Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year...

...from a photographer's notebook

As Spring, meteorologically speaking at least, prepares to make her 2013 debut, accompanied in the eastern U.S. by expected rain and snow showers, the electrons marching between my trusty Technics SL-P999 CD players and the electronics that make my monitor speakers sing have been engaging in a playful tug of war for the past while. There’s the warmly exquisite Bert Kaempfert instrumental “Two Can Live on Love Alone” (highly recommended for taking the edge off any wintry chill) on Deck #1 sharing the stage (taking turns, of course) with, on Deck #2, something equally exquisite and timeless, which just happens also to be timely, Ella Fitzgerald caressing the Frank Loesser lyric to “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year.”

Also vying for attention is the decision for a photo to present on the wee bloggie that might suggest the delights that Spring has in her pretty basket…for those who wait.

From the musical “tug of war,” I don’t suppose you’ll be at all surprised if I “give up” and offer two photos, one warm and Spring-y, and one chilly and rainy (but with a warm heart).

The image up top of the Botanic Gardens, close by the Capitol in Washington, captured on Ilford XP2 Super, was actually taken on a late summer day in 2012, but the result suggests Springtime to me. The skies over Washington that day were laced with glorious, ever changing formations of cirrus clouds against the deep blue, providing abundant inspiration for walking about with my Contax G2, its 45 mm Zeiss lens wearing a red filter.

And now, for something entirely different (and in keeping with the forecast)…

Eternal No.2 - University of Glasgow in the November Rain                                                                       ©Steve Ember

A photographer’s first visit to a place usually comes “front-loaded” with high hopes in the direction of photo-perfect shooting conditions…or at least the desire to have his hands more fully occupied with cameras, lenses, and objects other than those pesky “mini” umbrellas that so easily become inverted and useless when rain is joined by wind gusts.

Didn’t take very long for that to happen on this November afternoon in Glasgow, as I set about exploring the city’s hillier parts. Why am I flashing just now on Max von Sydow in “Three Days of the Condor” as he decisively mashes an umbrella into a trash receptacle on a rain soaked brownstone-lined Manhattan street? 

The University of Glasgow sits on high ground in the city’s West End. It is said to offer commanding views of the seaport city on the River Clyde. I’m certain it does and I hope to enjoy such views…one day. But on this particular afternoon, as I stepped out of the taxi I’d finally given up and flagged, the city below was obscured in mist, the winds were whipping the rain, by now solid and discouragingly persistent, and the umbrella-less photographer decided to take temporary shelter within.

After purchasing a handsome wool scarf in the rich blue tartan of the ancient institution (oh, yes, and another mini umbrella) in the University’s shop, I transitioned into photo-challenge mode, and was ever so glad I did. Rather than risking another early mini-umbrella demise, I decided to spend some time under the shelter of the university’s expansive Cloisters passageway, looking out into the quadrangles on either side, as rainy afternoon gave way to rainy evening and lights began casting their reflections in the wet walkways…providing inviting motifs for the cameras I’d been sheltering in my pack while waiting for the opportunity to deploy them.

This is one of my favorites from that interlude. I like the eternal calm that the bench and the history laden stone and ironwork bespeak. The steak dinner that followed a few hours later, also looking out into a rain-soaked Glasgow night, allowed the visitor to reflect on how easily one puts rain and chill in their place when a trusty camera is close at hand and the other hand is wrapped around a choice libation rather than a mini umbrella...

If the scene speaks to you, it is available in archival gallery prints and as a custom printed Photo Note Card. Ditto, the Botanic Gardens image up top. Those links will take you to the actual card layouts. Inside panels are blank; back panels have narratives. Like more information? Be in touch at the e-mail address in the right-hand column.

Oh, should I have also been playing Johann Strauss Jr's "Voices of Spring" waltz?

Cheers, and keep an eye out for the robin - I think he'll be wearing a trench coat with deep pockets for worm-stashing. 

©2013 Steve Ember

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Blogger Susana Miguel Rebela said...

Both shots are very attractive.

Despite or perhaps because the shot was taken in black and white the Capitol's Botanic Gardens really look as if they are in Spring mood, the leaves appear like the flowering petals ...

But the University of Glasgow in the November Rain might also be a Spring time shot, as the green of the quadrangle and the orange hues of the evening lights heightened by the rain are vibrant enough to place it in a Spring shower.
But here I am biased as I love rain...

Lovely entry, Steve!

March 25, 2013 at 3:12 AM  

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