Sunday, 17 October 2010

Janice, take a bow

Today I discovered a remarkable project by a woman called Janice Whaley. She has set herself a target to record cover versions of every single record by the Smiths before the end of this year. Why is that remarkable? Because she is doing it purely with dozens of layered vocals to replicate the instrumentation. I thought it sounded a bit naff until I checked it out for myself.

Each song is apparently created with between 30 and 50 separate layered tracks, some of which mimic basic percussion and others that are pitch shifted to resemble basslines. They take about 30 hours each to complete.

Perhaps it's just because I'm such a big Smiths fan myself, but I find them rather amazing. I admire anyone with that kind of dedication to a project, especially when the results are so impressive.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Starry starry night

It's strange, but only a couple of days after thinking that I'd like to try some astro-photography I got the perfect night for it - cloudless, windless and mild. So I ventured out at one o'clock this morning and found a clearing in the forest to set up my tripod. It's slightly unsettling being in the forest in pitch darkness but to look up and see the stars so clearly is genuinely awe-inspiring.

I just wish I knew a bit more about the night sky. The cloudy vertical band in the image above is the Milky Way, but that's about all I can tell you. Identifying constellations amid such a busy sky is difficult and I wasn't sure if any planets were in view. Can anyone help?

What, for example, is the cloudy star circled in red above? It looks like a supernova but I'd be surprised if such a thing was visible to the naked eye. And the dense cluster circled in green must be easily identifiable, but not by me. The top photograph was taken facing north west, the second facing west.

I took some other shots where I popped a flashgun during the exposure to show some detail in the trees. They didn't really work but it occurred to me that a distant observer might interpret strange flashes in the forest as something other-worldly, especially round here.

Light pollution is the biggest problem. It may have seemed pitch black to me, but I was still only a couple of miles from a load of street lamps. If you can get far enough away from populated areas then it's possible to capture images like this. The only places you could get close to that in the UK are parts of Wales and Scotland, but it's usually cloudy there.

Anyway, there are a couple more images on my Flickr page if you're interested.