Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 15

Today is the last day for orders before Christmas! Buy your calendar today and we’ll post it to you in time for the holidays. It’s the perfect gift for that special geek in your life – even if that geek is simply you.

Our last advent present to you is another photograph of Jonathan Ross, looking quite the evil genius.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 14

For a bit of fun, our journalists hid behind their newspapers in our September photoshoot. Having to hide your opinion about scientific and medical topics for fear of being sued for libel is wrong, and the laws that force this kind of behaviour are outdated. Geek Calendar is raising money for the campaign to change this. Buy your calendar today to support Libel Reform. And if you buy it now, we’ll post it to you before Christmas.

For more out-takes from this shoot, pop along to calendar star Ed Yong's blog post.

Monday, 13 December 2010

And the winner is...

A couple of weeks ago we asked you to send in a photo of your Geek Calendar in a suitably nerdy setting. The photo that impressed us the most was by @kingmuskar on Twitter. Mostly because his calendar is so wonderfully framed by a Rancor beast, and at least one of the Geek Calendar judges is a big Star Wars nerd:

@geekcalendar  Yay, my #geekcalender arrived today and is bei... on Twitpic

You can't say we're totally biased towards our preferences though. The very same judge (okay, it's me) is very scared of dogs and yet this photo by @shell_here was chosen as the runner-up entry:

@Wossy The Professor's so adorable! Here are my elder st... on Twitpic

Congratulation to @kingmuskar, who will win a signed copy of Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw's book, Why Does E=MC2?, and @shell_here, who is getting some limited edition Geek Calendar badges in the post.

p.s. We also loved this photo of the Geek Calendar and a Christmas pterosaur that was posted after the competiton deadline. Thanks @physicus!

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 13

Petra Boynton’s shoot took place at Cross Bones Graveyard, where prostitutes, the poor and other outcasts of society were buried until its closure in 1853. Every 23rd day of every month, a small group of people gather to honour those buried at Cross Bones. Their lives are commemorated with ribbons and tokens tied to the gates seen in the background of Petra’s calendar photo. In this alternative shot, you can see the gates in their full glory.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 12

We decided to see what Frank the rabbit got up to after Adam Rutherford’s Donnie Darko-inspired shoot. Frank said he uses public transport to reduce his carbon pawprint.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 11

Photographing comic artist Sydney Padua in her studio was like capturing a lovely creature in its natural habitat. This alternative shots shows her drawing the cartoon that we included in our pre-order prize draw.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 10

When the Geek Calendar crew piled into the home of Gia Milinovich and Brian Cox, a few days after Brian had recovered from altitude sickness and in the middle of them moving house, we did not expect our Valentine’s couple to be such good sports. Gia had back-combed her hair into the perfect 1950s hairstyle, and Brian looked dapper in his tuxedo and monocle. In this out-take, our photographer Greg took things back to basics with a lovely portrait.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Our Videographers, part 2: Greg Foot

The next in our series highlighting our videography team is our star Editor, Greg Foot (you've heard from him on this blog before).

This is something of a coup for us really, as Greg is now a TV star with a growing fan following. He recently convinced Gavin Henson to take 750,000 volts of electricity and you might have seen him on BBC3 recently. We knew him way back when he was but a wee lad....

Greg the filmmaker

Would you call yourself a geek?

Yep, definitely! Geek and proud! I don’t have an obsession over one particular thing like many geeks do, I’m just really interested in how the world works and finding fun, different ways to understand it. My twitter stream is full of links to cool or quirky science stories I’ve come across, wicked little videos of experiments & high-speed camera stuff, or just some clever little animation.

However, my main geeky side is probably linked to my love of escaping the Big Smoke for an adrenaline fix. I’m never happier than when I’m careening down a piste or surfing across a wave, but I’ll always find myself wondering about how long that wave has travelled to get here or how the latest climbing tech has been designed to get you up that rockface and keep you safe. So, my geeky passion is in uncovering the science that’s all around us and we never really think about.

What's the geekiest thing you've ever done?

Ha! Well, that’ll probably be when I decided to get my mates together for a big dodgeball tournament (love that film!). That meant fancy dress of course, so I drew on some geek inspiration and went as C3PO. We’re talking full-on gold costume with wires, gold boots etc! The mask got in the way a bit tho. Which is why we didn’t win of course...

[INSERT IMAGINATION HERE. Greg declined to provide photographic evidence of this escapade, sadly.]

Which was your most enjoyable Geek Calendar shoot?

Well, I actually only went to a couple of shoots as Barry J Gibb and Tom Ziessen kindly offered to go film them for us so I could tackle the editing! Watching Evan Harris maneuvering giant chess pieces in torrential rain in the BMA quad has to stand out!

Face Off

What was the biggest challenge in putting the videos together?

Trawling through over a dozen tapes and then cutting all that material down to a short trailer vid! Our geeks said so much interesting stuff about their jobs, their geekiness and their passionate thoughts on Libel Reform it was hard to select the best bits!

Do you have a favourite month from the calendar?

I think Adam Rutherford’s photo is my favourite. It’s a brill shot in a great location that captures Adam’s film-loving geeky side. Plus, thinking of Mun-Keat being inside that bunny outfit on the hottest day of the year always makes me laugh – that’s some serious dedication to the Geek Calendar cause right there!

January 2011

How did you get into filmmaking?

When I was at uni studying science I got really into making short films and radio shows. I still wanted to stick with my passion for science but wanted to combine it with this newly discovered creative side so after I graduated I spent a fun year doing a Masters in Science Media Production at Imperial College London. That opened doors for some cracking work experience and since then I’ve been working in-front and behind the camera making science documentaries.

I think the key now to getting a job in TV or as an online multimedia producer is to have as many strings to your bow as possible. So if you want to get into this sort of thing jump at every chance you get to learn how to shoot, write, edit and make great tea! Oh, and chat to as many people as possible as you never know where the next job will come from.

What's a normal day in the life of a filmmaker?

I’m freelance so every day is different – which is great because you don’t get bored, but also a bit of a juggling act! Until recently I’ve been most often found huddled over a laptop coming up with new TV show ideas for an independent TV company, filming and editing taster tapes, or eating far too many biscuits in brainstorms!

In amongst those days I’d been squeezing in the really fun days where I could be found on the beach teaching a bunch of students about the science of surfing or out filming a show and getting to do cool things like build an Archimedes Death Ray. In the last few months though I’ve been spending more time on the latter type, so fingers crossed for more!

Who's your favourite geek?

That’s a really tricky one. I’m torn between two. Carl Sagan has to get a mention for being such a passionate science communicator and for enthusing so many people with the wonder of the cosmos.

The second is a curveball – Garrett Lisi. He’s the guy who proposed his model for a unified field theory a few years back. But I don’t mention him for his scientific work (which received a whole barrage of both support and skepticism), but more his way of life: he lives in Maui and splits him time between theoretical physics and big wave surfing. And for me, that’s a geek I want to be like!

Anthony Garett Lisi

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 9

This photograph of Chris Addison examining the runners of an airfix model spaceship was Mun-Keat’s favourite shot. It was a very close second indeed!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 8

The old adage goes “never work with children or animals”. In this shoot, we worked with both (although the animals, including my cuddly polar bear Ice Cube, were stuffed). In this shot, Simon Singh's baby son Hari shows early signs of comedy genius as he yawns while Simon reads his great tome, the Big Bang.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Our videographers, part 1: Barry J Gibb

Along the things we're most proud of at Geek calendar are our fantastic videos. The trailer has been viewed over 10,000 times (and not just by us!) and the Geeks on Geekiness and Geeks on Libel Reform vids were featured on the Guardian. All this was made possible by our fabulous videography unit, and we'd like to pay tribute to them with the latest in our series of posts on Team Geek Calendar.

First up, star cameraman Barry J Gibb (no relation to a certain 70s pop star...). Barry is a Multimedia Editor at the Wellcome Trust (watch his films on their YouTube channel), a former neuroscientist, author of The Rough Guide to the Brain, and a massive gamer.

Barry filming

Would you call yourself a geek?

Affirmative. And in that sense I think I grew up feeling a bit abnormal. Not until I made it to university did I realise the planet was also populated by these other oddities who were obsessed by machines, biology, history, science... It was a nice moment.

What's the geekiest thing you've ever done?

Maybe it was when I made my Steve Austin (the Bionic Man) action man figure ride the programmable vehicle, Big Trak. In my mind, this was technological nirvana. It might have been the time I wrangled over my gamer tag for days (until settling on 'digitaldestiny'). It's really hard to say; I still show off how many online kills I got to my wife as she nods wryly.

