An accidental foray into Android Pay

Pre-note: I’m not (just) doing photography any more. I’m PhD-ing it up at UCL, Museum Lighting/Colour etc. I’ll talk about that another time, and redesign this website to reflect. Mañana mañana…

I like most people am the proud owner of multiple pairs of trousers.

Therefore I would wager I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to encounter the splendidly lovely first world problem that is having forgotten one’s wallet.

To set the scene, I’m stood at Tottenham Hale tube station, having cycled perhaps half an hour to get there. For reasons I won’t go into, today of all days I was not doing that again (twice). No chance. When my best friendly impression didn’t impress the the TFL chap enough for him to issue me with a permit to travel I was rather stuck. Until…


Bazinga. I’d heard a rumour that Android Pay was now a thing in the UK.
But surely I’d need a contactless card, and I’d need to actually have that card (on my person)?

Oh no no no, as it turns out, my phone doesn’t care diddly squat whether the card itself is contactless. And since Google owns my ass already it had no qualms whatsoever about just throwing my card details in there*

So, my first shot at contactlessing. I held my phone to the yellow disk of capitalism and waited. Nothing. The guy behind me didn’t care for my petty problems. I let him go through. ‘You’ve got to press it, activate the button mate’ said TFL-chap. ‘Ah OK I see’-me. I didn’t see. All the same, I unlocked the screen, tried again and BOOM. Those gates swung open like sea in front of Moses**. Fistpumps all around, TFL-chap who had written me off as a lost cause smiled. I felt invincible. I tweeted.

Other end, I acted cool, a trendy millennial*** and held my phone at the reader and waiting for it to do the magic. I had to step back, open the app and try again, rather knocked my cool that did. But it worked eventually. Goal. Mission: Commute, completed.

Now, I hadn’t had time for breakfast so it was time to try this magical gadget’s ability to buy me food, real actual food essentially coming out of my phone and feeling sort of free. LEON, let’s do this, I thought. Queue, no contactless. Bummer. Sainsburys, they’re big, they’ll have the latest tech and whatnot. No contactless. (Mental note: Sainsburys- I owe you a banana).

So far, one success, one not success.
At this point my phone was starting to drip juice like a watermelon on a hot day (it was getting low on battery) and so I succumbed to going to work****.

Work happened and then it was back to play time. Since work had happened, cake was required. Thank you British Museum for your overpriced unusually shaped tasty-oh-so-tasty cake. And your contactless card reader. You read right, the BM has contactless, joy oh dangerous joy. Two wins, one fail.

Next up. This baby was going to catch a bus. Oh yeah. I was getting to know the system now: it works best if you’re staring at the (unlocked) app screen with the crappy picture of your card on it. That seems to be good, and I think it worked! (Otherwise, mental note: TFL- I owe you a bus ride.) Let’s say 3, 1.

So I’m on a bus, feeling all smug (and starting to write this post) and then I have a thought, what happens if my phone dies before I head home (I was meeting a friend to go to a gig). Only time will tell…

Who will win, the magical technology or the cold hard logic that a dead phone is dead.

I’ll tweet to let you know.

*OK this is a smidge unfair on Google (I love you master). I probably clicked permissions somewhere one time, and today, I’m grateful. Plus I did have to remember the three numbers on the back that everyone calls something different. Which was easy, it’s… hannng on…that was close.
**I wonder if this manages to offend anyone?
*** You can now apparently be 34 and a millennial I found out recently. Feel like I’ve been cheated out of a level of demographic exclusivity there.
**** Imagine the riots mild dissatisfaction if for some reason workplaces stopped you being able to charge phones in a workplace. Scratch that, pretend I said nothing, I don’t want to give anyone ideas.


  • I added a link about Permits to Travel, thanks John.
  • I correeeceded the speeling.
  • I added the formatting and links in the * section, which like a doofus I’d previously neglected.

Saturday Morning Mini Project: Coding for a video scope waveform in matlab

The task for today is to write code that’ll create a video scope of any given image.

Today I’m setting myself a little mini project to write a little bit of code in matlab to do something which I think should be pretty cool. Haven’t used matlab in a fair while and been pondering the best way to code this, so here we go…

The task for today is to write code that’ll create a video scope of any given image. A video scope or waveform monitor* is like a histogram’s older cooler brother, pretty similar in lots of ways, but more useful in many situations.

video scope image
video scope image created using matlab

A histogram (in imaging) takes all the pixel values in the image, arranges them in order and plots this on a graph, showing you how many pixels of each value there are in an image. This is useful for quickly assessing images, often on the back of a camera, for an objective measure of lightness/darkness within the image. Sometimes histograms are broken down to represent individual colour channels and these plots can be used for assessing colour balance.

However, histograms throw away all the spatial information within an image; you might be able to say ‘this image is predominantly dark’ but you couldn’t say where in the image it was dark. In the same way you could say that overall there was more reds in the highlights of an image, but it might require guesswork to say spatially where those bright reds were.

Video scopes in contrast retain some spatial information, and thus give you a greater understanding of the image. This added information does however make the plot more complicated to read, and this is probably the reason you don’t see them on the back of consumer cameras (or pro ones for that matter!).   Continue reading “Saturday Morning Mini Project: Coding for a video scope waveform in matlab”

Broad Vision 4 – Future Human

Getting excited about this year’s upcoming Broad Vision, starting January 2014 with the theme of ‘Future Human’.

Having attended FutureFest and subscribed to the excellent TED via NPR podcast in recent weeks my head has been buzzing with exciting ideas that could fit within the subject, so I thought it’d be a good time to put together a little scrapbook-style blog post to more easily share those ideas with others.

