Did someone say Facial Pudding?

Every few months, I check back in on Thrash Hits. Today I found a final farewell post, it’s over, nobody has the time so long, farewell. http://www.thrashhits.com/2015/05/goodbye/. Raz, and shortly after Hugh made things happen for me, and gave me opportunities that I didn’t always capitalise on. It’s safe to say, if I had, I’d be living in London right now and scraping a living as a photographer for whatever music rag would take my work, or for someone much bigger, but that’s another story entirely.

I had good times with Thrash Hits, made some good friends, and I admit, I’ve not kept in touch with any of them, much to my own lazyness, but also feeling more and more disconnected from the world we were part of and tried to help shape. I wrote and took photos for Thrash Hits for a number of years. I rebuilt the site on more than one occasion after virus attacks and some bad times being delisted by Google. We shot festivals, shows, and some great editorials, like the come-back of Eearthtone9. It was as independent as anything could ever be. We got into some fights with a few bands, Raz became a Meme on Tumblr, had t-shirts made of it, and a whole series of quite bizarre video interviews at Download, Sonisphere and anywhere else we could get into.

In a more than strange way, if it weren’t for Raz, I’d not meet the wonderful woman I share my life with now.

I found myself a few years ago struggling to write anything about an album that wasn’t expressing how shit I felt it was, failing to hone what I have gained later on in producing reviews of things without personal bias. Thanks to Hugh, I have become a far greater writer and it has made a huge impact on my day-job and made me an far better UX Designer.

http://33.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m71paai7di1r93zizo1_500.gifBlack Veil Brides

What Thrash Hits did provide for me, wasn’t just opportunities to document artists, whether they lived long or burnt out and faded away but it showed me things I never knew existed, I was able to experience the entire #ukswell before it imploded on itself, see early shows of bands that are now striving forward into the mainstream, and experience some momentous occasions like the return of Earthtone9 at Sonisphere, this little band called Turbowolf playing to Hugh, Raz, myself and maybe 10 other people in a tent at Offset, meeting shit loads of people I never thought I would spend 5 minutes with like Jerry Cantrell, Kurt Ballou, and so, so many others.

I can’t recall the last time I saw either of them, Hugh maybe a few years back at Soundgarden in Hyde Park? and Raz I have recollection of being at Islington Academy so that must have been for Will Haven reforming… fuck that was so long ago. Being by the sea whilst everyone else was in London really hit home to me at the point where I ‘handed in my pass’, I was struggling to stay in it when London pretty much runs the media in the UK, doesn’t matter how much I think Brighton has had a scene at the time, it wasn’t sustainable compared to the power and accessibility of London and I just couldn’t move up there. Sometimes I wish I had.

So, Raz has done all kinds of things with major magazines, so has Hugh and now I think Raz lives in LA, the only way I know this is somehow I got email marketed by the company he now works for and I recall having an email convo with Hugh about hosting or some other techy diarrhea maybe this time last year. I know, like me, they’re still out, still hitting shows, and most likely still writing something for someone somewhere. I hope it continues.

Raz & Hugh – Fuck you guys. Enjoy the sunshine, I hope we see each other soon.

Raz and Hugh Thrash Hits

A Week With Skillshare

I saw a tweet from Dan Rubin, web luvvie, Instagram mogul and a fantastic photography. It was directing me to his free course on taking better mobile photos via the site Skillshare. I’d not heard of it before, and having missed an opportunity to do a workshop with Dan this year on mobile photography at some conference somewhere, I thought I’d take a look.

At the same time, I clicked on a handful of other courses, well if you’re going to be forced to create an account you may as well fill it up with shit right? And fill it up with shit I did. OK, you may feel that my use of the word shit is overly aggressive or inflammatory. I signed up to 10 different skillshare courses, all were based on photography of some form or another. I thought, hey here’s a nice way to pick up a few new ideas and techniques I didn’t know before and maybe inspire me to get off my ass and go shoot something again.

Pretty, pretty damn empty

I spent an afternoon going through a stack of photography courses, to come to the conclusion that Skillshare has a very solid format. A series of videos that are incredibly well shot, perfectly curated and tell you bugger all. What I came away feeling was that I had stumbled upon the newest way in which to advertise yourself, your business, or your partners int he guise of education and it’s left me a little sour in the mouth.

Looking at photojournalism on the web

Last year I spoke at UXCambridge about how photography is treated on the web, my frustrations as a photographer and looked at a number of powerful photo-stories that have not conveyed as well on the sites they have been published to.

I’ve begun to rewrite my talk with the hopes of presenting it to a few crowds this year. In doing so I have rethought what it is that frustrates me with how photography is presented online, and my view is shared by many photographers from all sides of the craft whether it is photojournalism, fashion, portraiture or landscape. Continue reading “Looking at photojournalism on the web”

We die young

I was shocked last night to be told the news that Ashley Maile, Photographer best known for his work with AP and Kerrang and Brighton resident, passed away this week.

I haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone to find out what happened but he was young. Too young to be exiting stage left in 2013. When he moved to Brighton he became a frequent face at the front when I was still shooting gigs and I spent many an evening chatting about everything and nothing with him, captivated by his pleasant company,trans Atlantic twang and ability to wear sunglasses as a headband and combat shorts regardless of the time of year.

In true skill swap style I traded web skills with shutter skills and we would regularly meet up for a drink and talk about what I was doing and how I could improve my work.

Ashley was a guy who was always happy to talk to you and he gave me a few jobs lighting studio shots for his work and helped me get a few gigs with some magazines which I am eternally thankful for. He taught me etiquette, grace under fire and that big leather wristbands will never go out of style in rock and roll.

You can always tell one of Ashley’s shots when you’re flicking through a mag. Some of my favourites have to be the Jeep shoot with Funeral For A Friend, his Metallica black and whites for TG and his shots of Telegraphs at Helingly Hospital.

