Monday, 27 March 2017

A Room With A View - The Old White Lion Inn, Haworth

I've been checking out a few different places to stay in my beloved Haworth in order to choose a couple of favourite ones for my increasingly frequent visits to this beautiful place. Last time I was there a couple of weeks ago, I stayed in the Old White Lion on the top of Main Street. It is an 18th century pub and hotel with original architectural features and furnished in traditional, old world style which is what I always seek out. My single room was small, but very clean and comfortable. What impressed me most about the room was its breathtaking, sweeping views over Changegate and Worth Valley to the left, Rawdon Road and Oakworth straight ahead, and towards Keighley on the right.

I decided to take shots of the view at dusk and then again in the morning. As I was getting ready to go out for an evening meal I watched the nightfall and lights slowly coming on in the streets below and in the distance below the horizon. The frame with a solitary figure walking down the street on the left is my favourite among the ones I took.

I have only managed to take a photo of an unobstructed view of the front of the hotel at night, because during the day there were cars parked outside it looking very incongruous in their surroundings. The pub/hotel looks small, but it is actually quite big with 15 on suite rooms.

When I woke up in the morning I opened wide the window, went back to bed and took this photo sitting up in my bed. What a wonderful view to wake up to, even on a cheerless, overcast day!

After breakfast, which I had with my lovely friend from Haworth, and before check out it was time to take a few shots of the White Lion's interior. This is the breakfast room, our breakfast dishes still on the table on the right of the photo.

The lounge with its typical English traditional, country decor. I just love pubs like this. Their warm, cosy and homely atmosphere makes me feel relaxed and comfortable.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed staying at The White Lion and will most certainly be back. It is also somewhere I would like to come for a quiet drink. In fact, it could easily become my favourite place for a much welcome refreshment after walking on the moor or around the village. I had a look at their food menu and found it very interesting and inviting, so it won't be long before I come here for lunch or dinner, too.

Getty Images Sale

Thanks to the buyer in Belgium. I took this photo back in 2010 and this is the third time a license has been bought for it, making it my second best selling photo, the first being this one. It was a corporate client who purchased it this time, but I am not sure how the image is being used.
It has been a long time since I created simple minimalistic still lifes like this one. Simplicity always works and is always popular both among viewers and buyers, and I have been thinking for quite some time to go back to that sort of still life work. The sale of this image has certainly given me a new incentive to do so.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Early Spring Stroll Around Haworth, Brontë Country

When my work rota unexpectedly changed last week, and I ended up having Friday and Saturday off, I immediately decided to spend that time in Haworth, always my favourite place.
From photography point of view the purpose for the visit was to capture the signs of spring, the slow awakening of nature after a long winter sleep.

As I got towards the top of the wonderful Main Street on Friday morning I turned back, and there was this beautiful, diffused yet glowing light, and a lovely smoke happened to briefly billow down in the valley; the whole street seemed enveloped in an unusual, nostalgic, almost surreal dreaminess.

The large wooden planters outside Sexton John Brown's house, on the way to the Parsonage, always draw my attention with their delightful, seasonal blooms.

Love the beautiful display of spring flowers outside the Parsonage, especially the gorgeous pink hellebores.

I spotted this delicate blossom while standing in the Parsonage garden. I immediately thought of Emily, who loved nature, and how she would have been delighted to spot this blossom, just like I was. I thought I'd pair the photo with a quote from Emily's poetry.

Saturday was a dull, sunless day. The churchyard still had that wintry/forever autumn look with its trees still bare and as yet hardly any signs of new leaves. However, regardless of the time of year or weather conditions, the churchyard always seems to retain its melancholic, bittersweet charm.

There seems to be more and more chickens in the churchyard. They started appearing not long ago. I hear they don't belong to anybody. There are some allotments nearby, and I suspect that is where the chickens come from. It looks to me like they have been abandoned by their owners, and although they are getting fed and looking beautiful and healthy at the moment, I fear there might be problems if nobody takes charge of them soon.

I was surprised to find that snowdrops were still at their best, because here in Leeds they have already gone over. The reason they are late in Haworth must be the more severe weather conditions.

On Saturday I went for a short circular walk towards Oxenhope, returning to Haworth via Marsh Lane and Sun Street. This young tree with its fragile pink blossom in Sun Street caught my eye. It looked beautiful against the contrasting background of the robust stone wall and blue light reflected in the windows of the house.

As always, I had a most pleasing stay in Haworth, and left ever more inspired to return soon, this time to photograph daffodils, one of my favourite flowers. I noticed their heads were just turning yellow, still firmly closed but ready to unfold in a day or so. I will be back to catch them in their prime.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Still Life with Mimosa

I am very happy that my first post this March is about the beautiful winter flowering shrub of mimosa. While it is widespread in Croatia, I had never seen it in England up until a few days ago. I was in Leeds market looking for some seasonal blooms for a new still life and was delighted to spot bouquets of mimosa. The florist said she got it from a Dutch supplier which for me just confirms the fact that mimosa doesn't grow in this country. I love the little yellow pom pom flowers with their subtle, honeyed scent.

