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Socotra Cormorants, Persian Gulf 1991


BLETHER (Scottish) –vb. 1. What Scots folk do-especially women (known affectionately as 'hen' or 'hens') when they come in to contact with each other, or the general public, while, for example - shopping, having a cup of tea or driving on busy roads. 2. What Scottish men like to do usually in the pub to ‘put the world to rights', or to express their utter dismay at what women do while driving on busy roads. 3. What Scots do, frequently and with generous amounts of humour, while thinking that they are right and everyone else is wrong!

BLETHERING -ad: 1. The fine Scottish art of moaning, gossipping, or stating an opinion. Also refered to as 'havering' especially when delivery lapses in to a tirade of inane nonsense - in effect just noise - or when the recipient has completely lost any interest whatsoever. 2. Activity particularly prevalent in post office queues and amongst elderly women wearing head scarves and 'Dress fae Less' raincoats.
Ohhh how I miss those post office queues, and the beer and the rain and the...


'The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived,
though its first material expression be destroyed;
A vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer;
But when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more,
another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again’.

William Beebe (1877-1962) American naturalist and explorer


My first camera was delivered by Santa on Christmas Day 1975, when I was 10. This great event occurred-I was told-because my mother had written to him in despair after the family instamatic (remember those!) had gone missing for the umpteenth time somewhere in the depths of the garden or my bedroom. Somehow it was always me that had it last.

I am a loyal Nikon disciple-I think :(-using predominantly Nikon 35mm film and digital camera bodies for standard work including an old trusty F3 (remember them) on shoots that involve hanging upside down from trees, or for those times I find myself waist deep in effluvium (which metaphorically and literally speaking happens quite often). These bodies are predominantly used with Nikkor DX or D lenses including 10.5mm, 24mm, 60mm micro, 105mm micro and a 300mm with converters. My body used Marlborough Lights, but has recently up-graded to caffeine only-until the kidney stones knocked that delight on the head too. No converters, occasional cigar.

Like most landscapers I worshiped Fuji Velvia but also fell out with it regularly for being so damned slow, which is when Fuji Provia came to the rescue. Now it is pretty much the old memory card which is far less sexy!

I do use filters with a polarizer an almost constant fixture while on the road in Australasia. I also use an 81A-warming filter, a graduated neutral density and various other weird ‘things’ I made myself.

For years I developed and maintained a varied and extensive range of Scots expletives while tying myself in knots with a heavy Benbo tripod. Sadly, although this was very much a love/hate relationship I have since moved on and now own a little carbon-fibre number which is a dream when climbing or on extended tramps (hikes). But perhaps we are just going through that honeymoon period. Already, I’m not too sure about the legs. (Up-date: had an acrimonious divorce, apologized profusely to Benbo, remarried and had three ballheads!)

And my views on digital? Well, as Sean Connery would say-‘very sexshee’? It’s a bit of a financial paradox right now though, unless someone supplies your equipment or you are lucky enough to afford the full monty 21 million pixel dream machine-or mug enough to buy one-still making my mind up on that one! I shoot RAW and have also shot naked. Lightroom 2..yes, Darkcloset 1...occasionally...Rip'emoff Pro 7.1 ...try to avoid.

When it comes to Photoshop CS and creating an image that is in many ways far removed from the original and reality? Well, as an artist there really is no argument, though, like most, I have tried. Take sight and colour for example. Pinnipeds (seals) cannot see the colour blue- so who sees the ocean properly- them or us? And which, therefore, is reality? I just hope photography does not go the same pretentious 'Hirstesk' way that mainstream art does so often, where everyone calls each other ‘Darling’ and proclaims ‘can you feel it luvvie’ while looking at a brick on a shag-pile carpet or a pickled shark?


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaerin what oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is that frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Aye amd thanuk Glod for twat!


'Ken and the Great Naked Tunnel Race'

The Homer Tunnel, which is one of the undeniable highlights of the lauded Milford Road (SH94) in Fiordland, New Zealand, is a remarkable example of engineering and a fine monument to human endeavour. Begun in 1935 with workmen using simple picks and shovels and completed with the loss of three lives in 1953, it provides the essential link to the outside world -and basically anything on wheels - with the scenic utopia that is Milford Sound.

