Hello to my Blog.
Welcome to this section on my website. It's my aim to add a bit of background behind some of my photographs, that goes a bit beyond the title and location of an image. It's also where I can debut new photographs I've taken and show and discuss things that perhaps are not on the main site.
Again, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank anyone who has taken their time to view my site.
Happy New Year !
Hello and welcome to my first update of 2018.
This month the times I've been able to actually get out to take photographs combining with good weather, seem to have been at odds with each other but I still feel I've been able to get some nice images.
I always remember winter as a child bringing regular and frequent snow falls.Whether this was actually fact or not, we certainly don't get anywhere near as much snow, as often on the North East Coast these days.
Some heavy snow this month bucked that trend but infuriatingly I missed the opportunity to shoot the best of it, apart from a cold sunset at Penshaw Monument, with the ploughed field under the snow giving geometric lines leading to the old monument. At least I was able to grab a few shots from the public footpath over the field. A few horses in winter coats seemed to view me as a strange visitor standing still in the darkening, freezing evening ! The few pics I did get I was very happy with though.
As well as that I've been taking quite a few long exposures, deliberately lengthening shutter speeds to blur clouds, water or both can give a bit of a dynamic effect to change an image to convey that sense of movement and give an effect that we cannot see with the naked eye. This is best seen in my Northern Spire & Queen Alexandra Bridges sunset shots, as well as the seascape images from Whitburn, Roker and Seaham coastlines.
Finally something a little bit different, a portrait of a pair of swans from Herrington Country Park (in the shadow of Penshaw Monument) as the sun sets on a cold winter`s day.
Thanks for reading and viewing my photographs.
December 2017 - Fire And Ice
This month I'll keep things brief, suffice to say I've been incredibly fortunate to be out and about and shoot some wonderful views.
From fiery sunrises and sunsets to ice covered lakes I've taken advantage of this beautiful time of year; culminating in capturing a sunrise and sunset on the same day for the first time ever, when really I should have devoted my time to christmas shopping ! (sometimes the lure of a saturated sky is just too much to resist)
So on that note, to everyone who has taken time out to view my images, I hope each of you have had a fantastic Christmas and enjoy a wonderful 2018.
November 2017 - From Dusk To Dawn
Like most outdoor photographers the last hour either side of sunrise and sunset is highly desirable for shooting for the quality of light and at this time of year I have more opportunity to maximise this time around a busyl life, than I would in the height of summer. I also find night pictures have an air of magic about them, as they can give a new lease of life to a scene that may be relatively dull if shot during the day. Where possible I like to take these shots when there is still a little bit of colour left in the sky before it goes pitch black, what is often referred to as The Blue Hour.
So for this update I've been able to take some twilight photographs of the new Wear Crossing at Sunderland as it nears completion (and its official choice of name) in near gale force, ice cold winds as well as some night-time cityscapes and the illuminated Monument at Penshaw.
On the opposite side of the coin there`s also a few pictures of sunrises from Roker Beach and Harbour, with the early sun light bathing the vista in golden tones.
Who says shorter days are all bad !
Thanks as ever,
The days beginning to get shorter is not always welcomed by everyone but one advantage to an outdoor photographer is that sunrises,sunsets and night photography are achievable at a bit more of a `sociable` hour of the day, than the height of British Summer.Well, I still haven't got round to the sunrise shots yet this autumn but I have managed to get a few night and sunset pictures.
I've also been able to get some more autumn-y shots from Durham and stormy long exposure seascapes.
As ever - thanks for looking at my images
October 2017 - Autumn Mixture
Well over the last month I've been fortunate to get out and about quite often and photographed a variety of subjects, from mini waterfalls to seascapes, beautiful reflections on still waters and even a wild bird or two. I've experienced warm, late evening sunlit evenings to overcast skies and the tail end of a hurricane.
Instead of rambling on I'll post the pictures instead !
September 2017 - After The Harvest
Over the end of August and start of September I'd managed to get out and about a bit and get a few photos from a number of different places back on home turf.
Summer 2017 had not been vintage in the North East Of England but we`d had some warm dry weather at times, before the end of the school holidays seemed to coincide with Autumn`s arrival bang on cue.
Local farmers seemed to be very aware of the impending change and the harvest happened in a short time frame.
However I was able to get some pictures of the results of their labour; piles of straw in bales and geometric shapes, lit by low evening sun.
As a contrast I also have some long exposure shots from the National Trust`s Coastal Path near South Shields, South Tyneside. Using a neutral density filter has extended the standard exposure times from a fraction of a second into over a minute, turning the sea into a milky blur.
As a comparison, I also have the original `non-filtered' shot giving a more realistic look to the sea, TBH I like both versions.
There`s also a photo of an autumn visitor to the UK and a picture from the National Trust`s Cragside in Northumberland.
August 2017 - West Scotland
My first update for my blog this month comes with a change of scenery.
I am a fairly frequent visitor to Scotland but haven't been near the west coast properly since my honeymoon on Arran over 25 years ago.
Argyll is not somewhere I can ever recall being to before but is another stunning part of the British Isles and we were fortunate to have rented a cottage with stunning views over Holy Loch to the town of Dunoon.
The are was peaceful and beautiful and within a few miles of our base we had Benmore Botanical Gardens and a local hilly woodland known as Puck`s Glen.
The gardens were beautiful and quite quiet when we visited but Puck`s Glen is a pure delight and an outdoor photographer`s dream. Set alongside the Eas Mhor river the path follows the small stream up the hill for over a mile within a narrow, steep gorge. Although relatively small, the water twists and turns through woods, rock and moss over waterfall after waterfall. The white water contrasting with the verdant greens and peat tinged pools. We`d been recommended by a friend to make this a must-see and it didn`t disappoint, a place of amazing ethereal beauty and presence that I want to revisit many times.
As a contrast Holy Loch was a big view, with long exposure times smoothing the water surface and adding to the tranquility.
From here we moved inland towards Loch Lomond, somewhere else I'd never been to before and although a quick trip, we managed a tour around the Southern half of the Loch by boat , and visited a Bird Of Prey Centre before heading home feeling refreshed and wanting more !
Here is a selection of some of my shots form the trip.
July 2017 - Durham City
The last time I visited Durham was Autumn 2016, definitely time for another trip.
The cathedral has been under renovation for some time and the 'bandage` from one of the twin towers at the western end of the structure had at last gone, only to move across to the eastern tower.
Whilst not the most photogenic addition I'm sure it'll be worth it in the end and being nearly 900 years means a little TLC can't really be begrudged for a few pictures !
Living so near to Durham, I'd always admired the City for its views but I dont think until my love of photography kicked in, that I realised just how special a place it is.
Here are a selection of images taken from the walk around the base of the Cathedral on the banks of the River Wear.
As ever, thanks for looking at my site and if you would like a print of my work, or a framed picture please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2017 - Boats & Poppies
As June faded and turned into July our English Summer was in full swing.
Days varied from still, stifling heat to cold, rainy and windy greyness for stretches at a time, with a bit of everything in between. The weather in the North East of England cannot claim to be the Med .but boring it isn't !
Before the rain storms came I was able to capture one of my favourite summer shots; carpets of poppies both in open fields and mixed with other summer flowers in front of the old windmill in Whitburn, South Tyneside. As bluebells seem an iconic view in Spring, so red poppies bouncing in a summer breeze seem to define summer to me.
A few trips along the Sunderland coastline gave me the chance to play with some long exposure shots and finally Sunderland and the River Wear had a final visit from its own warship; HMS Ocean on her final visit home before decomissioning.
Thanks for looking.
June 2017 - This Is England
I've mentioned before how varied the landscape is within a short driving distance of my home and these images taken over the first 2 weeks in June help to illustrate that.
I have a few shots of fields full of ripening Barley near Herrington, Sunderland epitomize early summer and in one shot the wind was so strong it allowed a long exposure to whip the stems into an impressionistic blur. Also there from near here (albeit last summer !) is a poppy image, the field seems to have been (sadly for me) replanted this year.
Also using a long exposure I have a few images from the rocks at Seaburn. Again trying to get a shutter speed that conveys the sense of movement of the tide in a still photograph.
Finally I have a series of pictures of Seaburn Lighthouse, above the sea and promenade below. The lighthouse actually was situated slightly south on Roker Pier but was moved to its new position in 1983 after standing unused for 80 years.
Thanks for looking at my site.
May 2017 - Contrasts
A few shots from the end of this month from very different locations.
