DOWN BY THE SEASIDE – the visual drama of piers, jetties and lifeguard huts.

Stick a building – any building, on the edge of the land, where it meets the sea; on a sunny day, beneath a vast dome of blue sky, and something magical happens. Colours seem more intense; shadows seem darker; and tones seem more dynamic; making – often humble – utilitarian structures appear like architectural masterpieces.

During my many years of travel I’ve often been struck by the allure of these sun-kissed lumps of timber, steel and concrete. And without further ado, presented below are a small selection of those I was fortunate enough to be able to record in photograph.

 

 

 

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PADUA – Stone and Water

Padua is most famous in the anglophone world at least for being the setting for Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, but it’s true importance lies in it’s role as one of the oldest and most important university cities in the world.

Arguably, the home of modern western medicine – indisputably the cradle of modern pathology – with strong associations to the likes of Galileo and Copernicus it’s legacy as a historic center of scientific learning is only surpassed by Cambridge. (This is particularly interesting when one realises that Padua University emerged from Bologna University in a way very similar to the way Cambridge emerged from Oxford – at about the same time.)

However, as a warning to the prospective visitor to Padua, it should be noted that for all it’s academic glories (and a couple of fabulous artworks by Giotto and Donatello) it falls far short of most of its city neighbours so far as things like charm and gastronomy are concerned. Nevertheless, like all Italian towns, it finds a way to smile back when one points a camera at it.

Presented here are a series of enhanced photographic images through which I make an attempt to transmit the feeling of a stroll through Padua’s  cobbled streets and along her narrow waterways…

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WINDOWS ON THE WORLD

When I first set my eyes upon the cover to Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti in 1975 it captivated me almost as much as the incredible music on the two pieces of vinyl it contained. This next “gallery” offering is by way of an homage to that and the art of record cover design in general – an art form in the process of being resurrected due to the return of vinyl discs.

UNTROUBLED WATERS

I’ve long been fascinated by bridges and the way they frame and colour the waters which flow beneath them. Perhaps it’s that they are a natural metaphor for hope and unity, or perhaps it’s just I’ve always hated getting my feet wet. But whatever the reason, they and their host rivers, streams, inlets and lakes are indisputably photogenic. Presented here are images sourced from over four decades of photography.

(Cameras used: Canonet 28 / Nikon FE / Nikon D80 / Canon EOS 5D)

ATACAMA – IN MAUVES AND GREENS

Followers of this site will already be familiar with many of the details of our remarkable trip to Chile back in 1991, just several months after the demise the Pinochet regime.

As if to mark this new era of democracy, freedom and hope, the month we arrived, the southern Atacama Desert experienced – what we were assured by the locals – were the first meaningful rains in forty years, and so exploded in a celebratory riot of colour. It was as if a vast technicolor carpet had been laid atop the normally monochromatic desert floor as every cactus, every succulent and every dormant seed erupted into flower.

Even in normal circumstances Chile’s many disparate landscapes offer a  stunning smorgasbord for the visual senses, but this was simply wondrous. Rarely have we experienced, before or since such good luck being in the right place at the right time.

The dozen or so images presented here give a taste of what we were so privileged to witness with our own eyes…

(Camera used: Nikon FE with Agfachrome film)

TEL AVIV MEMORIES

A small gallery of images of Tel Aviv from the late 70’s and early 80’s. Colourful, ramshackle, exotic and cosmopolitan even then, the seeds were well sewn for the exciting, “happening” city we know today…

(camera used: Nikon FE with Ektachrome and Agfachrome)

REGGIO EMILIA – CITY OF ARCADES AND BICYCLES (and no tourists!!)

How often one hears a place enthusiastically recommended for being “non-touristy”. My own local city in southern Spain, Malaga is often described in  theses terms (by me, among many others), but until my recent visit to Reggio Emilia I hadn’t fully appreciated what “non-touristy” means. If I mention that during my  four days in the city I only saw three cameras produced in anger (including my own) and that I only heard English spoken on two occasions, you begin to get the picture. But “non-touristy” is an accolade for several reasons, and all of them cliches that Reggio lived up to more than any supposedly “non-touristy” city I had previously encountered. For example, everything, but everything, from hotel rooms, to dining, to shopping was at least 20% cheaper than say, in the neighbouring – and allegedly more glamourous – city of Parma, and up to 50% cheaper than the regional capital of Bologna. And in addition to not ripping you off, most of the people are genuine, and sincerely welcoming. Moreover, there’s all the culture one would expect in a medium-sized Italian city – art (ancient and modern), churches, museums and three (yes three) thriving theatres. And as for the quality of the all’aperto atmosphere, especially  in the leafy Piazza Fontanesi, of a spring evening, it was the equal of anything I have experienced.

Finally, I should also point out that Reggio Emilia’s hams and sausages are every bit as delicious as those produced in the aforementioned Parma, and as for its balsamic vinegar, it makes that brewed in nearby Modena seem thin and bland by comparison.

Reggio Emilia is famous though for two things: Being the birthplace of the national Italian flag – the Tricolore, and being a center of Lambrusco wine production, the less said about the latter, the better…well, nowhere’s perfect!

ALHAMBRA ARCHES

THESE DAYS, VIEWING THE ALHAMBRA PALACE IS MORE OF A CHORE THAN A JOY. THE PLACE IS SO POPULAR WITH TOURISTS THAT YOU HAVE TO PRE-BOOK DAYS AHEAD (WEEKS AHEAD IN SUMMER) FOR A “SLOT” FOR THE DUBIOUS “PLEASURE” OF SHARING ONES’S VIEWING EXPERIENCE WITH A THOUSAND FELLOW SARDINES. ON MY LAST VISIT, THE CROWDS WERE SO DENSE, ESPECIALLY AT THE PALACE ITSELF, IT FELT MORE LIKE LEAVING A FOOTBALL STADIUM THAN A GENTLE AMBLE AROUND ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS ON EARTH.

FORTUNATELY FOR ME, THIS WAS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.  ONE BALMY NOVEMBER DAY, BACK IN THE MID 1980’S, BEFORE THE NEED FOR “SLOTS”, MY THEN PARTNER AND I VIRTUALLY HAD THE PLACE TO OURSELVES AND IT REMAINS ONE OF THE MOST TREASURED “SIGHTSEEING” MEMORIES OF MY LIFE. NOT ONLY DID WE HAVE THE TIME AND SPACE TO TRULY APPRECIATE THE UNDERSTATED GLORY OF THE PALACE ITSELF, THE FRAGRANT GLADES AND PATHWAYS OF THE GENERALIFE GARDENS WERE AS TRANQUIL AND SOOTHING UPON THE SENSES AS THEY WERE DESIGNED TO BE.

THE EIGHT IMAGES HERE ARE FROM PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN DURING THAT VISIT, AND I THINK THEY CAPTURE SOMETHING OF THE SERENITY WE EXPERIENCED.

(camera used – Nikon FE)

HEADS & FACES

IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH A DECENT CAMERA AND GOOD EDITING SOFTWARE. HERE FOR EXAMPLE, I’VE SIMPLY ISOLATED TWO OR THREE HEADS FROM A SERIES OF PHOTOGRAPHS. IN SOME EXAMPLES THE PROCESS MERELY INTENSIFIES THE SENSE OF AN ACTUAL  HUMAN RELATIONSHIP/S OR INTERACTION/S , WHILE IN OTHERS, A POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIP IS EITHER SUGGESTED OR CREATED. THE COMMON QUALITY I’M ATTEMPTING IN ALL THE IMAGES IS A KIND OF NATURAL INTENSITY…

(cameras used: Canonet 28 / Nikon FE / Nikon D60 / Canon EOS 500d

software: Adobe Photoshop cc2014)