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striatic PRO 9:23am, 14 February 2005
as you may or may not already know, flickr has gone nuts for "the gates", an installation by christo and jeanne-claude {those reichstag wrapping folks} in central park.

probably the most notable thing about seeing such a torrent of images pushing through the "The Gates" tag is how remarkably similar and thoroughly interchangable many of the photographs are .. as well as some of the emerging "genres" when it comes to "shooting the gates".

orange on blue

for the closet abstractionist in all of us, the cosy minimalism of each individual gate is an irresistible temptation. one emerging strategy for photographing "the gates" is to abstract it .. orange on blue.

examples:


panoramas

"the gates" are arranged in long rows that follow along long paths along the horizon, so it's no surprise that a lot of people are making panoramas of the gates.

examples:




out the tunnel

there are a surprisingly high number of shots of the gates taken from inside central park's many tunnels. maybe it is the juxtaposition of the gate formed by the tunnel with "the gates" .. but there are enough of these that i suspect some consortium is sending out agents to thoroughly photograph "the gates" through each and every one of central park's tunnels.

examples:


the night shot

why they chose to erect "the gates" in the middle of february is beyond me, but the result is orange against ugly. in mid-winter it would have been orange against white .. in spring/summer, orange against green .. in the fall, orange against, well, orange .. but in february it is orange against BLECH.

one way of getting around this is to photograph the gates at night, when all the BLECH is in darkness and the orange is lit up by landscaping lights.

example:


who needs colour?
one of the best ways to take a unique shots of "the gates" is simply to forego it's most obviously defining aspect, colour.

examples:


motion abstraction

now, there aren't actually very many of these .. in fact, this example the only one i found. the idea is very good though, and i hope more people experiment with it. like the night shots, you lose the "BLECH", and the orange gates start to connect to one another in vibrant streaks.

example:


shooting the "event"

my favourite photos of the gates come from Garrett Murray, who seems to understand than he's just one in about a BILLION people photographing this art work, and chooses to focus more on the 'event' .. for doing so, he is rewarded with some of the more unique shots in the bunch.

examples:


a nifty shot of a random photographer framing the scene for him with her arm.


a unique detail view of the bolts in the corner of one of "the gates", articulating it's constructed nature.


a "god's eye" above it all capture of TWO other random photographers standing beside one another, seemingly photographing the exact same thing in the exact same way.


shooting one of the 'gatekeepers' who use a little "tennis ball staff" to keep the wind from making "the gates" look funny. apparently each gate is designed in such a way that it can get tangled up in itself. i find this funny because the artists designed a big flag like installation which only works with the help of vested guys running around with poles.


this shot speaks for itself.

photographing something else

another useful strategy for keeping shots of "the gates" more unique is to shoot something else instead, and use the orange as a backdrop.

examples:

a shot that is more city than gates.


shots of sculptures on orange.


this photo has perhaps my favourite caption of any of the photographs of "the gates":

"One way to make pictures of the gates unique is to make them of people you know."

~

if you've made it this far, and still want to see more pictures of "The Gates", here's the ever growing tag page: www.flickr.com/photos/tags/thegates

there's also a new "central park" group which is focused on the gates right now: www.flickr.com/groups/centralparknyc/
Nice post!

I like this one:

www.flickr.com/photos/charlottewebgal/4773290/

by CharlotteWebgal. It makes the gates seem like an army of invaders marching through and makes a nice contrast with the more permanent feature in the foreground.

Also: an aerial shot or shot from the penthouse of one of the buildings that border Central Park would make a nice addition.
t-squared PRO 14 years ago
Nice analysis.

