Artwork for Irreplaceable: Interview with Rowena Dugdale

“The landscape here is both wild and uncontainable, but also delicate and full of treasure.” ~ Rowena Dugdale

Books act as journeys in the sense of the times, places, ideas and experiences through which a reader voyages, and often they are no less propelling and enlarging of view for their authors. In the years that it took me to write Irreplaceable I travelled from the evocative marshlands of north Kent and a joyful community meadow in the middle of Glasgow to a coral-fringed island in the Indonesian archipelago and a hilly rainforest in north-east India, home to a tribal people called the Nyishi as well as hornbills, elephants and tigers. In some way each of these unique places, or the wildlife found within them, were threatened with destruction, and so their stories necessarily carried me onwards, with the generous and selfless help of local people, into the lives of those communities passionately seeking to protect an inimitable part of the wild world they felt close to and cared about. On these journeys people shared with me not only their fears and hopes for the future of their particular place, combined with a sense of responsibility to a more inclusive concept of home that includes the other-than-human too, but also their indelible connections to the natural world. But one journey into the resonant wonders of the wild didn’t ask any physical movement of me at all.

That journey began when I opened an email from my editor one evening. I felt a nervous anticipation, knowing that the book’s artwork and words would live together for the duration of the edition. While we’re told to never judge a book by its cover, that adage ignores what should, ideally, be an inseparable element of the overall object. It would be like inhabiting a room without seeing the colour of its walls. I needn’t have worried though. In the striking triptych of images that the artist Rowena Dugdale had proposed for the front cover and the luminous montage for the back I saw the compressed reflection of the book’s themes in a beautiful blend of landscape and the finer, more intimate, notes of place. Alongside the elemental drama of the Torridon Hills of Wester Ross, Rowena had turned pale stamens and a feather into a graceful white shell; she’d transmuted the glowing pollen of a willow catkin into a burning sun that hung above an inky sea. These were the first images of Rowena’s that I’d ever seen, and they sent me along a path through the rest of her elegant and compelling work. Based in the Scottish Highlands, Rowena combs her home ground for the resonant particularities of her art: lichens, feathers, filaments and seed heads. She brings sea and shore and mountain together, sometimes overlapping different times and topographies so that they fuse together in poignant collages and montages. She interlaces life in all its varied profusion into works of earthy grace. I had the great pleasure of speaking to Rowena not only about the book’s cover but also the wider context of her craft.

irreplaceable cover

Rowena Dugdale: We had parallel experiences. My nervous anticipation began when Penguin Random House art director John Hamilton started following me on Instagram. When he messaged about a possible cover commission I was delighted but also terrified. What if I didn’t enjoy the book? What if it was something beyond my interpretation or comprehension? As soon as he told me it was non-fiction, nature/environment and sent me the chapter titles as a taster I was totally onboard. The manuscript was sent digitally and he suggested I only need dip in here and there but I requested a paper copy so I could properly read it and make notes. A huge tome of single-sided print arrived and for the next three days I cleared my diary and read through it from cover to cover. I was totally absorbed and swept along; it was a book that spoke to me and I feel so honoured to have played a tiny part in making it come to fruition.

Julian Hoffman: Much of your work, both as an illustrator and a textile artist, is a hybrid exploration of nature, utilising photo montage, drawing, scanned objects, collage, experimental photography and found materials to not only evoke the ghostly beauty of the natural world but also its interconnected and ephemeral depths. It feels like you’re putting a lens up close to all its subtle complexity. How did the natural world became the primary focus of your art? And how did this multiplicity of practices and approaches emerge in response to it?

Rowena Dugdale: It was inevitable. I was allowed to grow up feral amongst the woods and hedgerows of Somerset. Also, I was very short-sighted so enjoyed studying things close up. Our primary school only had thirty pupils; we certainly didn’t have a curriculum or exams, we just examined frogs from the school pond and danced round a maypole. Remembering back, the countryside was bursting with life – hornets, cuckoos, slow worms, black crickets, massive ant hills, oak trees, ladybirds, sweet chestnuts that we’d harvest, wildflowers that my dad would test me on to see if I remembered their names, as he set me more of a curriculum than my school did. All these fragments stayed with me and have informed my deep love of, and curiosity about, the natural world. I am never happier than when wandering through a boggy ditch examining flora and fauna close-up with my camera. Weaving them into my illustration and textiles work is a real delight.

The multiplicity of practice emerged through my desire to use photography creatively but not quite knowing where to channel it. I studied textile design at the Edinburgh College of Art in the 1990s. Digital textile printing was still in its infancy and it wasn’t possible to easily create photographic textiles, so I sidestepped into illustration where my photographic montages and collages translated to print. Only twenty years later did the textile technology catch up and let me create the photo-textiles that I’d always hoped to create at art school.

Gairloch Museum exhi list.indd

Julian Hoffman: Can you describe your textile work a bit more? 

Rowena Dugdale: It became apparent during my textiles degree that I didn’t quite fit the world of studio textile design. Also, the photo-realistic textiles I loved were out of reach on a small scale, needing multiple silkscreens and technical precision to accurately register the screens. Digital printing was in its infancy. After graduating I happily found my illustration niche and for fifteen years my collage/montage style was used on editorial, books etc. I wasn’t an illustrator in the traditional sense, but projects such as AS Byatt’s Folio Society edition of Possession worked out well for the very reason that the author categorically didn’t want illustrations of people or faces. During this period, the physical collages I made were replaced by a digital workspace – Photoshop – and although the transition made jobs more streamlined and efficient I missed the physical process of making artwork with so much screen-time involved in complicated multi-page illustrations.

With a yearning to make things again, the textiles crept back in. A combination of advancing digital print technology (the ability to upload and print your own artwork on any fabric of your choosing) and the opening up of online marketplaces such as Etsy meant that I could design and create textiles, make the items myself, and then offer them directly to customers. This simplicity appealed to me very much. As the orders expanded I hit a crossroads of whether to grow or to keep it artisan. With textiles being one of the most polluting industries in the world it didn’t sit comfortably with me to contribute to that burden and become a business that would possibly make big amounts of stock that may or may not sell. I have instead stayed micro and bespoke and it fits my lifestyle – making functional (and hopefully beautiful) things that are informed by the place around me and that have a transparency and honesty of process. These photo-textiles are inspired by my love of colour, texture and juxtaposition of objects and scale.

fabriclow

Julian Hoffman: You designed a particularly evocative cover for Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure, which was at once stark and yet hopeful, beautifully tying a score of bird song to an otherwise stripped-back and winter-still landscape. As that book is largely a chronicle of the author’s descent into depression and the healing potential of intimate contact with nature, I’d like to ask how you approach a book in order to visually translate its essence? How do you envisage the artwork in its role as a close companion to a book’s words?

Rowena Dugdale: That translation feels like a distillation. Reading through a book there are paragraphs that jump out as being visually amenable, and those paragraphs distill down further to individual words that spark images or colours or a feeling. Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure was an interesting one in that I’d been illustrating his monthly writings for BBC Wildlife magazine so I felt I knew his work and style well. The design was quite subtle and muted for a cover design but I’m glad they ran with it, even though he later confessed it took a bit of time for him to like it. The joy of being an author is that at least if you don’t like the cover you know the next edition will be different!

Irreplaceable went through several quite major design alterations and that is where the tricky nature of cover design comes into play – knowing that compromise is inevitable. The original front design was the feather/catkin filling the whole cover. This passed through several design meetings but got pulled at quite a late stage and at that point I thought the whole concept might have been rejected which I felt desperately sad about as I’d really got attached to the feather/catkin combo. Thankfully the addition of the landscape and the catkin sun pulled the design back together. I felt a great deal of relief when art director John Hamilton emailed to write “I am scared to say it in case it backfires but I love it, totally beautiful.” With luck it gives a flavour or feeling of what the book may hold – as an illustrator that’s all you can hope to achieve.

willowback

Julian Hoffman: It was an enormous delight to see what you did with the endpapers for the book too, transforming photographs I’d taken of a starling murmuration off Brighton Pier into a gloriously tinted vista of birds with great depth, movement and mystery. What is your aim when working with found or already existing images? What do you see as the role of photo montage and the layering of images in the larger imagining of your art?

Rowena Dugdale: It was wonderful to work with your supplied photographs, it added a greater meaning to the whole piece for me and I was so pleased when they appeared in my inbox. Working with found or supplied imagery is something I very much enjoy – again it goes back to that feeling of distillation or emotion, adding an atmosphere without distracting from the original source, or juxtaposing images from various sources to give them a different meaning.

Murmuration 9

Irreplaceable Endpapers

Julian Hoffman: In an earlier conversation I learned from you that the willow catkin on the front cover of Irreplaceable came from one of the remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest in Scotland’s Beinn Eighe reserve and that the bird feather, which you think might have come from a great skua, is one that you found on Big Sand beach near Gairloch. I love how these very specific and tangible notes to the images deepen the way I see them; so that they’re not isolated in time on the cover of a book but belong to actual, living places. Can you tell me about your relationship to place and how it influences both your life and work? And what the Scottish Highlands in particular mean to you?

Rowena Dugdale: Sense of place is something that has deepened considerably since I moved to the Northwest Highlands, and harks back to those formative years in Somerset. The time spent in between, living in cities, was wonderful for different reasons but I didn’t ever see the trajectory of the setting sun over the course of a year, know the wind directions, see whole weather fronts passing over my head or hear the same cuckoo returning year after year with his wonky, unmistakeable call. The landscape here is both wild and uncontainable, but also delicate and full of treasure. I’m an incomer and that brings its own set of (fairly minor) issues, but the landscape doesn’t know that and doesn’t judge. That I can absorb this and reflect it in some small way in my own work is a privilege.

flatlaytinyzipperswiderweb

Julian Hoffman: With each passing day we learn more and more about the collapse of the natural world, from tumbling insect numbers to increasingly fragmented habitats and places of wild significance. Where do such dwindlings place you as an artist who works so closely with the living world? And is there a way back from the brink?

Rowena Dugdale: What I especially loved on the first read of Irreplaceable is that the overriding tone isn’t hand-wringing but truly hopeful. So much has been lost but it’s incredibly important to absorb and appreciate those things that remain. Moving to the Northwest Highlands made me realise that the wild fringes are incredibly precious and fragile. Also that these landscapes aren’t just barren, brown, treeless ‘empty’ places – the peatlands are incredible ecosystems of their own. My camera is my sketchbook and I love shining a light on the tiny worlds that could be overlooked. As you say, communities really do play the key role in action, and information (both visual and written) is power.

***

rowMore about Rowena Dugdale’s work can be found on her website or at her Etsy shop. And her photographic journey through the Scottish Highlands can be followed on Instagram.

I’m extremely thankful to her for the luminous work she’s done on behalf of the book, and we both owe a debt of gratitude to John Hamilton, who commissioned the cover for Irreplaceable – his last for Hamish Hamilton before his untimely death. A lovely remembrance of John and his exceptional career can be read here.

Irreplaceable is published on June 27th and is now available to pre-order at any of your favourite booksellers, including all local independent shops and online sellers, as well as at these following links:

Hive
Waterstones
The Guardian Bookstore
Foyles
Amazon.co.uk

9780241293881_Irreplaceable_JKT

IMG_1009

Cebu City

We enjoy visiting Cebu City as it is very different to our rural home!

We normally travel there by overnight boat from Dumaguete as the traffic means that car journeys are slow through Cebu. It can take us 6 hours to drive from Santander which is almost double as compared to 5 years ago.  There is an international airport at Mactan so it is easy to access from other parts of the Philippines and there are flights from many international destinations.

Mactan Island has several resorts but travelling over the 2 bridges is time consuming so if you plan to stay for a few days then I think it is better to stay somewhere central such as Fuente Osmena Circle where rooms can be found from P800 per night.  Travelling around the City is not so easy as the main choices are Easy Rides, Jeepneys and Taxis. We take taxis as it is the easiest option and a ride is usually about P100 to P150  except for trips to Mactan Island. There are a lot of Jeepneys and Easy Rides but you will need some help from locals to catch the right one to your destination and they are usually pretty crowded.

Weather is best from January to June but if you just want to visit Malls then that is OK all year around! The Sinulog Festival takes place during January and there are lots of activities and visitors. Hotel prices can be much higher during the festival increasing by up to 300% and journey times will take significantly longer with taxis being much harder to find!

There are a few places to visit with travel times being approximate and from Fuente Osmena Circle. Travelling during rush hour can add 50% to your travel time around Cebu and 100% to Mactan Island.

The Taoist Temple is about 30 minutes by Taxi and a nice place to visit for a couple of hours. There are some steep stairs but the views to Downtown Cebu are nice.

DSC_5788

Taoist Temple

Magellan’s Cross is about 15 minutes or 30 minutes from the Taoist Temple. If you want to take a relaxed walk around the chapel housing the cross and the church of Santo Nino it is best to avoid festivals and masses when this area is very crowded.

DSC_5829

Magellan’s Cross and the chapel

After 5pm a trip to Busay will give spectacular views of the city during sunset and night time. We had diner at Delice Recipes which was very tasty and reasonably priced with a terrace where you can see downtown Cebu. It will take about 45 minutes to get there and you will have to negotiate with the taxi driver for a return trip.

 

IMG_5764

View of Cebu City from Delice Recipes

Another good evening trip is to the 10,000 Roses  in Cordova on Mactan island. You can eat snacks at the cafe or meal at the nearby Lantaw restaurant.  There are nice views of Cebu from the terrace or viewing deck. The trip there can take 90 minutes so leave plenty of time!

JSP_7240

10,000 Roses

JSP_7258

Lantaw Restaurant

Many people come to Cebu for the malls and there are lots of them.  Ayala Mall is in the business district about 15 minutes by taxi and is huge. I find it difficult to navigate and expensive but there is a large selection of restaurants there.

 

DSC_5633

Inside the Mall it is big and difficult to navigate!

DSC_5650

Some of the restaurants. There is a wide variety of places to eat and prices are medium too high.

DSC_5689

Beware of cyclists in the fountain???

DSC_5698

Enjoying spicy Thai food!

There are 2 SM Malls, City and Seaside. Both are about 15 to 30 minutes by taxi depending on the traffic. I find the Seaside Mall a little too big and difficult to navigate so prefer the City Mall. Both have a wide range of shops and food outlets which have medium to high prices. I find the range of shops and items are much better than in smaller cities such as Dumaguete but prices are higher as there are fewer sale items.  If you want to relax there is a cinema and bowling alley at both SM Malls as well as ice skating at the Seaside Mall.

JSP_0039

A mini cube! The big one is outside.

JSP_7129

I wish!

DSC_5758

There is a play area on the roof as well as a good selection of cafes and cheaper restaurants

DSC_5596

Ice skating at the Seaside Mall

There are many other Malls around the City including Robinson’s and Gaisano where the prices are lower.

 

Cebu City

We enjoy visiting Cebu City as it is very different to our rural home!

We normally travel there by overnight boat from Dumaguete as the traffic means that car journeys are slow through Cebu. It can take us 6 hours to drive from Santander which is almost double as compared to 5 years ago.  There is an international airport at Mactan so it is easy to access from other parts of the Philippines and there are flights from many international destinations.

Mactan Island has several resorts but travelling over the 2 bridges is time consuming so if you plan to stay for a few days then I think it is better to stay somewhere central such as Fuente Osmena Circle where rooms can be found from P800 per night.  Travelling around the City is not so easy as the main choices are Easy Rides, Jeepneys and Taxis. We take taxis as it is the easiest option and a ride is usually about P100 to P150  except for trips to Mactan Island. There are a lot of Jeepneys and Easy Rides but you will need some help from locals to catch the right one to your destination and they are usually pretty crowded.

Weather is best from January to June but if you just want to visit Malls then that is OK all year around! The Sinulog Festival takes place during January and there are lots of activities and visitors. Hotel prices can be much higher during the festival increasing by up to 300% and journey times will take significantly longer with taxis being much harder to find!

There are a few places to visit with travel times being approximate and from Fuente Osmena Circle. Travelling during rush hour can add 50% to your travel time around Cebu and 100% to Mactan Island.

The Taoist Temple is about 30 minutes by Taxi and a nice place to visit for a couple of hours. There are some steep stairs but the views to Downtown Cebu are nice.

DSC_5788

Taoist Temple

Magellan’s Cross is about 15 minutes or 30 minutes from the Taoist Temple. If you want to take a relaxed walk around the chapel housing the cross and the church of Santo Nino it is best to avoid festivals and masses when this area is very crowded.

DSC_5829

Magellan’s Cross and the chapel

After 5pm a trip to Busay will give spectacular views of the city during sunset and night time. We had diner at Delice Recipes which was very tasty and reasonably priced with a terrace where you can see downtown Cebu. It will take about 45 minutes to get there and you will have to negotiate with the taxi driver for a return trip.

 

IMG_5764

View of Cebu City from Delice Recipes

Another good evening trip is to the 10,000 Roses  in Cordova on Mactan island. You can eat snacks at the cafe or meal at the nearby Lantaw restaurant.  There are nice views of Cebu from the terrace or viewing deck. The trip there can take 90 minutes so leave plenty of time!

JSP_7240

10,000 Roses

JSP_7258

Lantaw Restaurant

Many people come to Cebu for the malls and there are lots of them.  Ayala Mall is in the business district about 15 minutes by taxi and is huge. I find it difficult to navigate and expensive but there is a large selection of restaurants there.

 

DSC_5633

Inside the Mall it is big and difficult to navigate!

DSC_5650

Some of the restaurants. There is a wide variety of places to eat and prices are medium too high.

DSC_5689

Beware of cyclists in the fountain???

DSC_5698

Enjoying spicy Thai food!

There are 2 SM Malls, City and Seaside. Both are about 15 to 30 minutes by taxi depending on the traffic. I find the Seaside Mall a little too big and difficult to navigate so prefer the City Mall. Both have a wide range of shops and food outlets which have medium to high prices. I find the range of shops and items are much better than in smaller cities such as Dumaguete but prices are higher as there are fewer sale items.  If you want to relax there is a cinema and bowling alley at both SM Malls as well as ice skating at the Seaside Mall.

JSP_0039

A mini cube! The big one is outside.

JSP_7129

I wish!

DSC_5758

There is a play area on the roof as well as a good selection of cafes and cheaper restaurants

DSC_5596

Ice skating at the Seaside Mall

There are many other Malls around the City including Robinson’s and Gaisano where the prices are lower.

 

Matt Reid

Doing the school run in the morning is a chance to catch up with everybody

“I was born in Old Coulsdon in Surrey in 1973. It was a great time to be born. We were always out in the streets, playing football in the park or out riding our bikes.

When I was five, my Father moved out of the family home and my Stepfather moved in.  They were both inventors. My Stepfather was a physiotherapist and invented the first plastic shin guard. He had his practice in Sloane Square, so we used to hear all the tittle tattle about everything that was happening in London society.

In 1984 my Father bought Whiteleaf House, near Princes Risborough. It had 10 acres including the overgrown remains of a Victorian pleasure garden. Coming from South London suburbia to this country estate was like a dream. I instantly fell in love with the Chilterns and this whole area. I’d be there every other weekend and every holiday and built some firm friendships. We never thought my dad would have to worry about money again. But it all came crashing down in the recession of the 1990s, and my father moved to a B&B in Clapham. He was still a real entrepreneur though and set up more engineering businesses after that, it was a boom and bust lifestyle.

I graduated in 1995 with a degree in Physics from Exeter and my first job was as a programmer in Milton Keynes for a multi-media company. The proximity meant I could get easily get down to see my friends in the Chilterns again, which was great. After a succession of positions in London I got a job as a software engineer for a telecommunications company in Reading. I could immediately see that Watlington was half way between Reading and Whiteleaf – so I moved here in 2001.

I met Jo through friends. She was working in Sussex as a teacher at the time, so we split our weekends between here and her flat on the coast.  She moved up to join me in 2002. When we first moved here our next-door neighbours were Lou and Andy who later took over the Chequers.  We rarely step foot in any other pub!

We had our children Charlie and Ellie, and in between times we were married at St Leonards Church and a yet to be elected John Howell stepped in to play the organ at the last minute. We had our wedding reception at what was then the Memorial Club.

From 2002 I ran my own technical consultancy, and had an office in the Chiltern Business Centre opposite the Co-op for 3 years. It was doing well, but I was too late to batten down the hatches when the recession came along. I went from driving around in a brand new Porsche to a beaten up Vauxhall Cavalier! It felt a bit like I was living something of my Fathers history, but we made it through and the company is still around today, although I now work full time for Pitney Bowes Software in Henley on Thames.

I became interested in cryptology whilst doing a part time masters at Oxford Brookes.  There is a cryptographic puzzle called Kryptos, which is mentioned in the Dan Brown books, and I soon became caught up in attempts to solve it.  The code has never been completely broken in 30 years. Getting ever deeper into the puzzle has taken me on an incredible journey over the last ten years and I now have enough material to start taking some lectures on the road, so would love to do the first one locally.

Music is a big thing for me. Jo is from a family of musicians, and the children are growing up in that same tradition. I knock around on the piano, drums and guitar, but play by ear whereas Jo plays full orchestral pieces. You could easily take away our TV, but I’m not sure any of us could live without music.

In Watlington I was a youth football coach for 5 years and sports club chairman for 3 of those. I stood for the Parish Council in 2015 as I’ve always had an interest in politics and like the challenge of finding the balance in contentious issues. I was Vice Chair from 2015 – 2018, and then Chair from May 2018. I’ve met some great people on the council and it was an exciting time to be involved with so much happening on the Neighbourhood Plan. We’re about to go into a new epoch in Watlington’s history and it’s been great to have played a small part in bringing these changes about. Personally, I don’t want to see Watlington change at all, but I can see the practical need and I think the process we have been through has been the right one.

The school run in the morning is one of the things I love about living in Watlington. It gives you a chance to catch up with everybody even if it’s only to say a brief hello.

I love big events like the Beacon Festival as they are great for bringing the whole community together.  There are so many different tribes and friendship groups in Watlington that it’s only when you plonk them all in the middle of a field that you finally see the essence of what Watlington is. I worked behind the bar there last year and I absolutely loved it – I’ve volunteered again this year and would encourage anyone to get involved – they always need help.”

 

For more information on volunteering at the Beacon Festival please see https://www.beaconfestival.net/volunteers

 

Watlington Folk is a documentary project by photographer Nicola Schafer. Watlington is blessed with pretty buildings and beautiful countryside, however it is the people who live here that truly make the place. This project aims to capture that through a series of portraits of the people who live here together with their “Watlington Story”. For more information, please contact Nicola through her website http://www.nicolaschafer.co.uk

Stop and smell the lilacs

We could learn a lot from animals. Whenever we took our dogs out for a walk, Ramses, the male, loved to find a shrub with branches just at the height of the top of his head. He would then spend several minutes moving his head under a branch, letting the foliage tickle his fur. His face was a picture of bliss while we watched bemused and the female, Isis, pranced around impatiently.

I’m sure you’ve seen many videos of animals enjoying themselves – romping in the snow, rolling around in the grass, grinning happily as they share a surfboard. Animals have a wonderful capacity to suspend all concerns and immerse themselves in something fun, and an equally remarkable capacity to soldier along through adversity while still finding joy in their lives.

We need to do the same: take the time to enjoy even small things as often as we can, perhaps even dedicate an entire day to it. One pastime that most people can enjoy is called a Savouring Walk. The idea on these walks is to appreciate all the positive things you see – a pretty flower, a fresh breeze, perhaps the sun as it slowly sets in rich colours.

It turns out that appreciating the things that lift up our souls is great for our mental wellness in so many ways: relaxing us and easing stress, balancing out some of the negativity in our lives, connecting us to the world around us, and ultimately making us more resilient.

I’m fortunate to live near a beautiful botanical garden, the Royal Botanical Gardens in southern Ontario, and it’s lilac time! This past weekend a friend and I drove over to enjoy some much-needed floral bounty amid the barely-spring weather we’ve been enduring. I’ve always wanted to see the famous Lilac Dell in bloom, and we lucked out with a decent afternoon for our excursion.

The RBG is the largest botanical garden in Canada, and a national historical site. With the poor weather, not everything was blossoming yet, but the prevailing atmosphere of peaceful nature was still very relaxing. We visited the Rock Garden first, where there were a number of photographers out focusing on the colourful masses of tulips, and Hendrie Park, where hopefully soon the roses will be back in all their glory. We saved the Lilac Dell for last to let it dry out after a morning of rain, and people were gently clambering up and down the hillside delicately sniffing the fragrant blooms. I’m very happy to report the absence of any selfie-obsessed idiots destroying things.

It was a lovely, rejuvenating afternoon. I recommend finding any similar setting for a quick recharge, but for anyone not able to get to one, I’m happy to share some of the photos so that you can enjoy a little virtual beauty.

DSC01422Some of the wonderful lilacs in the Dell

DSC01370A bounty of tulips drew numerous photographers

DSC01397Plants tumble in profusion down the sides of the Rock Garden

DSC01342A maiden delicately cradles a bird in one of the Rock Garden water features

DSC01373Sunshine in petal-form

DSC01368We spotted a brilliant green Tiger Beetle out for some afternoon warmth

DSC01321Anyone for a funky-looking seat?

DSC01351Exploring some of the enchanting paths in the Rock Garden

DSC01374  Beauty in bloom

One Chapter Closes, Another One Opens

We have a new chapter of Rum Cove everyday until the conclusion 7th June

Jax makes a decision


Hastings – 1844

The sun had come out and was warm against my skin as I lay in the garden. The children were running around with Bran, Josef, and the puppy, their footfalls left ripples in the magic around me like drops on the surface of a pond. Mrs Stapleton and Veronica were sitting in the shade of one of the fruit trees, Veronica had her head on Mrs Stapleton’s crossed legs as she stroked her hair. I supposed it was time I started thinking of Mrs Stapleton as Lia given she was my step-daughter’s lover, but it seemed too odd. We’d come a long way from the days when she went around calling me a harlot.

It all felt different. Magic ebbed and flowed around me and through me, it didn’t burn, or hurt, or strain. It was oddly relaxing, as if I’d finally figured out how to put all the pieces of a puzzle together.

Jax lay down beside me and set her staff between us, I had a feeling it was looking at me wishing I’d get out its spot.

‘Feeling better?’ I asked, watching wisps of cloud float by above it.

‘I think I’m ready to go home.’ She sighed.

