Monday, 24 February 2020

Castle Veliki Tabor, Northwest Croatia, Sep 2019

There is one good thing about persistent inclement weather a photographer can take advantage of: they can catch up on editing and sharing any photos that have been sitting in the archives for too long because there never seems to be their turn to be dealt with. One of such sets of pics I have are those I took last year during a usual visit to my home country Croatia. My niece Haidi, her partner Bruno and I took ourselves for a day trip to one of Croatia's fascinating castles, Veliki Tabor. The fortress sits high up on top of a hill, near the town of Desinic in the northwest region of Croatia called Zagorje, not far from the village where my mother was born and raised. Built in the middle ages, the castle is preserved almost in its original form and is one of Croatia's best preserved and most attractive castles.

Veliki Tabor is known for a number of legends and stories the most famous one being the story of Veronika of Desinic, who falls in love and has a forbidden affair with the Count Herman II's son Fridrik of Celje. They elope and get married secretly in the neighbouring Slovenia, but the furious and vengeful Count's army was soon after them. Veronika was caught and imprisoned in Veliki Tabor and was also accused of being a witch who cast a spell on the Count's son. She was drowned in a large vat in the courtyard of the castle and her body built into the wall connecting the tower to the fort entrance. The tragic and intriguing story has been an inspiration to numerous artists who have created works in visual arts, literature, drama and other forms of art.

After visiting Veliki Tabor we went for some refreshments to the delightful country restaurant "Gresna Gorica", just a couple of minutes drive away from the castle. I can't praise enough the wonderful authentic Croatian food, atmosphere and natural surroundings this place provides. There just isn't anything better out there!

A word about my photo processing in this post. This isn't the way I would normally present my photos; this time I felt a bit adventurous and wanted to do something different and striking that would work well with the subject matter. The post is about an ancient castle, so I thought I'd apply a vintage, old photo heavily vignetted, faded and hazy look with light leaks and odd scratches and marks; and a couple of monochrome edits, too. It's not the sort of edit I'd often use, but I enjoyed the sense of creativity and fun it gave me while working on these images.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Meeting Photographers Helen Burrow and George Coupe

This post is not my usual sort of post; even though it is still a photography post, it is not about my photography, but someone else's. It is a post on how I met new photographer friends - Helen Burrow and her husband George Coupe.
Back in March last year, being a big Brontë Sisters fan, I went to Halifax to see an exhibition of black and white images by Helen Burrow, entitled "A Brontë Reader". The photographs were of Haworth and some other places with Brontë connections. I was completely bowled over by what I saw and I wrote a blog review of the exhibition here. A friend of Helen's happened to see the blog post and forwarded it to her. Helen then got in touch with me through an email. Her photographer husband George also send me an email regarding my review of Helen's exhibition. Unfortunately, they sent their emails to my gmail address which I don't normally use, and I did not see them for as many as ten months! It is only the other week, when I had had an issue with my blog and after I posted a question about it in the Blogger forum and then waited for a reply that I checked my Blogger associated gmail inbox. I was shocked to find Helen and George's messages there, and was mortified that they remained unanswered for such a long time. After all, it doesn't happen very often that you get such welcome emails!!! I immediately send a reply apologising and explaining the long silence, and thankfully, Helen and George replied and the contact was finally made. They were planning a visit to Haworth the following week to collect Helen's prints from the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where part of Helen's exhibition ran for the rest of 2019, after it ended at Clough Dean, Halifax. We all really wanted to meet each other, so I decided to make a trip to Haworth on the same day, which was Friday, 7th Feb.
So after a morning walk around Haworth, the pics of which I shared in a previous blog, I finally met George and Helen in a cafe on Main Street. We had a most pleasant and interesting afternoon getting to know each other, and I do hope we will remain friends for many years to come.

Helen and George, both qualified and accomplished photographers, first met at a City and Guilds Photography class back in the 1980's, and it didn't take them long to become an item. They both excel in black and white photography and are members of Lancashire Monochrome group. In fact, George only does monochrome photography, while Helen has also worked in colour, most remarkably in her flower photography. They brought along examples of their work to show me: Helen's beautiful Blurb photo book of images of Brontë Country from her exhibition "A Brontë Reader"; and George, who is  predominantly a portrait photographer, brought an album of prints of his b&w portraits - mainly musicians and theatre actors. They are all products of his professional work he has been doing since retiring over twenty years ago. George is also the author of several brilliant photo books, one of which is "Photographing People".

Here are some random examples of Helen and George's remarkable work:


Helen pictured with her Holga camera for the front cover of a magazine

"Tree On Haworth Moor"

"The Black Bull In The Snow"

"Sheep on Haworth Moor"

"Clergy Daughters' School, Cowan Bridge"

"Ruined Barn, Illinois"


"Art Themen"

"David Newton"

"Nicolas Meier"

"Peter King"

"Snicket, Halifax 3"

"Geoff Davis"

Geoff Davis was a great, very talented street and landscape monochrome photographer from Bolton. He was Helen & George's friend and fellow Lancaster Monochrome member. Here is a link to a very interesting video where Helen interviews Geoff Davis and his wife Betty, two years before Geoff's death in 2015.

"Stand where you feel comfortable and when something out there connects with something in you the shutter."
~Charlie Harbutt~
(inspirational quote found on Helen Burrow's website home page)

Monday, 17 February 2020

Garden Window After Hailstorm

The weather in the last two weeks has been very volatile and severe with gale force winds and driving rain fiercely battering Yorkshire and causing damaging floods. Needless to say, I haven't been out taking photos and am by now longing to do so. However, yesterday afternoon a little chance to do some creative photography indoors presented itself. Virtually out of nowhere a short, but violent hailstorm broke out, and as it stopped the sun came out for a few minutes. I spotted the water droplets glinting on the window pane of my dining room door, the back garden just recognizable beyond. I had just enough time to grab my iPhone and get a couple of shots before the sun disappeared taking away the magic and leaving the scene looking pretty much mundane.

"The night is darkening round me
The wild winds coldly blow
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot cannot go

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow
And the storm is fast descending
And yet I cannot go

Clouds beyond clouds above me
Wastes beyond wastes below
But nothing drear can move me
I will not cannot go

~Emily Brontë~

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Around Haworth On A February Morning

As I am writing this my beloved Haworth and its inhabitants are coping with the aftermath of the storm Ciara that caused damaging floods to the bottom part of the village. I dearly hope that the consequences are not too painful or costly and that damages are removed and fixed before long.
Just two days before the storm I had a most enjoyable time in Haworth. In the morning I wanted to go for a walk to Long Bridge, a gorgeous spot in the Brontë Country I call my haven; a magical little place where I go to now and then for a peaceful, relaxing moment. It was a misty and very cold morning, the sun tentatively waiting to reveal its face from behind the veil of mist. I walked down Lord Lane, climbed over the stile to carry on along the fields by the river Worth, but as I suspected, it was too muddy for my liking. I went back and instead walked along the river the opposite way, along the path to Spring Head Road.

View of Worth Valley from Lord Lane

A red Wendy house on the river Worth

Springhead Farm 

Rural scene on the river Worth

River Worth

I returned to Haworth via Victoria Avenue and Mytholmes Lane, and just had enough time for a quick visit to the Brontë Parsonage Museum and graveyard.

Brontë Parsonage Museum

Haworth Church and Old School Room from the Parsonage front garden

John Brown's grave

Now it was time for a special encounter which I shall blog about in a separate post. It was a truly great day!

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Still Life With Snowdrops


"Thou first-born of the year's delight
Pride of the dewy glade,
In vernal green, and virgin white
Thy vestal robes array'd."