All posts tagged: morning

Merry…Solstice!

Hey, all. Well, I’d started another flashback-to-Japan post from the last trip, but it was so bleak and un-Christmasy, even for me, that I’ve decided to spare you such an un-festive come-down until my next post. What a way to kick in the new year it will be! Happily, I was reminded by the ABC weatherman this morning that today is the Summer Solstice in these parts — “when the Sun’s track across the Australian sky reaches its highest point. It is the day that has the most daylight hours of any in the year.” That news provided the impetus to throw together something lighter and sunnier, so here are 30-something chronologically presented shots from the last two or three weeks, all from the local area, the majority created in that beautiful few hours before and just after dawn when conditions are so good for walking and taking pictures. My sleep patterns are still crazed, and I’m surviving on around five hours per night/morning. My stoopid brain has lately settled on 2:00-2:30am as a good time …

Back Among My People

G’day, all. The standard apologies for the long time between posts, the tardiness of my response to always-appreciated comments, and for just generally being an awful human being. I’ve been back in the Bayside suburbs of Brisbane for a couple of weeks now, and am pretty well adjusted (by my standards), though there’s been a fair deal of lonesome soul-searching… ..and I do miss the feeling of short- and longer-term purpose that a multi-week walk provides, not to mention the simple daily routine of morning coffee, walking, vending machines, convenience stores, photography, nightly beer, and eating anything I damned well please in between. (No wonder I actually put on weight despite walking around a thousand miles in those three months in Japan…) I also miss the constantly rewarding 88-temple photographic project, though the editing and displaying aftermath of the actual picture-making is keeping me busy, as it will for several months to come. Meanwhile, there are occasional storms to keep me entertained back here in the subtropical Summer — including one predicted for tonight — and I’ve resumed …

The Backwards 88, Day 47: And Then, Suddenly, I Ran Out of Temples

Hey, all! Yes, the circle will be unbroken — thanks for asking. At 4:50 this afternoon I entered the temple gate at number 1, bringing me back to where I started, completing a 1,200- or 1,300km loop of Shikoku and a 47-day tour of 88 freakin’ temples. I guess I’m in pretty good shape for an old bastard as my sum total of aches and pains after all that tarmac-pounding and mountain stomping is: zero. In fact I was seldom tired for more than five minutes on the whole walk. Injuries: three missing toenails (keep your eye out), some degraded toe skin, aching knees when I woke yesterday — but they’re fine today. I think I’m getting good at this stuff! As Matt (a former henro along with his wife Nori) at Sen Guesthouse back in Matsuyama said when I was there, you’re just starting to get good at the whole thing and then you reach the end. A damned shame. I have all my rituals and routines down, and have nights in my tiny tent/bedroom/ office/base camp …

The Backwards 88, Day 40: Pilgrim Postcards

[You might have received this post in your inbox erroneously titled “Day 39”. I just realised I’d lost a day! It happens on the blurry path to wisdom!] A LAWSON’S STATION KONBINI, KAINAN, TOKUSHIMA PREFECTURE ~  Morning, all. As threatened, here’s another batch of shots from the last week or so, mostly of scenes and subjects encountered between temples. I enjoy both my subject areas, the temples themselves and the stretches of road and path linking them, for different reasons. The temple one is far more challenging. My aim is to capture a sense of the place that is different from the others, and respond to it artistically in the conditions in which I find it. Believe me, with 88 of them to deal with, that can get pretty tough! As someone who doesn’t believe in anything, I’m obviously not reacting to the places in any spiritual sense. I’m interested in them as places, and judge them on aesthetic grounds, how they relate to their environment, their architecture and landscaping, historical elements etc. Avoiding repeating …

The Backwards 88, Day 17: Under the Big Stone Hammer

MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREFECTURE Hey, all. Well, I’m 38 temples into my journey, having visited #51, Ishiteji (“Stone Hand Temple”), the day before yesterday, here in Matsuyama, and numbers 53 and 52 yesterday. Yes, out of order, which is due to some unforeseen good fortune two days ago. What we used to call Trail Magic on the Appalachian Trail. It was about time my luck changed. Let me set the scene. Overall, it’s been a rewarding journey, though one of the hardest I’ve done and I’m only a couple of weeks in. I do remind myself sometimes that I’m not the 42-year-old who finished the A.T. feeling the strongest I’d ever felt years back; I’m also lugging the kind of pack weight that helped me develop stress fractures back on the A.T. But it’s one of them thar lonesome trails you hear about, and even for me, a man used to solitude, this one pushes the boundaries at times. Doing the pilgrimage in reverse order would challenge the social life and sanity of even a Japanese person …

