We went to Gundaroo today, a short drive from Canberra out into the country, where we walked past a little library that always amuses me. It is typical of pioneer architecture in Australian country towns established a hundred or more years ago. Today the sky was a perfect winter blue, a great day to be out in the street photographing in portrait and landscape.
The photo challenge is to take a photo of the same subject vertically and horizontally. I took 99 photos today, less than half of them vertical, more than half … well, horizontal. Here are two.
I almost posted a photo of a big player on the German side of WWII as a response to the prompt ‘foreshadow’. But I’ve decided not to give him space.
I found the picture amongst my father’s photos, but there were others which, for the opponents of this grim man, undoutedly foreshadowed possible defeat. These two bombers would have had me worried if I were on the losing side (or possibly even if I were on the winning side and standing in the wrong place).
Under this one, the caption reads ‘Flying Fortress’, an American bomber.
The second is captioned simply ‘Bomber’. I assume it’s British, judging by the insignia on the wings and fuselage. Without knowing what the colours of the insignia are, I can take a guess that they are, from the centre out, red, white and blue, British colours:
John Milton, I’ve read, completed his Masters degree at Cambridge in 1632 at 24 years of age and then moved back home with his parents for five years, where he worked on some of his best-loved writing. But it wasn’t until 1645 that any of his poetry was published; the book was called Poems of Mr. John Milton, both English and Latin, compos’d at several times.
His poetry was not published again until 1667 at the age of 59 when he had been totally blind for 13 years and had been married 3 times, and after he had worked on the piece for at least 9 years. He was paid £5 for a print run of 1500 copies of his masterpiece, Paradise Lost.
Here’s an excerpt:
Now came still evening on, and twilight grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompany’d; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleas’d. Now glow’d the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen unveil’d her peerless light,
And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw.
Last night I found this excerpt from Paradise Lost in my old school poetry anthology. When I read the line ‘Now glow’d the firmament With living sapphires’, I remembered a 12th-century church ceiling that I recently saw in Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines in the Pyrénées-Orientales, France. During the day the skylight produces a simulated moon shining in a starry midnight blue sky, and the patches no longer covered in paint resemble night clouds or constellations. Even in this interior, the moon has thrown ‘o’er the dark her silver mantle’. The photo, left sitting on my computer screen and viewed from across a room, has fooled me more than once.
Click twice on the photo to enlarge it.
It does me good to read that a Cambridge Masters graduate worked on his writing for 35 years before producing a masterpiece.
When I read the weekly photo challenge to take a photo at the golden hour of sunrise or sunset, I thought, well, I already know about sunset light, so why not make an effort to study the light of sunrise. But to do that I’d have to get up at sunrise on Sunday. I had no intention of doing that.
Then, this morning at ten to seven, after six hours’ sleep, I woke to see my room suffused with pink. At first I ignored it. Too tired. But I dared to open my eyes again a few minutes later and the light in the room was tinged with reddish purple. I jumped out of bed and raced to find my camera, knowing that coloured light is fleeting. You can see that I took the first photo at three minutes past seven – it took me that long to get ready for my cold back yard.
The official sunrise time was 7:10am, but Canberra was pretty in pink before that moment. Not really a ‘golden hour’; more of a ‘rosy hour’. When the actual moment came at 7:10, the pink glow had mostly gone, faded to grey. It’s mid-winter here; the temperature was about 6 degrees, a few degrees warmer than usual for this time of morning; the sky today is completely covered. I know the sun was behind these rosy photos but I never saw it.
If you’re living in Cairo at present, you’re probably feeling nostalgic for a quieter city with fewer people in the streets. Here’s a photo to prove that your city was once more peaceful, well, at least outside this hospital. And there was a world war going on!
With a theme like ‘Nostalgic’ I just had to return to my father’s war album. I often think I’ve blogged about his best photos, but when I dig around it long enough I can still find a photo to match a challenge, especially this week when Cairo is undergoing yet more trouble and millions of people are in the streets. It’s the ideal time to post a photo taken in Cairo in about 1941. My father wrote “9th BGH Heliopolis” under it, that is, the 9th British General Hospital in the suburb of Heliopolis, Cairo.
