Friday 31 December 2010

Muscat Moments 4 - # 118/10

"Trading Off-Souk"............a tricky shot with extremes of light to cope with.  Looking out from the main covered Souk (naturally cool and shaded from the sun) we glimpse little alleys leading away, absolutely drenched in brilliant sunshine. I tried several shots and this seemed to work best for the blog.  Photography is often a bargaining trade-off, just like haggling with a long-experienced market trader. I was won over by an expert who knew his cricket and told me the latest news about England absolutely thrashing the s*** out of Australia to secure the Ashes. Having hooked me he gracefully let me beat him down on his price, but I most likely still paid way too much...."stoopid white-man",

We are in the Souk in the old, original harbour area of the original trading port of Muscat, home of the legendary Sindbad the Sailor who was, according to tradition and legend, an Omani seafaring man.   

Right now I say......."If you can manage to travel to Muscat, then DO. You won't regret it, and the Sultanate of Oman will welcome you warmly".

Thursday 30 December 2010

Muscat Moments 3 - # 117/10

I get the feeling that Oman might be a bird watcher's delight.  I don't know the name of this bird, but there are lots around.  They have an attractive song and flocks congregate where cafe terraces and hotel buffets provide plenty of scraps from the tables. This is a lively, good looking, attractive bird. Its feathers subtley change colour as they move across the body and this makes them very pleasant, welcome neighbours that please the eye, and a good subject for the wild life photographer - which I am not.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Muscat Moments 2 - # 116/10

The Omani camel.  This is definitely the preferred way to travel. Don't you just love their little "teddy bear style" ears and curly coats?  Giant 4x4 cars might get agressive with a Nissan Sunny from Thrifty rentals, but they won't mess with a camel.

It's now noon and hot, so having been out since 08.30 I'm back indoors and going to sleep till 15.30. The Indian workmen laying paving stones and building things will toil on regardless.

Sunday 26 December 2010

Muscat Moments 1 - # 115/10

Greetings from Muscat, Capitol City of the Sultanate of Oman.  Please excuse the mosque being a bit skew-whiff, but I don't have the correction software at hand.

The temperature is 19 - 23 degrees C (in Summer it will go up to 56!), there's barely a cloud in the sky and it's delightful! Even more delightful; the electric plug points are all British Standard, so I don't have to use those silly travel adapters.

The overall backdrop is the rugged and dramatically shaped mountains you can see in the background.  They are never out of sight, and the roads frequently cut through the mountains, or curve around the troughs in between the peaks.  Oman occupies a narrow strip of land between the sea and the mountains. Behind the mountains is the desert of Saudi Arabia. Do have a look at the atlas to see what I mean.

Monday 20 December 2010

Converging lines - # 114/10

Blizards and closed airports and out-of-position airliners permitting, I'm off to stay for a while in the Sultanate of Oman.

So, I'll leave you with this puzzling abstract taken in the old "meat cellar" in Ham House.  It seems that they did need a lot of meat.

Depending how things go I may treat you to a few "Muscat Moments" while I'm away.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Likenesses - # 113/10

......and look at us, for we were once like you.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Ham House shadows - # 112/10

Another one of those "Ham House moments" when the play of shadows catches your eye.

Monday 13 December 2010

Sunday 12 December 2010

Burst mains - # 110/10

The icey weather caused the water main outside my house to crack open.  Water flowed across the road bubbling up through the cracked tarmac.

What a horrible job, having to fix a burst main in freezing cold weather.

To Kate and Jack, who enquired yesterday: I'm fine thank you, but as I said/indicated, clearing up after someone passes away takes some effort - not least the "admin". The injuries sustained 11 months ago, falling on the ice, are still evident, but the recovery is well on track.  Muscles get weakened and a lot of effort is needed to rebuild.

Saturday 11 December 2010

The Bar Fly chooses a chair- # 109/10

No postings for a week. Not so much busy as totally preoccupied by "things"....home admin, bitter weather that does not encourage outings, and just general "stuff".  So the bar fly was pleased when his friend, known mysteriously as "The Railwayman" called him out for a drink and a chat.  Waiting quietly in a very cosy, welcoming but totally empty inn (cold weather is bad for business) the Bar Fly started snapping.  Just sit quietly and enjoy the things you see.

Sunday 5 December 2010

Diligent woodpecker - # 108/10

Our personal, locally based woodpecker has found out that he can also access the seeds in the feeder for the smaller birds.  The squirrels cannot get in, and it drives them crazy!

Friday 3 December 2010

Standing figures - # 107/10

Another shot from my "very cold day out" on Friday 26th Nov: looking at Big Ben from the South Bank near the London Eye.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Listening to His Master's Voice - # 106/10

Menton Daily Photo has today kindly made a reference to Nipper, HMV, and this blog.

Here is a painting of Nipper, listening intently, in the Toilet Gallery (art gallery) sited in a converted toilet in Nipper Alley, Kingston upon Thames.

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Gleitschutz bei Eis und Schnee - # 105/10

This year I'm prepared for everything.  Well, I think I am.

Monday 29 November 2010

Westminster meltdown - # 104/10

Did I mention how perishingly cold it was last Friday? It really dampens one's enthusiasm for waiting for the "right" moment.  Finally I could wait no longer and snapped the Houses of Parliament at sundown in this way.

The result looks as if a nuclear explosion is developing nicely inside the chamber of the House of Commons, and the central spire, on the extreme left, between the Lords (out of shot) and the Commons has already developed a nasty lean-in towards the structure already weakened by the first stages of the catastrophe.

However, in the centre background, the square tower of Westminster Abbey (flying its little flag) built almost 1,000 years ago by William the Conqueror, is standing solid, and the ultra-secure brand new Portcullis House  (On the right with the chimneys) full of MP's offices etc will probably survive.

This shot is a good example of "learning by doing".  Meaning that afterwards I was well and truly done in.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Suspended - #103/10

Friday I went to London.  Here's my interpretation of the "London Eye" - the Big Wheel on the South Bank erected for the Year 2,000 celebrations and still going strong, earning a fortune for it's owners.  It really is the finest way to "see" the whole of London.

The Wheel just begs to be photographed. This time it was the clean forms of the gondolas against the open sky that attracted my eye. 

Saturday 27 November 2010

Fungus - # 102/10

I said I'd show the fungus, so here it is. Looking closer I realise that the photo doesn't really do it justice, and more time should have been spent in true photography mode creeping around the site and taking 100 shots from numerous angles and at various settings.

But never mind.  What startles and impresses me is the brilliant white edge of the fungus. There is no flash lighting. This white edge is natural and I suppose that it comes from some property in the organism that responds to light, gathers and emits light.....or what ever.  I don't know.  But it is another miracle of the natural world.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Another striking image - # 101/10

.......tomorrow we'll do fungus.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Winter wild flower - Poppy - # 100/10

.....another wild flower snapped in the Wild Flower Meadow at the London Wetlands Centre this weekend.

Monday 22 November 2010

Reed Heads in Black and White- # 99/10

We're staying at the London Wetlands Centre while I run through a selection of the images I took there, this weekend.  Being a "wetland" there are lots of reeds waiving in the wind.  Here are some of them.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Winter wild flower - # 98/10

Not a perfect shot but still arresting (a slight breeze made focussing tricky).  I was surprised to see that at the London Wetlands Centre, Barnes, that there are still some fine wild flowers hanging on in the meadow areas.  I love going to the Wetlands. It is a truly marvelous re-creation of different wild environments as they are found around the world. There is also the benefit that as more and more birds discover and populate the centre they also visit the neighbouring areas as they fly around, exploring London.

For the technically minded: Lens - Olympus 50-200mm at 200mm (equivalent to 400mm on 35mm format) set at maximum aperture f3.5 to get that marvelous defocused background and the unrivalled Olympus in-camera processed jpeg colours. Camera: Olympus E3.

Friday 19 November 2010

The Panther - # 97/10

Look closely at the Chinese vase.....yes, it's really old........and see the delightful panther prancing.  He's enjoying a little bit of grooming before he's put to bed for the winter.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Sunday 14 November 2010

Wet day in Richmond - # 95/10

It's Sunday, but everything is open except for the specialist and second hand book shop (there's more than one small flourishing private book shop in Richmond - some of the rare surviving miracles of 21st Century "developed world" commerce).

The damp weather is keeping customers away from the stainless steel imported Italian-style cafe tables.

Enlarge the picture and enjoy the green moss on the tiny tower-top beneath the cross on the church which was "renewed" in the 18th century. Admire also the original late Victorian white painted window frame on the Alhambra Cafe.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Teddington Lock - Autumn sunshine - # 94/10

Who can resist capturing the intense golden light as the sun sets on Teddington Lock?

