Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The poor man's Photoshop

click photo to enlarge
"Elephant's bum or tulip", said the glazier who came to repair my broken window. Now I'm used to tradesmen and the professions using jargon. I know that it's sometimes done for reasons of technical precision. But often it's part of a deliberate attempt to exclude the public and promote an aura of expertise. Practitioners in the law and medicine are past masters at these obfuscatory arts, and plumbers aren't far behind! However, the twinkle in my glazier's eye suggested that he was about to share his secret with me, rather than simply put me in the dark. I was curious to know more!

The glass he was replacing was obscure glass - designed to let in light without revealing what is inside the room. The variety was known as "Large Flemish", and his question was intended to elicit whether I wanted the pattern one way up, or the other! Look at the central shape in the glass in the photograph - that's "elephant's bum" - from the resemblance to that creature's posterior. Now imagine the shape inverted - that's "tulip"! Simple, graphic, memorable. And splendidly silly!

All this was brought to mind when I took a photograph of a book I saw behind an open door glazed with "Large Flemish" glass. The image on the book was pleasingly distorted, and the colours mixed together in a manner that reminded me of Gaugin. I took several shots, and the one above is the best of the bunch. Photoshop? Who needs it? Here's the poor man's substitute!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen