Object #6

Object #6
This is number 6 in a series of 16 of interesting things in my office, so stay tuned. The carved wooden capital of one of two columns we have as a feature framing a large wooden door. The columns we think are 1840's vintage from Rajasthan. The door (you will have to wait because it will be images 15 and 16 in the series) is from a British Govenment office in India (we think).

Object #5

Object #5

Object #4

Object #4
Another interesting thing from my office. This is an old Japanese cabinet containing name seals.

Masai meets Pilbara

Masai meets Pilbara
Masai necklace from Tanzania.
Wall paint from Porters, colour = Pilbara

We the people ...

We the people ...
Pilgrims in the setting sunlight waiting for the Stations of the Cross Ceremony to commence.


Bella remains one of my most challenging subjects to photograph. It is like trying to photograph a toddler, she never stays still and her eyes are constantly scanning. In low light they are as "big as saucers" and it is almost impossible to catch. I was playing with my new (borrowed) D3 tonight and I shot this at a whopping 6400 IS0. Finally there is a happy marriage between camera and cat.

Unfortunately she was sitting at the back door waiting to go out into the cold ... so I couldn't get too many shots.


"Go in peace love and serve one another"

Another of the "Jesus Walk" statues, this one decorated by artist Josie Tipungwuti, from the Tiwi Islands North of Darwin, off the coast of Australia.

Do you hear the people sing?

Do you hear the people sing?
Photographing the Pilgrim Walk for WYD08 was pretty awesome today. Just being on the Harbour Bridge with no traffic was amazing. The Pilgrims just kept coming ...
Thousands of them, Singing and Praying. The walk from the Harbour Bridge to Randwick Racecouse where they were staying for the night was about 9km.

Interestingly, since its opening in 1932, the Bridge has only been closed to vehicles three times. The 50th anniversary of the Bridge was celebrated in 1982 by pedestrians being able to walk over the Bridge, the 'Walk for Reconciliation' was held in May 2000 in a symbolic crossing of the Bridge and the 75th anniversary of the Bridge was celebrated on March 18, 2007.

Reflective Jesus

Reflective Jesus
I have been extremely busy the last few weeks with the lead up to WYD08 (World Youth Day). I have been involved in photographing the events for one of my Clients.

I took this photo yesterday, although I wish I hadn't cropped it so tightly at the top. The stained glass window lends a lovely halo to the statue. (Might have to re-shoot it today). It was pretty crowded and I had to jostle for position, elbowing a few hundred pilgrims out of the way. It was covered in tiny mirrors and was quite spectacular sparkling in the sunlight.

Sydney has come to life with pilgrims and it is quite exciting to be in the city, the atmosphere is wonderful. Although I am not "in tune" with the cause, it has been great to be involved as a photographer. It's been a lot of fun.

Kurri Kurri pub pub

Kurri Kurri pub pub
There are a number of towns in Australia with double names, Kurri Kurri is one of them.

Here is a list of most of the others ...

Ban Ban
Baw Baw
Beggan Beggan
Bli Bli
Bong Bong
Book Book
Boonoo Boonoo
Bungle Bungle
Curl Curl
Gin Gin
Gol Gol
Grong Grong,
Joel Joel
Ki Ki
Kin Kin
Kurri Kurri
Lang Lang
Mia Mia,
Millaa Millaa
Mitta Mitta
Mona Mona
Mooney Mooney,
Nar Nar Goon
Nowa Nowa
Terrick Terrick
Terry Hie Hie
Tilba Tilba
Wagga Wagga
Walla Walla
Wangi Wangi
Woy Woy
Wujal Wujal

I don't know whether it is OK to call "Kurri Kurri", "Kurri".
But I know you CAN'T call "Woy Woy", "Woy",
but you CAN call "Wagga Wagga", Wagga and you CAN call "Tilba Tilba", "Tilba".

Tunisian Woman

Tunisian Woman
This was a fairly common sight in Tunisia. The woman is wearing an outer garment called a sifsari. Similar to the sari that is worn in India, but plain white. There seemed to be no way of fastening the cloth, so the women usually hold it on with one hand. Of course if the woman needed to carry out a transaction or to carry her shopping, she had no other choice than to hold the outfit together with her teeth.

The Gift

The Gift
“I bought you a present, un cadeau.” he said. “Come, I will take you to it.” He grabbed her hand and took her back into the Medina. Against the tide of people they made their way up through the narrow laneways, twisting and turning until she had quite lost all sense of direction.

