Posts Tagged ‘photography’

AIDS

 

We warmly recommend you pop over to Time and have a look at their wall of the most historic photographs ever taken – to both remind yourself of the brilliant photos, but also to read the “back story” of any photo that interests you particularly.

http://100photos.time.com/

It is a very considerable effort by Time and they are to be commended for it.

Some celebrate or expose great moments in history. Some track societal trends. Some are simply the first time a photo was ever taken like that.

All remind us of the debt of gratitude we owe photographers for capturing what we need to know. A picture sometimes tells not just a thousand words, but many thousands of words; often much more immediately than tens of thousands of fractious, argumentative, disputatious words.

A picture frequently says much more, and without argument.

Sadly, in today’s “Photoshop” world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trust the evidence of our own eyes. Nevertheless, a great photograph taken in context can still inform the world, like the little refugee boy drowned in the Mediterranean a little while back.

A fascinating read. Enjoy.

 

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Sometimes spooky stuff happens. I used to know a minister of the cloth who would simply call it “God stuff”. Moments when we are forcibly struck by the remarkable. Forced to consider whether something is simple coincidence, or evidence of something we do not clearly understand. Of something super-natural.

I have hundreds of friends who will tell me – some with pitying smiles – that the sun sitting perfectly behind the Christ in this statue on King Charles Bridge in Prague is nothing more than a coincidence. Indeed, that as I had to move my feet to frame the shot perfectly, it is more than coincidence. Worse, it is artifice.

And so it might well be. But what is the “God shaped hole” inside me that immediately excited me about the potential for the shot? That showed it to me in my mind before I took it, and compelled me to capture the moment? That left me so satisfied by having taken it, and so keen to share it?

Am I merely exhibiting my own confirmation bias towards my religious views, or was I moved by an infinitesimal moment of connection with the divine?

A miracle, it is said, is something which confirms faith. Thus, I prefer to herald this moment as a tiny miracle. A one person miracle – hardly significant set against the troubles of the world, but significant for me. After a few days of looking at religious art where figures were routinely shown with halos, an actual halo.

You call it what you like, Dear Reader. I won’t be offended.

 

The 25-year-old actress will front a campaign called Collection Eyes 2016 and has already posed for photographs with acclaimed photographer Mario Testino.

According to the fashion house, Kristen posed “for a series of portraits that incarnate the different facets of a contemporary woman” for the new campaign, which will debut in March.

There is no doubt that Ms Stewart is remarkably photogenic. We would happily watch her read the phone book while biting her lip anxiously. And we are rather taken with her obvious disregard for some of the conventions of “stardom”, although we also note she doesn’t seem to shy away from pulling down a few mill per movie. Not that she should, but sometimes we think the lady doth protest too much the stresses and strains of being one of the highest paid thespians of the current era.

We are, however, yet to see a performance from her that we would consider, frankly, to be great acting, let alone one of the best of her generation. Still Mr Lagerfeld is entitled to his opinion just like everyone. But she has undoubtedly cornered the market in moody/gawky.

We look forward to the campaign. It will be interesting to see how Testino uses what has become such an iconic face in modern Western culture – primarily through the success of the Twilight series of movies – to represent the “different facets” of contemporary woman.

Yes, Stewart has made the pouty, icy stare her own motif. And the ingenue “grin”. But both are a relatively niche “look”, and have been somewhat done to death by the fashion industry. Mainly, we suspect, because it’s hard to photograph deeper emotions well.

Anyhow, it is to be hoped that the new campaign is more than variations on a well-worn theme.

We expect we’ll see evenings of sparkling glamour, fast cars, business, moody sunset shots, beaches, industrial grunge, street scenes yada yada yada. And all well and good. Fashion is about fantasy, after all.

When we also see someone like Kristen photographed up to her armpits in soap suds doing the dishes or cleaning her baby’s vomit off her blouse then we’ll be really impressed with the representation of all aspects of “the different facets of contemporary woman”.

This fascinating series of photographs shows what happens when humankind abandons its structures. They have an eerie beauty, modelled, moulded and affected by weather, and the natural world around them.

It is an interesting idea, in an idle way, to wonder how long it would take for most or all of humanity’s structures to be overtaken by the natural planet should we all somehow suddenly disappear. We reckon within a couple of hundred years you almost wouldn’t know we’d been here at all. For those afflicted by human hubris, that’s a sobering thought.

Our favourite is the Hotel in Columbia. Yours?

 

Abandoned Blade Mill, France

Abandoned Blade Mill, France

 

 

Abandoned city of Keelung, Taiwan

Abandoned city of Keelung, Taiwan

 

Abandoned dome houses in Southwest Florida

Abandoned dome houses in Southwest Florida

 

Abandoned 1886 mil in Sorrento, Italy

Abandoned 1886 mil in Sorrento, Italy

 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

 

Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Italy

Christ of the Abyss at San Fruttuoso, Italy

 

Abandoned train depot, Częstochowa, Poland

Abandoned train depot, Częstochowa, Poland

 

El Hotel del Salto, Colombia

El Hotel del Salto, Colombia

 

Fishing hut on a lake in Germany

Fishing hut on a lake in Germany

 

Holland Island, Chesapeake Bay, USA

Holland Island, Chesapeake Bay, USA

 

Kolmanskop. Namib Desert, Namibia

Kolmanskop. Namib Desert, Namibia

 

Miiltary rocket factory, Russia

Military rocket factory, Russia

 

Maunsell Sea Forts, Redsands, Thames Estuary, England

Maunsell Sea Forts, Redsands, Thames Estuary, England

 

Sunken yacht, Antarctica

Sunken yacht, Antarctica

 

The remains of the SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

The remains of the SS Ayrfield in Homebush Bay, Sydney, Australia

 

Car graveyard, Chatillon, Belgium

Car graveyard, Chatillon, Belgium

 

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We need to warn you, Dear Reader, we have discovered how to use the close up feature. This may go on for some weeks.

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Gull

One night about a year ago Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink turned the late night TV shopping channel on.

It was an accidental act, in truth, but we found ourselves taken by the subject matter: to wit, buying a new camera at what looked like an amazingly low price.

NikonIt turned out, of course, that it wasn’t an especially great price, and we could have walked round the corner and bought it at the same price and got some professional advice into the bargain.

But no matter. We had always wanted a nice camera, as opposed to taking snaps using the iPhone, not that the remarkable and ubiquitous little device didn’t actually take nice snaps, but this one seemed very swish and a nice colour, and the front pointy bit went in and out really far, so in we dove.

Anyhow, as a sign for how ludicrously busy all our lives have become, this weekend is almost the first chance we have had to play with the camera, at Smiths Beach on gorgeous Phillip Island, in Victoria, Australia.

Of course, as you will have discovered previously, Dear Reader, the new technological age sits somewhat heavily on our prematurely aging shoulders. Fresh from wrestling with things that go bing, we now found ourselves poking with uncertain, stubby little fingers at a camera for which a high-flying degree in advanced sub-atomic particle physics would be inadequate preparation.

There is not one, not two, but fully three ways to make the telephoto thingy whiz in and out. meaning, of course, that it does so when one least expects it to.

Press the wrong button, and the playback screen turns into a mass of statistics and charts telling you why you have just messed up the last shot taken. Trying to get back to just seeing the photo on its own again without the accompanying science takes fully half an hour of increasingly frantic thumbing through the “destructions” as Mrs W calls all manuals, which as with most things seems to be written in a sort of pig-din Japlish which defies easy translation.

The little diagrams of buttons on the camera would be very helpful if one didn’t need a magnifying glass to see which buttons they refer to, (dagnabbit, knew we left something out of the beach bag), as the whole booklet is clearly written for people with A1 20-20 vision aged 18, which as it emanates from the Land of the Rising Yen is somewhat curious as we never yet met a Nipponese who could see past the end of their nose without glasses as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle, so quite who the manual is aimed at is something of a mystery.

Meanwhile the little twirly thing on the top offers you fully twenty “shooting modes”, and heaven forbid you should try and photograph a sunny Aussie beach in “Night Portrait” mode, as the seagulls flying by suddenly all look like Ring Wraiths or Dementors come to drive us back into the cottage.

Plumping for “Scenic” seems like a safe option, until you realise the sub-Menu offers you fully fifteen variations of scenic to choose from. Choosing between “Cloudy” and “Dusk” looks tricky to the untrained eye …

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Seagull at dusk. Or cloudy. You choose.

