Alive with Light

Never underestimate the power of light. It makes the world of difference to images from all genres of photography.

I regularly walk through parts of central London. The street scene seems to change at remarkable speed. Recently I visited the London Bridge area – home to The Shard. But also home to Guy’s Hospital where I spent three years as a medical student over 45 years ago. This area of London has changed out of all recognition except that the old central buildings of the hospital are just as I recall them all those years ago. It brought back a lot of memories.

I hadn’t realized quite how close The Shard is to the hospital – it towers over it. I still haven’t got a decent shot of that iconic building, but as I walked back to the station, sunlight was reflecting off a newly completed building a few steps away and it was a remarkable sight. The building seemed to shimmer with light.

_DS79525I picked up the train and got off at the next stop – Southwark. Just to see what I might find there, always curious. Across the road from the station exit another office block was directly facing the afternoon sun. It was quite an extraordinary sight. It felt as if the sun had hit the building and exploded – a bit like a paintball shot would. Except this was light not material.

_DS79517_1Take away the effect of light, and both these buildings would lose the power to amaze. We take sunlight for granted so often, but we would miss so much if the sun didn’t shine through.

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Geraniums

Go anywhere in Switzerland and on balconies and in window boxes you will see Geraniums – red ones and pinks ones. The same is true of other European countries. Geraniums add a welcome splash of colour.

Currently we have a Geranium on the window cill in our kitchen and in the last few days I have been enthralled as a new bud has opened out into a flower head.

_DS79567_cropThese three images span three days. From a tight bud on the first day, a beautiful flower has started to unfurl three days later.

_DS79625The light was ideal. Images were taken in the evening as the sun, by then low in the sky, was shining directly through the window. And there was an added bonus which I hadn’t expected. A ghostly image of the flower was reflected onto the interior of the window glass, and so very deliberately I shot the last two images with the main flower head offset in the frame. Apologies for a slightly dirty window!

_DS79628Finally, a very different image of a pink Geranium on the balcony of our hotel room in Zermatt a few years ago. I have to say this still remains one of my favourite graphic images of this beautiful flower.

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Rainy Day Travellers

There is a clue to where today’s image was taken in the four letters visible – LAUS. But you’ll have to either guess or read to the end of the post to find out.

IMG_5896_cropLet me set the scene. It was pouring with rain, and we were sitting patiently on our train at this station – a major hub – where through trains frequently wait for connecting trains to arrive. It’s not uncommon to wait five minutes or longer here.

There was another train alongside and I glanced across as two people sat down in their compartment. I watched and waited. The girl – hair, I suspect, soaked – sat, leaning forward, engrossed in a newspaper. Her friend, partner (?) sat upright, hand on chin, staring into space. I waited for some movement from either of them, but there was none. Instinctively I took this image through the rain-splattered windows. People reduced to outlines, nameless, featureless. On a journey just like us. Back home I cropped the image to fit the window, converted to B&W (colour was redundant) and just pushed the contrast.

Meanwhile, have you discovered my other blog – iSighting? If not why not take a look. There’s a new post up there today talking about B&W conversions and specifically ‘Where Colour Contributes Little’. Do click on the link.

And I nearly forgot: the place? Lausanne, Switzerland

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The Orangery

Today’s image comes from Wrest Park – an imposing French-influenced mansion that sits within ninety acres of parkland and formal gardens.

_DS76004We have visited this place a number of times. It first featured on this blog in ‘Searching for a Landscape’. Dotted across the estate are a number of other buildings – The Orangery is one of them. This is a building that is transformed by sunlight. Light streams through an attractive glass roof throwing diagonal stripes of light and shadow on the walls. A place impossible to visit without an image in mind.

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Streamers

John Lewis – a chain of up-market department stores in the UK is celebrating 150 years of business. We were in London last week and popped into the flagship store on Oxford Street and were surprised by superlative displays in the central atria of the store, through which rise the escalators.

IMG_6261Translucent streamers in soft pastel colours stretched the full height of the atria. Their colours echoed by the bordering of the galleries at each floor. Light, but sadly not sun, streamed into these vertical spaces.

IMG_6252It really was an extraordinary sight and akin to an art installation. I spent a few minutes riding the escalators up and down, and walking the galleries trying to find the best way to capture this display.

IMG_6271It’s not easy taking images with a compact from a moving staircase. Particularly when you are not quite sure if and when your collar is going to be felt by security. And I was also very conscious of the necessity to be as discreet as possible and not invade the privacy of fellow shoppers. All those constraints made the task more difficult. Ideally, to make a success of this shoot I would have wanted an hour or two to walk around and assess the options before starting to take images.

IMG_6277If you are in London during the Summer, do pop into John Lewis and see this sight with your own eyes.

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East Beach

Earlier this week I posted a minimalist Seascape (click here) taken in Littlehampton, a seaside town in West Sussex on the south coast of England. There has been a human settlement here since Roman times. For centuries Littlehampton was a fishing port, it wasn’t until the eighteenth century that it developed into a holiday destination and economic success followed with a Ferry to Honfleur in Northern France. Now the Port is principally used by pleasure craft.

We went to Littlehampton for one simple reason: to see the East Beach Café. At face value that might sound like a very strange reason for going to a place – to see a café. You’re probably thinking: must be a pretty special café. And you would be right. It is indeed special – a unique structure.

DSC_2294It was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, an award–winning designer who founded the Heatherwick Studio. The studio is perhaps most famous in the UK for the design of the London Olympic Cauldron for the 2012 Games, but its projects span the globe. The East Beach Café was built in 2007.

The building is a fully welded structure, with a rough, weathered appearance. Think of it as a striking piece of driftwood or flotsam washed up on the shore.

DSC_3838It sits in an isolated spot on the East beach and its appearance, from any viewpoint, is striking. Set apart from it a little further up the beach is an array of Beach Huts. Thankfully they do not intrude on the space that the Café justifiably requires to show itself off to full advantage.

DSC_2307Importantly, it is not just the exterior that is to be admired. East beach Café is far from being a basic café. It serves excellent award-winning food. It’s well worth the visit – we had an excellent lunch here.

Check out East beach Café’s website for further information on the Building and also to see the Menus.

The images in the gallery that follows were taken on two different days (it’s easy to see the difference). An overcast day on which the seascape, previously mentioned was taken. And another sunnier day. Of all the images my personal favourite is the very last image in the gallery below. Actually the B&W conversion was only completed earlier this week. I’ve included the original colour shot as well for a comparison.

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Lily Pads

On many occasions we have to take life as we find it. Same goes for photography. Those who have the foresight, have done the research, or just strike it lucky are the fortunate ones.

Today’s images are an example of being just a few days too early. These were taken on a June day four years ago on the edge of Snowdonia in N Wales. I had never been to this precise spot before and so it was a day of treading new ground. I was heading up through Cwmorthin to high ground just north of the Moelwyns to visit the deserted Rhosydd Slate Quarry and explore the moorland area north of there.

DSC_7164_1I came across a beautiful little lake – Llyn Cwmorthin. The Horsetails hugging the shore were at their best – a forest of green. They featured in a previous post ‘At the Edge of the Lake’. Just beyond them were a spread of Lily Pads.

DSC_7151Yellow buds hinted at the colour that was imminent and that, sadly, I would not see. But even without the buds they were a beautiful sight.

Click on the first image in the gallery below and then navigate through

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