Monthly Archives: July 2012

Now, apocalypse

Using the app Picfx on my iPhone, I have been playing around with some of my photos with the aim of capturing a sense of apocalypse. Enjoy…

“The sky was no longer blue. North-eastward it was inky black” – H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

“The horror! The horror!” – Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness.

“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire.” – The Revelation of St. John the Divine, 15.2

“And starward drifts the stricken world,
Lone in unalterable gloom
Dead, with a universe for tomb” – George Sterling, The thirst of Satan: Poems of Fantasy and Terror.

“…So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky” – John Dryden, The Major Works.

“Her fetters burst, and just releas’d from prison. A virgin phoenix from her ashes risen.” – Lord Byron

“Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks?” – Howard Koch, War of the Worlds: The Invasion from Mars

Hipsta-playtime: clone wall

What’s this?

It may look like some kind of scientific image, graph paper or some faded tweed pattern, but it is actually a collage of over one million photographs. To be a little more precise, it is 1,048,576 collaged versions of two Hipstamatic photos (one of me and one of my partner) taken on my iPhone and then stuck together using another cool little app called, Diptic.

If you don’t believe me, then let’s work backwards together:

262,144 (precisely one quarter of the image above)… I know, it looks a bit samey, but bear with me.

65,536 – notice how you get some real texture at this level.

16,384 – some serious texture now. You can almost make out the component parts and maybe even some colour distinction.

4,096 – Golly gee! Is that a face I can see?

1,024 – OK, so loads of some dude’s head and then some funny green and blue image.

256 – Like an inverse jigsaw puzzle, the fewer the pieces, the clearer the picture.

64  – and so the detail starts to become clear.

16 (Aaah! Too much detail!)

4  – Lily and me, Me and LilyNote: this took about 15-20 minutes from picking up my iPhone to pressing ‘publish’ on this post. Photo apps are cool!

Homage to Martin Parr


I took this photo of the German sausage sellers at the Kent Beer Festival. It is not a particularly good technical shot – the lady is slightly blurred as she moves to keep the sausages turning – but I quite like it.

I like the colours, I like the half-posed but still human feel, and most of all, I like the fact that it reminds me (albeit only a pale imitation) of the work of a contemporary photographic legend, Martin Parr.

I only post my own photos on this blog-site for a couple of obvious reasons, so I can’t display a wonderful gallery of Martin’s long and brilliant career, but I can advise you to look at some of his work: such as here where he shows his prowess as the capturer of socially insightful, voyeuristic, but masterfully realistic images.

You could take my word for it, or you could read the words and look at the photos on Martin’s own blog.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Taking up the challenge of posting a photo that means ‘inside’ to me, I have gone for ‘inside’ a pint of beer (taken two days ago, so not strictly ‘this week’) – surely one of my favourite views!


Your questions answered:

  • The writing at the bottom of the glass says: “CAMRA – Campaign for Real Ale”
  • This photo was taken at the Kent CAMRA beer festival at Merton farm
  • I was lucky to be allowed to attend the festival despite not sporting a beard and not wearing sandals
  • According to CAMRA, Real Ale is defined as: “it has not been filtered or pasteurised and so the yeast is still present in the container from which the beer is served.” Where lager is generally yellowish, cold, fizzy, refreshing stuff, real ale is generally much darker, drunk at around room temperature and is lovely satisfying stuff
  • No. My fingers do not normally look like those of ET. It is simply the glass distorting the image

Secret London: Part IV – Subterranean rivers

Fleet Street was once the home to most of Britain’s newspapers and remains a major central London thoroughfare. This, you probably know.

What you may not know is that Fleet Street takes its name from a river that passes beneath it. The river Fleet is one of London’s many subterranean rivers that flow – often entirely underground – to feed the Thames.

The Fleet rises in North London from the hills of Hampstead and Highgate and has been dammed to form the famous Hampstead swimming ponds. The stream then disappears out of sight until it reaches the Thames.

Well… almost out of sight…

Imagine the funny looks I got taking close-up pictures of drain covers in Clerkenwell. The running water you can make out through the drain grill on Ray Street just north of Smithfield Market is actually the River Fleet running about 20 feet beneath the road. That is London’s largest underground river.

The Fleet once coursed through London above ground alongside other London rivers that have disappeared underground, such as the Tyburn, the Westbourne, the Stamford Brook, the Counter’s Creek and the Walbrook. Chelsea’s stadium, Stamford Bridge, is named after an old bridge that used to cross the Stamford Brook before it was diverted underground. The wealthy area of Knightsbridge is named after a bridge that used to cross the river Westbourne.

But now, these rivers are largely rain-water sewers that nobody can see. They even enter the Thames largely unnoticed.

The Fleet enters the Thames directly underneath Blackfriars Bridge. I visited on Sunday at high-tide and so couldn’t see a thing, but I am reliably informed that directly beneath the ladder shown below is a an opening which can be seen at low tide.

To make up for my bad timing, I cycled along to Vauxhall Bridge to show you another river-mouth that is partly exposed even at high tide.

Flowing under the MI6 building is the South London subterranean river Effra:

London was once awash with streams and rivers carving up the city. Much of the far east of London was just a large boggy marsh. In the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Londoners have increasingly banished much of the water that shaped London underground. I think that is a bit of shame.