A pair of talks that are at the forefront of my mind are those by Bertolt Meyer [here] and Neil Harbisson [here], both talking about ways in which a physical disability has been turned on it’s head by being used as a spark point for exploring the capabilities of body modifications, a subject that has interested me strongly since the ‘Superhuman‘ exhibition at the Wellcome Collection last year. Meyer raises a particularly interesting question regarding the ‘entitlement and availability’ of body modifications, should the financially able posses priority? And should those with perfectly functioning natural bodies be allowed to ‘upgrade’?

On a similar thread but from a different angle, and presented in a contrasting manner, I think ‘The Entire History of You‘ deserves a mention. The third episode of the first series of the ‘Charlie Brookers’ dark dramas’ explores the integration of technology into our bodies and daily lives, and looks at the potential effects on our relationships.

Taking body modification/customisation to the nth degree, the topic of ‘transcending’ the body is one that interests me greatly, sparked by reading Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Last Question‘ and Philip K. Dick’s ‘Ubik‘. Afraid I’ve got no video-talks on offer on this subject, though if anybody knows any please leave a comment!

Regarding expanding the human lifetime within a natural body, Nina Tandon offers a particularly interesting view on future developments in ‘personalised medicine’ in her TEDtalk, discussing how medicines of the future will be tailored to suit the specific person, hopefully to greater effect and possibly helping to avoid the approaching catastrophe predicted by Sally Davies in her TEDxAlbertopolis talk: ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’.

As a final titbit for now I’d like to conclude with a mention of Zooniverse, which describes itself as ‘home to the internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects’, currently hosting a huge range of interesting projects including a mars weather system research project and a cancer research project, all of which rely on users contributions to make headway and push human collective knowledge further forwards.

Got anything to add to the conversation? Comment below!

Alex and Mark’s Wedding – Super Quick Preview


Alex and Mark at Down Hall
Alex and Mark at Down Hall

It’s late but I just wanted to throw up a really quick post about the wedding I shot today.

I had a really great time. Alex and Mark are such beautiful, happy, welcoming people, and it was a real pleasure to be part of their big day; full of laughter, tears, dinosaurs and sunshine. Who could ask for more?

Congratulations Alex and Mark!

Freelensing on Hampstead Heath

Yesterday was such a gorgeous day, and having spend most of cooped up indoors doing various chores it was great to get out for an evening stroll with my girlfriend and a friend of ours.

The Heath is always a great place for trying out new photographic techniques, and with my first official wedding shoot just around the corner I thought now might be the time to get practicing.

The photographers out there may have come across freelensing before, but for those who haven’t, it’s a simple way to modify the focus plane so to create effects where specific areas of the image can be thrown far out of focus. Check out Sam Hurd’s piece on the technique.

Thanks to Liz for modelling.

Brainchild 2012

Been sorting through my photos of Brainchild 2012 for the organisers’ use in the run up to this years festival, and just remembering how much fun it was, thought I’d share some of the photos. Bring on the summer!

Print Run Almost Done…

Had a great time printing mine and Liz‘ print run today, but in the process realised that the images were nowhere to be found online; this blog was set up since their creation and I only featured ‘in-process’ images on my tumblr.

And so here they are! We’re pretty proud of them, they’ve been featured in a book and two exhibitions, and we’re proud to say they’re now (read: next couple of days) available to buy as prints!

First Encounter
First Encounter
If There Is Magic...
If There Is Magic…

When I’ve got a little more time I shall try and write a post about how they were created, but for now have a look at my tumblr, which featured lots of the behind the scenes process, and this feature in Art & Science Journal which explains how the works came to happen… (Broad Vision!)

Rosina Andrews, The Guardian, Imperica and planning a print run with Liz Cowley…

Smoke Photography with Rosina Andrews
Smoke Photography with Rosina Andrews

Been a busy couple of days! 

Broad Vision has been getting a lot of publicity this last couple of days which is lovely; featured in the Guardian on Tuesday and on Imperica today. Great to translate the feeling of buzz in to print, the third cycle of the project is well under way, with my group looking in to digital steganography and the re-representation of image data in new and interesting ways. Looking forward to putting something together for our show at GV Art (23-30th May 2013).

Had a splendid shoot with musician Rosina Andrews last night (pictured above), my first using smoke canisters and direct flash, which was really enjoyable! Got some images that we were very happy with, but enjoyed it so much we may have to go back and do some more! Thanks to Tom Langley for his assistance.

And finally! Been planning a print run with Liz Cowley of our work from Broad Vision cycle 2, which is an interesting experience in itself. Currently looking at papers and print methods, and getting down to the nitty gritty of how to sign them! Really looking forward to getting them produced, if you’re interested in purchasing contact either Liz or myself.

Didn’t I have a dissertation to be getting on with…?



First Wikipedia Article Published!

Rather excited to see my first wikipedia article approved today! It’s on the topic of The Brenizer Method and you can see it here!

3D Clouds

Before Christmas I had the joy of working on a photographic project with photographer Thomas Langley, with the aim of creating stereoscopic (3D) imagery of clouds. 

Our final images, above, were pulled from an incredible video by film maker Dylan Wiehahn, shot during a flight from New Zealand to Australia.

We chose the approach of video still pulling as opposed to creating novel imagery for several reasons; as you can see above Wiehahn’s imagery is incredibly beautiful, and the likelihood of us being able to capture something comparable in the short time frame available was very slim. Coupled with that was the obvious expense involved, as much as we’d have loved to take a brief holiday during our autumn term of university and fly around the world once or twice, this option was a little kinder on the pocket! Next time though maybe…

And so we chose to test our theory with basic novel imagery shot from the ground, and then with stills from Wiehahn’s immaculate video, and here are the results! Best viewed with anaglyphic (old school red and blue) 3d glasses.

We also explored the possibility of creating 3D time lapse imagery which was really interesting, stay tuned…