Flamingo

I have always been fascinated by reflections, ultimately it is through reflecting light that we see most of the world around us. We see an object because of the light it reflects, rather than see it directly, unless of course it is its own light source.

As a photographer, I love watching how water reflects light, particularly when the surface of a lake or the sea is almost but not quite totally calm. Then, the very gentle movement of the water creates, for me, the best reflections of all. It is quite easy to not notice these reflections but when you photograph them, freeze them in time, something amazing happens. Reflections become abstract with an almost sculptural quality and because of the way the water is moving each image captured is totally unique. The water will never move in exactly the same way again and recreate the same reflection again. Each reflection becomes like a snowflake, infinite in variety, never to be repeated.

Flamingo With this in mind I have decided to create an art-work based on one of my images of a reflection. It is quite large, 100x150cm, printed on brushed aluminium using a complex thermal sublimation process. This high definition printing process onto aluminium gives the colour of the image a strong impact as well as being very durable. The work is called Flamingo, when you look at it you will understand why. This is a one off piece, never to be reprinted in any form and will be supplied with a certificate of authenticity. If you are interested in owning a unique and original work of abstract photography then you can find more information about it at the Saatchi Art gallery

Panama papers leak – first impressions

What strikes me about the variety of political leaders and those close to them who use or have used offshore company Mossack Fonseca to hide great personal wealth from the eyes of the public and also perhaps their spouses.

Panama Papers. Mossack Fonseca

My first thought is this, who got hold of the information and leaked it. Probably we will never know for sure but it is interesting to note that neither the United States nor Israel are touched in any way by the release of these documents. When so many diverse countries around the world have ties to Mossack Fonseca at such a high level, it is unusual to find that nobody from the political level of either country has been using its services when so many others have. Also both countries often work together on hacking projects, so you can be sure that Mossack Fonseca had been guarding its data as strictly as possible, particularly as its business is built on trust. It would have required state level hacking to steal the information.

The second interesting thing to note is that it appears those in the released papers had at least a few days prior warning of what was to come. The first hint came in an article I read in the Moscow Times of March 28 stating Kremlin Says Journalists Preparing Hatchet Job on Putin adding, The questions involved information about the president’s family, his childhood friends, “businessmen Kovalchuk and Rotenberg, some offshore companies, entrepreneurs that Putin has never met,”  Then another article I didn’t understand at the time, as to why Putin would say this at this particular moment. Now becomes clear, as you can read from April 1, Putin Advises Journalists to Publish Their Income, Journalists Say ‘No, Thanks’, which stated “We recommend that media professionals and other workers whose professional activity is connected with the provision of public interest and attracting increased public attention, to publish information on their income, expenses, assets and property obligations on official websites or to publish the above information in mass media,”

This is just the first day of the release of these papers and the full repercussions are yet to be felt. What is clear is that those who have access to this financial information can access anybody, it doesn’t matter how rich you are. The Edward Snowden document leaks have had a huge impact on how we see privacy. The Panama Papers will be about who can really pull the strings of the super-rich. This is going to become interesting.

Refugees as a weapon of war – update

After writing an article in early February about how Russia is exacerbating the Syrian refugee crisis by attacking population centres in Syria as a way of increasing pressure on the European Union, NATO and the British media are finally catching up. They are only a month after my article but better late than never:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/russia-and-syria-weaponising-refugee-crisis-to-destabilise-europe-nato-commander-claims-a6909241.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/16/refugees-are-becoming-russias-weapon-of-choice-in-syria

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/03/02/NATOs-Gen-Breedlove-Syrian-refugees-are-weapons-against-Europe/5391456934721/

 

Spring is coming

Woke up early to a very cold morning but the sky was clear. I knew it was going to be a perfect day for a hike. Perfect for clearing my head, recharging my batteries. With this in mind I packed my backpack with camera, food and water and headed out. I could not have chosen a better time to hike into this gorge, the river danced, the birds sang and the sun felt good. Spring is coming

Hiking through the gorge

Refugees as a weapon of war

Russia has been intensifying its bombing of Aleppo in Syria but the thing is this, the Syrian government even with the help of Russia is simply not strong enough to hold onto control of the city. The rebels aren’t strong enough to win and neither is the government. So what is behind the current Russian action of indiscriminately bombing the city?

This is about creating more refugees, doing so will put huge pressure on Turkey and Europe. Speaking today to my Syrian friend, Muhannad Najjar, who has been living in Turkey for the last year, he told me that in the first four days of the Russian bombing campaign of Aleppo some 25,000 Syrians decided to flee the city, and that is just the beginning. Interviewing some of the escaping families, all said their goal is to reach Europe. This is on top of the hundreds of thousands who have already made the journey to  Europe.

One of the things Muhannad told me is that the majority Sunni population feel betrayed by Europe and the USA, not because they don’t accept more refugees but because they haven’t done something about Bashar al Assad so they can live in peace and rebuild their country. I’m inclined to agree, the Assad family has also treated the lower classes of Alawite from his own tribe with similar contempt. The problem now is that a significant minority of those forced to flee their homes could be tempted to support Daesh (ISIS), not because they like them but because they feel there is no other choice.

Politicians in Europe and the USA think they can isolate themselves from the dangers by doing nothing in Syria but their inaction is actually increasing the danger. Russia is using this situation to its full advantage. Refugees have become a weapon of war as Russia uses the refugee crisis to try and break Europe. There are two reasons for this, one is because of the economic sanctions placed on Russia, the other is to try and force the USA and Europe to accept terms for any settlement of the Syrian crisis, if they don’t then Russia in its support of Bashar al Assad will make sure the flow of refugees only increases.

These pictures were taken in the last few days of Syrians who are fleeing the Russian bombing of Aleppo and trying to cross the Turkish border. All photo credit to مصطفى سلطان Mostafa Sultan

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The global system – broken beyond repair

It is a little difficult to know where to start as so much is happening and the year has only just begun. The global system can be viewed as having four different elements: Economic, Political, Military and Religious. They are all linked together but all have unique facets in how they impact the world in which we live.

Economic System

While not unexpected, the speed with which the global economy has hit the brakes in the first days of the year has been surprising. China, which is trying to re-engineer its economy so as not to rely on exports for growth to one of internal consumption, has hit severe turbulence, the last days seeing huge drops in its stock markets. In China, many shares are bought by private individual investors and have been wiped out by the losses which began last year and accelerated to such a point that trading had to be suspended twice already this year. These are the people the Chinese authorities need if internal consumption is to be the new economic model, instead they are all feeling much poorer and hesitant about making new investments and spending. To be fair the problem is not only China’s, globally, the worlds economy has never recovered since the financial crash of 2007. The only thing that has propped up the economic system since then has been the vast amount of almost free money that central banks pumped into the system. While company stock valuations soared over the years since the crisis the fundamentals have not changed. Companies have not been making the profits to justify their stock market valuations, instead of improving profits through growth they were cutting costs. While improving the bottom line it was covering up the fact that businesses have not been growing. Now the time of essentially free money is coming to an end the fundamentals are coming back into view and is the reason why global stock markets are having such a turbulent time. The emperor has no clothes and the central banks and governments have very few options left open to them. With global share prices still having a way to go before they reflect the actual values of global businesses it is going to have a knock on effect. Pension funds and property are going to be the big losers. People are going to start feeling poorer. When people feel poorer they spend less and this impacts business growth. The system is so broken that there is no way out of this feedback loop unless something fundamental about the system is changed. Do the central banks and governments have a solution, I think not.

Political System

Something that should amaze people is that in all the time of human history we have tried all forms of government, apart from global government, and not one of them has been successful, in the long term, of bringing about peace and security, helping all its citizens to have a dignified life. Instead they have abdicated more and more responsibility to the banks, trusting them to create the conditions for economic stability and therefore political stability. I often wonder what use our governments serve. All around we see crumbling infrastructure, cuts to health-care, the education system being run into the ground, increase in social instability as well as far fewer opportunities for social improvement. In the past there were far more opportunities for people to improve their lives, these opportunities are rapidly disappearing. If governments can’t deal with these fundamentals then what is the point of their existence? This is without going into global politics, all of the major powers in competition with each other, wanting to be top dog, but this situation leads to proxy wars, global instability, power vacuums and international terrorism. As the global economy shrinks the pressure is on for these countries to work even harder to protect their interests, creating yet another feedback loop. We will see an increase in nationalism and growing popularity of more extreme political parties as they promise only they can protect the interests of the population. In reality all that happens is increased polarization of populations, minority groups being blamed for the ills of the country. We are seeing this happening in many countries around the world and it will only spread as global conditions deteriorate. It will also increase the risk of conflict as relationships between neighbouring countries break down.

guns_suit_planets_fire_earthMilitary System

The only area of real growth now is in military spending, as we all know instability is good for the military sector. War is good for business. Morals have nothing to do with it, all is for sale, often to reprehensible regimes. The conflicts these weapons are used to pursue create displaced people, refugees and untold suffering. As the global economy teeters, the risk of conflict grows as competition between nations for a greater slice of the shrinking economic pie increases. Add to this the growth of ideological and religious differences between certain countries and the count-down to increased and new conflicts grows rapidly. Countries who have major weapons industries will rely on this sector for a larger part of their economic stability while trying at the same time to keep the consequences of these conflicts where the weapons are used as far as possible away from home.