The only point I have is that I imagine the plan was to install the gates in winter and then have the park come to life around them over the next six weeks. Let's hope for an early spring.
Ingrid! PRO 14 years ago
T, the gates are only up for 16 days. It would have to be a really early spring.
Redskynight 14 years ago
I think mine all fall into that first one
t-squared PRO 14 years ago
Oh. My bad (or theirs).
admin
Oh. My bad (or theirs).

both, likely.

the only reason i can think of is that they wanted it to be warm enough to visit, but with no grass.

because the shade from the gates might somehow damage the grass or something.

that's the only logical reason to put them up in february {that i can come up with} and it is a pretty silly one {unless that really would somehow ruin the grass}.
Good collection of shots. (I accidentally linked to the group without noticing you had =))
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striatic PRO 14 years ago
garrett, i already had it linked at the bottom of the top post ; )
limonada 14 years ago
my take on the timing: it's true that mid-february in new york is bland, depressing, and "blech." but what better time for some color and excitement?
gardengal 14 years ago
i totally disagree with your opinion that it is "orange against blech." february is a wonderful time to put them up. everything now is drab browns and grays. the orange is a billowy breath of fresh air for a city experiencing mid-winter blahs. that was the artist's intention.

honestly, they must be experienced in order to 'get' them. no single photo can capture the fun, euphoria or the magic of them. michael kimmelman put it best in his article for the NY Times when he said "everyone is suddenly a dignitary on parade."

i've never seen so many people enjoying a stroll in the park, laughing and smiling with child-like glee. that alone is truly something to see.
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striatic PRO 14 years ago
but what better time for some color and excitement?

an excellent point.
Ugh, I can't find the URL, but I think the choice of feb. was very intentional on the part of the artists. A reason mentioned on the artists' website (www.christojeanneclaude.net/tg.html) is that the bare trees allow one to actually see the many gates. If one looks at the preliminary sketches before the event, it's also notable that the gates were always these bright orange markers set against a colorless background. With the exception of the pictures around the Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow, this appears to be a theme running through many of The Gates pictures. Or, to put into Striatic's words, I think the point was to make it Saffron against blech. And I think a secondary point was to make the park an event destination during a traditionally slow period. It's not very often you see a good percentage of the Tri-State population walking around the park in February. I think the populated festive nature of the day was even more enjoyable then The Gates themselves.

An interesting analysis of The Gates photography. I'd be interested in seeing what the flickrati considered to be the best/most original pics were when the event is over. Of course, by then we'll all be sick of it. LOL.

What I am happy to say is that when it came to art vs. nature, nature always won. The original 1979 plan was to drill holes into the ground. The revised plan was to use installed bases. Whenever a gate threatened to brush up against a tree limb, the gate was moved. When the gates go, in theory there will be no trace that it was ever there.

Except for the 30 terabytes of Gates pictures on the internet.
I also think February is a great time for this installation. My office overlooks Central Park, and this time of year The Gates are visible all over, without being blocked out by leaves.
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striatic PRO 14 years ago
Nachosan 14 years ago
I'm surprised you didn't include any samples of the uncurling..for me that was fascinating aspect of the show
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striatic PRO 14 years ago
there are a few shots of the unfurling at the beginning of the tag page for the gates. in fact, i think i made a post to the fotolog group linking to the tag page right after the first gates were unfurled.

but i think with this thread i'm looking more for trends that might continue to build over time.
niznoz PRO 14 years ago
jasper

I had expected to see more pictures in this catergory (i.e. Vandalised Gates), but haven't, mostly because, happily, it doesn't seem to be happening. Possibly because there is a policeman and two 'Gateskeepers' for every individual Gate. Or so it seems.

The above scrawl was being cleaned off moments after I took the picture.
edited, ahem, to avoid posting twice.
admin
striatic PRO 14 years ago
following that .. have any of the gates been stolen yet?
niznoz PRO 14 years ago
I haven't heard of it. And saw no sad, empty platforms in my walk around the park. The "gateskeepers" will give you a small orange square of the banner material if you ask for a sample (or did on Sunday), so that must cut down on banner snagging (they are just within my reach and I'm six ft + -- it would be easy enough to do).

But perhaps someone else has heard of stolen gates.

Won't there be thousands of used gates flooding the market in 13 days? What's going to happen to them when this is all over?
admin
Eric PRO 14 years ago
They are to be recycled. I thought for sure they would be auctioned, but it appears not.
LarimdaME PRO 14 years ago
If you read the official website, they make a big deal of how they will be recycled and not auctioned off. All about how the art is in the moment of the experience, and not the physical gates, and to make sure we all get the point they're gonna make sure nothing, NOTHING remains.

