It continues to be hot, and so the quota photos continue. At least this one is relatively recent.
I walked to Parliament Square last Friday morning, and caught the fag end of the anti-trump demo. What the demo had consisted of at its height, I don’t know, so my impressions of what went on in Parliament Square, just after the Trump blimp had been brought down to earth, and just before it was deflated by its minders and put in a van and driven away, don’t necessarily mean much. But for what it’s worth, it all seemed pretty feeble to me. There were lots of placards saying how much the holders of the placards hated Trump and wanted him to go home, drop dead, fuck off, etc. But they didn’t seem to want any particular policy to change. They just hated Trump. And his tweeting.
The whole atmosphere was strangely relaxed. It made me think I wasn’t the only non-sympathiser present, attracted to the demo by the Trump blimp, and by the general desire to see what all the fuss consisted of.
When the weather cools down, I might manage some more thoughts about all this anti-Trumpery, for Samizdata, but I promise nothing.
In my photo, it looks to me like Trump owns them, rather than the demoers doing anything to him that he need worry about. But then, I don’t sympathise.
In an earlier posting this week I said I was about to have a – by my indolent standards – busy few days. It certainly didn’t help that I picked about the hottest week London has experienced in a long time for all this gadding about.
Earlier in the week I did some socialising with GodDaughter2, and on Friday, it was her official graduation ceremony. In my eyes (and to my ears) she had graduated already, with her graduation recital, but on Friday the Royal College of Music made it official.
I took a ton of photos, of which this was just one:
That’s the Official Photoer, photoing all the soon-to-be-graduates, and presumably quite a lot of us friends and family behind as well, just before the stage filled up with RCM grandees, and the speechifying and graduating got under way.
And here is just one of the (us) unofficial photoers, together with a couple more that you can make out above and beyond this lady:
I’ve taken many, many more photos in the last few days, over five hundred at that graduation ceremony alone and many more besides, but those two will have to do for now.
To comfort myself for the excessive warmth of the weather, here is a cold weather photo, from December 2012, on Westminster Bridge:
What intrigues me about this photo, aside from the fact that I like the colours and textures and whatnot, is what she is doing with her glove:
That’s the first (only) time I’ve ever seen (photoed) that done with a glove, by a photoer. Just the thumb out.
I’m guessing that this only happens with smartphones, with that button at the bottom of that flat screen. I never use my thumb to take the photo with my regular digital camera, only the forefinger. So, if I’m wearing gloves, one glove has to come right off.
Just now, it is very hard to imagine weather so cold that you have to put sweaters on your hands.
Whenever, in London, I bump into Chinese couples doing a wedding photo session, I join in and photo away myself, taking care to include the official photoers in my photos.
That clutch of photos was photoed in September 2014 on Westminster Bridge, and is one of the nicer Chinese wedding photo sessions I recall joining in on, largely because of the splendour of that red dress. (And yes, she herself looks pretty good too.) Usually, the bride wears white.
Just like the official photoers, I lined up a landmark behind the happy couple in one of my photos. And note how another of my photos is just her, without him. That seems to happen quite a lot.
Until now, it never occurred to me to research this delightful Chinese custom, but today, I did. And I quickly found my way to this BBC report, published in October 2014, which explains that actually, these photos don’t get taken just after the wedding, but before it:
It’s a Chinese custom for couples to have their wedding photos taken before they are married, rather than on the day of the nuptials. “We wanted to take some sweet moments to share with the guests,” says Yixuan. On the wedding day, the photos will be shown to the guests on cards, via big screens and perhaps on video.
In China, pre-wedding photography is a huge – and lucrative – industry. …
Usually I hesitate to feature the faces of strangers at this blog. But my rule is, if you are making a spectacle of yourself, you are fair game. And these photoers often make a huge performance out of getting the exact shots they want.
I think I have mentioned here before that I believe someone should do a ballet based on the contortions that digital photoers twist themselves into. It would make sense to include a Chinese wedding couple in such a ballet.
On Saturday June 9th, I journeyed to Blackheath’s All Saints’ Church to hear GodDaughter 2 and three of her Royal College of Music comrades in song take it in turns each to sing a few of the songs they had already done or were about to do in their graduation recitals. It was a fine event for all present, but for me it was particularly special, because, simply, I thought that GD2 sang so very well. There was a security, strength and beauty to her voice that I’d never heard before, and she sold her songs, every nuance of which she clearly understood perfectly, with just the right amount of facial and bodily gesture, enough to really help, but never to distract from her now amazing voice.
GD2’s graduation recital was still to come, and in the next few days I asked myself if she really had been as good as I thought she had, and whether, if she had been, she’d reproduce this recently achieved level of excellence when there was so much more at stake.
