Primrose Hill, NW3

I’ve been remiss.  I promised myself when I started this blog two months ago that I would try for one every two or three days over a period of three or four months and then review the situation.  And here I am, five days from the last post.  I can only put this down to the fact that we are in London and that I don’t have control of the diary and that my dear wife has set us a hectic schedule.   Excuses, excuses.

Primrose Hill is another of Northwest London’s valuable open air assets.  It has a character all of its own and from the top of this this grassy knoll are some fabulous views across London.  It is one of London’s protected viewpoints and is detached from The Regent’s Park by Prince Albert Road and the London Zoo.  

London Panorama Primrose 1.jpg


In essence, it is an northerly extension of The Regent’s Park and its amenities include an outdoor gym, a children’s playground, and toilets, which are all located on the south side.  And the trees in the park are kept low so as not to obscure the view.  (Toilets, by the way, are all-important to 70+ year olds.  It is essential to carry with you a mental map of the location of these facilities, each one surrounded by — it would appear — an isochrone of ever-decreasing diameter so that when the call comes you know to head towards the nearest public loo, hospital, pub, McDonald’s, Starbucks or whatever!)

The entrance to Primrose Hill is about a 12-minute walk from where we park ourselves when we come to London.   When I’m feeling lazy — or at least too lazy to head in the direction of Hampstead Heath, instead of turning left, I set off right in the opposite direction towards Primrose Hill.  When I’m feeling very lazy, I walk around the perimeter of the park where the slopes are less steep but most times I enter from Primrose Hill Road, look left, take three photographs and head up to the summit where I can look south and see London spread out in front of me.  It’s when I observe that view, I know for sure that I am in London again.  And although I’m probably treading on some thin ice as I write this, it’s this very specific view makes me feel comfortable and as if I’m at home.  Strange, as I don’t have any childhood memories of this place and only visited for the first time when I was all of 15.

On occasion, I walk from the summit to the eastern perimeter of the hill to observe the spire of St. Mark’s, just opposite the entrance to The Regent’s Park, as it rises between the trees and the lampposts with the tall buildings of the City of London and the cranes that are part of London’s constant rejuvenation situated behind it.

Primrose Hill St. Mark's.jpg

I’ve noticed that over the years, without actually realising it until several years after I began, that I have three spots from which I have taken dozens of photographs.  One is from the point at which I enter the park, turn left and look towards the summit; this always presents a different prospect, varying with the time of day, with the weather and from season to season.

Primrose entrancePrimrose entrance winter



My second point of focus is from the southern section of Albert Terrace looking west, from which point I can see several trees which also alter their appearance with the seasons.

Primrose 3 seasons.jpg

More recently, I have been photographing a clump of trees which, to my mind at least, mimic the contour of the hill itself, and which also change character with the seasons.  

And for whatever reason, I see these as the epitome of the essential quality of this wonderful space in London.

Primrose Trees.jpg

Three trees summer.jpg


Three trees autumn1.jpg


Three trees late autumn.jpg

Late Autumn

Three trees winter 1.jpg



There was even a day last November when a thick fog encompassed the whole of London and the result around Primrose Hill was simply astounding.  The trees were enshrouded by an inspissated cloak of moisture that the reproduction for this website simply doesn’t do justice.  The individual branches (there weren’t too many leaves) and, in particular, the spiders’webs were just ribbons of hanging water drops.  Even Photoshop couldn’t quite have dreamt this up.

Three trees fog 6

November 2015.  Thick fog

Snow White 601.jpg

On the summit of Primrose Hill, there is a stone edging that contains an inscription by William Blake, the English poet, painter, and printmaker, an influential figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.   The epigraph reads: “I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill.”  

Primrose summit.jpg

And that about sums it up, I guess!


Fun and games (3)

A couple of hours after I posted my previous blog in which I rambled on about Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw, I came across the following paragraph in Julian Barnes’ new novel, The Noise of Time, based on the life and struggle for survival of Dmitri Shostakovich, the foremost Russian composer of his era, a man threatened and cowed, persecuted and then used, by the Soviet régime for four decades.  Shostakovich was not particularly enamoured of Western socialists who visited the Soviet Union and who perceived it and proclaimed it to be the utopian paradise they had long dreamed of while its inhabitants, Shostakovich among them, were starved, sent to the gulags or murdered not just for opposing the regime but for being suspected of — no, just dreamed of —as opposing it.  The combination of their naïveté, callousness and sheer hypocrisy appalled him — and Shaw more than most.

But he [Shostakovich] was more revolted by the famous Western humanitarians who came to Russia and told its inhabitants they were living in paradise.  Malraux, who praised the White Sea Canal without ever mentioning that its constructors were worked to death.  Feuchtwanger, who fawned over Stalin and ‘understood’ how the show trials were a necessary part in the development of democracy.  The singer, Robeson, loud in his applause for political killing. Romain Rolland and Bernard Shaw, who disgusted him the more because they had the temerity to admire his music while ignoring how Power treated him and other artists. He’d refused to meet Rolland, pretending to be ill.  But Shaw was the worse of the two. Hunger in Russia? he had asked rhetorically. Nonsense, I’ve been fed as well as anywhere in the world. And it was he who said, ‘You won’t frighten me with the world “dictator”.’ And so the credulous fool hobnobbed with Stalin and saw nothing. Though why indeed should he be afraid of a dictator? They hadn’t had one in England since the days of Cromwell. He [Shostakovich] had been forced to send Shaw the score of his Seventh Symphony. He should have added to his signature on its title page the number of peasants who had starved to death while the playwright was gorging himself in Moscow.

Hypocrisy is always with us and it’s not only politicians who practise the art but intellectuals as well.  In fact, the latter tend to do it more callously than the former.  Having said that, and having watched the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson — Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to give him his full complement of names — announce that he would be campaigning for the UK leaving the EU, I saw it in action.  Reading his body language and facial expressions, it seemed to my untrained eye that Boris was less interested in the relationship between Europe and Britain and more between Boris and Number Ten.  Perhaps it’s just the sceptic and cynic in me.  Who knows?

 All of this is so serious and depressing, that it leaves many people with a desire to climb walls, just like the late Ofra Zimbalista’s Blue Men installations, did for years!

Climbing walls1.jpg

Blue Man Climbing Wall



Most of the Afghans I’ve come across in London have been swarthy males with moustaches who drive minicabs for a living.  However, a few months ago, on Primrose Hill, another of Northwest London’s landscape assets, I came across a blonde Afghan and her keeper.  

One doesn’t have too much time to compose this kind of picture.  So, if you look closely, you’ll see that this one’s not quite in focus, which is kind of a pity because the colours were pretty good.  However, overall, it looked passable in black and white (which is often the case) and as I passed by this couple, I started to whistle a Gershwin tune.  I provide the lyrics of the first verse here, with a single alteration, for which I apologise profusely to the late Buddy DeSylva who created them almost a century ago.

