Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Hamlet of Lumbfoot, Haworth, Bronte Country, April 2015

Since it takes a lot less time to take photos than to edit them and write about them I always have a lot of old images "waiting to see daylight" and be dealt with. On this occasion I'd like to share a beautiful circular walk around Lumbfoot G and I went for about this time last year.
The map of the route can be found on the "Four Countryside Walks from the Pennine Village of Haworth" leaflet available at the Tourist Information Centre in Haworth. It is such an exhilarating and easy walk and quite different from other walks around Haworth in that it runs through the river Worth Valley countryside which differs in appearance from the famous adjacent moorland, adding to the varied beauty of the landscape around Haworth.

The wonderful view greeted us very soon after leaving Haworth Main Street with a dry stone wall on our left, Lower Oldfield Farm in mid distance and rolling hills beyond.

Lower Oldfield Farm - such a welcome encounter. Just love the rural setting and detail, all looking so appealing in the interplay of spring sunshine and shadow.

It was such a glorious late April day, perfect to explore this part of Haworth countryside. I felt so alive and buzzing with a liberating feeling.

One of the joys of springtime is lots of cute lambs all over fields. Loved this little scene with the lamb chilling in the shade snuggled up against its mother.

This must be one of the most idyllic and magical spots I have ever been to. When the old bridge came into view I just gasped with incredulity. The charming packhorse bridge over the river Worth, Grade II listed building, is paradoxically called "Long Bridge" as it is anything but long, although it may have been long by the standards of the time it was built in (date uncertain). The area around it is very peaceful and tranquil, and all you can hear is the murmur of water and all you can see delightful rolling countryside. G and I lingered here for a while soaking in the beauty and peace. It was a weekday, and there was nobody about. We had this amazing place all to ourselves. I decided I must come back here with a picnic blanket and book of the Brontes' poems, and I will make sure it does happen this summer.

The chimney stump and engine house of the demolished Lumbfoot Mill.

Lumbfoot is such a little gem in the Bronte Country. There is only a private road leading to it and a public footpath. I marvelled at the handful of lovely, tucked away houses thinking how peaceful and idyllic it must be to live here.

An attractive row of cottages at the end of the hamlet. One of them had its stable door open on this beautiful spring early afternoon (how I love stable doors!!!), and as we passed we could here from within the clinking of cutlery against plates as the inhabitants had their lunch. It all looked and felt like a bliss to me.

This lovely sign at the entrance to the hamlet made me smile. It tells you not only how many people live there but also how many dogs and cats. Lumbfoot was twinned with Lhasa, Tibet as part of the 1989 declaration of independence from the UK following a dispute between its villagers and those of the nearby Stanbury. It is a piece of history which I find rather bizarre.

We left the hamlet by a narrow, very steep, walled foothpath leading towards Stanbury with some lovely elevated views.

Lower Laithe Reservoir near Stanbury. With it's Victorian sluice house it is quite an attractive feature in the Bronte Country, especially in panoramas with dramatic light.

A breathtaking view over Sladen Valley, near Cemetery Road, Haworth. The wonderful vista stretches for about three quarters of a mile, and it is one of the most captivating I have ever seen.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Tribute To Charlotte Bronte (1816 - 1855)

"The human heart has hidden 
treasures, In secret kept, in 
silence sealed; The thoughts, the 
hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, 
Whose charms were broken if 

~Charlotte Bronte~

2016 sees the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth (21st April), and as I am a huge fan there has never been a better time for me to create a personal tribute to her. Charlotte is one of the three famous Victorian literary sisters who continue to awe, intrigue and inspire me, both as artists and as women. I was very excited and somewhat daunted at the idea of creating a still life image in her honour. 

