Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sunday Quiz 

When I was a little kid, nearly all the furniture in our house was dark and imposing; heavy dark oak that towered above me, or dark polished walnut, it all had a rather stern, unfriendly air about it. One piece that was outwardly of a finer, less austere character than the others was my father’s bureau, but this was imposing for another reason: I was only ever allowed to open it if specifically told to do so, to fetch something or other – a pair of scissors, say. It was Dad’s Desk, and his sovereign territory.

However, there was one drawer within it to which I had access: this was where all the puzzles and games were kept. These were very different from modern games – plastics had not yet become ubiquitous, and electronics hadn’t moved out of the radiogram; the majority were made from nothing more than card and paper. There were a great number word games of one sort or another, card games, old favourites such as Ludo and Snakes and Ladders, and an early edition of Monopoly. But all these needed at least two to play, and since my brother and sister were several years older than me I often had to make my own amusement. However there were two small boxes in this games drawer to which I returned time and again. They each contained a set of rather strange black-and-white photos: “Everyday Objects Photographed from Unusual Angles” the boxes declared. I don’t know what the rules were, how the game was played; I probably couldn’t even read when I first discovered them, I only remember being fascinated by these peculiar pictures with their blurred, abstract shapes. I’d take each card and go round the house trying to find objects that matched. Eventually of course I learned what they all were, but that didn’t diminish the fascination; instead it was almost enhanced by being able mentally to juxtopose both the normal and the bizarre perspectives.

One summer, years later when I was a student, I found myself with time on my hands and thought I’d have a go at producing my own set of such photos. Mostly macros, the difficulty in recognising the objects is actually increased by enlarging them to many times life-size, so I printed these at 10 x 8 inches using my home-made enlarger. I passed them round visitors for a while but then the novelty wore off; they were put away in an envelope and forgotten.

Clearing out a cupboard, I stumbled on that envelope earlier today. I thought it’d be fun to post some of those images here – see how many you recognise and drop me a comment; some are easy, some less so. No prizes, I’m afraid.

The camera, for anyone interested, was that student workhorse, the Russian-made Zenith E, using the standard lens with extension tubes or bellows as appropriate.











(Answers are here)

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