Moving swiftly on…

In a bid to centralise and focus time spent on social media activity, I’m in the process of creating a brand new blog. It will contain archived material from this WordPress blog along with updates on my book project, model making activity and a heap of model photography related posts.

Check it out now at http://www.aviagrafik.com

Fake news, flaky reviews (a parody)

Thanks to the runaway global political gravy trains that are behaving like mammoths on mescaline; and an incandescent media which thinks it’s all such a laugh, we have a phenomenon called fake news.

Like most things it’s not an original idea…

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“See how our tireless workers smite the American weakling with ease”

In the good old bad old days, fake news was called propaganda. A dirty bomb of a word, it was largely confined to posters, newspapers and an occasional pompous gentleman on a state-sponsored news reel. It is wedged in our psyche and projects blunt images of blood stained bogeymen or the thinly veiled creeping tide of a menace to our ‘freedoms’.

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As an interesting aside, did you know that the slogan “Keep calm and carry on” was never seen by the public in Britain during the war? (JSTOR, August 20, 2018)

Fake news like good old fashioned propaganda, is still the manipulation and conflation of fact with fiction… it just has an ‘always on’ button now.

What the..? This is a ‘modern adventures in model photography’ blog, not some deranged sociopolitical rant Anthony… what’s your point here young feller me lad?

Err sorry, kit reviews is where I’m going with this.

  • Can we really trust them to tell us the unadorned truth?
  • Are they the real deal?
  • Can you:

“tell your plastic from your trash, your culture from the crash, the stripper from the paint, the sinner from the saint, the ladder from the snake?” 

Caveat: Before we go any further, this is a satirical poke at our rapidly disintegrating world, addiction to consumerist marketing spin at the hands of commercial greed and our (at times) unwitting complicity in all of it by taking the word of others at face value.

So, don’t growl at me if your sensibilities are offended or your favourite reviewer’s ego takes an Aichi Val amidships, it’s meant to be tongue in cheek; and I’m a sensitive lad who doesn’t take kindly to shouty men with no sense of humour.

Also, watch out for the purple prose and tangential song references…”Ask questions, demand the truth” Continue reading “Fake news, flaky reviews (a parody)”

“Use both exits, no loitering”

This is the first in an occasional and light hearted series on inter-war and post-war British aircraft designs.

#1 in the series considers the ins and outs of vacating the ‘office’ and takes a sideways glance at the ergonomics of cockpit design and how the prevailing thoughts of designers in the 1930s and 40s tended towards form over function.

“It looks bloody marvellous  Sid, but are you sure it will fly?”

Sir Sydney Camm, W. Heath Robinson and the Hawker Typhoon

If Walter Gropius crystallised the European design ethic with a clinical functionality and clarity of line that resulted in the Beetle, Bf 109 and Tiger; then Sir Sydney Camm possibly spent much of the inter-war years in the Dog and Weasel with his good friend and mentor William Heath Robinson.  Continue reading ““Use both exits, no loitering””

Big Big Train’s True Founder: Tom Bombadil

I’m a big fan of Prog Rock and grew up with the likes of Genesis, Camel and even Asia. Big Big Train are a favourite and having spent five years working for someone with more than a passing obsession for all things Tolkien, I thought this might be interesting.

Progarchy

Since his first appearance in English literature, in 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Tom Bombadil has intrigued readers to no end.  Could he be an angelic vala gone native, an Adam without sin, or merely an enigma?

With the Bodleian’s new exhibit on J.R.R. Tolkien, some vital and compelling evidence has surfaced.  Vala gone native, Adam without sin, and enigma, Bombadil is also the founder of the greatest British progressive rock band of all time, Big Big Train.

Look closely at the Hildebrant Brothers’ depiction of Tom.  You, too, will be amazed.

39077920_1815178288518354_1047249031199195136_o Photoshop by Brad Birzer (but, really, by Martin Teraud).

The evidence, of course, had always been there, but most refused to see it.  Here’s the most telling passage from The Fellowship of the Ring.

He then told them many remarkable stories, sometimes half as if speaking to himself, sometimes looking at them suddenly with a bright blue eye under…

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Resolution No.9

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“Bugger!… It’s small and blurry, I’m done for”*

In my recent posts, I’ve waffled on about pixels, colour and the uneasy relationship between screen image and print image resolution ( the great PPI vs. DPI debate). I realised that there is lots of stuff out there that confuses people and more often than not, it puts them off making the effort to take really good photographs of their really good models.

The old, “my model looks much better in real life” excuse doesn’t cut the mustard anymore chaps, so let’s just crack on shall we?

