Posts Tagged ‘ alex ramsay photography ’

Death, in Florence

Alex Ramsay

In the Cimitero Inglese, Florence

Back again and full of the joys of Spring, as you can tell from the picture above. I’ve just had a few days in Florence, combining a shoot in the curious ‘English Cemetery’ with a modest birthday celebration. I took the sleeper from Paris for the first time since about 1965. Nothing about the train, including the smell, seems to have changed much in the intervening years. I think I may be getting a little old for the intimacy of a six-berth couchette. An early breakfast in the astonishing Milan Central Station was a treat, however – coffee and brioche surrounded by a dictator’s imperial fantasy.

Alex RamsayAlex RamsayAlex Ramsay

And home to find that at least one creature in the garden had decided that spring was imminent, despite all evidence to the contrary:




April Fooled

Which is what seems to have happened, what with snow to the top of the hedges and the woods gone all Brueghel. For those of you lucky enough to be in other parts of the world, this is what it looks like now. ‘Oh to be in England now that April’s there’ – Home Thoughts from Abroad is the title of that poem, of course, and I bet most of us are thinking the other way round just now.

Alex Ramsay

Alex Ramsay

Alex RamsayAlex Ramsay

Came down for breakfast this morning to find that daughters home for Easter had remembered the date and consequently filled coffee jar with raisins, put eggs in unlikely places etc. However we managed to catch one of them with heavily salted early morning tea. Revenge (unlike the tea) is sweet . . .

Happy Easter!

dilexi vos

Dilexi vos (I have loved you), the words in the medieval psalter above, are to be found in the sentence beginning ‘A new commandment I give unto you’ in St John’s Gospel. Apparently it is from the Latin version of this sentence, starting ‘mandatum’, that the word ‘Maundy’ is derived. All of which is a rather ponderous explanation of why this picture, shot years ago in a museum in Tuscany, seems appropriate for an Easter greeting post being written on Maundy Thursday. Happy Easter to all! (or Vernal Equinox, or Nowruz, or whatever may be appropriate to your own system of belief or unbelief)

A Grand Day Out . . .

Ever wondered how this photographer makes his living? A sample day earlier this week:

0515 Alarm goes.

0530 Car lock frozen solid – a hunt for matches follows. After repeated attempts in the icy darkness I manage to heat the key enough to thaw the lock.

0545 Freezing fog.

0550 Car hits an icy patch on a hairpin bend and I end up on top of a hedge, luckily the right way up.

0630 A truly wonderful passerby with a huge 4WD offers to tow me back onto the road and does so. He will accept no reward, saying cheerfully ‘it might be me next time’.

0645 The significant bits of the car appear to be working, so on I go through the fog.

0700 Fog even thicker.

0800 Road closed because of somebody else’s accident – many miles of diversion ensue.

0900 Rush hour traffic.

1000 Finally arrive at destination (Wallasey) several hours late – but the sun is shining, so straight to work shooting pictures of a spectacular church under threat of redundancy.

SS Peter, Paul & Philomena

SS Peter, Paul & Philomena

1400 Breakfast at last. I go down to the sea front – this is New Brighton, brought to the attention of the outside world by Martin Parr’s extraordinary photographs (The Last Resort). I keep thinking I’ve been here before, but of course it’s the locations of Parr’s pictures I recognise – this bus shelter, that cafe.

1600 Leave for home, having walked many streets looking for vantage points from which the church’s dome (known to sailors as the Dome of Home) could be seen. Eventually a convenient fire escape does the trick.

The Dome of Home

The Dome of Home

1900 Home – and the realisation that we are due out to supper about three quarters of an hour distant. I don’t offer to drive.

Still Here

For one brief moment I thought happily that the Mayan Apocalypse would bring a natural if noisy close to this eternal progression of blogs, but it was not to be. No bang then, just the sound of a faint whimper as I settle down to the keyboard while 2012 dips below the horizon. So . . . back from Japan, where the maples were turning their impossible colours – fifty shades of red, in fact.

Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Maruyama Park



The Japanese response to this amazing display is even more marked than in the spring. However early I arrived, each tree was surrounded by visitors paying homage and often carrying an emperor’s ransom in cameras around their necks.


Tree worshippers – Nanzen-ji at first light

Back home in time to receive a daughter home from Mexico. She seems to have a gift for acquiring distinctive holiday souvenirs. Last time it was a llama foetus, so expectations were high and we were not altogether surprised when she presented us with a traditional Mexican delicacy (see below). I think Tyrrell’s Crisps have missed a trick here, or maybe not. Luckily she’s not going far foreign in the near future . . .
Alex Ramsay

And so to the future – here is a Japanese carp, symbolic of good fortune and also perseverance. Heaven knows we’ll need them both in 2013, so I wish you all, friends, family and readers unknown –

A Happy New Year!Alex Ramsay

That Time of Year Again

Autumn, and a primeval urge of overwhelming force drives the salmon up mighty rivers to spawn in the remote headwaters that witnessed their own conception. Likewise, in another of nature’s spectacular seasonal rituals, vast herds of photographers feel compelled to visit the nearest wood and take snaps of fallen leaves. Not to be left out, here are a couple I spawned recently.

oak apples

Oak apples

spangle galls on an oak leaf

Spangle galls

Off to Kyoto tomorrow morning, so a restful silence will ensue until I return with far too many pictures of crimson maple leaves strewn across elegantly raked gravel. Sayonara to all.

The Blog is Back

The summer seems to have passed in a long soggy flash, if you can imagine such a thing. I can’t believe I’ve not blogged since March – I plead far too much travel in mitigation. Repeated trips to the Veneto, to Sicily and Malta and a long visit to Japan resulted in an appalling deluge of pictures and an unwillingness to spend further time in front of the computer. I’m just back from Venice having completed my part of Gardens of Venice & the Veneto. A lot of fun to shoot thanks to the huge efforts of the author, the talented and beautiful Jenny Condie who has tracked down some extraordinary new places for our book, as well as the usual suspects. Among them are a Masonic garden with a skull-shaped grotto, a subterranean aquarium, monasteries, mazes and, this being the Veneto, more stone dwarfs than you can shake a stick at (if that’s your idea of a good time, as the great Groucho used to say). All this is just to whet your appetites – no pictures until nearer publication, I’m afraid. Well all right, just one –

Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, Venice

During my time off I found it impossible to take many photographs in Venice. Too many familiar views, too many cameras (and iPhones and iPads), too easy to take a quick snap instead of looking. I rather agree with those tribes who are said to believe that photographs steal their souls, and I begin to think that it may be true of places as well. I did succumb on occasion, though, particularly as one visit coincided with the annual Regata Storica.

Racing gondolas on the lagoon

the regata storico

Racing on the Grand Canal

the regata storico

A fanfare for a Doge

Further afield I’m working on a book on Zen temple gardens. I begin to understand a little more about these remarkable places, and how to look at them. The Japanese passion for stones became clear to me when I found this specimen, whose textured surface reveals a whole landscape.

Stone at Myoshinji

My last trip to Kyoto coincided with firefly season. Above the stream near my hotel the air was full of them, whirling up like sparks from a bonfire


Shoden-ji, Kyoto

Todai-ji, Nara – the largest wooden building in the world

And finally, for those of you who are local, I’m sharing a small exhibition – In Our Empty Rooms – at the Sidney Nolan Trust of work made in collaboration with the sculptor Justine Cook, from the 13th-20th October. It will be a pleasure to see you at the opening on Friday 12th October, 5-7 pm. More information at

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