Tell me, tell me, what did you do to me?
I just got a thrill that was new to me,
when your two hands were pressed to mine.

When you held me, I wasn’t snuggling.
You should know I really was struggling.
I´ve only met you, and I shouldn’t let you, but…

Oh, do it again.
I may say, “no, no, no, no, no,”
But do it again.

Oh, Do it again!1.jpg

Do It Again!


Which brings us full steam ahead to the next image.  About three years ago, I was walking through Yarqon Park in Tel Aviv one cold (well, cold by Tel Aviv standards) winter morning.  From a couple of hundreds of meters distant, I noticed what seemed to be a head of steam arising from one of the bicycle parks in the park.  As I got closer, I saw that it actually resembled a miniature version of the cloud that would form over a scrum at a rugby match at Lansdowne Road in Dublin in the time when I used to attend such events.  

One of my fellow parkees had chosen to perform his winding down exercises following what I assume was a strenuous run and had created his own, personal, cloud as a result.

Steam (7).jpg

Full Steam Ahead (1)

Steam (8) copy.jpg

Full Steam Ahead (2)


Full steam ahead would probably suit this gentleman as well.  I watched him arrive at his pitch on Oxford Street one day last summer.  It was much high theatre and quite a spectacle.  The pipes were assembled, the headgear was placed carefully in position, the sporran was adjusted, as were the sleeves so as to expose just the correct amount of tattooed arm.  The socks were checked so as to come just below the knee.  Just about the only thing he wasn’t fine-tuned was his skirt — and his bagpipes (but of course that goes without saying!  

It seems that he might not have been aware of a piece by Hugh Trevor-Roper, “The Invention of Tradition: The Highland Tradition of Scotland”, a chapter in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger’s edited book The Invention of Tradition:

“Today, whenever Scotchmen gather together to celebrate their national identity, they assert it openly by certain distinctive national apparatus. They wear the kilt, woven in a tartan whose colour and pattern indicates their ‘clan’; and if they indulge in music, their instrument is the bagpipe. This apparatus, to which they ascribe great antiquity, is in fact largely modern. It was developed after, sometimes long after, the Union with England against which it is, in a sense, a protest. Before the Union, it did indeed exist in vestigial form; but that form was regarded by the large majority of Scotchmen as a sign of barbarism : the badge of roguish, idle, predatory, blackmailing Highlanders who were more of a nuisance than a threat to civilized, historic Scotland. And even in the Highlands, even in that vestigial form, it was relatively new: it was not the original, or the distinguishing badge of Highland society. …

… Whereas tartan – that is, cloth woven in a geometrical pattern of colours – was known in Scotland in the sixteenth century (it seems to have come from Flanders and reached the Highlands through the Lowlands), the philibeg – name and thing – is unknown before the eighteenth century. So far from being a traditional Highland dress, it was invented by an Englishman after the Union of 1707; and the differentiated ‘clan tartans’ are an even later invention. They were designed as part of a pageant devised by Sir Walter Scott in honour of a Hanoverian king; and owe their present form to two other Englishmen. “

I'd blow my kishkes out for you.jpg

Full Steam Ahead (3)








Fun and games (2)

Open any dictionary of quotations in English and you’ll find that after William Shakespeare, who tops the list with a large gap between himself and second place, the next two most prolific providers are a pair of Protestant Dubliners, Oscar Wilde and Bernard Shaw, born two years apart but with half a century separating their departures from this world to another, more spiritual place.  Though contemporaries, they apparently only met on a couple of occasions and they wouldn’t have mixed in the same circles.  (Having said that, Wilde’s father operated on Shaw’s old man to cure a squint, overdid it and left him squinting in the opposite direction, probably looking left!)  

And fun as it is to read their aphorisms, they must have both been pains in the neck to have shared a dinner table with.  Of the two, I think Shaw was the more biting although Wilde’s wit obviously saved him on more than one occasion. Incidentally, Shaw was also an Oscar. For, as well as winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, he also won an Oscar in 1939 (really!) for the best screenplay (Pygmalion), which I suppose might make him the only winner of both of these prestigious awards.

Shaw had something to say about photographers and as might be expected, it wasn’t very complimentary.  According the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, he wrote in the Introduction to the Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Royal Photographic Society in 1906: “The photographer is like the cod which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”  What on earth would he have said a century later with the advent of the digital camera?  I suppose it’s a sort of reaction to people like Henri Cartier-Bresson who is reported to have said: “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance which can make them come back again.”  Which, I suppose is what it’s all about.  

The latter summed up his approach to photography thus: “For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression.”  Interestingly, his 1952 book, the one that made his name, was published in English as The Decisive Moment, which elicits seriousness, whereas the original French edition was entitled Images à la Sauvette, which loosely translates as Pictures on the Sly, which, at least in terms of street photography, is perhaps more to the point.


So, I will continue in a similar vein to the last post.  A couple of years ago  while walking through Tel Aviv port, I came across what I thought was a man at prayer.  On hands and knees, it seemed as if he engaged in Muslim prayer.  However, something struck me as not quite right. He was wearing shoes but as I understand it, there’s no obligation for Muslims at prayer to remove their shoes.  Then I detected that he was facing the sea and in my atlas, facing the sea in Tel Aviv means that you are facing the mid-Mediterranean rather than Mecca.  So, it had to be something else.  I took two or three pictures and he must have heard a click and he was none too happy.  However, he calmed down and explained to me that he spends his days with a torch and a length of wire search for coins that have been dropped between the boards.  Not the quickest way to earn money but I suppose it keeps him out of trouble!



I already mentioned a few posts back that Friday mornings at Tel Aviv Port have the Farmers’ Market.  The market is not all fruit and vegetables and people — although thay are its most obvious elements.   In recent weeks I’ve noticed a large canine turn up (with its keeper/owner — although she doesn’t seem to be around all of the time).  The strange thing is that all the stallholders seem to know the dog as its tail wags its way from stall to stall.  It will willingly accept gifts from whomsoever chooses to be kind and I’m sure that if it were a person and not a dog it would be a large person with a broad smile telling jokes and making people laugh.  Everybody’s friend, in other words.  The ultimate shaggy dog.

Ultimate shaggy dog picture1.jpg

The Ultimate Shaggy Dog


Yesterday morning, I went for a walk on Hampstead Heath.  It was chilly but bright and sunny and a walk on the Heath is always worthwhile.  This 320 ha of open space, an enclave within the urban fabric, is one of the wonders of London.  The part of the Heath that I walk, between Gospel Oak and Hampstead, isn’t looking its greatest at the moment as the Hampstead Heath Ponds Project has reached the Mixed Pond. ( Bulldozers and heavy earth moving equipment seemed to be working at full swing yesterday.  Yet, it’s all for the good and when finished, it will make this wonderful urban asset even more valuable.

