Improvising musicians

I’ve written about this series of photos in an earlier post, Chasing the Music, so I’ll just say that while these musicians were improvising freely (no prepared music or pre-arranged plan) I was try to capture the music visually.

This cymbal is an interesting example – it looks like the crash of sound is evaporating off its surface, like steam off a boiling cauldron!
In a similar fashion, the notes seem to be flowing off the piano keys.
I inverted this image (reversing the colours in Photoshop to make a negative of the original) which gives the tambourine an eerie deep sea creature look.
Guitarist in full flow.
The accordionist, playing his heart out.
Susie playing her harp and making clouds of magical music.

These are all added to the Musicians and Music section of the portfolio.

Timber constructions on the coast

Man has interacted with the sea since time immemorial. At the point of contact, the coast, he has made structures for a variety of purposes ranging from necessity to recreational. Timber is often the material of choice for these constructions which feature frequently in landscape photos. Here are a few examples – I have many more for future posts…

I think these must have been supports for some form of jetty across the mud flats in the Severn Estuary to get from the shore to navigable water.
I’ve never been sure what these posts are for. They are on a long shandy beach in Calvados, France, and my have something to do with preventing the shifting of the sands but those usually run at right angles to the water. Perhaps they mark a route where the base is firmer and safer to cross?
Like the previous photo, this row of stakes runs along the beach in Chichester Harbour, Sussex, rather than across it. The taller posts at intervals must remain exposed at high tide as a warning of the hazard to boats.
Another mysterious construction, this time in the Solent in Hampshire. Ideas on a postcard…
This geometric construction, at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, seems to have a dual purpose – pontoon and navigation mark. There was one with green paint on the other side of the channel. (I’m not sure how you get from the floating pontoon to the shore!).
I saw these while driving down the west coast of France. The fishermen must go out to the towers at low tide and spend the next twelve hours or so working their nets until they can get ashore again.
Sometimes the structures are purely creative. It’s a lovely way to re-purpose driftwood and other flotsam.


I’m not sure what “genre” these photos fall into so I’ve called them textures. In most cases I look for a detail in a subject which has an appeal in its own right. Other than that, there is no particular connection between them.

This was on a beach in Hampshire. The foam created by the breaking waves must have contained minute amounts of some form of oil contamination, just enough to give the bubbles their rainbow hues.
This is the surface of a frozen puddle in a New Forest bog. The ice has thawed and re-frozen a few times leaving interesting contour-like patterns.
A reflection on the surface of a New Forest stream under a bridge. The iron in the water gives the red hues – in fact it looks like an abstract watercolour!
We hung some old CDs in the garden as bird-scarers and they deteriorated in such a way that, when the sunlight caught them at the right angle, these extraordinary patterns appeared.

This is the underside of the seat on an old mini-digger.
Another puddle surface in a boggy area of the New Forest. Natural oils give the lovely golden sheen and numerous insects trapped on the surface add to the overall texture.

These are all added to the Textures section of the Portfolio.

Old machinery

There is great beauty in the machines that we make. They are designed for a purpose and many of them fulfil that task for many years. But, in time, they wear out or become uneconomical to repair. Even in their declining years they can appeal to the eye.

I took this picture a few years ago on the Butter Road between Schull and Ballydehob. Since then it decayed further and I put a couple of photos from last year in my first post (they are in the Machinery section of the portfolio). This year, what remained of it has been removed, presumably for scrap as it was way beyond viable restoration!
These truck carcasses were seeing out their days in an olive grove in Corfu. It looks like all useful parts have been removed. It’s a very peaceful setting!
Visitors to the Mizen Head will be familiar with this old bronze ship’s propellor in the car park.
This was the engine room of an ancient tug in Castletownbere. Amazingly, it ran really well and was motored round from Cork to be scrapped.
These hydraulic hoses on the boom of a mini-digger have “grown” colours that were not original specification.
This ticket machine was in a seaside carpark at Hengistbury Head in Dorset. The salty air is doing its best to destroy it but it keeps on functioning.

Some beach huts

Beach huts are found in many countries but, somehow, they seem to be a very English phenomenon. The concept of having somewhere to change while preserving modesty is very Victorian but has evolved into something more in some places. Mostly, the sites where these are found are owned by the local authority and are leased from them. Tenants can be almost fanatical in their devotion to them and, like allotments, there are often long waiting lists to get a tenancy. The leases in some places, change hands for significant money. There are even some which, due to a clause in their tenancy, can be slept in for a few months of the year which fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds when they change hands. Some are beautifully maintained – others show the signs of the inevitable exposure to the weather.

Even a habitable looking unit like this one has no running water and the toilet block may be some way down the beach.
The elements do beautiful things to any paint that manages to cling to the wood.
And black and white can look dramatic too.
Their popularity doesn’t seem to be effected by lack of privacy – the beach promenade on this site runs right past their doors!
Getting some height above the pounding waves can be an advantage.
Not all huts on the beach are recreational. This peculiar shaped building, on Hurst Spit in Hampshire, was used by fisherman to store their equipment. I think they hung nets in the tower to dry and repair them. Unfortunately, it was burned down a few years ago, almost certainly an act of vandalism.


I want to add some images to the “Portraits and People” section in my portfolio. I don’t intend to say much about each one – the aim of a portrait is to show something of the character of the person so, hopefully, they will speak for themselves.

When our family first started visiting Ireland we used to love to go out in a boat and fish for mackerel. Curly, in this photo, at the age of 70 used to row us out a mile or two in his wooden punt and patiently help us untangle our lines and get the fish off the hooks when we were lucky enough to catch them. It was hard work for long hours but he never showed any sign of complaint.
This is one way of cooling down on a hot summer day in New York.
David at the wheel of his elderly Land Rover.
What can I say? True love!
It’s not every day you get a ride in a Fire Engine – a bit overwhelming, perhaps?
Beautiful as the surroundings are, it wouldn’t have been the same without the child in the window.

