October 1, 2014
I know, I know, this is an Instagram shot. But I like the image and it sort of reminds me of the last week when I was in sunny California. Pasadena to be exact where this shot was taken. 
I just happened to be in my aunt’s living room when I suddenly noticed the possibility of this particular framing - her red curtains illuminated by the California sun with the palm trees in the background. I thought the image just sort of exactly captured the mood. 
For the film fanatics, you’ll be glad to know that I did actually took a few frames with the Provia 400x. 

I know, I know, this is an Instagram shot. But I like the image and it sort of reminds me of the last week when I was in sunny California. Pasadena to be exact where this shot was taken. 

I just happened to be in my aunt’s living room when I suddenly noticed the possibility of this particular framing - her red curtains illuminated by the California sun with the palm trees in the background. I thought the image just sort of exactly captured the mood. 

For the film fanatics, you’ll be glad to know that I did actually took a few frames with the Provia 400x. 

September 30, 2014
Tips For Flying

I’ve done a fair bit of flying in my time over the years. And I think that I’ve learnt a few things about making that process a much more pleasant process for myself and others. Thus, I’d like to share a few tips about how to go about that. You don’t have to agree with all or, indeed, with any of these; but they have worked well enough for me. 

*****

Always be nice to airline and airport staff, including, especially, security personnel. Don’t act like you’re bloody entitled. Be courteous. Say “please” and “thank you”. If you treat service personnel nicely, you will increase your chance of getting good service. Once, on a flight to the UK, a flight attendant actually slipped a very nice bottle of red in my carry-on. No joke!

As importantly, be considerate also to your fellow passengers. Some may be complete assholes, but you don’t have to be like them. You will never know, that fellow passenger you connect with could turn out to be an important business contact or even perhaps a lover. Although, admittedly, I have not been lucky in the latter department.

Keep your passport, a pen and your boarding passes handy on your person. This way you don’t have to get up now and then looking for your shit. And besides, if the plane goes down, investigators can quickly identify your body.

If you need to exchange currencies, spend some time walking around the airport (if you’ve left it this late) looking for a better rate. There is always a better rate.

The next tip is often repeated, but I will include it anyway. Buy a neck pillow! You cannot believe how much this little thing actually increases your comfort levels, especially if you’re in coach. Yet the vast majority of passengers either forget about it or still have not realised the benefits of a neck pillow.

Exit row is that part of the cabin where there is some extra leg room. Naturally, airlines will charge for this. Unless you really, really need the extra leg room, don’t bother. The problem is, I’ve noticed, exit row is also where airlines seat passengers who are travelling with babies! And, you know, babies cry and yap all night. By all means, go ahead and pay for that extra leg room in exit row; but you’re taking a risk as you could end up seated very near to a monster!

This next tip may pose a challenge to some people’s ethical sensibilities. You might not think it, but getting on board the plane early has one big upside. That is, you’ll be among the first to grab overhead cabin space that now often quickly run out. To board quickly, I suggest not always following what you’re told. For example, AA boards their passengers in groups; if you’re in “group 4”, simply insert yourself onto the end of “group 2” or just jump in with “group 3”. With so many passengers, either the check in staff will lose concentration and not pay attention or just won’t care. I’ve done this trick every time and it works all the time!

Get your shit together while onboard the plane. Pay attention. When serving food/drinks, the attendants are working to schedule and the rest of us passengers want to eat. When the attendants ask if you’d like teriyaki chicken or beef stroganoff, don’t sit there for ages ruminating over your bloody response as if you’re in friggin’ Les Deux Magot. I’ve seen passengers do exactly this and even ask detailed questions about the bloody ingredients. It’s airline food for crying out loud.

Next, again a common tip but still worth repeating: get up every couple of hours and exercise. I am totally shameless in this regard. I’ll do stretches, sit ups and even a bit of static jogging. Your body will feel better for it.

Lastly: join a frequent flyer programme. There are people who fly 2 or three times a year and just don’t even bother. You’re missing out!

September 26, 2014
A leisurely afternoon, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA.
I’m currently in LA for a brief vacation. This is just a wee photograph from my travels around the city. If not for the excess amount of time spent in cars and stuck in traffic, I’d moved here tomorrow! 

