At some point over the last two and a half years all of us will have experienced some form of Lock Down. Our liberty was curtailed. In the UK there was a period when one could only leave the house once a day and we could not travel far from our normal residence. We were, in effect Locked In.
It resulted in a new approach to life, or approaches. Bewilderment at first perhaps and then maybe a stoical state of mind as one surveyed the house and garden and grudgingly, or enthusiastically, realised this might be the time to tackle a task that had been gathering metaphorical dust for a very long time.
I tackled a series of tasks, all fairly minor, most of them relating to piles of paper, or volumes of data. The filing cabinet was shrunk, folders were thinned, and the archives of images were re-indexed and ruthlessly culled.
I didn’t get a lot of photography done…except at home. I discovered the beauty of the light that streamed through the gaps in the blinds. The mix of shadow and light projected on floor, wall, cupboards or furnishings.
The two triptychs above were a way of relating a small set of images. And there were also other images that stood on their own. Over a couple of years I have shot around 200 images, most of them on an iPhone. The images change by the minute – sometimes I sit in a chair staring at a cupboard or the floor and watch time go by as the light subtley shifts. Not only does it change by the minute, but t through the seasons too. It’s been a whole new world of imaging
On this day (8 August) in 1786, Mont Blanc was climbed for the first time. It marked the beginning of mountaineering in the Alps as over the next 100 years all the major peaks in the Alps were conquered one by by one for the first time.
It’s a special day in the year for me because in the summer of 1955 I guided my son (then aged 17) to the summit of Mont Blanc.
Starting out from the mountain hut of Les Grands Mulets at 1am we followed the route those pioneers took on their route to the summit except for the last 1,000ft where a better and safer route is now used.
Watching the sun rise over the shoulder of the Aiguille du Midi was a magical moment. On the summit ridge the views over the neighbouring mountains provided the proof that we were now above every other summit in the Alps.
We reached the summit around 9am. The descent was equally tough and we didn’t reach base – the town of Chamonix – until 7pm. We had been on our feet for 18 hours. We were exhausted!
If you are interested to know more there are two other posts about Mont Blanc on this blog. Type ‘Mont Blanc’ into the search box on the right of the screen and a batch of previous posts will be shown. Look for the following two:
‘The story behind the first ascent of Mont Blanc’, and ‘Montagne de la Cote – in the steps of Balmat and Paccard’.
Despite living in West Sussex for six and a half years, I am still discovering areas of woodland within a 15 minute walk of our house.
This is my most recent ‘find’. I think it may have been deliberately planted as an array of trees (in the UK we call it a plantation). Out to the left is a an area of housing, built around 25 years ago; and out of sight on the right is a main road. The trees form a boundary line. Yes, there is noise from the main road, but the strange thing is that after a minute or two of walking in this area of woodland, I find that the noise ceases to intrude, and I become oblivious of it.
Over time, woodland often becomes overgrown as trees compete for the light and consequently they are dark and moody places. In this wood there has been discrete tree felling – the ground is littered with wood chippings; and there is space and light which to my mind makes it feel very special.
I took a series of images and this is the first one that I have processed. I will be returning through the seasons
Hi everyone. It must be about 21 months since I last posted an entry on this blog. It’s surprising how something that was so much part of my life was knocked off the board so comprehensively by the Covid pandemic. Life as we knew it was constrained within narrow margins – physically and mentally. Life was all about survival, adhering to government advice, and massive adjustments to what previously we took for granted.
Photography was one of the casualties. It is now two and a half years since I got on a train and went to London – one of my favourite photographic hunting grounds. It’s two winters since I last skied. Four summers since I last visited the Alps. When life is restricted by events beyond our control (but for our good health) then picking up where we left off has been unexpectedly difficult. We had drifted into a new rhythm of life – a rhythm that has proved difficult to discard.
Posting today marks a new beginning. Today’s images were entered in last week’s local Photographic Society competition which had the title ‘Selfies’. I don’t normally do selfies, so a trawl through the Archive was needed. One of these images was given first place, and the other was highly commended. Which do you think won?
