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.
For this month's update I have quite a lot of images to share.
I've been fortunate to be able to get out both in my local vicinity, and further afield on the West Coast of Scotland.
A family holiday to the Dunoon area of Argyll meant a revisit to the amazing Puck`s Glen.
This narrow ribbon of a stream (The Eos Mhor) tumbles down the rocks in a steep gulley on its way into Holy Loch below. Through its journey over a few kilometres, it passes over numerous waterfalls, surrounded by vivid moss and ferns. Although none of the falls are higher than 20 feet or so, what they lack in height they make up for in quantity and beauty.
I'll apologise in advance if some of the shots are similar to photos from last year, but i couldn't resist the lure of photographing them again, especially with a new camera from this time last year !
We then followed a recommendation for a day on the beautiful island of Bute, and i was able to take some images from Ettrick and Scalpsie Bay`s looking towards Arran.
Finally, we moved inland and around Loch Lomond, somewhere I feel that I have only just started to scratch the surface.
Apart from my Scotland visit, I've also been out and about around Sunderland.
After over 2 years of building work, Sunderland`s Northern Spire Bridge finally opened to traffic. The first structure across the River Wear in the City for over 40 years was always going to be a big event, and I joined hundreds of people able to access the bridge by foot, on the day before it opened to traffic. This gave some photo opportunities that would possibly be difficult to recreate in the future, and it was a surreal experience standing on the structure that I have photographed for so long from the river bank.
I also later took some images of the bridge reflected in the surrounding river and inlets, trying to find new angles to explore.
As usual, I returned to my favourite spots on the coast for some seascapes.
I think no matter how often you visit the same places by the sea, there are always subtle changes to record be it, lighting, tide or sky. Hopefully my work captures this in some way.
Finally, whilst it isn`t my strongest discipline, I love animals and wildlife of all types and have some photos to share of water birds, both sea and inland.
Thanks again for viewing.
For this month`s update I've not had the opportunity to venture too far from home.
The generally exceptional summer has meant opportunities for landscapes, seascapes and a bit of everything else in between, so I've revisited some of my favourite local spots.
I think it's a;ways intriguing to take a photo of somewhere familiar at different times of the year, and get such varying depth to your images
Next month I'm hopefully going to Scotland so should have some different photographs from my normal views, either way thanks as always for looking
This month has generally been a bit of a write off from a photography point of view, with limited opportunities to get out with the camera due to illness, so I decided to use the time to revisit some of my photos from last year.
The majority of my images tend to sit on a hard drive, so it seemed a good opportunity to either process shots that either had never seen the light of day, or perhaps redo some shots that I felt needed some tweaks here or there.
I shoot all my pictures in what is known as RAW format, which means the camera doesn't apply any saturation, contrast or sharpening (as is done in all JPEG images from phones and cameras) and I therefore have complete control to do this manually.
Looking back at my images from when I started using a digital SLR back in 2015, my style has certainly changed (hopefully for the better !) and has been an evolving process.Viewing shots even from just 6 months ago again, I can see areas for improvement and how a re-process can get a subtly different finished result.
So below is a selection of these images along with a few shots from the North-East Coastline and some more from Herrington Country Park earlier in the month, when cygnets and goslings started to appear.
Thanks for reading,
May 2018 - Spring
As we move towards the end of May, the UK has once more waken up from its long winter slumber and the countryside is covered in colourful spring flowers, new green shoots and the sounds of birds and animals again.
Cox Green Woods, somewhere I only discovered last year was somewhere I needed to re-visit as it has spots carpeted with Bluebells at this time of the year and whilst my first visit wasn't quite timed right, the following week I managed to get some lovely images (in my opinion) of these little drops of colour in the woodland (ironically on visiting the same place 10 days later they'd died back, showing how briefly they are around)
I've also managed to take a few bird photographs from local lakes as well as a few of my usual favoured seascapes.
A bank holiday excursion to Finchale Abbey near Durham on a hot Bank Holiday didn't prove great photographically, as it was heaving with tourists (like myself) but I plan to visit again at a quieter time.
Finally as promised, if somewhat belatedly, I have also included the rest of my pictures taken from the Scottish Highlands around Ballater.
I hope you enjoy viewing my pictures.
Thank you for spending time viewing my site
April 2018 - Scottish Highlands (Part 1)
In this update I've moved away from my usual stamping ground and have managed to combine a family holiday on Royal Deeside in Scotland, with some outdoor photography both to places I've previously shot and some new locations.
Before that though I was able to put my new camera through its paces earlier in the month, with some shots from in and around South Shields, playing with filters to get some long exposure shots.
Later in April we spent the week in Ballater, a scenic village on the banks of The River Dee about 8 miles from The Queen`s residence at Balmoral and I was able to get to 3 or 4 picturesque places in the area.
My first port of call was The Burn O'vat, a small waterfall withinl natural hollow behind a narrow opening in the rock. I managed a few different angles in the rain as well as thew surrounding woodland know as The Muir Of Dinnet.
The following day I got to the place I'd really wanted to photograph; The Linn O'Dee.
This is a narrow gorge about 7 miles north west of Braemar. Here the River Dee is squeezed through the rock, only a few feet across in places.
The power of the water here is mesmerising and hopefully my images do it justice.
I did manage another trip to The "Vat" in fairer weather before finally visiting Loch Muick, quite close to Ballater but feeling very unspoilt and remote. A large glacial valley on the Balmoral Estate with `Big Views` over the Glen Of Muick, past the Loch and towards the snowy peaks of Broad Cairn and Lochnagar.
A lovely break with some good walking and (hopefully) good images to accompany it.
I've decided to split this entry into 2 posts as I have a fair few images to share.
I'll share some more shots next month.
Thanks as ever, Robin
March 2018 - Sea Change
I do try and not become pre-occupied with weather reports in my Blog postings, but this month has seen a massive swing in the weather on our little island, from the "Beast from the east" right at the start of the month bringing snowfall I havent seen for years along with huge seas and destruction to beautiful mild spring days and back to winter with a vengance.
Lingering colds and flu along with extreme weather curtailed my photo opportunities early in March, so again I looked through some shots from 2017 sitting unloved on hard drives:-some of these can be viewed below.
A bigger change has come with my camera equipment, in my About Me section i've mentioned that since the days of 35mm film to getting into digital, I've used Pentax cameras. I felt the time was right to upgrade my DSLR for some features I really wanted but sticking with Pentax was too much of a jump financially.
So with a mixture of emotions I've replaced my camera with a Canon 200D. A lovely tiny DSLR that I'm enjoying getting to know. First impressions seem very good and whilst I would never have anything negative to say about Pentax, Canon comes with a great support service and user base.
Hopefully I can continue to take pictures that people like to look at.
Below are are mixture of shots from the last month.
February 2018 - Confinement
This month has seen myself and my family mostly stuck indoors due to a particularly nasty flu bug.
So there are only a few new images for me to share on here but what I have done is looked through some photos from 2017 that have never made it from the hard drive for whatever reason. Sometimes the shots are quite similar to others I've already published or I'd just skimmed past them looking at something else.
I know a lot of people don't like the idea of 'processing` a digital image from a camera but like it or not every image has been manipulated in some way automatically. I prefer to add my own style to a shot.
So, although I may have previously shown an similar image before from the same batch of photos , it's interesting to see how my method of processing an image has changed over time with the 2018 versions.
Anyway, here are a mixture of the few new shots I've been able to get and a selection of some extras from last year.
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.