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Cake (England)

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Sony DSCWX60 Digital Compact Camera - White (16MP, 8x Zoom)
Sony DSCWX60 Digital Compact Camera - White (16MP, 8x Zoom)
Offered by Picsio
Price: 104.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 23 Mar 2014
It's nicely made and looks good but best of all it takes excellent photographs. The Zeiss lens gives this the edge over regular Sony compacts and while the corners are a little soft the centre is simply stunning. And as for sensor noise - what noise?! 100 and 200 are clean and up to 800 it shows up in the shadows but it's not mental. I usually test all the cameras I buy with shots of optical charts and this matches APS sized sensor cameras with decent lenses in the centre of the shot - although it falls a bit short in the corners. (See my uploaded image of a head to head with the 18Mpx Canon EOS M with nice quality kit zoom. Both are 100 per cent pixel views of the centre portion of the frame, OOC jpegs with no additional sharpening in post.) I'm relieved that mine has no major de-centering issue which can mean the image has a blurry mushiness usually along one edge, an issue which has been present on previous point and shoots I've owned. No chromatic abberation!!! (but coloured circles of flare when pointing in the direction of the sun) and in-camera distortion correction which does a pretty decent job, and which is really useful with that fabulous 25mm equivalent wide end focal length. And what about those 10,000 pixel wide, 4,000 pixel high panoramas - even the Sony NEX models can't match that!

Although there's an emphasis on auto you can adjust the essentials - ISO, white balance and even set the display to show the histogram as well as grid lines. It's completely silent in operation, no shutter-shock or mirror-slap. The LCD has a little real-time lag and the resolution is not so great but it is perfectly usable. Start up and shot to shot times are fine.

Sony unfortunately seem to be getting cleverer at blocking the use of generic batteries as the one I got from my usually failsafe supplier couldn't get past a black screen and the message telling me not to even think of using a non Sony battery. Might be some out there that work OK, though. Battery life is seriously good, though - today I shot 850 frames in a couple of hours (outdoors, none with flash, camera always on, minimal chimping but a lot of HR pans which are processor intensive) and had one (out of four) bars showing. The non-stop focus tracking must be using up more than it really needs to but I don't think it can be switched off. The little cover for the micro USB cable is delicate - make sure you have it positioned carefully before closing it after unplugging the cable - if you need any force you are doing it wrong, it locks down very easily with minimal pressure when in the right place. Actually attaching the cable is none too easy, either, it's a poor fit.

Look around and you can pick one of these up very cheap.

Katy Grannan - Boulevard
Katy Grannan - Boulevard
by Katy Grannan
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hyper-realism, 12 Jan 2013
Katy Grannan's 'Boulevard' series was exhibited last year at the Saatchi gallery in London, as part of a substantial round-up of contemporary photography. It was cleverly hung in the opening room to provide plenty of shock and awe and was the most compelling work of any across three floors.

The first thing to say is the images here are technically impressive, presenting the astonishing level of recording power and also the vital tonal subtlety to her street portraiture. The effect of this hyper-realism should not be under-estimated, it is revelatory.

The second thing to say is that if you haven't guessed it already Katy Grannan is the artistic heir to Diane Arbus. While she's upped the resolving power from a medium format Rolleiflex, and made the necessary switch to colour, more importantly is the same full-on exploitation of vulnerable subjects which has resulted in similarly astonishing images.

Her ethical position is that she doesn't have an ethical position, not that it's necessarily an obstacle to appreciation (well for some of us, anyway) but I think we need to be open and clear about it. It is intensely voyeuristic - which is where the hyper-realism counts for so much - and it is a failure of nerve for her supporters to claim her choices are about 'acknowledgement of diversity'.

She has used transgender individuals before and relies on them again here to a large extent, and to great effect. Is there such a word as 'trans-ploitation'? She's certainly no Nan Goldin, being more interested in the failure-to-become and in how to observe when you are devoid of empathy. As with her earlier 'Model American' series Grannan depicts those who have paid the price for their dreams and ruthlessly moves in to consume them with her lens. Recognise the modus operandi?