‘I know exactly what you mean.’

She turned her head to look at me. ‘I’ll send mother to help Merry, she knows what she’s doing.’

‘I thought you said she wouldn’t teach a changeling.’

‘She will, if I tell her to,’ she said and frowned at the sky. ‘I’m second in line to lead the family. It’s time I owned it. Things need to change.’

I suppressed a smile. Josef had been right, a new god indeed. ‘How did you know to be in the wood?’

‘Merry drew it after you dropped me off.’ She exhaled. ‘I don’t think she’ll need much teaching, she might be an innate.’

I looked at her.

‘Some people don’t have to learn magic, they do it like most people breathe. I think that might be why you didn’t see it before; she’s been in control of it all along.’

‘I saw it. Before I died, she told me she’d had a nightmare a bad man had hurt me. I wondered at the time and I watched but I didn’t see it again. Unless it was part of the reason she was afraid so much, I thought it was the trauma.’

‘It might’ve been. It might not.’ She shrugged. ‘Our abilities tend to relate to our personalities, someone who fears the worst might develop the ability to predict the future. Someone of a vengeful nature might…’ She cleared her throat.

‘Hold on to the past?’

‘No offence.’

‘None taken.’ I looked at my scarred hands. ‘Someone needs to remember sins and hold them accountable.’

‘You sound like my uncle. I didn’t expect him to run after you, by the way.’

‘He’s got a notion there but I’m not sure what.’ I sat up. ‘But if he wants to play, I’ll play.’

‘Uncle’s level of play isn’t my style. Rumour has it Auntie Frigga once told him his greatest rider had yet to rise and he’s been looking for them ever since.’ She chuckled. ‘No-one’s sure if that was an actual prediction or a vague statement designed to annoy him.’

I shook my head. ‘The answer’s Heimdall, she took down three vampires and only retreated because of unexpected feedback.’

‘Am I meant to tell him that?’

I turned to her. ‘It’s more fun if you don’t.’

She grinned.

Edward ran over to us and threw his arms around my neck. ‘Ruff bestest present ever, ever, Muma.’ He blew a raspberry on my cheek.

I squeezed him back. ‘I’m glad you like Ruff.’

‘Come play, Muma,’ he said. ‘An’ Miss Jax.’

‘I need a rest,’ Miss Jax said. ‘I’ll take a nap while you play with your mum.’

He tugged at my arm. ‘Come on, Muma.’

I got up and swept him up and he shrieked happily. ‘Come on, babby-boo.’

‘Got find treasure Dada hided.’

‘Have you tried tickling it out of him?’ I whispered.

Edward covered his face and giggled. That was it then, Josef was going to get covered in children and tickled until he surrendered the hiding place. No-one could say I wasn’t wicked.

Read More Rum Cove 1

Victorian Mistress Amazon Site Banner 2

Jaipur Celebrates Eid-Ul-Fitr!

The moon has already been sighted and the auspicious occasion of Eid that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan is right here. The festivity of Eid-Ul-Fitr in Jaipur is in full swing, and we can smell it in the air. Jaipur is prepped up for Eid with clean houses and already shopped accessories. Eid-Ul-Fitr, also known as ‘Meethi Eid’ is celebrated all around the world by the Muslim community.

DSCF5352 copy.jpg

At Eid-gah

The festival of Eid is celebrated with enthusiasm and devotion all around Jaipur, but the celebration inside the walled city… ka andaaz, hai kuch khas…especially of Ramganj.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 1.22.37 PM.png

Ramganj Market at night

Ramganj is remarkably crowded during the days around Eid. It becomes a flea market during Ramadan. They are decorated like a bride, where shopkeepers entertain the enthusiast shoppers from dusk till dawn. The streets thronged with rozedaars (people who observe fasting) and the shoppers are welcomed right after Iftar and are served till Sehri (Shoor) specially prepared delicacies. The markets are full of hustle bustle throughout the nights as if Jaipur has shifted to a nocturnal schedule for a month. An experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 2.07.23 PM.png

 

Chaand Raat– Chaand Raat or ‘Night of Moon’ confirms that the holy month of fasting has ended. On the supposed last day of Ramadan, people right after iftar get on their roofs/terraces eagerly trying to spot the crescent moon in the deep sky. Sighting of the moon confirms Eid the next day.

DSCF4970 copy.jpg

The following day celebrations kick starts as the day of Eid-Ul-Fitr when all the Muslims are decked up in special Eid look adorned in best of their dresses and start their day with Eid namaz. Kids receive Eidi. These are gifts given to younger members of a family by their elders, in cash and kinds.

DSCF5227 copy.jpg

Namaaz at Albert Hall

DSCF5208 copy.jpg
DSCF5611 copy.jpg

Eid ki Namaz
Jaipur’s Jama Masjid and Eid-Gah along with all other masjids in the pink city host the special namaz. Eid namaz is a mandate on every member of the community – man or woman. Since time immemorial, Eid-Gah hosts the Namaz and other masjids, but very few Jaipurites are aware of the fact that every year Eid, namaz is also done at Ram Niwas Bagh at a small scale, where women have also been attending the prayer for many years now. At Eid Gah where thousands of people pray together is a sight to behold.

DSCF5285 copy.jpg

Eid-Gah

DSCF5384 copy.jpg
DSCF5230 copy.jpgEid celebration in Jaipur is an experience that counts. Eid Mubarak to all from Jaipur Beat!

How Clients Can Kill Their Photoshoot | Fashion Photographer | Ben Zander

So this is an article I have wanted to write for a while, as it would be a good resource to have on my website for a minority of assignment requests I receive from time to time. The subject matter is also something aspiring photographers should take to heart. I wish I had come across a similar text early in my own career. Anyway, here we go: How clients can kill their own commercial photoshoot, and how to help them not to.

First of all, the process of becoming a professional fashion and/or advertising photographer is done in different stages. In the beginning you are transitioning into getting paid at all, most often by private clients. In my experience these clients are often humble and flexible, and they will take your advice. Undertaking a photoshoot is a rare occasion for them, and it is exciting. Shooting for them is a very low pressure situation most of the time. The reason they come to you is because they don’t have a lot of experience, or a big budget.

After getting paid to shoot, you transition into shooting for commercial clients. In stead of shooting “portraits”, (the people in front of you) you slowly re-calibrate your way of seeing into shooting products and making that look good (in those cases an advertising shoot is not done in a group or single portrait style). You need to connect with model agencies, create a team around you with makeup artists, stylists, et cetera. In the beginning of this stage, you will meet a variety of different clients with varying degrees of experience and expectations. Odds are, the more established, accomplished and experienced you are yourself, the more professional and experienced your clients will be as well. They can afford you, and they understand the difference. At this latter stage, you will also turn down clients from time to time.

Before you arrive at the last stage, where you are confident enough and willing to turn down commercial work from clients, unless certain terms are met, there is a period where you are vulnerable to setting both yourself and your client up for disaster.

It usually starts with the negotiations with an inexperienced commercial client before the shoot. The goal for the client seems to be to put as many looks/changes/products into the production time as possible. Perhaps a price has already has been agreed upon, and then the client starts to inflate the scope in various ways thereafter. It is not an uncommon strategy for an inexperienced client to downplay the expectations of a shoot before the price is set, and then shift gear and start inflating, moving the boundaries gradually thereafter. An inexperienced photographer will often cave in, scared to make the client unhappy.

The inexperienced client can also engage in another negotiating strategy, namely avoiding clarity on deliverables to push the photographer on extra service: “Ah, I thought editing was included in the price”. Again, an inexperienced photographer will allow this to happen, so it is not entirely the clients fault. It just destroys the good relationship you are trying to build with your client.

Sometimes the inexperienced client will openly want to put too much work into the time available from the beginning. They know the price they want to pay, and they know how much they want to shoot, even before talking to the photographer. If the client can get the photographer shoot 30 garments in a day on location in stead of 15, for the same price, the client thinks this is a “win”. The client will even offer production advice and solutions to the photographer, as to how the work load can be met in the very limited time. Perhaps it even sounds doable from a purely theoretical standpoint. The inexperienced photographer will perhaps even get convinced by the client and agree to the terms, or simply cave in in fear of losing the client. In such cases, it is the photographers responsibility to protect the client from him or her self. But it can be very difficult, and take more guts than you have.

The difference between an inexperienced client, and an experienced client, is that the former does not understand the difference between negotiating and buying iPads and a campaign photoshoot. The inexperienced client thinks: “I just negotiated 30 iPads in stead of 15 iPads for the same price”. Believing that a photoshoot is a standardized object, that the product quality will remain static, it’s just a question of getting the price down. Both inexperienced and experienced photographers knows that the quality of the images will be vastly affected by the time and resource restrictions that is being put on a given production. If a client wants to shoot 30 looks on location, in a day, he or she might think that they will get campaign quality images, but the truth is it will be more like a catalogue shoot. In some cases the clients will even fly to a different country with their garments, hire a professional photographer that can give them something amazing, but then sabotage it because they insist on shooting their whole clothing line in a day, for example, or to save a thousand dollars. The production becomes too greedy, and get’s killed.

The fact is that the extra special quality that a professional photographer can deliver, is extremely vulnerable, and the first thing that goes down the toilet when you don’t allow for sufficient time and resources to be put into the production. The inexperienced client is actually better off buying a camera and shooting themselves at home. What is the point?

The experienced client knows this, and will engage in a dialogue with a professional photographer and listen to what is being said, what is needed, and how the client can achieve the kind of images he or she wants, or how the photographer can deliver the type of images the client has seen on the photographers portfolio. The experienced client knows that the photographer is mainly concerned with creating something amazing and beautiful to be proud of. Not screwing the client over by over charging.

If an inexperienced photographer encounters an inexperienced client, that perhaps comes from a haggling culture as well, the stage is truly set for a shitty production that will make both the client and photographer unhappy. The client will not remember how little was paid, only the bad quality of the photos in the end (The iPads does not work!). The photographer get’s underpaid for something not even suitable for Instagram.

It is not fair to criticize clients for being inexperienced. It is not their job to know the difference between buying a iPad and buying a campaign photoshoot. It is difficult to understand everything that goes in to making images that looks like the ones on billboards and magazines. Unfortunately they will always find photographers that will agree to unrealistic terms, because these are not confident enough to educate and override the client, or turn them down. Some photographers will accept anything because they don’t get enough work, and need the business.

In short, an experienced client is able to balance their own financial pressures with their quality needs, and they understand the difference between buying a campaign shoot and a shipment of iPads. Less is more. Handle the photographer with care, or you risk forcing him to lie to you. Or maybe you are just fooling yourself.

An experienced photographer is confident enough to guide and educate an inexperienced client so that he or she may have realistic expectations, and if this is not possible, have the guts to turn them down. Accepting all kinds of work will only take you so far. To go beyond that, you need to be ready to turn down work, even if you could use the money. At least, this is what I think. Have a great day!

Lens-Artists Challenge #48 – WILD

[Categories: Photography, Photography 101 Forever]
[Right-click on photos may allow you to open in a new tab or window.]
[Photos this week are hosted on Cloudup.com site.]

The challenge this week is led by Tina.

I cannot begin to match the thoughtful insights, comments, and quotes of my fellow bloggers, or their fine photos.  Caveats aside…

That’s wild!

I’m approaching this in the adverbial sense, I think, my grammar being what it isn’t.  What I mean to say is, “That’s wild”.

Consider, if you will, the Blue Morpho butterfly at the Franklin Park Conservatory, Columbus, Ohio.  Looks pretty wild to me.  YOU try chasing the little bugger around to get a shot!

What about the Chihuly glass sprouting in the desert room at the aforementioned conservatory.  Franklin Park apparently owns at least 16 Chihulys and were setting them up last week for an exhibition opening 1 June.  That’s wild.

The sea is wild, isn’t it?  The Columbus [Ohio] Museum of Art is currently hosting The Age of Rembrandt exhibit, featuring many of Rembrandt’s 17th-century peers from the Dordrecht area.  The following seascape is by Adriaen van Salm, who lived 1657-1720.  It is pen and ink on panel, meant to mimic an etching.

Look at the detail.  That’s wild.

[Right-click on photos may allow you to open in a new tab or window.]

Consider again, if you will, this 1639-40 painting by Verspronck:

It is mimicked in the 2006 work by Kehinde Wiley:

An explanation:

Priceless… and wild.

Finally, something that is actually wild.  Wildflowers, from a Colorado hike this morning just south of Denver:

That’s really wild, and that’s all folks!

Enjoy.

Weekly Challenge info from Tina’s blog:

“Each Saturday at noon EST we will publish a photo challenge similar in form to the now-defunct WPC. If you choose to participate, please make sure to tag your post with the name of our group LENS-ARTISTS so that all of the responses can be found together in the WP Reader. Please also include a link to the challenge moderator’s post. One of our 4 moderators will host the challenge each week.”

Week 1 – Patti of https://pilotfishblog.com/

Week 2 – Ann-Christine aka Leya of https://lagottocattleya.wordpress.com/

Week 3 – Amy of https://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/

Week 4 – Tina of https://travelsandtrifles.wordpress.com/

Check ’em out!  Also search for Lens-Artists to find posts.

NS: Friday May 22nd

Summary: Alec G Bell Museum, Harold’s bakery, family visits, Legion Dinner

John

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

Who knew that Alexander Graham Bell did more than just invent the telephone? Not sure why this is not part of basic history classes but he also worked with the deaf, was involved in aviation, hydroplanes and other various endeavours. He was part of the group responsible for building the Silver Dart that made the first powered flight in Canada on the Bras D’Or lake in 1909. His hydroplane, the HD-4, at one time held the record for world’s fastest boat. We should all know this type of stuff. This is a worthwhile stop for anyone travelling by as pretty much the only stop in Baddeck (for those without relatives in town). His estate is apparently a national historic site (at a different location nearby). We tried to go and see it, but is closed to visitors and not visible to the public (even from the road) which seems odd for a National Historic site.

Silver Dart from below

Silver Dart from the upper level

Full scale HD-4 replica. Fairly substantial in size.

View inside what remains of the original HD-4. Very basic.

Janet

Harold’s Bakery in Sydney was a nice find on the way to visit with Uncle Jamie and Aunt Louise *separately. We picked up some oatcakes (of course), muffins (for breakfast one day) and beef mini-rolls (for lunch) – whoops no photos. All were tasty and very reasonably priced. We ended up stopping here also on the way back from the visits to pick up some items for the Iona crew/party. Everything we had was good.

We stopped in on Louise first and brought her some oatcakes (of course). She was jovial and doing well. Next up a few buildings over we checked in with Jamie (Marie more than us). She had a good visit and Maura and Maureen dropped in while she was there, so that was a good coincidence. We knew we would see them at the dinner, so left them to visit with their dad.

On the way to check in at the Iona Heights, we made a pit stop in Iona to briefly visit with Marion, Gerald & family as well as Roddie. Short and sweet hello.

Next up was check in and Legion Friday dinner (turkey), with entertainment from MacNeil cousins (very well timed for us). Met up with several cousins, Uncle Roddie and Uncle Joe and many others. Here are a few photos of the cake presentation for Roddie. Legion was pretty packed.

Marion belting out Happy Birthday!

Need to focus!

Jaipur Celebrates Eid-Ul-Fitr!

The moon has already been sighted and the auspicious occasion of Eid that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan is right here. The festivity of Eid-Ul-Fitr in Jaipur is in full swing, and we can smell it in the air. Jaipur is prepped up for Eid with clean houses and already shopped accessories. Eid-Ul-Fitr, also known as ‘Meethi Eid’ is celebrated all around the world by the Muslim community.

DSCF5352 copy.jpg

At Eid-gah

The festival of Eid is celebrated with enthusiasm and devotion all around Jaipur, but the celebration inside the walled city… ka andaaz, hai kuch khas…especially of Ramganj.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 1.22.37 PM.png

Ramganj Market at night

Ramganj is remarkably crowded during the days around Eid. It becomes a flea market during Ramadan. They are decorated like a bride, where shopkeepers entertain the enthusiast shoppers from dusk till dawn. The streets thronged with rozedaars (people who observe fasting) and the shoppers are welcomed right after Iftar and are served till Sehri (Shoor) specially prepared delicacies. The markets are full of hustle bustle throughout the nights as if Jaipur has shifted to a nocturnal schedule for a month. An experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 2.07.23 PM.png

 

Chaand Raat– Chaand Raat or ‘Night of Moon’ confirms that the holy month of fasting has ended. On the supposed last day of Ramadan, people right after iftar get on their roofs/terraces eagerly trying to spot the crescent moon in the deep sky. Sighting of the moon confirms Eid the next day.

DSCF4970 copy.jpg

The following day celebrations kick starts as the day of Eid-Ul-Fitr when all the Muslims are decked up in special Eid look adorned in best of their dresses and start their day with Eid namaz. Kids receive Eidi. These are gifts given to younger members of a family by their elders, in cash and kinds.

DSCF5227 copy.jpg

Namaaz at Albert Hall

DSCF5208 copy.jpg
DSCF5611 copy.jpg

Eid ki Namaz
Jaipur’s Jama Masjid and Eid-Gah along with all other masjids in the pink city host the special namaz. Eid namaz is a mandate on every member of the community – man or woman. Since time immemorial, Eid-Gah hosts the Namaz and other masjids, but very few Jaipurites are aware of the fact that every year Eid, namaz is also done at Ram Niwas Bagh at a small scale, where women have also been attending the prayer for many years now. At Eid Gah where thousands of people pray together is a sight to behold.

DSCF5285 copy.jpg

Eid-Gah

DSCF5384 copy.jpg
DSCF5230 copy.jpgEid celebration in Jaipur is an experience that counts. Eid Mubarak to all from Jaipur Beat!

Lilies #5796BR

June 4, 2019

Lilies, whose scientific name is Lilium, has more than one hundred gorgeous species in its family. However, there are many plants that have Lily in their common name; yet not all are true Lilies. A few examples of this misnomer are Day Lilies, Calla Lilies, Peace Lilies, Water Lilies and Lilies Of The Valley. True Lilies are mostly native throughout the temperate climate regions of the northern hemisphere of planet Earth, although their range can extend into the northern subtropics as well. This range extends across much of Europe, Asia, Japan and the Philippines and across southern Canada and throughout most of the United States.

There are a number of different sub-species of Lilies, such as Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet, Martagon, Longiflorum, Candidum and several others. The most commonly grown are the Orientals and the Asiatics, especially for gardeners in more northern regions. Both the Oriental and Asiatic sub-species are hybrids. They are possibly my most favorite flower to photograph, as their design and colors makes it so easy to do so. Friends might think I am a little nuts when I tell them that they like having their picture taken, as they are so photogenic.

Asiatic Lilies, who gets its name because they are native to central and eastern Asia, are probably the easiest to grow, reproduce effortlessly and are very winter hardy. A healthy bulb can often double in size from one season to the next, and produces many smaller bulblets near the surface of the soil. Asiatics can reach heights up to six feet tall and have long, slim, glossy leaves, all the while producing flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, pink, plum, yellow, orange and red. The one color in which they do not bloom is true blue. Blooming in June and July (depending on one’s region), the flowers produce no fragrance, unlike that of Orientals. Another distinguishing difference between the two is its petals. Whereas Asiatics have smooth edges, Orientals are rough.

Oriental Lilies, native to Japan, are a little harder to grow and tend to reproduce much more slowly, mainly by bulblets sprouting near the surface of the soil. They look somewhat like a football when they first surface from the soil, rather pointy, and its leaves hugging the stem tightly. Their deep green leaves are wider, further apart and less numerous than those of the Asiatics, which first come into sight similar to an artichoke in appearance. Orientals are usually taller than Asiatics, reaching a height up to eight feet tall. Because of their height, many refer to them as Tree Lilies.

Orientals tend to bloom in pastel shades of white, yellow and pink, although some such as Stargazers and Starfighters produce very deep pink blooms. One more characteristic difference between the two types is that Orientals often will be rimmed with a different color, or having two or three colors, whereas the Asiatics most often have just a single color, although there are some exceptions. This sub-specie of Lilies also blooms after Asiatics, usually in August and September, again depending on your region. Other sub-species, such as Trumpets, bloom even later, so it is possible to have Lilies blooming all summer long by planting different varieties.

Most Lilies are very easy to grow. They are not especially particular about soil neither type nor pH level. Their only requirement is a well-draining soil. Lilies grow best in full sun; however, they may thrive in partial sun as well. An interesting fact about this plant is that most Lily bulbs have very thick roots that have the ability to pull the bulb down into the soil at a depth that is most optimum for their continued survival.

If I am fortunate to have you view my photographs and you find the color saturation too much or the color schemes of the mats do not match either themselves or the photograph, please let me know via a comment. Being color-blind, what might look great to me might look like sh*t to everyone else!

Steven H. Spring
Earth

abel john | may 2019

You guys. You know what cures any achy breaky heart? Nope. It isn’t that BRC person you’re thinking of. Stop that. No, it’s a B-A-B-Y.

Or maybe it’s the baby’s mom. I don’t know for sure, but here’s what I do know. My former co-worker and near daughter Gretchen makes beautiful children. There is no doubt because there are now four of them. All beautiful. But baby number four was the perfect exclamation point to the family … he’s a ‘he’! Poor John. He had the proposition of having FIVE (f-i-v-e) women in his house. Thankfully, they were surprised this year on Mother’s Day (exactly at midnight) with a (of course) beautiful little boy they’ve named Abel John. He’s so perfect.

Before I share the photos Gretchen was kind enough to ask me to take, I have to say something about this treasured human I get to call friend. This young lady makes me feel like a proud parent every time I get the chance to see her. Because we started working together when she was just a young thing, I’ve watched her grow up (essentially). I always knew there was something special about her but let me just say that I see a little Jesus in her. She won’t believe me, but it’s true.

I had the opportunity to be a part of her world when she got engaged, my sister and I were honored to shoot her wedding, watched her welcome her first, second and third little girls (not literally, geez) and move into this amazing old brick farmhouse that she and John have nearly rebuilt from the studs into their family’s home. And as time has progressed and she’s grown her little family, she just seems to find new capacity for love that is so obvious and pure. I watch her admire her children and chuckle at her husband and tear up when her baby snoozes on her arm. I can’t explain it well. Just believe me. She’s ‘a special.’ And I couldn’t be happier for her. Like, I really couldn’t. She deserves all of it. She’s got a heart of gold and I just get all choked up thinking of what a good friend she is to me. Ok, ok, let’s stop that and look at some of these beautiful people!

Indiana State Takes On Vanderbilt

Indiana State Gives Vanderbilt A Run For Their Money

When this NCAA draw was announced I wondered how Indiana State could be paired with Vanderbilt. Vandy is the #2 team in the country, and Indiana State was far from the bottom of the #2 seeds for this tournament. Vandy is a tough team to get through to get on to the next round. This was a great game all around that for a moment at the end I thought that ISU would pull out the win. They had Vandy scared. With the bases loaded and no outs I started thinking about my plans for the future. The big hit did not come though. That is baseball. As I write this they are preparing to play Ohio State in an elimination game with another shot at Vandy on the line.

Panning For Fun

This was a strange game to photograph. The stands were packed so you couldn’t get much moving around up there. The two photo wells on the left side of the infield were off limits, and the photo well by first base was packed with photographers all pointing cameras different ways. I spent most of my game in the team photo well by the Indiana State on deck circle. At some point through all your photos start to look the same. I decided to try a pan to break up the gallery a little. With three cameras I still had coverage with two if I took one and slowed it down. Luckily for me I got the panning shot that I wanted on the first batter that I tried so I could have everything back up to sports speed.

A Hawkins Field Pano

For the past couple of trips I have been having some fun making panoramic images of the stadiums that I have been visiting. I haven’t been taking my 11-24mm lens out so I have to stitch some images together with my 24mm lens to get an ultra wide look. Here I made three separate images and then Lightroom did the rest. This was basically my view for the majority of the game. Not bad huh?

My Three Camera Setup

For this tournament I have been running a three camera setup. On my right side I have my Canon 5D Mark IV with my 24-105mm lens on it. On my left side I have my Canon 7D Mark II with my 70-200mm lens on it. On the monopod is my 400mm lens. I am so close to the action at the close up photo well that the 400mm is basically for things out in the field. With these three cameras I have effective coverage from 24-320 and then the 400mm focal length.

Working The Photo

This was a photo that I knew what I wanted, but stuck in the middle of other photographers in the photo well I could not get it. I made a few trying to get close, but it just wasn’t working. When the photographer on the end moved to another spot during the inning I quickly took his spot and made the photo that I had in my mind.

The Week In Photos

This tournament and everything pretty much made up my week. When I wasn’t at Hawkins Field for the tournament I was at another ball field. You can see my favorite images from last week here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Canada Mayflower blooming in the woods

Morning Observation:

This morning in Huntington at 6:50AM it’s currently 50 degrees and raining lightly under overcast skies. Winds are calm. Relative humidity is 97%, dewpoint 49, barometric pressure 29.84” and rising. We picked up 0.63” of rain in the past 24hrs. Yesterday’s high was 66, and the overnight low was 48.

Forecast:

We’ve got one more damp, rainy, and unseasonably cool day on tap today before we see a welcome change in the weather pattern heading towards the weekend. A stalled frontal boundary lifting through the North Country this morning will bring ligh rain this morning. The rainfall should taper off during the mid morning hours becoming lightly scattered as a low pressure system over the Great Lakes starts moving towards the region. By late afternoon rain showers should start to reinvigorate as the low starts to deepen with the potential for some heavy rain this afternoon and evening. Showers will linger into Thursday morning, but we should see clearing skies by the afternoon with temperatures finally bumping up to seasonal levels in the low to mid 70s by the afternoon. The pattern will then turn quite a bit warmer and drier as high pressure builds in for the weekend with temperatures warming into the low 80s by Sunday. It’s coming!

We’ll see cloudy skies today with showers likely. Highs will be near 67 with light south winds. Chance of precipitation is 60% with rainfall amounts between 1/10″-1/4″ possible. Tonight showers are likely with possible embedded thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Lows will be around 55 with light and variable winds. Chance of precipitation is 80% with rainfall amounts between 1/2″-3/4″ possible.

Thursday should start out cloudy with a 30% chance of lingering showers in the morning. Clouds should gradual clear, with a high near 70 and northwest winds 6 to 10 mph. Thursday night should be mostly clear with a low around 47 and north winds around 5 mph becoming calm.

