Friday, September 24, 2010

Police E-Fit - State of the art photo software

Hampshire Police E-Fit
This isn't one of mine! This is a composite image created by Hampshire Police using special software. It's based on eye witness descriptions of a burglar who they hope to catch. This man tricked his way into an old persons house and stole £60.

I looked at this image for some time trying to work out what was wrong with it. The green hair (a witness described his hair as grey/blond), merely confuses the main error, can you see what's wrong? The answer is at the bottom.

I'm only guessing but it looks to me like Hampshire Police have been sold some state of the art software, (I imagine it's called E-Fit Pro), probably by the same salesman who sold HM Revenue & Customs (income tax),  it's new computer system (Taxman Pro). If you hadn't heard, nearly six million people in the UK have paid the wrong amount of tax and it looks like the government will have to write off £2 billion.

Of course the answer may be that the police are using  a Dadaist artist to operate the software and the E-Fit is an abstract expression of the artists emotion towards crime.

It's not just British police who have been sold the software - the e-fit below is from Australia. That's the real criminal on the right, if you hadn't guessed. The Australians have opted to buy the "Lite" version of the software with 256 shades of grey instead of the full colour version.

I wonder what type of press officer can address a police press conference and release these images without cracking up. "The suspect is medium build with salad colored hair".

The Australian E-Fit
What's wrong with lettuce head above? He has no ears!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ringo's House

Hamilton Square Station. Photograph by Tim Irving
Frequent Electric Trains by Tim Irving
This is well off topic but I feel obliged to warn you not to do what I've done, which is fit a new toilet and a new floor, at the same time. I'll leave it at that.

The weather here is lovely and has been for the past 2 days. I haven't been out enjoying the sun because of the afore mentioned toilet and floor, but this weekend I'm visiting Merseyside (The photo above is the old underground station in Birkenhead) one of my favourite places with many happy memories. I'll probably nip over to Ringo's old house in Madryn Street, Liverpool which looks like it's going to be demolished. A very short sighted move in a city that makes a good living from its musical heritage. The council in Liverpool should think back, didn't they re-build the Cavern Club after pulling down the original. Madryn Street and the streets around it are called the "Welsh Streets" because they were populated by Welsh construction workers from the 19th century onwards. These are very attractive houses, easily modernised, historic and desirable. In any other city they'd be preserved, not in Liverpool.

I'm off to an exhibition tomorrow in London. But today I'm draining water in an attempt to stop a leak. I'll be back Friday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Photographing the Tour of Britain Cycle Race

Team Garmin Photograph by Tim Irving
Team Garmin by Tim Irving
I love to photograph bike racing, it's a great spectacle with a lot of potential for a photographer and the sales of my cycling photographs have always been respectable. This week the Tour of Britain came very close to where I live so I was hoping to get a few snaps of the riders. I did several hours of preparation by driving the route on Wednesday and Thursday, looking for a good viewpoint with interesting surroundings. I found a spot last night, not too far from home, where I could look down on the action and get very close to the riders.

This morning I walked the dog one hour early. Then, because I had time to spare, I walked out of town to my chosen spot. I didn't have long to wait before the procession started, first dozens of police motorcycles with flashing lights and sirens, then the event cars again with flashing lights, then the race itself. The 100 odd riders in the peloton were level with me in an instant, then gone, travelling so fast that I had time to take 2 photographs. I could have taken 3 if I hadn't fumbled the film wind after the first shot. The riders passed, I was left in silence with my mouth open.

I'm happy enough with the 2 photographs, the one above is OK, I've seen worse. The other (you'll have to wait to see it), looks very nice, a potential good seller. I would have liked one or two more photos but there will be other races and I'll be there. I'm an experienced race photographer, I've covered the classics in France and Spain but on my home turf I forgot my own golden rule which is "always photograph the race when they're riding up a hill". Now I can add another golden rule "Don't panic, keep winding on".

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Night On The Town

Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry. photograph by Tim Irving
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry by Tim Irving
I spent yesterday night walking the streets of North London looking for good pubs to photograph. I would have loved to illustrate for you the type of pub I'm talking about with a photograph, but I can't because I couldn't find any, they've all disappeared! I'm not joking, it's true. Before I left the UK in 2002 every high street had dozens of traditional pubs some of them had been serving beer for 3 or 4 hundred years - now most of them have closed down. I did a little research and found out that last year the rate of closure was 52 pubs a week throughout Britain.

The main reason they've closed is because of the smoking ban that became law in 2007. At the time of the legislation we were told that "non smokers shouldn't have to suffer passive smoking". The few pubs I did see last night were not exactly heaving with non smokers enjoying clean air - they were empty. The few loyal customers were drinking beer outside, so they could smoke. Some pubs were thoughtful enough (and opportunistic), to provide outdoor heaters.

I find this a great shame not least because pubs were a part of the community and like libraries and churches, need to be preserved. The alternative is that we all cocoon ourselves in front of the PC or TV to smoke and drink in solitude.

