Happiness defined

The sun is shining, it’s Friday, and it’s the start of one of the UK’s bank holiday weekends. Time to banish serious thinking and relax, or ‘chill’ as they say.

IMG_6839_finalIn tune with that philosophy here’s a light-hearted image spotted on the wall of a London pub. Enjoy your weekend, even if you aren’t as lucky as the Brits and don’t have an extra day off work.

Posted in Eclectica, Street Art | Tagged , | 3 Comments


The great fascination of glass-fronted buildings is the way they create inter-relationships. A building no longer stands alone as a discrete structure, it becomes part of a complex kaleidoscopic jigsaw that changes with every step we take.

_DS79691_finalTwo days ago I showed a cream building that was subtly distorted and seen through a precise grid (click here to view). Today, a curved building with inevitably skewed lines and subtly tinted glass reflects a neighbour whose design can only be guessed at. Each pane of glass displays a different glimpse, disconnected from the adjoining panes. A pure abstract – take a step and the pattern shifts. It’s visual art on a grand scale. The city feels alive.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

The Cream House

There’s a glass-clad building on the corner of Euston Road and Hampstead Road (just opposite Warren Street Tube station) that I walk by quite often, and every time I pass that building I see a different reflection. It depends on which side of the road I am on, the point at which I take a long hard look, the light, and the time of day.

IMG_7671_clean_1This is the latest. It’s such a simple reflection of a property on the opposite corner of Hampstead Road and yet I love the subtle warping that has transformed an unremarkable building into something really rather special. The sky was blue and the light was right – the perfect weather .

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It’s Wisteria time. It comes hot on the heels of Plum Blossom, Apple Blossom and Bluebells. All are subjected to the vagaries of the British Spring. The wind blasts the blossom off the trees so that it looks like it has snowed. The frost nips the petals. Rain flattens the Bluebells, and the Wisteria suffers from all of the above.

DSC_9648Our Wisteria has struggled into blossom this year, now over two weeks later than some previous years. Every time I have thought about getting out with a camera, the weather has conspired to ruin the opportunity. Yesterday it poured with rain for most of the day (and it has been darned cold) and that has not helped at all.

_DS75813I have been promising images to some of you for well over a week….and still I don’t have any decent images from this year. So, as they say in cookery programs, here are some I made earlier – years earlier. But they will give you some idea of how this gnarled old beauty springs into life given the right conditions – and the scent is wonderful.DSC_9643

Posted in Garden Plants and Wild Flowers | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Pure simplicity

Black and White photography is an artistic medium that attracts descriptive terms: Pure, Simplified, Minimalist, Stripped back to basics. Evocative of the past. All are true, in my opinion.

I am of a generation that grew up accustomed to a world that was viewed in black and white: pictures in newspapers and magazines were in black and white, the television was black and white. The books I read about explorers and mountaineers had illustrations in black and white. The images were stark, pure, cold –  as befitted the environment they portrayed. And for 20 years I was a black and white printer. The medium stays in one’s blood, you fall in love with it and you never fall out of love with it.

Increasingly I find myself looking through my archive and enjoying the process of removing the veneer of colour and revealing the mountain-scape in black and white. Tomorrow – Wednesday – (or maybe it will be ‘today’ or even ‘yesterday’ by the time you read this), I am due to speak on ‘Black and White Photography’ at the Royal Society of Medicine’s camera club in London. The work involved in preparing a talk  – selecting the images, re-sizing them, writing and setting up the Powerpoint presentation – is less of a chore when one is working within a medium that one loves.

_DSC0697_nikThe image above is one I have ‘converted’ in the last few days with the help of Nik Silver Efex again. It depicts two of the main mountains in the Mischabel chain of mountains that forms part of the ridge separating the Zermatt and Saas Fee valleys in the Valais Alps. The peak on the left is the Dom, the one on the right is the Taschhorn. The Dom has the distinction of being the highest mountain in Switzerland (its further away from us than the Taschhorn which explains why it looks the smaller of the two). You’ve probably never heard of the Dom and the fact that it is the highest Swiss mountain is one that often causes puzzlement. I ran a series of three posts about this peak well over two years ago. If you are interested, click here to find out more about this peak, and to read about an ascent.

Posted in Black & White, MountainScape | Tagged , , , , , | 25 Comments

Descent from Kilimanjaro

Today is a milestone day for several reasons. It’s VE day, the UK election results have produced an unexpected result, and on a personal level this happens to me my 600th post.

Descent from Kili_NikSo today’s image records a milestone too – the highest point on earth that I have reached (5,895M or 19,341ft) – Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s Seven Continental Summits. I did harbour hopes that I might exceed that and get beyond 6,000M, perhaps in the Himalayas, but as the years roll by that seems to be unlikely.

This is another image that has been converted in Nik Silver Efex. The original was shot on a film SLR camera and scanned with a Nikon Coolscan. The exposure of the transparency was not quite right, the highlights were blown and the colours did not look good. One of the points in favour of the B&W medium is its tolerance of contrast and white Whites and black Blacks. This image, perhaps more than any other, encapsulates the feeling of being ‘high’, touching Heaven: sunlight on the clouds swirling around and the ground, far below, out of sight.

Posted in Black & White, MountainScape | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Crossing the Plateau du Trient, Mont Blanc Massif

In the last few days I’ve finally got round to loading Nik software including the superb Silver Efex Pro 2 and having seen some of the results I don’t understand why it took me so long to take the plunge.

I’ve re-visited a number of B&W conversions, of which this is one, and found an interpretation that is so much better than anything I had achieved previously.

7[]-Crossing Plateau du Trient. Aig DoreesThis was taken back in 2005 on my first digital compact. I was on the second day of the Climbers’ Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt and we had set out before dawn from the Albert Premier Refuge on the edge of the Glacier du Tour, crossed the Col supérieur du Tour and were now heading over the plateau to the Cabane d’Orny and from there down into the Val Ferret to La Fouly. It was a beautiful morning as you can see, but less than three hours later we were soaked by a violent thunderstorm. Fortunately by that stage we were well on our way to the valley floor.

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