Which was your most enjoyable Geek Calendar shoot?

Probably the one with Brian and Gia, though not for the reasons people might think. I tend to be entirely oblivious to fame and celebrity - as far as I was concerned this was just another shoot for my mates. That said I'm quite voyeuristic and love watching people (this does help if you're a filmmaker).

What struck me was, far away from the usual lights, cameras and fuss they must inevitably experience, were two lovely human beings with a young child and cats. And we were in their home. It was touching and a real privilege to share a slice of their 'real' lives.

cat and camera portrait

Which was the most challenging shoot?

Easy. Lewis Dartnell's. Every thing about his shoot was a challenge (which makes it a lot more fun, actually). Interview? In the taxi on the way to the observatory - rubbish audio, confined space, jiggling around...

Then we get to the observatory whereupon I felt compelled to explain to those around me (except Ben, the photographer) that cameras, like the human eye, tend to work by capturing light, a phenomenon that appeared to have escaped everyones attention as we stood in the pitch black dome. Pretty much every day I will thank the Gods for my iPhone but on that day it was vital: my entire dome shoot was lit by Louise's screen being maxed out. Oh, and I managed to get locked in!

Do you have a favourite month from the calendar?

They're all such wonderful images but if I had to pick one it would be July (Aleks Krotoski). The composition and setting are wonderful and the intensity of her personality shines.

July 2011

How did you get into filmmaking?

By sheer force of will. I don't believe you can do anything well unless you love it. For years I loved science at the lab bench but then I became aware of new ways of expressing this fondness for the natural world, through words and film.

I resigned, went freelance (my parents thought I'd lost it), wrote The Rough Guide to The Brain and reinvented myself as a science filmmaker. I'd been using Final Cut Pro for fun since its very first version, so it was just a question of finding people brave enough to take a punt on me and my new camera. I worked harder than I'd ever worked before, got film gigs, became known at the Sheffield Doc/Fest and never looked back.

What's a normal day in the life of a filmmaker?

A good day involves filming or editing. Everything else is a distraction. For example, I'm writing this on my iPad as I travel to Edinburgh to make a film about a very cool breakthrough involving blood. There hasn't been a chance to do a recce, so I'm walking into the unknown, as is frequently is the case. I'll show up (on time), must develop a good relationship with the interviewee in a matter of minutes, then acquire as many fabulous and relevant shots as possible to tell the story. Working with scientists is a bit like herding cats - apart from the odd few, most will happily avoid the gaze of the camera; it's my job to make them feel willing and comfortable.

The flip side of this is editing. I'll need to sit down and watch all the rushes in real time, then start building the story, the film, from scratch. I love editing - it demands level of patience I feel carries over positively into many other facets of life. I've never yet met an editor I didn't want to sit and chat with over a beer.

What's the best thing about your job?

Two things, dancing on the edge of chaos, and people. Documentary filming means knowing what you want but frequently having little idea of whether or not you'll be able to get it. I find this need to be adaptable and fast very fulfilling. You absolutely need to think on your feet and you must be able to work the camera flawlessly (geek alert) - what the camera sees and hears is the only thing that matters, knowing how to control the beast like it's an extension of yourself will save your life.

And I love meeting the people. I'm getting to chat to scientists all over the country at the top of their game - it's fascinating and a genuine privilege. The other week I was having dinner with Sir Walter Bodmer and his team in Islay (see the film below) - amazing company (and lovely whisky).

Who's your favourite geek ever?

It just has to be Sir David Attenborough. As a kid I watched this man on telly both obsess and enthuse over the various lifeforms inhabiting the planet and was immediately drawn into his world. He is the reason I became aware of the natural world, he helped inspire my entry into science and the work he still does acts as a source of continuous amazement. I once stood next to him in the Royal Society and was weak with admiration. Even away from animals, his humility and clarity of thought leaves my humbled. David, you rock.

david attenborough aka "god"
Image credit: Flickr/aSIMULAtor

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 7

When mathematicians get angry, calculators go flying. In the photo that made it to May 2010, Matt Parker and Alex Bellos got a little verbal. In this shot, things are rather more heated!

Monday, 6 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 6

So many people have asked if the Toy Story alien in Lewis Dartnell's picture was Photoshopped in. It wasn’t! I had to act as ball girl while photographer Ben threw the alien up in the air for each photo, retrieving the toy from wherever it landed in the Planetarium. Thanks to Ben’s great skill and timing, we got the shot we wanted. Here’s Lewis cuddling up to his extra-terrestrial teddy.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 5

Kat Akingbade is so photogenic that we really struggled to decide on which photo should go in the calendar – she looks amazing in all of them! We decided on a close-up, but here she is standing in front of Henry Wellcome’s collection of glass bottles, skeptically examining some pills.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 4

My heart sank on the day of Evan Harris’s photo shoot. Having planned for a glorious, sunny photograph in the beautiful BMA quad, I couldn’t believe we’d had the bad luck to book the shoot on the one rainy day in August. But the soggy chess match between Sabrina Chevannes and Evan made for a perfect “April” showers spread. This photo comes midway through the match, when Evan still thought he had a chance at beating chess champion Sabrina.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 3

In this shot, the 1970s orange chair in Wellcome Collection’s Club room became Ben Goldacre’s throne, making the media his subjects.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 2

At Imran Khan’s shoot, our first idea was to photograph him with toys all over his desk at the offices of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, where he is (probably) the youngest Director ever. In the end, our photographer Ben noticed the beautiful sunset outside, and snapped the shot on the rooftop that made the final cut.

Here’s Imran’s desk as we imagined it should be, for minimum productivity and maximum fun:

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Geek Advent Calendar: Day 1

Over the next 15 days, we’ll be posting up photos you won’t find in the Geek Calendar. Some of them are alternative shots that were almost chosen for the final spread – we really agonized over these decisions! Others are out-takes that we hope you’ll find amusing.

The last photo will be posted on 15th December, the day for last orders before Christmas. We can’t promise that any orders received after this day will be posted out before Christmas, but we will make sure that any received on or before this day will be with you before the holidays.

To kick off, here’s Aleks Krotoski doing her best Minnie Mouse impression:

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Geek Calendar photo competition

Tomorrow is the 1st of December, the day when you can finally unwrap your Geek Calendar and hang it with pride on your wall (that is, if you haven't already). We want to see your calendars in action! Email or tweet us a photo of yours, and the pic we like the most will win a signed copy of Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw's illuminating book, Why Does E=mc2?

Your photos will be judged on the following category: whatever makes Alice, Louise and Mun-Keat smile the most. Do whatever you can to show off your calendar, make it funny, make it beautiful. Send in your pics by the end of Friday, and we'll announce the winner next week.

For inspiration, here's Mun-Keat's calendar at his desk at the Wellcome Trust:

Monday, 29 November 2010

Season's Greetings

"Season's Greetings" to you all.

Yes, we know it's a bit early but (a) Team Geek Calendar love Christmas so much so, we had a Christmas party in July. (b) We thought you might like to use this pic as an e-card to your friends (might be a good way to drop present hints...).

So if you like the card, please do forward it on. You can use our Season's Greetings page or download a larger version on flickr.

Big thanks to Aleks for letting us use one of the out-takes from her shoot, as well as to Greg Funnell who took the photo and our amazing designer Cosima Dinkel for turning it into a card.

We have more out-takes of our shoots ready to share... watch this space.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Design for life: Geek Calendar's Cosima Dinkel

A big part of Geek Calendar's character is its bespoke design, including our lovely logo (now plastered on badges, T-shirts and the like!) and our fantastic infographic cover. All of this is down to our amazing designer, Cosima Dinkel.

An ex-colleague of mine, Cosima's worked for a variety of geeky institutions including the Science Museum and the Wellcome Trust. I was lucky enough to rope her in early on in the project (little did she know what she was letting herself in for....).

Here, Cosima gives a little insight into her inspiration for the Geek Calendar design, and what makes a Graphic Designer tick.

Would you call yourself a geek?
A closet geek. I collect tea stirrers. I think that probably qualifies me.

Actually, I think graphic design is a quite geeky profession. I like the mix of the creative and technology. Having said that I'm not particularly techie like some designers are.

What's the geekiest thing you've ever done?
I once impersonated a typeface at a party. Everyone had to guess which typeface I was pretending to be. Is that geeky? Or just pretentious? It's a fine line ...

