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Animations have always been close to my heart. What fun the moving image. If I am in a shop and there is a TV showing a product, I stop to watch it.

Writing this makes me think about an outdoor shop in Leeds that ran a video of a strange product – strange to me, anyway.

It was a neckband that you twisted to convert into a hat, the kind of thing you might use climbing in the mountains.

I was never really interested in the product enough to want to buy it, but the moving image grabbed my attention and pleased me. Every time I visited the shop, I stopped to watch the video.

The video ticking along on an endless loop, demonstrating a product for which I had no thought of buying, was such a relief from the reality of things.

All troubles and concerns left me and I would watch the demonstration unfold, and then unfold again.

It wasn’t an expensive product. I could have bought it if I wanted. That makes things all the more appealing, don’t you think?

After all, who can watch a TV showing something they cannot afford, without at least some small twinge of an unwanted feeling?


I made the animated gif in Photoshop. I had an idea to illustrate the stages in a buying process, but abandoned the idea and continued adding bits without really thinking about it.

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

Around And About – Cambridge And London

This is a wood-panelled passage in Christ’s College in Cambridge. For anyone who is a stranger to the colleges, they are slap bang in the middle of the town. The entrance to this college faces onto the entrance to the Grand Arcade and Lion’s Yard, with stores like John Lewis just opposite. Step through the ancient doorway into the college and it is different world.

The second photo is from the same college and the Ceonothus (I think that’s what it is) was just coming out when Tamara and I visited a few days before. And now we saw it in this deep, deep blue. I can’t help but wonder how pollinators see it?

Many pollinators have eyes that can see into the ultra-violet part of the spectrum – well beyond what humans can see. Bjørn Rørslett took a whole series of photos of flowers using a camera adapted to react within the UV range. If you are interested, look for the ones that under UV light show the flowers with stripes laid out like airport landing strips for insects, guiding them in to the flower.

This is a light installation by Cerith Wyn Evans that was in the great hallways at Tate Britain when Tamara and I visited Tate Britain a few weeks ago.

And finally, a panorama of the frontage of St Catharine’s College in Cambridge. I guess that is the St Catharine who was burned to death for her faith. She was tied to a rotating wooden wheel and that is the origin of the Catharine Wheel firework on Bonfire Night. I think they are called pinwheels in the States.

All photos taken with an iPhone 6 and messed about with in Snapseed.