275??? What’s this all about then???
Well, it’s a double “celebration”, indeed. Today — and I find this hard to believe, I am 75 years old. And this is my 200th post on this blog. When I started it, 49 months ago, I thought that if I managed to post just twenty bits of nonsense, I’d be doing well. I had no intention whatsoever, no idea even, that it would continue for over four years at the rate of approximately one a week but there you are.
The original intention had been post a few photographs that I’d taken in the previous week or two and link them to short bits of text. That’s still the aim but as some readers have commented, the partisan musings of a frustrated septuagenarian sometimes take over and interfere with the photographs. On the other hand, there are some other readers who regularly egg me on, stimulating my worst partialities—so “you gets wot you gets”.
Anyway, for this time, no political comments (although I’d love to), just photographs. I’ve chosen—more or less at random—what is without doubt far too many photos for a single post. Some of them might have appeared in earlier posts but I think that most of them are “new” to this blog. I specifically chose photos (all but one) that were taken “pre-blog”, as it were, so that the likelihood of pictures being repeated has been minimised. Some appear with captions or short comments; others have either or neither. Enjoy!
I used to take photographs a long time ago. In those far off days, most of them were in the form of transparencies (slides) and for most of them, I had in the back of my mind that I might be able to use them one day for illustrative purposes in some class or other. So here goes.
The first part of our honeymoon was a week spent in the West of Ireland in September 1966. The rest of this 53½ year-long holiday has been played out in many different places.
When I took early retirement in 1994, I needed something to do and decided to mug up on basic photographic techniques. I borrowed a camera and had a wonderfully inventive teacher in Itzik Canetti. On the first day, he sent us off to photograph and I was bemused because that was the only instruction. I suppose he wanted to see how observant and/or imaginative each one of us was. This is the first picture I took as part of that seven week course.
During those first few weeks, I started to tramp around North Tel Aviv in an attempt to become familiar with the geography and layout of where we’d chosen to live. Walking south parallel to the coast one day, I took this picture of chairs on hotel balconies because I like symmetry. It was only when I got home and uploaded the pictures I’d taken that day that I noticed that although there were signs of human occupancy, there was only a single person on a balcony .
But what on earth was she doing? I needed to blow up the picture in order to see!
That first winter with the camera yielded two images that I particularly like looking at, both taken at Tel Aviv Port. The first was taken on a dark and stormy day, early in the morning. The sun came out for just a couple of minutes and the sea was rough but the reflection of the sun on the surf and waves was just enough to create an atmosphere of dynamism and the three gulls in the picture simply add to the feeling of movement.
A day or two later, walking along the promenade at the port was all but impossible as the see had thrown up a small portion of the garbage that had been in its belly. Not a pleasant sight for all sorts of reasons.
There are occasions when you have to be very quick with the camera otherwise you get just an image but not a real picture. Five seconds later, the bird was gone and although the drops would have been there, it’s the line of the tail feathers and the drops that turns the image into a real picture.
Similarly, I had to be quick and take this photo of the hoopoe before the insect was ingested.
This image of a man and a little girl and her scooter was taken on Hampstead Heath in London. I saw the scene in colour but as soon as I came across it, I just knew that it would look more dramatic in black and white. The original photo in colour is nothing special. The black and white one is full of drama. Why is the girl clutching the man’s legs? What’s he saying to her? Did she fall off he scooter and hurt herself? I’m afraid I’ll never know.
There are all sorts of street scenes that look ordinary but you know they’re not—like this French onion-vendor on Hampstead High Street in London. Or at least I presume he’s French as he’s reading La Tresse de Jeanne by Nathalie de Broc!
Then there are other things in Hampstead that are so English that you couldn’t possibly make a mistake about it.
When out with the camera in the street you have to keep your eyes open and spot things as they happen. One morning, almost nine years ago, I came across Ron Huldai, the long-serving Mayor of Tel Aviv. He’d just parked his car and was on his way to work and he must have had a long day ahead of him with important meetings because in addition to his briefcase, he’s carrying two ironed shirts.
As for clean government, the less said, the better. He promised stable government [for nags and hacks???] and he’s kept his word as he’s still there!
Here’s another photograph taken on a dull day but one on which the sun appears for about three minutes. Kitschy? Perhaps. But still a lovely photograph!
