The beginning of a journey.


Welcome all to my new blog. I started this blog to share my photographs with a wider audience. On 1st January 2017 I embarked on a 365 day photograph challenge. The aim is to take at least one photograph on every day of the year. It has been done many times before and there are many examples of blogs that have documented this fun challenge. I first heard about the challenge in 2009 from a housemate at university.

Having recently inherited a DSLR, I thought this challenge would be a great way to make use of it, practice using it, and hopefully improve my photography. Please follow to see how I am getting on. Please respect that these photographs are my own and that if you would like to use or share them, you will need to ask for my permission to do so.07-jan

Coquet Island, Northumberland, 7th January 2017

In addition, I will be exploring and discovering the less well known spots in the beautiful county of Northumberland on my photographic journey. This segment of the blog will be called, ‘Hidden Northumberland.’ I hope it encourages you to go out and discover the gems of your local patch, too.

A final project (if I ever manage to find time) is to digitise and archive old 35 mm slides belonging to the family. We have 30 years’ worth of slides dating from c. 1960 to 1990 (when slides were all the rage). In the digital age it is important to preserve these precious windows on history. They offer a fascinating glimpse of social history in the mid to late 20th century – when we could only have dreamed of a global digital archive.

365 Day Photograph Challenge: The Last One

The very end of the 365 day photograph challenge and my last commentary in the series. Fittingly/predictably, I returned to the scene of day 1 of the challenge: the view across Morpeth from Ha’ Hill. I had hoped for a stunning sunset on Old Year’s Night, but one never materialised. You win some, you lose some! And that, my friends, is the end! But not quite the end as I intend to embark on new and more ambitious projects and blog about them as they develop. Watch this space!

31st December 2017

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  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/13 sec exposure
  • f/13 70 mm
  • ISO 250

And a little bit later on…

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  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/13 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 105 mm
  • ISO 2000

1st January 2017

Midday on New Year’s Day 2017.

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  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/27 160 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 360

Learning from your mistakes.

Just a quick mention about this photograph from 26th December 2017. I am a great believer in practice makes perfect. This was a repeat of Day 4! 26th December 2017 was a similarly cold and dark winter’s night like 4th January 2017. In January I had never tried night photography before and I literally had no idea what I was doing (a bit more reading rather than guessing may have helped!). I’m almost too ashamed to share the 4th January photo as it is really bad. It is still important to reflect (excuse the pun), and show that you have learnt from the past.

4th January 2017

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  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 6 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 50 mm
  • ISO 200

26th December 2017

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  • Nikon D7200
  • 15 sec exposure
  • f/7.1 48 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part II

Almost the end of 365 days of photographs!

Gosh! I can’t quite believe this is nearly the end of the challenge. Here are some of my favourites from the second half of December 2017. I took the D7200 out for some experiments with night photography. I also got out exploring a bit more, sometimes forgetting to take the D7200’s memory card with me! Just a little bit of a fail. Thank goodness smartphone cameras are so good these days.

18th December 2017 – Beechfield House

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The derelict Beechfield House in Morpeth town centre. It was built in 1853 for a wealthy timber merchant, Nicholas Wright, who went on to be a two-time Mayor of the Borough. For 50 years this view had been obscured by the town library (a somewhat ugly 1960s building). In the dying weeks of 2017, the empty and dilapidated library building was demolished, revealing the side of its older neighbour for the first time in half a century. I took this opportunity to take this photo. There had been access to Beechfield from the library hence why there is boarded up entrance.

On the other side of Beechfield, across a courtyard, is its identical twin house, The Willows. This building is also derelict and was previously home to the Brumell family who were solicitors in Morpeth. Members of this family served as Mayor and Town Clerk. I find these buildings very attractive although they are not particularly old. The eclectic architecture of these symmetric buildings harks back to the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 20 sec exposure
  • f/4 26 mm
  • ISO 200

23rd December 2017 – Newbiggin Bay Sunset

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This bay is quickly becoming one of my favourites to photograph. Like many bays in Northumberland, it is a vast sweep of sand that extends for many miles. However, Newbiggin is the odd one out as its beach was swept away many years ago. At a cost of £10,000,000, 500,000 tonnes of sand from Skegness was deposited here to protect the eroding beach. The sand here is noticeably different from all other Northumberland beaches as it is derived from a different geology.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/500 sec exposure
  • f/8 28 mm
  • ISO 125

25th December 2017 – Christmas Cactus

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Christmas Day. I could have gone for the obvious Christmas Tree or unwrapping of presents photo, but decided to return to the flora theme. This is one of our Christmas cacti and for once it was actually flowering on Christmas Day. It was pertinent to the festival celebrations. This was a smartphone pic.

