Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The village of Dockray, The Lake District, Cumbria

I haven't taken any new photos for the past few weeks. I was ill with the flu when we had a spell of heavy snow, and "the beast from the east" was thrashing England. Then I started a new job, which for me is a bit like starting a new life, so while I am in training and finding my feet in the new job and new circumstances of living I have put my photography on the back burner.
However, when it's time to relax I like nothing more than editing photos, and I decided to look in my archives for something to process for a blog post. The weather has not been nice: low, wintry temperatures, another bout of heavy snow followed by incessant rain and then more snow. It's already mid March, and I'm sure everyone is, like I am, eagerly awaiting a turn in the weather and some much welcome signs of spring. In this spirit I thought I'd share a few photos I took in the beautiful August weather of 2016, when we were on holiday at Ullswater, one of the lakes in the wonderful English Lake District.

We were on the lookout for some good places to have an evening meal and were recommended the Royal Hotel in the picturesque village of Dockray, a mile or so away from our rented cottage. We came here one afternoon to check it out, and while G and our friends sat down to a cold and refreshing drink in the beer garden I disappeared with my camera for half an hour or so.

The Royal is a family run, traditional country hotel. It looked so beautiful in the lovely light of the summer afternoon with its contrasting colours of white, black and red framed by the rich blue of the sky. I wandered excitedly around the building and the garden with my camera clicking away.

Dockray is a very small, quaint and peaceful village with old stone houses, many of them whitewashed. There are quite a few gorgeous holiday cottages. As I admired them I thought what a perfect place to be based for a holiday with Ullswater and its lake attractions just a mile away, proximity of the spectacular Aira Force waterfall and two of  England's most well known fells, Helvellyn and Growbarrow, just a stone's throw away.

Dockray is surrounded by farmland and rolling valleys and nestles in the stunning lakeland countryside. I was itching to explore it, but it was time I went back to my company so I just grabbed a couple of shots from the edge of the village.

To round off our experience of this charming place we did return for an evening meal at the Royal. It was exquisitely home made and delicious. Both the hotel and the village are on my list of places to go back to when I am in the area next time.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Recent Still Life

As usual, in between taking pictures of landscape and scenery, I have fitted in some still life work as well. To me still life is very important part of my photography; it is a must do for every month of the year; it is what gives me a true sense of creative achievement in this wonderful pursuit that photography is to me. In the current winter months I have chosen three very different themes.

Winter, with its absence of flowers and colours in the nature, is a good time to do some, what I call, non-floral still life work. I simply look around the house for some objects that I could use to create a story around, while at the same time putting together a visually engaging set up in which the elements interact well with one another. This time it was my antique brown poison bottle and a reproduction of an old bill of fare I bought in the Mother Shipton's Cave Attraction gift shop in Knaresborough.

This is a found still life which I saw in my friend's lovely house in Haworth where I was privileged to stay. I love the little distressed vintage chest of drawers, the angel figurine, and the framed quote. The quote is so simple and yet so inspiring. To me, it reminds us not to take happiness or anything, for that matter, for granted and to always be grateful for everything we have, be it material or spiritual.

This is my latest still life image where I chose to work with the flowers that have started to spring about in the still wintry landscape. The colours are those predominant in February - white and brown. The first flowers of the spring are usually white, and the vegetation is still pretty much brown. And then, there is a bit of yellow too, as the first daffodils tentatively poke their heads through.

And now it's nearly March, and I look forward to seeing what fresh still life ideas come to me.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Walk Around Leeming Reservoir, Brontë Country

These days I seem to always stick to colour photography. However, on this particular occasion I ended up dabbling with black and white sepia. Here is how and why.
It was a Sunday morning and my third and last day in Haworth. I arranged with G and a friend to come over for breakfast and then go for a walk before driving back to Leeds. I thought a walk around the nearby Leeming reservoir would be nice and relaxing on this winter day. We drove a short distance to Oxenhope and started our walk from the village post office.
All along the walk there were extensive, breathtaking views over the reservoir, the village of Leeming and surrounding areas. I always enjoy looking at sweeping, distant views, but, to be honest,  photographs of most of them leave me quite indifferent. It was mainly an overcast day and the diffused light and pale colours of the winter landscape made my photos look quite flat, insipid and simply lacking impact. I thought I had to do something with the photos to make them worth sharing. I quite liked the idea of the old photo, industrial look, so I experimented with some sepia presets in Lightroom.

The highlights of the walk for me was looking at the snow covered Haworth moor on the skyline and walking up the steep, rough stone set track, called Bank, lined with pretty, old cottages. The views from this track were absolutely wonderful.

Apart from having to retrace our steps at a certain point and modify our route because of unmanageable mud, we all really loved our ramble. Towards the end we came out onto the main road right in front of a very inviting pub "The Lamb Inn". We couldn't resist going in for a little rest and a refreshing drink. And it was really good to get to know this lovely, olde worlde country pub. 

