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

03 Nov

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

04 Nov

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

9th November 2017 – Leazes Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

09 Nov

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

10 Nov

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

16 Nov

These lights were being tested for the official switch on.

18th November 2017 – Durham Lumiere Festival

18 Nov

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

19 Nov

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

365 Day Photograph Challenge: September Part II

16th September 2017 – Morpeth Riverside

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The famous view of Morpeth once again. The autumn edition this time! I tried to vary the composition of this photograph in each season. Although it was mid-September, the weather was still mild and the leaves had not really turned very much. There were a few autumn leaves in the horse chestnut which I picked up on the lower boughs of the tree in the top left of the shot.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 3/5 sec exposure
  • f/16 43 mm
  • ISO 200

18th September 2017 – Morpeth Town Hall

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In fact it was so mild in September, that the hanging baskets full of annuals such as petunias and fuschias were still looking great way into autumn. The floral display on Morpeth Town Hall looked particularly excellent.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 6 sec exposure
  • f/8 31mm
  • ISO 200

Earlier in the year I took a close-up of one of the ground floor arches on my smartphone. One can see the clean lines of the masonry and the details of delicate wrought iron work in the arches. We are very fortunate in Morpeth to enjoy a fine piece of early 18th century architecture by one of the most famous architects of the time, Sir John Vanbrugh. He also designed Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Castle Howard in Yorkshire, and Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland.

17 May

19th September 2017 – Carbon Capture Garden, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne

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This garden was a package from my research group at Newcastle University. The substrate on which the wild meadow seed was sown was a special engineered soil, designed to enhance carbon capture from the atmosphere. The garden is also underlain by a series of remote sensors that record real time carbon dioxide concentration and fluxes within the soil. All super nifty stuff! I took this photo looking towards Newcastle’s famous football stadium, St James’ Park. Sadly at the time I photographed it, there were a lot of buds waiting to flower. If I had been a week later, there would have been even more colour in this photograph!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 95 mm
  • ISO 200

23rd September 2017 – Warkworth Village and Church from the Castle Keep

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Shot through one of the windows of the ruinous castle keep of Warkworth Castle. Warkworth is a very picturesque village on the Northumberland Coast. It is brimming with arts and crafts shops, tea shops, pubs, hotels and B&Bs. It is a great spot for a weekend getaway. Quite an overcast day, but at least it was finally starting to look more seasonal!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 40 mm
  • ISO 200

27th September 2017 – Queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee

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Whilst out conducting fieldwork, I spotted this Queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee. The queen would have hatched late on in the season and after having mated, would go into hibernation for the winter. I got somewhat distracted from my work as I attempted to photograph her on my phone. Although she was not flying, she was moving around a lot. In fact, she was moving too quickly for the phone’s camera to adjust and focus and many photographs came out blurred. This was probably the best of the photographs I took. This was the last of the phone macros I shot of fauna over the summer/autumn of 2017.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

365 Day Photograph Challenge: September Part I

Moving onto September 2017 photographs. Writing in January 2018, I am reminded that September was a mild month and that the foliage throughout this month mostly remained green. The onset of autumn was particularly late owing to the mild temperatures in September and October. In the NE, there was not a particularly spectacular autumnal display.

1st September 2017 – St Robert of Newminster, Roman Catholic Church, Morpeth

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Opened on 1st August 1850, this building was 167 years old in 2017. Its style of architecture is Early English (Gothic) and was designed by T. Gibson of Newcastle. Its spire rises an impressive 119 ft and is a prominent landmark in the Morpeth skyline. Its patron, St Robert of Newminster, was a 12th century priest who founded Newminster Abbey near Morpeth in 1138. Every year the church has a pilgrimage to the abbey ruins.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/13 21 mm
  • ISO 200

7th September 2017 – Jesmond Dene

2017-09-07 Jesmond Dene

An oasis in the middle of Newcastle. This deep and narrow valley runs to the east of the city centre and is a popular recreational spot. It was a particularly wet evening when I had a walk up the dene (I got soaked) and there were not many folk about. Not that it is obvious in the photo, but the rain was lashing down! The rocks on which I was standing were very slippery and I did question the lengths I was going to get a good photo that day!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/10 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 40 mm
  • ISO 800

8th September 2017 – Newcastle/Gateshead Quays

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The vantage point for this photograph was the Sage, Gateshead. The Tyne Bridge was decorated for the annual Great North Run (held on 11th September 2017). Therefore, this photo was seasonal!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/11 21 mm
  • ISO 800

9th September 2017 – Jesse Window, Church of St Mary the Virgin, Morpeth

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The crowning glory of the local parish church is the east window, depicting Jesse’s dream. The stained glass is thought to date from 1377 and is a rare example of a Medieval Jesse Window in the United Kingdom.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/4 24 mm
  • ISO 400

12th September 2017 – St Mary’s Lighthouse

2017-09-12 St Marys Lighthouse

One of the most photographed locations in the NE, St Mary’s Island lies off the coast near Whitley Bay. It is accessed by a causeway at low tide. It is a very photogenic spot and every time one visits, the conditions are always different and the number of different angles are infinite. This, my second visit to the island during 2017, was photographed on a gloomy afternoon and the light was fading rapidly.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/8 35 mm
  • ISO 200

14th September 2017 – Simonside Hills

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Another beauty spot in rural Northumberland, the ‘stepped’ mountainside of Simonside is an instantly recognisable sight for locals. As I was driving up to Rothbury this particular evening, I pulled over to take this photo on top of the moors road between Rothbury and Alnwick. A lovely view.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/20 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 24 mm
  • ISO 400

365 Day Photograph Challenge: August Part II

Memories of summer exploring and the first signs of autumn.

We start the second-half of August in Devon in SW England as I was spending time on holiday catching up with university friends. Devon is famous for its very changeable weather conditions. It can be bright sunshine on the south coast while on the north coast it can be pouring rain. I think the first two photographs in this series demonstrate that perfectly. Sadly, I was unable to take the DSLR with me so the photographs are shot on my Samsung Galaxy S7.

20th August 2017 – Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

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This photograph really does not do any justice as to how wet it was. I love how the parents on the cliff railway are sensibly wearing their hoods while the children are not!

The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway opened in 1888 and is powered by hydraulics. Both cars, with a capacity of 40 people (seems a bit of a squish!), have a 700 imperial gallon water tank mounted underneath the floor between the wheels. The upper car water tank is filled with water from the West Lyn River. Once full, the water in the lower car’s tank is discharged. The heavier upper car begins to descend while the energy created pulls the lower car up the cliff. The speed is regulated by a driver who controls the breaks. A great piece of Victorian engineering that is still enjoyed in the 21st Century.

22nd August 2017 – The Most Photographed Cottage on the River Dart

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Hastily snapped on the smartphone while on a guided river cruise of the River Dart. This cottage is located on the banks of the picturesque River Dart between Dartmouth on the south coast and Totnes. The guide was right, it is very photogenic!

23rd August 2017 – The Finest View from a Train in the UK

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This view, immediately south of Durham Railway Station, according to Michael Portillo (former Conservative politician), is the finest from a train in the UK. (Today he is perhaps better known for his BBC2 documentary ‘Great British Railway Journeys‘.)

It is rather an impressive view of the cathedral. The view has been marred throughout 2017 with the scaffolding and shrouding around the cathedral’s central tower’s belfry. Also perched on the mound above the city is Durham Castle which has been the residence of members of University College, Durham University since 1840. Also, I must have been sat at the cleanest train window in the UK when I took this snap!

Of course, I dispute that this is the finest view on the UK rail network. I prefer the southern approach into Newcastle Central Station across the River Tyne looking at all the bridges. It also indicates that I’m almost home.

27th August 2017 – Honeybee on Geranium Roseanne

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Another experiment with macros taken on Samsung Galaxy S7. I covered this is an earlier post about phone macros.

31st August 2017 – Signs of Autumn on the River Wansbeck, Morpeth

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The last day of August 2017. From memory, it was quite a cool evening despite there not being a whiff of a breeze. The river was like a sheet of glass it was that still. The horse chestnut trees along the river bank here are amongst the first trees to start turning at the onset of autumn. I was quite happy with the reflections in the river. Sadly, I was unable to capture this scene with all the autumnal leaves later in the season.

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

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 283

I returned to the scene of my photograph of 6th January this year. The subject was the stepping stones (formally The Bakehouse Steps) crossing the River Wansbeck. They connect the High Stanners on the west bank with Mains Place on the east bank. The view is from the High Stanners looking east towards Mains Place. It is said that to be a ‘true Morpethian’, that one must be ‘baptised’ by falling in the river here. To date, I have not managed this feat, although many members of my family have!

Sadly, this photograph didn’t make the final cut as my ‘photo of the day’ but I thought it was useful to compare the photographs 9 months apart now that I have had more practice at night photography. They both have their merits, but I think I prefer the earlier one as it is more atmospheric.

10th October 2017

Stepping Stones

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 20 sec exposure
  • f/8 28 mm
  • ISO 200

6th January 2017


  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 6 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 35 mm
  • ISO 400