Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ramblings from Seville: Flamenco

Flamenco runs through the veins of Andulucia. It's difficult to put into words the power of this dance form, Flamenco is experienced through emotion and through the soul. It's a dance filled with sadness and anger, but also of passion, strength and beauty. Born from the expression of a persecuted people, most notably, the Gypsies of Southern Spain, its unique blend of influences and musical complexity can be attributed to the consequences of the decree made in Spain 1492 by Catholic Spanish King Ferdinand V and Queen Isabella that everyone living under their domain convert to Catholicism. This proclamation was issued under the threat of varying degrees of punishment, the most severe being the death penalty, by fire. Gypsies, Muslims, Jews and anyone living in Spain at the time was ordered to convert. It is believed that because of this decree these different ethnic groups came together to help each other, and within this melding of cultures Flamenco was born.

One does not need to go to a show to experience Flamenco, the sounds of the cante (singing) and guitarra (guitar) echo from the tapas bars, sevillians break into improtu baile (dance) at nights on the city's streets, accompanied by hand clapping and palmas. It is an ever present undertone in a society deeprooted in a cultural cooking pot that continues boil to this day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ramblings from Seville: The Virgin

In Seville it seems that every road has a church, all adorned with icons of the Virgin Mary. The power of the Catholic church is strong here, and the power seems to be embodied within the many images of the Virgin. The adoration of the Virgin is striking, a man who never attends mass is still feircly protective of the Virgin. This morning I sat in one of the most ornate back-street churches, where the Virgin stood above the alter framed by waterfalls of glittering gold. Many men just popped in on their way to work for a minute to cross themselves in front of the lady in question. Seville is unafraid of its emotions. It’s difficult for me to understand coming from a culture where the imagery of the church resides behind the hustle and bustle of modern day life and scepticism. I don't "belive". Yet today, as I wondered in and out of the incense infused churches, I felt a peaceful contemplation, a little bit sad, lit a candle or two, and put some of my Euros into the Virgin's collection box.

Ramblings from Seville: Orange

In Seville everything is orange.

Weave your way down through the compact maze of old narrow streets and they are lined with orange trees. The crumbling walls are painted orange, the window blinds are orange, even the buses are orange. The interior of the churches are awash with gold. At night the Cathedral casts orange light into the sky,the streets are bathed in the glow of the orange street lamps and the Moorish lanterns that hang outside the tapas bars and resturants. Orange is a good colour, it makes everything seem cheerful, even in the Andalusian rain.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Crawling into my dreams

For some reason I've been having a lot of dreams about spiders lately, of the pointy variety rather than the hairy variety. I think my recent photography hobby has influenced these creepy carwlies' portrayal because rather than having an entire dream about a spider, I'll be happily having a fluffy dream about something normal then suddenly there will be a big flash of a spikey spider which will jolt me out of my slumber, and on occaision has made my jump out of bed in a panic. It's really not very pleasant at all. Perplexed I refer to the fountain of all dream knowledge the Dream Mood Dictionary. It tells me:

To see a spider in your dream, indicates that you are feeling like an outsider in some situation. Or that you may want to keep your distance and stay away from an alluring and tempting situation

Ok, interesting, but not really ringing any bells, continue...

The spider is also symbolic of feminine power.

Nice! I am of course female and exert power over all around me ;-)

Alternatively, a spider may refer to a powerful force protecting you against your self-destructive behavior. If you kill a spider, it symbolizes misfortune and general bad luck.

Phew, never killed on in my dreams.

To see a spider spinning a web in your dream, signifies that you will be rewarded for your hard work. You will soon find yourself promoted in your job or recognized for your achievement in a difficult task.

Damn it, no webs.

Spiders are a symbol of creativity due to the intricate webs they spin.

Sounds good, might explain the photo like inclusion in my land of nod.

On a negative note, spiders may indicate a feeling of being entangled or trapped in a sticky or clingy relationship. It represents some ensnaring and controlling force. You may feel that someone or some situation is sucking the life right out of you.

That is quite negative, but I am suffering no acute vampiric situations.

Dreams really make me ponder. I mean a one-off is interesting, often a catharsis of the days events, but there have been a lot of spiders in my dreams lately, they have become a symbol. It has to mean something. I don't even really have a great fear of the little critters, although I must say the spikey kind are not my favorite, but they keep cropping up. Hopefully it will turn out they are money spiders, that would be nice!

Back to the meadow

I've already blogged a few photos of Oxford Port Meadow but today I returned there to take some photos with the Oxford Photographic Society.

