Pheatured Photographer: Valery Titievsky

After studying many photos from Valery Titievsky’s Photostream on Flickr over the past few weeks, I decided I would need to set a limit on the number of photos to include in this post or risk mirroring most of that stream here. Three is just not enough, so please click through each photo on Flickr and explore the other photos. I think you’ll find yourself, as I have, spending a lot of time there.

First, let’s start off with the photograph which first drew me in:

Coffee & ...

This is part of a subset of photos within the set “The life in Black & White” simply titled “Coffee & …”. There is a sense of motion which he captured well here by tracking the waitress as she hurried by while using a slower shutter speed to blur the background.

Here is another photo entitled “Coffee & … (Street Life)”:

Coffee & ... (Street Life)

Here we see a good use of bokeh with the string of lights out of focus in front of the subject, but what really draws you in is the emotion captured in this moment. Is this despair or simply fatigue? Did she discover her wallet is empty after having finished her meal? There is a story here, but it is incomplete, thus the photo holds your attention.

Although I was tempted to pick yet another of the excellent “Coffee & …” photos, I forced myself to pick more of a street photo. This one is called “Old Man”:

Old man

Digging into the exif information for this image reveals that the flash did not fire, yet we see some quite dramatic lighting here. There is an excellent contrast between the dark, almost ominous, sky in the background and the brightly lit face of the man. His age and hair bring complex textures into the mix. What is the story here? Is this a street corner preacher, giving his sermon to all who pass, hoping some will stop to listen for awhile?

I have yet to make it through all 1600+ photos in Mr. Titievsky’s photostream, but I have subscribed to the RSS feed from his Flickr page so I can keep up to date on his work. I encourage you to do the same.

Pheatured Photographer: Mr. Flibble on Flickr

I think I’ve picked an excellent photographer to open this Category on my blog: Mr. Flibble. Irreverent, wacky and whimsical, yet at the same time cerebral and engaging. I couldn’t help but browse his entire photostream — Yes, every single photo entered my irises and tickled my visual cortex.

At the risk of driving you away from my own blog, I’ll lead with some important links to his work.

Now on to my critique. First one, so it may be a bit rough. Please endure!

I think the best way to critique this particular photographer will be to select a spectrum of his work. While he may be gaining notoriety for his recent distorted, ‘shopped and humorous creations, I feel it is important to dig a little deeper and reveal the underlying talent and evolution which is evident by browsing further back in his photostream. To start, the photo that sucked me in:

383/730: New sulphuric acid diet was maybe too drastic
New sulphuric acid diet was maybe too drastic

But wait, there’s more. This photo grabs your attention and the caption is hilarious, but Mr. Flibble is not done with you yet. The description of this photo on Flickr continues to entertain:

Not all of us are given free rein to lunge, stretch and perspire over ever part of the asylum. And as such, even the normally enthusiastic Flibble is prone to the odd love handle.

Not odd in that away, you understand. I hear it’s perfectly normal for love handles to protrude 45 inches outwards towards the ears before circling back towards the pelvis.

Anyway… a diet was in order and this one seemed so easy: “Just take half a litre of sulphuric acid with each meal and snack, and see the weight fall off you” they claimed.

Perfect.

Not being one to disobey unfounded claims, I embraced this diet with much gusto – even snacking between snacks just to be able to imbibe more of this magical “acid” they talked of.

Weighed myself today.

Something may have gone wrong.

Even the scales seem to suggest this might not have been my most splendid of ideas…

*sobs*

I’m on Twitter: @IDrinkLeadPaint

Strobist:
Softbox camera left at floor-level on 2.0, Second softbox camera right at floor-level, stupidly set on 2.5. Triggered by cable.

Yeah, so when he’s done melting your brain with sulfuric acid, he goes on to give you some juicy, technical details of how he achieved this wonder by providing strobist info. How cool is that? Super Cool, my friend.

