The Love Locks of Aspen Island

I was a walking in the Autumnal sunshine last Sunday afternoon and came across these engraved padlocks on the bridge to Aspen Island (or 'Carillon Island'). Some of them are quite recent (as in yesterday) and the oldest dates back to late 2012. I can only assume they're paying homage to the global phenomena 'Love Locks' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_padlocks).

 

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I counted a total of eight(!) ... things tend to move slowly in Canberra so we've a fair ways to go until we approach the Pont des Arts in Paris or the Ponte Milvio in Rome.

Most of them bear the names of the lovers and a date ... however there's at least one cryptic inscription which reads;

C+D=B
Rm 701
28/11/2012

Love to hear reader's guesses as to the meaning of that one!

 

 

 

 

Are Love Locks appearing in your part of the world? Do they encrust bridges and walkways?

For those with a geographical bent ... here's the location of the bridge to Aspen Island which incidentally is the location of the National Carillon ... a gift by the British Government to celebrate Canberra's 50th birthday. This year the city celebrates it's centenary.


View Larger Map


2012 Plus One Collection

Way back in January I posted that my photograph Feel The Wind had been selected to appear in the 2012 Plus One Collection curated by Ivan Marakov and sponsored by the Kilgoris Project and the Photographers for Good Foundation. Well my copy arrived yesterday and looks (and smells) fantastic. A large format (12" x 12") ensures the pictures look great. The range and quality of photographs is simply awe-inspiring and I feel quite chuffed to have been included in such company. There are around 300 photographers included with a single photograph from each. Lovely :-)

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Downer in Decay

I took a ride up to the urban decay that is Downer Shops on the weekend … and took some photos … the shop side is truly derelict.

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One of my first group houses in the early 90′s was a weatherboard affair in Durack Street (which incidentally was the coldest house I’ve ever lived in) and Downer Shops was my local. The centre was in decline even back then. There was a dark supermarket (literally dark and dingy and not of the supernatural bent … well, not that I ever saw…) a Chinese Restaurant which was passable and an Italian which was dire. There were some others too but I’m unable to recall them.

There were people around. Over at the Community rooms on the other side of a little park (with attendant rock sculpture) in the middle of the complex a groups was packing up after a meeting. The community rooms are by contrast clean and swept … and the end of the building features a mural by Byrd. There was a little post-it note stuck onto some fresh graffiti staking a claim on what’s otherwise a remarkably graffiti-free building. The carpark was more or less subscribed and the two sporting fields were both full of soccer and families enjoying the late afternoon autumn sunshine.

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The shop side is just sliding into decay and I loved the irony of the boarded up security company shopfront. The community noticeboard lies vacant and the hand-carved bicentennial logo (someone took ages making that … with it’s little Tasmania) still stands proudly beneath a dead clock. So, while there were folks about … the centre felt truly abandoned. I understand that new development is slated for the area … maybe that’ll start this dead heart?


Sausages

I like sausages. I think I've always liked sausages. I like sausages so much I came to the idea that I wanted to make my own ... it's simply ground meat and spices stuffed into a casing right? So, my friend Ashley and I decided to give it a go. I mean how hard could it be? Well it turns out ... not very! 

Bit squeamish about grinding up meat and intestinal things? Here's a completely different post.

Onward!

I have my parents original Kenwood Chef A701 which incidentally is as old as I am ... give or take ... and amongst the myriad attachments they had bought for it (many of which are still in their original boxes) is a mincer attachment. Please excuse the phone-pics ;-)

OK ... mechanism for grinding meat? Check!

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Next we need some meat. This is roughly 2kg of pork forequarter prior to being coarsely cubed.

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And after... some fat was left on to assist with the cooking...

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And first pass through the coarse grinder...

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Flavours ... We went with fresh, finely cut sage and thyme (about 2tbsp of each), some nutmeg and ginger and about 2tbsp of sea salt. The salt is the critical one ... too little and the sausage tastes like straight cooked meat and too much ... well, too salty ... see, I do something once and standing on the shoulders of Google Giants I sound like I actually know what I'm talking about! The spices were mixed through by hand with the addition of about 150ml of iced water which serves to congeal the fat. I didn't take any pictures of that bit for fear of encasing my phone in ground meat.

