Charity? Really?

A friend of mine pointed me to The G.E. ecomagination photo project, which purports to be donating money to charity (at the rate of $1.67 per photo) should a Flickr user contribute a photo under the themes of “wind,” “water,” or “light.” “Wow,” I thought, “this sounds too good to be true!” Imagine my surprise when it turns out that the Flickr Group Rules state, among other things, that:

…you hereby irrevocably grant to GE the unlimited, non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, sublicensable, assignable, royalty free right to use, redact, republish, modify, crop, adapt, edit, copy, create derivative works of, perform, distribute or otherwise modify your Photograph including any intellectual property contained therein, together with your name, Flickr user name (if applicable), image, likeness and identity of your hometown, in advertising and/or promotional materials for GE, in any medium now known or hereinafter developed (collectively, “GE Advertising”) in perpetuity, without payment or compensation to you, and without seeking any further approval from you.

Not only too good to be true: we’ll pay you less than a stock photo company would! Way to go, General Electric!

To Largs 16

Perhaps I should bust out my credit card and donate to a charity – say, $33.40? Now I’ve done 20 times what you would have done, and I haven’t bilked anybody in the process!

P.S.: the image I’ve posted here? Let’s call it “light.” I believe that it’s shining down upon G.E. and asking that you let some enter the souls of your marketing and legal departments now. If they still have any souls left.


On the Level

Tripod base is level? Check. Pan-tilt head on tripod is level? Check. Artificial horizon provided by the camera says we’re level? Check. Centered on the fountain, from directly in the center of the pathway? Check.

Kelvingrove Park 269

Kelvingrove Park 273 HDR

Fountain itself is level? Um … No. Not at all. And it’s just undergone some renovation. Apparently that renovation did not entail actually … propping the thing up. Just … adding new figures to it and painting a few of the existing ones. For this, it’s taken two years or so, and the fountain … is still crooked. How do I know? I overlaid a grid on this, just to check whether I was experiencing an optical illusion. Nope. Crooked.

Welcome to Glasgow, where things gently sink into the earth, and are renovated on the way down.

With new-cut sandstone, which will no doubt weather into looking like it fits in sometime in the next 50 years or so, and with with gold-ish paint applied to the … fat baby-things on the edges, how can they not call this renovation?

Oh. You mean, you expected something like, “make new,” which is, after all, what the word actually means? Nah – here in Glasgow, you replace the bits which are excessively worn, and keep on coming back, year after year, replacing things piecemeal. It provides steady work, and it only looks awkward all of the time.


August 24, In Retrospect

2000 Alaska 151 2000 Alaska 153
2000 Alaska 155 2000 Alaska 114

Funny: the only pictures we’ve taken (apparently) on August 24 were way back in 2,000, on our cruise to Alaska. I doubt that’s the truth, really – I think that that’s the day the film was developed, because these pictures are from Juneau, yet some pictures which are from the 25th are from Skagway, which we visited prior to Juneau, as I recall.

Wish we’d been shooting high-resolution digital, way back then. Alas, we were shooting “APS” format film, and have since lost the camera somewhere.


Popular Photos

It’s always interesting to us just what people find interesting, in our photos. Below are the photos which have received the most views, from left to right. The first has become popular because it’s been discussed on Sociological Images, the second because it’s mentioned at The Fresh Loaf, but the next two? We can’t figure out why the Kohlrabi picture would be popular whatsoever. The Masala one is the only one to which we return, again and again, because it lists out the ingredients for making our own version of Garam Masala.

Virgin Active Loaves2m Kohlrabi 1.2 Masala 1.1

We’ve long since topped 20,000 photos, up on Flickr. We sincerely hope that you’re enjoying them.


Experimental Photography

This past weekend was an opportunity for much experimentation with photography, both in HDR imagery and in playing with the zoom lens. On the left-hand side is the “plain” picture, on the right is a composite of three images. Which do you prefer?

Dundee 238 Dundee 238 HDR

I think that, in this case, I prefer the HDR version, because it shows the raindrops. And in the case blow, I also prefer the HDR version, because it shows the clouds so well, and also shows the reflection of the clouds upon the side of the ship (which, as it happens, still has a chunk of ice from its journeys, preserved on-board). The “plain” image is first, the HDR image is next.

Dundee 196
Dundee 196 HDR

Dundee 245

Dundee 249

I’ve seen a few pictures where people had snapped while zooming, and thought I’d see if I could get a few which were decent. I actually had to put a polarizing filter on the camera, to cut out half of the light and let me zoom, it was such a bright day. Crazy, really, since it was raining, but that’s Scotland for you: it may be raining, but it’s also a bit sunny outside, particularly during the Summer. We’ll pay for it during the Winter, though.

So. Thoughts? Opinions? We’ve heard that the zoom photos look like anything from angels to frizzy hair. What do you think? Fun stuff?


Tha’s Some Evil Wee Beasties

Ah, swans.

We have the fairytale — the birds of great strength, elegance, grace, and beauty, with twenty-three neck vertebrae arching into that classic curve. We have the ballet. The mythology. And then, we have The Truth:

Their wings can break a grown man’s arm, they hiss, chase, and bite, crushing fingers, and drawing blood. Beautiful as they are, these things are a nasty piece of work.

Perthshire 11

We discussed it, and concluded: we’d both rather take on a goose, and D. has had experience with a goose attack. But here, since all swans belong to the Crown, we couldn’t even really kick one if we had to — the rowers at Cambridge who were assaulted last summer by “Mr. Asbo” and are continuing to be pecked, smacked, and bloodied have no recourse but to paddle really fast, and beg the queen for help. Which is just — wow. Quite something. (Who knew the Brits could be such good, obedient subjects? Guess no one wants to risk the public flogging handed down as sentence for anyone who messes with HRH’s birds.)

This is a Mama Pen, Papa Cob, and all ten of their cygnets. It’s hard to believe, but this photo was shot from a train, as we went over a small bridge on the River Tay. And just look at them — all fuzzy and dark, not a one of them a misplaced duckling… from this distance, don’t they look cute?

But YOU know better.

Here are some swan facts for those of a turn of mind to know their enemies. ::cough:: Um, we mean, find out more about the stories, history, and lore of this gorgeous bird. Yeah, that’s what we meant.

Early Morning Moonset

Lynedoch Crescent - July 27 Ephemeris

The Photographer’s Ephemeris (available at is a tool I’ve mentioned before. It’s useful because it tells you things like where and when the sun and moon will rise and set. It tells me that tomorrow morning’s going to be an early one (say, 5 a.m.) in the hopes of catching the full moon, on its way down, setting behind the towers. I really hope to awake early enough to catch it! Of course, it won’t be dark, still, as the sun will be rising 20 minutes before the moon sets. I’m going to try to get the shot before the sunrise, though, if only because the moon needs to be still in the sky if I’m going to see it from the flat.

We’ll see if a tripod-mounted series demonstrates that the camera alone was the problem, or whether there’s some lens involvement as well. It’s so difficult to tell. If tomorrow’s shots come out (and if I get any, what with clouds and fog), I’ll know whether I have to send the lens in for an adjustment.

Enjoy the moonset, if you’re up early enough!


Camera’s Back

William and Julie's Wedding 75

So, the camera’s back, and it’s much better than it had been. I think that the lens still needs to be adjusted, because things still aren’t as crisp as I think they should be, when viewed at full size. That could be the result of the lens itself, because it’s a hyperzoom lens (18mm-250mm), so has quite a lot of glass involved in the whole workings.

This picture of a black-headed gull, shot at 250mm, looks to be fairly crisp. I do wonder, though, where the legs have gone.