Walking around old Vienna, I spotted an unusually high number of tasteful store signs, using fonts and styles I don't commonly see in the UK.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A [Village], [Time] label would have been more appropriate for this one. Manarola is a small fishing town on the Ligurian coast in Italy. With only 450 inhabitants, it is the smallest of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.
Hiking trails zigzag down to the beach and up into the mountains, taking you through vineyards and past medieval monasteries. The local wine, Sciacchetrà, is sweetly potent, and the olives on the pizzas and the lemons for the limoncino come from the surrounding orchards. Not surprisingly, seafood features prominently in Ligurian cuisine, but the Ligurians also invented focaccia and pesto. The Cinque Terre National Park being a UNESCO World Heritage site, no cars are allowed in the villages; they are connected by train, ferry and walking paths. Almost all the shops and restaurants are small mom-and-pop outfits.
If all this seems too cloyingly idyllic, here is something I am more equivocal about: the "Ligurian pastel" colors of Manarola's houses are regulated by a Commissioner of Good Taste in the regional government.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I had never really dabbled in computer animation before, but I recently discovered Synfig, a free, open source animation program. It's a lot of fun to play with.
The first animation I created on Synfig was a very simple 8-second animation of a ball dropping on the floor and morphing into a ghost. I spent the better part of a rainy Saturday morning learning how to make Synfig do my bidding, and the remainder of the morning watching Birth of a Ghost on loop (yes, I am easily amused).
My introduction to animation was by way of flipbooks. In 1996, when the cricket World Cup was held in the Indian subcontinent, you could exchange Coke bottle-caps for cricket merchandise. My friends were into collecting trading-cards. I was by no means indifferent to trading-cards, but I saved my bottle-caps till I had enough for a flipbook, which had Saeed Anwar majestically lifting some hapless spinner over long-on.
I knew in theory how TVs worked, and I had seen a zoetrope at BITM, but until I beheld a flipbook, I don't think I had truly comprehended how a rapid display of still images can create an illusion of movement. I also realised ‒ and this was even more interesting ‒ that I could make my own flipbooks. But after a few months of doodling in the corner of notebook pages, I thought I had gotten over my flipbook phase.
Except I hadn't, really. My Synfig experiments got me thinking about flipbooks again, and one day during my lunch-break, I seized on a wad of post-it notes which was on my desk and re-created Birth of a Ghost on flipbook.
Here are both videos, for comparison:
Birth of a Ghost (Synfig) (0:08)
Birth of a Ghost (flipbook) (0:04)
If you want a hand-drawn flipbook, send me an email. I can make one and post it to you.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
As Ethan Zuckerman said in a 2008 lecture: "Web 1.0 was invented to allow physicists to share research papers. Web 2.0 was created to allow people to share pictures of cute cats."
Photos on this blog of Isle of Dogs fauna have featured foxes and of course, dogs, but so far ‒ no cats. This is about to be remedied. Here is a cat, spotted on Saturday en route to the supermarket.
Shortly after spotting the cat, I discovered that Mudchute Farm, which is also on my way to the supermarket, has three llamas. This made my day.
If, as is not unlikely, Web 3.0 is created to allow people to share pictures of llamas, my llama photo will get its place in the sun.
Monday, March 25, 2013
It's an odd skill to boast of, but I'm fairly good at loading film into a camera. I can load film quickly and efficiently, while standing in a crowded train, or in the middle of other distractions. But most importantly, by pulling very little film ‒ the bare minimum ‒ out of the cassette, I can get the film leader to engage in the take-up spool.
This may not sound like much, but if you pull less film out of the cassette, you can often get 38 or even 39 exposures out of a 36-exposure roll. I like this, because it feels like getting more than my money's worth, like squeezing the last smidgen of toothpaste out of a tube.
After the 36th shot, I expect the film to run out. When it doesn't, it's always a pleasant surprise, and though I'm generally quite economical when shooting film, for the last frame I feel like I can fire off a shot without worrying too much about the end result, because it's free.
Often, the last frame is the best.
This photo was taken in Greenwich Park in London. I like the patterns made by the snow and the branches, and the woman playing with her dog on the hillside. It was the last exposure on the roll, and the last of the dying light. I thought it was the last snow of the season too, but it snowed again this weekend, proving that my spring post was premature.