Monday, 30 December 2013

Forever Autumn

This is my second post today. I finally have found time to catch up on my photo processing and posting. I shot this beautiful pastoral scene while walking around  Bishop Burton, a lovely old farming village in East Riding of Yorkshire, not far from where our friends live. They introduced it to us inviting us to the local pub for a meal, their favourite eating place. When I first came back to photograph the place I could not take a single shot as my camera just would not switch on. It appeared the battery was not working which I could not understand as I fully recharged it the night before. It takes nearly an hour and a half to drive to the village and I felt like crying standing there trying to get the camera to switch on. In the end it started raining which meant I could not take pics anyway so I felt a bit better about having to come back. I got there again about a month later and was treated to beautiful sunny weather. This time I had a newly bought spare battery too but my old one worked fine and has done ever since that wretched day. I called the image "Forever Autumn" because those colours here in Yorkshire seem to linger on into winter (unless we have snow, of course) and even into early spring as a lot of new growths seem to be similar colours. I used textures a bit more prominently here as I wanted to achieve a strong painterly look which I feel suits the scene. And oh, yes, I did add the bird on top of the tree on the left hand side of the image for extra interest. Hope I got its size right.



Christmas at Local Florist

A belated post I only had time to quickly upload on Flickr. A quaint flower shop on a picturesque parade of shops at the village of Bramhope. It was a beautiful winter day. More shots from this village will follow when I have edited them.



Saturday, 14 December 2013

What I Love

I created the still life with a Brownie camera almost a year ago. But there was something missing, it just did not feel completed and I could not figure out what it was I needed to do to finish  it off. Then I looked at it again the other day and I realized that it is conceptually very similar to the "Still life with Cup & Saucer" I made in 2009 which was very popular on Flickr. They both speak of things that I cherish and that mean much to me and also they are probably the best example of the sort of still life I try to create. It suddenly came to me what to add to the Brownie camera image to be happy with it - simply some faded birds in the background. While the "Cup & Saucer" symbolizes my love for still life, texture, cottage lifestyle, nature and reading the "Brownie on an old cake? plate" stands for my love for photography, still life, villages, antiques and the outdoors.




Sunday, 8 December 2013

All Saints Church, Bishop Burton, 13/11/2013

I must say I do not get any time for photography at this time of year. Work gets very busy and I end up doing extra days and hours, and what with preparations for Christmas all I can hope for is a few minutes to process something I have taken earlier. I do get very frustrated because I would love to go out there and capture some of the Christmas atmosphere or shoot a nice Christmas still life. But regretfully it will not happen. The day I took the photos of this charming church was also the last time I took photos and I expect it will not be before January when I am out with my camera again.
I struggled a bit with the first image because there was no sky detail in the original and I thought it was not needed. But after a first processing attempt I decided the image does need a cloud detail in the top left corner so I added a new texture layer. It looks better for it but the church walls appear perhaps a bit too soft now.
I applied the same sky and cloud texture to the second photo. I feel it works well because it creates an impression of dappled light and shadows. I was also pleased with the blue tone of the stained glass window which must have come from the reflection of the blue sky. I tweaked it a bit to make it turquoisey and also changed slightly the colour of the red leaves to get a more striking colour combination.




Thursday, 28 November 2013

Good Bye, Lovely Nan

This is a tribute to G's Nan who has passed away this morning. She was a hundred years old and I am pleased to say that she had a long and good life. I will remember her for her great sense of humour even in old age. She made me laugh even in her last years when she was very frail. She was a much loved family member. The photo shows her room in the nursing home where she spent the last few years of her life. I took it on our visit to her nearly three years ago. Rest in peace, dear Nan!



Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Untitled

I came across this lovely scene when I was in the Bishop Burton village, East Riding of Yorkshire about two weeks ago. I was delighted by so many things here - the warm low sunlight, gold and brown autumn colours, pink roses still in flower by the fence and a white horse wearing a red winter coat. The sense of seasons mingling with one another was very pleasing to the eye. As I walked towards the fence the horse looked at me and then walked towards the fence its side. It stood there while I took a few shots and then slowly strode off. A very cooperative fella!




Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Autumn Bokeh

I must admit autumn colours are far from spectacular here in Yorkshire and that has never been more true than this year. I went to the nearby park last Friday hoping to get some colourful photos but I really struggled. Even the amazing tree at the golf course
http://www.vesnaarmstrong.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/gotts-park-golf-course-leeds-23102012.html was nowhere near its glorious last year's look. I had to settle for branches with odd leaves and the photo below is about the only one worth sharing. I underexposed it by two stops to ensure a low key and a crisp bokeh and increased the colour saturation on the leaves.



Thursday, 7 November 2013

She Loved to Walk in the Park

Tuesday did not start promising weather-wise. When I woke up in the morning there were rain drops on the panes of my window and the sky lay grey and heavy above the houses in the distance. I thought I could not hope for any photos that day and decided to go around charity shops instead, my camera in the boot of the car just in case. When I finished looking around the shops I noticed there were some blue patches in the sky so I hurried to the car to get my camera and then strode off quickly the short distance to the park. As I got there the sunshine came out and wet autumn colour leaves on the trees started glinting in the warm glowing light. I spotted this bunch of withering red roses propped up on a bench from quite a distance and immediately got excited as I knew I would get at least one nice shot after all. I loved this scene instantly because it sums up autumn so well - low mellow sunlight, damp fallen brown and yellow leaves covering a bench in the park, dying flowers and the whole nature preparing for a long winter sleep. And, of course, it has another profound meaning - that of a celebration of life and love in the face of demise both in a straightforward and symbolic way.




Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Village of Dubranec, NW Croatia, 08/09/2013

I should be going out and taking photos of leaves turning most beautiful colours but I still have quite a few photos from my visit to Zagreb back in September to processes and share. Like last year, my photographer friend Jasenka https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jasenka-Arbanas-Photography/513499128682849?hc_location=stream and I had a day together in Turopolje where she lives with her lovely family. They have a big house, a farm and a large allotment a short distance away. I loved having a look around and admired hugely everything I saw. We had a most tasty lunch prepared by her hubby of literally everything home grown and home made including the bread. I had to force myself to stop eating! Then we sat at the computer looking at our photos and discussing some editing techniques. After the afternoon coffee we went out with our cameras and drove to Dubranec - a rare old and preserved village where Jasenka's father was born. The light was fading rapidly and we did not have a lot of time but the village is so picturesque you only need minutes to take some very interesting shots. Oh what a day! I felt, and still do, so grateful and blessed!









Thursday, 24 October 2013

Early Autumn Still Life

It has been a while since I shot a true still life. Autumn with its lively red and yellow colour shades is irresistible for me, just like for most photographers. I love rose-hip at this time of year and the fact that it is so easily accessible for me growing in the car park outside my house makes it a must to use in a still life. Its spindly wild look calls for a wide top receptacle to present it in an interesting way and this time I thought of the old small copper coal scuttle I picked up for a pound at a car boot sale. The white enamel jug with dried lavender in it that sits on a tiny wooden table in the corner of my dining room came as an exciting addition. And a couple of red apples and a few supermarket bought physalis rounded up the the early autumn theme.



Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Rural Friends

Another shot I took on the route to work. In fact, I very rarely take photos on my way to or fro work but just keep my eyes open for scenes I normally go back to photograph on my day off. There are a few fields with cows and sheep grazing on them, and this particular field is very convenient as it lies next to a pub car park. It is also on a higher ground then the road where I was standing and that  made it easy for me to get a viewpoint with the cows standing right on the horizon against a big expanse of sky. I took quite a few shots as I wanted at least two to three cows to look at the camera. This was the best shot as far as the cows were concerned. However, it did not have enough sky space since I wanted the sky to take up about two thirds of the frame, so I added a bit of sky in Photoshop. Then as usual, I applied textures in processing.
This image was inspired by my favourite rural photographer Jamie Heiden:



Friday, 4 October 2013

Melin Bar, Zagreb

I was taking photos outside Melin, a trendy bar up in the Zagreb Old Town when I young, good-looking man approached me and started talking to me in English. I told him in Croatian I was not a tourist even though I may look like one (and often feel like that these days!) He turned out to be one of the Melin bosses and invited me in for a coffee. He and his two mates had recently taken over the bar and had completely changed the interior. It looked stunning with a lot of vintage detail. There were quite a few 70s TV sets around being used for various purposes. Some of them were put on a stand and paired with stools to use as a place for putting down drinks. Unfortunately, the light was way to low for any hand held photography and I don't like flash so this is the only image I took that I am pleased with.



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Skalinska Street. Zagreb, 5/9/2013

Skalinska Street is one of my favourite Zagreb Upper Town streets. It is situated at the bottom of the old town (called Upper Town), near the main square. It is very short and spans the wonderful Tkalciceva Street (at the bottom of the first photo) and Opatovina, the street of much personal significance for me. Every time I am in Zagreb I have to have at least one meal in Skalinska St., in the Nokturno - restaurant and hotel, and this year I dined there with my lovely photographer friend Jasenka. The restaurant boasts a surprisingly extensive Mediterranean menu at low prices and the food is very nice. The street is very photogenic with its old architecture and quaint look, and if you stand at the bottom of it you even get a good view of the Zagreb cathedral.
I really like the light on the first photo, but for some strange reason I could not get the photo to look here on Google Blogger the way I intended it to look. It should be viewed on my Flickr account here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vessimages/10003852164/




Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Cottage in September

I did not have a happy day at work yesterday so on my way back I stopped at the little cottage at the cemetery to relax and take a few shots to cheer myself up. Signs of early autumn were all around and beautiful colours very pleasing for the eye. I have previously posted a spring image of this cottage here http://vesnaarmstrong.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/dreamy-spring-afternoon.html




Sunday, 22 September 2013

My Bedroom at Mum's in Zagreb

A modest but cosy little bedroom in my Mum's upstairs flat. The flat is usually rented out but was vacant this summer so I had a chance to have it for myself. I love the big window overlooking a park. I left it open at night to breath in the fresh air scented by the grass, various shrubs and trees growing in the park. On the table there is my diary which I kept assiduously every night before switching off the light.



This is my Mum's young tomcat, called Miki. He is not allowed in my Mum's bedroom downstairs at all never mind on her bed. But me being a sucker for cats I let him go wherever he wanted to go in the upstairs flat (except tables that is!). He took every opportunity to snuggle up on my bed and spent as long there sleeping as he could.




Thursday, 19 September 2013

Selling Souvenirs, Zagreb, 05/09/2013

I just got back from Zagreb, my beloved and beautiful hometown. I am not the sort of photographer who takes thousands of pictures but I did take enough to make it difficult to decided which ones to edit and share first. The easiest choice was my favourite of all, the one of a girl with a red umbrella wearing a national costume selling postcards and souvenirs on a popular old town street. To make it a theme I have added two other images of women doing the same just around the corner.



I have always been attracted to this street corner with its old lantern and four windows in the background and have taken many pictures there. But this time I was treated to this girl wearing ethnic clothes and standing just in the perfect place. She saw me and kept turning around thinking I wanted a picture of her facing the camera, but I really wanted a full view of that lovely red umbrella. The umbrella and the costume are characteristic of Zagreb,  precisely of  Sestine, a village nestling at the foot of the mountain Medvednica.


This stand was new to me, it was not there last year when I was in Zagreb. I thought it looked delightful with the tree to the left, the old street light behind it and the backdrop of a city view in the distance. I only managed one shot with the girl in the frame. Next she decided to hide her head behind the goods she was selling.


This woman attracted my attention just by sitting isolated against a wide wall. She looked unusual and mysterious in her white outfit selling little pouches of lavender with angel heads. Strangely, she seemed more interested in whatever she was doing on her mobile phone than in attracting customers.




Sunday, 1 September 2013

Untitled

It is nearly apples time, in fact, I have already seen some ripe ones that have fallen off a tree, so I decided to share this simple still life I took back in late June. It was really no more than an exercise testing my new 50mm f1.8 lens, but once I gave it a vintage look and put it in a ttv frame I quite liked it.



Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Cosmos Welcome

I love love cosmos! They are such a spectacular sign of high summer. This is part of a scene I see every morning and afternoon on my way to and fro work. The gorgeous mixture of white , pale and hot pink flowers never fail to lift my spirits. There are some other colourful flowers along the fence wall on either side of the gate stretching the whole width of the front garden. It is the entrance to a caravan storage site and they certainly know how to draw attention and make themselves noticed! I used a texture in post processing the first image, mainly to soften it and give it a bit of a dreamy look. The other three images are straight out of camera apart from a crop.









Thursday, 22 August 2013

Gayle Mill and Village, Wensleydale, 31/05/2013

Just a couple of more photos from my visit to Hawes eariler on this year that I would like to share. It was a beautiful day and G and I thought we would leave exploring the inside of the mill for another maybe not so nice a day. We chose to climb the steep path above the village of Gayle, walk across uphill fields and admire stunning views over Wensleydale. What a liberating and thoroughly enjoyable experience!





Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Still Life With Old Mirror

I was really pleased to find this old swivel vanity mirror in the local charity shop. I had been looking for a mirror for my bathroom window sill for a long time and now I have one that sits there perfectly. As usual, when it comes to antique or vintage objects I buy for my house, I started creating a still life image in my mind. What would made a good composition with the mirror? The vintage pair of cream gloves, pink perfume bottle and floral  powder compact came as natural answer. I just needed a box to arrange them at different heights. And oh yes, the old black iron was also going to be a good addition. All I needed now was some white fine fabric and some lace to give it a bit of elegance so I found some voile curtains. I realized the reflection in the mirror was very important an decided it should also contain fabric to echo the fabrics around the mirror. I also slightly darkened the reflection in post processing and chose an aperture that rendered it in soft focus to avoid it being overpowering and distracting from the overall image.



