Ship-Street Salvatore

In "Pages from The Oxford Book of Tourists", I wrote about the continuing lack of colour amongst Oxford's visitors:
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street, Oxford.

I'd once thought that it would be a lovely idea if some philanthropic company would do for clothing what Dulux did for buildings in their "Let's Colour" campaign, donating paint around the world in a mission to add colour to people's lives. Imagine Salvatore Ferragamo donating a design from his Milan spring/summer 2013 men's collection to every one of Oxford's 155,000 inhabitants. I mention this particular show because the vigour and purity of its colours still impresses me.

When I thought that, I tried recolouring a few photos to show how much more joyful it would make our streets. But the image processing was horrible, because I needed to cut the people to be coloured from their backgrounds. The "intelligent scissors" in my Gimp image-processing tool are as stupid as the proverbial bag of hammers, and none of the online cutting tools are any better.

But technology advances. Last year, I wrote about style transfer: re-painting one image in the style of another. The researchers who made such an advance in this work — Leon Gatys, Alexander Ecker and Matthias Bethge — have now, with their colleagues Łukasz Kidziński and Michał Warchoł, created a website at http://deepart.io. Go to the Create Your Own page, and you can upload an image to repaint, and an image to give the new style. Repainting takes only a few minutes. The site is painless to use, except that when I tried to register for my own account, it never mailed me the verification link, so the account was left in limbo, un-log-innable-to. Mailing the administrator at admin@deepart.io was no help, as he or she never replied. However, you don't seem to need to register: I presume it's just easier to keep track of your images if you do.

Here's a screenshot of some results. I found four photos of Ferragamo's Milan spring/summer 2013 men's show. I then asked DeepArt to repaint my drab-tourists image in the style of each. Here's a screenshot of its results page:
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street Oxford, recoloured with deepart.io to approximate the colours of Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.

And here are the results individually. Click on any one to see it enlarged.
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street Oxford, recoloured with deepart.io to approximate the colours of Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street Oxford, recoloured with deepart.io to approximate the colours of Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street Oxford, recoloured with deepart.io to approximate the colours of Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.
Group of drab tourists in Ship Street Oxford, recoloured with deepart.io to approximate the colours of Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.

The results aren't perfect: there is cross-coupling between style and content. This is very noticeable in the final image, where the walls show definite signs of jacket. It probably hasn't helped that in this run, the people in the styling image were much bigger than those in the content.

And there is leakage from one part of an object to another. For example, the top recoloured image has a number of spotty areas such as the legs of the person with the backpack on the left. DeepArt must have derived these from the cardigan on the right of the complete styling image, shown here. (It's from a report by Gildas Le Roux in The Times of Malta for July 1 2012.):
Screenshot of the 'Times of Malta's report on the Milan Male Spring-Summer 2013 collections, showing Salvatore Ferragamo's Milan 2013 spring/summer men's collections.

So DeepArt is a quick and fun way to recolour images, although not perfectly. But one can tweak the styling image to reduce unwanted effects on the content. More on this later.

The Security Guard’s Hand

Some cartoon clichés don't happen. There are no flying saucers with anntenaed aliens stepping thereout, no single-palmed desert islands surrounded by sharks, and no little boys with a bandage round their jaw to relieve toothache. But I know one cliché that did happen: a man putting his hand in front of my camera to stop me photographing. This is the hand:
Security guard's hand in front of my camera, obscuring Tracery bolero jacket hung on the door handle of Podarok in the Clarendon Shopping Centre, Oxford.

The hand, and presumably the keys, belong to the security guard in the Clarendon Shopping Centre in Oxford. I was photographing a jacket, and had hung it on the door to Podarok, one of the shops there. I thought its pattern went with the background formed by the door handles and shop interior. The guard didn't like this. It would be alright, he said, to photograph Podarok from outside the Clarendon Centre, but not from inside it, because Podarok was private property. Since almost every piece of land in this country is private property, the reason seemed suspect. But the guard was insistent.

