OUTER SUBURBS 22 – TWO TREES, A FENCE AND ME, AT SUNRISE (MONO)

 

 


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South Bristol at sunrise.  Turning my back on the blinding glare, I saw my shadow and those of two trees thrown across autumn’s leaf-littered lawn.

The trees’ shadows were longer than mine and, after their stark darkness had raced away across the grass, it was deflected sharply upwards by the flat, brightly lit face of a wooden fence.

The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 .  Each will open in a separate window.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: TG-5 at 49mm (equiv); 500 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Contrast Harsh preset, and adding a strong Coffee tone; south Bristol; 9 Oct 2018.
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PEOPLE 338 – WRITING A BOOK

 

 


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I used to be an highly enthusiastic birder.  School friends had awoken this interest in me in 1967, and 10 years later I left the UK for Kenya – to lecture on geology and to grab eyeful after eyefull of African birdlife.  And not just African birdlife, but Afrotropical birdlife, the Afrotropical Region being Africa to the south of the Sahara, one of the great biological regions of the world, with many unique or highly distinctive flora and fauna.

And the plan – ah, the plans of mice and men! – was to stay in Kenya for two or three years, do a lot of birdwatching, and then move on elsewhere.  Sure enough, I met up with other birders there, and went birding in many national parks and areas further off the beaten track.  But then, in 1981, a chance remark informed me that there was a project in hand to map the distributions of Kenya’s 1,000+ bird species – and from that moment on there was for simply nothing else worth doing in Life.

In a nutshell, I worked on A Bird Atlas of Kenya for over eight years – it really was a vast amount of hard but very often enthralling work, funded by the World Wildlife Fund and many others, and relying on hundreds of volunteers – and the book was published in 1989.  It was never going to be a best seller, it was not an identification guide (fieldguide), it was a fairly academic explanation of the distributions and seasonalities of Kenya’s (then) 1,065 bird species. My co-author was a zoology professor at Makerere University, in neighbouring Uganda.

And here I am, probably about 1983 or so, writing it.  The photo is an indifferent scan of a small print but it conveys the overall idea, that I was awash in a sea of paper.  For in the 1980s the developed world was developing IT technology apace, but here in the Third World it was a far rarer commodity, and especially so for those outside the world of business.  We had no email and no computers.  All correspondence was carried out by snail mail – and air letters, thousands of them, were the preferred thing because, since they could not contain anything, they were less prone to theft.  We did enquire re the cost of producing the book by word processing but, in those days, in Kenya, it was completely prohibitive.  In the end, an absolutely wonderful typist produced the whole thing, 600+ pages, on an electric golfball typewriter, ready to be photographed by our Dutch publishers.

So, here is the leafy Spring Valley suburb of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, around a mile or so above sea level.  The equatorial sun is beating down, the large window beside me is open to admit fresh, warm air, and the great mass of greenery seen vaguely through  the window are the tops of banana trees.  Also, local roads were some distance away, and there was nothing but the sounds of birds, the rustling, swaying trees and the breeze  – what better place to write a book?  And although I do seem to be awash in a sea of paper, there was a very simple design to it all – all the most useful texts, maps and notes were arranged in a circle  around me, all within instant, easy reach – it was a simple design that worked very well.

And as well as being enthralling, the bird atlas project had its exciting moments too.  Flights in small aircraft to record the birds of very poorly known areas of the country were exciting, yes, they held a real sense of exploration.  But my co-author was working in Uganda at just the time when the dictator Idi Amin was being ousted from Uganda by the present president, Yoweri Museveni.  As the fighting moved up towards Kampala, Uganda’s capital, I strongly urged my co-author to flee – and I can recall his comment that it was only “a bit of bush warfare”, and that there was nothing to worry about.  But, the fighting swept on through Kampala, he spent a long time on his floor of his house, sheltering from small arms fire, and a soldier was killed in his garden.  How writing a book on birds stacks up against all that (and other) violence, I have always been unsure.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.
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PEOPLE 331 – LOOKING INTO AN EMPTY BUILDING

 

 


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The FATman has you in his (actually rather wonderful) electronic viewfinder!