It was this graduation recital that got me, last Thursday afternoon, photoing the statue of Prince Albert outside the Albert Hall (sadly it is easier to scroll down than follow that link). In that posting, I mentioned, in passing, that I thought GD2’s recital had been very good. Perhaps you thought that this was mere routine politeness on my part. No. It really was very good, indeed.
The recital happened in a rather large hall, way too large for the number of friends and family present. In the middle, at the back, right in GD2’s eyeline, four RCM judges sat at desks in a silent row, giving her marks out of a hundred and writing comments that would decide her future. At first, GD2 seemed understandably rather nervous. But once she got into it, it was like Blackheath all over again, and if anything even better. This was a far bigger venue to fill than that church, but she did this in a way that suggested she’d do the same in a place three or four times bigger.
Most of GD2’s recent performances that I’ve seen and heard have been in opera scenes, where she was mostly just singing along with others. Which was fine, but it was hard to judge what personal progress she had been making.
It’s no good asking any of GD2’s fellow students what they think of her singing. They’re great kids, but all part of what is so great about them is that they never share any doubts they may have about each other’s performing progress or prowess with a mere civilian such as I. Which means that if they now think that GD2 is as good as I do, they have no way of telling me so that is fully convincing. My only way of knowing if GD2 is as good as she has suddenly started sounding and looking to me is simply to listen very carefully, e.g. while shutting my eyes, and then to go with what I think I heard. And what I think I heard, and saw, especially last Thursday, was the sort of singing that would have sounded absolutely fine if I and five hundred and fifty others had paid to listen to it in a packed Wigmore Hall.
I have always liked and admired GD2. And ever since she got into the RCM I have admired her even more. Clearly there were classical singing experts who thought highly of her prospects, and that was hugely impressive. But it was only at that Blackheath church, and then again last Thursday, that I was able to hear it and see it, fully, for myself.
Here are a couple of photos I took of GD2 last Thursday, in the RCM foyer, after her recital:
As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photoing her.
There’s still a long way to go before GD2’s name is in lights and on the covers of CDs, and any number of knowns or unknowns could still stop all that. What she is doing is like running in a marathon. It’s still quite early in the race and the leading bunch in this marathon is still pretty big. But, the point is: GD2 is still in that leading bunch. She’s still a contender.
It helps that her voice, mezzo-soprano, is quite rare. Regular sopranos, along with bass-baritones, are fairly common. Mezzos and tenors, not so much, not good ones.
Yes, in Piccadilly Circus, photoed at the same time as those hair-patting ladies. And this time, you know, just photoers, just photoing photos.
What strikes me is what a good camera I now have. The light was not good. I was there to meet up with someone, not to make the best of some sunny weather, because there was no sunny weather to be made the best of. In the bad old days, when their were two zeroes in the years, most of these photos would have been an unsightly blur. But now, the only thing I worry about is if there are recognisable faces on show:
Once again, I made the selection of what to show here entirely by me liking the photo and you not seeing recognisable faces. No thought was given to what sort of cameras were being used. Which means that what cameras were actually being used becomes interesting and informative, like a small scientific experiment.
Once again, we observe the rise and rise of the smartphone as the preferred way for regular people to photo. There are some Real Photographer cameras to be seen here. And I think there always will be, because there will always be photoers for whom the best possible photos are the thing they want, and the best that a big old clunky machine can do will always be better that what a smartphone can do.
But, thinking about that some more, is that right? Will there actually soon come a time when all photoing is done by little things the size of a biscuit?
And will there then be a Great Grumble from all the Real Photographers – a category which is maybe starting to include me – similar to the one when digital cameras first got going?
I reckon that, if there were some kind of competition for selfie photography, this selfie would, if entered, be a definite contender for a medal spot:
I am fond of arguing that you should judge a new technology or communicational device or software application, not by its merely average, everyday uses, but by its most significant uses. So long as the average uses do no great harm, then if the highly significant uses are very good, that’s proof of the extreme goodness of the thing. Don’t judge telephones only by all the silly but harmless chitchat they transmit, judge them by those life-saving 999 calls. Don’t judge Skype by people just gibbering at random even though there’s no big problem with that, judge it in particular by how it connects people with relatives who are dying on the other side of the world. Judge it when doctors use it to do long-distance and life-saving diagnoses, or when an absent father, working abroad, is able to keep in touch with his kids back home.
The same applies to selfies. Most of them don’t do any harm, even if they aren’t great works of art. But some are terrific. See above.
As you can see very clearly, this one was taken with a mobile phone. Look closely, and you’ll see that there is a perfect shadow of the photoer, just to the right of the mobile phone.