I’ve already posted about a couple of trips that I made this week, now I’m getting round to my third trip; to a derelict nuclear bunker.

The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was actually founded in 1925, but in the 1950s with the threat of nuclear war from Russia, they were tasked with monitoring the fallout from any nuclear attack. A network of bunkers were built across the country, in groups of three or four that could communicate with each other, and a master post that had radio communication. Each bunker was 7-8 miles apart, with more than 1,500 across the country. By 1991, all of the posts had been shut down. Around the country, some still exist, a few are accessible, and even fewer are in good condition. I’m no historian, but plenty of information is available on the history of the group.

I was lucky enough to visit one such post that is still in good condition, with several items from the original inventory still present inside. This post was opened in 1961, and closed in 1991, so it was among the last to remain active after many were closed in the late 1960s. Some photos are below.

entrance to monitoring post
Heavily overgrown entrance to the post
Inside you can see the lower half of the bunk bed and part of the original cupboard. Above the dartboard is one of the ventilation shafts which also the route to some of the measuring equipment on the surface
Inside you can see the lower half of the bunk bed and part of the original cupboard. Above the dartboard is one of the ventilation shafts which also the route to some of the measuring equipment on the surface
Cupboard contents
Cupboard contents including the original toilet paper. Some items are more recent (eg tinned potatoes, best before December 2013)
Doorway to the ladder access and chemical toilet
Ventilation system
I understand that this is part of an experimental ventilation system that was being tested

It didn’t rain, so I went out with my camera today. I actually went out exploring twice; I’ll do a separate post for the other trip which was just a few iPhone snaps.

This Second World War bunker formed part of the Arun-Ouse Stop Line,  as the area was thought to be one of the major routes towards London. This particular pillbox is anti-infantry, based on the small holes overlooking the bridge. Nothing much bigger than a light machine gun would fit through these, and there are pairs of blocks on the floor for the guns’ supports. I think this is a Type 24 pillbox, more information here at the Pillbox Study Group. Despite my research it was quite difficult to find, but once you know it is fairly easy to get to.

Outside Outside
Entrance to PillboxOutside Gun opening Graffiti Graffiti Bottle

We moved house at the beginning of March this year, and most of our things are still packed away in boxes. I kept my digital camera equipment out so I could use it, and obviously, I haven’t. In fact excepting a few iPhone imports to be done, my most recent folder in my Lightroom catalogue is from way back in January.

So, it’s about time this changed…I’m preparing to go on a trip to scout out some abandoned buildings around Horsham. I’ve taken a strong interest in graveyards, churches and derelict buildings recently, partly as a result of a lovely book; Beauty in Decay (see my Goodreads profile, right), and partly because I’ve been reviewing a number of my images with HDR, and my favourite ones have been the old buildings and churchyards. Perhaps I’ll get to publishing my own book one day….

In the mean time, there are a number of World War II pillboxes around Horsham, forming part of the Arun Line, the first inland line of defences against the Germans after the coastal defences. I hope today to be able to find and photograph at least one of them


La Pêche - Re-edited in HDR with Photomatix Pro
La Pêche – Re-edited in HDR with Photomatix Pro

I thought I’d experiment a little with some HDR images. I have again been inspired by browsing 500px.com, as there are many HDR images on this site that seem to become popular. I looked into some HDR apps and downloaded a trial for Photomatix Pro, then loaded one of my favourite images into it, and here is the result of a little experimentation with the presets available within it.

If you’re not familiar with HDR, it stands for High Dynamic Range, and is a composite image made by combining multiple exposures of the same shot, ideally captured in-camera. Most HDR programs available allow you to load a single image, and use a ‘tonemapping’ option, so that you don’t need multiple exposures. The end result is, traditionally, a perfectly exposed image, as it takes the best exposed areas of each and merges them together, however it creates some pretty surreal effects, that have made it quite a popular tool; just go to Google Image earch and type ‘hdr’ to see what you get.

