Posted on June 5, 2020
There are the things that are out in the open, and there are the things that are hidden. The real world has more to do with what is hidden.
— Saul Leiter
It’s been a bleak time. Last summer, my dad died. Set against the backdrop of the grander world stage – a stage in flames – it is a small grief, maybe. But it is my grief. I have written something about him and when I have found some courage, I will post it, but for now: small things. Beacuse the small things reveal the big things; the sum of their parts. The things that give us meaning. I picked up a camera for the first time in a long, long time last week. It was my dad’s camera. I felt it in my hands. Solid. Weighty. I thought about all the times he had picked it up. I imagined his big hands wrapped around it. His eye, seeking out moments. Sweet bursts of joy.
It was dawn. I was looking for some light.
© Emily Hughes, 2020
Posted on December 19, 2018
The slick sharp shapes of the city are blurred out of focus. The pale bright sky darkens. And then the rain comes. Sudden. Violent. An eviction. There is thunder. Lightning. I sit up. Turn my eyes to the sky, press my nose to the glass. There’s something thrilling about a storm which makes me feel like a child.
I listen to the rain pelt out tinny drum beats on the coloured metal roof tops. I wait. For it to wash everything away: dirt, sin, hope. I wait for it to end. I don’t want it to end. My eyes are bleary with colour block walls and mischievious gods with kohl lined eyes, scorpions which light up in the dark. Wary children with shy smiles and women who turn their backs to me, flashing brightly coloured teeth which nibble at proud whipped crowns. And banana leaves and teak trees, lush highland greens. Limestone mountains jutting into the sky. The electric blue of a birdwing butterfly. And smells I want to jumble up and strike onto hot night time pavements like firecrackers, inhale like anodyne: ripe melon, chrysanthemum tea, steamed yellow corn. Petrol and incense and ginger flowers. Fried banana doused in vinegar.
And the rain. I want to feel the warm rain on me. Sliding down my cheeks and the back of my neck, bouncing off my toes. I want the force of it to perforate me, punch me out onto an unknown landscape. I want to lean into it, let it prop me up, a cut out doll. I want it to drench my clothes to the outline of my flimsy body, dissolve me into a sugary puddle and suck my flip flops off my feet. I remember once, dancing in the rain. There was music. I was laughing, turning, my face and hands reaching to the sky, feeling the happiest I might have ever been. The rain can be a shelter for your loneliness. It can be freeing that way.
Outisde is all colour. Strange and rattling. But inside is quiet. Black and white. And it feels like I’ve slipped back into some watchful heart space, tender and fragrant as a kiss from a frangipane baby. I slouch against the cushioned seats. Soon, the roads are slushy canals. Sharp needles drill out dents in the pocked concrete. The downpour is exhausting. It slants across my vision, sends me into a cross-eyed daze.
We stop outside a restaurant. I see a group of men sitting and eating with their hands, bare foot, cross-legged. Flexing their toes like lizards.
It’s a slow crawl to the hotel, just 5o yards away. But no-one seems to mind about the hold up very much. No-one seems angry, or in a hurry. After all, they know. They’re no match for the sky around here. They wear patience on their sun-beaten faces like masks. A couple of horns beep pathetically and the rain drums on.
We shrug forwards and it calms, picks out a slower, more accidental rhythm. It builds again to the chorus, another unexpected rush of sound. A rising fury. Crescendo. This happens once, twice, three times.
A verse, a chorus, a song, of the rain.
© Emily Hughes, 2018, image and words.
Posted on November 6, 2018
I love it when nature gives you such gifts of light and form and such vibrant colour as this. I have spotted these intriguing jade vines before in Brazil and I love the way they hang in curling tendrils like cascading waterfalls. I knew they would be perfect for some macro shots, but unfortunately I didn’t have access to my macro lens at the time. I was so happy to spot them again whilst on holiday in Malaysia this summer, in a butterfly farm in the Cameron Highlands. The light was perfect for creamy golden bokeh and rich vibrant colours so I whipped out my macro lens and spent a very happy half hour photographing them to my heart’s content. I haven’t really messed around with these because I didn’t need to; it’s all nature’s own grace and beauty.
More Malaysia plant life/street scenes to follow!
© Emily Hughes, 2018
Posted on October 6, 2018
© Emily Hughes, 2018
Posted on March 16, 2018
© Emily Hughes, 2018
Posted on March 4, 2018
I’ve been playing around with some new botanical images. These are both composite photographs made up of images of tropical plants from a glasshouse. I think the eye-catching stripy plant is a type of maranta: calathea ornate; and the beautiful pink flower is a type of flamingo lily or similar although I don’t recall its exact name. I love the colour of it anyhow, and I love the bold, vibrant forms of these steamy, heat-loving, jungle plants.
© images by Emily Hughes, 2018
Posted on January 31, 2018
Twisted trunks. Tousled roots. Knotty hollows. A mesh of mosses and a jumble of leaves. A snarl of branches.
A woodland maze: a landscape to loose yourself in…
and maybe find yourself?
© words and images, Emily Hughes
Posted on January 17, 2018
I’m not usually one for wildlife photography; as a rule I prefer my macro or 50mm and I like subjects which don’t move: like flowers and trees! However, last year I was given a telezoom lens and I have really enjoyed trying it out. This was a trip to the Shetland Islands in July and these adorable little puffins on Sumburgh Head were very obliging. Such cute subjects, and their faces are so gorgeously comical and expressive.
© images by Emily Hughes, 2016
Posted on January 15, 2018
Apparently today is blue Monday, so here’s some warm, cheerful yellow! 😊
Oh, and this is my 200th post on this blog!
© image by Emily Hughes, 2017
Posted on January 12, 2018
I love photographing trees, and walking amongst them in forests just as much. A walk in the forest is always restorative and revitalising. My children think I am quite mad when I walk up to the trees and start stroking them, but there’s just something so nurturing and comforting about them that I can’t help myself: they have seen it all haven’t they, these ancient masts towering above us? They have wisdom in their branches and intellect susurrates through their roots in slow, deliberate murmurs.
This wood is close to my house and consists almost entirely of beech trees, with some clusters of silver birch, ash and cherry dotted about, here and there. The beech trees look ghostly in the subdued winter sunlight. Their bark when young is smooth and pale. As they get older, more mature, the girth broadens and the wrinkles develop. Beech trees grow in thickets which are often called ‘queens’ – the queens of the forest; elegant and regal.
These images were all snapped on my phone.
© Emily Hughes, 2018