Walk over, I had the mundane task of purchasing some provisions at the local Marks & Spencer store at South End Green and with two bags to lug, I decided on a bus home.  While waiting at the bus stop, a car came down Pond Street and as the traffic stopped waited for a bus to turn right into Pond Street, I found myself gazing at the car and its passenger.  As I observed the scene, the caption came to me, so I turned on the camera again and took the picture.

Hybrid:Pedigree 1.jpg

I’ve got pedigree, it’s the car that’s a hybrid!


And while on the subject of dogs, last spring we decided to go on a short trip for our 70th birthdays.  We had wanted to go to Paris but to cut a long story very short, we ended up flying to Barcelona.  However, I wanted to do a little more than just visit Barcelona and we took the train to Bilbao, mainly because I was keen to see Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum.  I had been to Bilbao once before, in 1986, en route to a conference in San Sebastian and my memory of it was a pretty grim rundown industrial city.  A fortnight before we travelled, we were in Zikhron Yaaqov, not far from Haifa, where was photographing a performance by one of the laureates of the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition.  Over coffee, as the hotel owner was putting some books from her private library on shelves in the lounge, we chose one which discussed the politics behind the Guggenheim Foundation’s choice of Bilbao for its new museum, issues involved in its construction and the ways in which it was designed to change the face of Bilbao, turning it into a post-industrial city.

Gehry’s building “in the flesh” didn’t disappoint one little bit, nor did the pieces of art inside and outside.  One of the pieces outside the front of the building, is the 9m tall structure made of stainless steel, soil, and flowering plants, Jeff Koons’ Puppy.( It’s an ever-changing structure, changing with the light, the seasons, the differential blooming of the flowers.  It’s amazing.  We saw it twice, just a week apart, but the two viewings differed from one another.  At first, we couldn’t quite discern what or why but then we realized that on the second visit, the flowers had darker colours and the whole installation took on a transformed appearance.  The ultimate ultimate shaggy dog!


Puppy — or the Ultimate Ultimate Shaggy Dog


Fun and games (1)

We’re off to London for a couple of weeks on Tuesday 16th so I will have to see how writing blogs works from there.  Meanwhile, I’m starting the next post from Tel Aviv and I guess that should I get around to it that it will be based on photographs generated from the visit itself but you never know.  The first week looks like it will be quite cold, around freezing and rather grey, with the possibility of some light snow.  From what I remember from the last time we were there in cold weather, the worst part of walking around with the camera is trying to keep my balance on the frozen snow and ice.

However, just to keep both you and I happy (or not, as the case may be) I’ve prepared some photographs that are “fun photographs” to keep me going should I fail to get outside when we’re there.  I find that a large part of the fun with some photographs is in applying captions.  I know, I know — a picture is worth a thousand words and if the image can’t convey a message then it’s hardly a good picture.  However, I think that there are many cases in which a few choice words enhance the image.  In fact, quite often I come across a scene and the caption has popped into my head even before I’ve taken the photograph.  And anyway, even great artists usually provide their creations with names or titles, so why can’t I, one not even a simple journeyman photographer, do the same?

Look at the photo below, which I captioned “Happy-Go-Lucky”.  We were on a train from Barcelona to Bilbao last May when I went to buy some sandwiches and drinks.  As I approached the buffet carriage, there was the sound of some very loud laughter emanating from within.  Three young women were in hysterics.  I didn’t understand a word of what they were saying to one another but each one of the trio seemed to set the other two off with even more giggling, guffaws and glee.  It was about 10 in the morning and they didn’t seem in any way drunk or high, so I assumed they were just in high spirits.  And they really wanted me to take their photograph (it’s amazing how many people seem to want you to photograph them even though they’ll never see the image themselves.)  Rather than disappoint them, I pointed and clicked and the result was Happy-Go-Lucky.

Happy go lucky.jpg



From train to train.  When in London, I prefer taking the buses to riding the Tube — but often there’s little alternative.  The buses can get stuck in traffic and take an age, so you hop into the Underground and get from A to B a little more quickly — when it’s working properly and they aren’t on strike.  The Tube has another advantage over the bus and that is that you can photograph on the sly much more easily than on the bus.

Last summer, I took the a ride on the Northern Line southbound.  I was sitting opposite these two young teenage boys and I noticed that they seemed, as younger people do today, to be engrossed in staring at their cellphones.  Short attention spans, no doubt.

Distracted minds 1a.jpg

Distracted Minds

And then, on closer inspection, I noticed that the lad on the right of the picture, although holding the guillotine of attenuated attentiveness in his left hand seemed to be interested in something more to the point than whatever was being displayed on his tiny monitor.  So … I followed his gaze … and found the object of the boy’s assiduous intentness.  Yes, the damsel in question, the object of his already diminished attention span, was definitely more interesting in the flesh than any avatar that might have been seen on his phone!

Distracted minds 2a.jpg

Distracter of Distracted Minds


There’s a shop in Tel Aviv not far from here we live that sells women’s clothes.  The owner of the shop, it would appear, is keen on cats.  However, I’m not — and I couldn’t envisage anyone in my family actually buying something from her.  The cats sit around outside and inside the shop; some actually sleep in cardboard boxes in the window!  

Not far away there’s a rooster.  I photographed it a couple of years ago with my iPhone as it waltzed around a tree on Yehuda Hamaccabi Street, a narrow but very busy road in North Tel Aviv and thought that was that, a picture of a rooster on an urban thoroughfare!  Well, fancy that!  

Then, a few months ago I saw the rooster again and this time I had my camera in hand. The bird in question was parading up and down a side street outside the cat-infested shop. The cats were taking no notice whatsoever.  In fact, it seemed like there was no real eye contact between cockerel and felines.  Somehow it reminded me of a place where I’ve spent most of my life, for better or for worse, in which people understand that they just have to share territory with another they’re not very keen on.

Peaceful coexistence1.jpg

Peaceful Coexistence


And à propos peaceful coexistence.  A few months ago, I accompanied Maoz for a morning at the cemetery on Trumpeldor Street in Central Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv’s oldest, where several of early Zionism’s central icons are buried.  He needed some pictures for a publication and I agreed to provide them.  Work over, on exiting the cemetery, we went off to have a coffee and a chat in a nearby café and I noticed the situation below.  I thought it was such a typical Tel Aviv / Israeli / Jewish situation that I couldn’t stop laughing.

Love thy neighbour1.jpg

Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself



A few months ago, en route home from my morning walk, I passed by our local friendly greengrocer’s store and came across this scene.  There was hardly time to point and click, with the result that the picture’s not quite in focus.  In fact, in colour it’s an absolutely nothing picture — but in black and white, it’s something else.  They’re Two of a Kind, in fact.