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Total disregard - # 93/10

Everyone doing their own thing, and only I am watching. Or am I the only one?

Monday 8 November 2010

Memorial Sq through to Church St, Kingston on Thames - # 92/10

Come to think of it this would make a very nice B&W print.  However, it's done now, so I'm not going to change it.

This is one of my favourite views of Kingston town centre.  I really enjoy the harmony, the proportions, the human scale and overall shaping of the buildings and the way the street curves and gives a glimpse into the next one, and so on. When I'm in Kingston I like to just stop for a moment and slowly take it in.

It's getting late on the 29th October, so things are rather grey. But the town is still lively. 

Sunday 7 November 2010

Towards Richmond Park - # 91/10

Looking from Melancholy Walk, beside Ham House, across the Ham Polo ground towards the west facing escarpment of Richmond Park - Autumn.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Autumn light at Ham Pond - # 90/10

Ham Common pond in the evening light. The reeds are catching the setting sun and the natural brown of Autumn turns to gold. (The red car is now, unfortunately, a permanent fixture in any worthwhile of the pond, darn the ruddy thing!!! I shall have to start experimenting with the cloning and removing tools.)

Friday 5 November 2010

Towards The Hill - # 89/10

First, I should thank those of you who so kindly replied to my message on yesterday's posting.

Today, let's continue the very simple return to old fundamentals.  This is the view towards the famous Richmond Hill as seen from the footpath alongside the old St. Peter's Church, which dates from Saxon times.  A Christian church has stood here for about 1,000 years, and even before that men were dwelling around about close to the river and on the heights above.  Even 400,000 years ago during the interglacial Paleolithic period the precursors of modern man were right here.

I like the view for the rooflines and of course the Autumn colours enhance it.

For the technically minded, the photo was taken on the Olympus E3 using the remarkably sharp and clear Olympus 50mm f2.0 lens.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Looking downriver, Richmond - # 88/10

My wife passed away on 23rd October.  Things have been difficult for quite a long time, which accounts, in part for my erratic posting record.  Things have now changed and I will be wondering what to do with all the time that will now be exclusively mine to occupy.

At this point I should thank one or two regular watchers of RuT, who have been aware of the difficulties, for their kindness and concern.

These few recent weeks of Autumn have been outstandingly good.  The colours and the sunlight, excellent.  Shortly before her passing Heather was encouraging me to get out and leave her alone.  She wanted me to take some time for myself.  Actually this was taken 10 days after her departure.  I'll be presenting the other choice views over the coming days.

This is a classic Richmond shot.  I took it because I wanted to capture the attraction of the roofline and of course the effect of the Autumn colours and the sunlight.  It all looks too good to be true, doesn't it.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Bullrushes - # 87/10

Ham Common Pond - Autumn.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

The Mandarins are back - # 86/10

We are still lurking around Ham Common Pond, because it's close and very attractive at this time.  This pair of Mandarins recently appeared.  A pair (most likely the same pair) have appeared for about three years running, but never stayed to make a nest. They obviously like the area but something isn't "just right".

See how the male is so magnificent and the female is relatively hard to see and so dull and well camoflaged.

I did not have a telephoto lens mounted, so the quality is a bit scratchy. I've cropped this and heavilly enlarged the fragment using Genuine Fractals.  The original was taken at 70mm (35mm equivalent) at f6.3 ISO800 1/30th sec on an Olympus 14-35mm f2.0.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Four trees with two figures - # 85/10

These days I'm forced to find "a good photo" in the near vicinity and work with what's available when I'm available. That makes you look harder and try to see things in a certain way, or style.

So, everything here is as carefully crafted as I could make it: the perspective, the grouping, the tones, the scene, the shadows, the exposure etc.  But to begin with I saw it and thought "That looks nice. I wonder what I can do with it".  For you it might not work, but for me it's approaching the quality of what I call a "gut wrenching" B&W.  It's not quite there, but near enough and it's all I've got time for at the moment.

Thursday 14 October 2010

After school - # 84/10

Relaxing on the way home from school, enjoying the last superb days of October before November comes.

Wednesday 13 October 2010

Catching the sun - # 83/10

The pumpkin sucks in the last rays of energy as the Autumn sun warms the skin.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Emerging green - # 82/10

Softly defocused, the impression is enhanced.  Holly will become green for Christmas, but now its going through delicate ivory, gorgeous pink and deep green stages.

