Monday, 23 December 2019

December Still Life

I had almost resigned to the fact there would be no usual Christmas still life from me this year. Time was running out, and I still had not had a remotest idea of a composition for my image. Then I saw on Pinterest this photo, and suddenly ideas started pouring into my mind. I have seen hundreds of Christmas decor photos on Pinterest this season, and none of them did anything in terms of giving me inspiration, but this beautiful, simple image unexpectedly just did the job.


I had a bit of a trouble post processing this pic and spent more time than I normally would trying to achieve the look I had in mind; still not quite sure if the look is there, but I am pleased my festive still life is here after all, and just in time for Christmas.
All the elements of the image are part of my this year's Christmas home decorations. The little hanging red hearts are from my beloved Zagreb. They are called Licitar hearts and are a traditional symbol of the Croatian capital.


~ Happy Christmas to my blogger friends, readers and visitors! ~







Friday, 20 December 2019

Christmas Time at Oakwell Hall, Birstall, West Yorkshire

Being a stalwart Brontëite, I am lucky to live near quite a few Brontë landmarks, one of the most beautiful being the 17th century Oakwell Hall. Charlotte Brontë visited here when the hall was a girls' school as she was considering setting up a school in Haworth with her sisters. The Hall is featured in her last novel "Shirley" under the name "Fieldhead". Even if it had nothing to do with the Brontës this place would still be one of my most cherished haunts being a fascinating historic house with beautiful landscaped gardens, surrounded with hundreds of acres of woodland and nature trails.
I've visited Oakwell Hall twice this month, both times mainly to experience traditional Christmas atmosphere as there were Christmas events taking place on both days. On both occasions it was a beautiful winter day, cold but filled with low glowing sunlight.

Sunday 1st December - Deck The Halls

On arrival I took some pics of the back of the house from the gardens and a few around the charming Oak Tree cafe. The low winter sunlight made the place look magic, but it also made for rather tricky lighting conditions for photography. To tone done the contrast between light and shadows I used some Snapseed presets in editing.







Inside there were stalls with local crafts people selling their lovely Christmas decor creations.






Sunday, 15 December - 17th Century Christmas

Before going in to the event I took a couple of photos of the front of the Hall. It was a bit later in the day than the previous visit and the contrast between the light and shade wasn't quite so stark.



Inside the house I found more decorations had been added around the place ....




Small table with festive snacks set up for Mr Batt, the historic owner of Oakwell Hall

The entertainment on the day was provided by The Leeds Waits, who recreated a 17th century Christmas playing seasonal music and enacting historic events. Here are a few snippets of their fascinating olde worlde music.








After the show the players talked to the audience about the instruments they used - harp, hurdy gurdy, recorder, cornett, crumhorn and bagpipes.







It was a lovely day in the runner up to Christmas; in fact, both days were right up my street; I enjoyed every minute of them.





Thursday, 12 December 2019

A Special Visit To Haworth, Brontë Country, at Christmas Time

On Monday I went to Haworth for a very special reason: I am lucky and very grateful that I was able to quit my part time job and take early retirement last week. The first thing I wanted to do is celebrate the important turning point in my life by spending a quiet and relaxing day in my beloved Haworth.
It was a beautiful, bright and sunny winter day; not my favourite sort of lighting for photography any time, but it didn't matter. What mattered is that the weather was conducive to a refreshing walk on the moors. I only went as far as Penistone Hill, but it was all I needed to cleanse my mind and prepare it  for a new life of freedom and fulfilled, but slow and stress free way of living.








Back in the village I had to take yet more photos of the Brontë Parsonage, probably the only place I will never tire of taking photos of. I thought it was also a good time to visit St Michael and All Angels Church, the church where Patrick Brontë preached and where all the Brontë family members, except Anne, were buried.




When I am in the Parsonage I always try to take a few photos I haven't taken (or seen) before, and this time my eye was caught by some detail in the Branwell studio. As this was likely to be my last visit to Haworth this year, I said goodbye to Patrick and his bicentenary exhibition and took a photo  of his study as well.




As it was getting dark I was ready for the warmth of a cosy pub and some nice comforting food. I chose The Fleece Inn where I was greeted by open, recently lit fire, my favourite table next to the window empty for me.



Before heading back to Leeds I had to take a few photos of the Christmas magic on Main Street. On this occasion I chose the bottom part of the street rather than the more popular, arguably more attractive top part.


So that was it - one of my many trips to Haworth, but one of those that will stand out in my mind as it gave me a new lease of life.





Sunday, 1 December 2019

Top Withens Photoshoot With Haidi, August 2019

This post has been long overdue sitting in my Blogger drafts for months, so I thought I'd finally finish it off and get it ready for publishing.

When my beautiful and talented niece Haidi came to stay with her partner Bruno back in August there was one thing we had to make sure happened: a photoshoot at Top Withens, a landmark farmhouse ruin near Haworth in Brontë Country. The location was possibly an inspiration for the location of the house named Wuthering Heights in the famous novel by Emily Brontë. Being a Brontëite, inspired and intrigued by Emily Brontë in particular, I often walk to this place and spend some quiet and reflective time there. Some of my photos of Top Withens can be seen in this post.

I've always wanted to photograph a young female model at this remote, lonely and weatherbeaten location in a photoshoot reminiscent of Cathy Earnshaw, the main heroine of the novel. Cathy falls ill and dies young amidst a passionate and troubled love affair with Heathcliff, and years later her ghost appears in the night at the window of Wuthering Heights begging to be let in.

Haidi, who is great at modelling generally and is always keen and ready for new ideas proved to be more than a suitable model for the theme I had in mind - Catherine Earnshaw returns and revisits the ruins of the house she grew up in and lived with Heathcliff in during her childhood.















Thursday, 21 November 2019

Afternoon With Author Rowan Coleman, Holdsworth House, Halifax

Last Sunday I attended a literary talk event organized by the Brontë Society. The speaker was Rowan Coleman, an acclaimed writer from Hertfordshire who has recently written books inspired by the Brontë Sisters. The venue for this most enjoyable talk was the very beautiful Holdsworth House Hotel on the outskirts of Halifax. It is a 17th century Jacobean manor house surrounded by stunning landscaped gardens. It has been privately owned through centuries by people of wealth and distinction, and in 1963 it opened to the public as a hotel.

Awed by the photos of the house I'd seen on internet prior to the event I decided to arrive a bit earlier and have a look around the gardens and the exterior of the house. It was a cold, dull and drizzly day....



It was lovely to meet the charming and friendly writer Rowan Coleman and listen to what she had to say about herself, her writing and her books. She talked about her Brontë inspired novels- "The Girl At the Window", published back in August, and "The Vanished Bride", published earlier this month. I had already read the former book and loved it, and am just about to start reading the latter.

Author Rowan Coleman reading from her book "The Girl At The Window"

After the talk we were treated to the traditional English cream tea which was extremely good and full of home made taste.

After the event, I took some photos of the wonderful courtyard and interior of the house.









It was just getting dark, the time of day when lights start coming on their warm glow mingling with the dark blue of the dusk sky, and I thought I'd return to the garden and take a few more pics before heading back to the Halifax train station.





This was just a perfect Sunday afternoon for me. There is nothing I would like more than a day filled with literature, pleasant and inspiring people, lovely food and a most beautiful olde worlde place. In fact, the hotel is one of the most beautiful period houses I have ever seen; it strikes me as a great bolthole from which to explore Shibden Hall and the surrounding countryside. I shall remember that when I want to stay somewhere special next.