The evening wasn't a complete wash out, it inspired me to hunt down and photograph the few old pubs that remain and also to photograph the building you see above, Hornsey Road Baths and Laundry. The original baths were built for the public in 1895.There was a swimming pool and 37 private baths plus a laundry. The baths were badly damaged during the Second World War, but hung on until they finally closed in 1991. Now all that remains of the original building is the facade and the beautiful neon sign, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry. photograph by Tim Irving
That's not my dog!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New York Fashion Week

From the collection of Erkan Coruh
It's New York fashion week and I'm not really inspired by what I've seen so far, but I never am. However, amongst the blandness that is designed for the masses and knocked out in China, you do occasionally come across something tht will definitely not find it's way to the high street, at least not this century. This collection by Erkab Coruh has caught my interest, not least because of the photography, which I love.Is it ahead of its time? Ironic? Or a mistake?
From the collection of Erkan Coruh

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The First Sunset in Colour

First Sunset by Adolf Miethe
This is possibly the first sunset photographed in colour! It was taken by Adolf Miethe in 1903. Adolf Miethe was an important figure in early photography, co- inventing the magnesium flash and the first colour camera, that combined 3 negative plates to make the final print.The same camera that was used by Sergei Prokudin-Gorsky to photograph 19th century Russia.

The original negatives
The 3 original negatives are being auctioned in Germany on the 25th of this month with a starting bid of 100 euros. I love this photo and could look at it for hours. I wonder what the final auction price will be?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Visit to Middle England

Comfort. Photograph by Tim Irving
The life of a photographer is exciting and it doesn't get much better than last weekends assignment, the Church Hall. To be more precise, the monthly book sale within a church hall situated in the Home Counties. I bought no books, but I had a very entertaining morning.......

Physically this church hall is in Suburbia, about 18 miles from London, but it represents every church hall I've ever entered, it is Middle England and slightly to the right. A land of sensible footwear.

I'll leave you to look at the photographs, but I'll tell you that the layout of the books, which are stacked randomly, don't make it easy to browse. One lady told me that looking down and continually turning her head to read the spines, made her feel sick. So be warned.

Book selection. Photograph by Tim Irving

More books. Photograph by Tim Irving

Tea and cakes. Photograph by Tim Irving

Sunday, September 5, 2010

35mm film in 120 Cameras

Happy Accident - Photograph by Tim Irving
Happy Accident - Tim Irving

The image above was taken because I wanted to incorporate sprocket holes into the picure. The only way I know of doing this is to use 35mm film in a 120 (medium format) camera. Incidentally, the negative wasn't scanned, I re-photographed it.

Running 35mm film through a 120 or 620 camera is very easy to do as you can see by the sequence below:

35mm in a 120 camera - Photograph by Tim Irving
The items you'll need: A roll film camera, 35mm film, polystyrene packing foam, black adhesive tape

35mm in a 120 camera - Photograph by Tim Irving
Insert the 35mm film into the camera, add the foam to keep the film central - Pull the film across to the take up spool and wind 2 full turns

35mm in a 120 camera - Photograph by Tim Irving
Close the camera back and stick tape over the windows to prevent fogging

35mm in a 120 camera - Photograph by Tim Irving
Make a mark on the wind on knob
Isn't that easy!
I wound the film 2 full turns for each exposure. The spacing is uneven and overlapping, but for my purposes it really doesn't matter. So now you know how to do it, good luck.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Journey to Nowhere

No Smoking. Photograph by Tim Irving
My daughter used to say to me, more often than I found comfortable "What's it like to be old?" I should point out that to a child a dad always appears old and at the time I was a young man and couldn't give her a satisfying answer. Now I am older, I can tell you and my daughter, that with age I am becoming increasingly emotional, a good obituary can make my eyes damp. I'm also becoming nostalgic and getting a liking for experiencing 'deja vu'. I'm pleased to say my memory, which has never been wonderful, is still in tact, I don't forget friend's names and cover up by calling them "Darling", yet.

On Monday I gave in to nostalgia and visited a historical railway, running trains from the 1950's and 60's. My excuse was testing a batch of old (mature), film and a few cameras. I boarded the nice red train you see below and spent two hours riding up and down the one mile track. Happy to be alone in a 1960's compartment carriage. The train made the same clickety clack noise, had the same rolling motion and even the same smells as the train I took from Crewe to Inverness in 1968 on my way to the Outer Hebrides. After going back and forth for an hour I walked through the train's corridors to find the buffet car and had warm scones and tea served on a bone china tea set, by a smiling waitress.

Back in my compartment, I even managed a 5 minute doze before my train arrived at the station for the hundredth time that day and I had to leave. The whole experience was a journey to nowhere, but it was good journey. The film needs another year or so to mature but there's no hurry, the cameras performed faultlessly. - Nostalgia is rock and roll.

Signal box. Photograph by Tim Irving

1960's Train. Photograph by Tim Irving

Train compartment. Photograph by Tim Irving

British Railways Logo. Photograph by Tim Irving

Buttered scone. Photograph by Tim Irving

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Le Boudoir - Still techniques in film making

Lily DesLys - Le Boudoir from Treyban on Vimeo.

No, the video isn't a cheap ploy to entertain you while I'm fitting a new toilet and sink. It's a nicely made video, but I'd like to draw your attention to the sequences that are blurred, like the opening shot where the dancers legs are in focus but the background is blurred.There are also a few handheld sequences where blur is introduced.

This is a very difficult effect to achieve using a video camera , so i'm guessing here, but I think this film has been made using Canon 5D Mark 2, which is a still camera with a video function. By using wide aperture prime lenses the film maker has added bokeh in a movie. By professional movie standards, a Canon 5D Mark 2 is cheap, so I expect to see tasteful blurs popping up all over the place, until it's done to death.

I also noticed that the film maker has created a vignette by shading the corners of the frame. This technique is usually used to draw your attention to the action, but seems redundant given the subject of the movie.


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