In his book Feral, the environmentalist George Monbiot describes the Cambrian mountains in mid-Wales as a ‘desert’ devoid of life. It is, he says, a ‘dismal, dismaying’ landscape, venturing into which makes him ‘almost lose the will to live’. Feral is a polemic for ‘rewilding’ Britain, which means for Monbiot covering moorlands with trees and forests. John Bimson (who helps run a wonderful little b’n’b, Bron y Llys, in the heart of the Cambrian desert) wrote last year about the disingenuity […]
Tristram Hunt, historian and MP for Stoke on Trent, this week resigned his parliamentary seat to take up a new post as Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The V&A is one of the most infuriating museums in London – a stunning collection, some superb exhibitions, but too often imbued with a desire seemingly to be more indulgent than inspiring or insightful. If I was unkind I might suggest that that is a good description also of […]
‘Fynbos’ means ‘fine bush’ in Afrikaans. It describes a narrow coastal belt, up yo 200 km wide, in the Cape region of South Africa. The fynbos comprises much of the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the world’s six Floral Kingdoms – and the tiniest. It is, though, incredibly rich and concentrated, considerably richer than rainforests. There are in the Cape Floral Kingdom more than 9,000 plant species, of which 70 per cent are endemic. The Cape Peninsula alone has more than 2000 […]
I’m no twitcher. I probably couldn’t distinguish the call of a starling from that of a swift. But in South Africa, while the big beasts – the lions and the leopards, the elephants and the cheetahs, the giraffes and the rhinos – grab the wildlife headlines, what really caught my eye was the birdlife. South African birds are strikingly beautiful, varied and different. South Africa has almost 1000 different species, some 10 per cent of all the bird species in […]
I knew, of course, of Table Mountain and of its beauty and majesty . But nothing quite prepared me for just how spectacular it is – especially in the winter when the peculiar climatic conditions of Cape Town envelopes the Table with a shimmering cloth of cloud. The cloud does not simply sit atop the mountain; it flows over and down, in a manner I have never seen before. It being winter, Table Mountain was closed to the public for […]
There is a thrill to seeing close up a whale swimming with her calf, or a cheetah on the prowl, or a lion simply languidly stretched out across your path, that no photograph can ever convey. Nevertheless, here is a collection of photos of creatures great and small from my recent trip to South Africa. Most were taken in the De Hoop and Kwandwe Reserves.
I dislike photography that seeks self-consciously to be ‘painterly’; still less paintings that aspire to photorealism. A photographer is not a painter, and a painter is not a photographer, and to pretend otherwise is to diminish that which gives each form its meaning. But sometimes you take a photo that captures the spirit of a particular artist. You discover something in a scene, or evoke something within it, that brings to mind the way that he or she may also […]
Beth Moon is an American photographer whose work is infused with wonder, awe and mystery and which straddles the border between fantasy and reality. She has spent years photographing ancient trees from around the world. Through her eyes, trees become something quite different to the everyday objects we walk past all our lives. There is a sense of strangeness and otherness that make her compositions quite bewitching, as if they had been plucked from a fairy tale. They are fabulous […]
Oxford may be a city of spires. London is a city of cranes. There is almost no vista unsullied by those markers of urban development. Cranes are the epitome of the industrial, the brutal, the ugly. They are also a symbol of urban change and renewal. And, for all their brutal ugliness, cranes can be surprisingly visually striking, even photogenic. So here is my elegy to the crane. Two of the photos, incidentally, are not of London. I will leave […]
There seem to be as many cranes in Oslo as in London – every corner you turn leads to a building site. And as in London many of the new buildings are abominations – the kind of anonymous yet narcissistic postmodern architecture that now squats in many of the world’s major cities. The Opera House is different. Designed by Norwegian architects Snøhetta, responsible also for the stunning Bibliotheca Alexandrina, it is a magnificent building, subtle but spellbinding, with its angled […]
I picked up my cello again recently after a couple of years in which I have been too busy to practice. So it seemed a good time to post again some of my cello photos. There are few musical instruments that are as beguiling to the ear. There are also few that are as bewitching to the eye. And, as I have observed before, these photos may be a better tribute to the cello than my playing ever will be.
The slideshow above is of photos from Light Infusion, my photography site. All the photos there are available as prints (very handy for Christmas…). And below are some of my favourite photos from 2014, some of which I have already published on Pandaemonium. My images of New York I published over three posts, Darkness falls on Manhattan, On the High Line, day and night and The Big Apple in black and white. The photos of London at sunset were taken from […]
The High Line is New York’s newest public park, built on a reclaimed elevated freight rail line above the streets of west Manhattan. It has become both a battleground for green politics and a magnet for real estate developers who are now throwing up luxury condos all along the line. It is also quirky, surreal and often quite magical, especially at night, a space that wonderfully reworks the idea of an urban park. It is difficult to convey the experience […]
When I was first in Orford, it was forbidden to approach ‘the island’, but now there was no longer any obstacle to going there, since, some years before, the Ministry of Defence had abandoned secret research at that site. One of the men sitting idly on the harbour wall offered to take me over for a few pounds and fetch me later after I had had a look around. As we crossed the river in his blue-painted boat, he […]
This is an extraordinary night sky video made by the US photographer Thomas O’Brien out of half a million images he took over a period of seven years and stitched together using the LRTimelapse software. It is hypnotic, haunting and strikingly beautiful. And do check out Thomas O’Brien’s website, his time-lapse films and his Flickr account.