Blogography!

  • Mutha

    Today is Mother’s Day in the UK and choosing a card is hard.

    I will help.

    The important thing to remember is that the Mother’s Day card isn’t just some semi-sentimental greeting, it’s the annual rental agreement that secures her maternal services and allows you to remain among her brood for the next 365 days. Want her to return your calls? Then convey everything you’ve ever wanted to say to your Mum in a cramped flap of thick paper.

    Before you even think about putting pen to paper you have to choose the right image for the front of your card.

    “A nice picture of a lake?”

    No, that tells her she’s emotionally stagnant.

    “Oh yeah, but what about a photo of some flowers? Mum’s love flowers.“

    Great reminder of all the flowers that you didn’t buy her, genius.

    Now there’s no need to call me a Saint just yet but thankfully I’ve thought ahead and collated every Mother’s Day card into one handy photo:

    Muthas Day


    Just print it out, jot down some juvenile scrawl on the back and you’re golden (also welcome).

    “But what about next year?!”

    No bother, just send the same card. Mum’s automatically reset every Mother’s Day, which neatly explains why they spend the whole day looking at pictures of you as a baby, they’re just trying to remember who you are.

  • Oscars

    A film I worked on has been nominated for an Oscar. SHUT UP NO WAY. I know, right?

    SHOK is a short film (20ish minutes) about the friendship of two young boys during the Kosovan War. It’s up, along with four other films, for the ‘Best Live-Action Short’ Oscar with rumours suggesting that it’s among the favourites.

    Mind. Officially. Blown.

    My role on the film was ‘Online Editor’. “What even is that?! Like, an editor that lives on the internet? WHY IS YOUR LIFE SO CONFUSING TO OTHER PEOPLE?!!”

    As an Online Editor you don’t cut the pictures together in a traditionally editorial way (I do that too but not in this instance), instead your job often starts once the film has been cut and colour graded. You receive the graded pictures along with a full audio mix and the first step is to smoosh them together to make the bones of a finished film. Next up is what I like to call ‘Director’s Question Time’, where they fire off a list of requests and your job is to realise their dreams, “Stabilise that shot!” they say and you do it. This bit can vary wildly from film to film, sometimes you’ll be creating VFX sequences, other times you’ll be dropping in VFX sequences created by a specialist. Director’s Question Time could last an hour, it could last ten. Next up is titles, subtitles and credits. SHOK is spoken entirely in both Kosovan and Albanian so the subtitling was particularly important. Attention to detail is the name of the game. The final step is to make sure that the file or tape that you hand to your client is to specification, again this can vary wildly according to the film’s final destination. Get it wrong and your clients labour of love won’t be broadcast. That’s a real doozy right there.

    There we have it, my input into a potentially Oscar winning film. Cripes.

    I’ll be watching on Oscar night and whether it wins or not I’ll raise a glass to SHOK, an incredible achievement for all involved, a story worthy of being told and a project to be proud of.

  • Internet

    I’m gonna say it. I miss old internet. I miss the uncompromising grey/beige (greige) crates emblazoned with Time, Tiny or Gateway sat awkwardly in living rooms or hidden in home offices with all the charisma of a 16 year old boy meeting his girlfriend’s dad for the first time. Proper computers. The first time I saw an Apple iMac G3 a derisory smirk punched itself across my face. Little did I recognise that this translucent shade of blueberry would be the endearing harbinger of change.

    The excitement around computers in the 90’s was palpable, it was the temporal smudge where technology caught up with sci-fi and a slow motion explosion that lasted just shy of a decade went off in everyone’s minds. ‘Tomorrow’s World’ isn’t on TV anymore. I’ll just leave that right there and carry on.

