Monday 31 December 2007

Alley, christmas lights, lone figure - # 339

My "lone figure" shot: looked good to the eye, but doesn't work too well "on paper".

Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ.

Sunday 30 December 2007

Discussing theme and composition - # 338

Thank you Richard (Zurich forthemedia) for your comments on yesterday's post.

You are right. It's the house. I was drawn both to the trees and the house, but uppermost it was the house. Certainly "the house in context with the trees", but the house came first, with the trees an important "supporting actor". (Why then call it "Oak Tree"? Answer, "to disguise my secret passion".)

The curve of the house, and the bay windows somehow "whispered" as much and more than the rest.

Here is the whole ensemble. It like this view.

(Thanks to Jilly of Menton DP for revealing the secret of "big images").

Saturday 29 December 2007

Old oak tree - # 337

Playing around, experimenting with shooting into the sun instead of keeping it behind me.

The huge and ancient oak trees make interesting subjects.

I chose this moody, mysterious shot. The trees stand dark, gnarled and mysterious, the path curves to the right taking us into the unknown, but straight ahead there seems to be another path into the darkness of nature, the branches reaching out to entrap us. On the right, the house (but it's only the hint of a house) stands behind an obscuring hedge.

Hmmm........anyone for a walk? (Camera: Olympus C7070 WZ)

Friday 28 December 2007

It's fun to be a mastiff- # 336

What a sight to test a new camera! Walking in Richmond Park trying out the new Olympus E3 I came across this mastiff at play.

He was hurling himself up to the branch about 3.5 meters above the ground. He caught the branch between his jaws and then hung there before dropping down and trying again.

Here is in mid flight about to get his jaws round the branch.

Camera info: Olympus E3 with 50-200mm 2.8-3.5f zoom lens on max extension equivalent to 400mm in 35mm format. Settings all on automatic with Image Stabilisation and shutter set to shoot 12 frames at 5 frames per second.

Thursday 27 December 2007

Unsuitable for children under 3 - # 335

Not a toy. Unsuitable for children under 3. Batteries not included.
Expert photographers will be upset by the "noise". Other people will probably like the noise.
I trust everyone is enjoying their Christmas toys. I am still struggling with the user's manual.

Wednesday 26 December 2007

Boxing Day canoeists- # 334

The day after Christmas Day.....wonderful sunshine, a fair temperature, mild atmosphere, and excellent for that holiday walk. Towards noon the clouds moved across the sun creating this silvery light. I snapped these canoeists, in their wet suits, setting off for a quick run up the cold river, heading away into the sun.

No need to convert to B&W: nature did it for me.

Tuesday 25 December 2007

Grrr, says the Polar Bear - # 333

Every Christmas, Penguin, Polar Bear and Santa are let out of their old biscuit tin to play about on the cake top for a few days.
The Polar Bear gets so excited that he gambles about like a little kid and chases Santa all over the icing sugar, snapping at his trousers. Santa takes it all in good part and Penguin waddles about squawking loudly.

Happy Christmas and Good Will to You All.

Monday 24 December 2007

Under pressure - # 332

A quick snap of my local butcher, Trevor, taken at 08.00 this morning before the rush of customers coming to collect their Christmas turkey and goose. He's already spent days working hard, hand-preparing everything using his traditional craft skills. He's a "one man band", with very little help available.

Small shops are under pressure from the supermarkets, and it's hard to argue against the relentless logic of modern urban economies and life styles.

Trevor's shop is one of few old style local butchers still remaining. Perhaps, when he retires, the shop (a purpose built butcher's shop with some racking and hanging equipment from the 1930s still in use) will close for ever. I hope that the new awareness of the value and role of small traders and "local shops" may lead to a re-evaluation of these businesses. Without the smaller shopping parades our town-scapes will become bleaker and sadder places.

Sunday 23 December 2007

Happy Christmas to you all - # 331

Greetings to all of you! Postings may be erratic or non-existant for a day or two.


Saturday 22 December 2007

Mummy, I think I'm developing a chillblain- # 330

Ham Pond. Very cold, brilliant sunshine, confused Canada geese. Sun due South.

Friday 21 December 2007

Inverse "hallow effect" - # 329

In a short span this blog has become a place where obscure German electronic particle physicists can rub shoulders and converse comfortably with educationally sub-normal adolescent lads from the sink estates of the Upper Clyde. We are pleased.

This posting is a proto-typical attempt to apply J-W von Goethe's "Colour Theory" in the light of the ideas put forward by F Schiller in his discussion of the genuine (or "gut") emotions aroused by true and honest ("naive") photographic genius as opposed to the bogus emotions excited by mechanistically contrived and therefore morally bankrupt images produced by various practitioners who operate in the B&W space and who, in that way, attempt to manipulate the innocent public (who ask for nothing but an honest quick thrill) through the "sentimentality" of their monochrome creations.