OK ... the next stage involves putting the filling into the casing to make sausages. What to use? Synthetic or gut? I spoke to my local butcher at Lyneham, makers of the famous Country Pride sausages and they supplied us a length of sheep intestine for the casing with instuction to run a little cold water through before fitting to the nozzle. As we did so it swelled up like ... well ... like gut... Ashley is seen here threading the casing onto the filling nozzle. In case you're wondering it is exactly like fitting a very long and slippery organic condom... there ... you always wanted to know that huh?

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Here's the nozzle fitted to the end of the mincing attachment ready to be stuffed. I'm not going to share what I thought this resembled...

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OK! Fire that sucker up and lets make a sausage!

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Certainly looks like a sausage! And here's where we ran into trouble (and it wasn't because I was too busy documenting to notice what was going on ;-) ) but the Kenwood mincer with the nozzle attached kept getting blocked necessitating the regular dismantling every 40cm length of sausage or so. The reason is the design of the grinding filter and I think the worm screw was pushing meat to the plate faster than it could be pushed through. After several dismantles and scraping out of tangled meat ... definitely not a job for the squeamish ... and the application of brute force, we had ... you guessed it! Sausages!

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We then cleaned up (how responsible is that!) poured some more wine and set about cooking a couple to sample them... it was about midnight by this stage...

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And the result!

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And they tasted bloody fantastic! It's always a cool moment in creation when you stand back and look at something you've made and think 'We did that!'. Going to do it again? Absolutely! The only part of the process I didn't enjoy was the repeated dismantling and hand-clearing of the mincer during the filling of the casing. The Kenwood really isn't the machine for that part of the job. It did great on the initial grind ... just not the filling. I'm looking into a dedicated sausage stuffer and we'll try again after that. In the meantime I'm off to a BBQ this afternoon where our sausages are the guests of honour ;-)

Dee-lish!

 


Optical Galaxy and then some ... a trip to Cameron Offices

On Sunday afternoon I went for a little photowalk. I went up to the Cameron Offices, once a shining example of 1970's Brutalist architecture and future vision ... half has been demolished and the other half transformed into student accommodation ... still, amongst the concrete there is a semblance of the vision of the architects and designers ... in between concrete angularity and rigidity there flow streams and reflective ponds, stark white lift wells and sculpture. Optical Galaxy by Canadian sculptor Gerald Gladstone (1923-2005) particularly caught my eye ...

"Commissioned for Cameron Offices as part of the Town Square located opposite Mall 9. It was created by the Canadian sculptor, Gerald Gladstone who was striving to express humanity's concern with its position in intergalactic space. The sculpture comprises eleven truncated fins each standing 7 metres high that are curved to represent the form of the sine waves used in measuring light waves. On top of each fin is a Lucite block in which is suspended a sculpture of welded steel road to represent the swirls of planets in the galaxy. A specially designed water cannon emits a cascade of water over the work." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gladstone)

The piece has been moved from its original location opposite Mall 9 and now stands somewhat external to the main complex and easily accessible although it lacks any form of descriptive plaque or insightful inscription ... I would love to see it in action with its custom water cannon but sadly I think it may be defunct.

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What about you? where was your last photowalk? Did you take any pictures? Sometime I go on a photowalk and leave the camera in my bag the entire time ;-)

ps ... thanks to everyone who let me know just how much the gallery option didn't work for them ... we're back to inline images again :-)


Cell Block 69 - The Spiegel Garden

A couple of weeks ago I attended and photographed an extraordinarily fun gig in an extraordinary place. Cell Block 69 were performing at The Spiegel Garden - a purpose built circus style marquee that has been enjoying a month long residency at the Senate Rose Gardens for the centenary of Canberra celebrations. The group? Comprised of 8 members all calling themselves "Corey" they customarily play 2 gigs a year, one in Sydney and the other here in Canberra. They've been together for nigh on ten years and are somewhat of a Canberra Christmas institution (if there is such a thing). They play covers ... trashy Eighties covers. Whip It!, Queen, Computer Games, Centrefold, Girls on Film, Jump etc etc. They have gone to tremendous effort to replicate the sounds using period effects and analog synthesisers. Lead singer Pip Branson changes costumes and character for each song ... he is a very talented boy. The gig got very crowded and was a little nuts at times. It got a little crowded when I squeezed through to get to a position at the foot of the stage. Impossible for me not to sing along ... I remember those songs when they were released!

(apparently you can click on a picture to see it writ large!)

The gig finished at 2am. live on the other side of the lake in the middle of Canberra and I was on my bicycle so I got to ride home under the stars ... getting home around a quarter to three ... I smelled like a squash court so I showered after initiating the loading of the images off the memory cards.

Tell me, does the gallery option I've used in this post work? would you prefer larger, in-line images?

A larger, more comprehensive set of images from the gig can be found at Lushpup Images ... here.

What's the last gig you wnet to? Was it music or poetry? What kind of music? did you dance and get all sweaty or was it a sit down more formal affair? Do tell :-)


Collective Thoughts

I have been getting back into taking pictures again. This follows on from my moving and renovation experiences late last year when I took almost no pictures of anyone or anything except the progress (and at times ... total lack of progress) on the renovations to my flat. It was a period of perhaps six or seven months where I took next to no pictures purely for the pleasure of taking pictures ... it was like my photo-mojo had vamoosed. I like to think of it now as a kind of enforced sabbatical ... a time when I reflected upon other things and new directions ... though I recall at the time finding it confusing and debilitating.

I mean, after a while you start to think about whether you'll be able to take pictures again. You look back on the remarkable things you've captured and published before but they feel like they were taken by a different person and there's so much going on in your mind, things are moving so quickly, that even beginning to write a post feels like it's passed before you even start.

I knew the mojo would return ... I could feel it circling me. I began to see pictures again ... the ones the you compose when you aren't carrying a camera. You see the picture ... the light, the crop, the depth and the colour even though you didn't actually take it. Truth be told that's how most of my pictures are captured ... I have a large mental store of those ones ... the ones I saw but didn't take.

Enter The Ellis Collective; a six piece folk-rock (also referred to as 'Bloke-folk' ;-) ) group from Canberra. I'd shot them before and we were both very happy with the results. I met with Matty Ellis (the large chap with the shaved head) in early March and we tossed around some ideas. There were to be two separate shoots ... the first of the band having a picnic and the second ... well ...

Matty had this idea of a shot with band at night standing in front of a car's headlights and I began to think of how I'd do it. This was one of those times when you know technically how you would take a shot but have never actually taken a shot like it. I knew from my Strobist readings many years ago (that's a great site if you're into using any kind of flash in your photography btw) how to expose for the background lighting and illuminate the foregound with speedlights or flash.  I knew I could do it and I wanted to do it and the band were into it but I'd never attempted it before ... and certainly not with paying clients! There was a real risk that we would come away with nothing ... that I'd assembled the group in the dark for nothing ;-)

The shot called for a stretch of deserted road ... I used trusty Google Maps and found a spot amongst the fields of Pialligo out near the airport, arrived at sunset and began to set up. We moved a car into position and I got the band to stand in front but it became clear that I needed more light ... so we moved another two cars to just out of frame ... now we had plenty of light :-)

Now for the speedlights, I used two (Nikon SB-910 & SB-800) atop two mid light stands on either side of the band. The SB-910 on the right of the frame sported a Honly speed grid to provide harsh, directional light across the band. I controlled the power of the speedlights using the the D600 camerabuilt in flash as a commander. The camera uses the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) to alloow the body to remotely control the power setting of speedlights. The camera was atop a tripod and the pictures shot through my 70-200 f/2.8.

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The road was dusty and I got the band to kick up some dust to produce a smokey effect. One hassle with that was there a light breeze blowing across the frame from right to left ... I left the camera (with my remote in my pocket) and went down to band to get some dust in the air. However, the remote sensor on the Nikon is on the left side of the body and wouldn't trigger from my upwind side ... for these pictures I threw the dust, ran across the frame, fired the remote and got the picture ... fun! I do like a picture you have to do some work for :-)

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I even did a lighting diagram just for you :-)

Ellis Collective lighting diagram

 

And some from the picnic shoot too :-)

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bookcover The Grimalkin's Secret

Look what arrived in the mail today

bookcover The Grimalkin's Secret

A book! The Grimalkin's Secret by Kara Komarnitsky

A book with my dragon tail image featured on it's back cover. There was a lovely handwritten letter from Ms Komarnitsky enclosed as well.

