Hidden Northumberland: Morpeth in Springtime

The plants coming back to life helps to lift spirits.

Whilst on my 365 Day Photograph Challenge, I am always trying to find new places in my hometown to photograph. Usually, I rarely spend any time wandering around Morpeth as I spend most of my time working in Newcastle and commuting to and fro. But, with the impetus of having to find at least one photograph every day, it has encouraged me to get out when I can and find new and different angles.

It has also made me appreciate just how well our public spaces are cared for and maintained. Perhaps something we can take for granted, but this year’s spring displays have been stunning and I would like to thank everyone who has worked on them. They are truly appreciated!

Here is a selection of some of my favourites.

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Cherry blossom against a stormy sky (juxtaposition to the max!), crab apple blossom, and Morpeth Cenotaph peeping out from behind tulips.

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Tulips and cherry blossom on the Newcastle Road

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Morpeth Court House viewed from Carlisle Park

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Cherry blossom next to the Chantry Bridge and Acers in full leaf in Carlisle Park

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Church of St James the Great

A Trip to Cleveland, North Yorkshire

A Grand Day Out.

I went for a day trip to the Cleveland Coast (North Yorkshire) on 25th March. It was glorious weather all day. By far the highlights of the trip were Guisborough Priory and Stockton Infinity Bridge. Naturally, I had the camera with me, and here are some of my favourites.

Guisborough Priory and Gardens, and Church

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The impossibly photogenic east end is all that remains of Guisborough Priory.

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The present day Guisborough Parish Church pales into insignificance next to its older relative. Undoubtedly some of the masonry from the former priory would have been used in its construction. The Priory Garden was springing into life and looked beautiful in the sunshine.

Stockton-On-Tees Infinity Bridge

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Opened in 2009, the Infinity Bridge is a part of the regeneration along the River Tees in the University of Teesside area. It is an impressive and clever design.

365 Day Photograph Challenge: March Part II

Summary 17th – 31st March

  • 17 – The Key Building, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 18 – The Wedding of Chris and Tessa, Burbage, Leicestershire
  • 19 – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park, Warwickshire
  • 20 – Robin of Pegswood, near Morpeth
  • 21 – Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 22 – Leazes Park Gates on a Stormy Evening, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 23 – Cheerful Daffodils in Leazes Park after the Storm
  • 24 – St George’s URC Rose Window, Morpeth
  • 25 – Guisborough Priory, North Yorkshire
  • 26 – Azalea Sylvester
  • 27 – Elswick Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 28 – Daffodil Close-up
  • 29 – Academic Waste, Art Installation by Helena Lacey, Newcastle University
  • 30 – Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 31 – Cumulus Congestus Clouds near Stannington, Northumberland

19th March – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park

19 March

Taken the morning after the wedding and after my friend’s and I had seen the newly weds off for their honeymoon. We took a stroll in Coombe Country Park which is down the road from the wedding venue. I was really pleased to get this snap of a nuthatch while we were there.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 200 mm
  • ISO 200

20th March – Robin of Pegswood

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Officially called, ‘Fire,’ it is known locally as Robin of Pegswood due to the pose of the bronze miner. It was designed by local artist, Tom Maley, stands 36 ft high and was unveiled on 10th September 2009. I captured this shot just after sunset.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/19 88 mm
  • ISO 200

21st March – Wylam Brewery

21 March

Originally built as an exhibition venue in 1929, Wylam Brewery is a good example of Art Deco architecture. As such, it is Grade II Listed by Historic England. I particularly liked the light at this time of the day as the shadows helped to define the lines of the building.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/16 43 mm
  • ISO 200

24th March – St George’s URC Rose Window

24 March

A bit of a hidden gem this one. The rose window of this church is no longer visible from the inside of the church as a mezzanine floor was constructed in 1962 to host the church hall. I was wandering around Morpeth on the evening of 24th March looking for interesting photographs. The church hall was in use and the lights from inside the hall lit up the window to viewers such as myself on the pavement below. I happily took this cheeky close up.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 4 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 105 mm
  • ISO 200

27th March – Elswick Riverside

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An interesting cityscape on the north bank of the River Tyne. There are three phases of construction that comprise 140 years. The tower of St Stephen’s church dates from 1878, the high rise flats of Cruddas Park date from 1963 and the riverside apartments have been built within the last 10 years. It had been an overcast day, but I quite liked the glow from the setting sun as it peeped through the clouds and the reflections in the mud flats.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 58 mm
  • ISO 200