Like owner, like dog1.jpg

Two of a Kind

P.S.  This post was completed in London, so after a spate of offs-and-ons, we made it!


One week in the life of …

Writing this blog is becoming a bit addictive, almost as addictive as remembering to take the camera with me on exiting the house.  Actually, I exaggerate somewhat in order to make a point — or several points.  First, I’m not an addict; I’m not even vaguely obsessive but I do admit to missing something if I don’t do either of these two things.  I suppose it’s like drinking: I like to imbibe now and then but I don’t get a fit of Shaker Loops if I miss a drink today or tomorrow or the day after.  So if I fail to take photos a day or two with the camera, it’s hardly the end of the world.  In the same vein, I’m trying to post two or three times a week to the blog but if I miss once or twice, it’s hardly a catastrophe — but I’d like to keep it up for another while at least.

So what shall I do today?  Have I treated you to a week in pictures — if not in the life of then at least of the mornings of — one, SW?  I managed to get out last week every day and noticed some things that I thought were interesting on each.  I clicked 330 times and managed to get rid of about 150.  That’s still at least 100 too many!

Day 1: Sunday February 7

It’s cold and it’s blustery and particularly grey  but not raining.  This is not exactly what most people usually associate with the Mediterranean but it’s quite normal.  The Reading power station appeared gloomy and the clouds were threatening—and I think I’ve already posted a version of this scene earlier but so what?  The port is wet and almost empty of people and the inner port area is particularly wild — behind its windbreaks, this is usually a calm area.

 Day 1 Reading

Day 1 Port.jpg

Day 1 Port inner.jpg


Day 2: Monday February 8

It’s exactly 58 years (by the civil calendar) since my barmitzvah at Terenure Synagogue in Dublin.  That event occurred just two days after the air disaster at Munich involving a plane carrying members of the Manchester United football team in which 23 people died.  Needless to say, my barmitzvah was not the main talking point of the day (even in our household, I think).  It was also a bloody cold icy day and an elderly man on a bike (in retrospect, he was probably ay least a decade younger than I am now) was hit by something and fell onto the road landing on all fours just as I walked past him. Strange what we remember. However, as they say, the show just had to go on and it did! 

Anyway, for some reason already forgotten, I refrained from setting off early in the morning of last Monday and only later went to meet a friend for coffee.  At his request, I took two photographs of what we called “nature resurgent”. This is when, deep in the urban fabric of Tel Aviv, you notice that plants are growing spontaneously on structures — on balconies, from crevices in the walls, between pavement flags, and so on.

Day 2 Nature resurgent.jpg


Day 3: Tuesday February 9

This was the day of my gross ignominy when I took a virtually full memory card in my camera and two batteries, one almost without power and the other totally drained.  However, before that little catastrophe, I did manage to take about 20 photographs: the cyclamen in the pot that our neighbour put outside near the gate a couple of months ago, which I have been photographing as they bloomed and now wither away;   the memorial to fallen soldiers in Yarqon Park among the palm trees where my camera informed that memory was full; and the lighthouse near the power station, which is where both batteries failed.

Day 3 Cyclamen.jpg

Day 3 Fallen soldiers.jpgDay 3 Lighthouse.jpg


Day 4: Wednesday February 10

Here, I repeated the walk of the previous day, this time with empty memory card and full batteries rather than vice versa.  My first stop was outside a restaurant where I saw a photo in trying  to align the hoops.  I’d tried this a couple of years ago when the hoops were not encumbered with rope but found the need to balance while seeking the alignment difficult and it was even more difficult this year.  The second of the two pics is the one I ended up with a couple of years ago and which now hangs in the living room.

Day 4 Hoops.jpg

Hoops Final?.jpg

I continued on through the port and watched this guy organizing his line; the hands interested me.  He fiddled with the nylon for a couple of minutes before he was satisfied and cast it out to sea — but what for is beyond me because none of these men (they’re almost all men) ever seem to catch anything.  Consequently, I think I am missing the point of the exercise, which seems not to be to catch fish but simply to pass the time of day.

Day 4 Fish fingers

I’d photographed the carousel before but always from the north.  Last week, I walked around to the sea wall to look at it from the other side.  I suppose it’s the shape and the red & white which are attractive.

Day 4  Carousel.jpg

There’s an old crane from when the port was active along the sea wall.  Today, it’s there as a memorial and/or for decorative purposes.  Makes a pretty picture.

Day 4  Crane.jpg

On the way home, I needed to visit the locksmith to have some keys cut.  I noticed that behind the counter, he kept a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, one of the icons of Hassidic Jewry and some of whose followers (Habad) regard him as the Messiah.  This seemed a bit odd and on inquiring, I was informed that members of Habad came along one Friday to ask the proprietor to put on phylacteries (small leather boxes containing Hebrew texts on vellum, worn by [some] Jewish men at morning prayer); he complied and they presented him with a picture of the rebbe.  Since then, he’s regarded the picture as a sort of mascot as they’ve left him alone on Fridays since!


En route home from the locksmith, I came across a man apparently climbing up a wall (which is what I think I would like to do when writing a blog becomes a bit “sticky” — and then, just a couple of hundred meters from the house, I notice what seemed initially just a telegraph pole but on closer examination, seemed to have been a neighbourhood noticeboard for some considerable time!

Day 4 Climbing wallsDay 4 Noticeboard


Day 5: Thursday February 11

Thursday brought a change from the routine.  Maoz and his wife had asked me to photograph mosaics on the walls of two specific buildings in north Tel Aviv.  I remembered the address of the first but when I arrived I couldn’t remember quite what I was supposed to photograph — until I saw it, covering one wall of what is today a supermarket, hidden by vegetation.  It seems as if nobody could care less about this piece of art, which is rather scandalous.  There were two mosaics at the second address, one of which appears below.

En route home, I espied a hydrant which had been caught by the scruff of the neck, a crow caught red-beaked creating litter; had it been human, it might possibly have incurred a fine.  And then there was proof that God hears all prayers, even standing in a moving bus.

Day 5 Mosaic1

Day 5 Mosaic2.jpg

Day 5 Hydrant scruff

Day 5 Morning prayer bus


Day 6: Friday February 12

Friday brought a walk through the park to the Friday morning Market.  Something moved in the bushes just as I came to the footbridge in the port area— a kingfisher but I had the wrong lens on the camera but what the hell!  Then, there was one of these (mostly female) groups with group trainer screaming commands in American English; they don’t like people photographing them because it’s apparently a cash-only business.  At the market, I encountered a variety of Brassica I’d never seem here before, which made me appreciate the geometric powers of Mother Nature.  And then, off home to shower and change and then down the street to the Conservatory to hear Tami perform a Haydn piano trio and Brahms’ first piano quartet, with the Rondo alla Zingarese final movement.

