Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hollens Farm Cottage, Grasmere, Lake District

I've just processed a few images of the Hollens Farm Cottage for a submission to Trevillion Images, and thought I'd write a blog post about them too. The 19th century farmhouse was our abode while on a week's holiday in Grasmere last month. I have written about the cottage back in January, so this time I shall just add a few more photographs I took in February.

The table in the charming, authentic, olde worlde  kitchen where we had our meals and played games. It was Valentine's Day on the second day of our stay, hence the red roses in the old earthenware pot.

The cheering log burner and fire our friend David look after each night and made sure the room was toasty and the atmosphere cosy.

One of the two armchairs in the sitting room matching the Chesterfield sofa under the window. On the seat there is the map of the Lake District we were perusing on a daily basis.

The lovely little window on the landing upstairs with a bookcase underneath. The windowsill features a pair of vintage binoculars, and I also put a vase with some of our Valentine's flowers on there.

Even the bathroom is full of old fashioned character. Among other things it boasts a fascinating wooden toilet flush and copper pipe.

I believe this sort of cottage is not everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. I hope dearly one day we will be living somewhere very similar, and if that happens to be in Haworth I will be the happiest woman in the world!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter Still Life

I love working on seasons still lifes, but it has been a few years since I created an Easter one. Inspiration does not always come spontaneously, and when it doesn't, I don't push myself. I prefer to wait till it happens naturally.
This year I started thinking about Easter still life back in February. I thought I'd get a floppy straw hat and tie some colourful ribbon around its brim. And then I would pair it with some daffodils and also use my lovely French shopping basket. But I could not find a hat I liked and realized I did not need one after all. If I used my white chiffon scarf and vintage gloves there would be more than enough props for a pleasing and impactive composition. Daffodils were a must use, from the start they were going to be "the life and soul" of the image. I chose the ones with orange centres because the orange adds an extra cheerful note to the yellow flowers. I love my rosewood console table, which I use as tabletop for many of my still lifes, but this is the first time I actually chose to include its drawers in the image.
The post processing had to be very similar to my usual when it comes to still life - vintage, distressed, desaturated look was what I wanted to achieve. I used a favourite rustic texture layer by Jerry Jones, one of my favourite photo texture makers, and then, as usual, I played with the tones and exposure in ipiccy.com.


          ~ Happy Easter! ~

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bronte Sisters Parsonage, Haworth, 17/03/2016

I am so pleased to be posting about Haworth again. Thursday was the first day this year that I finally managed to get there. How I missed the place! It was such a glorious early spring day, St Patrick's day, and also anniversary of the Reverend Patrick Bronte's birthday, the father of the genius literary sisters.
There was so much I wanted to do but I decided the main purpose of the visit was to see the new "Charlotte Great and Small" Exhibition set up in celebration of Charlotte's 200th birthday next month. It is a very good and interesting exhibition, taking place in the Charlotte's room, Children's Study and Bonnell Room at the Parsonage. It is curated by the novelist Tracey Chevalier. On display are Charlotte's clothes, personal possessions, manuscripts, a love letter etc., all so fascinating to see. I am glad the exhibition will stay on till Christmas as I want to see it again.
Haworth will be hosting many other events to mark Charlotte's bicentenary throughout this year and I hope to attend as many as I possibly can.

The Parsonage basking in the beautiful spring sunshine. I loved the wooden pots with spring flowers outside the Old School Room and thought I'd use them for a foreground interest to add more spring atmosphere to the image.

The Old School Room, built under the direction of Patrick Bronte. Charlotte taught here. There was a car parked on the right hand side which I cloned out in Photoshop. Not a perfect job (can do better), but the image is much more appealing without the distracting car. I quite like the shadows cast on the walls from the trees in the cemetery opposite the School Room. They seem to create a bit of mystery and drama in my eyes.

The lovely, metal, much photographed Parsonage sign. It looks good against the blue sky with the tree branches still bare but gently reflecting the mellow sunshine.

I do like the pink lens flare and sun rays creating a dreamy, magic mood around the entrance to the Parsonage......I can so easily picture the little Bronte children bursting out through the front door and scampering in the garden with laughter....

Photography is not allowed in the Parsonage but you can take pictures in the small garden featuring the sisters' statue. It was nicely backlit on this lovely sunny afternoon, and I loved the heather and other wild flowers at the bottom of the statue.

