Black and White ‘photo challenge’ – sketchbook

One of those Facebook ‘challenges’ that I was invited to participate in:

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people, no explanation. Challenge someone new each day”

I don’t often get involved in social-media capers unless they are photography-based but I followed through with this one and really enjoyed it – it seemed like a very pleasing way to provide some much needed creative motivation to seven consecutive days and refreshed my looking and seeing faculties. Continue reading

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A footnote to the Automatic Selfie

 

Slackers-Friday-1The last post on the algorithm topic for a while, maybe ever, but the theme has intrigued me and maybe I’ve learned something. After writing the last post and subsequently finding this article I thought I’d test Google stories further to see if I could work out what criteria might be applied to data and images by photographing a trip into Bristol and back on a bus with some Continue reading

The automatic self(ie) and the making of memories.

A '19 Moments' Story

’19 Moments’ – a Google Story, to be included in a future post.

All the features in the recent post (about the application of algorithms to popular online photo sites) have the potential to be ingredients in a story, so what algorithmic tricks might be available to spin your photos, your ‘moments’, into a yarn, automatically? For a start Google Stories can take the effort out of selecting and sequencing your holiday photos, locating them as ‘moments’ on a ‘fun timeline’ with a location …

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‘Halloweenify’ special

Some seasonally spooky examples of the Google+ ‘Halloweenify’ effect (part of Google’s ‘Auto Aweswome’ enhancements as featured in my recent post), if there are faces in the photo that the software can detect they’ll get an undead makeover (or something less scary if you choose the ‘fun effect’), if it can’t recognise a face your image will be transformed into a ghostly scene. Continue reading

‘Auto Awesome’, ‘Interestingness’ and al-Khwārizmī

Google+ chose to Auto Enhance this prosaic shot of palettes stacked in the garden!

Google+ chose to Auto Enhance this prosaic shot of potential firewood stacked in the garden.

Following on from recent posts about online software that will automatically arrange your photographs, I’ve been finding what else is going on out there, and discoveries include some odd features as well as the next stage of automation – story construction. This won’t be news for the tech savvy but there may be a few people reading this post who share the same low level of technical comprehension that I have and might find these topics entertaining, if not useful.

What intrigues me about this subject is that somewhere behind all the algorithms there must be teams of human beings involved in identifying and agreeing criteria on which the code is then based. I know little about how this process works (pleased to hear some explanations) and the only personal experience that has any relationship to this goes back to 2000 when I collaborated briefly with a computer science researcher who, for his PhD thesis was working in the field of metadata for image databases and was investigating classification, indexing and retrieval of images. Continue reading

Englishness / England – Keep’n it shabby.

Is this a uniquely English pursuit? Nature tamed and tormented at the local flower show.

Is this a uniquely English pursuit? Nature tamed and tormented at the local flower show.

Over the last few months I’ve encountered a range of ‘stuff’ – exhibitions, books and articles – that has English written through it like seaside rock; some are featured here, more may follow in future. It seems there’s been increasing debate about this elusive quality of Englishness going on for a while now (centuries really), and clearly there’s been some specific focus on the topic lately – the forthcoming Scotland vote on independence is churning up an awareness of the UK nations; the wild aspirations of our national football team had some people’s blood up for a while in the summer and much was made in the media of the Commonwealth Games a few weeks back – I was intrigued to discover that the English ‘national anthem’ played at the Commonwealth Games was ‘Jerusalem’ – but it’s only now that I seem to have become attuned to the recent output on Englishness.

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Oporto photo shuffling

Porto montage 1Ten years ago, I was commissioned to create a poster to help mark the 20th anniversary of Bristol’s twinning with Oporto/Porto in Portugal – one of the nicest commissions I’ve ever been asked to do! I had proposed the idea to the Twinning Association way back in the 1980s and it lay dormant for a long time, but the anniversary provided an opportunity that I jumped at. Continue reading

iDocs 2012

HP-labs-wired-woods

iDocs ‘the interactive documentary genre’ is a topic I’ve been keeping an eye on for a while, in part because some of the people involved are previous colleagues but also from the little I knew of it I suspect it’s something I might have been doing myself for a long time – or at least I’ve strayed into the margins. After unavoidably missing iDocs events over the last year or so I finally caught up with a session at the recent Encounters  Festival.

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Photographs not taken

In a new book of interviews by photographer Will Steacy called ‘Photographs Not Taken‘  photographers  describe moments of potential photographs they’ve missed – either accidentally or more often as a result of an ethical decision.

Curiously related is the Descriptive Camera “Take a picture. The picture is sent to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk outsourcing service. A human writes up a quick description and sends it back. The camera prints it out using a tiny thermal printer.” Who is the human in this odd equation? How do they get recruited? Where are they located? Are they photographers themselves? How many different versions of one image could you get by sending the same photo several times? Might this process be used to circumvent ethical considerations of visual representation? Maybe more interesting to debate than the actual outcome.

And, last item on photography items that have caught my attention recently (not getting drawn into Instagram chat!) – a flatpack cardboard digital camera from IKEA – yet to be released.