Friday’s looking sunny with a high near 75 and light and variable winds becoming northwesterly 5 to 10 mph in the morning. Friday night should be mostly clear with a low around 49 and calm winds.

Almanac:

Last year on this date we had a high of 58 and a low of 47. We picked up 0.18″ of rain.

Burlington averages for this date are highs of 73 and lows of 52.
The record low was 34 in 1910.
The record high was 92 in 1919.

Sky Notes:

Sunrise: 5:08AM
Sunset: 8:32PM
Length of Day: 15:23:44
Today will be 1:04 longer than yesterday.

The Moon is a waxing crescent, 2 days old with 4.3% illumination.
Moonrise: 7:12AM
Moonset: 10:55PM

About Today’s Photo:

Canada mayflower is in bloom now in the woods. This lovely white flower grows in colonies, and there are several spots along one of my morning runs where the forest floor is covered with the bright green leaves and stalked white blossoms.

April to June 2019 – Two Months in Lagos Portugal

If you have been reading my website at endlessroaming.com you would be aware that I have been blogging about previous adventures across the USA, specifically 2012. Ill also write further about other experiences in the USA and other countries I have been to. I am now in Lagos, Portugal and this is an update regarding what I’ve been up to for the last 2 months, and to be honest it hasn’t involved any Roaming about. Ive been enjoying the paradise that is the Algarve coastline. Ill be heading out shortly in an eastward direction to Spain, over the straights of Gibraltar and onto Morocco, but for now back to Lagos…

This is my second visit to Lagos, the first time I visited was in April two years previous and I spent approximately 1 month here. Over the next few years I couldn’t stop thinking about the place so while Roaming the world in 2019, I thought it would be a great opportunity to come back and spend more time here. The town itself is located on the southern coast of Portugal and has an approximate population of 22,000 people though its difficult to get an accurate figure because of the number of European and people from other nations that have become expats or backpackers within Lagos. Its one of the premier tourist towns along the Algarve and is a base for retirees to locate themselves as housing and cost of living is more affordable than where they originally came, most retirees seem to be from the United Kingdom in my experience. There is also the fantastic coastline, weather and wonderful beaches to consider.

To get here If not traveling overland then the easiest way to reach Lagos is Tip Faro airport, Faro a much larger city is to the east and is a two-hour bus ride away. Flights to Faro are very affordable as it’s a major airport for budget airline carriers that are scattered throughout Europe. The bus ride can be a little tedious as most of the road is single lane and you can be held up by traffic, however there is the pleasant coastal scenery and stop offs at some of the other Algarve towns that are located between Faro and Lagos. I checked into a reasonably priced hotel for the week and then headed Marina de Lagos. The marina is very modern and is where yachts and boats are moored,there is a double story complex that is full of bars and restaurants and its a really pleasant place to eat and drink if you want to listen to some live music, do karaoke and watch the sunset over Lagos town. I caught up with a friend there, had a few beers and dinner and then headed back to my hotel for some much-needed sleep. Unfortunately my flight had been delayed by a Portuguese fuel strike.

The first thing Id recommend doing is walking from town along the coastline to the lighthouse. This can either be done by walking all the way along the rugged cliffs overlooking the beaches or if the tide is out then go via the beach though a series of small rock tunnels that is an interconnecting walk along coast. There are nine beaches (I think in total) starting in Lagos itself, Praia Batata, which is at the mouth of the Rio Bensafrim river that runs alongside the city to the Marina de Lagos where all the sailing vessels come in and out of the port. Besides being the starting point for a beach or cliff walk it is also the location for sea kayaking, located there is Forte da Ponta da Bandeira and the beach is the most accessible from town. If the tide is out Id recommend walking along the beach (Praia) to Student beach, you know you when you have found it because of the stone rock arched bridge that overlooks the beach. Unfortunately, you are not able to access the bridge as its privately owned and is used for private parties only. To the right there is a cave to another beach, then another until Praia do Camilo beach. You then need to leave the beach to continue the walk along 20 metre or so cliffs, it’s quite a spectacle.

About 20 minutes later you will reach Ponta da Piedade lighthouse, this features stepper cliff edges and rock formations which can be climbed down though some parts are fenced off as the sandstone coast is crumbling. You can then continue along the wooden walkway to Porto des Mos beach. All of this is very picturesque, crystal clear waters, boats, kayaks and dolphins swimming past. This alone is a reason to come to Lagos. As indicated there are plenty of sea kayak rentals available so if you want to take a look at the cliffs and rock formations its quite easy to go on a guided tour which will take you the same distance as the hike and the added bonus is that you can enter some of the caves that are inaccessible from the beach due to the cliffs being to steep. Personally, I would recommend doing the cliff walk, beach walk and the sea kayak tour to appreciate the coast line in its entirety.

Lagos itself is predominantly made up of white buildings though there are other with vibrant colours such as red, green, yellow, pale blue. The streets within the city centre are cobbled made of white stone which can actually be quite slippery if not careful. There is plenty of restaurants, bars and shopping on hand to please tourists as well as a tent market along the river front. Even though April and May are the quiet season there are still plenty of people about socialising with buskers playing in front of restaurants. Ive actually developed a close friendship with a few buskers that were staying at the hostel I stayed att and they remarked that money earned busking in Lagos is really good. After the first week in a hotel Id moved to this hostel in the centre town where I have a private room for a really cheap price and excellent customer service. I spent a lot of time socialising with people Id met at the hostel.

There were a few events on during my stay in Lagos, one that comes to memory is the Medieval fair over a weekend in late May. There is a castle in Lagos which dates back to the time of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians around 7th to the 3rd century BC and was restored in the 17th century. Today its essentially walls that surround most of the city which adds to the charm of the place, the festival involves dancing performers in medieval dress, barbecue food, lots of different micro brew beer and wine and live music. It was an interesting and somewhat drunken experience and all located in the main square at the front of the Church of Santa Maria built in the 15th century and then rebuilt in the 19th century after the Portuguese Earthquake of 1755 (please refer to my previous blog regarding this earthquake).

To me Lagos is seemingly a retirement village for UK citizens, a spectacular hiking and beach adventure for beachcombers, rest stop for backpackers and expat workers alike but its its also known the rather hedonistic nightlife. As usual when I tend to visit a place somewhere, TIP I frequent one bar to get a better understanding of what goes on and make it my “local” bar. As I’d been in Lagos for two months Ive developed a good friendship with the staff at and English bar (Fools and Horses) which mainly involved watching a lot of football, a lot of lengthy banter with the staff and meeting Portuguese locals and expats that made Lagos and this bar their home, I was very happy with my choice of a local. From there I could head to any number of bars within town, I tended to avoid the nightclubs however there are plenty of them and I was more inclined to hang out with the residence of Lagos than backpacker tourists even though I was a backpacker. Tip and its a pretty obvious one you will always get a better understanding of a place if you hang out with locals. Drugs are also completely de-criminalised in Portugal there is a lot of wild behaviour into the early morning, however I like to stick to beer so didn’t make it out to the 6am closing time like many people.

So apart from some activities such as kayaking, the festival, listening to live music and bars my days usually consisted of being up by 10am, down at the beach till about 3pm regardless of how late at night I was out, siesta till around 7pm, the local bar till about 10pm and onto any number of bars afterwards. I can’t say I’ve had the most adventurous time in Lagos but I certainly has been pleasurable and has given me the time to focus on my blogging, think about what my future potentially holds, self-reflect and make great new friends. In particular I’ve enjoyed hanging out my new busker friends talking music in my local bar, gossip about locals from the bar and meeting up with friends Id met here 2 years ago. When I travel I rarely choose to base myself in a place for an extended period but with its wonderful environment and fantastic people there isn’t to many places I can think of which would be better place to base oneself than Lagos on the Algarve in Portugal.

I have actually thought about moving here long term, rental is relatively moderate for Europe, wages aren’t particularly high (unless you’re a busker which I certainly am not) however the cost of living can be quite low, there is plenty of cash in hand work available and the people live here long term don’t seem to want for much more than a good laugh, friendly people, a roof over their head and the fantastic climate. Being an Australian however and at the age I am now I suspect with Portugal being a Schengen Visa country living in Lagos is not really viable (or legal) long term. It’s a shame really because I really would like to spend much more time here, it has a great local community feel and people genuinely care for each other.

Anyway with sadness I am choosing to leave so now its back to some hardcore backpacking, next is off to Morocco and see what that is all about so tchau for now…..

Assassin’s ambush!

Mt. Diablo was a lovely place to visit today, though it was 94 degrees up at 1,000 feet altitude along the Burma Road trail! The buckeyes I photographed two days ago were still blooming beautifully, and the blossoms were busy with bees and butterflies. Although the scientific literature says Aesculus californicus flowers are toxic to bees, the bees don’t seem to have read the literature!

Millions of tiny plant hoppers — they’re true bugs in the family Cicadellidae — bounced around in the tall grass and thistles. In the buckeye trees their bigger cousins, woodland cicadas — also true bugs in the family Cicadidae, don’t get the similar Latin names confused! — were warbling up in the leaves. These cicadas, in the genus Platypedia, have a cycle of two to five years, depending on the species. If you listen in the video below, you can hear the cicadas calling.

Butterflies flitted about the trees, too, Red Admirals, California Sisters, or similar species.

Up close, though, I saw several old friends lurking in the white blossoms — assassin bugs! These serious predators in the family Reduviidae lurk on flowers, waiting for pollinators to land, then they pounce! This is a species Kieran and I have met before, on Mt. Diablo and in Briones — they’re covered in spiny hairs that help them seize and hold their prey while they deliver the coup de grace with a sharp, piercing beak. They also sometimes carry Chagas Disease, although I don’t think this particular species falls under the “kissing bug” subfamily Triatominae which carry it. I’ve been bitten by one of these assassin bugs before, and it hurt like fury but there were no other ill effects.

Assassin bugs live up to their name — that bite hurts! You can’t say they didn’t warn you, either, as they have prominent, bright red markings like a black widow spider that say “Don’t touch!”

I saw several of them flying between the blooming buckeye trees, looking for better spots to ambush prey. They seemed to prefer the sunny sections of the trees.

IMG_1371

It was 94 degrees at noon along Burma Road trail on Mt. Diablo.

IMG_1368

Millions of tiny leafhoppers populated the fields. One is visible on this flower-seed head.

IMG_1389

Although Aesculus californicus flowers aren’t supposed to be good for bees, the bees don’t seem to know that.

IMG_1378

Lurking in ambush beneath one bunch of blossoms was a black assassin bug with bright red warning markings.

IMG_1383

IMG_1395

A second assassin bug on a different tree. The many hairs all over its body and powerful legs help it grasp prey.

IMG_1397

 

A Little Catching Up

Beans are in.
Over 500 seeds this year…what can I say? We like green beans. ??
Straw bales are planted.
I put my peppers in one, with zucchini seeds.
The rest are pumpkin, melons, squashes, sunflowers and cucumbers.
Tomatoes start going in today.
Fingers crossed for a huge bounty. ??

Pig babies are growing very well!
I sure like these guys…we only had to lock them up at night for a few days, then left them loose in their yard.
They happily put themselves to bed when they’re tired, and haven’t even once tried to push the fencing.
YAY!!
At 9 weeks now, they’ve grow a good 10 or more pounds since we got them, and are now starting to enjoy the morning slop bucket.
Y’know, the left over bits of coffee and table scraps that get put together for the morning meal.
And, then there’s the things I’ve saved over the winter for them…cream that’s gone bad, pastries that didn’t get eaten, left overs that were right on the edge of going blech but weren’t good for the poultry (we don’t feed human food to the poultry in the winter *unless* they are outside…on those too cold days, they only get the layer feed because it makes less mess in the coop.), small amounts of ice cream that were left too long in the freezer…
I am hopeful for explosive growth on these guys!

(phone pic)

Hubby made a couple of feeders from an old pressure tank…just cut it in half, plop it down and add food.
Works very well!!
And it was free. We love free stuff!
Check out BokBok helping herself to the pig food…I love that these pigs are so laid back that they’re fine with sharing food with the chickens.
??????

Meat chicks have been evicted from the brooder.
They’re now outside in the meat chicken house (with the few eggies I ordered) with more room and time outdoors.
They’re growing like crazy too.
5 weeks old today and I think we’re on track for Freezer Camp by mid July.
I’m easing them off the grower feed onto soaked/fermented grains.
We found that with the fermented grains they grew a bit slower but we didn’t have problems with them dropping dead of heart attacks…that’s always a possibility with CornishX chickens.
But we get them outside asap, make them have to move around for food and make sure they’re acting like chickens.
Not eating and pooping lumps.
It cuts down on early death by a lot.

My incubator is 11 days into it’s first running.
I candled the eggs on the 2nd.
Took out 3 that were obviously unfertilized (holy did the pig babies love those eggs in their grains!!) leaving me 21 still cooking.
Some were super obvious that there was chick development going on, others like the dark green shelled eggs were harder to tell…but the air pocket looked right, so I left them in.
I’ll candle them again on the weekend, just to see how things are going.
Then, by the 14th/15th, we should be seeing chicks hatching.
Fingers crossed.

