Uplands landscape

Punctuated By Ice at The Waterside

My walk this week has been around the lake at The Waterside – Felindre and seems to have been punctuated by ice. Indeed, the whole language and grammar of the posts has been dictated by the freezing icy conditions.

Icy Punctuation

Influenced as I am by the things I see and hear around me, I look at the light and shade, the patterns and textures, and I wonder what it would feel like to touch, to run my fingers along some of the surfaces of frozen water, hard ground lightly dusted with snow or old reeds and rushes from last year as they poke through the semi opaque sometimes mushy lookingContinue reading

Marsh Grasses

A Focus on Marsh Grass

One of the things I like most about  my walk this week on my local salt marsh is the marsh grass. It’s not the only thing I focus on when there, but using the camera to look at different aspects of the grass by adjusting the focal length allows me to investigate some of its different textures and patterns.

Marsh grass

The two images below with the fence half hidden amongst the grasses are ones that each have a different depth of field and which I like for different reasons. The one with the fence and background grasses blurred gives me a better sense of being there while the other seems to me to be more diagrammatic, though I like the complex texture it presents.  You may see them differently, but neither of them are realistic insofar as the camera lens cannot see in the way our eyes do but only recreate a sense of a place which we, ultimately, respond to according to our individual perception. Perhaps, if you are unfamiliar with this kind of landscape feature, the images may mean nothing to you. Our connection and response to the things around us, images included, is strongly influenced by our own experiences.

Taste of Gower – Oxwich 2 details

grass seed heads

While the Taste of Gower walkers at Oxwich walk ahead of me I am able to take in some of the details of our surroundings both visually and aurally. Some of these details may be considered incidental or everyday things such as the seed head above, the horizontal shadow patterns of walkers legs or the vertical pattern of fence posts in perspective.

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Seeing Snippets with a Photographic Blinker

I like to think that I would spot different details or snippets of my surroundings regardless of the photographic blinker provided by a camera. But I also think that using a camera over the years has helped me to put a mental frame around aspects of my local environment that has allowed me more easily to focus on certain details.

On my walk this week along Aberavon seafront I took many photos, both detail shots and wide angle. Thinking of using them and my field recordings for a StillWalks video of this time and place, it was important for me to view the bigger picture as well as the details. The “bigger picture” shots below reveal that the sea fret that had lifted a little for a while, had descended again to mask the details in the distance.

sea wall snippet

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Choosing the View

They say about TV or radio, if you don’t like it, you can always switch it off or change the channel. Similarly, wherever we may be, we can choose what to take notice of, we can choose our view. That can be a challenge sometimes, especially if what is in front of you is a blank wall, but when out and about we tend to miss so much of what is around us and I am as guilty of this as the next person.

That’s OK! It means that when I do take notice of my surroundings, a simple walk down the street can become an adventure of discovery. I don’t mean that there are suddenly different or new things happening around me to what’s normal, I simply find I have more interest in the normal things. The shapes and patterns, the textures and colours . . . of the sounds as well as the sights.

monochrome railings

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Sounds Down the Street

Having crossed the road on my walk this week I continued walking down the street and found myself enjoying the various sights and sounds much more than I would normally in an urban environment. This was because I was looking and listening to everything around me – I was focused on what could be seen and heard and not thinking about what had to be done that day or a forthcoming meeting, none of the things that are usually going through my head on a working day.

In the midst of a busy working day and what can seem like cacophonous activities or surroundings, we can take a rest just by changing our focus and paying attention to the intricacies of our local environment, outside or inside, urban or rural.

Walking down the street

The urban aural environment is obviously different to the rural – this is confirmed visually for me when I look at the spectral display for a sound clip like the one below. I am used to seeing the patterns of bird song in a sound clip and depending on the bird, these sounds show up at a range of different frequencies – the cries of the gulls in this clip are at a relatively low frequency. The highlights shown scattered across this spectral display create a quite different pattern and seemingly quite random – they are  the squeaks and squeals of vehicle brakes. Some of these, the highest pitched, are out of my hearing range these days, but it’s good to be able to see that they are there.

Walking Down the Street

If viewing this in an email, please click the post title to see other photos in this post, thank you.

Sound clip spectral display

Sound clip spectral display – click to enlarge

Josef Herman Schools Award Project 2014

Art education is wide ranging and there are many different approaches to it, but at its core is learning to see. The primary and most effective way to learn to see is to draw. This, surely, must be at the beginning of every artist’s career – i.e. the moment, as children, we pick up a pencil, crayon, brush and make a mark with it.

Last week I was working with the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru on their 2014 Schools Award project. Following a tour of Ystradgynlais with Josef (1911 – 2000) played by actor Adrian Metcalfe and the “Clerk to the District Council” played by Sonia Beck, both from Lighthouse Theatre in Swansea, we ran workshops in drawing. We viewed the Foundation’s collection of Herman’s works in “The Welfare” and referenced a set of images provided by the Tate Museum for our drawing. We used both traditional drawing materials (pencil and charcoal on paper) and iPads. Sketchbook Pro has the facility to record the drawing you do on the iPad and you can see a couple of examples from the children at the bottom of this post.

Sonia invited us all back to the year 1954 when Josef Herman lived and worked in Ystradgynlais (for 11 years). She and Adrian did an excellent job of drawing us into believing that they were the real people which confused some of the children as they knew that he had died in 2000!

Adrian Metcalf as Josef Herman

Adrian Metcalf and Sonja Beck

Ystradgynlais

Looking Josef Herman artworks

Drawing workshop

Architecture – In the Abstract

The Senedd by Richard Rogers – The National Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff was opened in 2006 but until recently I had only viewed it from the outside. There have been many photographs taken of it, most of them showing the exterior or the mushroom like ceiling of the interior. The photos below are mine.

Different Events – The architecture I have featured this week has all been different as have the events that have taken me to the various venues. The event at the Senedd was the launch of a community solar PV co-operative by friends – www.egni.coop – and are looking for people to invest. We already enjoy reduced bills as a result of solar PV panels on our roof.

Eyes and ears open – I said at the beginning of the week that I always try to have my eyes and ears open for potential StillWalks locations. In fact a StillWalks video could be produced for any location, but because I am looking and listening to the things around me with this potential in mind, I feel I am able to see and hear better than I would otherwise. Using the camera (DSLR, compact or iPhone) helps me to focus in on different aspects of my surroundings and in time you begin to do this anyway. It is the same with sound – listening through headphone helps you focus your hearing and in time I believe you become more perceptive. Now I just need to prove it lol!

Senedd Cardiff

Senedd Cardiff

Senedd Cardiff

Featured SillWalks Videos – I’m afraid this is going to be another week without a featured StillWalks video. I have a number of productions to complete and I look forward to adding these to the StillWalks collection. For now there is, as always, access to sample length videos is available through the Walks menus and you can always buy them at anytime for as little as £1.50.

Looking and Listening . . .

. . . seeing and hearing, that’s what StillWalks is all about.

As I walked through the woods on Sunday on my way towards Upper Lliw Reservoir, it was quite clear that the birds were perfectly happy with the rain. Although they were hard to spot, they were very easy to hear.

Can anybody identify the birds or the fungi?

tree growths

Tree Growths

Tree Growth

Tree Growth