Animal Farm – ‘Grun 80’

Today was the first really Spring-like day this year; sunny with deep contrasty shadows, warm enough to throw coats and caution to the wind, flowers popping their heads up everywhere you look. Just lovely! The perfect day to visit “Grun 80” or “Grun Achtzig” (parkimgruenen.ch)  – not far from home. Many years ago when I first moved here, a dear friend introduced me to this beautiful park in Spring; to the swans a-swimming with their cygnets, very photogenic ducks in thier pond, flowers and trees a-blooming, the herb garden, orchard and many other lovely growing things – all near the centre of the city. There are outdoor concerts on Sundays, a waterside cafe and a small working farm complete with animals. At present, the main attraction is the new “crop” of baby lambs. The adult sheep come right up to the fence for a pat by curious children and their parents. I love the way the sheep’s horns curl around their ears and how one rather cheeky sheep kept sticking his tongue out at the little girl stroking his back! 

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Eccelston SQUARE

Yesterday was cold in London: frost on the top of cars and bright red mailboxes, commuters folded into their coats and thick scarves as they rushed to (delayed yet again) trains at Victoria Station. Only  a few streets away from all of this frenetic movement, there is a little oasis of calm and reflection locked away behind a metal gate in Eccelston Square– a natural escape for the few to enjoy in a busy city. Walking past the gate, I was drawn to the contrast of straight angles and curved lines, the juxtaposition of forged iron and the natural forms of trees and leaves.

This shot also led me to think about the effect picture format has on the way we view images. Playing with the focal point of pictures – where is the eye of the viewer drawn? – as well as symmetry and form; lines, grids, and texture, I have been thinking about how a square photo format can enhance symmetry and draw the eye to the centre of the image.

Here are two versions of the same photo – one traditionally rectangular, the other using a square format. Which version is more effective? Which one do you prefer?

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Cool it! (…and back it up!)

On a very hot and sunny summer’s day, I am going through some of the photos I took a few months back. I saw this one taken in Interlaken, and I could just feel the coolness of the Spring frost! Perfect for today’s sweltering weather.

Why am I going through my photos?  I am organizing and saving my work today as I learned a very “dramatic” and important lesson last week when I accidently spilled (such a tiny littlle bit of!!!!) coffee on my keyboard – right on the side where the charger cable goes (of course!). Alles kaput….and no recent backups! I think….”There go all my photos, the last video taken of my father, bookmarks, my writing, my life…..argh!” Luckily it was possible to save the data from the SSD card but it was a real (and expensive) lesson learned. Back everything up – cloud, external harddrive, anything that works for you, before you end up with prematurly grey hair and many lost memories.

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Back at the seaside

We didn’t quite finish cleaning out the cottage the last time we were on Long Island. So eagerly back we came, bringing the rocking chair with us as well. The weather had changed into a blustery day with a watery sun trying its best to break though the overcast sky. The Atlantic waves were rolling in with whitecaps and the air was salty with their spray. A great day for taking pictures, regardless of the lighting – it’s watery blue hue seemed a perfect match to the pastel atmospehere of a deserted beach.

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Lovely leftovers….

I was going through my photos tonight, trying to organize them into some kind of sensible chaos, when I came across a few from our last trip. There is no real “theme” to these images, except for the fact that I like the way that these ‘visual experiments’ turned out. Enjoy…..

Moody blues…

Today is the last time that we can enjoy the beach; it is the end of an era. We have come to sort out and clean out the family cottage on Long Island. The evening is cold, rainy and stormy; the day has come to say good-bye. As the light disappears over the Atlantic, there is a fleeting moment in which to capture Francine’s empty deckchair, the darkening clouds and the deserted beach.

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More from the desert crater…

It has been a week now since we left the desert and wandered stubbornly back to the city, figuratively kicking the sand with the toes of our shoes. The Negev desert and the Mitzpe Ramon crater are places which force you to contemplate your inner thoughts and feelings, your purpose in life, your life journey so far, and where that journey might take you (or where you would like to take it!). It is mystical, secretive, brutal and achingly beautiful.

Enough said. Enough to look and refect on life…..

The Mizpe Ramon Crater

Mizpe Ramon is fascinating place in the Negev desert. I’ve never been to a desert before, and the trip from Jerusalem to Mizpe Ramon is one that I will not soon forget. The desert landscape is mistical and after while, it starts to really affect you as you travel through the sun. scrub and sand. Have you ever seen an oasis before? Now I really understand the meaning of the word….

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My husband ( I love this photo – he is laughing as his towel is blown in the wind)

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and I decided to treat ourselves to a a few days at a beautiful hotel called “Beresheet“. The hotel is built on the edge of an enormous natural crater that stretches out towards the horizon and down from a dizzing height. The hotel is meant to resemble a desert village with little cottages and townhouses made from local stone. There are wild ibixes that roam the grounds and surrounding desert, and tomorrow I am hoping to be lucky enough to take a few photos of them. Tomorrow also brings with it an evening photography workshop hosted by Irus Hayun-Rosenfeld, a local photographer.

Here are some of the results from our trip down and an evening spent behind my lens…..and by the pool… (more tomorrow……)

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The Secret Gardener (for Miss S.)

I have a friend who has the loveliest garden. A simple allotment garden, it fills itself each Spring and Summer with flowers and provides delicious fruit and vegetables for their table along with a satisfying sense of accomplishment. What makes it even lovelier, is to think of what it looked like several years ago when she first started out; tangled weeds waist-high, rock-hard soil and bolted vegetables running riot. Through perserverence, patience, planting and inspired hard work, the garden has now been transformed into something really special. There is nothing better for the soul than digging outside in the sunshine, getting one’s hands into the soil. I love being there!

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I was thinking of this friend (and wishing she was here to see this!) on Friday when I was out walking through a historic part of Jerusalem. Finding a street-side flower bed, I was taking pictures when the owner of the house came out and looked at what I was doing. I complimented him on his flowers and he said, “if you want to see some really special flowers, you must see my garden.” Inviting me inside the gate, I found a whole new, secret world behind the high stone walls surrounding the house. The flowers were magnificent and the passion and effort that has gone into making this spectacular oasis in the middle of the city was astounding.

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