Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ten Months

How quickly does, nearly, a year go past since I last posted.
Photos, yes, lots & lots.
So why aren't they being seen & talked about on the Blog???
Well I think we all suffer from the ailment called slackness, or lassitude or the general malaise of ... well, we'll get to it eventually-ness if there is such a word.
So what to say on this triumphant return to the written word...
Seeing that I have only one follower at this stage (& good morning to you Jan way over in Alaska) no-one will be expecting too much.
Well I won't that's for sure.
It comes down to a matter of getting off the butt & putting some effort into getting some blogs out there about the journeys of Lee the photographer, the images & the stories behind those images.
A lot has been learnt in the last year so this little piece of writt is a preemptive strike as a warning to the Blog Site that "I'll be back..."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bicycle with roses, Hanoi

One of joys of wandering the streets of a new destination is what you chance upon in your meanderings.

This is very true as a photographer as much as a general traveller.

Asian cities house a plethora of sights, smells and experiences.

Yeah sure like in all cities some of the sights and smells leave a bit to be desired but that’s to be expected when the city has grown over centuries.

Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, is a wonderful old city. At different times in its history it’s been controlled by the Chinese, the Japanese during the 2nd World War and then the French not to mention the various ethnic groups that now go to make up the present Vietnamese state.

One of the things that I like about the Vietnamese is that they are survivors. It is 35 plus years since the Vietnamese War, or as the Vietnamese themselves refer to it, the American War, but there is little sight or hint that a major conflict ever happened in their country. Most wreckage has been completely removed, most likely cut up for scrap. They are a very positive people and their country is moving forward at a rapid rate, or seems to be, on the surface.

While walking the streets this particular morning we came upon this bicycle, with its basket of roses, on a major street in old Hanoi. The street was packed with the usual comings and goings of any Asian city but as I got to the bicycle, turned, framed the shot and took this photo, there was no one there. It looked like I had set the shot up and stopped the traffic. Within seconds the street was again packed. You just know that you’ve captured a beauty.

This could be in a lot of cities in the world but looking closely at the picture there’s a map of Vietnam on one of the buildings across the street.

I can’t wait to go back. There is so much to see and do and photograph!

See more photos of Vietnam on:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hot chocolate at Notre Dame

"Guilty of the crime of murder!"

Well murder of the French language, at this cafe in the shadow of the most famous Cathedral in France!!!

Sacre bleu!!!!

There you see I've done it again!!!!

Having learnt French as a language 7 million years ago at secondary college & never spoken it since, I mean you remember a word or a phrase here or there and throw it into a conversation, to all of a sudden be in THE country where it is THE language and trying to dredge up what is dead and buried is doomed to failure!!!!

Well after an early morning wander around Notre Dame, before the tourists, and still in that dazed, awestruck space from having been in a special place. Not talking, almost meditative, my beloved and I became overcome by a need, on this cold morning, for hot chocolate.

This was the cafe that suffered from my surreel attempt at language. Ordering 2 hot chocs and croissant just put this humble voyager into fits of laughter as I attempted to order and be put in my place for murdering the cafe owner/workers language.

Guilty as accused your honour!!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memories: Paris

I love the stark red of the Pasquale Bruni shop in this shot against the more earthy and black colours of the young lady walking past.

This shop is in the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, I'm reasonably certain...
correct me if I'm wrong please.

Little more to remember except that my beloved and I were doing the tourist walk. You know see as much as you can for the very limitted time that we had in this fascinating city.

It's a little bit about waiting for the someone to walk past, in order to make the shot more interesting. The more interesting thew person looks the better the shot is going to be.

Street, or candid shots are always the best. A person shot in a public space is OK to be photographed. Although it is always better if you do ask their permission to take a candid shot.

Oh where have we gone in the last few years re a persons rights for anonymity or privacy. Very frustrating for photographers who sell their work to have to chase a person to get a disclaimer giving their permission for them to be in the photo.

Did I permission for this shot? No I didn't. But this young lady is in a public area.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Travel memories: Barcelona

Today begins a series of blogs talking about certain photos & what I was thinking etc when I took them...
The hows, whys and wherefores.

This is a famous archway in the Barri Gotic area of Barcelona. One of many walkways between buildings above the streets.

I first went to Barcelona when I was 24 years old and hadn't been back.

When my beloved and I were planning our visit to some parts of Europe in mid this year 2010, Northern Spain was an option. Well we were originally going to Barca to a friends wedding to a local girl. Alas the wedding and the relationship didn't survive but we already booked to go there.

