Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Haworth Window

I'm still not taking any new photos, but feeling perfectly fine about it. Loving and living photography is not just about taking photos, but also looking at other people's work, whether for inspiration or simply to keep abreast with what's happening in the world of photography; it is also about thinking  what your next step is going to be and also, not forgetting the good photos you've taken recently that are still waiting to be edited and possibly shared. And that is exactly what I have been doing. Moreover, Christmas is coming, and a little lull in taking photos suits me well while I am making a start with preparations for the holidays and waiting for fresh inspiration from the new season.
Just lately the weather here in Yorkshire has turned rather severe; typical November conditions set in: frosty mornings, foggy and chilly days with quite a lot of rain and cold and early nights with my garden solar lights hardly getting enough sun to light up at all. Days like this made me remember I have some shots of my beloved Haworth which I took back in summer on the sort of day that resembled much more the kind of weather we have right now than a summer day. I left those shots to process and share at a more appropriate time and now it feels like a perfect time.
It was one of my overnight visits to Haworth, and I stayed at the wonderful Old White Lion hotel at the top of the well known, steep, cobbled Main Street. I'd stayed at the White Lion once before, in one of the two single rooms, but didn't know which one I was going to be in this time. I was thrilled to find it wasn't the same room but the one with the great view of Main Street; I've always wanted to stay in a room with a view like that, and now it finally happened! It was my dream room and I was enthralled!! It didn't matter that it rained all day; I had something very exciting and different to photograph - rainy scenes of Haworth Main Street through a window of an 18th century inn! I spent the whole afternoon at the window just gazing out and taking pics of people coming in and out of the frame carrying colourful umbrellas and wearing various wet weather clothes.

I experimented with different lens apertures and focusing points....

At dusk, just before going out for an evening meal I picked up my camera again - night time shots of the view had to be taken!

A remarkable thing happened that evening. The Black Bull pub (just beyond the red phone box), where Branwell Brontë spent a lot of time drinking with his village buddies, reopened after a few weeks of closure and uncertain future. As a huge Brontës fan I was so pleased to see its lights turned on again, and made sure I went in there for a glass of wine.

The following morning dawned grey and dull, although dry. As soon as I opened my eyes I kneeled on my bed below the window and peered out.

As I took in the scene I wondered what it would be like to wake up in this room on a fine, clear morning. I imagined the sun rising on the horizon in the sky still moody from yesterday's rain, casting a warm glow around it. I thought I'd recreate in the postprocessing what I saw in my mind, and the result is the image below.

I'm not even sure which direction this room is facing, and whether a sight like this is possible to see at all from my vantage point, but it doesn't matter to me. I enjoyed employing creativity to express my imagination here. A few years ago I would do this quite a lot; change an image in Photoshop to make it better, or simply to reflect my imagination, creativity and editing skills. These days I tend to see beauty around me more freely and don't usually feel the need to alter the image, but merely enhance it. However, sometimes it's good, and certainly very gratifying, to give free rein to your artistic disposition and create whatever your heart is telling you to create.
For this creation I used a sky layer from Jessica Drossin's Artistic Sky Overlays pack - the only thing I bought this Black Friday sale weekend.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Walking From Ponden to Lad Stone, Brontë Country

I haven't taken any photos recently that I would like to share, so it's time for a bit of catch up on what I had taken earlier this year. Back in September I went for a great walk the photos of which have been waiting to be given attention they deserve. I was on my annual visit to the wonderful Ponden Hall. I arrived lunch time and set off for my planned walk early afternoon. The weather was great for photography, especially for taking photos of the kind of landscape around Ponden and Stanbury moor. There were a lot of clouds in the sky, some white, some dark and a bit menacing, but thankfully it stayed dry; one moment the sun was out and the next it was screened with clouds creating a moody lighting, perfect for capturing the spirit of the bleak moorland. It was an easy four mile linear walk following just one well defined path, but although never very far from habitation it felt quite remote.

Ponden Reservoir - my starting point

A view towards Worth Valley from the track leading up to the moor.

Ponden Reservoir with Ponden Hall just visible on the left.

Upper Ponden - the isolated farm and lone tree are always a photogenic sight on the bleak moorland.

A view to Upper Ponden Farm and beyond from my steadily climbing path

Very soon my path began to feel very remote and lonely. In fact, I never met a single person on the entire walk and loved it so much..

Watersheddles Reservoir, which is in the next county, Lancashire

Remains of an old quarry with a stone post

The ruin of a quarrymans' hut was another interesting feature of the walk

Lad Stone, my destination. It lies on the brow, yards from where the path finishes, in the heather. "Lad" is a Yorkshire word for "boy" and the legend has it that a young lad perished in this windswept moorland spot which was the boundary of two adjoining parishes. As neither of the parishes wished to foot the bill for the lad's funeral, he was buried right there on the spot. However, "lad" is also a name for standing stone in the area which means the stone was likely to have been placed there merely to mark the boundary.

Lad Stone. I lingered here in this solitary spot under now a rather gloomy sky for a little while, just taking in the mood, and peace of the distant place and taking quite a few shots of the stone. As the track finished here I eventually retraced my steps and began to return as I came. 

I found Upper Ponden was now enveloped in a different light, rather dramatic and a touch ominous. From this point I varied my return and walked down the faint steep grassy path leading to the left from the spot I took this photo from.

I came to this beautiful house surrounded by gorgeous autumn rose-hips growing all along the fence.

Reaching the last wooden gate of the walk I was greeted by some moorland ramblers frequent friends. Past the gate I was supposed to continue straight on towards Ponden Hall, but I decided to make a little detour by turning left and walking down to the reservoir end. 

The upper end of Ponden Reservoir

What an enjoyable first time walk to Lad Stone this was. Great distance, great location, enough photographic interest and almost perfect weather conditions. As a photographer and nature lover I could hardly wish for anything better!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Slunj, Central Croatia, October 2018

When I go for my usual short visits to Zagreb, my native city, I never used to feel I had time to go anywhere else in Croatia. All my family and friends live in Zagreb, and there is so much to re-visit and photograph in the Croatian capital. But, as in recent years I have come to increasingly like the nature and countryside and care less and less for cities and city lifestyle, I am now ready to explore and experience "other Croatia" - smaller towns and villages, rural areas and spots of natural beauty.
On my last visit to my native country, this October, I got to go somewhere I had wanted to go for a long time and had never been before, the beautiful small town of Slunj in the Kordun region, central Croatia. My Mum's next door neighbour and dear friend, Zorka was born and raised in Slunj and has two family houses over there where she spends a lot of time. She kindly offered to drive us and stay with us in her townhouse for a couple of days. The weather was beautiful and we had such a lovely and memorable time.

On our way down we stopped to have a look at Kerestinec Castle. It looked quite atmospheric on this misty morning.

Kerestinec Castle has a dark history of serving as a concentration camp in the World War II

Our next stop was Mirjana Rastoke Tourist Centre situated just a few miles from our destination. We had a coffee at this lively, busy and interesting place bustling with lots of tourists at all times of the year (Slunj is a wonderful place to visit with lots to do and see!).

Me with the mannequins sporting Slunj national costumes at the entrance to Mirjana Rastoke Tourist Centre

Zorka with the mannequins sporting Slunj national costumes at the entrance to Mirjana Rastoke Tourist Centre

Soon after we arrived to Zorka's house my ailing Mum took a rest while Zorka and I went for a walk around Slunj and its spectacular Rastoke, small village on the edge of the town where the rivers of Slunjcica and Korana meet over a series of rocks creating a chain of stunning waterfalls.

A view over one of the pools the confluence of the two rivers created with a typical wooden villa.

A small waterfall on the river Slunjcica and what used to be an old mill

A view of Slunj from the North

Approaching the Napoleon's Magazine ruin. At the beginning of the 19th century Slunj was briefly under Napoleon's rule.

Napoleon's Magazine ruin

The breathtaking waterfalls at Rastoke

The River Slunjcica 

One of Slunj's many interesting architectural details

Pretty, colourful, autumn window detail

Zrinski & Frankopan Square with Holy Trinity Church

A dusk view over Slunj

The following day we woke to a glorious autumn morning. There was a fine mist over the hills with a warm glow of sunshine behind it. I reached for my camera first thing not wanting to miss out on the early magical light.

The view from the balcony. The river Slunjcica can just be seen behind the trees in the mid distance.

Zorka tasting her delicious Isabella grapes

I loved how the mellow sun filled the foliage and the air with golden light. 

Couldn't resist a sun-drenched still life with the chilli peppers we freshly picked from the garden. They were so good, some mild, some hot, I had to have them with every meal!

It was a Thursday, the market day, and also my Mum's 78th birthday. We were determined to have a great time. After a leisurely breakfast we nipped to the market which takes place just yards from Zorka's house. We then had lunch at Rastoke in a restaurant on the river followed by the eagerly awaited trip to Zorka's country house in the village of Ponor, some 7 miles away from Slunj. We spent most of the time picking apples, chestnuts and walnuts which I enjoyed so much.

It's been a great year for apples in Croatia; so much so that it's been difficult to keep on top of harvest. 

Mum and Zorka outside Zorka's charming house

My dear Mum on her 78th birthday

Mum and Zorka - neighbours and good friends

Grape vine fence

Lovely looking wooden barns behind Zorka's house

 This was the tree we planned to pick apples from, but other apple trees needed an urgent attention having already shed a lot of the fruit....

I was so fascinated by the wooden structure in the foreground, which is a storage for corn - such a charming rural sight!

Lovely cows that belong to Zorka's neighbour and friend at whose house we had a refreshing drink and relaxing chat before heading back to Slunj.

I've loved reliving the experience of staying in Slunj through writing this blog post. The nature, the countryside, the simplicity of lifestyle (I was very pleased to have met a few locals, all lovely people that inspired me with their generosity and straightforward friendliness) and the beauty of the season totally bowled me over. I could live perfectly happily here! One thing I know for sure is that I shall definitely come back here.