Sunday, January 29, 2006

‘Pro’ Slideshow

Being rather handy at the old Macromedia Flash, I was going to make myself a photography showcase website using the Flickr API. The Flickr API is basically a software interface that enables one to get photos and related information (titles, descriptions, tags, sets, groups etc) from and to display the content on a different website. For example the little Flash widget on my blog's homepage is pulling my latest photos off Flickr and showing them here.

But anyway, someone’s already made one that’s quite neat so maybe I won’t bother any more. At least not for a while. It’s called Pro and here it is showing a selection of my photographs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Totally Fu**ing Dental

A word of advice: don’t go too long without a dental check-up. I went a few weeks ago for the first time in about eight years (my previous visit was basically the last time it was free – as a student). He shook his head and booked me in for three appointments. It’s going to cost me quite a lot of money.

The first appointment was with a dental hygienist last week. That was fine.

But today I was in at 8:15 and had to endure six anaesthetic injections followed by an hour and a half of god-knows-what going on in my mouth. The only thing worse than the implements sticking out of your gob (and all the drilling) is those white swab things they pack your mouth with. Gah…

Less than pleasant.

And I’ve got to go back on Friday to get the other side done. Take my advice, get ’em checked.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Stock Photography

This may look like one of those awfully bland corporate Getty Images photos but, I’m ashamed to say, it’s one of mine.

I take a lot of photos. All the ones I put on the net are technically decent but, to be honest, only one in 20 or so are particularly interesting content-wise. Still, they serve a purpose. And the purpose is teaching myself to take better photos.

Anyway, the girlfriend of one of my mates happens to select and buy images for TheGuardian (and yes that was my HTML attempt at replicating their recently retired classic masthead), and she had a snoop around my Flickr account and said I “...have a good eye”.

Now, coming from someone that does what she does for a living, that’s a great compliment. But anyway, she went on to say that I should try making some money out of my photography. And suggested I sign up to stock photography site Alamy.

Some of my photos are mine, for me, to share with my friends and that’s that. But others, such as the one shown here, I have absolutely no emotional attachement to whatsoever. So I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to put them up for sale. If someone wants to give me £40 to put that on their corporate site I’m well up for it. It’s bland, but it could serve a purpose.

So here goes. Considering the amount of time I spend selecting, editing and posting photographs, it might make sense to see a bit of extra cash for it each month!

There’s nothing on there yet because they have to QA my images for quality and resolution, but shortly my images will be available to buy here on

Monday, January 09, 2006


My mate Andreas has kindly given me a new lens for my camera. It’s called a Lensbaby and it basically achieves an effect like in this photo (actually the first photo I took with it). You focus by stretching or compressing the lens itself with your fingers, and you can move the point of focus around by bending it.

Photography fun to be had – thanks Andreas! His Flickr photos are here, incidentally.

We met up yesterday in Camden to take some photos. Unfortunately the weather was awful. The plan had been to go along the canal and up to Primrose Hill from where there’s usually a great view of London.

We climbed it anyway hoping that the rain would subside. It didn’t. The view was rubbish. So we trudged back down and went into London Zoo (the logic: it was nearby, it has indoor bits). I did manage to get a couple of OK-ish pictures of some fish in the aquarium, and we briefly visited the giraffes before I hurried home for a – most welcome – roast dinner provided by my housemate Liam for me and a few friends. Thanks Liam!

Anyway, the photos from the day are here. Giraffes look quite camp, don’t you reckon?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ableton Live

I recently installed a demo of Ableton Live on my laptop. It’s a fantastic piece of audio production software. I’ve still only had a couple of sessions with it and, because it’s a demo, I can’t save, but so far I’m really into it.

I used to dabble with writing music back at college and university and have a small number of semi-respectable (though now dated) mp3s to show for it. I’m also pretty damn good at mixing on a set of Technics, but music seems to have fallen to the wayside for me. I can’t put my finger on exactly why this is but it’s partly because it lost that excitement factor that comes with a new discovery. I remember first realising that I could edit samples and load them into the memory on my PC’s soundcard. I sat up all night with headphones on painstakingly putting a track together with Cubase. It was really satisfying.

That was back in 1995. Since 2000 I’ve not done any new tunes. I’ve helped friends produce tracks and mixes and I still have the technical know-how but haven’t been able to motivate myself. The annoying thing is I have ideas for tracks all the time but don’t have the set-up to just sit down and make them happen. Hopefully Ableton will be the spark I’ve been waiting for. If all goes well with the demo over the next couple of weeks I’ll have to buy myself a copy.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Stockport Encounter

Nothing noteworthy has happened to me so far this year so I thought I’d share the last photo I took in Stockport before getting on the train home last week. I’m averagely proud of it, despite bits of it being too dark. There’s still lots to learn on the photography front but, hey, that’s half the fun.

Of course, Stockport being Stockport, seconds after I squatted slightly to take this photo, some prancing towny idiots leapt out of the shadows to the left and started coming towards me. One of them shouted: “Hey mate! What ya taking photos for?”

Then another one of them: “Go on mate, take one of me, will I be famous?” Followed by screaching laughter.

I ignored them, opting not to point out that his best chance of becoming famous would be to fall in front of the next train that came in.

Anyone doing anything (or just looking) slightly out of the ordinary is immediately under suspicion up there. People can’t handle it. The complete lack of this sort of behvaiour is perhaps the thing I like most about London.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Here we go again then

Another one of those year thingies. Roughly the 2006th since some guy showed up, did a load of tricks and said "Hey, be nice to each other", in fact. Or at least that's how the story goes. I so don't believe that one about feeding the 5000 with two fish and a loaf of bread*. It would have been more helpful in the long term if he'd broken his Magic Circle vows and told the world how it was done. But then I guess the fishermen would have gone out of business pretty quickly.

But I digress before I've even begun… In fact I don't really have a point. I'm back at work, back at my desk, feeling slightly bewildered as if I've just appeared here Quantum Leap style. The fairly crappy photo above was my point-of-view for most of yesterday: bank holiday films on TV (shown here: The Maltese Falcon) and on my laptop (the guy across the room is my housemate and friend Liam, by the way).

New Year's eve was a good laugh. The party at my bro's place turned out to be a fairly low-key event but that was quite nice in a way. We basically played records, drank booze and watched the London fireworks on TV at midnight. Fortunately some girls turned up as well so it wasn't just a sausage party (and yes I'm talking about definition #1, if you follow that link).

The low turnout didn't stop a few of us from keeping going till the next morning. I trudged home after some broken sofa-sleep at about midday. Later that evening I met up with a number of people in a North London pub to say farewell to a friend who's leaving the country indefinitely. Bye Renée!

Should you have a particular interest in other people's crap photos of each other getting drunk there are some pictures NYE here.

Anyway, time to get on with having a productive and prosperous year. That probably should involve wasting less time writng this!

*Actually I don't believe any of it. I'll go along with the "Be nice to each other" bit though.