Category Archives: photo portraits of cities

Let Your Heart Speak

How to get to the island of Burano from Venice – arise early.  Alicia and I are two of only four passengers aboard the 07:10 vaporetto on a bright Sunday in November 2018.

The ferry skits past Murano.  Venice is framed in the distance.

Here we are in Burano, an artist’s paradise of multi-coloured dwellings.  And we seem to be almost the only people up.

We immerse ourselves in the joy of colour.  We become part of the colour.

Like the other islands in the lagoon, Burano has a network of canals.

At first the water remains inside them.

But then –

Look at this!!!

The tide is coming in.  Even the town square is morphing into a lake as water pops up through holes.  The locals are laughing at me as I exclaim madly and photograph their morning coffee turning wet.  They’re perfectly used to it.

Raised platforms are erected, ready for the spread of water.

A nonchalant local goes about his day as usual…

…while a tourist improvises…

I am overwhelmed by the almost silent beauty of the changing landscape.  A little lapping sound perhaps…and a breeze.

Alicia and I continue our walk and our photography.

(Let there be light)

We wander across a pedestrian bridge to Mazzorbo, a tiny piece of land adjoining Burano.  There is a market garden/vineyard which is open to wander through.  In the garden is a sign which reads, “Let your heart speak“.  This is a message to the school children of Burano who are invited to partake in the creativity of the garden.  I am touched, and write it down so I don’t forget.

We peek inside the 13th century Chiesa di Santa Caterina, then pay our respects to those who reside in her graveyard.   This is a view back to Burano through chrysanthemums outside the cemetery.

By the time we meander back to Burano the tide has receded.  Wet pathways glisten.  Any remaining water has been pushed back into the canals by brisk brooms.

The tourists have arrived.  Shops are open.  The town begins its Sunday trade.  Alicia spends time in the lace museum while I walk and photograph.  (The dog comes over to say hello and gets a warm reception from me.)

The cat (typically) ignores me.

Colours, colours, colours!!!

I discover that Burano has its very own leaning bell tower (17th century).

And finally I return to Alicia back at the designated meeting place.  I manage to capture her while she is unaware of me.

Thank you Burano.  This morning excursion is one of the highlights of our Italian trip.  It is nothing short of a magical mystery tour…a mother-and-daughter special!

Let us all endeavour to take the message in the Mazzorbo garden into 2019 – and beyond.  Happy New Year!  Let your heart speak.

 

 

Enchanted Venice

It’s true.  Venice is a tourist trap.  It is groaning under the weight of people as much as it is soaked by increasing washes of acqua alta.  It is claustrophobic and impossible not to get thoroughly lost…continuously!  When the tides are very high the waterbuses (vaporetto) stop running leaving one stranded.  It is wet, wet, wet.  Who would go there?  Who, having been, would ever want to go back?

(After five days I said to my traveling companions, “I don’t think I’ll ever come back here”.  They nodded in agreement.)

It’s a lie!  I don’t mean what I said about not wanting to go back.

The enchanted city has caught me. In the few weeks since I was there its spell has been intensifying, working its way into my emotional landscape as surely as an incoming tide.

Venice – wait for me!  I will surely return.

Venetian selfie

 

Sumptuous Paris

I take photos to make drawings from.  But not always.  These ten photos don’t require reinterpretation as drawings.  They are happy just to remain photos – celebrating a city with more than its share of visual romance; sumptuous Paris.

La Conciergerie with reflections on the Seine pre-dawn.

Jardin des Tuileries

The view from the steps of Basilique du Sacre-Coeur in the late afternoon.

Ravens being fed at Parc des Buttes Chaumont on a benign autumn Saturday.

The joys of coffee and pastries from a shop such as this! (My daughter, Alicia and her friend, Marissa.)

Melt-in-the-mouth cakes within, elegant architecture without – appreciated simultaneously.

Stunning floral display at Jardin du Luxembourg.

From inside one of the art galleries at Centre Georges Pompidou, looking across from Notre Dame to Pantheon.

A view of Les Halles (St Eustache on the right) from Centre Georges Pompidou.

