Looking a bit closer

Sometimes it is worthwhile to forget the broader picture and look in at some of the details. Patterns and textures present themselves if you look for them.

This bit of seaweed was being washed back and forth by the breaking waves which were forming foam along the beach. Some kind of oil pollution was creating lovely rainbow colours on the bubbles.
A different kind of seaweed, dried out on the rocks with almost all traces of colour bleached out.
This was part of a beautiful cauliflower fungus that we found in the New Forest – it tasted delicious!
These pine cones and needles looked so extraordinary when I inverted the image into a negative that I kept it that way – they look like they’re floating in milk.
The contrasting colours in this tree bark caught my attention.
A beech leaf surrounded by some water soaked sycamore leaves, looking like burnished gold.

Bits of buildings

There’s no particular connection between the photos this week – they are all parts of buildings that simply caught my eye.

The colours in the different corroding metals were so vivid. This was in a farmyard in Devon.
This is outside a cottage in Hollyhill, West Cork. I’ve been back since and the barrel has deteriorated considerably, so I’m glad I caught it when I did.
This is all about the colour (and the tenacity of plants) – in Skibbereen, West Cork.
The colours of this building in Corfu have more “patina” but are just as striking.
This is on, my old favourite, the Butter Road near Schull.
In a wall in Rossbrin – nature colonising an old post box. The lichens are pretty impressive too.

Portraits 3

The first two portraits this week have connections to earlier posts in a different category – old machinery. They also have a connection with old boats.

John, having a rest on the gunwale of this wrecked fishing boat, is (or was) the owner of the old tractor that was on the Butter Road near Schull. It is in the machinery section of the portfolio. I say was because it has now been sent off for scrap. He does have a collection of working farm machinery about which he is very knowledgeable. I like the devoted way his dog is looking up at him.
Shaun was standing on the foredeck of a beautiful old tug boat that he was about to scrap as it was way beyond its sell-by date. The engine room can also be seen in the machinery section. (He is also my brother-in-law, having married my youngest sister this year!)
This regular of the Ballydehob Jazz Festival is taking a break from his pall bearing duties to make a phone call. I like the incongruity of it and it also serves as a sort of introduction to the following portraits which all have a musical connection. They could have gone in the music and musicians section of the portfolio but, in this case, they are more about the person than the music so I put them in here.

Street ironmongery in Prague.

Just before Christmas in 2006 we went to Prague for a spur of the moment break. It was there that I started noticing how beautiful some of the metal work in the streets was and a mini-obsession was born! Many of the streets are cobbled which adds another texture to the images. I have no idea what purpose some of them serve!


Photographing birds is notoriously difficult! I can’t stop myself from trying and, among the many duds there are occasionally the odd “keeper”. In today’s post, some are birds that I was pleased to see in our garden, others are as much for the setting as the bird itself.

A heron having a siesta on what I think is an oyster bed frame in Rosscarbery. Not perfectly in focus but the situation was so bizarre and the blue feather so unexpected that I can’t resist it.
On the same day in Rosscarbery, this egret, and its reflection, on the strong colours of the rippled water appealed to me.
One of the choughs that nest in our barn – amazing wingtips.
A blackbird eying up the berries.
Meadow pipits are so shy and flighty that I was glad to catch one out in the open.
The blue in the eye of this jackdaw is quite startling.
Evening sunlight enriching the colours of our resident pheasant’s plumage.
A bunch of starlings “hanging out” like a group of teenagers!

Musicians creating

These are some more of my photos of musicians crafting their music. As in previous posts, the intention is to try to capture the feel of the music as well as the artist creating it. The first five are some of the members of a “collective” of free-improvising musicians who met once a month to explore together. The final image is our son, Ed, playing on stage in Bournemouth.