The Truth About Flathead Lies

The tide was low, the air crisp and a winter sunrise was stirring the embers beyond Moreton Island as I approached the mouth to Cabbage Tree Creek. A lone fisherman in waders stood near the jetty, knee deep in salt water and presumably somewhat deeper in concentration: The cruising pelicans I’d hoped to encounter were absent; I walked out onto the jetty and introduced myself to another photographer I’d seen ambling around the headland on several equally sublime mornings, an air-traffic controller called Mike who was getting in some shooting before driving to work and an undoubtedly less tranquil scene. Mike enjoyed a cigarette while we chatted about cameras and lenses and travel. The fisherman had moved a little further downstream when next I noticed him. Mike commented about the gorgeous colours reflected in the creek surface; we fired off a few shots and I went back down the bank to get closer — “zooming with the feet” as we zoom-less users of prime lenses like to put it: Mike and I weren’t the only …

Waiting for the Sun

It took more than the usual fortitude to head out the door into the pre-dawn blackness yesterday. For days the weather reports had forecast our first dose of indubitably “wintry” weather: a “polar [or Antarctic] vortex” was bulldozing its way north, with rumours of rare snow in far-southeastern Queensland and (for Queenslanders) a daunting maximum temperature of 15C (59F). It wasn’t the cold that I dreaded, but the accompanying severe winds. Although I hoped they’d whip up some photogenically frothy waves on the high tide coinciding with sunrise, their immediate effect was to dust my eyeballs with swirling grit, and I had to wear sunglasses in the dark till I left my street and cut across the park towards Cabbage Tree Creek. The creek mouth was a disappointment. Although the conditions had left the area agreeably deserted, there was no more froth on the waves than atop your standard morning latte, and I decided to climb the road to the crest of Shorncliffe. I’d been meaning to photograph the pier reconstruction project from above with the …

Psychedelic Sandgate

Hey, folks. Just a warning before we get started: Better don your best protective goggles before proceeding. Wouldn’t want to be responsible for any burnt retinas or other eye damage. Please keep in mind I actually de-saturated many of these pictures as I dislike overly intense sunrise/sunset shots. But Mother Nature doesn’t always obey the laws of good taste and moderation. Sometimes she just likes to let loose with her full special-effects arsenal… Things have been going well lately and my recently restored enthusiasm for walking and picture-making continues, boosted with my latest camera gear (not used for these shots, which were taken pre-purchase with my reliable old Sony NEX 5N and its beautiful 24mm 1.8 lens, plus a few using an older, way more beat-up 5N and a cheap 16mm wide-angle). I’ve been having sleep problems again that I’m learning to live with. Vivid, entertaining dreams (nightmares are actually welcome as for years I never dreamed at all) from which I’ll suddenly bust free, startled, into wide-awakeness at, say, 1:30, 2:00 or 3:00. If I’m feeling sensible …

Scene from a Stroll #12: Don Quixote at the Seaside

The present was hard enough to deal with so that you couldn’t very well handle the notion of the future. He had noticed that it arrived in daily increments without any effort ~ Jim Harrison, Brown Dog Hi, all. It’s been a while since my last Scene from a Stroll — three years, in fact, way back in deepest, darkest South Korea! This shot, taken yesterday morning… ..is a way of buying me a little more time while I finish my almost-ready “real” post — and of introducing you to my new camera, which I’d only received two days before. I’ll tell you more about it soon — at the moment I’ve still got a long way to go till I know what it can do. The Sony, er, “manual” was typically woeful, and what I have learned has come from a lot of internet trawling, plus a fair bit of walking around with it, pressing buttons, twisting dials, and pointing it anything that moves or, more helpfully, doesn’t. But I can already feel the …

