Ghostly Figures

_DS84428_WPToday’s image follows on from yesterday’s: another image spotted en passant. This time at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. I was actually supposedly engaged in looking round an exhibition recording the opening of the Pavilion in 1935 and its subsequent history. I glanced up to a line of windows high in a side wall and saw a shadowy figure through the frosted glass. Knowing the structure of the building, I realized he was outside up on the adjacent flat-roofed area. My interest was aroused. It was clearly a man – he was busily scratching his back. I waited patiently, he had a big itch.

What happens when you stand still and gaze upwards fixedly? Other people around you start to look up too, wondering what you are looking at (especially if you are toting something as obvious as a SLR camera). And as is so often the case they then look at you in a quizzical way as if to say – what’s interesting about that. All photographers will be used to that scenario. We are all thought slightly weird at times.

Three other figures joined the original figure – his family perhaps – which improved the composition, and I took my image. Happy, I moved on.

 

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

Synchronicity

_DS84359_WP…And so to something completely different. I’ve said it before and will no doubt say it again: you go somewhere really photogenic and find something that has nothing whatsoever to do with the place; an image just spotted, en passant. It’s not even an image that ’rounds out’ the story. It’s just a bit of eclectica, or perhaps nonsense.

This was shot at Hever where our daughter got married recently (click here for our memories of a wonderfully happy day). We dropped in again a week or so ago just for sentimental reasons, grabbed some new shots of the place, and then wandered into the area where there were plants for sale. My wife went on a hunt for a particular plant and I do what I normally do in situations like that: I muttered the words (silently of course) to myself – ‘so, where’s the picture?’

I didn’t have to look far. There was an elderly couple sitting on a bench nearby and I was attracted to their legs. I’d better re-phrase that – I noticed the way they were sitting – synchronously – while trying hard not to notice the concept of socks worn with sandals. I casually pointed the Nikon camera in roughly the right direction at hip height while looking elsewhere and pressed the shutter button not really expecting much.

However, I discovered later, by sheer fluke, that I had got a clean and sharp shot and here it is for your delectation.

 

Posted in Eclectica | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Looking up the staircase

_DS84445_WPThe De La Warr Pavilion staircase featured in a post earlier this year (click here to view it). We were back there again last week on a glorious summer’s day and I was irresistibly drawn back to the staircase that is the central internal feature of this Art Deco building in Bexhill on the South coast.

From whichever angle you view it, this staircase is a delight to the eyes. This is the view up. It feels as is it floats in space, a collection of graceful lines and a central light column with no visible means of support.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Rippled beach

_DS84265We have journeyed to the coast twice recently to escape the heat inland. A gentle on-shore breeze has been very welcome and a breeze is just what is needed on a gently shelving sandy beach to create ripples and ridges in the sand where water sits.

I spent some time walking along the beach hunting for patterns. It is said that no two snowflakes are alike, and as I walked it seemed that no square yard of ripples was repeated.

Isn’t nature beautiful?

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Processing a Memory

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Climbing Parties setting off – 8:41am

As one event in life passes, another is anticipated. In a month or so I and my wife will be back in Zermatt, Switzerland for two weeks and naturally my mind is already starting to plan walks and recall past experiences. And part of that planning leads me to my archive of images from previous visits to Zermatt, of which there have been many.

Over the last few days I have been reviewing images from July 2008: I had been retired for just over a month, my first digital SLR (a Nikon D80) and 16-85mm zoom lens were also a month old and I was still getting acquainted with the camera. A trip to Zermatt in the Swiss Alps saw the camera put through its paces and I returned home with over a 1,000 images.

It may surprise you to know that some of those images remained unprocessed until very recently. It actually surprised me too, as I discovered images that simply required a fresh eye to exploit their potential. And in all cases the potential was realized with a conversion to Black and White using Nik Silver Efex that produced the results you see here today. Of the images in this Post, only the third one and the two colour images had been processed fairly close to the time they were taken.

All the images in this Post were taken in a span of just under two and a half hours during a solo climb of the main (West) summit of the Breithorn from the top lift station of Klein Matterhorn. It’s one of the easiest snow summits in the Alps but I then continued over to the Central summit which adds extra interest and takes the difficulty up a notch or two.

It was one of those days when the weather seemed to be in two minds – the highest summits had their heads in the clouds, and lower cloud flirted with the subsidiary peaks. The sun played a game of peek-a-boo appearing briefly only to disappear again. In consequence the light varied from very flat to dramatic.

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8:47am. Focal length 24mm

My task in processing was to reflect that variety. The shot immediately above and the one below were shot within six seconds of each other from the same place. If you look carefully at the first image just right of centre you will be able to identify the source of the second image with light rimming the ridge-line. The first image was shot at the widest focal length of the lens and the second at the longest. The Nikkor 16:85mm zoom lens is fitted to a DX Nikon body with the result that the true focal length is 1.5 times the figure quoted.

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8:47am. Focal length 127mm

A period of flat light followed and I have evoked that feeling in the image that follows.

9:03am. Focal length 127mm

9:03am. Focal length 127mm

But within a few minutes the view in the opposite direction showed significant breaks in the clouds with the promise of better weather to come.

9:10am. Focal length 24mm

9:10am. Focal length 24mm

Unfortunately my route took me towards the flat light climbing steeper ground for nearly an hour to gain the summit –  and what a view greeted me.

9.59am. Focal length 127mm

9.59am. Focal length 127mm

Whenever people question the reason why mountaineers climb high mountains, it is images like this that more eloquently provide the answer than a paragraph of words. Ahead lies the central summit of the Breithorn, but to reach it requires a descent down a narrow arête with a very steep drop on the left side before the route climbs back up to the summit visible in this image. Notice the crenelated edge to the ridge – formed by a continuous line of cornices overhanging the steep face of the mountain. Cornices are accretions of snow formed by the combined action of wind and snow that overhang ridge lines. Cornices must always be given a wide berth to avoid stepping too close to the fracture line with tragic consequences.

The arête is narrow in places, passing fellow climbers involves one of you stepping off onto steeper ground.

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10:18am. A climber on the arete leading back up to the West Summit

Close to the central summit I stopped to capture this astonishing cornice – that you can clearly seen in the earlier image. The climbing party in front of me are giving this a very wide berth.

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10:49am. Massive cornice just before the Central Summit

From the central summit the difficulties increase and this was as far as I intended to go as a solo climber, but the way ahead has an undoubted elegance to it. Centre frame (see below) you can now see the ridge line seen in the third image in this Post. The peak just beyond (whose summit fails to break the sky line) is Pollux, and the higher mountain to the right is Castor. Castor and Pollux – the heavenly twins – not quite matching ‘twins’ from this viewpoint although from other directions they do merit that description. To the far left hiding in the clouds is the vast bulk of Liskamm. All these peaks including the Breithorn are part of the Frontier Ridge that forms the boundary between Switzerland (on the left) and Italy (on the right)

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10:53am. View along the Frontier Ridge from the Central Summit.

After a few images it was time to head back down to the col seen in the final image below and then drop down to pick up the route back to the top lift station.

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11:02am. View back to the West Summit. The lower slopes of the Matterhorn are visible below the clouds to the right of the peak

I seemed to have enjoyed the best of the weather, the Matterhorn is lost in the clouds on the far right of the image above and bad weather is not far away. Route finding on days like this is straightforward – on snow peaks a well trodden path is usually clearly visible – but if the clouds come down and snow falls then it is all too easy to become disorientated in the white-out that can so easily prevail. To climb solo affords me the luxury of being in charge of how fast I travel, when I stop, and when I capture images. It is the greatest way to experience these mountains but common sense must always take precedence.

Posted in MountainScape, Swiss Alps - Summer | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Roof Light

IMG_8592For today’s Post we are still at Hever Castle (scene of last week’s wedding), but my Eye has shifted up to the ceiling and the decorative framing to the roof lights.

The first image was taken on a previous visit to Hever when we were sizing up the venue. I didn’t adjust the white light setting with the result that the image is warmer that it was in reality, but I liked the warmth and made no correction.

IMG_8762The second shot was taken on the day of the wedding from my place at the top table waiting for everyone to get seated for the start of the meal. I just glanced up, leaned back a fraction and shot. The sky was a perfect blue and the image is more about the pattern of the framing.

No matter what the occasion, one’s Eye will always stray from the main subject, or reason for being there, and see the unexpected detail that adds that little bit extra to the overall record of the occasion.

 

Posted in Eclectica | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

A Wedding to Remember

IMG_8685Last Sunday our darling daughter, Sophie, married Ashley at Hever Castle on a beautiful and memorable day. It was the first dry day in weeks and a weather writer in The Times newspaper commented that: ‘After days of showers, Sunday brought a gloriously dry and sunny day over much of the country’. It had been touch and go all week as to whether it would be dry but the prayers of many were answered and the sun really did shine on our parade.

I was a very proud man walking my daughter, who looked absolutely stunning, up the red carpet to the outdoor ceremony on the loggia in the Italian Gardens, overlooking the lake at Hever Castle. Hever looked its absolute best.

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After signing the Register

There was a very special vibe throughout the whole celebration, generated by the large number of Sophie and Ashley’s friends who were present. Some of those friendships extended as far back as Nursery School and the entire occasion was buoyed up by the warmth they accorded to every aspect of the day, including the Father of the Bride’s speech.

Celebrations continued long into the night.

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I’m going  to end this Post with three short paragraphs from my speech because I think they sum up the three primary strands of what I said:

Firstly, reminiscing about the past: “It’s the memory of things we’ve done together that I cherish the most. When you find that both your children share, without pressure, the same pleasures and interests as you do, then that is one of the great joys of parenthood.”

Both our children have become keen photographers and when they were teenagers both of them spent time in our home darkroom with me, learning how to produce black and white prints, and sharing the magic of watching an image appear in the developing tray.

And both also share their parents’ love of Switzerland. Together we have walked hundreds of miles together and marveled at the views, we’ve mountain biked, and we’ve climbed some of the major Swiss Peaks (with me as guide). Those are special memories.

Secondly, a confident statement that their relationship: “A successful marriage is not about finding someone you can live with but finding that one person who you can’t live without and I am confident that you have known each long enough to know unequivocally that you have each found that special one.”

And finally, our hopes for their future: “Enjoy life – you only get one shot at it. Don’t grow old with regrets and a bucket full of unfulfilled wishes. Be bold, but temper boldness with common sense.”

And there was a final quotation (very slightly amended) from Hunter Thompson, a well-known American journalist and writer: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways in a cloud of smoke, glass of bubbly in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, but shouting: Wow! What a Ride!”

We wish them well, we have so many very happy memories and I am sure there will be many more to come.

Some of my other images have already been published on Instagram where you will find me as ‘andyhooker’. I wish I had had more opportunities to take my own images, but I was already trying to be in three places at once and the fourth dimension was one dimension too far. There was a professional photographer on hand throughout (he had a very long day) and I am looking forward to seeing his record of this wonderful day.

[Please read the copyright notice in the Rt sidebar – and with deference to the Professional Photographer you may not print any of the images in this Post for commercial use].

To view the gallery below, click on the first image and then navigate through using the arrow keys.

 

Posted in A Personal Viewpoint | 14 Comments