I had taken a photo of this archway when I was first there but alas the slide it came from I no longer had.

My beloved and I had a hotel right on La Rambla, the famous boulevard that really is the centre of Barca and all tourists go to. As we wandered this area of Barca some sights triggered old memories and I remembered that I had stayed not too far from La Rambla all those years ago.

There is a lot to be seen and experienced away from the main tourist haunts, including cheaper restaurants and bars, and the Barri Gottic triggered another memory, one that included a headache and being very unwell the next day!!! Cheap red wine didn't sit well in the stomach in those days especially when consumed in great quantity and one wasn't used to it!!!

But I realized I was in the right area to find this structure.

I had forgotten so much from my earlier visit there and couldn't remember where this particular archway was until one day on La Rambla I saw a postcard with it on it with its address.

We were leaving  the next morning and had a taxi booked to take us to the airport at 10 am. Up at 7, packed and out the door with the camera. I was only a 10 minute walk from the archway.

There it was...  and here it is, again. In el carrer del Bisbe in Barra Gotic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Short Holiday Break 2: Karumba, Far North Queensland, Australia

Approximately 70 kms northwest of Normanton at the mouth of the Norman River is our destination of Karumba. An easy drive on sealed, flat roads passing through some wetlands with much birdlife. We stopped a few times to photograph brolgas and cranes on the side of the road and the ever present and cheeky kites. The anthills look like “smurf” houses, from the kids TV series, as they’ve been eroded to a certain height from the previous flood.  We passed lots of “grey nomad” caravans heading towards and away from Karumba.

 I had heard about Karumba over many years as the Gulfs premier fishing destination and the prawn fishing capital. Friends had travelled to this area many years ago to work on the prawn trawlers and told me it was a rough, tough frontier town in those days. Having talked to a couple of tourists working in the local pubs [there are two of these] it still is a hard place. One young German worker in a pub said that tourists get extensions on their visas if they work in remote areas. Recent graduate teachers have to work for 2 years in remote communities in Queensland in order to get placements in the cities. Having talked to a young nurse and a pharmacist maybe that’s what they have to do also. There is a shifting population in this and, as I believe, many remote areas, not just the “grey nomads” moving through.

We did find it a fascinating area to travel to. The town itself is a bit run down and feels like any thrown together coastal holiday or fishing town. It has lots of boats and fishing town references. It did have a moment of glory in WW2 with a squadron of flying boats operating out of the town.

The prawn fishing industry is much smaller in Karumba these days as a mother freezer ship sits in the Gulf receiving the catch and shipping it out to the world through Cairns. Still 25% of prawns caught go through the local wharf. That’s still a lot of prawns and money to the area.

Anyway how about $12.00 a kg for cooked prawns and $15.00 for tigers? We did indulge in a kilo and sat on our bed in the motel with a nice bottle of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. They keep wine for the tourists evidently. Beer is the local drink of choice and in that weather it also goes down quite well.

We took a sunset cruise with Ferryman Cruises, one of the local companies plying the river with tourists. They and other companies also do fishing charters. It was too early in the year for spotting crocodiles, as they tend to be seen at nesting time for the water birds in the mangroves opposite, but our luck was in and a 4 metre one was spotted on the opposite bank from the boat ramp. He/she was a fatty and very healthy looking. I really don’t think I would like to spend any time in the water knowing that it was their territory.

Great trip down the river looking at boats, boat wrecks, local mine and shipping facility, the town and hearing about its history and that of the local area including some of the shadier history of the Gulf. It’s quite a story.

The Gulf itself is interesting in that it has only one tide movement a day. One tide in and one tide out. Due I believe, to the narrow gap of the Torres Strait not letting in enough water for a bigger flow, mixed with the relative shallowness of the whole of the Gulf.

Fishing is the thing though. If you’re handy with a line there’s some serious fishing to be done.

I had the finite barramundi eating experience while in Karumba. I can honestly say that I had wondered what all the fuss was about eating this fish as I’ve had many meals of it over the years and could take it or leave it! Well I was determined to give it another go in barra’ country. I was not disappointed. What a fish, so sweet and delicate! Grilled and served with a simple salad at either of the pubs, it was superb.

We went for a drive the day before we left and headed south through Normantown. It was Sunday and we naively thought that garages would be open for petrol all day. We were wrong but what we did discover was that the small cafes and take away shops had petrol bowsers right there on the street. Not like corner stores in the big cities but here you park in the gutter and fill it up.

