Saturday 27 April 2019

Our Mammillaria comes into Flower

For years, now, we have had a mammillaria cactus growing in a pot in our conservatory.  Out of the blue the other day it began to flower.  The tiny gems of flowers are stunning.  I await with interest to see what happens now.  I wonder whether it will flower again in years to come or die as in the case of agaves.

Monday 22 April 2019

Spring in Bradley Woods

On Easter Monday we decided to take Jet for a walk round Bradley Woods as I was keen to see how the bluebells were doing.  I was sorry to have missed them in Rather Heath wood where we keep our caravan at Ashes Lane.  They were a picture here in 2016 as this blog post shows.  However the best display of bluebells I have ever seen was in North Yorkshire last year in Newton Wood at Great Ayton with Roseberry Topping in the background during our Cleveland Way campaign.  The images are in this blog post.

Having said that those in Bradley Woods were putting on a grand show and when in amongst them the hyacinth scent (of which they are a member) was truly evocative.  The woods were looking really spring-like with wood anemones continuing to put on a good show, lesser stichwort, lesser celendines and pleasing numbers of early purple orchids looking their best.

Sunday 21 April 2019

Early Mornings at Cleethorpes.

Over Easter Weekend I took on the challenge of recreating this image which I took on 28th April 2014.  I needed it for someone who wanted to purchase it to hang as a very large (A0?) size on a correspondingly large wall.  I order to be able to deliver this I needed the original raw file which I had lost when a hard drive crashed.  Naively I offered to recreate the shot.  I knew the tide, tide time, dates when it was possible, lens and focal length, ISO and shutter speed.  It must be easy, surely.

I wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to exactly recreate an image, though. There are so many factors that just have to come together: tide time and height, weather, time of sunrise and that always imponderable, people getting in the way with cars and boat trailers.
On Good Friday at 5.15 am, after fighting my way through the crowds emerging from pubs and clubs who though that I was a taxi, a lot came together.  But, by the time it was light enough to photograph the tide was too high and jetty rapidly submerging.  The light was not too bad, but it was too choppy.
On Saturday it was thick fog and the tide was wrong as well. I know the focal length is different but I finished by playing around.
On Sunday, when I arrived some people were busy launching a boat with a car and trailer but the real problem was that the tide was way out as can be seen from the colour images I took from Brighton Slip area. Realising that everything was wrong I decided to try some colour shots anyway.

While I was taking these shots the tide was coming rapidly but the sun was rising too.

When I had packed up I thought I would go  back to the pier and have a look at the
 jetty. The tide was coming right but the sky was clear and, sadly, the sun had already risen, as can bee seen.
All in all a bit of a tale of woe, but I  really enjoyed myself doing it. The next time the tides are suitable is the beginning of May, by which time the sunrise will be way too early. Of course, it might be a cloudy day which would work so I could try again, but only if it’s cloudy.

Monday 15 April 2019

Lake District, April 2019, Day 6

A trip over to Coniston was the order of the day today so we up a bit earlier, breakfasted and away.  We were heading for Brantwood, the home of John Ruskin, partly because we had never been, but also because there was a small exhibition of JMW Turner's work: Incandescence:Turner in Venice.  This exhibition is the first ever at Brantwood featuring Turner's work.  The main piece is his Piazzetta with the Ceremony of the Doge Marrying the Sea.  There are also several of Turners watercolours made during his visit to Venice in 1840, the year in which the young Ruskin met Turner.  The water colours show the passage of light across the hours of a single day.  I found this fascinating for many reasons, one being that I had just watch a DVD of photographer, David Noton's Chasing the light in which he discusses the varying colour temperature of the light during the passage of a day.  I loved the beautiful abstraction in these works, especially as, in my landscape photography, I often experiment with being more abstract and less figurative.

Ruskin admired Turner and leapt to his defence in 1836 when Turner's work was criticised in Blackwood's Magazine.  This not only defended Turner, but established Ruskin's own reputation.

I love Ruskin's commitment to our natural World and his quiet detailed observations; the small scale as well as the wider views of nature such as the large drawing/painting of horse chestnut leaves on display in the house.  Whenever we are out walking, whether it be on the hills, in woods or on the coast beachcombing we collect objets trouvee and our house and Heather's studio are full of our finds.  I was delighted to find that Ruskin was of a like mind and enjoyed browsing his collections.  His study overlooking Coniston Water I found especially enticing.

Brant is Norse for steep and Brantwood's steep woods rise up behind the house to the fell side beyond.  These woods comprise half the 250 acre estate and are a paradise for walkers.  Our visit was only a short one but we shall certainly return to these inspirational grounds.  At the heart of the estate are eight beautiful gardens, all established by Ruskin and they are a delight.

While we watch a video introduction to the house and Ruskin himself this quote was used: "Give me a broken rock, a little moss and I would ask no more, for I would dream of greater things associatyed with these.  I would see a mighty river in my stream, and in my rock a mountain clothed in trees."  I found this moving and inspirational.  Like the "Shape of Light" exhibition at Tate Modern (Blog here) it 'gave me permission' to treat my close-up abstract photography of the microlandscape seriously; to make the invisible visible.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Lake District, April 2019, Day 5

We are getting really good at lazy starts and today was another.  Thomas finally galvanized us into action and we drove to Windermere to walk up Orrest Head, Wainwright's first mountain (hill) in The Lakes and set him off on his mountain journey.  Not the most exciting walk in the world, but it does give excellent views over Windermere to the Langdale and Coniston Fells.  Similar to yesterday's from Reston Scar, but nearer and with the lake in the scene.

Soon it was time for the real purpose of the trip: a wander back down into Windermere and hot chocolate and cake at 'Homeground'!!

Saturday 13 April 2019

Lake District, April 2019, Day 4

We were able to enjoy a lazy start today as we had guests arriving:  Thomas was coming for the weekend and close friends, Linda and Steve were joining us for the day.  We had no really set plans and so, when all had arrived, we lingered over coffee and cake.  Eventually we drove the short distance to Stavely for an excellent lunch in Wilf's.  It was then time to gird our loins for a walk.  I had picked up a walks leaflet for Stavely last year and the one up nearby Reston Scar looked to have potential.

Following the back lanes in the village we soon found ourselves climbing quite steeply up, first through farmland and then up onto the open fell.  Although a relatively short walk it completed a round of the fell and gave excellent views across to the Conisiton and Langdale fells with The Scafells just peeping through with snow on the summit.  We also enjoyed the vista up to the head of Kentmere and the Kentmere Horseshoe, a walk to look forward to when I am running on all four cylinders again.

There were plenty of signs of spring around, especially lower down and, as we descended to the road, I was able to photography flowers of a larch tree which would form this year's new cones.

Friday 12 April 2019

Lake District, April 2019, Day 3.

Ready for a 'quiet day' Heather and I had a lazy start relaxing over breakfast and books in the morning, before feeling the urge for a walk over to Stavely and Wilf's Cafe.  I decided to take the telephoto lens as I was determined to get some images of the herdwick sheep or herdy's as they are affectionately known by the locals.  It is always a pleasant walk over to Stavely and today was no exception.  After refuelling in Wilf's we wandered back the long way.  Blackthorn blossom was looking good and I was fascinated by the mossy growth on the top of the stone walls which are landscapes in miniature.