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

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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)

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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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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: 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!)

Hidden Northumberland: Morpeth by Night

Pretty little Morpeth.

I’ve been out practising night photography a lot this year. I have now compiled quite an archive of my home town at night. Here are the fruits of my labour! I hope you enjoy them.

The River

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The Bakehouse Stepping Stones

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Telford Bridge (1831) with River Wansbeck in flood

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Chantry Footbridge, a Victorian (1869) wrought iron bridge resting upon medieval abutments and central pier.

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The riverside walk through Carlisle Park

The Market Place

The ancient market place lies at the heart of the town centre and remains the focal point of social life in Morpeth.

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The 17th century Clock Tower and (1885) Hollon Fountain, guarding the entrance to Oldgate

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Clockwise from top left: YMCA Building (1905), Market Place from NE Corner, Town Hall (1714), Hollon Fountain (1885)

Light Trails

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Bridge Street

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The Court House (1822)

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Curly Kews


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Carlisle Park Lodge, Sanderson Arcade and the 13th Century Chantry


Ephesus Turkish Restaurant

24 March

St George’s Church Rose Window (1860)

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 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.


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

Hidden Northumberland: Alnwick

More than just the Castle and Harry Potter.


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


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


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.

January 2017: An Overview

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All the photos!

  • 01  – Overlooking Morpeth from Ha’ Hill (former Motte) on New Year’s Day.
  • 02 – Sunrise over Oldgate, Morpeth (Clock Tower in the distance).
  • 03 – Back to work (Newcastle University).
  • 04 – River Wansbeck, Morpeth, at night.
  • 05 – Sunset over Newcastle University.
  • 06 – Bakehouse Stepping Stones, Morpeth, at night.
  • 07 – Coquet Island, Northumberland.
  • 08 – The wreck of Beechfield House, Morpeth.
  • 09 – Doctorate congratulatory present.
  • 10 – Cirrocumulus clouds over Kensington Terrace, Newcastle.
  • 11 – Fisheye View of the Ringing Chamber of Morpeth Clock Tower.
  • 12 – I Work with a Bunch of Muppets.
  • 13 – Angel of the North, Gateshead.
  • 14 – Center Parcs Trees, Nottinghamshire.
  • 15 – Center Parcs Trees (Part Deux), Nottinghamshire.
  • 16 – Tyne Bridge Arch Hinge Joint, Gateshead.
  • 17 – New Toy for Digitising Old Slides.
  • 18 – Chantry Footbridge, Morpeth, at night.
  • 19 – W. D. Stephens Memorial Fountain, Jesmond, Newcastle.
  • 20 – Salted Caramel Popcorn Tiffin from Olive and Bean, Newcastle.
  • 21 – Apposite Reading.
  • 22 – Grainger Street Architecture in the Late Afternoon Glow, Newcastle.
  • 23 – Civic Centre, Newcastle, at night.
  • 24 – Sunset over Ilford Road, High West Jesmond, Newcastle.
  • 25 – Devonshire Building Time-Capsule, Newcastle University.
  • 26 – Jazzy Light Fitting.
  • 27 – Morpeth Railway Station, at night.
  • 28 – A New WWI Memorial Bench is Dedicated in Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth.
  • 29 – Blue Tit (RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Weekend), Morpeth.
  • 30 – St Andrew’s Church Interior, Newgate Street, Newcastle.
  • 31 – People Watching on Northumberland Street, Newcastle.

1st January – Overlooking Morpeth from Ha’ Hill (former Motte Castle)


This photograph was taken around midday on New Year’s Day. Ha’ Hill is a great vantage point to overlook the old part of Morpeth. In this photo, the main buildings that can be seen are the Clock Tower (1634), YMCA Building (1905) and Town Hall (1714). The sun was at its strongest point of the day and produced some good shadows to define the lines of buildings. I increased the contrast to really bring this definition out.

