Happy Birthday

My youngest is two years old today, which gave me an excuse to trawl through my archive. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of him over the last two years, but I’ve not quite captured his unique character. He was born about the time I was fed up with photography. My creativity had stagnated and the baby shots were the last roll of film before selling all my film gear. This has been the first time I looked at the negatives since I had them developed. Hard to believe that it was two years ago. how time flies.

baby pic
Straight scan of Fomapan 400

Happy birthday Budski!

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The Swan

Wharfe Meadows Park in Otley runs along the edge of the River Wharfe. Apart from the usual local council style gardening that seems to be unique to the UK, there is a children’s play area, skate park and of course, the river bank. Ducks, gulls and pigeons swim and fly up and down alongside the bank in the hope of bread.

Despite the cold, it was quite sunny today, so the park was busy and the birds weren’t going for the bread; they must have had their fill by the time we got there. Then came a pair of swans who went for it. I took a couple of shots, of which this one really stood out. I adjusted the exposure in View NX to -0.3 and the water turned black, isolating the swan. Just what I wanted.

mute swan

So graceful, they ate and then swam on.

Ilkley Moor Sunrise

I said I’d go back, and I was true to my word.

This week, as I’ve been driving to work, I’ve witnessed some beautiful colourful sunrises. I thought it would be worth trying my luck by returning to Ilkley Moor to capture the sunrise over the rocks.

I take my hat off to landscape photographers. They really are dedicated to their art. Up at stupid o’clock, wait in the darkness not knowing if you’ll bag the shot (and most of the time they don’t!) Out in all weathers and in the remotest places on Earth. Though almost in my back yard, so to speak, I had a taste of that this morning.

By the time I got to the Cow and Calf Rocks, there was just enough light to see where I was walking. The only problem was I had to get around to the other side of the rocks to get the shot I had in my mind. As I walked around them I realised I wasn’t going to get it. The ground fell away and I couldn’t tell if it was a gentle slope down there or a shear drop. Besides which, it was windy; and I mean windy! (20mph winds with gusts of up to 60mph). I’d only just crested the peak when it hit and I didn’t think it was worth taking a tumble in the dim light, so I weighed up where I was and set up.

Rule number 6: The best tripod is the one you have with you
It’s at times like this that I’m glad I bought the tripod I did. I’ve always held by the truth that you should never scrimp on a tripod – go for the most you can afford. Yet you have to get a tripod with a bit of heft, but not too much heft that you feel like your back is going to break as you carry it. I’ve had numerous tripods in my time, but I’m becoming more and more impressed with the Sirui traveler tripod I currently have. Only once did a gust carry it off the ground slightly, the rest of the time it stayed well and truly put.

As I started shooting I began to realise that the camera was struggling with the light. Even with an exposure of 30 seconds the ground was a bit dim, plus the sky was brightening and I was loosing the impact. Out came the ND grads and the flash and I finally got what I came for, and despite the winds, I had so much fun fighting them.

Ilkley Moor sunrise

having packed up I started walking back to the car and suddenly saw a mitten someone had left on a bench for someone to find. The little lost item in pink and white reminded me of bagpuss. I’m not usually a fan of monochrome images with a single item of colour, but I thought it would work for this. I’ve also added the old photo filter in Gimp, in honour of the saggy old cloth cat from my childhood.

mitten on a bench

It started to rain just as I got back to the car. I may not have got the salmon pinks and golds I was looking for, but it was a great way to start the day and well worth it.

The Cow and Calf Rocks

Cow and Calf Rocks

Where hast tha bin since I saw thee, I saw thee?
On Ilkley Moor baht’at
Where hast tha bin since I saw thee, I saw thee?
Where hast tha bin since I saw thee?
On Ilkley Moor baht’at
On Ilkley Moor baht’at
On Ilkley Moor baht’at

It’s a song I’ve sung since I were a lad, yet I’ve never been to Ilkley Moor, with our without a hat. With our few precious hours without the kids, my wife suggested we head up there for the afternoon. Ilkley Moor is perhaps as close as a Yorkshireman will get to a place of pilgrimage, and having lived so close to it for the last few years, it feels almost sinful not to have been before now. But repented I have. And I wore a hat.

