Pantheon, after Bruce Wild

I knew the Pantheon was the one place in Rome I needed to see, because of The Moon. A photograph which hung in the hallway of the family home throughout my childhood. For many years I had believed this photograph to be depicting the moon, and was very impressed at my father's ability to capture the moon up so close, a looming, perfect sphere suspended in the inky matte darkness.

I don't remember when I became aware that the photograph was not of the moon, but I had grown; grown tall enough to see the detail in the image: the visible rectangles of the coffered dome. Clearly this was no moon. How I managed to learn this was in fact a building, a large dome, and my moon was in fact a 9m diameter skylight, I don't recall.

My dad was in Italy in 1981 - he was in the crowd when the Pope was shot. In June, I went to the Pantheon to attempt to recreate his original image from memory. I had last seen the photo over a year ago, and had not studied it closely for more than five. I am not even certain I got the angle right.

On the Seine

Tourist boats on the Seine, scanned and distorted. Attempts to create a surrealistic sensation reminiscent of the boat trip in the 1971 psychedelic masterpiece that was 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'.
The poor quality of the images give the tourists trigger-happily photographing the banks of the river, cameras raised high, the impression of hands help up in terror or exhilaration. Rollercoaster of the Seine.

Paris through the blinds with furniture - a series

Paris on film - inside Musée des Arts Décoratifs, photographing the Tuileries through the sheer blinds, creating the effect of an interior projection of outside. Ash peers through the blinds to capture an unobstructed shot. Art Nouveau furniture quietly fills the foreground. 
The framing, narrative and diffused light have such a cinematic quality. 
Images to be converted into slide film and projected somewhere which isn't Paris. Because even though this is Paris, it doesn't really feel like it. 

A day trip

Boogie boarders in the surf at Port Waikato / tyre tracks in the black sand / Parents posing outside the Mercer Cheese shop / Tuakau Bridge, which leads to Port Waikato / a Bayleys exclusive property for sale / blurred Mercer cheeses / rough waters at Sunset Beach

While visiting New Zealand I generally limit myself to Auckland - apart from a week spent at the family beach house on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (which is pretty much part of Auckland these days anyways) the main priority is to catch up with friends and family. However I do like to fit a day trip in at some point. Last time my parents and I motored northwards to Brick Bay Sculpture Park and the Scandrett Regional Park, both places I had never been to before, and both now with my seal of approval. This time I put forward the notion of heading in the opposite direction, as I never seem to venture southwards a great deal.

Driving south these days seems to take about half the time it used to, and the smooth sheen of the motorways  detract a little from the sense of adventure (as adventurous as one can be, when your parents are sitting in the front seats chauffeuring you), but as long as you take some pit stops along the way, you feel like you are off the main drag a bit, even if technically you are not out of Auckland.
We stopped in Mercer, to buy some Mercer Cheese, one of those small towns where they are all known for something. I wish we had also stopped in Pokeno, for some Pokeno Bacon. We nibbled on our mature Gouda with slices of apple as we took a scenic route of our own invention towards Port Waikato, the small settlement on the West Coast which is the mouth of the Waikato River, New Zealand's longest.

Port Waikato doesn't have any of the glamour of Piha, Bethells, or Muriwai. It's decrepit, the houses falling apart, single storied, single roomed, they all seem hunched over, sheltering themselves against the stiff breezes that pound them with salt. The surf beach goes by the rather misleading name of 'Sunset Beach', perhaps trying to trick innocent tourists into thinking it's New Zealand's answer to Home and Away's Summer Bay. But it is so unspoilt, and it's bleakness is to it's benefit. The beach was empty except for a few boogie boarders and perhaps a dog, and the surf lifesavers camped between the flags sitting in their buggy.
An overcast day, one could just stand on the beach at look out to sea, and see nothing.
I stared out into the distance as the clouds and surf spray merged with the sand dunes at the end of the spit which curves around into the mouth of the river. Apparently there is a walk you can do around there, and in the springtime sightings of dolphins and seals are possible.

We stopped at the local café/restaurant/takeaways (it was maybe the only shop at the beach, there was a sort of general store by the old wharf) and in a fit of New Zealand patriotism indulged in an L&P and a Hokey Pokey ice cream. We drove around the streets before leaving, I think I noticed a library, half the houses seemed to be for sale. If anyone wants to join me in setting up an art commune there, pretty sure we could buy the properties on the cheap.

On the return trip we crossed the Tuakau Bridge which spans the Waikato River, stopping for mandatory photo documentation. Built in 1933, in a way it served as the 'bridge' (what other word can I use) between the 'island time' of Port Waikato and the pounding repetition of everyday life.

