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: 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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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: 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: Howick Bathing House

Built in the early 19th century by the 2nd Earl Grey, the Bathing House was specifically for his children to go bathing in the North Sea. With its dramatic setting on a remote headland, it is a Grade II Listed Building and is currently a self-catered holiday home owned by Howick Trustees Ltd. It is located within the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which encompasses 100 miles of coast from Berwick in the north to the mouth of the River Coquet in the south. The walk from the Bathing House along the coast to Craster and onto Dunstanburgh Castle is beautiful and is well worth doing on a bright, sunny day.

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Interesting sandstone geology.

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Golden sands are a common feature of Northumberland’s beaches. The sandstone cliffs provide natural shelter making the cove a safe place to bathe (in the frigid waters of the North Sea!). The ruins of the 14th Century Dunstanburgh Castle some 5 miles to the north can be seen in the distance.

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Brave/foolish/crazy girls jumping into the sea from the cliffs.