Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Celebrating one third of a century,  33 and a third years. A vinyl anniversary

Follow you, follow me, Midge 2016

And celebrating one year. A month turned into twelve.  A certified miracle.  You've come a long way, baby.  

Little Miss Fury, #thanksNHS, #thanksLarry

Also born on this day in history: Mark Twain and Winston Churchill.  Both were premature babies who went on to make their mark.  

European leaves

1000 years ago today Danish King Cnut (or Canute as we used to call him) took the English throne, following the death of Edmund Ironside.  Cue another 1000 years of arguing over Brexit.

 Making every day a holiday

There are no Blue Eyed Cream New Forest ponies.

Ignore the cute bunny and look out for tarantulas which burrow and hide, waiting for prey that may inadvertently wander in . . . .

Time travel agency

From Sticky Jam to the Rock-A-Fellas Saturday night is party night

Cafe Society UK style (blankets provided)

Typical Olde English street scene, Lyndhurst.  In the background the church steeple of  St Michael's Lyndhurst where Alice (of Wonderland) is buried. Foreground Prezzo and the Imperial Chinese Restaurant. #multicultural

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Southsea Ghetto

 St Judes, Portsmouth by Five Architects 

What makes a good picture? Whether it is a photograph or a painting, a sketch or a piece of embroidery, the number one litmus test has to be: does it look good? The photo above looks good.

Which leads to secondary questions.   What makes it look good? Is it the subject matter,the colours,  the composition, the message, the mood you're in right now?   Do you want to keep on looking at it? If you keep looking will you see more?

For the picture above - the subject matter is workaday: roofs, chimneys, a steeple, sky.  Every city, town, village, hamlet has those.  Colour? well the picture is monochrome but the fifty shades of grey are as expressive as a rainbow.  The composition is spot on.  How can I say that? It just looks right.  Is there a message? Is it nostalgic: this is a timeless cityscape, it could be a Victorian photograph, it could have been taken a few weeks ago. Do I want to keep looking at it? Yes, I'd like it on my wall, I'm sure I could see it anew for ever.

Here's another couple of questions.  Why do so many people buy bad postcards?  Why are they even produced?

There are technical questions too.  For some people that would be the important part. In a photography competition the criteria would be quite different to my litmus test.  I'm not really interested in the technical side of photography.  I'm a philistine. I know what I like, even if I don't know why.   The following picture had a 6 second exposure usin 2x Formatt Hitech reverse grad ND filters.  I don't know what that means but I know I like the image.

Fluid Motion by Howard Hurd

The technical trick of using a long exposure turns another potentially workaday setting into an abstract image.  The wave takes on the quality of Trump's hairpiece or the banshees escaping from the ark of the covenant or becomes a statement about impermanence in a rigid world or an example of chaos theory. Or anything you want it to be.  Even a wave breaking over a promenade.

Floating crane Canute by Grzegorz Kopacz

If we're talking about composition take a look at Canute here.  The reason that Aunty Flo's holiday snaps look rubbish is that she positions Uncle Ernest right there in the middle in the viewfinder (and waits till he looks really uncomfortable before taking the shot).  Canute is taking advantage of the Golden Ratio.  The photo is not of the tree, although that takes up a large part of the picture. Your eye is drawn to the crane.

There's something about juxtaposition too, the tree, irregular but recognisable and the crane, fixed and solid but strangely strange, looking like a post industrial dinosaur marauding the countryside.

 Last leaf of Autumn by Five Architects

With a whole world of photo art available at a mouse click or two what is the point of taking the same photo that has been taken a thousand times before?  No, seriously, I'm asking.  In one sense the photo above is totally original. Probably, no-one else took a picture of that leaf, in that tree, with that sky.  In another sense that is just another Classic Autumn Photo.  Here's a few reasons for taking it: it looks good (Litmus test passed); the photographer wanted that shot, his own version of that shot; it is a particularly good version of that shot, clarity, composition, colour are all spot on.  When I was mooching through Five Architects photos it stood out as an eyecatching image.

The photographers featured in this post are all Portsmouth based.  They all know each other,  They share interests - photography, architecture, street art, for starters.  They photograph a lot of the same things.  Southsea shore, the piers, the fairground, Portsmouth's brutalist architecture.  The challenge has to be how do you take an original picture of something that has been photographed a thousand times.  Here's a couple of answers to that:
Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth by Howard Hurd

Spinnaker Tower, Portmsouth by Grzegorz Kopacz

CP Fastenings by  Five Architects 

Explanatory note: I asked Five Architects, Howard Hurd and Gregorz Kopacz if I could use their photos in this blog.  I didn't ask for specific photos or say what I was going to do with them.  All three graciously gave permission, for which I thank them.  The very simple reason I wanted to use the pictures is because over the past few months I have seen their work on Twitter and thought how powerful many of the images are and how well they would fit on a Corn Poppy blog

Portsmouth Catherdral by Howard Hurd

The pictures I chose are not necessarily the images that the photographers themselves would have chosen.  My criteria was images I liked.  Full stop.  All of the images used have already been shared by the photographers on Twitter @fivearchitects, @HowardHurd, @G3Kopacz.  Find them and follow them for more excellent work.

 Hot Walls studio, Southsea by Gregorz Kapocz

 This is the closest I found to a group photo.  Thanks you guys.

Picture of Five Architects and Howard Hurd  by Gregorz Kopacz

Saturday, 26 November 2016

My voice will keep your brain active

Whether you think you can 
or you think you can't, 
you're probably right

 Morris Dancers, Basingstoke

Hey lads, if we all work together 
we can totally smash the system

Come on I'm Herman Ebbinhhaus 

Don't mind me, I'm just gonna look around
Frolics, Samo, Southsea

Frolic: Activities performed by an employee during working hours that are not considered to be in the course of his or her employment, since they are for the employee's personal purposes only.

Fark, Southsea

Live brief

Bark, Southsea
My giddy ant

Friday, 25 November 2016

The dead leaves

Since you went away my darling
the days grow long my darling

And soon I'll hear old winter's song
old winter's song drift by the window

I used to hold the summer kisses
And soon I'll hear the days grow long 

I see the sunburned hands start to fall
your lips of red and gold start to fall 

 The falling leaves when autumn leaves
The autumn leaves when autumn leaves 

but I miss you most of all since you went away
I miss you most of all 
with apologies to Johnny Mercer
(though I really do not care, sir)

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Nothing is lost

When I use a word, says Humpty Dumpty in Wonderland, it means just what I choose it to mean.

When I hear Humpty Dumpty's word it means whatever I understand it to mean.  It isn't necessarily the same thing.

When I look at a painting it means what I want it to mean.  Regardless of what the painter intended.  Anyway a painting that only had one interpretation would be a pretty lame painting.

My Dog Sighs & Midge, Angels ever Bright and Fair

A couple of years ago I bought a print of a picture by My Dog Sighs and Midge.  It showed two figures, kind of like mother and child.  It was painted on a page of sheet music, a piece of music called Angels, ever Bright and Fair, by Handel, c1750.

Angels are not really part of my belief system, my world view is basically This Earth The Only Heaven.  I don't feel the need for cherubim and seraphim. I bought the picture for the picture, not for any deeper reason.  But something special happened.

Earlier that year my daughter had given birth to a very premature baby. Twenty weeks. Baby Aubrey was not ready for the world.  It was the worst day of all of our lives.  After a little while when I looked at Angels, ever Bright and Fair I saw my daughter holding Aubrey.  Keeping her safe for ever more.  My love for the picture deepened.

And then my daughter told us she was expecting again. And once again she gave birth prematurely.  This time at 25 weeks, a month before Christmas. This time was different.  Thanks to the NHS, and Little Miss Fury's own fighting spirit, she made it. It wasn't an easy ride but she did it.  Then, whenever I looked at Angels, ever Bright and Fair, I started to see a different picture.  I saw Aubrey looking out for Little Miss Fury, keeping her safe.

It's nearly a year later.  Little Miss Fury is stronger and stronger, Now when I look at Angels, ever Bright and Fair the roles have changed.  Now Little Miss Fury is looking after her older sister, who will remain forever young.

Midge currently has an exhibition in Southsea.  My Dog Sighs spans the world.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Ghost sign

Ekco ad, recreated 2016

2008 photo by Duncan Holley, 2016 photo by TheCornPoppy

Here's an interesting one.  A few years ago, tail end of 2007, a building came down, exposing a long hidden advert for Ekco radio.  The advert was painted on the wall sometime in the 1930s saying "Listen with Ekco Radio".  Being hidden had protected the sign, because it seems to have deteriorated considerably over the past decade.

Here's the interesting bit.  Someone living locally in an end of terrace house with a big bare end wall, no windows, no features, just a big brick wall, thought it needed brightening up.  So he commissioned an artist to recreate the fading Ekco radio sign.  Not recreate it in all of its 1930s glory but the fading Ekco radio advert.  He could have had anything painted there, could have commissioned, permissioned a new piece of street art but thought his 1930s house needed a 1930s sign.  Faded and worn so that it looked like it had been painted new when the house was built.

Mister, we salute you!

Footnote: It's not painted on (looks like it, though) it's a vinyl banner.
Just as effective and a quarter of the price. Well done, Mr Dixey.