It did not take long for a picture to form in my mind, but I did not have the objects I needed to realize it. I wanted to use a "Jane Eyre" book but did not have an old publication. By some uncanny coincidence I stumbled upon one in a charity shop just days after I planned my image. The book is from about 1960 and has Charlotte's dedication to the novelist W. M. Thackeray, which she first inscribed in The Third Edition of Jane Eyre in 1848. It is not as old a book as I would have liked, so I added an old paper texture in post processing to create a more antiquated look.
Charlotte was very short-sighted, so I used an old pair of spectacles found in the Saltaire Vintage shop, that are not dissimilar to those she would have worn.
She was fond of wearing neck scarves which gave me an idea to included one of mine (for want of a more appropriate one) that reminds me of the scarf she is wearing in the above portrait by J. H. Thompson. 
The presence of hyacinths is owed to the fact they blossom around the time Charlotte was born (and me too for that matter, two days after her); they are my favourite spring flowers, and in this image they represent my birthday present to Charlotte.

Haworth village and Bronte Parsonage Museum, where Charlotte lived and wrote all her works, are hosting many interesting and fascinating events and talks to mark and celebrate the bicentenary of her birth throughout the year. I am so looking forward to attending, photographing and writing about as many as I can.

"True enthusiasm is a fine 
feeling whose flash I admire 
where-ever I see it."

~Charlotte Bronte~


Sunday, 3 April 2016

Hamlet of Outgate, Lake District, 7 May 2015

This very pretty hamlet straddles the Ambleside Hawkshead road and lies about a mile and a half north of Hawkshead. We were on the way to Hawkshead to start a walk from there, and as we drove through the little village I gasped at its picturesque charm. I asked G if we could stop on our way back for me to take a few pics and so we did. I didn't have a lot of time as we were quite tired and hungry by then, so I just whizzed around taking quick and random shots of whatever was catching my eye.

I just adore this rural scene with whitewashed holiday cottages and the local slate fence. I normally remove telephone poles and cables from my images but I like how the wire frames the cottages here, and could just not resist adding some birds to it in Photoshop. I used one of bird brushes by Cheryl Tarrant available for free from her site.

The same row of cottages as on the previous image. It was a very peaceful and bright spring afternoon and the only sound I could hear was a soft laughter, presumably of a happy holiday maker, coming from an open window.

Of course, I had to take a close up of the old, red, English phone box, always a welcome and cheerful site and a great detail for photography.  Loved shooting with the sun in front of me.

The local pub, Outgate Inn, another house whitewashed in local tradition. Particularly attractive is the fence made of the Lake District slate, a lovely feature of the hamlet.

It makes me really happy and feeling fulfilled to visit and photograph country places like this one. It is definitely one the things I enjoy the most in life.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hollens Farm Cottage, Grasmere, Lake District

I've just processed a few images of the Hollens Farm Cottage for a submission to Trevillion Images, and thought I'd write a blog post about them too. The 19th century farmhouse was our abode while on a week's holiday in Grasmere last month. I have written about the cottage back in January, so this time I shall just add a few more photographs I took in February.

The table in the charming, authentic, olde worlde  kitchen where we had our meals and played games. It was Valentine's Day on the second day of our stay, hence the red roses in the old earthenware pot.

The cheering log burner and fire our friend David look after each night and made sure the room was toasty and the atmosphere cosy.

One of the two armchairs in the sitting room matching the Chesterfield sofa under the window. On the seat there is the map of the Lake District we were perusing on a daily basis.

The lovely little window on the landing upstairs with a bookcase underneath. The windowsill features a pair of vintage binoculars, and I also put a vase with some of our Valentine's flowers on there.

Even the bathroom is full of old fashioned character. Among other things it boasts a fascinating wooden toilet flush and copper pipe.

I believe this sort of cottage is not everyone's cup of tea, but it certainly is mine. I hope dearly one day we will be living somewhere very similar, and if that happens to be in Haworth I will be the happiest woman in the world!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Easter Still Life

I love working on seasons still lifes, but it has been a few years since I created an Easter one. Inspiration does not always come spontaneously, and when it doesn't, I don't push myself. I prefer to wait till it happens naturally.
This year I started thinking about Easter still life back in February. I thought I'd get a floppy straw hat and tie some colourful ribbon around its brim. And then I would pair it with some daffodils and also use my lovely French shopping basket. But I could not find a hat I liked and realized I did not need one after all. If I used my white chiffon scarf and vintage gloves there would be more than enough props for a pleasing and impactive composition. Daffodils were a must use, from the start they were going to be "the life and soul" of the image. I chose the ones with orange centres because the orange adds an extra cheerful note to the yellow flowers. I love my rosewood console table, which I use as tabletop for many of my still lifes, but this is the first time I actually chose to include its drawers in the image.
The post processing had to be very similar to my usual when it comes to still life - vintage, distressed, desaturated look was what I wanted to achieve. I used a favourite rustic texture layer by Jerry Jones, one of my favourite photo texture makers, and then, as usual, I played with the tones and exposure in ipiccy.com.


