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Mark Hooper
Attended St Paul's School, Portsmouth
Lives in Portsmouth
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Mark Hooper

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Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is a small, coastal town in Dorset, England. The town's name literally means "misspelt, small, green, citrus fruit named Regis" and it won it in a game of poker with twinned Yorkshire village Lemmin Geoff.

Lyme Regis is part of the south of England's famous Jurassic Coast, an area that stretches from Exmouth to Swanage most notable for existing simultaneously in our time period and a pleasant Thursday in the early spring of 153 million years ago. Lyme Regis is popular with tourists wishing to kill dinosaurs in Earth's distant past, skin them, eat them, then sell their cleaned skeletons in the town's many fossil shops.

#dorset #thecobb #sooc #justkiddingaboutitbeingsooc  
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Notting Hill Carnival

It was just a coincidence that we were up in London and in need of something to do for a few hours that we discovered the Notting Hill Carnival was actually taking place, and so we ventured across to experience the event for the first time.

My wife... did not like it. That's an understatement. She didn't like the noise, the heaving crowds, the apparent lack of fun many of the people seemed to be having, and the filth everywhere. Needless to say but these were all the things I absolutely loved about it. Beautifully-decorated floats and glamorous people dancing in flamboyant costumes can feature in other people's photos of carnivals but for me it was all about the attendees and their impact on the spectacle.

My only regret (other than possibly not ramping up the ISO a bit earlier to get some faster shots) is that I didn't know about the carnival earlier and didn't know anyone else going who'd share my love of the grit and grime so I could stay longer. Maybe next year, if I remember.

This is just a small selection of the photos I took. The full set is on my Flickr stream here:

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Oh so many funny people.
This must be a nice day...
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Mark Hooper

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Eastney Beam Engine House

An ever-so-slightly processed (subtle, but if you look closely you can possibly tell) shot of the Eastney Beam Engine House in Portsmouth.

Described on the museum's own website - - as "an impressive Victorian building containing a pair of classic Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps restored to their original 1887 condition." They're not wrong about the impressive part. Or the engines part. I'll have to take their word regarding the original 1887 condition part because my time machine's in the shop getting fixed.

If you're in the area on the last weekend in the month and you like machinery made of brass and dials with needles turn you on and girders and walkways send a ripple of excitement up your spine then it's definitely worth a visit.
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Mark Hooper

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This Year's Street Fashion

"And welcome back to This Year's Street Fashion coming live from the streets of Chichester. I'm joined as always by Ferdinand Dubonnet. Ferdinand, what are you looking forward to seeing today?"

"Thanks Mark. I think the buzz on the street..."

"Very good."

"Thanks. Yes, the buzz on the street is that Leonardo Martini is the hot designer to look out for. Expect an animal prints and aluminium foil fusion that blends future history with present pastness in a pastiche of metaphyscial Indo-European-African-Amer..."

"I'm going to have to interrupt you there Ferdinand because the show's already started and first on the bill is the Winter 2014 range from old stalwart of street fashion Carla Advocaat. And here comes the first model. What do you make of this then Ferdinand?"

"This is clever. I like this. Carla's never been one to shy away from pushing boundaries so the strong emphasis on the flasher mac is unsurprising but pleasant. What's under the coat? That's what you're thinking and your eyes are drawn to the split up the backside to look for the forbidden fruit."

"I really hope there's no fruit up there."

"Indeed. Everything here shouts 'secrecy' which is very important in today's world. The coat hides, the hat hides, the cord earpiece and the phone scream 'I'm communicating, but don't listen to me.' Again, it's a very clever combination and exactly what we'd expect from Carla."

"And what do you make of the shoes?"

"Not the strongest element in this ensemble. I'd have liked to see long, black socks with this piece but I understand the omission."

"You do?"

"Absolutely. It exposes the calves to the world, harking back to sacrifices. This is saying 'take my legs but leave me my privacy.'"

"Thank you Ferdinand. Without your fashion insights this show would be me laughing hysterically into a tumbler of whiskey. We'll be right back after this break."

#StreetPhotography #StreetPics #Street  
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Mark Hooper

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The Big Bang

For the briefest moment of time everything that ever would be was contained within a space seemingly far too small for the mass that would emerge. A great history stretched ahead of it; a time when it would explode outwards, blossoming with life and colour and joy. There was a death on the horizon too, a time of withering and crumbling and fading into nothingness, but right now so far away as to be meaningless. This was its moment. This was its birth. This was its big bang. Oh, there was also sex with a bee to look forward to as well. That was going to be freaking awesome.
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Deal Pier

On a recent trip to Kent we spent a couple of hours in Deal as we knew it had a castle there and we do like a good castle.

But we also like piers and we saw that Deal had one of those too. This necessitated a walk down it and led my wife to remark that Deal Pier was "without a doubt the ugliest pier I've ever seen."

Well, ugliness is in the eye of the beholder and it just so happens I didn't share my wife's opinion. Deal Pier is a wonderful example of a simple, brutalist structure; raw concrete and rusting iron creating great lines and shapes everywhere you look. What sort of beast couldn't possibly like that?

Please don't tell my wife I just called her a beast.

#brutalism #brutalist #blackandwhitephotography #monochromeworld #pier #Kent #clouds #architecture #sea #shadow  
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Mark Hooper

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Pete Bennett

Pete won Big Brother in the UK in 2006 since when he's written books, performed as a solo artist and with bands, got married, is getting divorced, and generally done all the other sorts of things that celebrities do.

In addition to all that he campaigns for Greenpeace and it's in this capacity that my colleague and I spotted him in Chichester this week. I snapped a photo at distance which was spotted and this led to the amiable chap popping over to have a chat. Following some general chit-chat Pete then proceeded to tell me in fairly graphic detail how orangutans were sometimes shaved and prostituted out to perverts. I know how to bring out the odd in people. Very disturbing, and I suggested that he not lead with that story when approaching the old dears in the street to see if they wanted to sign up with the environmental organisation. I'm pretty sure he was going to, though.

Breaking the habit of a lifetime (I'm very backward at coming forwards) I then asked if I could take a picture and he happily agreed. In hindsight perhaps waiting until after he'd finished his carrot might have made for a better street portrait shot.

#StreetPhotography #StreetPortrait #StreetPortraiture #BigBrother #Celebrity  
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❤~❤❤❤~❤ :)
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Socks And Sandals

Please be aware that legislation that comes into force today - the 16th of August, 2014 - now makes the wearing of socks with sandals a capital offence in this zone (Habitat Zone F).

The Public Foot Attire Beautification Act (2014) outlines the minimum punishment for any single infringement to be disembowelment, beheading, then belegging. Belegging is defined within the Act as "the removal of the limbs below the waist using a sharpened spatula and/or emery board."

Lesser offences within the Act include the wearing of socks pulled up greater than an inch above the shoe height. Punishment for this particular crime are discretionary depending on the level of public horror but can include up to 25 years of hard labour in Blackpool (Punishment Zone B).

Please be further aware that legislation due to soon come into force in this zone (Habitat Zone F) will also prohibit men from wearing shorts that do not reach the knee and will carry a mandatory punishment of emasculation.

Thank you for your attention. Your fellow citizens appreciate your adherence to the Act.
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Haters gonna hate.   #SockswithSandalsForLifeYo  
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Mark Hooper

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The van had been parked out there for days, made to look as if the owner or owners were elsewhere but we noticed tiny movements. We recorded them using an HD camera and passed them through a custom piece of software that recreated a simulation of the van's interior based on them. Two people, it reckoned, seated, occasionally turning in their swivel chairs, sometimes eating a little, sometimes drinking a little, sometimes performing that action that usually follows eating and drinking into a bag of some description. The atmospheric breakdown did not make for nice reading. Sleep, it seemed, was dissuaded using pills. One of the two people was claustrophobic but fighting through his fear because he needed the money the job was paying. The second person was depressed because nobody had remembered his birthday. It was a pretty detailed simulation.

We didn't know what they were after, why they had targeted us. We only knew that we didn't like being the subjects of surveillance and that inside that van it was... unpleasant. And so we decided to address both issues.

Overnight we baked a special cake and had it delivered to the van. The icing read "Sorry I forgot your birthday Tony." The courier knocked on the rear of the van several times before the doors were opened enough to accept the gift. We started up the HD recording again as the courier left, clutching his hand to his nose. We stopped recording when we heard a dull thump and saw the vehicle's panel closest to us buckle outwards slightly.

The simulation confirmed what we already knew: Tony was overjoyed that Graham had arranged for the cake although he admonished his junior partner for potentially ruining the surveillance. Graham hoped that Tony would favour him in any future promotion talks and so took the credit for the iced sponge. As Tony made the first slice, however, he exposed the cake's innards to the chemistry in the van's air. The reaction was intense as the cake expanded to over a thousand times its original size in the span of seconds. Every hole, every gap, every tiny crevice became clogged with cake.

