Category Archives: Places

Articles, Long Exposures, Places

Wildfires of Madeira

My family and I were last week among the hundreds evacuated as wildfires tore through the beautiful Portuguese island of Madeira, leaving three people dead and many more injured and/or homeless.

I have been at the scene of too many domestic fires in my role as a journalist – often at very close quarters (with permission of firefighters).

But wildfires are different – you can feel the intense heat from many meters away, they spread faster as a result of the enormous swarms of burning embers they spew out and can charge in different directions at once. And then change direction, seemingly on a pin head.

They are terrifying.

These are my before and after photographs of last week’s fires.

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

wildfires

wildfires

Madeira, 2016

Madeira, 2016

Madeira, 2016

Madeira, 2016

Damage in Madeira

Damage in Madeira

Places

Walking the Canal after the Calder Valley Floods

Last December, a string of villages just a stone’s throw from my home town of Halifax were flooded. Villages whose impossible-sounding names you may never have heard of – Luddenden Foot and Mytholmroyd among them – were battered by flood waters of up to 6ft.

Steps at Sowerby Bridge

Steps at Sowerby Bridge

Four months on, and while you know strife remains behind many of the doors, outwardly things seem pretty much back to normal.

Calder Valley is beautiful. All the more so because it is a working, often unkempt, beauty where renewal lags into decay.

oil drum planters

I hope I’ve captured some of that beauty in these images taken on the canal route from Sowerby Bridge to Mytholmroyd.

White bags caught in the trees

Colourful roof panels on an industrial unit

graffiti

decaying timbers

Large digger and small digger

Old flooring from an exposed former works site

Traffic cones on the bank

Riverside Camping shop

Diggers at work on a house near Luddenden Foot

rubble

People, Places

Looking down in Lisbon

By which I mean ‘down’ in the physical rather than spiritual sense.

Never before have I spent time in a city where the tiltation of one’s head is so evenly spread between pointing upwards, downwards and on the level (each position claiming about a third of your time).

I was very much aware of this peculiarity – a symptom of Lisbon’s innate hilliness – at the time. But the exactitude of my theory was only compounded on return to the UK, as I browsed through the images I’d captured. About a third of them were shot upwards, a third downwards and a third roughly level.

Strange.

Here are some of the ‘down’ pictures.

Lisbon street scene

sea's edge Lisbon

Long Exposures, Places

Industrial mono, Salford

My work with the BBC last week took me to Salford, not a million miles from my home town, Halifax.

Media City, home to the BBC, ITV and others involved in the media production industry, has risen from the decayed remains of the old docks.

There’s something of the Nairobi Jockey Club about Media City.

The jockey club is a little bit of colonial white turf, with its white picket fence, beyond which is black Kenya. The picket fence – captured by Magnum photographer Stuart Franklin – is more than a barrier between inside and out, its a barrier between two separate worlds, two different times.

Broadway is Salford’s white picket fence, dividing the granite, glass and concrete of media land and the red-brick realism of earthy old Salford.

I thought the old folk of Salford would hold Media City in disdain. But at least one – a guy called Derek who likes rugby league – says that’s not quite the case.

Salford didn’t like the snootiness some in the BBC showed at the move up north. But it does seem that for a good number of people, Media City – and the hotel industry that has sprung up around it – has brought decent wages and job opportunities which, in turn, has led to an increase in home ownership and a sense of security and stature to old Salford.

“Do you and your mates drink at Media City then?” I asked Derek.

He smiles. “F**k no, lad.”

Some way to go then, until Salford loses its white picket fence.

Here’s my take on Media City:

Lowry Museum, Salford Lowry Museum, Salford Media City Salford Quays Bridge Bridge

Places

Graffiti in Ljubljana, Slovenia

I love urban art, whether it be the sanctioned squiggles of the road contractors or clever (preferably witty) subversiveness in the form of graffiti. Travelling a few months ago to Slovenia, I was struck by the graffiti donned by the walls of its capital city Ljubljana.

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