After seeing the exhibition I went for an inevitable spot of shopping in the Parsonage shop as well as a few shops on the Main Street, and then topped it all off with a delicious and refreshing cappuccino and a slice of sticky apple cake in the "Cobbles and Clay". Ah, that is what I call ideal day out!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Rocking Horse, Bobbins and Musical Biscuit Tin

I must admit my favourite props for still life work are the usual, classic flowers and fruit. I suppose the reason is their natural beauty - colours, shapes and textures that lend themselves well to a poetic and artistic depiction. However, sometimes it is a good challenge to try something different.
Interesting objects can make for an appealing still life too. Being a vintage and antiques lover I have a few shelves in my study where I display small, old and vintage objects picked up at charity shops, antiques centres and fairs, car boot sales etc. A lot of them are bought with a still life photography shoot in mind. So occasionally I turn for inspiration to these little treasures as well as other larger things around my home.

I found the wooden toy rocking horse in a charity shop and the bobbins in the "Oh la la" vintage shop in Haworth. I like the parallels between these objects: they are all made of wood; they echo the red and green colour in each other; the bobbins in front of the horse are evocative of old fashioned plough....

I thought the bobbins would look good on their own as a textured close up shot at a wide aperture with my "nifty fifty" f1.8 50mm lens.

I bought this lovely musical ginger biscuit tin at the local Aldi supermarket. I didn't need any biscuits but I just had to have the tin. Love its colourful past times charm reminiscent of joyous childhood funfair rides. I thought I'd create some magic around it by applying a motion blur effect in photoshop and some blue, wintry, snowy texture layers.

I had great fun creating these images. They were a perfect antidote to unpleasant winter days not conducive for outdoor photography.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Rydal Water, The Lake District, 15/02/16

On day two of our lovely holiday in the Lakes we woke up to a glorious morning. There were pristine blue skies with hardly a cloud in sight promising great weather throughout the day. We thought we'd just stay local and do a walk around Rydal Water which lies very close to Grasmere lake. This is the heart of Wordsworth Country where he lived and wrote his poetry from 1813 till his death in 1850. I am very much taken by the Wordsworths and love getting a glimpse into what their life was like, and exploring sights from which they derived inspiration. This is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this part of the Lake District, the other being that after seeing 7 out of its 16 bodies of water Grasmere and Rydal remain the most beautiful ones for me.
The walk, chosen from the little book I bought the day before in Elterwater village, starts at the Pelter Bridge car park, just outside Rydal village, but we found that even on a Februrary weekday the car park gets full early so we had to find somewhere else to park. That added almost 2 more miles to our walk but we didn't mind as it only meant seeing a bit more of this beautiful part of the world.

Rydal water is one of the smallest Lake District lakes. Among its most attractive and striking features are certainly the little islands. There is Little Isle, and tree covered Heron Island, a favourite picnic spot for William and his sister Dorothy; they would often row out to it.

One of my all time favourite scenes encountered in the Lakes; one of those I want to go back to time and time again searching for that shot that will best bring the magic out of it.

St Mary's Church in Rydal village. Wordsworth worshipped here and was churchwarden for a short period of time.

Church Cottage. We have driven past this charming cottage many times and each time I have to turn my head and look at it. I find it so pretty and eye catching. Would love to see it with the wisteria in full bloom.

A view from a high level path at a south eastern point of the lake. The low winter sunlight created some gorgeous colours in the landscape. This is what I love about winter photography: you don't have to worry if the sun is too high or too harsh. It is always in a good position and hardly ever too harsh.

Here we are...... a happy bunch as recorded by Dave's iphone. Yes, it was very very cold with the temperature just above zero......  the first time I'd worn a hat in quite a few years!

After a steep rise along a rough rocky track there was a nice surprise - we reached the flooded Rydal Cave.

This group of hikers having a rest in mellow sunlight, beautiful Lakes landscape in the background, caught my eye with their colourful gear.

A view over south west part of Rydal Water. Around this point we entered Penny Rock Wood which separates Grasmere and  Rydal lakes. We took a path that leads to the other side of water.

After crossing the road and another steep climb we turned onto the path called the Old Coffin Road. This is the way coffins were carried for burial at Grasmere church in the days before Rydal had its own church.

My friend Liz pauses for a quick portrait.

The elevated path, which is parallel to the road we walked back down to the village from where we parked, narrows and widens, slopes and levels for about a mile and a half and all along there are wonderful views over the lake.

We soon reached the lane near the entrance to Rydal Mount, Wordsworth family home. We visited it last time we were in the Lakes so this time we just wanted to have coffee in the cosy visitors' tearoom. Unfortunately, it is closed on that particular day of the week so we just headed back to the car.

It was now after 3 o'clock in the afternoon and the light had begun to fade. The sun had started to go down and the lake looked serene and peaceful as if ready to embrace darkness and repose.
So long, beautiful lake! It will not be long till we meet again.