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #3

The final instalment of Sandgate pictures taken over five months and a thousand miles of coastal rambling. There are a few stormy pictures here — appropriately, as this morning a late-season cyclone named Marcia shifted rapidly in severity from Category 1 to 5 (the worst) and crossed the Queensland coast near Yeppoon about 680km (422m) north of Brisbane. I broke my arm and ruptured an eardrum in Yeppoon when I was a kid. That put a damper on the family holiday and my lower left arm still doesn’t look right to me. Reports suggest quite a nasty streak of destruction up there. We’re getting a bit of rain down here and as the storm moves south (weakening as it goes) we should be in for some serious downpours tomorrow and beyond, coinciding nicely with some king tides, so local creeks and waterways will be ripe to bursting. Another cyclone just did its thing up in the Northern Territory at virtually the same time. This pair has arrived late in the season and apparently the late ones are …

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #2

Here we are, folks, second instalment of my three-parter about my five-month, 1,000-mile-plus multi-day-walk Sandgate (mostly) perambulation, or 5M1K+MDWS(M)P#2. No dreary saga of psychological turmoil this time, and the extra space (I try — and often fail — to keep my posts under 1,000 words, for my comfort as well as yours) means I can provide a little background info in the picture captions. Once again, the pictures are presented chronologically. 5M1K+MDWS(M)P#3 coming in three days’ time… ~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #1

Hey, y’all. For — what? — a couple of months now I haven’t been able to write. Hell, for much of that time I was barely even walking, by my standards, and no walking obviously means not much to observe and record, or whatever it is I do here with the camera and the keyboard. Admittedly my ambulatory standards are pretty tough. Since I haven’t had much else to fill my days, little money and no work, with a torrent of confusion and doubt raining down, I set myself the target in July or August of a seven-mile minimum each day. That number had a nice powerful feel to it, and usually I was able to achieve most of my Magic Seven before breakfast. Those miles were often the highlight of the day. I was rising early and alternating between two main local routes. One lead directly to the waterfront and either out onto the mudflats if tides permitted or along the beachfront walking path if the brine was lapping at the seawall. Low tide was my favourite, and I …

After the Ice Came Down

I was stuffing cameras into my daypack, readying for a trip up the road, when I heard it: a loud, sharp CRACK on the roof over the back verandah. Then another, and another. They started coming faster till we were under sustained attack, like a gang of vandals was hurling rocks from up the hill. But there is no hill to be up and the vandals around here are not that resourceful or organised. This was two afternoons ago. The forecast had suggested a storm, but I’d been disappointed before. Now with the temperature easing off and the sky darkening, I thought I’d try my luck at some very low-budget storm-chasing. I love the summer storm season here in South-East Queensland: rain, cooler temps, some much-needed drama. And I keep hoping one day I’ll fluke a nice magazine cover-worthy lightning shot and retire to somewhere dark and stormy with my earnings. I ditched the pack and peeked out from under the upstairs verandah. Leaving cover right then would have been suicidal. A few years ago I was way, …

A Korean Flashback #1: Where the Kitties Get No Pity

Lately a few fellow early birds I run into as I make my rounds between seaside sunrise and coffee shop have asked how the morning’s snapping went and then hit me with “So, what do you with the pictures?” And I always mumble something about the blog, and personal satisfaction, and more tangible options along the line when I have some money — but mostly what I do with them is edit. Delete and edit. Pretty sad, I know. But they give me a reason to walk, I guess… A plus side of all this downtime is the progress I’ve made with a ton of shots from my two years in Korea, which was when and where I really buckled down and tried to improve as a photographer, largely as an attempt at therapy, self-medication and diversion. And it would be a shame if I didn’t share some of them, so I’m going to do periodic Korean Flashbacks built around a certain theme — and this inaugural episode is about cats. Cats are on my mind of late, and Kate’s …

The Predator Above

Breakfast, when I’m living alone, is the only meal of the day I consistently enjoy. For months now it’s been taking place in the park here in Sandgate after a few miles of seaside wandering in the good light just before and after dawn. That hour or so before the summer heat (forget what your calendar says — it’s Summer) and glaring light reach intolerable levels is often my last taste of the outdoors until the sun’s low in the sky again in late afternoon. I’m a poor excuse for a Queenslander, I know. Even that early, I’m rarely alone in there. There’s a group of ladies with a small herd of mop-like mutts, and then there are the three or four locals who gather daily under the rotunda or on a neighbouring bench and routinely start drinking beer by 6:30am. Sometimes they even bring an esky (“cooler” in American); it’s a big esky. They’re a pretty quiet bunch, at least until the second can or so, and the only conversation I’ve ever followed was an entertaining discourse on the correct preparation …

Contain Yourself: Postcards from Off the Grid

I just had a couple of days helping my friend Frank paint his house and generally bum around his charming inner-city Brisbane suburb. It was delightful to walk some different terrain, and take pictures of things that hadn’t washed in on the previous night’s tide. Also, it finally rained, which made the hills and coffee shops and leg-waxing salons (it’s a very well-waxed suburb) all the more refreshing — it’s been hot of late. Yesterday, back here on the edge of the Bay, we got our long-rumoured storm: 70ml of sweet clear glory sloshed around in our backyard gauge after a mere hour; wind-whipped water poured in over the tops of my sliding windows even though they were closed. It was fantastic, and the local park resembled the Serengeti afterwards, ibis, egrets and other waders by the hundreds combing the lake-like puddles when I trotted up with my camera to investigate. More on all that stuff coming up. So, listen: I’ve made a pact with myself (and my girlfriend, who is one hell of a tough …

A Packable, Portable Halloween

Yesterday started weirdly even for me: awake around 2:30am and stepping out into blackness and perfect silence at exactly 3:30, since one of the features of my variety of insomnia is that I fall sleep easily but wake for no reason anywhere from a few to five or six (if I’m lucky) hours later. Wide awake, painfully awake. And it’s usually futile to lie there waiting for sleep to seep back in; might as well do something useful. For the last few weeks it’s been particularly bad. I do have a lot on my mind, and for part of every day there’s a knot of mild anxiety in my gut that vanishes completely when I’m lining up a shot, or enjoying a particularly sublime dawn, or thinking about long-term plans — even ideas for blog posts, believe it or not. Another annoying feature of my psychology is that my mind likes devising and settling into its own idiosyncratic rhythms. One day it figures, “This waking up hours before dawn caper is working out pretty damned …

New Day, New Beginnings

Hey, people. First off, you’re probably so taken aback by the uncharacteristic optimism in this post’s title that you’re checking whether you’ve strayed onto the wrong blog — a suspicion no doubt reinforced by this site’s BOLD NEW LOOK. Relax, you’re in the right place, and my usual dour outlook (I blame my Scots blood, and the vicissitudes of a weird life) should resume in the next post. Lemme explain. A week or two ago I decided to change T.G.T.W.’s theme — meaning the design and features of the site rather than the subject matter — and spent several days researching the plethora of alternatives offered by WordPress. I loved Linen, my previous theme, but wanted more flexibility with post layout, something that would let me approximate a simple magazine-style look, and also a way to give my pictures more prominence, which seemed fair given the ridiculous amount of time the picture-making consumes these days. Anyway, I looked at 20 or 30 and finally settled on this one, Zuki, a theme so new there’s not much info …

The Egret has Landed

Just back from a few blissful days of doing nothing much at all in the mountains of northern New South Wales. Alex and I stayed with his brother and his partner at their cozy and evolving home in the gorgeous Border Ranges near Kyogle. I’d forgotten how magical and soothing the Australian bush can be. There’ll be a few posts about our time there coming soon… This is how a typical day begins for me in the coastal suburbs of northern Brisbane.

The Modestly Sized Five-O

Life is funny, eh? I’ve been reviewing and (groan) re-editing some of my photos from my two years in Korea. And inevitably recalling my time there: the odd adventure, spells of solace among flowers and insects or half-starved dogs, but mostly the grinding monotony of much of each workday, the unspeakable (though I do speak about it a lot) horror of the Korean middle-school classroom, the tired-out or just-plain-wrung-dry landscapes, domino rows of identical apartment blocks, the mess and trash and tormented waterways — and my two birthdays there.