There is a tunnel in Utrecht that leads from the Ganzenmarkt to the Oudegracht wharves. I discovered the tunnel by chance after a late night in the town as part of the conference dinner. Walking back to my hotel, I passed by the restaurants and the bars. My eye caught a flashing light and I looked over the railing and saw colourful lights radiating out of a tunnel close to the canal. I walked down and found this colourful psychedelic tunnel. The lighting of the tunnel kept changing and there were three people dancing in what looked like a trance. They were oblivious to my presence and so I took some pictures and then headed home.
The next morning I retraced my steps to the tunnel. The location is a photographer’s dream site for pictures especially as the colourful lights are constantly changing on a regular cycle. The street art is colourful and the illumination provides a changing backdrop. I asked a colleague to return with me so that I could place him at the entrance then use his silhouette to provide a focus to the pictures. Enjoy the result. Sorry if it is somewhat self-indulgent but it was such a great place to photograph.
I had the opportunity to take pictures during a recent visit to the streets and canals of Utrecht
Utrecht in the Netherlands was the base for the Ultrasonics Industry Association conference. My research group were presenting at the international conference and I was there to support their activities. We stayed in the Karel V hotel which has a picturesque view of the adjacent canal. There were many opportunities in the early morning or during conference breaks to explore the streets and canals. This Dutch city is very photogenic and I had brought along my Fujifilm x100v to accompany my iPhone13 for the photographs. For the readers of this blog, I will just show a selection of the many pictures that I took during my short stay. At the end of the blog, I have provided some links to Utrecht which provide ideas for your travel to this ever-surprising city.
So many pictures of this city and here are some more from both iPhone and camera.
The interior of King’s Cross Station is an architectural marvel, and I made the decision to visit with my wide angled lens. I had visited the station a few times mainly to the Harry Potter platform 3/4 and the nearby shop for my grandchildren. This time I was there to take a picture for my 52 weeks challenge in the style of Candida Höfer. This photographer took wide angled pictures of large rooms. When I arrived at the station, I made my way up to the gallery. I asked a couple sitting in the spot that I needed for the symmetry of the architecture if I could take a picture from their table. Luckily, they said yes. I could not use a tripod, so I upped the ISO on the camera. Once I had the picture in the can, so to speak, I relaxed and then took several more pictures around the station. I looked for leading lines, juxtaposition opportunities and several other pictures around the station. This including pictures from above the platforms and more of the wonderful architecture.
The place I wanted for one of my photographs was in the centre of the concourse. As I was taking pictures, Sam came up to me. He was an architect and he was just in love with design of the station. He asked if I could take a picture of him. In return, I asked if he could be in my 100 strangers project which he duly obliged. Furthermore, he even gave this special pose for the picture. My 100 strangers project will be the subject of a later blog posting.
Following this I went below to the underground station and walked along the tunnel that links St Pancras and Kings Cross to Granary Square. This tunnel has a sweeping curve with moving lights on one wall and black supporting spines on the other. The colours of the wall and the repeating patterns are a delight to photograph. I felt as if I was stalking the pedestrians moving through the tunnel. However their silhouettes added to the photographic composition of the place. Overall a good spot to visit for photography and offers many different opportunities.
Scotland is a wonderful place to always visit and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend a weekend on Loch Lomond in February with Sandy. Having flown up on the Friday morning, we picked up our hire car and made our way to Duck Bay on the bonny shores of the Loch. A magnificent rainbow greeted us set against the backdrop of Ben Lomond. I knew then that it was going to be a lucky weekend.
So much to see around the shores and following Duck Bay, we headed over to the east side of the Loch. When we arrived at Balmaha, the low sun was reflecting off the water creating beautiful light reflections. I love visiting such places out of season as the places are quiet and you have the place to yourselves. Balmaha houses the Loch Lomond coffee house and the pub serves a tasty bowl of soup. After a stroll around the Lochside we drove back to Balloch.
Our destination for the end of the day was Loch Lomond shores. Whilst it is very commercial and more concrete than aesthetics, it is redeemed by the views of the Loch. Also I saw that renovation of the Maid of the Loch steamer was gathering pace and that the paint work had been stripped off and the metal was showing.
Saturday morning threw up some colours in the sunrise and an early morning photographic stroll allowed for some interesting long exposures. We were staying at the Cameron House hotel and the grounds gave excellent access to the loch shore.
After breakfast, we set off for Inveraray to visit the prison museum. This attraction was excellent and gave an insight into the past society and the harsh life people led in the Highlands especially if they broke the rules. There was a restored black Mariah which Bill one of the staff, showed us and also provided an excellent account of life at the prison. It was an enjoyable drive along the Loch. After every turn on the road, there was spectacular scenery just asking to be photographed.
My favourite picture of the day was stopping at the layby “Rest and be Thankful”. There was a glimpse of the sun which lit up the valley and highlighted the old military road and the roadworks on the side of the mountains. I just stood there for several minutes taking in the beautiful scenery.