Tony and Graham suffered just as much as the van but they did eventually eat their way clear. Graham's claustrophobia was cured but neither man would return to the world of surveillance again.
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Thanks for the funny Story!
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Mark Hooper

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Boycotting Tesco

The rain was falling lightly but persistently and the musician in the next alcove over from me was playing to an audience more concerned about hurrying along to the next store or wherever they'd left their cars than considering fishing about in pockets for loose change.

And then, walking his bike laden down with bags that looked like they contained all his possessions in the world, up strode an old man; lank hair framing a stubbled, weathered face under a pair of large sunglasses and hat festooned with badges, many of them birds. He stared at the musician for a while, bobbed his head in time with the tune, then pulled out a harmonica from his pocket. It looked like we were in for an impromptu jam.

But it seemed that the musician liked to play alone. In the space of seconds he'd stopped, packed up, and wandered off with a wry smile. Some people just don't like to be seen associating with the seemingly homeless. It's a sad but understandable trait.

And this left the old man and me.

"I need to get some groceries," he said a little louder than was necessary. Heads of passersby turned, brows furrowed, lips pursed. I smiled and pointed behind me.

"Down there on the right," I said. "There's a small Tesco store."

"Oh no!" he shouted. "I'm never going in Tesco. Do you want to know why?" I nodded. "I got thrown out of a Tesco store by two great big guys," he continued. "Do you know? Two big guys. Security. Really big. One each side of me."

"How come?" I asked, intrigued. This sort of thing had never happened to me and the only security people I'd ever seen in supermarkets were, well, decidedly less than intimidating.

"I'd been drinking the night before, with mates, you see, and I'd gone in to get some food. This was years ago. And then I dropped some beer and they threw me out so I'm never going back there. You wouldn't would you? If they threw you out then you wouldn't would you?"

I made that face that can be interpreted any way you like. "Well," I said, pointing down East Street. "There's a Nisa shop down the end."

"Oh, Nisa," he said, scratching his chin. "Yes. That's good. Yeah, I need some groceries."

A few seconds passed in silence while he looked in the direction of the acceptable store. Suddenly, he snapped his head back in my direction looking at the camera hanging around my neck.

"What are you taking photos of?"

"Anything and everything, whatever takes my interest," I replied, giving my stock answer for whenever I'm asked this question.

"Do you want to take a picture of me?"

He didn't need to ask twice. I raised the camera and fired off a shot before he could change his mind. "Lovely," I said. "Thank you."

The rain started to fall a little heavier and I stepped further back under shelter. The old man sighed and walked his overloaded bike off in the direction of the Nisa store.

#StreetPhotography #StreetPics #Monochrome #Portrait #StreetPortrait #BlackAndWhite #BlackAndWhitePhotography  
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Great shot. <3 the story :) 
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Mark Hooper

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Jazz Busker

I could tell you about all the dreadful buskers that Chichester has to offer - I could talk at length about the bum notes from trumpeters as well as the key changes and pitches from various singers that were rejected by the original songs' composers on the grounds of violating the Geneva Convention against cruel and unusual punishment - but I'd like instead to talk about a very good one.

I don't know her name and she seems very shy so I won't dare to intrude and ask. She is, however, an absolutely fantastic jazz guitarist, often playing along to a backing track from something by Ellington or Coltrane or some other proponent of the art with whom I'm less familiar. Unlike other musicians who sometimes haunt the precinct in the city she loses herself in the music, barely even noticing or acknowledging the passersby or those few who grace her guitar case with some change. So very jazz.

#StreetPhotography #Music #Jazz #StreetPics  
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I'll try to remember next time she's around.
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On The White Cliffs Of Dover

We took a short break recently, spending a few days exploring the county of Kent which describes itself as "the garden of England." I don't know that I'd describe it that way myself but I suppose my first choice description of "far better than Norfolk" - whilst wholly accurate - might be a tad contentious.

We explored castles, we visited stately homes, we wandered down piers (and up them too as failure to do so leads to death from exposure or seagull abduction), and a good time was had.

We also decided to take a walk along part of the famous white cliffs of Dover (spoiler: no bluebirds were spotted) in order to reach the South Foreland Lighthouse. This, incidentally, is something you too should do should you ever find yourself in the area; there's a rather lovely teahouse there but the personal tour of the lighthouse itself which (pun alert) illuminates the history of the world's first electric-powered building of this type is the (further pun alert) highlight of the visit. I think I'm out of lighthouse-related puns now.

The clifftop walk was wonderful, if a little tiring. The windy conditions made the excursion especially exhilirating. Fellow walkers could be seen standing horrifically close to the edge. Sheer faces of chalk stood out marvellously against the blue sky and brownish water. France could be seen on the horizon. France was so close, in fact, that our phones switched to a French network. Many curse words were uttered as we turned off data roaming to avoid excessive charges even though we were on home soil. All-in-all, fun.

This photo is from the walk along the white cliffs. Mark, I said to myself. Mark, what composition says iconic White Cliffs of Dover image to you? The answer, of course, was Dame Vera Lynn leading lemmings over the edge to land on and repel Norman invaders because that's how my brain works. So here's a spiky, bushy tree-type thing and some grass.
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sounds lovely - even without lemmings!
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Developer (paid). Photographer (unpaid).
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Developer. Photographer. Skeptic.
I'd love to be a globetrotting photographer, specialising in street photography. But I'm not that good and I'm certainly not that rich.

What I am is a developer who can work with most of the usual suspects in the web developing world. I'm pretty good at it. My current employment sees me working as a floating developer among project teams due to my versatility with programming languages and environments. Most of the time I develop in Drupal or a custom PHP framework for a global glasses brandsite, but I flit between working for a wholesale B2B client and a well-known DVD rental company in ASP.NET too when the need arises.

As a sports fan I support Portsmouth Football Club and the New England Patriots, but I like pretty much any sport going. Except basketball. Never basketball.

Any spare money not snatched up and spent by my wife on shoes (she does like her Jimmy Choo collection) or books for her Kindle fuels my photography habit. I love my cameras and their lenses. I'm a Canon person and have moved from the 350D to the 5D Mark II. I take photos every day partly to try to improve my skills, partly to try to encourage a more assertive attitude (because I like street photography but suffer from shyness), and partly to justify the spiralling cost of the hobby.

Outside photography I do have one other extracurricular activity of note and that is helping to run the Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub (#SITP) group which meets once a month in a pub (amazing!) and discusses topics of skepticism, science, nerdiness, and the ilk, most often with a guest speaker. Look for our group on the web; come along; say hello; experience my suspicious look because I'm worried you're stalking me in person.

Okay... so, apparently, Google+ makes you more discoverable if you tag your profile with things people might search for. With that in mind here's how I'd tag me if I were me (which I am): c#,, php, drupal, developer, web, internet, software, portsmouth, pompey, photographer, photos, camera, canon, atheist, skeptic, sceptic, style, fashion, england, hampshire, uk, european, british, amateur, astronomy, real ale, wine, science, physics, friendfeed, flickr, neonbubble, mystery science theater 3000, mst3k, scifi, science fiction, sci-fi, sitp.

Finally: a little note about people I follow on Google+. I'd love to follow everyone who follows me and I do try to check out most of the new followers but that's not always possible. It's also not always desirable: no avatar, sharing diarrhoea, animated GIF mania, no profile information, adult content. I'm more likely to follow back people who are engaging rather than those who simply add a public shared circle in which I'm present.
Bragging rights
Shook hands with Prince Andrew. He'll claim he doesn't remember but he's a liar. They're all liars.
  • St Paul's School, Portsmouth
  • Corpus Christi School, Portsmouth
  • St John's College, Portsmouth
  • The South Downs College, Hampshire
    Pure Maths & Statistics, Physics, Computer Science
  • University of Liverpool
    Computer Science
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American Football Explained | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

The NFL (pronounced 'niffle') is America's national football league and I love it. But for those who don't, here's an explanation of the game.

String Theory Explained Simply | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

You don't have to be a scientist to understand String Theory. I, for instance, am not a scientist and I understand String Theory perfectly clearly. I also know

Pictures of Lady Sovereign | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

I have no idea who Lady Sovereign is but 'the kids' seem to know and seem to be drawn to this site ever since I put up my Jentina article and photos. Well, let

Where Does Rain Come From? | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

Where does rain come from? What is the water cycle? How does evaporation work? How much do clouds weigh? Why does it always rain on me? Any of those questions

Sick Jokes | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

Playful paedophilia, animal sex, and dead baby jokes. Sick, obviously, but funny if you have a sense of humour

Ola Jordan's Nude Pictures | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

A lot of people find this site while looking for nude pictures of Ola Jordan and a lot of people are subsequently disappointed. Disappointed. Like a fox! I've

Cowgirls of the Wild West | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

Cowgirls of the Wild West is a topic I feel close to my heart ... when I'm in a foetal position! Ha ha! Get it? Because, my heart would be close to my, you know

How To Fit A Toilet | neOnbubble - written by Mark Hooper

Ever wanted a toilet fitted but didn't want to spend millions of pounds for a plumber? Then you need the internet. In the absence of the internet this post

American Motels | neOnbubble

They may still exist but the heart just isn't in modern American motels. Fortunately, this article isn't about modern ones.