All I need is a pickup truck, a pneumatic ratchet, and an accomplice with a forklift, and I am so gonna snag me a gate. ; )
Eric Eggertson 14 years ago
Nice thread, Striatic. I like the flow of the images, and the comparison of similar images vs. unique images.
Kathryn Yu PRO 14 years ago
Excellent topic. I would add another category: pure orange. A few folks are flooding their viewfinders with all orange, or are examining the fabric at a much closer level of detail.

Additionally, I remember seeing Jeanne-Claude and Christo speak last May about the Gates and one of the reasons for choosing February was snow. Imagine how beautiful it would be if we'd recently had a blizzard!
Metahari 14 years ago
Wow, these are amazing pics. For something so ephemeral, they sure look timeless.
atanas 14 years ago
I saw a blind woman at "The Gates". She went for the experience, which is much more than what can be seen...
Apparently not everyone loves the Gates Especially not Keith Olberman of MSNBC.
Karl Dawson PRO 14 years ago
Nice summary, I saw this event on a blog somewhere but got it confused with being part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. I now assume that this is art for it's own purpose? February needs a bit of cheer and colour, wish I could visit NY now.
atanas 14 years ago
Jasonaut: Re Keith Olbermann -- What better way to attract attention to oneself? Take an issue almost everyone agrees on, and express an opposing opinion. Bingo! You are relevant. You are opinionated. You are bold!!!

He must be slipping in the ratings is my guess...
Jasonaut PRO 14 years ago
I agree. I was a little shocked at the nastiness of his column, but then I guess that's the style of the times.
(It just occurred to me that starting a discussion about opinions of the Gates may not be appropriate to a thread about shooting the Gates. I do not intend to hijack this thread. If anyone's interested in continuing a conversation about the aesthetic "worth" of the Gates project, do you think we should start another thread?)
admin
if you do so, you might want to take it over to the central park group.

also, there is a less self involved, slightly less critical but generally negative review of the gates, here
Here are some more variations I've spotted:


Lia's dog peeing on the gates:




And brendadada did a nice series of parodies or homages.



I did some parodies too, and would be pleased to see more.
emma b 14 years ago
The most original take that I've seen so far on this is tangentialism's sunglasses shot - here
Jasonaut PRO 14 years ago
Done. I've reposted above articles reviewing the Gates project in Central Park.
Ingrid! PRO 14 years ago
why they chose to erect "the gates" in the middle of february is beyond me, but the result is orange against ugly. in mid-winter it would have been orange against white .. in spring/summer, orange against green .. in the fall, orange against, well, orange .. but in february it is orange against BLECH.

Central Park, and New York City in general, is never, ever BLECH.
This is *my* favorite shot of the gates :)

Christo-in-Central-Park

I admit to being bored by the endless copies of the same shot, but this one I like ...
mbeachy 14 years ago
As for the tunnel shots, I took one of them and there's no consortium that I know of.

I think I was mostly attracted to the sun shining through the fabric and the juxtaposition of rectangle with arch.
GustavoG PRO 14 years ago
atanas 14 years ago
"The Gates" from space images, resampled at different resolutions, mirrored on my site. (Only posting because the National Geographic site seems to be down).
Genista PRO 14 years ago
Cool, atanas. Thanks for mirroring.
you know, I was wondering why my panoramic picture was getting so many hits... it is even getting nearly as many as the ones tagged with "breast" and "cleavage".

and behemoth did point out another sneaky way - the reflection.

Enjoy the city this weekend... and be wary of the street meat.
Marjorie Lipan 14 years ago
Now the photo count is in excess of 3500! What is addicting about the Gates is the sense of community that has been fostered. Look at the faces in the photos! Count the cameras. Would that many people have been in Central Park if there were no Gates?

While the Gates themselves will only last for 16 days, will the community be the same? Will seeing these photos cause us to dip into that community sense again?
niznoz PRO 14 years ago
(In response to the above, and yr. statement elsewhere that you will not photograph the Gates 'on principle.')

I'm not sure I buy yr. argument about the Gates. Sure they're being photographed a lot (a lot) right now, but they will never be photographed as much as Central Park (without gates) has over the years. In fact New York gets photographed so much anything you are likely to take a picture of has no-doubt be taken before, again and again and again.

To my mind the only honest photographic response to New York at the moment, is to take photographs in which Christo orange fills the frame, and do it repeatedly. That way you acknowledge the absurdity of an original creative impulse and celbrate the communal nature of humanity.

