Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Looking After Jasper

I love animals and I simply adore dogs and cats. We used to have two ginger and white cats but they both met the same mysterious death in the park adjacent to our house so we decided not to have any more cats. We could not face burying another cat and just could not forgive ourselves if another one died on us. We would love to have a dog but we feel there would be times when it would have to be on its own for too long and that just would not be fair on the dog.

So I was very pleased when my friend asked me if I would look after her dog Jasper just for one evening and the following morning while they were away. She asked me if I would just feed him but I said I might as well take him for walks too. I ended up having him overnight at our home. Jasper is a lovely crossbreed between greyhound and border collie. He is a very good-natured and well behaved dog. He felt comfortable with us and did not act any differently from how he normally does at his own home.

I liked taking Jasper out for a walk but did not want to let him off the lead. He would most probably come back to me when called but I just did not want to chance losing him. It was a nippy but beautiful evening and we walked down the path towards the new estate where the low late afternoon sun was creating some lovely light. Of course, I did not want to miss any photo opportunities but since I was holding the lead with one hand I only took my mobile with me.

I really like this shot. The colour tones and contrast between the colours and light are very good and appealing. The unusal pose of the dog caught from its side and looking away from the camera towards the distant houses works well and gives the image a storytelling quality. It was very easy to process this image, the only major step being removing the dog's lead.

This is just an experiment of shooting into the sun with my mobile. Not good quality, but it could be worse. Nice mood though.

A straight and simple portrait of a good boy to give him justice. It was lovely having him around.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Top Withins, Haworth, 6 September, 2015

Top Withins (or Withens, both are correct spellings). What an incredible place! It is just a farmhouse ruin with a weather beaten tree next to it on top of a hill amidst windswept moors, but if you know anything about its history and background it becomes a most charming, evocative, inspiring and atmospheric place you can imagine. The farmhouse is believed to be the location model for Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights in her novel of passionate love and revenge. The novel is considered to be one of the greatest works of fiction ever written and even many who have not read it are familiar with the names of some of its characters and places.
It was a bit breezy but sunny, a perfect day to do the 6 and half mile circular walk on the bleak but beautiful moors above Haworth. From the photography point of view a grey and moody day would probably suit the location better in terms of creating drama and atmosphere, but I am sure it is more pleasant to explore such an untamed terrain in fine weather for a first time.

Pink heather that grows profusely on the moors at this time of the year must have been at its best or thereabouts. There were vast expanses of pink velvety carpets in the distance, and myriads of low lacy bushes brushed our ankles as we walked along the paths. An odd tree here and there added charm to the pink wilderness.

I took this image from the path at the bottom of the hill Top Withins is perched on. It is pretty much the sort of views you get standing next to the ruin too. Truly breathtaking and liberating!

As we were nearing the ruin, even from quite a distance I could see there was a lot of people around it. It was to be expected seeing it was a Sunday and a very nice day, and yet I felt a slight irritation thinking I would not be able to take any photos without people in them. I could already picture a lot of spot healing in Photoshop! Luckily, most people were lingering around the back of the ruin from where they could enjoy the views whereas the more photogenic front is facing just a hillside. So I managed to take a lot of shots from which I could choose a good one. Owing to quite mellow, even though direct September sunlight, I was able to produce gentle pastel colour tones. I like the shadows the tree and partition walls cast on the ruin. They give the image a nice contrast and a bit of depth.

While I was taking photos of Top Withins G was busy taking pics of me at work with his mobile. Well, I suppose it is good to have a record of that too. It also provides me with material for social media site icons, profile pictures etc.

G pointed out that people sitting in the long grass enjoying nice weather and lovely views make for a good shot themselves. He may be right. I agree people are not always disruptive with their presence after all. In fact, they are sometimes useful in creating a good composition and adding a dynamic dimension, if that is what you want to achieve.
In this shot, however, it is the sheep dog and the distant ruin that make it for me.

This was taken on the way back from Top Withins, in the second part of the walk. I love this photo. It is my personal favourite. I know most people will think it is nothing special or they will prefer other photos, but I really like this near to far composition divided by the lovely dry stone wall. It creates the sense of openness and vastness that makes your spirit feel so free. By the time I took this the sun went down a bit giving off a warm glow and yielding more becoming lighting condition.

One of the last photos I took towards the end of our excursion, near the village of Stanbury, where, a bit weary from the long but very satisfying walk, we stopped for some refreshment.
I like including sheep in my rural images. They are such a sweet sight in the countryside and they will often pose really well for you looking right at the camera for more than enough time to take a great shot.
For me this image epitomizes Haworth moors containing virtually everything you see when out and about in the beautiful Bronte Country.

A portrait of Emily Bronte in a painting by her brother Branwell. The framed print is hanging on the wall of the "Wuthering Heights" pub in Stanbury, right above the table we had our lunch at. Emily loved the moors and derived a lot of inspiration for her work roaming the moors. Her sister Charlotte wrote about her:
"My sister Emily loved the moors. Flowers brighter than rose bloomed in the blackest of the heath for her; out of a sullen hollow in a livid hillside her mind could make an Eden. She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights; and not the least and best-loved was - liberty."
Well, I can understand that as I myself am falling deeper and deeper in love with the moors, and not just the moors, but Haworth and other places around it. For me too this is fast becoming an area of fascinating beauty and endless inspiration.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Back To School Still Life

One of the things that make me happy is having an idea for the season's still life. On this occasion the idea actually came from the Trevillion Images wish list which they send to their photographers every Monday. When I read that bags were one of the sought after subjects my vintage satchel I use on daily basis immediately came to my mind. Since it is really an old style school bag (the kind of which I had as a schoolgirl too), and children and students are just back to school and uni/college now I thought I'd pair it with a nice notebook (my garden diary), a fountain pen, and an apple which is a symbol of learning and teaching. The composition is quite simple and unusual in my opinion and I like the fitting paper texture and desaturated tones underlying the vintage look.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Summer at East Riddlesden Hall

Every summer I like to go to some beautiful English gardens to capture the essence of summertime with my camera. In fact to capture not just the essence but the entire exuberance and magic the season brings along. I was very excited when I learned about East Riddlesden Hall, a National Trust property near Keighley, not far from where I live, and very easy to get to. I was surprised I had not already known about it. It is a beautiful 17th century manor house with delightful gardens. I first had a look around the house, a rather hasty one, as on this occasion I wanted to concentrate on outdoor photography, and then I walked in the gardens losing myself in their beauty and in taking photos. I was thrilled to find so many shots. My favourite garden is Mollie's garden, a secluded garden which children help maintain. It is shown in the last four images. I spent a lot of time there marveling at so much wonderful detail. The whole place is just amazing and I am very pleased to have discovered it.