I wouldn't be surprised if she has already considered a future project, to return to Arbus's most astonishing achievement, Diane Arbus: Untitled where she spent nearly two years photographing at institutions for children with learning difficulties. It is precisely in that same abandoning of a safe ethical position that makes 'Boulevard' a similarly challenging but profound and revealing body of work.

The Ongoing Moment
The Ongoing Moment
by Geoff Dyer
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Long Gone Moment, 4 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Ongoing Moment (Paperback)
There are several things to like about this book; the Geoff Dyer wit and irreverence, the tidbits of gossip and err, well his love of photography.

Back in the 70's John Berger (a friend and influence on Dyer) used to write eloquently about photographs, looking at them intelligently and explaining how they were capable of conveying a subtle social discourse. For instance his reading of August Sander's image of three men in suits was masterful analysis of its time - it can be read here: [ terms 'John Berger' 'August Sander']

Dyer picks up where Berger left off and pores over the work of (mostly) the great early 20th Century American photographers, with a very similar approach and value system as Berger's. The resulting descriptions are engaging but weakened when locked into a personalized and increasingly speculative narrative of relationships between images. It is a fanciful framework, little more than an exercise in 'compare and contrast hat photos' and so forth. Furthermore, many of the photographs discussed aren't actually included, as rights permissions were often impossible to acquire.

I was really looking forward to reading some Berger-style interpretation of photographs made by Weston, Strand, Lange, Steiglitz et al. but this book just confirms how surprisingly dated that approach has become and unfortunately some of the actual works are quite badly diminished by still being discussed in this way.

Intenso 6002540 640GB Memory Station USB 2.0 5400rpm 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Black
Intenso 6002540 640GB Memory Station USB 2.0 5400rpm 2.5 Inch External Hard Drive - Black
Offered by elevenfirst
Price: 44.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good - and HFS+ for best Mac performance, 11 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This drive comes pre-formatted in FAT32, the advantage being that it will plug and play on both Windows and Mac machines. I do use both but bought this specifically for backing up on an eMac G4 running OS 10.3.9 (old but solid) and the drive needed two USB ports to work and proved quite flaky in use.

It would take about 30-40 seconds to mount on the desktop and after copying files over it would not be possible to eject! I was thinking of returning it but decided to re-format it to HFS+ (using disk utility, which takes about a minute to do - but be aware this step deletes everything on the drive so make sure you have all your data safe before taking doing so and and it will only work on a Mac afterwards, unless you format it back to FAT32, or to NFTS even).

Since the re-formatting it now works great on my eMac - fast to appear, copy files (without any naming restrictions that FAT32 can't handle, which cause unreliable partial back-ups) and ejects promptly - and is even now happy to run from just one of the USB ports rather than needing to be connected to two.

Andres Serrano, America and Other Work
Andres Serrano, America and Other Work
by Eleanor Heartney
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard core, 23 May 2012
It is astonishing that copies of this book used to be available on Amazon marketplace for well under a tenner - and that includes shipping from the United States of America. While this is an amazing opportunity for us in Europe to bag a copy on the cheap at the same time it also feels like a kind of sacrilige - that this vast, lushly printed compilation of Serrano's life work should be ending up remaindered in his home country.

To give a little perspective on this man - how many internationally reknowned black American photographers can you name? And - unlke President Obama in his career choice - this guy has got all the way on his own merit. He's the real thing - a visionary with a decades deep body of work that continually displays both moral courage and intelligence.

He's an aesthete and a thinker. The book's first half portraits work as pairs, both visually (turned in on each other) and more profoundly through the descriptive notes. For instance a barbie-doll perfect 4 year old girl next to a handsome aging junkie, or a World War II veteran beside a neo-nazi, or a cowboy by a native american indian. Crucial to the stature of these diptychs is that everyone is treated the same, with dignity. It is left to us to make what we will of the propositions within the notes but each sitter has been given equal reverence. To maintan a judgmental position about people feels a bit inconsequential in the face of such a display of compassion.

