Spring Sprung

I was surprised to realize that I had yet to post an image of Spring. Life has been unusually busy recently and Spring didn’t just arrive – it exploded into life. It was a case of ‘blink and you missed it’.

But, I did get out with a camera, although not as often as I would have liked. I think we all have different approaches to the changing of the seasons. How do you define Spring in your photography? Is it the burst of colours – as flowers and blossom bloom? Is it the greening-up of the landscape? Or is it in the detail?

For me Spring (and Autumn) is defined in the detail – the single leaf, or a small bunch of leaves. I see beauty in their translucency, the colour variations and the vibrancy of those colours. All too soon the subtleness of the palette of greens and yellows is lost. The colours become homogenized and the greens lose their brightness and start to look tired.

The best images of Spring are always to be had by facing the light and shooting into the canopy. The world always looks different when you turn through 180 degrees, whether you are in a city or in the outdoors, but never quite as much as when you are in a wood or forest. Looking away from the sun, the colours are there but they are subdued. Look towards the sun and suddenly the world changes. For me it will always be a ‘wow’ moment. If only Spring lasted two months…

Remember to click on the image to see a higher quality enlargement.


Posted in Microscapes, Spring | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments


Last weekend was the traditional British May Bank Holiday weekend and it was scorchingly hot. The coast was a bit cooler than inland.

Normally we head to the coast when the tide is out, for the vastness of the beaches, but the tide tables indicated the tide was ‘in’ so that changed the focus. I stood on the small pier at Littlehampton, where I’ve stood before, and watched the waves wash in. There is something inherently calming about gazing at the flow of the sea.


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I was in London last friday and used a new access point into the Underground (subway) at Victoria station (one day re-development will be finally over). New corridors: largely empty, inherent contrast, angular lines. Perfect for B&W images.

There’s going to be an image down here, I thought. I wound the ISO up to 1600 and walked at a slow pace. A man passed me going the opposite way. I waited and shot this image.

How nice it is to come home, upload the images from the day and see potential. I would have liked him to be a foot to the left to give a little separation from the right wall, but I’m happy with what I’ve got. And next time I’m in London I will be back for more.

Off to speak at Reigate Photographic Society tonight. Don’t forget to click to enlarge the image.


Posted in Black & White | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

The Seven Sisters

On our last trip to the south coast we re-visited Birling Gap – the day I also shot the image ‘To Infinity’ that featured in my previous post. Click the link if you haven’t seen that.

The light was soft, the tide was high, and the sea close to the coast had a paler hue due to the large amount of chalk sediment in the water. The coastline had a lazy feel to it.

The incoming tide had worn away the shingle on the beach in a repeated pattern so that the tide appeared to have teeth. Why this had happened I know not, but it added interest to the picture.

The classic image of The Seven Sisters cliffs is usually taken from the other end – from a point on the distant promontory of land. I have shot that view too, but in my opinion this view from Birling Gap is at least equally as good

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To Infinity

Two fabulous days last week – we went from the tail end of a cold, wet, grey winter to summer heat almost overnight. Headed for the coast on one of those days and saw this.

A wonderful seascape that just dissolved into the sky, a special moment. One thing I’m discovering about the coast is that the light is never quite the same. I’m going to try to remember to take a shot like this every time we head to the coast. I feel a new project is getting off the ground!

Click on the image to see an enlargement – the image looks a lot better at full size.


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Graveyard of a Glacier

A busy few weeks has meant a slowdown in images appearing on this blog. I’m still working my way through last summer’s collection of new images from the Alps, among other things.

There have been two previous posts about the glaciers I photographed above Saas Fee – Terminal Decline, and The Forms of Ice. Click the links to read the posts and see the images.

The is the first post of the Fee Glacier in monochrome, and I remain in two minds about the conversion to B&W. On the positive side it has mood, atmosphere and bite. The contrast, intrinsic to monochrome, accentuates the white ice that intrudes into the grey rocky landscape. Also, in the context of climate change, with glacial retreat very evident, and the distinct possibility that some glaciers will  cease to exist in another century, monochrome feels appropriate. And yet…

When you look at a glacier – and this is why those two previous posts are relevant – you realize that glaciers are not pure white, except in the depths of winter after new snow. At all other times there are subtle colours that are very evident in the walls of crevasses and particularly in a glacier’s terminal zone as it starts to disintegrate and fall apart.

Each fall of snow is compressed and forms a thin band within the glacial ice like the annular rings of a tree. It’s colour is influenced by many factors including the regular presence of sand particles carried by the wind from north African deserts and deposited during snow fall.

It is those colours that give glaciers their character and makes us appreciate that within the chaos, intrinsic danger, and savage lines of a glacier there is true beauty. Glaciers are Leviathans creeping down hill millimetre by millimetre. By comparison snails look like they are  turbocharged. Glaciers appear alive, but they are a dying breed.

In celebrating their existence, we need to glory in their colour, as well as be reminded of the savage beauty which, occasionally, is manifest best in monochrome.

Their skin my be grey in their death throes, covered in grit, resembling elephant hide; but when the forces of nature slice break them apart, they show their true colour as in this second image, below, of the Gorner Glacier above Zermatt, also shot last Summer.



Posted in Swiss Alps - Summer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments


One from the archive today, that I came across as I was sorting through images for use in up-coming Camera Club talks.

This is Arlington House, an eighteen-storey residential tower block built in the early 1960s in Margate, Kent. It’s an example of the architectural style known as Brutalism. It’s a style that some regard as ugly and this tower has attracted quite a lot of negative comment over the years.

Thanet District Council’s Conservation Officer writing in 2011 thought differently: “The tower block is a building of considerable merit; arguably ‘listable’ with extremely well considered crisp detailed elevations which add positively to the architectural character of the town.” He went on to say: “The undulating east and west facades of the building imitate the waves breaking on the beach.”

There was an era in the last ’50s and early ’60s when a lot of towns erected tower blocks like this for residential occupation. In most instances they stood out like sore thumbs and looking back now from more enlightened times, one wonders what on earth convinced Town Planners that they were a sensible, or appropriate, addition to the sky line.

Arlington House is certainly an intrusive feature – the tallest building for miles around. It’s only saving grace is the undulating facade.

Last week I saw an inspirational major exhibition by the German Photographer Andreas Gursky (at the Hayward Gallery until 22 April ). Gursky’s work is heroic and monumental in scale, particularly his architectural work. A typical example is Paris, Montparnasse 1993 (see below) – a work that involved merging multiple images in post-processing to create a single image. When I viewed this work it reminded me of the Margate tower block – simply because of the repetitive nature of the content, and for no other reason.Seeing the work of other artists is important. Every exhibition provokes thought, suggests ideas, and facilitates our growth as photographers.

Posted in Architecture & Buildings | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments