Archives for the month of: July, 2012

More of the  gannets today.

It was an advantage that there weren’t as many birds as there are in summer. It made it easier to observe how the birds interact with each other. They are very noisy creatures. There is constant screeching and squawking. After all, they have to out-scream the thundering water and howling wind. And if the wind comes in from the sea, the smell can become unbearable. It was an offshore wind last Sunday.

The situation in the picture here reminded me so of a schoolyard scuffle. Two birds started to have a go at each other. One was egging them on, a third one was watching from a distance. The last one pretended to only be remotely interested. His only concern seemed to be whether he had to move or could stay. They were going at it for quite a while.

Since today is more about documenting the gannets rather than an artistic interpretation, I have added another close-up image. Doesn’t he look like a winner?

I would love to have a new lens, to get even closer next time.

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The linking theme to yesterday’s picture is water and stone. I find it amazing how such a soft material like water can do so much damage to hard stone. I guess, persistence is the key.

On the West Coast of Auckland water shows it’s toughest face. The force of the element demands its well deserved respect, particularly on a wet and windy day like yesterday.  The constant pounding of the Tasman Sea has carved beautiful cliffs into the land. High on one of those natural cathedrals a colony of gannets has found their place. They usually gather on rocks just off the mainland, only three colonies in New Zealand have settled on the mainland itself. Winter is not the best time to see the birds, the colony is pretty deserted. They will come back for the nesting season in spring.

When we have overseas visitors – as we do at the moment – we like to make this our first trip for a real New Zealand experience. The beaches on the West Coast are high in iron and their colour is black, rather than yellow or white.

I am staying with the cathedral theme today. I like the little devilish figures on medieval churches. Their function was to scare people into believing. The masons of old had such great imaginations about what the afterlife would look like. As literacy wasn’t widespread the stories had to be told by easily understood pictures and sculptures like these. Of course the stories were also told orally, but we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.* Apart from this, the sermon was held in  Latin, so most people didn’t understand what was being said. These sculptures were a great support in keeping the congregation in line.

I don’t know if it happens to other people as well, but I fall in love with the sound of words. The word gargoyle is one of my great loves. To my ears it has a ring like a mischievous giggle. I always thought the devilish goblins at churches are gargoyles, but I am mistaken. The figure here is technically a Grotesque. A Grotesque’s function is solely to scare people. The Gargoyles are the figures that also function as waterspouts to channel the water away from the masonry and  protect the building from water damage. I finally found out that gargoyle describes the water channel function itself, not the goblin. How un-poetic. In  German they are just called waterspout, or as my dictionary tells me: Gothic waterspout with grimace, now that is a mouthful.

*BTW in German the saying goes: a picture says more than a thousand words. Does this mean the Germans are bigger wafflers?

My little church yesterday was missing it’s bell in the belfry.  This is my link to today’s image. The bell here – the largest swinging bell in the world – hangs in the Cathedral of Cologne. It is 3.20 meters high and weights 24000 kg. Absolutely gigantic. The silhouetted people  illustrate the dimensions perfectly. They are reduced to small vulnerable particles here in a world constructed by man.

The story goes  that when the bell was installed in 1924 it didn’t fit through the portal. They had to remove the main column with the statue of Mary in the entrance. It took a few weeks to move the bell into its final place, 53 meters up in the tower. It was supposed to be rung for the first time at Christmas, but after the first few warm-up swings, the rope tore. Some changes to the clapper and how it was hung were needed and it took another ten months before it was finally heard.

I wonder if it was just classified as minor set-back in the bigger scheme of things?

The connection to yesterday’s image is the cross. The X in the light painting could not deny it’s relationship with this symbol here. It is a beautiful light in this image and I love the stark white against the black cloudy sky. The meaning of the power lines severing the symbol from its base, I leave up to you.

Religion is a subject matter I usually avoid. All my life I knew there are two things I would never become: A revolutionary or a missionary. I lack the necessary conviction for either. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have a view point. In fact, I have very strong view points, but I also believe that opinions can differ and still remain friends.

I have a Bible though and I remember how I got it as there was a great lesson attached to it.

I was raised a protestant and when I was fourteen I went to prep classes for Confirmation. For the actual event, the congregation shouted each of us a “new entrants” Bible. The Bible came in two colours: red or blue. So the pastor asked the thirty of us which colour we would like, so he could order them. First red – heaps of hands went up. Then blue – only one hand was raised. Oops… everybody laughed and looked at me. It was a truly embarrassing moment, but I didn’t change my mind. I simply couldn’t imagine a red Bible.

