Thursday, 28 July 2016

Beatrix Potter: 150th Birthday Anniversary

2016 sees big birthday anniversaries of two of the Victorian women whose life and work have long been a constant source of inspiration to me: 200th birthday of Charlotte Bronte back on 21st April, which I marked with a personal tribute here, and 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter on 28th July.

“What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood?” 
~Beatrix Potter~

Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943) was an amazing woman who managed to accomplish her goals in an era when ambitious women were still firmly discouraged from becoming successful. She is best known for her children's stories about animals, especially "Peter Rabbit", which she beautifully illustrated herself. However, her talent and achievements did not end there. She was a natural scientist; a farmer winning prizes for breeding Herdwick sheep which are a common and distinctive sight in the Lake District where she lived; she was a shrewd business woman who bought and managed a number of local farms and a considerable amount of land; she was passionate about conservation and left a large estate to the National Trust after her death.

I love the Lake District, and go there at least once a year. And every time I am there I like to think about Beatrix and her life, and go for walks involving places associated with her. The most fascinating of all is, of course, the "Hill Top", the farmhouse she bought with the proceeds of sales of her first book "The tale of Peter Rabbit". Apparently she never lived at the Hill Top but she wrote some of her stories there. She did furnish it like a home, and a very inspirational one. Today it remains as she left it, and is a busy museum where timed tickets are issued. I just love coming here and looking around not just the house but the gardens too. And the whole village of Near Sawrey, where the cottage is situated, breathes the presence of Beatrix and her animal characters through various sites used in her stories.

Earlier this year, during a week's stay in Grasmere, I went to see the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction in Bowness on the Windermere lake for the first time. The establishment  itself is celebrating a special anniversary this year - 25 years of the day it first opened its doors to the public. It's a magical exhibition place where Beatrix's much loved characters are brought to life. I thought I would share some of the photos I took back in February as part of my tribute to Beatrix for her big birthday anniversary. All photos are quick snapshots taken with my mobile android phone, and were given just a basic edit in Lightroom.

A figure of Beatrix as a young woman with a couple of her animal characters by her side near the entrance to the exhibition.

Old Mrs Rabbit, the mother of Peter Rabbit and his siblings Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail

Peter Rabbit, Beatrix's first and most famous character, a naughty rabbit who goes into Mr McGregor's garden and helps himself to some of the vegetables.

Mr McGregor is planting out cabbages at the moment he spots Peter Rabbit in his garden.

Jemima Puddle-Duck, a naive but endearing duck who decides to build a nest away from the farm she lives on.

A cunning fox whom Jemima meets in the nearby wood, and who lets her build a nest in his comfortable woodshed.

Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in her kitchen, the adorable hedgehog, a short and plump woman who washes and irons the clothes for the animals.

Mr Tod, the disagreeable fox, the arch enemy of the badger called Tommy Brock.

The table set for a meal in Mr Tod's kitchen.

Tommy Brock , the badger, sleeping in Mr Tod's bed with a pail of water balanced over his head by Mr Tod who hoped to play a trick upon Tommy.

Mr Jeremy Fisher taking a break from fishing to eat a sandwich sitting on his lily pad boat.

Mr Jeremy Fisher is seized by a huge trout and pulled into the water. He manages to escape and invites his friends to dinner.

A scene created by the illustration from "The Tale of Pigling Bland"

Two soulmate piglets from "The Tale of Pigling Bland".

A life size figure of Beatrix in her later life. She liked to be called "Mrs Heelis" at this stage of her life being happily married to the respected local solicitor William Heelis.

Me and Mrs Heelis. Just could not resist!

Beatrix's timeless tales never lost their popularity and continue to be enjoyed by children all over the world.
For anyone wishing to know more about this fascinating woman I strongly recommend Margaret Lane's biography "The Tale of Beatrix Potter" and the movie "Miss Potter" starring Renee Zellweger.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Zagreb Photo Sale

Just a quick post from a very happy woman. Last night I learned I had sold a royalty free license to the image below. It is my very first sale of a photo of my beloved native town Zagreb. That is great news for me because I don't live there anymore and therefore have very little opportunity to take pics over there. The photo sold in Austria through Getty Images. That is all the information I have. Unfortunately, the sale statement doesn't tell me by who or for what purpose the image has been bought.  I have previously published the image on my blog here.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Still Life With Flat Peaches

Time for a seasonal still life. I have been eyeing flat peaches in the local supermarket every summer since they first appeared a few years ago. I am always looking for unusual and interesting shapes I can study through my still life work. I can just concentrate on the shape, colours and textures, and keep the composition simple and minimal. For my props I used an old enamel plate my Mum gave me and also one of her old tea towels which I just had to take away from her. A little sprig of basil leaves gives a finishing touch to the set up.

I like to use texture layers in the post processing of my still life images, usually to create a rustic, country look. Here I applied a texture from the recently bought pack by Jessica Drossin, called "Wuthering Heights" which is a famous book title by Emily Bronte. Being a huge fan of the Bronte sisters I was delighted to see Jessica has created textures inspired by her visit to historic Ponden Hall and the moors that the sisters loved and roamed. I just can't wait to try these textures on my other work, particularly Haworth and the Bronte Country. As to my flat peaches I also played with Jessica's Fine Art Tints, hence the lovely, warm and hazy brownish tone to the image.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Four New Book Covers

I am just a passionate amateur photographer who only takes the sort of photos my soul tells me to take, but, I must admit, one of the most satisfying, exciting, inspiring and flattering things in my photographic life are image sales for book covers. There are not many of them, and I know there will never be many, but I don't mind and am quite happy with just the few that come my way. In the last quater I have sold rights through Trevillion Images for as many as four book covers which is more than I have ever done in that space of time. The interesting thing is that three of the sales are based on the same image! And that very image had already been used once in the past so I've got four very nice sales out of the same image!

