Category Archives: Photography

Real life Nigel Farage caricature

Following the success of UKIP in the local elections in the UK, the Guardian newspaper ran this front page.
The fold in the paper distorted the photo of Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, inadvertently created a Nigel Farage caricature.

Nigel Farage caricature

Inadvertent Nigel Farage caricature on the front page of the Guardian newspaper

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My cartoon in Prospect magazine, January 2013

Here’s a cartoon of mine that is published in next month’s issue of Prospect magazine (Feb 2013).
The cartoon is a comment on the increasingly bizarre shapes of skyscrapers and other buildings as building techniques allow for more innovation in design (which in the hands of less talented architects can be a curse).

architecture cartoon

I quite like innovative architecture myself. Almost every day I go for a walk in my local park in north London (Alexandra Park) from where I’m treated to a superb view of the London skyline. Here’s the view in the photo below. I actually thought up the cartoon above while looking at the view below.
Over the last twenty years I’ve seen the entire cityscape change – first with the building of 1 Canada Square (Canary Wharf), then 30 St Mary Ax (the Gherkin) and now the Shard. In the photo the Shard is still under constrtuction, and therefore lacks its trademark pointiness.

London skyline

More about Prospect magazine.

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Umbrellas in the rain outside the National Gallery, London

Umbrellas in the rain outside the National Gallery, London.
London is, in some people’s minds, synonymous with rain and miserable weather, even though it’s actually quite nice here most of the time. What’s more, you can’t beat a bit of rain for wonderful reflections on the pavements and roads, especially after dark.
Who needs sunshine?
And umbrellas look great, don’t they?

Umbrellas outside the National Gallery in the rain

Umbrellas outside the National Gallery in the rain

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St Paul’s cathedral in dramatic light

This is a photo of St Paul’s cathedral in London, with the River Thames in the foreground. Interesting light.

Rocks above Lower Rosemorran

St Paul’s cathedral in interesting light

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Charles Darwin at the Natural History Museum

Charles Darwin at the Natural History Museum

A slightly surreal looking image of Charles Darwin at the Natural History Museum, London.
The occasion was a major exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.
I like the way that the floor in the foreground merges with the walls, making the doorway quite hard to read as a door – actually making it look more like a picture frame, especially with the giant Darwin (a huge wall-mounted display) on the wall. The brain takes a moment or two to work out what’s going on as the signals are confusing.

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Perception Turned on its Head: an Optical Illusion

Take a look at the two photographs above.
The top one shows a word that’s upside down and that’s indented into a surface.
The bottom one shows a word that’s the right way up and that’s raised above the surface.

Okay, I know you’re not stupid. You realise that they are both the same photograph, with the top one upside down. (It’s a detail of a traditional red British post box by the way.)
But you’re not clever enough to see the word on the top photo as being anything other than indented, are you? Even though you know that it’s raised.
The reason for this is quite straightforward. It’s all to do with the lighting. In our everyday world objects are normally lit from above – because the sun shines in the sky and not out of the ground. In the case of the top photograph the lighting effectively comes from below. However, we don’t interpret it like that, due to the simple fact that being lit from below is a very unusual way for objects to be lit. We assume that the light in the photo is coming from above, as usual. In that case, the bright highlights and the shadows on the letters could only be where they are if the surface is indented – so that’s what we interpret it as.

What can we learn from this observation? We learn, amongst other things, that we tend to see what we expect to see. And we learn that we interpret things so that they fit in with our experiences and our expectations. This isn’t such a bad thing quite a lot of the time. In fact it’s a good thing. If we didn’t do it we’d have to go around analysing absolutely everything from first principles as though we’d never experienced anything before. We’d never get anything done. But the tendency can be an impediment when we try to make sense of things that are slightly beyond the realms of normal day to day existence – it has implications beyond such mundane things as upside down photographs.

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A Stunning Hubble Photograph of the Question Mark Nebula

What do you think of this?
You’re staring into space and wondering what the underlying nature of the universe is, when suddenly you’re confronted by a gaseous nebula in the form of a cosmic question mark.
How spooky is that?

A nebula in the form of a question mark

Unfortunately this image is nothing more than something that I made up in Photoshop.
It’s an image that I created with a view to using it on the cover of my book-in-progress (See the tab at the top of the page).
I’m now thinking that it may just be a little too cosmic, so I’m looking into ideas that reflect a more human scale. However, I like this image, so here it is.

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