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 First

Here is the first instalment of October 2017.

1st October 2017 – Grey Day at Cambois Beach

01 Oct (2)

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

02 Oct (2)

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

05 Oct (2)

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

07 Oct (2)

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

08 Oct (2)

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

10 Oct (2)

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

11 Oct (2)

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

16 Sept (2)

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

18 Sept (2)

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

19 Sept (2)

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

23 Sept (2)

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

27 Sept (2)

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: July Part I

Summer time and cultural excursions.

A summary of the first half of July 2017.

  • 01 – Nigella
  • 02 – Broadway, Worcestershire
  • 03 – Snowshill Manor, Gloucestershire
  • 04 – Hosta
  • 05 – Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
  • 06 – Stanway Fountain, Gloucestershire
  • 07 – Coughton Court, Warwickshire
  • 08 – Overgrown Back Lawn after a Holiday
  • 09 – Morpeth Clock Tower ready for Morpeth in Bloom 2017
  • 10 – Back Garden (following lawn mowing and weeding!)
  • 11 – Graduation Day
  • 12 – Stannington Church and Lavender
  • 13 – Carlisle Park Gates
  • 14 – Steel Magnolias Program Cover (amateur production starring my sister-in-law and friends)
  • 15 – Rothbury Handbell Choir at Rothbury Traditional Music Festival

1st July – Nigella

01 July.jpg

Shot and edited on my Samsung Galaxy S7. Nigella are more or less synonymous with English Cottage Gardens.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

2nd July – Broadway, Worcestershire

02 July.jpg

A typical Cotswold stone dwelling in Broadway, Worcestershire, covered in climbing roses.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 31 mm
  • ISO 200

5th July – Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire

05 July.jpg

A Medieval Castle (15th Century) near Winchcombe in Gloucestershire. The chapel is the final resting place of Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England. It was a blistering hot day on the day (30+ C) I visited as you can see from the photograph. The bright sunlight gave the added problem of high contrast between light and shade.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/11 26 mm
  • ISO 200

9th July – Morpeth Clock Tower

09 July.jpg

Morpeth’s most iconic landmark is the Clock Tower. It was built in the early 17th century out of recycled Medieval stone. Every summer Morpeth Town Council sponsors Morpeth in Bloom (which is judged in Northumbria in Bloom). I took this photo not long after the floral displays had been installed for the summer.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/13 55 mm
  • ISO 200

12th July – Stannington Church

12 July.jpg

I love the light at this time of day as it really creates some nice highlights and shadows. I was experimenting with the focus on the smartphone and was pretty chuffed with the result.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/2,500 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

13th July – Carlisle Park Gates

13 July.jpg

Carlisle Park opened in Morpeth in 1929 and is currently a Green Flag Award Holder.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 125 mm
  • ISO 200

365 Day Photograph Challenge: April Summary

My apologies it has been some time since I last updated my blog. I have been very busy of late with work and finishing the corrections for my thesis. I will do my best to bring my photography back up to date over the coming days and weeks. Expect bumper editions with lots of photographs. Starting with all of April’s photos!!

  • 01 – Early flowering Rhododendron
  • 02 – Telford Bridge, Morpeth
  • 03 – Newcastle University Quadrangle dedication plaque
  • 04 – Woodhorn Colliery pit wheels
  • 05 – Morpeth Clock Tower (at blue hour)
  • 06 – First new £1 coin
  • 07 – Northumberland view of the Cheviot Hills from Cockle Park Farm
  • 08 – The Bathing House, Howick
  • 09 – Morpeth Cenotaph
  • 10 – Morpeth Riverside (at astronomical twilight)
  • 11 – Thesis corrections!
  • 12 – Tea collection (helps with those thesis corrections!)
  • 13 – Cockle Park Tower
  • 14 – Garden patio before and after cleaning
  • 15 – Warkworth Castle
  • 16 – My niece
  • 17 – Cherry blossom contrasting against a stormy sky
  • 18 – View of Bridge Street, Morpeth, from the Clock Tower roof
  • 19 – Muller fruit corner
  • 20 – Acers in Carlisle Park, Morpeth
  • 21 – Church of St James the Great, Morpeth
  • 22 – Wood carving
  • 23 – Scarborough lily
  • 24 – Scarborough lily (more fully open)
  • 25 – Mitford Castle under a stormy sky (just before the rain started!)
  • 26 – Gothic arch inserted into an earlier Norman arch!
  • 27 – Aztec Hotel and Spa artwork (Concorde)
  • 28 – Alex and Caroline’s Wedding
  • 29 – More Aztec Hotel and Spa artwork
  • 30 – Documenting new house building in the local area