Religious System

I’m grouping all the main religions together here because they are all equally corrupt and are all equally responsible for the deaths of millions through the ages. Today, religion is used as an excuse to kill, to dominate and to keep the masses quiet in the face of increased hardship, all often in collaboration with various governments. The tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran is based on religion. Jews and Palestinians is religious conflict. The Russian Orthodox church telling ordinary Russians they should prepare for greater hardship while it is the greatest benefactor of grants from the Russian government. There is a link to this because it left me speechless russian-patriarch-kirill-does-not-see-tragedy-in-the-economic-crisis In India there is increasing Sikh extremism with the permission of the government. The Vatican, possibly the richest organization in the world sees itself as some sort of supranational government but instead of using its wealth and influence to help people is more concerned with getting richer, milking its followers and only offers prayers when people need real practical help. It consorts with political leaders around the world like a courtesan believing she is a queen who sits above her people. How long will it be until politicians around the world get tired of all religious meddling and trouble making. Particularly as the global economy gets worse and they see just how rich these religions have become. I am curious to see what will happen when the governments are broke and they then look at the religions and all their wealth and see the religious system acting as if it is untouchable.

This is the year when finally it will be understood the global system, in all its parts, is beyond repair. Maybe it is time people started thinking about the New System.

Highlights from a year of photography

Ok I cheat a little, the sequence goes from November 2014 to December 2015. It has been quite a varied and interesting year. I wonder what next year will bring?

_DSC4142 _DSC4288 _DSC4304 _DSC4379 _DSC4405 _DSC4412 _DSC4434 _DSC4449 _DSC4578 _DSC4583 _DSC4768 _DSC4810 _DSC4872 _DSC5275 _DSC5526 _DSC6401 _DSC6407 _DSC6426 _DSC6621 _DSC6760 _DSC6782 _DSC6795 _DSC6800 _DSC6968 _DSC7015 _DSC7025 _DSC7144I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed creating them. The world is full of problems but life is also full of beauty. Never miss the opportunity to take a moment to stand and stare.

Israel, your house is abandoned to you.

Israel, when I look at you today I see so many missed opportunities. You could have had it all but you threw it all away. Instead your hard heart and lack of faith has led you to the situation you are in today, alienated from יהוה, our Father and with no hope for the future and no chance of peace. It saddens me to write this because I too am descended from one of the twelve tribes.

In your heart you know that Jesus was and is the messiah but your scribes and pharisees rejected him because they wanted a political messiah to take you from under the dominion of Rome rather than accept him as a spiritual messiah and wait for יהוה to accomplish His will in His own time. Instead you were more afraid of losing your power over your fellow Israelites and the money you earnt from them and from the taxes you made from the money changers you permitted to sit in the Holy Temple. In your own corruption you saw that Jesus was illuminating the people to how far you had deviated from the Law and the people began to have their eyes opened. So you planned for him to be put to death by the Romans so you could protect your positions and power. You were too hypocritical to do the deed yourselves. Then when messiah was dead you rejoiced, not understanding that you had helped fulfil the biblical prophecy of how he would die as a sacrifice. Yet you still think you can be the chosen ones after this?

When the modern State of Israel was formed, was it done so in the name of יהוה who you claim to worship? No, in fact your constitution is purely secular, nothing more than a political entity, no different to any other country in the world. You still claim to be special, to be able to recognize messiah when he returns but please tell me how you will know him, that he is of the house of David, of the tribe of Judah when all the records were destroyed by the Romans when they sacked Jerusalem? יהוה used the Romans to destroy the Temple to show you were no longer his people as you had rejected His messiah. Messiah’s return will be to judge us all, including you Israel. What works have you done to prove your holiness? What faith have you shown in יהוה your Father? Instead you put your faith in bombs and guns and have forgotten the times when יהוה said ‘you will not need to fight this day but stand and watch your deliverance’

Israel, you are nothing. Your house is abandoned to you.

Wind and Sea

The two places I feel most at home are by/on the sea or in the desert. Today I was by the sea, a steady breeze was blowing, the air felt wonderful, clearing out the cobwebs as I headed towards a lunch of fresh oysters. This scene of someone kiteboarding and enjoying perfect weather had to be captured.

Catching the wind

These were the oysters I had for lunch:)

Oyster Lunch