Friday, 20 April 2018

Springtime Break In Haworth, Brontë Country

"Awake to new life with the coming of spring,
When the lark is aloft with its fetterless wing;
When the thorns and the woodbine are bursting with buds,
And the throstle is heard in the depth of the woods;
When the verdure grows bright, where the rivulets run,
And the primrose and daisy look up to the sun;
When the iris of April expands o'er the plain,
And a blessing comes down in the drops of the rain"

~ John Critchley Prince ~

It is fair to say that last week saw most intense hard work I have ever done in my working life.  Although it was gratifying as well I must admit that by the end of the week I was in great need of a good rest. So when I saw I had now two days off Haworth immediately sprang to my mind. Saturday lunch time after work I quickly stuffed my rucksack with a change of clothes and headed for my heaven on earth place.
I didn't have any plans other than staying a couple of nights. This time for a change I was just going to do whatever my heart told me to do at a given moment. But, one thing I was sure to do and that was take photos, of course.
I arrived to a beautiful, warm and sunny afternoon - first real spring day this year. I spent a couple of  hours just pottering around and having a glass of wine in my favourite pub while waiting for the golden hour. And then I walked over to the Brontë Parsonage, Haworth church and the graveyard.

St Michael and All Angels' Church

Brontë Parsonage and Graveyard

Dusk Graveyard Visitor

The following morning I woke up at 6:30 (trying to convert to an early riser!).  It just got light and there was a mist shrouding the old stone houses, obscuring the distance and creating that mystic and atmospheric ambience. It is not often that I get a chance to be in Haworth on an early misty morning, so I quickly got dressed, grabbed my camera and was back in the Parsonage graveyard,  exactly twelve hours after my previous visit.
Apart from a gentleman coming out of John Brown's house I never saw anyone, and the only sound I heard was the usual cawing of crows.

Haworth Church Graveyard

Old School and John Brown's House

Behind Parsonage

Haworth Main Street

Haworth Station

I took another couple of images which, although taken in Haworth, are not intrinsic to Haworth by their composition or subject matter. I am thinking of processing these images in black & white, and as they are different in character to the ones I have published here I will blog about these images in a separate post.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

New Book Cover

The day before yesterday I received  a Trevillion Images sales statement with a great new book cover on it. Thank you, Trevillion!

The book is written by two English authors working as a team on detective novels under the pen name of James Henry. The authors are James Gurbutt and Henry Sutton. "Yellowhammer" is their latest novel, to be released in July this year.

"Yellowhammer" is the third different title book cover this image of mine has been used for and the sixth time license has been bought for this image to be used as a book cover. You can see how it was used in the past herehere and here.

The interesting thing is that with "Yellowhammer" the image was turned into black & white for the first time. And it comes at a time when I have been thinking of creating some black & white photos again.
When I first took up photography back in 1987 I was shooting b&w film only and was not interested in colour at all. Then, with digital age, I turned to colour simply because b&w images seemed to look nowhere near as good as those shot on film. But now, with my postprocessing skills improved and the fact that my sole interest and intention in photography is to convey or create mood, I am toying with the idea of trying my hand at some black & white again. And it looks as if this new b&w book cover is telling me "go for it"!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Easter 2018 Still Life

As I write this it's wet and windy out there; but I have seen colourful crocuses, primroses and daffodils cheerfully dotted around and my favourite camellia in its luscious bloom; trees are starting to bud up and days are longer and brighter; spring is finally upon us!... And it's Easter time! I love Easter! It is such an uplifting holiday.... a religious one, but for me also a celebration of the arrival of spring, the most longed for seasons of all.
Every year, as part of my Easter celebrations, I endeavour to create a festive still life image.

I have had these wondrous, decorative eggs for quite a few years. They were given to me by my Croatian friend's late mother, who in turn were given the eggs by a friend that painted them. I have never seen Easter eggs like these; they are unique and so skillfully and beautifully made. I have long thought of using them for my Easter still life, but somehow other ideas tended to prevail. Until this year!!
The eggs are so eye catching and interesting that a most simple and obvious composition suffices. A subtle texture use in postprocessing adds my ever favoured soft, painterly, vintage look.

~ Happy Easter & Springtime! ~ 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The village of Dockray, The Lake District, Cumbria

I haven't taken any new photos for the past few weeks. I was ill with the flu when we had a spell of heavy snow, and "the beast from the east" was thrashing England. Then I started a new job, which for me is a bit like starting a new life, so while I am in training and finding my feet in the new job and new circumstances of living I have put my photography on the back burner.
However, when it's time to relax I like nothing more than editing photos, and I decided to look in my archives for something to process for a blog post. The weather has not been nice: low, wintry temperatures, another bout of heavy snow followed by incessant rain and then more snow. It's already mid March, and I'm sure everyone is, like I am, eagerly awaiting a turn in the weather and some much welcome signs of spring. In this spirit I thought I'd share a few photos I took in the beautiful August weather of 2016, when we were on holiday at Ullswater, one of the lakes in the wonderful English Lake District.

We were on the lookout for some good places to have an evening meal and were recommended the Royal Hotel in the picturesque village of Dockray, a mile or so away from our rented cottage. We came here one afternoon to check it out, and while G and our friends sat down to a cold and refreshing drink in the beer garden I disappeared with my camera for half an hour or so.

The Royal is a family run, traditional country hotel. It looked so beautiful in the lovely light of the summer afternoon with its contrasting colours of white, black and red framed by the rich blue of the sky. I wandered excitedly around the building and the garden with my camera clicking away.

