Thank You Postcards from The Sea

Thank you so much for all your support and enthusiasm for my class for Knit Stars 6! Ticket Sales are closed now until later in the year, but I’m really excited for the next phase of planning the class and knitting my sample (now) and then Shelley + crew traveling here from the US to film in about a months’ time. There’s another project on the horizon as well, which I will be launching on my birthday in June, so things are quite full here. In anticipation of a busy time ahead, Mark and I bunked off last week to go and stay in one of our favourite places – The Gower, in Wales. I thought you might like to see some of my pictures.

Looking out across Broughton Bay - little pools of wet sand, and a rolling vista of clouds up ahead... blue water reflecting the sky above stretches out, there are acres of sand and sky

Around ten years ago, my brother Ned kindly “lent” me his old digital SLR: a Pentax ist-D. I love this camera so much and we have been on many adventures together.

Sometimes I’ve fallen into the trap of just taking my phone with me and using the camera on that, but lately I’m being more intentional about using the Pentax, instead. I love that the Pentax digital SLR is not a portal into distractions, emails, or instant messages and instead acts purely as a tool for framing the world, and prompting me to think about what I want to record when I look at it.

I also love how the Pentax lets me take the photo that is in my head and how I have to work a little bit for it, but then it’s just what I wanted it to be. Unlike my point-and-shoot phone, I have to manually focus the Pentax. My favourite lens is a basic 50mm prime with no zooming in or out function and a fixed frame; this means that if the subject is too close and being cropped by the frame, I have to walk backwards to put more space around it; if what I’m trying to photograph is miles away, I have to get closer.

I do have a couple of other lenses, but there’s something so nice about the prime lens which totally fits how I like to take pictures which is LOOK AT THE THING/ONLY THE THING/NOTHING ELSE BUT THE THING (and bonus points for extreme closeup photography and shallow depth of field…). Also, I like photographing things in ways which show their colours and patterns; it’s always how I have liked to take photos. The SLR with its simple prime lens and a little macro-adapter are perfect for my purposes.

patterns made in the sand by water slowly draining through a cave and rivulets created by how the rocks direct the run-off when the tide recedes

Look at these lines in the sand, where the water running off rocks inside a cave has taken particular routes and ways through the sand…

photo of the sea, taken on the diagonal, to emphasise the different lines of surf/tide coming in like stripes from corner-to-corner across the frame

…and how, seen from a certain angle, the lines of the surf and the incoming tide appear almost as stripes…

the perfect smooth spherical stone of dreams in a white/moon colour, resting beautifully on the sand with a perfect half-moon shadow underneath it

…observe the moonlike magnificence of this pleasingly smooth and spherical stone…

a collection of sea urchins resting on the sandy parts of rocks

…the radial lines of dot-patterning defining the strange contours of a sea urchin (this one is known as a Sea Potato)…

brown seaweed - looks like a type of wrack? - lots of it on a rock, with little knobbly compartments, generally brown but luminous yellow when the sun shines through...

…see the glowy tangled orbs of seaweed (I think this one is Bladderwrack) glinting orange in the sun…

cascade of little purple mussels against a backdrop of golden rocks, peppered with barnacles...

…the saturated contrasts between this cascade of purple mussels and the yellow-patterned and barnacle-clad rocks on which they lie…

a velvety collection of wet, wine-coloured anenomes, with their little tendrils out and a pearly shell nestled nearby

…velvety, wine-coloured anenomes peeping from the seams of rocks…

a glassy jellyfish, washed up on the shore

…the decadent opalescence of a Barrel Jellyfish (I think?) washed up on the shore like melted glass…

a collection of beautifully-coloured stones on Rhossili beach

…a collection of smooth beach pebbles which are surprisingly varied in hue, when you look closely.

I often think about the correlations between how I like taking pictures and my interests in finding patterns and colours in the world around me for my knitting. For me, closeup images have an almost tactile quality, and sometimes when I am massively zooming in on something, I think it can be about trying to accurately record the colour, as I see it, with nothing else distracting in the picture.

When I worked with my brother Ferg, who took all the photos for my KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook and Playbook, I was really struck by how differently he takes photos; how much he looks at the lines and movement and space and architecture when he is taking pictures. But when it’s me, I just want to show THE THING AND NOTHING BUT THE THING. All such photos go into the reference library of Things To Knit One Day; a sort of tactile, colours and patterns-focused archive of images which are also memories of time spent looking closely at the world.

Looking at these today, I’m filled with gratitude for the incredible pleasure last week of being somewhere different after over a year staying put, in place. At one point someone asked us if we were looking for anything in particular in the rocks pools and we had to confess that no, not really… “we just love the sea and looking at the magic worlds in the rockpools”.

How do you take pictures, are you aware of particular themes? Over the years I’ve grown very fond of the sorts of pictures knitters often bring to my workshops; the predominance of lichens, shells, seas, bark and other textures and details found in the world around us. No matter how many such photos I see, they only get more interesting and varied and particular, in time.

…yours in ten million closeups of rocks, shells, seas and sands…
Felix x

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