Friday, December 18, 2015

Mood lighting

lincoln lightingThe sculptor of the Lincoln Memorial, Daniel Chester French, was not happy.  His bust of the 16th president looked startled, afraid, wholly different from what was intended.  The effect was caused by the lighting.  When lit from above, the brows lowered, the expression hardened, the figure looked resolute.  French decreed that the bust should never again be lit from beneath.

The contrasting photographs, and the story of how light creates mood, are iconic.  I took a lamp up to my daughter’s room to experiment with how just the play of light on her rocking horse can change the entire character of a picture.

Moving right or left, top or bottom, front or back, changes the visible detail, the 3-D relief of the object, the drama of the scene.

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Which is the best representation, the most compelling photograph?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Solving a few problems

DSC08257We were two hours into the flight when something shot beneath my seat.  I glimpsed a slim white body, a long tail with a puff-ball of fur at the tip.  A cat?

A short spectacled woman rushed past, trailed by a grim stewardess grumbling about keeping track of comfort animals.  There was a yelp across the aisle as the cat doubled back to hide beneath the center row.  The Canadian seated next to me fretted about her allergies to pet hair.

A crowd gathered, helpful suggestions multiplied.  The pet’s owner tried to lure it from beneath the seats into the cage with a cat treat. Already vulnerable, this wasn’t making her tripp any easier.  Someone tried to take photos, the flight attendants tried to get him to delete the pictures.  The cat ran, and everyone lost track of where it went.

It took the better part of an hour to catch it, cornered by an organized pincer of people crawling between the forward rows.  On landing, the airline escorted owner and pet off for a conversation.

‘lively start to the Christmas holiday.

OLWI spent part of the flight catching up with essays for the blog: the connection between Windows Live Writer and Blogger stopped working about a week ago.  Google has been changing their login security, and Microssoft wasn’t keepig up.  Again (first time was last May)

The good news is that Microsoft has divested the Live Writer project to the Open Source community, rebranded as Open Live Writer.  Within a couple of days, a fix was implemented and the new utility was working.

I’m excited aobut the transition, it likely means that the editor gains new features, reliability, and platforms.  ‘Still the best publishing utiklity avaiklable: highly recommended in it’s new, evolving form.

OOneI wasn’t so lucky with my favorite long-distance telecom uutility, OperatorOne.  Their Connect International service gave me a one-to-one local UK phone number connected to a US phone number.  It was cheap, direct-dial per-use calling.

Two weeks ago, the service stopped connecting.  The account had funds, the numbers were right.  It turns out that the business has failed, as happens with young tech companies.  I haven’t been able to find a replacement yet, so have fallen back to using Skype from my desktop PC (when, infrequntly, I’m at my desk).

DSC0825910 hours in the air: too early to sleep, so I watched Inside Out, Foodies, and Mr. Robot.  Finally on the ground, there was one last hurdle to go.

I presented my passport, goods inventory, and screening printout to the Customs Officer. 

How long have you been away?  I’m resident overseas.

Doing what?  Starting a new business, medical devices.

How long are yous taying? ‘just for the holiday.

You know, you can stay as long as you like?    ‘so I’m told…

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bracknell, reconsidered

DSC08228 (1024x813)I’m sure we’re missing something…  We were standing at the location of Bracknell’s Christmas Market, empty and dark.  Walkways led away in four directions, darkened red-brick High-Street shops lining the ways out  to the encircling ring road.  Cranes disappeared overhead into the mapfog overhead.

Maybe a park, or a church grounds nearby? 

My Coogle Maps satellite view didn’t show the usual town square, just a sea of grey roofs.

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We retired to Blues Smokhouse to consult the Internet and local guides.

The Berkshire village of Braknell was established over a thousand years ago, regustered in a Winkfield Boundary Charter as Braccan heal, "Nook of land belonging to a man called Bracca".  It was designated a New Town after the second world war, earmarked as an overflow village, expanded to accomodate 25,000 residents relocating from the larger cities. 

Because of the age of structures throughout the town, a major urban redevelopment was subsequently proposed, then finally approved in 2008 just as the financial crisis took hold.  This delayed work on the core’s renewal projects, centered around The Lexicon.  This year, the town declared that, despite the extensive onstruction, it would carry on with Christmas As Usual.

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The status, then, is that Bracknell is under reconsideration.  The  entire town has been razed and, one day soon, a better village shall emerge from the mud.  Christmas lights ares pretty aspirational under the circumstances.

I always have mixed feelings about urban renewal on this scale.  A lot seems lost when the historic fronts and winding streets are leveled.  More seems lost when local businesses are replaced by national chain outlets.

And the soul seems missing when the public square is dark and empty at this time of year.