Construction and constructing…

 

 

Cool Parisian Shop Dogs

Dog walking in Paris

Dog walking in Paris

I have just returned from two weeks in Paris.  It was a photographic material-gathering trip for new drawings.  While looking for inspiration, sometimes I took photos just for fun.  Below are three stylish Paris dogs in their super-cool shops.

Japanese shuba inu in the hairdressing salon

Japanese shiba inu in the hairdressing salon

Most days I passed by a hairdressing salon in the Marais.  This immaculately-groomed dog was regularly in the window watching the action outside.  He was way too cool to look at me as I knelt down on the pavement to take his photo.

Dog on the counter

Dog on the counter

This little guy was on counter duty in a shop somewhere near Centre Georges Pompidou.  I seem to remember that it was a shop selling accessories – which is fitting as he looks like an accessory.

In the doorway of an optical shop.

In the doorway of an optical shop.

I saw this shape from a distance somewhere between the 5th and 6th arrondissement and first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing.  I went closer and we regarded one another.

"Hello"

“Hello”

Parisians sure love their dogs!  And don’t we all?!

"Jacques Russell" coloured pencil drawing of a Paris dog from a previous trip.

“Jacques Russell”
coloured pencil drawing of a Paris dog from a previous trip.

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Christchurch:  Now’s Good

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When is a good time to visit Christchurch?

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In 2010 and 2011 Christchurch suffered catastrophic earthquakes.

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It still hasn’t recovered.  You can see huge empty spaces right in the city centre.

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Perhaps you should have visited prior to 2010.

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Perhaps if you wait long enough until you are old, Christchurch’s scars will be completely healed.

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It is certainly a city compromised.  But then again, who isn’t compromised in some way; place or person?

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Meanwhile, this is Christchurch right now.

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The beauty is here…

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…all around.   It is up to each of us to find it.

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When is a good time to visit Christchurch?  Now’s good.

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(See also “Nothing but Flowers” written on 14 January 2016.)

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Fun in Higashiyama

Fun in Higashiyama

Fun in Higashiyama

When I go to Kyoto I spend a lot of time on the streets of Gion, Pontocho, Miyagawacho and Gion Higashi trying to get photos of maiko and geiko.   Trooping around the kagai (geimaiko districts) is sheer hard work!  In contrast, a gentle stroll around the eastern hills of Kyoto; Higashiyama, is pure fun.  This area is where I can enjoy all I see, smell, hear, taste (and spend money on) without any of the self-induced stress suffered in the four hanamachi below.  There is a magic atmosphere in Higashiyama.  Everybody seems to be happy – just like me.  Let me show you a little of Higashiyama, experienced from my June 2016 trip.  (Click on the photos below to enlarge.)

Blue Stocking dress shop. I am always fascinated by the clothes in the window.

Blue Stocking dress shop. I am fascinated by the sweetly conservative outfits in the window.

This 4 cm cat was crying to be saved. It was sitting on a rock by the side of the road. I scooped it up and brought it back to Australia where it now sits by my art desk.

Tiny Cat (4 cm high) is crying to be saved. It is sitting on a stone by the side of the road. I photograph it (not caring that passers-by must think I’m nuts) then scoop it up and bring it back to Australia.  (See final photo)

Many brides and grooms come up to Higashiyama to be photographed as there are so many areas of gorgeousness here.

Brides and grooms come up the hill to be photographed as there are so many areas of gorgeousness here…to which they add their own colourful splendour.

A street scene with hydrangeas.

A street scene with hydrangeas. (Warm and wet June is hydrangea month.)

Joyful bride and groom.

Joyful bride and groom.

Higashiyama is also where you will see many 'henshin' (young girls and older women dressing up as maiko and geiko).

A couple of henshin (girls dressing up as maiko) pose for one another at a particularly photogenic spot.

Stunning architecture framed by trees.

Traditional wooden architecture framed by trees; Yasaka Pagoda behind.

I gaze and gaze into shop windows - and sometimes like to photograph into them too - enjoying the juxtaposition between what is inside with the reflections from outside.

I gaze into the window of a shop which sells fine incense.  I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of what is displayed behind the glass pane, with outside reflections upon its surface.