Day 6 Kingfisher.jpg

Day 6 CalisthenicsDay 6 Green cauli

Day 6 Brahms


Day 7: Saturday February 12

We arrive at the weekend on a gorgeous, almost springlike morning.

More fishermen in the park, though like their comrades by the sea, they seem intent on just sitting there and exchanging small talk — and more ladies exercising (this time from a vantage point I’d not tried before).  While I was photographing the ladies, I noticed a hoopoe active at a tree beside me.  As it’s Vivien’s favourite bird and they usually don’t stay still long enough to get a decent shot, I did what I had to and ended the week there.

Day 7 Hoopoe


Street markets (1): Friday@T-A Port

The other morning, I was sorely reminded that I am no more than an amateur photographer.  I grabbed the camera and chose the lens I had decided to use and checked that I had a spare battery (the one major fly in the ointment of the Fuji X-T1 is that a fully-charged battery doesn’t last too long and you always need to have a spare to hand).   Off I went: look, click; click, look.  I got as far as the north bank of the Yarqon Stream when I was rudely informed by the camera: MEMORY FULL!  Damn it!  When I was reconstructing my lost pictures last week, I had removed the memory card from the camera and replaced it with another, but one with a smaller capacity and in the interim, I had managed to fill it.  So Lesson #1 was that I need to check how many pictures I have left on the memory card before I set out.  It was chilly this morning but I had no option other than to stand where I was and squint at the LCD monitor to delete unwanted pictures from the memory card.

That done, I continued on my walk as far as the bridge across the Yarqon estuary when I got another warning from the camera — a blinking red battery sign, which means “Matey, you’ve had it; I’m exhausted and I’m going to shut down.”  And then it did.  But not to worry; I knew it was going to happen somewhere along the walk so I popped the drained battery into my pocket and the fresh one into the camera and turned it on, whereupon I was confronted by a repeat performance as the second empty battery shut itself down on start-up.  I had forgotten to charge it the last time I got home.  So, Lesson #2 was that it’s not enough to check the memory card and remember to take a spare battery, you have to check that the power unit actually has some power in it.

I was embarrassed for myself and I was agitated.  How could I have made such an elementary error?  Goofy! Wally! TipeshDummkopf! Imbécile! Amadán! E E J I T!  No professional would have been so sloppy and inattentive.  However, my disquietude was caused less by my ineptitude and more by the thought that here I was, without a functioning device for recording visual images and that, as a consequence, I might miss the photo of the year.  As it happens, it was all quite run-of-the-mill and I arrived home with 20 or so images rather than the usual number.

Anyway … not that I’m over that mini-trauma, let me continue to flog you my slog at my blog (there are days when the writing is easier and there are days when you have to squeeze something out) but that’s the way it always was with writing.  So, rather than try to wring out something from a subject that I thought might be interesting and turned out to be less so as I continued writing, let me do an easy topic.

One of the most colourful regularly occurring events at Tel Aviv Port is the Friday morning Farmers’ Market.  The stalls are set up at the northern end of the port and the vendors unload their wares in what is, for the rest of the week, a public car park.

Truth to tell, I have no idea where the farmers come from, whether or not the produce they sell is cheaper, fresher, of higher quality or otherwise “better” than anything anyone can buy from the local greengrocer but it attracts many of a certain type of people.  The sellers, for the most part, exude an aura of rural pioneering authenticity.   They seem to be a type of Israeli fast vanishing from the scene, the sort of people that made this place sort of acceptable half a century ago.  For the most part, they contrast with the traders who dominate the Carmel Market, the main street market in Tel Aviv, and I suppose that this is what makes it seem attractive to its clientele, most of who appear not to be the kind who look for bargains in the Carmel Market.  

The vast majority of the clientele seem to be people like me — middle-aged to elderly North Tel Avivians, which begs the question of whether I consider myself middle-aged or elderly— a good question, actually. (It’s interesting, isn’t it, how we use the euphemism “elderly” when often what we mean is “old” or “aged”.)  In that case, I am definitely not elderly.  Let’s say “enhancingly and enchantingly  middle-aged”. 

Customers 2

The reason I try to make sure to get down to the port area on Fridays is that I like to photograph the goods on sale at the Farmers’ Market.  In principle, I like street markets — as a photographer.  I’m not that keen on them as a shopper, mainly because they involve “schlep”, in which case, I become not a shopper but a schlepper.  (For those of you unfamiliar with a Yiddishism that has entered the English language and has been partially absorbed within it, “schlep” is defined by my dictionary as “to haul or carry (something heavy or awkward): e.g., she schlepped her groceries home.  Or, as was reported in a review of the Oxford American Dictionary in the Journal of American Studies in 1982, quoting a report in the New York Post in September 1957: “Queen Elizabeth will schlep along 95 pieces of baggage on her trip here”.  So I tend not buy because schlepping home tomatoes, cooked chickpeas, bread and flowers while trying to photograph them simultaneously is a bigger schlep than it’s worth, as Her Majesty would have discovered had she tried it, especially if she had another 95 pieces to schlep along behind her!  So I satisfy myself with recording the goods (it’s the colours that attract me) and, on occasion, the people.  And occasionally, if something really catches my fancy, I will even buy something there.

So all that remains for me is to let the photos and their captions and/or my one-liner comments to tell their own story.


Root vegetables come in many different colours …

… and fungi in many different shapes and colours …

Dates are usually brown (sometimes golden or yellow)


WHITE asparagus?


The silliest vegetable I know of or have ever tried …

Artichoke flower

… until it flowers, at which time it makes some sense!


Winter soup time

Tomatoes 1Nowadays, they come in all shapes, and sizes and colours — but red is still the best!


Red label = Quick headache.  Green label = Instant


A blue vein to clog an artery!


Deep purple


Don’t let the colour fool you!


For you, Hazel!


And sometimes, even Wayne Rooney makes it to the Friday morning market!


Rain and wind

I went for coffee with my friend Maoz yesterday morning.  It’s something we’ve been doing on and off since we moved to Tel Aviv a decade ago.  It used to be a regular Friday morning affair but of late it’s become less so, mostly my fault, I fear.  We chat about lots of things but if I were to write what we discuss, it would be revealing far too much.  He reads these posts and I think that he forgives me for wasting whatever talents I might have on this exercise.  Anyway, today he made a comment, which he delivered to me orally in our café: “You spend too much time dwelling on the past”.  He’s quite probably right and I shall try to do less of this as time goes on.  Nevertheless, I must say that from my vista and in my perspective, there is probably more past than future so why not write about it?  If I add this to my good wife’s comment that I denigrate my own skills too often, then I really must make up my mind to be more positive about things (at least when I write on this blog).  

