Andrew Revitt

The Proximity

19 September 2015

Saturday morning as the sun rises over Le Brevent, prepare to drop into the couloir and fly as close as possible to all kinds of deadly terrain.

See the full story on Exposure

Proximity flyer by Julia Revitt on Exposure

Porsche Classics at the Castle

07 September 2015

Hedingham hosts Porsche Classics at the Castle and this time celebrated the advent of the Fuhrmann engine and the four cam Porsche Carrera. The later Carrera RS and RSR are some of my favourites though.

Porsche Carrera RSR
Porsche Carrera RSR shot with VSCO

Le Shuttle

10 August 2015

Le Shuttle is the car transporting arm of the Eurotunnel group, responsible for the 31 mile long tunnel under the sea channel between England and France. The passenger service opened at the end of 1994 and I have been using it on and off for much of the last 16 years.

For the first half of it's life it was a pleasant change from ferries, which had become scruffy and slow, but for the last few years it is as tired now as the ferry services it disrupted.

Exiting Eurotunnel

In 2014 ET claims to have 51.5% of passanger traffic and 93% customer satisfaction. In 2014 I used the service 4 times and was delayed worst than ever before and I have never been asked about customer satisfaction.

As the rolling stock gets older and ET increases traffic year on year, there are more and more delays or 're timed' as ET calls them. You can tell how the company thinks if it can't even admit something as simple as a delay and has to re brand it.

This summers problems haven't helped but even if you ignore them, the service has not improved. Nothing has changed since the service has been introduced, other than the constant sms and emails telling you to arrive on time for your departure, even though they are the ones causing the delays.

The last trip we were delayed on the way out, even though we arrived on time for our departure, causing us to be on the road an extra 2 hours to avoid Operation Stack. On the way back we arrived early, and were offered a departure 30 mins before our scheduled one. We took it and then they delayed us until after are original booked time. We sat in the heat in the car after being told to proceed to boarding. The shuttle itself was hot as hell, at least 36 degrees, and on arrival the divider doors wouldn't opened so we say for another 10 mins.

This is not uncommon, in fact we've had similar service on all our shuttles over the past 3 years. Last year we sat in the car for 4 hours after being told to proceeed to boarding. You can never get any refund for delays or problems.

Until ET addresses the user experience and not the shareholders returns we will be looking at the ferries again.

The Drive

07 July 2015

My dad used to love driving. He taught me to drive and although I spent a lot of time on 2 wheels the attraction of 4 has become stronger over time.

Towards the end he wasn’t such a fan, things have changed drastically on the roads in the last 50 years and none of it for the better. The majority of driving these days is on congested urban roads or on motorways, and that has little appeal or challenge.

The rise of the driverless car (needs a better name) doesn’t inspire me. They are obviously designed to avoid accidents and so you could easily bully your way through queues of them as they would move out of your way, but by that point insurance companies will no doubt be penalising anyone driving themselves.

Porsche 991 GTS
Porsche 991 GTS on Hypebeast

These cars are for people who don’t want to drive themselves, but also don’t want to take a taxi or bus ? People obviously like their independence but aren’t you losing a the main part with this technology - the driving? I understand not everyone loves driving and they just want to get somewhere and this removes the driving part, but then you are paying a hell of a lot for a taxi.

Driverless cars will all be using to same system to avoid accidents, traffic, whilst obeying the rules, so you will end up in a queue of similar vehicles but at least you can legally take a selfie or check Facebook.

I’m no fan of commuting by car, thankfully I don’t have to, but I do drive long distances across Europe. There are still great drives to be had. There are still great cars to drive, although for how much longer I don’t know.

My ultimate drive would be across the alps in a Porsche 911. It’s a journey I’ve done a few times but always in an underpowered car with a full load. The 911 is an iconic design, so good you can recognise it in the original.

You have to get in the car and drive it, there is no other way to understand it - Errolson Hugh

Acronym founder Errolson Hugh made a video with Porsche some time ago that sums up the 911 experience better than I can here.

There is still time to enjoy such a car, to love driving again, I just need to think of a Kickstarter campaign that would get me in one.


23 June 2015

Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, and is hosted by Sarah Koenig. Unlike the majority of podcasts I've listened to, Serial tells one true story over the course of an entire 12 episode series.

Serial is the story of the murder of Hae Min Lee, an American student and the arrest and conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Initially I was reluctant to download the podcast not being a fan of true crime and the general poor production qualities of podcasts, but after previewing a few minutes of one of the episodes, this was obviously very different.


I had listened to an episode of This American Life some time ago but generally most of the podcasts I occasionally listen to are weekly design or tech related and generally not that great. Serial is magnitudes better than most podcasts. High production values, its own soundtrack, and no ad interruptions. Sarah Koenig is a great narrator for her own investigations and I think this is it's main selling point. In an age of celebrity glamour and ad soaked content, designed for people with short attention spans, Serial avoids all the pitfalls.

The episodes range between 30 and 60 mins breaking down the varies stages of the case and Koenig skillfully looks at all sides without playing one over the other. In this day and age, this type of journalism seems very rare. It's an enthralling story, well paced and well made and never too long. Leaves you wanting more like all good series. It's never distasteful or overblown like most crime reporting seems to be.

This podcast brings the quality of audio books to the podcast medium and with further series planned, let's hope more of the same follows.

Serial Podcast site.

Escapes by Stefan Bogner

16 June 2015

An unusual photography book from Curves magazines' Stefan Bogner, it features a visual record of many road passes of the European Alps. These ribbons of tarmac traverse some of the most beautiful scenery in the Alps and have themselves become part of that landscape. Taken from a drivers perspective in many cases, these are fascinating looks at the alps when not covered in snow.