1st April – Early flowering Rhododendron

01 April (2).jpg

Down at the bottom of the garden, this lovely Rhody is one of the first Spring flowers to bloom. Sadly, its flowers last only about a fortnight. This close-up was captured after a little April shower

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/800 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 180 mm
  • ISO 200

2nd April – Telford Bridge, Morpeth

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The main river crossing in Morpeth, the Telford Bridge opened in 1832. It was designed by the famous 19th century engineer, Thomas Telford. The church on the right is St George’s URC, and the tall-red-brick building beyond the bridge on the left is Oliver’s Mill. The weir still exists but the mill has long since closed. The whole building burnt down in 1994 but was, thankfully, restored, and is now riverside apartments.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/19 45 mm
  • ISO 200

4th April – Woodhorn Colliery Mineshaft Headworks

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A former coal mine that closed in 1981, it re-opened as museum in 1989. In 2005 the whole centre was refurbished and re-opened. The site is also home to Northumberland Archives.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/19 80 mm
  • ISO 200

10th April – Morpeth Riverside (astronomical twilight)

10 April (2).jpg

I took a similar photo of this view in early January on a very dark night. At that time I really wasn’t good at night photography and was very much learning the skill and learning the capabilities of the camera. I’m a great believer in practice makes perfect, so I had a second go at this photo and I’m much more pleased with the second result.

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

13th April – Cockle Park Tower

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Cockle Park Tower is a 16th century pele tower in rural Northumberland. I took a photograph of it in the snow in February. I really liked the cloud formation and the brightness of the yellow oilseed rape. I grabbed this snap on my Samsung Galaxy S5.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/2,000 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 40

15th April – Warkworth Castle

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Warkworth Castle sits high above the waters of the River Coquet, guarding the small village and church. It is the property of English Heritage. The mound that the imposing keep is built upon is always covered in daffodils in early spring each year.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/13 115 mm
  • ISO 200

23rd & 24th April – Scarborough Lily

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24 April (2).jpg

This plant sits on our kitchen windowsill. It produces this stunning scarlet display for only 7 days a year. It is supposed to flower in the late summer, early autumn, ours has always had a will of its own and flowers when it pleases! I took photos on consecutive days as it was more fully open on the second day and I wanted to take advantage of it whilst it lasted!

23rd April

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/1,000 sec exposure
  • f/11 55 mm
  • ISO 800

24th April

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/11 55 mm
  • ISO 400

25th April – Mitford Castle

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The ruins of Mitford Castle moments before the heavens opened! I was very fortunate that the late afternoon sun was shining through a gap in the clouds to light up the masonry. Otherwise, the sky was very brooding and pendulous.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/13 50 mm
  • ISO 400

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

Hidden Northumberland: Howick Hall & Gardens

Home to a 19th century social reformer.

Built in 1782, Howick Hall is the (former) seat of the Earls Grey. The most notable resident was Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the UK 1830-34. Perhaps better known for lending his name to Earl Grey Tea! A Whig Politician (Liberal), his government oversaw the Great Reform Act of 1832 which reformed the House of Commons and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 which largely ended slavery throughout the British Empire by 1838. To date, he is the only UK Prime Minister to have hailed from Northumberland.

The west wing of the house is still inhabited by descendants of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, but are of a different branch of the family that does not inherit the title, ‘Earl Grey’. The extensive gardens and arboretum are open to the public. Spring is a good time to visit the gardens as a number of spring plants are in flower, such as daffodils, rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.


A fire in 1926 devastated the interior of the main hall and it largely had to be rebuilt. The restoration was completed by 1928 and is recorded in the artwork above the main entrance.

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Inscription on the side of the tomb of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, in Howick Parish Church

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Magnolia (left) and Camellia in full bloom


The gardens are home to many different varieties of Rhododendrons that flower in spring. The photograph at the bottom is of Rhododendron Sinogrande which was flowering for only the second time since it was planted in 1990. (That’s a long time to be taking stock!)