Sealed Bids

It’s 13.45. I’m in London and Deborah is in Ilkley.I have just spent an hour talking to Deborah on the phone trying do decide how much we are going to offer for the house in Ilkley. There are a number of people all offering around the asking price and so the deal is that we all submit our best offers in sealed envelopes by 5pm this evening. The vendor will then make a choice. We have done some property price searches and established that we are offering a little over the odds for the house, but let’s see.  Compared to London prices you get so much more.

I’ll let you know at 5.30 or so whether we are successful, and if so post a picture.

Empty Rooms

Empty Room
Originally uploaded by markwaddington.

The blogging has not been very evident in the last week or so. It’s always when interesting things are happening that I stop blogging which suggests that people who blog a lot may have sad lives.

In this last week I have both resigned from my job and sold our house, (which must score quite high on the things to give up for lent). The emotional and physical aspects of the last two weeks have been exhilarating – packing up posessions and wondering what the future holds have been exhausting. We decided to go with our instincts and take a risk on re-shaping our future.

We decided to move just before Christmas and in fact my son started his new school at Illkley Grammar School in Yorkshire on January 4th. Since then we have been going through the process of selling the house and settling Deborah and Joshua into rented accommodation up North. After an energetic week of packing up, we handed over the keys of our house last Friday.

It is remarkable that once you make a commitment to do something things really begin to happen. We’ve been impressed with the speed at which finding a school, selling the house and receiving tentative offers of work have all happened.

On Saturday we identified a house in Ilkley which we really love – a delightful Victorian place currently owned by a delightful artist couple. We have put in an offer of the asking price but it has received a huge amount of interest and so the process is going to ‘sealed bids’ to be submitted to the estate agent by 5pm on Wednesday (the day after tomorrow!) We are presently deciding how much we can afford and will let you know whether we are successful on Wednesday evening.

Add Some Sound

Ben Cohen, the talented and very witty audio producer, now has a web site. So for any of your podcasting needs, Ben is now available for crafting soundtracks which will, "grab them by the ears".

V&A Friday Late

V&A on Vimeo


From Friday Late at London's V&A held on the last Friday in every month starting at 18.30.

First, a vertical light box on which people can write ideas about
destiny, romance and conquests.

Then, Volume, an installation which
responds to movement. After a disorderly wait in the rain it was a
rushed wander through the pillars of LED lights – which also housed
loud speakers. The patterns responded to peoples' movement but it was
difficult to make out with so many people. This would have been excellent as
a solitary experience.

Volume is a collaboration between design collective United
Visual Artists and Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack and co-writer Neil
Davidge (as part of their music production company, one point six).

See also – small ritual & jonny baker (both of whom appear fleetingly in the video).

Category: Art

Believe Mr Cash

Jonny Cash has just auditioned for a contract at a record company. He sang a gospel song and now we hear the company boss tell him his performance  is not good enough. Great clip from a great film.

download audo clip

Great Photos: 3

Extraordinary Places


This photo by Russell Davies reminded me how valuable our viewpoint can be to others who are denied the same opportunity. I don’t know if Russell had special privileges but it looks like a dangerous place to be (an aircraft engine).

The value of some photographs comes not from their technical quality but from the unique way they are able to transport the viewer to a time or place otherwise inaccessible. This inaccessibility can be to do with time or location and is why we have photo-journalism. Indeed the technical quality can be an obstacle to the credibility of some pieces of work.

The introduction of the digital Beta-Cam format to television newsrooms presented one such issue. The sparkling, crisp quality of news images from war-zones made the coverage look like a TV drama rather than a hastily shot news piece. I remember seeing Jeremy Bowen reporting from Israel and thinking it was a specially shot promo with lighting!

Paradoxically, the clearer the image the less believable it is and this is a fact which is being considered as High Definition is being introduced. In some cases the deliberate degradation of image quality is desirable for achieving an appropriate style. I guess we have come to associate grainy black and white images with reality and full resolution colour with marketing.


Those revolutionary shots taken on a mobile phone during the London bombings have shaken traditional journalism. News teams are realising that the public is now able to capture more immediate and intimate images of events than reporters. Importantly, they are also able to distribute them to a worldwide audience. In some cases a bloke with a phone can, without any planning, capture a human drama and transport us into a unique and private world effortlessly. Technology has pulled the rug from under journalism’s ability to control the way the world is seen and events reported.

The point I’m trying to make is that we should not underestimate the value of our own view of the world and the opportunities we have to capture what we regard as very ordinary images. I’m excited by the way people are grabbing shots ‘on the fly’ with little concern for the technical quality and yet the impact and interest of such shots can be very powerful.

To someone on the other side of the world even the most ordinary shot can seem extraordinary; the challenge for us on this side of the world is to understand that.

Great Photos: 2

Tell a story

"If your pictures aren’t good enough," war photographer Robert Capa used to say, "you aren’t close enough."

Of course it’s not essential for a great photo to tell a story, but some of the most memorable photos do. Think of our own family albums in which generations of family experiences are told in narratives which move from children’s parties to silver weddings – or less conventional events!

larger image

On a international scale some photo’s have helped define an era. Photos that changed the world is worth a look. Here we see (largely from an American perspective) significant moments from  history.

You might ask what role a powerful photograph plays in making events historic – is it a chicken or an egg, a horse or a cart?  If the events were not recorded in such a powerful way, would they be seen as so significant? 

It is interesting that through the selection of images we can edit our own stories and the way we remember or past. Happy memories of times on the beach or the pride of a graduation ceremony can become defining images in our own story.  With the growth in digital photography will our stories change or become less well defined in so far as we have the freedom to record every step of our journey?

So what makes a great a great piece of photo journalism?

I don’t know the answer, but perhaps you do?  I can only say what I have observed from working with TV designers who have an amazing talent for injecting meaning into every detail of costume and set dressing.  What is the setting?   The location in which the photo is taken can place the action in time as well as place. The characters can be vividly portrayed by their body language, dress and relationship to the events and other people in the scene.

The power of a strong photo telling a story is not so much in what is portrayed but how clear the preceding and following action is. It is often in what is not shown that carries the most power. In that sense we participate as viewers.

Being on the spot at the right moment is, of course, essential (though somtimes not nice). But so is the relationship between the photographer and the event itself. Often we can understand as much about the person  taking the photograph as we can the scene shown. For example, what can we say about the people able to take the photographs shown above? Are they really detached? should they get involved? Tough one.

Straight 8

Here’s a film from Nick Scott  – Earth to Earth – for the Straight 8 competition (click thumbnail).


Straight 8 is a great idea in which the filmmakers shoot a film on a single cartridge of super 8mm film.  They hand over their exposed but un-developed, un-edited film for processing. They also burn an original soundtrack onto cd.  The first time they see their work is with a packed cinema audience, also seeing it for the first time. The projectionist will simply play the CD when he sees the first frame of the film. No written instructions to the projectionist allowed. Reminds me of Grace 9.

A great deal of creativity happens because the creators are constrained in some way or have to overcome obstacles.  In many ways TV and film has removed such obstacles – I mean, given enough money you can do anything you can imagine in post production or with CGI, but in many cases the spectacle of such productions has replaced the creativity and ideas.