The old and the new … and the not quite what it seems

Bois & Charbons; run down out-building at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Out-building at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The Bois & Charbons (wood & coal) sign-writing on this Melbourne building suggests advertising from another age.

The building is part of the Abbotsford Convent Arts Centre, though it is neglected and apparently unused. When I took the photo, I did wonder how a French coal merchant came to have premises within an Australian convent, but stranger things have undoubtedly happened.

Although I took the shot over a year ago, I’ve largely ignored it. The presence of air-conditioning units, steel barrels, and other signs of modernity detract from the assumed authenticity of a piece of Melbourne’s past. They interrupt a nostalgic, romanticized reading of the scene.

What changed my mind is knowing that the Bois & Charbons signage is fake. It was painted in 1987 when the building was used in as a location in the filming of a TV series  about Nancy Wake, a WWII heroine of the French Resistance.

Over-laying the fantasy with another layer of imagining. Aged black & white treatment, shot of Bois and Charbons; film location and out-building at Abbotsford Convent Arts Centre, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Over-laying the fantasy with another layer of imagining. Bois and Charbons; film location and out-building at Abbotsford Convent Arts Centre, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

As a medium, photography allows and encourages us to play with notions of reality and authenticity.

Something we all need to remember when we consider the old idiom “a picture paints a thousand words.”

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge is hosted at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Misty morning wanderings

Stillness. Boats moored in the Upper Waitemata Harbour, seen throught early morning mist from Greenhithe Bridge. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Stillness. Boats moored in the Upper Waitemata Harbour, seen from Greenhithe Bridge. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Although not good for travellers (creating havoc at the airport), the mists that have laid themselves upon Auckland this last week have created a wonderland for walkers, photographers and dreamers.

Black and white shot of Greenhithe Bridge disappearing into the mist. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Greenhithe Bridge disappearing into the mist. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

B&W shot of Greenhithe Bridge disappearing into morning mist. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

If only I could see the exit! Greenhithe Bridge, misty morning. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

A contribution to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Neither land nor sea

Close-up shot of green-lipped mussels growing amongst the kelp and shells on rocks at Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Green-lipped mussels growing amongst the kelp and shells on rocks at Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Although almost all of the (abundantly available) green-lipped mussels we eat in New Zealand are farmed, it is not unusual to see rocks in the inter-tidal zone of many beaches covered with densely packed rows of tiny juvenile mussels. A couple of days ago at Langs Beach though, was the first time I’d seen any grow large enough to take on the distinctive green colouration of the shell from which the derive their name.

Close up shot of Green-lipped mussels growing amongst the kelp and shells on rocks at Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Green-lipped mussels growing amongst the kelp and shells on rocks at Langs Beach, Northland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I’m not sure why the wild mussels around Auckland don’t seem to grow to maturity; pollution perhaps? Or environmental damage to their ecosystems from so many other beach users.

I hope the Northland mussels have a better chance.

This is the seashore. Neither land nor sea. It’s a place that does not exist.

Alessandro Baricco

 

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

 

 

“The light always comes back…”

Early morning sun and mist on sports field, Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Morning sun breaking through the mist. Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

My morning walks have become longer again, and are beginning to require a certain military precision in their organisation. Keys — tick. Woolly layers — tick. Toes strapped (experiment in postural correction) — tick. Fitness tracker, headphones, smartphone, new podcasts downloaded — yes, yes, yes and yes.

I’m a huge fan of BBC Radio 4 podcasts, and this morning the Desert Island Discs of Scottish writer and poet Liz Lochhead provided the soundtrack as I set off into the mist that mantled Greenhithe.

Early morning, Greenhithe Road. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Early morning, Greenhithe Road. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Sunrise behind the cabbage trees. Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Dr Suess-like cabbage trees, Collins Park, Greenhithe, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

The title of this post is from the poem In the Mid-Midwinter, by Liz Lochhead. It seems particularly appropriate today as nature has already bestowed on Greenhithe an almost white-out mist, bright winter sunshine and now a sky of “dreich greyness” as the rain approaches.

In the Mid-Midwinter
Poem

‘Tis the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s – from John Donne’s
‘A Nocturnal upon St. Lucy’s Day, being the Shortest Day’.

At midday on the year’s midnight
into my mind came
I saw the new moon late yestreen
wi the auld moon in her airms though, no,
there is no moon of course,
there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of
in the sky except a gey dreich greyness
rain-laden over Glasgow and today
there is the very least of even this for us to get
but
the light comes back
the light always comes back
and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
Meanwhile
there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us
unbidden,
bless us with their long-travelled light.

Liz Lochhead

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Fun with the digital colouring-in book

Close-up shot, new leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Stackables and Snapseed.

Sometimes the unlikeliest image attaches itself to my imagination. The new leaves on what I think is a Photinia Red Robin (gardeners PLEASE correct me if I’m wrong), offered a nice composition with which to play.

I have become rather fond of the textures and colour effects of the Stackables app, and always enjoy an excuse to play there. This week’s editing and processing theme at Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge (at Lens and Pens by Sally) gives me just such an excuse.

Close-up shot, new leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

new leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Close-up shot, new leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

New leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Close-up shot, new leaves of Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

New leaves. Photinia, Red Robin (I think). Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

On public art, festivals and the power of community

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I spent last weekend in Wellington, visiting friends and enjoying the LUX Light Festival; a free public event that attracts thousands of people onto the streets and waterfront area  to enjoy clever, whimsical and creative light sculptures.

LUX is incredibly family-friendly; the works are easily accessible and there are performances, activities, street food, and a range of glow-in-the-dark merchandise (including ice-cream) to delight kids.

Visitors to LUX gather around 'Control, No Control' by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Visitors to LUX gather around ‘Control, No Control’ by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

On Tuesday as I waited for my flight home, news of the Manchester Arena bomb began to appear. By the time I reached Auckland, it was known that people had died, amongst them children.

With each terror attack, each mass-shooting and atrocity that occurs in the world, I struggle to comprehend how anyone can feel enough hatred and anger to knowingly kill and maim complete strangers going about their day-to-day lives.

I think of the people who rugged up and went out to enjoy street art, and of the people who dressed up and went to a pop concert; of those whose memories are of a fun night out, and those whose lives were taken or forever damaged.

Festivals, concerts, public events; these things are essential to the fabric of our communities. They build and strengthen the bonds between us though the sharing of food, music, art and fun. That they seem increasingly a target for terrorism, is worrying. If we become too afraid to go out and share in the joy and camaraderie of public events, we lose not only personal happiness, but community strength.

Yet in adversity people do come together, looking for ways to connect with our shared culture and common humanity. Manchester’s Tony Walsh has shown how art is integral to this, reading his poem, This is the Place at a vigil for the Manchester Arena victims.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Fun photos and hanging out with my inner child

Macro b&w shot of cut onion with bokeh. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed.

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
— George Bernard Shaw

For me, photography is play.

I have no-one telling me what to shoot; or how and when. I don’t make money from it (although I’d like to one day). The only constraints on me are time, light and my imagination.

The shot above is pure play. Not just the messing about with an onion, a smartphone and some tinfoil (now there’s a sentence you don’t often see), but the afterwards playing — the electronic doodling with photo-editing apps.

Diane Ackerman said “play is our brain’s favorite way of learning”, while the psychologist Jean Piaget offered this advice about creativity:

If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.
— Jean Piaget

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally