365 Day Photograph Challenge: December Part II

Almost the end of 365 days of photographs!


Gosh! I can’t quite believe this is nearly the end of the challenge. Here are some of my favourites from the second half of December 2017. I took the D7200 out for some experiments with night photography. I also got out exploring a bit more, sometimes forgetting to take the D7200’s memory card with me! Just a little bit of a fail. Thank goodness smartphone cameras are so good these days.

18th December 2017 – Beechfield House

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The derelict Beechfield House in Morpeth town centre. It was built in 1853 for a wealthy timber merchant, Nicholas Wright, who went on to be a two-time Mayor of the Borough. For 50 years this view had been obscured by the town library (a somewhat ugly 1960s building). In the dying weeks of 2017, the empty and dilapidated library building was demolished, revealing the side of its older neighbour for the first time in half a century. I took this opportunity to take this photo. There had been access to Beechfield from the library hence why there is boarded up entrance.

On the other side of Beechfield, across a courtyard, is its identical twin house, The Willows. This building is also derelict and was previously home to the Brumell family who were solicitors in Morpeth. Members of this family served as Mayor and Town Clerk. I find these buildings very attractive although they are not particularly old. The eclectic architecture of these symmetric buildings harks back to the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 20 sec exposure
  • f/4 26 mm
  • ISO 200

23rd December 2017 – Newbiggin Bay Sunset

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This bay is quickly becoming one of my favourites to photograph. Like many bays in Northumberland, it is a vast sweep of sand that extends for many miles. However, Newbiggin is the odd one out as its beach was swept away many years ago. At a cost of £10,000,000, 500,000 tonnes of sand from Skegness was deposited here to protect the eroding beach. The sand here is noticeably different from all other Northumberland beaches as it is derived from a different geology.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/500 sec exposure
  • f/8 28 mm
  • ISO 125

25th December 2017 – Christmas Cactus

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Christmas Day. I could have gone for the obvious Christmas Tree or unwrapping of presents photo, but decided to return to the flora theme. This is one of our Christmas cacti and for once it was actually flowering on Christmas Day. It was pertinent to the festival celebrations. This was a smartphone pic.

27th December 2017 – Bolam Church

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A very cold day, the frost did not lift. This photo was taken around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I had intended to take this on the Nikon D7200, but I managed to forget the memory card (again!). Bolam church is very ancient, the oldest part of the structure is its tower which is over 1,000 years old and is Saxon.

28th December 2017 – Newbiggin Church

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Another foray into night photography with the D7200. This time the subject matter was St Bartholomew’s Church in Newbiggin with its dramatic setting on the headland at the north end of Newbiggin bay. The church was largely rebuilt in the 1846 with a north isle added in 1912. However, the tower is very old and is of 13th century construction with a later 14th century spire.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 5/2 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 18 mm
  • ISO 200

29th December 2017 – Bothal Castle

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Another old favourite, Bothal Castle. We had a fluttering of snow and many of the country roads were consequently treacherous. I did have a few kind and concerned locals ask me if I was stuck as I had abandoned the car at the side of the road whilst I took photos, but it was fine…. driving in the snow is easy! And worth it when you can snap a beauty like this one.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/50 sec exposure
  • f/10 58 mm
  • ISO 320

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: November 2017

Making the most of and capturing a variety of different photos with a smartphone camera.

The Samsung GX-1S didn’t get any outings in November 2017 apart from a weekend trip to Durham Lumiere Festival. As the festival was busy and I was with family there simply wasn’t time to take photographs. Therefore, the GX-1S was officially retired this month as I upgraded to a Nikon D7200. It is all very exciting! It is also challenging as with a new piece of kit, to an extent, one is taken back to the start as one has to learn where all the buttons/menus/functions etc are. I am enjoying the challenge of learning how to use the more powerful enthusiast level DSLR. For now, here are my favourite phone pics captured in November 2017.


3rd November 2017 – Autumn Leaves Morpeth Promenade

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Whilst out taking some fresh air, I looked up and was impressed by the street light shining through the autumnal leaves. Not bad for a phone photo.

4th November 2017 – Sunset Dogger Bank

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Another walk through Morpeth. Sunset looking Dogger Bank on the Mitford Road.

9th November 2017 – Leazes Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

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This park is the oldest in Newcastle having opened its gates in 1873. I was briefly a Friend of Leazes Park in 2012. The park backs onto St James’ Park football stadium. The park is very popular in the summer with students and local residents and is a great city oasis.

10th November 2017 – Sanderson Arcade Morpeth

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The pediment suggests that the arcade opened in 1939. While it is true that the façade that is seen today is typical of Art Deco design, the arcade was not opened until 1954 due to WWII. All that remains of the arcade is the original façade. Everything behind it was demolished and redeveloped during 2008/09. Joanna Lumley OBE of Ab Fab fame (amongst others) officially reopened the arcade in November 2009. Although the façade may not be an exceptional piece of Art Deco architecture (albeit quite late Art Deco), it was the most architecturally pleasing aspect of the old building and I am pleased that it was retained.

16th November 2017 – Christmas Lights

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These lights were being tested for the official switch on.

18th November 2017 – Durham Lumiere Festival

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Durham riverside lit up with the cathedral behind. I would have loved to have had time to have set up the DSLR for this, but alas, there was no time! I was very envious of the enthusiasts who had all night and had set up camp to watch the show.

19th November 2017 – Puppy Rosie

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Another exciting journey I embarked on in 2017 was becoming a dog owner for the first time. Here’s puppy Rosie aged 8 weeks old on 19th November. She’s a cockapoo and has the most innocent looking face! Very cute.

30th November 2017 – St John Lee Church near Acomb

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A very cold day. I was collecting a package from a company based in Acomb and stopped off at St John Lee Church as I had never visited it before. Although there has been a church on this site for many centuries, the present building dates from 1818 and is the design of the famous architect, John Dobson. The chancel (east end) is a later addition by W. S. Hicks of Newcastle in 1886. Half an hour after I took this photo (at about midday), the pristine blue sky was covered in heavy snow clouds. It snowed for most the rest of the day.

21st November 2017 – First Time Shooting with the Nikon D7200

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17th century clock mechanism. I’m already enjoying the better light quality compared with the GX-1S. The light looks gorgeous in this photo.

  • Nikon D7200
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/3.5 18 mm
  • ISO 4500

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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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