David's Blog

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Finding people in Photographs

Funerals are never fun; they are not designed to be so I suppose they probably are success to a brief – but I don’t like them. When I pass I want to be buried with my cameras (my first a blue two eye piece one with dinosaur stickers, my second a Canon T70, my third a canon A-1 and at present a very battered and well used Canon 600D) and a round said in my name.

When a family member dies you often find hundreds of small b/w photographs of people you don’t know and people you know but don’t recognise. Due to my interests and work people often give me the photographs to restore, digitise, or just keep as (like books) it seems somewhat wrong to throw them away. Often you re-find someone in these, see your old 90 year old grandmother in a different light – as a yummy mummy or a happy twenty something, both strangely familiar and alien to you. Often a person appears you never really knew, and you suddenly realise, you were far to self-absorbed to understand.

About 6 months ago I wrote a blog about finding lots of pictures of my Partners Grandmother (Still alive) and merging them in chronological order to have her growing old in one photograph. You can see that here.

I won’t be able to do that with my nan, all I have is fractures and fragments of a life. I wonder in our digital, online, photo world what will we leave behind? I doubt my future children and grandchildren will be able to find me the same way I can re-find my elderly family. That makes me slightly sad…

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Embrace Your Mistakes: Hummingbirds

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One of the real joys of my time in San Francisco was watching the hummingbirds. these little critters buzz around your head like little mechanical drones. Adorable to look at I was convinced I would take some pictures to show my Facebook followers.

More fool me, these birds are incredibly fast and only visited our balcony in low light. So All I produced were blurry, grainy silhouettes. If you have hummingbirds near you and want to photograph them, then follow the tutorials here and here. I hope you have better luck than I!

Bain’s Law

There’s a law for everything. Today I came across Betteridge’s Law which dictates that a “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” One of my favourites is Hitchens’s Razor, a nice play on Occam’s Razor, where “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” A well known one is the Streisand Effect, where one try “to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely

I have decided to add to this list with Bain’s Law. “The tweet that becomes most widespread will be the tweet with the most spelling mistakes.

I formulated this law as I noticed I had much* activity over a tweet recommending a Nick Cohen Article on Rupert Murdoch.

Last week @NickCohen4 took on the Pope this week he takes on the great diety @rupertmurdoch

I giggled, put my phone away and decided to eat breakfast. That evening I re-found my phone to see a flurry of activity** it had been retweeted by Cohen himself, the Buzzfeed political editor, a few small time Labour politicians and many a nice person and blogger.

Alas it also had many a response with “Deity you dick, get it right.” Did any of my nice tweets with no selling errors get any retweets or publicity? No.

The Bain Effect in action.

*Comparatively.

**Comparatively.

Reclaiming the Hobbit

Perhaps the geekiest post I have ever blogged, for this I give no apologies. After sitting through the Battle of Five Armies out of a dull sense of “I should” rather than any enjoyment it’s time to start thinking “What if It wasn’t a trilogy but one very long, or two films?”

Of course actually editing the Hobbit into two (or even one three-hour film?) and releasing it online would suddenly make me a very poor editor indeed. If New Line were happy to sue a twenty year old pub for being called The Hobbit I doubt they would look kindly upon me editing down their movies and putting it up on torrent sites.

But lets imagine that we live in a universe where big businesses are quite happy to let small individuals play around with their stuff for a non-profit bases. Where everyone knows that creativity does not live in a bubble and things can be adapted into something new.  What then would we edit out?

It would be tricky to edit out lines of dialogue or even trim scenes down due to the displacement of the score. It could be done of course, you would just have to mute the original and put the score back over, probably by buying the rather whimsical soundtrack. The easiest option would be to cut out whole scenes together. For me the things that would go straight in the bin

1. Azog would be the first to go, not every scene of course, the ones that actually add nothing to the plot such as back story and Him Vs Thorin could stay but all the cliched “bad-guy dialogue” would go straight in the bin. If I had my way he would go completely, but i think that would be impossible as he (it?) is so interwoven into the darn film.

2. The Necromancer. Yes he is mentioned in the books and yes Gandalf goes off to fight him off pages but what did he actually add to the plot? Take him out and nothing has been lost.

3. Cut out the love story between sexy-elf and sexy-dwarf. Gender balancing a seventy year old book is perfectly fine and a bad-ass lady elf that did more than sulk and cry should be applauded but do we really need this cringe-worthy dialogue? In Battle of Five Armies you could have her sacrifice herself by going over the cliff edge with Bolg. Two characters and thirty minuets of screen time of Legolas gotten rid off. Simples.

4. Radagast. Could he completely be removed? Certainly he could from the second and third films but I would be interested to see if it was possible from the first – again like the necromancer, Legolas and  Stephen Fry’s henchman what does he add to the film except running time?

There are minor edits as well, I believe when Bilbo faints in the first act of An Unexpected Journey the scene could instantly cut to the next morning rather than having Gandalf tell us about Golf. The barrel sequence in Desolation of Smaug could be cut by half with nothing lost and do we really need all that darn talk about the Prophecy? When you look at Battle of Five Armies I think 45 minuets could be salvaged (mostly all the shots with Thorin and Blibo where great) and everything else could be gone.