Myself and my family jetted across to Ibiza for a mini holiday and naturally the camera came too. Whilst for many people the White Isle conjures up images of 24 hour party excesses, we very much needed a bit of peace and tranquility. About 4 years ago we stayed in Portinatx on the northern end of the island; relatively quiet with sandy beaches within rocky coves backed by pine clad hillsides. This time we weren`t too far away in San Miguel; another small beach with our hotel high above the beach and an immaculate turquoise sea. If your perception of the island is purely high adrenaline music and no sleep then fine but there is so much beauty packed onto this small rock in the Mediterranean Sea.
The second set of photographs are from Cleadon Hill Nature Reserve. Since my last visit at the end of the winter, the grass is full of spring wild flowers, Skylarks and there are ripening crops in the fields beneath the hills. One day it`s a balmy summer`s day, the next misty and cold - late spring in the North of England, who needs constant sunshine !
May 2017- Spring Bluebells
I'd seen a few photographs taken recently of an iconic sight in British Springtime, namely Bluebells flowering in lush deciduous woodland. I couldn`t think of anywhere close to me that had the amazingly colourful little flowers each year but asking a few questions of fellow photographers on Facebook gave me a few ideas.
In between Penshaw Monument and the River Wear is a small wood at Cox Green and the Bluebells were out in force, covering the floor of the wood in a vivid purple carpet. In fact the woods, although small are a great find and proof of what can be within a few miles of home undiscovered.
I like the place so much these shots are from 3 visits there in just over a week - I hope they do the spot justice.
As ever, Thanks for looking.
Well it`s too long since my last blog entry, so I thought an update would be in order.
Over the last month or so, I've visited the beach and harbour at Seaham for the first time and also visited one of my favourite places in the UK; Ballater in the Scottish highlands. In between I've also taken some more photographs of the ongoing development of the as yet, unnamed bridge across the River Wear; a few miles west of Sunderland City Centre. Other than all being outdoors, there`s a few different types of images.
I hope you enjoy them.
I had a week`s holiday in Ballater in Aberdeenshire (formerly Royal Deesside), Scotland in the highlands. Ballater itself is a picturesque village on the banks of the River Dee and is around 8 miles from The Queen`s `holiday home` Balmoral. The river is significant as last January it nurst its banks and flooded the village causing widespread damage. When I visited the river was its normal level and sedate and tranquil as usual. With the locals restoring the village the only clues to the carnage were around the river itself; fallen trees, deep gouges in the river banks and the river had also changed course slightly from how I remembered it.
Apart from in and around Ballater itself I was also able to get some shots from The National Trust for Scotland`s historic Crathes Castle and its ornamental gardens and as a contrast the waterfall at the Burn O'Vat; only accessible by walking in a stream through a 3 feet wide cut in the granite rock - a magical spot.
Seaham & The Wear Crossing
Living in Sunderland for nearly 30 years, I feel slightly ashamed at not discovering the coastline at Seaham (around 6 miles south of Sunderland) any sooner. The town has a small harbour and the pier and lighthouse are quite small too but very striking in my opinion.
The beach sits under the cliffs and is quite narrow but long with the remains of groynes jutting out into the tide; no longer protecting the beach front as they once did but giving lots of photo opportunities to a local photographer !
On the other side of Sunderland, the Wear Crossing now stretches fully across the River Wear between Pallion and North Hylton. Now that the structure is `whole`, work concentratesw around the road deck and access to the bridge.
12th March 2017
Here is a selection of some photos I've taken over the last few weeks.
The first image is a black and white conversion of a 30 second image of Sunderland`s Monkwearmouth rail bridge. The long exposure has streaked the clouds and water on a very windy day.
The second and third shots are again of a bridge across the River Wear, but this time from the historic to contemporary. The huge central frame of the structure now in place, dominating the skyline. The first shot from the south-west of the bridge catching a near perfect reflection on a tranquil evening, the other another long exposure from the opposite bank.
The 4th photograph is from the more usual east side of the Monkwearmouth bridges again, this time the bridges and skyine reflected in a puddle after heavy rain.
The final shots are from South Tyneside, a rock pool at low tide under a heavy sky, sandwiched by 2 images from Littlehaven beach, South Shields of Herd Groyne Lighthouse :- in the last photo I was lucky enough to capture the DFDS Princess Seaways leaving North Shields for the daily trip across the North Sea to Amsterdam.
