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.

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.

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’.

Farming – Wadi Al Hoqain.

Farming – Wadi Al Hoqain.

Date palms, sugar cane, the henna plant, along with animal fodder; all grown in this wadi, renowned for its abundance of water all year round.
There has been some form of settlement here from as early as the bronze age, maybe even earlier.
I have not been able to find any history about the fort, although commanding such a prominent place, it does surprises me that it doesn’t get mentioned – I’ve probably not looked hard enough.  🙂

Working my way through the book shown below, so with luck.

The countries and tribes of the Persian Gulf
By: Samuel Barrett Miles Pub. 1919.

Martini-Henry Rifle.

Martini-Henry Rifle. (I think it’s a MkII version – there were 4 types produced in its lifetime 1871-1889)
This type of rifle can still be seen all over Oman, either in use or as a dress item.

A breech loading single shot rifle using a falling block action and chambered for a .45 caliber round-nosed bullet, notorious for its heavy recoil. Having used a Lee-Enfield .303 and feeling the recoil from that if not held correctly, I would hate to think how much this gun hurt the shoulder if not tucked in and the thumb in the right place.
I remember around 1987, watching a man from the Jebel Akhdar trying to sell one at the old open-air Friday market in Nizwa. He was also carrying a bandoleer filled with various bullets, mainly .303 Lee-Enfield but he did have at least 3 of the type his rifle actually used.
That was when the enclosed Souk was still open and these rifles could be purchased without much difficulty.

On the left, a standard .22 Caliber LR cartridge. On the right, a rolled brass Short Chamber, Boxer-Henry .45 Caliber cartridge. Big !!!
Image from – martinihenry.com

Tin bowl – Jebel Harim: Musandam.

Nikon F4 with Non-Ai 135mm f/2.8 Nikkor on Kodak T-max 400.
From my negative files.

Made at an abandoned (?) village on Jebel Harim Musandam: I question the abandoned because the owners would leave their Jebel accommodation and move to the coast for a couple of months each year, for fishing and general trade, so I was never sure.
The people of this area of Oman are very interesting in many ways, according to recent research the ‘Shihuh’ who occupy most of the mountainous area are a mystery.
Paolo Costa, former head of Oman’s Department of Antiquities say  “Ethnically, we don’t know who they are, there is speculation that they are the original inhabitants of Arabia, pushed back into the mountains by successive Muslim and Portuguese invasionsThe Shihuh are semi-nomadic – farming their hillside terraces in the winter and living by the coast in summer to fish and harvest dates – their summer homes palm frond huts, their winter ones low stone houses that blend almost invisibly into the mountainsides. Another of the Shihuh’s peculiarities is that the men carry a long-handled axe (called a jerz) rather than the traditional curved Arab dagger, or khanjar. “The remains of some prehistoric weapon?”  (From Aramco World. Vol:34)
I have one of these axes from my time in the Musandam.

Other than arriving by sea, getting into the Musandam was very difficult and in some ways dangerous for outsiders; not only because of the lack of access (mountainous with precipitous cliffs) but also because the locals had a fearsome reputation. Whether justified or not, it did dissuade outsiders which achieved the result they wanted.
They speak a dialect of Arabic (A mixture of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu) which has probably evolved through several hundred years of isolation. Another area on the coast called Kumzar has a language very similar; a mix of Farsi, Arabic, Baluchi, Portuguese and English.
Since the mid – 1970’s there has been a development programme that is modernising the Musandam but still maintaining its culture and traditions. It welcomes tourists with modern hotels, 4×4 adventure camping, Dhow cruises and I have enjoyed some of the best diving in the Gulf. (Large Sharks, whale sharks & tropical reef fish)

Bukha Fort.

Bukha Fort – Nikon F4 / Nikkor 50mm f1.8D and Ilford Hp5 Plus film.
There has been substantial renovation since this image was made.

This fort may have been built in the 16th century by the Portuguese although doing a search for its history seems to show conflicting information. It was certainly used in the 17th century by Saif bin Sultan Al Ya’rubi. The distinctively shaped tower was constructed to deflect cannonballs; the fort was a lot closer to the sea than it is today and it had a ditch on at least three sides, that would fill with sea water.

Some interesting history from the book: The Ya’rubi dynasty of Oman. Raymond Denis Bathurst.

Sultan bin Saif Al Ya’rubi defeated Portuguese troops, who had been occupying certain coastal dominions. This liberated Omani trade and ushered in nearly a century of relative wealth and progress, until the death of Sultan ibn Sayf II and resultant break out of civil war in 1718.
The Al-Ya’ariba trace their descent from Ya’arab bin Kahtan, whom some date to about 800 BC. The family originated in Yemen and belonged to the Ghafiri faction. Nasir bin Murshid bin Sultan al Ya’Aruba (r. 1624-1649) was the first Imam of the Yaruba dynasty, elected in 1624. He moved the capital to Nizwa, the former capital of the Ibadhi Imamate. Nasir bin Murshid was able to unify the tribes with a common goal of expelling the Portuguese. He built up the Omani army and took the main towns as well as the forts of Rustaq and Nakhal. His forces threw the Portuguese out of Julfar (now Ras al-Khaimah) in 1633. In 1643 they took the fort at Sohar.
Nasir bin Murshid was succeeded by Sultan bin Saif (r. 1649-1688), his cousin. Sultan bin Saif completed the task of expelling the Portuguese. He captured Sur, Qurayyat and Muscat, expanded the fleet and attacked the Portuguese on the Gujarat coast. Under Sultan bin Seif and his successors Oman developed into a strong maritime power.The Omanis took many of the Portuguese possessions in East Africa. The first attack on Zanzibar, then held by the Portuguese, was in 1652. In 1660 Omani forces attacked Mombasa, forcing the Portuguese to take refuge in Fort Jesus. There was continued fighting between the forces of Portugal and Oman in the East African coast in the years that followed.
Bil’arab bin Sultan (r. 1679-1692) succeeded as Imam in 1679 after the death of his father, Sultan bin Saif. This confirmed that the succession was now hereditary, since his father had also succeeded dynastically, while in the Ibadi tradition the Imam was elected. Most of his reign was occupied in a struggle with his brother, Saif bin Sultan, who succeeded Bil’arab bin Sultan when he died at Jabrin in 1692.

Rock Art.

A rock art file that I thought I had lost, have the B&W version here on my blog; also a B&W negative. I knew I had a colour version somewhere and here it is.  🙂  Also its location was not marked on my map, fortunately there was a map reference with the file.

There is a lot going on in this image, at least three different periods, the very early ones being very faint. The disc has been redone twice and as a pair each time, makes me think it could be a tribal sign like Wusum (used by Bedouin for camel identification) and not as thought previously, that it represented the sun.
There are two or even three very faint anthropomorphic images, along with one horse with rider and above it possibly a camel with rider.

Rocks in wadi.


This sort of choke point is quite common in most of the major wadis in Oman. Finding a way around or over can be a challenge, especially in the summer months when the rock is warm (hot) and covered in fine dust.
Accumulation of rock like this one is the result of the many Cyclones Oman has endured over the centuries; well trodden paths and even Falaj get blocked. There are several instances were a whole village has moved because of the loss of water when a Falaj gets blocked or damaged beyond repair.

Al-Hajar Mountains.

Al-Hajar Mountains.

The Al Hajar stretch for about 700 km across the north of the country and rise to over 3,000m (Jebel Shams – mountain of sun) from the coastal plain. Sediments at the core were mainly laid down during the Late Permian to Late Cretaceous in the Tethys ocean basin that had resulted from the break-up of Gondwana.
The Arabian Plate collided with and pushed against the Iranian Plate, resulting in mountains chiefly made of Cretaceous limestones and ophiolites.

Rock outcrops in the Al Hajar Mountains, the Huqf and Dhofar span about 825 million years and includes at least three periods when the country was covered by ice.
Oman, located at the south-east corner of the Arabian plate, is being pushed slowly northward, as the Red Sea grows wider. The Al Hajar Mountains and valleys of Musandam are dramatic reminders of this: Oman is fairly quiescent tectonically but the Musandan experiences occasional tremors as the Arabian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate (I remember coming back from holiday & finding bathroom tiles all over the floor from one of these tremors).

During the Cretaceous Period Oman was located adjacent to a subduction zone and a portion of the upper mantle along with overlying seafloor volcanic rocks were thrust over the continental crust. This obducted sequence of ultramafic to mafic rocks is the Semail Ophiolite complex. The ophiolite is locally rich in copper and chromite ore.

The interior plains of Oman are of young sedimentary rocks, wadi gravels, dune sands and salt flats. Beneath them is a several kilometre thick stack of older sedimentary rocks that host the country’s hydrocarbon resources.

Links for most of this come from – Encyclopædia Britannica & Wikipedia.

 

Mountain village with water containers.

I have another from this village somewhere on the blog: but I wanted to explain about all those white tower type structures.

Even though in most of these mountain villages, there is an abundance of water available; that is why they are situated where they are. None of it is piped into the house from source. It was a daily job getting water from aquifers with no certainty of mineral content (resulting in a lot of kidney stones) or cleanliness. The government now tests all water used for human consumption, so in these remoter areas it is delivered by water truck, hence the white tower containers on each roof.

Tombstones Musandam.

A rework of an old negative from my days at Khasab:
Nikon F4 T-max400 @ iso320.

