Monday, 17 December 2012

Southwark Bridge, London and Santacon

Walked along the South Bank at the weekend, breathing in the smell of cheap gluwein and hot dogs whilst travelling in the opposite direction to the epic Santacon - a flash-mob of thousands of Santas.

We must have brushed shoulders with hundreds if not thousands of santas making their way along the South Bank, occassionally stopping for the odd beverage.

Anyway, came to Southwark Bridge at twilight and it looked great.  It's  just been restored.  I'm such a sucker for colourful lights.  Pathetic really.  I had no camera on me, just my old iPhone to take a few snaps:

Southwark Bridge London at Night

Southwark Bridge London at Night

Southwark Bridge London at Night

Friday, 7 December 2012

Dartmoor after the Rain

It has been wet start to winter on Dartmoor.  More squelching and squerching with Cosmo.  Roll on some snow.
Dartmoor in Black and White

I'm getting all excited about Infra-Red photography again, after all these years.

Infra-red photography is when you use black and white film that has an extended sensisitivity to the "Near Infra-Red".  Normally, film is sensitive just to the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum (between about 250 to 680 nm wavelength), these are called 'panchromatic' films.  Infra-red films extend this sensitivity by another 200 nm, passed the red and into the near infra-red. (BTW, beyond that is the "Far infra-red" which is what we feel as heat.)

The effect is that colours come out differently; blues reflect virtually no IR light, so appear void of light (ie black) whilst greens reflect lots and appear very light.

Although I am using digital RAW files, their spectral sensitivity enables me to play with digital 'filters' to achieve similar effects.

Anyway, I'll be doing more, so next time, you'll know why they photographs look different.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dartmoor Granite

There's nothing quite like the unmistakeable look of weathered granite; Dartmoor's knobbly hilltops or 'Tors' are the exposed part of a massive granite intrusion known as a batholith. ("Excuse me, said the sedimentaries, we were here first, leave us alone." "No" said the granite.)  This was about 300 million years ago, when manners weren't as finely tuned.

No prizes for the three main minerals - feldspar, quartz and mica.  But who knows what the really big feldspar crystals are called?   Anyone?  You at the back?  Yes! "phenocrysts".  I didn't know that, either.

The Dartmoor tor shape was formed mainly around 50 million years ago during a time of hot humid climate (yeah, right) when intense weathering shaped the granite.

Dartmoor Granite Tor

Apparently, for the last 2 million years we have been in the grip of 'ice-age' conditions, with little bits of warmer weather in-between.  Well, I beg to differ.  I think a new geological era known as "Wetocene" should be recognised.  Let's face it, we are in the 'grip' of a maxi rain-age with little bits of dry in between.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dartmoor morning blows crisp after the rain

Finally, a respite from the storms and the never-ending rain.  All of Dartmoor resembles a massive bog over which we squelch and squerch to feel released from the cabin-fever of oppressive weather.  Sunshine.  It's the simple things in life that we really need.

Dartmoor near Horndon Down, Tavistock

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Autumn in the Lew Valley

Whilst I write this looking out at angry horizontal rain and shrubs that hold their limbs up in surrender to the wind, I remember not two days ago when our lovely Lew valley looked like this:

Lew Valley Pasture and Autumn Trees

Perhaps such gentle pastoral scenes are now gone for a while.

Add caption

The autumn colours this years have been excellent despite the awful weather that has prevailed.

I want the rain to stop.  Anyone else?

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bude on a Big Wave Day

I was working near Bude today and noticed the size of the swell even from the road some distance away.  It was, as they say, "awesome!".

I managed to squeeze half an hour looking at the waves at the end of the day.  They were absolutely beautiful, big, clean and slightly scary.

Bude waves

Waves near Bude Breakwater

Bude Big Waves

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Tavistock's Rainbow

Friday morning on November 9th in Tavistock saw an extraordinary sight.  The storm clouds parted for a while to let in some sharp sunlight created a set of fabulous rainbows.  People stopped in their tracks and admired them.  There were two distinct arches with the main one repeating at least twice immediately below it.

