Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Spring Nostalgia - Stay At Home Still Life I

Amidst growing anguish of not knowing when I'd be able to go to my beloved Haworth next owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, I have resorted to my still life photography.
My subject for the latest image is the beautiful forsythia that flowers profusely at this time of year. Its cheerful bright yellow blossom is music not only to my eyes, but also my soul in the troubled time we have presently found ourselves in. 

In this crazy situation I have never been more grateful for my long time passion for still life photography. It is something that will not only keep me sane, but also give me the strength and positive energy to come out of this troubled time emotionally unscathed.

I believe everyone has some talent, some sort of gift, however much unapparent. And if you haven't already done so, there has never been a better time to find out what it is and start pursuing it. I believe there is nothing better to combat the frustration we are all suddenly facing than immersing ourselves in some sort of creative activity.

Stay well and safe and help others do the same.   

Friday, 27 March 2020

Daffodils At Kirkstall Abbey

One thing that is not cancelled in this strange time of coronavirus turmoil is spring - spring as a season. Nature defies malady and its continuous changes are happening regardless. Thankfully, springtime is upon us; each day we can see new, more prominent evidence that cheers and uplifts us; and now the weather has improved immensely, too, and the sun is shining day after day. I am so grateful for all the comfort I am getting from nature right now, even though I am not allowed to venture very far.
I am lucky and so glad that I live within walking distance of Kirkstall Abbey, the magnificent 12th century Cistercian monastery ruin with extensive parkland around it and the river Aire flowing nearby. Coincidentally for me being a Brontëphile, the abbey has connections with the literary Brontë family, too. Patrick Brontë, the father of the famous three sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, proposed here to their mother and his future wife Maria in October 1812. Charlotte later made a sketch of the abbey, a fact that contributes to the importance of the site in the history of the Brontë family.
It was the first day of the British partial lockdown announced by the Prime Minister the night before; a beautiful day, and I was immediately comforted by the gorgeous sight of pale cream daffodils gracing the grounds of the abbey. I so needed that walk and will cherish it for a long time to come.

I don't worry about the virus, about not having enough to eat, about my financial situation or about the economy when we are free of the lockdown; I can and will be able to cope with all of that and more. The only thing that I am worried about is not being able to go out into the countryside; not being able to go outdoors and enjoy nature the way my whole being is telling me I need to. But this too shall pass .....

Friday, 20 March 2020

Pastels of March

Yesterday, amidst the growing turmoil caused by the outbreak of Coronavirus, it was wonderful to escape to the nature, if only for a couple of hours. I found a much needed respite in the beautiful Golden Acre Park, just a short drive from my house. I am so grateful that the spring is happening around us at the moment; it is something that's giving me strength and emotional vigour to respond positively to the unsettling circumstances.
I took photos with my Nikon DSLR, and was out with it for the first time since I bought my iPhone in January last year and have used it as my sole camera medium since. On this occasion I only used my iPhone for the purpose of comparing its image quality with that of the image taken with the DSLR. Ok, I must admit that the iPhone produces better colour as well as more accurate exposure, but that is not of vital importance as I edit all my photos anyway. On the other hand, there are a few advantages of the DSLR: it offers a better scope for creative as you can choose different camera settings according to what you want to achieve; the long zoom lens I use with my DSLR enables me to take photos that I could not take with the iPhone due to the fact it doesn't have an optical zoom; the DSLR image size is larger than that of the iPhone, which is important when it comes to enlarging images; since I plan to sell prints of my work, the larger the image size the bigger print of it I can sell. And lastly, I like composing my images through the DSLR viewfinder - I can concentrate better on the composition and I can see a lot better than I can looking at live view, especially in very bright conditions.
So my Nikon DSLR does win, but of course, I shall always have my iPhone on me too, and I know that I will still use it quite often.

As I wandered around the park enjoying the nature and taking pics I felt inspired by a particular photographer whose latest book "London In Bloom" I had received in the post the other day. The photographer is beautiful Georgianna Lane, who I have known and whose work I have admired through online interaction for over ten years. Georgianna is a wonderful and very successful professional floral and architectural photographer. Her exquisite pastel, high key, ethereal images never fail to awe and uplift me. "London in Bloom" had made me want to rush back to the capital to capture some of its springtime beauty that Georgianna did. And she kindly included a list of places in the city where you can find such delightful sights. Quite frankly, there is no other book than "London in Bloom", the final book in the "Cities in Bloom" trilogy, that I can recommend more in this time of uncertainty and worry. It is sure to uplift you and fill you with new energy.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The Month of March

Right now the world is sadly going through an uncertain and challenging time with the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, but nature remains consistent in its beauty and continues to regale us with its lovely sights. I, for sure, have drawn solace from watching blossom and little leaf buds appearing on trees; spring flowers popping up with their cheerful colours and birds carrying in their beaks twigs moss etc. for the nests they are making.
I decided to collect samples of all the early signs of spring I come across and display them in a cardboard box with compartments for my next still life image.
I may do this for each month of the year, or at least for each season. To vary the box I have ordered a wooden one on internet and am looking forward to trying it with my next month's image.

From left to right: primrose, forsythia, pieris, flowering currant, hellebore, pansy, primrose, miniature daffodil, unidentified 

"It is the first mild day of March
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field."

~ William Wordsworth ~

Friday, 13 March 2020

Still Life With Pieris and Heather

Despite the weather continuing to be cold and stormy, Mother nature seems to be awakening for springtime, and it is fairly early compared to previous years. There are already quite a few blooms and colours in my front garden which cheers me up on my way in and out of the house: miniature daffodils, primroses, hellebores, periwinkle, piers, pansies and heather are adorning my early spring garden under my sitting room window.
For my first still life of the year I chose a panicle of little white bell-shaped pieris flowers and a few sprigs of spring flowering purple heather from a pot outside my front door. I paired them with a lovely small earthenware urn I bought in my favourite Haworth shop, The Store.
I am very pleased to say that this was shot using my Nikon DSLR, and not my iPhone. It is the first time I have used my DSLR since I bought my iPhone back in January last year. The alluring fascination with the iPhone has worn off now (still love it, though) and I have decided to use my DSLR as my main camera medium again, especially when it comes to still lifes. I must say I am curiously happy about that decision; there is something very pleasing about holding a "proper" camera in your hands.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Finally Spring! Gotts Park, Leeds

Today was a beautiful early March day, and I was lucky to be free to do whatever my heart  was telling me to do. Without any hesitation I chose to go for a walk, something I was longing to do as soon as the prolonged stormy weather finally went away. And I didn't want to spend any time travelling; I just wanted to be outdoors and walk, breath deeply, soak up the sun and watch the first signs of nature's awakening; I just strolled to the local park - the beloved Gotts Park. It was a short, but much welcome and refreshing walk. Here are a few pics of the sights that cheered me up.