I am looking forward do doing this walk again some time in the late spring or summer when, in my photography, I shall be focusing more on detail and less on extensive views.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Snowy Day in Haworth, Brontë Country

It was a very cold, but bright day when I left Leeds for Haworth on Monday morning. As I got off the bus at the bottom of the cobbled Main Street I turned my face up towards the sun and felt the usual surge of happiness and excitement at simply being here; and the more so this morning because I was on my way to the amazing Ponden Hall, possibly the model for Thrushcross Grange, or even more likely, Wuthering Heights. I thought I'd walk up to the top of Main Street and get a taxi from there; that way I wouldn't miss out on any possible photos of my favourite street in the world.

By the time I got to the top of the street the sun was already hidden behind some rather ominous clouds, and by the time I rang for a taxi it was snowing heavily; large, thick flakes, whirling in a gusty wind were settling fast on the ground and in no time the place was blanketed in white. The taxi driver quite understandably wouldn't take me to Ponden Hall as the snow storm was likely to be even worse up there. I did feel a pang of disappointment, but the day was far from being spoilt for me. The weather simply cannot spoil my visits to Haworth. You cannot be a big fan of Haworth if you are bothered about the weather, and anyway, inclement weather just gives an extra appeal and atmosphere to this place for me.

The only downside of the wet weather is that I basically cannot take photos as I don't want my camera to get wet. So I headed into the Parsonage, the Brontës' home - the best possible shelter from the wet weather I could possibly wish for. I wandered around the rooms and the shop. I looked out the shop's windows and for the first time ever I was inspired to take a shot from there. It's incredible how the snow transforms the surroundings!

It soon stopped snowing and I stepped outside. To the left was the path to the moors I took a photo of only a few days before. You wouldn't recognise it now. It made for such a lovely rural scene. There were some crows frolicking around in the mid distance, and I just manage to catch two of them flying away.

Soon the sun was shining again, and the day progressed into a gorgeous late afternoon, crisp with melting and dripping snow, and rich in blue skies and glinting whiteness of the roofs and ground.

There is always something exhilarating being in Haworth in the snow for me. I guess it comes from the fact that I would never actually go there if I know it is snowing for fear of being stuck and unable to get back home. Another reason, of course, is that Haworth is so idyllic and extremely beautiful covered in snow.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Sunny Winter Afternoon in Haworth. Brontë Country

Last Friday was a gorgeous winter day in my favourite Haworth. It was very cold, but the mellow winter sun was out all day. I waited till it got quite low to go for a little stroll with my camera. I loved the blue shadows and golden highlights.

The Parsonage Museum - the home to the Brontë Sisters, the Victorian literary geniuses.

In the middle on the right there is the Old School Room, where all of the Brontë siblings taught. It was built by their father, the Rev Patrick Brontë. Later on the day I took this photo, a private view of the new exhibition to mark Emily Brontë's 200th birthday took place here.

The path behind the Parsonage, which is a path to the sisters' beloved moors. For me it is impossible to walk along here without Charlotte, Emily and Anne in my mind.

The wonderful, for me downright magic Main Street, where photo opportunities never run out.

This is Changegate, called the Ginnel in the Brontës time, which leads to Lord Lane. I thought I'd take a little walk around a part of Haworth where I hadn't been before and decided to go down Lord Lane and on to Springhead Road in search of the Springhead house where The Brontës' friend Joseph Greenwood and his family lived.

I didn't find (or recognize) the Springhead house (will have to do more research into its location), but I did come across this charming scene on the river Worth with a lovely red Wendy house. The backlighting was tricky for photography, but it was giving the scene an air of a fairy tale.

Now it was nearly time to get ready for the opening of the Emily exhibition, so I completed my little circular walk by returning to the village via Victoria Avenue and Mytholmes Lane.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

A Little Fashion Photoshoot in Zagreb, Croatia

On my recent brief visit to the beloved Zagreb earlier this month I was asked by my lovely niece Haidi and her boyfriend Bruno to photograph the new lines of their lifestyle fashion brand "Creaturae". As I always say, I don't really take photos of people, but occasionally I like working with people who don't mind being photographed, look good on photographs and know how to pose. Haidi is always a great pleasure to take pics of, and this time I also met and worked with two friends of hers who proved to be very good models too, as well as very nice young people.
It was thankfully not too cold a day but it was drizzling steadily, so we had to find a location where we were going to be covered from above. The best choice was the attractive, old bandstand in the popular Zrinjevac park, not far from the city square.

Haidi, who is a yoga teacher, was very pretty in the black viscose dress hemmed with a red frill, and as usual, was relaxed and looking very natural in front of the camera.

Bruno Ilic (Haidi's boyfriend's namesake) is a handsome and very photogenic swimwear and mens' underwear model. The Marlon Brando sweater and hooded top he was modeling looked very good on him.

Manuela Svorcan is a beautiful, slender and, most importantly, very talented young woman. She is a Croatian TV host, singer, dancer, actress and model. I believe any clothes look nice on her and so did the new "Creaturae" black Marlon Brando mini dress.

The five of us spent together a very enjoyable couple of hours on what was my last day in Zagreb. And I was happy to find that the photos came out well and were much appreciated.