365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part I

The end of the year draws near.

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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.

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: 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

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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

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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 I

August 2017 was a busy month. Most photos seem to have been shot on my smartphone which indicates that I didn’t have much time to explore with the DSLR. It is nice to look back at the photos from August (and July) 2017 because they show that the weather for the UK’s summer, on the whole, was not too bad. OK, in the NE of England the weather rarely gets beyond 20 C in the summer, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most of the photos appear to have been taken on sunny days with few overcast days. Most importantly, there was little rainfall in August. As a British summer goes, not too shabby at all.

1st August 2017 – Earsdon Village

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In the far northern corner of North Tyneside is the pretty little village of Earsdon. It was formerly in Northumberland until changes to local administration came into effect in 1974. It is barely half a mile from the modern boundary.

The parish church isn’t particularly old having being rebuilt in the 1830s. In 1862 it was the scene of a horrific mining accident at Hartley Pit. 204 men and boys were lost when the beam of the mine’s pumping engine broke and fell down the shaft where it wedged and blocked all means of escape. Those not killed in the initial impact were suffocated to death over the following days as oxygen supplies dwindled. This accident lead to a change in the law that stipulated all collieries had to have a secondary shaft in the event of accidents to allow workers to escape. An imposing memorial in the church graveyard is a sobering reminder of the tragedy.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/19 73 mm
  • ISO 200

6th August 2017 – Honeybee on Fuchsia

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Shot on my Samsung Galaxy S7, so not the best quality. I was still amazed at the level of detail modern smartphone cameras can produce. From the hairs on its abdomen to the pollen sac on its hind legs, it’s all there to see!

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/1,600 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

10th August 2017 – Newcastle Civic Centre

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I shot this photo in the middle of the day on a bright and sunny summer’s day. Not ideal photography conditions as shadows become more exaggerated. This required a lot of reworking in editing.

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For comparison, here’s out it started out life.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/11 26 mm
  • ISO 200

11th August 2017 – Female Furrow Spider

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Another phone macro. This little beastie was spotted whilst out doing fieldwork for my research. One of my colleagues spotted it and my ecologist friend and colleague managed to identify ‘her’ as a female furrow spider.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

13th August 2017 – Simonside Hills

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Another hot summer’s day (although the weather was on the turn). I could barely get parked in the car park as it was very busy that day (due to the good weather). August is heather season and the Northumberland hills turn to this stunning purple colour.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/13 35 mm
  • ISO 200

Hidden Northumberland: Middle Earth?

Middle Earth may be found in rural Northumberland…

This was brought to my attention earlier in 2017. Somehow it had escaped my radar five years ago when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released in cinemas. One of the teaser posters from the film features Ian McKellen as Gandalf walking through The Shire. However, on closer inspection, it is clear that the rolling hills in the distance are part of a distinctive view in the wilds of Northumberland. One can clearly see a railway viaduct and ruined castle in the middle-right of the image. This is Edlingham Castle which is located on the moors between Rothbury and Alnwick. A nice little hidden find!

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Teaser Poster (2012)

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Edlingham Castle and Viaduct viewed from a similar vantage point

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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