How was it designing Geek Calendar?
The pictures are so great, it really didn't need much designing! For the type, I thought it needed a geeky/quirky typeface so I chose a font called Pop designed by Neville Brody, which seemed to fit the bill.

What was your inspiration for the cover?
The idea was to do an infographic depicting the a breakdown of the geek year, based on the participants and all the geek anniversaries we'd collected for each month.

My inspiration was David McCandless's excellent book Information is Beautiful, which is the obvious starting point for infographics. His diagrams are really interesting, depicting data in original and unconventional ways. I wanted to do my own version of one of those. I chose a pie chart as I could just about cope with the maths!

Geek Calendar cover

What was most enjoyable about putting the calendar together?
It was really good fun working on a project with lots of people who were all committed to producing a thing of beauty.

And the most challenging?
The maths for the pie chart! See above.

Do you have a favourite month from the calendar?
I've got to admit I love the Cox/Milinovich because it's quite theatrical. But that might also have something to do with the ginger cat... ;-)

February 2011

How did you get into design?
I've always been into art and design. My grandparents were artists. I did a foundation course and went to art school and then I got an Apple mac...

What's a normal day in the life of a designer?
Lots of cups of tea. A fair amount of procrastination. I have to say the Internet is really really distracting!

What's the best thing about your job?
The cups of tea. Seeing the finished product and sniffing the ink.


Who's your favourite geek?
I'd have to say the photographer Martin Parr because of his geekish obsession with collecting ephemera. I particularly like his collections of crap postcards.

Pontins, Camber Sands

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

From Greeks to Geeks

This post was originally written for and published on the Wellcome Library blog. Thanks to Ross MacFarlane for letting us re-post it on our blog, and for coming up with the genius title.

A 16th century woodcut from Wellcome Images has been used as the inspiration for a 2011 calendar page. The page from the Geek Calendar features mathematicians Alex Bellos and Matt Parker in a 21st century interpretation of an image from German writer Gregor Reisch's Margarita Philosophica.

The Margarita Philosophica is a beautifully illustrated encyclopedia of knowledge created by Carthusian humanist Reisch (1467-1525). First published in 1503, it was used as a university textbook throughout the early sixteenth century. It contains twelve illustrated books on subjects including grammar, arithmetic, music, geometry, physics and physiology.

The image that inspired Geek Calendar’s mathematical photo shoot shows Arithmetica supervising a counting contest between the Christian philosopher Boethius, and Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician whose name will be forever associated with triangles. Boethius is using Hindu-Arabic numbers to calculate; Pythagoras a counting board. The image represents new versus old: Boethius is sometimes credited with introducing Hindu-Arabic numbers into Christian Europe.

For May 2011, the Geek Calendar’s mathematicians are calculating a restaurant bill tip, one using a 1970s Casio calculator, the other using a modern abacus. Argument ensues between the two hot-headed counters, unlike the much more dignified Boethius and Pythagoras.

The Margarita contains many more fascinating illustrations, including some famous depictions of the human body. The Wellcome Library holds a number of editions of the work, the illustration shown above being taken from an edition published in 1535.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Geek Calendar flyer

We're still looking for people to spread the word about Geek Calendar at universities and colleges across the country. We've uploaded our flyer to this website, so you can download it, print it out and stick it on a noticeboard near you. Please help give the Libel Reform campaign a boost by telling as many people as you can about the Geek Calendar!

Click on the image below to download a hi-res version of the image that you can print out.

Geek Calendar flyer

Monday, 15 November 2010

Our photographers, part 2: Ben Gilbert

Ben Gilbert is a colleague of mine at the Wellcome Library, and when I approached him to ask if he would photograph the Geek Calendar, I'm not sure he realised what he was letting himself in for. Ben normally photographs inanimate objects such as 16th-century anatomical "fugitive" sheets, so I was a little worried he wouldn't be able to cope with the demands of our geek divas.

In the end, the geeks were as good as gold. And so was Ben, even though we made him drive all the way across London on the hottest day of the year for one shoot, and operate in the pitch black dark for another. Here, he recounts his Geek Calendar experience, and tells us more about his work at the Wellcome Library.

Strike the pose

Are you a geek?

Definitely. Being a photographer in the digital age brings with it a playground packed full of highly technical cameras and computers, as well as a multitude of other gadgets. These tools are so intrinsically linked to successful photography that a healthy geeky side is pretty much essential to my job.