Or, then again, I’m pointing my camera into an empty building.  There’s really not much here.  My (double) reflection is given substance by a dark pillar in the building’s interior, and the rest of the picture shows a desolate and completely empty room – left by a business that has moved on –  with a large window on the left through which a building in the next street can be faintly be seen.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Quay Street, central Bristol; 20 Apr 2018.
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PEOPLE 321 – MYSELF, TWICE

 

 


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Selfie, reflected in a window.

LOL!!! >>> if you really feel that you need to enlarge this, you can click onto it to open another version in a separate window, and then click onto that version to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom; central Bristol; 9 Sept 2016.
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TALKING IMAGES 38 – MAKING PHOTOBOOKS AS HARD COPIES / MEMORIES

 

I think it important to make hard copies of digital photos so as:

  1. not to have to perpetually view them on computer etc screens;

  2. to have them in a format in which they can be enjoyed at leisure, eg in armchair with a nice, civilised cup of English tea or (far, far better!) lots of ravishingly good Belgian beer;

  3. to act as back ups in case said computers / other devices undergo meltdowns / have mid-life crises.

And, in addition to those points, I am certainly NOT willing to print my own copies of my photos due to:

  1. what do I do with all the accumulated prints when all my wall space is taken up?  If putting them into traditional photo albums, why not make a photobook instead???

  2. the truly extortionate price of printer inks, combined with the most probable need to make at least several attempts at printing each photo before I’m at all satisfied with it.

  3. I could send my photos to professional printers, but then I would be have masses of prints – that I’d have to mount in traditional albums.

And so to making photobooks.  Advantages / disadvantages?

  1. not cheap on the scale I (more or less annually) do it (= 100+ images and text) but:

  2. provides a ready made book / album that sits easily on a bookshelf and on my lap

  3. photo reproduction good

  4. other books can be highly personalised and given as (very well received) presents – birthdays, Christmases, full Moons,  etc

  5. provides mountains of long-lasting memories – I compile favourite pictures from my blog for a 12 month period, and have both them and their full blog text (which brings back even more memories) in the photobook (some of the images shown here have brief captions – their full blog text is elsewhere in the photobook).

  6. I use Blurb, but there are many other good providers of such services.

  7. Should you opt to use Blurb, you may have quite different aims / preferences to me.  But, in case they’re useful, these are the Blurb options I standardise on.  Book Size= Large Square 30cmx30cm, because its large, and easily displays both portrait and landscape format images.  High quality paper = Proline Pearl Photo paper = very strong and heavy, good image reproduction. Book cover: Hard Cover with ImageWrap.  Have never tried an image across two pages because of deep central gutter, but there is now a better facility.  NB >>> pay great attention to the Print Safe Areas!!!  I use the new BookWright software which I’ve downloaded.  To me, thinking about double page spreads is very important – do the two (or more) images on a double page spread sit comfortably with each other?  On opening double page spreads, maybe my eyes go straight to the right page, so I have something more striking there, and something less striking but still good on the left – my eyes start on the right, but then realise the left has goodies too – useful???  Or you may experience the exact opposite.  Whatever, this might be something to consider.

So, just to give some idea of the products, here are some pictures from some of my Blurb books.  These pictures are not all well reproduced and some have actually been photographed on my computer screen – they come from the book I’m working on now – but they will give you an idea of what such books look like – and of course far more professional/up market looking layouts etc are possible.  I find Blurb (mostly) intuitive but there are many other providers. Clicking onto these images enlarges them.
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TALKING IMAGES 37 – I’M SLOWING DOWN, FOR AWHILE

 

 

Mannequin, seared by sunlight in a Cornish shop window

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The simple fact is, I very much enjoy blogging as a means of self-expression.  There’s the creation of the images, all of the attendant writing too (I love writing!) – and last but certainly not least the communication with like minds around the world – I enjoy talking with you all very much!  Also, there is not the slightest doubt that these years of blogging have been inspirational for me, certainly (to my eyes at least) improving my photography.
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A dear, warm creature, a being whom it is simply a pleasure to be with

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However, I have two large projects in hand, and I need to spend less time blogging for a month or two, to complete them.  One of these projects is the creation of my (more or less) annual Blurb photobook which, amongst other things, contains my favourite photos from the preceding 12 months along with their captions and text.  I have around 20 of these books now, some the annual volumes and some other, specific projects, and I find them a very convenient way of producing hard copies of my favourite work; they are very good to look back through.
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Someone special, from long ago and far away

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So, whereas I’ve been producing around six posts a week, this will decrease for awhile – assuming that is that I can restrain my creative enthusiasm!  And for today, here are some favourite images – faces from the archives – two people, someone quite artificial, and two beautiful animals.  Clicking onto these images will enlarge them, click onto them again to further enlarge them.
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Great Grey Owl – we looked at each other

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Selfie, with trademark cap and hulking Nikon DSLR

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SOMETHING WONDERFUL

 

 


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I was out walking earlier this week, and approaching a young mother who was busy unloading her three small boys from the back seat of her car.

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As I drew level with the car, two of the little boys were standing on the pavement and the woman was just reaching into the car for her third son

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>>> when out of the car came >>>

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MUMMY, MUMMY, LOOK AT THE FUNNY OLD MAN!!!

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Wonderful!   Simply wonderful.  Its simply wonderful what Life can serve up sometimes.
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APOLOGIES – UNABLE TO UPDATE THE IMAGES I’VE LIKED DISPLAY

 

 


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Selfie with butcher’s shop

I like to look at (and Like!) other bloggers’ posts every day – both those on blogs that I follow and those on blogs that I’ve never looked at before.  Images from posts that I’ve Liked appear in the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY  section on my blog’s sidebar.  I’m a great believer in showcasing other bloggers’ work in this way.

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But I’m unable to do this at the moment as, for three days, my WordPress Reader has stopped working.

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WordPress Tech Support are on the case and I’m hoping for a speedy resolution.

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Stay tuned!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

UPDATE: having contacted WP Tech Support, it seems my Internet Explorer is faulty, as the Reader shows up fine in Google Chrome, so I’ll be using that. Phew! 🙂 

FATman

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PEOPLE 300 – PEOPLE FROM MY PAST 3 (MONO)

 

 


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Self portrait, aged about 19, retouching a print made in the university darkroom – what a poser! – dark framed glasses a la Manfred Mann (remember them?), and student beard derived from the fact that I could never for the life of me see the purpose in shaving off my facial hair each day –  and so on the day that I left school in 1968 I started growing the beard that I’ve had all my life .

It was my first time living away from home – well, at 18 I effectively left home – and I was lively and (naturally) immature, so much so that my landlord and landlady very nearly threw me out.  There were five of us in these lodgings, which were on the sea front and very cold in the winter.  Our sole source of heating, in the whole house, was a double-barred electric fire in the ground floor lounge – but there were two floors of bedrooms above that and, boy, were we cold!  So one exceptionally cold evening we actually summoned up the courage to switch on both bars of the electric fire – only to come down the following morning to find that the fire’s second bar had been taken out!  Ah, there’ll always be a welcome in the hillside – I wonder if that song gives anyone a clue as to where I spent (six of the nine years of) my university days ….

And it was here too, in the university’s bookshop, that I bought my first copy of Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, a book that I have never fallen out of love with.  Very, very little poetry gets to me, and Dylan’s is far, far above my head.  I even have a recording of him reading some of his poems and that’s even worse, all far too heavy for me.  But Under Milk Wood is something else, a pure delight I would say, vast enjoyment combined with vast inspiration and admiration: in some way, something that – for better or for worse – has helped make me who I am.

This is a digital photograph of a black and white print, made with the D700.  The original photo was taken with an Ilford Sportsman 35mm film camera mounted on a  tripod.  I started printing black and white photos in the darkroom at school and did more at university, before going over almost entirely to colour slides when I got my first SLR, a Praktica LTL, in the 1970s.  The subject of the photo being retouched is another student, with whom I shared the bed and breakfast accommodation.

 

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PEOPLE 296 – PEOPLE FROM MY PAST 1 (MONO)

 

 

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I’ve been posting pictures of people since I started this blog.  I’d have liked to have posted more from this genre, but opportunities for such photography have never been plentiful.  Now, as a subset of this genre, I’m going to post images of people – myself included – from my own past.  Some of these images have been posted here before, some are new.  This idea has been stimulated by the rediscovery of pictures I sent to my mother from far off places, and also by the rediscovery of some old photograph albums.  I hope you will enjoy these pictures.

And so to the first image, above.  Years ago – my passport tells me 1975/6 – I was working on geology in the mountains of the Sultanate of Oman, which is in the southeast of the Arabian peninsula.  Don (above, right) and myself would drive our (absolutely wonderful) long-wheelbase Land Rover inland from the Batinah coast and deep into the mountains, and then camp there while we worked on the rocks.  That was all that our little expeditions consisted of – him, me, the vehicle and a small tent each.  We had no radio, no means of contact with the outside world at all – but we were young, and didn’t think or worry about such things …

So there was no convivial club or bar to retire to in the evenings, and the only at all civilised and comfortable seating was in the front of the Land Rover – and so here are the two of us, with our Tilley lamp blazing away, passing a restful evening reading and writing up notes in the front seat of what we called “the van”, while outside the stony desert that had scorched us during the day became, under crystal clear skies, very much colder.  And yes, crystal clear skies every night, with no light pollution at all, and the Milky Way blazing out magnificently above.  We were both naturalists (and photographers too, as it happens) and so we both had binoculars, and we bought a little book on astronomy with binoculars: the things visible through the bins in these crystal clear heavens were impressive – and such interests gave us welcome diversion.

A story from our first journey into the mountains sticks in my mind.  Don and I were both well qualified for our task (the product of British universities, don’t ya know!!!), and so we had all the gear and everything was planned – except that, on our first expedition, we forgot to pack any matches.  So, there we were in the back of beyond, with the prospect of either existing on uncooked food, or of doing something about it.  We were carrying lots of spare petrol, some of which powered the Optimus stoves that we used for cooking.  So, on the first night, we sparked the Land Rover’s battery onto the Optimus, there was a flash as the petrol went up – and we had hot food and drink.

But it was clear that repeatedly treating the battery in this way might not be wise for various reasons, so we had to think again.  The next day, we met another vehicle and paid them quite a steep price for all the matches they were carrying.  Fine, and we thought no more of the encounter.  But several days later we met the same vehicle again – and were astounded to find that, on reaching the coast, the occupants had spent all of our money on yet more matches, and had brought them back inland in the hope of meeting us again to pass them on.

The point here is that, in deserts like this, getting into trouble, maybe even from some small mechanical failure on the vehicle, can result in getting into a very deep trouble indeed, and so everyone looks out for everyone else.  Wherever we stumbled upon (usually tiny) habitations we were always invited in for coffee and dates and, in these mountains, we never experienced any problems with theft or security.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet further.

Technique: Don had a (now) classic Olympus OM-1 camera and several lenses, and I used a Practica SLR; we shot colour slides – maybe Agfa CT18 I think.  Here one of us must have set the camera up in the back of the vehicle, and then reached over to press the delayed action.  Such simple things provided welcome diversion and relaxation.

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