Friday, 5 February 2016

Grasmere Lake, The Lake District, 4/5/2015

As our next visit to Grasmere this month is fast approaching I have been getting more and more excited and have started planning our walks and thinking about what photos I would like to take this time. I still have quite a few shots from our previous trip last spring on my hard drive waiting to be edited and shared, so I thought now is a perfect time to do that.

This is a random shot taken not around Grasmere, but the adjacent Rydal lake. It is the only image I took on the day because of persistent rain. In order not to waste the day due to bad weather we decided to visit the fascinating Rydal Mount - the home of the poet William Wordsworth for the last three decades of his life. I came across this storybook scene while walking around the grounds of the house. I thought the little hut looked magic in the woodland clearing, surrounded by the luscious green of the early spring leaves with a smudge of red in the middle.

The following day was fine, although a bit nippy, with blue skies and white puffy clouds. The sun was frequently slipping behind the clouds and then pushing out again. It was a beautiful day both for photography and a nice walk around the lake. This image epitomizes the sort of scenery our eyes were treated to throughout our walk: rugged hills and mountains with their purplish pink hue and odd distant houses charmingly dotted at the foot. The photo was taken before we reached the lake's edge.

This farmer drove past us in his blue land rover, and then proceeded through a gate onto the field. I watched him curiously to see where he was going. As he pulled up next to the sheep feed container I knew what he was going to do and started getting my camera ready. Love how the sheep are coming on towards him and how the white house and the fell in the background add to the beauty of the rural scene.

And then we saw the lake...but only just, in the mid distance.....and the light was lovely silvery purple.....

The lake was soon tantalizingly hidden again by a mossy dry stone wall and various spring growths in the foreground... emerge within seconds in its full glory. My camera started clicking away.... I could suddenly see so many good shots, exhilarating shots, wherever I looked....

This scene was just a combination of delightful detail an light....a photographer's must grab!

A typical, impressive Lake District view. The sort of shot that shows why I love the Lake District so much and go there every year. I am not a keen fell walker, I just enjoy lakeside walks and not too high or strenuous climbs.

I try to imagine what it is like living or staying in a house like that. For sure the views across the lake are very similar to this one. I know I would love it. No, isolation would not bother me in the least. I would never feel isolated or lonely surrounded by such magnificent nature. It would speak to me all the time and I would listen intently and eagerly.

I always get bowled over by these little boathouses. Every lake seems to have at least one of them. They are such a great detail in the wonderful Lakeland scenery. This particular one seems very old and rather fragile.

At a certain point the lake meets the River Rothay and we followed the path along the river leaving the lake behind. Loved the scene at the crook of the river.

The river and the path further along the walk, not far from where we came out onto the main road leading back to the village. It was a most satisfying and invigorating walk.

The weather, of course, is going to be completely different when we get there later on this month. I prey for some snow or at least for no rain. There has been so much rain already this year causing distressing floods in the Lake District. The area deserves some drier weather conditions. However, no matter what the weather is going to do I cannot wait to be back to gorgeous Grasmere.


On Nature's invitation do I come,
By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,
That made the calmest fairest spot of earth
With all its unappropriated good
My own; and not mine only, for with me
Entrenched, say rather peacefully embowered,
Under yon orchard, in yon humble cot,
A younger Orphan of a home extinct,
The only Daughter of my Parents dwells....

....Embrace me then, ye Hills, and close me in;              
Now in the clear and open day I feel
Your guardianship; I take it to my heart;
'Tis like the solemn shelter of the night.
But I would call thee beautiful, for mild,
And soft, and gay, and beautiful thou art
Dear Valley, having in thy face a smile
Though peaceful, full of gladness. Thou art pleased,
Pleased with thy crags and woody steeps, thy Lake,
Its one green island and its winding shores;
The multitude of little rocky hills,                       
Thy Church and cottages of mountain stone
Clustered like stars some few, but single most,
And lurking dimly in their shy retreats,
Or glancing at each other cheerful looks
Like separated stars with clouds between. 
William Wordsworth


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Getty Images Sale: "A scene From Countryside"

I decided to share on my blog only more substantial sales from the two online photo agencies I submit my images to. Getty Images have some very low tariffs for low resolution images, so some of their sales amount to as little as a dollar or so per image. I make such small sales nearly every month but it has been a while since I had a good sale. So I was pleased to learn that back in December I sold a license to this image to one of the world's largest film and TV production companies based in London. I do not know how or where the client is going to use my image as this is not something Getty Images communicate to photographers.

I took the photo in Adel, a suburb in North Leeds, not far from where I live, on a beautiful June day back in 2010. It dates back to the time when I was still relatively new to using textures in Photoshop post processing. The scene can be seen not far from Adel Church from the road leading to it. There are beautiful countryside walks around the Church and surrounding areas including Golden Acre Park. The most attractive landmark is probably York Gate Garden which sits near the church. It is an inspirational garden run by Perennial, a horticulture charity, open to the public on certain days April - October. I have not been for a couple of years now, and am looking forward to going there again when it opens this spring. And this sale has motivated me to go for another nice photography walk around this very pleasant part of my town.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Wycoller Hall and Country Park,10 Jan 2016

At last we had a dry, no rain day coincide with our days off, so G, a friend of ours and I set off on the long planned, first trip to the beautiful, historic Wycoller in Lancashire. It is the starting point of the picturesque Bronte Way leading to the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. It also has direct connections with Charlotte Bronte as the Wycoller Hall, a 16th century ruin today, is thought to have been the model for Fearndean Manor in the "Jayne Eyre" novel.
We expected a lot of mud and large puddles of water everywhere, but it did not occur to us there could be snow as well. So we were surprised and rather delighted to see quite a bit of white dusting covering the landscape. The first snow we saw was from the car around Queensbury near Bradford, and from there onward there was more and more of it as we neared Wycoller.

Lovely winter scenery around the entrance to the Wycoller village. I was thrilled to be taking such pics, the more so because I was completely taken by surprise!

The ancient Pack Horse bridge over Wycoller Beck, which flows through the village, with the Hall in the background makes for a nice composition. However, I believe the shot would look more appealing taken in summer time. I know I will be back in summer as this is one of those places you just have to see and photograph in all seasons.

This is my favourite shot of the day. The Hall ruin with its varying geometric shapes against a white, snowy background, taken from a mid distance, lends itself well to a captivating winter image so I decided to play with it a bit. I added a snow texture layer and then "falling snow" effect too. A touch of Orton effect gave it more depth, contrast as well as some softness. I particularly like the forlorn looking, snow covered bench in the bottom right corner. This shot made me dream of real winter, something I seldom experience where I live.

Inside the ruin. The sun was slowly coming out and melting the snow on the ground.


The aisled barn sits behind the Hall. It is now a Visitors Centre. It is believed to be built in 1630 using timbers from the cruck barn previously on the site because more space was needed for threshing the corn they had begun to grow in the valley.
I took this with my mobile phone. It performs quite well in low light (apart from debatable
sharpness), and on this occasion I only wanted a quick shot of the barn.

I have recently heard a rather upsetting piece of information saying that The Lancashire County Council will have to introduce some cash cuts due to which countryside service around Wycoller will be at threat. It means the visitors would not be able to see the barn any more or use the countryside activity centre.  This of course caused an uproar among the friends of Wycoller and several thousand protesters, including myself, signed a petition to save the beautiful Bronte landmark.

There is a steep flight of steps near the ruin leading into the Wycoller Country Park. Of course, I had to climb and see what was at the top.

Atom Panopticon can be seen on the left in the distance. It is one of a unique series of 21st century view points designed to attract people into the countryside to enjoy the stunning landscapes. If I had had more time, and if it had not been so cold an muddy I would have walked up there to explore and shoot, but on this occasion I soon went back down the steps and into the village.

Another old bridge over the beck, called Clapper bridge, lying just yards behind the old Pack Horse bridge. There are no less than seven bridges crossing the beck which is something that adds to the quaint charm of the village. The winter sun was fully out by now and very low. I got a through-the- lens flare in the shot which I enhanced in post processing.

We could not leave the village without visiting the Craft Centre, gift shop and Victorian Cafe for a refreshing hot drink. The cafe is extremely charming and cosy as this photo shows. It is another quick mobile shot, I could not possibly distract the visitors by walking around with my camera and clicking away. The cappuccino was very good and inexpensive as well. And next time I come I shall try something from the yummy looking food menu too.

On our way back to Stanbury, where we stopped for a hearty Sunday lunch, there was not so much water on the road or snow on the moors as the sun had been out for a while. G spotted this view with its dramatic light from his driver's seat and asked me if I wanted to stop and take a few shots. Of course, the answer was never going to be no!

I took this from the same spot. It is the road we were travelling on in the same direction as the red car. We left behind some ominous looking sky but the sunshine continued to follow us.

It may be surprising but I took this from the same vantage point as the previous two shots within seconds of each other. It is just that the camera was pointed in different directions. Sometimes it is incredible how the light changes in very short space of time or how it differs within a short distance. These fleeting changes in light are one of the things that make photography such an exciting and forever challenging hobby.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

First Snow

There were two very unusual things going on this morning: last night it was snowing heavily for a few hours so we woke up to a beautiful white blanket covering the view outside our window. And secondly, G and I were due to start work at similar time so we left the house together. Going to work had never been more joyful! I love snow even though it always slightly worries me whether we will still be able to get places living on a fairly steep hill. But snow means new photo opportunities and that matters a lot to me.

Took this walking through the park next to our house to the main road, the route I always take to work. I like how the red brick wall contrasts the white surroundings.

G waiting for me rather impatiently to take that photo.

G took this one with his phone. It's a bit soft, but of course, I don't mind that when it comes to a photo of me. However, it is interesting to see the difference in quality between photos taken by G's phone and my one even though they were similar price. I am pleased to say that my phone happens to take
better photos (wink).

Some dangling old leaves still hanging in there.

Lovely, young, short tree spreading its long, delicate, snow laden branches width wise.

The path through the park. I quite like the vintage tone on this image. I quickly processed all the photos using two same actions, a mint tone one for that cold, winter look and a brownish one for a bit of warmth and a touch of vintage.

Pretty church just outside the top end of the park with its gate open for Sunday mass. Its bells just began to chime as I took this photo.

It has not snowed today and no more snow has been forecast. I do hope this is not all we are going to get this year. More please!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hollens Farm Cotage, Grasmere, May 2015

Our first major getaway this year will be another visit to the delightful Hollens Farm Cottage in the Lake District in February. So in the excited anticipation here is a post on our stay last spring.

G and I love the Lake District and tend to go there every year. This time instead of the usual B&B accommodation we decided to rent a cottage for a week. We were open to the location, but it had to be an old cottage with original olde worlde interior and decor. I searched and searched various sites for days on end but nothing jumped at me. I almost thought what we were looking for existed only in our minds when I finally stumbled upon the Hollens Farm. It was free the week we wanted it for, and I was so pleased to find it was situated in Grasmere, one of my favourite Lakes villages. Dove Cottage, the poet William Wordsworth's home, which I love, is only a short walk up the road. And Grasmere has a more or less central position in the Lake District which means that from there it is not far to go to other lakes and place.

The cottage dates from the early 19th century. It was the home to a dairyman who ran a farm with a Jersey herd supplying milk to Grasmere. It was thought that originally it was an inn amid a small cluster of old farm buildings which have been adapted over the years into several homes.

Front view. White washed walls contrast the stone wall of the back.

Back view. There is no garden, just a communal yard but it does not matter that much when you have such stunning beauty of nature virtually next to the cottage. The views from the upstairs windows are stunning. And there is always plenty of scope for growing plants in pots, both at the front and back of the cottage.

The lovely washing dolly belongs in the bathroom but I took it outside for a little photo session. I liked it so much that I decided I wanted one for myself. On our way back to Leeds we stopped at the antiques centre in Skipton and sure enough they had one just waiting for me to buy it. It looks very pretty in the corner of my bathroom with a couple of linen lavender bags hanging off one of the arms.
In the Hollens Farm it serves as a spare toilet roll holder which I thought was an ingenious idea.

