“Evening Glow” : Porto, 9th September 2011
Proof that the ‘golden hour’ for photographers is the time just before the sun goes down. Or did I fake it all in post-production? You’ll never know…
Check out a larger version of this photo here.
Porto, 9th September 2011
There you go, a straight, touristy shot of Porto looking out over the warehouses of a Port wine producer towards the Douro river and the medieval city centre on the hillside beyond.
It’s a nice place : go there…
Click here for a larger version of this photo.
“Bolognese Vertigo” : Italy, 24th March 2011
Pisa isn’t the only Italian town to have a tower that’s leaning: there’s quite a few, actually.
The Asinelli tower in Bologna is a staggering ninety-seven metres tall, and at the top, from where this vomit-inducing photo was taken, it’s a couple of metres out of whack, which doesn’t do a lot for your sense of well-being.
Add to this the fact that the tower is eight hundred years old, and the only way to get to the top is by flights of rickety dodgy-looking wooden stairs, and you’re in for an uncomfortable time.
I always head straight for elevated look-outs such as this, even though I’m afraid of heights – there’s a certain masochistic thrill to be had a hundred metres up with only some puny crumbling masonry between you and oblivion.
But what a view, clearly showing why the city is often called Red Bologna (aside from its famous left-wing political stance).
See a larger version of this photo here.
“Stark Winter Scene” : Hakodate, Japan, 4th March 2009
Hokkaido is Japan’s northern-most major island, and a place most folks go to in summer to escape the terrible humidity and heat of the southern part of the country.
I, however, went in March when it resembles the Siberia which is geographically very close. From the top of Hokkaido you can actually see Russian territory on a clear day.
The town of Hakodate is a kind of stepping-stone, a gateway into Hokkaido and the wild north.
It’s had a cosmopolitan history, the remains of which can be seen in foreigner’s cemeteries and a smattering of churches, the Orthodox one still having an incumbent priest.
There’s also a large European-style fortress, no doubt modelled after those of Vauban in France, a huge five-pointed star of moats and emplacements which is fun to clamber round, and where I took this stark image of winter.
At times in Hakodate you can almost be fooled into thinking you are in Europe…
A larger version of this photo can be found here.
“Heavy Sky” : Hiroshima, 16th February 2011
Last winter I bought a 10-24mm wide-angle lens and wanted to test it out, so one cold weekend I climbed up Hiroshima’s Futabayama and pointed the camera south.
In the foreground lies the city, the typical ugly concrete and wires of modern urban Japan, but if you look carefully (especially if you view the larger version), you can see the Inland Sea in the distance, dotted with small islands that make refreshing day trips out of the grey industrial blight . This body of water separates the main Japanese island of Honshu from Shikoku, the smallest and most rural of the four major landmasses that make up the nation.
Below this forbidding heavy sky I shared the mountain with a large metal pagoda, a gift from the government of India to memorialise the victims of the atomic bomb, the perfect apocalyptic accompaniment to the roiling storm clouds above…
“Storm Front on the River” : Strasbourg, 29th August 2011
Back to the mad cloudscapes, people!
I love the way this shot came out. I knew it had a certain amount of potential when I took it, but it really began to shine when I processed it.
Or rather, it didn’t begin to shine, because it’s a dark, moody, and atmospheric piece…
What really makes it for me are the dark brown-red hues of the buildings on the left, and the reflections of the sky in the windows.
This may give the impression that Strasbourg is a gloomy place, but it’s not like that at all…
You can gawp at a bigger version by clicking here. Go on, do it, you lazy sods.
I don’t know why, but on this trip to Europe clouds seem to have dominated my photography.
I always have an eye out for them, but Italy, where I spent my previous two holidays, just doesn’t seem to produce the amazing scenes I witnessed in France.
This shot was taken around midday, and appears much darker than it actually was, since I had to set the camera’s exposure for the sky to avoid the brightest parts of the clouds from becoming burned out. The result is that the foreground buildings became mere silhouettes, which in this case enhanced the overall picture.
Cameras just don’t have the dynamic range of our eyes, a fact which eludes many casual photographers and causes disappointments, but this drawback can actually used to great artistic effect….
As an aside, I’m beginning to wonder if I should keep posting the fruits of my recent trip sequentially, as I have been doing this last month, or start dropping in older photos from my back catalogue (as I was previously doing), to provide greater variety. Can my audience stand another shot of clouds over a French city, or would the monotony be relieved by a few more abstract pieces? Hmm…have to think about that tomorrow….
Bigger version of this cloud shot here.
When they’re this good, it’s hard to stop photographing them.
Even the apparent ugliness of the train station didn’t stop me, much to the surprise of other people waiting for the train from Beaune back to Dijon.
But this train station isn’t ugly at all to me: the lines of the tracks, the pylons and the overhead cables just enhance and improve the glorious sky behind them.
See a bigger version of this here…
Another landscape from the hill above the town of Beaune in Burgundy.
Aside from the dramatic clouds, you can see the vines on the left of the picture.
I must admit I was very tempted to steal a few grapes off the vines.
I’d like to say that it was natural honesty that led me to decline such a course of action: in reality, it was fear of getting an upset stomach.
Look at a bigger version of this shot here…
In the French countryside, near the town of Beaune in Burgundy.
After gazing at the amazing vista spread out before me from the top of the hill, I turned around and saw this slightly worrying, but extremely photogenic climatic development.
It looked worse than it was, and soon dissipated without the heavens opening up, much to my relief.
Go here to see a bigger, more impressive version…