    Old internet terminology was awesome. My (hypothetical) children will never ‘browse the web’, they’ll curate their own corner of it from the deluge of content headaching against the inside of their screens. The ‘information superhighway’ won’t exist and nothing will be ‘cyber’ in the future, just rubbery and without vowels like a Russian contraceptive. Everything on Tumblr twangs like an elastic band and it irks me to the point of self immolation. Animated hints fart and bubble unceremoniously across the screen, simultaneously disrupting my train of thought and tingling my nerve endings like a coldsore. It reminds me all too well of the Microsoft Word Paperclip and that bendy little twonk can stay firmly in the 90’s. HTML5 has a lot to answer for yet my therapist still doesn’t accept pieces of paper with it sharpied on as payment (dick).

    Embertainment

    Me shortly after Tumblr crashes Netscape Navigator for the umpteenth time.

    Embertainment
    © Tom Mooring 2016

    The thing I miss the most is that old internet was static. It sat in the spare room and was only usable after 6pm when the tariff decreased to only 1p per minute. Logging into Asheron’s Call for a few hours was all the more exciting after a day of torturous patience (school or work as it’s otherwise known). Delayed gratification is healthy, everything all the time isn’t. Now the internet vibrates things in my house when I’m sleeping (I know I can turn it off).

    I’m being flippant. Modern internet and technology is, of course, amazing. It connects people in ways that were unthinkable only a few years ago. I’m just remembering the past fondly. Also badly. Come to think of it I miss old nostalgia, y’know, back in the old days when it was better.

  • Wogan

    The current spate of celebrity deaths has left many people unequivocally dejected and rightly so. Beloved cultural figures and unwitting public servants who, even on the very periphery of our radar, bestowed colour and vibrancy that we never would have known without them. They’ve all had their effect on me; Lemmy was a kick up the arse, his ethos dutifully cauterised any soft spot I may have had for Bon Jovi or Poison. David Bowie inspired me to strive for a unique voice in whatever I do and Alan Rickman imbued me with a vital wariness of heights and to a certain extent, spoons.

    My Nan was a big fan of Terry Wogan. A true TOG who was so fond of him that she named a full scale ceramic cat statue in his honour. Wogan (the cat) took pride of place in her living room, his kind face that of a diligent guardian. As a kid I was quite allergic to cats (real ones), but Wogan didn’t yield the usual histamine response so seeing him was always a highlight of our visits. I was quite enamoured with him. Upon my Nan’s passing the responsibility of Wogan shifted to my Mum. Nan didn’t have a lot of possessions but she did have a lot of kids (15) so the inheritance of Wogan was a big deal indeed. Nowadays he’s the watchman of the wooden hill, sitting halfway up the stairs in my parents house, the ever present reminder of why Terry Wogan is so entwined with the memory of my Nan.

    Wogan

    Wogan
    © Tom Mooring 2016

  • 35mm

    Black Friday: “Oh hey Tom, how’s it going buddy?”

    Me: “What’s up BF, look man I don’t mean to be rude but I’ve got a lot on at the mo and I’m pretty broke”

    Black Friday: “Nah dawg, you got me all wrong, I was just checking in to see if we still cool”

    Me: “Yeah, we cool”

    Black Friday: “Sooooooo”

    Me: “Mmmmmmm”

    Black Friday: “There’s this lens I think you might like…”

    Me: “WHAT DID I JUST SAY ABOUT NO MONEY”

    Black Friday: “Yeah, but it’s a total bargain and I know what you said about no money but I’m just looking out for my number one hombre. If it were the other way around I’d want you to tell me.”

    Me: “But I’m not you, Black Friday, I’d rather live in blissful ignorance of the hot deals.”

    Black Friday: “Yeah, but this deal is SO hot that it’d scramble an egg still inside a chicken.”

    Me: “You have a poor understanding of how chickens work”

    Black Friday: “It’s a 35mm.”

    Me: “The 1.4L?”

    Black Friday: “Yeah. Canon just released an updated version so the originals are going cheap.”

    Me: “Canon cheap is still too steep for me”

    Black Friday: “But it’s, like, half money. And there’s only a few left, so, y'know, if you don’t get one now you’ll have to pay twice as much for what some people are calling a less good lens.”

