I'm guest blogger today over at Vision and Verb

In what amounts to my first ever ... I am today's guest blogger over at Vision and Verb. I was nominated by my friend Ginnie who is a regular poster here at Pictures with Words. The article is my post Falling Out of the Habit of Writing (over at Vision and Verb here)

Vision and Verb describe themselves as a '...global gathering of women of this age' and you can read more about their philosophy. Astute readers of this blog will have worked out by now that I am not a woman. Apparently the gathering enjoys male blood on occasion though I have to admit this wasn't made explicitly clear in our initial correspondence! ;-)

Regardless of the whole blood thing, I'm chuffed that they thought my post was something that related well to the group's directions and philosophy and I'd like to say a big thank you to them. :-)

Compact flouresecent light buld against a rendered concrete wall

Changing Light

Compact flouresecent light buld against a rendered concrete wall Have you ever travelled somewhere you've been before but a long time ago? Somewhere perhaps where things are different to the life you left to go there? Although I'm an Australian and have spent most of my life here, I was born in Georgetown, Penang and have spent significant periods of my life growing up in Asia. I feel an affinity - there's a large part of me in Southeast Asia. I recently returned to the mountains of the Indonesian island of Bali after an absence of 10 years. Bali's a beautiful (& warm) place with rich a Hindu culture and warm, friendly people ... did I mention warm? The morning we left Canberra it was -6C! When we landed it felt the same ... it smelled the same. We couldn't find the driver our hotel sent so we jumped in a cab for what's normally a 40 minute ride. The trip took 2 and a bit hours in at times quite ridiculous traffic ... perhaps traffic is a bit generous - traffic implies movement of some kind. There was plenty of time to look out the window. As the sun set I noticed something had changed. At first I couldn't put a finger on it yet it altered my whole perception. By the road, shops and houses, scooter repair, makan (food) carts, temples and shrines - switched on their lights pools in the increasing darkness.

The shops felt colder, less inviting ... why was that? Of course! The light! The light was now blue! I remembered it as orange ... incandescent ... warm. The incandescent globes had all been replaced by compact flourescents (CF) with their cold bluey glow. Here in Australia, we've been changing the globes over for years and I remember noticing that houses looked less inviting and colder then. It was one of those 'Derr!' moments when I realise the obvious ... of course everyone everywhere is changing to the new bulbs ... of course it will look different. Then why did I have such a reaction to this?

I'll declare I dislike CF lighting ... it feels stark and cold to me ... somehow less intimate. Halogens still retain their warmth (literally most times!) ... I guess people who've grown up with nothing else do not yearn as I do for those warm oranges and yellows. I sincerely hope that lighting engineers are working on warmer, energy-efficient solutions - I'm sure they are!

How about you, do you miss the incandescents? Have you always known CF lighting? Does it feel cold to you? Less intimate?

Do let me know :-)

Let Me Count the Ways

As you may have guessed by now I'm in love with refraction ... the bending of light through water or glass. This picture is one from a couple of years ago when I was right into refracting patterns through droplets of water. My setup for these consisted of a sheet of glass suspended above the pattern, in this case a frangipani blossom, with droplets placed onto the glass. I adjusted the height of the glass until the pattern was contained within the drop. I particularly liked blurring the background so that it gave the viewer the knowledge that the drop was refracting something much larger behind it. This picture, Let Me Count the Ways, represents the culmination of those efforts and attempts (and failures!) to create something ... an idea ... an essence.

On another note: I'm going away on a family holiday for a week or so and am leaving the internet behind. I won't be visiting your beautiful blogs in that time but I promise to look when I return.

Geoffrey x

deliberately blurred square image of a full moon rising over the ocean

Sum of the Parts

deliberately blurred square image of a full moon rising over the ocean

Sum of the Parts

Ocean swells and falls as a twilight breeze ruffles my hair
salty fresh with spray
waves thumping deeply through bedrock
Watching the moon rise
and waiting

Alone now

Then it happens ...  the scene blurs and folds
into two ... then three
Ocean Sky Moon
as balanced as they are suspended
Individually separate
As the sum of the parts
they are the world

(Inspired by Ness 2012)

I have been working on a series lately called 'Sum of the Parts' in which I deliberately blur my photograph in an attempt to break it into it's component parts. The pieces invite the viewer to to meditate on a scene without visual distraction of detail in a realm without time. That's the theory anyways! The first image in this series was blogged here as Sunset Wave and is shown below.

Tell me, do you work in or on a series? By that I mean do you think "today I'm going to take a picture for my *insert classy description here* series"? Or do you look back on your portfolio and think "Hey I've got a lot pictures of flowers/car number plates/left shoes ... I should put them together in a series"?

