Posts Tagged With: photo challenge

UnAnsel Series – Love in the Mist … Twisted

Thanks to Sharon over at newpillowbook for suggesting I start to call this series the “UnAnsel Series”. I always thought “Anti-Ansel Adams” sounded a bit harsh and inflammatory, but I couldn’t think of another way to describe this type of selective blurriness. (It really IS selective … honest!) 🙂

Anyway, the UnAnsel Series it is from now on.

I’m throwing another entry into the weekly challenge pot, too, because this Love-in-the-Mist flower, as it begins to die down, definitely shows signs of being rather twisted.

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

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Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist

I wasn’t keen on this week’s challenge. Firstly, because I don’t have internet anymore at my house and only have limited time at the library to log on. And secondly, because I have to rely on the pictures I have stored on my computer (which aren’t many since I lost everything from an external hard drive).

Most of my stuff is nature-focused, for no better reason than it’s easier to find and closer to home. But I do get a bit of a kick when I come across an example of nature reclaiming its territory. On this day, I noticed that somebody had spray painted a wall along a trail in the woods. They had pulled away (rather forcefully and dismissively) a lot of the ivy that had originally clung to the wall in order to create the space to paint, and piles of it were dumped on the ground alongside. The twist in this tale is that the plant world doesn’t go out like that, and in parts, little by little, and inch by inch, the ivy was beginning to creep back and reclaim the wall.

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

 

Categories: Alice's world, pictures by Alice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

I hate cities, but I visit one regularly because it is the choice of my son to have our fortnightly contact time there.

Occasionally, we visit a dubious, but very interesting part of this particular city, where very eager “salesmen” offer bargain prices for “designer goods” out of side-street operations.

This remnant of a building, perched round the back of this series of streets, always fascinates me. I have never had a camera with me when I am in the neighbourhood (for obvious reasons) but I tried to take a couple of pictures on my phone last time we went.

As it happened, the area is restricted by a tall steel fence, and it’s impossible to get very close. On the original photo, the picture was blanched by the surrounding sky, and the structure itself was just a silhouette. But I used Photoshop to claw back a bit of the detail, and the result is a bit “arty” (that’s Alice-talk for “I made a bunch of mistakes, but it was too much effort to keep going back to start again.”)

I have no idea why this part of the building has been left standing. I just think it’s a fascinating remnant.

I wonder what stories those doors could share?

(click on photo for clarity-ish)

“Ah, what sights and sounds and pain lie beneath that mist. And we had thought that our hard climb out of that cruel valley led to some cool, green and peaceful, sunlit place---but it's all jungle here, a wild and savage wilderness that's overrun with ruins. But put on your crown, my Queen, and we will build a New City on these ruins.”  Eldridge Cleaver  "Soul on Ice"

“Ah, what sights and sounds and pain lie beneath that mist. And we had thought that our hard climb out of that cruel valley led to some cool, green and peaceful, sunlit place—but it’s all jungle here, a wild and savage wilderness that’s overrun with ruins. But put on your crown, my Queen, and we will build a New City on these ruins.”
Eldridge Cleaver “Soul on Ice”

 

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Pictures, pictures by Alice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: On the Move

I expect there’ll be all sorts of “moving” entries for this week’s photo challenge, but I thought I’d refer back to what I seem to know best … bugs 🙂

Only bits of this hoverfly were really on the move, I’ve read differing reports about how fast its wings actually beat (anything between 120 and 300 beats per second) but either way, it’s bloody fast. Even with the old “Anti-Ansel Adams” fast shutter speed going on, I still only managed a blur for the wings.

What a way to live!

(click on the photos for bigger and better viewing)

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

My 200th post. The Hawthorn Tree

I know I posted this a couple of days ago, but I’m going to be sneaky and link this to the Weekly Photo Challenge for the topic of Spring! I think it fits quite nicely, and besides, we all need a bit of hope, so the more viewers the merrier 🙂

 

OK … 200 posts in in 26 months isn’t the most prolific blogging record, although considering the nightmare my life has been and the fact I did leave the scene for over a year, it’s not a bad achievement. So figured I’d better make it a decent post, as I may not make it to another hundred.

I wrote the following tale a couple of years ago, in a creative writing class, for our local MIND newsletter, and I’ve read it out loud a couple of times at our WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) group.