This is the winning photo. It certainly is one of my best images, and I am very pleased that it has been rewarded by repeated license sales. First it was used last year for a new novel by a famous German crime writer Charlotte Link, "Die Betrgene" (literal translation "The Betrayed"), and now a new license has been bought by the German online magazine "Spiegel Online", presumably to advertise the novel.

The image has recently sold twice in the United States too for the title "Growing Older and Wiser" by two different authors, one of which is Jack Kuhatschek and the other's name is still to be confirmed. At this moment in time the images of these two new book covers don't seem to be available online as yet.

This is a photo of the Castle Hill and Victoria Tower, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire I took back in 2009. I liked the isolated, windswept location and the starkness of the tall, narrow tower, and thought I'd turn the shot into a brooding, dramatic and somewhat eerie image by adding birds and moody skies and textures in post processing. Rights have just been sold for the book cover of the novel "Ecos del Pasado" by the Spanish author Diana Gabaldon. The image of the book cover doesn't seem to be published on the internet yet. From what I can see I presume it will be for a new edition of the already existing title coming out in December.

I shall post un update as soon as I have more information on these book covers.

Update 1. 9. 2016 - Last night I remembered I was still to find on internet images of three of the four book covers of mine I wrote about in this post. I did a quick Google image search and was pleased to come across two of them:

One of the two "Growing Older and Wiser" titles - ebook and paperback. It's nice to see they used the entire image (apart from a little crop from the top) and have not changed it all.

The book cover (paperback) with my image of the Castle Hill and Victoria Tower on it. It has been lightened and made less moody and eerie. It is a nice book cover; I like the peachy tone.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Zagreb, Croatia, Spring 2016

It has been many weeks since I posted on here. My absence was due to my annual visit to Zagreb, Croatia, the city I was born and grew up in, and then my niece and her boyfriend's visit to us in Leeds. I've enjoyed myself immensely, but there was no time for editing photos or writing. However, I did take many pictures and am ready to get back on track with blogging now. With hundreds of new images I hardly knew where to start and what to prepare for sharing first. I decided to choose a dozen random photos of my beloved, beautiful Zagreb. The city was basking in mellow spring sunshine almost all of the time, and was gaily bustling with various events taking place around the city centre landmarks. It was a perfect time for a visit.

Tkalciceva Street. A very popular street in the old Upper Town, very close to the main city square. It is lined with bars and restaurants that are busy throughout the day, but it is in the evening when it assumes its real appeal due to its thriving nightlife. At night the street feels like it belongs to some popular holiday destination. As a matter of fact, there are more and more tourists coming to Zagreb every year, and the Upper Town is deservedly becoming a growing visitor attraction.

Ilirski Square. It is situated in the historic old Upper Town which I simply adore. The square got its name from the Illyrian movement in the first half of the 19. century which lead towards Croatia's cultural and political revival.

Some Upper Town houses with recently renewed facades, distinctive cobbled street, and an inviting rustic restaurant called "Grandad's Dream" that I am still to visit for a first time.

I am always on the lookout for interesting window shots. I loved this old arched window with its cheerful flower pots, hot pink blind and a drawer-like feature underneath it.

Opaticka Street, a typical Upper Town street.

Recently renovated buildings of the Zagreb City Museum which used to be a female monastery in the middle of the 17th century called St. Klara Monastery.

Strossmayer promenade, or simply "Stross" as the people of Zagreb call it. It is a very special place with the lovely, romantic alley flanked with trees on either side. There are beautiful views over Zagreb Lower Town to the south. During the summer months various concerts and shows take place here from 9 o'clock in the evening. This year for some reason, as yet unknown to me, the tree trunks have been painted blue and green "lights" suspended from the tree tops.
I processed the image with one of the delightful, recently bought Jessica Drossin's Lightscaping Overlays.

This is a view over Zagreb taken from around the middle of Stossmayer Promenade. In the bottom off the image there is the entrance to a lovely restaurant lying under the Lotrscak Tower the cannon of which has been firing and marking the noon every day ever since 1877.

In the Upper Town there are a few old, narrow stairways running between the walls of houses. I love lingering around them and taking photos. These stairs are called Mill Stairs, apparently because in the past they were leading to a mill.

Ilica, one of  the longest Zagreb thoroughfares connecting the central square and northwestern parts of the city. It is a beautiful, winding, very busy street boasting fine architecture, shopping and cultural sites. Every time I am in Zagreb I pass here on a daily basis whether on foot or on one of Zagreb's tramways.

Old Vlaska Street. Another street full of character and cherished memories for me. Just loved those ancient houses, and am thankful they have been restored preserving the original architectural style. In the middle there is a bronze statue of August Senoa, a renowned 19th century Croatian writer. The statute was placed there in 1988, the year I left Zagreb for England.

This image was taken in the area of the city where I grew up and lived in up until I moved to England. I used to walk around here every day on my way to school, or to catch a tram to town or elsewhere. My flat was just around the corner from here. I have set myself a project to photograph all the landmark places of my childhood and early adulthood over a two or three year period, and publish all the chosen photos in one or two posts. This photo is just a "taster" of  the project in making.