Star treatment

Here’s a shot of Brian Cox I took last year (for a calendar that never got off the ground):

Brian Cox with a globe

I had to photoshop it a bit. I stripped out the background, darkened the entire thing somewhat, and enhanced the globe. It’s not a particularly dynamic shot in the end, but this week’s Radio Times used a similar concept to create a much more dramatic image:

Brian Cox on the Radio Times front cover

I see where I went wrong, now. Clearly what I should have done was enlarge his head to twice its real size. And why bother with thumbs when you can have five full length fingers?

Via Photoshop Disasters.

UPDATE: All right, maybe I’m wrong on this – the RT website has the original source photographs, and the proportions are, somehow, roughly correct.  I still reckon something’s gone amiss in the combination of images, though – the final version looks pretty bizarre. Or maybe I’m just jealous.

Year 25 Project

m0rk!Inspired by Photojojo’s Project 365, I’m trying to take a photo every day of my 25th year. Here’s how they describe it:

  • Imagine being able to look back at any day of your year and recall what you did, who you met, what you learned… (Often we find it hard to remember what we did just yesterday or even last night, let alone a whole year ago!)
  • Your year-long photo album will be an amazing way to document your travels and accomplishments, your haircuts and relationships. Time moves surprisingly fast.
  • Taking a photo a day will make you a better photographer. Using your camera every day will help you learn its limits. You will get better at composing your shots, you’ll start to care about lighting, and you’ll become more creative with your photography when you’re forced to come up with something new every single day.

I thought it sounded like fun, so I started on my birthday – May 19th. I confess to not blogging it for a while in case my memory was too appalling to keep up, but it’s going well as of 2nd August. I’ve had a couple of close calls in which I forgot, but happened to have taken something anyway. Hence the peas. Anyway, I’ll try my best, and should I ever fail will replace the image with Mork, shown right. Hopefully you’ll only see Mork this once.

The sidebar will always display the latest image from the Flickr set, which I’ll update as often as possible.

New York Roundup

I’ve finally finished uploading the photos from New York. They’re all in a set here. While not as good as some, I’m quite happy with them.

I fulfilled a life ambition while I was there by skating on the Central Park ice rink. It wasn’t christmas, but the sky was a deep blue and the sun was shining, so I was happy 🙂 My skating isn’t great, but I only fell over once, admittedly in spectacular flailing-arms fashion.

Woolman Ice Rink

I took a couple of photos on the ice, then got a little over-excited and phoned Dad to tell him what I was doing. I was then promptly told off for using a phone on the rink – oops. Felt a bit ashamed at that for a while, but got over it 🙂

On the first night I headed into town to find something to eat. A nearby steak house seemed to be exactly what I was after, and the menu looked reasonable. I was shown to a table and upon examining the menu I discovered that the steak was $38 – around £22. Gulping, I ordered one. I asked if it came with french fries, and was told it didn’t. This confused me – what kind of steak doesn’t come with chips? So I ordered a plate on the side. I started to get a hint as to what would come next when the waiter delivered an enormous knife. Really, it was massive. I think they used it to kill the cow. Ten minutes later, the steak arrived. I took a photo with my hand as a comparison, but it came out fairly dark:

Half a cow

There’s a sprig of broccoli on the left, but the rest is all meat. Wow. That is the largest steak I have ever seen, let alone eaten! I managed most of the meat, but left the fat around one edge. Half the chips were left over, too. Including tip, the whole thing came to around $60, which is the most expensive meal I’ve ever had for just me…The rest of the weekend was far cheaper – breakfast the next day cost $3.70 plus a $1 tip!

My hotel clearly had thin walls – I’ve never overheard anybody having sex before. Having said that, the couple in question were rather vocal…

Central Park is an amazingly peaceful place. Considering its location, it was surprisingly easy to forget there was a huge city around you. The reservoir in the centre was very calm. This guy was busking, and the saxophone created a very pleasant atmosphere:

Cool Saxophone Player

I saw a pet chauffeur. Really.

There were a surprising number of dogs in NY, and they seemed to increase the further south I went. I guess that’s where the more residential housing is. They were fairly large dogs, too, not your handbag-stuffers.

Last year I happened to walk into Trafalgar Square during the anti-war rally on the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion. This year exactly the same thing happened in Times Square.

Anti-War Demonstration 2Times Square anti-war rally

Weird coincidence, given that I wasn’t taking part in either. The placards say “Stop the war in Iran” and “Troops out now”. Both of which I thought were pretty silly.

While I was in Bryant Park various protesters tried to give me leaflets, as well as little toy soldiers in various positions of death. Nice. I wish I’d taken the figures, now.

At the airport on the way back I saw a sign for Hooters Air. And it turns out to really be what you’d think. Wouldn’t you just feel like a creep? I’m sure the stewardesses are getting paid well, but still…

Bryant Park is a pleasant little plaza behind the New York Public Library. There are many seats and a couple of places to buy drinks – it’s a great place to relax after a morning of walking around the crowded streets. It looks great at night, too.

Bryant Park at nightBryant Park in the day

I think three days was about my limit. By the end of Monday all the little mistakes I’d made were building up to make me nervous about doing anything, which only made things worse. You know it’s bad when you can’t figure out how the mailbox works, or find the door to restaurants 🙂 I’m weird like that – I can have a hundred tiny victories, but one mistake and I convince myself I’m useless. The whole trip should be a great confidence-booster for the future, though, and I’m extremely happy I went.

Late Night Monkeys

It’s two in the morning yet again. I wish I knew why sometimes I just don’t sleep. Whatever the reason, I’m here and checking out the blogs. Late-night blog browsing is always a bad idea, because every single time I write a comment at this hour I look back in the morning and find it doesn’t make sense / doesn’t say what I thought it did / isn’t what I actually think. Right now I really want to write a scathing response to comments #2 and #3 on this post, but I know it’s a bad plan. I think muppetry annoys me more when I’m tired, anyway 🙂

That rule can also apply to my own posts. The above seems fine right now…no saying what it’ll be like in the morning, though.

Here’re some monkeys/chimps/apes/etc. that I like:

ChimpSpider Monkey

Wise MonkeyPoor caged monkey :-(

Not doing much

Sorry for the lack of blogging. I’ve decided to stay with my parents for the week, as I’m here dog-sitting for a couple of days anyway, and the rest of the week I’d only get lonely in Stratford and come back. I don’t think this is a fun week to be on your own. I’m only checking my emails a few times per day, which is quite a change from normal! I did manage to upload a fair few christmassy photos yesterday, with the help of Picasa. Since Jo’s had so little trouble, I might brave a WordPress upgrade tomorrow without all of my normal programs.

I went and checked on the flat earlier today, and discovered I’d left a window open. Dumbass. It was out onto the walkway at the back of the building so in theory wasn’t publicly accessible. Still, there are only four windows in the flat, so it was a pretty stupid thing to do! It was very cold in there, too. Still, no harm done. Thankfully everything else was fine. I picked up a couple of plectrums, which work far better than the Pointy Piece of Plastic I ripped from some packaging, as well as a couple of other bits and pieces I’ll need to last until the weekend.

I’m currently a few chapters into Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, which was a present. I don’t know whether it’s the content, the writing style, or a mixture of both, but I’m finding it absolutely fascinating. I guess I was also looking for an excuse to ditch Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, which I’d been struggling with. Maybe it gets better, but the endlessly florid dialogue of turn of the century academics drove me to distraction! Maybe I’ll come back to that at some point. Although my to-read pile now contains a couple of Richard Dawkins books, as well as Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, so it may be quite a long wait.

I was in Comet this morning, and all over the floor were large arrows, underneath which was:

I-Pod’s ??

I frame no hypothesis.

There’s apparently heavy snowfall expected tonight…Wonder how much we’ll see here.