365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part I

The end of the year draws near.


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 First

Here is the first instalment of October 2017.

1st October 2017 – Grey Day at Cambois Beach

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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: Day 283

I returned to the scene of my photograph of 6th January this year. The subject was the stepping stones (formally The Bakehouse Steps) crossing the River Wansbeck. They connect the High Stanners on the west bank with Mains Place on the east bank. The view is from the High Stanners looking east towards Mains Place. It is said that to be a ‘true Morpethian’, that one must be ‘baptised’ by falling in the river here. To date, I have not managed this feat, although many members of my family have!

Sadly, this photograph didn’t make the final cut as my ‘photo of the day’ but I thought it was useful to compare the photographs 9 months apart now that I have had more practice at night photography. They both have their merits, but I think I prefer the earlier one as it is more atmospheric.

10th October 2017

Stepping Stones

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 20 sec exposure
  • f/8 28 mm
  • ISO 200

6th January 2017


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

365 Day Challenge: Day 282

Practice really does pay off.

I returned to the scene of my photograph on 13th February 2017, or Day 44 of the 365 Day Challenge. The subject matter was Morpeth’s impressive 13th Century Chantry. It is now home to the only bagpipe museum in the country (make of that what you will). I am always keen to return  to places to take new photos to see if my skills have improved. Even more so with interesting subject matter as the possibilities for finding new angles are limitless.

9th October 2017

Chantry 1

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 15 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 20 mm
  • ISO 200

Chantry 2

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 6 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 18 mm
  • ISO 200

13th February 2017

Chantry 3

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 18 mm
  • ISO 200

Note the old light has since been replaced with a LED light in the intervening months.

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!


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: June Part I

Long, long days.

Some of my favourite photos from the first half of June 2017. Enjoy!

1st June – Seaton Delaval Hall

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Completed in 1728, Seaton Delaval Hall was designed by the famous architect, Sir John Vanburgh. Amongst his works are Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, perhaps best known as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Many comparisons in design may be made with Blenheim. Barely 100 years after its construction, the central hall burnt down in 1822 and has never been lived in since. The Delaval family lived in the west wing until 2009 when the Hall and its grounds were sold to the National Trust. It opened to the public for the first time on 1st May 2010.

  • Samsung Galaxy S7
  • 1/2,000 sec exposure
  • f1.7 4.2 mm
  • ISO 50

4th June – Corby’s Crags

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Located on the road between Rothbury and Alnwick, this is a tremendous view point from the top of Corby’s Crags. It is quite a popular spot with climbers.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/19 28 mm
  • ISO 200

9th June – The Grave of Emily Davison

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Emily Davison was famously fatally injured at the 1913 Epsom Derby when she attempted to pin the suffragette colours to the King’s horse, Amner. She died from her injuries four days after the event, having never regained consciousness. She was buried in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin, Morpeth on 15th June 1913. Her epitaph is the WSPU slogan, ‘Deeds not Words.’

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/50 sec expsoure
  • f/4.5 125 mm
  • ISO 200

10th June – Bust of the Seventh Earl of Carlisle, Morpeth Town Hall

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I quite liked the effect of the perspective and foreshortening that the balustrades of the grand staircase produced in this shot.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/8 50 mm
  • ISO 400

12th June – Woodlea, Morpeth Riverside

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An interesting early 20th century dwelling on the bank of the River Wansbeck in Morpeth town centre. Fun piece of trivia, one can see the position I was stood at to take the photograph on 26th February. It is the corner of the road as it turns up the bank. This photograph was taken at 10:25 p.m.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 2 sec exposure
  • f/8 23 mm
  • ISO 400

13th June – Morpeth Riverside (Civil Twilight)

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Perhaps the most photographed view of Morpeth, and quite rightly so! It is very picturesque. This view has appeared many times throughout my photograph challenge as I particularly love this view. I have tried to vary my position and the times of day. This shot was taken during civil twilight at 9:35 p.m. in the evening. Not quite as late as the previous day’s effort!

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/6 sec exposure
  • f/8 68 mm
  • ISO 200

Hidden Northumberland: Bluebell Woods

The natural wonder of Morpeth

OK, so I cheated a little, the featured image is from my front garden. I used it as it is the only macro I took of bluebells this spring. Bluebell woods is ancient woodland near Morpeth in Northumberland. As the name suggests, every spring, the woods are teaming with bluebells (usually late April to early May). When I went, the flowers weren’t quite at their best, but you get the impression of how the woodland floor is a sea of blue at this time of year.

Hope you enjoy the photos!

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