Monday 11 October 2010

The other side of the wall - # 81/10

Step through the gate and you move from yesterday's east facing B&W image of shadows to the west side of the wall, moving from the formal garden of Ham House to the delightful and fully used Kitchen Garden, where vegetables for the restaurant are grown.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Shadow play - # 80/10

Late Autumn sunshine, fallen chestnuts, old walls, gravel avenues and ancient trees.

Friday 8 October 2010

Two more Sultans - # 79/10

Let's enjoy another close crop of some more musicians in the Great River Race 2010 band - this time as a high(ish) key B&W. I've just cropped it out of the large photo of the whole band and converted it to B&W.  In this crop I'm also looking with some amazement at the sound system and the number of microphones and where they are.

Thursday 7 October 2010

Sultans of Swing - # 78/10

Do you remember the Dire Straits song about the pro-am band The Sultans of Swing and the line ".....he's alright, he's got a daytime job."?

Here's an extreme close-up crop, homed-in on two of the excellent jazz/swing musicians playing at the landing of the Great River Race.  They were good, and swinging along well. But look at the concentration.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

First sight of Autumn 4 - # 77/10

A couple of years ago the The Arcadia Project within the Thames Landscape Strategy restored the 17th C Great South Avenue leading from Ham Common up to Ham House. The House lies at the very, very extreme end of the photo, about a mile (maybe less; but almost) away.

The young replacement saplings have suddenly turned brown, from one day to the next.

As you can see, RuT is, for a while at least, returning to basics, and simple things.  This is still the best I can do under the cirumstances. The more exotic images I was once striving to achieve will have to wait until the consequences of the fall on the ice last December, have totally cleared up.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

Seasonal bouquet - # 76/10

Chrysanthemums: one of my favourites.

Sunday 3 October 2010

First sight of Autumn 3 - # 75/10

The heavy rains of a wet Summer have eroded the bank leaving interesting root patterns. Man must now work hard to repair the damage Nature has done.

Saturday 2 October 2010

Nicer than yesterday's - # 74/10

On reflection, this is the one I should have chosen yesterday.  Same impressions, but a better expression?

Friday 1 October 2010

First sight of Autumn 2 - # 73/10

Walking across Ham Common I was attracted to the appearance of the water under the willows, the reflections, the shadows and the knarly exposed roots on the eroded bank. The willow leaves have not yet turned brown.  The green reflection in the water was startling. The camera has captured it quite well.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

First sight of Autumn - # 72/10

It's late September and late afternoon but there is still light streaming from the overcast sky. The curving path across the meadow of Petersham Copse catches my eye and I'm struck by the  fact that the grass alongside the path is so green.  The curve of the path and the gentle coluring seemed worth a photo: nothing monumental, but it catches the flavour of the season and the area we live in. 

Tuesday 28 September 2010

A dog's life - # 71/10

The Great River Race last Saturday offered many amusing scenes. The kayak was not a numbered competitor, but accompanied the race with the Yorkshire Terrier nicely tucked into the basket.  In the background is a modern racing version of the Pacific Island outrigger canoe.

The interaction between man and animals has always fascinated me.  It seems that we all love to keep domestic pets and they love to be with us. My only complaint today is that I wish the badgers did not love to be in my garden, playing their annual seasonal game of "who can dig the biggest pit to undermine the fence posts."  They dig under my fence to get into the neighbour's garden where they dig up his lawn. I'm lucky that my lawn is so poor that it lacks juicy grubs which the badgers are hunting for. 

Monday 27 September 2010

A tricky moment? - # 70/10

The Great River Race is finished. Collecting and marshalling more than 300 landed boats about to wash away on a rising tide is a serious job for strong men.  Getting it wrong could have serious consequencies. 

(BTW...I'm sorry if this appears to be digitally over-sharpened.  That's an accident.  I was not paying attention when I uploaded the image.)

Sunday 26 September 2010

The Great River Race 2010 - # 69/10

Question: Mummy, what do 5,000 oarsmen all gathered into one tiny spot look like?
Answer: A big crowd impossible to photograph except from a helicopter.

The Great River Race  took place yesterday and ended at Ham.  This is a superb community event attended by enthusiastic oarsmen and women from around the world. The logistics of staging such a huge event are formidable. But one thing is certain - it's a great success and a very happy day for all.