Kodak: harking back to a golden – or rather silvered – era

It is sometimes shocking to sit and think how quickly technology has come on in just a few short years. Photography is something I have always enjoyed, being brought up on Dad’s slides and even his own attempts to create a dark room in the attic.

I remember my first Kodak camera with its stacked, one-use-per-bulb flash, and how proud I was to finally be able to take my own pictures. It had no zoom, no focus and used what I regarded as proper film. (Funny how whatever it is you start with you regard as proper film, at least until you grow up and start using standard 35mm.) I remember, too, getting my first Olympus, sadly rarely used, and the pictures I took with it on my honeymoon less than ten years ago, when there was no imminent prospect of digital superseding plastics and silver salts.

Now, most of us have phones that can take better pictures than even the most expensive digital cameras of ten years ago, with top-end digital cameras such as the Canon EOS 7D or EOS 5D Mk II being so sophisticated that they can replace movie cameras, opening up the world of movie-making to amateurs the world over.

The Light Farm are an enthusiast co-operative “dedicated to the renaissance of handcrafted silver gelatin emulsions”.  They have got their hands on a historic film by Kodak, which details the process of making film.

Enjoy.

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For those that don’t like iPhones… Blend it!

You may or may not be familiar with the amusingly odd website Will It Blend? Basically, the website’s title says it all.

You may also remember that I have previously blogged about my irrational dislike of all things Apple. Such a cathartic moment, then, to discover that the folks at Will It Blend? have decided to apply themselves to the iPhone.

Enjoy!

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The stories in numbers

Last night I stumbled across one of the most inspirational and best-presented documentaries I’ve seen in years. Typically it was on in the middle of the night and a brief summary (a history of statistics presented by a Swedish professor) might make you think it was one from the early canon of Open University spectaculars.

However, Professor Hans Rosling is one of the most exciting and engaging presenters I’ve seen on television in a long time. After a long day in the office, his quirky, amusing and insightful jaunt through the past, present and possible future of statistics was gripping. If you missed it, you can look at The Joy of Statistics on BBC iPlayer.

One of the most engaging aspects was his demonstration of how the stories of numbers are often best told through visual depiction.

For instance, I had no idea that Florence Nightingale was a statistician. It was her meticulous record-keeping translated into startling pictures that drove the changes in nursing that she instituted:

Over a hundred years later, people like David Mccandless make their living finding ways to translate complex information into more readily understandable pictorial form.  On his Information Is Beautiful blog he finds different and exciting visualisations of statistical data. The Billion-pound-o-gram is his way of making those mad, large numbers more comprehensible:

Perhaps the most spectacular use of animation was Professor Rosling’s depiction of the progress of countries in terms of their life expectancy and their income. His enthusiasm, love and knowledge are a real joy to behold. To really see a story told in numbers, watch this little snippet below:

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“Roads Untaken”: the intersection of art and mathematics

I imagine that Leonardo Da Vinci is the person most of us would call to mind if asked to think of an individual who embraced both the abstract world of mathematics and the tangible world of artistic creation.

However, poking around on the internet I came across the work of George W. Hart, a sculptor who is also a research professor in the department of computer science at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, New York. Hart specialises in geometry, one of his publications being the online Encyclopedia of Polyhedra, in which he writes:

“Polyhedra have an enormous aesthetic appeal and the subject is fun and easy to learn on one’s own… The more you know about polyhedra, the more beauty you will see.”

He could not be more right, for Hart is also a sculptor.

The picture that prompted me to this blog piece is below. It is a stunning testament to the beauty of mathematical forms translated into sculpture. Here, he describes it in his own words:

“Here is one of my favorite sculptures: Roads Untaken.  A mosaic of three exotic hardwoods (yellowheart, paela, and padauk) with walnut “grout,” it is 17 inches in diameter, and stands 21 inches on the base.  Those are the natural colors; it is just oiled, not stained.  The ball just rests on the three struts, so it can be lifted and returned in any orientation.”

Roads Untaken, George W. Hart

For more of Hart’s hypnotic creations, take a look at the section of his website on geometric sculpture.

Beautiful.

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