To my surprise it was the second one taken at the end of a bitterly cold day skiing on the edge of the Mont Blanc massif. It snowed intermittently all day, visibility was very limited (what skiers call white-out), but still we skied. Hoping the weather would clear – it didn’t!
The top image was on another day of variable weather. I was in two minds whether to venture this high on my own and I sat in this position for half an hour while the weather dithered. Finally the clouds lifted and the way ahead – this superb corniced ridge – became clear. I’d never shot an image like this before but I liked it as it placed me firmly in the frame. I was there. The cramponed boots proved it and they said something about what was required to safely navigate this terrain.
I’ve broken the ice metaphorically with this post. Now to continue…
This is one of the more bizarre reflections that I’ve captured from the Docklands area of east London. Whether the glass facade was planned to reflect its neighbours in such an outrageous way or whether this happened purely by chance is immaterial. It’s resulted in something rather special. And I’m sure I am not the only photographer to have spotted it.
Reflective glass is often a bonus to the photographer. In some cases it is pure reflection, often subject to a degree of distortion. In other cases – and this is an example – you get a mix of see-through and distorted reflection.
In this image we have geometric lines from the interior, areas of reflected sky and the reflected facade of the building opposite. The overall result is chaos but there are rational lines that criss -cross the image too.
The concept of time feels warped. It’s another facet of Lockdown. The weeks drift by alarmingly fast (we’re back to Monday again when I clean a bathroom), and yet the individual days seem to drag. It helps to keep busy. I get up quite early and have about ninety minutes of quietness when I can read or write without any interruption. And that time seems to fly by.
Lockdown is easing, but it could so easily become one step forward and two steps backward. Children returned to school today, another major step on the way to some sort of normal.
One of the things I have missed the most is regular days out up in London visiting Exhibitions. This was shot at an exhibition of Antony Gormley’s work (a sculptor) last year. I took a number of shots of this sculpture which consisted of a set of interconnecting cubes with the occasional shaft of light piercing the otherwise gloomy interior.
As creative artists we only thrive when we have access to the work of other artists. A quote that I remember well by Alain Briot (French photographer, writer and teacher) sums this up very well. He sad: “Creativity is an input-output, import-export business. You have to be in contact with other artists … in order to foster creativity.” So very true.
I’m getting bolder, one day soon I must summon the courage to get on a train. There’s an exhibition of Andy Warhol I really would like to see.
Thank you so much to all those who have got back in touch. I value the interaction. I must start viewing as well as posting.
I haven’t blogged for months. Lockdown knocked ‘Normal’ into the long grass. We had to adjust to the strictures of a new so-called Normality. The familiar flow of a day was disrupted and with it went so many features that added colour to life. The camera has sat gathering dust for much of the time. When I picked up my Lumix LX100 recently, I had to read part of the camera manual to remember how to change a setting!
Instead of capturing images, I’ve been writing – not about photography but writing about me and may family so that there will be something in print for the next generation. Gone are the days when the concept of oral tradition was sufficient to pass on family facts.
I’m going back into the archives with this image but, in a way, it sums up what so many of us are missing in our everyday lives. Human contact. The ability to meet and greet friends and family. How long is it going to take before the old Normal is restored?
It’s the season of short days and long nights; time to work on the image archives. I’m busy preparing a new iteration of a talk about Alpine photography titled ‘High ‘n Wild with a Camera’ and in the process re-living many memorable days in the Swiss Alps.
The image you see today is one of my favourite views of the Mischabel range of mountains. The range is visible from many viewpoints but this one allows one to frame the peaks between the shoulders of the Almagelleralp valley (a side valley off the main Saas valley).
This view spans 8kms from left to right, and the central summit is 10kms from where I am standing. The high point on that long ridge line is the Dom, the highest mountain within Switzerland. The range is part of the dividing line between the Zermatt valley beyond it, and the Seas valley in front of it.
I was lucky to be here on a day when the weather was changing, and the clouds girdling the peaks and the high wind-blown wisps of cirrus clouds portend that change.