Postscript: Thanks to Ahmad Omar (see his comment below) I now know that this was originally the Heliopolis Palace Hotel, opened in 1910, which became a hospital in both WWI and WWII and since the 1980s has been one of the Presidential Palaces where presidential offices are located.
In the photo below there are two signs. I’m guessing you can read the sign on the right, Mister Tacos Sandwicherie. But as for the other one, since this week’s photo challenge is “The signs says…”, the photo gives me the opportunity to tell you what the sign says:
“This home was built by the Lyonnais magistrate, Claude Paterin, under the reign of François 1st. Its name was later changed to the House of Henri IV after the monarch had a short stay here in December 1600.”
A bust of Henri IV sits in a niche above the sign. However, it was not his property but a private mansion. He stayed here for a short while after his marriage to Marie de Médicis in the Cathédrale Saint Jean, a few streets away, which was when and where they met. The marriage produced issue, ancestors of some of the present European royal families including Prince William through his mother’s family. But apart from this, the marriage was an unpleasant affair for Marie who shared her husband with several of his mistresses until it all ended when Henri was assassinated ten years later.
The house is at 4 rue Juiverie in old Lyon where most of the Renaissance buildings have been restored and receive constant attention. Unfortunately, while someone occupies the upper floors of the building, judging by the pot plants and the open window, the Hotel Paterin has been sorely neglected on the lower levels and now houses Mister Tacos, though even this shop looks like it has closed down. I was shocked by the two signs, visible together in one glance and disturbing enough to make me look back.
The photo challenge this week is to take a photo of myself, perhaps as a reflection, so that the background is more interesting than the subject.
Today I found this piece of reflective metal at the bottom of a whole-wall fresco here in Lyon, France. So, I took the hint, took my camera and photographed myself on the street with the fresco. My mind never quite accepted that these people were painted onto a two-dimensional surface. Even now, looking at my photos, my eye is fooled into thinking they are real.
This mural covers the entire blind wall of the building at the corner of 49 Quai Saint-Vincent and 2 rue de la Martinière. There are 24 historical Lyonnais characters on their balconies, going back further in time as they rise up the wall. At ground level there are 6 contemporary personalities (not including me). The fresco was produced in 1994/95.
Here’s another view which I liked so much that I’ve attempted to blot out a nasty dark mark made by an idiot dragging a black pen or brush through all the faces. I think I’ve improved the photo but unfortunately it’s not easy to remove the real mark from the fresco without retouching the artwork. Isn’t it fantastic, though? All the people to my left are painted, they don’t exist, nor does the brickwork or the doorway.
And one more, just because I’ve bought some important books in the bookshop, Gibert Joseph.
When I walked up over this hill in the early morning and looked back at the village, I was completely alone on a small part of the Mediterranean coast. No one knew where I was.
Turning round to see the sea, I looked down over this cove, and, on the far side, a fort and war ruins, French and German, that remain on the cape.
Having escaped from civilisation for a brief hour, I walked down to take a closer look at the ruins and saw why this point had been chosen for a fort; it’s ideal for shooting and blowing up shipping way out on the horizon. No escape for them.
This is one of two arches through which cannons were pointed, with holes for thinner weapons. Unfortunately, with the arch and holes positioned as they are, it resembles a face.
It was horrible, seeing this war junk lying all along the cliff edges.
What struck me was the ugliness of concrete, while the nineteenth-century stone fort has that element of beauty found in stone construction all around this region, whether it be houses, barriers, walls, steps or forts. Here’s some more ugly concrete, a piece of German war litter, a base for a revolving cannon.
Fortunately, wars end, and life is good again. But if you need to take a break from the troubles of ordinary peacetime life, I recommend this coastline where surprises make every day special. I found this beautiful Bottlebrush tree, which I didn’t know grew outside of Australia, growing on a hill with red roses, grapevines and palm trees, all overlooking the blue Mediterranean.
The pattern straight-twisted-straight-twisted has pleased the eye for centuries. This past week I saw it in the 12th-century cloister of the cathedral of Sainte Eulalie and Sainte Julie in Elne, France:
And I saw a much more recent use of this pattern on a balcony railing overlooking Port-Vendres, a bit further south: