Across The Commons

Guide To Fantastic Holiday Photos

There are only a few more days until Christmas, and by now you’re sick of shopping, traffic, commercials, and all of the other bull that has become a necessary hazard of the season. Seriously? It’s time to relax and start to enjoy ourselves.

Time to do something fun and learn something new that doesn’t involve a mall or any major roads for that matter. For me, that means I’m going to pick up my camera. Haven’t you always wanted to have an awesome Christmas album that doesn’t just consist of photos like this?

I wanted to compile a list of photographic ideas that will keep you from a box of photos like that one and full of photos that remind you of everything great about the holidays. So the next time you get back from the mall in December and you want to burn the Christmas tree to the ground, you have photos that will keep you in the spirit.

1. Turn Off The Flash – Your camera’s flash ruined Christmas. And it’s your fault – unless you turn it off. Think about it – there is nothing in existence that photographs *well* with a pop-up flash. It’s too harsh! Those photos of your tree and the softly lit front porch just won’t be as effective with a harsh flash.

Creativity in the Woman Artist

Women artists gifted with the tool of creativity frequently have extended lives, remain in good health to the end, and experience a blessed sense of fulfillment. There is nothing like being a creative artist to enable us to experience life’s blessings all of our days.

This post relates to Creativity in the Woman Artist and the many pictures that are proof of that. Expressing creativity is the closest humanity can come to the Fountain of Youth.

The great Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887, and has been a major figure in American art since the 1920s. She worked successfully and prolifically for over 50 years, but by the early 1970s, her eyesight was eroded by macular degeneration.

Nevertheless, she did not abandon art, but turned instead to working with clay and to writing her autobiography, as well as making a video, Georgia O’Keeffe.

The Jarrow March

October 5: The Jarrow March (1936)

Eighty-three years ago today, over 200 men started marching to London from the town of Jarrow, about 300 miles away, along with their MP, Ellen “Red Ellen” Wilkinson. They marched for 22 days, often in rain and wind, protesting the economic devastation caused to the North East of England by the closing of shipbuilding and related industries during the 1930s.

Here are some of the Jarrow marchers, in the Commons, thanks to the National Media Museum:

Jarrow Marchers en route to London, National Media Museum

They carried a petition with thousands of signatures in an oak box; along the way, sympathetic local organizations and town councils fed and housed the men. (There was also a group of blind men marching with the Jarrow marchers, with similar economic concerns; the event is sometimes called the “Jarrow and Blind Marches” for this reason.)

Their protest was not immediately successful; they turned in the petition to the House of Commons, but the Prime Minister refused to meet with the men, and no provisions were made for relief in the North East. Each man was given a pound for train fare home.

Self Love September

I can’t believe it’s September already! Where did my summer go? And certainly, when will it start feeling like fall? I am pretty much over the humidity, and last week I felt like I was borderline heat stroke every time I set off for my early morning 10 a.m.-ish runs.

Either way, just as I always do, I am taking the opportunity to start off a fresh month with a fresh new set of goals.  This month though, I’m doing things a little differently than I have in the past.

This month I’m not focusing on miles or pounds. I’m not thinking in calories or macros, “after pictures” or visible abs…

This month, my sole focus is on learning to love myself no matter what phase of my “journey” I’m in. Nurturing my mental health as well as my physical well being. Taking time to take care of me! And I encourage you to do the same!

Collection of portraits of women scientists

One of my favorite times of the year in Flickr Commons is March when the Smithsonian used to roll out more wonderful images from the collection of portraits of women scientists. In the fifth year they did so, there were so many photos to share. These are from the first batch in that fifth year:

Ethel Grace Stiffler (c.1900-1995) was an American trained botanist, taught biology at several universities, and was married to astronomer Edwin Carpenter.
Biochemist Lina Solomonova Stern (1878-1968) was born in present-day Latvia and studied the blood-brain barrier in the Soviet Union.

Gertrude Van Wagenen (1893-1978) was an American research anatomist at Yale University.

The Real Brooklyn (Museum)

What’s it like to be neighbors with one of the finest museums in the country? Nine years ago (almost ten), when I moved into my apartment, I became one of the lucky people to find out.

