365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 75

Practice makes (almost) perfect.

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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!)

Hidden Northumberland: Alnwick

More than just the Castle and Harry Potter.

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The Bailiffgate Entrance to Alnwick Castle (a rarely used image in publicity photos)

Most people who have heard of Alnwick immediately associate it with its Castle, Garden and Harry Potter. The broomstick flying lesson was filmed in the grounds of the castle for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001). The castle is owned by the Duke of Northumberland. Some of the castle is open to the public, but most of the keep is the Duke’s private residence. Opened in 2001, the Alnwick Garden is a labour of love by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland. Together, the Castle and Garden are undoubtedly the highlight of a visit to this rural market town. Alnwick is perhaps not an obvious candidate for Hidden Northumberland. However, there are some other hidden gems to visit in Alnwick that are worth a look.

Bailiffgate Museum

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The Bailiffgate Museum Exterior

Set in a former Roman Catholic church, the Bailiffgate Museum is a local history museum that is run by local volunteers. Exhibits tell the history of Alnwick from ancient history to the present time. There are many local artefacts on display that give it a personal touch. Importantly, it is very child-friendly with many activities to keep the little ones entertained.

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Market Place and Town Hall

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The Market Place is overlooked by Alnwick’s Georgian Town Hall

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In the summer many cafés have outdoor seating in the market place and one can imagine one it sitting in a continental square – weather permitting!

Barter Books

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Barter Books, one of the best, local second-hand bookshops

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Situated in the former Alnwick railway station, Barter Books is a tremendous establishment. Their stock of second-hand books covers all genres and all reference books. It is a great place to spend a couple of hours on a cold, wintry day. The station buffet is lovely and serves food throughout the day. Perfect if you want to cosy up to the fire with a hot drink and a good book! I find the setting is just right for a spot of Agatha Christie.

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 66

An ambition fulfilled.

It has been a long-held ambition of mine to photograph the Newcastle/Gateshead Quayside at night. The Tyne crossings are amazing feats of engineering and they all complement each other. Even The Sage, a live music and performing arts venue that opened in 2004, was designed to be an accompaniment to the bridges. Undoubtedly, the quayside must be one of the most photographed locations in the city, and it is easy to see why as the architecture is stunning!

My photographs may not break new ground, but it was great fun to finally get to do a night shoot on the quayside, and to practise my night photography.

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The Sage – A landmark live music venue for Gateshead, Newcastle and the North East (opened 2004).

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Gateshead Millennium Bridge – “the blinking eye bridge” (opened 2001).

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The majestic Tyne Bridge rises high above the waters of the Tyne (opened 1928). Further upstream the Swing Bridge (1876), High Level Bridge (1849) and QEII Metro Bridge (1981) can be seen.

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The Tyne Bridge with the Millennium Bridge and The Sage Gateshead in the distance.

I hope to be back for round two, soon!

365 Day Photograph Challenge: Day 63

Bothal Castle at Dusk

Bothal Castle lies in what feels like a hidden valley. In truth it is only a mile or so downstream from Morpeth on the River Wansbeck, but it feels like it is in retreat from the world. The surviving castle, gatehouse and curtain wall are medieval. It was restored in the 19th century and is the private residence of the Cavendish-Bentinck family.

I hope to do a Hidden Northumberland segment on Bothal village as a whole when I have more photographs. The (former workers’) cottages are very quaint and the parish church can trace its origins to Anglo-Saxon times (with some surviving material of this age). The village’s war memorial is located outside the church and is flanked by a weeping ash (representing the tears of the bereaved) and a gorgeous Japanese maple that turns flame red in the autumn (symbolising the blood of the dead).

In the mean time, here is the castle at dusk on 4th March 2017.

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Bothal Castle, Northumberland, 4th March 2017

Almost a year ago, I took a very similar photograph of this scene. However, I was shooting hand-held in poor light and the resulting photograph was not as satisfactory as I would have liked. Like the earlier post on St Mary’s Church, Morpeth, I went back and had a look at my earlier work to see how my skills have improved. I’m quite pleased with my progress as the colour and detail are better one year on.

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Bothal Castle, Northumberland, 29th April 2016

Comparison of Camera Settings:

2016

  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 55 mm
  • ISO 800

2017

  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/5.6 73 mm
  • ISO 200

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