Then, when one finishes the hour-long process of turning the damn thing on, one realises that there is actually more to taking a good photo than pointing and pressing. More digital photos (and before them, bazillions of miles of film) must have been taken of waves crashing on rocky seashores than almost any other subject matter you care to name. One very quickly realises that taking a good photo of a wave is clearly nigh-impossible. There is that wildly improbable nexus of the right camera, the right setting, the right moment, and that indefinable “eye” that true photographic geniuses have.

Which we, Dear Reader, do not.

Looking west at Smiths Beach

Luckily, the world is such an intensely beautiful place that it is impossible to entirely stuff up photographing it even with one’s new techno-rich clicky thing. We did, we think, nevertheless manage to make the photos quite big and a suitable format for desktop wallpapers. Feel free to nick any you like.

A Spring day on a beach in rural Victoria is probably the best balm for the soul imaginable. Even when your camera is just another way of reminding you that the world is hurtling ever onward to a place where you no longer really belong.

No, these photographs are not very good.

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Looking East

But the world is. The world rocks.

(Gettit? The world rocks. Oh, never mind …)

I can’t be wittering on about politics and social matters constantly. Hard as it may be to believe, Dear Reader, even I like just celebrating the simple wonders of the world around us, sometimes. So when I came across this collection of photos of sea slugs – thanks Yahoo – I wanted to share them. As you may recall, Dear Reader, sea slugs interest me. What can I tell you? Everyone’s gotta have a hobby …

Unfortunately the slugs in my garden do not look anything like the slugs that inhabit our coastal waters. And they love baby lettuces. Anyone got a better trap for slugs than a Vegemite lid filled with beer, please share.

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The observant amongst you, Dear Readers, will know that the Wellthisiswhatithink crew are in Brisbane this weekend. And this gave us the opportunity to wander some of the loveliest gardens in Australia, with textures and colours not seen in such profusion anywhere else. Please feel free to right click and save any of these to use as your desktop wallpaper if, like us, you are captivated by the beauty. Just rotate and resize as required for your screen. Enjoy!

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fire rainbows

One of my favourite pages on Facebook is “I fucking love science” despite it’s rather, ahem, rude name.

Wandering through it today I found these amazing ‘Fire Rainbows’.

The rainbow effect waaaaaay up in the sky is created when tiny ice crystals in the water vapour of clouds reflect the sunlight at the exact right angle. The sight is apparently very rare and has only ever been photographed a couple of times.

These images were snapped by Ken Rotberg at UC Santa Barbara Dept of Geography. Very cool.

Clouds are a source of endless fascination for me. These shots are gorgeous.

rough clouds

rough clouds 2

Taken by Ken Prior, these amazing clouds hang over the darkening landscape like the harbingers of a mighty cataclysm, but apparently usually break up without producing a storm, and the formations have yet to be officially recognised with a name. Experts at the Royal Meteorological Society are now attempting to make the effect official by naming it ‘Asperatus’ after the Latin word for ‘rough’.

Naming clouds

Clouds are classified according to their height and appearance. Did you know that the 10 basic categories were first agreed by the Cloud Committee of the International Meteorological Conference way back in 1896 and published as the International Cloud Atlas?

Their classifications were based on the pioneering work of Luke Howard (1772-1864), an English Quaker and pharmacist, who published his Essay on the Modification of Clouds in 1802. In it he gives Latin names to the four main cloud types: Cirrus, “curl”; Stratus, “layer”; Cumulus, “heap”; and Nimbus, “rain cloud”. The early theorist of evolution, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) had suggested an earlier system in French but it didn’t catch on – his names included “hazy clouds” (en forme de voile), “massed clouds” (attroupes), “broom-like clouds” (en balayeurs). Before Howard and Lamarck, clouds were simply named after their appearance: white, black, mare’s tail or mackerel.  In the Wellthisiswhatithink household we still call Cirrus clouds “Mare’s tails”, because that’s exactly what they look like. 

weird clouds

We have no idea what these clouds are called but the photo is entirely genuine. If anyone knows, please tell us, we’re hanging out to know.

clouds-anvil

Clouds look harmless but aren’t always 

In 1959 Lieutenant-Colonel William Rankin, a pilot in the US Air Force, became the only man to have survived a fall though a cumulonimbus, the anvil-shaped “thunder cloud” (as seen above) that can reach as high as 50,000 feet. Rankin was flying across the top of a cumulonimbus when his plane caught fire and he was forced to eject. He spent a good half an hour trapped inside the cloud being thrown about and pelted with hail. Miraculously he survived, albeit with frostbite, blood pouring from his eyes, nose, mouth and ears due to decompression and welts caused by the hail. Pilots do all they can to avoid cumulonimbus clouds. Hail is capable of puncturing the exterior skin of an aircraft, lightning can destroy the on-board electrics, supercooled water will coat a plane’s wings with ice, altering its aerodynamic profile and the air currents inside the cloud can flip even large planes over.

noctilucent

Night clouds

Everyone knows that Cirrus clouds are higher than cumulonimbus, but they are not the highest clouds. Seven times higher are Noctilucent (“night shining”) clouds, silvery blue streaks that form so high up in the atmosphere they reflect the sun’s light, even at night, especially at very northern or southern latitudes where the air is very clear and not drowning in light from streetlamps and buildings below.

Meteorologists refer to them as NLCs or “polar mesospheric clouds”. This is because they form right on the boundary of the mesosphere (between the stratosphere and space). The mesosphere is dry and cold (about -123°C), unlike the warm, moist troposphere below, where all the other clouds form. These Noctilucent clouds are composed of tiny ice crystals – a fiftieth of the width of a strand of human hair. Noctilucent clouds are on the increase – there are twice as many as there were 35 years ago and they’re moving south: a visible result of global warming.

In many countries in the world, clouds are seen as bad omens, because they presage storms and floods. In a very dry area, of course, clouds are great news if they bring rain. So in Iran, for example, clouds are good omens. To indicate someone is blessed they say dayem semakum ghaim which translates as “your sky is always filled with clouds”.

Nice.

Have you got an amazing nature photograph, of clouds or anything else, you would like to submit to our blog? Please email them to steveyolland@yahoo.com. Very happy to publish them. If you don’t own the copyright, please warn us.

As we walk through life, we meet many paths.

Some paths just seem to lead ever upward, and are a painful climb. We sometimes forget that from the top of the climb, the view is often clearer.

Some paths just seem to take us back on ourselves, so we never seem to get to where we need to be. On those days, the path can simply seem like too much effort to be worth following.

Sometimes, the path is lonely.

But sometimes, even though the path is lonely, it can make us gasp with the sheer joy of abundant life.

Sometimes the path is mysterious. And we don’t know whether to follow it, because it seems so tempting, and yet so unlike what we have known before.

Sometimes the path just feels like a rollercoaster that we can’t get off, even when we want to.

Sometimes it feels like one side of the path is always richer, and our side is barren, and we think about leaving the path.

And sometimes the path is just plain frightening.

The path can be terrible, and wonderful, and very very frightening. Yet we feel pulled along it, despite ourselves.

We feel pulled along it, the path leads on, and we simply cannot know what is around the corner.

The paths that open up in front of us can lead in many directions. Which to take? The difficulty of the decision can leave us standing still.

So it is always good to remember, that – wherever we walk – someone has surely trodden that path before us. And they, too, felt the wonder, the fear, the confusion, and the joy that we feel. Every day.

And also to remember that sometimes – sometimes without warning, like the unseen breath of an angel – our path will become just a quiet walk in the park.

And that those times are usually when we find others have helped us along the path. Or we have helped them.

So enjoy your path today, Dear Reader.  And my respect to all those who took these photographs.

Following on from the unlikely success of a post about how pretty sea slugs are, I thought I would post a few more pics from Australia.  Friends overseas are often saying “Oh, we’d love to come!” or “That’s on my bucket list!” but for some reason some people never actually get here.

Which is a great shame, because Oz really is exceptionally beautiful and utterly unique. You can find just about any micro-climate you can name – tropical jungle, desert, temperate forest, grasslands, snow-covered uplands, and you can even hop a sight-seeing tour to Antarctica if you want – and all parts of the country are jam-packed with amazing flora and fauna that you wont find anywhere else. Not to mention some of the most cosmopolitan and welcoming cities you could enjoy anywhere in the world. Oh, and did we mention nice beaches?

Anyway, it’s Friday afternoon, and politics is leaving me cold as a a stone at the moment, so enjoy some nice photos instead … 🙂

Brunswick River, NSW

Brunswick River, NSW

Clown Fish on the Barrier Reef

Clown Fish on the Barrier Reef

Estuary Beach, Nelson, Vic

Estuary Beach, Nelson, Vic

Whale at Hervey Bay, QLd

Whale at Hervey Bay, Qld

Lucky Bay, WA

Lucky Bay, WA

Koala - note, NOT Koala Bear

Koala – note, NOT Koala Bear

Natural luminescence, Jervis Bay, NSW

Natural luminescence, Jervis Bay, NSW

Tha Yarra River at dusk, Melbourne, Vic

Tha Yarra River at dusk, Melbourne, Vic

South West Rocks, NSW

South West Rocks, NSW

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Light show plays on the Sydney Opera House, NSW

Light show plays on the Sydney Opera House, NSW

Autumn colours in the Dandenong Ranges, Vic

Autumn colours in the Dandenong Ranges, Vic

Mountain Ash and tree ferns, Dandenong Ranges, Vic

Mountain Ash and tree ferns, Dandenong Ranges, Vic

Turtle, Queensland

Turtle, Queensland

A baby turtle heads for the sun and the cooling surf. Maybe you should, too?

 

OK. Who just discovered the “panorama” function on his iPhone?

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Sometimes, the weather just cries out “let yourself off the lead, come and play”. Today was just one of those days. And a Sunday, too, when one doesn’t have to work. How lovely.

Yum Cha

Yum Cha: that’s Chinese for “Diet? Pfffft.”

After a brisk, cheery Yum Cha lunch at Wealth Garden – almost the only Westerners in a huge restaurant full of Chinese, which is always a good sign – She Who Must Be Obeyed suggested a ramble along the Yarra River at lovely nearby Warrandyte. Stuffed to the gunwales with prawn and pork dim sum, noodles and some things that it would probably be better not to know what they were – stuck it in your mouth, chow down, yummy, that’s all you need to know, gwai lo – all sloshing about in what seemed like an ocean of delicious tea,  it seemed like a very sensible idea.

What a joyous decision. Apart from running into not one but two good friends with similar ideas, it was simply the most glorious day imaginable. Clear, sunny, gentle breeze, the land green with winter rains, the river swollen and rushing and actually looking like a real river for once.

(The Yarra, whilst iconic for all Melburnians, is notorious for being something of a trickle, and very brown and muddy from silt washed down from up country.)

Out came the iPhone, and as we walked I snapped luscious scene after scene. They’re quite high resolution, so if you like them, please feel free to steal them. And I hope you enjoy sharing our day. Lots of love, Wellthisiswhatithink.

Yarra River

Blossom by Yarra

Wild garlic by Yarra

Blossom and Light

Green bank and light

Pretty riverside path

Soaring fir tree against blue sky

River and light and path

Exquisite view and light

Magnificent stand of gums

Wild garlic close up

Wave

Flower

Yolly

Contented author and photographer. No, I don’t expect anyone to download this one.

OK, Dear Reader, of what is this a photo? (I actually wrote “what is this a photo of?” originally until I heard Winston Churchill bellowing in my ear “Never use a preposition to end your sentences with!” and rapidly corrected it.) OK, thinking caps on …

 

OK, so what's this?

Hmmmm ..... *ponders*

 

  • Is it some strange marking or pattern on a South American plain, amazingly only visible from space?
  • Is it the latest brilliant work from a yet-to-be-discovered Aboriginal artist?
  • Is it a series of goatherder’s paths high in the un-mapped wilderness of the Himalayan foothills?

Well?

What say you, D.R?

Actually, it’s the tracks left in a rockpool at Point Leo in Victoria, Australia, from some sea worm or sea slug which has now left the building.

Camera: very old battered iPhone

Shutter setting: whatever, it only has one

Light: Australian autumn sunshine – glorious day

Copyright? Nah, bugger it, go for your life. It makes a great desktop wallpaper. Feel free to nick it.

Lots of love, Wellthisiswhatithink. xox

PS Yes, it’s been a good day, thank you. Meetings should get cancelled more often.

 

Real Australian sea slugs

These are real Australian sea slugs. Aren't they pretty? Was it this type of sea slug in the rock pool I photographed? Not a bloody clue. Does it matter? Top to bottom: sea slug species Hypselodoris bennetti, Chromodoris loringi and Chromodoris hunteri.