Dockray is a very small, quaint and peaceful village with old stone houses, many of them whitewashed. There are quite a few gorgeous holiday cottages. As I admired them I thought what a perfect place to be based for a holiday with Ullswater and its lake attractions just a mile away, proximity of the spectacular Aira Force waterfall and two of  England's most well known fells, Helvellyn and Growbarrow, just a stone's throw away.

Dockray is surrounded by farmland and rolling valleys and nestles in the stunning lakeland countryside. I was itching to explore it, but it was time I went back to my company so I just grabbed a couple of shots from the edge of the village.

To round off our experience of this charming place we did return for an evening meal at the Royal. It was exquisitely home made and delicious. Both the hotel and the village are on my list of places to go back to when I am in the area next time.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Recent Still Life

As usual, in between taking pictures of landscape and scenery, I have fitted in some still life work as well. To me still life is very important part of my photography; it is a must do for every month of the year; it is what gives me a true sense of creative achievement in this wonderful pursuit that photography is to me. In the current winter months I have chosen three very different themes.

Winter, with its absence of flowers and colours in the nature, is a good time to do some, what I call, non-floral still life work. I simply look around the house for some objects that I could use to create a story around, while at the same time putting together a visually engaging set up in which the elements interact well with one another. This time it was my antique brown poison bottle and a reproduction of an old bill of fare I bought in the Mother Shipton's Cave Attraction gift shop in Knaresborough.

This is a found still life which I saw in my friend's lovely house in Haworth where I was privileged to stay. I love the little distressed vintage chest of drawers, the angel figurine, and the framed quote. The quote is so simple and yet so inspiring. To me, it reminds us not to take happiness or anything, for that matter, for granted and to always be grateful for everything we have, be it material or spiritual.

This is my latest still life image where I chose to work with the flowers that have started to spring about in the still wintry landscape. The colours are those predominant in February - white and brown. The first flowers of the spring are usually white, and the vegetation is still pretty much brown. And then, there is a bit of yellow too, as the first daffodils tentatively poke their heads through.

And now it's nearly March, and I look forward to seeing what fresh still life ideas come to me.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Walk Around Leeming Reservoir, Brontë Country

These days I seem to always stick to colour photography. However, on this particular occasion I ended up dabbling with black and white sepia. Here is how and why.
It was a Sunday morning and my third and last day in Haworth. I arranged with G and a friend to come over for breakfast and then go for a walk before driving back to Leeds. I thought a walk around the nearby Leeming reservoir would be nice and relaxing on this winter day. We drove a short distance to Oxenhope and started our walk from the village post office.
All along the walk there were extensive, breathtaking views over the reservoir, the village of Leeming and surrounding areas. I always enjoy looking at sweeping, distant views, but, to be honest,  photographs of most of them leave me quite indifferent. It was mainly an overcast day and the diffused light and pale colours of the winter landscape made my photos look quite flat, insipid and simply lacking impact. I thought I had to do something with the photos to make them worth sharing. I quite liked the idea of the old photo, industrial look, so I experimented with some sepia presets in Lightroom.

The highlights of the walk for me was looking at the snow covered Haworth moor on the skyline and walking up the steep, rough stone set track, called Bank, lined with pretty, old cottages. The views from this track were absolutely wonderful.

Apart from having to retrace our steps at a certain point and modify our route because of unmanageable mud, we all really loved our ramble. Towards the end we came out onto the main road right in front of a very inviting pub "The Lamb Inn". We couldn't resist going in for a little rest and a refreshing drink. And it was really good to get to know this lovely, olde worlde country pub. 

I am looking forward do doing this walk again some time in the late spring or summer when, in my photography, I shall be focusing more on detail and less on extensive views.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Snowy Day in Haworth, Brontë Country

It was a very cold, but bright day when I left Leeds for Haworth on Monday morning. As I got off the bus at the bottom of the cobbled Main Street I turned my face up towards the sun and felt the usual surge of happiness and excitement at simply being here; and the more so this morning because I was on my way to the amazing Ponden Hall, possibly the model for Thrushcross Grange, or even more likely, Wuthering Heights. I thought I'd walk up to the top of Main Street and get a taxi from there; that way I wouldn't miss out on any possible photos of my favourite street in the world.

By the time I got to the top of the street the sun was already hidden behind some rather ominous clouds, and by the time I rang for a taxi it was snowing heavily; large, thick flakes, whirling in a gusty wind were settling fast on the ground and in no time the place was blanketed in white. The taxi driver quite understandably wouldn't take me to Ponden Hall as the snow storm was likely to be even worse up there. I did feel a pang of disappointment, but the day was far from being spoilt for me. The weather simply cannot spoil my visits to Haworth. You cannot be a big fan of Haworth if you are bothered about the weather, and anyway, inclement weather just gives an extra appeal and atmosphere to this place for me.

The only downside of the wet weather is that I basically cannot take photos as I don't want my camera to get wet. So I headed into the Parsonage, the Brontës' home - the best possible shelter from the wet weather I could possibly wish for. I wandered around the rooms and the shop. I looked out the shop's windows and for the first time ever I was inspired to take a shot from there. It's incredible how the snow transforms the surroundings!

It soon stopped snowing and I stepped outside. To the left was the path to the moors I took a photo of only a few days before. You wouldn't recognise it now. It made for such a lovely rural scene. There were some crows frolicking around in the mid distance, and I just manage to catch two of them flying away.

Soon the sun was shining again, and the day progressed into a gorgeous late afternoon, crisp with melting and dripping snow, and rich in blue skies and glinting whiteness of the roofs and ground.

There is always something exhilarating being in Haworth in the snow for me. I guess it comes from the fact that I would never actually go there if I know it is snowing for fear of being stuck and unable to get back home. Another reason, of course, is that Haworth is so idyllic and extremely beautiful covered in snow.