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

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 95

First time shooting RAW

On my journey of discovery into the world of photography, I have talked to many people, some with knowledge, some with knowledge through another person. It was during one such discussion that I learnt about RAW image files. I decided to give shooting in RAW format a try (instead of JPG) and see what the difference was.

The subject matter was the Clock Tower, arguably Morpeth’s best-loved landmark. The time of day was blue hour. I can see the difference in quality between JPG and RAW file formats. And I can see how this will be beneficial when photographing certain types of photographs. I will be sure to use it again in the future.

Here are the results of my experiment.

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JPG

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RAW (pre-editing)

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RAW (post-editing)

It is a shame about the wheelie bin on the left. It seems to be quite common for wheelie bins to be left in plain site of our landmarks. I may have to become the wheelie bin police if these antics continue. Either that or I’m going to have to become a Photoshop wizard!

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

Miscellaneous

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

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Ephesus Turkish Restaurant

24 March

St George’s Church Rose Window (1860)

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 75

Practice makes (almost) perfect.

I attempted to do a night time photograph of Morpeth Court House (built 1822) on 6th March. However, by the time I got set up, it was already too dark. As it was dark, I had to increase the aperture size and shorten the exposure time. Also, the camera sensor and lenses badly needed cleaning. The quality of the image was consequently impaired. My first effort looked a bit like this:

06 March

Morpeth Court House, 6th March 2017

Camera Settings:

  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/8 18 mm
  • ISO 200

10 days later, I was back for round two. This time I managed to get set up earlier in the evening. Also, 16th March was a completely clear evening which gave good conditions for improving the shoot. The colours of the twilight after sunset were very vivid. I experimented with different white balance settings to get the right effect.

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The headlights are slightly yellow in this rendering. Additionally, the tail lights aren’t very vivid.

  • 30 sec exposure
  • f/27 23 mm
  • ISO 200

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Getting better…

  • 30 sec exposure
  • f/27 23 mm
  • ISO 200

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Best… Although the court house might be slightly out of focus.

  • 30 sec exposure
  • f/27 20 mm
  • ISO 200

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

Hidden Northumberland: Wallington Crocuses

A carpet of crocuses

Since the start of March, Wallington’s Walled Garden has featured a lot on social media groups that I follow. (One has to have sources of inspiration.) At the weekend, the family and I went up to Wallington to have a look at the crocuses that have been so widely talked about. The rumour is that the former head gardener planted the crocuses before his departure last year. Whether there is any truth in this I don’t know. However, the crocus lawn has never been there in all the years I have been visiting Wallington (including last year). It is simple but stunning!

Wallington Hall and its grounds are a National Trust property. There is too much of Wallington to cover in one post. I aim to do a series of posts about it in the future.

Wallington Crocuses (2)

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Just a little disappointing that it was a grey day and the crocuses were closed up! (Beggars can’t be choosers!)

365 Day Photograph Challenge: February (Part Deux)

All the photos (15th – 28th February)

  • 15th Feb – The 1875 bandstand in Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 16th Feb – Armstrong Building stairwell, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 17th Feb – Northumbrian Piper, Alistair Anderson
  • 18th Feb – The historic shop front of John Smail & Sons, Morpeth
  • 19th Feb – Morpeth townscape from St James’ Church tower, Morpeth
  • 20th Feb – Armstrong memorial, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 21st Feb – Quirky camel tea pot, throwing up the tea…
  • 22nd Feb – Car behaving like a devil
  • 23rd Feb – Philosophical graffiti, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 24th Feb – The Lodge, Carlisle Park, Morpeth
  • 25th Feb – Barter Books, Alnwick
  • 26th Feb – Curly Kews, Morpeth
  • 27th Feb – Eclectic still life
  • 28th Feb – Blossom in Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

16th February – Armstrong Building Architecture

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The Armstrong Building is the oldest building on Newcastle University campus. It was constructed in three phases between 1887 and 1906. Originally designed by R. J. Johnson in 1887, architects F. W. Rich and W. H. Knowles contributed to its design following Johnson’s death in 1892. It is a grand Victorian building in Gothic Revival Architecture.

In this photograph I am looking up the main stair well from the entrance hall. I put the phone on timer and let it do the rest! Felt like such a pillock, but took solace in the fact that as I walked in, two students were taking exactly the same photograph.

  • Device – Samsung Galaxy GX-1S
  • 1/100 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 4.8 mm
  • ISO 40

19th February – Morpeth Townscape

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A very rare view over Morpeth. I was very kindly given access to the tower of St James’ Church by the vicar. To access the roof, one must crawl underneath the church bell that is hung at the top of the tower stair turret. Thankfully the vicar had cleared out all the pigeon muck before we went up!

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/250 sec exposure
  • f/4 18 mm
  • ISO 200

25th February – Barter Books, Alnwick

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Barter Books is an incredible second hand book shop, situated in Alnwick. It is based in the former railway station building. The owners have made it really warm and welcoming and it is the perfect place to visit on a cold and/or wet winter’s day. The words suspended on the banners between the bookcases are from the Song of Solomon 2:10, Old Testament.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/4 26 mm
  • ISO 800

26th February – Curly Kews, Morpeth

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The poetically named Curly Kews was opened in the 1960s to allow access to the newly built housing estate at the top of the bank. I didn’t think I would get out to do any photography as it rained most of the day. By early evening it had stopped and I took the camera and tripod out. Really pleased with this light trail. The only thing that could have made it better would be if I had captured the passing car as it crossed the bridge.

  • Device – Samsung GX-1S
  • 20 sec exposure
  • f/16 33 mm
  • ISO 200