(I don't think I really buy my argument -- at least, I will continue to take pictures of whatever pleases me. But you raised an interesting point in yr. piece about Flickr going Gates mad. I think the phenomenon of the Gates photographs on flickr is an extreme example of how flickrees play off each other creating photographic trends and tropism. Makes me thing of Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charle's Mackay).
admin
In fact New York gets photographed so much anything you are likely to take a picture of has no-doubt be taken before, again and again and again.

well, i went to new york this weekend, and i couldn't bring myself to photograph half of the things i saw there, gates included.

i think there is a difference between engaging in communal activity and doing the same thing that everyone else is. in communal activity, different people have unique contributions to make to the collective whole, based on communication between individuals in the community.

one of the reasons i wanted to bring attention to the "the gates" tag was so that people would see it and respond to it.

it isn't just the gates, of course. i went to MOMA and saw everyone making the same cameraphone pictures of the same paintings, or everyone in times square taking the same shot of the same advertisement on the same video screen.

and i'm not sure that the only 'honest' response is the instinctual reflex.
many {most?} of the tunnel shots weren't made by flickrites playing off one another, they were made at around the same time, in parallel.

anyhow .. i guess what i want to get at is that by creating something so instantaneously iconic {the gates}.. and then combining that with a system primed to QUICKLY expose trends, similarities and emerging genres {flickr+tags} we may get the oppourtunity to manipulate the iconic meaning before it cements itself.

we are gaining the tools to begin to manipulate what the 'typical' shot of an event is. we aren't there yet, but that's where i think flickr and technologies like it are headed.
atanas 14 years ago
"the only honest photographic response to New York at the moment, is to take photographs in which Christo orange fills the frame, and do it repeatedly"

Bingo!
admin
striatic PRO 14 years ago
"the only honest photographic response to New York at the moment, is to take photographs in which Christo orange fills the frame, and do it repeatedly"

so if i do something other than that, i'm being dishonest?
atanas 14 years ago
C'mon, striatic, don't get all lawyerish on us! What I meant by endorsing niznoz's statement was that The Gates are, by far, the event in NYC right now, whether our egos like it or not. That's all.
admin
that's much different from saying that there's only one way to "honestly" photograph it, which is what you seemed to be endorsing.

i just find that a bit insulting because i went to new york without filling my frame with orange, and the implication is that i am being dishonest for having done so.
Striatic, I don't think that was the implication. It was just one person's way of expressing emphatically the impression the Gates was making on him at the time.
Photography is so personal that I wonder if the words honest and dishonest can even be used within that context. Looking forward to seeing your non-orange NYC pics.
niznoz PRO 14 years ago
Note my (chicken-hearted) disclaimer: I don't think I really buy my argument -- at least, I will continue to take pictures of whatever pleases me.

I think I need to preface most things I say with a big "it could be argued."

Anyway.

(i) I find it very hard to photograph things that a lot of over people are photographing at that moment. It makes me feel like part of the herd and unoriginal, a feeling I'm uncomfortable with (an aspect of my psychology we won't address).

I wonder if part of the reason that "serious" photographers often have "serious" cameras (apart from the obvious technical advantages) is that it sets them apart, at the moment they take the picture, from the casual snapper.

ii)"the only honest photographic response to New York at the moment, is to take photographs in which Christo orange fills the frame, and do it repeatedly"

Hyperbole on my part. My point was isn't all photography like photographing "The Gates?" -- we all photograph things, the narrative we create is how we photograph them.

iii) I agree with you (or I think i'm agreeing with you) that part of what's interesting here is Flickr, which is making Iconography much more interactive.

Anyway -- thanks for starting this thread, and yr. careful piece on how The Gates are being shot
jspaw 14 years ago
Lathyrus 14 years ago
lol. Great piece. Puts everything into "perspective". Thanks for sharing.
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striatic PRO 14 years ago
iii) I agree with you (or I think i'm agreeing with you) that part of what's interesting here is Flickr, which is making Iconography much more interactive.

you're definately agreeing with me.
brendadada 14 years ago
heh.

you wrote:
anyhow .. i guess what i want to get at is that by creating something so instantaneously iconic {the gates}.. and then combining that with a system primed to QUICKLY expose trends, similarities and emerging genres {flickr+tags} we may get the oppourtunity to manipulate the iconic meaning before it cements itself

I absolutely agree. Part of my instinctive response to so much photography in these "photogenic" places is to keep my camera in my pocket. Or parody, if a response is essential.