Stopping the car at the Mitchell River we saw some fresh waters crocodiles from the bridge. It’s a very attractive part of the world. We drove on out into the savannah country. No rain had fallen for 6 months so the ground was parched. Although the roads are sealed and in good condition every few kilometres you come across a narrowing in the road. Obviously over long stretches of country, and to save on road sealing costs, one lane is removed and it’s only sealed in the middle. This is fine until you come across a road train with their 3 long trailers. They have the right of way in the middle on the road too. Some of the verges can be fairly steep we found out. It must be difficult for some cars and caravans.

Sitting at the Sunset Tavern, the second of the two pubs and in the newer part of town, watching the sun go down into the Gulf is a must do while in Karumba. We had fun talking to some of the “grey nomads” we met and they were only too willing to share their stories. It’s part of the joy of being on the road I suppose, to stop at night and chinwag about the event of travelling with anyone willing to listen.

It was a great trip. Only a few days away felt like we’d been gone for weeks. The point is to enjoy the time you do have available and “time stretch”. That is, make the most out of it and make every moment count.

Short Holiday Break 1: Normanton, Far North Queensland, Australia

If you’ve only got a weekend or only a few days for a break away, where would you go?

My beloved and I like to travel and as we are time poor, for extended time away, we go in short bursts. As we aren’t the type to go to the normal tourist haunts, too often, we like to go to out of the way locations just like the “grey nomads”. With this being the case travel has to be properly coordinated.

Travel extends the self, opens perspectives and perceptions and puts you in touch with something far deeper inside and is very enriching and it does make you feel like you’ve had a complete break from the normal humdrum of everyday life.

Recently we had the chance to go to central far north Queensland before the wet season started.
We flew to Cairns in the evening after work. Stayed at a hotel we found on the “Wotif” website for last minute sales.

The next morning we flew from Cairns with Skytrans Airline to Normanton. Skytrans flies to many inland and out of the way places in Queensland. Even right up to Bamaga, which is the closest mainland airstrip to Thursday Island and the Torres Strait. I may never drive there myself like a lot of the nomads but maybe taking this flight would be an option.

We flew to Cairns in the evening after work. Stayed at a hotel we found on the “Wotif” website for last minute sales.

The next morning we flew from Cairns with Skytrans Airline to Normanton. Skytrans flies to many inland and out of the way places in Queensland. Even right up to Bamaga, which is the closest mainland airstrip to Thursday Island and the Torres Strait. I may never drive there myself like a lot of the nomads but maybe taking this flight would be an option.

We rang the airport in Normanton regarding a hire car, before leaving home, but it seems that someone is only at the airport when the planes are due. We did do a bit of a chase around and found a car through the local caravan park. I think it was their personal car. We didn’t have much of a choice although we found out later that there is another car hirer.

It was unseasonably warm when we arrived there. Try 37 degrees! That’s over 100 in the old scale. Having come from 18 degrees we did feel a bit warm. Out came the shorts and thongs. And of course the hat and sunscreen!

The one thing that caught my attention in Normanton, besides the local institutions such as the Purple Pub, the Gobble & Go take away, the historic railway station with its Victorian architecture and the Gulflander train, was the “Big” statue in the main street. You know the “Big Thingamabob” or “Big Whatchamacallit” that a lot of towns have at the entrance to their towns commemorating their greatest gift doesn’t do much for me but the statue in Normanton surely demanded my attention.

In 1957 a little lady, or should I say a lady short of stature, but big of heart, confronted and shot an 8.76 meter, or as it was then a nearly 29 foot long salt water crocodile in the main street. The model of it is at the entrance to the park. That creature is a remnant of the dinosaurs. What a monster! I’m not a little bloke but it would have eaten me in one bite.

To think there are people, mainly tourists sadly, who still go for a swim in the Norman River paying no attention to the warning signs saying not to! Some have paid with their lives.

Normanton was a river port for the cattle industry and was important for the shipment of gold when it was discovered at Croydon [100 km SE of Normanton] in 1885. That’s how big the river is. It’s quite a sight flying into Normanton over this river and its flood plain. In the wet season if big rains flood the area, as they did earlier this particular year cutting the hinterland off for nearly 3 months, the outline of the river can still be seen from above because the trees show the rivers course.

The explorers Burke and Wills epic last push to the Gulf saw them approximately 20 kilometres west of Normanton. Evidently there are plaques commemorating their visit to the muddy mangrove swamps where they turned around for their fateful journey south.