sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


Almost Wordless Wednesday: Composed

So, I have to confess that between finishing the scarf, Ben’s Supervillain-themed fancy dress birthday party (yes, I was Catwoman again, causing some discussion about the moral ambiguity of her character), and catching a filthy stinking cold, I have a) not been blogging much, and b) not had any time to take photos.

Which was a slight problem for this week’s homework: find an interesting piece of architecture, and practice the 6 basic types of composition on it: Thirds, Diagonals, Lead In/Out, Pattern/Detail, Framing and Straight On.

In a bit of a panic, I turned to the past and decided to rifle through my photos of India and Japan to find some decent shots. And you know what I found? I’m not very good at taking photos. Yes I know, I was shocked too.

After a couple of hours, several hundred photos and a serious dose of despondency, I selected a handful from my visit to Japan. I got them printed, took a deep breath and headed to class. Only to find there was no critique this week, we were heading out to shoot St Pancras station instead.

But hey, that doesn’t mean you guys can’t critique them! Here are my shots of Japan, focusing on Torii gates.

Bonus fact: just realised I took all of these on my old Olympus Mju, so actually kind of pleased with the respective quality



Lead In


Detail/ Pattern


Straight On





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Spinning a yarn

Lo and behold, the scarf is complete!

And it’s so long! If I hold it up it’s pretty much as tall as me – and like me, it enjoys nothing more than draping itself lovingly around Mr Jones’ neck.

I am pretty much beside myself with happiness at this point – it feels really good to finish a project, especially when I’ve had so much flak for how long it has taken me to complete.

And better yet, it’s ready in time for Ben’s birthday! I made him pose in the garden wearing it, but then I took it back so I can wrap it up all pretty for his birthday.

So, I can tick that off on the Life List. I’ve now made the List a link at the top of my blog, so you can follow my progress from there.

I’m already full of ideas about what I want to make next – many of them waaaay too ambitious, but it’s good to dream big.

By the way, the scarf is not as narrow as it looks above – Ben has folded it in half. I have not spent a year knitting a shoestring.


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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Exposed

This week’s photo assignment was to play around with exposure and try producing shots that are over- and under-exposed. It took a bit of manipulation to get my camera doing anything like what I wanted – it’s designed to compensate the shutter speed and/or aperture to optimise the exposure.

I wasn’t super-pleased with my photos (as I mentioned the other day), but I was pleasantly surprised by my teacher’s response to them. I think it helped me immensely that I went first – there were some truly excellent photos later on that I would have blushed to follow. But again, there were also people whose shots weren’t as good as mine.

So, less blather, more photos.

And now for something utterly different.

On the way home, I saw an exploded watermelon on the floor. After several attempts to get a shot that wasn’t overly yellow and blurry, I switched into tungsten white balance, upped the aperture, and put the camera down on the pavement beside it. When you don’t have a tripod you have to improvise!

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Blog Action Day: The Cultural Environment

Today is Blog Action Day – a day for bloggers across the world to write on a common theme, and share their thoughts and their readers. I was introduced to the concept by my friend and fellow writer Yen.

As this year’s theme is the Power of We, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write a post I’ve been meaning to write since I was in Italy, in the hope that I can harness the Power of Blog Action Day to promote a worthwhile cause.

In a quiet corner of southern Italy, 8,000 olive trees are marked for destruction.

Why? Well, somebody thought it would be a good idea to expand the existing highway from two lanes to four. The words ‘hyperspace bypass’ spring to mind, but may not mean much to people who aren’t nuts about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Anyway, I’ve been up and down this highway several times, and the last thing it needs is an additional two lanes.

Leila and her friends are engaged in a grass roots campaign to save the olive trees and halt expansion of the highway (or should I say, tree roots campaign! No, no I shouldn’t. Shut up, silly pun Siri). They’ve been working locally to raise awareness of the campaign, and to gather a thousand signatures on their petition. They have also launched the petition online with Avaaz to reach a wider audience, check it out (if you don’t read Italian, try opening it in Chrome and it will offer you a translation).

You all know that I think trees are kind of a big deal, so I won’t go off on one again about how no trees = asphyxiation and death.

But a funny thing struck me as I was reading through the petition. The petition makes reference to ancient Greco-Roman and Christian relics that will be destroyed in the process, such as the crypt of San Basilio. Google Translate makes a bit of a hash of this – or perhaps it’s a poetic interpretation?

“the dissipation and destruction of priceless and countless stories of the greek-Roman and Christian civilization and the work of our age-old civilization”

I was immediately reminded of an article I read recently on George Monbiot’s blog: Ash tree threat reminds us that when we lose wildlife, we lose stories.

The Ash tree has an incredibly important role in Norse mythology, but the Olive tree plays a major role in Mediterranean life and consequently, in Greek and Roman myths. It is said that Athena brought the olive to Greece, by casting her spear into the ground, which sprang to life as an olive tree.

The olive tree also crops up in the Bible and the Quran, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Obviously this is a very different situation from the possibility of the Ash tree dying out completely. But my point is that this kind of destruction wears away at more than just the environment – it also erodes our cultural heritage.

