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

Hidden Northumberland: Howick Hall & Gardens

Home to a 19th century social reformer.

Built in 1782, Howick Hall is the (former) seat of the Earls Grey. The most notable resident was Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of the UK 1830-34. Perhaps better known for lending his name to Earl Grey Tea! A Whig Politician (Liberal), his government oversaw the Great Reform Act of 1832 which reformed the House of Commons and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 which largely ended slavery throughout the British Empire by 1838. To date, he is the only UK Prime Minister to have hailed from Northumberland.

The west wing of the house is still inhabited by descendants of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, but are of a different branch of the family that does not inherit the title, ‘Earl Grey’. The extensive gardens and arboretum are open to the public. Spring is a good time to visit the gardens as a number of spring plants are in flower, such as daffodils, rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.

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A fire in 1926 devastated the interior of the main hall and it largely had to be rebuilt. The restoration was completed by 1928 and is recorded in the artwork above the main entrance.

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Inscription on the side of the tomb of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, in Howick Parish Church

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Magnolia (left) and Camellia in full bloom

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The gardens are home to many different varieties of Rhododendrons that flower in spring. The photograph at the bottom is of Rhododendron Sinogrande which was flowering for only the second time since it was planted in 1990. (That’s a long time to be taking stock!)

365 Day Photograph Challenge: March Part II

Summary 17th – 31st March

  • 17 – The Key Building, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 18 – The Wedding of Chris and Tessa, Burbage, Leicestershire
  • 19 – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park, Warwickshire
  • 20 – Robin of Pegswood, near Morpeth
  • 21 – Wylam Brewery, Exhibition Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 22 – Leazes Park Gates on a Stormy Evening, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 23 – Cheerful Daffodils in Leazes Park after the Storm
  • 24 – St George’s URC Rose Window, Morpeth
  • 25 – Guisborough Priory, North Yorkshire
  • 26 – Azalea Sylvester
  • 27 – Elswick Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 28 – Daffodil Close-up
  • 29 – Academic Waste, Art Installation by Helena Lacey, Newcastle University
  • 30 – Great North Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • 31 – Cumulus Congestus Clouds near Stannington, Northumberland

19th March – Nuthatch, Coombe Country Park

19 March

Taken the morning after the wedding and after my friend’s and I had seen the newly weds off for their honeymoon. We took a stroll in Coombe Country Park which is down the road from the wedding venue. I was really pleased to get this snap of a nuthatch while we were there.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/200 sec exposure
  • f/6.7 200 mm
  • ISO 200

20th March – Robin of Pegswood

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Officially called, ‘Fire,’ it is known locally as Robin of Pegswood due to the pose of the bronze miner. It was designed by local artist, Tom Maley, stands 36 ft high and was unveiled on 10th September 2009. I captured this shot just after sunset.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 10 sec exposure
  • f/19 88 mm
  • ISO 200

21st March – Wylam Brewery

21 March

Originally built as an exhibition venue in 1929, Wylam Brewery is a good example of Art Deco architecture. As such, it is Grade II Listed by Historic England. I particularly liked the light at this time of the day as the shadows helped to define the lines of the building.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/125 sec exposure
  • f/16 43 mm
  • ISO 200

24th March – St George’s URC Rose Window

24 March

A bit of a hidden gem this one. The rose window of this church is no longer visible from the inside of the church as a mezzanine floor was constructed in 1962 to host the church hall. I was wandering around Morpeth on the evening of 24th March looking for interesting photographs. The church hall was in use and the lights from inside the hall lit up the window to viewers such as myself on the pavement below. I happily took this cheeky close up.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 4 sec exposure
  • f/4.5 105 mm
  • ISO 200

27th March – Elswick Riverside

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An interesting cityscape on the north bank of the River Tyne. There are three phases of construction that comprise 140 years. The tower of St Stephen’s church dates from 1878, the high rise flats of Cruddas Park date from 1963 and the riverside apartments have been built within the last 10 years. It had been an overcast day, but I quite liked the glow from the setting sun as it peeped through the clouds and the reflections in the mud flats.

  • Samsung GX-1S
  • 1/60 sec exposure
  • f/9.5 58 mm
  • ISO 200

30th March – Great North Museum

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A little detour through one of my favourite childhood museums one lunchtime. It has been recently refurbished (in the last 10 years) and rebranded as the Great North Museum and is much better than when I was a kid.

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • 1/15 sec exposure
  • f/2.2 48 mm
  • ISO 500

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