The Gallery: Extreme Close Up

 This post is in response to the prompt here. First, a little (true) story…

RIGHT, you lot. A bit less noise. Thank you. Now then. A little quiz. Jotters out. Let’s go for it. Question one! What is a magazine?… Question two! Where is Oxford Street?…

O.K. Question One – hands up who put something about periodically published topical printed matter or some such definition like that? All of you? Amazing! Question two – hands up who put London? All of you? Wonderful!

Terrific, weren’t they? Yeah, but not quite terrific enough. As in, they didn’t read my mind and give the answers I had in mind.

A magazine is a building where you keep (or somebody once kept) arms and ammunition.

Oxford Street is in Leicester.

It was in this street, close to a building known as ‘The Magazine’ that on a number of occasions I joined a queue to be served in a photographic shop. This queue would stretch down the street on a wet Saturday morning. The reason? Not the free coffee – there wasn’t any. Not the ravishing young female sales staff – there weren’t any of them either. At least, I think I would have remembered. Quite simply, this shop sold cameras and photographic equipment at the keenest prices in the country. In those days, if you were a teenage photographer, that was no insignificant consideration.

The history of Ernst Abbe, Otto Schott, Carl Zeiss, and the beautiful city of Jena in Germany is a fascinating one. The first Zeiss lens I ever owned began my tiny, but real, link with that heritage – a Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 2,8/50, number 9017355, supplied with a Praktica SLR. (DSLR’s were a very long way away.) I queued in Leicester for a 35mm Flektogon and a 135mm Sonnar when I could afford them.

Time, and cameras, moved on. My Zeiss lenses sat sadly neglected in a holdall, but I didn’t quite forget the performance of that first one, the 50mm Tessar, especially for close-ups.

My fourth SLR is a DSLR. After I got used to it, I remembered the Tessar and how well it performed even with extension tubes, so I bought an adaptor ring. Minus all the automatic features we take for granted nowadays, it still works well for close-ups. So my circle – Tessar to Tessar – is complete. Here is a picture of a kalanchöe flower, taken using the Tessar. It’s a small world – in every sense.

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Art I Heart: A Water-coloured drawing

In response to the prompt here, I’m posting a picture that is very special to me: a pencil drawing, coloured in with water-colours, of flowering twigs and plants. It was done by my mother. I new nothing about just how good at this sort of thing she had been, until after her death, when, clearing out some items at my parents’ home, I came across a large folder. This picture was in an inner paper folder, beautifully labelled ‘rough work.’ It would have been done at the time my mother was training as a teacher. That makes it, let’s just say, rather old. The accuracy and detail fills me with awe – and shows me how little I really knew my own mother. But I do know that she was modest, and very loving.

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The Gallery: Colour

In response to the prompt ‘Colour’ over at The Gallery, let me take you on a very quick tour of the spectrum. First of all, red and orange…
…are in this sunrise. Next, yellow and green…
…are in this buttercup growing in a lawn. And then blue, indigo, and violet…
…can be seen here as sunlight streams through the petals of a hyacinth. So whatever colour you want, you can find it in plants, or in the sky. Or both.

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The Red Box

This post was written in response to the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here, where there are links to many more responses. Although entirely fictional, there were, no doubt, many young widows for whom real life was similar to this.

From the bedroom window, Jean smiled at the sight of her grandson playing badminton with his father. Then the sadness hit home as she reflected that he had never had the chance to do this himself. Quietly, she moved to the bureau and took out the red box – her mother’s jewellery box. From the lower tray, she took out the photograph of a young man in R.A.F. uniform, several medals, and a watch. The face had been scratched by the breaking of the glass. The hands were flattened at nine minutes to four. Just nineteen minutes before his son was born that morning.

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Perchance to Run Away…

This post is a (belated!) response to the prompt here, at
‘Sleep is for the Weak’
and you can see the other responses here. 

We live in a world that is increasingly dominated by, and fuelled with, advanced technology. A lot of this we are all, generally, grateful for. We like it that our homes can be heated to just the right temperature, without the need to clean grates, light and make up fires, adjust the dampers, and so on. It’s great to be able to talk to friends, anywhere in the world, at very modest cost these days. When we travel by road, rail, sea, or air, many devices co-ordinate to ensure our safety as far as possible. And the list goes on – without yet more technology, I couldn’t have typed this, and you wouldn’t be reading it now!

But amid the glamour of all this, some considerations tend to be overlooked; in particular, the promised resultant utopia has not arrived. This same world, full of technology, is still littered with war, grief, suffering of many kinds, tedious jobs that have to be done, as well as unemployment and all sorts of other troubles. Have they been, even a little, alleviated? Dare I ask, have they got worse? 

And so to my title and the point of this post. Imagine, if you can, a home, a location, a life, where you are equipped, not with countless things you could sometimes make use of, but with plenty of the things that you couldn’t do without. Well, a part of me wants to run away and find that life. Realistically, I think (well, I know) I’d have to work much harder, in the physical sense. But I’d get fitter, wouldn’t I? My food would be simpler, but I’d probably soon find it tastier, and I’d be healthier for it…

Perhaps, for some, this simpler life already exists. Indeed, we know it does, in some parts of the world. But for the rest of us does it exist, potentially, as an attitude of mind? Personally, I am part way through a rather painful de-cluttering exercise. And I’m trying to learn some guide-lines for life, as I go along. Perhaps I won’t have to run away, after all.

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…But I Turned it Off…

This post is in response to the ‘100 Word Challenge’ here, where you’ll find links to the many other responses. The challenge is simply to compose a piece of writing of 100 words in length, plus the five ‘prompt’ words, shown here as my title. Now, sometimes these weekly prompts just somehow ‘click’ and then again, some weeks, I struggle. This time, I struggled – ideas wouldn’t come… until today, the last day for submissions, when my very surroundings gave me the answer!

This morning, I awoke early to a surprise: a startlingly clear, blue sky – and frost!  the house needed all that the central heating could do. But I turned it off well before noon, despite working from home today. The thermometer outside climbed rapidly, as white gardens turned green again in the morning sun. After several days of mild but cloudy weather, this change was striking. Such, typically, is equinoctial weather. But why do we Britons talk about the weather so much? Probably, I think, because we are subject to such an array of different weather patterns and sequences. And, with this, so many changing skies.

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Not Just Driftwood

If you haven’t already done so, first of all please look at the photo of the horse here, which is the prompt for this post. There’s also a list of links to many more responses.

Here, should you need it, is proof that the whole can be more than the sum of the parts. The very term ‘driftwood’ suggests something accidental or haphazard; but there is nothing like that about this lovely piece of three-dimensional art. Parts, once random, now co-ordinate; pieces, once parts of living organisms, are now dead, yet together they form a representation of a living thing of quite another kind, and each have their place in a work which enriches the experience of those who view it. And in real life, drifters can become contributors, and enrich the lives of others.

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