Alan and Tim set the brief for this session: ‘Friday’s theme [is] “a sense of movement”. The obvious shots would be: wildlife, birds in flight or animals running; sport of all kinds; sailing, aeroplanes etc. More creatively, anything you interpret as relevant to the theme.’ Members’ interpretations included the above plus pictures of dance, water, children, fireworks, the sea and crowd scenes.
Thoughts on technique included: patience; panning; ISO settings and shutter speed; stabilisation technology; precision versus blur; knowing your subject and choice of viewpoint; and timing – the decisive moment and the moment of anticipation. Tim and Alan illustrated points through the work of Eadweard Muybridge, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Eamonn McCabe, Fumiya Hamasaki and Jean Guichard. The spirit was captured in Brian Harris’s comment from last week: ‘Every photographer has his [or her] moment.’
Photos: 1, Joshua, August 2016; 2, Tour de France, Cambridge, 7th July 2014
A totem pole is carved and painted log, mounted vertically, constructed by the native people of the north-western coast of the US and Canada. They come in seven main kinds: memorial poles; grave markers; house posts; portal poles; welcoming poles; mortuary poles; and ridicule poles. A totem is a sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people.
Photo: Botanic Garden, Cambridge, April 2018
I had a moment of realisation in the Botanic Garden of Wednesday (actually one of many revelations that morning, but they are part of another story). Asked to explain why I took photographs of the ubiquitous bright blue rope, for the first time I then asked myself why it’s blue, and not rope coloured, or red, yellow or green for that matter. The answer was obvious when one bothered to think about it. Used as a barrier, to moor boats, to secure tarpaulins, to tether buoys and lobster pots and so on, it stands out against the muted colours of the natural world. It’s the same reason that chefs use blue plasters in the kitchen. The subtle colours of jute, hemp and sisal are for gardeners who want to hide their handiwork.
Photo: Botanic Garden, Cambridge, April 2018
Brian Harris explored his world of photojournalism through the 18 months spent in Eastern Europe documenting the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Photographs of smoggy streets, people going about their daily lives, night time drama at the Wall and faces flushed with the excited anticipation of a brighter future revealed what now seems a far distant world. And a distant, lost, world of photojournalism too.
Photo: Leipzig, 1989, Brian Harris
These warning tapes flapping in the breeze are reminiscent of Buddhist prayer flags. Yellow symbolises the element earth and the east; horizontal flags, are called Lung Dar. Prayer flags should always be still and it is considered disrespectful if they touch the ground – these have been hung too low. Is the fox coincidental? The wild fox kōan, also known as ‘Pai-chang’s fox’ and ‘Hyakujō and a Fox’, is an influential story in the Zen tradition dating back to the early 11th Century.
Photo: Granham’s Road, Cambridge, 2011
‘The Falun Gong 24-hour peaceful protest has continued for almost 13 years outside the Chinese Embassy in [Portland Place] London. July will see the 13th year after the Communist Party of China (CPC) enforced the Falun Gong ban in July 2009. CPC also initiated a propaganda campaign to wipe out the practice, which claims to have 100 million followers worldwide. Falun Gong practitioners take it in turns to sit across the road from the Embassy, meditating peacefully. A firearms officer guarding the Embassy says that a blind eye is turned to the protest and there have never been any signs of trouble.’ Misinterpreting.com 2012
Photo: Portland Place, London, September 2011
I went to an informal coffee and cake morning today at which Philip Augar spoke about ‘Writing for a Living – Financial Times and Others’. An ex-banker himself, he was among the first to note in the mid-2000s the pickle the banking sector was getting itself into. But today he was reluctant to point the finger of blame, saying that his ex-colleagues in the sector were ‘not devious or criminal’, rather they were operating of a system that had got out of control. It is perhaps a rather charitable view – what about personal responsibility? Does this advert for the Co-op Bank show the face of integrity?
