Of Heads, Hair, Height and Prime Minister’s Questions

When I was first getting involved in federal policy, a mutual friend arranged a breakfast for me with Michael Deaver. In a short length of time he conveyed some lessons about Washington that have been very valuable to me, one of which is that the image is (almost) everything when a politician is speaking. There are a number of reasons for this, one is that media is international and goes to many countries where people don’t speak English, another is that many people flip through channels rapidly or simply glance up at the television as they walk through an airport, another is that newspapers will often reprint one still image from a political event that captures readers’ attention more than does the accompanying text (examples here from the Guardian and Telegraph).

I think about Deaver’s point when I watch Prime Minister’s Questions. Specifically I am struck by how people’s head shape, hair and height affect how they come across, particularly because the camera is usually over the despatch box, shooting at a somewhat downward angle.

William Hague is smart and articulate, with a wicked sense of humor that allows him to take the Michael out of his opponents. But — and I say this with the sympathy of a fellow sufferer — his bald dome gives him a bit of a glare under the lights and angled camera, which can be distracting when he speaks. And his large head and slight build make him look much shorter than he is in downward camera shots, which minimizes his gravitas (He’s about my height, a shade under six feet, but people who have only seen him on TV usually think that he is diminutive). Continue reading “Of Heads, Hair, Height and Prime Minister’s Questions”

Photo-op cont.

I suggested in last week’s post on the dumb fly-over of New York Harbor that the desired photo, and lots like it, could be better made on a computer than with actual airplanes burning thousands of pounds of fossil fuel. And indeed, Will Sherman provides these nice examples of AF1 in various places including one it can’t actually go (h/t: a reader). No-one was frightened and only the teensiest bit of carbon dioxide was released in making these photos.

A reader wrote to say that operations like the NY outing are sometimes used to give pilots flight hours. Perhaps - but doing it over New York with no public warning sounds like someone is scheduling flying time a few pounds short of mental takeoff thrust.


This morning the NYT woke me up with a story about a building a block from where I grew up, that I passed every day of high school on my way to the subway. I had always found the building itself striking and a little scary, and too small for the claims of its design.

It’s nice to see at least some things endure in New York; my favorite younger daughter goes to school there and when I visit I bore her with tour guide information about “there used to be an X right here where I Y…”, and “here’s a really interesting Z, my cousin and I always…”. This pair of pictures, though, deserves more than a sentimental look, indeed I may use them in class as a “how many differences can you see between these, and what do they say about how we live?” exercise.

(right photo: Librado Romero)

Continue reading “Transition”

For photographers

Norman Koren is an engineer who has put up the most useful and engaging website for digital photographers I’ve ever seen. He’s a fine nature photographer, with lots of his stuff posted (along with Maxwell’s equations), but the real treasure here is the tutorials section, which has well-written, informed, nicely illustrated explanations and how-tos for color management and lots more. Why isn’t software and hardware documented like this?

Can’t figure out why your beautiful picture in Photoshop prints as a beautiful picture with all different colors? Don’t know what gamma is and how much your monitor needs to be happy? This is the place, the kind of resource that justifies the internet and makes it worth putting up with all its spam and ads and solipsistic blogs.

I’ve downloaded his Imatest software trial and will report after I play with it some.