Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, see engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music – this is my chance to bring you all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday.
Ernest – journal
Ernest is not a magazine. It’s not a book. It’s a journal. It’s published every six to nine months in Bristol. I picked up a copy of Issue 9 in Magma bookshop in Manchester, nestled in amongst their interesting publications section. It smells of ink and intrigue.
Here’s what they say about themselves:
Ernest is a journal for enquiring minds. It’s made for those who value surprising and meandering journeys, fuelled by curiosity rather than adrenaline and guided by chance encounters.
That smells of a top note of great followed by a worrying bass note of possible pretention. I open it and I’m utterly disarmed and then hooked. It’s beautifully designed and nicely illustrated with stylish illustrations and appropriate photographs. They do that annoying thing of putting text on top of photographs which I’m always slightly allergic to. Those photographs were someone’s art. You shouldn’t obscure them. How would writers feel if someone put a photograph over the text of their story so you couldn’t read it? If I ever produce a magazine (read ‘journal’) I’ll never allow a single word of text to be placed over a photograph. Thankfully, the intrusions are slight and I can almost forgive them.
In Issue 9 Canadian photographer Graeme Owsianski travelled to the Faroe Islands, famous for killing whales and dolphins. His photographs are of fell runners, foragers, conservationists and guano-covered, storm-battered cliffs. A good test of any travel writing is if you think, “I’d like to go there”, or “I wish I’d seen that”, or “I’m glad I didn’t waste my time doing what he’s doing”. I had one of those experiences on almost every page.
I expected a touch of amateurism about the publication. Clearly not in the design aesthetic. It looks great. But would the writing be grammatically correct? Would the editing be accurate? Would it be full of annoying mistakes? I’ve spent a lot of my life writing, editing and rewriting and nothing distracts more than a clumsy mistake. “If they can’t be bothered to read their own journal properly then why should I give it my attention?” is what I usually think. (Having said that, I’m currently worried there may be a mistake in this blog review.) There was none of that with Ernest. Reading it I found every page is thoughtfully edited and grammatically correct. At least it was until I got nearly 100 pages in and noticed a first tiny, tiny mistake.
Ernest Journal is an independent, self-funded and Kickstarter-backed project. It’s published by Uncharted Press Ltd and owned by its editor and publisher Jo Keeling. They really know what they’re doing.
Ernest is made thoughtfully, with deep care and attention. Every article has a simple headline which induces that “I’m interested in that” feeling. Whether it’s Jennifer & the Sherpas (surely a great lost band name), a young woman’s 1952 trip to the Himalayas before Nepal was opened to the west, or The Lure of the Mist, fog in a photographer’s work, or Post Office Cats, it’s something you’ll be curious to read. I want to tell you about all the articles in it, about the Blasket islands, about David Nash’s sculpture that washed away, about… but I’ll just let you buy yourself a copy.
It’s always surprising when an organisation says something about itself that’s entirely true:
Ernest is founded on the principles of slow journalism. We value honesty, integrity and down-to-earth storytelling – and a good, long read every now and then.
It’ll never catch on. At least it won’t if you don’t visit ernestjournal.co.uk and buy a copy. Better still, subscribe. Even better, subscribe for two years. It’s having guaranteed income which makes fabulous ventures like Ernest sustainable.
Ernest Journal. Best read in glorious isolation.
Mark Smith – photography
Mark Smith is a photographer I greatly admire. He’s enthusiastic and full of life, always trying to learn and keen to share everything he sees with a growing audience. Amazingly, given how popular some seriously worthless things are on YouTube, Mark only has 50,000 subscribers. That’s a desperate travesty. He’s got to be most worthwhile thing you haven’t yet discovered on YouTube.
Mark lives near wetlands in Florida and sees Roseate Spoonbills, Tricoloured Herons and Ospreys aplenty. It’s what he does to capture them so elegantly which is equally inspiring and endearing. If you’d like to fall down Mark’s YouTube rabbit hole, it’s here: Mark Smith
Mark captures some spectacular images of fishing Ospreys. Watching his videos I’d just love to be there. Wouldn’t you?
In a world where people are huddled indoors, there’s horrifying news and endless repeats on TV, Mark’s 100 plus videos are a genuine relief.
It’s a shame Mark has to feature new and expensive gear, but it’s just part of the modern world. In many areas of photography it really doesn’t matter what camera you have, after all, the masters of photography used cameras which are in junk shops now (or antique shops if they were Leicas). With photography of fast moving birds and challenging lighting conditions, however, you need great glass and the fastest autofocus to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Here’s one of his most recent videos for your viewing pleasure:
Marks’s got charm and enthusiasm in equal measure. Sadly, Mark’s wife Julie died suddenly just a few weeks ago from a brain aneurism. Here he is with his children:
My heartfelt condolences to him and all her relatives and friends.
Mark’s a great character and in this busy world, he’s worthy of some of your attention.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more reviews of things you might adore next Sunday.