The Subtleness of Colour

Today’s image was taken at the foot of Box Hill in Surrey last autumn. We descended down to a small stream near Burford Bridge where there were Stepping Stones across a stream. Mid stream I paused and watched the water funneling between the stones and I shot a series of images.

Back home it seemed obvious that this would make a visually strong B&W image and I produced one. And I liked it.

IMG_7015_BW1But when I looked at the colour version it struck me that although the funneling water benefited from the monochrome treatment, the image as a whole was diminished as a result of losing those faint tints of colour that added information to the context of the image particularly in the foreground area.

IMG_7015Deciding which image will benefit from a B&W conversion is not always a straightforward process – you may be surprised by the results. Sometimes the subtleness of colour is more important than you think.

Posted in WaterScapes | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Water light

Last weekend we went to see Hever Castle, the home for a few years of Anne Boleyn who became Henry VIII’s second wife. The reason for the visit was that currently here in the UK a superb BBC TV series called ‘Wolf Hall’ is airing based on the award-winning book of the same name by Hilary Mantel that is all about that period of history.

It was fascinating to feel that acute sense of history as I walked the floors, stood in the rooms, and looked at the portraits painted by Holbein. But I came away without any photographs: none were allowed in the Castle and its exterior just didn’t grab my attention.

As we walked in the extensive gardens, the sun finally appeared and the landscape acquired life, and images followed. The water around a fountain sparkled and shimmered.

IMG_7635There’s nothing to suggest the origin or provenance of these images – they happen to have been taken at Hever Castle but they are not identifiable of Hever.

IMG_7632I find that is so often the case. I go somewhere special armed with a camera, and more often than not I do capture images of that particular place, but at a guess I would say that very often more than 50% of the images I find are completely unrelated to that specific place. They arise because I am naturally in image-hunting mode and my eye has no particular agenda to follow. Sounds familiar?

Posted in Winter | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Looking in the mirror

Where there’s glass there will be reflections. This building was under construction last summer when we were in Zermatt. It’s always intriguing to imagine how a building will finally look when completed.

Buildings have ‘sides’. A side that welcomes the visitor and other sides that are perhaps a little more impersonal. This frontage (if I can call it that) backs onto the road alongside the river and looks across to the hillside opposite. _DS82727_cropThe reflection is precise and stark – wintry. It will be interesting to see how it looks in summer when there is some colour to be found.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments


Sundown is always a magical time of day, more so in the mountains when in the space of half a minute the light radically changes. IMG_7532_colI had come down early off the ski slopes on this particular day and caught this moment from  the edge of Zermatt. It’s a moment that captures people’s imagination. I wasn’t the only one to pause and watch as the last rays of the sun were extinguished.

IMG_7532The image is almost monochromatic (in colour) but when I converted this to the greyscale I was disappointed with the results. The image lost part of its appeal – it felt too cold, and the mid tones had a muddied look to them.

That’s my opinion, maybe you think differently?

Posted in Skiing - Zermatt | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Ice Curtain

When the legs are tired of skiing, it’s time to take a walk around Zermatt village. There is always something new or different to see.

This winter started with a number of freeze-thaw cycles as the weather unpredictably changed. It wasn’t good news for the pistes  but it did result in the formation of some impressive icicles on some of the buildings in Zermatt.


Posted in Black & White | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

The Gornergrat Railway

Zermatt’s high points in winter are not just the preserve of the skier. Anyone can ride the Gornergrat Railway to one of the great viewing platforms in the Alps, although the cost is significant. At the top, there’s a hotel and a restaurant, and a three-sixty panorama that will blow your mind on a good day.

Some of the ski runs from Gornergrat follow the line of the railway for some considerable distance and provide opportunities for photography to place the train within this winter wonderland.

IMG_7562_wpThe light can be difficult as the views tend to be always towards the sun but if the sunlight is a little diffused then the contrast becomes manageable and the train appears to be ploughing its way through billowing fields of white.

For images from Gornergrat itself click here or here, to see previous posts.

Posted in Black & White, Skiing - Zermatt | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

What a difference a day makes

The Red Piste ‘Fluhalp’ off the top of the Rothorn is one of my favourite runs in the Zermatt ski area. It has that indefinable combination of turns, narrows, rollers, broad sections of piste and a challenging final sustained schuss down to Gant that create a quality ski run. From there you can either return back up in the direction of the Rothorn, to repeat the experience, or take a big cabin straight up to Hohtalli and head in a different direction.

View from the Rothorn. From Lt: Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn

View from the Rothorn. From Lt: Rimpfischhorn and Strahlhorn

In addition, skiing the ‘Fluhalp’ piste provides the opportunity for a stop-off at the halfway point to have a warming cup of coffee or lunch at the Fluhalp mountain hut (see below). Situated on a shelf high up where once the Findel glacier covered the terrain, it offers a grandstand view right over the Zermatt valley. It is also a superb place to hike up to in Summer.

The Rothorn top station is high – 10,180ft – and on the morning that this first image was taken it was -16C plus wind chill. The Rothorn is accessed by an underground funicular railway, then a chair lift, and finally by a big 150-person cabin (probably the source of my current chest infection). It’s worth the effort to get there. The higher you go, the better the views.

The day before, when I made my first trip to this high peak, it was a bleak place to be, the views closed in. Fluhalp hut is 1,400ft lower and the views of it, and from it, on that day were not particularly good due to a persisting low cloud base. The Matterhorn could be imagined rather than seen.

The view across the Zermatt valley from Fluhalp.   (The lower slopes of the Matterhorn can just be discerned dead centre).

The view across the Zermatt valley from Fluhalp.
(The lower slopes of the Matterhorn can just be discerned dead centre).

The hut stood cocooned in its own place. There was no sense of theatre, although patches of blue sky promised improvement. If I had been two hours later, it would have been clear.

IMG_7475_wpBut, it was clear on the following day when I returned to repeat the run. On that occasion the backdrop was stunning formed by part of a range of 4,000M peaks that form the ridge separating the Zermatt valley from the Saas valley.

The backdrop to the Fluhalp mountain hut

The backdrop to the Fluhalp mountain hut

Turn round through one hundred and eighty degrees and you get a magnificent vista of which this is just a small part – The Matterhorn is out of picture, further to the left.

The view from Fluhalp across the Zermatt valley. (Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, Wellenkuppe)

The view from Fluhalp across the Zermatt valley.
(Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, Wellenkuppe)

For adventurous hikers, Fluhalp can be reached on foot in winter on a track prepared for them, as you can see here. Mountain scenery is not just the preserve of the skier.

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