Photo: London Underground, September 2011
Newton, sometimes known as Newton after Blake, is a sculpture by the Eduardo Paolozzi in the piazza outside the British Library. It is based on William Blake’s 1795 print of Newton: Personification of Man Limited by Reason, which shows Isaac Newton sitting beside a mossy rock while measuring with a set of dividers. Blake was criticising what he saw as Newton’s profane knowledge, usurping the sacred knowledge of Urizen, the embodiment of conventional reason and law – Newton is turning away from nature to focus on his books. The sculpture includes self-portrait of Paolozzi as Newton.
Photo: Newton, British Library, London, July 2011
Seeing this mural in Sheringham induces a double take: is it really Albert Einstein or some old crab fisher with an uncanny likeness to the great scientist? And if it is him, what’s he doing here? It is indeed Einstein, who fled Germany in 1933 and stayed in a wooden hut in Roughton, about seven and a half miles from Sheringham. He was there for a few weeks’ rest and recuperation, courtesy of Conservative MP, Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson, before leaving for the United States.
Photo: Sheringham, Norfolk, August 2011
The writer Patrick Leigh Fermor believed passionately in having well-stocked shelves of reference books close to hand, ‘…and they must be near the dinner table where arguments spring up which have to be settled then or never.’ The knowledge is now available at the touch of a fingertip. I wonder of reaching for the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the middle of the kleftiko was any more irritating than googling now is? Certainly a deal less convenient.
Photo: Rose Crescent, Cambridge, July 2011
My sister and I were lucky as children: when we were on holiday and Mum and Dad fancied a drink we were not parked outside the pub alone with a packet of crisps and a bottle of pop, they sat with us – we all shivered together. Not for them the handy excuse offered by the licensing laws for a child free hour or so. Modern pubs are family friendly and children are inside, not left loitering on the street.
Photo: Aldeburgh, Suffolk, August 2011
I’m sure there is a thesis to be written on what our travel bags say about us. Travelling writers would provide good case studies.
Patrick Leigh Fermor, about to set out on his trudge across Europe in 1933, stopped off at Cliveden Place and in his words: ‘… picked up a rucksack left for me there by Mark Ogilvie-Grant. Inspecting my stuff, he had glanced with pity at the one I had bought. (His – a superior Bergen affair resting on a lumbar semicircle of metal and supported by a triangular frame, had accompanied him – usually, he admitted, slung on a mule – all round Athos with Robert Byron and Davis Talbot Rice when The Station was being written. Weathered and faded by Macedonian suns, it was rife with mana.)’
Blake Morrison, reviewing Anatomy of Restlessness: Uncollected Writings by Bruce Chatwin, observed that for Chatwin: ‘Even travel gear – the stuff you need to flee the world of bourgeois possessions – inspires fetishistic adoration: “the lightest imaginable rucksack, stitched from strips of seal bladder and lashed to a frame of laminated birch”.’
My bags, black, are from JLP.
Photo: Cambridge Station, July 2011
Seven bags of clutter to Emmaus today, books and boots, ornaments and tapes and so on. An amazing place, ‘working as a community, sharing a life where everyone is treated equally, and living in harmony with dignity by helping those less fortunate than ourselves’; and an extraordinary trove of stories to be imagined from the leavings of lives that end up on sale there. Something for everyone, even for a blue rope collector. The challenge is to come away with less than you took. It encourages downsizing and then awakens the shopping instincts – best to stop at a coffee, and maybe a cake.
Photo: Blue Rope, Emmaus, Landbeach, March 2018
Is this graffito vandalism or public art? If vandalism, it’s done with great skill and design flare. If public, art it’s not very public, out along a path frequented only by occasional walkers, riders and farm tractors. Such an urban form of self-expression in the countryside is certainly arresting; and it brings relief to an ugly expanse of muddy concrete. It might also say something profound – if only I could decipher it.
Photo: Quy Fen, March 2018
What’s the story behind this bra tied neatly in the hedgerow along the path to Quy Fen. A retro feminist protest? A bragging misogynist’s trophy? A numbed and forgetful snow bather?
Photo: Quy Fen, March 2018.