Monday, 27 April 2009

The Road

The Road

I've just read The Road, a haunting, post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy. While it describes momentous events, it does so through the very intimate story of a man and his son as they struggle to survive. In McCarthy's story, the only good thing left in the devastated world is the father's love for his son and the son's love for his father. They walk a deserted highway, scavenging for whatever food they can find, hiding from roving bands of cannibals, and hoping that somewhere there might be others like themselves.

The subject might seem like a departure from McCarthy's usual novels set among cowboys and ranchers in the American West, but his themes of physical survival, forces of nature, love, fate, and moral goodness run through it. And his descriptive language is just as rich and evocative as always. Below are some samples to whet your appetite.

"When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him. Nights dark beyond darkness and the days more gray each one that what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. His hand rose and fell softly with each precious breath. He pushed away the plastic tarpaulin and raised himself in the stinking robes and blankets and looks toward the east for any light but there was none...."

"When it was light enough to use the binoculars he glassed the valley below. Everything paling away into the murk. The soft ash blowing in loose swirls over the blacktop. He studied what he could see. The segments of road down there among the dead trees. Looking for anything of colour. Any movement. Any trace of standing smoke. He lowered the glasses and pulled down the cotton mask from his face and wiped his nose of the back of his wrist and then glassed the country again. Then he just sat there holding the binoculars and watching the ashen daylight congeal over the land. he knew only the the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke."

"They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterans. The first he'd seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land....the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through he streets like squid ink uncoiling along a seafloor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond."

Layers of sunset

I don't think there have been nearly enough cloud pictures recently, so here are a couple. :-)

What these images show is how low cloud can be scattering the sunset colours of pink and red and gold while most of the sky is still blue. It's at sunrise and sunset that the layering of clouds is shown most clearly.

Falcons for grapes

Country Calendar has a nice feature on the Falcons for Grapes project in Marlborough, where New Zealand falcons are introduced to vineyards to discourage smaller birds which damage the grapes. They also look at research into the breeding patterns of these magnificent birds, which are rare and threatened, and the challenges of ensuring their long-term survival. You can view that video here.

The terrific NZ Birds site has
background information on the NZ falcon.
And Te Ara has some
particularly fine photographs.

Friday, 24 April 2009

congratulations, Ichneumons!

You know who you are!
Image: Herpestes ichneumon, by Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber, 1780

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Robin Morrison: Photojournalist

NZ On Screen has a 20-minute chunk of this excellent 1981 documentary in which Robin Morrison talks about his work. It's well worth a look. Hat tip to Russell Brown for the link.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Sharing photographs on the internet

I love showing people my pictures, saying: this is where I've been; this is what it looks like; this is what I saw; these are the things I like; this is my way of seeing....

Taking photographs is something I do for money, and although I love it, I also take it seriously. I love people to look and enjoy, but I don't want them to appropriate. Copyright applies on the web as it does anywhere else.

I have begun marking the images I post here so they are clearly identified as mine. It's hard to find a balance between making a clear, legible marking, and not wrecking the appearance of the image; I'm not sure I've got it right yet, and I'd value feedback on this.

I sell prints of my photos; I also licence them for use on the internet and in print media. If there's something here you want, contact me at for a quote.

Hallucinating Tony Fomison

These pictures are also from Tunnel Beach. As I say, it's a magical place.

Tunnel Beach

I was at Tunnel Beach recently, and it really is an amazing place. It's just South of Dunedin city, seaward from the suburb of Green Island, and it costs nothig to visit. Try to visit when the tide is out, as you will be able to explore more of the beach. Reasonable fitness is required as the path is steep: you realise exactly how steep, on the way back :-)

There are fantastic cliffs:

The beach access is through a short tunnel carved in the limestone. The walls of the tunnel have a wonderful texture:

On the beach, there are more amazing cliffs:

Some of the eroding limestone cliffs take fantastical shapes: