Christmas cards 1999-2005

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Snow Joke (2005)

[Remains of marching snowmen]

It's no coincidence that the biggest ever London march against climate change happened in December 2005. I'd planned to take a background picture then, but in the event I went up a couple of days earlier and spent a pleasant hour wandering round the Houses of Parliament photographing pavements and empty streets, watched with great suspicion by armed police. Westminster Bridge turned out to be the best shot as it was partly coned off as if for a demonstration, although I still had to brush out a group of tourists from the pavement.

The scarves all derive from a borrowed West Ham United specimen (claret and blue) which I arranged on the ground in a variety of "poses" in a car park in Dagenham; again, there were plenty of uneasy looks to contend with! A bit of colour adjustment made the light blue bands appear white, and turned the "claret" into cherryade. Shifting the hue created the other colours whilst preserving the white. The carrots were "real" (and organic!) but the lumps of coal were painted on.

The optional caption reads "And then the protesters just melted away...". One smart-arsed recipient bemoaned the lack of puddles. There's always one.

Ilex 'monsanta' (2004)

[Santa head holly berries]

I must have been seriously short of things to do that year. The starting points for this card were a photo of some real holly (with an impressive crop of berries, a tiny fragment of which survives on the "head" that's lost its hat) and a 3D virtual Santa head, hastily built with trueSpace3. Rather too hastily, on reflection; the beard in particular could have been better!

[Santa model]

Having lit the head to match the real holly, I rotated it into the position of each berry, saving each view as a 2D image. These were then sized down individually to replace the berries. The accompanying text (in the e-version) tells a tale that, as someone pointed out, might one day come horribly true:

ilex 'monsanta': The latest themed shrub from America is set to become next year's "must-have" garden feature; top scientists are working round the clock to fix the hat gene rejection problem. But the UK has already banned imports of the plant following reports that robins feeding on the "berries" have grown antlers. The company admitted reindeer genes had been inserted along with the santa material in a failed attempt to theme the leaves, but denied... [that's where I ran out of inspiration!]

MegaRobin (2003)

[Bird footprints in snow]

Inspiration for this came from playing with Corel's "Image Sprayer". Having found a suitable photo of my snow-covered garden, and expanded the robin (it's the same model as last year) to make the grossly overweight MegaRobin, I made an initial foot-belly-and-tailprint;


It took a while to make 16 rotated versions and store them as a 32-entry image list (necessary for technical reasons to do with angles). But once that was done I just set the Image Choice to "By Direction", then wrote the message on a white background with the mouse! All that was needed to complete the picture was a bit of perspective, and combination with the main snow image using "if darker" logic.

EcoRobin (2002)

[Robin wearing badges]

This was a straightforward assembly of a real robin photo (which you'll find elsewhere on this site) with the hat and badges, carefully lit and separately photographed, cut and pasted on.

Froth (2001)

[Writing in beer froth]

Booze looked like playing a big part in Christmas that year, hence the card. I took a picture of the rim of an empty glass, replicated it, and filled the circles with a nice frothy colour. The "finger writing" was made from letters in a suitably florid font, converted to masks, displaced, then used to brighten and darken the background. The ordering is deliberate, don't ask why...

South Wind (2000)

[Windswept robins]

Climate change was much in evidence that December, so I decided this design would reflect reality better than a conventional snow scene. I used real photos of a weeping willow in a gale, and a telegraph pole; the robins were, I'm ashamed to say, stolen from a book.

Digital Peace (1999)

[TV tower]

I'd spent the year helping to get Digital Terrestrial TV on the air, so it seemed fitting to use a photo of a TV tower, gracefully speaking "peace unto nation" (or at least unto a large part of Shropshire) from its analogue parts, and emitting a digital near-equivalent from the new arrays. Those well-versed in Hex and ASCII can have fun spotting the word errors - only one recipient of the card got that far :)

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