq 12" Pen Display sells for £850 in the UK. In the US, it's $999. That's 40% less at today's exchange rate!

On the other hand, I just heard a friend in the US needs to pay $5,000 to get two broken molars fixed by his dentist. Here in the UK I never paid more than £450 to get a tooth fixed, even with a gold crown. (And it's a full privately paid clinic I use.) What's going on?


Clatterford. Warmly recommended.

This show is the "anti-Seinfeld". (I'm a fan of both.) Seinfeld: big American city. Clatterford: an English town. Seinfeld: lots of good looking people. Clatterford: lots of middle aged folk. Seinfeld: lots of broad, loud, edgy comedy. Clatterford: lots of quiet, understated, edgy humor. It takes real talent to makes something this understated this funny.

In Seinfeld, if you'd had an episode where ladies had to make pies for a big picnic in a hurry, you could bet that something would go wrong and everybody would get violently sick from the pies. In Clatterford, not so. Nothing so predictable.

It's very funny. If you have a fondness for the best "britcom", you will like this. It's a French And Saunders production too, though it does not have all that much in common with Ab Fab. But actually, the woman who played Patty on Ab Fab (Joanna Lumley) plays an 80-year old woman on this one. Amazing, it took me two episodes to recognize her!

Update: it turns out this show was renamed for the US. It's originally called Jam And Jerusalem in the UK. Since I don't watch TV as such anymore, I did not know of it. If I'd known of this title discrepancy, I could just have bought it here in the UK rather than import it from the US! I imagine they renamed it because they were afraid to use the word "Jerusalem" in the title of a TV show in the US. Funny old world.

Even regarded as a drama, it's really quite marvelous. I'm very impressed by how Jennifer Saunders has matured as a writer.

Monday, January 14, 2008


"SmileCheck enables a new type of picture taking mode called “Smile Shutter” in digital cameras. Once the camera’s trigger button is depressed, the shutter is not engaged until smiles are detected on all faces within the frame, ensuring photos with all smiles."

Nope, it's not the first of April.

I would have thunk such a product would have come from Japan. (But they seem to be doing a lot better with hardware.)

I once had a camera manual, clearly translated from Japanese, which said: "the diode by the self timer will blink faster during the last two seconds, so you know when to smile."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman. Gorgeous and outrageous comedienne. (Interview.)

I noticed her because she had arguably the most brilliant bit on The Aristocrats documentary/comedy. (The film makers agreed with me.)

She had a key role in the wonderful Greg The Bunny show, which sadly did not last long. Get the DVD.

She also had her own show, The Sarah Silverman Program, in which she, like in the Aristocrats bit, plays sort of herself, and presents a unique mix of child-like total innocence with the filthiest sort of comedy you can imagine. Extraordinary. She will say things that would make the South Park writers blanche, and do it with big, innocent eyes and an angelic smile. (Lo her "Porn Song".)

That show came on DVD with only a few episodes, so I thought it had been cancelled due to being too far out. But according to Wiki, it was a huge success and will be continued once the Hollywood writers' strike is over. Good for her. And good for us. While it did not make it into my top-five shows ever, I think, it's definitely a fresh slant on comedy, which we always need. And we are in dire need of good comedies, since all the big sitcoms have been shut down. (Scrubs is a nice exception.)


Kramer: "Karate is a lifelong pursuit of balance and harmony."
Jerry: "But with kicking and punching."

That about says it.

It took me a loooong time to become a fan of the Seinfeld show, because I just hated the cold-hearted, tiny-minded characters. But still, it's very funny. And lately I've been applying the old philosophy that anything that makes me react like that, has to have a mirror quality inside myself which I need to work on. Seems to work. :)

Did you know Jerry had 75 girlfriends during the run of the show? (The fictional Jerry of course. The real one was very busy indeed.) Seventy-five. I think that's more women than I've shook hands with.
And all of them so stunningly gorgeous. It makes you wonder what the heck casting directors on other shows and films are doing.