Separated at birth

Common and garden variety photographers love chasing after image quality, including maximum sharpness, detail, and resolution. In our strange little model-world, it’s something akin to perfect gloss coating for decal application. Something which requires the testing of at least 15 different brands of clear coat, waiting for a day where the humidity and wind direction is perfect (accompanied by lots of swearing and wailing due to dust or cat hair incursions) and a smidgin of luck. Almost impossible to achieve, but still, modellers and photographers alike, we will persist in a groundhog-esque parody of chasing perfection…

With all these similarities, it’s almost as if photography is model making’s twin brother, separated at birth with one child going to wealthy parents and the other being brought up by cats.

“So what’s this post all about Anthony?”

Most likely, you’ve wondered at some point how to increase the resolution of images you already have. Maybe taken a year or two ago on an antique 3MP point and shoot at a show in some damp dingy church hall in Essex; the images aren’t all that bad, it’s just they lack a bit of detail, a bit soft and indistinct.  This article explains how to increase resolution quickly and easily.

(But there is a caveat. And it’s this: resolution is all about the amount of image detail captured in the original photo. Doing this properly the first time is the only true way of high resolution, sharp images. Good photographers never rely on post production sorcery).

*The word ‘bugger!’ is in common use in New Zealand and is variously used a term of endearment or exclamation of surprise following a less than pleasant event…elsewhere it means different things…

Continue reading “Resolution No.9”

Do you dream in colour? (part 1)

Total recall?

The world often revolves around a good argument. By that I mean in modelling terms, we are largely ignored by our other halves (well I am and probably for good reason too), so getting a word in edgeways on a model forum is one of the few places on this rapidly disintegrating planet where we get any sort of response…

Some more combative types like nothing better than to cross swords with another modeller’s point of view and challenge their notion of self-righteous colour correctness. We all like to think we are experts (in our own heads) and when push comes to shove, know at least one or two like minded souls we can call on to prop up our  argument when things inevitably get gnarly.

Colour is one of the perennial topics in those forum-based Mexican standoffs. The disagreement will usually start around a perceived slight or back-handed compliment (helped along by social media’s inability to convey tone, intention and verbal/non-verbal clues).

The (usually) well-intentioned comment will proceed to get behind the round down faster than a Cutlass…

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…Spreading its rapidly disintegrating threads all over the forum, the verbal crash site might require some serious FOD clean up  on the part of the hapless moderator. These spats are only resolved when the wisdom of some ‘elder statesman’ of model making is dragged (usually involuntarily) into the argument. Regardless of where the discussion goes, the bizarre “my good friend the ‘expert’ is bigger than yours and he knows what RLM 02 really looks like, coz he’s got a Bf109 in his shed” argument is a tacit admission of defeat.

Men behaving boldly

So how do we prevent technicolour argy bargy and broaden our understanding of how we see colour?

Well, this post isn’t really about behaving like a 12 year old or damage limitation 101 for discussion thread moderators; it’s about how we perceive colour and how we use it (and maybe also how to avoid an aneurism from fruitless arguing with lesser witted souls who haven’t read this post).

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“I don’t remember it looking so green”

Continue reading “Do you dream in colour? (part 1)”

‘Flat out and bluesome?’

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One aspect of model photography that occasionally gives me sleepless nights is the generic mid-blue background. It seems to have managed to become a bit of an institution.

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It’s widely accepted as the default background colour for many model websites and magazines alike, and the folks who wish to emulate the work of their modelling heroes.

On a basic model making level, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it looks clean professional and requires little thought to set up. But have you ever stopped to wonder what that blue does to your model and its colours?

Let me explain:

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Size is important – the truth about pixels and losing the war in the waistland spread.

There seems to be a perpetual confusion about image quality and resolution and what they mean for images when viewed on screen and in print. My forthcoming photography manual for aircraft modellers (available directly from Amazon fourth quarter  2018) covers this in more detail; but here’s some more info on a basic digital thing that often traps and confuses the unwary.

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“Go large! “

In previous posts I’ve suggested that when you take a photo you should always select the best quality/largest file option in the camera. This usually means shooting in camera RAW and maximum resolution. Logic says that we do this to ensure maximum image quality, capture as much detail as possible and reuse the image in a wide variety of places.

But this can confuse and when it comes time to publish the image either online or in print, the problem of how we optimise size and quality raises its ugly head. Part of this problem is understanding image resolution, what it means and how it is used in practical terms.

Let’s once and for all, dispel some of the jargon, mumbo-jumbo and waffle spoken about resolution, ppi, dpi, image quality and size (and yes, at the start, size is still important).

There is much confusion out there about the acronyms dpi and ppi. This confusion is understandable, given that people often use the terms in error interchangeably. Continue reading “Size is important – the truth about pixels and losing the war in the waistland spread.”