Chalk Chunks

Chalk Chunks - Normandy, France

Chalk Chunks – Normandy, France

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

A few chunks of chalk that came down from the white cliffs of Normandy.

The French coast between Dieppe and Fécamp is rather monotonous, but there are a few spots where it is still possible to be alone on the beach.

The cliffs are not very photogenic, at least not from nearby. But details of the chalk cliffs can make some interesting photo subject.


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Floating Meccano

Floating Meccano, Cromarty Firth, Scotland

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved.

The Cromarty Firth is an arm of the North Sea in Scotland. It is the middle of the three sea lochs at the head of the Moray Firth: to the north lies the Dornoch Firth, and to the south the Beauly Firth.

Nothing special you would think because you find firths all around the Scottish coast. But what is special is that the deep waters of the Cromarty Firth provide a ‘parking lot’ for mothballed oil and gas rigs.

Over the years the Cromarty Firth has hosted a large number of ‘resting’ drilling rigs. The Queens Dock in Invergordon and the dry dock at Highlands Fabricators have both been used for repair and conversion of drillers.
In 1972 a facility for the construction and repair of North Sea oil rigs opened in Nigg Bay.

Elsewhere along the firth are facilities for cruise ships, oil processing, and other maritime activities.
The firth is also designated as a Special Protection Area for wildlife conservation purposes. More than 30,000 wildfowl and waders are present in the Cromarty Firth each year between October and March and a similar number in the Inner Moray Firth. The wintering species of particular significance in a European context are whooper swan, bar tailed godwit, greylag geese and redshank. The Firths also provide foraging grounds for breeding osprey that nest in nearby woodland, and a nationally important population of common tern.


Posted in B&W, Landscape, Photography, Reserve, Seascape, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Le Gour Blue

Le Gour Blue, Jura, France

© 2011 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

I love to photograph waterfalls. You know, the ND filter stuff, with long exposures up to a few minutes.

One of my favourite places for this kind of photography are the French Jura Mountains; a sub-alpine mountain range located north of the western Alps. The range is predominantly located in France and Switzerland, extending into Germany.

Many of the beautiful Jura waterfalls can be found in a relatively small area. One of the best known falls are the Cascades du Hérisson. Hérisson (which translates as hedgehog) is the name of the river but the official translation for the falls is Herisson Falls.

The Hérisson river is fed by the waters of Lake Bonlieu and the Ilay Lakes. Over a distance of about 4 km, you can see 31 waterfalls and torrents. Hiking all the way up and then back takes about 3 hour … unless you are a photographer, for whom it is impossible to do the round trip in one day…

The above photo shows the ‘Gour Blue’, one of the most photogenic falls on the Hérisson. Other falls on the same river are l’Eventail (the Fan), le Saut de la Forge (the Forge Falls), le Saut Girard (the Girard Falls) and le Grand Saut (the Great Falls).

The Hérisson Falls have been classified as a protected landscape since April 2002.


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Eyes Closed

Campo Santo I

Eyes Closed, Gent, Belgium

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

‘Gesloten Ogen’ (‘Closed eyes’) is the name of one of the most moving bronze sculptures of Campo Santo.

Campo Santo is the name of a cemetery in Sint-Amandsberg, Gent in Belgium. It is named after the famous Campo Santo cemetery in Rome. It is also called the ‘Père Lachaise‘ of Gent.

Several well-known people have been buried on Campo Santo; writers, painters, poets … There are lots of impressive tombs, most of them of the cultural, financial and catholic elite of Gent. These people spend a fortune on the graves of their beloved ones.

The cemetery is situated on a small hill named Kapelleberg (chapel mount). On top of the hill stands the Sint-Amanduskapel (saint Amandus chapel), a late baroque chapel from 1720. The chapel is surrounded by some impressive old trees.

Today, 131 graves, as well as the chapel and the Kapelleberg are protected as cultural property.


Posted in B&W, Belgium, Gent, People, Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Setting sail

Setting sail, Oostende, Belgium

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

Hitchcock’s Birds are back. Not as threatening as in Birds on the brain, but still they’re back.

I read in the newspaper this morning that, at the Flemish coast, gulls are attacking people on the street. They pick people’s heads and try to steal their food.
A ‘not so clever’ person proposed to build an artificial island in front of the coast and getting rid of the aggressive gulls by deporting them to this island. He probably forgot that gulls can fly …

Oh, and regarding the little sailboat in the photo. I wonder if it is Nat Hocken and his family who are setting sail to England, in an attempt to escape the terror at the Flemish coast.


Posted in Belgium, Birds, Nature, Photography, Seascape | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Birds on the brain

Birds on the brain, Oostende, Belgium

Birds on the brain, Oostende, Belgium

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!!!

This photo reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’. Hitchcock got the idea for the movie when dying and disoriented seabirds rammed themselves into homes across California’s Monterey Bay in the summer of 1961. These avian incidents sparked Hitchcock’s interest, along with a story about spooky bird behavior by British writer Daphne du Maurier.

‘The Birds’ is a famous novelette by Daphne du Maurier. It is the story of Nat Hocken and his wife and children, as a massive number of birds begin attacking them. It is thought that the author had been inspired by watching a man ploughing his field, while some seagulls were wheeling and diving above him.

The long-standing mystery about the cause of the strange bird behavior across California’s Monterey Bay has been solved. According to ocean environmentalist Sibel Bargu of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the birds were poisoned. The symptoms were extremely similar to later bird poisoning events in the same area.


Posted in B&W, Belgium, Birds, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The wind that shakes the barley

The wind that shakes the barley

The wind that shakes the barley

© 2012 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved

‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ is an Irish ballad, written by the Limerick-born poet Robert Dwyer Joyce. The song is written from the perspective of a doomed young Wexford rebel who is about to sacrifice his relationship with his loved one and plunge into the cauldron of violence associated with the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.

The references to barley in the song derives from the fact that the rebels often carried barley or oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march.

The song has been covered by many great folk singers and bands, such as The Chieftains, Loreena McKennitt, The Clancy Brothers, The Irish Rovers, Dick Gaughan and Martin Carthy. But you should have a listen to Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance. I have never heard a better performance of this song.

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley

Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the weight
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the brave United Men
While soft winds shake the barley”

While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms ’round her flinging
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love’s side
In life’s young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley

I bore her to some mountain stream
And many’s the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o’er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley

But blood for blood without remorse
I’ve taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As ’round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley


Posted in B&W, Belgium, Landscape, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments