Friday, March 31, 2006

Three Fingers

Reflected in curves,
Fingers perform in the round,
With nowhere to hide

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bleu, Vert et Orange

Sticking with architecture, this balcony seems just the place to sit out the noon day sun in the French port of Le Grau du Roi, a glass of a good Sauvignan-Blanc by your side (Australian or New Zealand, of course - not that local stuff that tastes like battery acid), a fresh baquette, some creamy brie and a millefeuilles from the patisserie by your side for later.

Perhaps, when the heat dies down, we'll take a stroll down to the lighthouse, watch the fishing boats swoop into the harbour, trailing gulls and a whiff of Gauloises. Retire to a bar, drink a few pastis, maybe a bottle of rough Languedoc red.

And then, fall over, inebriated, as happy as a very happy thing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dark into Light

I'm continuing an exploration of images depicting a transition from dark to light and vice-versa.

Jeffreys Street, Kirribilli, just to the north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is a good example of the attractive architectural style that Australia developed in the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century.

I was attracted to this image because of the change in mood from the deep gloom of the foreground, a product of tree shadows and a sombre paint scheme, to the sun-blessed open pavement further up the hill.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Light or Dark

Bask in the light?

Or skulk in the shadow?

Your choice.


Peter has been talking about foreground interest in images recently so I thought I'd post this picture I took last year at Bateman's Bay, New South Wales, along with a drop of critical self-analysis as to why I think this composition doesn't work.

    The foreground interest (FGI) - the post sticking out of the water - is too dominant, lacks texture and is positioned too far in from the right of frame. There’s a compositional rule (just waiting to be broken) which I believe says that you should divide an image into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. The post sits firmly on the line between two thirds, neither in one camp nor the other
    Although it is possible to get carried away with this thirds thing, I think the image fails on horizontal division as well. The horizon would be better a third of the way down the picture rather than at about a fifth to a quarter as it is. This would also have decreased the dead space in the centre and allowed more room for the sky; however I would have needed to get my knees wet to achieve this.
    I have had to crop the image horizontally to get rid of some land on the left and a boat on the right which offended me. This has resulted in an aspect ratio which is too squashed in for my taste for this particular type of image.

So there you are. Doubtless there are other niggles but there's only so much self-flagellation I can cope with. Perfection is a difficult mistress to satisfy.

PS - Just out of interest I tried cropping it into portrait format. I've now got a group of three (which is nice) and the post is in a better position. Still not happy with the horizon though.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Nodding to Caspar David

I thought it was time I lauded another of the artists that inspire both my lighting designs and my photography. I'm going to leave the Victorian era for an earlier period. Caspar David Friedrich's speciality was romantic landscapes, often with deeply religious overtones. The picture I have in mind is 'Wanderer above the Sea of Fog' which he painted in 1818.

This is my version, taken a couple of years ago between Sydney and Newcastle in New South Wales. Unfortunately I've had to leave out the Wanderer. I was travelling at speed in a train at the time and I didn't know anyone who could run fast enough to keep up. You will have to use your imagination.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Junction

This remote railway junction is in the northern part of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The track belongs to a logging company though no trains were running on the Sunday I was there. Perhaps they don't run at all though the rails look shiny enough - so many of these systems just moulder away, the forest stealthily reclaiming the rights-of-way as its own.

There are many things that appeal to me in this image. Obviously the 'splash of red' (actually two of them, both subdued), the strong back-lighting, the way the tracks disappear into the trees, the perfection of the sinuous metal rails running together.

Most strikingly for me, however, is that it shows the possibility of choice. There are two routes we could take. Both will plunge us into gloom and the unknown. Both presage adventure and mystery. We could walk either of them, stepping from sleeper to sleeper or balancing on the top of the rail. Just keeping our ears open for that haunting whistle echoing off the surrounding mountains. That will tell us that I was wrong about the lack of a Sunday service and we'd better make a run for it.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Bit of Bitching

I've been lighting representatives of the fairer sex over the last few days and there's nothing like it for pointing up the differences between those with star quality and those without. One of my subjects was a British actress, a former star of a big-shoulder-pad American soap. I admit that l was a bit wary of her - I've been given the run round by Hollywood divas in the past. So I was pleasantly surprised. She knew exactly how to position herself to make the best of the available lighting and thanked me for my efforts.

At the other end of the scale was a chat/quiz show host whose continuing presence on the television screen must be a surprise to many. We had met before and unfortunately my skill in the manufacture of silk purses has not improved in the intervening years. She appeared on set. I was summoned imperiously. I did my best. A smile in return would have been appreciated but I wasn’t expecting one so I wasn't disappointed. As is so often the case, least talent, most hassle.