This didn't seem consistent. A few days ago, a big group of English-language students — Oxford overflows with them during the summer — were sitting near Podarok taking photos of each other on their phones. No guards were stopping them. Anyway, like so many other shops in Oxford, Podarok has closed down. The Clarendon should be more welcoming.

Cranston-Pickle Pink

Cranston Pickles bubble-and-squeak Scotch eggs. One is sliced open, showing the pink colour of the coating.
It isn't often that my clothing gets compared to a Scotch egg. In fact, until Wednesday, it was never. But then in the Gloucester Green market, I stopped to look at a new food stall. It was called "Cranston Pickles" — no relation to Branston, but the owner's surname — and sold pickles and vegetarian Scotch eggs.


While I was looking at these, the stall's owner said "That matches your outfit!" What I was wearing was the pink Gerry Weber silk jacket which I posted about last summer:
Pink silk jacket

I tried one of her spicy kedgeree eggs, and the coating was pleasingly light, without the cloddy heaviness that I find in the supermarket brands. These show a combination of stodge and impenetrability which inspired one humourist — Alan Coren perhaps, or Bill Bryson — to describe these as eggs coated with firebrick.

But this blog is supposed to be about colour, not taste. So I then decided to find out whether Cranston Scotch-egg pink really does match my outfit. I loaded photos of the egg, and of my jacket, into the Gimp image-processing program, cut out a small uniform portion of each, and fed both these into 3D Color Inspector, Kai Uwe Barthel's colour-analysis program that I wrote about here. This plots the distribution of colours in colour cubes with axes representing the strengths of red, green, and blue. Here are my results, the jacket colours on the left:


I conclude that my jacket is a purer colour, and more towards the white. Which I thought it would be; I just decided I'd use this post to remind readers of 3D Color Inspector's existence, as well as writing about some colourful and tasty new foods I'd seen. So thanks to Cranston for the photos and the eggs. Now, has anyone written a Taste Inspector program?... Output from (imaginary) Taste Inspector 3D program, favourably comparing the Cranston Pickles Scotch egg with one from a well-known supermarket.

Wolvercote Horticultural Summer Colours

Orange-red rose, displayed on table as exhibit in Wolvercote Horticultural Society summer show.

I've blogged quite a few photo-posts about spring and summer flower colours, to show how much better we could do with our clothes if our attitude to them matched our love of flowers. I'll use the splendid rose exhibit above to open another. I love the rose because it's vivid, its colour is consistent all across the petals, and it's an unusual shade. This exhibit grabbed my attention when I saw it in real life, and it grabs my attention when I see it in photos.

I say exhibit: this was one of the items displayed at yesterday's Wolvercote Horticultural Society summer show. There are photos of some others below. Photo number five is striking because of the orange flower at the focus of the arrangement.

WHS had a textile section as well as flowers, from which I've shown a colourful tapestry stool. The judges' label on it reads, "Lovely stool with a bright and detailed design. Love the way the braiding on edge matches the design." I'd give the exhibitor's name, but they were anonymous, known only as Exhibitor No. 28.

Nina Boutique Silk Striped Top

Here's an impressive striped top by Nina Boutique. The reason I'm impressed is that it's so carefully cut; one could call it sculptural. I've tried to bring that out in the last three photos.

Nina Boutique striped silk top.
Nina Boutique striped silk top, showing label.
Nina Boutique striped silk top.
Nina Boutique striped silk top, showing button.
Nina Boutique striped silk top.
Nina Boutique striped silk top.
Nina Boutique striped silk top.

I'm told that this top would have been made in the late 70's, perhaps on sale for evening wear from a small boutique in an area such as Chelsea or Kensington . It could have cost around £400, which would have been several weeks' wages.

Mallow

Mallow flower on towpath of Oxford canal. Here's another in my series on seasonal colours. I saw this on the towpath of the Oxford canal, and liked the colour and pattern. I suspect it's a mallow. The photo is a close-up: the flower in its entirety is below.

Mallow flower on towpath of Oxford canal.