365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part II

Almost the end of 365 days of photographs!

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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

2017-12-28 Newbiggin Church

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.

Hidden Northumberland: Alnwick

More than just the Castle and Harry Potter.

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The Bailiffgate Entrance to Alnwick Castle (a rarely used image in publicity photos)

Most people who have heard of Alnwick immediately associate it with its Castle, Garden and Harry Potter. The broomstick flying lesson was filmed in the grounds of the castle for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). The castle is owned by the Duke of Northumberland. Some of the castle is open to the public, but most of the keep is the Duke’s private residence. Opened in 2001, the Alnwick Garden is a labour of love by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland. Together, the Castle and Garden are undoubtedly the highlight of a visit to this rural market town. Alnwick is perhaps not an obvious candidate for Hidden Northumberland. However, there are some other hidden gems to visit in Alnwick that are worth a look.

Bailiffgate Museum

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The Bailiffgate Museum Exterior

Set in a former Roman Catholic church, the Bailiffgate Museum is a local history museum that is run by local volunteers. Exhibits tell the history of Alnwick from ancient history to the present time. There are many local artefacts on display that give it a personal touch. Importantly, it is very child-friendly with many activities to keep the little ones entertained.

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Market Place and Town Hall

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The Market Place is overlooked by Alnwick’s Georgian Town Hall

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In the summer many cafés have outdoor seating in the market place and one can imagine one it sitting in a continental square – weather permitting!

Barter Books

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Barter Books, one of the best, local second-hand bookshops

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Situated in the former Alnwick railway station, Barter Books is a tremendous establishment. Their stock of second-hand books covers all genres and all reference books. It is a great place to spend a couple of hours on a cold, wintry day. The station buffet is lovely and serves food throughout the day. Perfect if you want to cosy up to the fire with a hot drink and a good book! I find the setting is just right for a spot of Agatha Christie.