None of the above has anything much to do with this reflection shot of a Morrison's carrier bag. It just caught my eye. We were out at Compass Cove indulging in simple pleasures such as throwing sticks for dogs and helping beetles to mate - having just thought about that, how much more interesting it might have been if we were helping dogs to mate and throwing sticks for beetles.

I can't remember what Peter had in his bag. The fact that he was wantonly advertising another of Britain's despised supermarket chains is worthy of reproach. Perhaps it was flapjacks - Peter and Sparkly are always good for a scrummy flapjack. Strange though, that I can't remember for certain if food was involved. It's a worrying sign of senile decrepitude if you can't recall food experiences. I'd better go and find some chocolate so that I can check that I'm not suffering from some form of sensory deprivation.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Worshipping a Sun God

At the risk of wearying everyone but myself, I return to one of my favourite subjects - light through windows: sub-category; churches.

The glory of the sun. Surely the Egyptians had it right; if you must worship something, the sun's the man. What a splendid array of light and shadow our local star bestows upon us through the west window of Cirencester Parish Church. It is an uplifting and awesome experience but one that's not without peril; it's effects can easily coerce the unwary, the spiritually susceptible, into beliefs for which there is no substance.

But fear not. This experience can also be furnished by any magnicently crafted building with the right sort of orifices for light projection. So that's a relief.

So it needn't be a church but such edifices are often the only ones readily available that can provide salvation for the illumination junkie. That is why we should support them, as buildings, as memorials to real craft skills. Then perhaps they can take on new persona after their strange rites have been ushered back into the darkness from whence they came.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Twist of Rust

First an apology - I've become intermittent. Hopefully it's a fault that will come good at the end of April but, for now, hitting me with your fist or switching me off and on will not cure it - if I want new toys and the drains repaired, I must work for them and pleasant though the Vale of Evesham is, it is not a place of employment for a man of my limited talents. For that I must roam.

I was standing outside Leyton Orient football ground in the freezing cold a couple of weeks ago waiting for the rest of my colleagues to turn up for a meeting. I noticed this little twist of rusting wire (and you have to be pretty bored to notice that sort of thing). It intrigued me enough to pursuade me to take my gloves off and bring out the Silver Snapper. There seems to be a lot of symbology lurking in this simple image; obviously there's a cross but what else? A ghost of an ankh maybe? Answers welcome.

A Cherubic Sign

I quite often drive through the night to get back home after a job. Coming over the Cotswold Hills on a moonlit night, nothing on the roads, a glimpse of a badger, the ghostly moth-like flight of a barn owl, all these things combine to form a pleasurable experience. I rarely feel tired but, in extremis, there's a service station at Oxford that will pump something vaguely like coffee into me at any hour. I entertain myself; I don't often listen to the radio when I'm driving, just relish the peace of my motorised haven, swear at the occasional trucker who dares to impede my progress and marshall my thoughts into a web of irrelevance.

Once home I can't go straight to bed - I've tried it in the past and no matter how fatigued I feel, I just lie awake, the road reeling on in front of my eyes. So I read for half an hour or switch on the computer and return from my self-imposed Internet exile. Getting back into blogging takes some effort. Perhaps I'm really not vain enough for this game although that seems unlikely, given how many coats and jackets I own.

And so to this image of an inn sign in Dartmouth. As Peter has pointed out recently, Canbush Tours is heavily accented (as is its organiser) towards food and drink. This pub has a good reputation for both and it should invoke pleasant thoughts of a cool (not cold) pint of real ale and some treacle tart. Unfortunately I've experienced neither at the Cherub as it always seems to be jam-packed with Hooray-Henry's and yachties and they don't make for good company. I go elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Air of Mystery

Railway stations by day can be desolate places, windswept, litter-strewn, sometime havens for society's jetsam. But at night, with the right lighting, they become places of mystery. This image was taken at Evesham yesterday evening. I love the contrast between the cold starkly lit platform and the warm inviting interior of the coaches.

Trains, even the modern soulless varieties that populate today's railways, still evoke a sense of adventure, the chance of a passage to fresh pastures, to new experiences. What will the last passengers on this London to Hereford express find at their destination?

Ah, there's the rub. A pleasant place, Hereford, an ancient cathedral city in the west. But not exciting, not the place one would choose for a frolic or a change of life. I think I'd change at Worcester and head south.

Real Women?

Danone, a European yoghurt manufacturer amongst other things, are great believers in the use of pseudo-science in adverts. Their latest, for something called 'Activia', is at pains to tell us that, in order to find out about feminine digestive problems, they spoke to 'real' women.

'Real' women?

What were the alternatives then?

Mannequins? Blow-up dolls? Pamela Anderson?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Do Cats Dream of Bicycles?

I have a strong allergic reaction to cats but, despite that, I like them. They have attitude and a notable lack of subservience. Dogs? What are they about? Noisy, dirty, smelly, dependent - not much there to latch on to. They also chase cyclists - enough said?

Return to the Hinge

Blogging -we really must find another word, one that doesn't sound quite so lavatorial - is an ideal agglomerating medium. We trip over someone's musing, casually dropped onto the pavement* of life, pick up the offending object, dust it off and, if it takes our fancy, add it to our collection.

I revisited a hinge (as one does) last Friday. Back at the turn of the year, this hinge (and its mate) tripped up Bluesmama. I thought it deserved a closer look from a new angle.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Splash of Red in a Cold Wind

This morning Pixie and I sat in a cafe in Salcombe, a small village on the South Devon coast, drinking hot chocolate and eating brownies. I watched Peter and Sparkly, our friends of a certain age, colouring in some children’s drawings with crayons. One of them kept strictly within the lines, the other didn't - I'll not name names.

It made me think about what gives us pleasure and, as I did, I pulled up my socks. What a marvellous but simple delight that is, the exquisite perfection of the heel of the sock moulding itself to the foot, the wrinkles straightening, snug elasticated cotton roundly encasing the ankle. There are few comparable experiences.

The 'splash of red' theme got a boost today in the Somerset seaside town of Clevedon. The Victorian pier had a close call with the demolition gangs in the 1970s when part of it collapsed. Apathy reigned and the idea of restoration became just a pipe dream. Fortunately determined agitation both locally and nationally over many years, coupled with inspired fund-raising, saved the day and the pier was restored. It remains as a promenade for stalwart British folk for whom a drop of snow and an icy wind are no deterrent to a Sunday stroll.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Long-clasped Hands

This couple have been holding hands since 1638 - a token of eternal love.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Nose for Coffee

I'm sure I've written about coffee before but I'm obviously not getting enough vitamins because I can't remember. So I'm not going to - why risk it?

Nor am I going to write about horses, real or otherwise. No I lie; I am going to write about them – just keeping you on your toes.

I rode one for about three hours about thirty years ago and I was wearing Crimplene trousers (just one of my many fashion faux pas). I can assure you that you cannot ride a horse successfully when you can't grip the saddle with your knees. Three hours with a horse's back coming up to meet your backside coming down is not conducive to a happy relationship with any animal.

I should have known I was in trouble from the beginning. When we arrived at the stables the owner took one look at me, grimaced, and shouted to someone to 'fetch Ginger'. Ginger turned out to be a monstrous beast, possibly cloned from something in the ‘Book of Revelations’. Its outlook on life had obviously been moulded in an atmosphere of dissent and bloody mindedness. That horse had attitude. It might have also had issues but, as I've remarked before, we didn't have issues back in the seventies.

I got my own back eventually - I wore it out. It shouldn't have taken on a 6'3" heavy weight. It was one tired horse that retired to contemplate its oats that evening.

And one bruised rider who wasn't fit to contemplate any sort of cereal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Lethargy Rules

Lethargy rules today. Can't seem to get any part of my being into gear. I haven't felt the urge to write anything or photograph anything. Didn't even go out and get a newspaper although I did make myself a tasty cheddar cheese and pickle panini for lunch so obviously some vital functions are still intact.

Another image from the parish church at Overbury. I've no idea of who thought of lighting this medieval building with tablelamps but it's a novel one. Perhaps they're a job lot from Ikea.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Tuft of Moss

A Few Days in a Dark Place

I've just spent six days in a small dark room, alone, cut off from the world, listening to voices. I hasten to add that I was there of my own free will, not at the pleasure of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Any grumpiness detectable is my own fault. It was fully serviced - about once an hour a polystyrene cup containing a warm beige substance which resembled, in a purely peripheral sense, coffee, was handed to me. In a room nearby, pastries, sandwiches* and occasional hot food. I arrived at about 09.30 in the morning and left at about 2300 in the evening. In between these times I tweaked a few lights, moved a few faders, read a few newspapers and contemplated life and the richness it contains. Ah, the pleasures of televised poker.

Deprived of daylight for so long I feel the need for an uplifting natural image. Hence the snowdrops, harbingers of spring and damned fine plants to boot.

*Why do caterers automatically infest any form of sandwich with either a dayglo glob of tomato or a slimy slice of cucumber. Neither of these foods are remotely edible and I have to deconstruct each offering into a nearby bin or plastic cup before consuming.