50 to Fifty

50 days until 50. The last few days have been nostalgic and reflective, not just because of the upcoming half-century landmark. Over the past week we’ve been cleaning out our parent’s house in preparation for its sale which unearthed a multitude of photographic gems which triggered memories. The two that I have shared here are from family vacations, the black and white photo was taken in Exmouth, England in 1976 and the second in 1980 Winnipeg.

Yes, that’s me on the right. Looking at the photo, I could get all philosophical and try to explain why I have that expression on my face (which my wife swears I still wear). Maybe its just a part of growing up as the youngest of four brothers. Big brother David (soon to be surpassed in height by all of us) is holding the croquet mallet. Peter is besides me and Tony has his back to the camera. Our parents were with the other adults. The second photo is four years later. Tony and Peter have passed David in height, and I have him in my sights. What I love about this photo is how much hair I have!! Good times! 

Over the next 50 days I’ll be sharing thoughts, memories, various ramblings – and of course photographs. Why? I honestly don’t know. I suppose its my way of dealing with the landmark, or maybe it will make me appreciate my life to date. It just seemed like something to do to celebrate. Watch this space – and my other SM platforms!

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.