I noticed, when I was out on one of my little walks in the countryside, that the hedgerow branches in the shadows weren’t blooming as vigorously as the ones in the sunshine, and it got me thinking …

Feel free to share this with someone you feel may be losing hope in the cards life is dealing. I know I do on many occasions, and we all need to dig deep to find our own inner strength at times.

Peace.

THE HAWTHORN TREE – A Tale of Hope

 

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Near a pond, near a wood, stood a hawthorn tree. It was very tall and very grand, and it would have been considered a very Majestic hawthorn tree had there not been a small problem.

 

After winter was over and the ice had thawed, the tree began to grow shoots along its branches, and the shoots began to sprout leaves. As the days became warmer, the tree began to grow flower buds; hundreds and hundreds of clusters of little white flower buds tightly curled into balls. The buds waited patiently to open into pretty hawthorn blossoms. They needed plenty of sun to warm them and encourage them to open up and say hello to the world.

 

As the days grew longer and the winter clouds began to dissolve away, the hawthorn tree prepared itself to burst into blossom. The buds became plumper and their stalks grew longer, lifting them away from the leaves so that they could capture as much of the sun as they could when it passed by.

 

When the time came that the sun was warm and bright enough, the buds readied themselves to open up and blossom. They stretched their stems and followed the bright, golden orb as it made its way across the sky. But even though the day was long and the sun’s journey took it from one edge of the sky to the other, some of the buds could not see the sun. Some of the branches were facing the other way. The tree called out to the sun and asked it to send light and warmth to the other branches, but the sun said it was bound to travel along the same route every day and had no way to reach them. Even as it tried to send the warmest, brightest light to all parts of the tree, some of the branches would always remain in the shade, and the buds were never touched by the sun’s rays of life.

 

This continued for many years, and the tree continued to grow taller and wider and stronger. But it could never be a Majestic hawthorn tree, because there would always be a side of it that remained dark green; where the bees never visited and the insects and birds never made their homes. As spring brought warmer days, the sunny side of the hawthorn tree burst into glorious white blossoms, filling the air with heady perfumes and bringing the bees and the birds to its branches. But on the shady side of the tree, the buds remained tightly closed and were filled with sadness. They longed to be able to flourish and dance like the other blossoms, but they knew they were disadvantaged. They didn’t have the same opportunities as the blossoms on the sunny side, and they could not see how it was possible to grow when they never received any warmth or light from the sun. It had always been this way since the tree was a sapling, and they resigned themselves to believe it would always be this way in the future.

 

“We are doomed to stay closed,” one bud cried.

“Never to be pollinated,” wailed another.

“Never to be nested!” another called.

“Never to bloom,” sighed another.

“We may as well die,” whispered a fifth.

 

More buds joined the lament, until the shady side of the hawthorn tree was mourning with misery and defeat.

“Nonsense!”

A voice piped up from the middle of the shady side and stopped the wailing in its tracks.

“Our side of the tree may be dark, and it may be cold and gloomy … but we did not become buds just to give up now!”

A young bud stretched its stem as the others looked on. The bud continued:

“Will you wallow in your own misery forever? You think because we live in the shade we cannot find our own light.  We may not have such an easy, warm and bright life as those on the other side of the tree, but surely, that should make us stronger! I know we can still find a way to bloom. It will just need a little more effort. We have our nutrition and we have our health, and if we try a little harder and believe in ourselves, we can blossom too! The bees will visit us and the birds will nest. We are young and strong, and I, for one, am not ready to give up yet.”

With that, in spite of the darkness and in spite of the lack of warmth, the bud pushed and pushed and pushed until … pop!  It burst open to reveal the most beautiful blossom on the tree.

The other buds on the shady side cheered his success and, from him, gained a new determination to succeed, even in the shade. They pushed and pushed, and even when it all seemed too difficult, they willed each other on to push again. Soon the shady side of the hawthorn tree was full of blossoms, spreading their heady aroma across the pond and through the woods.

The hawthorn tree was very proud. It began fluffing up its leaves, shaking its blossoms, and stretching its branches higher for the world to see. Bees and birds and insects of all species came to visit from miles around to pollinate and make their homes there. The tree no longer had a patch of dark green where blossoms should have been. It was draped in the most marvellous cloak of white flowers on every branch and every side.