The way large groups of us can identify themes and somehow subvert them is something I'm increasingly interested in exploring. If we don't, there's a danger we just end up with sameyness. Not sure where I'm going with this, so I'll just add that if I'd been in NY I wouldn't be able to take pictures of them either.
LarimdaME PRO 14 years ago
Part of my instinctive response to so much photography in these "photogenic" places is to keep my camera in my pocket.

And here it is where I have to disagree on two counts.

The first is simply personal. I take pictures mainly for me, to capture the moment and store the memory away for later. If I'm someplace that's photogenic and looks pretty and makes me happy, what other people are doing is irrelevent. I'm gonna take a snap so that 30 years down the line, when I'm cleaning up my files, I'll stumble upon that picture and remember that moment when I was so young and life was so simple (and saffron).

The second is communal. I take my camera out especially when others are taking photos, because that's when I'm going to have to think my hardest on how and where to get that great original shot. And I think it's at these moments that seperate those that have the chops from those that don't (I count myself amonst the latter camp). I'm constantly amazed at how Nachosan can find The Gates images that he does, and it makes me want to head out the park again and see if I can't make my "art" better.


As for identifying trends through flickr, as Striatic did in the original post, this I find very interesting on many levels. But rather then try and subvert the mass consciousness, I would think that the more interesting route would be to data mine it. IE: If I were the Central Park Conservacy (or whomever is the offical merchendiser of The Gates), I would adjust my product lineup to hit upon each of the major trends Striatic identified. Clearly, it's what the people like. And what they like, they will buy (and that's not a bad thing in this case, because all the money goes towards the park and other park related non-profits).
admin
If I'm someplace that's photogenic and looks pretty and makes me happy, what other people are doing is irrelevent.

but here's the thing .. if everyone has their camera out, and we have wide adoption of systems like flickr {or flickr} then effectively everyone has that image. there's no need to replicate it. if one person makes the snap, then everyone has the snap.

{throw in wide adoption of CC for non-commercial use to legally solidify this}

think about the big group shot at the end of a family gathering, with people taking the same shot over and over with different cameras. flickr makes that largely redundant.

and i don't think that it is as far a leap as you might think to rendering a lot of these shots from "photo oppourtunities" redundant as well.

i think this exposes the root of much photography, which is simply to index "i was here", as opposed to interpreting the world or expressing oneself or communicating to other people.

if i can say "i was in new york" with no photographic evidence, and people believe me .. then what use is a photograph as "proof" anyway?
niznoz PRO 14 years ago
Tangent: Think about the wide adoption of flickr-like systems, combined with gps data in each picture (not an unlikely scenario). In heavily photographed areas you'd be able to move through a virtual space-made up of millions of photographs. And to get the unusual shot all the intrepid photographer would have to do is go to that part of the Flickrmap (or whatever) with no photographs on it. It could engender a whole new type of tourism.
admin
a distinct point that i also wanted to add is that one of the most important things that flickr does is blur the line between photographer and viewer.

when we're on flickr, most of us both post and explore, often times in equal measure.

i think there may be a point in the not so distant future where this mentality extends to the photo-making itself.

so say i walk out on to the street ten or twenty years from now with my new gps/wifi enabled camera.

i'm walking down the street, my camera is sending off my GPS coords to a broad based photo collection database {flickr? google?} and that database is sending back to my camera's LCD all of the most recent photographs taken in a twenty meter radius.

how will this influence the photographs we take?

what if, while snapping photos of the statue of liberty, up on my LCD pops up an image taken by the guy beside me with a much longer lens? do i really need to take my own shot, or why not just download his shot to my camera right then and there? {let's assume he's got his camera set up to automatically add a CC license to his photos}
admin
oh shucks .. niznoz beat me to it.

should've included that in my last post.

anyhow, i think people are looking at flickr and seeing what it portents.
Jenguin PRO 14 years ago
what if, while snapping photos of the statue of liberty, up on my LCD pops up an image taken by the guy beside me with a much longer lens? do i really need to take my own shot, or why not just download his shot to my camera right then and there? and the family photo example --

Reasons why I'd be one of the many photographers standing alongside others taking the exact same photo is because I might have a different setting, a different angle, than the other and to be able to say "i took that photo".

