Royally well done

The Queen turns 90 today.

Age has seen to it that Her Majesty no longer rides a horse to review the Guards at the Trooping of the Color, but her energy and commitment remain undimmed. Her life as monarch spans the greatness of Churchill, the first Prime Minister in her reign, the loss of Empire, the even greater loss of Englishness hoist on the petard of multiculturalism – the fruits of Empire – and the loss of English industry to Germans and their ilk.

If she is guilty of poor judgment it is solely in the case of that press whore, Diana, who made the masses her own while executing some sort of confused agenda quite beyond the bounds of logic. Mercifully, a lucky accident solved the Queen’s dilemma.

The beauty of the design of the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy is that the moment a majority of voters tires of the system it can be abolished by plebiscite, a process no more difficult than the signature event which crafted English parliamentary democracy in the first place, the beheading of Charles I in 1649. And no blood need be spilled. Sure, ruling monarchs came and went after him, Britain flirted with totalitarianism in the guise of Cromwell, flirted with disaster in the guise of that feckless fool Edward VIII, but somehow common sense prevailed – even if Guy Fawkes did not – and the tide of representative democracy was not to be denied. So if you have petty resentment in your soul for the system of monarchy, forget it. It’s the choice of English voters, after all, and quite likely one of the best economic bargains on the planet. For a pittance of an allowance the Queen does more for tourism and what little remains of British industry than you do. And she provides an invisible governor on the excesses of prime ministers which redefines soft power. The Prime Minister still meets with her weekly in Buckingham Palace and if you think it trivial to stare down the descendant of Queen Victoria, think again.

The hilarious picture above says everything you need to know about the stiffness of upper lips and I was reminded of it when last visiting London, where I grew up, in 1999. Needless to say I attended the Trooping of that same Color and a jolly good time was had by all.

On Pall Mall. Leica M6, 90mm Asph Summicron, Kodachrome 64.

All those images of the Guards remind me of a favorite Churchill story. On being informed that a senior cabinet member was caught importuning with a Guardsman in St. James’s Park he inquired of the circumstances, over his adviser’s determination to have the cad canned:

“At 2am, Prime Minister.”

“2am, you say?”

“Yes sir, in the middle of St. James’s Park.”

“In the park, you say?”

“Yes, sir. In the middle of winter.”

“In the middle of winter you say?”

“Yes sir, and without an overcoat”

“Without an overcoat? Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it?”

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth. May you have many more.

* * * * *

Prompted by the above, my friend Santo Wiryaman sent me a gorgeous video documentary which he filmed in 4K on his new Panasonic G7, narrated by Richard Colton, a retired Park Service historian. If you want to learn more about the forbidding power of the British Army and its Grenadier Guards at the time of the Revolutionary War, this is compelling watching.

Click the image to watch the video.

Santo writes: “…Vitaliy K in Russia sells the G7 with unlimited length 4K recording. Grey market notwithstanding, I ordered one from him (through his shop in Hong Kong) and sure enough, a week later I got a G7 with the 14-42 kit lens with unlimited 4K recording. I should say limited only by your card size. I can record 90 minutes on a 64GB card. Having 4K footage is like shooting with an 8×10 negative to produce 4X6 prints. You can keep your shots wider and zoom-in in post later.”

Northfield, where my son will start prep school this fall, was in the thick of the action, and is mentioned by Colton at 14:31.

Thank you, Santo!


Tim Cook’s Apple.

Along with blazing innovation – a larger iPad, the failed Apple Watch – what lands in my inbox the other day?

There was a reason Steve Jobs famously remarked that Apple did not do focus groups or customer surveys. The company was not Procter & Gamble, selling dish detergents. His company was in the business of innovation, meaning it told people what they needed – iPods, iPhones, iMacs, Mac Pros, MacBooks – not asking what they wanted.

Now we have a CEO focused on trying to thwart the US government’s attempts – marketing disguised as customer protection – to keep Americans safe while making ever fancier watch bands, as Apple becomes just another mediocre non-growth business.

Pierre Bonnard

Rich and good.

The oft held belief that great painters have to suffer great poverty on the road to success is at best a poor generalization. None of the greats of the Renaissance were exactly struggling to put bread on the table, for they were busy turning down commissions. Jump to the late nineteenth century and for every starving Monet or Renoir you will find a wealthy Degas or Bonnard painting with genius and abandon while enjoying a life of comfort and plenty.

San Francisco’s Palace of Legion of Honor is holding the first west coast show of Pierre Bonnard’s (1867-1947) paintings and photographs in fifty years and it’s a fine summary of the artists best work, many pieces plucked from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

The canvases are well lit and captioned in something approaching readable font sizes, and while the miniscule photograph reproductions really should be larger (they are from Bonnard’s Kodak Brownie) they convey the sense of experimentation which is often seen in the paintings, limbs cut off at the edges of the canvas just as in many Degas works, the latter also a keen photographer.

It’s a fine show of beautiful work and strongly recommended.

iPhone6 snaps.

NIK collection now free

From Google.

Google has announced that the excellent collection of processing plugins from NIK for Lightroom and Photoshop is now free. Click the image for the download site:

Click to go to the download page.

While this probably means that development of the code has ceased, who cares? They are great now and are not about to get any worse. If you use the desktop versions of LR and PS like I do, preferring not to pay rent to rapacious Adobe for its CC cloud versions, then you will not have every upgrade breaking your plugins’ functionality.