27th December 2017 – Bolam Church

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A very cold day, the frost did not lift. This photo was taken around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I had intended to take this on the Nikon D7200, but I managed to forget the memory card (again!). Bolam church is very ancient, the oldest part of the structure is its tower which is over 1,000 years old and is Saxon.

28th December 2017 – Newbiggin Church

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Another foray into night photography with the D7200. This time the subject matter was St Bartholomew’s Church in Newbiggin with its dramatic setting on the headland at the north end of Newbiggin bay. The church was largely rebuilt in the 1846 with a north isle added in 1912. However, the tower is very old and is of 13th century construction with a later 14th century spire.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 5/2 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 18 mm
  • ISO 200

29th December 2017 – Bothal Castle

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Another old favourite, Bothal Castle. We had a fluttering of snow and many of the country roads were consequently treacherous. I did have a few kind and concerned locals ask me if I was stuck as I had abandoned the car at the side of the road whilst I took photos, but it was fine…. driving in the snow is easy! And worth it when you can snap a beauty like this one.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/10 58 mm
  • ISO 320

365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part I

The end of the year draws near.

Here we are at the twelfth and final month of the year. Writing in 2018, on the one hand it feels like 2017 flew by and on the other it felt like the longest year. I do recall that when I got to December I was beginning to feel relieved as by October I felt like I had run out of steam. I got a little more confidence with the D7200 and got some of my enthusiasm back. Here are the results.

1st December 2017 – Rutherford’s Department Store Christmas Display

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Morpeth’s famous department store established in 1846 (over 170 years ago) always puts on a very traditional Christmas display in its shop window. This display is complemented by real pine trees mounted to the shop wall which are decorated in plain white lights to produce a very simple and classy look. This is one of my favourite local sights at Christmas.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 40 mm
  • ISO 3200

3rd December 2017 – Coquetdale

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A fine view of Coquetdale (pronounced ‘Co-cut’) in rural Northumberland on a glorious, cold, crisp, winter’s morning. The small village is Harbottle with its castle ruins. My friends and I took a short walk on this fine morning to the Drake Stone, which overlooks Harbottle village, to remember our friend, Janice, who’s ashes were scattered there in 2016.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/1000 sec exposure
  • f/8 85 mm
  • ISO 800

6th December 2017 – Rothbury Village

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The largest settlement in Coquetdale, Rothbury is a pretty village of about 2000 residents. The parish of Upper Coquetdale is the largest in England by area. Its parish church of All Saints seen in this photo is known as the Cathedral Church of Coquetdale. This photo was taken from the hill on the NE approach into the village. It is quite a pleasing angle showing the heart of the village in the shadow of Simonside (the stepped mountain in the background). It is a shame that the tennis courts in the foreground spoil the view. I tried cropping the bottom off the photo by changing the aspect ratio to 16:9, but that came at the loss of the road leading into the village and the photograph. Somehow it wasn’t as pleasing as the original.

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  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/640 sec exposure
  • f/6.3 62 mm
  • ISO 800

10th December 2017 – Morpeth Riverside

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My winter take on the view of Morpeth Riverside from the weir. The reflections in the water above the weir have come out nice and crisp. It’s a shame that this photo doesn’t convey the freezing temperatures.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/4 26 mm
  • ISO 2800

12th December 2017 – Coquet Island

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Only the second view I shot of Coquet Island in 2017 (the other being 7th January 2017). This was another freezing day. There had been some snowfall and the local roads were treacherous. Indeed, it was so cold that the beach was frozen in places. I was really pleased with the pale blue tones of this photograph.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/1000 sec exposure
  • f/8 92 mm
  • ISO 400

13th December 2017 – Lit and Phil, Newcastle upon Tyne

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This was supposed to have been shot on the D7200, but muggins here forgot to put the memory card in the camera, or even the camera bag before leaving the house. Instead, it was photographed on my Samsung Galaxy S7. I exaggerated the brightness and contrast somewhat before using some of the phone filters to make the colours more vivid.

Originally founded in 1793 as the Conversation Club, it is now known as the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne. The current building with its impressive library was built between 1822 and 1825 to the designs of architect John Green. In 2012 the society’s membership surpassed 2000.

365 Day Photograph Challenge: November 2017

Making the most of and capturing a variety of different photos with a smartphone camera.

The Samsung GX-1S didn’t get any outings in November 2017 apart from a weekend trip to Durham Lumiere Festival. As the festival was busy and I was with family there simply wasn’t time to take photographs. Therefore, the GX-1S was officially retired this month as I upgraded to a Nikon D7200. It is all very exciting! It is also challenging as with a new piece of kit, to an extent, one is taken back to the start as one has to learn where all the buttons/menus/functions etc are. I am enjoying the challenge of learning how to use the more powerful enthusiast level DSLR. For now, here are my favourite phone pics captured in November 2017.


3rd November 2017 – Autumn Leaves Morpeth Promenade

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Whilst out taking some fresh air, I looked up and was impressed by the street light shining through the autumnal leaves. Not bad for a phone photo.

4th November 2017 – Sunset Dogger Bank

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Another walk through Morpeth. Sunset looking Dogger Bank on the Mitford Road.

9th November 2017 – Leazes Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

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This park is the oldest in Newcastle having opened its gates in 1873. I was briefly a Friend of Leazes Park in 2012. The park backs onto St James’ Park football stadium. The park is very popular in the summer with students and local residents and is a great city oasis.

10th November 2017 – Sanderson Arcade Morpeth

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The pediment suggests that the arcade opened in 1939. While it is true that the façade that is seen today is typical of Art Deco design, the arcade was not opened until 1954 due to WWII. All that remains of the arcade is the original façade. Everything behind it was demolished and redeveloped during 2008/09. Joanna Lumley OBE of Ab Fab fame (amongst others) officially reopened the arcade in November 2009. Although the façade may not be an exceptional piece of Art Deco architecture (albeit quite late Art Deco), it was the most architecturally pleasing aspect of the old building and I am pleased that it was retained.

16th November 2017 – Christmas Lights

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These lights were being tested for the official switch on.

18th November 2017 – Durham Lumiere Festival

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Durham riverside lit up with the cathedral behind. I would have loved to have had time to have set up the DSLR for this, but alas, there was no time! I was very envious of the enthusiasts who had all night and had set up camp to watch the show.

19th November 2017 – Puppy Rosie

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Another exciting journey I embarked on in 2017 was becoming a dog owner for the first time. Here’s puppy Rosie aged 8 weeks old on 19th November. She’s a cockapoo and has the most innocent looking face! Very cute.

30th November 2017 – St John Lee Church near Acomb

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A very cold day. I was collecting a package from a company based in Acomb and stopped off at St John Lee Church as I had never visited it before. Although there has been a church on this site for many centuries, the present building dates from 1818 and is the design of the famous architect, John Dobson. The chancel (east end) is a later addition by W. S. Hicks of Newcastle in 1886. Half an hour after I took this photo (at about midday), the pristine blue sky was covered in heavy snow clouds. It snowed for most the rest of the day.

21st November 2017 – First Time Shooting with the Nikon D7200

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17th century clock mechanism. I’m already enjoying the better light quality compared with the GX-1S. The light looks gorgeous in this photo.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/3.5 18 mm
  • ISO 4500

365 Day Photograph Challenge: October the Second

A month after the equinox, the clocks return to GMT and the long winter nights draw near.

14th October 2017 – Church of St Mary Magdalene, Mitford

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This has always been one of my favourite spots in Northumberland. I spent many a happy Sunday walking the short two miles upstream from Morpeth to Mitford and back again with my family. The very handsome church in this idyllic setting is mostly Victorian in age having been restored between 1874 and 1877. The oldest part of the church is the chancel and dates from the 12th/13th century.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/8 55 mm
  • ISO 400

15th October 2017 – Obligatory Autumn Leaves

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Had to be done at some point!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 40 mm
  • ISO 400

16th October 2017 – Saharan Dust Sky

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This was a quick snap on my phone to record the red sky over Newcastle upon Tyne on this day. I took this looking out of a window of a laboratory on the fourth floor of my building. The tall building on the left is the Civic Centre which features in other photos throughout the year. This photograph was taken a little after 2 p.m. and you can see that the street lights were on. This strange and eerie looking scene was created by ex-Hurricane Ophelia that had tracked across the Atlantic, picking up Saharan dust and dragging it north to the UK.

21st October 2017 – Thurne Mill, Norfolk Broads

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Another phone snap. I was in Norfolk for the weekend, cruising the Broads with my university friends for a group member’s birthday. Unfortunately I didn’t have the DSLR with me as I didn’t have enough room in my luggage for the weekend. I’m quite pleased with this phone snap. It was a gorgeous day!

25th October 2017 – The Long Sands, Tynemouth

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Another famous NE England view, the Long Sands at Tynemouth. This photo is looking north towards Cullercoats. The impressive church in the distance is St George’s Cullercoats and was opened in 1884. It is a Grade I Listed Building. In the late 19th century, the tall spire served as a navigational reference for ships and boats. Unfortunately, the low angle of the sun due to the time of year and time of day has left almost all the beach in shadow.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/11 55 mm
  • ISO 400

26th October 2017 – St Mary’s Island at Dusk

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I really made life difficult for myself for this shoot.  I left the office later than I would have liked, the traffic was heavy, so by the time I arrived at St Mary’s Island, it was already becoming very dark. Added to which, I had managed to leave the tripod at home. I had to shoot handheld using a railing to rest upon to keep the camera steady. I really had to push the camera settings to their limits in order to shoot this one. It hasn’t come out too badly as there appears to be no noise.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/8 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 105 mm
  • ISO 800

Here’s the original image before editing.

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365 Day Photograph Challenge: October the First

Here is the first instalment of October 2017.

1st October 2017 – Grey Day at Cambois Beach

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Pronounced ‘KAM-əs‘, this is one of many sweeping Northumbrian beaches. One that I had never set foot on until undertaking the 365 day photograph challenge. It is not a particularly picturesque beach. The grey day did nothing to help my opinion of it. Having said that, it is a moody shot with a heavy sky. This shot is facing south towards Blyth. The former Alcan aluminium ore vessel unloading facility at the Port of Blyth can be seen in the distance.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 24 mm
  • ISO 200

2nd October 2017 – Plessey Woods Country Park

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A favourite childhood haunt. Many Sundays were spent walking and exploring with the family in these woods. I especially remember many trees that my brother and I used to enjoy climbing. A real hidden gem in SE Northumberland Although it was October, the weather was still very mild and the autumn had not progressed very much. The foliage in this shot still looks very green and lush!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 33 mm
  • ISO 400

5th October 2017 – Spirit of the Staithes, Blyth Harbour

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A quick snap on the smartphone. The Spirit of the Staithes is an art installation installed at the harbour at Blyth in 2003.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/2500 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

7th October 2017 – Seaton Delaval Hall Interior

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Seaton Delaval Hall was built between 1718 and 1728 for Admiral George Delaval by Sir John Vanbrugh. The exterior view of the hall appeared in the 365 day challenge on 1st June 2017. Until 2007, the west wing of the hall was the residence of the Barons Hastings. When the 23rd Baron succeeded the title, he was saddled with a huge inheritance tax bill. Ultimately the hall was sold to the National Trust in December 2009 and opened to the public in May 2010.

The impressive central hall has been in a semi-ruinous condition since 1822 following a devastating fire. It is very reminiscent of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire which is also the work of Sir John Vanbrugh. Its scale and ambition are much more modest than its more famous counterpart.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/20 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 18 mm
  • ISO 200

8th October 2017 – Late Flowering Nigella

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Another experiment with macro photography in the back garden. I sowed some nigella seeds quite late in the day, probably May or June 2017. They are a summer flowering plant and typically flower through July and August. I was a bit sceptical as to whether the nigella would flower as they had a very late start. Fortunately we had a mild October and these quirky little plants flowered solidly throughout the month. This macro was taken using the GX-1S rather than my phone as I did on 1st July (although that plant was in a different part of the country!).

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/8 55 mm
  • ISO 400

1st July comparison

1 July

10th October 2017 – Carlisle Park Promenade

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Morpeth Promenade opened at the same time as Carlisle Park in 1929. It is now nearly 90 years old and is still enjoyed by the current generation of Morpethians whether its walking the dog or a late evening stroll in late summer. The trees to the left are self-seeded and are growing out of the promenade giving it a bit of a neglected look, although I they add something to this shot’s composition.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/8 24 mm
  • ISO 200

11th October 2017 – Bothal Japanese Maple

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The very ancient church of St Andrew in Bothal has a notable unusual triple bell cote. Immediately below this is the village’s war memorial. It is flanked by this gorgeous Japanese Maple and a weeping ash tree. The maple, flame red in autumn, represents the blood of the fallen while the weeping ash represents the tears of the bereaved. Only the very top of the maple had turned flame red when I took this shot in mid-October.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/11 43 mm
  • ISO 200