Do tell! :-)

a coastal sunrise through a glass sphere

Temple of the Sun

a coastal sunrise through a glass sphere

Another oculus picture from my coastal artist retreat from earlier this month at Ness. Here the rising sun clears the top of an exposed rock.

Looking at a scene refracted through the glass sphere makes it appear both internalised and externalised at the same time ... like I'm both within and without simultaneously ... it does something for me ... something deep.

Do you have a special object or way of of looking that touches you deeply? You know, makes you think of things differently for a moment? That takes you beyond?

Do tell :-)

Dead skink on tissue paper in a small box

“It’s dead” said Petra


Dead skink on tissue paper in a small box

She held out her hand
Upon her palm a tiny lizard, a skink
A shining dark olive back – thin yellow strip along the sides
Iridescent blue-aqua beneath its chin
“It’s dead” said Petra as she held it aloft by the tail – and it was
I looked into its eye and saw right through to the verdant bush beyond
The tangled twigs and rocks – a land of nooks and tasty creatures
“Most likely where this lizard is now” I thought as I peered through the eyeless window
I remembered to breathe – brought myself back
The sounds of this world filling my ears as I returned
from reverie and soft melancholia
Into the light - the present

She made a small home for the lizard
A little box lined with tissue and care
The tiny claws catching still – a feeble anchor
it looked like it would dart away in a flash
but it already had
Discarding this garment long ago
a once animate husk
Beating and alive 
(GD @ Ness May 2012)

Water falling as drops onto a fountain plate before falling as drops off the other side


Water falling as drops onto a fountain plate before falling as drops off the other side

falling as water through air
shaped and warped by passage
divide and coalesce then
merged - our instant experienced
then gone, essence perfuming the next
lingering as the half remembered dream
an aroma of reality at the edge of an instant
before falling and dripping away

Overhead tall trees disappearing upward into mist


Familiar hills
the horizon half-remembered
my folk grew
and grew old
died here
Yet I've never stood here before I know
the curves of the land drawn in me
How do I know this place?

My mind some structured facsimile for geography?
A genetic memory for place?
For time?
I cannot explain but I know
that my soul has been here before

Overhead tall trees disappearing upward into mist

I am fascinated by the notion of genetic memory ... that a landscape or place experienced over generations may leave some kind of imprint in the descendants of those generations. A line of hills, a mountain, a river ... these things change over time I know but their basic forms can remain constant on a scale far larger than the people living on them. I don't believe anyone has found any evidence such a phenomena may exist but that's not about to stop me pondering on it.

What about you? have you ever been to a place or landscape that seemed so familiar to you only to find out later that you ancestors had been there? Thought that they would practically be looking at what you're seeing now.

Woman in a red dress offering a bunch of sea grapes

The Beauty of Film

Woman in a red dress offering a bunch of sea grapes

I recently attended an artists retreat with some lovely people. There were photographers, sculptors, painters, poets and writers and some great cooks amongst them! We spent three nights at an old house on the far south coast of New South Wales. It's there that many of the photographs featured in recent posts were taken. When I get around to it I'll even publish them all in the same place when I can get my head around all the great things that went on there.

For this post though I wanted to talk about the beauty of film. I took two cameras to the retreat; my Nikon digital and my Mamiya medium format camera. I got the medium format negatives and scans back from the lab this week. When I first started out in photography there was none of this digital business. I learned to develop my own negatives and darkroom techniques for turning those negatives into photographic prints ... the smell of acetic acid still holds a dear place in my heart as does the smell of a freshly opened pack of film. It's a wonderfully analog process - layers of light sensitive emulsions on a clear base change chemically when exposed to light. I like to think that my post-processing of my digital pictures for the most part mimics what I could do in the darkroom albeit on a much compressed time scale. I rarely manipulate my images much beyond tonal controls and cropping anyways. While I have embraced the digital revolution and all the whizzbangery it offers the modern photographer ... there's something about shooting film (apart from its smell).

The saturation and dynamic range surpasses that of my digital camera (a D80) and the rendering of detail is a wonderful thing to look at. In the photo of friend Greer presented above I had a roll of (very out of date) Fujichrome NPC160 film ... we're talking EXP:2007(!) which was given to me by another friend who'd had the film in his fridge since then. The negs came back beautifully. I took a similar shot with the Nikon but it doesn't have anywhere near the presence that this one has. Another consequence of shooting film is how much you value each frame. I get between 12-15 frames from a roll of medium format. I have to remind myself that it's both not very many and ample! That and how spoiled I have become with auto-focus, adjustable ISO and instant preview. When shooting 35mm I still find myself instantly checking the back of the camera to see how the shot came out ;-)

How about you? Are you purely digital? Did you transition from film to digital or have you only ever known digital? Have you returned to the beauty of film or picked it up anew? I'm interested in this ... do tell!

Space and Spirit Both

Faint breeze and sunshine
cricket chirp and flycatcher calls overlay the oceans rhythmic white roar
occasional slap
unexpected silences - an absence
I stare until the scene turns white - sound painting abstracted spikes and swirls
I think of you then, distant
in space and spirit both
yet in that instant - that void
I am connected by more than I know

(Written at Ness 6 May 2012)

Rockt coast at dawn seen refracted through a glass sphere

Turning the World Upside Down

Fresh salt tang scents the delicious white noise of surf on rock - 
irregular boom and thump
unexpected quiet - pauses
Never turn your back on the Sea
She is inexorable and quick
faster than you think
Slams, knocks and pulls
A short bubbled tumble before you're pressed into the polished rocks
fade into icy blackness 

I wake from this, standing - face tinted orange with the day's new light

Dawn feels like days ago and I'm wearing potential's golden glow
The world looks different from here
huge and at once tiny
My effect on it? The same.

(Written at Ness, May 2012)

I carry a beautiful thing around in my camera bag. An oculus. It's a clear glass sphere and it changes the way I look at the world. It doesn't look amazing on it's own ... in fact it can appear quite dull but sometimes I hold it up in front my face and it takes my breath away. Through the properties of refraction, it renders any scene into a tiny world ... a tiny, totally in-focus world. An upside-down, totally in focus world. In the image above taken just after dawn on the far south coast of New South Wales, I rested the sphere atop a rock looking out toward the waves. The fine bedding of the Ordovician mudstones of this part of the coast have been buckled and twisted and rent vertically in places. I brought the sphere (and it's refractive contents) into focus and rendered the background blurred. It looks great right way up but I like to rotate my oculus images through 180 degrees to aid the viewer's appreciation of the scene. The little sun flare off the edge of the sphere is one of my favourite parts of the image.

In the image below, I'm holding the sphere with my left hand and shooting with my right. It was taken in coastal forest. This image reminds me that the world is a fragile place and one that we literally hold in our hands as a place to nourish and feed ourselves.

Trees overhead refracted through a hand-held glass sphere

I'm fascinated with different ways of looking at ordinary things. Refraction and refraction images are just two.

What about you? Do you carry anything special in your bag? Something that turns your world upside-down or causes you to look at the world in a different way?

Telegraph poles resemble crosses as they disappear over a hil

The Monaro Plains

Telegraph poles resemble crosses as they disappear over a hill

THE MONARO PLAINS - Anthony Lawrence (May 2012)

Wooden crosses
a vanishing point wired for talk

a watercolour bleed
of low clouds, windbroken pines

a charcoal rubbing
of lost connections  ~ you are here

passing through
uncoupled is a state of rhyme

what the eye reveals
the mouth extends in clipped syllables

depth of field
a black rain squall of starlings on a hill

Words: Anthony Lawrence (Used with author's permission)
Picture: Geoffrey Dunn

Sunset Wave

Sea and Sky blur into faux continuum

Forever parted by our exhalations

High key photograph of autumnal maple leaves against bright sky

I love light - I really do

High key photograph of autumnal maple leaves against bright sky

I love light - I really do ... especially in Autumn as the leaves turn and the light takes on a crisper feel. I love that moment each year when you step outside and realise that the light has changed ... that it's now striking at a different angle, it's quality altered ... that the season has moved on - even if you haven't. Soon that crispness in the air will become deeper bone-chilling cold and the light will become weaker yet somehow clearer. In south-eastern Australia we have four definite seasons though the local indigenous peoples recognised six. They were a little more in tune with their natural world than I think we are.

Here in Australia, we have amazing light. Light that illuminates with a clarity and intensity I've seen in very few other places ... South Africa is one. They have the endless sky too.

What about you? What is the light like where you live?


Sometimes, when I feel like I'm not going anywhere ... not being creative ... that I'm somehow fixed in a defined space, I remember the first time I lay on the ground as a child and imagined the world turning. How as it spun about its axis or hurtled through space I had to dig a little deeper with my fingers to stop from flying off ... that crazy tilting cartwheel feeling. I remember then that stillness is an illusion, that we are never motionless ... never perfectly still ... that we are all moving even if it's a slow drift on an unseen tide.