Goethe theorised on how the effect of colours that arise at the margins where the streams of the spectrum meet has a powerful influence on our perception. Newton dealt in the cold science of the spectrum. Goethe takes the science into the mind. My crafty manipulation of the "nearly monochrome" demonstrates that there is hope for the Scottish Lad.

Thursday 20 December 2007

Richmond Bridge, night, cold, calm - # 328

A "less often seen" night-time view of the bridge (built 1778). Often the river is surging through the arches but this time, calm weather and probably "slack water" at the turn of the tide, it is as calm as a mill pond.
About a week ago Richard at posted a fine photo of Venice at night in which the street lamps displayed a simple and very attractive star effect. Here we also have a pleasing star burst inside a very distinct hallow bubble. Is this the effect of the camera lens, or the lens covering on the lanterns? Is it an accident, or is it the result of careful research by lighting engineers for the benefit of car drivers?

Wednesday 19 December 2007

A whole world on your plate - # 327

This market stall crammed with exotic and out of season fruit made me think of Joseph Conrad...a remarkable author, famous for "The Heart of Darkness" etc.

At the turn of the 19th/20th C he wrote "The Secret Agent" about anarchists, subversion and bomb making in London. If I remember correctly, he has a scene where a man walks down a London street and the "brilliant gas lamps" pick out the fruit stalls and the exotic fruits displayed. (It could have been written for a film scene, although cinema did not exist).

Reading around, I also discovered that already in the late 19th C the coming of railways ensured that early season fruits could be brought from Uzbekistan into Western Europe, and a lively trade developed long before 1914.

So.....not much has changed in 130 years. Britain is still struggling in Afghanistan, Iraq, and on the edges of "Empire", while at home, London is still the somewhat seedy but magnificent melting pot we all know even today. Shadowy figures play cat and mouse with the police and produce bombs in suburban hide-outs, cook up wicked plots without even giving a hint to their innocent wives, and send innocent children to their death as bomb carriers. At the same time, our market stalls are bursting with exotica from the ends of the earth, transported by the marvels of technology to be "on our table, picked fresh from the vine only a day ago".

Tuesday 18 December 2007

A master of his trade - # 326

There are few things more enjoyable (for me at least) than watching a stall trader at work.

I took about ten shots of this chap at his regular and highly professional pitch near the market square. Every shot showed energy, movement, skill, concentration and underlying it, salesmanship and a knack for making people smile - while making money. He is making a living by keeping people happy where-ever he finds himself.

A few days ago I showed my compost bin and was amazed at the responses which showed how we are all so very much THE SAME. Same concerns, same loves and sentiments (admittedly not without some cultural differences, but they can be resolved with good will and common sense).

I've been fortunate to have had a career that took me around the world dealing with all kinds of people. How fortunate I have been to have that experience.

I must work harder at my crowd scenes and people shots.

Monday 17 December 2007

Party mood - # 325

I admired the seasonal displays and special lighting effects in a local shop window, but the outcome of the photographs made me think more a science fiction film.

Sunday 16 December 2007

Watching and waiting - # 324

You will have noticed that I don't normally show people or lively street scenes. I find them notoriously hard to do, and for some reason (at least for me) they often don't seem to "work" and so I don't attempt them. I think it also has something to do with the nature of English streets and the way an English crowd "poses" itself. But I won't blame my lack skill onto others.

Nevertheless, here they are. The English squad of the British Isles....British Subjects, Citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland...........not a lot of people know that, and indeed, very few British actually know it. They haven't a clue these days what they are, and so the Government suddenly embarks on a tortuous and controversial process of trying to explain and instill "Britishness". This is totally the fault of successive Governments and people who should have known better who have failed ensure that this particular aspect of identity was nurtured and cared for. (Well, that's my opinion....but let's not get too upset about it).'s good to be British, it's a privilege.

Saturday 15 December 2007

Compost components - # 323

We have been diligent composters of kitchen waste for a long time. Today I thought that the box looked especially colourful. (Don't worry too much about the almonds, raisons and - I'm sorry to say - the brazil nut. They are just a tiny 18 month old remnant that had slipped to the back of the cupboard, only to be revealed as the hunt for this year's Christmas Cake baking ingredients started. The birds will enjoy them).

Have a happy weekend.

Friday 14 December 2007

It's not all grey - # 322

.....and it's never all Black & White either, although adding "colour" to embellish a scene is a serious crime generally committed by the ruthless English newspaper press who will tear down anything that attracts attention.

Anyway; following that "purple passage" let me say that I liked the play of sunlight bursting through a gateway to illuminate these 17th C court yard cobbles at Ham House. It looked good in colour but I felt it was even nicer in B&W with just a tiny scrap of enhanced shadow.

Thursday 13 December 2007

England's grey and pleasant land - # 321

We have all heard these stirring songs and poems about about "England's green and pleasant land and "This jewel set in a perfect sea" (hope I got that line right), and so on, but on a grey, wet, wind-buffeted, chilly day I find it hard to see what is so lovely about this "sacred isle".