So, begging Maoz’ indulgence one last time, I am reminded that 35 years ago, I wrote a short review of a book — Facts about Ireland — in the scholarly journal Irish Geography. Authored by several phantoms in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the material ranged from the Irish abroad to the words of A Soldier’s Song, the Irish national anthem.  As a government “handbook”, its main purpose was to present positive facts about Ireland and it contained a profusion of photographs.  However, cynic as I was even in those days when I was half the age I am now, I wrote: “… one might draw attention to a pleasant new ‘fact about Ireland’. With over a hundred photographs of the great outdoors, it is quite evident that it has stopped raining.”  In other words, although the Irish Meteorological Service reports that the average number of wet days (days with more than 1mm of rain) ranges from about 150 days a year along the east and south-east coasts to about 225 days a year in parts of the west and although several pictures in the book showed that there were actual clouds in the sky, there wasn’t a single image taken in the rain!  Although with all the ballyhoo about global warming and climate change, maybe 35 years ago it didn’t rain and it’s just that my memory is playing tricks—as it does on occasion when I think about it and try to remember what it was I thought about.

What I take this to mean is that this anomaly appears to indicate a proclivity amongst photographers who shoot outside — and not just amateur photographers — to choose a day with sunny weather.  No, not just a day without rain but a day with sunshine.  A sunny day brings out the full range of colours whereas a cloudy day just emphasises the shades of grey about.  Having said that, in the part of the world in which I am writing, where the sun shines a lot, the light is usually too bright during most of the day to do the range of colours justice (although not yesterday, which was an ‘Irish’ day!).

I’m no different to most other people who wield a camera in that I prefer to be outside when it’s sunny.  Be that as it may, I do go out when the weather is cloudy and I have even been known to go out and about in the rain to take “bad weather” shots from time to time.  I even have a rule of thumb for this.  If I’ve decided on a morning of “bad weather photography” and it’s not actually raining as I depart the house, I’ll go.  However, if it’s already raining, then I’m back inside and on to the exercise bike.  And, no, I don’t carry an umbrella (I loathe umbrellas—there is nothing worse than sitting on the London Underground with a wet umbrella held between your knees) because then it would be hard to hold the camera.  And I don’t wear waterproofs (I wear a raincoat and shorts, on the understanding that if my upper body is warm and I keep moving, then I’m OK.  To wear long trousers means that they would adhere to my legs when wet.  And once I’m en route home—as distinct from ending up somewhere else—I don’t really care how wet I get.)   Moreover, as a result of this recent wet weather activity, it turns out that I’m also testing Fuji’s claim that its X-T1 camera body and its WR lenses actually are “weather resistant”.

It wasn’t always like this though.  I suppose I began photographing in wet weather on February 1 2008.  It was a couple of months after I’d done a short course in digital photography and everything was new.  It was a stormy day and I wanted to see what the Mediterranean looked like in such weather, so I walked through the park to the port and headed south.  The sea was pretty rough and they sky was a dark grey but as I approached the central section of the port area, the early morning sun appeared for just two or three minutes, lighting up the waves that were battering the coast from the west, and then it became dull again.  I managed to capture the storm and the sun in a series of images, of which this one was the highest quality, not just because of the contrast between the dark sky and the highlighted white foam but because this still picture is so full of movement — the sea, the waves battering the coast, the foam rising, the gulls wheeling around and around—and squawking, although only I can hear them.

For eight years, I’ve regarded this picture as a sort of benchmark image.  I’ve seen the sea wilder, the sky inkier, the waves higher and the foam whiter — but never quite in this combination.  And none of the individual components on its own provides an image quite as dynamic as this.

Each time there’s a storm, I go back hoping that I can record a better image than this one because my only regret is that it was taken with my first “proper” digital camera.  At the time, I thought it was a wonderful machine and it wasn’t bad, but not really quite up to the job even though the result isn’t at all unsatisfactory.

The only “storm” picture that I feel can rival this one is the one that appears below, when the wind was so strong and the junk being thrown up by the sea so dense that I thought I might lose my camera and injure myself if I didn’t get out of there quickly.  Fortunately, both I and the camera survived the ordeal.

T-APort rubbish.jpg

Violent sea.  Tel Aviv Port.  January 9 2013

The sea at Tel Aviv Port.  February 1 2008

Recapitulation, reworking, reiteration. [1]

One of the advantages of being conservative with a small “c”, of course, (i.e., one of the advantages of being unadventurous and/or lazy, of course) is that you get to review and rework things.  What I mean is that by walking more or less the same route most days, you get to see the same things in different ways.  The light is different so the colours vary; the weather changes and as we all know, things don’t look the same on a grey day or a blustery day as on a sunny one or a calm one; the angles of view are never quite the same so although you think you are photographing an object that is identical to something you have photographed before, there are always subtle differentiations.  And, then, as you would expect (or not, as the case may be), there’s my mood.  There are days when I feel I have to go out and photograph (because I think that if I don’t, I am going to miss out on a Sony or Shell prize, which I am going to miss out on anyway because I’ve never entered) and then there are days when I am absolutely gung-ho and the length of my index finger diminishes ever some slightly due to clicking the shutter button.  

Some days, I’ll come back with 100 pictures or more on the memory card; other days, I’m lucky to have 10.  But I’ve never come back with nothing—and that’s what so amazing.  Because although I plod more or less the same path each time, there are always things I’ve never seen before.  This can be because something new has popped up overnight.   It might be my limited powers of observation.  It can also be because people simply do different things all the time.  But it is never boring — although I have to admit that there are some days when I say to myself that I really should be more adventurous and walk somewhere else for a change.

I’ll come back to this issue of variety and repetition, reworking and reiteration, in different ways and have already displayed two photographs of the promenade at Tel Aviv Port, one in wind and rain and the other on what I called a “normal day”.  

But let me start by looking at the most prominent structure on a walk through Yarqon Park in north Tel Aviv—the chimney of the Reading Power Station.  There’s nothing romantic about it whatsoever, it’s just a tall concrete tube.  And it isn’t even a very tall one—it’s just 150m high.  There isn’t even any artwork on its exterior to mark it out as something worth looking at.  I include below a picture of the chimney, which accompanies the Wikipedia entry.  From the light, one can ascertain that it was taken on a sunny afternoon, and it can be regarded as the “standard” picture; I suppose as it’s the only photograph in the Wikipedia article, it has some sort of quasi-official status.  However, that doesn’t stop other people photographing it and show how different it can appear each time.

Reading Power Station.jpg

Photo by Andrew Shiva.  []

I shall let the images tell their own tales with the odd comment interspersed.  Enjoy!

Sometimes, the chimney appears just as a backdrop; on occasion, it’s a reflection in the river that captures the attention.  More often than not, it’s the structure itself that attracts the eye by virtue of its sheer height and that but for the actual power station that sits under it and the renovated but inoperative lighthouse beside it, it stands alone, behind it the sky which is never the same and which highlights the stack.

