Having a drink outside

My balcony in Madrid had a view onto the outdoor tables of a bar. I loved looking out onto the street, watching the comings and goings, and spying on the people who sat down to have a drink. Looking back, I now wish that I had made a project of it as I am somewhat frustrated with the short series of unsatisfactory pictures I took. Hmph. It will have to keep for next time … and I’ll have to make sure that I have a balcony that is as advantageously situated.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

Cycling in the park

I’m back from Madrid and there’s just time for a quickie weekly entry. Madrid in August is a scorcher. The evening I landed, it was 34°C (or about 93°F) at midnight when I got into the hotel. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. It made sense to spend my first morning acclimatising at the Parque Retiro – Madrid’s second largest park – where there was lots of greenery and shade, while I did some people-watching … and snapping.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Morning

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

The Charcoal Burner & His Wife

I met the charcoal burner and his wife while travelling in Romania. They lived a very isolated life in their caravan with modest amenities out in the countryside, burning high stacks of wood everyday to make charcoal. They were clearly quite devoted to each other, and asked me to take their picture.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Love

~ Spotted Cow

B&W Turkish coffee shops

Preparing tea

My photography friends are still in Turkey and posting pictures on Facebook. I’m envious that they’re there and I’m not with them. One of the things I loved about the trips were the coffee house breaks, which were photo opportunities in themselves. There was always coffee and tea on the brew. And there were always people playing cards or backgammon or okey (a game which looks like a cross between rummy and mahjong).




Snap chat. Learning from old snaps.

Shop Girl

It’s instructive to look back at your old snaps and learn from them. I reviewed at a set of people images I took from my first Turkey photography trip.

They’re serviceable, but they would’ve been much better pictures if I hadn’t I zoomed in, lopping off the top of heads. I seem to have had a tendency to get in for the portrait without noticing much else around. Apart from the man reading the book and the shop girl at the doorway, the images don’t have much in the way of context. Even in those two, I could’ve stood back a bit further. I haven’t given you much in the way of a story … although the Lollipop Boy’s story is pretty self-evident ! He would’ve benefited from more of the wonderful wall texture in the background. I needed to give him more space.

So, my lesson here is to remember to stand back and look at what else is around. Have you learnt any lessons from your own pictures?

~ Spotted Cow

Lollipop boy


Bearded man

Stripey scarf


I was thinking about writing a post on India’s varied forms of transport, i.e. bicycles, trishaws, tuk tuk taxis, cars, camels, etc. But then I remembered this Jaipur man with the multi-coloured stripey scarf.  We love stripes here on the Wandering Cows, but it doesn’t tend to come up much as a theme. So I thought Jaipur Man with Stripey Scarf warranted a standalone blog post, given his sartorial elegance.

~ Spotted Cow

Snap Chat. Good Wall

Tethered cow

This week’s photo challenge theme about walls got me thinking. I have lots of photos that have walls in them, although they’re not usually about the walls themselves. They’re about walls as the background to the picture that I want to shoot. They set the scene. Sometimes it is about texture or colour or both. And sometimes they provide context to the subject whose picture I want to take. When the Wandering Cows are out and about you can often hear us muttering about wanting to find a “good wall” to take a photo against.

~ Spotted Cow

Fruit seller against wallFlowers against the fenceGirl on stairs

Daily bread

Daily BreadYou can always tell where a bakery is from the wafting scent of freshly baked bread. A Turkish baker let me take pictures of him working in his shop, which was barely larger than the work table that you can see in the pictures. It was a difficult space to take photographs because there was hardly any standing room.  The light was very low and most of the shots were taken with a 3200 ISO setting.

His “actual” shop was the window ledge where he displayed all the made loaves. I’ve been watching the Great British Bake Off and I’m always amazed by the goods that come out of the oven.  My own oven is under-utilised.

~ Spotted Cow

Wife supervising the bakeInto the oven !Loaves of bread

Three is a good number


As you know, I’ve been posting stories and pictures from my Journey Anatolia photography trip to North East Turkey. The trip is for all levels of photography and every evening we submitted an image for the Photo of the Day discussion. I enjoyed these sessions because I could reflect on the day, look at other people’s pictures and think about how I might shoot differently.

One of my takeaways was that whenever an image came up that had three people or objects, the concluding comment post-discussion would always be “… and three is a good number”.

I hadn’t thought about that. But of course, you get the optimal balance and asymmetry with having three objects. Three reasons are better than two when you’re arguing a case in point. Goldilocks and the Two Bears wouldn’t be quite the same, would it? Unlike the Rule of Thirds, it’s not a rule of thumb as such. But if you are fortunate enough to have three things in your picture, the composition looks a little bit more even … in spite of three being an odd number. Go figure.

~ Spotted Cow

Lady in doorwayThree ladies on a pilgrimage

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

Mountain goats This Weekly Photo Challenge proved to be less straightforward than first met the eye. I thought it should be an easy one. After all, I take lots of pictures of people and some of them talk to each other. Then I read the script and realised that it’s meant to be photographs that talk to each other or relate in some way because they have a recurring theme.

I’ve gone with sibling kinship – goats and children.

~ Spotted Cow

Wheelbarrow siblings


Making a call

Three ladies on a pilgrimage

These three ladies with their walking sticks look like they’re on a pilgrimage. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that, except that they aren’t in search of a holy order. They’re walking a kilometre on the road out of their village – the high pasture Mereta Yayla – so that they can get a mobile phone signal. I guess when you’re blessed with spectacular mountain views, you can’t have everything.

~ Spotted Cow

Off to make a call

Mereta Yayla

Vegetarians look away

Slaughtering a cow

In the high village of Amlakit, we came upon a family who were slaughtering a cow out in the open and preparing it for the breaking of the fast. It was the month of Ramadan. The two ladies wielding their knives were in good spirits, in contrast to the bloody cow’s head they were skinning. The bags in the corner were filled with the cow’s innards and whatnots. There was a pot bubbling in the background. Neighbours came to watch and give their two cents worth of advice.

Contrary to what you would think, it didn’t smell and there weren’t flies. It’s a revelation for someone like me, who lives in the city and buys meat in neatly wrapped polystyrene containers from the supermarket.

~ Spotted Cow

Two ladies preparing the cow Watching neighbours

Seeing Double

IMGP3844We had the morning in the village of Kavrun, and I ran into the twins in an empty tea house that smelt of freshly hewn wood. It was Ramadan and few people were out and about. I had a few minutes of confusion before I worked out that they were twins. Have you experienced that? It turns out that they were the sons of the proprietress of the tea house. Look at their piercing eyes. They’re almost hypnotic. In retrospect, perhaps I should’ve chosen this image for the day’s Photo of the Day discussion.

I chose instead to submit a close-up of a woman’s hand with henna detail on her nails. There was quite some deliberation from the group as to whether I should’ve included the partial other hand in the composition. They concluded that it would’ve been better without. But I’m a stubborn cow and I still like it as it is.

~ Spotted Cow

Hand with henna detail