I first saw Serrano's massive 60 inch prints at Tate Modern a few years ago, at their 'Street and Studio' exhibition. His huge 'Nomad' images were standouts amidst what was a strong show. Part of their achievement was in that same dignity granted to his homeless subjects, they were as elevated by his camera as if they were presidential portraits.

One aspect to the work is the photographer's Catholic background which has shaped his vision in several ways but the challenge he presents is that the religious iconography he was exposed to as a child has been transmuted into a relentless search for the sacred in the profane. Whether this is in the 'Early Works' or notorious images like 'Piss Christ' (vandalised in a show in France in 2011) - find Sister Wendy's thoughts on this image on Youtube - or in 'History of Sex' or 'The Morgue' it is always rippling through to the surface. The ambivalence he feels is intriguingly never resolved but there is no doubt it energises his language.

He has said that for him half the satisfaction is in negotiating the projects, they often deal with subjects that he is frightened off - The Ku Klux Klan members and cadavours for instance, for obvious reasons - but in finding a way to his subject says much about his artistic purposefulness in the face of personal and practical obstacles.

For many the latter half of this book will simply be too difficlt, there is no easy way around this fact. Serrano has challenged himself for whatever reason and it's a similarly personal decision to be made by anyone about to engage with the evidence he has brought back with him. At the end of the day it may not be your concern - but for anyone to loftily dismiss these works without giving them a fair consideration would be a huge mistake. If not now then at some time in your life you may recognise the validity in these images and that they are prepared to address our humanity, our divinity even, within the frailties of our flesh to an extent that few artists ever chose to do.

I'd like to finish on a personal note; in my opinion the photograph, 'Fatal Meningitis II 1992' has as much breath-taking resonance (both in it's agonising, shocking grace and its rawness) as the very greatest works of art - in any form.

by Brian Griffin
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man In Black, 16 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Work (Paperback)
The man in black from the Black Country, Brian Griffin is that rare thing, a world class art photographer from Britain. Not so surprising is that his career contribution has been so over-looked by the heavyweight curators here that you won't be seeing any of his prints on the walls of any of the big name galleries in the foreseeable future. Neither will you hear him discussed on photography courses or in the shortlist for the Deutsche Borse prize. Copies of his 1988 self-published 'Work', like his other books, can usually be picked up on the cheap. I'd suggest that this would be so different if he had not been British but instead was French or German - then much would be forgiven - and he would even be a little more comprehensible.

One of Griffin's credibility 'errors' was being a successful commercial photographer back then. He made portraits for business and industry and pop during the Thatcher years which are forever characterised not by work but by high unemployment.

He may have failed to sneak a camera into those hell-on-earth waiting rooms of dole offices - Paul Graham - Beyond Caring. Books on Books 9 - but while almost all of the 78 portraits in this book were commissioned by big business they are not sycophantic in the slightest. In fact they are remarkable for how critical they are, managers are routinely depicted with a grim, blank-eyed lifelessness, appearing far less present as individulas than even the expensive fabric of their own suits (which are rendered by his flash-lit, medium format super-realism with such existentialist detail as to induce slight nausea - Nausea (Penguin Modern Classics). It is also not unusual for him to frame so that their heads are missing, actually cut off by the edge of the shot altogether. In telling contrast his portraits of the people on constrution sites who get their hands dirty are posed with a dignity that borders on the reverential, the cover is strikingly reminiscent of worker-hero sculpture from the Socialist era.

What makes his personal vision unique is a peculiar surrealist approach to mise en scene, rich with a mix of religiosity and irreverent humour. How he persuaded his subjects to comply with his various eccentric requests is a testament to going further in an effort to get the image, not settling early.

Griffin's images do not quite fit in any prevailing history of photography, particularly those espoused by Universities or the big three Arts Council funded museums - and nor do they appeal to collectors of the 'fine print'. They are too real, and abrasive with an odd, sharp intellectualism that offers little comfort. While still getting project invites it could be quite a wait till Brian Griffin is reclaimed as either a major home-grown talent or when google searches don't offer the dog from Family Guy instead - 'Family Guy: Brian Griffin's Guide to Booze, Broads and ...: The Lost Art of Being a Man'.