“There.” he said, and pointed to the birdcage, sitting in the shadows of a doorway, next to a red doormat that said “welcome”. She stared at it for a quite a while, not knowing what to say. She was shocked that he had got it so wrong, that he knew her so little. Sure the cage was pretty and the birds the colour of her eyes. But it just made her feel sad. He stood there beaming, so proud of his find, thinking that it would make everything right again. She looked at his dark eyes and shuddered.

The birds were as far from their homeland as she was, it made her homesick to look at them. Two birds, a symbol of love, just tugged harder at her broken heart and the sight of the fragile creatures trapped forever in a cage sent her reeling.

It was hot and airless in the Medina and she longed see the sky. The smell of tobacco and honeyed sweets was making her nauseous. She wanted to run away, far from him, and far from the closeness of the walled-city. She wanted to be near the sea, the wind blasting its way along the coast and the sand stinging her legs. She wanted to gulp in the cold salt air and breathe it in so deeply it hurt. And above all else she wanted to be alone ...

Tears of Stone

Tears of Stone
Photographed in Alison's garden.
(Not mine, the other Alison)

Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days
Blue door in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

A boy with a drum in Sidi Bou Said

A boy with a drum in Sidi Bou Said
The taxi ride from our hotel to the nearby town of Sidi Bou Said, was always a white knuckle affair. Exhilarating, stressful and dangerous. I tried to always grab the front seat, next to the driver as it was usually the only seat with a seat belt. Agonising the decision between the front seat with seat belt or one of the back ones without and wishing I read the fine print on my travel insurance.

The trip only took about ten minutes and cost a mere $5. As I was the closest to the driver it befell me to negotiate the fare each time, arguing in my broken high-school French. In the end I just made sure I had the correct money and thrust it into the driver’s hand as I leapt out of the car at the destination. Sometimes the sound of foreign cursing followed me loudly along the street.

Sidi Bou Said, is pretty town, a tourist destination famous for its blue doors. Hugging the cliffs just outside Tunis. It is the place to be on a warm summer’s afternoon when the tourists and locals take to the streets for an evening’s promenade.

The older part is closed to traffic and so we had to fight our way through a gridlock of tour buses and taxis, up and up the cobbled streets. Past the streets stalls selling gaudy souvenirs and sticky sweets, Past the women from the tour buses tottering on silly shoes (oh how I love my hiking boots). Past the children nagging their parents to buy them more stuff.

We made our way to Café des Nattes, and were lucky enough to secure a table on the balcony outside, overlooking the main street. We ordered mint tea and settled into the serious business of people-watching. The call to prayer from the local mosque hauntingly, was finding its way into every corner of the town. It was hot. The sun was low and the white washed walls glowed yellow, and not far away there was a boy on the stairs with a drum, watching the passing parade.

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya... from the roof top of the Seven Hills Hotel in Istanbul there is a magnificent view of Aya Sofya and of the Blue Mosque. A 360 degree view of Istanbul. You can see the Bosphorous stretched out in front of you and the archeological diggings of the old Palace below. You can even look down on the Four Seasons Hotel, once a prison where the film "Midnight Express" was shot. On cool evenings the waiters will bring you a Pashmina, wrapping it around your shoulders to keep you warm.

I didn't eat there that night, but I did drink Raki poured over ice. My wine glass was topped-up with water. I wrote my journal and watched the waiters move from table to table with their trolley of fresh fish and watched the sun go down over Istanbul one more time.

Posted for my dear friend Nurcan. I miss you and I miss Istanbul. I will be back!

Breakfast at Lavanta

Breakfast at Lavanta
We ate breakfast at Lavanta's, sitting outside, so we could watch the markets come to life.

Simit and cheese, olives, yoghurt and honeycomb, cucumber and tomato, and Turkish tea, but my favourite was young pistachio nuts in syrup. Scarves fluttered in the cool of the morning breeze, giant ships made their way silently up the Bosphorus.

We sat and watched the world go by ... and drank more tea.

Breakfast at Lavanta's,
Breakfast at Ortokoy,
Breakfast in Istanbul,
Breakfast in Turkey.

Oh how I miss my breakfasts in Turkey.

View On Black

Early Purple Orchids

Early Purple Orchids
Photo taken somewhere near St Clears in Wales.