The OPS is one of the top ten photographic societies in the UK. It has been going since 1889 and it's a great opportunity to boost photographic skills. It hardly costs anything (£32 per year) and is far less time consuming than any evening course. The society offers a mentoring scheme, instructional saturday walks, photo-tutorials, competitions, and monthly feedback meetings to discuss your photos. Everyone is really friendly and so helpful. It was a glorious sunny winter's day and there were lots of rowers out on the river and docile horses to pet. I really enjoyed myself and learnt a lot about shutter speed and aperture and all those fiddly little settings on my camera that I don't have a clue about. I must admit though I did get lens envy seeing the digital SLRs and telescopic lenses that the professional photographers had. I have to submit my four best photos from the trip to their website but I'm not sure which ones to send in, I don't feel that any are particuarly exciting but please feel free to vote! The better photos I took are tagged with OSP1 on Flickr.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Circles, squares, triangles and a picture of myself

Last Friday I travelled down to London to attend Vision 2006, an event run by the British Journal of Photography. Held next to London Bridge, under the railway arches, various photography companies touted their goods and design organisations recruited new members. The congregation looked very arty, moving between the tables cigerette and coffee in hand, looking cool and intense; there was a very high level of black attire and berrets. I must say that the event itself was a little disappointing, but to be fair it really was aimed at the design student and professional photographer rather than a novice like myself. The cameras on show were way beyond my reach and I didn't dare approach the recruitment consultants. However, I did pick up an excellent book on digital photography and after a chat to the guy at the British Freelance Photographers stand I'm considering joining up to see if they could flog any of my photos.

The real reason I went however was to take advantage of the portfolio review facility. Take along your best pics and have a proper, real-life, experienced photographer offer their wisdom and constructive criticism. Disappointingly Kodak Online did not deliver my portfolio quality prints I had so carefully picked out and ordered weeks ago, but not to be defeated I popped into Boots and printed off some bog-standard 5 x 8 glossies to take along. Felt a bit of a muppet when I turned up and everone else had big black portfolio folders rammed with A3 prints on satin paper finish. Sheepishly I pulled my Boots photo wallet out of my bag and presented them to 'Dillon' for review. But Dillion wasn't really bothered by the display medium - "A picture is a picture". He lay out all 10 photos on the table and instantly put a few aside as no-nos. He put the rest, bar one, into three piles. "I see you have a commom theme here" he said, "circles, squares and triangles", "mmmm yes" I replied, not realising I had a theme and not wanting to sound stupid. He picks up my Little boy on the rocks and my Clouds on glass photo. "I love how these are so different yet virtually the same" he continues, I look closely at them and realise they are, kind of. The macros of flowers, the oxford bike, the elephants eye - "A circle theme - great!". The Eiffel Tower shots - "triangles!". How can someone else draw a theme out of my pictures I never knew were there? "I've seen a lot of snap shots here today" he says "but these are not snap shots, they are photography, so don't be embaressed about bringing them along" (I turn slightly beetroot). He turns to the "bar one" that didn't get put into a pile. "But this is the one that really stands out" he says, "it has composure, composition and atmosphere". I look at the photo he referring to. Very embaressingly it's a picture of myself, I don't tell him this, as it's taken from behind, so he would never know. In Tarifa with the sun shining down I'm sat on the beach facing out to sea, my hair wrapped up in a big scarf and, erm, blush, no top on (but you can't see anything). It's highly staged, or "composed" I guess is the correct term, and taken with an old no-frills cheapo canon digital then photoshopped black and white. I'd never seen this photo in print before, I've only ever seen it through a computer screen. I included it because it was popular in my flickr gallery, but I must say it looks better in print, even in Boots instant glossy print. I was suprised."I look at this" he says "and I don't know what it is that stands out, "the girl, the turban, the shadow, the sea. A good photo should make you look, continue to look and wonder why you like it. This could be a poster". Well perhaps not, that kind of freaks me out, my naked back being on someone's wall. But it has made me think that I should print more of photos out, because things look different, have a different effect, on a different medium. That I should do more staged shots. Look more carefully when I take a photo, at the shapes it captures, at different angles, take many shots of the same thing to see what works. Sharpen my eye and keep snapping away.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Creative commons licence does some good!

Just recieved an e-mail. Small blush of pride!
Hi KT Lindsay,
I am delighted to let you know that three of your photos with a creative commons license have been selected for inclusion
in the newly released second edition of our Schmap Oxford Guide. Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos have been selected for inclusion.
ii) Learn how we credit photos in our
Schmap Guides
iii) Download a copy of the guide, complete with your
credited photos.
Please enjoy the guide!

Best regards,
Ali Moss,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides


Thursday, November 02, 2006

We don't have time to stop and stare

So, here’s something about me: I’m an anxious person. I am my own worse enemy, I create anxiety for myself. Everything has to be perfect, I have to please everyone, I have to feel that everything I do is 'worth' something, I have to fight against the nasty things in the world, I have to throw myself into everything I do hammer and tonge and what's more get it right. I stress about stressing too much. It's very exhausting all this stressing. But wherever I go there are stressed people too, people ranting and raving, people lost in the depths of their own problems, people rushing around, not taking time just to look quietly at the world around them. We feed off eachother, stressed people. A few weeks ago I blogged about my trip to the Lake District and how it took so little to make me feel peaceful, a bit of water, a few trees and sheep, hot tea and silence. That's all that was needed. And now after two weeks back in the hustle and bustle of noisy modern-day life I feel the stress. It doesn't have to be like this, I want to compartmentalise my life and not let bits bleed into one another, I want to take time to just be still and enjoy the world and the people I love. May be this is one of the reasons I like taking pictures. The shutter is clicked. The flash goes off and I've stopped time, as if just for the blink of an eye. The world is captured at that very instant, still forever.