(500) Days of Summer [DVD] [2009]
(500) Days of Summer [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 10 Jan 2012
500 Days is 'not a love story' as the narrator explains at the very start. You shrug and think 'yeah, sure' but it turns out it's actually not!

SPOILER ALERT - here comes a fair bit of story breakdown!!!!

Tom is a bit of a slacker who works for a gift card company 'writing the words people can't say for themselves' - with the implication being that Hollywood romance films are pretty much the same, dealing in phoney sentiment, saying cheesy things we like to hear. And this film will be very different.

He falls in love with Summer and they have an affair until she eventually dumps him for a richer, more successful guy (check out that big diamond engagement ring she's showing around at the end). In this respect it's even more negative about affairs of the heart than 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind [DVD] [2004]' and certainly a brave and modern new kind of rom-com for grown up audiences.

But there is a sneaky sleight of hand going on to make this more mushy than it could have been. The script has Summer say their relationship was not serious, so when Tom is dumped her hands are totally clean. In effect then she either chose to be oblivious to his feelings or else is simply a user. Why? well if you reverse the roles and imagine Tom dump a doting girlfriend for a more attractive girl, and on his way out saying 'well you knew it wasn't serious, didnt you?' - how do you think that would go down with women in the audience? ('[You could just watch something like [ASIN:B00004CWP9 Sense And Sensibility [DVD] [1996]]]' for a reminder how it works.)

Still, the impact of such a downbeat (almost) ending reminded me of 'No Country For Old Men [DVD]' which was a shock departure from genre but The Coen brothers totally went for it. 500 Days says that it is not a love story - it comes close to being an 'anti-love' story - but it loses its bottle with the tacked on final scene, when Tom meets a new girl and is about to get a well paid, prestigious new job etc - the corny Valentine's card ending so no-one would sputter on their last handful of popcorn and demand their money back.

The non-linear editing gives some great opportunities for crash cutting and the absolute highlight of the film is the edit where Tom sets off to work madly in love and the world is joyful place and he enters the lift at work, a huge smile on his face as the doors close. Fast forward to after the end of the affair and the lift doors open when his world has been shattered and he is a broken man. Astonishingly inspired - and heart-breaking, too. An edit that is up there with 'that cut' in '2001: A Space Odyssey'.

Me and You and Everyone We Know [DVD] (2005)
Me and You and Everyone We Know [DVD] (2005)
Dvd ~ John Hawkes
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Curious, 3 Nov 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An unassuming, no-budget, no big-name-actors, not-much-happens gem of a film. Quirky and unsentimental it is also repeatedly quite questionable in its approach to children and yet carefully navigates a way through. Terrific meandering style and an unpredictability that is frequently laugh out loud funny, puzzling and finally happy-sad tearful in a fresh and satisfying way so you don't feel afterwards you've been slyly manipulated having had some tired old buttons (that you'd maybe forgotten you had) pressed one more time.

Sony DSCW380B Cyber-shot Digital Camera  - Black (14.1 MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD
Sony DSCW380B Cyber-shot Digital Camera - Black (14.1 MP, 5x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD
Offered by K.K. Electronics
Price: 124.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tiny but terrific camera, 11 Sep 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As an Amazon refurb this was too good to miss. I've had it a few months now and taken 5,000 shots and wanted to say a few things about it.

Firstly its size and build quality. It is just 2cm thick and has the same width and height as a bank card so fits a pocket easily - and its metal body feels reassuringly solid and the black styling looks sleek and smart in a mininal way - just remember to use the wrist strap as it has little grip to its surface.

It's super-fast to focus but slow to save - the auto-review can't be turned off so you are left hanging for five seconds from shot to shot unless you half press the shutter which promptly returns the camera to shooting mode - about 2.5 seconds in total from shot to shot - although it does have burst a modest burst mode which manages about 1 fps.

Having the 24mm wide-angle is magnificent in a camera this size. (The lack of 24mm on the Canon S95 is a deal-breaker for me but I see it's coming on the S100.) And the ability to shoot in 16:9 format (at 11mpx) is terrific - I'm beginning to feel the old 35mm 3:2 format is a thing of the past. All new monitors are widescreen so it makes sense.