Next project on the go…

We have sooooo many dandelions.
I refuse to spray them.
This year I’m making mead. And wine.
So this past weekend, I picked a pail of flowers, and then spent a couple hours taking all the petals off the green parts.
I have to do one more pail to have enough for a gallon batch of mead. That’s all I can do right now because I only have enough honey to do a gallon…

And then I pick as many dandies as I can to make as big of a batch of wine as I can.
The mead will be named after Odhinn.
The wine will be my Palomino Princess white.
I sure hope they both turn out tasty.
??

And finally, even though I haven’t had a chance to use my camera (other than a quick couple of shots of the pigs when they came home) for a few weeks, I have a pretty of Ruby to share, because there needs to be at least 1 horse picture in this post.

She is such a funny girl…what a way to sleep!

The Journey Home

Diane showing relief as we finished our part of the editing for the CD. Whew!I have spent a good part of May in Lincoln, Nebraska, with my best friend, rehearsing and then recording our first Amicitia Duo CD, Play Pretty, that will be released in the fall by Potenza Music, with all of the music having been written for our Duo except for one piece. It has been a fun, inspirational, and musically satisfying journey as we worked hard to make this goal happen. while I loved every moment of my time spent in Lincoln, I was also homesick for my little family. How wonderful, though, to have two places where you so comfortable and at home.

I returned to Birmingham this past Saturday afternoon (with my luggage!), just in time to enjoy a date night before preparing for shoulder surgery bright and early Monday morning. I had an open distal clavicle excision and AC joint decompression. This wasn’t my first rodeo; I had my other shoulder done a few years ago, and am hoping I get the same relief that I did with the last surgery. Dan and I joke that we have put a new wing on our doctors’ homes with all of our surgeries…this was my fifth surgery (two ankles, two shoulders, and a hysterectomy), and several for Dan as well, with more knee surgeries in the near future for him, poor guy. We Gaineys have obviously been hard on our bodies over the years.

My favorite nurse was there and popped in to say hi. She lives in our ‘hood and we often see her walking her dog past our house. Seeing a familiar face helped me to not feel as anxious. Everyone there was so nice, and Dan followed our post-surgery protocol; a chocolate milkshake from Sonic in honor of my mom. Strictly medicinal purposes, of course…Marley and Shiva have taken on nursing duty.

I’ve had to work on sitting still- always tough for me to do, as I’m used to constantly being on the go. Maybe aside from the hopeful pain relief that will come from this surgery, maybe another gift will be this time to go inward, to be able to write some (slowly with my left hand for now), to read without guilt that I should be doing something else, and to just enjoy the loving peace of our home. Not such a bad thing.

No matter how far away I go, no matter what exotic places I experience, or how much fun I have, there is never anything so precious as seeing my smiling husband and sweet dog drive up in front of baggage claim in the Mini to pick me up, beaming, giving me wonderful hugs and kisses of welcome, and then walking into our home for the first time; the wonderful grounding familiarity of it all. It really feels like I’ve been making this journey home for years before I even knew it existed. I am so grateful for my life. Every bit of it.

Lacey To Monroe, Washington

Mary is no longer available for RV traveling, but we remain good friends.
Because we have 5,000+ postings, I’ve invited her to continue posting entries on this blog.
Sadly Mary is struggling with health issues. To see the latest about her situation, click here
To view past blogs, scroll to the bottom of this page and use the menu.
I’m currently in my 24th year of full-time RVing and my lifestyle is changing, For more info click here

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Yesterday I drove the motorhome 89 miles from Lacey to Monroe, Washington.

 

 

Back on May26th, I posted a blog entry about the changing RV lifestyle. Click the link if you missed it…

https://otrwjam.wordpress.com/2019/05/26/the-rving-life-is-changing/

 

During yeaterday’s drive I had another prime example. The traffic was horrendous!

The first 50 miles on Interstate 5 took me two full hours. Do the math… that’s an average of 25 miles per hour on a major Interstate Highway. The entire trip of 89 miles took a full three hours. That’s just under 30 miles an hour. I’ve been making this drive for more than 20 years… never have I seen this kind of traffic congestion!  ??

 

I found myself wondering …could this be the last time I make this particular drive????

 

 

Upon arrival I parked the motorhome at Thousand Trails Thunderbird RV Resort along the bank of the Skykomish River. I’ve been here a number of times over the past years and always enjoy it here.

 

 

 

 

As always you may left click upon an image to see an enlarged view and then click once again to see an even larger view…

 

 

 

 

I’ve marked the below Google Earth image in yellow to show my camping spot along the river. It is not a real-time image. This was taken the very end of March…in reality now the park is almost filled to capacity with RV’s…

1

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance of the park…

061011-025

 

 

 

 

 

My camping spot…

DSC01634

 

 

 

 

 

The usual dinette window photo…

DSC01628

 

I’ll depart here June 18th.

 

 

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE PHOTOS.

Forecast for today is light rain and 63 degrees.

Enjoying nice weather is another joy in the life of a full-time RVer!

The red dot on the below map shows my approximate location in the State of Washington. You may double left-click the map to make it larger…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying 65-75 degree temperatures with low humidity most of the year is a primary joy in the RVing lifestyle!

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”…Albert Einstein

 

“Let me recommend the best medicine in the world: a long journey, a mild season, through a pleasant country, in easy stages.” –James Madison

 

 

“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.” —Mark Twain

2

My current travel rig is a 2006 Fleetwood 26′ Class A Motorhome and a towed 1986 Ford Bronco II, Eddie Bauer Model. This photo was taken in the desert at Slab City near Niland, California…

DSC040481b

On October 27, 2012, I created a two-minute video titled America The Beautiful. The music America The Beautiful is by Christopher W. French. The photos, which I randomly selected, are from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia (not shown in that order)…are mine. Yup, That’s me standing in front of the Post Office in Luckenbach, Texas…Y’all!

Click this link to start the video. Make sure you have your speakers turned on and go to full screen asap.
http://youtu.be/FfZUzEB4rM8

If you would like to see my YouTube videos, click this link… http://www.youtube.com/user/JimJ1579/videos

If you have not checked out my Ramblin Man’s Photos Blog, you can do so by clicking this link…http://ramblinmanphotos.wordpress.com/

For more information about my books, click this link:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/panamaorbust

All original works copyrighted – Jim Jaillet -2019

Progress on the craft room and about this past weekend

I could just pinch myself to make sure this is really happening. Lol it’s so exciting that soon I’ll have a place for all my craft supplies and a work area. Here’s the last video I made from the work we did this weekend.

We have started doing more videos (vlogging) of what we are doing on the farm. You can join us on this journey by liking and subscribing. Thank you!

It’s going to be a rainy day today so we will mostly have to do stuff in the house. I still have one section of garden I need to finish Hoeing(I don’t know how to spell that lol) so that I can get more seeds in the ground. I’m excited that some of the zinnias and calendula are close to blooming.

For new garden items we have calendula, borage, mint. Sometime down the road when we can get a tractor we plan on doing a much bigger garden. I want to start canning way more veggies and fruit to help drop our grocery bill and eat off our land. For me nothing makes me happier than to be able to grow food and bake food for my family from scratch. This past Saturday I also made strawberry and blueberry jam. The fruits were on sale at Aldi so I stocked up to make jam. Since I can make our own I don’t ever buy jelly.

I also made Sunbutter. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and i got the seeds at Aldi and it was cheaper to make than buy at the store. Since little man is allergic to peanuts and eggs we (him and I) are excited now to be able to eat pb&j sandwiches ??. I also melted chocolate into some and made Nutella. Mmmm Lol

So, little man hasn’t slept through the night in a very long time. (I think he’s just scared to be alone and wakes scared in the middle of the night.) So we tried something Sunday night and put his bed at the end of ours and he’s been sleeping all night now! Hallelujah! ?? This mama is so happy to get better sleep too now. ??

Well, I better get going on dishes and laundry. ??

Have a great day y’all!

Dory

Stuart Hall – Spectacle of the ‘Other’- Part 1

During the holidays, I created a small project to be printed
in a small book, but I will talk about that in a different post. I have read
chapter 4 of Stuart Hall Representation: The spectacle of other. The reading
was very enjoyable as it is suitable for the themes that I usually work with.
Here I am going to make a summary of the Chapter.

The spectacle of the ‘Other’

“Representation is a complex business and, especially when dealing with ‘difference’, it engages feelings, attitudes and emotions and it mobilizes fears and anxiety in the viewer, at deeper levels than we can explain in a simple, common-sense way. This is why we need theories- to deepen our analysis.” (Hall, 216)

The initial question is how do we represent what is different from us and why this is such a contested theme in the area of representation? What is discussed about racial differences, coming on as the first theme of the chapter, could also be applied to gender, sexuality, class and disability.

Image 1

The chapter starts discussing the Sunday times image, with the title “Heroes and Villains”. Is talks about racial identity and the way these athletes are racially defined. And the reason for the title is that there is a discussion about drug use by Ben Johnson, the leader at the image. (Image 1)

Here “race” and “otherness” is clearly stated, and Hall reminds
us of Barthes’ idea of myth, and that this image works as a myth. The denotative
meaning is that Johnson is at the front of the 100 meters, and the connotative
is the drug story. The sub-theme is race and difference, and it also tells us
how the “myth” works: it is a powerful image, but the meaning is very ambiguous
(disgrace and triumph).

There are two discourses on the page: the written language and
photography. Stuart Hall reminds us how Barthes argues that the caption frequently
is the one that selects the meanings of the image and anchors with it (Hall,
128).

Otherness and Binary Opposition

Here, in showing difference from the majority, often opposed extremes are used: good/bad, civilized/primitive, ugly/excessively attractive, repelling different/attractive exotic. Barthes would call it a “meta-message”, or a myth about race and otherness.

Image 2 – Linford Christie

Another image of Linford Christie is also discussed, the
triumph for the race, the country, of for himself. The general definition of
Britishness is white, but described himself as a British national, since he has
been living here for 28 years. He was a subject for the tabloid press, as they
mentioned the size of his “lunchbox”. He felt humiliated and considered this as
an act racism and stereotyping of black men.

Here, the representation of difference takes another level, it adds “sexuality and gender to race, ethnicity and colour (Hall, 220).” Therefore, gender and sexuality have ambiguous meanings in the images.

Image 3 – Carl Lewis

Lewis here is a black male athlete and identities with a “super-masculinity”, but it is disturbed by introducing his femininity with the use of the hells. Sexual and racial messages are again ambiguous (inter-textual). Therefore, why otherness is such a compelling subject of representation and how it is linked with power?

Hall use 4 theoretical accounts to get deeper in the subject
on “why difference matters”?

  • 1- From linguistics, Saussure

The use of language as a model on how the culture works. The main argument is that difference matters because it is essential to meaning. Without it, meaning would not exist. Therefore, meaning depends on the differences of opposites. Earlier on Hall discussed on the extremes of binary oppositions and how cruel and reductionist they can be. As an example, the black and white photography are not made of the two extremes, but of shades of grey.

While we still have them, binary oppositions create an
over-simplified way to create meaning. It is a rigid two-part system. Jacques
Derrida argues that there are very few neutral binary extremes: one is dominant
and there is always a connection with power: white/black; men/women; masculine/feminine; upper class/lower class; British/alien.

  • 2- Also from the theory of languages, Mikhail Bakhtin

Russian linguist argues that we need difference because we
can only construct meaning through the dialogue with the other. He studies language
as a system that is sustained by a dialogue between 2 or more speakers.
Saussure studied languages as an objective system.

Bakhtin argues that that word is half someone else’s and that it is a “give-and-take”. It only becomes one’s own “when a speaker appropriates the word, adapting it to his own semantic expressive intention. Before that, it is neutral and impersonal” (Hall, 225).

“Everything we say and mean is modified by the interaction
and interplay with the other person.” “The other, in short, is essential to
meaning (Hall, 225). This is the positive in his theory. The negative is that
meaning cannot be fixed and that one group cannot be in charge of meaning.

  • 3- Anthropology

The argument here is that “culture depends on giving things
meaning by assigning them to different positions in a classificatory system.”
So, this way, the symbolic order is the culture, binary oppositions are
essential in this system to establish the differences between things.
Therefore, difference here is fundamental to cultural meaning.

However, this can create negative feelings because, when
things turn out in the wrong category, it can be really disturbing. Substances,
like mercury that is a liquid and a metal, do not fit the general description.
A social group such as mulattoes, do not fit anywhere, because they are neither
white nor black.

Symbolic boundaries keep the categories “pure”, giving
cultures their unique meaning and identity. As a result, it expels and
stigmatize what can be described as abnormal, a threaten to the cultural order.

  • 4- Psychoanalytic theory

“The argument that the ‘Other’ is fundamental to the constitution
of the self to us as subjects, and to sexual identity”. Freud’s version of the
Oedipus myth, that the boy develops sexual attraction to the mother and sexual difference
create was contested and many questioned his speculative personality.

On the other hand, Jacques Lacan goes further than Freud, arguing that the child has no sense of separation from the mother until it sees itself in the mirror: “the mirror stage”. There the child recognizes itself as a unified object, separate from the outside world (the Other). Lacan also says that it mis-recognize itself, and that can never be fully unified. Melanie Klein (1957) argues that copes with the lack of stability splitting its image and identification with the Mother into its good and bad parts.

