Cooling off

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. In my humble opinion, it’s going to have to be a pretty detailed photo for someone to wax lyrical for 1000 words about it though.

Still, sometimes words aren’t the only way that a photograph’s worth can be measured. How about feelings? Not emotions: I don’t believe in them, since I’m a tough, macho Yorkshireman.
I’m talking about my interaction with my immediate environment.

And this photograph from FOTB Chris Wormwell:

I’m currently sitting in an office which is slightly hotter than the Sahara, because the person I’m sharing it with appears to be cold-blooded like some sort of reptile, but all I need to do to feel a little cooler is look at Chris’ Glen Mooar image above.

It’s only a temporary fix though, and we’re going to have to reach some sort of compromise over the aircon soon – especially with summer right around the corner now. It’s not likely to be cooler anytime soon and I have to wear these clothes for two days because of the water shortages.

And I am MELTING! 

[looks at photograph above again]
Ah! That’s better.

Got it!

I’ve been after this photo for a while. And then, yesterday evening, as we headed down the dirt road from Agulhas to Suiderstrand, I finally got it.
It was one of those few moments that was worth halting the journey for, albeit that it was only for a few moments.

This is posted unadulterated and raw. No filters, no cropping. As it was. Lovely. Try it with the lights off for an even better view. That thing poking towards the bottom right hand corner of the sun is the forecastle mast of the wreck of the Meisho Maru 38, and on top of that is a cormorant, wings unfurled.
All planned, obviously. Obviously.

Sadly for you, I’ve been taking quite a few photographs since we’ve been down here, and you can look forward to them late tomorrow or on Monday.


Thought I’d share this photo:


Which is apparently a photo of

a wave caused by a tidal bore surging past a barrier on the banks of Qiantang River, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.

Obviously, time is frozen in every photo, but it seems even more so in this one. The absolute relaxed obliviousness of the man on the motorcycle, accentuated by the chaos in the scene behind him, is wonderful.
And don’t miss the umbrella on the woman’s arm on the back of the bike either. Instantly functionless and overwhelmed by muddy water, like any regional government during a bad flood.
And the juxtaposition of the anchor – traditionally a symbol of stability against the power of water – on the shirt of the girl fleeing from the moist onslaught.
And the expression on the face of the guy nearest the camera, demonstrating that the term “Oooh, shit!” easily transcends any artificial construct of language.

Or it could just be some people about to get wet.

Your call.

This is the best photograph I’ve ever seen

Obviously, it’s not one of mine. First off, that would surely be the best photograph I’ve ever taken (although I suppose that technically it could fall into both categories if I was feeling particularly boastful) and secondly, it’s laughable anyway because mine aren’t anywhere near this standard. I am merely a microbiologist with a camera.

And I didn’t come up with this title on a whim, either. Sure, I was wowed when I first saw the photo, but it’s taken me a while to realise that I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen anything better.

So, step forward Steve Ward, nature photographer, and his mind-blowing photo of a diving gannet (Morus bassanus) just microseconds before it hits the water:


Just. Wow.

What you might not realise is that this guy (the gannet, not Steve) is moving at anywhere up to 100kph. That’s 27.78 metres per second. And so I really wasn’t joking when I said that it was literally microseconds away from entering that glassy ocean. That’s what makes the photo all the more incredible for me: it’s not like the bird saw the camera and was like:

A photo? No, sure, that’s fine. Happy to help. I’ll just defy the forces of gravity for a while until you get your setup absolutely right. Must I smile? No? OK. Any time you’re ready then.

Because gannets are known to be particularly uncooperative in that regard.

That link above will take you to much more of Steve’s amazing work, lots of birds (some amazing owl pics) hares, voles and some lovely landscapes too. But this gannet still stands out as something rather special.

Many thanks to Steve for his permission to share this photo.


Off to have some more tests done today as the local medical profession charges me exorbitant rates to find out why I’m feeling so crappy (although I think we may be getting somewhere now). So I’ll leave you with this collection of photos from Inside North Korea:

Earlier this year, David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, along with Jean H. Lee, AP bureau chief in Seoul, were granted unprecedented access to parts of North Korea as part of the AP’s efforts to expand coverage of the isolated communist nation.  Though much of what the AP journalists saw was certainly orchestrated, their access was still remarkable.

And there are some great photos via that link above:

Kim Jong-il knew a bargain when he saw one and was delighted with the price of the light blue paint

It doesn’t look like a particularly happy place, but it does look like a particularly interesting place: not unlike East Germany, which I visited before it wasn’t East Germany anymore.
And you can go there on your own organised tour as well. They want more visitors; they just mustn’t be from the South.

If I had a bucket list, DPRK would be on it. But with a battery of invasive medical tests ahead of me, I think I’ll settle for just getting this blog post out for the time being. Aim low, keep happy.