Sunday, 17 April 2011

Ones That Get Away

It was good weather for colour photography last week -- overcast with occasional light rain and occasional soft sunshine, just right -- and I got some "pleasing but predictable" images. Hey, I was on holiday, not working for National Geographic, get off my case!

But if I ever needed a demonstration of why I'm not working for National Geographic, I got two. The first happened as we were walking across a field just below the brow of a hill. My hearing is not great these days, but I started to hear a strange pulsing noise, something like a cross between a hairdryer and an old-fashioned lawn mower. Just as I formed the words "What the...?" in my mind, a huge prop-driven aircraft came up from behind the hill, about 50 feet off the ground, and travelling at the speed of a fast bicycle. It was surreal.

The plane was clearly military, painted grey all over, and completely unmarked. No insignia, no numbers, no nothing. It was also very quiet, given it passed close enough overhead for me to count the rivets (that's a figure of speech -- I didn't actually count the rivets). We just watched open-mouthed as it hugged the ground and passed slowly into the next valley. We are used to jet aircraft screaming out of nowhere, but this was new; it was like something out of a Miyazaki anime movie.

On reflection, it was probably the SAS rehearsing their next humiliating encounter with pitchfork-wielding yokels. They were probably lost and looking for a phone booth (does their brand need urgent repositioning, or what?). But, more importantly: did I take a photograph? Did it even occur to me to get a camera out? Don't ask.

The second demonstration came at the end of a walk, in those final minutes as you amble back to the car, and start to contemplate a nice cup of tea. We passed through a churchyard, and I thought some of the monuments, especially the angels seen from behind, looked interesting against the landscape. I was tired, and took a couple of perfunctory snaps, without even checking the camera settings. Only today, as I go through the haul, do I realise how close I came to something really interesting. But: aperture wide open, shutter speed slow, focus off... All I have are some blurry, "what if..." pictures. Maybe next time.


Struan said...

Love the ash keys. Perfect for the aspect ratio too - for once I don't feel my omnipresent urge to crop square.

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Struan -- I seem to be noticing ash keys this year, for some reason, don't know whether it's me or them.

Perhaps, like the bracken, a dry winter has done some alchemy to their colour / size / prominence.


Dave Leeke said...

I like the angel photo - it looks like you've caught her surreptitiously. It's a sort of "Wings of Desire" moment.

I do like black and white photos.

Kent Wiley said...

I especially like the second photo. I'm actually saddened that spring has arrived this year. I did enjoy the winter colors, without a hint of green much of anywhere, especially on the kind of gray days you describe. Now it's going to be brilliant green everywhere.

Mike C. said...


Yes, that's exactly what I liked about it, "angel spotted in powys". I also like the sense of the angel glancing up at a tsunami wave crashing in, which probably wouldn't happen if it was in focus.

But: lesson learned (again) -- CHECK THE SETTINGS!! I had to be super-punctilious about this with the LX3, as the mode dial was so loose it would change if I coughed.


Mike C. said...


Me, too. All that green is so dull, and covers up all the interesting bits.

I've always liked to see exposed structure -- skeletons, etc. Our holiday let last week had extraordinary oak beams exposed all the way to the roof, it was like sleeping in that famous Frederick Evans photograph of the Kelmscott Manor attic -- wonderful.