Can you see the reflection of the couple walking past this shop window?

Can you see the reflection of the bridal couple walking past this shop window?  (Enlarge the photo by clicking on it, then you will.)

Stunning dolls on display in a very expensive souvenir shop window.

Stunning dolls on display in a rather exclusive gift shop window.

From up at Kiyamizu Temple there are expansive views to be had of the basin which Kyoto sits in, surrounded by mountains.

From up at Kiyomizu Temple there are expansive views of the basin which Kyoto sits in, surrounded by high blue hills.

Looking down one of the steep streets at a small group of yukuta-clad girls.

Looking down a steep set of steps.  (You can stroll but you still have to climb!)

Yasaka Pagoda peeps over the wooden buildings which house tempting shops and cafés.

Yasaka Pagoda peeps over the wooden buildings which house tempting gift shops and cafés.  Many visitors to Kyoto wear yukata which brings even more colour and charm to a scene.

In the distance, a bride and groom pose under the Yasaka Pagoda.

In the distance, a bride and groom pose under the Yasaka Pagoda.

I zoom down (literally) to get a closer photo of the bride and groom.

Ai ai gasa – two under the same umbrella.

Back down on the flat in the district of Gion Higashi. This bland urban environment is a stark contrast lush Higashiyama, just a few minutes walk away.

Back down on the flat in the hanamachi of Gion Higashi. This urban desert is a stark contrast to lush Higashiyama – just a few minutes walk eastwards and upwards.

From Higashiyama to Julie's studio, Tiny Cat among friends.

P.S.  From Higashiyama to Julie’s studio, Tiny Cat among friends.

Higashiyama is a tourist area but it is also a spiritual place, housing many temples, shrines and ancient gardens.  Nobody ever tries to grab your attention or herd you into their shops.  You can have as much or as little people interaction as you please.  Even when it is thronging with people, there is a sense of peace.  To me, it is a kind of paradise.

Currently I am working on a drawing sourced from my time spent in Higashiyama. (It has something to do with one of these photos.)  When it is finished, it will be unveiled on my next post.

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Photobombs on the streets of Kyoto

When one is trying to photograph maiko and geiko on Kyoto streets, one is certainly not alone.  Cars cruise by while dangerously-speeding taxi drivers blare their horns at straying pedestrians.   Delivery boys on bikes whizz and a constant stream of cheek-by-jowl pedestrians wander willy-nilly.  Huge whale-like tourist buses haul themselves down narrow Hanamikoji-dori. (Why, oh why, are buses allowed on such a narrow pedestrian-filled street?)  On every trip I get many photos which are severely compromised by other people’s body parts or rushing traffic.  I usually delete them but I thought you might like to see some from this trip.  It can be quite entertaining to see what turned up in one’s photos, often not realised until one is examining them back home.  (Click on each photo to enlarge.)

A very common situation - another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

A very common situation – another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

"Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot".

“Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot”.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them to them personally, mind.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them personally, mind you.

Another person walks into my picture frame.

Another person walks into my picture frame.  Because I always stand and photograph quite far away from my subject, this often happens.  I never want to loom in a person’s face.

Drats!

Drats!

In this case I was the photobomb. The lady you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

In this case I was the unwelcome addition to a photo. The person you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

Look at me! I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

“Look at me!”  I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

Another 'drats' moment.

Another ‘drats’ moment.

There is that rotten bus. Such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

There is one of those tourist buses.  In my opinion, such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus, a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

Nothing wrong from in front of this maiko. But the guy in the black face mask pretty much bloops the photo from behind.

Nothing wrong in the foreground.  But the guy in the black face mask behind the maiko is the spoiler.  And the car doesn’t do any favours either.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman's partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is terrible behaviour by tourists.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman’s partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is utterly insensitive and predatory behaviour by tourists.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, while they also wait at the entrance to Ichiriki, they look on with admiration and respect.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, also at the entrance of Ichiriki,  look on with admiration and respect; completely non-threatening.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, not every photo is bombed or blooped.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, I am happy to say that not every photo I take photobombs out!  Here is Fukutama.