These were from my iPhone, but capture something of the moment:

Tavistock's Rainbow

Rainbow over Tavistock

Monday, 5 November 2012

Bonfire Night, Coryton

Remember, remember the 5th of November.

Thanks to the O'Neills for a great bonfire party.

Bonfire Night and Guy, near Tavistock

Commemorating the failed plot of Guy Fawkes in 1605 to blow up Parliament, bonfire night came about because King James introduced an act that forced people to celebrate the plot's failure by having bonfires on November 5th.  The whole plot was about religion; the protestants suppressing the catholics.  Religion seems to be somewhat prevalent in the root cause of so many conflicts, methinks.

Strangely, it also ties in with Samhain, a Gaelic festival at the end of the harvest season that goes back at least to the 10th Century, when bonfires were lit.  These festivals were seen as when a 'door' to the otherworld was opened so that the souls of the dead could travel across and be celebrated.  All Soul's Day, All Saint's Day, Hallowmas, All Hallow's Eve, Halloween, the Day of the Dead.... the renaming of ideas and festivals is particularly evident at this time of year.

Still, I love a good bonfire and firework display.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Padstow, Cornwall

Sunny Padstow, cool ride on a speed boat, posh fish & chips and colourful boats...

Padstow boats

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Treyarnon Morning

Another fine morning on one of St Merryn's finest.  Nothing like waking up next to the sea and breathing in pure oceanness (new word I've decided we need).

Walked to Constantine Bay in the late afternoon with the swell increasing and the sunlight shining through the waves creating that fabulous 'aqua green'.  It's addictive, waiting for the next wave....

Waves near Constantine Bay
Aqua wave near Constantine Bay

Wave tube near Constantine Bay

Here's hoping people stay as safe as they can in the US East coast where the waves and storm surge bring no joy.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall

Staying in one my my favourite places in the world.  A bit cold but always beautiful.  Here's my view when I wake up:

My birthday has come and it's been a blast so far.  I've been playing with my pressy:

Monday, 22 October 2012

Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor

Burrator Reservoir; always good for an autumn walk in the sunshine.

A couple of snaps from Saturday:

Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor

Burrator Reservoir, Dartmoor

Monday, 15 October 2012

Tavistock Goose Fair

Well, Tavistock's annual Goose Fair has come and gone, and the fairground has left Bedford car park.  Whether you like it or not (like the Curate's egg) it is good in parts.  For the kids though it's "awesome"!

We ventured into the funfair again this year, although yours truly did not venture on any rides.  I shall tell you why.  Last year the fairground caught me in a particularly vibrant mood so I decided to go on loads of rides, culminating in Freak Out.  Now, I was always one for cool rides, but going on that one was the first time in my life that I thought, "**%$!" I REALLY hate this!  I clung on for dear life trying to keep my face in a medium grimace of coolness, as I was surrounded by teenagers and pre-teens (how humiliating is THAT?) enjoying themselves.  My insides were transported to a parallel universe with an iou pinned in their place.

That, together with the barrel ride thingy where the floor drops away, reconfigured my brain fluids so that I was dizzy and ill for 3 weeks.  And so, age has caught up and I discovered my "ceiling" for scary rides rather too effectively.

Thus, I simply watch, get scabbed for cash by my kids and take photographs, looking like a nerd, but I don't care.

Here are some of my shots:

Funfair at night in Tavistock 2012

Funfair at night in Tavistock 2012

Oxygen at Fairground in Tavistock 2012

Oxygen at Fairground in Tavistock 2012

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Rust, Iron Oxide

Found a door on my travels recently that was suffering from a bit of rust:

Now that's what I call rusty!

Where does it all go?

