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Charlie dancing

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I posted a photo. I do like a good photo and, without devaluing the form or lowering the bar, it would seem that good photos are becoming more abundant. My definition of ‘good’ has always been pretty broad; favouring neither technical proficiency, framing, lighting or content, but welcoming them all. Of course, luck can also play a large part in determining whether or not a photo is good.

I’ve taken many thousands of photos and very occasionally I get the sense, even before I’ve taken my finger off the shutter release, that the photo has been a good one. I got that sense when I took the following photo of my son at his street dance class. I snapped it on my phone.

I like this photo because I like Charlie’s shape in it. I like the light and the colours and the movement in it. I like that I wish I was the wee boy in the photo doing what Charlie’s doing. A few people have also said they liked it, so here it is:

Charlie dancing

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Categories: me, photos

La Strada

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

A film by Fellini, it’s the story of a circus strongman, played by Anthony Quinn, and a clown, played by Fellini’s wife. Life on the road with a travelling circus is the perfect setting for this tale of disjointed lives and unlikely friendships. This film might well have spawned the whole genre of the ‘road movie’.

Watching it was a hugely engaging and emotional journey.

I was also impressed with how well the mighty Anthony Quinn spoke Italian.

La Strada

Four years ago I visited Italy with my family. We flew out very early in the morning, after a long drive to the airport. When we landed in Pisa we hired a car and set off on the drive to our accomodation. Two hours later, lost on a narrow road that wound up the side of a mountain, nerves and tempers were becoming frayed. It was clear that the road we were on was not going to get us where we wanted to go. The matter of whether we should turn back or continue was the source of some great disagreement, so we pulled over where the road swelled out for a passing place.

An old man came wandering down the road towards us. I spoke no Italian whatsoever but went across to him with our guidebook in hand, hoping that he spoke some English. It quickly became clear that he spoke none. He motioned me to the edge of the road where it ended and the slope of the mountain spilled down from us into a valley.

He babbled away in Italian and I followed his finger as he pointed across at the other side of the gorgeous green valley with little clusters of terracotta roofs nestling among the cypresses. He moved his arm from left to right, describing the way we were to go, maintaining his constant babble of rough-spoken Italian. I found his voice soothing and reassuring, although I didn’t understand a word and was now virtually transfixed on the panorama before me.

From his stream of words, I discerned ‘la strada’ and Fellini’s film came instantly to mind.

I smiled at the old man and said ‘Gratzee’. He nodded and smiled back before going on his way. I was no clearer about how we were going to go ahead to our destination, but I was reminded that the journey we took, and everything that happened along the way, was to be savoured and remembered.

I took a further couple of minutes to myself, gazing out on the Tuscan hills, before taking a quick snap and returning to the car to re-engage with la strada.

Tuscany

Categories: film, me, photos

Longniddry Bents

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

The rotted hull of an old wooden vessel come to rest on the sands in view of Cockenzie power station: it’s struts protruding from the sand like the rib cage of some monstrous sea creature from a distant age, shrouded in the mists of time.

Longniddry beach with wreck and power station in background

The day was eeire. It was sunny and warm when we left the house but as we descended to the level of the sea we could feel the temperature dropping. When we got to the beach mist was rolling in off the sea in great clouds and evaporating as soon as it came thirty yards up the shore.  Very strange, to be surrounded in mist and see the blue sky and sea just beyond – not to mention the wreckage that had been washed up that day.

I took this photo on my phone. You can see a photo taken nearer the wreckage on my tumblr. At the time I wished I had had an actual camera with me. Now I see that it didn’t really matter. The important thing about that strange day was it’s weird and eerie beauty – to be enjoyed at the time.

I think that’s why I’ve never developed my interest in photography; if something’s interesting enough to photograph, I usually want to take it in with my senses rather than worrying about objectifying it.

Categories: me, photos

The kiddos

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

I took this photo of the kiddos one sunny summer day this year at Hailes Castle in East Lothian.

A photo of my Children

They hate it when I call them ‘the kiddos’.

Categories: me, photos

Owls

December 6, 2010 2 comments

I was trying to work out what it was about owls that makes me like them so much.

Little OwlI can trawl through loads of times when real owls have impressed me: that time a barn owl flew out in front of my car as I was driving home one night; various bird of prey centres and zoos. The picture of the Little Owl on the left is currently my screen saver. They’re enchanting birds. For me, I think, the reason they’re enchanting is something to do with the body of associations that surround them.

I love the article written for the ornithological publication by Night owl in The Watchmen. I love it in Gormenghast when the Earl is killed by the Death Owls in the Tower of Flints. Here they’re portrayed as swift, wise and deadly.

Bubo, gifted to Perseus by Athena, in the original (and best) Clash of the Titans was another owl who impressed me when I was a young lad. Ultimately, it was Bubo who ensured the Kraken was defeated. Bubo also had a comic, ridiculous aspect which I’ve been unable to separate off from my owl archetype.

Sage the Owl, from The HerbsBut I think I have to go even further back into my childhood to find the root, the source of my fascination with owls. Back to Sage the Owl, from The Herbs. I don’t actually remember much about this show at all. What I do remember is that, until I saw God depicted as a man, the picture of Him I had in my head was that of Sage the Owl.

So, deep down, in some pre-reasoning, intuitive understanding (a bit like Faith), I must nurture a belief that God exists in owl form. Or, at least in the form of Sage the Owl, from The Herbs.

Ah… So that’s why I like owls.

Categories: me, Uncategorizable

Wee Beastie

November 24, 2010 1 comment


A couple of months ago, I photographed this wee beastie as it crawled over a stone that had fallen out of a plant pot in my kitchen. I showed it the way out the window and into the garden.

I wonder where it is now…

Categories: me, photos

Bulgaria

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

We went to Bulgaria at the start of October and stayed in a villa between Dolna Banya and Kostenets. Most of the photos below were taken there or in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s old capital.

Where we were staying was pretty rural. The countryside is littered with buildings and factories left to crumble and rust, presumably since Russia (USSR) cleared out in the late 80’s. In the car one day we passed an old woman shuffling up the side of the road, dragging a cart loaded with sticks and twigs to see her through the coming winter.

I’d like to go back to Bulgaria in 15 years or so and see how things have improved. I hope they do.

Categories: me, photos