Textures on the beach

At the base of an unstable clay cliff on Barton Beach in Hampshire, these vivid colours catch the eye.
Further along the same beach – if you’re in luck you may find a fossilised shark’s tooth, tens of millions of years old.
I never worked out how these holes were formed. They don’t seem to be made by living creatures but, perhaps, in the long distant past….?
A trickle of. presumably, iron-rich water running out from the base of the cliff drew this diagonal line across the rock.
A bit further down the line the flow forms a “delta” and the colours change.
Some colours are definitely not natural – this was some form of oil pollution spilling across the sands at Steart Beach in Somerset.

Some more machinery

This is a detail of a carding machine in a wool museum in Wales. What I love about it is that they used teasel flowers set into this large rotating drum – for all man’s ingenuity the natural product (which had, presumably, been used by hand for generations) couldn’t be improved upon!
On a sandy beach in Normandy this winch drum was gradually been eroded away – dust to dust…..
A horse-drawn plough has found a new role as part of a garden wall in West Cork.
This tractor is going nowhere. Photographed somewhere in West Cork.
This is another non-runner but keep it in the back of your mind as it will be relevant to a future post!
This is the engine on an old Fordson tractor which was still in regular use in Hampshire, UK. The owner had kept it is very sound mechanical condition but allowed a “patina” to develop on the rest of it.

Some trees

Trees are magnificent complex organisms. Whether standing alone or crowded into a woodland they have a beauty that can stop you in your tracks to just wonder at them.

A solitary oak in an open part of the New Forest in Hampshire.
Another “loner”, again in the New Forest, this birch is reflected in the mirror like pond, keeping itself company!
Glengarriff woodland in Co Cork where the trees seem to grow out of the rocks. In spite of this, and helped by the beautifully clean air, they are richly verdant.
Also in the woodland at Glengarriff, these birch trees form a delicate screen in front of the woodland behind them, bathed in sunshine.
Light playing on trees again, this time a stand of oaks back in the New Forest.
Still in the New Forest, this beech tree fell years ago but refused to stop growing, forming a living arch.

Having selected these images and drafted this post, I received an email from my sister, Bena. She had made friends on line with an environmental campaigner, Joannah Stutchbury, partly because they share the same unusual surname. Joannah’s mission in life was to protect the Kiambu Forest, on the outskirts of Nairobi from encroachment by developers, for which she had received several death threats. On Thursday last week she was murdered as she returned home. It is a truly shocking event that can’t be condemned strongly enough. Bena has started a petition which you can sign “here” if you would like to support the continuation of Joannah’s work.

Street ironmongery

I’m continuing here with more examples from my collection of manhole covers and other ironworks that we walk and drive over, often without noticing the design work that goes into producing a functional object. These are all examples from here in Ireland.

Our friend and neighbour, Robert, who is co-author of the most excellent Roaringwater Journal, alerted me to the presence of these manhole covers in Cork City. Made by Cavanagh, who make a huge variety of ironworks in Ireland, there is no clue as to what lies beneath it but who cares, it’s the most beautiful Celtic design.
These post sockets are spaced at intervals along some streets. The circular panel can be removed and a pole for a traffic sign inserted and locked into place. It seems to be an extravagant system but it gives great flexibility to Councils who can amend their urban signage without having to dig up the pavement each time. When not in use they are rather stylish.
Some are cleverly designed so that the two halves can be removed separately and the symmetrical panels can be read from either side. There is no doubt about the purpose of this one.
Another two part cover for a fire hydrant but, this time, the two halves are not symmetrical.
Others, though purposefully designed, give no clue as to which company they are used by.
This one says what it is but I have no idea what ISVI stands for….
I wonder what “slides out” in either direction? Possibly cabling of some sort?
This one could make you dizzy if you stared at it long enough!
I like the way the makers name becomes part of the non-slip design. The mystery on this one is what the small cover on the left is for? It could be a rodding eye for clearing obstructions?
This one has so much concrete around it that i’m not sure it could ever be opened.
This must have been very elegant before its pattern was worn away by years of pedestrian traffic.
I like these last three drain covers because they are so simple and have performed their duties faithfully for years and years.