The photo and caption grabbed me, the narrative in the description drew me in, and the details kept me coming back for more. That wood floor as a backdrop. Rough-hewn, wide hardwood. The perspective, although head-on and dead center on the scale itself, draws your eyes down the tibiae toward the center. Even the reflection of the skeletal ribcage in the LCD display on the scale and the skeletal nature of the metal “ribs” on the surface of the scale (why are those there? Perhaps a BMI feature of this scale?) work to increase the interestingness of this image.

Now, on to another absurdity which grabbed my attention.

381/730: Advanced ninjaing
Advanced ninjaing

While I much prefer Samurai to Ninjas, I couldn’t help but chuckle at this one upon first sight. But, again, Mr. Flibble delivers much more than expected. His description starts:

Dr. White was such a quiet, neat and polite man and seemed the most unlikely person to provoke the wrath of the asylum’s trainee ninja department, but he did, and today he paid the ultimate price.

It goes on. Please click the image above to continue reading. I’ll wait here should you decide to return.

Ahh, thank you for returning! Black, white, grey and Ninjas? What more could you ask for, but Mr. Flibble delivers it all. I love the setup here. There is so much detail, you can keep coming back to find something new. The textures of Dr. White’s lab coat and the “poofs” on the plate in front of him. The contrast of the deep blacks — not only in the ninja’s uniform, but also of Dr. White’s glasses frames and the stems of the flowers in the vase. One could almost remove the Ninja and Dr. White and still have a stunning photograph.

And now on to some alternative samples from Mr. Flibble’s work which show the underlying talent, absent the absurd, but still retaining the whimsy and vision that pulled me in so much that I did view his entire photostream.

Gremlin or Mogwai?
Gremlin or Mogwai?

Everything about this photo works:

  • Shallow depth of field with well-chosen point of focus
  • Black backdrop and foreground
  • Inverted subject
  • Cute!

Yet it still retains the essence of whimsy without the patent absurdity of his later photos. I’ve started following Mr. Flibble’s RSS feed on Flickr in hopes of seeing more photos like this in the future — albeit intermixed with the funny and absurd.

Next up, the abstract.

315/365: Yolk folk
Yolk folk

From the brief description on Flickr, you get the impression that he considers this a “throw away” shot, but I feel it shows he has photographic vision. While hunting for subjects to fulfill his 315/365 Project, he managed to find this gem amongst the routine of his life. The lines, the color, the bubble and the lighting all converge slightly off-center for a wonderful composition.

What does a good photographer do when faced with a subject that has been captured so many times over and over? Change the perspective!

In the gutter of Cambridge
In the gutter of Cambridge

A Google search of “Trinity Lane Cambridge” turns up several photos, but none of them as interesting as this. The forced perspective makes the buildings shrink into the background, looking more like cut-outs than stone and mortar. Texture, form, shadow and light mix perfectly here. I find myself discovering new details with each view — a true sign of photographic genius.

Finally, a bit of social consciousness.

Feature creep
Feature creep

Juxtaposition, contrast, depth of field and social consciousness all in one? Yup. And all accompanied by a bit of poetry:

The endless pursuit:

More blades
More plastic
Batteries
More colour
More marketing spin
More money
More landfill
More complicated
More compulsion to upgrade
More more.

Where will it ever end?

Unfortunately, I think the answer to Mr. Fibble’s question is yes. Yes, it will come to an end, but not before it hyper-extends into the beyond!

368/730: Dartford tunnel

Favorite Internet Radio: SomaFM

SomaFM has been streaming audio live on the Internet since 1995. I discovered them around 1997-1999 and have been listening off and on since then.

They have several channels, but I tend to listen to either Secret Agent or Groove Salad. They also have Techno, Rock, Lounge and several other styles available. They stream each station at several quality levels, so even if you have a lower bandwidth connection you can enjoy their broadcast.

They really, really need help. If you’ve listened to SomaFM in the past, please consider donating to them. If you’ve never listened to them, please give them a try. If you find yourself listening to them more and more like I did, please support them!

Podcast Favorites: Coverville!

Sitting here wondering what I’m going to write for this blog next when it hits me (in my ears) — Coverville!

Even though I don’t listen to every single episode of this excellent podcast, I’m going to put it at the top of my list as my favorite. How is that possible? Brian Ibbott pumps out several 40+ minute podcasts each week. With such a prolific output, I just can’t keep up!

I will confess that I skip some episodes simply because I’m not in to the particular artist or artists being featured. That is not, however, a Bad Thing. In fact, I would call it a good thing for you, my reader. It means that Brian does a good job of “covering” various styles and genres of music — virtually guaranteeing you will be able to find an episode you really dig.

As I write this, I’m listening to episode #553! I encourage you to search through this extensive catalog — every single episode is still available.

Web site favorite: APOD

The Astronomy Picture Of the Day Web site literally digs into the vast archives of astronomy-related imagery and selects one photo to present every day. In addition to providing awesome desktop backgrounds, there is a small paragraph with each photo explaining exactly what you are seeing and providing links which let you dig deeper into the concepts behind the photo.

While I don’t select every day’s photo to add to my background collection, I do take the time to read the descriptions of every photo presented. I keep up to date by using their RSS feed.

Podcast Favorites: Two for one: Astronomy Cast and Slacker Astronomy

I started out listening to Slacker Astronomy, an excellent podcast which gives an entertaining presentation of some of the latest news and events in astronomy. When one of the main characters, Dr. Pamela Gay moved on, however, I had a tough decision to make with my limited podcast listening time.

I ended up subscribing to Astronomy Cast because it mixes in the fundamental concepts of astronomy with some of the latest developments and still maintains a light attitude that makes it an enjoyable listen.

Astronomy Cast is a good place to start if you are new to the topic. Over time, as I learn more from Astronomy Cast, I may “graduate” back to Slacker Astronomy for more up to the minute news.

Then again, maybe I should drop one of my other podcasts so I can listen to both of these. . .

P.S. The most recent (as of this writing) episode of Astronomy Cast The Moon: Part 2 was full of information about the exploration of our nearest celestial neighbor. My favorite link was to the recent Selene mission conducted by JAXA, the Japanese space program. They have a lot of high-definition photos which make great desktop backgrounds for your computer!

Podcast Favorites: Linux Outlaws

Even when I get a back log of podcasts and have to decide which ones to delete, every episode of this podcast stays in the queue.

Dan and Fab have a solid format wherein they cover new releases of Open Source software (mostly Linux distros), recent tech news headlines (including Microwatch), in depth Linux distro reviews and listener feedback (with Dan’s hilarious attempts at various accents from around the world).

Dan and Fab have a great rapport which makes every episode a fun listen that is also full of good content. If you want to keep on top of what’s going on with Linux and Open Source software, download a couple of episodes and give Linux Outlaws a try.

Cowboy Bebop Remix, the Complete Collection

Just got through watching the last episode, and it was even better than I expected. Prior to this, I had see about three of the episodes when it was showing on Cartoon Network, and had enjoyed every one. I had also seen the movie, “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” when it showed on one of the movie channels to which I subscribe (HBO or Starz, can’t remember which). I can now say I’m a huge fan of this series and will be watching it again and again.

I’m calling this one an off-beat space cyberpunk sort of series. It mixes space action (Spike and his Swordfish craft), bounty hunting, and a little cyberpunk (provided by Edward the hacker). The stories all stand on their own, but also weave together a sub-plot around each character’s past through the series. The drawing style is phenomenally cinematic, and the animation is very high quality. The music and soundtrack also add a lot to the atmosphere. I love the opening and closing themes, especially (I need to hack them into ring tones for my phone).

In a way, it reminds me a bit of the “Firefly” TV series (which I also own) in its tone, setting and character development. If you liked “Firefly” I believe you will also enjoy “Cowboy Bebop.”

I picked up my copy, by the way, at RightStuf.com.