Monday, February 09, 2009

Just some photos from my album

Now and then I get the urge to take a few photos. Unfortunately I don't do it as often as I probably should and there are times I wish I had done so but didn't. I was going through a few of my photos that I had in electronic format and thought I'd share a few of them with you. There is no theme and no particular order. These are just photos that I find visually appealing or just interesting. To see them in their approximate original size you will need to click on the image and open it in a new window. I fear that much of the quality is going to be lost in the transfer. When you click to open a photo please give it a second to load as the files are larger than usual.

One Spring I spent a week or so staying with a friend at his family's summer villa on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy. It was here that this photo was taken. The weather that day was quit overcast and everything seemed rather gray. The sun, however, was filtering through the clouds. What I like about this photo is that we have these somewhat colorful boats docked in this small harbor. Some of the surrounding villas, colorful themselves, cling to the hillside. It is as if the colorful man-made objects, the villas and boats, are slowly pushing the overcast clouds and gray waters to the side. I like the contrast of the colorful man-made objects to the solemn grayness of nature.

I stumbled upon this plaque on Albertov Street in Prague quite unexpectedly one day. The date has two-fold significance for the Czech people and for the struggle for freedom. In 1939 students in Prague protested the take-over of the Nazis. Medical student Jan Opletal was shot and died. His funeral was attended by thousands of students as another protest against the Nazi regime. As a result the Nazi politicians closed the universities, send over 1200 students to the concentration camps and had nine of them executed on November 17.

Fifty years later the students of Prague once again marched in the streets to protest the Communist dictatorship that had held their people by the throat. This march is seen as the beginning of the Velvet Revolution that brought down the Communist dictatorship and brought freedom to the Czech people.

This photo is rather bizarre if you look at it carefully. It quite literally appears as I had entered a time machine and returned to the early part of the last century. In a sense I had. What you have here is a number of the extras from the film The Illusionist, which is supposedly set in Vienna, not Prague where I took the photo. This opera house served as a backdrop the film, which I have yet to see.

What you have here is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Sofia, Bulgaria. I found the flowing curves of the building appealing especially when contrasted with the city around. Sofia ought to be a prime example of Soviet architecture. The large, straight-lined but hideously ugly style was everywhere to be seen. Massively wide avenues, with almost no traffic, separated one example of bad Soviet-style government building from more of the same. As far as the eye could see there were dilapidated apartment complexes making up in decay what they lacked in style.

This is Lake Maggiore again. To get this photo we had to drive up a hillside. There I found a spot, between some houses where I could capture the meandering lake. Here the water and the clouds appear to mirror one another, to the extent that is sometimes hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. The leafless branches from the bushes and tress frame the shot. I think this is one of the saddest photos I have ever taken. But it is a peaceful sorrow. The photo lacks warmth and lacks life itself. Everything is still, dead, gray and cold.

Still at Lake Maggiore. The villa where I was staying was on the lake front with just the lawn and a sea wall between lake and my room. If I opened the balcony door I could look out across the lake Switzerland in the distance. The misty clouds that filled the valley that day can be seen weaving between the distant hills and merging with the grayer clouds above. There is enough sun light to put the palm in the yard into silhouette. There is a very strange mixture of competing images here. On the bottom right you have what appears to be a lush, almost tropical garden. But across the waters it looks rather cold and bleak.

This photo is from Amsterdam. I am fond of photos with silhouettes, photos that show something but not quite showing them at the same time. This statue contrasts well against the white clouds with the wisps of pale blue sky. Enough sun light is hitting the statue to give us just a hint of the intricacies of the sculpture itself.

Here we have a rather phenomenal series of quite colorful carvings on a temple in Singapore. If this is their pantheon of deities it seems rather crowded to me. But this is so symbolic of Singapore itself with so many people in such a small space -- and of course they are piled on top of each other albeit with more comfort for the people than for the carvings on this temple.

This is one of my favorites from the photos. I particularly like the grays and browns in this photo and how they contrast with the blue of the sky. The trees are like long, skeletal fingers reaching up to form a curtain behind the arch. Vanity, or so I see her, is standing there gazing at her own image. Only a few feet away is this marvelous series of branches all reaching toward the heavens yet Vanity ignores them to continue staring at herself.

Here is a small side street in Singapore. I suspect most people go past it without even bothering to look down it. But I absolutely love the colors and curves of the stairs from this series of apartment blocks.

I hope you enjoyed a few of these. Unfortunately I don't think it is possible to capture all the detail here that exists in the originals. But I hope this gives you enough of an idea of what I saw and why I photographed it so that you enjoy the experience the way I did.