Sunday, January 28, 2007


I took this photo as dusk fell and the sky started to turn from grey to faintly peach. I usually try and avold catching people in my photos but in the following two images, i felt that the dark figures added to the mood.
The sky in this photo reminded me of clouds painted in murals and the people seemed to me to be calm and peaceful -maybe because the grey sky and clouds were warmed by the pale peach tones.
The peacefulness was actually an ilusion as the road by the sea is a busy one and i had to take the photo between changes in the traffic lights: the camera definitely lies or at least bends the truth.

The sun setting over the mediterranean sea -the streetlights were still unlit and the people on the Promenade des Anglais were mostly standing by the railings, watching the sunset. This gave the effect of a cut paper silhouette superimposed on the clouds and sea.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007


I've been taking quite a few photos of Gandalf the cat.

He hasn't had the best week of his life since he had to be neutered and have an electronic chip inserted the other day.

When I took him to the vets he was quite upset and it occurred to me later that he thought he was being given away to a new home as his last trip outside had been when we adopted him. [He is a 100% appartment cat]

He was really pleased to see me when I went back for him in the afternoon and he spent several hours just clutching my hand with his paws as he sat quietly on the couch.
After the first 12 hours or so he had perked up considerably and now 5 days later he is just about back to normal and is galloping around the house like a race horse once again.

He isn't a 100% cooperative photographic model , especially for macro shots, but he will sometimes sit and look at me suspiciously for a while before either batting at the lens with his paw or attempting to lick it.

His eyes are quite fascinating in close up -a mixture of amber yellow and green near the pupil.

His little pink nose fascinates me-and his slightly food stained mouth.
I fiddled with this photo to turn it to black and white- i thought he looked a bit like a Silent Film Idol in this pose.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ferris Wheel- La Grande Roue

Every Christmas, Nice has a huge ferris wheel in the centre of town as part of the christmas festivities. Unlike the Village de Noel and the ice rink it stays past New Year- though I haven't been able to find out from any of the Nice tourist sites exactly how long its operational- though some friends have said it stays till Carnaval.
I took these photos last wednesday around dusk and the wheel was in use -though i didn't see many people actually sitting on it on this occasion.

I am not brave enough to go on it myself, as even looking up to take the photos triggered my vertigo. Its a really impressive piece of machinery though-it reminded me quite a bit of the Eiffel tower - maybe because its made of industustrial metal grids but graceful at the same time.

The sun is just beginning to set through the metal struts.
Some of the cars and a few palm trees looking quite dramatic against the sky. The view is apparently quite impressive as you can see across Nice to the hills on one side and the Mediterranean sea on the other. The wheel itself is 50 metres in diameter which is 164 feet/54.5 yards and 90 metric tonnes in weight-with 36 cars. It takes 10 lorries to transport the giant wheel and a huge 35 tonne crane to erect it when it arrives.
Here are the specifications/faq for the wheel- I suppose they must have been fed up answering the same questions every year.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Photo Friday- peaceful locust

I had a hard time choosing a photo for the topic of 'peaceful' as an awful lot of my photos seemed to fit the bill.

I decided to post these photos of a huge bug I saw peacefully warming itself in Juan Les Pins on Friday. The local temperature in the sun [according to the handy temperature guages on many pharmacies] was 20 to 22 degrees C - so it was a pretty warm day.

I had seen two Red Admiral butterflies fluttering around earlier in the day though they were flying too high for me to attempt to photograph.

I'm not sure whether the insect life thinks that spring has sprung early or that winter hasn't actually arrived yet.

I think this is most likely to be a female Egyptian Tree Locust Anacridium aegyptium- the yellowish crest running down the upper back is quite characteristic.

The female Egyptian locust is bigger than the male and can grow to up to 9 cm [3.5 inches] while the male only grows to about 6.5 cm [2.5 inches].

The eyes were quite fascinating with a stripy tiger's eye look to them.
This particular insect was probably about 9 cm. I think she had probably been roused out of her overwinter shelter to lay eggs due to the spring-like heat. They usually roost in trees but this old garage must have been quiet and dark enough to act as a useful shelter. The rusty door was a very close colour match for the locust - a lot of passersby couldn't work out what i was photographing and thought i was taking macro shots of rust [and blocking the very narrow pavement].

Egyptian Tree Locusts are considered a minor pest of grapevines , fruit trees and vegetables unless they are found in high numbers , in which case they are able to cause a lot of damage.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

A chatter of Starlings

In the winter, the starlings [Sturnus vulgaris ] come back to the Cote d'Azur. They aren't really welcomed as they cause an enormous amount of damage and mess due to their droppings.

Cars parked under their roost trees end up in a terrible mess and i think the excreta actually damages the paint finish. Locals tend to avoid the affected parking spaces but I've seen some cars splattered from bonnet to boot in grey and white from the droppings of hundreds or maybe even thousands of birds.

The black specks in the trees in the following photos aren't leaves -they are thousands of starlings waiting for some invisible signal to take off into the sky.

They gather as huge flocks in the morning and at dusk - and chatter very noisily until the whole flock is assembled before taking off like a huge cloud of black confetti. The 'confetti cloud' turns into an amoeba shape and swoops and dives without an obvious lead bird or signal mechanism to coordinate the aerial acrobatics.

I like to watch them flying around- I think it looks like some sort of giant kalaeidoscope and the flight patterns are both amazing and beautiful.
I have never managed to take a decent photo of them flocking but I found some wonderful ones here
This is a close up that gives an idea of how many birds are in the tree - definitely hundreds of birds

I suppose some photos from the cote d'azure aren't completely without a palm tree

They don't manage to crowd on to palm branches as densely as they can on trees that have lost their leaves for winter.

I am quite a fan of collective nouns [probably because they seem to add some interesting detail to the thing they describe.]

I looked up the collective noun for starling, it seems that they have quite a few different collective nouns.
Some have arisen due to their noisy habits: a murmuration, a chatter, a chattering. Some are due to their mess and pest nature: a scourge, a vulgarity, a filth, a clutter and some are due to their flight patterns: a flight, a constellation, a cloud .

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