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Reflections

by Nick Vagus

It is great to welcome back @NickVagus (aka 'DrifterNick') following on from his work which was included in our first and second ezine editions. Based in Cheltenham, DrifterNick expresses his art for free through his twitter account and has recently started using Instagram under the same domain name.

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I was in Chicago on a searing hot August day back in 2012 and came across this outstanding public artwork by Britain’s Anish Kapoor – aka ‘Cloud Gate’. Nicknamed the ‘bean’ due to its shape, the artwork was opened in 2006 and attracts tourists and local visitors who wonder and its reflective magnificence – both its stunning clarity, as well as its spherical surrealism as it displays the surrounding Chicago cityscape – once the world’s greatest collection of skyscrapers. Taking a photo of this object is not easy if you wish to omit yourself from the image – hence, a long zoom always helps in these instances.

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I recently travelled to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam and found the traffic and incessant city motorbikes to be intolerable at times. The streets are not pedestrian friendly at all and the bikes even take over the pavements – or what’s left of them anyway. Whilst walking by one such moped I thought I would at least make an attempt to capture a snap-shot of life on the streets of HCM City – and this reflection in the mirror of a static moped showing the scene behind sums up the moment perfectly.

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A scene from the Worcester & Birmingham canal. This was taken on the other side of the County in rural Worcestershire, at the Alvechurch Boat Yard. Whilst walking alongside the moored hire boats, I noticed the bow reflections as they sat still and uniformly in line. I took a picture with my camera phone and realised that inverting the image placed the boats skywards, thus creating a surreal image of the boats resting on their own upturned hulls.

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Until a few years ago, the Worcester & Birmingham canal at Holliday Street in the centre of Birmingham lay between abandoned factories and an unkempt car park. Over recent years, both sides have been heavily developed and now consist of a state of the art leisure and residential building (the ‘Cube’) and on the opposite side, the ubiquitous modern apartments of the former Holliday Street car park area. However, one thing stays constant throughout all this modernism – the 200-year-old canal stills offers a sanctuary from modern life and I captured this moment of reflection on a winter’s day sunset as the narrow boat came in to moor up for the night, surrounded by the dominant modern buildings.

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Outside my flat where I used to live in Cheltenham stood an old lamppost and a tree. The pavement was in a poor state of disrepair and there had been a sharp shower. I stepped outside to place some rubbish in the bins and noticed the fresh rainwater puddle on the damaged pavement. The perfect reflection of the lamp standard coinciding with the fractured paving, with the bare tree creeping into the reflection caught my artistic imagination and I quickly ran back into the flat and returned with my camera to capture the moment – I had to be quick in case the water was disturbed by a passing car or pedestrian. What makes this image more interesting for me is that soon after this image was taken, the tree was removed completely and the lamp-post replaced with a more modern standard.

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On a similar vein to the Alvechurch boats image, I captured this moment whilst walking around the regenerated historic Gloucester Docks on a crystal-clear azure winters day. I noticed the striking image of the adjacent waterways museum building and the historic barge in the still water and realised that a quick shot with my camera phone, subsequently inverted, would provide a unique and surreal sight – I wasn’t disappointed. The viewer is not immediately aware that the sharper image in the upper part of the picture is actually the reflected image in the water.

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I am currently living in Valencia, Spain, and I first visited this wonderful city back in 2016 and was spellbound by the stunning architecture of Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela’s ‘City of Arts and Sciences project’ (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias).

This amazing set of futuristic buildings provides an entertainment-based cultural and architectural tourist destination in the city and is situated at the end of the river Turia – now drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was turned into a picturesque sunken park and the project was opened in 2005, with local architectural genius Calatrava at the forefront of the design. The reflections from the water (fresh water added after construction) provide a perfect bed for the magnificence of the architectural design. I took this image early one morning on a fresh December day – well before the Tourists had descended, thus capturing a ‘clean’ setting without the clutter of people and with the early morning cloud cover acting as a stunning backdrop as the morning sun starts to filter through over the site.

I used to work in South Wales and so my commute home to Gloucestershire often involved driving over the Severn Bridge. An engineering colossus, the views from the carriageways are limited by an ugly steel Armco barrier meaning you can’t quite get the magnificent views of the Severn Estuary that you would like. Undeterred, I took a quick snapshot in the side mirror as the sun set behind me in the West and captured that all too familiar moment of the long-drive home and leaving behind the drudgery of the daily commute. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend this photography capture technique is tried at home...!

Every Easter, passion enthusiasts of Dub Reggae descend on Spain for the annual International Dub Gathering - a weekend of live Dub reggae music featuring some of the world’s greatest Dub DJ exponents. Sound systems are the order of the day and the location of the event usually takes place along the southern Spanish coast, often in incongruous places. In this instance, I attended the event during the Easter weekend of 2016, at a closed water park east of Barcelona. The setting was esoteric at best, and the site of Dub roots devotees chilling; dancing; and of course, ‘relaxing’ alongside the dead still waters of the park and its dormant rides was a reflective moment I had to capture in monochrome.