The ground beneath our feet.

After two posts focussed on the heavens, this week I am looking at objects we walk or drive over every day without, perhaps, fully appreciating their beauty. Our streets and pavements have a multitude of services running beneath them and access, for maintenance and repair, is via manholes. The covers of these manholes need to be strong enough to support the traffic that passes over them. They also need to be identifiable as to their purpose and textured so as to make them non-slip. Someone in the foundry has the job of designing these and their creativity shines through but we tend to pass over them without much notice. I started photographing them while on holiday in Prague, where there are some beautiful examples. Since then I have come to appreciate not only manhole covers but other street ironmongery and would like to draw your attention to them all. Today I am concentrating on our home territory, here in West Cork.

The design for this pretty standard sewer cover may have originated in the days when horses were more common than automobiles – the spacing of the raised blocks seem to me like they would provide some grip for a horseshoe.

Another similar example made by a different manufacturer.

Some of these seemingly indestructible pieces of cast iron can become pretty worn down over the years. I wonder how long this one has been there?

The patterns in this design remind me of molecular structures. Someone must have spent hours getting all the geometry right.

Extraordinarily, in a different light a very similar design can look inverted, like a negative, though the pattern is actually raised like the one above.

Another geometric pattern, perhaps slightly more modern in style.

Another take on creating a pattern, showing signs of wear which add an interesting overlay.

I love the fact that the designer of this drain cover has used “W” (for water?) as the basis of his design.

And then, a mystery cover! This is in Bantry but it is made in Italy! Why transport something this heavy all that distance when it can be made here? Then there is the totally random design of the raised bits, all different shapes and sizes. It’s as though the boss said “do what you like with this one”!

One of my favourites, also in Bantry, has a very organic free form and it is quite large, at least a metre long. It’s a bit like looking at bacteria through a microscope.

And then another mystery one. Most have some sort of indication as to what lies beneath them but this one – is it so worn that any inscription has disappeared or was it always blank? It was the only one like it in the street.

I think this next one is a base for a pedestrian bollard – one of the sections flips up a the post is inserted when required, meanwhile a beautiful object adorns the pavement.

There are also unusual ones, like this very stylish recessed light fitting in the carpark of Bantry house.

More to come in future posts….

….. and the moon

After the sunset and sunrise photos in my last post, I had intended to do something completely different this week but along came a pink moon and the decision was made for me! The April full moon, which we experienced on Wednesday, is actually named, not for its colour but for the wild ground phlox which produce their pink blossoms at this time of year. I went out and set myself up on a hilltop, hoping to get a shot of the moon rising over Kilcoe Castle in Roaringwater Bay, but the clouds all along the horizon defeated me. When I got home, and the moon has risen high enough to peek through gaps in the cloud, I managed to get a couple of shots of a rather orange moon. I think the colour would have been more intense if I had caught it earlier.

However, frustrating though the clouds were that evening, the moon managed to make them look quite dramatic.

Here are a couple more shots, taken a few years ago, of the moon shining through the clouds.

Sometimes the effect can be quite ghostly.

Strange artefacts can appear, like the rings in this shot which I used in my first post.

And, to finish up like last week, a photo from the Big Green Gathering in 2007.

Sunrise and sunset

It’s hard to resist a good sunrise or sunset. Here is a selection from different locations – they more or less speak for themselves. They all bring back memories for me!

This was an unusually vivid dawn from our kitchen window. It was as though there was a great forest fire but, fortunately, it was just a fleeting display.
Looking up Roaringwater Bay from Kilkilleen Beach. A great location for a sunset when the conditions are right.
Another beach location, this time at Barton-on-Sea in Hampshire, UK. Close to where we used to live and spent many hours searching for fossilised sharks teeth…
A bit further East, near Dell Quay in Chichester Harbour. The “X” made by the con trails reflected in the mirror like water was irresistible for me.
Finally, for this week, a shot taken at the “Big Green Gathering” back in 2006.

These are all added to the Sun and moon shots in the portfolio section.

Choughs and other visitors

A pair of choughs were resident on our property, during the breeding season, for some time before we came here. They nested on a narrow ledge in an old corrugated iron barn which was largely destroyed in the gales of 2014. When we rebuilt the barn we were particularly keen to encourage them to continue nesting here. We cut an opening in the eastern gable, close to where they had nested before, and installed a nest box. To our great delight, two weeks later the pair turned up, found the new nest site and raised a brood of three chicks. They have continued to do so every year since then and always three chicks.

This is the parent with their three offspring on one of their first flights – it is the image I have used for my logo on this site and it illustrates what dynamic flyers they are. Their aerobatics have been compared to black handkerchieves tumbling through the air.
The parents spend a lot of time perched on our electricity pole, honing their beaks and keeping an eye on their breeding ground.
Gathering nesting materials just outside our front door.
This is one of last year’s chicks on an early flight. Note that the beak is quite orange – it won’t develop the red colour until the autumn.
This is one of the parents flying through the garden a few days ago.

The choughs are very special to us and they awakened an interest in bird watching. We get all sorts of visitors in the garden. Here are two examples – there will be more in future weeks.

We don’t often see the bullfinch – maybe we are too diligent at removing thistles. Here he is collecting the seeds on the wing.
And looking very pleased with his harvest.
Another rare visitor, for us, is the lesser redpoll. This one was gorging itself on seeds from a verbena bonariensis outside my study window.

These are all added to the birds & animals section in the portfolio