Friday, 18 April 2014


You can make great things from clay as long as you don't go completely potty. You've just got to appreciate what you have in your hands. 

I bought Goldfrapp's album 'Tales of Us' some time ago, listened to it and went ok, then forgot about it. Strange how you have to be in the mood for certain types of music.

Late in the night last week, I turned to the album and this time 'listened'. It's an album that requires more intense listening to be fully appreciated. This one's a grower. It keeps growing on you until you've absorbed the subtleties and then realise with a start that there's much more waiting. Certainly not to everyone's taste I imagine. You have to give it a chance you see. But, if you do, this whole album will reward and transport you on waves of soft, aural sensuality. I liked it so much I bought two more of their albums, 'Felt Mountain' and 'Seventh Tree'. Both utterly different in style but just as compelling musically. 

The song 'Clay' is based on a wartime love letter: HERE.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Florence Menu

On the menu today (sorry) is a very interesting French photographer who takes these exquisite images all the time. I mean, tutu's and spanners for goodness sake. She could only be French. The shot above is her first publication at 1x. Her web site is HERE.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Ten Pound Digital Camera

This shot was taken today on what is now an obsolete camera available on Ebay for about ten pounds or so. A Cannon iXus 75 pocket camera from 2007, 7mp sensor and sort of ok IQ if you don't look too closely. (I've downsized this image to 1200 pixels). 

The camera is in mint condition (see pics below) and sits forlornly in the glove compartment of my car in case it's ever needed in case perhaps I should run over a nun. (Quite a few nuns seem to leap out from behind trees, you'd be surprised. I certainly would if one did).

Friday, 4 April 2014

Escaping London

Another old shot re-visited. The original had a warm colour wash which I've now removed, returning the image back to pure monochrome. Also adjusted the contrast so there is a little bit more detail in the cyclist to concentrate the eye and help composition. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Karsh & Me.

Looking up some images for Karsh, I was astonished to find myself pictured, thanks to the vagaries of Google search, alongside Clark Gable, Edward Steichen, Alfred Hitchcock and Fidel Castro. I can only imagine the confusion and the thousands of heads being scratched when researchers find my ugly mug alongside all these greats. WTF? 

And I'm not going to post up the guilty picture here, again. Oh no. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Spanner

Here is my latest edition of The Spanner broadsheet magazine shown together with its on-line incarnation and doing its job of postponing any possibility of actual work being done at my desk, rather well. 

Since I made some small contribution to its existence, I thought the least I could do is mention it here. Inspired by the pamphlets and cartoons of Georgian London, it aims to amuse and inform, provide no answers to questions discussed, yet perhaps shed a little light into dark corners. Find it HERE

Monday, 31 March 2014

Landscape Photography, the Albert Watson way.

Albert, sitting in the luxurious warmth of his executive limo, parks up on the dank, wet mountain road and barks into his walki-talki. "You got the spritzer? Yeah? Bring it over, I need more water. More water on the windscreen."

I spill my drink laughing at the unintentional irony. On Skye? More water?  

An assistant immediately appears from the large van that is following Albert's car around the Isle of Skye on his mission to photograph this mysterious landscape, spritzer in hand. (not the drink I'd imagined, but a water bottle spray). Hurriedly the assistant sprays more water onto the windscreen while Albert perches his PhaseOne digital camera that's tethered to a laptop behind him, on the steering wheel. (Interestingly, the steering wheel has a band of gaffer tape stuck around the rim so as to remind Albert to drive on the left). 


"How's the exposure?" Albert demands.

A young and rather beautiful laptop operator sitting hidden in the rear seat answers, "Exposure is good," but this time (for once) we don't see her. 

The BBC film crew following Albert on his photographic journey has focused rather more often than seems entirely necessary on this young acolyte during the program. Looking decidedly glum throughout the film, she's shown muffled and fighting against the outside weather or sitting damply in a cafe while struggling with obviously frozen fingers to use her MacBook Pro laptop. Clearly she would much rather be in Central Park. Or in a coffee shop. Anywhere but this place. 

Albert explains to camera his desire for an 'impressionistic view' of the landscape through the windscreen. 

The other two (or was it three?) male assistants remain in the van and are ignored by the BBC camera crew. Mere unattractive minions summoned only to set up the tripod, clean the lens, wipe down the camera and any other task demanded of them. 

And so on we go, to yet another location where this very celebrated and famous celebratory photographer, now in his seventies, captures another terrific, if unremarkable view of Skye. It's another world. And Albert, lucky and lovely guy that he is, lives in one.

The documentary, titled: 'What Do Artists DO all day?' can still be viewed on BBC iPlayer if you're in the UK, HERE.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Holbein's Sketches

In Windsor Castle you can view the original sketches that Holbein made in preparation for his paintings.  And you should, for they are simply exquisite. 

Using the minimum of detail and effort, Holbein somehow captures the essence of these people, warts and all. These pictures were never meant to be seen, yet they seem incredibly alive. If you look closely enough at these drawings of people from five hundred years ago, you can almost smell them. 

View more of his sketches HERE.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


A week driving a total of seven hundred and fifty kilometres between Malaga to Gibraltar and back again was interesting but the weather was windy and cool. It was warmer in the UK, dammit. 

I don't get on with small cars, and the hired Corsa felt like an electric-band powered blancmange. Ok for around town I suppose. Along the coast the land and architecture could best be described as bland. Inland and away from the beach-town wastelands of vast sprawling shuttered holiday apartment-land, it's much, much nicer. 

I didn't take many pictures as there really wasn't much to take. This shot of Ronda, an hours drive inland, was the exception. The weather was more interesting than the usual blue skies and added a little more atmosphere to an already stunning landscape. 

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Techno Camera Kid

Sitting slumped and knackered close by a children's party, I was minding my own business catching whatever breath remained to me after looking after a two year old that seemed to be powered by an inexhaustible supple of energy. (If the world could harness that energy, you could close all the nuclear powers stations overnight). 

Anyway, whilst slumped and knackered (which seems to be my default mode these days), I watched through heavy-lidded eyes this boisterous gathering of children next to me, excitedly enjoying their noisy day. My attention gradually focused upon an older child, around ten years of age, a member of the party and busily recording all the fun. And not on a camera, no. On an iPod. Not that significant, really, as cameras seem to be a thing of the past now, superseded by the phone-cam. No, what did amaze me, was the speed and ease with which this mere child recorded things whilst still being a part of the party.

He deftly, using the forward facing camera on the iPod, swung the device around the table in smooth measured motions, chatting and letting the subjects see themselves on the iPod's screen even as they were being videoed. Glancing at the screen only occasionally to check he was framing things right, he captured all the action. At one point he stopped, swiped and prodded the screen with quick expert touches, selected still-picture mode and fired off a dozen stills of birthday-boy and just as swiftly returned the device back to video and carried on filming. Tomorrow's photojournalist in action. Bravo!

Just. So. Easy. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Lascaux 250

Another year, another flash.

There are 137 entries this year. Creating a story in just two hundred and fifty words is a bit like solving a very hard crossword puzzle. The inspiration this year was the picture below. I made it three hours before the deadline, but others were even later. My entry is number 129. A sample read shows many talented entries which leave mine looking more than a little wanting. 

If you read and like any of them, do try and leave a comment for the author as few seem to bother. Here is the link: Lascaux 259 

Stepping Stone.

“So you made it,” she said with indifference.

“Surprised I came?”

“As if I cared, Joe.”

“My name’s Stephan.”

“You’re just another Joe to me.”

“Yeah, and a dead man walking, right?”

Those blue eyes froze over into deep permafrost and bored through my skull into the distance. A strand of rebellious hair was daring to disturb her TV perfect, politicians face.

Her diamond hard blue eyes were back and focused, cutting hard into me.

“Skip the drama, you’ll be protected.”

“Will I? And what about Brandy?”

“Brandy? Your girlfriend?”


“Right. She’s seventeen and you’re what? 60?”

“Fifty-nine. Yeah and it don’t mean nothin.”

“Sure Joe, sure. We both know she’s climbing out the sewer.”

“Like you, you mean.”

Those cold eyes don’t blink.

“Just like me, Joe. Listen, you’re less than nothing, a stepping stone to me. One I can easily skip. Forget Brandy if you want to live.”

The bitch not only had me by the balls, she was twisting.

“Protection plus immunity; then you get the books.”

She smiled that famous cover-girl smile for the first time.

“You got it, Joe.”

Now she’s the State’s youngest female Senator and favours need paying.

So the ice-bitch withdrew my protection. And there’s no immunity from the Mob. Before they get to me, I have to rearrange that perfect face.

I’m one stepping-stone she really should have skipped.