Lens-Artists Challenge #178 – You Choose

 

This week Tina has suggested we choose something for ourselves. This is more difficult that it sounds as too many choices put themselves forward, places and people, themes and tunes, and some just beautiful images.

I’ve chosen to look at a time in my childhood which seemed magical, life was good, the world – and the fields- were full of flowers, and the future was something we didn’t think about. And now I think, Where have all the flowers gone?

That’s me on the right with my four cousins picking dog-daisies on our Sunday walk, way back when. We used to walk across the small mountain area called The Bernish in Co. Down, now a famous look-out point and tourist attraction. I’ve just looked it up and it’s totally unrecognisable now. As for wild flowers ….

Wild broom growing in the Languedoc area, France.

Wild poppies and grasses growing on the lava that had poured down from Etna in Sicily.

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Lens Artists Challenge No. 177 – Celebrations

There’s always plenty to celebrate in the world and here I offer three different celebrations. The first one is the annual Old Gaffers Festival on the Isle of Wight, Old Gaffers being boats which since the time of King Charles I, have favoured the gaff rig, where the mainsail has a spar at the top (the gaff, hence gaffer), and at the bottom, (the boom).

The annual Old Gaffers Festival takes place in the historic Isle of Wight seaside town of Yarmouth and includes entertainment, parades, bands, sideshows, eating and drinking tents and everything needed for a celebratory weekend. Not forgetting the Old Gaffers themselves which are ranged out on the waters of the Solent, bedecked with bunting and flags.

Next up are two Japanese weddings which were taking place at Miyajima Island when we were there a few years ago. The bride and groom looked so elegant in their traditional dress as did most of the guests, the setting was perfect and everyone looked happy to be celebrating the wedding of the young couples.

And lastly we come to the Flower Festival in Limassol, Cyprus, which was a glorious village affair where things went wrong, the children ran off to greet grandparents in the stands, the band played as village bands do and everyone, including the onlookers, had a wonderful time. One of the best flower festivals I’ve ever attended, it was done for the people of the village, few tourists were around (it was out of season and the few that were there had mostly gone off sight-seeing), and everyone, from the Mayor down to the littlest tot, had a thoroughly good day.

Lens Artists Challenge No. 176

Ann-Christine this week suggests that we go for a minimalist challenge but, as she says, that doesn’t mean just one picture. Use 1, 2 or 3, as long as you use only one image for each story you have captured.

What is a photo story? Some photos are taken just for their story, and some stories come to mind when you see your photo on the screen. A lot of photographic storytelling involves shots of scenes and phenomena that cannot easily be explained through words.

Here are three of mine.

My first images are of a young man I met a few years ago in the violin-making centre of Italy, Cremona. The afternoon I spent with this young luthier in his workroom watching him undertake the delicate tasks of cutting and filing, staining and painting taught me more about dedication, passion and love of a craft than I’d ever hoped to learn. And while he talked to me about how he sourced the wood and what it meant to go into the forest to find just the right tree, I was conscious of the mass-produced violins that were flooding the country from China and how his future is no longer as assured as it was a few years ago. Below is a postcard of the Conio family, grandfather, father and Stefano, all luthiers. Their life inspires me when the world seems full of dross.

The Conio family of violin makers in Cremona.

If you’d like to know more about Stefano, read my blog about him which covers in more detail exactly what he does.

My second subject is somewhat similar in that he too, is totally hands-on. A bodhrán is an Irish frame drum, a circular wooden frame covered with goatskin on one side, the other side open-ended allowing one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control pitch and timbre. It is played by striking the skin with a bone known as a cipín.

Eamon Maguire makes his bodhráns from start to finish totally by hand. So hands-on is Belfast dwelling Eamon (above) that he first catches his wild goat, one of those that roams the hills of Antrim (he has a special licence to do this), kills it and then cures the skin to make the drum. Then and then only, he can begin the delicate work of making the bodhrán, before fine-tuning and embellishing it with his signature mark, a tuft of goat-hair and a quotation from the Book of Kells.

Eamon makes the finest bodhrans in Ireland and he supplies these to most of the Irish bands we are familiar with today including The Chieftains and The Fureys, to musicians like Bob Dylan, and to celebrities and Presidents of the USA. His work can also be seen in private homes and galleries from San Franscisco to Tokyo. He is also a fine sculptor in Irish bog oak which, yes, he digs up himself from the bogs and he plays in a band and teaches Irish set dancing!

Although like the two men above, she may have been hands-on from beginning to the end of this effort, she lives a somewhat different life. It is just after dawn on a beach in Thailand and this old lady is setting up to sell hard-boiled eggs to the early workers, locals, who will shortly pass by. Not for her the more lucrative tourist trade which the umbrellas in the background will soon welcome for beers and snacks, those sites are too expensive, so she buys eggs in the market, carries them home and boils them (probably outside on an open fire as few women like her have kitchens) and then hauls them down to the beach in the hope of selling them.

Before the tourists flock down to the water’s edge she will have packed up and gone, and they’ll never know someone like her existed. This is subsistence.