Featuring many classics alpine passes such as as the Gotthard Pass connecting north and south Switzerland, the Stelvio in Italy and Col du Galibier in France. A beautiful hardcover coffee table book with 224 pages containing 152 color photos, 3 black and white and a few paragraphs of text, in German.

Available on Amazon.

Review: Ex Machina

09 June 2015

I have been looking forward to this movie from Alex Garland for a while. It's billed as a 'chilling vision of the not-too-distant future of artificial intelligence' and the basic storyline is of a genius billionaire bringing a programmer to his mountain retreat to test a robot for AI.

AVA and Kyoko
Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno) and AVA (Alicia Vikander) in Ex Machina

On the surface it's a well paced, stylish visual piece, but ultimately let down by a poor script and less than believable characters. It's one of those movies which isn't that far into the future that you can suspend your disbelief and most of the story was obvious to me before it happened. Man builds girlfriends, man treats girlfriends badly, girlfriends team up on man. Throw is some vague science/tech, mention Alan Turing a lot, and some obvious hints at Google and privacy.

It starts without dialogue when Bluebook programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to visit the CEO's residence in the mountains. Bluebook is seemingly now the world's number one search engine going by CEO Nathan's (Oscar Issac) estate. Nathan is a genius who wrote Bluebook at 13 and has now managed, on his own, to assemble a perfect robot, with AI in a mountain retreat, with only a helicopter, which takes 2 hours just fly over his estate, occasionally visiting him.

He does have enough fibre-optic cabling in the walls "to reach the moon and lasso it", though. Not sure how this helps though. Seems to impress Caleb which tells you enough about his skill set. Nathan and Caleb have an uneasy relationship and this is where the main tension of the film hangs and where it mostly fails. Caleb weak, Nathan strong.

It's not until we meet AVA (Alicia Vikander) and Caleb's interactions with her (it?) that the movie gets interesting. Nathan and Kyoko (Sonoya Mizuno), the 'maid', are also interesting and when they break into dance it looks like the movie is finally getting some drama. Obvious plot direction ruins the rest of the movie though.

There was a lack of tension caused by knowing what was going to happen and even the attempt at a plot twist at the end was poorly executed. I found both Caleb and particularly Nathan's characters unbelievable or possibly obvious. AVA and Kyoko, albeit the robots came over as much more interesting characters.

Obvious parallels to Blade Runner with the Turing test (Voight Kampff) and AVA/Rachel, even to point that AVA looks a lot like Rachel at the end, leaving across the mountains to city as opposed to the other way around. At one point Kyoko looks exactly like one of the aliens in 'They Live'.

There were some nice ideas, Nathan's use of the Bluebooks data to build the AI and use of Caleb's porn searches to model AVA's face but these were lost amongst the bigger ideas from other places (2001, Blade Runner, Logans Run, I Robot etc). A shame really as the movie avoided a lot of Hollywood's gloss and over use of action and CGI but felt very flat by the end.

The problem with Unsplash

02 June 2015

Stock photography has had it's day. You can spot it a mile away, templates, corporate sites and material thrived on it. Working in an agency I often found myself downloading pokey little jpgs and filling holes in the content with them. Often coming back later to spend large amounts of money on full size copies. Strangely it's not even that easy to get your work into these stock libraries. Anything with 'out of focus' areas, bokeh, will often get your photo rejected. Many creative shots are not great stock shots sellers.

Cable car on unsplash
Glacier 3000 cable car Switzerland on Unsplash

So when Unsplash arrived a couple of years ago, a fresh look at stock photos was born. Unsplash avoids the stock photo library problems by accepting pretty much anything but only featuring their curated shots. And of course it's all free. The licence is Creative Commons Zero which means you can do whatever you want with them. Great for users, lousy for photographers. It is pretty much a hipster fest of photography, so that does limit its appeal to the corporates but they have started to get onboard, its free after all.

So why would anyone put a photo on Unsplash? What's to gain? I asked myself the same question when I uploaded a photo back in February of 2014. My reason was simple, I had used a couple of photos in projects (my current header is from Charles Forerunner) and as there is nothing you can really do to pay back, I put a photo of my own up. I thought if it takes off something might come of it. Currently it's ranked 703rd and has had 21,375 downloads (from Unsplash). You can imagine how many the top ranked images are getting.

So what's the problem?

As I see it there are a few. Unsplash has been a big success for Crew, the company who put it together. Even getting the likes of Zeldman to pick a few NY shots recently. Great for them but what have they given back to the community that made them successful?

I have no problem with the licence to give your work away free, I have problems with the distribution part. In practice it sounds fine but the reality is Russian spam and malware sites are as free to distribute them as Unsplash. Backlinks from these sites you don't want.

The amount of sites that have ripped, scrapped and plain hacked the Unsplash photos to make them their own is depressing, if not surprising.

Now that it's so popular wouldn't it be nice to have a option to donate to the photographer or some other method of recompense? We did get a thank you email.

So what have I gotten from this exercise? You could count the backlinks on your body parts, so web traffic isn't worth it. Nobody has contacted me to say thanks or ask a questions or anything. And nothing at all has come from it. The sites using the photo are mostly spammers, seo building companies, WordPress templates and the odd blog. I've seen a couple with credits. The only people to have gained from Unsplash are Crew.

Ultimately there are no killer images on Unsplash. Mine is far from mainstream and never going to be that popular. It's b roll photography, I imagine most people did the same, put something up see what happens. Apple isn't coming calling anytime soon people.

I thought about taking it down and closing the account, but once it's out there it's gone for good. Imagine if I had a pound for every download though - how many Leicas is that?


27 May 2015

Geneva is a city with many faces. The lake side full of leisure and tourists, the shopping district, the old town, the expo and airport district and the multi faceted residential areas.

Geneva streetlife
Geneva streetlife on flickr