Cow and Calf Inn, Ilkley Moor

We drove up to the Cow and Calf Inn for a bite to eat – they do an apple pie to die for – and then it was a short trek up to the Cow and Calf Rocks. The Cow and Calf over-look the town of Ilkley and the scenery is stunning, even on a day like today when a cold wintry haze hung in the air. Snow still showed in places, but most of it had melted and frozen and a lot of the paths were more akin to ice rinks, but it was worth it.

Bench with Ice
It was cold. Very cold!

The place had a certain wild charm to it in the winter weather, but I can finally say I’ve been. And I shall be visiting again.

Faith and Photography

There is something about a religious building that I just feel a kinship with. Old churches, ruins etc just seem to have an air of peace about them. I guess that is why I like Fountains Abbey so much. The Cellarium is just so peaceful, I can almost breathe it in.

For most Mormons, the temple is the most significant building of our faith and it is a place I love to visit when passing, simply to soak up the atmosphere. The Preston Temple is actually located in Chorley, roughly 10 miles south of Preston in Lancashire. It’s a simple, bold and somewhat plain building when compared to some of the other temples the church has built, but the design suits the grim and beautiful countryside that is Lancashire.

Photographing the temple has always been problematic. To get the whole building into shot, you need an ultra wide angle lens, and with the landscaping of the grounds, there are only a few angles you can capture. certainly none that are unique. It may have been done before, and it may have been done better, but I hadn’t taken a good shot of it before, so it was my turn.

The Preston Temple

The light wasn’t great and although the sky was clear, there was a dull edge to it. (Ironically, as I was passing earlier that morning, there was fantastic, bright and crisp light, but I was on my way to a meeting and running late, so had to wait until my way home. Typical!) I bracketed my exposures and combined them in Picturenaut, thus creating my very first HDR pic. Probably should have added a couple more to extend the range, but it worked out. Certainly something I want to try again.

Courtyard Lights

Having shot the typical, I walked around and started looking for the detail that might offer something unique. The lights of the courtyard in front of the temple offer a nice composition, but as I walked around, suddenly the sun started to let loose and the side of the building reflected the surrounding trees. I love this shot and black & white suits it perfectly.

reflections

My favourite image of the day was one of the first ones I took, which is of the gate. I love the colours on this; the soft sand colours of the plants behind the metallic effects of the gate. The plants are just blurred enough that it’s almost like looking through a window.

Gate

I managed about 45 minutes before the freezing cold started to bite, but it was well worth it. I came away feeling refreshed from a little time where my faith and photography came together. I like it when that happens.

Let it Snow…

After all the threats, it finally snowed, which meant I had to get up before the kids to see what pictures I could take before they wrecked the garden. I was hoping for some animal tracks, and sure enough, one of the neighborhood cats didn’t disappoint.

cat tracks in the snow

Thankfully the cars weren’t snowed in. unlike this one…

child's car in the snow

Leeds Central Library

I hate the office I work in. It’s one of those typical open plan offices; you know, the ones that have bad air conditioning, are never at the right temperature, have carpets decorated in duck tape and that slowly suck all the life, energy and soul out of you. I tend to go wandering mid-morning to get some fresh air and re-vitalize my brain cells. every now and then, I take pencil and paper and go to the quiet room at Leeds Central Library to plan and write stuff without the phones distracting me.

The library is a fantastic building with some very interesting architecture inside, and being a council run building has a mixture of original fittings and typical council type touches.

leeds central library stairway

These tiled patterns are all over the building, but on the top floor, there is this little section surrounded by white paint. I’m sure there is a rational explanation, but it does look a bit odd.

leeds central library top floor

For black and white, the building is superb. There are so many different shapes, textures tones and details all over the building.

leeds central library

There are so many little details, one of the strangest has to be a pair of dogs, (Though one of them looks like a lion to me!!) Both look like they could use a good meal.

marble dogs

I didn’t spend too long taking pictures on this occasion, but it begs for another visit with a camera.