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: August Part II

Memories of summer exploring and the first signs of autumn.

We start the second-half of August in Devon in SW England as I was spending time on holiday catching up with university friends. Devon is famous for its very changeable weather conditions. It can be bright sunshine on the south coast while on the north coast it can be pouring rain. I think the first two photographs in this series demonstrate that perfectly. Sadly, I was unable to take the DSLR with me so the photographs are shot on my Samsung Galaxy S7.

20th August 2017 – Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

20 Aug (2)

This photograph really does not do any justice as to how wet it was. I love how the parents on the cliff railway are sensibly wearing their hoods while the children are not!

The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway opened in 1888 and is powered by hydraulics. Both cars, with a capacity of 40 people (seems a bit of a squish!), have a 700 imperial gallon water tank mounted underneath the floor between the wheels. The upper car water tank is filled with water from the West Lyn River. Once full, the water in the lower car’s tank is discharged. The heavier upper car begins to descend while the energy created pulls the lower car up the cliff. The speed is regulated by a driver who controls the breaks. A great piece of Victorian engineering that is still enjoyed in the 21st Century.

22nd August 2017 – The Most Photographed Cottage on the River Dart

22 Aug (2)

Hastily snapped on the smartphone while on a guided river cruise of the River Dart. This cottage is located on the banks of the picturesque River Dart between Dartmouth on the south coast and Totnes. The guide was right, it is very photogenic!

23rd August 2017 – The Finest View from a Train in the UK

23 Aug (2)

This view, immediately south of Durham Railway Station, according to Michael Portillo (former Conservative politician), is the finest from a train in the UK. (Today he is perhaps better known for his BBC2 documentary ‘Great British Railway Journeys‘.)

It is rather an impressive view of the cathedral. The view has been marred throughout 2017 with the scaffolding and shrouding around the cathedral’s central tower’s belfry. Also perched on the mound above the city is Durham Castle which has been the residence of members of University College, Durham University since 1840. Also, I must have been sat at the cleanest train window in the UK when I took this snap!

Of course, I dispute that this is the finest view on the UK rail network. I prefer the southern approach into Newcastle Central Station across the River Tyne looking at all the bridges. It also indicates that I’m almost home.

27th August 2017 – Honeybee on Geranium Roseanne

27 Aug (2)

Another experiment with macros taken on Samsung Galaxy S7. I covered this is an earlier post about phone macros.

31st August 2017 – Signs of Autumn on the River Wansbeck, Morpeth

31 Aug (2)

The last day of August 2017. From memory, it was quite a cool evening despite there not being a whiff of a breeze. The river was like a sheet of glass it was that still. The horse chestnut trees along the river bank here are amongst the first trees to start turning at the onset of autumn. I was quite happy with the reflections in the river. Sadly, I was unable to capture this scene with all the autumnal leaves later in the season.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 4 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 24 mm
  • ISO 200

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

01 Aug (2)

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

06 Aug (2)

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

10 Aug (4)

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.


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

11 Aug (4)

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

13 Aug (2)

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

Phone Macros

I’m sure there must be many blogs that are dedicated to wildlife photography on smart phones. Smart phones today undoubtedly have quite high spec cameras. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t more than pleased with my Samsung Galaxy S7. It is particularly good at taking macros with little post-editing required. As I’ve been working with an ecologist for the past year or so, I’ve (unwittingly) embarked on an education of pollinators and such like. This is one of the great things about life, you can always learn new things and learn from other people.

Here are some of my favourite phone snaps from the year so far.

15th June – Drone fly (Eristalis tenax) on an Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

15 June.jpg

1st July – Nigella

1 July.jpg

24th July – Chrysanthemum

24 July.jpg


13th August – Female Furrow Spider (Larinioides cornutus)

13 Aug.jpg

27th August – Honeybee (Apis mellifera) on Geranium ‘Roseanne’


19th September – Queen Wasp mating with Male Wasp

19 Sep.jpg

27th September – Queen Red-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius)

27 Sep.jpg