Betty's Soup Kitchen

Betty's Soup Kitchen
We had wanted a quick bite to eat, and should have gone to Stanley Street, but Benno said he knew a place, so we trundled up the hill to Oxford Street instead. Betty’s Soup Kitchen had all the ambience of an old diner. Wooden tables, simple fare and a photo of old Betty herself smiling benevolently at us from the back wall.

Three photographers, plonking their cameras ostentatiously on the table, all straps and lenses, leaving little room for the food when it arrived. I put mine on the floor under my chair, placing the strap around my ankle. A habit from my travelling days.

I should have ordered something healthy, but when the other two ordered the pasta, Carbonara-envy got the better of me and I capitulated.

I should have ordered something healthy. Three sad-looking Carbonaras arrived at the table, lacking in ingredients. Pasta loosely held together with cream, there wasn’t much else there. We poured on anthills of powdery parmesan and sprinkled liberally with black pepper and savoured the odd burst of flavour from the occasional piece of shallot. The house red was fine, and a welcome antidote. The boys drank beer.

Queen Elizabeth smiled down from her glass frame too. All faded with a yellow lightshade reflected in her skirt.

Outside, the the traffic rumbled passed and on the shady side of Oxford street people rushed by, busy with their business.

We should have gone to Stanley Street.

What Sheilas are good for...

What Sheilas are good for...
We decided not to risk the coffee at Betty’s, so we headed up Oxford Street, to the seedy, sunny side. We a found café, tucked in between a sex shop and a gay bar.

Impatient as always, he ordered at the counter, while I relocated the ashtray to another table.

The man at the next table was smoking. The man at the next table had blurry blue letters tattooed down his arm. Written vertically making it almost impossible to read, a typographical taboo. It said “Sheilas are good for”... and I couldn’t decipher the rest. I took a photo, so I could zoom in and read it later.

The coffees arrived. He had forgotten that I am drinking short blacks now, and had ordered me a cappuccino. I didn’t mind. The waiter assumed mine was the Mocha, so we swapped (like we always do) and I made the same joke I always make about him having the ‘girlie’ drink. And he didn’t laugh (like he always doesn’t).

He took a sip of his, while I played with the froth of mine, suspecting it to be too hot to drink.
“Try this.”, he said.
I looked up and saw he had a fine line of chocolate on his top lip, but I didn’t tell him.
“Why? Is it bad?” I asked.
“Just try it.” He said.

I did. It was steamy and sweet and tasted like dessert in cup. A kids drink for grown-ups. I returned to my cappuccino. It tasted like coffee, it tasted like full-cream milk and it tasted good.

The man at the next table had moved. Conscious of my scrutiny, he had moved to a table on the other side, but his smoke still managed to find me.

He wore a funny brown hat. I don't think he had any hair. He fidgeted and tapped his foot a lot. He smoked cigarettes, back to back. He looked around nervously (a lot). His skin was ravaged with acne scars. He looked like he’d had a hard life. He had a soft round pot belly that contradicted his attempt at appearing tough. There was blue plastic wrapped around his hand that made me think of a bandaged hand after a fist fight.

I wondered if he was a pimp or a drug dealer. I wondered if I’ve watched too many movies. I wondered if I was being too quick to judge. I wondered if I wonder too much.

The cigarette smoke worked its way down to the bottom of my lungs, and I started to cough. I am not an asthmatic, but I react badly to cigarette smoke, a problem that plagues me when I travel.
“You’re too sensitive.” he said.
“Its smoke.” I replied.
He read my thoughts.
“I don’t know how you are going to cope when you go back to Istanbul.”
“I’ll cope.” I lied.

I looked beyond him and saw that the tattooed smoking man had gone.

I wondered if the man’s mother had cradled him as a newborn. All pink and soft, all promise and potential. Did she look down into his bright little eyes and wonder what he would be when he grew up. Was he once someone’s little baby, someone’s little boy.

The tattoo on his arm said:
“Sheilas are good for blowjobs and screwing”

I wondered what men who had ‘what Sheilas are good for’ tattooed on their arms, are good for .

Then I gave up wondering.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
The man in the mirror made our coffees. He saw me move the ashtray and he saw the Tattoo Man change tables. He had a friendly argument with a drunk man in a red shirt. He saw me raise my camera to his reflection and he smiled. I smiled too. He has a nice face. The man in the mirror works in Oxford Street. He sees a lot of things.