Tag Archives: summer

Mexican Palm Trees, and Cocktails…

Palm trees means beach means sun means holiday, right? Right! Two weeks of Mexican mojitos, margaritas and caipirinhas (Brazil…?) and the odd whisky sour thrown in to balance all the sugar. FullSizeRender 20

 

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I’ve become quite fond of palm trees over the last fortnight. Obviously the shade was very welcome for a white northern boy like me. But they also gave me something to photograph. Nice theme for a little series of sunny beach images…

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I must admit that I took most of these in the early morning so that I could still hold the camera straight before indulging in all that cocktail malarkey. And palm trees help out even there – pretty ramrod straight, which sorts out the verticals. Apart from this one…? What happened this poor chap?

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They’re pretty bendy too, which comes in useful when a tropical storm ruins the sun-bathing for a few days.

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But perhaps the best thing about a palm tree is a coconut. Here’s young Freya, indulging in the palm tree’s fruit (although perhaps not with all the alcohol that I seem to throw in….)

 

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(All shots made with an iPhone – too hot to carry the big beast around…)

 


Ojai Valley Inn, an oasis within an oasis…

Mrs P is quite adamant, and Ms P is in full support: A holiday needs some luxury, or else it’s not a real holiday. And luxury means spa treatments, shopping and cocktails (although we try to hold Ms P back from the latter, as she’s only 14…)
Seat

And there’s no better place for all these indulgences than a real American country club retreat. So we went to one. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, in California. Rather nice, too.

 

Signpost

The eagle eyed may spot a sign to the ‘Fragrance Courtyard’, an oasis within an oasis, where ladies can create perfumes, bottle them and bring them home, for a small fee.

 

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Rooms

Whilst the girls were being girls, the boys stuck to being boys. So leaving the ladies to their olfactory creativity, Grandad, Peck Jnr and I smacked a few balls round a fantastic golf course (I won – and that may be the only time I’m able to write that so I’m taking the honours whilst I can). All topped off with exquisite meals in exquisite restaurants.

 

45 ft putt, and GD gets it in!

45 ft putt, and GD sunk it!

Golfers

Whilst others slept into the morning I rose early to make the most of the delightful swimming pool. Swim a mile in the morning means there’s no harm in indulging in a mojito or 6 in the evening.

 

Pool

 

Succulent

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Refreshment by the pool was frozen grapes, cold and sweet. Heaven in the high nineties.

 

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hat

It was difficult, almost painful, to tear ourselves away from this Eden. The golf, the perfume, the restaurants, the pool, the mojitos, the frozen grapes – they are all calling us to return and one day we shall. Like the ex-Governor of C, I’ll be back….

 

Sunset

 


Bear Grylls – Don’t feed the animals!

I keep telling my family that actually I’m Bear Grylls – I even have a t-shirt that proclaims such – but to no avail. Much chortling and ironic laughter comes my way, and I am roundly ridiculed. This is the inevitable lot of the pater familias, and I treat the sarcasm with much forbearance…

Brown bear, Yosemite

Brown bear, Yosemite

Nevertheless, I do try to prove my point, and on our recent Californian holiday I pointed out to the sceptics in the family the abundance of wildlife around them. Yosemite was all about the bears. I saw 6. The family saw none – too lazy, looking the wrong way, too loud. Scared them all off. I ask you!

Pooh, off for a stroll

Pooh, off for a stroll

 

(We have lots of deer in Epping Forest too, but no mountains)

(We have lots of deer in Epping Forest too, but no mountains)

Better luck was had in Monterey. The whales took pity on the rest of my non-Bear Grylls family and came up close so the family couldn’t miss them. This was about 100 yards off the beach!