%22Standard%22 + wind

The picture above is similar to the Wiki one but from a more acute angle and with a wide angle lens.  There’s more movement where the river meets the sea, the clouds seem a little more menacing and it’s an earlier photo, as evidenced by the fact that the lighthouse (to the left of the chimney) has not yet been refurbished.  Oh, yes!  And it was taken in the morning, when I do most of my photography.

Late afternoon

The photo above is an unusual one for me as it’s an afternoon photo, looking due north from the south side of the estuary.  The clouds are a little wilder than the previous one and it looks like it’s just after a storm — or just before.  And the one underneath is one that you wouldn’t expect to see in a tourist brochure, taken on a very blustery February morning.

Winter's Day.jpg

The image that follows, photographed a couple of years ago on the summer solstice, (that’s June 21, for lay persons) was taken late in the afternoon.  Lots of people but Reading is prominent.

18.00, Summer solstice

The stack is immovable — always there, as in the photo below, which was one of the first I took, way back in February 2008, the day following a particularly powerful storm that seems to have caused the sea to spew up most of its contents on to the promenade.  One lone fisher-philosopher is sitting contemplating the sea and Reading stands impassively behind, greyer than usual.

picturephotograph Tel Aviv

February 1, 2008, Tel Aviv Port.  The Med had a stomach upset.

Just compare the colours with this beautiful autumn morning, almost seven years later.

An autumn morning

Sometimes, it looks better — yet menacing — in B&W

B&W 1

And there are times when you notice the reflection in the river before you even see the stack itself, and which, on reflection, somehow seems more beguiling than the actual object itself the right way up.

Reflection 1Reflection 2

Every once in while, I find that even something I like as much as the Reading Power Station loses its hold over me, so rather than venture out, I stay at home and photograph mundane household objects to keep myself happy.

Olive Oops!.jpg

But then, as might be expected, I revert to type.

Wet Winter cloud (far S)

Reading between the lines

Hi, there

On bended knee!

Now and then, the chimney plays hide and seek with you — and there have been the odd days here and there when the bloody thing has vanished almost completely and I become totally disoriented.  

Hide & SeekVanishing act

… well, almost …

Gone missing

And then, a few weeks ago, I was just agape, agog, mouth wide open —gobsmacked— as I saw what entered my field of view at 7.45 a.m.

All lit upDark background

And so ends, Recapitulation, Reworking, Reiteration [1].  I shall return to this topic anon. Meanwhile, have a lovely day!



The feline form and photos

I know that this blog is [very loosely] supposed to be about geography and photography but the other day I got on to the subject of portraits and I’ve decided to continue this on the current post.  In spite of that, it’s back to landscapes and things next time around. 

I’ve taken two courses in portrait photography and I really have to admit that I’m not very good at it.  Knowing how to use artificial lighting requires not a little technical understanding and skill, neither of which come naturally to me.  Having said that, I visited the National Portrait Gallery in London a few years back for an exhibition of photographs by the noted fashion photographer, Irving Penn.  I was gobsmacked because Penn was known to favour natural lighting to the extent that he installed a set of tungsten lights in his windowless studio just to give the impression of a skylight.  He believed that using uncomplicated equipment and daylight alone was sufficient to provide him with satisfaction.

Perhaps it’s me, perhaps it’s my subjects.  I obviously don’t have the knack of putting people at their ease or of composing a portrait, something which seems to come easy with landscape pictures, whether they’re natural landscapes or in urban areas.  

My most natural potential subjects are fundamentally non-cooperative as well.  My wife, with whom I have had a wonderful relationship for the past half century, is particularly averse to having her photograph taken and I had to delete many images the lady, her face covered by her hands.  Our exchanges on such occasions are variants of:

She:  “Why do you need to take another photograph of me?  You know very well what I look like!”

I:  “But I like to be reminded again and again.”

She (wordless) but with an expression that says it all:  “Go away and let me get on with what I was doing.” (Now sometimes qualified overtly by: “What was I doing anyway?”)

All this goes to illustrate the difference between the family’s camera and the family cameraman.  The camera has a sensor and the photographer has a censor.  Or a censress, in my case—senseless, as they might say in China but after 50 years, you sense when it’s not worth bickering and you comply.  (Incidentally, the correct word is censora.)

Our daughters aren’t much better, except for when they think I can record them on camera as musicians gratis.  But to paraphrase, there are no free photographs, i.e., pay a professional if you want to be sure of a really good picture.   My grandchildren simply don’t sit still long enough for me to compose the photograph, get the settings correct and click.  So decent pictures that have appeared have really the result of serendipity.  Flukes.

Being generally unsuccessful at portrait photography doesn’t mean that I don’t photograph people at all.  But it’s more faces in the street.  I just love to sit down and watch people passing and look at the variety in the faces that pass by.  We all do this sort of thing although we don’t always record it.  Although there may be many facial types — which we might describe as typically Jewish, typically Irish, typically French and so on, we as often as not find out that the “Jew” is Italian, the “Irish” is Swedish and the “French” is American with not a trace of French “blood” (how I hate that term!).

So, I rarely do portraits of people. However, I do find that the best sitters I’ve come across for portraits are cats.  I find that once ensconced in a sitting (or lying or sleeping) position, cats are pretty much static — and inscrutable.  I know that I am probably going to infuriate some people by stating that in general, I am not a great animal lover, and that I have a particular antipathy to members of the Felidae family and of Felis silvestris catus, in particular. 

I hold cats in about the same esteem as I hold politicians.  If truth be told, I think I slightly prefer cats because they don’t talk on and on or offer you opinions and solutions to everything under the sun as if they’ve been appointed agents of some know-all supernatural being — and they (the cats, that is) don’t smile at you all the time; they just stare at you, perhaps thinking whatever cats think but saying nothing.  

I honestly can’t understand what it is that people see in felines.  I cannot endure their slithery glissading against you as they pass by; they remind me of salesmen who come too close to you when they are trying to make a hit, as they encroach on what the American anthropologist Edward T. Hall half a century ago in his books The Silent Language and The Hidden Dimension, called your personal space, a process that can elicit either a particularly hostile or intimate reaction, the former in my case when it comes to cats.  They don’t smile like dogs (or politicians) do and they definitely don’t have a sense of humour.  

Dog in Van 1.jpg

Dogs, like Eric Idle of Monty Python, can look on the bright side of life


Moreover, you can’t take cats for walks (actually, we had one neighbour in Dublin many years ago who did!).  However, they apparently keep the neighbourhoods free of terrestrial vermin and they don’t mind having some of the avian variety as well (i.e., pigeons), which are as filthy and capable of spreading disease as any pack of rats. 