On our last morning, the weather was dull with a great deal of cloud cover. As I wandered along Duck Bay looking for photo opportunities, I passed by many people huddled together talking in low voices. I wondered what they were doing. Undeterred, I found a good spot on the Loch shore and set up for a long exposure. I found an interesting stone in the water and lined it up with the island in the background. A very peaceful scene. As I was taking the photograph, two women in wet suits ventured into the loch and I found out that they were freshwater swimmers. They agreed to have their photograph taken. Whilst they were well prepared for the cold waters, a man followed soon after and he looked unprepared and a likely candidate for hypothermia from the low temperatures.
On my way back I then realised that all the people who were standing in huddles had transformed into swimmers. I realised that a favourite Sunday morning pastime is to venture into the cold waters around the Loch. This is not something that I would enjoy.
My final picture is from Firkin Point which I had not stopped off at before on my visits to Loch Lomond. I discovered the lone tree over the Loch. The afternoon had closed in and so the picture leant itself really well to a black and white processing.
I you enjoyed this account of Loch Lomond then be sure to read these as well.
The streets of Edinburgh lend themselves to street photography. The natural backdrop of old buildings and captivating views of the surrounding countryside help to frame the people as they go about their everyday life. The winter light is strong and directional. The stonework reflects the light and makes for some interesting pictures. Here is a selection for you to enjoy.
If you liked my take of the Streets of Edinburgh then please search for Street Photography in my blog. Here are a selection for you to look through and enjoy.
Thanksgiving is about expressing gratitude and has its origins in the original settlers and the native Americans giving thanks for the harvest. Now it is an important national holiday where friends and families gather. For Thanksgiving 2022, we went to stay with Sandy’s sister in Washington State, USA. She lives in Ashford which is only a few miles from the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.
The area has stunning landscapes and the dense trees that surround the area are tall and majestic. The surrounding forest on the approach to Mount Rainier and then from the entrance into the park is comprised of old growth trees. Including Douglas fir, hemlock, and cedar. The trees reach for the sky and block out most of light.
The sky can be seen as you drive into the park and the road weaves through the forest with occasional stopping places. During the winter months access to the park can prove difficult not only due to the changeable weather conditions but with staffing shortages preventing many roads from being properly manned. Therefore the road to Longmire was open but the gate to Paradise was shut. This was disappointing but in photography you always work with what you have and therefore I looked for other opportunities. The Nisqually River Entrance is your first stop as you encounter the rangers who let you into the park. All cars need snow chains before they are allowed to drive through the park. Before you get to Longmire there is a stop at Kautz Creek Viewpoint. This gives your first glimpse of the mountain in the park. It is a fun shot to take as you can get a good group picture and take a bit of time viewing the mountain.
Longmire is dominated by the National Park Inn that sits looking at the mountain. It was as far as we could travel but I was determined to make the most of the opportunity to be in the park. There are photographs to be taken of the mountain and the Inn. Luckily there was clear visibility of the mountain as my pictures show. The area houses the living quarters of the park rangers and if you drive to the rear of Longmire you arrive at an impressive suspension bridge crossing the Nisqually river. This hidden gem provided several good photographs.
Several mornings during July, I ran into Kardamena from where I was staying. My hotel, Acti Beach, is around 2 miles away from Kardamena. Getting up early and watching the sunrise develop during the Golden Hour is an unforgettable experience. Two years ago I was here in August and the sun rose over the sea. In July, the sun rises behind the mountains. Therefore I saw the sun start to rise by the golden colours appearing on the white buildings of the town as I ran towards Kardamena.
I run with my iPhone13 and I was able to stop for a few minutes and capture the golden rays. The fun is getting back to the hotel and seeing what the results are like. These pictures were taken on different mornings and when posted on my social media, they received a positive response. I certainly want to get back to Kos in the future and experience more sunrises on this beautiful island. This is the last of my Kos Island sequence and hope you enjoyed them.
A return visit to Kos and more pictures of the beautiful seaside village of Kardamena. An idyllic spot and a perfect base for the rest of the island. The long straight harbour front with the tropical trees adds character to the place and there are some delightful places to eat out and watch the world go by. Food is a must in Kardamena.
Thomas’s Meze is a favourite restaurant of ours and I enjoyed the traditional Greek foods that were served. The sea bass was particularly tasty and the bones were expertly removed by our waiter. The pictures show the before and after result. Other favourites included home made Moussaka and Feta Filo.consisting of feta folding in pastry, sprinkled with sesame seeds. The local honey that is poured over the pastry comes from those bees that I saw in the mountains. It was also a chance for me to become re-acquainted with Retsina. The taste of this Greek resinated wine is not to everybody’s liking with some people spitting it out as soon as they taste it! For me it is a refreshing taste and goes well with fish and other Mediterranean foods.
We also dined at the restaurant, Avli, which is based in one of the oldest houses in Kardamena. The restaurant is in an old courtyard which is cool and adds a local greek atmosphere to the proceedings. My choices here were the home made stuffed vine leaves to start with followed by the catch of the day which was red snapper. Both were delicious and prepared well.