Thanks for looking.,
22nd February 2017
The wet and windy side of winter has returned over the last few weeks, meaning getting out and about with my camera has been very limited.
I did manage to take a few shots in between the showers; a few evening pictures as the light faded on the banks of the Wear near the University. A still evening showing off city reflections in the water in long exposures.
The other shot is from upstream and is the ongoing development of the new Wear Crossing at sunset. Since the shot was taken a new 300 feet central pillar has been added changing the skyline forever. To me this shot is a real moment in time, as the view has now gone and can`t be repeated. Many years from now maybe this shot and others like it will be quite unique.
I'm really looking forward to getting some pictures of the bridge now the frame is in place as it looks very impressive and will be a landmark when complete, maybe a few more dry days ahead will help !
28th January 2017
A few photographs to mention today taken over the last week or so.
A lovely twilight down on the riverside at Bonner`s Field (near the St.Peters University Campus) in Sunderland saw me capturing a few more images of the illuminated cityscape as night fell. In the first shot I included this old wooden jetty standing in the river; a decaying relic of another time on the Wear, contrasted with the landmark road bridge and contemoprary Echo 24 apartment building. The second shot is of the same bridge reflected in a puddle after heavy rain earlier in the day, turning the half-moon bridge into a circle.
Finally I drove past the white house next to Whitburn pond as the light was falling and being so calm the house was perfectly mirrored in the tranquil water. A shot I've wanted to take but have never had quite the right conditions.
Luckily I could jump out and get the photo this time.
As ever, thanks for looking.
19th January 2017 - Sunrises
Well in between storms, work and winter colds I managed to get out with the camera and take some photographs.
I decided to head down to Roker where I could hopefully capture the sunrise from behind the historic old pier and lighthouse. The morning coincided with low tide so I could also get the wonderful beaches of Roker and Seaburn into my shots.
As, it turns out the sunrise wasn't the most spectacular but still very scenic and a lovely way to start the day.
Here are my favourite three images from the morning.
11th January 2017 - Sunsets
January is perhaps not the month of the year that most people look forward to with great excitement but the short days do offer some benefits to a photographer in the UK.
I'm not the best at getting up early at the best of times ! But at this time of the year the sun rises quite late and sets early, meaning sunrises and sunsets are able to be photographed at `respectable` hours, weather permitting.
I was able to get some good opportunities over the last week, living on the east coast means as a general rule sunrises give more options for a landscape shot but sunsets need a bit more looking around for the right place.
I've wanted to visit and photograph the Seven Sisters at Copt Hill for a while, this is a stone-age burial mound on top of a hill near Houghton-le-Spring; the Seven Sisters referring to the trees on the crest of which only six remain now. I got to the hill about 20 minutes too late and was using a torch to find my way around but there was enough blue left in the sky to shoot a near silhouette. Great views from the top of the villages in the valleys below, I look forwarding to returning soon - in daylight.
i was able to get some photographs of the historic Penshaw Monument in front of a burning sky before taking the shot of the bridge at Fatfield, Washington across the River Wear on the same night; the sky going from orange to pink on a stunning evening.
The last shot in this group is from the banks of the Wear at Pallion, Sunderland outside the old ropery. The moored boats and Queen Alexandra Bridge reflected in the tranquil river at twilight.
Thanks again for taking your time to look at my website and I hope to show some sunrise pictures soon.
Christmas 2016 brought a mixture of weather. Storm Barbara was quickly followed by Conor. This brought extremely windy but unseasonably mild conditions, so being out and about wouldn't be cold but challenging to keep the camera still.
St.Peters church in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland dates back to circa AD 674 and I've wanted to photograph it at night for a while but on Christmas Eve was able to get a few shots with the church lit up and the blue-hour of twilight above.
Christmas day was even milder and the wind stronger. As the sun dropped towards the horizon I managed to take a few shots looking across the fields towards Whitburn, with the grass and trees glowing in the sun and shadows across the crops - before heading to Whitburn Beach. For this shot I used a neutral density filter on the lens, this doesn't affect the image as such but greatly extends the exposure time. So in this image, an exposure of 1/30th of a second became around 5 minutes ! This blurs the sea in the far distance but also gives the clouds the surreal effect in the shot.
Once again, than you to everyone who has viewed my site and best wishes for a great 2017.