Monday, 5 August 2013

A visit to Hever Castle, Kent, 20/07/2013

A day to remember walking around this majestic and romantic place, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII's wives. G's Mum and Dad kindly agreed to take us here and we had an amazing time. On arrival we had lunch in the Henry VIII pub, incredible old, rustic, country pub with tasty and beautifully presented food, and then we had a long stroll around the castle, motes, gardens and the lake. We had afternoon coffee in the charming cafe where we were rushed a bit as it was closing soon due to a wedding taking place! What a lucky lucky couple to be able to afford to get married here! All in all, such a great day out with my dearest ones.


The place was teeming with people (it was Saturday) and I was fascinated by this woman who seemed to have found an inner peace in this beautiful garden despite all the bustle. This is also one of the most beautiful views of the castle I saw on the day.The woman sitting on the bench with closed eyes inspired me to create an atmosphere of quiet and tranquility.


An awesome rose garden with ornamental arches and pillars. It really felt like heaven standing in the midst of vibrant colours and gorgeous scent. I think the roses must have just been at their best or thereabouts so I was lucky to be there right at the time.


This is the first scene I saw as we walked down the path to the castle. I was totally smitten by the tall grass deliberately left to grow and become golden by the relentless summer sun. And the apple trees looked beautiful with their contrasting rich green colour.




Monday, 22 July 2013

Family Time

G and I just got back from a beautiful long weekend down south in Tonbridge, Kent, spent with my lovely in-laws. We had a most memorable time, our barbecue last night being just a small part of it. I thoroughly enjoyed a warm summer evening in the gorgeous garden and in the company of three people who mean so much to me.









Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Cockerel

One of the reasons I only take photos of scenes that do not involve motion is that I am very slow and deliberate at pressing the shutter speed. The composition and technical data in the viewfinder have to be just as I intended them to be and if I do not have time to check everything I simply do not take a picture. But recently I have decided to start photographing farm animals because they fit in well with my usual country and rural themes. I also see it as a little new challenge much needed from time to time. So off I went to the Goodall's ice cream farm in Tong village which I drive past every day on my way to and fro work. I loved watching the animals and taking the odd photo, but  it was only at the end of my visit that I finally found patience to stay long enough with an animal, well, a bird on this occasion, to produce some worthwhile shots. I watched and followed around this cockerel and his hen until he started crowing. And then he crowed a few times as if just for me!



Sunday, 30 June 2013

Upper Town, Zagreb, 28/06/2012

It has been exactly a year now since I visited Zagreb, the place I was born and brought up in. It is a long long time to be away from such a place. I miss it very much, of course, and this year, due to circumstances to do with my new job, I am having to wait a little longer to go there again. I have been looking through the photos I took last time I visited, and this one seemed to hold my eye and thoughts the most. It was taken in the old Upper Town, my favourite place to photograph and wander around. It teems with the spirit of past times I have drawn so much inspiration from for the past few years, and it is always full of quaint surprises, this old horse drawn cart parked on the pavement of one of the most frequented streets being a great example. And how nice someone had thought of putting a few pots of pink petunia on top of it to mark summertime!




Saturday, 22 June 2013

Still Life with Biscuit Barrel

I love my antique wooden biscuit barrel. It lives on top of one of my kitchen cupboards amongst other old kitchen/dining room objects. I have often looked at it longing to use it in a still life image and have racked my brains trying to come up with a good and interesting composition. I thought of so many props I could   possibly include from flowers to fruit to all sorts of other things but in the end I decided that simplicity is once again going to be the safest and most effective option. I just stuck to the obvious theme and went for nothing more than some biscuits themselves placed in one of my little vintage milk glass bowls.



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hawes, 30th-31st May, 2013

Hawes is a picturesque small market town in one of the most glorious Yorkshire Dales - Wensleydale. It is the home of the famous and delicious Wensleydale cheese. For me it has a personal meaning too as it lies in the middle of what is a prime example of my favourite English countryside. I just love the rolling hills and valleys dissected with dry stone walls and dotted with ancient barns and charming farms. The images below are from my first ever visit to Hawes.


It was a most beautiful morning in the town of Hawes. This is a typical scene of a Dales town with the hills visible behind the houses in the distance. Can any place be more inviting than this? Well, certainly not for me!


A lovely old stone bridge and houses in the centre of Hawes. I took this on the first day of my visit. It was a cloudy day but the diffused light was suited well for photography around the town.


I was totally smitten by this post office. To me it looked like it could be a perfect setting for one of, say, Beatrix Potter's illustrated storey books. It may look quiet but it was actually quite busy and I had to keep coming back trying to get a good view as there were cars, lorries etc. parked in front of it all the time. Love that red door that complements the post box and the sign.


A western view of the pretty St. Magaret's church taken from an uphill path leading to the village of Gayle. The church and the lovely rural scene look almost like a drawing taken on a late overcast afternoon.