Every night, when I come home from work, I’m greeted by the Brooklyn Museum. As I walk up from the subway, first I see architectural remnants from the Brooklyn Museum lining the upper subway walls, neatly surrounded by brilliant blue mosaic — heads of gods and goddesses, cornerstones and bits from buildings, grandly telling me (as many subway stops do) what awaits upstairs. When exiting the subway, museum visitors go to the right, while locals exit to the left.

As I come up the subway stairs I’m greeted by big skies. Eastern Parkway, the first parkway in the country, leaves a large swath of sky to greet those who rise out of the subway at the Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop on the 2/3 line. First the sky, then the trees straight ahead, then, to the right, the Brooklyn Museum.

The building is massive, ornate, grand. It was built grandly to match the history of Eastern Parkway — built as a gateway between the city of Brooklyn and its parks and, for a time, called Doctors Row. It is lined with fine old apartment buildings, with beautiful marble lobbies.

Interview with Paul Hagon, Developer

Paul Hagon is the mashup developer whose amazing mashups of Google Maps and images from the Commons were featured on Indicommons recently.

   Could you tell me more about yourself?
My first coding experiences were back in high school when I learned the basics of programming on a VIC-20 and a TRS-80. This sparked an interest in computers, but my real passion is in design. I studied Industrial Design at university.

I was still involved with computers then, but mostly doing a lot of CAD drawings, renderings, Illustrator and Photoshop work (this was back in the days of Photoshop 1.0). After graduating I worked in the furniture industry for 7 years before moving into the web world.

I always had a fascination about how people interact with things. Industrial design was perfect for feeding that fascination — it has an extremely personal scale of interacting with an object. Designing for the web is so similar, it’s interaction at a personal level.

Tips for doing a Then and Now photo series

Glen Lowry (Vo0Ds), a Flickr user who lives in Edinburgh, re-shot some of the old photos from the National Gallery of Scotland (”as closely as patience and access allowed,” he says) to see exactly how much or how little the city had changed.

Tollbooth and Canongate, Edinburgh:

   Glen, what prompted you to take on this project?
I decided to reshoot these particular photos because they were interesting and the places they were taken from; I was sure that I could get to pretty much the same place today. There were, however, a few shots that I would have liked to get, such as the picture of Lothian Road.

On the notion of The Commons

In 1968, Garrett Hardin published a seminal treatise on resources and scarcity, The Tragedy of the Commons. In that treatise, whose title is often quoted, Hardin explains that communal areas such as public grazing lands are depleted by self-interested individuals, overgrazing the limited resource and destroying the public good.

Hardin uses a Hegelian notion of positive liberty. As Friedrich Engels said, “Freedom is the recognition of necessity“: there is a moral necessity that government regulates public goods, restricting individual liberty for the sake of individual freedom.

However, as far as culture is concerned, the “tragedy” does not, in fact, exist. Culture is not a finite resource. Greater participation in shared culture enriches that culture; it does not deplete it. Freedom in this digital age includes the ability to have unrestricted access to public goods, which in turn produces more public goods.

Laurence Lessig (among other things, founder of the Creative Commons) has explained this phenomenon at a TED conference on the strangling of creativity by protective intellectual property laws. Lessig frames the problem as a war between the read-only culture induced by copyright laws and an emerging read-write culture wherein creativity is democratized by access to and re-use of prior artistic works (see the video above).

Inaugurations Past and Present

The Smithsonian Institution has a long tradition with inaugural events, with its museums serving as the sites for many of the inaugural balls, festivities, and exhibitions. A few years ago, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative wanted your contributions to click! photography changes everything: History in the Making.

You could submit your photographs and stories of recent US elections and inaugurations that explore how photography influences our understanding of the world. It’s exciting too that the Smithsonian is on the forefront of encouraging a populist inclusion of modern times in their storied archives. People were encouraged, if they had any images and stories, take a trip to their website and submit them!

One of the activities we hold in our Flickr group, Flickr Commons, is a Tag/Research/Explore (TRE) campaign, where we focus on a sub curated collection and ask our members to add descriptive tags to the images, as well as notes and independent research. We also encourage members to present their findings in the group. This weekend, we started a TRE campaign for the Smithsonian’s Inauguration set, which we invited into our group’s photo pool for our member’s ease of access.