But you have to hand it to them.  Cats do make good portrait sitters!  (Having said that, the first picture I took of a cat when I started this photography stuff was one that was in motion.)  

Tel Aviv

The vaulting cat

They tend to look straight at the camera and seem say to you “I can sit here until kingdom come — just click and bugger off”.  Thus the moggie pic almost always turns out well.  Doggie pics turn out pretty well, too, but that’s a story for another day.

Arched cat

The arched cat

Tel AvivPark & Port Tel Aviv

The suspicious cat

Cat stare

The fighting cat

February Cat

The “You disturbed me” cat


The “Click-and-get-it-over-with” cat

Ginger Cat

Would you buy a used mouse from this cat?

Having said that I rarely do portraits, I have to admit that occasionally, I do.  But these are not conventional portraits done in a studio.  There are photographs of people that I have come across and who I think have interesting faces.  Sometimes they are aware that I am photographing them; some even request me to do it.  Sometimes, I am reasonably pleased with the outcome, occasionally very pleased, more often somewhat disappointed.

T-A Rabin man

At Rabin Square, Tel Aviv

Taormina gentleman

Why me?  Siracusa, Sicily


With a smile.  Elma Hotel, Zikhron Yaaqov, Israel

Syracuse gentleman

With some trepidation.  Siracusa, Sicily

Dan Eldor

Dan E. — Satisfied.  Tel Aviv, May 2014

Barcelona Man

In deep thought? — Perhaps just bored!  Barcelona, Spain

Catania Arab Man

Suspicious.  Catania, Sicily

Gerrit Glaner

Gerrit Glaner, Head of Concerts and Artists Department, Steinway.  Tel Aviv, 2014

Black man

At Tel Aviv Port

V&A man

Jasprit Singh, V&A, South Kensington

And thus this deviation ends.  Next time, it’s back to landscapes and things.  Have a nice weekend!


Capture One, Caught and Well hung

Nobody has ever told me before that I am or have been well hung — until the other day, that is, when I received an email from an acquaintance in Belgium. Frank and I had met a couple of years ago at a short course on portrait photography at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington where, for a couple of days, we acted out being photographers and models, swapping roles by the hour.  

A few weeks ago, Frank contacted me to ask me if I would grant him permission to use his picture of me in an exhibition of work by amateur photographers to be held last weekend at Diest in Belgium, a place at the mid-point of the triangle connecting Brussels, Antwerp and Maastricht.  Each photographer wishing to exhibit a sample of his or her work was allowed to choose only a single photograph and for some reason (presumably because he thought it was a good picture), he chose the portrait of me that he had taken at the V&A.

I think the portrait is actually quite flattering and I use it as my profile picture on Facebook.  And, anyway, why was he asking me for permission?  The picture belongs to him.  He informed me that he preferred the black and white version so I simply told him that I had no objection whatsoever, to go ahead, and wished him luck.  I then promptly forgot all about it until last Sunday, when Frank sent me this, with the cryptic comment that I had been in good company for the previous two days!


Yes, indeed.  There I was, in delighful company, perhaps, but to my disillusion (or is it disillusionment, I’m never quite sure?) — or even delusion — after observing the company, I was disappointed in that it was, unfortunately, entirely virtual.  At any rate, once I had stopped laughing at the image of me between buttocks and legs, I thought of the extent of the gravitas that my image must have bestowed on the exhibition — which caused the chortling to begin again.  But, I must admit that I had achieved a certain level of fame, or perhaps, even notoriety.  

However, I noticed a little white card on the bottom left-hand side of the picture but I couldn’t see, no matter how I blew it up, how the image was captioned!  Philosophical professor?  Study in sepia?  Still Life in black and white?  Now that would really be interesting but Frank was not quite as frank as all that!

But the big news of the day is what happened to all the images I had created between October 2014 and yesterday?  Last week, on the occasion of my 71st birthday, they mysteriously vanished from my computer.  Gone — vanished — and to paraphrase the immortal words on one of my idols, that graduate of Clifton College, Bristol and Downing College, Cambridge, the one and only John Marwood Cleese: “These photos are dead photos — ex-photos”.  (

I spent a full 90 minutes in the company of a virtual Technical Supporter from Capture One, the really marvellous piece of image editing software that I’ve been using for the past year and four months to tweak my photographs, which puts Adobe’s Lightroom, literally and figuratively in the shade, but s/he couldn’t discover what had happened to the original files and I was left with only commiserations and the suggestion that I look through my backup disks and old computer to see what I might be able to recover.

However, I knew that I had made a backup of some of the files, except I couldn’t remember when and exactly what I had backed up.  I thought that I had made a last full backup of the images in September 2014 and then not as the original RAW files.  However, it turned out, when I plugged in the first external hard disk in the drawer, that I had backed up on December 7 and the RAW photos on my camera’s memory card, all 1,800 of them, started on December 20!  So there was a gap of 12 days, from which images were missing.  There were probably some fine photographs amongst them but I can live without them.  And I have to re-edit everything between December 20 and January 28, which is a lot of work and a pain in the neck (literally).  Lucky, perhaps.  But nevertheless fortuitous, because I learned more about saving and backing up in those 90 minutes yesterday and this morning than I had in several years prior to that!

Mind you, when I announced this sickening news on a post last Wednesday, I received condolences from some and a modicum of empathy from others.  I also received an email from my dentist who is also a keen and talented amateur photographer, who wrote: hi stanley, sorry to hear of your mishap.  no doubt others will give you advice about safeguarding your data, so i’ll add my tuppence worth have at least 2 external hard discs as backups, one of which keep in a separate location ;  burglaries , fire etc .  yes, i am paranoid.  you can go even further down that road.  i know that some professional photographers keep a back up in a safe deposit.  so rate how important your images are to you and act accordingly.  best wishes, steve”

This is something I already knew from observing the extent to which my son goes to backup his sound files but was I am too lazy to be assiduous in implementing what I know (Dov is also paranoid about backups — actually he’s not paranoid, a word that means “irrationally anxious”.  He is rationally so, in extemis, as he makes a living from it whereas I do what I do for fun — even though there’s been nothing funny about the past week in the slightest!).  So, although Steve was 100% correct, this is not exactly what I wanted to hear the day after the mishap.  In retrospect and with tongue firmly stuck in cheek, I suspect he might only have been trying to drum up business, because when overwrought, I intend not to indulge in that disgusting habit of nail-biting but pander to gritting and gnashing, all of which has a morbid appeal to dentists!

So what only remains for me to do on this day of release of tension is to display two images that had disappeared, never, or so it seemed, to be found again, of the promenade at Tel Aviv Port, taken a few days apart, the first on a stormy day and the other on a “normal ” one.

Port T-A

T-A Port sunny morning.jpg