Cool texture, colour and patterns.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

More Autumn Colour

Bring it on! Autumn's magic colours.  Apart from the smell of lingering bonfires and the sight of morning mist hanging in the valleys on days when the sun is up but still watery, the only consolation for this time of year is the colour.

Autumn colour in Virginia Creeper

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Autumn Colour Party is upon us!

This incredible foliage is clinging to the back of my house.  The colours are outrageous and zingy.

Climbing Hydrangea near Tavistock

I adore the natural graduation from green to yellow.  Hmm good website banner maybe?

And this one just makes me think that Christmas is rapidly approaching:

Climbing Hydrangea and Cotoneaster near Tavistock

I found a few words for Autumn:


The Autumn Artist's palette is fresh with fiery colour,
Like from the heavens, fallen powders
Are sprinkled over weary trees.
Their colours deepen and alter
As the rain brushes over their tender leaves.
And in the light that shines before dusk
Globules of sunshine hang from their tips,
They drip into sun-shaped fleeces
That lie beneath their pillars.
And when this chorus of colour has finished its song,
And the sun-drops drip no more,
The magic flies from these golden fleeces,
And later returns in frozen flakes when the season's change is over.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fake sunlight

Ordinarily it isn't possible to fake sunlight.  But, I've had a go and it's not too bad, all things considered.  You try it.  Tricky.

This is before:

This is after:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Journey into Space - The Red Planet | and the Inevitable Paradox of Man's Relationship with Science, Space & Time

Here is a confession.  I have come to realise that I am, amongst other things, a lover of science-fiction (& fact, come to think of it).  Geek is much too ugly a word.  I am fascinated by all that is science, space and time, and the inevitable paradox of Man's relationship with it.  Be it existential, theoretical or theological (don't get me started!).

I was raised on a steady diet of Star Trek until Steven Spielberg gave us Close Encounters of the Third Kind (I love how there are classifications of encounters).  Now I am only allowed a rationed amount of sci-fi films; groans and walk-outs would otherwise prevail every night around the family tele-viewer, I mean TV.  The new Star Trek, Contact, Frequency, Wall-E, Deja Vu, even the fabulous Galaxy Quest can only be dusted off once every 6 months or so if I'm lucky.

I am also a devotee of BBC iPlayer and Radio 4 extra.  It gives me access to the best of radio when I am cooking photographs on my beloved Mac.  News Quiz, The Masterson Inheritance, The Goon Show, Cabin Pressure, Bleak Expectations, Cabin Pressure... the list is nearly endless.  Did I mention Cabin Pressure?

Ah, but now my sci-fi appetite if fulfilled by the discovery of Charles Chilton's Journey into Space series.  More specifically, The Red Planet.  Wonderful, beguiling, fascinating.  It was first broadcast in 1954.  So many of its ideas have made their way into more modern space/time classics, especially 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010 The Year we Make Contact.

I know the spacey sound effects are cheesey, but I love the noise of the rockets firing; it's just like Thunderbirds (which my father actually filmed) and strangely comforting.  I have just started to settle down to "World in Peril" when Jet Morgan, Doc, Lemmy and the annoying Mitch manage to return from Mars to the Moon.

Does anyone else think that Doc (Guy Kingsley Poynter) sounds like James Mason?

Oh, and Charles Chilton also produced many of The Goon Shows.  Spooky.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Just Dog walking

I sometimes forget how unique and breathtaking our scenery is here.  I scooted around Brentor walking the dog and the view toward the western slopes of Dartmoor was compelling.  You can see how the granite forced its way through the crust.

Nature has applied its own colour scheme: green for decent topsoil depth, and brown for acidic, peaty virtually non-existent topsoil suitable for ankle-breaking grass tufts and incredibly hardy hawthorn trees.  I say trees, there more like stumpy 'Ent' gargoyles.  (Tolkein noun.)

On a different note, I have just returned from a Celebration Day where two people pledged their commitment to each other in front of their family and friends.  It was truly lovely.  I re-connected with people I knew from 30 years ago in London.  Danced too much I think.  Probably embarrassed my children.  Least I broadened THAT horizon for them.