Humpback whale, humping its back

Humpback whale, humping its back

 

Dolphins riding the bow wave

Dolphins riding the bow wave

 

Fulmar, so fat with fish it can't take off

Fulmar, so fat with fish it can’t take off

HEY! did you see the BBC show from Monterey Bay just recently? The Big Blue. That’s where we were. The BBC’s been following us! OK, so they got pics of Gt Whites and Blue Whales which I didn’t. But they shamefully skipped over the Elephant Seals, which I forced the sceptical family to admire…

Blimey, they stink and they snore!

Blimey, they stink and they snore!

 

Dust bath

Dust bath

And being very Bear, I loved the hummingbirds as an antidote to all the hugeness everywhere else in California.

Breakfast with hummingbirds

Breakfast with hummingbirds

 

So, having suffered much abuse, mockery and derision, I think it very Bear of me still to feed the rest of the family. Careful of course! Feeing the animals is dangerous, especially as they can bite.

Scofferette...

Scofferette… what an animal!

 

 


Half Dome – from dawn to dusk

OK, everyone’s seen pictures of Half Dome before. Ansel Adams did some quite good shots, Galen Rowell took a few snaps, it may even have become a bit of a cliche… But I don’t care! Here is my HD portrait, from dawn to dusk, and I’m proud of it…

Dawn breaks in Yosemite

Dawn breaks on Half Dome

 

I was just setting up this pic below when a bear swam across the river behind me. Missed the shot completely – so much for my action photographer skills…

 

Half Dome and Merced River

Early morning Half Dome and Merced River

 

I think some quite well-known photographer made this view famous. No clearing winter storm to light my pic, a slightly murky August day instead.

Midday Half Dome from Wawona Road

Midday Half Dome from Wawona Road

 

What a lump of rock this is! The closer you get, the bigger it gets. Not bad for a bit of granite.

 

Half Dome profile from Washburn Point

Half Dome profile from Washburn Point

 

 

It’s distinctive, like a face. This is more portrait photography than landscape…

The face of Half Dome

The face of Half Dome

Reflection at dusk

Reflection at dusk

The valley in shadow

The valley in shadow

 

And if the Yosemite Gods are kind then you get a bit of cloud for a final sunset image.

Half Dome from Olmsted Point

Half Dome from Olmsted Point

What beauty in a lump of granite. Spectacular…

 

 

 


Sunny days in Alcatraz – Scarface’s holiday home

Going to Alcatraz is one of those weird experiences: Macabre tourism. An exquisite shiver and a delight in the horror of others. Clearly we’re fascinated – you have to book months in advance to get a ticket – to visit the incarceration home of some of the most repugnant people in history.

 

Alcatraz in the sun

Alcatraz in the sun

This is not a nice man...

This is not a nice man…

Take Capone. A syphilitic cold blooded murderer, extortionist, pimp and bootlegger. Look at those eyes… not a pleasant man, best avoided. But we love the frisson of visiting his prison cell. And it’s all the weirder when the weather is warm and the sky is blue. Horror in heaven – it’s a Hollywood wet dream!

'Broadway', Alcatraz

‘Broadway’, Alcatraz

Cell block amenities

Cell block amenities

I loved the story about the showers: The prison governor, wary that cold showers would acclimatise the prisoners to the cold and thus possibly give them reason to test the San Francisco Bay waters in an attempt to escape, mandated hot showers only. The food was pretty good too. The company was not.

Communal showers

Communal showers

 

The sun shone when we were there. It really did feel like a summer excursion, the warmth, the boats and the sea. But the place itself… There’s a chill that hangs over Alcatraz, justifiably. I think the San Francisco fog is much more apt for this visit. It should be cold. Clammy. And ever so slightly threatening…

The view to the mainland

The view to the mainland

The watchtower, in summer sun

The watchtower, in summer sun

Penitentiary, now that's a word to describe this place.

Penitentiary, now that’s a word to describe this place.

 

 


Jane Austen country

There is nowhere quite like a southern English county on a bright May day with a lovely bucolic view.  An idyll, an arcadia.