I do like this life.

It made my afternoon ... it really did. I'm still smiling :-)


Man Up Geoff!

Man Up Geoff! says the photo-bombing carp
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So, my ADSL went kaput last Monday night sometime. ISP checked all they could, have sent replacement modem (which still hasn't arrived) not that it's likely to do any good as the line tech who came this afternoon discovered that the line appears to have been disconnected at the Civic exchange. A line trace from the exchange end returns a line length of zero meters!

That's fine, I guess, they just need to reconnect it right? You'd think so. But then I receive an SMS from my ISP late this arvo saying my fault requires 'further investigation' and is expected to be rectified no later than 7pm 15th March! Tha Fuck? 15th of bloody March!

Grumbles bloody mumbles.

That's right Geoff just MTFU... it's likely a healthy thing really.
So now I'm trying to post to my blog via my phone. It's a bit slower!


Monochrome self portrait with white light bars across my face

The Wind In My Heart

Monochrome self portrait with white light bars across my face

Searching, it's a common theme here on this blog ... searching for that indescribable piece that falls into place the moment we find it. The thing you don't know what you're looking for until you've found it. That thing.

I've been looking for pictures to post ... this is Pictures with Words after all ... but I've come to realise over the course of this search that I'm grown dissatisfied with my body of work. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike them, they remain good photographs but they don't represent where I am now. What to do about that? Well take some more obviously! Like this one taken this afternoon as the sun was beginning to set out the window of the flat. Those beams of incandescence, hot and bright. I felt them as I closed my eyes and breathed.

The wind in my heart

The wind in my heart

The dust in my head

The dust in my head

The wind in my heart

The wind in my heart

(come to) drive them away

Drive them away.


Listening Wind, Talking Heads, Remain In Light


Bokeh firework

Happy Birthday ... to Me!

Bokeh firework

So it's my birthday today ... the hour and nine minutes that's left of it anyways :-)

It's been a fun day despite having to go to work for a large part of it ... I got to have cake and champagne with the family and red wine afterward and catch up on my blog and all the lovely people who've stopped by on various forums to say hello and wish me well. It's been nice ... a laid-back kind of birthday and to celebrate I've included a bokeh firework shot on Saturday night looking toward Darling Harbour in Sydney. Gosh, that was a fun weekend ... nothing to do but decide what to do next, take photographs ... or not ... I walked a long way.

So, Happy Birthday to Me! :-)

What's your ideal way to spend a birthday? Soaking bath? Skydive? Zilch? Everyone? Noone? Chocolate!

Do tell :-)


2012 Plus One promotional poster

2012 PlusOne Collection

2012 Plus One promotional poster Found out yesterday that my photograph Feel the Wind was selected for the print edition of the 2012 PlusOne Collection.

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It's exciting and it seems I'm in esteemed company ... the 299 other images selected are all fantastic. I've pre-ordered my copy and I'm looking forward to seeing it in April :-)

Great collection, great cause. Check it out.


Elsewhere

Time spent elsewhere. If I start to type will the words flow?

I honestly don't know...

It's been three months and now it's the last day of 2012. It's been an intense period for me and I'm looking forward to what 2013 will bring. As some of you will know, my partner and I decided to split amicably in August. We'd been together for over thirteen years and while I'm not going to go into the details here suffice to say that we both want different things in life and neither of us can see it happening if we stay together. Things are friendly and all but it's still tricky at times. So I've been busy renovating my flat and moved in two weeks ago. The renovations took much longer than planned, thanks largely to an oft-times absent builder, but it's worked out well with end of the school year and Christmas holidays. The flat's turned out very nicely and I'll do a whole post on that soonly. It doesn't feel quite so much like a hotel suite anymore ;-)

Astute readers of this blog will have noticed I've been very quiet creatively and while I've been taking some pictures I've not had a workstation to process them on until I moved in. That said, I have done a couple of commissions for Living Magazine;

