Category Archives: Weekly Photo Challenge

A photo challenge sometimes entered weekly, sometimes monthly, it depends on what photos I have available. It also means thinking outside the box sometimes and I confess I’m not great at doing that.

Weekly Photo Challenge,Life Imitates Art

Perhaps not the greatest interpretation of the challenge but I’ve lately been wanting to use one of the interesting tools in my imaging programme and thought this might be my opportunity.

This sculpture was done by marine woodcarver Norman Gaches, from a tree that was destroyed in the great storm of 1987, outside Barton Manor on the Isle of Wight, the then home of Impresario Robert Stigwood, who commissioned the work.   At that time Barton Manor was producing wine and he wanted something to represent the grape.  The result was a magnificent carving showing the family of Bacchus and these are just two of the photographs my husband took at the time.   We followed the progress of the work with the sculptor over the months it took to finish it, and then did our best to interpret the art with camera and prose. A resultant article appeared in Woodcarving magazine and was subsequently syndicated in two other magazines.


© Bacchus – Mari Nicholson

Bacchus Litho

Photo of Bacchus as Lithograph



And Zeus as a pencil sketch.Zeus Pencil Sketch

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time


This is the AFTER photograph.  I wasn’t there to take the BEFORE shot, but most of us will have seen the terrible pictures of the 1944 D-Day Landings in Normandy, France, even seen the film The Longest Day, in which the graphic images of the horrors of that day and the terrible happenings on the beaches code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword are now part of history.   It was a Time of heroism on a grand scale and a Time of mistakes on an equally grand scale.  It heralded the end of the beginning of the war that tore Europe apart, the one we call The Second World War, but it also heralded a Time of hope when it seemed that Peace might finally descend on Europe.

To me, this Memorial to some of those who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy signifies Time Past and Time Remembered.

 © Mari NicholsonD-Day Landings.  War Memorial on Normandy Beaches

Weekly Photo Challenge – TIME

Quite literally, this is about time: a clock, no less.

This is the Great Clock (Gros Horlogue) in Rouen, France, which dates from the 16th century and sits amoung the maze of narrow streets that make up the old part of town.  The half-timbered houses that line the streets seem to be always freshly painted and look smart.

Rouen is, of course, Joan of Arc’s town, and the church dedicated to her is truly wonderful.  It is set near the market square which has stalls selling the most amazing cheeses – always a reason for visiting this area.

Gros Horlogue (1527-15290 Rouen, France.

Gros Horlogue (Great clock)  1527-1529.JPG

Weekly Photo Challenge – Vibrancy (2)



Well, Vibrancy again, and I think I’ve found the ultimate this time.

Poppies©Steve Moore

Between July and November 2014, at the Tower of London, a magnificent display of 888,246 ceramic poppies filled the Tower’s famous moat to mark the centenary of the First World War.  The number of poppies represented one for each British and Colonial death during the conflict.

Poppies and Moat, Tower of London, 2014©Steve Moore

Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, the installation, Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, attracted thousands, possibly millions, from all over the country and overseas, who queued for hours, often in the rain, to view the sea of scarlet progressively filling the Tower’s famous moat, between 17th July and 11th November 2014.  The poppies encircled the iconic landmark, creating a spectacular visual commemoration, and although thousands wound their way around the magnificent display, it was noticeable that most people were given to inward reflection rather than discussion.


©Steve Moore

All the poppies that made up the installation were sold afterwards, raising millions of pounds, money which was shared equally amongst six service charities.

Ceramic Poppies

©Steve Moore

I was moved, as was everyone else who attended this magnificent tribute to the fallen, and the poppies that streamed from one of the windows or arrow slits in the wall of the Tower, recalled to mind the words of William Blake from Songs of Innocence and Experience:

“And the hapless soldiers’ sigh, Runs like blood down palace walls.”

Poppies from arrowslits

©Steve Moore

These photographs were all taken by my friend, and London photographer, Steve Moore, who spent a couple of days there.  Steve gave me a CD of about 150 pictures – it was not easy choosing images to represent the Photo Challenge as my mind kept switching to the reason for the poppy display, but I hope you like them.  I wish I’d been there at night.  There is something about that night scene that  resonates deep within me.
Tower with Shower of Poppies

©Steve Moore


Night time at the Tower of London

©Steve Moore

Night time at the Tower of London (2)

©Steve Moore

Tower of London with stone Animals©Steve Moore

Photo Challenge – Vibrancy


road markings, Taiwan.jpg
Road Markings in Taipei – © Mari Nicholson

Trying to find just the right vibrancy is difficult if one decides to discard the “Fruit and Flower” file.  I nearly managed it but now one of the CDs on which there is an image or two I wanted to use has got stuck in the slot and I can’t remove it.  I’m losing patience so perhaps it’s best if I just pin a couple here and move off to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and come back later.

So, something different from flowers I hope, road markings on a road in Taipei looking down from a window in, I think, a Museum.  The Yellow really stood out as did the soft green of the trees backed by a darker green (not much dark green showing on my image, unfortunately).

Then it’s back to flowers again, I’m afraid, but the vibrancy of these exotic orange ones with their cushion of green leaves in a silver bowl struck me as I walked into a hotel in Khao Lak last year.  I’d like to take that flower arranger home with me.  Even thick-stemmed flowers always fall over when I try an arrangement like this.

Vibrancy of tropical floweers.jpg
Flower Arrangement in Khao Lak

© Mari Nicholson



Deliverance in Louisiana

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Creepy.”

Not everyone finds the place creepy, but I do. The air is hot and humid, eerily still as the electric boat moves slowly through the swampy waters of the Louisiana bayous whose trees are hung with ghostlike, gossamer-fine, Spanish Moss.  I can’t see the shore because the branches of the trees that line the banks hang far into the waters, hiding just discernible movements and deadening the squelchy noises that drift towards us.  Now and then a snake plops from an overhanging branch and the shadowy form of a nutria, an animal like a river rat on steroids, can be seen slipping into the murky swamp through the yellow and purple wild irises that cover the banks. Household pets are kept indoors in these parts, cats and dawgs are all the same to a giant Nutria.

Crocodiles lurking on the Bayou

Turtles, herons, and egrets share floating logs, but trail your hand in the water and the log will move swiftly to snatch at it, for this is alligator country and ‘gators will eat anything that moves.  The bayous, streams that are fed by the Mississippi River in the low-lying areas of Louisiana, make ideal homes for alligators.

The culture of the bayou is Cajun:  a banjo is playing from somewhere over to the left and low voices are heard.  It’s not romantic anymore, it’s creepy and scary, as my memory flashes to Deliverance (1972) John Boorman’s brilliant, action-adventure film about four suburban businessmen who encounter disaster on a summer river trip.  The banjo duet and the film’s brutal action haunt me still, and this river, this boat, is a perfect scene from that film.

And I’m in the middle of it.  And the banjos play on.

Photo Challenge: ORANGE

Been looking through my photographs to see what I could find that would fit this week’s challenge.  Quite surprised to find very little.  I thought I had an orange sunset at Wadi Rum but that turned out to be golden, and my terracotta roofs in Italy had taken on a brownish tinge by the time I blew them up.  But I found a few, so herewith my selection from Spain, Italy, Thailand and Sweden.

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Freshly squeezed juices at every corner in Palermo, Sicily
Freshly squeezed juices at every corner in Palermo, Sicily

Photo Challenge “Depth” – Cordoba’s Mesquita

Arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain

Magnificence of the Arches in the Mezquita in Cordoba
Magnificence of the Arches in the Mezquita in Cordoba

Once the centre of worship in Western Islam, the Mesquita in Cordoba, Spain, with its glorious exterior golden walls, is considered one of the architectural wonders of the world.  Red and white striped arches as far as the eye can see, each one seemingly different, create patterns that leave one enchanted.  More bizarre however, is the Catholic Church plonked down in the centre of the mosque, something which alone qualifies it as a most unusual place.

Originally built on the site of the Basilica of St Vincent the Martyr, a 6th century Visigothic church, then becoming a mosque and latterly a church (in use today) one can look down on the remains of the earlier building through a glass panel set in the floor, reminding us that this edifice has been owned and operated by 3 religious houses at different times.

From 785 when the Caliphate was powerful in the Iberian peninsula until the sack of the Moors in the 13th century, the Mesquita grew grander and larger under each succeeding Caliph but during all that time, all religions lived side by side in harmony, each sharing their knowledge of geometry, philosophy, algebra and other intellectual disciplines.

The pillars seem to go on forever. Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain
The pillars seem to go on forever. Mezquita, Cordoba, Spain

Caliph Abderramán 1 built the great hall in which there are 110 columns the capitals of which came from old Roman and Byzantine buildings  Above this there is a second row of arches which creates a wonderful effect.  Eight more arches were added in 833 by Abderramán II, the minaret, Mahrab and the Kliba in 962 by Alakem II.  The mosque was doubled in size in 987 when Caliph Alamanzor added blue and red marble pillars and today the total of these endeavours is truly wondrous.

Arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain
Arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba, Spain

It is our good luck that the Christian conquerors didn’t destroy this magnificent building as they did so many others, but choose to place their church, consecrated in 1236, inside the walls of the mosque.  This bizarre placing of one religious house inside another is just one of the things that makes the Cordoba Mezquita so unusual.  Against the austerity of the pillars of the mosque, the chapels full of gold and silver decoration, statues of the Madonna, marble-swathed tombs and heavy wooden carved choirster stalls, stand out defiantly but somehow, the spellbinding beauty and simplicity of the arches puts the flamboyance of the christian church in the shade.

Mesquita at Cordoba, Spain

Photo Challenge: Serenity – Part ll

A Pink Dawn Over Rioja
A Pink Dawn Over Rioja

I don’t know why I overlooked the most serene moment of my life when I started on my former blog about this subject.  Maybe it was because the images to go with it are not very spectacular; certainly they don’t convey the calmness of the moment, the sense of absolute peace and tranquility, and the near total silence we experienced.

The occasion was a balloon flight over the vineyards and fincas of the wine-growing area of Rioja in Spain.  We began our ascent as dawn was breaking bathing our world in a warm pinkish glow as we rose into the sky watching fields and houses below diminish in size minute by minute.  Initial trepidation dissipated as soon as we started our flight and the beauty and joy of the morning filled us with awe.  For once I felt at one with nature, not in the way I had done when out walking in the mountains or swimming with dolphins, but a feeling of really being part of this marvellous planet of ours.

Vineyards of the Rioja area
Vineyards of the Rioja area

Up and up we went right into clouds which deadened what little sound there had been up until then.  it was totally eerie, chilly and white.

Up, Up and Away, in my Beautiful Balloon
Up, Up and Away, in my Beautiful Balloon

Then the pilot motioned ahead and there it was, the photo I would have died for if I’d known when on the ground that I would actually see it, our balloon shadowed on the cloud in front of us, faint but very obviously there.  The moment was too precious to grab for a camera and start focusing, so in a sort of reflex action, I just clicked on the little camera I carry for emergencies like this, and here it is.  My only image from my time in the clouds when I really knew the meaning of Serenity.

My Beautiful Balloon
My Beautiful Balloon
Reflection of Balloon in Clouds
Reflection of Balloon in Clouds

What is Serenity? It’s what Makes me Happy

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Serenity.”

A Thai Sunset - Phuket
A Thai Sunset – Phuket

This is a different sort of Post – it is one in which I’m responding to the weekly photo challenge set up by WordPress.  This week the topic is Serenity so here are a few images that to me represent that scarce emotion in today’s world, serenity.

The first one, below, may not look like everyone’s idea of Serenity, but this Cretan man had an attitude to life that was calm and benign.  He was one of the happiest people I’d ever met: even his donkey seemed happy in the heat of the midday sun.  It was a harsh life up there in the mountains but Andreas told me he had everything in life he needed, his olive trees, a few animals, a family in good health and all living nearby, and most of all, he said, he lived on Crete.

What more can I say?

An old man on a road in Crete with whom I shared my lunch.
An old man on a road in Crete with whom I shared my lunch.

Next photograph is very different.  I did an Art Tour once in France where we stopped at various place where some of the painters known as The Impressionists had painted: their pictures were hung in nearby galleries or galleries of some note further away.  Rouen I remember very well, as it was one of the places where it rained incessantly during our visit, but luckily, Claude Monet had painted more than 30 pictures of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral (many in the rain) so we were able to see it just as the artist had seen it.

When the group of painters who came to be referred to as The Impressionists evolved their style of painting from chocolate-box interiors to naturalistic outdoor scenes, they were helped by two mid-19th century inventions.   One was pre-mixed paints in tubes (akin to today’s toothpaste tubes), and the other was the new vibrant hues like chromium yellow and French ultramarine that freed them from the chore of grinding up lapus lazuli and mixing dry pigment in linseed oil to make colour.

What it also gave them was a complete change of perspective.   With these inventions they could now paint “en plein air” (outdoors), capturing the momentary and transient aspects of light and the ever changing colours of the clouds and using ordinary subject matter.

Alfred Sisley (October 30, 1839 – January 29, 1899) was an English Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France.  A very disciplined painter, Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent of the Impressionists.  He never deviated into figure painting or thought of finding another form in which to express himself.  The Impressionist movement fulfilled his artistic needs.

Below is a photograph I took of a scene he painted (I think his painting hangs in the Gallery at Honfleur).  To me it is serenity itself.  I photographed it on a day when the Normandy sun was shining, dragonflies were chasing each other over the Seine, the village of Bouille was quiet as the people rested after lunch and I captured the scene on camera as I remembered it from the painting.


A quiet scene where the only movement was of butterflies and dragonflies.
A quiet scene where the only movement was of butterflies and dragonflies.