As mimosa reminds me vividly of home, I thought I'd use it to create a nostalgic still life. I chose natural, partial backligthing from a window, a lot of fabric including an old fashioned table topper with crocheted edges, and an old, written postcard. I like yellow and blue colour combination; hence the vintage blue and white cup and saucer which add some colour contrast to the image.
The lighting is pretty effective in itself, so the image didn't need much Photoshop manipulation. I just used a couple of Jessica Drossin's actions, and that was all.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Photo Shoot with My Partner G, Haworth Moor, Oct 2016

It took me four months to prepare and publish this post. Because it is not particularly related to a season, I felt it could wait till I work on other, more "urgent" posts; and to be truthful, I wasn't sure how I wanted to process and present the photos. Even though I have tried portrait photography quite a few times since I first took up photography, it is still not my domain. However, I do enjoy it and hope to do more portraiture work in future.

It was the day before Halloween, and G and I were staying in Haworth overnight. (We both love this place and are waiting for the day we move to live here). On arrival we had breakfast at Villette cafe and then headed for the moor to have some photography fun. Well, that is what it was supposed to be, but I must admit, at times I wished I had never initiated the whole thing at all.

I wanted to photograph G because he is my much loved partner; because I believe that physically he makes a good model, and that as a photographer I owe it to him to take photos of him now and again. But when I first suggested this photo shoot, he point blank refused it: he was too old; he didn't look good on photographs; didn't like his photographs taken....all the usual you get from so many people when you want to take their picture. Then, very soon afterwards, he was going to go along after all; he couldn't deny me the pleasure...but he will have to wear what he chooses to wear. "Well, that is ok", I said, "as long as you also change into what I'd like you to wear, as well". After a lot of hard work I finally manage to persuade G to put on the clothes that I imagined would help create the mood and tone I wanted to achieve in the photos. Basically, I wanted him to look like a smart countryman, reminiscent of a past time, and I wanted to create images of mood and atmosphere influenced by the sort of landscape we were in.
As we got onto the moor, there was one more thing for me to tackle, and that was to coax G to take off his jewelry, as I didn't want him to wear any. I had secretly brought along a small jewelry pouch for him to put his earrings and chain in, but alas, he wasn't going to do that! Didn't I know he never ever took off the ank from around his neck?! Another tiresome quibble ensued before G finally dropped his earrings and chain with the ank in the pouch.
Furthermore, it was cold and windy (quite frankly, I personally was too busy to notice), so I was often being rushed. Anyway, G's patience is only short, and I didn't have very long at all to get the shots. Obviously, G is not a most compliant model, but because I know him well, I was able to take it in my stride. Right now, the most important thing is that we did manage to walk away with a handle of photos we both like.

G doesn't mind photos of his profile, so that is how we started.

I took a couple of pics of him walking from behind while he was trying to relax. All the photos were taken on Penistone Hill - the beautiful moorland park above Haworth.

Looking at the view of Lower Laithe Reservoir

There were some large stone slabs there, perfect to sit on and pose for a portrait with broody mood...

We both agree in this being our favourite image. I was really happy to come across this spot with tall, orange grass which must have turned that colour with autumn. It inspired me to add a cloud overlay in this and the next two images in Photoshop to create a different, warmer feel to the day.

Towards the end we came to what looked like a small pond. I liked the reflections on the opposite side. As G stood on the edge looking into the water, this dark and macabre image came to my mind, so I took a few quick shots of the scene before me. I actually processed this image first, and very soon after the shoot, as it was the only one I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like.

So, G and I have successfully done our first ever photo shoot. We are planning another one some time this summer. Now it would be really nice if we were treated to a book cover which would be based on our joint efforts. Well, maybe, ..... we'll see, never know.....

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Silver How, Grasmere, The Lake District, Feb 2016

Today is my lovely friend Liz's birthday, so I thought I'd create a post about something memorable that we did together. Last year at this time we were on holiday in Grasmere, the Lake District. One day we left our men behind for a change and went for a rather challenging walk up Silver How mountain. Well, to be truthful, the walk is rated as easy-to-moderate on the map, but for us, inexperienced fell walkers, it was far from being easy.

We left the village of Grasmere by the road that leads to the lake. I am always fascinated by the many white washed houses in the Lakes strewn all over the landscape and making it look like scenes from story books.

I don't think I could have got a better foreground to a rural lakeland scene than sheep at their feeders.

We soon turned onto a rocky path and continued along a steep climb. I made sure to often turn back to admire the views.

Another scene with white washed houses caught my eye. Just couldn't resist their charming starkness.

Dry stone walls are another favourite of mine in any English countryside. There was a cairn near this one, a stone stack built by walkers, which is a regular sight in the Lake District. Cairns usually stand as landmarks, and come in all sorts of sizes and shapes.