But let’s be very clear. This is no Channel Tunnel, or Sydney Harbour underpass. There are no lazer-guidance systems; no tidy tollgates, speed cameras or hamburger stands thoughtfully placed halfway through for your convenience. No, when you first encounter the entrance to the Homer at the base of what can only be described as a massive face of granite, one wee word springs to mind….. ‘drain’!

But aesthetics aside, ‘Homey’ (as said drain is affectionately known) has now become the venue for perhaps New Zealand’s most unusual (and fun) annual events. Dubbed the ‘Great Annual Nude Tunnel Run’ it has now earned a reputation that would have even Sydney's iconic Mardi Gras considering a clench of the buttocks.
The concept was originally thought up around 2000 by a local and in-acted (no doubt after several beers) by him and a small group of fellow lunatics. Beer being beer and boys being boys it wasn’t long before the idea caught on and even the girls joined in. Now scheduled for April Fools day each year it attracts around 50 participants. The rules are pretty simple: Competitors must run completely naked from east to west (as distance of 1.2 km) carrying little except a torch, a lot of courage and an undeniable sense of 'joie de vivre'.
Although there is obviously plenty of scope for spot prizes there are two officially recognized winners - the fastest male and the fastest female, both of whom have their names engraved on a trophy. For men the trophy is ‘Ken’ doll and for women a ‘Barbie’ - naked and in a running position-naturally!

Apparently, the most exciting moment is when everyone gathers at the entrance to the tunnel and after furtively removing their clothing, makes their way to the starting line. Then, after numerous inexplicable yet predictable delays, whoops of joy and almost primeval chants, the official foghorn is sounded and the great flood of naturism makes its way through 'the drain'. As you might imagine, it is quite a sight as the bevy of chilled and rippling dervishes sprint, walk, or swagger to the bottom (no pun intended) and the finish line. Naturally, few hang about and clearly quite aroused at the prospect of fame, no fortune and a ‘Ken’ doll run like they have never done before, while others on (or in) the other hand, simply pour out a glass of wine and perambulate through the tunnel at a leisurely pace talking about life, the universe and the ‘heady delights of naturism’.
One competitor (let’s just call him ‘Ken’) says of the event:
‘It’s an invigorating feeling being naked and makes one realise how natural and beautiful it is to have no kit on. Group nudity is definitely non-perverse, a good way to make new friends and influence people and something we should all do more often’.

Absolutely Ken! Let’s all try it- starting at Auckland Airport perhaps!?


Follows a genuine letter of complaint sent recently to my publishers, Footprint, regarding my New Zealand Guide...

From: xxxx xxxx
Country: United Kingdom

New Zealand guide.

I am going to NZ next year for the first time. I was looking in W H Smiths for suitable guide(s).
Browsing through your book I came across a reference to 'gay' areas in NZ. I was astonished at your predjudiced ridicule of those who find homosexuality immoral.

I can supply you with many biblical references which show Gods feelings towards homosexuality, (but I don't expect you to request them).
We are only here on this wonderful but failing world for a short while.-Eternity is for ever.
The bible talks about a day of Judgement. Forgiveness for all sin is possible through the death of Jesus. Those who express what God feels about sin are giving you and wake up call - Your judgement is not far away!

xxxxx xxxxx

PS, I will not be buying your book.

..And they say travel writing is a dream job!!!


A Dying Land

To use an analogy….

I feel as if I was once a Labrador puppy-you know the type; full of life, vital, pulling at the lead to welcome everyone and anyone. Above all, innately trusting.

Now, I feel like a lone wolf watching from the shadows at the edge of a diminishing forest. Distant. Wise. Vicious if needs be.

With the slightest detection of an increasingly familiar smell, or telling sound, I watch for a moment longer, then turn and fade in to the darkness.

And what of this landscape of which I am so watchful, this place I distrust and fear? What is the analogy there?

It is a barren landscape with no shelter. A dangerous place, a dying land. Little, but a stage for the basic antics of hyenas and baboons.


'It is not power or money that is a measure of a man's success, but his capacity for humility and goodwill. Without the latter he will, ultimately, make a lesser contribution, nuture no deep or lasting friendships and leave no meaningful legacy'.


LINKS (Scroll down....)


PHOTO AGENT (primarily New Zealand imagery). Search Darroch Donald

International image library

Stock photography by Darroch+Donald at Alamy



Partners website (Natural Science Illustrator)

Universal photography network