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pimped a friends Cadillac

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got flown to Adelaide for a weekend of following two gorgeous musicians around the Adelaide Hills (the images are beautiful but awaiting my workflow mojo to return ;-) )

On the way there, I stuffed around in the airport;

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I did go outside ... to Sydney even;

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Wirestorm, one of the large pictures from last year's exhibition sold for $2,000 at a local gallery ... I was quite pleased about that :-)

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Two of my photographs were selected for book covers;

Canberra by Paul Daly

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and a dragon-fantasy book in Canada ... the title of which I am unable to currently recall

...dragon tail... [REDUX]

 

The Australian National Botanic Gardens featured my work when I photographed their AfterDark night garden experiences

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I finally entered the smartphone fraternity and spend many, many hours playing with it. It takes decent pictures too. I've spent a good deal of the past three months drooling over the new Nikon bodies but came to the realisation that if I'd bought one then it would pretty much sit in its box... the time is approaching though!

On the way I lost track of some friends and I honestly don't know what happened with some of them ... things went quiet and just nothing ... I didn't have the energy to follow through and all and chase things that seemingly held no return ... my mind really was elsewhere.

Looking back I've been busy and I would oft look at my neglected blog and read through my feeds but have not commented  when I felt I had nothing to share back ... it's been kinda like that ... a lot of feeling I had nothing to share back ... not publicly anyways.

If you've read all the way down here ... thank you ... and I wish you the very best of the season and a spectacular 2013. I'm going to be there and I'd love to see you there too.

Geoff


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About time I said hello again

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A quick post to say hello again. Life has been very busy for me here at Chez Geoff with little time to devote to my blog or to photography in general. One of the exciting things I've been doing is pulling together an exhibition proposal for The Sum of the Parts sometime in 2013.

While I've been touching base in the briefest of spaces I have watched my list of unread post from the people I follow regularly grow and grow. I will come and visit but right now I have some things I need to get organised so I will be sporadically in and out. I did take the time to take a series of selfies on the weekend. It's been a while since I took any selfies and so I thought it a good theme for this post say hello :-)

Normal transmission will resume shortly!


Curiously Curiosity

 You may have gathered I like things astronomical and sciencey. On Monday afternoon I took the kids out to the Tidbinbilla tracking station outside Canberra. The station is also known as the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (CDSCC) and forms an integral parts of NASA's space communications network alongside similar stations in Madrid and California. The Tidbinbilla station was the one that was going to be facing Mars when Curiosity landed after its nine month journey between the planets. I wanted to be there at 1530 when the signal was received (or not received!). 

We arrived out there at about half-two and parked by the side of the road some 500m from the front entrance. We joined a long line of cars and more were arriving behind us. By the time we got into the visitors centre the place was packed and standing room only (and rather stuffy) with a large screen piping in the feed from JPL. It was fantastic to see so many people - and all sorts too - out there to witness something the internet would have shown them better. Mobile devices had to be switched off so they didn't interfere with the radio gear on-site. We left the main building and went outside to the playground and some fresh air(!). I caught up with a photog mate who was out there doing some time-lapse work.

I loved explaining to the kids that at that moment, at 1500 the dish was sending a signal across 220 million kilometers, to another planet, to the Curiosity to 'Go!' to begin it's descent... and that after 30 minutes we'd know whether it had worked or not. That dish there ... that one right there ... will pick up the signal. I was excited ;-)

At about 1525 we sneaked in around the side into the visitors centre to listen to the JPL stream. We could hear them calling the descent rate of 0.75 meters per second when they announced 'Touchdown! Curiosity has landed'. The place erupted in near-teary and relieved applause ... the atmosphere was terrific ... we all clapped and cheered. We applauded not only the engineering feat (the calculations!) or that it all worked (I want a sky crane!) but through relief that hopes and dreams had not been dashed. That this will be the last rover for some time and had it failed there would unlikely be another for many, many years. What a cool thing ... they took a moving science lab the size and weight of a car and flung it through space and landed it on another planet to within 7km of its landing spot ... who on Earth works that kind of stuff out?

The photo is one I took on another visit (we're somewhat regulars) during winter last year. It was an icy windy day beneath low clouds when the sunset broke through and bathed the dish in beautiful golden light.