Quintessential England

View over Selbourne, Hampshire

Looking at this sort of view feels overwhelmingly nostalgic. Constable must have painted here, Wordsworth must have poetised here, Austen did live here! – well, up the road in Chawton. And who wouldn’t want to live here in one of the delightful cottages. I couldn’t resist and snapped all the front doors…

Soft green...

A study in green…

Milky blue...

A contrast of blue…

A wash of lilac...

A wash of lilac…

A pop of pink...

A pop of pink…

A doorway of rose...

A doorway of rose…

 

I can just see Lizzie Bennet marching through the fields round here. Not getting worried about her dress in the mud and being infuriated with Darcy.

I bet Lizzie would have jumped this.

I bet Lizzie would have jumped this.

So for those who love an England that sits contentedly in the past I give you Selbourne, a quintessential English Pastoral.

 


Memories of lazy warm summers

Just before the annual feasting begins, I’ve been looking back at some summer photos. Here’s beautiful Lake Trasimeno in lovely warm Italy. What a delight Umbria is!

Makes me want to take up fishing!

Makes me want to take up fishing!

 

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Even the birds just watch the dawn...

Even the birds just watch the dawn…

 

Now, bring on the snow!!! Merry Christmas to all.

 


The liquid blue of summer

Blimey it’s getting cold here in the UK. I’m quite looking forward to the stillness and quiet of winter. But just before the summer recedes too far into the memory, a quick moment to go back to the pictures of summer and dig out the liquid blue of the sea. To help block out the cold. Imagine these vistas in 40C. Blissful!

A Cretan village

A Cretan village

 

Reflection of a yacht mast

Reflection of a yacht mast

 

St Paul's Church - 2000 years old

St Paul’s Church – 2000 years old. And look at the colour!

 

Same mast, different reflection

Same mast, different reflection

 

A Cretan beach and a Cretan view

A Cretan beach and a Cretan view

So goodbye to summer 2014. Let’s see what the winter can do!


Dancing underwater

I think I must be a very trying father. The kids start to complain the moment they catch sight of a tripod. If we go for a walk they demand I leave the camera at home. Not that I ever listen. And secretly I think they like some of the images…

A nymph and jewelled light

A nymph and jewelled light

This summer I got them to dance underwater for me. Immy went for the elegant look, Charles the muscular…

the joy of being a teenager

the joy of being a teenager

Dancing to her fingertips

Dancing to her fingertips

Me looking at him looking at me

Me looking at him looking at me

 

I wonder what the kids will think? They’ll probably remember how I got them to swim back and forth endlessly posing underwater. But given I’m a trying father I shall keep on trying. And one day they will see these pics as the joys of summer – good memories now the weather is deteriorating.

Immy and her shadow

Immy and her shadow


Rush hour in Perugia

London was all a bustle today. Hot, sticky, busy, full of people, all with a place to go and little time to get there. Now I quite like the buzz, but I have to admit that photography is probably easier when there’s calm. And that does exist in the city, but more so in hilltop Italian city states than in the UK’s megametrolopolis… This is rush hour in Perugia:

 

7am, a Thursday morning

7am, a Tuesday morning

 

Isn’t it blissful. Don’t you wish every day could start like this? Can you sense the head-down, must get on, march march-ness of the commuters here? Round the corner I spotted another person dashing to work:

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The adrenalin is just kickin’. I wandered further, in search of more typical morning rush hour shots. But no-one was around. Clearly it was too early:

Deserted backstreets

Deserted backstreets

Empty porticoes

Empty porticoes

 

Even the main square was empty. Mind you, as I said it makes for easy photography… And good memories to sustain me through the crush-push-shove (?!@**!!) of the tube on a Tuesday morning here in London. Bring on the holidays!

Town hall steps, empty...

Town hall steps, empty…

 

If you like these pics, check them out in colour here and let me know which version you prefer. Plus I have a series of articles appearing in Black+White Photography magazine. Link here to the mag if you’re interested in how photographs create emotional reactions in viewers. Let me know what you think – I’d be fascinated to find out!