Category Archives: photo

Monthly Mosaic: October

My creation
Looking at my one photo a day for October, it’s been a month of autumn leaves and sunlight, roses and polaroids, eating out and eating in, travelling, a bit of black and white.

Actually quite a good month, now that I think about it.


Black and White Monday

Language is wine upon the lips. –Virginia Woolf

The above quote is one of my all-time favourites. It evokes a full-bodied red wine, enjoyed in good company, while eating delicious food. It evokes laughter. Friendship. Candles gently lighting the room.

I have wanted to know where this sentence is taken from. What is its context? For what kind of story did she come up with this metaphor? I have found only two answers to these questions, neither completely satisfactory.

According to one blog I found, she said once said this to her husband Leonard. No source was provided for this piece of information.

Using Ctrl+F to search for the phrase “wine upon” in her works on Project Gutenberg, I found the following sentence, from her book Jacob’s Room:

Cowan, Erasmus Cowan, sipped his port alone, or with one rosy little man, whose memory held precisely the same span of time; sipped his port, and told his stories, and without book before him intoned Latin, Virgil and Catullus, as if language were wine upon his lips.

At this point I almost regret looking for the context. For one thing, the words are not exactly the same. The book version is tied to a person, a he, Erasmus Cowan, that I can’t know without reading the book, and now the perfect adaptability of the internet quote is destroyed. What is more, Cowan is drinking port wine while telling stories, so there is an almost physical connection between the wine and the language rather than the evocative metaphoric connection of the internet quote.

The point of all this? For once I should have remembered the old line about never letting the truth get in the way of a good story instead of following my native academic instinct to dig for sources and originals.

Wednesday Feature: Remembering summer

Winter is only a heartbeat away now. Once the fires of autumn die out, we will be facing yet another three-month stretch of darkness and cold. Me, I’m reminiscing about summer and longing for the sun, and what better way to do that than through the treasure trove of my contacts’ images on flickr and twitter?

Libertad Leal‘s clever through-the-viewfinder image, for instance, serves as the perfect antidote to the foggy and rainy days we’ve been having. Thanks to Libertad for letting me feature this summer dream.

Copyright All rights reserved by Libertad Leal

Black and White Monday: Change

Evening in Oslo

Nothing ever remains the same. Time passes, and even though we would liketo remain the same, we cannot, since we are shaped and molded in ever new ways through the very fact being alive and experiencing the world around us.

On the surface, life appears to have gone back to normal for me after the July 22nd attacks. But none of us can escape what happened, and there are continuous little reminders of it each time the events have receded from the forefront of my mind.

Walking through the city last Wednesday, I paused, wanting to shoot this image, but frustrated by the fact that the best distance to shoot from would be in the middle of the street. Blocking traffic as a pedestrian is rarely a good idea, right? But looking to my left to check for cars revealed what I had momentarily forgotten – the bomb went off a few hundred metres up this street, and the street is still barred and likely to remain so for a long time yet.

Then there are the news. The stories of the survivors and the victims’ families and friends are painful to read. I was last brought to tears in front of my computer by the recent story of how the police kept watch over the dead on the island through the night between the 22nd and the 23rd, and how the night was lit by the mobile phones of the victims ringing again and again.

I am fortunate. I am able to forget for a moment what happened, and the pain I feel, as my heart and all my sympathy go out to the bereaved, is brought on by empathy and fear rather than the full force of grief and bereavement.

I am also fortunate that I have so far been able to tell myself to take something good away from any change, be it good or bad: I am now a little wiser. A little kinder. I have learned a little more. And I will use what I have learned for as long as I am on this Earth, which is all anyone can do.

Wednesday Feature (on a Tuesday): Polaroid elephant

I’m still struggling with my Polaroid camera and the Impossible Project films. I’m on my second pack of film at the moment, and so far ALL the images I’ve shot from that pack are failures – highly frustrating, to say the least, and not to mention expensive! I’m not going to give up, though – there are so many examples out there to show that it IS possible to succeed with the IP film. This image, by Ron O’Connor, is one of them.

Isn’t this image just about perfect? I love the mood and atmosphere and lighting and everything about it. It’s taken at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, and speaks to me of the scientific curiosity and exploration of the last two centuries, of the world as a big and glorious place, and of the circus in all its glory and melancholia.

NMNH Elephant

Thanks to Ron for letting me feature this and for the encouragement to continue shooting Polaroids!

Black and White Monday: ‘Our Pierrot in Autumn’

Poem by Jack Peachum, quoted from here.

“Je est un autre”

“Hip to all that jazz–,” yet still,
that organ heart expresses his dull pain.
Don’t worry, it will pass with night,
and dawn and the chill of rain.

But then above the counterpane,
along the covered surface of my knees,
the white Pierrot must come and sit
and smile at me and sneeze.

Oh, white Pierrot, if you please,
are there not two of you?
One in black, perhaps, or grey,
to suit a different mood, a graver hue?

No? Then one must do,
will do quite well to sit above the counterpane.
Pierrot, my boy, there are tombstones in your eyes,
and your arms are full of the dripping rain.

Turn from the window, Love, turn from the rain,
and come to bed with me.
Pierrot has filled my eyes with clownish pain
and the rain is on my knee.


Black and White Monday


THE TYGER (from Songs Of Experience)

By William Blake

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?