A leisurely afternoon, Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, CA.

I’m currently in LA for a brief vacation. This is just a wee photograph from my travels around the city. If not for the excess amount of time spent in cars and stuck in traffic, I’d moved here tomorrow! 

September 20, 2014
The Inventor of Karaoke and More

Some weekend reading for you while I get on a flight to LA. I will be back in a week.

The NSA Breach of Telekom and Other German Firms

America’s Plan To Nuke The Moon. Seriously. 

What Went Wrong at the Strangest Tennis Match You Never Knew Occurred?

The Case For Open Borders

The Inventor of the Karaoke Speaks

September 18, 2014
"Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will."

— Apple CEO, Tim Cook on his company’s commitment to privacy

September 17, 2014
Get Those Vivian Maier Books

I’m sure very many of us have heard of Vivian Maier. But I think far fewer have actually bothered to buy any of the books containing her work. Books like thisthis and this, for example.  Certainly in my case, I put off purchasing any of them because I figured that with this surge in interest in Maier, it will be some time yet before supplies run out. 

However, now I think I really do need to get a move on. This legal dispute in the US could mean that books related to Maier will rapidly fly off the shelves and already sold ones, therefore, also quickly gaining in value.

So that’s it. I’m buying whatever Maier I can get my hands on tomorrow! There’s a few around Tokyo bookstores, if you know where to look. 

September 17, 2014
New Toys From Leica

This is surely one to get the Leica nuts and, especially, film buffs excited. Well, anyway, at least those with the inclination and, more importantly perhaps, the dough to get one. At the Photokina event in Germany, Leica just released a new film camera; yes, a film camera! And it’s called the Leica M-A.

The problem is, the M-A seems to have one potentially fatal flaw. The damn thing only comes in chrome, black or silver. Which means, of course, that over time, the camera will not exhibit the usual signs of use and aging so preferred by many a Leica fanboy: brassing. This fanboy is definitely unimpressed. 

I’ll think I’ll stick to my LHSA M6, thank you very much. That one will brass.

Overall, in the looks deparment, the M-A does beat its also new stable mate, the so-called "Leica M Edition 60". But if Leica were trying to produce a digi that is as true to what a Leica M ought to be - i.e., sans digital display in the back - then I’m afraid that they failed miserably on this one, too. This limited edition release camera (numbering just 600 worldwide) is about as butt-ugly as any limited edition Leica as I’ve ever seen. It looks sort of incomplete! The thing doesn’t even come with strap lugs.

Still, for the Leica fanboy, there is still hope. Just check out these new Summarits! They’re a wee bit faster than the older version and only marginally dearer. Definitely worth considering over the Summicrons.

September 14, 2014
"To appreciate ‘King Lear’—or even ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ or ‘The Fault in Our Stars’—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience. But to reject any work because we feel that it does not reflect us in a shape that we can easily recognize—because it does not exempt us from the active exercise of imagination or the effortful summoning of empathy—is our own failure. It’s a failure that has been dispiritingly sanctioned by the rise of ‘relatable.’ In creating a new word and embracing its self-involved implications, we have circumscribed our own critical capacities. That’s what sucks, not Shakespeare."

Rebecca Mead on the notion of “relatability”, for The New Yorker magazine. 

While she is, of course, referencing works in literature, I could not help but think that perhaps her commentary could also be applied to photography and, indeed, the arts in general. 

September 13, 2014
The “FrankenCamera”

Somebody with enough time on their hands and, obviously, ingenuity actually did this - a “frankencamera”, old 70’s rangefinder and a Sony NEX-5 in one!

Turning On from Ollie Baker on Vimeo.

In case you’re feeling inspired by that, here’s how Ollie did it.

September 13, 2014
Mechanical Watches & More

Some weekend reading.

The Enduring Appeal of Mechanical Watches

We Are Entering The Age of Alzheimer’s

Promise and Potential Peril: Japan’s Military Normalization

Categorical Imperative: Geoff Dyer on portrait photographer, August Sander

What We’re Afraid To Say About Ebola 

The History of Mountain Biking

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