If that wasn't enough to convince you, I'm one of those strange people who will happily sit in bed reading an instruction manual from cover-to-cover.

What's the geekiest thing you've ever done?

It's probably sitting on the pavement with my folding bicycle outside an O2 shop in the pouring rain for three hours, in an effort to become the first person in East Grinstead to own an iPhone 3G. My discomfort was rewarded when I emerged from the shop, clutching my brand new iPhone, to the cheers of the waiting queue. Sorry, was the question geekiest or saddest?

What was the most enjoyable calendar shoot?

I think this would have to be Sydney's shoot. It was in her flat, just south of the River Thames. It was a really hot day, the traffic getting there was terrible and Sydney's studio, although packed full of interesting things, was a very tight space in which to photograph. Syndey was understandably nervous, as she’s not used to being in front of the camera. But as soon as we got her to wear her trademark top hat, she immediately relaxed and we captured the shot you can see in the calendar.

Babbage's hat!

What was the most challenging?

Perhaps the most challenging was Lewis Dartnell in the Planetarium at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. We only had an hour from walking in to walking out and it was pitch black inside – the videographer Barry had to use iPhones to light his filming! For the photos, each shot was a 16 second exposure, during which time I had to throw a cuddly alien into frame and catch it with the flash lights just at the pinnacle of its trajectory.


Do you have a favourite month?

I'm fond of all of them. However, my favourite is Imran. We got the final shot right at the end when I decided to do a quick set of photos on the roof terrace outside his small office. There was a lovely, evening light with a beautiful sky, and Imran was a natural model, sporting a 'rosette' lollypop in his lapel. It was the first shoot we had done and I guess it showed us that geeks can look cool, and that, visually, the calendar could be really interesting.


How did you get into photography?

When I was growing up, my Dad had a Pentax SLR that intrigued me, and at about age twelve I got my own. We built a darkroom in the attic and that was that - I never really considered doing anything else.

What's your day job?

I work as a photographer in the Digital Imaging department of the Wellcome Library. I photograph items from the Library for readers, academics, book publishers and the editorial press. The material I photograph is varied, from ancient manuscripts to oil paintings, prints to drawings.

What’s the best thing about your job?

As a photographer, I’m allowed into places you could never normally go and to see and handle objects that would normally be kept safe behind bandit-proof glass. One of the most interesting things I’ve ever photographed was the marine chronometer H4, which I shot while working at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

F7024-008, H4 Harrison Marine Timekeeper - Internal Movement © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, LondonImage © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

H4 is the chronometer with which John Harrison won the British Parliament's competition to accurately measure longitude 250 years ago. It laid the foundations for accurate navigation at sea from then onwards. The chronometer is rarely taken off display and it was a real privilege to spend time photographing it. To hold in my hands an object that so profoundly changed the course of history was truly mind blowing.

Who’s your favourite geek?

My favourite geek is Stephen Fry, but Greg has already snapped him up! So, my second favourite geek is Richie Adler, the main character from the TV series Whiz Kids.

Friday, 12 November 2010

WANTED: students

We're looking for student volunteers to put a few of our flyers up around campus notice boards across the country.

We'll send you a handful of flyers to put up around your uni. along with a few of our super-exclusive Geek Calendar pin badges. You can keep the badges for yourself, or give them to your friends, or even award them as prizes for best dressed geek at this year's departmental Xmas party.

Interested? Email us with your uni, name and postal address at First come first served basis, so be quick!

Our photographers, part 1: Greg Funnell

A big reason why the Geek Calendar looks as great as it does is the fabulous work of our amazing photographers. We are greatly indebted to Ben Gilbert and Greg Funnell, who, between them, produced the remarkable images of our geeks -- and all for nothing more than their artistic curiosity and the odd baked treat!

In the next two blog posts, we'll turn the spotlight round on them, revealing what it was like to be behind the camera for Geek Calendar.

First up: Greg Funnell, a freelance photographer and an old school friend I brought in to the project. It was a good call too -- judging by some of the tweets we received, many of you agree, and some would even have liked him to appear in the calendar!

Greg takes a shot

Would you call yourself a geek?

Yes, but I think I'd have to classify myself as a 'photo-geek'.

What's the geekiest thing you've ever done?