There are also boats in Tel Aviv, like this one that somehow ended up temporarily at the mouth of the Yarqon stream where it enters the Mediterranean.
My mother used to say to me (I was the second smallest in my class) that there are good goods in small parcels. Quite possibly.
I often take photographs of birds walking through the parks in T-A and London—and elsewhere. This one is an edited version of a single gull and its reflection in the river taken in Tel Aviv in June 2016 …
… and these cranes were photographed in the Hula Valley in Northern Israel ten years ago exactly.
Other “wildlife” cross the path of the camera as well. Well, sometimes, wild is not so wild …
Or what about this moth on the wall outside the elevator to the flat in Tel Aviv?
Or how about this camel at London Zoo? Needs to see a good dentist, and soon, methinks.
Look in front of you and you might encounter a fighter.
Look down and you might come across a ménage-à-trois.
And this lizard at Saint-Jean-de-Luz scurried, stopped and looked around — just enough time for me to click the shutter.
Most of my “landscape” photographs are of urban landscapes. I don’t get around much any more.
The picture below is of what is reputedly the most spectacular public convenience in London, built in 1897 for passengers at the tram terminus at South End Green in Hampstead. It was listed in 1993 as one of the few remaining Victorian public loos in London and was restored about 20 years ago. Inside, it’s a little smelly at times but nevertheless it’s almost glamorous; it has wall to ceiling tiling and porcelain and the attention to detail and craftsmanship is shamefully rich for performances by gentlemen that are almost always just fleeting but usually (literally) very pressing.
The façade of #11 Leonardo da Vinci Street in Tel Aviv is nothing if not a work of art.
Not often seen in this light, Primrose Hill, situated just north of Regent’s Park in London is one of my favourite places, affording a wonderful view of the London skyline.
It’s more frequently seen in this sort of light.
At the fish market in Syracuse, Sicily, I watched this individual and and his team turn a tuna into tuna steaks over two days (tunas are very large fish indeed). It was fascinating.
Shopping along the Edgware Road in London is different these days from the way it used to be a few decades ago. There’s style and then again, there’s style.
Not all shoes are just left where their owners put them. These ones were for sale in a Barcelona store.
And while in Barcelona, two spectacular ceilings, one more familiar than the other, perhaps. The Palau de la Música Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech I Montaner.
The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona, designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
And at the other end of the Pyrenees, stands the wonderful Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, designed by (Ephraim) Frank Owen Goldberg, a.k.a. Frank Gehry, as a reminder of Bilbao’s former prominence as a port. The museum is designed as a ship and is usually photographed from the other side. Although the guidebook said that the view was better from the far bank of the river, I discovered that the view was best from the bridge, where the office tower behind it becomes a sort of funnel for Gehry’s ship.
Music has been an important part of our lives over the past 30 years or so. Three professional musicians and an ex-music therapist means that there have to be some music photographs. Sometimes, we’re lucky and get a chamber music rehearsal at home.
The Aviv String Quartet in its 2007 format is pictured here after a performance of Shostakovich’s 9th string quartet, Irina Supinskaya, the composer’s third wife. Shuli said that it was the scariest concert she’d ever performed with the dedicatee sitting about 2½ metres from the end of her viola.
AN AUDIO INTERLUDE (Shostakovich, String Quartet #9; Aviv String Quartet)
Of course, there are other family photographs, too, like this one of our grandson and his parents.
On the streets of North Tel Aviv, where Dizengoff and Ben-Yehuda Streets meet, I followed this homeless man between November 2010 and May 2014, when he vanished. To my great shame, I never spoke with him or even learnt his name.
And then there are the faces. Occasionally I’m drawn to a stare or a smile or a grimace or hairstyle or make-up and if I’m brave enough, I go closer and ask if it’s OK or if I’ve got a telephoto lens on the camera, just go ahead and take it.
And on occasion, there are just things that look good and are calling out to be photographed, so I do.
And that’s it, folks!
P.S. Regular readers might have noticed that there isn’t even a single photograph of a fire hydrant. So for those of you who might prefer not to spend the $57 that Amazon asks for a hard copy, here’s a PDF of the the magnum opus I prepared last year for the grandchildren.