“Our subjectivities, they argue, depend on our unconscious
relations with the significant others. However, there are also negative implications.
The psychoanalytic perspective assumes that there is no such thing as a given,
stable inner core to “the self” or to identity. Psychically, we are never fully
unified as subjects. Our subjectivities are formed through this troubled,
never-completed, unconscious dialogue with – the internalization of – the ‘Other’.
It is formed in relation to something which completes us but which – since it
lies outside us – we in some way always lack. (Hall 2278)”

Here difference is ambivalent, it can be good and bad.

Using these theories, Hall follows exploring the
representation of the “Other” in the western culture. I will stop for now, and
do another port for the second part of the chapter.

Different Advertising Methodologies To Look Over In E-commerce Fashion Products

Advancing your things in online networking is best in class. What’s more, since it is 2019, we get the opportunity to see them like never before. Advanced showcasing effect sly affects coordinating deal increment in design things. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are a portion of the enormously well-known online networking among the majority. So what better approaches to exploit these stages other than applying your advertising methodology in there?

None can close the hole with regards to showing your item on the web. Presently the central issue, how might we exploit these stages through advertising? What ought to be engaged? Happy that you inquired.
We will experience this by examining some essential inquiries and noting them. So the primary inquiry what items are identified with style or if nothing else can be considered as winter design?

Winter Fashion Products

In style, there is no particular mantra to make requests. You can truly transform anything into a style item. The array is by all account not the only interesting point with regards to winter design. Winter pieces of clothing particularly outerwear like coats, coats, caps, scarves and gloves or gloves, yet additionally warm clothing like long clothing, association suits, and socks are truly normal. So you can’t make the requirement for these items,these areas of now out there.Take advantage of our solutions and also make out yet we have a tendency to utilize post-production symbol contacting develop a ghost mannequin effect for your shopping product photography.

Items. Shouldn’t something be said about that wallet on oneself, would you be able to utilize that and feature the item like a winter item in a manner holiday? What’s more, shouldn’t something be said about those gems? The make-ups, those healthy skin arrangements? Do you see what are we getting at?

It couldn’t be any more obvious, each viable and innovative showcasing technique includes different dimensions of traps. Think about this, you need to publicize your new line of winter attire. So you chose to enlist a model to posture for your items and the picture taker wrapped up of the work. At that point, you did the advertising in agreement. As a result, you saw your garments got sold as well as the closeout of your adornments and shoes went up.

All in all, what are the style items for the winter, you inquire? Indeed, shock us! Individuals love to get astonished positively. Try not to be ordinary, your dauntlessness to make your very own idea of design is actually what we have to break our generalizations.

Presently, we should discuss the full idea driving what your picture taker backed there with the picture and what number of ways he can do that.
After Production. Photography after creation is the place all the enchantment occur. In photography, particularly web-based business item photography, after generation is as critical as the photography itself. Regardless of how superbly you snap the photo and all the alteration that you need to do, comes down to after generation to make your vision a reality.

In the wake of snapping a photo, item picture takers focus on the photograph by changing the shading, pull the subtleties from the shadows, and turn the features up or down, mid-tones and the common shadows in after generation programming. In the event that you are considering, it’s getting convoluted, well, I don’t accuse you. Photography post preparing work beyond any doubt is a boisterous procedure.

For an expert item picture taker, his/her prime concern ought to take the ideal snap of each photograph that s/he needs to take.
It couldn’t be any more obvious, here is the trick while adjusting pictures, and we have to concentrate on two crucial inquiries. What we really need to show to our clients? What’s more, how we need to? At that point, we do the adjustment dependent on that. Much the same as before when your picture taker worked, he really made something new from the exceptionally conventional. Here is the straightforward thing that your picture taker did.

Connection to Sale Increase

Throughout the previous couple of decades, internet shopping knowledge has developed exponentially. Clients presently expect the quality of internet shopping knowledge. Since they can’t really contact or feel the items and product, the nature of the picture has an imperative influence in helping clients choose if the item is directly for them.

On the off chance that a site is misguided with web-based business item pictures and ineffectively planned it will yield a poor outcome. To fulfill the interest of the client’s base, dealers must meet the accompanying qualities.
It must contain outwardly welcoming symbolism
The tasteful of the site must intrigue

This necessity explicitly indicates a certain something, picture quality and how it’s being displayed. Along these lines, Quality of item pictures matters. Item introduction is the way to build client devotion and produce a deal. There are two interesting points when posting pictures on the web. Consistency and quality. Other than quality item picture, you can likewise get an issue free web-based retailing knowledge from the specialist co-op as a portion of the web-based business sites like Amazon do have their guidelines and guidelines or necessity for the item photograph.

It will be simpler on the off chance that you counsel a picture altering specialist organization as they are progressively experienced and acquainted with those guidelines and prerequisite. It will spare you cash .
The development of online business organizations achieved another tallness. The reason that it has developed thus far is its adaptability. Individuals can pick their item from the solace of their home.

They can look at items next to each other and if the item fulfills their need they can simply put in a request with only a couple of snaps. When shopping on the web, you can’t really contact or feel the nearness of the item in your grasp, the main thing that clients get is the picture of the item and it ought to be high in quality.

At exactly that point you would most likely plainly examine the item material by zooming in or out. That is the reason for internet business organizations, the nature of the item picture is as vital as the item itself, if not more. Subsequently, online business photograph altering administrations are totally important.

Bacon, Eggs and God

Bacon and Eggs and God. Come and Dine

Entangled

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 

Roman soldiers were not allowed to marry or to participate in farming or commerce.  They were excluded from those occupations because it was thought such things would divert their minds from the focus of their military service.

So it was with the ministers of the gospel in the early church.  They were not to “entangle” themselves with worldly pursuits.  Why?  Business methodologies incorporate plans of speculation and gain; tending toward thoughts of expansion, development, growth, etc. (i.e. worldly aggrandizement.)  The minister of the gospel accomplishes the purpose of ministry only when they can say in sincerity, “I am not entangled with the affairs of this life.”

Yes, it is true that Paul was tentmaker, but he did so to support himself.  Why?  None of the apostles received a salary and there is not one New Testament example of a minister ever receiving a salary.  Ironic how people have allowed manmade denominations to create a system of salaried ministers as opposed to what saith the Scriptures!  As a tentmaker, Paul was a hireling, as a minister he was not a hireling.

And what did Jesus have to say about hirelings in the ministry?

But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

Who could deny this world is a mixed up mess, but, why is it that so many Christians are entangled in the things of this world?  When a believer allows the affairs of this life to shift their focus away from the examples of Jesus…their spiritual life will be choked out.

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

Look, I understand that we have to get of bed, shower, get dressed, eat, go to work and interact with other people.  So what is the cure for not being caught in this web of the world’s cares?  Simple!  It’s found in pleasing Jesus; we are to be captivated with him. This, says Jesus, is the one thing that is needful.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

When we chose the “good part” (Jesus) it is then that the caretaker will take care of our cares.

All the manmade things of this world are geared to divert our attention away from Jesus. This is true in all social, political and religious realms that do not follow the examples set forth in the Scriptures.  Nothing in this life really counts for anything if it is not directly associated with Jesus Christ.  Everything is to be done through him, not apart from him.

Pharaoh tried to get the Israelites entangled in the land of Egypt. 

For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.

Satan’s goal is the same!  We are to resist being entangled in the manmade things of this world.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

ROUTE AROUND: Nepal

Includes historic Kathmandu, snowy peaks, sunrises over Mount Everest, lakes and national park safaris..

I was lucky enough to venture to Nepal in 2016, and crossing over the border from India to this spiritual paradise was the most surreal experience. From crazy, hectic and stressful India, as soon as you stepped over the borderline, there washed over us a feeling of peace and serenity. Nepal has a way with you, the people, the dramatic landscapes and the diversity of nature, not to mention the most beautiful architecture, you’ll definitely find it hard to leave and it will imprint on your mind for the rest of your life.

1526464906_Kathmandu.jpg

Our first stop, the majestic capital KATHMANDU, Kathmandu is the largest metropolis in the Himalayan hill region and is also known as the City of Temples. The city was the royal capital of the Kingdom of Nepal and hosts palaces, mansions and gardens of the Nepalese aristocracy. It is also the best starting and base point for your adventures around Nepal as it is pretty central to the rest of the country. We stayed at Park Village Resort, a really cute hotel with a swimming pool and buffet breakfast, set in beautiful green gardens and lovely private little rooms accessed by buggy. But if you are on a budget, Andes House is one of the most popular hostels there.

fixedw_large_4x

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu

 

After exploring the gardens, temples and roaming the beautiful streets that Kathmandu has to offer, we took off on our trekking adventure to MT EVEREST REGION. From Kathmandu, we had to take a terrifying but incredible flight over the foothills of the Himalayas to Lukla, known as the most dangerous airport in the world… I’m terrified of flying, so this in itself was quite an achievement.

We had booked a guide in advance to navigate us on the trails, we did a 5-night trek to Namche Bazaar and watched the sunrise over Mount Everest. This was all we could do with the time we had, but there are optional treks to carry on to Everest base camp and even summit Everest if you so wished! It was, the most incredible experience, the guides are the most humble people I’ve met, the food was amazing and the scenery… white and turquoise rivers gushed around forests that were glued to snowy peaks, with bridges hanging above gauges and little temples and ruins scattered along the trails. I have never experienced beauty like it.

 

With blistered feet, we made our way back down to Kathmandu and headed to POKHARA, a city further west of Kathmandu, situated on Phewa Lake, and in the spring you can see the snowy peaks of the Annapurna Circuit, which you can trek. We explored the nearby hills on scooters to secret waterfalls, hired boats on the lake, watched movies under the stars at the outdoor Movie Garden and ventured up to the hippie haven on Begnas lake for the day, an hour bus from Pokhara, we were to stay over but the spiders were too much for me… but a great place to chill and swim, or alternatively just laze in a hammock all day.

13178692_10153604236448857_3532671542731387231_n

Phewa lake, Pokhara

There’s a strip along the river in Pokhara, most hotels are on the first leg of the strip, but if its backpackers paradise you are looking for, continue down to the end where all the traveller’s bars and guesthouses are. We stayed at Hotel Harmony, an amazing family owned hotel, who invited us to eat with their family one night. It was a highlight of my whole trip, they were so welcoming and hospitable, we couldn’t leave. We originally booked 2 nights but ended up staying over 2weeks. I guess you could say, Pokhara stole our hearts a little… or a lot.

Next POKHARA > BANDIPUR

Sunset above Bandipur in Nepal. Hdr processed.

photo-1540883214770-08e60a9bfd97

Bandipur Village

 

On route from Pokhara To CHITWAN, the safari reserve, make sure you plan for a night or two in BANDIPUR, a hilltop settlement with a beautifully preserved old-time cultural atmosphere. A secret hidden gem, with some cooler mountain temperatures. From here, get to Chitwan national park for a few nights. One evening, we were enjoying some sunset cocktails, and a wild Rhino casually decided to join in and stroll past just in front of the bar. You freeze with fear, but then realise you are experiencing a once in a lifetime photo opportunity and hide behind the table to get a quick snapshot… You are right in the thick of it here, and there’s a chance to see wild tigers, however sadly we only got to see tiger…food.

Nepal was magical and serene, majestic and wholesome. Somewhere I defiantly have not had enough of and will hopefully be back to volunteer over the next few years!

Ben Zander Bangkok Photographer Blog – Thailand Photographer

So it has been a while since I have had time to update the blog. The reason is simply that I have been very busy, in a good way. I have done a few campaign shoots, and directed and produced a video commercial in Dubai, to be shown in cinemas, TV, and on social media. I flew models and my camera man over to Dubai, where the partnering production house was waiting. I also rented a V8 Camaro (sports-car) for the shoot, and racked up almost 2000 USD in speeding tickets, which my gracious client luckily offered to pay for me. So I made some money as well. I will make a separate post on my Dubai adventure after the video has been launched, and I will post it here. As for this post, last time I said I would write about either A: professional fashion models versus amateurs and wannabes, or B: How a client can sabotage their own shoot. Let me write about fashion models this time.

Before I came in contact with professional fashion models, I actually never understood that it’s a profession to be respected. If you don’t respect the fashion modeling profession, you simply haven’t worked with real models yet.

It is necessary to make a distinction, I feel, because there are a lot of wannabes that make the distinction less than clear. Being a “model” is sort of sign of status and validation. Proof that you “look good” and should be invited to the party. Perhaps this text of mine can make the situation a bit clearer, and even help some people who think they could or should work as models, and perhaps dissuade those who would otherwise waste their time.

First of all, don’t tell people you are a model unless your actually work as one. It just sounds silly. In stead, have a look at this video to have an idea what it is about.

Being able to become a professional fashion model is partly about how you naturally look, and your your ability to pose in front of the camera. There are many ways of posing, big, small, natural, lifestyle acting, et cetera. Your looks will give you a realistic shot at modeling, meaning, you need to have the right proportions and a cut face/physique, and preferably also something unusual about your look, that makes you less “pretty” and more “interesting” looking. If you have these characteristics, then go ahead, start building your portfolio, and practice your posing. If you don’t these necessary characteristics, and you still insist on working within fashion, focus on getting paid doing something else.

