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Water reflections: Superb photos by Marine Café readers

Water reflection photography is not easy. Changes in the lighting condition, the motion of the water, and the right choice of camera angle — these and other factors make it challenging even for professional photographers.

The following pictures are the most striking and memorable amongst those submitted by photographers who responded to Marine Café Blog’s invitation. Many thanks to everyone who took up the challenge.

A dire warning to seafarers who are womanisers

I recently came across an interesting old ballad called ‘The Sailor’s Tragedy’. Also known as ‘The Dreadful Ghost’, the song was published in 1826 by Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns in an eight-page booklet that included three other ballads. It reminds me of the maritime Lotharios and skirt-chasers I have encountered in real life.

The light and dark sides of the seafarer’s world

The world of the seafarer has two aspects. There is the light side, which one sees in the pictures of smiling seafarers on social media. And there is the dark side, which comes to the surface through news photos of abandoned crews or the deplorable conditions on board a flag-of-convenience vessel. The world would not know about the latter if not for ITF inspectors, Port State Control authorities and the news media. The duality calls to mind the Chinese philosophy of yin/yang, the two opposing and complementary forces that underlie all natural phenomena and all aspects of life.

Pictorialism: Robert Demachy’s waterside photographs

Anyone who believes that photography is more than just a matter of recording reality ought to take a look at the pictures made by Robert Demachy (1859–1936). The man was a leading French light in the late 1860s to early 20th century movement called Pictorialism. The term is succinctly defined by Britannica as “an approach to photography that emphasizes beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition rather than the documentation of reality.”

River romance: The Seine in poetry, song and painting

The Seine River in France runs for 780 kilometres (485 miles) — shorter than the country’s longest river, the Loire (1,020 kilometres or 634 miles). But it is the beloved river of Paris and one of Europe’s great historic rivers. And like other great rivers such as the Volga and the Mississippi, it has, through the centuries, held a strong fascination for creative spirits — poets, musical composers and artists. The stream of inspiration has never stopped flowing.

Why is the IMO selling the STCW electronic edition?

One can understand that the printed edition of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW) cannot be given for free. Like any other publisher, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has to cover the cost of printing plus some markup for overhead expenses and profit. But why sell the electronic edition, and for a hefty £50 (USD67.16) at that?

Carnival of colours: Venice in Impressionist paintings

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go,” the American novelist and screenwriter, Truman Capote, once said. Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet may not have felt exactly the same about the fabled city. For sure, though, Venice had an exhilarating effect on these two key figures in the art movement called ‘Impressionism’. Both painters depicted its waters, palaces, cathedrals and sky in colours that continue to bedazzle viewers in the 21st century.

Filipino seafarers faced with two long-term threats

Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big blow to Filipino seafarers and the manning agents in Manila. Total deployment plunged by 54% in 2020 as the scourge of the virus disrupted supply chains and the normal process of crew change. But two trends could pose an even greater threat to Philippine manning over the long haul. Both have been slowly eating away at the country’s’ coveted standing in the global seafarer market. Yet, they do not seem to be receiving enough attention.

Tribute to seashells: Three verses, one music video

Like countless people around the world, I am fascinated no end by seashells. Just looking at them is a source of great pleasure. It can even be therapeutic. Someday, I might write a poem on the subject. In the meantime, let me share the following three verses and a haunting song about seashells. Relax and enjoy.

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