When the Bibles finally arrived, the red was a totally obnoxious shade and I had around twenty-five offers to swap my blue one. I still have the blue one in my bookshelf.

This is from my X collection. An image painted with light. When you start photography, this is an absolute must: you have to try painting with light at one stage. It is great fun. This one really enriched my collection of X’s.

I have to keep it short today, as I spent too much time on the phone to Germany this morning. I have a visitor arriving tomorrow and I wanted to wish a safe trip. I am pretty sure over the next couple of weeks I will write more about the tiny differences between Germany and New Zealand as it will come up in conversation a lot.

I hope my puppets won’t get neglected too much, I will have to think something up so this won’t happen.

My idea with the Chinese Whisper caused me considerable pain last night. In my head I went through my image collection and found, now, that I really had to think about how I can link images together without it seeming forced.  … Then, I couldn’t find the image I wanted to use today on any of the hard drives at home. It is definitely in my master collection at work. Finally I decided to use this one here, which is the ultimate motion picture. It is the motorway just South of Auckland late at night taken from a moving car using a long exposure (I was bored!). I also moved the camera around to get an erratic pattern. I dislike photographs of cars.

The motorway is another thing that is totally different here than in Germany. In Germany motorways connect different cities, so they are a  fast route through the country side. In New Zealand the motorways take you through the cities. They are a quick route to different parts of the metropolis, in particular Auckland. More than half of the not even 200 kilometers of motorway we have in New Zealand are within the Auckland Region.

At the moment I have so many balls in the air, but I won’t write about any of them. Instead I will have to let you in on a secret: I am terribly superstitious when it comes to ideas and unfinished projects. I can’t talk about them! As soon as I start talking about ideas publicly, they fall to pieces or things just don’t happen. I can count on that!

One thing I can talk about now though… My book is going to be displayed at the Frankfurt Book Fair. This book fair is the biggest of its kind. It is a trade show for publishers and booksellers. There will be seven and a half thousand exhibitors from one hundred and six countries. Each of them bringing their new titles along, and among them my tiny little book, which travels in the bag of another New Zealand publisher. New Zealand is the guest of honour this year. This is a big plus. It means a lot to me, I am still a traditional publisher at heart! I remember when I was at the book fair years ago, I was always totally overwhelmed by the sheer amount of titles on display. It is like the internet made visual!

Because I don’t want to talk about the finer details or my other projects, I thought I will play visual “Chinese Whispers” on my blog for a while. I will put up images that are somehow related to the previous one, but totally different at the same time. And then I will tell a little story around the image. I am curious how it will go.

Today’s image is an old letter press machine  in motion. My link to yesterday’s image is the blur: yesterday it was a  person, today it is a machine. The printer down the road has one of them (actually the one shown in the picture) and he runs weekend workshops. He asked me the other day if I can be his helper sometimes. I am very happy to do that. I still find it amazing that until the late 1970’s type was put together piece by piece to print books and newspapers. Not much had changed since Gutenberg invented the moveable letters in 1439. Imagine how people must have felt in those times, when all of a sudden a book didn’t need to be copied manually word by word, but could be put together first and then replicated as many times as needed in what must have felt in those times like lightening speed. It must have felt to them like the Internet to us now?

Yesterday’s image was the “yang” to the old lady in the post lonely path (“yin”). The bare trees, the coldness and the male person climbing up the stairs into the light, while the old lady walks into the darkness…

When I put yesterday’s image up, I remembered this one here, which I always like for it’s colours. The image yesterday was taken in the ruins of an old castle in Germany. The castle dates back to 914 and sits on top of a volcano not far from Lake Constanze.  Meanwhile at the other end of the world, New Zealand wasn’t even inhabited by humans at this time. The first Moa-hunters arrived here around 1300. (The Moa is long gone, people are still here). The picture in this post was taken in some defense tunnels that were built into a volcano at the harbour entrance to Auckland. They were build in the 1880’s  when there was a scare of a Russian invasion.

I really enjoy going through my images for my blog. Putting some up, one by one, makes me realise that I actually do have recurring themes. Loneliness and isolation obviously rate very high. But don’t send the men in white coats along, I am perfectly normal :). My images are just a counter balance to daily life, they help to de-stress.