Lunatic photographers

It’s almost a week since I last wrote a post here, and I’m rather scratching my head to say why. I have perhaps been a little busier than usual, starting with the funeral of the father of one of my friends, where I was appointed official photographer. This isn’t something I’ve done before, and although I did a decent job at the wake, I didn’t feel I really did a job of the actual funeral, too many inhibitions showing themselves.  It would have been easier had it been a burial rather than a cremation, and I found myself very much a mourner rather than a photographer.  The pictures I did take I’ve given to the family, and have decided not to share in public.

Since then I’ve photographed several protests, one very large and some quite small, but all taking time, both to attend and to edit and file work, and I’ve made a resolution to try and keep My London Diary up-to-date – so you can already see the pictures I took yesterday there. Today I’m having some time off because of a minor health problem, though tooth-ache never feels minor. I had to rush to my dentist for an emergency patch-up yesterday, though it will require rather more painful work at a later date, and have time to write now because I’ve had to cancel a couple of things in my diary. Though being still tanked up on pain-killers and feeling a little unsteady probably isn’t the best state to be in charge of a keyboard, it does take my mind off my symptoms, and I started my day looking back at some of the things online I’ve missed over the past few days.

Judging from the pictures I’ve seen on Facebook and elsewhere, one of the biggest photographic events I’ve missed in the past few days was the “super blue blood moon” of January 31st, described by the Telegraph newspaper as a  “a once-in-a-lifetime event“. Except it wasn’t. I saw the moon rising through my window and there was really nothing special about it, and I didn’t bother to pick up my camera. It was the same old moon, a little brighter than sometimes, thanks largely to a clearer than usual atmosphere here, and exactly the same colour as usual.

Of course, London wasn’t the right place to photograph it, as the eclipse which did give it that blood-red colour was over well before the moonrise here. Which didn’t stop a number of photographers from producing (and the papers and web publishing) nice orange or red sunrise pictures, which of course owed more to our atmospheric pollution and perhaps a little Photoshop than the moon.

You can read a long account and watch a video on Peta Pixel of how Michael Tomas  took a series of these pictures showing a moon rising through the skyline of central London 10 miles away from a hill in Richmond Park with a 1000 mm lens, though I have to tell him he didn’t shoot a super blue blood moon, as he was several thousand miles away from a blood moon, with the total eclipse starting at 12.52 and ending at 14.08 and moonrise in London being at 16.55, almost three hours later, and three quarters of an hour after the end of even the penumbral eclipse (which is almost impossible to see.)  It’s still an interesting image and got a remarkable amount of exposure. Though I feel rather sorry for him for thinking this makes it the best photo of his life.

It wasn’t even a true ‘blue moon’, as Diamond Geezer points out in his daily blog for 31st January, the blue moon a name given to the third moon in a single season which had four moons rather than the normal three. On this definition there are no blue moons in 2018, but we do get one on May 18th 2009. But a journalist in 1946 got it wrong, and journalists have been getting it wrong ever since, calling the second moon in any month a blue moon. We get our next one by this definition on March 31st this year.

And it was hardly a ‘supermoon’ either, though it was a little larger than usual (5.9% according to the Hermit Eclipse web site).  The actual perigree (closest approach) was a day earlier. Visually these differences are hardly visible.

Lunar eclipses happen quite frequently – there is a good one due on 20th July 2018, where the total eclipse should be visible at moonrise in London at around 9pm.

But it is instructive to compare Tomas’s real image with the many Photoshopped ones that appear, notably that by Peter Lik, which has been the subject of much discussion, including on FStoppers, but also posted on Peta Pixel. Clearly this is a composite image and the fact that an identical image of the moon appears in another of his pictures makes this beyond doubt.  Perhaps the most mystifying aspect is that only 75% of those who voted in the accompanying poll were sure it was made in Photoshop, though I suspect the other 25% hadn’t watched the video or read the article in any detail.

Lik’s work is obviously very commercially successful, though few believe that his claim to have sold a single copy of a print for $6.5 million in 2014 to be anything more than a publicity stunt, he certainly makes a small fortune providing expensive decor, enough to employ a small team of people working on his images in Photoshop; two of those taking part in the FStoppers discussion revealed that a former employee had hold them he had spent an entire seven days working on one particular image. People could paint these things from scratch in less time than that.

But in the end I don’t have much interests in how Lik’s images are produced; they are simply not worth bothering with. I fail to see anything of interest in them, bad paintings produced with a little aid from a camera and rather more from software, clichés that lack any sense of reality and any meaning.

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