Autumnal Afternoon

Taking photographs around Malmö with my visiting friend Bree / archery in autumn / probably Malmö's coolest car / good scenic Autumnal vibes, complete with dancing plastic bag / attempt to document wildlife failed miserably - the downside of the point and shot camera.

Anyone who doesn't believe that Autumn is the best season is surely deluding themselves. It is an amalgamation of the wind-down of summer and the anticipation of winter, which you know will wear off a few weeks in. A season where it is perfectly acceptable to still have a gin and tonic on a crisp sunny afternoon, then warm up with some roasted vegetables (pumpkin and parsnips cannot be beaten) and a delicious autumnal ale. It is the perfect time for reading in parks and admiring the gradual shift of hues in the trees. It is not yet too cold to wear a beret, and your coats don't have to be for purely practical reasons.

Autumn also has the coolest songs about it: my two favourites being 'Autumn Afternoon' by The Teddy Neeley Five, and 'It's Autumn' by The Hamlets. Autumn Afternoon has, hands down, the best 'ooo-ing' in a song, ever.

April in New Zealand is the height of Autumn, and I therefore count myself lucky to be born in that month. However, now everything is topsy-turvy, in Sweden my birthday falls in Spring.
And now I am writing this in the middle of winter. If anyone wants to visit me next year, come in Autumn.

Diagonal tourism

When your camera takes film and you only seem document your holidays, it sometimes takes many months for images to see the light of day. These are a few more from my summer touristing in Stockholm in August, these four taken at Drottningholms slott, the private residence of Sweden's Royal Family.

It appears I have a propensity for taking photographs on an angle, perhaps to make them more "dramatic". I think I just rue the fact that a camera does not have the same peripheral scope as my eyes.

Back To You

Claire has recently departed after an amazing two weeks in Scandinavia. Based in Malmö (where I currently reside) but also featuring a 4-day visit to Stockholm and a couple of day trips (perhaps night trips would be a more fitting phrase) to Copenhagen and its surrounds. In due course of our travels many photos were taken. With me equipped with a trusty point-and-shoot Konica film camera, and Claire with her Canon digital camera as well as her (smart) phone, we were armed to the hilt.
On looking through the accumulated snaps, a certain trend became rather apparent. And what was meant as documentation of two friends exploring three cities, ended up looking like Claire just followed me around in a rather stalkerish manner - a generous chunk of the images are of my back, or me in various stages or turning around. Perhaps there is now enough material for a 'Florence strides forth' tumblr or some such lunacy. But here let's keep things to only the choicest cuts.
My photos are due to be collected next week,and should hopefully even out the disproportionate number of Claire stalking Florence photos.

All photos by Claire Cooper.

PLACES: Drottningholm / Copenhagen / Drottningholm / Frederiksborg  / Stockholm / Frederiksborg /

Kinder's Matakatia is just the same as mine

Kotanui, Monsieur Direy's House, Whangaparaoa, 1868 / Cliffs, Whangaparaoa, near Auckland, 1868 / Kotanui Rock, Frenchman's cap, Whangaparaoa, 1868 /
via The University of Otago Library's Digital Collections

Photographs by the Reverend Dr John Kinder of Matakatia Bay and Kotanui Rock in 1868. It never ceases to amaze me that these cliffs and rocks are nearly exactly the same today as they were then. In fact I was sitting at the base of that cliff just a few months ago. My only observation is that Kotanui's hairline is receding a bit these days.

And that there appears to be a pair of disembodied legs posing at the island's base.

A trick of the light

It's not often an idea or an artwork will stop me in my internet/google reader trawling, but whenever it does it is always instantly rewarding and I (metaphorically) give myself a withering look and disappointedly shake my head, wondering why I don't make more of an effort.
Via Junkculture I stumbled upon these remarkable photographs of Antarctic icescapes, by Belgian architect  Francois Delfosse, deftly created with simply a plastic bag and some clever lighting. The trick with the scale is beguiling - I originally saw these as a sort of large scale sculptural installation: as if the plastic had frozen and gallery goers were free to traverse it.
And as one commentator noted on Delfosse's flickr, it is reminiscent of the crevasse Tintin falls into in 'Tintin in Tibet' - the bowels of the icy abyss illustrated by Hergé in blues, greys, purples and blacks.

On his website a series of postcards are available, including the series of Antarctic 'scapes, and a particularly wonderful image of the Bermuda Islands, as a quavering mirage. I especially like the way the dark, faceted and enclosed plastic bag Antarctica series feel when juxtaposed against the flat, one-hued and sparse open water surrounding the scarcely visible islands. I also have no idea of its 'authenticity', and I think I prefer to keep it that way.

I am always interested in people who appear to share interests of my own, ongoing projects which have been on a bit of a back burner of late involve both icy landscapes and mirages, in however a non-photographic capacity. I also seem to have compiled a large amount of primarily blue postcards, in particular from New Zealand, which I am wanting to do something with, but may also have to add these three images to the growing pile.

Malmö - grey city

Photographs taken around Malmö by Kris and I at the beginning of December. Taken with our new Konica C35 EF camera - picked up at a 2nd hand store (that kind of new), making a pleasant change from the safety net that is documenting in digital.
Above are snapshots of various local landmarks and such - Margaretapaviljongen in Pildammsparken; the Rose Fountain in Folkets Park; our street - with a couple of those windows being our apartment; Kris taking a constitutional in Pildammsparken; Kronprinsen - covered in a mosaic of millions of tiny blue tiles; and a self portrait riding the elevator at work.

I am intrigued as to see how the roles of film we took whilst holidaying in New Zealand turned out. (And if my photography skills have improved to a commendable level).While the camera seems to cope admirably with the greyness of a wintery Malmö, I am not sure how it has done with the overbearing brightness of New Zealand in full summer swing (maybe it was fortuitous that it rained almost the entire time we were there.)

You can find the rest of the roll on Kris's flickr.

Great Scott

Three photographs taken by Robert F. Scott on his ultimately fatal expedition to Antarctica, racing the Norwegian Roald Amundson to the South Pole across the desolate and uncompromising, yet epic and sublime landscape. 

Scott was an amateur photographer taught the technical basics by the expeditions professional, Herbert Ponting, so Scott could document the final trudge to the Pole for scientific (and now, historic) purposes. A collection of Scott's photographs have recently been rediscovered and compiled into a book 'The Lose Photographs of Captain Scott' by David M. Wilson, incidentally the great-nephew of Dr Edward Wilson, member of the Terra Nova Expedition.

They make me feel an astonishing sense of loneliness and isolation that I have grown to associate with rocks, ice, islands and the colour white.

some brief descriptions of the above photographs, via The Guardian

1. Dr Edward Wilson sketching on the Beardmore Glacier, lunch camp, 13 December 1911

Wilson is seen here sitting quietly, sketching. He was one of the last artists in the great expedition tradition in which the pencil was the main method of making records. He produced many yards of accurate geographical drawings, as well as extensive notes and sketches of anything of scientific interest. Here he is drawing the mountain ranges along the Beardmore Glacier, from Mount Elizabeth (left) to the Socks Glacier and Mount Fox (right).
This panorama is the finest example of Scott's mastery of his camera, gained on the march in extreme conditions. The combination of action and repose – illustrative of Scott's unique pictorial understanding – encapsulates the contrast between the Antarctic's majesty and man's diminutive presence

2. Ponies on the march, 2 December 1911

As the pony column disappears into the distance, the "sledgeometer" on the final sledge clicking the mileage as it goes, the straggle of ponies becomes veiled in the icy wilderness. Many of the men in this image would return, but not all. None of the ponies would: within a few days they would be shot.

3. Camp under the Wild Mountains, 20 December 1911

Scott took this impressive image to capture the interesting geological features around Mount Wild. On the sledge in the camp, two figures can be seen sketching. On the left, Apsley Cherry Garrard is drawing the view towards Mount Buckley; on the right, Edward Wilson is making detailed sketches and notes of the geological features so clearly visible in Scott's photograph. The other figure that can be seen is probably Birdie Bowers, who died with Scott on their return from the polar expedition, just months later. Scott returned his camera to base with the First Supporting Party as they departed from the top of Beardmore Glacier towards Cape Evans. Critically, this lightened the sledge loads for the push across the Polar Plateau to the South Pole. Bowers, with his lighter camera, was chosen by Scott to become the photographer for the final pole party.


Shirts, poolside

Photographs by Astrid Kircherr (and others) taken while holidaying on Tenerife with Klaus Voormann, George, Paul and Ringo. This was at the same time John absconded to Barcelona with Brian Epstein, starting all those rumours.

Points of interest:
- Curious to know what that small piece of cardboard Ringo and Paul are using as a nose protector. 
- Can't fault a shirt and trucks outfit.
- Nice choice with the orange beach towel.
- Ringo has always looked like the one who would be most paranoid about sunburn.