Big Picture Cataloguer 1.0

Posted: 2013-11-14 21:02   |  More posts about code photography

Many years ago, I wrote the Big Picture Cataloguer - a little tool for downloading's fantastic Big Picture photojournalism series and tagging each image with its appropriate caption.

It's proved to be my most popular tool so far, with over 10,000 downloads so far. Unfortunately, it was also my buggiest, having been coded while hungover on a particularly drunken weekend. Plenty of users have contacted me in the mean time with support questions, and I'd always meant to clean up the code and add tests, but never quite got around to it.

This year, I finally managed to get around to it and I'm now happy to release Big Picture Cataloguer 1.0.

Click here for a Windows executable.

For OS X and Linux users, you can find the source code here. Be warned: the pyexiv2 module is unfortunately extremely difficult to get up and running (on OS X, at least). Feel free to fork this to use a friendlier image metadata library!



But what does it mean?

Posted: 2010-10-22 15:15   |  More posts about art funny internet oddities photography

500 / 200.

From a collective of people including the man behind King Lud's Revenge.


Big Picture Cataloguer: An update

Posted: 2010-05-20 20:11   |  More posts about art code computers internet photography

In just over a week since I released the Big Picture Cataloguer, there's been a surprising amount of interest and enthusiasm about it. Since I still haven't gotten binary versions of the program for OS X and Linux up (I've no access to an OS X computer, and getting the required libraries installed on Linux has proved to be quite difficult), I've decided to relent and share the source code of the cataloguer under a Creative Commons license.

The script makes use of pyexiv2 - the 0.2 branch - for metadata editing, mechanize for grabbing pages and submitting error reports, the very handy unaccented_map() class (included) for unicode trickery and of course the wonderful XML parser, BeautifulSoup.

Naturally, it's available from the Big Picture Cataloguer's page in the Code section of this site.

Given how much The Big Picture galleries' HTML format has subtly changed over time, and the fact I wrote this in a rush, it's quite messy, but it does the job.

Today's update is of version 0.3, which has an optional "quiet mode" to enable users to schedule the program to run frequently. Enjoy!

Comments Big Picture Cataloguer

Posted: 2010-05-12 20:02   |  More posts about art code computers internet media photography politics

I'm a big fan of The Boston Globe's photojournalism series, The Big Picture. So much so, in fact, that I decided to dedicate a few hours this week to building a program that would not just download the entire series, but add caption metadata to each photo, since many are informative and look very nice in Picasa, for example.

Now, I'm happy that the application is stable enough to release to the world in the Code section of my website.

Since I don't want people to be hammering The Boston Globe's servers, I've made the script wait a fraction of a second between each request, and since I don't want people to be able to disable this functionality, unfortunately only binaries will be available for the time being. Windows binaries are available already, OS X and Linux binaries to come in a few days.

Indeed, if those at The Boston Globe have a problem with how the program operates, they need simply contact me and we can come to an agreement, but I've worked hard to make sure that the program contacts their servers as little as possible.

Bug reports will be automatically submitted through this website too, but if you have any unforeseen problems (e.g. a crash or a hang), email me with as much information as possible (text describing the "Traceback" printed before the crash, what album/photo the program was working on, etc).

What can you do once you've got the entire 2GB collection of photos downloaded? Well, you can simply look through them at your own pace and comfort, or indeed choose to create a montage screensaver from them (although be warned - a screensaver that fades from a beautiful Antarctic landscape to a bloody photo of a victim of the war in Afghanistan might not be exactly what you had in mind.)

But in any event, hopefully it'll be of some use. Enjoy!


Detroit and other examples of urban decline

Posted: 2010-02-23 11:42   |  More posts about architecture art decay derelict detroit gentrification photography urban.decline

The photo above is from a short photoseries in Time magazine, the title of which is "Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline." Below are a few photos from another, much longer series by 7 different photographers who state:

Detroit is one of the most visually interesting cities in the world however it is also one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented cities. This group of photographs illustrates what contemporary Detroit artists have been doing in regards to developing an understanding and appreciation for this complex and diverse city from street portraits of the “survivors” to the landscapes of wild new growth to the industrial leftovers.

You can view the full series here.

I also came across a German blogpost entitled, "The beauty of a city's downfall," which features photos from all over the world of derelict buildings and cities decaying.


Clearing the backlog

Posted: 2010-02-22 18:49   |  More posts about architecture art design music oddities photography

Some of these links have been sitting in my Gmail Notes a year now, and I've become sick of looking at them. A few of them I'd planned on leaving for when I had time to adequately address their theme and topic in a proper blog-post, but I've realised that's not going to happen any time soon. So:



Koyaanisqatsi for the global warming generation?

Posted: 2009-06-05 19:18   |  More posts about art photography science

HOME is a 2009 documentary by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. The film is entirely composed of aerial shots of various places around the Earth. It shows the diversity of life on the Earth and how humanity is threatening the ecological balance of the planet. The movie was released on June 5th 2009, simultaneously in cinemas all over the world, on DVD and on YouTube. Its release on the same date in 50 countries is a world record for any film release in history.

The film is 100% free and no profits will be made from its release or future showings. What is more, it's copyright-free, which means it can be freely copied, distributed, broadcast etc. - as a whole and in parts.

Haven't watched it yet, but one or two of the shots I saw looked promising. However, according to padraiq:

it seems more like propaganda than documentary if you want to show people the earth, you dont fucking talk over it some amazing shots ruined by narration :(((

In any event, click here to watch in high quality.


Abandoned cities

Posted: 2009-06-01 12:58   |  More posts about architecture oddities photography

Thanks to padraiq for sending me this: there are some lovely photos on of Gukanjima, an island off the west coast of Japan which was home to a thriving coal mine. In the 70s, the mine was closed down and the island deserted, leaving this chaos behind:


This also happens to tie in with Wikipedia's featured picture of the day: Mane St [sic] of Pioneertown, "an unincorporated and inhabited town built in 1946 as a TV and film set by, among others, Roy Rogers. The town was designed to provide a place for the actors to live while simultaneously having their homes used as part of the set."

This is a dangerous page to visit, as it'll inevitably lead to a list of ghost towns, such as Bodie, California:


And Kayaköy, Turkey:


And by the time you've read about them all, the day is spent. Good work!

If not, then here are some extra, related wiki rabbit-holes for you to bound down:

Urban Exploration [and some extra photo galleries at undercity]

Urban Decay Squatting


Hello, Goodbye

Posted: 2009-04-19 02:54   |  More posts about art internet jazz music oddities photography

Website suffered some down-time in the past few days, but is now back up and running as usual. Unfortunately, I'll be suffering some down-time in the coming days myself: I've just gotten a cold, right as I begin the last stretch of [actually] writing my thesis.

So, indeed, this will probably be my last post for a week or two at least. Until then, I'll leave you -- yes, You, if you're so special as to be one of the 3 or 4 people who actually read this thing on a semi-regular basis -- with a sweet piece of film shot by some fella at 1000 FPS of people at a recent rubgy competition in the Stade de France, Paris. It's all rather beautiful; a series of clips of people cheerleading, playing rugby and hockey, and some materials being dropped to the ground.. All to a slightly odd rendition of Frank Zappa's Chunga's Revenge. :)

As he writes himself, make sure to download the actual video from the vimeo page if you want to experience it fully. Enjoy!

I-Movix SprintCam v3 NAB 2009 showreel from David Coiffier on Vimeo.


The Nation (The bleedin' state of ye)

Posted: 2009-04-11 14:48   |  More posts about drink funny idiots ireland photography

Easter weekend is here, and after a day of government-enforced abstinence from drink what better way to waste a few moments than by breaking open a can of Dutch, and having a gander at what tonight could possibly have in store for us:


Classy stuff. You don't find a great night like this on the continent, I tell ye.

More of the same here.