The photos of the cottage certainly attracted me to it immediately, but they could not convey the real look and feel inside the cottage. And I do not think any photographs could! When we opened the lovely wooden front door (which is a stable door!) and stepped into the kitchen we gasped and laughed at the most charming and inviting interior.

Just love this old window above the kitchen belfast sink with its deep wooden windowsill and wooden beams above it.

Lovely Rayburn cooker that it is such a joy to cook on, and it kept the kitchen warm at all times since it never gets switched off.

Beautiful dresser and the lamp I keep searching for as it is now a must have in my dining room. I got so many ideas for my own home from this inspiring place. On the right a lovely cushioned bench running along the length of the wall can just be seen.

The main bedroom window with its breath taking view onto the fells and delightful window seat adorned by vintage cottage style cushions. I placed a book of Wordsworth's poems there which I found in the bookcase on the landing.

My vintage nightdresses hanging on the wooden door of our bedroom.

Second bedroom boasting twin sleigh beds.

These walking sticks are stood in the kitchen near the front door. I paired them with G's shoes seemingly abandoned in haste near the open back door for a quick still life shot. Trevillion Images liked this image and accepted it for their collection. They were drawn to its presence of people feel without the actual presence of people.

I had omitted to take any shots of the living room. It is a very pleasant room and the lack of inspiration is almost certainly due to us not lighting the log burner as there was no need with it being springtime. This is probably the main reason why I am looking forward to staying at the cottage in winter time. So looking forward to the cosy ambience created by the flickering flames in the wood stove. Without doubt there will be pics of the living room this February as well as more pics of this adorable cottage.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happy New Year!

New Year always means a fresh start for me. With the festivities over and Christmas decorations tucked away till next year it is time to cleanse the mind and body, reflect and think about what can be done to better yourself and your life. Not that I necessarily keep up with all of my resolutions, but it is good to have positive and honest thoughts about things.
One resolution I do hope I will realize is to post here more often, and to generally improve my blog.

For me January is the least inspiring month for photography unless we have some snow which we have not and it has not been forecast. Short, cold, dark and usually wet days and muddy countryside paths will almost certainly keep me away from the moors. Instead I plan on exploring and photographing some nearby towns and villages like Thornton - The Bronte sisters' birthplace, Saltaire and Bingley.

I have quite a few shots from last year on my drive that I need to edit so I hope there will be posts in the next few weeks reminiscent of better and warmer weather to enliven winter days.

It is also the perfect time of the year to have a good rest, and spend a lot of time curled up on the sofa or snuggled down in your bed, your favourite drink at hand, reading all those books you have lined up to read on the first opportunity.

I found inspiration for this image on the Trevillion Images site. I was not really looking to shoot an interior detail image but simply came up with the idea when I saw this photo. It is a shot of my bedroom with just a touch of arrangement. I lit up the candles in my candelabra to create a warm and intimate mood of going to bed time of the day and applied vignettig in post processing. And to add that dreamy softness I used a subtle texture layer too.
I am a fan of interior photography and am happy and proud to use corners of my home to create that type of photos. I thought this image, which I shot earlier this year, fitted well with today's post.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Lone Tree And Quarry Mound, Haworth

The weather has been very inclement with a lot of high winds and torrential rain causing floods all over West Yorkshire. Kirkstall, just around the corner from where I live has been affected, as well as my beloved Haworth. Owing to this I have felt like working on a dramatic and atmospheric image. I shot this one in Haworth, back in April. It is a scene you see from the path behind the Bronte Parsonage, which leads to the main road and is on the route of many Bronte Country walks starting at the parsonage. How I wish I lived there so I could just quickly nip out with my camera to capture that fleeting light and those elusive moods as they occur! Maybe one day if I am lucky enough. For now, most of the time I have to rely on my imagination and creative ability to reproduce that sort of feel out of mundane shots.

Edited image


I applied two textures from the brand new Distressed Textures pack called "Artist Palette Seasons", and a free grunge clouds texture I found on Flickr:

It is the sort of shot that can be processed in many ways and depending on inspiration I am likely to use it again to create a completely different type of image.