30th March – Great North Museum

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A little detour through one of my favourite childhood museums one lunchtime. It has been recently refurbished (in the last 10 years) and rebranded as the Great North Museum and is much better than when I was a kid.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 48 mm
  • ISO 500

365 Day Photograph Challenge: March Part I

All the photos (1st – 15th March 2017)

  • 1st March – Morpeth Clock Tower Clock, floodlit at dusk.
  • 2nd March – Star Wars night (original theatrical release, naturally).
  • 3rd March – Bandanas for Brain Tumours (brain tumour awareness month).
  • 4th March – Bothal Castle, dusk.
  • 5th March – Morpeth Riverside.
  • 6th March – Morpeth Courthouse, night.
  • 7th March – Gateshead Millennium Bridge and Quayside, dusk.
  • 8th March – Newcastle Airport, sunset.
  • 9th March – Unsolvable Rubik’s Cube (clue is the yellow and white squares).
  • 10th March – Blagdon Bridge (ugly 80s’ engineering, grafting a modern bridge onto the side of an old estate bridge).
  • 11th March – Wallington Walled Garden Crocuses.
  • 12th March – Sycamore Sunset.
  • 13th March – Horse Entry (one of Morpeth’s curious old alleyways).
  • 14th March – Newcastle Castle, sunset (I preferred the old one haha!).
  • 15th March – Unity (modern art raising HIV/AIDs awareness, designed by Lilian Nabulime).

5th March – Morpeth Riverside

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Perhaps one of the most photographed scenes in my hometown. Morpeth riverside looking towards St George’s URC Church (opened 1860). Oliver’s Mill, the tall red brick building on the left is a former flour mill powered by a water wheel connected to the weir. Notice how the north bank premises are protected with a flood wall. The last flood occurred in 2008. Hard to imagine the river as a raging torrent on a beautiful, clear day such as the day this photograph was taken on.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/1,000 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 43 mm
  • ISO 200

8th March – Sunset over Newcastle Airport

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Perhaps not the most exciting subject matter. The airport control tower does, however, produce some interesting shapes against the sunset. I quite liked the haze in the distance, it gave the composition a little extra interest. I deliberately chose a white balance setting to emphasise the colour of the sunset. I further enhanced this by increasing the saturation in post-editing.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 160 mm
  • ISO 200

12th March – Sycamore Sunset

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I quite liked this photograph because it is possible to turn fairly unexceptional photographs taken on the phone camera into more vivid ones by carefully playing around with the brightness, contrast and saturation. Before editing the tree definition was not as clear and the colours of the sky were very washed out.

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Before editing

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 40

14th March – Newcastle Castle at Sunset

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The fortress that gives Newcastle its name. Literally the New Castle. It was built in 1080 as a Motte and Bailey Castle after the Norman Conquest and replaced the Roman fort of Pons Aelius. Today, only the (later) Medieval castle keep and Black Gate (Gatehouse) survive. In Victorian times the railway was ploughed between the two structures. That’s progress for you!

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 20 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 43

A cold, wet, and miserable day on Sunday 12th February 2017. I took a walk up to my local parish church (St Mary) to do some photography. I was quite keen to replicate a photograph I took a year ago during very similar weather conditions. It has been a really useful exercise to see how my skills have progressed in the last twelve months.

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St Mary’s Church, Morpeth, 12th February 2017

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St Mary’s Church, Morpeth, 14th February 2016

A year ago, I was shooting handheld and in poor light it is not possible to expose the photograph long enough. Many areas of this photograph were out of focus, so to try and make this look deliberate, I increased the blur in these areas. However, the overall effect was unsatisfactory despite the photograph being quite atmospheric.

One year on, I had the tripod out, and I had the camera wrapped up in a make-shift waterproof cover made out of a Sainsbury’s carrier bag… it worked! The camera stayed dry. I may invest in a one use waterproof cover that I can stow in the camera bag, but, I don’t intend to make it a habit doing photography in the freezing cold and lashing rain. I’m much more pleased with this year’s attempt. It only needed minimal editing in paint.net.

The camera settings were as follows:

  • 3/5 sec exposure
  • f/11 24 mm
  • ISO 200

Compare this with last year’s camera settings:

  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 20 mm
  • ISO 200