My Photo Blog and Diary page
Various photo happenings and a few thoughts along the way.
An interesting excursion to Kielder forest and the Kielder forest drive in Northumberland, an area I know well having served my time over forty years ago, as an area forester in the region. Sadly, the magnificent conifers of the original 1919 planting are now confined mainly to the sheltered lower valley slopes. The drive now is very much through re-planted acres of bleached stumps of the former crop and wind-blown margins. Such is the lot of a commercial forest crop rotation; but it will grow again.
The purpose of my visit was to see the new Shelter at Blakehope Nick (above), the latest addition to the Kielder collection of art and architecture projects. I had been asked to provide a large panoramic photo of the vista from the Nick for incorporation on the interpretive panel in the shelter. Unfortunately, the end result was not a panorama, but a heavily cropped standard landscape version, without description, and because of the building design, on a narrow portrait orientated panel. The original picture design concept I feel was lost.
The original panorama from Blakehope Nick
The end of February produced some very early and exceptional spring weather with temperatures reaching 19 deg C on the 26th of the month. The Breamish Valley, in Northumberland (below), felt more like May rather than February in the sunshine!
Wednesday 6th Feb. This guy has just helped himself to a House Sparrow on our feeding station. Living up to its name I suppose! I keep calling this Sparrow Hawk 'him' when in fact it is a young female bird.
Above: Evening Spring Tide at Boulmer Haven, Northumberland. Camera: Lumix LX100
I was asked in November to take a few photos of a village event to commemorate the end of World War One. It took the form of a tea party that was held in our village hall on the Armistice weekend. Similar events were happening all over the Country.
A lot of effort and originality had been put into the event by the organising committee and the supporting displays and memorabilia were really first class. There was a very convincing reconstruction of a typical back parlour and how it would have been at the end of the war and a most impressive wall hanging produced, over a four-year period, by the local sewing bees.
It was good to see the involvment of local children who made excellent models!
On a technical note, all photos were taken without flash and in poor lighting conditions at high ISO with a Nikon D800 DSLR with a 70-200 mm f2.8 VR lens.
Roughting Linn, in Northumberland, is one of those places that represents a very interesting and relatively unspoilt connection with the past. Once you have found out where it is, it is not the easiest or most obvious place to get to, with steep ground and fallen trees, with an eroding footpath to negotiate. When you do find it, it is a small, very well hidden waterfall, surrounded by lush vegetation and trees. But this is not all.
In the woodlands above the Linn are a series of ancient earthworks that are capped by sandstone slabs that are heavily carved with “Cup and Ring” symbols, which indicate that the Linn was the site of a Neolithic settlement. The Bronze Age people that inhabited these environs date from between four to six thousand years ago. This was once a relatively populous area, which is hard to believe today.
Picture above: Neolithic "Cup and Ring" carvings.
Left: The waterfall at Roughting Linn.
This year was one of the warmest summers we have had for many years. Sadly, this year the Alnwick International Music Festival, which has been a regular event for over four decades, did not go ahead for various organisational reasons. It has been a very regular photo opportunity for many years and was missed.
The local Glanton country show did however go ahead as usual and provided a chance to get the camera out and record the displays of flowers and produce together with the various events that make up the traditional show.
Camera: Nikon D800. Lens: Nikon 70 - 200 mm f2.8 VR.
Below: The Wall Butterfly (left) and the Peacock (right). Regular garden summer visitors.
Early Summer 2018
After the seemingly very long winter, with snow at some point each month for six months, it has been very pleasant to welcome the Spring again.
There have been a number of warm sunny days in May and the blossom on the trees has been exceptionally impressive, much to the delight of the pollinators who have probably had a bit of a tough time during the winter cold. Hopefully a good crop of apples will result.
Very pleased to see one of my photos being used locally on the front cover of this year's Glanton Show programme.
Cameras: Left Nikon D800 with 70 - 200 mm f 2.8 VR lens.
Above and beneath: Lumix LX100.
It seems to have been a long winter this year with periods of snow in each of the last five months. Last time we had snow on this scale was in 2010. So much for global warming!
It is amazing how resilient nature is: the daffodils were buried under two feet of snow, but emerged a week or so later, a bit bent and shocked, but went onto flourish undeterred, despite fresh snowfall! The birds were also sorely stretched by the harsh conditions but somehow survived.
Cameras: above and left Nikon D800 with 70 - 200 mm f 2.8 VR lens. Beneath Nikon D700 with 50 mm lens.
Winter in Coquetdale - it's tough being a sheep in this climate! I have been taking pictures of this particular group of Larch trees for well over a decade. Sadly, they have reduced in recent years from nine trees to four. A black and white shot that I took a dozen or so years ago became 'Photo of the Week' in one of the then popular ephoto zines on the net. Camera: Lumix LX100.
Coquetdale in Winter. The village of Alnham in January. Camera: Lumix LX100.
Above: Winter comes to Coquetdale in Northumberland.
Camera: Lumix LX100
January, when the weather is not at its best and everyone is recovering from the Christmas break and all its excesses, is probably a good time to sit down quietly and go back over a few of the photos taken over previous years. An interesting fact about photography is that, although a photo does not change, your attitude to a particular shot can change considerably, especially in the light of new experiences and learning. An ordinary shot can often, with a little graphic imagination and manipulation, be turned into something quite different and pleasing.
The picture on the left of a traditional country clog dancer from the Appalachians in North Carolina performing at Alnwick Music Festival a year or two ago, is one that I particularly like. The original shot was nothing special, but with cropping and layering with special effects, now freely available online, something quite different emerges.
Picture edited with Adobe Photoshop and Pixlr.
Original photo taken with a Nikon D800 with 70 – 200 mm f2.8 VR lens.