Photography Biathlon

“What’s a Photography Biathlon?”, you might ask. That is a very good question, and if you had asked me that yesterday I wouldn’t have a clue.

However, during this morning’s run it came to me. For some time I’ve been wanting to post a blog entry about my morning runs in the hills above Kingston, which are the gateway to the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park. Of course, any blog post that I do requires photos, but I don’t like to mix my running with my photography – I feel that one distracts from the other. Since today was my long run and I had my Samsung J5 with me anyway (using my Runtastic app), I decided to – as the company from Beaverton says – Just Do It.

Mountain view during the first kilometre

My run this morning was a 10K run – 5K uphill and 5K down.  The steepest stretch is the 1st kilometre, and this tends to be my slowest pace and so this is when I started shooting. Now, I tend to muse while I run so later on in the run I thought to myself “here I am, running and shooting, like I’m doing some kind of photography biathlon”. Eureka!! Then the next thought was, “another challenge for my photography students”. (I’m not sure how they’d take to the idea).

Roadside flora

Sunrise through the trees

As I ran (and shot), I began to formulate the criteria. Firstly, it won’t work for distances less than 10K, because the runner needs to have put in the distance and/or the pace at the end of the day. Secondly, you are to average 1 photo per kilometre, and finally, the runner decides when during the run they shoot. Today I shot during the uphill 5K, so that my downhill run would be uninterrupted (although I was distracted by the goats in the final kilometre). The winner would be the person with a combination of the best photos (taken during the shoot – no editing) and the best time.

So, any takers for a Photography Biathlon?   

Another mountain view.

Barbados Morn

Last month I was fortunate to find myself in the neighbouring Caribbean island of Barbados, somewhere that I have always wanted to visit. Although I was there for only two days of non-photographic work, I had to take a few hours to explore the environs around my hotel. Fortunately, these environs encompassed the UNESCO World Heritage site known as The Garrison. Needless to say, those two hours reminded me of the simple pleasures that can be had with a Nikon in hand.

The Main Guard of the Barbados Garrison, built in 1804

The Main Guard of the Barbados Garrison, built in 1804

The Garrison was designated a World Heritage Site (WHS) in 2011 by UNESCO. According to the UNESCO WHS website, this is due to the “outstanding example of British colonial architecture consisting of a well-preserved old town built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.”

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A private building located in the Garrison World Heritage Site.

A private building located in the Garrison World Heritage Site.

From what I was able to see – which was centred around the Garrison Savannah race course – I was quite impressed with the preservation and usage of the buildings. Some were still used by the Barbados Defence Force, while others were private homes, some were museums and others were used by various government agencies.

Although I was impressed by the pride that our Barbadian neighbours have in their historical structures, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of “what if?” What if Jamaica invested in their built heritage sites in the same way that Barbados has invested in The Garrison? In historical Spanish Town there are numerous structures which date to the 16th century when it was known as Villa de la Vega and was Jamaica’s capital under the Spanish occupancy. A similar historical zone centred on Emancipation Square and the Cathedral could have been created. My uncle who was raised in Spanish Town, says that when he was growing up there was a large Brick Barracks that was used as a school – until it fell into disrepair. Such is Jamaica’s story…..

The Soldiers Brick Barracks, built in 1808

The Soldiers Brick Barracks, built in 1808

However, my task that day was not to mourn the deficiencies of my own country, but to celebrate and document how Barbados has been able to harmoniously make the past a part of their present and future.

The Barbados Light & Power building, formerly the Commissariat Provision Store and then the Garrison Theatre.

The Barbados Light & Power building, formerly the Commissariat Provision Store and then the Garrison Theatre.

 

 

 

 

Round About Bonn

A week in Bonn. I was fortunate to experience this a few weeks ago thanks to UNESCO-UNEVOC who invited me to attend a panel discussion on TVET skills and heritage preservation that coincided with the meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in July. During this week I was able to balance work with some sightseeing, photography and I admit, eating like a tourist.

Let me explain. I believe that when travelling to a foreign country, you should experience the culture, and one of the best ways to do so is to eat like a native, not as a tourist. Unfortunately I was unable to do so due to my limited (non-existent) grasp of the language. I admit the reason for this is solely my own. In spite of valiant attempts by a colleague to teach me usable German so that I could at least help myself in basic communication and experience the local cuisine, I failed miserably.

A view of the Rhine River from the UN Campus

A view of the Rhine River from the UN Campus

On the evening that I arrived, my search for dinner ended up at “Pizza Boy”. Yes the menu was in German, but I saw a name was quite familiar: “Hawaiian”. I pointed, nodded my head to the query of “beer?” and that was my first meal in Germany.  For the next two days, I repeated this pattern with minor variations. On day two I substituted “Hawaiian” with “Boston” and on day three I was adventurous, and ordered a pizza without at English name. I have no idea what it was but it had the number “4” in it, which I assume referred to the number of different meats on the pizza. I also substituted the beer with apple juice.  In my defence Pizza Boy was one of the few eateries that wasn’t chock full of smokers. I admit that I will eat moderately unhealthily at times, but I draw the line at second-hand smoke. After all, my body is a temple. One that is in need of more maintenance as the years go by, but still…..

Beethoven's statue.

Beethoven’s statue.

Running along the Rhine

Running along the Rhine

After three days of work, pizza and the hotel’s standard breakfast of sausages, toast, eggs and bacon, I was able to do some sightseeing in the Bonn city centre. The centre reflects the history, culture and pride of the former capital of West Germany. Home of Beethoven, his imposing statue glowers from pride of place in front of the Postamt building. The centre itself is deceptively large due to how compact the streets and buildings are arranged. Just when I thought I had seen everywhere, I made a turn into an unknown location that required exploration. This ended up being an intriguing mix of upscale shops and historical monuments and buildings, many of which were undergoing repairs.

One such structure was the Basilica of St. Cassius & Florentius, which dates to the 13 century. I spent some time walking around it, trying to get a suitable angle that didn’t involve restoration work and was not satisfied with my results. Then I noticed something…people were exiting the church. Needless to say, I entered. Immediately I was enveloped by the quiet and cool, dim light of the interior, which possesses Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque elements. This juxtaposed with the heat of the European summer as well as the bustle of the city centre.

After spending a few minutes to relax and offering up a prayer I made my way back out. An evening meal was becoming a priority and I decided to try something different. I found a restaurant and  ordered and ordered ..not pizza but pasta – without the beer! Okay, I will admit…it was a Pizza Hut restaurant.

Details from a wall on the streets of Bonn

Details from a wall on the streets of Bonn

The High Altar of the Basilica, completed in 1865

The High Altar of the Basilica, completed in 1865

So after an eventful week in Bonn I now need to restart my running regime and get back in shape. My desire is not fueled by all of the bicyclists that rode past me on the streets, nor by the fit looking runners that strode past me in the heat of the day.  It is none of these reasons. The reason why I have been inspired to return to fitness after a week in Germany is really very simple. Eating badly in Bonn.