Local officials in Salento say that the new 4-lane highway will bring tourists to the region. But what do they think tourists are coming to see?

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Ebay Sunday: Supervillainy

Photoshop really has brightened me up (haha!). I’ve even found the gumption for an Ebay Sunday post that requires no additional photography on my part!

It’s a bit obvious really: fully half of my wardrobe comes from ebay, it’s pretty easy to flick through pictures of me on Facebook and find me wearing something I got off ebay.

But it’s Sunday night! It’s getting darker and colder every day! You need something to put a smile on your face, and I have just the thing.

Faux leather bomber jacket: £24.99

Going to see The Dark Knight Rises dressed up as Catwoman: Priceless


Why just go to the cinema, when you get dressed up as supervillains and do it in style!

Highlights of the night:

  • Ben coming out of the Wagamama toilets dressed as the Riddler, and three little kids lining up to high-five him
  • Peering in the window of a restaurant as we passed by and having everyone inside turn and stare at me wide-eyed
  • An old lady with a zimmer frame saying we’d made her day


The Riddler



Catfight with Batgirl


Poison Ivy

The Penguin


Rogue’s Gallery

Catwoman and The Riddler will be getting another outing this Saturday at Ben’s Supervillains Birthday Party!



The Magic Shop

I’ve been feeling some serious Sunday Night Blues tonight:

I feel tired and slightly flu-ish

I have accomplished next to nothing this weekend

I was meant to visit a friend today, but the Victoria Line shafted me

I started writing a post yesterday and it turned out boring so I didn’t publish it (yes, there is some actual quality control on this blog. Don’t act all surprised)

Ben is also feeling grumpy and frustrated, because we’re trying to watch Felix Baumgartner’s stratosphere jump live feed and it’s choppy as hell

I haven’t done an Ebay Sunday, because I left it too late in the day, and now the light is rubbish for taking photos

Speaking of rubbish photos, I am not super-happy with the photos I have taken for my photography assignment. We were tasked with playing around with exposure and light metering. I certainly played, but I don’t think I got very interesting photos.

And then, something magic happened. Whilst showing Ben my choices for the assignment, I remembered that the other thing we covered in Tuesday’s class is how to manipulate photos in Photoshop. I’ve taken one of my bleh shots and punched up the exposure and saturation, then straightened up the angles. The image has become more grainy and cartoonish as a result, but I like the effect:

Before: wonky, dark, bleh. Bit like me

After: straight! colourful! instagram-tastic!

And somehow, magically, everything seems to be better. We’ve found a better feed for the Baumgartner jump and he has jumped and broken all kinds of records!

I might even get on and do that Ebay Sunday post…

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All these things that I have done

Wow, so my mum responded to my Life List post by creating a Facebook album of some of the awesome things I did before I was 6 years old. Check it.

1. Get born. In Zimbabwe

I know right? This one took me months of careful planning: getting myself conceived, orchestrating the move to Zimbabwe, arriving nearly a month late so my mum had to deliver me herself.

(Yes, I was late for my own birth. Yes, I was late for my own wedding. My tombstone will read: In Death as in Life: the Late Sirisa Clark).

2. Travel all over Africa before the age of 2. Also: be outrageously blonde.

Bet you weren’t expecting that, after the mass of black hair I was born with eh?

Yes, blondes really do have more fun! Or at least my mum did, hitchhiking around southern Africa with a platinum-blonde baby whose name means “secret” in Swahili. (“What’s your baby’s name?” “It’s Siri” “… ah go on, you can tell me!” “No, it’s Siri” “Ah… confidential!”)

3. Visit Victoria Falls

My main memory of this event is this:

[Stands near falls] Ah, it’s raining

[Walks 5 paces away] …But not over here

[Walks back to falls] Still raining over here… WHAT SORCERY IS THIS??

4. Have deep and meaningful discussions with ex-guerilla fighters in Harare

Actually I have no idea what we’re discussing here. He may be asking why I have the ridiculous rat-tail at the back of my pudding bowl haircut, and I may be patiently explaining that it’s the 80s, and I have a peculiar inability to communicate what I want to hairdressers – an inability that would plague my adult life.

What I do know is that we had spent all afternoon playing in the yard and taking silly photos and that I adored this guy.

5. Clamber all over Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe doesn’t seem to crop up on many must do travel lists, but it’s incredible. Its construction spanned from the 11th century to the 14th. I would really like to go back there one day.

6. Have a Marylin Munroe moment in Paris

So what if I am wearing a possum t-shirt? I’m Marilyn-frickin’-Monroe!

Of course I’d love to claim major kudos points for being the most awesome globe-trotting 5 year old to ever stand on a subway grate, but I think it’s pretty obvious here that it was actually my parents who were busy being awesome. I just got to enjoy the ride! I hope when I have kids I am bold enough to go out and have crazy adventures in the world and just strap the kid on my back.

Speaking of her awesomeness, my mum has now kicked off a blog of her own, so you can check out her adventures in Southern Italy, over on Leila in Galatina.