Thursday, 21 December 2017

Still Life At Christmas

So it's Christmas.....and again, inspired by so many beautiful things associated with the season, I have created a festive still life using a few of my favourite objects and decorations from around my home.

With this image I would like to wish everyone in my life a merry and magical Christmas, and a healthy, peaceful and successful New Year. May inspiration and determination be with you to realize all your dreams and achieve everything that makes you happy!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

December in Haworth, Brontë Country

It sounds surprising even to myself to say that I had never been to Haworth in snowy weather before. I have had to avoid going there in winter simply because of the possibility of getting snowed in and not being able to get back home. Sitting high up at the bottom of moorland Haworth gets a fair share of snow every winter, and  although it may cause some inconvenience, the village becomes even more beautiful and magical blanketed in the whiteness of snow.
There are festive events taking place in Haworth throughout December, and even though I try to attend as many as I can and always enjoy them all, my main interest in coming to Haworth is, apart from seeing a very good friend of mine, to capture with my camera the mood of the season and the spirit of the place.
Last Saturday, the Torchlight Parade weekend, was one of my most memorable days in Haworth ever. It was snowing most of the day and it was bitterly cold, but I didn't mind or care; I was too excited about being in Howarth in a snowy Christmas atmosphere for a first time.

I had to, of course, nip into the Parsonage Museum to see it decorated for Christmas, and also, to have another look at Branwell's room. The brilliant, touching installation was likely to be dismantled soon as the bicentenary year of Branwell's birthday is drawing to an end. However, I have since heard great news that it may stay in place for another year due to being so popular.

The day ended well for me despite the persistent snow. I managed to get back home to Leeds with no disruptions, so all the snow brought along that day was just what I wanted - a lot of joy, magic and inspiration. Next, I want to find myself in the middle of snow covered moors, hopefully heading towards Top Withens.....

Monday, 27 November 2017

Haworth Steampunk Weekend 24-26 November 2017

I must admit, it took me a while to understand what Steampunk is. It is a fantasy with a historic setting where Victoriana meets time travel, Gothic and science fiction. It derives its name from the 19th century industrial steam powered machinery. Steampunk Festivals, which are centred around promenades of people wearing various flamboyant costumes and outfits, is held not just all over the country, but the world as well. Haworth in Brontë Country, the village that I love and visit frequently, traditionally organize a Steampunk event last weekend in November. This is the first year that I have been able to attend (no, not dressed up this time!). Not being a big fan of crowded places I chose to go on the Friday as it was likely to be the quietest of the three days.

There was something else interesting going on in the village last weekend - the cast of the new Wuthering Heights film adaptation, due to be screened next summer for Emily Brontë's bicentenary birthday, were also in the village. I found them in the Parsonage garden having a photoshoot. The photographer kindly allowed onlookers to take pics as well.

 Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff

Cathy Earnshaw and Edgar Linton

The village looked lovely and Christmassy already with lots of lit up Christmas trees and twinkling lights in shop windows. I hanged around the cobbled Main Street with my camera for a while. I like just standing there and waiting to see if I can come up with an interesting shot. I am usually awarded with something, and this time it was a shot where Steampunk characters meet Heathcliff and Nelly Dean!!

It was a sunny, but very cold day, and by the time I was ready to go back to Leeds the first snow had fallen over Haworth. I got wet and numb with cold waiting for a bus that never arrived, but I didn't mind. As always, after a visit to Haworth, I came back home feeling happy and content. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Ashmount Country House & Haworth Moor

It was the beginning of autumn, the week before the clocks went back; the weather was still good , so I thought I'd book us somewhere nice in Haworth once more before the weather changed and days became short. I've always wanted to stay at the Ashmount Country House and when I saw I could book a room for just one night at the weekend I knew I mustn't miss the opportunity.
Ashmount is a beautiful Victorian hotel, just minutes from Main Street, the famous cobbled street in the heart of the village of Haworth. It has been home to mill owners, doctors, academics and war heroes for 140 years; Ashmount was the home of doctor Amos Ingham, a doctor to the famous literary Brontë family. It was doctor Ingham who looked after Charlotte at the very end of her short life when she was suffering with severe sickness possibly related to her pregnancy.
G and I occupied the elegant and comfortable Dispensary room which boasts Victorian furniture and overlooks the beautiful gardens and moors beyond. From the window, which faces south-west like the house itself, there are stunning panoramic views over Bridgehouse valley from Lees to Oxenhope to Hawksbridge.

In the morning, after a very tasty full English breakfast and before checking out we had a little wander around the gardens. The gardens have many beautiful features, the most unusual being the garden room with its ancient portal arch now used as a gazebo. The garden must be a pure joy in summertime, and I have already made a mental note to return at that time of year.

For our walk of the day we decided to go to the Brontë Falls approaching it from a less known route south off the Haworth moor, passing Harbour Lodge farm. It was a dry, but a characteristically windy and moody day with a lot of hazy light. I particularly enjoyed the views over Leeshaw Reservoir which I hadn't seen before, and generally discovering new areas of the moor.

The Brontë Falls looked different and very beautiful in the autumn colours of orange, russet brown and yellow, and they struck me as a very romantic place with a lot of couples lingering around on that particular day. 

All in all, it was another very enjoyable walk on the Haworth moor, and each time I take a walk on the moors and get to know them a bit better, I fall a little more in love with them.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

A November Day Around Haworth, Brontë Country

I don't really need to have a purpose for going to Haworth. I love the place so much that that alone is enough to keep me going there. But to add to the excitement of my visits I usually assign a purpose to each one of them. And last Monday it was a very different and special purpose. I decided to leave my job and have a slow, stress-free and deliberate Christmas, while I work out my next steps towards building a better quality lifestyle for myself and G. The moors were beckoning again and calling me, so I hurried over for a much needed head clearing and liberating walk.
I didn't want a bright and sunny day; it doesn't really suit the moors, and it wouldn't have quite suited my mood on that particular day either. So I was grateful for the overcast weather with a bit of dramatic and typically broody light now and again.

It was bitterly cold however, and I wasn't really prepared for it as temperatures had been mild previous days. There was no wind which was unusual, but the air was so cold my fingers clad in fingerless gloves felt like they were about to fall off together with my camera they were clutching. I wondered around for about an hour, deeply breathing in the fresh air...the spirit....the freedom.....and then, feeling invigorated in mind and body I was ready for some physical was time to go to the Parsonage and say hello to the Brontës - the most fascinating and inspiring artistic family that touched my life.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Jake - Portraiture Shoot

Now and again I like to try my hand at shooting portraits. Not often, because, to be truthful, I personally find it tiring and rather stressful to take pictures of people; but, if I have a willing and interesting model I do get challenged and excited at the prospect of a photo shoot. 
One of my close friend's twenty five year old son Jake, who is a talented amateur photographer himself, was happy to have a go at being in front of the camera for a change, so on a Saturday afternoon back in August we headed to the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, not far from where we all live, for some portraiture photography fun.

Jake proved to be a great model: he was at easy from the start and natural throughout the shoot; he enjoyed it as much as I did; he came up with his own suggestions and was great at following mine. My idea was to create mainly mood images, and he was all up for it. He was full of energy and wanted to carry on when I was nearly ready to call it a day.

I must say I look back at this photo escapade with great pleasure and sense of achievement. It was the first time Jake and I had a substantial contact, and it was good getting to know him through such a gratifying experience. I am so glad to be able to say that all of these images, my favourites among those we made, have been accepted by online photo agencies.