The truth is that if you have the natural look for it, and you really want to try to become a fashion model, people are very eager to help and teach you, quite simply because fashion models are in demand all over the world. There are many agencies that does not demand much to try to break in a model, other than having the necessary characteristics I mentioned above. Quite simply, because it costs them very little to do so. What this means for a wannabe model is that it will take months, not years, before you will work commercially at an entry level. I am not talking the new Chanel campaign here, but rather, a client (not photographer) paying you to sell a product (not your skin) with your modeling. The first good sign of you having a chance, is an agency willing to invest time in you, by sending you to a photographer to do “test shots”, that later will be part of your “comp card” (composition card) that shows a selection of your photos, and your measurements.

(Here are a couple of comp cards)

Dragon B Models Management Co.,Ltd.
Dragon B Models Management Co.,Ltd.

When I am looking for models for a shoot, more often than holding a casting right away, I would send out a message to the bookers I use from different agencies, and ask them to send me comp cards of models who are in town. From these I will do a pre-selection of who I invite to do a casting. It can be one, or twenty models. 

Time is money, and models run around on castings all the time, several a day, many times, and most of the time, they don’t get the job. I try to keep my castings very short, no longer than an hour, and since I live downtown Bangkok, I often hold the castings at the rooftop swimming pool of my building. Easy for me, easy for the models. I sit there, in my shorts, taking notes, accepting printed comp cards, and check out their posing ability, personality, and physique. It’s not very glamorous at all. 

One by one they step up, and I ask them to do a series of poses. If it is anything less than like hitting a switch, and the model immediately strikes several useable poses effortlessly, it’s a pass. I can’t use him or her on a commercial shoot if the model can’t pose properly. A fashion shoot is not like a private portrait session, where the photographer is trying to “capture the moment”. A fashion shoot is a high pressure situation where money has been invested, and everybody has to be able to do their job. There is no time for a model to miss poses. Rather, it is a question of selecting the model with the image the client wants for their brand, and then everybody working together. I will guide and structure a model during a shoot to get the images we are tying to achieve, but there is zero tolerance for not hitting the poses. A professional fashion model knows this, and they know what they are doing. Thank God for professional models.

(Here I am shooting the models on the previous comp cards. Professionals in action, nothing more, nothing less)

The flip side of this is of course knowing that pulling off a successful commercial shoot is a team effort. You will not get there unless you have a professional model, hair and makeup artist, stylist, et cetera. As a photographer and a creative director on a shoot, a lot of what I do is making sure no one fucks up, including me. That is how it often feels.

In Bangkok, and the region where I mostly work, a lot of models come from Asia, Russia and Brazil. Modeling is seen as a legitimate way of making a decent living, compared to other options available to them. They take their modeling seriously. Most professional fashion models will not make a lot of money by western standards, even if they are quite good at it.

In Norway, where I am from, it is a bit different. Unless you are able to make it to the top within fashion modeling, you will probably make more money, and have more job security, just pursuing a normal career, or having a normal job. Modeling is therefore something often done on the side. Being a professional model means living off modeling. For a person to choose this as a career is vastly affected by other available opportunities, and thus, where you are from. You pay ten times more for a “professional” fashion model in Norway, than what you pay a 19 year old Russian girl who just came to Bangkok to model, from a former life as a farmer in Siberia. She will have gone through extensive training after surviving selection from her local mother agency in Russia, before being sent around in Asia, mostly staying alone in shabby rooms. She will work very hard, in a competitive business, and will not make much money. 

This is the life of most fashion models. When she steps up on the roof of my building for a casting, she comes prepared, hoping to get a booking. She is often used to working 12 hours straight. I want to make the selection I need to do as fast as I can, wasting as little time as possible. For the models sake, and for mine.

There are models with a great attitude, and models with a lousy attitude, but most of the time, I am impressed with their work ethic and professionalism. It will likely be something they do for a while, to see the world, or to save up some money if they can. They need to find something else to do eventually, and the longer they wait, the harder the transition is. For the girls, marriage seems like the preferred way out, but I have also talked to a few that quits modeling in their mid twenties to go back to school.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line. Also, if you think you have what it takes to be a model, you can also write me a message. I have bookers who would like to get to know you. But probably you won’t make the cut. 

L’Alouette, Bognor, and the run up to D-Day

By Abigail Hartley, Searchroom Archivist

It’s a year of important anniversaries for World War Two, as later in September it will be 80 years since the start of the war, and, of course, the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings is also upon us.  It is only fitting, therefore, that the Record Office will be highlighting our fantastic Second World War records throughout the year.  To help commemorate, let’s look at one of our most impressive photographic collections – L’Alouette.  

Last month a blue plaque was placed in Bognor in remembrance of Frank L’Alouette on the site of his old shop, 32 West Street.  Born in Windsor on the 2 February 1901, he served an apprenticeship as a photographer’s assistant in Windsor. During the 1920s, he moved to Bognor Regis to work in the photographic department of Cleeves the Chemists in the High Street. In 1931 he bought the premises on West Street where he worked as a general photographer. When war broke out, Frank was unable to join due to a heart condition, but he obtained a Ministry of Information Permit and was able to capture some of the wartime events in and around Bognor Regis.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Frank married Doris Gray at St John’s Church on 30 October 1927 and they had three children: Jeanette, Pamela and Susan. The eldest daughters, Jeanette (or Jenny) and Pamela, appear in many of Frank’s wartime pictures.  The business was later known as Lalouette Photographic Dealers.  After the war he continued his photography business until his retirement in 1956, and he would pass away in 1968.

The Record Office has held his collection since 2012.  His several hundred photographs show the impact and the experiences of Bognor Regis as a town and community during the Second World War.  Above is a small gallery of some of his work.  We can see the impact the Army, RAF, Navy, Home Guard, ARP wardens and the general public had on Bognor’s wartime experience, and how life carried on for much of its populace, with a few notable (barbed wire looking) differences.

If you’d like to see his photographs, especially with the D-Day anniversary fast approaching, have a go at searching online on our catalogue, filling in L’Alouette in the CatalogueNo field, or popping into the Record Office, so we can show you the originals.  Some of his work is also available on Sussex Pictures to buy as prints!

Give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!  With the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War passing this year, we have a sneaky feeling his images will be cropping up often on your feeds!

Join Us for A Summer Vacation

Later this summer my wife and I are going on a wild
adventure. We will cross nine states. Of course I include Ohio in that number,
and technically we are not crossing Ohio, just driving out and then back in. We
have never visited four of these states, which is part of the adventure.

I have decided to write a book about the trip. It won’t be
completely fact, or completely fiction. Kind of like life, I guess.

Several months ago I started a blog post about traveling\commuting and it has grown out of control. Too large to ever be a blog post. There are too many intertwined threads to be a series of posts. So it is going to become a book, it is going to become this book. A book about the journey, not the destination, nobody cares about the destination. It is all about the trip. It will be a kind of a travelogue for the wanderer, or the wonderer, depending on the point of view.

For those of you keeping score at home that is three books I
am in the process of writing.

  1. The science fiction, time travel saga, where a
    small group of bumbling cowards have to save the world from armies, arriving
    from the past, future, and alternate realities of the present. Already written,
    mostly, just needs refined, or rewritten.
  2. The story of a common, slightly nervous, erratic
    man running for mayor, almost by accident and the self-preservation and lack of
    concern for the public that consumes politics. Mostly written, just need a big
    ending. Maybe something with police mobilization and a collapsed parking
    garage. But, the ending is still being thought through.
  3. The soon to be published travel journal. Based
    on the meandering trips we take. Partially a journal, partially a tale of
    discovery, some music appreciation, and a lot of self-aggrandizing fiction,
    just to make me look good.

I intend to use to profits to retire, or buy a pizza and
possibly a beer, depending on the profits.

There is, I hope, a big market for books about me, and my travels,
and my discoveries and my sheer, awesome awesomeness. It will include my wife,
who is going to play several key roles in this adventure, sometimes a hero,
sometimes a villain. To paraphrase Dylan “was she a devil or an angel, you
never knew which, from on to the other she could easily switch,” from Caribbean Wind. But, as in my life, she
will always be the star.

So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.

Gaston Bachelard

Music, the force that guides us down the highway, will have
a prominent place. Food, restaurants, diners and charcoal grills will all occupy
important passages, and may even get a picture. Kayaking, hiking, blazing fires
at dusk, and setting on the porch reading and writing and watching the rain are
all sure to find a place on the pages. And there will be guest appearances by
Trina’s Sunnies and some Painted Rocks from New Zealand, and thanks to my
cousin, Mike there might even be a non-perishable food item cropping up from
time to time.

Right now the working title is “Home Is Where the Car Is.” Or
“Sunrise From Somewhere Else.”

If you want to preorder a copy, too bad. I don’t do that kind of thing. But, I will let you know how it is going, and maybe even drop some of the better parts, if there are any, on this very blog.

Cuba in the Nick of Time

IMG_9899Just a few days ago I returned from a “people-to-people” trip to Cuba. This morning, the current US administration banned such trips. This not only hurts the Cuban people, it hurts the American people. And as with everything else this administration does, it also boosts Russian power.

The United States imposed an embargo on American trade with Cuba in 1962. They expanded the embargo in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Act to penalize foreign companies trading with Cuba. In other words, not only do we block our own companies from trade, we effectively block foreign companies from trade. Combined with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this has had a devastating effect on the Cuban economy. It did nothing, however, to change the political structure – our stated goal.

As the aging Fidel Castro turned over control to his brother Raul, the United States had an opportunity to change a policy that for more than half a century had essentially no impact on global relations. President Obama restored diplomatic links and even visited Cuba in 2016. These actions provided some hope that the United States could become a world leader in bringing Cuba into a 21st century economy and lead to a modernized political structure. These hopes were dashed, however, when the current administration reversed all the gains made under Obama.

And now they are banning the one option most Americans had to visit and learn about Cuba. “People-to-people” programs, which includes the Road Scholar tour I just returned from, allow personal interactions with the Cuban people. We met artists in their homes, talked with the owners of paladars (family-owned small restaurants), and saw performances of dance and music. In every case, the Cuban people were welcoming and friendly. There was no personal animosity against the American people. We saw first hand the hardships Cubans must endure (lack of supplies, long lines waiting for basic commodities like chicken, eggs, and rice), and learned that “all Cubans are mechanics” by necessity, as they must use inventiveness and innovation to make up for non-availability of basic parts to keep machinery and cars running (only 1 in 167,000 Cubans has a car because of shortages). The embargo, and this expansion, hurts the Cuban people greatly.

It also hurts Americans. Americans wanting to travel abroad are now blocked from doing so even more than the severe restrictions that were already imposed. American companies can’t expand their markets. American allies are blocked from independent trading because of the penalties we impose. The rationales offered for such restrictions are pathetically dishonest as we willingly trade with multiple countries that sponsor terrorism and even use our own weapon sales against us and our allies (neither of which Cuba does). The ban is purely political and highly punitive.

Who the increased ban does help is Vladimir Putin. With every attack the current administration makes on our allies and our American norms, the administration strengthens the global power of Russian and the Putin-led Russian oligarchy. As the current administration weakens US influence and power in the world and spits on our allies, it is China and Russia that benefit the most.

Elections have consequences. While most Americans might not care about what happens to the Cuban people, they should care about what happens to the American people. The current administration has intentionally dismissed American norms, American intelligence, and the American people. It’s time to remove this disgrace from office.

David J. Kent is a science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Osaka, Japan

IMG_3119

Last year I decided to visit Japan for two weeks over Chinese New Year. I started my trip by spending 3 days in Osaka before heading to Kyoto. Osaka was a city I found easy to navigate and a great introduction to Japan.

The weather during the beginning of my trip was not the most cooperative. It ended up raining my first 2 days Osaka. I decided to check out the various shopping and food areas since most were covered or easy to dash between. One area I walked around was Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street. This street is well known for shops that sell kitchen and cooking utensils.

Besides exploring the shopping areas, I decided to take a food tour with Drink Osaka. This ended up being my favorite food tour in Japan, and possibly my favorite food tour in Asia. My tour ended up being just the guide (Rodney) and myself. Luckily, Drink Osaka didn’t cancel my tour since no one else booked for the evening I was there!

The tour explored the Dotonbori area of Osaka, which is home to hundreds and hundreds of bars and restaurants. I’ve never seen so many restaurants and bars in one area. Dotonobori is busy with locals and tourists trying the various foods and bars. During my tour I tried kushikatsu, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki. We also stopped at two local bars to sample sake and Japanese whisky.

Rodney then took me to a restaurant not included on the tour, where I had the opportunity to purchase and try fugu. Fugu (blowfish) is a poisonous fish and that should only be prepared by certified chefs. The restaurant had less than 10 seats and somewhere I never would have found on my own. Supposedly Jay-Z visited the same restaurant the year before during his visit to Osaka.

I tried fugu two different way. One version was roasted fugu in warm sake, known as Hirezake. The other was fugu served with soy sauce. I had the chance to try handmade tofu, which was some of the best tofu I’ve tried.

 

Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

IMG_2906During my time in Osaka I stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka. The hotel is located in downtown Osaka and overlooks the nearby Dojima River and highway. There are multiple subway stations nearby and a free shuttle to Osaka Station.

The ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka was modern and recently updated before my stay. Upon check-in I was upgraded to a queen room with a view due to my IHG status. The room was the largest and most spacious I encountered during my trip to Japan. There was even a small sitting area that overlooked the Dojima River and highway. The only downside was the noise late one night from the nearby highway. The highway is popular with the infamous street racing that takes place in Osaka.