But these are just some of my gripes. What would you guys add to the list? You never know, maybe one day I’ll actually do the cut and you can read about my arrest on twitter…

Macro Photography with Thomas Shahan

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 15.13.06“Life on earth is really, really, beautiful and it deserves closer look”

Readers of this blog will know my love of macro photography and so it was to some joy that I found this video on my Facebook feed this morning. Using Cheapish lenses, extension tubes an old flash and a makeshift portable studio (white paper) Thomas Shahan has created some stunning images of life in the undergrowth.

For those unable to afford extension tubes I have previously wrote a  blog on how you can make one out of an old Pringles tubes and reverse lenses.

My 13 responses to Michael Moore’s 13 rules for documentary filmmakers

Obvert Film

Okay, I’ll try and make this precise, there is so much I can say about Michael Moore’s rambling 13 rules of documentary making (link posted at end of article), I found it offensive on many levels, but I’ll try and make my reply as bright, breezy and snappy as possible (on this i fail I should warn you now!)…I could of course sum it up in three words…WHAT A COCK!


1. I consider myself a filmmaker, an artist, AND a documentarist, how very dare you tell me what to call myself, and really what does it matter. Oh and Michael, the notion that a ‘documentary’ film can be entertaining is not something you’ve invented, I have hundreds that fall into this category…none if them were made by you strangely enough though.
2. Right, at number two and I’m starting lose my shit already, did the man that brought us Corporations are…

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Remembering Robin Williams

TED Blog

Robin Williams hijacks the TED2008 stage before the BBC World Debate. Photo: Andrew Heavens Robin Williams hijacks the TED2008 stage before the BBC World Debate. Photo: Andrew Heavens

It’s 2008, moments before a BBC broadcast live from the stage at TED. But something’s gone wrong. The house lights are still up, the camera ops are looking at one another, official-looking folks are wandering at the stage apron muttering into headsets, and the panelists are sitting patiently onstage but looking, increasingly, baffled. Minutes go by.

And then a voice rises from the audience, wondering “why at a technology conference everything is running so shittily”! As Kim Zetter wrote: “at least that’s the word I think he used; it was hard to hear the last word through the audience’s laughter.” It was Robin Williams, who’d spent the day watching TED, and who now jumped out of the audience to grab the mic and reel off 10 or 15 minutes — reports vary — of improvised…

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The complete history of Mario Kart

Pond Dipping (Or DIY Underwater photography)

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While cleaning the pond at my parents house I decided to relive some childhood memories of pond dipping. For those of you who have never had the sheer pleasure of dipping a net into a small and muddy pond to see what you might find (often leaves), then the rules of Wittgenstein’s Language Game dictate you will find this blog rather dull. Apologies. For the rest of us it was like sifting for gold, with the reward of a small dazed amphibian easily as precious as a golden nugget (although not in monetary value)

Who doesn’t love our garden friend, the frog?! They eat our flies and slugs and ask for little in return, in south korea they were forced into extinction due to overconsumption (perhaps the greatest evil that Kim Jong-Il did) but here in my non french garden they live peaceful if short lives due to our local herons. Above and below are some pictures of them. My aim was to show the full body of the frog compared to the normal shot of their head. To do this you will need

1. A pond

2. A net

3. A large ja

4. A Frog

 

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After carefully catching the frog I put them into a jar half filled with water where they irritatedly swam around. Above is a picture of my mother modeling how I looked. It is important to note I was allays friendly to my green friends and after no more than five minuets I let them back into the pond to let them ponder on what just happened.

With the photographs taken it was just a matter of cropping them in post and hey presto you have an underwater shot of a frog without actually going underwater. Check out more of my photography here, if you have any questions or suggestions then post away!

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Making a Film: Inspiration.

A blog series has been festering in my mind for a while. Unfortunately my mind is either so fall that it became almost overwhelmed in the metropolis, or (just as likely) so empty the poor idea became lost in the desert. Which ever scenario is true my little thought was no Peng Jiamu and eventually has come to the surface, be it a bit late.

My idea was to do a series of blogs documenting the process of filmmaking, from the initial inspiration or brief down to the finished product. I intended to do the blog series on making an advert for cloud-computing company Simplexo, but I shot that video in a internet-less Scotland. I forgot the idea when shooting two videos for Black fashion Week Lisboa and am at present already in the planning stages for a film for a gourmet chef.

All is not lost, however, I am starting on a  new personal project. Above is  a video of everyones favorite 20th century philosopher (if you ignore Wittgenstein and Winnie the pooh) Bertrand Russell. I urge you to watch it all, but play close attention to the memory he recants from 8:15 to 8:30.

“When I was 4 years old … I dreamt that I’d been eaten by a wolf, and to my great surprise I was in the wolf’s stomach and not in heaven.”

I first watched this video two years ago and those lines have haunted me since. I have decided to use it for a short (around 20 second) film and will blog the development of it from now to the end result.

This entry has been on initial ideas, the original spark if you like bad metaphors, and how easily they can make you think. The next blog will be on researching.