So I uploaded this image to my profile on the 500px website, and in the time it’s taken me to compose this post, the image has received as many views as the original unedited version that I uploaded to the same site two years ago.

Café Van Gogh, Arles, France in 2007 (left), and Van Gogh's painting 'Café Terrace at Night', 1888.
Café Van Gogh, Arles, France in 2007 (left), and Van Gogh’s painting ‘Café Terrace at Night’, 1888.

I was looking for the original title of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting Café Terrace at Night (above right), because I wanted to upload my photo (above left) of the same scene to my profile on the 500px.com website. I try not to leave the ‘description’ field completely empty when I publish an image there, so I thought I’d check out the name of the café, the original name of the painting, and the English name of the painting. The way I see it, there is something of a distortion in the translation. The French name is Terrasse du Café le Soir,  and by the time it’s in English, Café Terrace at Night, it’s a generic café terrace in the evening.

The actual meaning of its French title is that it’s the terrace of a café called ‘Le Soir‘. At least that’s my interpretation; as I understand it, in French, a named café puts the word ‘Café’ before its name, for example, ‘Café le Baron‘ is a café called ‘The Baron’. So Café le Soir could be interpreted the same way.

Please correct me if I’m completely wrong; I make no claim to actually being any good at French.

So have I discovered, here, that when an English speaker looks at the painting and sees this title, they are being given misinformation? Is it really an incorrect translation that misleads us when we read into the meaning of the painting? I’m not sure. I’m not sure if the title actually matters. It’s a café with seats and tables in the street, and it’s in the evening.

When people look at an image of any kind, they interpret it in their own way. The title of an image can have a very important impact on how we interpret both its content and meaning. At a very simple level, let’s imagine a red square being printed onto canvas and hung in three different art galleries. In each gallery it is given a different title: ‘Sauce’, ‘Blood’ and ‘Claret’. The audience at each gallery will probably perceive the painting in three very different ways.

The source of the apparent difference in translation with the Café Terrace at Night may be that when it was originally put on display, it was titled Café, le soir, or Coffeehouse, in the evening.

So perhaps the confusion is down to the lack of a comma?

So it’s easier to compare, here are the four different variants of the painting’s title:

Original English: Coffeehouse, in the evening
Original French: Café, le soir
Current English: Café Terrace at Night
Current French: Terrasse du Cafe le Soir

I’d be interested to read other peoples’ thoughts …

So here’s my latest ‘word a week photo challenge’ submission. I lived 12 years in Lyme Regis, a lovely town at the heart of the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline in Dorset. Walking to work in the mornings down the street, this was the view. In the summer the bunting was up to make the tourists happy.

Broad Street, Lyme Regis

Here is the Word A Week Photo. Challenge original post. Why not take part yourself?

I’m going to enter a second photo challenge in a short space of time; this one is ‘Beyond’, from The Daily Post. I could have re-entered the same image again for this category, but I thought I’d like to use the one below, taken from the top of the ‘Tour Magne’, a fantastic Roman tower in Nîmes, France.

Les Arenes, Nîmes

Well I’ve just decided to take part in a photo challenge on WordPress for the first time, so here goes. The post setting the challenge is here: A Word in Your Ear blog.

Here in the UK we experience some quite varied weather. As some of you may know, we are in the midst of utter chaos caused by 3-4 inches of quite widespread snow, and a few areas with 12 inches or more. Not really a lot by many standards, but the country just does not have the facilities and equipment to cope with it.

Lightning is something I haven’t seen for quite some time. Last time I saw it though, here is what I got:

Lightning fork near Lyme Regis
Lightning fork near Lyme Regis

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Storm on Chesil Bank
Storm on Chesil Bank

This week I was sorting out some old files for deletion to clear some space in my laptop, and I discovered a whole batch of photos that I hadn’t loaded into my photo catalogue, of a storm in November 2009. I took a trip over to Portland Bill to see what the sea was like. Here are a few of the photos. Note the size of the breaking waves compared to the people on the beach in the sixth image.