A Prayer From the Past: “Let Me Return to Eternity”

This is the entrance to a network of tombs in Israel.The most important burial place in the Jewish world during the mishnaic and talmudic periods.  Located in the western part of the lower Galilee and within easy access of Haifa, Beit She’arim flourished from the second through the fourth centuries when a necropolis was created deep into the hillside.

Beit She’arim is not mentioned in the Bible but began its history as a village in the Roman era.  Courtyards, corridors, and staircases lead to the catacombs with their burial chambers and stone sarcophagi. The chambers and sarcophagi are decorated with bas-reliefs, epitaphs, and frescoes, some of which are religious while others are decorative.

The Cave of the Syrian Jews contains a large menorah carved on the wall.  There are also  inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic such as “Let me return (to eternity).

Most inscriptions are in Greek because Hebrew had disappeared as a spoken language, except for the religious services. Some inscriptions are in both languages and Aramaic is also used.

Some inscriptions are religious, some are warning about disturbing the bones and others are of a personal nature,  “The Loved One rests here.”

In the fourth century, the town was burnt, by the Romans during a Jewish revolt. A village remained, and during the Arab period the dilapidated catacombs were ransacked.

These tombs are quite eerie and the parts that have been opened to the public are not hidden behind barriers.  You can actually walk around the tombs and the sarcophaguses.  With the complex being underground there is also a big contrast with the light and darkness which hits you when you go back outside.   It must have taken an incredible effort to get the caves ready for the burials and to carve the coffins out of solid rock.  As you can see from the pictures, the carvings are very much intact from two thousand years ago.

It feels like a real journey back in time.


Clock Tower

This is the face of Seaton Carew Bus Station’s Clock Tower – a recently renovated grade II listed, art deco clock tower.  It faces out in four directions, including across the North Sea.  It’s not quite the wreck it used to be, but the site is still a favourite for underage drinkers although most of the graffiti has gone.

The whole structure, which involves the tower, two extended bus platforms, seating and toilets, is over designed for what it is.  The lengthy facade hark back to when bus travel was more important and there were attempts to market the village of Seaton Carew as a major destination for day trippers.  The art deco exterior was precient, because suggests an importance that the building never attained.  It was designed as this landscape building but it never lived up to its architectural grandeur.

That’s a shame but then the North Sea coast is not always the best place to spend your day unless the weather is really very good.  Last time I was on Seaton Beach I saw people sitting on the sand in coats.  I’ve always thought the place was at least two degrees colder than the rest of Britain.

It’s  an iconic, yet ironic building which never fulfilled the desires of the town planners.

John Hedgecoe

Sorry to see that John Hedgecoe has passed away.  His books were great for learning about photography.   Even though they were dated, there were plenty of examples of pictures.  You could pick one you wanted to try and take yourself and read all about it, right down to the shutter speed and apeture value.


When I took this picture, I had a split second to get the image before she moved.  But I was thinking that it would make a great portrait because although half the face is covered by the bars of the cot, it emphasizes the eyes and makes them even more prominent than usual.


Kate Day of the Telegraph said, “I really liked the composition of this image, which seems to emphasize the vulnerability of the little girl and draws your focus to those big brown eyes. It is also an interesting example of how putting something between you and the subject can actually make you feel closer to the person in the picture.”

The Lamp

Here are two pictures of the same lamp.

The first one is taken using a Yashica Mat and a roll of 120 Ilford film.  The jpeg doesn’t do it justice.  The larger negative size gives a lot of texture and detail to the image.  also I like the way the blacks are represented on this image.

The second image is on 35mm Kodak colour film.  When I took the picture I held an anamorphic lens from an old projector in front of the camera lens and turned it until I got the slope the way I wanted.  By the time this one had been through jpeg compression and Photoshop the noise has increased in the black which is an unfortunate side effect of processing the image through Photoshop.  It wasn’t the brightest or best exposed frame but these are the difficulties of shooting through two lenses at once.  The projector lens gives everything a widescreen feel.

The Runner

Kate Day of the Daily Telegraph said of this image, “The viewer feels like a observer, watching a private battle – with the rain, with the runner’s body, perhaps even with their mind. And the reflected light around the hunched figure puts them in the spotlight even more. Beautiful.”

The runner

That was very nice of her.  I was working with a manual 500mm lens and it is difficult to keep it from wobbling.  So I grabbed the image as best I could, considering it was a moving target, and then played a little with Photoshop.  I turned the grain and the contrast up and made the image seem grittier.  It was quite a bright day, but the picture looks like it might be raining and it looks dark which is probably why Kate mentioned the private battle.  Overall, I’m quite pleased with the image because it shows that you can work a picture into something better than the initial exposure.

A bulb, yesterday

Somewhat anachronistic, this shot will be a piece of history in ten years.

Cross Processing

These photographs were taken at Tynemouth and are cross processed.  It’s an effect that you can’t so with digital photography directly, you have to simulate it.  All film is processed through a batch of chemicals but the chemicals are different depending on the type of film.  These pictures are taken on slide film which is normally used to produce slides for projection.  Instead of using the usual chemicals, I used the ‘wrong’ ones and processed them as if they were normal colour film.  The resulting error is a strange contrast in the colours.  The beach scene below looks as if it is an old print or as if it has been hand coloured.

The picture below is another cross processed negative but it is teamed with a long exposure which made the fog take on an unusual illumination.  Sort of apt for a Victorian mental hospital.

One of the things I like about film photography is that you can mix it up and use film in ways it wasn’t designed for.  Here is a more detail description of the process although I didn’t read too much about it and just tried it out.

The Cone

A cone is a pyramid with a circular cross section. A right cone is a cone with its vertex above the center of its base.  However, when used without qualification, the term “cone” often means “right cone.”  So there.


Which way is up?

Canon EOS 5, Ilford 200 ISO