Saturday, 20 June 2015

Photo books

Since the end of 2010 I have been putting together hardback books of the photos I take on our major vacations. Initially I did this because my partner was then a bit averse to using her computer to look at Flickr. Later on she got an iPad - but even then she doesn't like reading books on it. For her birthday this year I bought her matching editions of the first two parts of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy by Hilary Mantell, something she already had as ebooks, but had not opened.

The process of making a "dead tree" book from a Flickr "album" (as they now term sets) ought to be easier than it is. They have integrated their system with HP's Snapfish. Initially I was less than pleased to find that I had to upload much better quality images than I usually shared. Frankly I found that one of the few effective ways to cut down outright theft of my pictures was to publish only low res versions. But to get good quality prints, you need the highest resolution you can manage. So everything then depends on the quality of the internet connection, and the amount of traffic on the Flickr site. They have never ever managed to keep up with growing traffic and are regularly knocked offline by sheer volume of use (not denial of service attacks).

The last book Snapfish made for me was of the Grand Canyon trip. The finished volume was of such poor quality that I complained and they refunded my purchase price.

London Drugs offers an online printing service, but for Mac users the software is hopeless. It simply cannot cope with the new Photos app. That is a shame since it would be more convenient to pick up a book from their store than go through the waiting for the FedEx delivery frustrations.

Photos has its own built in printing service linked to Apple's online store. As you might expect, it is very easy to use if you have a MacBook Pro. Just look for the Project tab in Photos. The first product arrived yesterday. The price was roughly the same as I had got used to paying for Snapfish, but the quality is outstanding. That may be due in part to the 16 megapixel images I now get from my PowerShot A1400. Most of the images had been uploaded to Flickr, but I used the originals from the hard drive. Uploading to Apple did not take nearly as long as I feared. The book comes with both an illustrated dust jacket and a slip cover. I used as few words as possible - as the typos that crept into earlier book drive me nuts now.

I recommend Apple as the printer to go to for Mac users.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Comedy of Errors: Bard on the Beach

Bard on the Beach Bard on the Beach has opened with previews of a new production of "The Comedy of Errors". I saw this play in July of 2009, but this is a wholly new production, directed by Scott Bellis and based on one he did for Studio 58. The style is Steampunk: "a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery." (wikipedia)

The costumes rely heavily on sunglasses and goggles, which means you really do not notice when people are doubling up on roles. The plot is, of course, ridiculous. Two sets of identical twins, who get split up by a storm at sea, who then have the same names, but when one set goes in search of the other is surprised when people mistake them for someone else, but do not put 2 and 2 together. And of course the actors cannot be identical though the two Dromios in this production (males played by females) do look very similar. The way twinship is established is through costumes, which, of course we all accept. Ben Elliot and Jay Hindle are physically rather different but as they only appear together infrequently in entr'acts for much of the performance that really doesn't matter.

Excellent performances from all, and some well handled stage business plus imaginative design of both set and costumes and the time flies by. This is actually Shakespeare's shortest play and the only time I found my attention wandering was during some of Adriana's longer speeches. Sereana Malani is cast a shrewish wife, but her Antiphon gives her plenty of cause for complaint: being late for dinner is the least of it. There isn't much opportunity to play her any other way, which is a shame and could be changed, I think, to provide a bit more of a rounded character. Her costumes are astonishing but cannot carry the entire show. Lili Beaudoin has a small but memorable bit as The Courtesan - and an even better costume!

I have booked all four shows this year, carefully spaced out at one a month. Quite simply, I am a fan of Bard and will happily go to anything they put on. But even so I heartily recommend this production. You do not need to be a fan to enjoy the show.