Andrew Revitt

On VSCO and Photos

VSCO (Visual Supply Company) is best known for it's VSCOCam app (now just VSCO) but also has a range of presets for Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop and previously for Apple's Aperture.

VSCO's app is much loved and used across mediums like instagram but VSCO also has it's own platform to share photos, the Grid and stories, the Journal. Like the app, these platforms are somewhat obscure to find and use, which makes VSCO less competitive with more popular services. Never the less the popularity of VSCO's presets is evident even against instagrams own filters.

VSCO

Processed with VSCO F2 preset

So my question is why isn't VSCO in Apple's Photos app?

Photos has been extensible since October (and no doubt for developers since summer) and there has been no great rush by third parties to get involved. We haven't even reached double digits yet.

Photos is crying out for some decent film presets and filters. VSCO already make filters for other Mac software, so what's the issue?

Image quality maybe one. A lot of people with cameras are uploading to their phones, editing in VSCO and then using on the web and elsewhere. The larger RAW filesizes and dimensions don't make for a better quality final image away from the instagram size.

Apple support maybe another. Apple already killed Aperture (which had VSCO) for no good reason and isn't the easiest company to deal with.

Cost another. VSCO charges a small amount for some of it's app presets and a larger amount for the Mac ones. How it can charge for a Photos extensions and keep updating is an unknown.

Overall interest in the product? I'm seeing a fair amount of interest and I know people have contacted VSCO about it already. There are a fair few people already using the camera to phone to VSCO back to computer hack, which is a big hassle so it must be worth it.

Perhaps 2016 will see VSCO enlighten us.


Review: Who Killed Mister Moonlight by David J.Haskins

| Amazon

David J.Haskins is best known as the bass player in the band bauhaus, his book covers his time in the band, their reformation after 10 years and his own life and solo career. I'm not a fan of the biography/autobiography but as the history of bauhaus intertwines partially with my own, I had to take a look at this book.

As with the other genre books I've read, I don't think there is much too be learnt from the rock and roll memoir. In fact reading the Anthony Keidis book, Scar Tissue put me off him altogether. It's mostly the same here and the obligatory sex, drugs and rock and roll are all present. It is a bit cliche. David's book does offer a something a bit different from the self promotion of other books, and that's his bizarre experimentations with 'magick'.

I bought the book for the early bauhaus part. In my teens I was in a band in Northampton at the same time bauhaus were at their height and the local scene was incestuous. I even used to walk past David Jay's house on the way to my now partners mum's house or my bandmates homes. The hearse was occasionaly on the drive which was always a thrill back then.

Who Killed Mister Moonlight

Alan Moore, yes that one, features in the book and we used to see him down the town. He looked pretty much the same as he does now but Northampton was full of characters back then. We'd read his notes on the bauhaus tour programme describing Northampton as the 'murder capital of the midlands' but walking back from the Polish Club, Derngate function rooms, Black Lion, White Elephant, Racecourse Pavillion or one of the many other town centre venues at 2 in the morning didn't seem that odd back then.

Many names and memories from this era are in the first quarter of the book but there is never the Northampton music scene retrospective I had hoped for. In the book David concentrates more on their London trips and I expect that was more what they remember. After bauhaus split in 1983, David did some solo work (we saw him debut at the Black Lion) and went on to work with band mates Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash as Love and Rockets before a reformation of bauhaus in 1998, which I seemed to have missed. This didn't last and David continued with other projects before another bauhaus reformation and (final?) split.

I didn't really learn much about bauhaus that I didn't already know from the original era. The late stuff was all new but as you can imagine singer Peter Murphy felt alienated from the other three, unsurprisingly when they had worked together for longer than bauhaus as Love and Rockets. The 4 main protagonists are almost exactly what you would imagine if you knew anything about the band.

David's collaborations with Alan Moore are partially looked at, nothing on the Sinister Ducks unfortunately, mostly about weird nights with 'magick' and yes Moore does look like the guy in Harry Potter. This is often the most entertaining part of the book and David's lyrical description of events are well versed. Good to see Moore's back cover notes are as dramatic and overplayed as expected.

I did enjoy the book and if you are a fan of David J's work it's a must have. It's well written and mostly entertaining without the normal navel gazing of the genre but if you are looking for sinister echos of the murder capital of the midlands, you won't find it here.


The end of Bond

SPECTRE is a fitting end to the Bond series. It may not tie up every loose end and twist but there are some good pointers as to why this should be the end of series.

TAG Heuer Connected
Furka Pass, Switzerland. Sean Connery with the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger

Ian Fleming created James Bond with many elements of the character coming from his own career as a Commander in Naval Intelligence during World War II. His first Bond novel was Casino Royale in 1952. A total of eleven novels and two short stories were written about 007 until 1966. There have been a series of post Fleming novels but on evidence of the couple I have seen, they are not of the same pedigree.

There have been 24 Bond films (not counting the David Niven "Casino Royale" and Sean Connery's return in "Never Say Never Again") mostly taking their cues from the Fleming novels. All the books have been made into films but not all the short stories, although many elements have been mixed into the films.

So we have exhausted the Fleming novels and themes.

Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr Bond - it may be your last

Sean Connery was the original and best James Bond. And by best I mean matching Fleming's Bond. Roger Moore's era was entertaining and of it's time, Lazenby and Dalton both had a stab at it but neither were in a position to take the series forward. Pierce Brosnan, like Moore, was entertaining and his outings matched the era they were made. Brosnan's last film "Die Another Day" was a terrible film from the opening credits and signalled a breakdown in the series worse than Moore's "A View to a Kill".

So then the reboot and Daniel Craig. This beckoned a return to the Connery days and a Bond Fleming would recognise. Gagdets be gone. Casino Royale was a fine film and not a million miles away from the novel. Based on a short story "Quantum of Solace" followed and then "Skyfall", and "SPECTRE", neither based directly on a particular novel but owing much to what had come before.

SPECTRE saw the return of many old Bond elements; the Monty Norman theme, the gun barrel opening, gadgets made an unwelcome return. In fact pretty much all the old Bond trickery came back including the one liner. When Craig drives off in the DB5 at the end, it was obvious there was nowhere else for this to go. Both director Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig agreed this was their last outing.

In Craig's interviews after the film he says he's done all he can. He will only come back for money.

With no further Fleming work to use, Craig resurrecting the Connery (Fleming) style Bond and the obvious attempt to get all the old elements into SPECTRE, and with that ending, it's the perfect time to stop.

Of course they won't, because ultimately the studios have no taste, sense, compassion or respect and only care about money and power. Rather like SPECTRE in fact.


Watch or not?

Yesterday TAG Heuer announced it's 'smartwatch' the 'Connected'. A great summary of the watch and it's functions can be found on Hodinkee, with a video from Kevin Rose.

TAG Heuer Connected
TAG Heuer Connected on Hodinkee

TAG Heuer have teamed up with Google Android and Intel because, according to JC Biver, Switzerland doesn't have the facility to produced the 'smart' side of the watch. This is patently untrue as a Swiss smartwatch system already exists and there are plenty of software developers in Switzerland. I think JC's point is there are no players in the operating system field other than Android and iOS, and Apple doesn't licence iOS to third parties. A OS just for watches would be better bet in the long run, much as Android and iOS where developed for phones, neither is ideal on a watch.

So TAG Heuer's Connected is an Android based smartwatch and with that comes the obvious problems that it doesn't work so well with iOS, which I would be willing to bet the vast majority of TAG Heuer's customers use. That and you need to carry a phone while wearing it.

The problems with smartwatches I have are simple. To me a watch is round, this is proven over time. The design is perfect, square watches are not. Computers are better with square or landscape screens. So I see no problem with having a computer on your wrist but it doesn't work as a watch. Neither Android or iOS are good watches, visually or in function, they aren't even on until you somehow interact with them. A watch with a limited set of functions; normal watch function like alarms, stopwatch, chronometer etc, gps, mapping, altimeter, barometer, basic notifications of certain things, the fitness functions. This is more than enough. The likes of Sunnto, Garmin are nearly there already.

What Apple and Google are doing is something else. It's a computer and not a standalone one, it's not a watch. What TAG Heuer have done is closer to a watch and looks much better than the Apple Watch or other Android watches but it's still a long way from ideal.


The judgement is the mirror

The Canon 5D has garnered much favour, its popularity with pro photographers was expected but it also sold well to the well healed great and good of the internet. Sony’s latest (well this month) A7 looks to be getting the same attention, although it seems the pro's are still holding off.

Not so good for the likes of Canon, who just posted a loss in their latest financials. Both Canon and Nikon have not embraced the mirrorless camera and they still lag behind on some models with Wifi, GPS, etc. Things taken for granted on a camera phone.

Fujifilm X-T10 & Nikon D610

Fujifilm X-T10 & Nikon D610 by Julia Revitt on instagram

Fujifilm have long embraced mirrorless with it's X series and we have one (X-T10) in the family. The size, weight and limited updates to DSLR's have finally given us the push. They are not without problems of course. The software, not just Fujifilms, for Mac or iOS is atrocious in both design and functionality. The original electronic viewfinders had horrible resolution and lag, but the X-T1, X-T10 and both Sony and Leica's latest are very high resolution.

But the latest Sony and Leica have both become as sizeable and weighty as a DSLR. Advantage lost. On comparing the X-T1 and X-T10 the only difference is size. The X-T1 is weather sealed which adds a little to the size but is the same underneath. I can't help thinking it appeals to people with a DSLR and this is one reason both Sony and Leica have gone this direction. Trading in your enormous 5D or D4 for a tiny little camera is less appealing and of course it doesn't look 'pro'. And the megapixels - everyone needs more pixels, bigger files, 'cause instagram right?

When something hits the pro level it immediately fines favour with those who aren't professional but like the implied association. How many internet super stars need weather sealing? Out in the BC backcountry, shooting bears, or shots of the latest gadget on their desk?

Bonus points to who recognises the song title heading.


On film photography

It has been a considerable amount of time since I shot film in a SLR. We've been shooting on a wide variety of equipment recently so why not film, and black and white at that.

I took a few shots on Ilford B/W on an old Nikon SLR with modern prime lenses. The experience is pleasant enough, no chimping so no distractions and you spend more time composing the shot and less spray and pray, which is all good. The results were less exciting though.

Aiguille Dru & Vert
Aiguille Dru & Vert shot on Ilford film on Flickr

There is a certain pleasant softness to the shots, like so many hipsters aim for with VSCOCam on their phones. But having to scan, which I hate, to allow anyone to see them, and the waste of paper and chemicals is more of a downside than the taking of limitations.

So I'll be sticking with digital in future.


The Proximity

Saturday morning as the sun rises over Le Brevent, prepare to drop into the couloir and fly as close as possible to all kinds of deadly terrain.

See the full story on Exposure

Wingsuiting
Proximity flyer by Julia Revitt on Exposure


Porsche Classics at the Castle

Hedingham hosts Porsche Classics at the Castle and this time celebrated the advent of the Fuhrmann engine and the four cam Porsche Carrera. The later Carrera RS and RSR are some of my favourites though.

Porsche Carrera RSR
Porsche Carrera RSR shot with VSCO


Le Shuttle

Le Shuttle is the car transporting arm of the Eurotunnel group, responsible for the 31 mile long tunnel under the sea channel between England and France. The passenger service opened at the end of 1994 and I have been using it on and off for much of the last 16 years.

For the first half of it's life it was a pleasant change from ferries, which had become scruffy and slow, but for the last few years it is as tired now as the ferry services it disrupted.

Exiting Eurotunnel

In 2014 ET claims to have 51.5% of passanger traffic and 93% customer satisfaction. In 2014 I used the service 4 times and was delayed worst than ever before and I have never been asked about customer satisfaction.

As the rolling stock gets older and ET increases traffic year on year, there are more and more delays or 're timed' as ET calls them. You can tell how the company thinks if it can't even admit something as simple as a delay and has to re brand it.

This summers problems haven't helped but even if you ignore them, the service has not improved. Nothing has changed since the service has been introduced, other than the constant sms and emails telling you to arrive on time for your departure, even though they are the ones causing the delays.

The last trip we were delayed on the way out, even though we arrived on time for our departure, causing us to be on the road an extra 2 hours to avoid Operation Stack. On the way back we arrived early, and were offered a departure 30 mins before our scheduled one. We took it and then they delayed us until after are original booked time. We sat in the heat in the car after being told to proceed to boarding. The shuttle itself was hot as hell, at least 36 degrees, and on arrival the divider doors wouldn't opened so we say for another 10 mins.

This is not uncommon, in fact we've had similar service on all our shuttles over the past 3 years. Last year we sat in the car for 4 hours after being told to proceeed to boarding. You can never get any refund for delays or problems.

Until ET addresses the user experience and not the shareholders returns we will be looking at the ferries again.