Unfortunately a number of these negatives got irrecoverably damaged when Cyclone Gonu hit Oman in 2007.
I was working on Jebel Shams at the time, needed stuff from Muscat and had a rather traumatic encounter with a deluge of water hitting the road we were on. Eventually got back to my house, only to find rather a lot of water in the rooms; one of my files got wet with rain coming through the window edges – it was all my Khasab negatives. Managed to save a number by rewashing in Kodak Photoflo solution, but some had gone beyond even the wonders of scanning and fixing in Adobe Photoshop.  I was a lot more fortunate than many people, I’m only complaining about negatives while others lost their lives, houses, belongings and some businesses never recovered.
Hay-ho  such are the tribulations of life.

Not much information about these tombs, rather a lot of them with no real indication of which village they came from, even their age was in doubt; I got a lot of conflicting answers for that question.

Checking stored backup files.

Checking all my backup files after the external drives had been in storage for about five months and the long sea voyage.
I did bring one drive home in hand baggage which was fine, two others packed separately from my computer (PC) along with two 1TB hard drives which hold a complete ghost image of everything on both my laptop & PC. not taking any chances with lost boxes.
A lot easier with my negatives; a good thing because I have rather a lot and all filed (not very logically 😉  ) in ring binders & archival storage sheets.

 

 

Hello.

Just thought I would write a few words in the way of news.

Pick up the keys for our new house in Driffield tomorrow – it has been a busy few months of travelling, paperwork & paying out a large chunk of money. But we got there in the end, although at times I never thought we would.
My stuff is now being shipped and our UK belongings will wing their way into the new house over the next month or so.

Just got to sell the old one  😉

 

A quick hello.

It has been a while since I posted anything but I have been very busy looking for a new house and no real time for photography.

With luck we may have found exactly what we were looking for in Driffield Yorkshire. Much though I would have liked being in Malvern, the house prices were beyond what I was prepared to pay for the type of house we wanted. By chance we made a quick visit to Driffield and within a couple of hours had been given a viewing of a house that had a big garden, big rooms (space for a library & darkroom)  a railway station within walking distance, that seems to have trains with good connections about every half hour, along with country walks close by.

So if all the legal things go through, I can get my stuff out of storage and start using my cameras again.

 

Ludlow: a quick visit.

 

I maybe looking for a new house, but cannot resist the odd photograph.  🙂

Ludlow is a market town in Shropshire and it’s Castle was probably founded around 1075, after the Norman conquest of England. Although it does not get a mention in the Domesday Book; a manuscript record of the “Great Survey” of a large part of England and parts of Wales, completed in 1086 by order of William the Conqueror.

Malvern Gas Lamps.

Malvern Gas Lights.Malvern Gas Lamps.

Anyone who has read or knows ‘The Lion, The Which & The Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis, maybe interested in a little story about the Malvern gas lamps. Apparently, Lewis & some friends had been drinking in what is believed to have been the The Unicorn public house (Beer and all things drinkable, for those not familiar with the term) on the corner of Belle Vue Terrace Malvern. It had been snowing and on the journey home, Lewis is said to have been inspired by the sight of these lamps glowing in the falling snow, he is quoted as saying “that would make a very nice opening line to a book”  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe used that image as the children enter the realm of Narnia.

Both C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien regularly visited and walked in the Malvern Hills.

Many of the lamps have been restored and listed as historical items; so although at one point ‘Bean Counters’ decided they were costly & should be removed, common-sense prevailed and about 109 were saved.

Limited editing facilities.

The previous image was edited using my 17″ laptop which I don’t normally use for working on photographs. It does not calibrate very well, even with my Spyder 4 Pro & as for programmes…….

No Lightroom or CS6, but I do have the Fuji Raw file converter, Google Nik collection & a rather nice (free) programme called LightZone which works on B&W images. It will get me through the coming months until we have a new house and stuff comes out of storage. Rather strange not having my darkroom, large screen computer, scanner or printer but I’m sure I’ll get by.  😉

Just a quick hello.

Just a quick hello from UK; back in England and coming to terms with the weather – yes it’s changeable, even though we are in the middle of July. I left Oman with temperatures in the 40’s c. here it’s 20c in York & 17.5c in Bristol where I am at present.

I have all my photography equipment apart from the Fuji X-pro1 in storage until we find a new (larger) house, merging two houses into one is not easy.
Little things like waiting for a petrol pump attendant who will fill the car & wash the windscreen while I sit in the car, no such luck and don’t mention getting your shopping loaded into bags at the Supermarket, they even charge for the bag!!!!
When on holiday these things don’t seem a bother as it’s soon back to friendly service with a smile in Oman & before that Cyprus, so you put up with it. What is it about UK shops, they take your money as if it’s their right and service is almost non-existent.

But the Guinness is good and there are some very nice friendly small specialist shops that pride themselves on their product, knowledge and service; so some things have not changed for the worst.

Sorry, rant over I promise  🙂

I now have an Internet link that is reliable, so should be able to catchup with everyone after navigating my way through W/P Reader, seeing what I have missed in the last few weeks. I may even get the chance for making some photographs, although I cannot decide whether I should open another blog or just add a link to this one – we shall see.