Monday 31 August 2009

The Edge - # 09/123

On the edge of London there is Kingston and on the edge of Kingston is Esher. On the edge of Esher there are great hills of sand, washed out millions of years ago from the edge of the Great Ice Cap when it stopped at the northern edge of London.

At the edge of the sand hills there is a steep vertical cliff; a true "edge" where unwary travellers could fall perhaps 20 meters or more down in the night time darkness.

At the foot of the edge is the River Mole. This photo was taken on the edge of the river bank.

The water reflected the light from the totally grey cloud-covered sky, but the picture was difficult as I worked at the edge of the light.

Camera: Olympus E3. ISO 200. Lens 100mm. Aperture f8.0. Shutter 1/10th second

Saturday 29 August 2009

English Grapes - # 09/122

The grapes are doing nicely in the garden at Ham House. So the excessively cloudy weather cannot have been totally bad.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Shadow - # 09/121

Those commenting on yesterday's photo rightly reminded me that certain parts of Europe have suffered from extreme heat. So, here's something that might help to calm and cool us all down. The utilitarian, squared-off little box is a climate control sensor. What irony! What pleasant tones.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Summer cloudscape - # 09/120

It's dramatic and quite attractive when it appears like this, but on the whole I am totally fed up with this so-called Summer. Today, the flat grey featureless cloud and the rain make it even worse. I have a painting on my wall showing the coastline of Northern France. The clouds look very similar in that picture. I wish Mr. Sarkozy would keep his weather to his side of the Channel.

Saturday 22 August 2009

The Bar Fly discovers Kepler's Dream - # 09/119

The Bar Fly's companion in conspiracy resurfaced after a little time away on mysterious missions "out East".

Where are we off to tonight? Canbury! Where? Canbury: it's the old industrial slum area of Kingston. The leather tanneries and early metal works and even the pre 1914 Hawker's aircraft factory are now long gone, and it's all "gentrified". I've discovered this old pub "the Canbury Arms" - they have an excellent food menu and a good atmosphere.

Great. I'll bring along my copy of Johannes Kepler's 1634 book about travel to the moon. It's an early "space travel" novel. We can discuss it. Unfortunately I don't have the original German edition.

Kepler! Wonderful! I can't wait. Don't you just love those 17th century mathematicians?

Thursday 20 August 2009

1/15sec #2 - # 09/118

It's not so speedy here! The rule is: Just snap randomly at 1/15th second. Having stowed the bike I dive into Ham House and snap randomly (honest; it's random) as I enter the "dungeon" where those of us who are too horrible to be seen in full daylight toil and strive to repair the unrepairable.

This is a random shot of a striving colleague.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

1/15sec #1 - # 09/117

I decided to see what would happen if I just attached a wide angle lens, locked the shutter at 1/15th second and simply clicked away randomly.

So, be prepared a for a load of weird shots. At least it's a way for me to climb out of the dearth of photos and themes that has built up after a rather abnormal Summer of bad weather and dealing with all kinds of "wot-not" that has taken my time and attention away from creating nice photos.

Here I am, speeding towards Ham House. Ahead is one of my "favourite trees", looking rather brown. I must investigate to find out why. Don't you just love it when you come across diverging foot paths?

Thursday 13 August 2009

Truth and fiction - # 09/117

Don't believe everything just because it's on the Internet.

Alert readers will have realised that yesterday's gibbet was in fact a modern replica. But the site at a cross roads on the ancient Roman Army road once known as Ermine Street certainly does exist. You can read the true story of Ermine St. on the www. Just enquire about Ermine St.

The air station known as RAF Caxton Gibbet existed as an Elementary Flight Training station, but the main bomber airfield was at Bourn, not far away. You can read the true history about RAF Bourn on the www. Enquire about RAF Bourn.

I twisted things round a little bit to make up a piece focused on the horrible weather we are suffering.

The photograph today shows the Manor House at Caxton built in around 1590. You can read all about the long Roman and Medieval history of Caxton in Cambridgeshire if you simply enquire about Caxton Cambridgeshire.

As a very tiny baby boy I lived for a very short while in the magnificent old house, and unbeknown to me all the history was happening around me. That's true. And also true is the terrible grey, rain-filled sky you see in the picture, taken yesterday when I visited the house after many years away.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

A blast from the past - # 09/116

Yes, it's a real gibbet. Today was a day I spent out and about retracing some of my past. You can see that the weather was HORRIBLE (this is normal: those grey skies seem to be permanently fixed. The climate has changed and there will never again be a blue-skied, sunny English Summer. I hope that's not true, but it certainly is bad at the moment.)
In researching the history of the Caxton Gibbet I came across one those amazing things that the Internet has brought to us - a complete listing of war-time airfields operated by the Royal Air Force and the USAAF in Britain PLUS the REALLY BIG THING, photographs of all the various different designs of control tower to be found on the old air stations.
It seems that there was once, now long gone, an "RAF Caxton Gibbet" - no doubt a bomber airfield; just one of the many scattered across Eastern England between 1939-45, and now lost forever, just like the English Summer.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

It's time for tea! - # 09/115

The weather has indeed been very unhelpful: the weather along with a load of other things that have got in the way of taking photos, and demanded my attention. The loyalties of "cyber-friends" have been severely tested.

The weather has driven me indoors and underground. Today I've been practicing some tricky stuff with difficult lighting.

Here's a scene straight out of the 17th Century. The light and shade, the textures of the wood and stone, the rough-cut carpentry, the odd angles, the primitive, massive metalwork, the way the light reflects from the flag stones, polished by 400 hundred years of footsteps are worth capturing (if you can!). It's a view of the servants' area underneath Ham House. Every day I stop and take it in. It's not just about a taking a photograph but about trying to capture and an atmosphere. The windows are so well placed as to provide natural light in the days before electricity. Visitors to Richmond should not miss it.

Sunday 2 August 2009

The other sentinel - # 09/114

Another! This time the goose is replaced by a little boy. How things can change within a matter of minutes.

I never tire of this scene. The shape of the white cottage and the way the brick house peeps through the trees fascinate me. We can probably say that the pond on Ham Common, after hundreds of years, has never looked more attractive than it does today. These qualities are in fact man-made, thanks to the love and care of various people and years of scientific and accademic effort to understand the improvement of wetlands, install drainage pipes, manage plants and handle so many other "urban issues". It's a great outcome after a lot of effort. A couple of hundred years ago it was more or less a village dump.

Saturday 1 August 2009

The Sentinel - # 09/113

Much dithering over colour or B&W, but I think the colour does it better. The tones seemed to be too much "dark or light" with not enough of that nice gentle grey in the middle.

Here is another variation of the view across the pond at Ham Common, looking due south. The Egyptian goose is guarding his brood of no less than 9 goslings. Mrs (or Mr?) Goose seems to have disappeared. I hope that it has not fallen victim to a passing car, or perhaps a fox. Yesterday's little chapel sits immediately behind the camera. Just swivel the camera round and you get yet another nice photo.

(Sorry about the weird sky, but that's how it is these days).