Apr 19: photo of the month

AgricentroLots of choice this month but I’ll stay with Sicily. This is the Temple of Concordia as seen looking down the Valley of Temples near Agrigento. Built by the Greeks in 435 BC, converted into a Christian basilica in the 6th century and the ‘restored’ in 1748.

The photo was taken with my Sony alpha 77 II f8 at 1/200 at a focal length of 40mm. There’s been a crop and I confess to a little post processing to bring out the greens of the vegetation. Maybe they got lost because it was late in the day.




Sicily again: 5 highlights

We’ve just come back from a week in Sicily. We had a full itinerary which showed us most of the island and immersed us in its history and culture. You come out at the end with a blur of memories but what really stood out? Here’s my list of five highlights.

Syracuse-2The white buildings of Syracuse: to some extent Sicily has been shaped by the Mount Etna earthquake of 1693 which destroyed both Catania and Syracuse. But whereas Catania was rebuilt with the black of the lava that engulfed it Syracuse was rebuilt in classic baroque style using splendid white sandstone. The long rectangular Piazza del Duomo is especially striking.

temple E at Selinunte ... with wild flowers!

The carpets of spring flowers: as you’d expect Sicily is blessed with monuments which evidence its past. The Greek temples at the Valley of the Temples, the vast Greek complex at Selinunte and the Roman mosaics at Piazza Amerina are impressive and worth a visit. But in April that’s doubly true as they are surrounded by spring flowers: lots of yellow but also reds and blues.

DSC04066The Byzantine Cappella Palantina: it’s just one of many but walking in to the Palantine Chapel is a jaw dropping experience. It dates back to 1130 and delivers the full Monty of glittering gold mosaics, marble floors and an ornate wooden ceiling. It combines Byzantine, Norman and Arabic styles reflecting Sicily’s cultural complexity

Mount Etna ... of course

Mount Etna: it’s Europe’s highest active volcano, it sits on the timeline one hour in advance of GMT and it’s dominant both physically today and for the impact it’s had on the history of Sicily. If it’s fine you can drive up towards the top and experience the alien volcanic terrain. If you’re on a tour your guide may tell you that it might be a little chilly and breezy. Be warned and take warm clothes and be prepared to struggle to stay upright.

DSC04301Gamberoni: Sicily is blessed with good raw materials and most nrestaruants’ menus exploit these to the full. There’s generally an offer of gamberoni grigliati and it’s a pleasure because these are real king prawns and they’re typically a good four inches or more in length. The contrast is what we see in the UK which is a couple of inches if you’re lucky. Sicilians describe these as simply gamberetti and translate this as shrimp on the menu. I’ll stick with gamberoni!

It was our second visit and if anything it was too intense. If we’d only done half the trip it would have filled my brain and then given me reason for a third visit.

and finally …

and finallyEvery month I do a monthly report on my life as a county councillor. Rather sad I know but if you’ve got the job you need to do what goes with it.

To add a little colour to each report I had a final ‘and finally …’ paragraph. It’s generally non-political and reflects more on me and less on my political life.

I’ve pulled together these paragraphs for the municipal year 2017/18. Click here to read them.

Mar 19: photo of the month

Hermitage Lock

It’s two photo of the month posts in a row and that’s not good. Photos are fine but there should be more writing.

Anyway this was taken at Hermitage Lock (on the road between Willingham and Earith) with my Sony Xperia XZ1, 1/1000th sec at f2.0.

I confess to a little more post processing than usual. Firstly there’s a crop (not much), there’s a graduated filter to reduce the highlights in the sky and so bring out the clouds a little better,  and there’s a spot filter to reduce the intensity of the green of the grass in the bottom right hand corner.

Here’s a copy of the unedited original:

2019-03-28 13.11.08


Feb 19: photo of the month

2019-02-10 16.49.14Another good photo month but I like this one because it was formed out of necessity. We were off to the cinema and with no photos taken so far in the day I needed one. We were walking across Parker’s Piece and I just snapped this. It’s clearly been cropped but that’s why I think it works.

The photo was taken with my Sony Xperia XZ1 1/50th at f2.

Parker's PieceI’ve also posted another version of this shot with an even more aggressive crop and a little post processing in Lightroom to highlight the people in the foreground. It gives it a sort of Lowry look which I rather like.