Tree Limb

Dendrochronology is the method by which you date a tree by analysing its patterns and age rings. It is derived from the Greek word dendron which translates as ‘tree limb’. On Friday I noticed @lovelustlondon tweet that this weekend he adds another age ring to his chronology. As I’d so far only published one shot from our April walk in the park I thought a birthday Sinful Sunday was in order. Happy Birthday!

Sinful Sunday

Forest, Friendship, Freedom

Here’s the second of the photos from mine and @19syllables’s autumn adventure last week. Words and photo by her, body mine! Anyone who knows me will guess these words made me weepy happy. 

A trip in the woods with Exposing40 is a many faceted joy. During the times I’ve been out with her on photography adventures I’ve learned so much. It seems hackneyed but I’ve definitely grown because of it, both for myself, and in my attitude and knowledge of others. The comments that people write on her blog are so positive but sometimes those words make me feel that the pictures don’t tell the whole story. I think they paint a scene of calm and oneness with ourselves and nature. But although there is happiness it’s perhaps not as zen as you might think.

There is so much laughing. Actual hooting. Naked, joyful hooting. Right at the moment we should be super-quiet and inconspicuous.  

There’s tip-toeing barefoot (bare-arsed) over the spikey beech nuts on the forest floor (“ooh, oww yeesh, gah!”). There’s the moment she asked me (from where she’s lying on the forest floor) how the pictures are looking and I accidentally say she looks “a little bit like roadkill” and we laugh that silent sort of laughing when tears well up in your eyes and you can’t make any noise. I backtrack:

“No, no, not roadkill. Not roadkill at all. Maybe something out of one of those Scandinavian TV thrillers..”

We hold onto our naked sides to as if to stem the laughing from bursting out of us and rethink the shot. There’s forgetting which tree we’ve left our clothes behind. There’s E40 so sweetly reminding me to focus the shots and maybe wear my reading glasses which I’m consistently failing to do because I am having So. Much. Damn. Fun. There’s discovering we’ve lost E40’s knickers, retracing our steps only to find them hanging on a twig, jaunty and triumphant, aloft in the breeze like a standard to nudity, and her whooping through the idyllic dappled shade “Hooray! I found them!”

Afterwards, I’m brimming with a special sort of wellness that can only be achieved through forests and friendships and freedom.

Sinful Sunday

The Making of The Great Exhibitionist

I enjoyed writing the story of my escapades with @Fdotleonora in New York Public Library and the ‘making of…’ theme carried through to Whitechapel Smile. People seemed to enjoy reading these little insights so I will continue sharing the fun of Exposing 40’s collaborations…

I’d had my eye on taking a picture in my local park since last summer. As I took breaks from my desk, or cut through it on the way to the pool, I would eye up its nooks and crannies – stone archways, wooded areas, an ancient maze with its escape gate, DINOSAURS! I actually had it in mind as a location for a friend whose picture I enjoy taking occasionally. I probably banged on about it a bit too much, not being very mindful of the fact that however lacking in inhibition someone is, getting up at 6am to take all their kit off in a London park might not be their cup of tea.

It turns out it’s mine.

Sunday’s photo has been on my list since before I even set up this blog, a recce shot snapped and the words written way back in early February when I was still fresh from the adrenalin rush of my ‘tits in Tiertgarten’ photo. Mid-February round a pub table and Exposing 40 was born; that night I asked my friends to take the photograph. Ever since, we’ve been waiting for a suitably sunny morning to coincide with the weekend when the runners and dog walkers would not be out quite as early as in the week.

Or so we thought.

Striding towards the park, shortly after 6.30, clutching plastic beakers of tea, it’s hard to ignore the number of people out and about. “There won’t be as many in the park,” I muse out loud, aware that I am trying to reassure myself more than make conversation. We’re bleary-eyed but excited. Three of us had chatted energetically the night before about our own personal responses to this project and the thoughts and feelings it’s throwing up as we more keenly think about our own self-image and relationship with our bodies. Ideas were born for future photographs. For me and for them.

Into the park and down to the arches. A jogger passes. We glance at each other. “What are you doing? Go back to bed you fool!” says L, not loudly enough for him to hear. I start to strip off, grabbing the sarong I have brought in case a quick cover-up is called for. My back is to the park so I don’t really have a clue what’s going on behind me. I trust my friends completely.

M: “raise your arm,” “arch your back,” “turn a bit towards me,” “stick out your chest.”

L: “you’ve got about ten seconds,” “that dog walker is staring,” “Ok, STOP. NOW!”

I feel far calmer than I thought I would. The sun feels warm. I am enjoying myself.

ShadowArchways done we start to explore other ideas. M decides the park is getting too busy and the giant rhododendron bush is a bit too scrubby for me to walk across the grass and disappear into it as she planned. Then we inadvertently interrupt a drugs deal while scrabbling round an overgrown terrace. Enough. Time’s up.

We walk towards the spot where we plan to have fizz and pastries. We chuckle at a bloke doing self-conscious lunges in a flat cap. Then we look ahead and see the sun shining perfectly on the stonework ahead.

“You’ve got to do it,” says M.

I do.

Flat-capped-lunging-man can’t stop staring.

That photo will follow in a few weeks. In the meantime I give you another arches shot. I was going to post this alongside Sunday’s image because we decided we liked them equally but somehow when posted together they detracted from each other. Did I make the right choice on Sunday or do you prefer this one?

*we now have a black and white version too!


The Great Exhibitionist

The Crystal Palace was built for the Great Exhibition in 1851. It burnt to the ground in 1936 leaving only its stone foundations as a haunting reminder of the once grand structure. It’s beautiful in all light and all weather, but just after sunrise, before the dog walkers and runners make the park their own, the archways are especially peaceful.

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This photo was brought to you by my friend Behind the Camera and a very trusty assistant who was on watch out duty. Thank you! I will blog about the making of this Sinful Sunday in the week. And there may be more photos to follow…