Sunday, 21 July 2019

Abbey House Museum gardens, Kirkstall, Leeds

Last month, after having been to Kirkstall Deli Market that takes place inside the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey the last weekend of every month April - November, I nipped over the road to have a look at the beautiful gardens of the Abbey House Museum, a delightful step back in Victorian time museum, housed in the gatehouse of Kirkstall Abbey. I'd noticed beforehand that the gardens were looking more colourful than ever at this time of the year and I thought I'd go over and have a good look around on this cloudy Sunday late afternoon.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Summer Walk Around Haworth and Oxenhope, Brontë Country

Earlier this month I went for a walk around my beloved Haworth in Brontë country which turned out to be one of the most beautiful walks I have ever done. It was a lovely summer day; warm, but not too hot, with deep blue skies and puffy white clouds that now and again concealed and mellowed the summer sun. I set off early to avoid the midday heat and the unflattering light from a photographer's point of view coming from the sun shining directly above. From Brow road in Haworth I took the path that runs parallel with the railway and Bridgehouse Beck for about a mile and a half, all the way to the village of Oxenhope. I'd walked the path before, but at a different time of year, and on this morning it looked completely different and much more pleasing. In fact, the countryside around me was enchanting, and I walked deliberately taking the time to fully enjoy the summertime beauty of the nature.
At Oxenhope my circular route back to Haworth took a roundabout way via the villages of Marsh and Upper Marsh and then across Penistone Hill Country Park. I'd never walked that way between Haworth and Oxenhope (having usually taken the shorter route via Old Oxenhope Lane) and I needed a bit of help form a local to get on the right path. It was a delightful stretch of my walk and I am really pleased to have learned about it.

Steam locomotives at Haworth Station. Taken from Bridgehouse Lane bridge where I started my walk. 

A charming ruin that you come across walking along the path that runs parallel to the railway and Bridgehouse Beck. I believe it is used as shelter for horses at present.

Donkey Bridge, an old stone packhorse bridge over Bridgehouse Beck

Bridgehouse Beck from Donkey Bridge

My path at the point where it veers to the right to run through the woodland leading to a solitary house, Ives Bottom.

I took this photo and the one below merely to depict the feel of the light and colours in the nature around me on this glorious summer day. I felt so grateful to be able to experience the overwhelming beauty.

 After crossing the field behind Oxenhope school, on my way towards the village of Marsh I came across this hidden, magical looking beck

 A view over Worth Valley to the left of my path.

Looking back towards Oxenhope.

On reaching the two beautiful houses at Mould Greave my path became flanked by cheerful displays of deep pink foxgloves. I love foxgloves and was delighted to see they were still in their prime.

The wonderful view the two houses enjoy at Mould Greave

After passing Marsh, ascending two fields, a drive and reaching Upper Marsh I finally got onto the moorland of Penistone Hill and was greeted by first signs of purple heather in bloom. It was very satisfying to walk the moor as the final stage of my walk.

I had been walking for four hours by now. The sun was getting strong and I was getting hot; I began to look forward to some refreshments, a bit of rest and an afternoon of dawdling around Haworth. And, of course, a few pics of the Parsonage and the graveyard were in order as usual, despite having been photographed countless times.

Brontë Parsonage 

Haworth Church taken from near Tabitha Aykroyd's (The Brontë family servant) grave

The graveyard path with The Old School the Brontës taught in and Patrick Brontë's sexton John Brown's House. 

The Path in the graveyard next to Brontë Parsonage 

My walk was taken from Paul Hannon's book of walks "Haworth & Bronte Country"

Monday, 8 July 2019

Still Life With Cherries

Time for a seasonal theme still life, and my first subject this summer is cherries. I thought of creating a cherries still life previous years and wanted to make sure it does happen this year. As I was in the process of composing an image in my mind an uncanny thing happened: I came across a cherry tree while walking my dog in the neighbourhood that I didn't know was there. I had already bought some rather expensive cherries from the local supermarket, but they were quite dark in colour. I fancied some bright red cherries as I love splashes of real red in my photos, and the cherries on this tree were just the colour I was looking for. In truth, the ones I could reach were not quite ripe yet and therefore not of the best red, but it didn't matter as I could adjust the colour in photo editing; and including various shades of red seemed to me adding more interest to the image, anyway. I kept the props simple and went for my favoured dark, rustic country cottage look. It is an iPhone image edited in the Rookie Cam and Snapseed apps, experimenting with vignetting blur and colder background tones.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

An English Garden, Newark, Nottinghamshire

Just a few photos of my dear in-laws' beautiful garden, taken on our recent visit, and a couple of us happy family who got to enjoy it together.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Walks With My Dog - Gotts Park 02/06/2019