Probably the large amount of old cameras I collect could be considered an ongoing geeky habit.

Which was your most enjoyable Geek Calendar shoot?

I enjoyed them all and they each had different plus points. Photographing Chris Addison was great fun because he's full of interesting factoids and good banter. Jonathan Ross was similar to that extent *and* he had the toys to back it up. I got a little bit jealous of his collection of retro cameras though.

Johnny 7

Which was the most challenging shoot?

Probably the shoot at Crossbones because it's always quite challenging working in fading light conditions. Added to that, we were positioned on the middle of a road that was still in use, so we had to keep breaking set and dashing to the sides with the lights!


Which Geek Calendar month is your favourite?

I think I like the one of Chris best - something about the look of genuine pleasure he's getting out of playing with that space rocket.

December 2011

How did you get into photography?

The long-winded way, but let's just say I'm self taught because I'm so much of a geek. I wanted to study History and War Studies at university instead...

Israeli tanks crossing the border with Lebanon during the Israel Hezbollah war, Aug 2006. Copyright © Greg Funnell 2007. All rights reserved.
What's a normal day in the life of a freelance photographer?

Drinking lots of tea, responding to emails and occasionally getting flashes of inspiration that send me scurrying off researching ideas for projects. On shoot days it's very different, altogether more hectic and exciting depending of course on the job. No two jobs are ever the same. 90% of photography is about overcoming problems, whether they're logistical, technical, personal or creative.

What's the most interesting thing you've ever photographed?

I've spent time in the middle of sewers, sex dens, arenas, war zones, the black bloc, high class hotels and dirty forgotten street corners. Photographed A-list celebs one day and convicted murderers the next. That's why I love my job. Variety is the spice of life and the camera gives me the excuse to sample its many flavours!

Finally, who's your favourite geek?

Probably Steven Fry, or Ray Mears (let's face it, he's a geek of nature...)

See more of Greg's freelance photography, at

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Mass Libel Reform Blog

Geek Calendar are pleased to join today’s mass-blog in support of the libel reform campaign (which is, of course, the reason we're doing the calendar in the first place!).

As well as the piece below, you can read our piece for the Times last week (now liberated from behind the paywall) and watch Greg Foot's great video.

This week is the first anniversary of the report Free Speech is Not for Sale, which highlighted the oppressive nature of English libel law. In short, the law is extremely hostile to writers, while being unreasonably friendly towards powerful corporations and individuals who want to silence critics.

The English libel law is particularly dangerous for bloggers, who are generally not backed by publishers, and who can end up being sued in London regardless of where the blog was posted. The internet allows bloggers to reach a global audience, but it also allows the High Court in London to have a global reach.

You can read more about the peculiar and grossly unfair nature of English libel law at the website of the Libel Reform Campaign. You will see that the campaign is not calling for the removal of libel law, but for a libel law that is fair and which would allow writers a reasonable opportunity to express their opinion and then defend it.

The good news is that the British Government has made a commitment to draft a bill that will reform libel, but it is essential that bloggers and their readers send a strong signal to politicians so that they follow through on this promise. You can do this by joining me and over 50,000 others who have signed the libel reform petition at

Remember, you can sign the petition whatever your nationality and wherever you live. Indeed, signatories from overseas remind British politicians that the English libel law is out of step with the rest of the free world.

If you have already signed the petition, then please encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Moreover, if you have your own blog, you can join hundreds of other bloggers by posting this blog on your own site. There is a real chance that bloggers could help change the most censorious libel law in the democratic world.

We must speak out to defend free speech. Please sign the petition for libel reform.

Monday, 1 November 2010

The response

As Louise mentioned in the previous post, we've been taken aback at the amazing response to the calendar.

We don't want to gush, but... ok, we will gush:

You can see a full list of press coverage on our new media page.

What's really been making us grin though is people's reactions to the calendar, particularly on Twitter. The pics were especially lovely: here's one already on a wall! But it's been great to know that the calendars have safely arrived and to eavesdrop on the nice things people are saying about our little project. Here's just the smallest of samples:

So, a huge thank you to everyone for their kind words and especially those who've already ordered a calendar. If you haven't yet, do it now.

Incredibly, we've already sold out our first print run. Don't worry, a second print run is on the way. But they won't be reprinted forever, so get in there quick to secure yours (and tell your friends!).