It’s The Potato Tree

This is growing in the grounds of Sidney Sussex College, here in Cambridge. The moment I saw it I thought of Woody Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) which is also in the same family, except that this is a large shrub above eight feet tall, trained against a wall.

I saw it a few weeks ago and again today, and it is still flowering.

From WikiPedia:

Solanum crispum is a species of flowering plant in the Solanaceae family, native to Chile and Peru. Common names include Chilean potato vine, Chilean nightshade, Chilean potato tree and potato vine. Growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall, it is a semi-evergreen, woody-stemmed climbing plant. The small blue fragrant flowers, 2.5 cm in diameter, with prominent yellow ovaries, appear in clusters in summer. They resemble those of the closely related potato. Very small poisonous berries are produced in autumn. The berries start out green, then yellow-orange, and finally purple. The leaves are oval.

Angling Your Camera and Sheep Lenses


Tamara and I went to see ‘America After The Fall’ at the Royal Academy in London yesterday.

This is the first paragraph of the blurb from the exhibition:

The art of 1930s America tells the story of a nation in flux. Artists responded to rapid social change and economic anxiety with some of the 20th century’s most powerful art – brought together now in this once-in-a-generation show.

The most well known paintings there were two Edward Hopper paintings and the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood.

Outside the exhibition there was a huge poster of American Gothic and I angled my camera up to capture the man in the painting.

That’s the first photo at the top of this article – and as you can see, I also captured the light streaming in from the glass roof.

Well, that was inevitable, but I thought I would use the photo to illustrate what happens when you angle your camera to the subject.

Here is a version shot with my phone angled and right up against the brochure from the exhibition. And as you can see, I got the same effect. Had I held the camera tilted the other way with the forehead nearest the image, the farmer would have looked like the mekon (google it) with a giant forehead and tiny chin.

Here is the more usual view of the painting:

The effect when you angle your camera is stronger the nearer the camera is to the subject. That’s one of the reasons that portrait photographers generally use longer focal-length lenses – so that they don’t have to get too close to the subject.

There are other reasons, too. For example, the front to rear distance of the subject is extended with a short focal-length lens and compressed with a longer focal length lens.

Tamara calls short focal-length lenses ‘sheep lenses’.

She calls them that because of the way short focal-length lenses extend noses, making the subject look like he/she/it is being extended and sucked into the lens tube.

sheep photographed close up