Month: November 2009

Famous Belgians

According to Graham at Linguism, some people think Belgium is an adjective. Well, whatever. What struck me about his post was his claim that “most people find it difficult to name ten famous Belgians without falling back on Tintin and Hercule Poirot.”

One of Belgium’s problems in the competition for famous representatives is that it is such a young country, formed in 1830-1831.

Mailbag: A book of idioms

Right ReadingĀ  received the following e-mail (slightly edited) from Jag Bhalla.

Better brains through foreign-language learning

A study by a research team appointed by the European Commission finds that multililngualism may benefit brains in a variety of ways: learning in general complex thinking and…

An interesting WordPress theme

Khoi Vinh and Allan Cole recently released an interesting WordPress theme called Basic Maths. Like Vinh’s own blog, Subtraction (which the new theme somewhat resembles), Basic Maths aggressively…

How to improve your writing (and your love life)

According to a study by diabolical psychologist Joe Forgas of the University of New South Wales, unhappy people make the best writers. He did a series of experiments…

Vatican type

Yesterday I showed some ancient inscribed letterforms from Ostia Antica. Today we flash forward some seventeen hundred years to this inscription over a gate in the Vatican complex, which is dated 1831.

Classical letterforms from Ostia

Here is some handsome lettering from ruins at the ancient port city of Ostia, west of Rome. I don’t know what period this fragment dates to, although the…

Photography’s rule of thirds

There’s nothing new about the rule of thirds — it’s almost a photographic cliche. Still, as a, well, rule of thumb there’s a good deal of sense in it. Let’s have a look.

One of the worst instincts of amateur photographers is to aim the camera directly at the main subject, as if it were game to be bagged. You can see this in society pages, like one in the back of a magazine I’m responsible for (I try to keep the section’s space to a minimum). The photographer’s strategy in these situations is just about always to line the swells up in a grinning row facing the camera. You can see what I mean in the above image (I’ve replaced the people’s faces with smilies so as not to embarrass anyone).

The rule of thirds says that you’re better off arranging your composition with a main element a third of the way from one of the edges. In effect you imagine your image as composed of nine equal rectangles. Consider this image from the Sentiero degli Dei in the Lattari Mountains above Amalfi.