Certainly we do not have mosquito infested malaria swamps (like they had until relatively recently in the South of France) and our financial centres can function without air conditioning, unlike in say Dubai, where nothing much could function if it were not for air conditioning (yes,yes: I know that Dubai has a long and excellent history as a Gulf trading centre - just don't pester me with specifics, when you know that my general thesis is sound, and I am an admirer of Shiekh Mo)...................but, on grey days like this it is very easy to see why Britain is a nation of sea farers and world-travellers just itching to get away!!

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Ladies like doing mad sports, too- # 320

We're still with the "frost-bite" brigade.

These young ladies are all wrapped up and ready to go, discussing fine details with the rigger.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Going fast on a broad reach- # 319

I used to be a "frost-bite sailor", crewing for a chap who owned a Fireball...a kind of floating ironing board with a huge sail area that gave it tremendous speed. I had to hang out on the trapeze wire, horizontal over the water. I often muffed the change over when we went about and we both ended up in the cold grey water with a strong wind blowing. We righted the boat, scrambled back in and set off again. My little sailing cap only blew off once and floated away. I never saw it again. But 30 years later I still wear and treasure the little blue cap that replaced it.

Monday 10 December 2007

The horns of agony - # 318

Today the weather conditions on the river offer us a graphic description of the expression "lousy!"

But this does not deter certain intrepid and dedicated souls from donning wet suits and training gear, going out running and then taking a quick spin with the jolly crew in a Racing Eight or a Coxless Four.

Here are the "shells" stacked up outside the club house, presenting the spikes of the sportsman's crown of agony.......Any takers?

Sunday 9 December 2007

Brisk business - # 317

It has to be in colour. This local retailer is fully stocked and already rushed off his feet as the Christmas buying season gets underway.

Saturday 8 December 2007

Unseasonal gifts from America - # 316

Until this year my garden fence always blew out in October, and the leaves always fell in October, and it was generally dry and quieter in December.

This year we don't know where we are. The fence stayed up until last week before the gales blew it out, and the wind finally stripped the leaves and dumped them on the lawn for me to clear up.

The weather forecast shows massive swathes of rain (I mean, really massive) sweeping in off the Atlantic.

At the same time the American "sub-prime mortgage" scandal upsets our own financial markets and it all goes pear shaped. My advisor rings to suggest that we re-jig the investments and batten down for rough financial weather.

Friday 7 December 2007

Nymph offering aniseed ball to prancing horse- # 315

In Twickenham, across the river from Richmond there is a grandiose fountain imported all the way from Italy in the 19th C by a wealthy fellow who appreciated art. This fountain is big, and this view is about 1/3 of it.

Actually it's quite a nice piece in its funny old way, if rather dated, and the town council recently spent a lot of money refurbishing it and fitting flood lights and new water pumps. What really amuses me is the nymph in the centre. Is she offering the horse an aniseed ball, or what?

Thursday 6 December 2007

Street cafe trading opportunity - England 6th December 07- # 314

Climate change (a modern term for "it's sunnier and warmer than it used to be") has brought to England the benefits of the street cafe open air life style. However, there are still some limitations. In part, these limitations are related to the fact that this year "it's a great deal less sunny and far much wetter than it used to be".

Wednesday 5 December 2007

Think of a title - # 313

This is a quick snap. I just liked the look of the scene and took a pot shot at it. (Perhaps it's a bit fuzzy?) I was going to call it "Capitalist with lackey and running dog" so as to feed my particular sense of humour. But Heather said I shouldn't, so I thought of "Two people and two animals enjoying each other's company", which is also very much to my line of taste and thinking.

Isn't it a strange thing? In the Cold War time "the lackeys and running dogs" of capitalists were a much maligned breed. Today everyone wants to be a capitalist, or so it might seem. Did the communists lift a stone only to drop it on their own foot?

Tuesday 4 December 2007

Hail, the dawn! - # 312

Gorgeous sunsets, followed by heavy storms of rain and blasting wind, and then a wonderful sunrise.

This was the view from my window yesterday.

Monday 3 December 2007

River god looking rather wet - # 311

.... terrible storms and rain yesterday and last night as a strong southwesterly storm blew in from the Atlantic.
Here's a picture of the "River God" who sits in front of Ham House beside the Thames. He's taken on a characteristically "DAMP" look.

Sunday 2 December 2007

The sunset that yesterday's Post was looking at - # 310

A few days ago the weather forecaster predicted some stunning sunsets. He wasn't wrong!

I took 34 shots on Richmond Hill, and this is one. We are looking due west from Richmond Terrace and you can see the river curving away as it forms the "View from Richmond Hill" (protected by Act of Parliament in 1902).

Saturday 1 December 2007

Autumn sunset on Richmond Hill - # 309

I liked the lovely glow cast by the setting sun on this lone figure enjoying the last minutes of daylight on Richmond Hill.