Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Thursday, 14 March 2013

When did we start photographing bits of things? Or am I noticing something that isn't new?

I might be wrong (could be confirmation bias) but I get the impression that there's been an increase in people taking photographs of bits of things in addition to (perhaps in preference to) photographs of the whole thing, ie as an accent, or colour, or to evoke a mood - Instagram is full of it, and I am certainly guilty of it too. Though I do think the photos are pretty.

(Edit: I'm not really talking about recording things for scientific purposes, which is certainly an example of people focusing closely on one aspect of a thing and also the thing in context, just about people taking snaps that don't encompass the full item, and looking at just an aspect of it).

Until I've worked out how to embed an Instagram pic I'll have to make do with a link, so here's one I took of the inside of a British Gas envelope - I think it's probably pretty obvious to most British Gas customers what it is http://instagram.com/p/ipfmI/

Note that this wasn't a macro photography shot, but I've been doing a fair bit of that as well by using a small drop of water on my iPhone - you can get some quite impressive shots - here's a close-up I took of a pound coin.

£1 coin macro

Is this shift that I think I'm perceiving a consequence of changes in the capability of cameras - easier to get close ups, more options with different kinds of lenses, with digital 'film' maybe people might be more confident about trying things that don't work etc., without worrying about the expense of wasting resources, or is it more to do with the way we look at stuff?

To me these evoke 'London'...

London underground

London Eye

...every bit as much as larger shots of London vistas do

London, England

I know that people painted landscape scenes as well as studies on individual flowers so I'm not claiming that no-one has ever looked at things at different levels before, but I've certainly started noticing it a lot more. When I 'see' London I do see it all at once like this but even if I don't concentrate on the little fiddly bits (the pattern on Big Ben's tower, the little wiggly bits on the spire) if I see them separately I immediately recognise them as part of my landscape.

Is it a change in the way we think about how we look at stuff (perhaps we are becoming more artistic!) or a change in technology, or just me spotting a few instances of it and then just noticing it all the time?

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