Sunday, 27 February 2011

Tourist Trap

Drove over to Oxford today in my Pony Express role to deliver some stuff, and encountered some astonishingly intense rain on the A34 that made cruising past articulated trucks like driving through dense smoke.

After my errand was done, I walked the streets for an hour or so, getting a camera out whenever the rain eased off. If there's one place you need not feel self-conscious wielding a DSLR it's in the heart of a tourist trap on an early spring Sunday. It's the people without the cameras who look out of place.

Oddly, I seemed to be the only one excited by this magnificent yellow skip wrapped in green netting behind the Bodleian Library. Everyone else seemed to be taking pictures of each other in front of doorways.


Kent Wiley said...

"Yeah, what are with these pictures of... stuff?" I'm afraid my wife still doesn't think there is any point in a photograph if it doesn't have a person in it.

Your blue pictures struck a note somewhere, and then I remembered this photo. Maybe we should start a Blue Series of collaborative works amongst readers.

Mike C. said...


Yes, very like -- though I'm the wrong guy for collaborations. As soon as I see a crowd forming (two or more people) I walk the other way, can't help it!

I have a half-baked theory about digital cameras and blue, which I've never properly tested (mainly because I wouldn't know how). I think the in-camera processing handles masses of even blue (and to a lesser extent green) in a special way, because of the need to render snapshot skies nicely. Solid blue objects always seem to throw up odd results. And I'm deeply suspicious of how well digital is able to captures skies, vs. film.

If you run "auto levels" on one of these "big blue" pictures, bizarre things happen. There seems to be a lot of hidden data in there.


Kent Wiley said...

Oh well, I understand. I suppose Flickr is the place for this, but alas I couldn't be bothered to look and see if such a thing had already been started. Guess I wasn't that serious.

It is curious that those of us who have to hoe our own row seem to be drawn to this mildly social activity called blogging. But it's safe: no actual germs or contagions to be transferred. And I can disappear whenever I feel like it.

Ooops! Pardon me, gotta go!

Dave Leeke said...

Although I'm not by any means a photographer, I've just spent the past week making a video journal of a trip to New York. A new Flip Ultra HD to play with. Occasionally I had to get a few fellow travellers in to keep them happy. I was more interested in buildings and views.

Still, keep up the work gentlemen and don't worry about people being in them. I'm sure most people just use them to judge how much they've aged.

Verification: "duckpin". Excellent word.

Mike C. said...


Now that's how to spend half term. Glad the visa worked out.

My daughter uses one of those wee video thingies for her Moving Image AS, and it seems pretty good. I'm not sure I could cope with moving pictures, though.


Kent Wiley said...

Dave, hope you're going to post some of your video. Love to see what you thought was "worthy" in NYC.

Dave Leeke said...

Kent, I'm a bit of a technophobe - any advice on how to post videos would be gratefully received! I can take stills from them - as my current blog posting shows!

Mike, I would have thought you'd have a good eye for short sequences - no floating carrier bags though, please.

James.M said...

I recognize that butterfly! They pop up here and there around the centre of Oxford. There's nothing very new or grand about it, but I rather like this sort of thing.

A magnificent example is the life (work?) of Arthur Stace, who spent 35 years (beginning in the 1930s) writing the word "Eternity" in distinctive, cursive script in chalk on the streets and buildings of Sydney. Nobody knew who was responsible until the mid-1950s. It would have been mysterious and wonderful even if his word hadn't been so beautiful: (link to a picture I uploaded to my webspace).

Mike C. said...

Thanks for that, James.M, I'm very interested in that sort of thing -- Banksy without the hype. Interesting that it was happening in Sydney so early.

I liked the butterflies, too -- a very sophisticated bit of stencilling, improved by whatever was stuck on top of it removing some of the paint.

Can it really be 38 years since I skulked through those streets, clutching a carrier bag full of wallpaper paste and a paintbrush, flyposting?


Huw said...


I too have a weakness for green netting (with some blue too, for good measure). Hope this doesn't ruin it for you!


Mike C. said...


It does lend a certain something, doesn't it? But, you're right, now I sense the crowd gathering, I may have to quietly slope off in a different direction... The "Scholar Gypsy" (poem by Matthew Arnold), that's me.