Old Door – Wakan.

Wakan village is a very popular tourist attraction and this door must have been photographed hundreds of times: so thought I should add my two penneth.
I remember visiting this village long before it came onto the tourist route, probably 1987 if my memory serves me well. It sits about 2,000 meters above sea level in Wadi Mistal, tucked away in the Hajar Mountains. Famous for its apricot flowers which  are in full bloom between the middle of May & the end of August. It was and in some respects still is a drive that requires a 4×4 and some experience with off-road driving on tracks that can deter even the most determined tourist. A little like Jebel Shams / Jebel Akhdar; when visitors see the hotels marked on the map, they set off in the newly hired car and find the track is not what they expected. Many times I have seen people either lost, stuck in wadi streams or so frightened because the edge has a drop off on one side of 200 or 300 hundred meters. Resulting in me not being able to pass them when coming from the opposite direction and needing to guided them passed my vehicle. Unfortunately it is the lack of knowledge and information given by the hire companies and hotels.
One example was when camping high in the mountains and late one evening a  4×4 stops and my daughter and I get asked “how far is Muscat?” we both looked a little shocked because it was getting dark and the road that these people were about to travel was very dangerous even in daylight. We suggested that the map they had been given was not very good and Muscat was at least 3 hours away, the road needed great care in daylight and driving at night was not to be recommended. They had some discussions with each other and took our recommendation of turning back rather than going on and missing the edge of the road which would have been either a very long drop or crash into a rock face.
Despite the many tourist intrusions in recent years, the locals remain very welcoming, as happens in a lot of these traditional villages that have been added to the tourist map. Although I did despair sometimes, when I saw a total lack of awareness by some visitors of the cultural sensitivities of the occupants. It probably means that in a few years, the open & hospitable welcome that tradition dictates for visitors will be lost.

Looking at the above image – Wakan is the village left of centre and the track can just be seen snaking down the mountain on the right of the village.

Tawi Atayr: A sinkhole located in Al-Qarā Mountains Dhofar (more).

More from Tawi Atayr – unfortunately it was the wrong time of day, so shadows in the sinkhole were very dark. It was also before the monsoon hits, so everything is brown & tinder dry.
The metal rusted & broken frame seen on the last image, was for taking water from the bottom of the sinkhole during the summer months. During severe monsoon periods, this place can fill with water, then join the deluge that pours down Wadi Darbat towards the sea; such as when Cyclone Mekunu caused flash flooding earlier this year.

Getting there & seeing the place was great fun (even if rather precarious when venturing near the edge and away from the installed viewing area)  but needs must for photography, as long as one is sensible.

Tawi Atayr: A sinkhole located in Al-Qarā Mountains Dhofar.

 

Two images of a water run-off channel that drops into the Tawi Atayr sinkhole. The one on the right diffused, because I liked the look when printed. On the left I used a lens that has a slight softness around the edges: not everything needs to be ultra sharp.

Tawi Atayr: A sinkhole located in Al-Qarāʾ Mountains Dhofar.

The name roughly translated from Arabic means the “well of the birds” appropriate because it is populated by many birds whose song can be heard seemingly from all directions, when approaching the area of this sinkhole.
Its surface measurement is approximately 130m in a NE-SW direction and about 90m in NW-SE direction with a vertical depth of around 210m. Halfway down it narrows to an almost circular hole of about 60m in diameter.
Opinions differ as to its formation, either erosion exacerbated by fissures opened when the rock freezes or a collapsed cave system.
At the bottom there is a cave passage in a north-eastern direction, located at groundwater level and half-filled with water. To my knowledge, this passage has not yet been explored, it is possible that it leads to Wadi Darbat and the sea which is only 10km to the south.

Norman Undercroft No2.

Another from Burton Agnes: this was made with the wrong aperture so had lots of motion blur and I nearly threw it out. The place is very old, cold and damp, so with a little added diffusion along with printing it on Ilford multigrade FB art 300 paper, it should give more of a feel for the place. Well that’s my excuse anyway  😉

Info about Ilford MG Art 300 paper, from their site:-

Black & white, silver gelatin coated, 100% Cotton Rag based darkroom paper. This premium quality, variable contrast paper delivers a slightly warm image tone on a neutral to cool white acid-free base. This unique paper has a textured matt surface with an ‘eggshell’ sheen finish making it a traditional fine art darkroom paper unlike any other. It is the perfect complement to showcase stunning black & white fine art images and is ideal for toning, hand colouring and retouching.

Burton Agnes Elizabethan Manor House.

Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house on the edge of the village of Burton Agnes, near Driffield. Built by Sir Henry Griffith in 1601–10 to designs attributed to Robert Smythson. Although the configuration of the house as it stands, does not follow his original plans, it is probably due to changes being made as the building was constructed.

The estate has been in the hands of the same family since Roger de Stuteville built the Norman manor house on the site; the Undercroft of which is shown in my earlier post.

In 1457 Sir Walter Griffith came to live there. The Griffiths were a Welsh family who had moved to Staffordshire in the thirteenth century and inherited the Burton Agnes estate.

The present Elizabethan house as seen here in this post, was built next to the original Norman manor house when Sir Henry Griffith, 1st Baronet, was appointed to the Council of the North.

Samhain.

Dreamland
by Lewis Carroll

When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.

The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.

But here, in Dreamland’s centre,
No spoiler’s hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.

I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

Printing No3.

Nets – Masirah: Nikon F4 / Nikkor 50mm f1.8 D. On T-Max 400 in T-Max developer.

This one was posted here in 2013 but was made around the beginning of 1990 if I remember correctly, just before the first Gulf War.
Will print and add it to two others I am working on for (I hope) a triptych.

P.s. This is the problem with going through old negatives: either I can’t decide, think I can do better printing or scanning and will it work with others I would like to use.  Hummmm decisions.

Printing No2.

This one from 2010 – Nikon F4 on T-Max 400 and probably developed in D76 if my memory serves me well.

I have a darkroom log book somewhere in all my stuff, just haven’t come across it yet, I know I packed it because it has a lot of information about film, paper, developers etc; so rather useful and should have this image info in it.

Another for the printer, although I will probably make a conventional darkroom print as well and then make a decision which gets on the wall.

I am still working my way through computer files, but have about 3500 negatives/E6 slides which need cataloguing and either scanning or printing in the darkroom – or both.

Also reading this book, it was one I should have got when it was available from the bookshops in 2010, a copy from Amazon would now cost me £118. new and £80. used: that will teach me !
Our library in Driffield (yes we still have one) has found a copy through the Bibliographic department, so have got it on extended loan for a small administrative fee. They are so helpful and nothing seems too much trouble for them.

An Arabian Utopia: The Western Discovery of Oman: by Alastair Hamilton. (Click book for Amazon link)

From Amazon:
Even though Oman had always been familiar to travellers sailing between Europe and India or Persia, it was its coast alone that was known. Greeks and Romans had charted it, medieval merchants traded on it, and in the early sixteenth century the Portuguese conquered its main towns, yet the interior of Oman was all but entirely unknown and would remain so until the early nineteenth century. Only after the ejection of the Portuguese in 1650 and an independent Oman had built an empire of its own, stretching round the Indian Ocean from India to Zanzibar, did Muscat, the capital, start to be visited by western powers eager to obtain commercial concessions and political influence. In the nineteenth century, for the first time, a very few, mainly English, explorers ventured inland and embarked on the true discovery of Oman. But even that was sporadic. As long as there was a powerful ruler, the travellers were protected, but by the late nineteenth century the rulers in Muscat had lost control over the interior and it was not until well into the twentieth century that explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger could investigate the south and that the oil companies could begin to chart the centre and the west. Oman was the last Arab country to be fully explored by western travellers and this book examines and discusses the ways in which the emergent knowledge of Oman was propagated in the West, from the earliest times to 1970, by explorers, missionaries, diplomats, artists, geologists and naturalists, and by those scholars who gradually uncovered the manuscripts and antiquities that allowed them to piece together the history of the area.

Printing.

Testing my Canon PIXMA Pro9000 printer (with the Mk II print head – long story which is on my blog somewhere) after it had been in storage for about a year. I am pleased to say, all it needed was a single head clean function carrying out along with new inks and now works perfectly. Not bad for a printer that was boxed-up in Oman, spent five months in storage there, travelled by sea and stored here in UK for another six months. The only packing preparation it was given was a clean, remove the inks and put the print head in its original foil pack with silica-gel, press out as much air as I could and seal with tape.  I am a happy bunny  🙂

I can now work on some prints for hanging on the wall of our new house, such as the one above from October 2013.
All I need is to decide what paper I will use: always had either Premium Fine Art Smooth or Pro Premium Matte (or their older equivalents) from the Pixma Pro range by Canon. But being back here in UK, the range of papers for both traditional darkroom work & digital printing are almost limitless. Bit like film, instead of hearing “gosh you don’t still use film do you?” I am spoilt for choice. It makes up for the (forgotten) dreadfully changing weather & very expensive fuel prices.

Sand storm coming.

A follow-on from my earlier post of ‘Early morning light’ this greeted me one morning ! not a pleasant sight, it means everything gets a coating of sand, so no breakfast until it passes.

Sandstorms can last for a few minutes or several hours; the only way to deal with them if caught outside is either stay in your tent/vehicle or cover yourself and stay low hoping it passes quickly.
I’ve been caught by a few over the years, luckily I was either in my vehicle or tent so just waited them out. But on the odd occasion I was pleased that I carried a Masar or Shemagh as the Bedu traditionally use; it is not a fashion item when it comes to these storms, it protect eyes, ears & mouth.

 

Garden Rowan.

The Rowan (Mountain Ash) in our new garden has a profusion of berries this year.

Recalling an old folk tale that I remember from when I was knee-high to a grasshopper; it was a sign of a coming bad winter – we shall see. Especially as the two Holly trees are beginning to show the same. Autumn is well & truly on its way, the very large Ash has filled the garden with fallen leaves in the last week or so.

Although we now live in a small town, we have a number of large trees in the garden, horses pass by the house and a regular flow of farm machinery gives it a feeling of being in the country rather than a town.  Double plus good  🙂

Unicorn Myth.

A Jpeg file that I have of the The Arabian Oryx or white Oryx (unfortunately I have not found the original negatives yet: I have about 20 in a folder that I have yet to scan and catalogue) this is from my files of  November 2010 when I was down in the Huquf.

The Unicorn myth: From that well know online encyclopædia.

The myth of the one-horned unicorn may be based on oryxes that have lost one horn. Aristotle and Pliny the Elder held that the oryx was the unicorn’s “prototype”. From certain angles, the oryx may seem to have one horn rather than two, and given that its horns are made from hollow bone that cannot be regrown, if an oryx were to lose one of its horns, for the rest of its life, it would have only one.

Another source for the concept may have originated from the translation of the Hebrew word re’em into Greek as μονόκερως, monokeros, in the Septuagint. In Psalm 22:21, the word karen, meaning horn, is written in singular. The Roman Catholic Vulgata and the Douay-Rheims Bible translated re’em as rhinoceros; other translations are names for a wild bull, wild oxen, buffalo, or gaur, but in some languages a word for unicorn is maintained. The Arabic translation alrim is the most correct choice etymologically, meaning ‘white oryx’.