I went to a wedding last year, and it was the 'family portrait' moment, there were probably 6 of us standing there taking turns taking the shot. I didn't want to rely on someone else's shot for my collection. That's one of the main reasons I explore the world of photography - otherwise I guess I could just go and buy prints from "professionals" and never have my own spin on things.. my own art.

One last example, just to be annoying ;) - sunsets. Generally look the same.. clouds/no clouds.. colors.. ocean/land.. whatever - the sun is setting. But I took tons of them when I was on the coast because I can now say to someone else "hey look, that's my sunset pic, I took it myself" and feel accomplishment in something that is so common.

If I were in NYC, I'd photograph The Gates. Not just as a "hey look I'm here and being touristy" candid shot - but I'd attempt new and some similar shots I've seen before, and see what happens.
Striatic, when I saw your picture of New York, my first thought was, "I didn't think he lived in NYC." Now I realize that you were visiting. I liked your shot of the buildings of NYC (reminded me of visiting there years ago) and the small inclusion of the orange.

I want one of those GPS/wifi cameras. Put that on that "dreaming" list - wherever that thread is.

I like the sense of acccomplishment of taking my own photograph.

BTW: One of my third graders just went to Orlando this past weekend. I asked her if she took any pictures. She said, "NO." I said, "It's against the law to go on a trip and not take pictures." :) :)
Lathyrus 14 years ago
Striatic, I do get where you are coming from. However,what is the degree of dissimiliarity between photos taken from the same spot. The photoromp photos that you and Optimus Prime have taken are similiar and yet different. What amazes me is that like an artist each photographer has a distinctive style. I enjoy the disimiliarities that can be seen looking at photos of the "same scene" taken by different photographers. When looking at the gates tag on Flickr it is amazing to see how many different photos there are of the same subject.
Is it really possible to have an identical photo of the same image?
visel 14 years ago
hallo! in conjunction with flickr, the institute for the future of the book has just started a project on remembering the gates at www.gatesmemory.org - please contribute your thoughts & photos! we're using photos (with "attribution-sharealike" licenses) tagged gatesmemory - if you have photos already on flickr that you'd like to use, add the tag. using the flickr api, we want to see what we - and other people - can do with a lot of photos of the same things . . .
ordinary voice [deleted] 14 years ago
Professional photographers spend a lot of time taking photographs of stuff that everyone has taken a picture of and have to find a compelling angle or view.

I thought the way we see it was interesting because it's all about sending a pile of photographers to the same place and looking at the different images they come back with.

Second, I found these on a flickrbrowse earlier today the gates of katanah - made me laugh.
hummanna PRO 14 years ago
thanks for posting this striatic.
gaspi *yg 14 years ago
people and the gates, and I don't mean crowds or incidental scenes... people and the gates, a flickr set
striatic wrote:
i think this exposes the root of much photography, which is simply to index "i was here", as opposed to interpreting the world or expressing oneself or communicating to other people.

I agree completely. Unless we have something new to add, it is preferable to just enjoy the view. Interestingly I have of late been 'following' another Flickrite around a very photogenic city. We take pictures in the same places, but of different things. Which is hardly surprising really, but it is fascinating to compare them. We came within 5 minutes of meeting each other in the same spot on Monday :)

However I don't know if I am starting to feel differently about this in respect of the Gates now that they're gone. I'm glad that there are thousands of photographs, some pretty much identical. Can't say I feel the same about the Tyne bridge or the Statue of Liberty though.

Or Uluru. There must be millions and millions of tourist snapshots of Uluru. People line up at sunrise and dusk every day and take as many pictures as they can. It must be the most photographed chunk of orange on the planet. Only 139 images on Flickr though.

Yes, thanks for posting this striatic. A great way into this huge collection.

edit:
This one's my favourite:
www.flickr.com/photos/tokyofortwo/6153523/
and this one of course:
www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/5240504/

:))))
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