It is incredible how you can be oblivious to the beauty on your very doorstep. Up until February I hardly knew Gotts Park which is only about ten minute walk away from my house . I remember going there one misty autumn morning in search of some moody photographs, and that's about the only time I actually ventured into the park. Now, four months later, I have been there countless times walking in all directions with my new puppy, and I can say I have fallen in love with the place. There is a lovely feel about it; it is big enough for me not to get bored frequenting it a few times a week; and there is more than enough interest for my photography, too. It is very rare that I don't get inspired to reach for my camera phone to take a pic on any visit.
The pics below were taken earlier this month around eight o'clock in the evening and are some of my favourite ones taken so far this year.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

JandJ Alpacas - The Alpaca Centre & Coffee Shop

Last Saturday, during our visit to G's parents in Newark, Nottinghamshire, we all went to the alpaca farm at the JandJ Alpaca Centre & Coffee Shop near the village of Dry Doddington. It was fascinating to see so many beautiful alpacas in one place. When we arrived they were all rather far away in the field, but the owners soon put a bit of food in the troughs near the coffee shop to entice them over. We drank delicious coffee and watched the alpacas through the coffee shop window. I, of course, went outside to take photos, too. It's a lovely place where I could spend all day!

Monday, 24 June 2019

Walks With My Dog - Fernwood, Newark 22/06/2019

At the weekend we went to G's parents' house near Newark in Nottinghamshire. We love staying with them in their beautiful spacious house and always have a relaxing and most pleasant time. Now we have a puppy the visits are even more enjoyable; it feels like the puppy Midge has rounded off the homely family atmosphere. Fernwood, the village where my in-laws live, is a peaceful and quite pretty place with lots of trees and grass areas. It is very dog friendly and great for dog walks. I particularly like the large meadow and woodland area that stretches behind the houses on the road leading through the estate. Here are a couple of shots I took there walking our doggy at the golden hour before sunset.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Still Life With Poppies

I absolutely adore poppies. The garish red splash of colour they produce in the month of June is a sheer delight. I have always fancied doing a poppy still  life, but here, in West Yorkshire, they are quite rare and chances of being in a position to pick them and take them home rather slim. To be fair, you can see quite a lot of this giant cultivated variety in private and public gardens, but it is the wild poppy species that I really like.
Thanks to my dog walking (my dog, really) I came across a clusters of crimson red poppies around the entrance to a local field. They seemed to have sprung there overnight. I picked one stem on the way back home and put it in a small vase. The stem had just one flower open and a few furry buds. The next day another flower unfurled from one of the buds, its delicate papery look petals forming a full circle while the older flower petals curled backwards. I had to capture this stunning ethereal beauty with a camera as soon as possible as I didn't know how long these gorgeous flowers last cut. The stem was long and flower heads facing upwards, so I chose a  point of view from above. I placed my pale green tablecloth on the floor near the dining room window and the vase with the poppies on top of it, and took a few shots with my iPhone.

I cropped the image a little and processed it using the Retrolux tool in Snapseed. The whole process from setting up the shot to editing it took just twenty minutes. A very quick creation, considering that not that long ago I'd spend hours creating a still life image. This is one of the joys and advantages of iPhoneography over conventional photography - you can work much faster with the results being just as good if not even better sometimes......

Monday, 17 June 2019

Walks With My Dog - Sladen Valley, Haworth 9/6/2019

After an emotional reunion with our puppy Midge who we lost briefly, G and I went for a happy walk with him as a family to our favourite place and future home, Haworth, Brontë Country. We chose the beautiful Sladen Valley for that occasion, for a change from the usual Haworth moorland walks. It was an overcast day with just a hint of sunshine here and there, rainy sky threatening most of the time. However, the weather was kind to us and it stayed dry.

Cottages in Oldfield Lane

Long Bridge, a most charming old packhorse bridge over the spot where river Worth and Sladen Beck meet

Lamb at Long Bridge. Loved the way they appeared at the end of the stone wall and looked at me curiously.

View of the hamlet of Lumbfoot

Cottages at the entrance to the hamlet of Lumbfoot

I think I'm finally getting somewhere with my processing. For quite a while now I have been dissatisfied with the final appearance of my images: I got bored with that neat, "perfect" look and felt it didn't do justice conveying how I felt about the subject of my images. I wanted to achieve a bolder, moodier and darker style; I've had quite a clear notion in my mind of what I was looking for and I bought/installed quite a few iPhone photo editing apps searching for filters and presets that would help me achieve that look. Nothing grabbed me! On the contrary, there was very little I'd want to use at all. Then, on sheer impulse I paid a closer attention to what Snapseed has to offer. Snapseed is the very first app I installed; it is free and is one of the most popular and widely used photo editing apps out there. I realized it does have a good potential to help me develop the desired editing style. The main Snapseed tools I used for the above images are Vintage and Glamour  Glow. I feel quite relieved, happy and newly inspired now I've found myself on the right track for my postprocessing.

A previous blog post on the same walk can be viewed here