It re-affirmed my wish that we could all enjoy regular "mash-ups" of old friends and new, family and loved ones just for its own sake.  Why is it just weddings and funerals?  Actually I know why, but wouldn't it be lovely if we could do it once a year, without agenda?

We've seen the last of the sun for a few days...  Autumn has a foot in the door.  The manic-depressive leaves of the sycamore trees are instantly turning brown and shrugging off the tree, whilst the chestnuts have started changing for the colour party.  The maples are waiting for their big entrance...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Lifton Bridlepath, near Tavistock

My nomination for prettiest bridlepath:

Lifton Bridlepath, near Tavistock

Dog heaven.

Also, came across the ultimate do-it-upper:

Rose Cottage, Sprytown, Tavistock

Monday, 10 September 2012

Good Joke

Heard a good joke from the inimitable Mr Ben Bax:

"There is a dislexic, insomniac and agnostic man who lies awake at night wondering if there really is a dog."

Of course there is, his name is Cosmo:

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dartmouth coastlining

Who'd have thought the view towards "Deadmans Cove" could look so Piratey.  Perhaps it's just me.

Did you know?
In 1373 Geoffrey Chaucer visited Dartmouth.  Among the pilgrims in his Canterbury Tales:

A schipman was ther, wonyng fer by weste;
For ought I wost, he was of Dertemouthe.

Dartmouth was a major base for privateering in medieval times.  John Hawley was a licensed privateer and mayor of Dartmouth is thought to be a model for Chaucer's "schipman".

Quite piratey after all then.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Devon Harvest of Barley

"If you tickle the earth with a hoe she laughs with a harvest."
Douglas Jerrold

Barley Sheaves - from Vicinity Websites

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

August weather in Tavistock

"Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby. " Langston Hughes

I am deafened by rain.  My lullaby is a cacophony and I am no longer in the mood! 

I miss BLUE.

Boats on still water near Salcombe

Friday, 24 August 2012

Tavistock Wargame Company

Had a brilliant afternoon at the Wargame Company Tavistock, near Gulworthy.  Really professional with an excellent woodland site.  It certainly stoked fun into a bunch of young teenagers, and one rather older one.

Here's a picture from the company's facebook page:

Tavistock Wargame Company Photograph of Teenagers having fun

So much fun to be running around and crawling in the dirt with a weapon again!!

Thanks to Kevin and Glynn.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

From Tavistock to Florence ...

Here is the last part of my Italian triptych; Florence.  I know it's hot, busy and hard on the feet, but it is also extraordinary.  The sheer volume of Renaissance art and architecture at every turn within the city is overwhelming.

Here are just a few snaps:

The Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence

Santa Croce was rebuilt in 1294 and is the burial place for, amongst others, Michelangelo, Machiavelli and the great Galileo who was tried by the Inquisition no less.

Next is the Ponte Vecchio, the Medieval bridge over the Arno River, housing shops selling gold bling.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence

The River is a lovely colour don't you think.  What would London Bridge have looked like I wonder?

On to David.

Replica of Michelangelo's David

I know it's only a replica, but still, pretty iconic.  Michelangelo sculptured the original between 1501 and 1504.

Finally, one of the best aspects of Florence is the myriad of streets, arching here and there, channelled by beautiful, tall buildings.  So many stone roads; ordinary and extraordinary simultaneously.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From Tavistock to the Land of Puccini ...

Experienced La Bohème at the Gran Teatro all'Aperto Giacomo Puccini; the open air 3200 seat opera theatre next to Lake Massaciuccoli at Torre del Lago.  This is where Puccini lived and composed many of his works for about 30 years.

Anyway, it's beautiful and very evocative:

View from Torre del Lago

Lake Massaciuccoli, Italy at sunset

View of Lake Massaciuccoli from Torre del Lago at the annual Puccini Festival 2012