The lens at wide offers f2.4 which is a huge advantage. Handheld shooting at low ISOs is very possible in fading light. This is a far better solution than cameras that offer high ISOs that mostly wipe out the detail with their noise suppression software. Corner/edge detail is OK but nowhere near that of the centre, I have to say. The way the camera deals with wide angle distortion is an under-rated aspect in the reviews I've read - it's very impressive.

This is a small form point and shoot and although offering custom white balance and EV adjustments there is no real aperture adjustment - just an auto ND filter for exposure control.

In good light the files are, for the most part, excellent, detail is ridiculously good. Noise is not an issue up to ISO 200 but of course take care to expose properly - do not underexpose! That's not to say this camera handles like a dSLR, it doesn't - it's way too sloooooooooow and has some limitations on settings.

If you need to shoot in low light don't expect those files to be competitive - they will be OK at 400 ISO but not comparable and certainly not much use apart from putting on a web page or sending in an email above that - which are perfectly average uses and will look great.

Check the diwa-labs tests for this camera and compare to the S95 and the LX3 (LX5 precursor) and it's hard to find a compelling case to spend several times as much even if you are gagging to (like me). In some areas the W380 struggles but in others it actually surpasses each of the other cameras (which have bigger lenses and slightly bigger sensors) - this is unexpected but go check for yourself, it's all there. The W380 can just about hold its own. By the way the files can even take a fair bit of unsharp mask in Photoshop to pull out even more detail when printing. It's jpeg only (which I prefer) so get it right at the time and all will be well. But if you are a RAW-tweaker then this is not for you.

The tiny battery has improved life after 3-4 charges. It does struggle the first shoot or two but now I expect around 400 shots over 3-4 hours. (The way I shoot is to leave the camera switched on so the lens does not waste power - or time - retracting then having to pop out again - and mostly at 24mm so hardly any zooming, and I don't use flash.) You will definitely need a spare though and the generic ones around are as good as the Sony originals, if not slightly better. With two freshly charged ones I've been able to take 800 shots with still enough power to then download them.

Every camera has some failings and the W380 is no different - so 4 out of 5 stars.

Nicholas Nixon Pictures of People
Nicholas Nixon Pictures of People
by Nicholas Nixon
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best, 8 May 2011
The introduction by Peter Galassi is a reminder of the tremendous worth of well-paced, lucid writing when it comes to art photography - it doesn't get any better than this. In fact, from a time when critical writing was rare - and then mostly predominantly anti-photography from mainstream arts background intellectuals - these 15 pages are beautifully articulate and, importantly, surprisingly candid, discussing the highs and lows in Nixon's career.

After contributing to the New Topographics show in 1975 Nixon switched almost completely to photographing people with the same 10 x 8 inch and 11 x 14 inch plate film cameras. An approach that had long become obsolete - spontaneity and 35mm Leicas having become de rigeur. Galassi's killer point is that view cameras had been out of fashion long enough 'to represent a fresh opportunity'. He adds 'Our culture, familiar with a correspondence between originality and quality, habitually equates the two.' He rightly points out that there can be 'pictures as good as, or better than' those made by the innovators Walker Evans and Paul Strand. He's right.

Technically speaking, for a book printed over twenty years ago there is, I suspect, some slight muddying in the darker tones but if you can live with that the quality is still absolutely breathtaking - as you'd expect from images that at 9.5 x 7.5 inches are effectively contact size prints. The other creative dimension at work - length of exposure time - both benefits (something unique is often captured in faces beyond a second) and sometimes hinders (a slight movement, eyes that blinked, causing smudging), just the subtle mechanics of capture at work.

The editing is outstanding (Galassi, again?), there is not a second rate image in this book. The Brown sister series (92-87) which is still ongoing while worthwhile has overshadowed his other work, to the detriment of his reputation, I feel. There is so much more to him - The Porch series, The Old, and People With Aids all command full attention. They are collaborative, un-sentimental, fully engaged, human. Nicholas Nixon is one of the greatest portraitists to have worked - in any medium.

This book is a rare thing - an utter masterpiece.

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