We passed through many wooden gates like the one in the bottom right corner. At this stage the views were getting more and more spectacular. Love the curve of the dry stone wall framing the distant mountain.

The winter sun was trying to break through the clouds. I had to act quick to catch it shining on this beautiful tree and its surroundings, leaving behind the snow covered peaks in the distance.

A lot of the time the lighting was very contrasty for panoramic photography, and the exposure quite tricky as shown by the hazy and rather overexposed detail in the background of this image. But I must say I am not overly fussed with technicalities of photography, conveying the mood of the moment being my main interest.

Our path was getting steeper and steeper, but we were enjoying the ascent.

Another look much to marvel at in the wonderful world of nature!

  I love the mixture of beauty and drama in the lakeland landscape.

Liz, my beautiful friend, with her cheeks rosy from the cold air and energetic climb up the mountain.

The view to our left over Grasmere lake. It was taken from approximately the highest point we went to, about half way through the circular walk. From here onwards the path became less than a foot wide, completely exposed with sheer drop to the left, and boggy as well, as we approached a stream. The stream was only narrow but beyond it the path seemed unclear, sharply bending to the right, you could not see where. We decided going any further would be going out of our comfort zone; we didn't want any sort of stress to possibly spoil our hike, so we started retracing our steps to go back down the way came.

A view of Grasmere lake somewhere on our descent.......

......and another one as we were nearing the road.

It would have been nice to have completed the circular walk, but we were content with what we did, and just happy we'd got to do this together. Getting high up on a Lake District mountain to enjoy magnificent nature sights is all we wanted.
Back in the village it was time for a nice warming bowl of home made soup.
I couldn't think of a better way to spend time with a good friend and can't wait for us to do it again.
This is how we spent Liz's birthday in the Lakes last year; and this the day after

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Rokov Perivoj (Roko's Park), In Winter, Zagreb, Croatia

One afternoon, during my recent visit to my ailing Mum in Zagreb, I popped to town while she was having a physio therapy. I thought I'd take advantage of the time to capture with my camera some of the lovely winter atmosphere in my native town. I had previously been reminded of Rokov perivoj (Roko's Park) through the Zdenko's Corner blog that I follow and love. I think even though I knew about the park, I had never actually been to it. It seemed like a perfect place for me to go to on that cold, but sunny winter afternoon, so I did.

The park is situated in the heart of the city, but it is hidden high up on a hill, above the busy Britanski trg (British Square), and it can be reached either by a steep climb from the square, or by a long flight of stairs on the opposite side. It is a peaceful and serene place, ideal for a gentle stroll, a quiet, reflective rest, or simply for drawing inspiration from.

On this particular winter day the grass and paths were all blanketed in snow from a few days ago. Owing to freezing temperatures the snow never got a chance to melt; on the contrary it turned into icy stuff that crunches under your feet and gleams in the winter sunlight.

Childrens' playground features made for a striking, wistful detail in their snowy surroundings. I liked how the red slide stood out in the pale winter scene.

Until 20th century Rokov perivoj was a rural, farming suburb. With the industrial age and birth of aristocracy there was a growing interest in prestigious housing. In 1909, Viktor Kovacic, one of the most renowned architects of the time, was commissioned to design an affluent residential area at Rokov Perivoj preserving green spaces through urban landscaping. A number of villas were built and given to some of the most acclaimed artists, who in return donated their work to the city. Robert Franges-Mihanovic, a celebrated Croatian sculptor lived here, as well as painters Robert Auer and Jozo Kljakovic, to name just a few.

Villa Deutch, a fine example of Roko's perivoj's villas.

A close up of a detail from another villa.

This is Elegija (Elegy), the Franges-Mihanovic's sculpture which authorities refused to exhibit publicly. The ban was lifted only when the Franges-Mihanovic heir donated the sculptor's collection to the city on condition that Elegy was displayed freely.

St Roko's Chapel, a charming, recently renovated chapel which was built in the17th century as an act of gratitude on the part of those who survived a devastating plague. I really like the backlighting here and the pattern of the remaining snow on the roof.

An interesting point in the history of the park is that it used to be a cemetery. The cemetery was closed and exhumed in 1877 when the famed Mirogoj became the city's main burial ground.

Attractive Aleksandrove stube (Alexandar's Stairway), built in 1935. The stairs connect the park to the city centre from its eastern side. Whilst I am open-minded towards graffiti art, I am not a fan of random graffiti scribblings; sadly, a lot of people in Zagreb must be as the old custom of putting graffiti on Zagreb's walls seems to be impossible to eradicate. I think it's a shame that these people are not sensitive to the aesthetic appearance of their own city.

Anyway, I was so pleased I'd paid a visit to the beautiful, idyllic Rokov perivoj, and am looking forward to returning at a different time of the year to see how it gets transformed by seasons. It may even become my little haven when I need a quick respite and a bit of peace and solitude when I am in Zagreb.