One of a kind.

response to images – responsive day out

During Owen Gregory’s talk at Responsive Day Out he touched on the theory of the Golden Ratio in design and how you can still use traditional design theory in a fluid world without compromising on form.

Many others throughout the day had discussed the current issues we face when approaching the use of images in design and content in designing for a fluid web. There were discussions on file sizes, how to serve up images, what kind of image files we should use and when to use them, the types of images, are they for context or decoration?

Bruce Lawson went through the ideas of serving up entirely different versions of an image to align with a particular layout. In His example he showed an image where a dog sat centrally in a photograph. Using breakpoints, he presented different crops of the same image citing that these were better contextually based on the viewport size. I disagree with this, but that’s another story.

What nobody questioned however is whether images themselves are actually the plague on good design when it comes to the web? Are they the devil we know that can never be changed?

Last year I was working with Paul Swain on a project which we knew was going to be heavily lead by imagery. During the wireframing stage Paul was placing image placeholders in that used a 16:9 aspect ratio. I asked him why he kept putting them in the layout? His response was that 16:9 gives more data in an image. For example in a sports scene it allows for the subject to be the focus with his surroundings given extra space to breathe. He also noted that when designing a fluid site we should consider that the screen sizes are all moving towards widescreen, columns are going to become wider than they are long.

I couldn’t let this go. As a photographer, I have never owned a camera that shoots images at 16:9; I have a FlipHD handheld video camera that shoots in 16:9 but none of my Nikon SLRs do. All I could think of was somebody having to spend more time shooting with a taped off back screen (see below) and more time editing before getting a story out on a news site for example. I brought this scenario to the table and we removed the placeholders exchanging them for 4:3 placeholders, if the image was in a widescreen format, they had a bounding box they could fit it into.

It did get me thinking as to whether the likes of Nikon will completely lose their minds and do away with the 4:3 ratio we are all used to? Of course, there are other image sizes that are still commonplace today notably instagram with it’s square images in a homage to the Polaroid and the hipsters do love their Lomos.

Owen Gregory questioned why we have these ratios in our devices that do not meet with the golden ratio? Modern displays, flat screen televisions and monitors use a16:9 ratio whilst older displays were set at 4:3 as are most cell phones, the iPad and many other tablet devices such as the Kindle and Galaxy Tab. In 2012 Apple The iPhone5 is 16:9 and along with the Samsung S3 and Nexus 4 are evolving handheld devices into the widescreen HD era.

How did these ratios come to be and can we ever have visual perfection?

Well, it isn’t but that is where it all starts, with William Dickinson and Thomas Eddison creating a concept of a roll of film and a loader for a camera.

Edison and Dickinson wanted to create images which gave the same level of detail as when looking straight ahead; minus the periphery. The human eye has a field of view which is 155oH x 120oV (4:3).

Their film wrapped around a spindle with sprockets gripping it in place. The frame needed to meet the 4:3 ratio and finally they concluded the ideal size was 35mm wide and 3 perforations high (the distance between the sprockets).

Does it have legs?

Naturally, when artists started considering moving pictures the starting point was to use 35mm film and lots of it. There were experiments with other formats as the movie makers started to look at how to make a more immersive experience. As with all good art, the marketing people had other ideas, how do you get more people in front of a film and make more money per show? The natural solution? make it wider. Wider screen = more seats.

The most notable movement came from France where the Paris film scene was booming. In 1897 Raoul Grimoin Sanson patented Cineorama, a widescreen film format, it never took off.

Other concepts emerged during the early 19th century including cinemascope which was costly to produce requiring two camera operators and further time editing. With the Depression came cut backs in Hollywood and the anamorphic format given with most widescreen solutions was dropped, returning to the cheaper 35mm 4:3 systems.

Alfred Hitchcock refused to shoot in cinemascope citing that it created an unnatural and displeasing image, instead favouring VistaVision which could be adjusted to suit a number of aspect ratios.

The Golden Age turns to Pyrite

As televisions found their way into more and more households in America Hollywood started to feel the pinch. Here is where we see history repeating itself (see 3D in 1915, 3D in the 1950s, 3D in the 1980s, HD and 3D again in the 2000s). Film studios began experimenting with dimensions again purposefully shooting in wider ratios that needed new projectors in the cinemas affiliated with the film studios and providing a cinematic experience which clearly set it apart from television.

It caused chaos. Letterboxes became a visual cue to what kind of film you were watching and ensured that every cinema could syndicate the movies into their theatres without needing to upgrade their equipment.

Many of us will remember (I’ve actually seen it in France in the last month) the frustrations of watching a film bought by a television network where the titles are chopped off left and right and you can’t help but wonder whether you’re losing important plot points to the outer limits of the shiny pastic surround encasing the liquid crystal display.

Thankfully, Dr Kerns Powers rallied for some kind of standardisation to be formed. Eventually 16:9 was agreed upon, not because it is the most pleasing ratio to experience moving pictures, but because it is the middle ground in a muddy film landscape. This is why even now with your HD (or even UHD/4K) screen you will see letterboxes when watching certain movies.

How do ratios fit into responsive design?

I have on quite a few occasions attempted to mimic another film format to the one I am shooting with. Back in 2009 (the golden age of Flickr?) I was inspired by Dustin Diaz’s 365 project where the majority of his shots were 16:9 and letterboxed. I spoke to him at the time about how he was doing this and tried it myself.

Perhaps we can start thinking about this in our web design. Can we use margins and padding in the same way as to create faux widescreen experiences, or even bring widescreen back down to 4:3 after all, isn’t this what we’re doing every time we set body to margin: 0 auto?

Originally posted on avangelistdesign.com