Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thematic Photographic 125: Sepia

I'm not sure I really know what constitutes a sepia photograph. I've looked at all the beautiful images which clever people have posted in response to this theme, and they seem to range from black and white to gold. And I don't have any sepia collection, so this is my sole contribution this week:

A friend's son walks in the harsh salt desert of Uyuni, in Bolivia:


Visit Carmi's Thematic Photographic - click the button on the right.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rockers get it right

 

New Zealand is a small country. 
We don't have many underground mines, and thank God we don't often have 
disasters which kill a number of people at once.  


But this week the whole country is mourning the 29 men who died in a coal-mine calamity 
on the West Coast of the South Island. 
16 miners and 13 contractors became trapped in the mine after a large methane-fuelled 
explosion on November 19. A second bigger explosion on Wednesday of this week 
put an end to any hopes that the men had survived. 
And a third, smaller explosion rocked the mine yesterday, just five minutes 
before the time of the first explosion a week before.

 

Most of the men who died were New Zealanders, but there were also Brits, Australians, 
a South African.  And in a country as small and sparsely populated as this, everybody 
knows someone who has lost a son, a husband, a friend.



Last night, U2 were performing in Auckland, and made a moving tribute to the lost men by 
posting all of their names above the stage as they sang their song One Tree Hill, which was
written to commemorate the death of their Kiwi roadie and Bono's PA, Greg Carroll.


Rest in peace, 
and may those who are left behind find comfort 
in the love of their friends and families, 
and consolation in their memories of you.



Arohanui
Alexia

Sunday, November 21, 2010

3 Things that Make me Happy on a Monday

Mondays aren't great, traditionally.  Although you're supposed to have rested up over the weekend, and be full of energy, it really seems a very long time until the next weekend.

Plus, it's been a long and busy day at school (aren't they all??).

I thought I'd do the positive thinking approach and post about 3 things that bring me joy.

#1 Lighthouses  There's just something about them: strength, pride, danger, loneliness. This one's at Castlepoint, a (normally) wild and windy place on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Castlepoint Lighthouse

#2 Mosaics   I've dabbled a little in making some, and plan to do a lot more - some day, when time expands. One of the reasons I went to Turkey was to feast my eyes on the beautiful mosaic work:

 
Mosaic above door, Green Tomb, Bursa


#3 Water  Always makes me feel happy and peaceful, whether it's a lake, river or the sea.

Lake Rotorua, New Zealand

What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.
~ Leo Buscaglia 

What cheers you up on a Monday?

Alexia

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thematic Photographic 124: Candid

I love the total concentration of these small people, watching the puppy eat scraps after the birthday party:



And this one makes me laugh.  He's one of the top students of his year. He'd finished all of his work and had been given permission to sit in one of the old easy chairs and read.  It may look as if he's listening to his iPod, but no - he was sound asleep!


I can't resist an animal shot too.  Here's the star of  my TP 123, Manuel LeGrand, when he was a tiny puppy. 



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brave and beautiful poppies

The other day I really enjoyed reading a post on Karen's lovely blog, about Minnesota's state flower, the Lady's Slipper.  She also talked about the poppies of California, which made me think of how delighted I had been earlier this year to find poppies growing wild everywhere, in my springtime trip around Greece and Turkey.  It made me think about the photos I took of them - hence this post!


In Mycenae, in Greece, the poppies grow amongst ruins which date back three thousand years.  These ones were in cracks of the stones which remain from the palace where Agamemnon was murdered by his wife and her lover.



On top of the Acropolis in Athens, poppies grow amongst the tumbled columns of many centuries past:



Ancient ruins are pretty much my favourite places to be in the whole world.  I have spent so many years learning about classical history - I love nothing more than to stand in these places and imagine what it would have been like to be there when the inhabitants were going about their daily lives. 
For some reason they give me an incredible sense of peace and connection.


In Perge, in southern Turkey, the same bright flowers flared bravely amongst the stones:


and in Pamukkale, a strange and beautiful place:


Finally, on the way back to Istanbul, we visited Gallipoli.  I had really hoped to see poppies here, but no - everything had been rendered very neat and tidy for the Anzac day celebrations a few days later.  

These poppies there were, however. 
What heavy burdens these symbolic flowers carry, what dark stories they relate.


At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon


Alexia

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Metaphorical Eagle


At 3.00 am this morning I was listening to a podcast of an interview with Mark Simos (I'm not a bluegrass fan, but he's an interesting guy). He was talking about Peter Gabriel's song 'Solsbury Hill', and said that the Eagle in the song is a metaphorical eagle.
This phrase appealed to me so much - lots of ideas and pictures in my mind straight away!


First my head went straight to the little poem The Eagle, by Tennyson:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
So much information in so few words.  I can clearly see him above his blue world, with his grasping talons:

 
www.alaska-in-pictures.com 

There are more than 60 species of eagle, most of them found in Europe, Asia and Africa. Only 2 species, the Bald and the Gold, occur in North America.  Tennyson was in the UK, so his Eagle wouldn't have been a bald one. 
They fascinate me because most are larger than any other raptors except vultures. They have very large hooked beaks, strong muscular legs and extremely good eyesight.


Eagles have been used by a great many countries as a national symbol, including
 
Nigeria


Russia

Armenia

Mexico
United States

So... a metaphorical eagle?  Strong, powerful, swift, merciless, predatory.
eagle-eyed.
spread-eagled

Beautiful
www.kingfishermanor.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thematic Photographic 123: Black and White

Black and White?
Nothing ever is, although I know a fair number of people who think in those terms.

My first thought was about The Little Dog (probably because he was sitting on my feet at the time). His name is Manuel LeGrand, and here he is, on a winter's day at the beach:

 



He doesn't know he's a little dog. He is not aware that his head is kinda too big for his body, and that he has the funny, stumpy front legs which some Jack Russell terriers have.  He always acts with dignity and decorum, and is as brave, affectionate and loyal as any dog we have ever had.   He firmly believes that he will catch every rabbit or pheasant he disturbs out on a walk; of course, with those legs, he doesn't.
He smiles a lot.

I always said I would never have a little dog, "because they're yappy". Thankfully, he's not; he does have a good manly bark when needed.  Especially when he's treed a possum in the middle of the night.... !!



Manu misses The Big Dog, his friend Mr D'Arcy, who departed this life a while ago.  I haven't yet found him a new companion, but I'm working on it.
To see more Thematic Photographic postings, on this theme or a number of others, go to Carmi Levy's blog - click the button on the right.

P. S. Possums are classified as noxious pests in this country.

Alexia

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road is described by the Australian Tourist people as one of the world’s most scenic drives. It runs from Geelong (just south-west of Melbourne) in Victoria,  along the southern coast of the state, 243 kilometres - 151 miles - to Allansford, just east of Warrnambool. It has some beautiful views of what can be a rough and wild coast, and is heavily populated with excursion buses and the like for a large part of the year.


Recently I drove the road for the first time, with a friend, and found it a worthwhile and interesting experience. One of the first places to stop at is a popular surfing spot, Bells Beach. They have a big-time surfing carnival there every year, the Ripcurl Pro - it's been held there every Easter since 1960.

There wasn't much of a swell this day - just a few slick black shapes sitting out the back, waiting for some action.  The day was beautifully sunny, with little wind, and quite cold.

It's a stunningly beautiful place, although looking out from the beach towards the south I could totally believe that the next landfall was Antarctica; somehow in spite of the sunshine,it had that bleak desolate beauty down to a fine art:


We had a lunch stop at Apollo Bay (great coffee, yummy falafels and pita bread) and a brief, cold walk on the beach -

Next we headed inland to visit the Otway National park, where we walked around the Treetop Walk:

 This claims to be the longest and tallest elevated walk of its kind in the world. It is 600 metres (about 0.4 miles) long and 35 metres (115 ft) above ground level. I don't like heights at all but I walked around it without minding the bounciness too much!



The best stop of the day was at the 12 Apostles, a group of weathered limestone stacks which has long been a visitor draw on this part of the coast.

By the time we got there, the sun was low, but I was reasonable happy with some of my photos all the same.






All in all it was a lot of fun - a great day to be alive !



I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.  
~John Burroughs

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thematic Photographic 122: Electric

I have to admit that I found this one quite hard - and I've been amazed and envious at the clever interpretations that all the other TPs have been posting.

With no inspiration, I've gone for some lights:

this is a light that Gaudi made, which is on the ceiling of the main 'salon' in the Casa Batllo in Barcelona.  It was inspired, as was most of his designing, by the natural forms of nature.  The man did NOT like straight lines - and all of this house references the sea, and sea life; this light makes me think of sea urchins:


This shot was taken in the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul.  I love the atmosphere these lights helped to create:

And a picture from a silk shop in Bursa, also in Turkey:


















Finally, an example of the light fittings in my house.  I can't stand them, but they were here when we bought it, and I can't afford to replace them!!! *sob*


Click on the Thematic Photographic button on the right to find out more about this fun activity to participate in!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Early Evening

My favourite time of all.

The sun has just set,
sloped down between the hills' dark shoulders;
sky is still luminous with light.

in the no-wind
the trees are still, stopped - 
leaves and branches motionless.

moths and insects flit and
skitter in the dark, 
small blips against the bright/dark sky.

Even-ing out the day, dusk
spreads quiet to lie about the mounds 
of trees and hills, sculpted into dark.



4th November 2010

Alexia

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Yellow Painting


A painting I hope to see in person one day: 'The Yellow House', by Vincent van Gogh.
It was painted in September 1888, and is now kept in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. This was the house he was living in at that time, in Arles in France, and he called it 'The House and its Surrounds' ('La Maison et son entourage'), and later simply 'The Street' ('La Rue'). It is now known as 'The Yellow House', for obvious reasons.
On the left under the tree is the café where he used to eat his meals.


This is one of his lesser-known paintings, but I like the bright sunniness of it - and it fits into the yellow theme!