    Me: “Gnnnnghhh”

    *Flames burst from palms and stream endlessly skyward*

    Me: “BUT I CAN’T AFFORD IIIIIT”

    Black Friday: “That’s, like, totally a state of mind, man. You can afford anything if you think like a hero.”

    Me: “The rational part of my brain knows you’re wrong but the bit of me that tells me to buy stuff thinks that’s the wisest thing I’ve ever heard. You got a link?”

    Black Friday: “Was in your inbox 20 minutes ago, el duder.”

    Me: “Stop coming to my house, Black Friday. I don’t like you.”

    So, I bought the lens. I was sick to my stomach filling out the order form and made sure to press all the keys reeeeally slowly in the hope that someone else might pip me to the post and purchase the last one. I knew that wouldn’t happen as it was already in my shopping basket, but it didn’t stop me hitting ’T’ then staring out the window for thirty seconds, then ‘O’, making a cup of tea (boiling the kettle over 50% gas so it took twice as long), then ’M’ and deciding it was the perfect opportunity to check my flickr stats (again (no change)). My forename must’ve taken five minutes, just imagine how long my address took. I got there in the end and a fews days later the inevitable happened; a package arrived.

    Part of my lens purchase anxiety was that working at a 35mm focal length would require getting my body and by association, my face, closer to a subject than I was used to with my trusty 50mm. I was basically spending a whopping load of money on making my working practice harder. GREAT.

    Now, there’s an area of my brain called 'Mr Miyagi’, it takes pleasure in putting me in awkward situations that will help me grow as a person but be uncomfortable in the process. I’m not always aware Mr Miyagi’s at work and his communication skills with some of the more primal areas of my brain are poor. He makes me cycle home in the snow because it’s cheaper than the bus. He makes me eat brown pasta. It was Mr Miyagi typing in my credit card details as my lizard brain got on the high speed rail link to atomic meltdown nausea-ville. My lizard brain likes white pasta.

    Working at 35mm has forced me to rethink how I compose photos as the wider focal length includes elements and details that I’d have cropped out at 50mm. “Get closer!” you say. Well, yes and no. I’m really enjoying having a busier frame to think about, it’s taxing but when I get a great shot at 35mm it’s way more rewarding. Getting closer brings a greater range of emotion from your subject, you’ll soon know if they’re comfortable with a tightly cropped portrait when your lens is inches away from their face. It can add incredible warmth in family photos and a delightful awkwardness in street portraits.

    I have no regrets. I’m learning and I’m forced to be braver. I’m also skint, but that’s fine I suppose. Here’s a South London tribute to Easter Island (at 35mm obvs):

    Easter Island

    Easter Island

    © Tom Mooring 2016

  • Euro Disney Adventure


    I went to Euro Disney for Christmas and I had an awesome time.

    Obviously I took my camera.

    Photography in a place where absolutely everything is designed to be photographed will always be a challenge. It’s not like beating the streets of London and chancing upon a baffling scene of urban ingenuity where a piece of litter is interacting with the wider world in a humorous and entertaining way. Disney employ a lot of conscientious staff to keep the park picturesque, all of the textures are designed and the paintwork is pristine. That’s the charm but I’m more interested in the cracks, I was just hard pressed to find any. Wanna take a snap of Cinderella’s wig when it’s gone a bit wonky? Not gonna happen, mate. Ever notice how the bollards look a bit like penises reaching skyward? Not at Disneyland. It’s the most un-genital place on Earth and nothing is wang shaped.


    I was not deterred. Furrowing my brow and scanning the landscape like a hawk I even managed to find a lady holding a bright red balloon that looked a little bit like a willy.

    Balloon

    Balloon
    © Tom Mooring 2016


    I was happy. See the full collection here.


    I’ll leave y'all with one of the many facts that I learned about Disney’s culture, lands and history during my trip:


    Euro Disney isn’t called Euro Disney any more. A change in currency rendered that name the French equivalent of Poundland and those that run the Disney empire thought “better change it”. Thus it became Disneyland Paris and all that went there were free from the burden of thinking about money once more. Thank the lord.