September 2012

A long way down…

If you are ever in Florence, you have to visit Giotto’s Campanile, the bell tower that stands next to the Duomo, and climb to the top. Go early and beat the crowds – the narrow staircase is a two-way street and it gets busy.

This shot is taken from one level below the top, the highest level from which you can look down the inside of the building. The tower itself is stunning. It stands 84.7 metres high (277.9 feet), although after you’ve staggered up the 414 steps that take you all the way to the top, it seems higher. Every step is worth it – the view over the city from the top is fabulous. And it’s been standing there in all it’s magnificence since 1359, the year it was completed. Check it out on Wikipedia for more stats and information.

Canon 40D with Canon EFS 10-22mm lens at 10mm. ISO200 1/8 at f10


Gruffalo Tree

Gruffalo Tree

‘Don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo.” So Julia Donaldson’s wonderful story goes, but it isn’t true. Here’s proof that the Gruffalo really exists. It’s alive, well and living disguised as a rather scruffy tree in Big Wave Bay Village, Hong Kong. Normally somewhat obscured by the surrounding countryside, I rumbled it on a misty morning when the background vegetation on the hills was less visible. I took just one shot – I wasn’t prepared to hang around having heard about its terrible teeth and terrible claws…


Canon 40D with Canon EFS 10-22mm lens at 22mm. ISO800 1/400 at f6.3

Jenkins Pond


At several hundred metres across, Jenkins Pond, near Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is more of a lake than a pond. Whatever the name, it’s a blissfully peaceful stretch of water that’s fun for kayaking and swimming. And at sunset, for fishing…

Canon 40D with Canon 70-200mm f4 IS lens at 70mm. ISO200 1/100 at f9

9/11 Memorial

Visiting the 9/11 Memorial is a profoundly moving experience. Opened last year on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, it comprises two huge pools located on the footprints of the original Twin Towers. Water falls thirty feet into the pools and from there into a central void. The names of all who perished are inscribed on the outside walls of the pools.

When the site is complete, there will be over 400 swamp white oak trees and one other that is in the cluster of trees to the right of centre in a the photo. It is the single tree remaining from the original World Trade Center plaza that was found reduced to an eight-foot-tall stump by workers clearing the site. Removed, nurtured and now relocated on the site, it has become known as the ‘Survivor Tree’.

Canon 40D with Canon EFS 10-22mm lens at 10mm. ISO100 1/80 at f8

The Hancock

The 60-storey John Hancock Tower, known locally as The Hancock, is Boston and New England’s tallest building at 790 feet (241m). Its minimalist lines are in stark contrast to Trinity Church that stands next to it and which is shown reflected here.

Canon 40D with Canon EFS 10-22mm lens at 10mm. ISO400 f11 at 1/250

New York City

Looking south from the 86th floor of the Empire State building, with the new Freedom Tower rising from Ground Zero and a storm drifting through Newark across the Hudson River. If you look carefully, you can see the Statue of Liberty at the left end of the upper of the two islands in the distance.

Canon 40D with Canon EFS 10-22mm lens at 10mm  ISO200 f5 1/1500

The Skellig Rocks

The Skellig Rocks are two large Devonian Sandstone islands that rise out of the Atlantic Ocean some 12 km south east of Valencia Island on the Ring of Kerry, South West Ireland. The larger of the two (to the right), Skellig Michael, rises 230 metres above sea level. Perched on a promontory near the top are ruins of a monastery dating back to the 6th century which was inhabited by monks for over 200 years. It’s hard to even imagine the conditions there in those days, especially when you factor in the cold, the wind, the rain and the isolation, although the latter is presumably what they were after. Both islands are home to huge colonies of seabirds including some 27,000 pairs of gannets on Small Skellig.
On our trip to Ireland, we had every intention of visiting Skellig Michael (Small Skellig is closed to the public) but the weather got the better of us. This shot was the view from Valencia Island on the afternoon we arrived, with the mist bearing down on the coast, a mist that remained for the rest of our stay and which precluded us even seeing the islands again. Needless to say, the mist, together with rough seas, meant all trips were cancelled. Another time, perhaps.
Canon 40D with Canon 70-200 f4L IS at 121mm; ISO200 f8 1/1000

Passion … fruit

A favourite shot of grandson Frank when he was  around ten months old (he’s now just turned eight and he still loves passion fruit!

Canon EOS 1D MkII with Canon 28-70mmL f2.8 lens at 62mm. ISO 100 1/50 at f6.3


If you like remote, this place is remote! Silali is a volcano situated in the northern Kenya rift valley, which means it’s somewhat off the beaten track!
With a summit elevation of 1578m (5013 ft) above sea level, it has a spectacular summit caldera of 8 × 5 km. with summit walls, as shown in this shot, of up to 300m high. The summit is 600-800 m above the surrounding rift valley floor. Silali was formed some 63000 years ago and had its main eruptions around 7050 – 5050 BC, although there is still geothermal activity there with some eruptions possibly having happened in the last few hundred years.
This shot was taken from a Cessna 4-seater on a trip north-west from Nanyuki down into the rift valley to check out Silali. Although we didn’t fly high enough to get an overall view, we did fly up the outside walls, down into the crater and up the other side; a truly amazing flight.

Much of the above information was gleaned from the site volcano live and there is more interesting stuff at theGlobal Volcanism Program

Canon EOS 1DMkII with Canon 28-70L f2.8 lens at 55m. ISO200 1/5000 at f2.8

Red-Whiskered Bulbul

This fellow was one of several bulbuls that frequented the trees outside the balcony of our apartment in Hong Kong. I took this shot some years ago with my first digital slr on a misty day in the spring. The bird was at least 40 feet away and even using a doubler on the 300mm lens, he was quite small – the image is a little cropped. In order to get sufficient light, I used a projection device on the flash gun.

According to Craig Robson’s Birds of South East Asia (pub. New Holland) ‘the Red-Whiskered Bulbul in the adult has a tall erect black crest, black moustachial line, whitish ear-coverts and underparts and red ear-patch and undertail coverts. The juvenile is brown tinged overall, crest shorter, red ear-patch lacking, undertail parts pinker. Resident from India & Tibet eastwards and a common resident in SE Asia except Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore. Size of adult: 18-20.5 cm

The Red-Whiskered Bulbul is also known as the Crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus)

Canon EOS D60 with Canon 300mm f2.8L IS lens and Canon x2 extender; ISO 200 f11 1/200, projection flash.