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

2nd January – Sunrise over Oldgate, Morpeth

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Quite a tricky shot this one. I got up early on this cold and icy morning to capture this photo. Achieving the correct exposure proved difficult. In the end I went with a fairly quick exposure and edited the photograph in paint.net to lighten the buildings. While I’m pleased with the composition, the editing has messed the clouds up. Again, the Clock Tower can be seen with its dramatic setting in the middle of the street. Oldgate has many fine Georgian town houses.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/11 21 mm
  • ISO 200

5th January – Sunset over Newcastle University

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This was quite a fun shoot. It was literally taken out of the kitchen window at work. I used a linear polarising filter to bring out the colours of the sunset.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 73 mm
  • ISO 200

6th January – Bakehouse Stepping Stones, Morpeth, at night

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It is said that to be a true Morpethian, one must fall in (be baptised in) the River Wansbeck at this location! A long exposure photo, I increased the ISO slightly to get a slightly sharper image. The trade-off is that the sky is slightly more grainy.  Additionally, I increased the light and contrast to give more definition to the image.

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

7th January – Coquet Island

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Pronounced ‘Co-ket’, Coquet Island is a small (6 ha) island, 1.2 km off the Northumbrian coast at Amble. Originally a Benedictine monastic cell dating from the 14th century was sited on the island. However, in 1841, its remains were incorporated into the lighthouse. It is quite an usual lighthouse due to its square plan. The day I visited the sky was overcast, however, the cloud broke to the south and the sun shone through the gap. This highlighted the island and lighthouse and I got this cool shot. Again, I increased the brightness and contrast to really show off the lighthouse and make the sky look moodier.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/320 sec exposure
  • f/13 200 mm
  • ISO 400

11th January – Morpeth Clock Tower Ringing Chamber

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Quite a fun one for 11th January. I have a fisheye lens for my phone (amongst others) that rarely gets used, but I thought it would be perfect for this photo. I had to use the flash to get the camera to focus.

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/30 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 125
  • Fisheye lens

22nd January – Grainger Street Architecture, Newcastle upon Tyne

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At the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne is the historic Grainger Town, designed by Richard Grainger between 1824 and 1841. Of the 450 surviving buildings, 250 are listed, including 29 Grade I and 49 Grade II* listed buildings. I happened to be town this day and by the late afternoon the sun was producing this awesome glow on the buildings. This building is on Grainger Street. I’m not sure why it is dated 1874. It may have been restored or rebuilt at this time.

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 48 mm
  • ISO 64

23rd January – Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, at night

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Newcastle Civic Centre was built between 1960 and 1968 and is a very interesting piece of post-WWII architecture. Many people mistakenly believe that the tower is concrete when it is actually faced with Portland Stone. I particularly like the blue lighting at night.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 3 sec exposure
  • f/8 21 mm
  • ISO 200

27th January – Morpeth Railway Station, at night

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Morpeth railway station opened on 1st March 1847 (nearly 170 years ago) on the Berwick and Newcastle railway (part of the modern day ECML). A Grade II listed building, it was designed by Benjamin Green the Scottish Baronial style. It is due to undergo a major refurbishment in 2017 that has been funded by Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT). I have finally figured out that for night photography, if the scene is not very well lit, it is necessary to slightly over expose the photograph and increase the aperture a bit more than I would expect to.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 28 mm
  • ISO 200

29th January – Blue tit (RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch Weekend)

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A first attempt a wildlife photography. Unfortunately I do not possess the fancy telescopic lenses required for professional wildlife photography. However, despite the graininess of this photograph, I am still quite pleased with the result.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 200 mm
  • ISO 3,200

30th January – St Andrew’s Church interior, Newcastle upon Tyne

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Reputed to be the oldest parish church in Newcastle, St Andrew’s is a peaceful oasis to escape from the city (even for this agnostic). I particularly love the very fine Norman chancel arch.

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 1,000