Breakfast was taken at the Harbour lounge on the sea front where you could watch the yachts and the various ships such as the Pirate ship leave for a tour of the islands. The owners prepare a sumptuous breakfast which can either be English or Greek depending on your tastes.
Coming back from Kos Town on our final evening, we had our last meal at Chris snack and cocktail bar. A friendly family run restaurant where we had some simple but tasty home cooked food. The seating is on several tiers and we sat close to the sea, enjoying the sight of local children catching a crab and watching the pirate ship come home for the evening.
Eating out in the town was excellent and was a welcome break from the all-inclusive food at our hotel, which was fine but unadventurous. After breakfast or evening meal, then it was only natural that we wandered along the streets of Kardamena. There was a chance to see the shops, view the boats in the harbour or see the antics of the local cat population. Here are a selection of photographs out and about Kardamena during the day.
The album “Reach for the Sky” was released by Sunderland Brothers and Quiver in 1975. The cover is very evocative and has an eagle flying across the sun. My picture of the Lesser Kestrel flying over the valley between Kardamena and Pyli reminds me of that LP record. It is one of many pictures taken on a day out with the wonderful photographer Sarah Longes (Twitter @miradordesign). With my 200mm lens working to its limit, Sarah taught me to be patient on taking photographs. Not one of my strongest virtues but I am learning.
Sarah spotted where the lesser kestrels were hunting on the edge of the valley. The view from our photography spot was spectacular and one of the interesting features were the large number of bee hives scattered across the landscape. Sarah has a sixth sense of where to find wildlife. I have known her virtually for a few years now and luck would have it we were both on Kos at the same time. She is a super photographer and teacher.
We left the Lesser Kestrels hunting in the mountains and moved onto Pyli to walk around the village. Pyli features a natural water spring. Although it was the heat of the day, there were several people filling up containers with spring water. It was quiet when we visited, although two coach tours did descend on the area whilst we were having lunch in a local restaurant in the square.
Following lunch, we made our way to the Alikes Salt Lake that was next to the town of Tigaki. The lake was teeming with wildlife in spite of the serious levels of pollution present. The salt works are no longer operational and are visited by a few tourists and locals. More interest is from the paragliding sails that pepper the horizon. The salt lake was interesting with graffiti on old abandoned buildings, several varieties of birds and even some turtles swimming around. It was here that once again I learnt to be patient, as I photographed the birds, resisting my natural temptation to rush forward to get as close as possible.
Our final stop was the Traditional Windmill of Antimachia. This is a restored windmill and the intricate sails were quite magnificent as they turned around. I chatted to the owner of the Windmill and accompanying restaurant/bar and showed him Chesterton Windmill near Leamington Spa. The owner was very interested, and I hope that I have forged an international link between the two windmills.
A memorable day and thank you to both Sarah for allowing me to accompany her on her photography tour and Simon her husband for chauffeuring us around Kos. Hope you as the reader enjoy the pictures.
Whilst I was researching our family walk around Kingsbury Water Park in October, I was reminded that there was a fully working model railway track. During Covid restrictions it was not working and therefore I had not looked at the Echills Railway site for a while. I tend to read too quickly. Being able to speed read is a gift but it can cause you problems as some of your information gets lost and your mind fills in the gaps. Whilst I saw it was open, I missed the fact that it was only working on Sundays and not Saturdays!
I had to break the news gently to the Grandchildren who were upset about not going on the trains. However when we arrived on the Saturday morning, there were shouts from the children that it was open. We soon discovered that it was not open and the Railway team were running through rehearsals for their Halloween and Christmas extravaganzas. More disappointment. But wait a minute! Katie, my oldest daughter, is not shy about tackling difficult situations and asked one of the railway team whether a ride was possible.
Much to the joy of the family the person we talked to said we could travel with him. We had three very excited children once again. We sat in the carriages and off we went. The railway track is landscaped and has much to see. First off there were many gnomes next to the track waving us on and secondly there were lots of trains moving around. We discovered that the Echills team are getting ready for their Halloween and Christmas Extravaganzas and checking out their movements around the track. The trains are miniature in size but they can pull a load. We passed through several stations with ‘Picnic’ in their name. We enjoyed going through the tunnels and stopping at the main turnaround station. The enthusiasts who run Echills are friendly people, with hand waving to everyone and smiles and shouts as the trains passed one another.
The railway is a fun experience and entertaining for children and adults. I enjoyed the attention to detail of the scale models of engines and trains. When we arrived back at the main station, there were several trains parked and much discussion amongst the staff about the engines and carriages. We carefully negotiated the platform thanking our driver. I took many pictures and hope they convey the friendliness and enthusiasm of the Echills Wood members. Reflecting on the day, we were very fortunate to get a ride on one of the trains. Thank you to Echills Wood railway for an enjoyable day out to Kingsbury Water Park and we look forward to travelling again.