It truly was a Majestic hawthorn tree.

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© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

WPC: Letters and the Start of an Anti-Ansel Adams Series

Scroll down to the bottom if you’re looking for the Photo Challenge picture. (I call it “Lost Ball. It’s the only one I have with letters on at this time!)

For those who are new to the name Ansel Adams, he was an American photographer and an early version of a conservationist/environmentalist, who spent many years capturing the wild and wonderful landscapes of the Americas and particularly renowned for his photographs of Yosemite National Park.

His approach to photography was one of patience and enormity. He worked almost exclusively in black and white, and his noted contribution to photography (as we are often being reminded in photography classes) was the idea of “pure” or “straight” photography, using tiny apertures and very long shutter speeds. He founded “Group f64” with Edward Weston in 1932 and incorporating eleven well established photographers all using this approach to photography. This technique resulted in majestic landscapes with every part of the image, from foreground to the furthest subject (often a mountain peak) remaining in sharp focus. If you want to learn more, have a look here or here.

Anyway, back to me.

While I’m all for magnificent, powerful, vast, landscapy, black and white images, I have neither the patience, the time, the money, the transport, the knowledge, nor the tripod to reproduce one. So I have honed my own little niche, which I will christen the “Anti-Ansel Adams Series.” Not anti as in “against” or politically or personally opposed to.” In this case, I mean anti as in “kind of the opposite of.”

Basically, the photographs that I will induct into this exclusive domain will be produced using a cheap camera, with a cheap macro lens extended to its fullest extension, so that generally it will be no further than a couple of inches away from the subject it is pointed at. The shutter speed is set at “really, really fast”: minimally 1/500 sec and most likely between 1/1000th sec and 1/4000th sec. This is mainly because I do not possess a tripod, and when I’m thrusting my handheld camera into the face of an insect or a stinging nettle patch, it’s better to get things over with quickly.

Autofocus doesn’t work under those conditions, so I generally just edge the camera lens towards whatever takes my fancy until something looks “kind of interesting” on the LED screen (keeping in mind that the laser eye surgery I had ten years has now worn off with interest) and click the button with the index finger of the same hand that is dangling the camera.

The result is that, if I’m lucky, just one tiny bit of the picture will be in focus, and the rest will swirl around the rest of the frame in a very “painterly” style.

So, that’s my approach to photography.

Please feel free to join me next week, when I’ll describe my “Anti-Isambard Kingdom Brunel” approach to bridge-building (just kidding!)

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Click on the picture for more clarity – or not, as the case may be!

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

 

 

 

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

I went to Whitby last year for a day-trip on a coach. I have entered another set of photos for the weekly challenge on my sister blog here. After a day of solace looking around the more spiritual areas of the town, I wandered through the “lanes” where there were all sorts of quirky shops: sweet shops galore, charity shops, and shops selling hand-made crafts, clothes, and foodstuffs. There was even a smokehouse that sold its own kippers. But this alleyway caught my eye. You can see it leads down to the sea and the harbour/marina. But I love the name it has been given. I wonder if many people cross this threshold … Arguments Yard Threshold © Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

Categories: Alice's world | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Spring has sprung! WPC: Inside a snowdrop

Inside snowdrop 1

Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,    Chaste Snow-drop, venturous harbinger of Spring,      And pensive monitor of fleeting years! - William Wordsworth -

Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snow-drop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!
– William Wordsworth –

I lived overseas for many years (a two-week trip that lasted 17 years …), and despite my love of the wanderlust life, there were a few things I missed about England throughout that time: one was Marmite, another was Woodpecker Cider … and telephone boxes, and double decker buses, and Coronation Street, and sarcasm.
But, more than sherbet fountains or teabags or the Arctic Monkeys, after living in the sweltering balminess of places such as Southwest Texas and Louisiana, I found myself longing for seasons!
Granted, upstate New York had seasonal change, but their winters were a bit extreme, unless trudging through 8-foot snowdrifts is your idea of fun.
No, I missed English seasons – unpredictable, often erratic, with mild winters, cold summers, and slushy autumns … And most of all, I missed the English spring and the flowers that come with it.

So when I returned to England with my son and we “settled” in our first real home, I made a point of filling every nook and cranny of our tiny back yard with bulbs that flower every spring and herald the new green of the year.

Snowdrops are my particular favourite. There’s not a lot to them – just a trio of white waxy petals with a dash of green inside …. but they are often the first flowers to nuzzle their way through the frost, and the sight of them always brings a smile to my face.

(As usual, click on the picture for a better look).

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside … Gary Tyler’s world

Waiting here the world has turned a thousand times or more   Stranded like the man who never knew they'd stopped the war   Waiting for the pardon but the pardon never comes   I'm just waiting for the bus to take me home. - Chumbawamba -

Waiting here the world has turned a thousand times or more
Stranded like the man who never knew they’d stopped the war
Waiting for the pardon but the pardon never comes
I’m just waiting for the bus to take me home.
– Chumbawamba –

Those of you who remember my blog from the days before I went off the radar may also remember that I very rarely don my political head unless it is to talk about this guy. It would be incredibly remiss of me to ignore the opportunity to use this week’s theme of “inside” to remind you once more of the plight of Gary Tyler.

(There are lots of links in this post, so hold on to your hats! I particularly recommend the songs …).

This year is Gary’s 40th year inside the notorious Angola Prison in Louisiana, having been sentenced in 1974 for a murder he did not commit, at the tender age of just 16 years old. You can read the details of the case here, as published in the NY Times, and check out a previous post of mine here.

Two songs have been written about him by UB40 – “Tyler” appeared on their first album Signing Off, released way back in 1980 and talks of Gary having “been there five years and they won’t let him go.”  A further track called “Rainbow Nation” was recorded for their album TwentyFourSeven released in 2008. It is a sombre reminder about “the futility of writing songs (referring back to Tyler)  if you want to get something done” (Robin Campbell).

Gil Scott Heron’s “Angola, Louisiana” on his album Secrets (1978) and, more recently, Chumbawamba’s haunting “Waiting for the bus to take me home” on their album The Boy Bands have Won (2008) also tried to draw attention to the injustice of Gary’s plight, as did a young rap band with close family ties to the Neville Brothers called Deff Generation, who penned a song called “Gary Tyler” for their album Medicine in 2000. 

If this has tweaked any interest amongst you (and I hope it has…) you can watch a documentary report aired by Democracy Now! in the States about the case by clicking the link below.  Be aware, it’s a long piece – almost 45 minutes in total – but very illuminating. (It includes excerpts from an interview conducted with him way back when, beginning at around 22mins 20secs if you’re impatient).

http://www.democracynow.org/2007/3/1/the_case_of_gary_tyler_despite

If you’re wondering why I’m so strongly opinionated about this particular situation, it is because I was (am?) the graduate student who interviewed Gary in Angola many moons ago in 1997. Back then, I was just an ordinary person who had an extraordinary opportunity to interview this usually very private man for a full five-and-a-half hours in the bowels of one of the most notorious prisons.
I would normally shy away from drawing any attention to the “real” me – but as I appear to have been outed anyway (see yesterday’s brief post) then what the heck?

The excerpts you hear in the documentary were taped by me during that interview, and the majority of any photos you may find if you look up Gary Tyler images on the net were taken by me during that interview.

Sadly, Juanita Tyler, Gary’s mother and staunchest supporter, seen in the video, passed away last year. Let’s hope that the forty years she devoted to fighting for her son’s release were not in vain.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective OR “Fire in them thar trees!”

I like the idea of this week’s challenge. When I saw “perspective” on my email, I ignored the post for a while – thinking I had to start trying to find a picture with an obvious vanishing point, or something architectural, or a railway line fading into a blip somewhere in North Dakota …
But no. Nothing that straightforward it appears. Instead, we are given an example of a cropped photo giving a different perspective than the original.

Gotta love a bit of lateral thinking … just the way I like it.

So here’s mine. Don’t forget to click on the photo(s) for better and clearer pictures.

Here’s a plain old silver birch as you may (or may not) notice as you wander through the woods:
Birch from a distance

Look a bit closer, and you see the way the bark peels away from the tree and curls up:
Silver birch trunk

But look what magic happens when you catch one of those peely bits with the sun behind iit:
(there’s four pictures, so don’t click off after one)

Sun behind the clouds

Sun behind the clouds

Sun’s coming out to play …

Wait for it ...

Wait for it …

Tada!  Magic!

Tada!
Magic!

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2014]

Categories: Alice's world, Pictures | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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