Digital Photography (2) – and a few diversions

October 29, 2012

The BBC Radio 4 programme The Museum of Curiousity was on again this evening, hosted by John Lloyd, the “Professor of Ignorance at the University of Buckingham“. A real [private] University, not sure if he really holds the post [well, obviously not in one sense, but this is the fifth series, one would have thought if the Uni of Buckingham – not to be confused with Bucks New Uni, whose real (that is, accurate) name of ‘University of High Wycombe’ was rejected by the Privy Council, those snobbish drunks (I would have used another, more derogatory, term but dictionaries disagree to the precise definition, some pushing it over the limit of acceptable these days)] would have objected by now if they didn’t like it. So why did a drunken orgy at the Privy council allow a name so close to that of an existing University, within the same county (look at the name of the county, guys…)

You see why my editors sometimes are found sobbing, heads in their hands, after the penultimate sentence above would have crossed their view. It works. Just. If you think carefully. Note the nested brackets. And yes, my work emails sometimes have two or maybe in one case three brackets in a row to close all the nestings.

Anyway, there are three panelists who are guest donator, who ‘donate’ an item to the museum, and explain why. This evening’s edition included a bubble and ancient writing. There was a moment of interaction between the two proposers here (both are serious academics – about the earliest reference to bubbles in said writing), where the “curator” (the resident comedian) suggested how he hated the way the programme was “dumbing down”. (Obviously it wasn’t) They say next week one of the panelists is Buzz Aldrin – the second man on the Moon.

But a side comment caught my attention, not that I did not believe it, but that it appeared to be perfectly possible. That in the history of photography, more photos have been taken in the last year than in the rest of the history of photography combined.

And what are all these photos of? A large percentage will be of drunk young people at parties of one sort or another. Another percentage will be taken by people like me, now able to photograph at zero cost what used to be expensive, so do so – be it cars, records for work, or whatever. Anther large percentage will be “porn”, either professional or amateur, as can be seen all over the internet these days (I’ve no need to include such a photo of that here).

Oh well, I’m so off topic, I may as well go on about this programme. Clive James donated the North American Aviation’s “Mustang”, built at the behest of the British during World War II, but only came into its own when fitted with the Packard built licensed Rolls Royce Merlin Engine. James argued the Mustang was a war-winner, as it could fly from Britain to Berlin and back, and when Göring saw it in the skies above, he knew the war was over. I’d argue the Merlin engine, that powering the Hurricane, Spitfire, Lancaster bomber [*] and Mustang was the real war winner. That episode of the programme was more remarkable because the researchers made a mistake, and got all the details of a different North American aircraft; but James (off the cuff) had all those details to hand as well, and went on, at length, about that aircraft. It was a bravura performance, one I managed to record.

* Note added later. How could I forget the de Havilland Mosquito, the wooden bomber that could out-fly the fighters, that of Göring’s famous complaint, built in parts in my home town, whose test-pilot was born not 2 miles from where I write this now, and powered by two Merlin engines. As a kid I was once shown a tip of a propeller blade, by some old man, forget why, but he said it was for a Spitfire. I reckon it was really a Mosquito propellor tip, the Spitfire being mentioned as I’d probably heard of it at my then age. But they were making the parts for Mosquitos. The vast majority of Mosquitos had parts from my home town.

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