          ~ Happy Easter! ~

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Bronte Sisters Parsonage, Haworth, 17/03/2016

I am so pleased to be posting about Haworth again. Thursday was the first day this year that I finally managed to get there. How I missed the place! It was such a glorious early spring day, St Patrick's day, and also anniversary of the Reverend Patrick Bronte's birthday, the father of the genius literary sisters.
There was so much I wanted to do but I decided the main purpose of the visit was to see the new "Charlotte Great and Small" Exhibition set up in celebration of Charlotte's 200th birthday next month. It is a very good and interesting exhibition, taking place in the Charlotte's room, Children's Study and Bonnell Room at the Parsonage. It is curated by the novelist Tracey Chevalier. On display are Charlotte's clothes, personal possessions, manuscripts, a love letter etc., all so fascinating to see. I am glad the exhibition will stay on till Christmas as I want to see it again.
Haworth will be hosting many other events to mark Charlotte's bicentenary throughout this year and I hope to attend as many as I possibly can.

The Parsonage basking in the beautiful spring sunshine. I loved the wooden pots with spring flowers outside the Old School Room and thought I'd use them for a foreground interest to add more spring atmosphere to the image.

The Old School Room, built under the direction of Patrick Bronte. Charlotte taught here. There was a car parked on the right hand side which I cloned out in Photoshop. Not a perfect job (can do better), but the image is much more appealing without the distracting car. I quite like the shadows cast on the walls from the trees in the cemetery opposite the School Room. They seem to create a bit of mystery and drama in my eyes.

The lovely, metal, much photographed Parsonage sign. It looks good against the blue sky with the tree branches still bare but gently reflecting the mellow sunshine.

I do like the pink lens flare and sun rays creating a dreamy, magic mood around the entrance to the Parsonage......I can so easily picture the little Bronte children bursting out through the front door and scampering in the garden with laughter....

Photography is not allowed in the Parsonage but you can take pictures in the small garden featuring the sisters' statue. It was nicely backlit on this lovely sunny afternoon, and I loved the heather and other wild flowers at the bottom of the statue.

After seeing the exhibition I went for an inevitable spot of shopping in the Parsonage shop as well as a few shops on the Main Street, and then topped it all off with a delicious and refreshing cappuccino and a slice of sticky apple cake in the "Cobbles and Clay". Ah, that is what I call ideal day out!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Rocking Horse, Bobbins and Musical Biscuit Tin

I must admit my favourite props for still life work are the usual, classic flowers and fruit. I suppose the reason is their natural beauty - colours, shapes and textures that lend themselves well to a poetic and artistic depiction. However, sometimes it is a good challenge to try something different.
Interesting objects can make for an appealing still life too. Being a vintage and antiques lover I have a few shelves in my study where I display small, old and vintage objects picked up at charity shops, antiques centres and fairs, car boot sales etc. A lot of them are bought with a still life photography shoot in mind. So occasionally I turn for inspiration to these little treasures as well as other larger things around my home.

I found the wooden toy rocking horse in a charity shop and the bobbins in the "Oh la la" vintage shop in Haworth. I like the parallels between these objects: they are all made of wood; they echo the red and green colour in each other; the bobbins in front of the horse are evocative of old fashioned plough....

I thought the bobbins would look good on their own as a textured close up shot at a wide aperture with my "nifty fifty" f1.8 50mm lens.

I bought this lovely musical ginger biscuit tin at the local Aldi supermarket. I didn't need any biscuits but I just had to have the tin. Love its colourful past times charm reminiscent of joyous childhood funfair rides. I thought I'd create some magic around it by applying a motion blur effect in photoshop and some blue, wintry, snowy texture layers.

I had great fun creating these images. They were a perfect antidote to unpleasant winter days not conducive for outdoor photography.