June 30, 2011

An Evening in the Lake District

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After driving south from Scotland, I arrived in the Lake District late in the afternoon; after checking in to the accommodations, I drove into Kelso, and spent the evening wandering about and talking photos...not a bad way to spend a warm summer evening.
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The the main town section, there was a large cobbled area, perhaps a market or town square. The pattern of the cobblestones was really lovely, and the light reflecting off them picked up all their surface textures beautifully.
Digital Original
After dinner, on the drive back to the accommodations, the low light raked across the hills, providing beautiful modeling on their surfaces.

A Journey across the Scottish Borders

Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
One of the best stops on this drive across the Scottish Borders was at the Chester's Roman fort - it was great fun walking around the remains of this ancient fort, and even more enjoyable to make images like the above!
Digital infrared original, 6 frame exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
The real focus of the day, however, was to return to Caeverlock Castle, in Dumfries. I'd actually visited the castle before, in 2008, but was not really pleased with my photographs. This time, with much better weather (more clouds), it was worth the time and effort to get a more dramatic composition of the outside of this triangular castle.
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The drive south towards the Lake District put me driving through some of the most lovely rolling hills in all of the United Kingdom.

June 29, 2011

A Journey to Hadiran's Wall

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The drive inland from the North Sea Coast saw the landscape become more and more rugged - the rolling farmland began to be punctuated with high moors and steep rises from the plain.
Digital original, 2 frame exposure blend
The drive west was timed to have a walk along the remains of Hadrian's Wall at Sunset (after a short break for dinner, and dropping stuff off in the hotel at Twice Brewed). Just as I reached Milecastle 39, the sky began to have some colour from the setting sun, which was great to work with.
Digital original, 2 frame exposure blend
The hope for the late night walk along the wall was to make some star-trail photographs at Sycamore Gap, where the wall curves down and a lovely tree can be set against the sky. As oft is with best-laid plans, this one went awry...as the night grew darker and darker, the sky became more and more overcast. In the end, the twenty minute exposures needed to see the landscape only yielded a blurred sky...not a star in sight. I have no doubt I will return some day, to try an image like this again.

Northumberland Castles

Digital original, 7 frame exposure blend
Warkworth Castle is a ruined medieval building in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. The town and castle occupy a loop of the River Coquet, less than a mile from England's north-east coast. I started this day in Warkworth Castle, thoroughly enjoying photographing the mostly intact castle (most English castles were slighted after the English Civil war, meaning their battlements and defensive potential was destroyed) - this view up the main stair case was a real pleasure to compose, bringing all the elements together into the final image.
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The outer view of the curtain wall, with the keep in the background. I found it interesting how large the arrow slits were in the walls; I'd never seen that before.
Digital infrared original, 6 image stitch
Dunstanburgh Castle is a 14th-century fortification on the coast of Northumberland in northern England, located between the villages of Craster and Embleton. The castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancasterbetween 1313 and 1322, taking advantage of the site's natural defences and the existing earthworks of a former Iron Age fort.
Digital infrared original
After such a long walk out to the castle, it was somewhat disappointing how little was left inside, beyond the main gate...and then the sky began to cloud up, and the drama (at least from an infrared perspective) began!

June 28, 2011

Lindisfarne Castle

Digital original
The setting for Lindisfarne Castle couldn't be more perfect, perched on an outcrop spur of rock (though I can only imagine the challenge of digging the well). As I walked out towards it, I was constantly checking the balance of the composition between the wall to the side of the track, and the castle rising in the distance...and eventually, it was perfect!
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
As we walked out towards the castle along the beach, the sky out to sea grew a deeper and deeper blue-gray; in colour, the sky was more leaden than dramatic, but the undertone of blue rendered really dark in infrared, helping me make the above image looking through some old wharf piles towards the castle in the distance.
Digital original
My last photographs, made before driving back to the mainland across the causeway at low tide, were of a sun-drenched field of poppies...though for this composition, I managed to find a background that was almost devoid of other flowers.

Lindisfarne Priory

Digital infrared original
Lindisfarne was the site of the first viking raid on Enland in 793 AD; the northmen attached the religious community on the island, and went on to capture most of North-eastern england. The priory who's ruins I photographed was re-established in Norman times in 1093 as a Benedictine house and continued until its suppression in 1536 under Henry VIII. The standing remains date from this later priory which is not on the original site, the parish church occupies that.
Digital original
Much like Whitby Abbey, 2.5 hours drive to the south, the stone at Lindisfarne was weathered into the most incredible patterns and textures - absolutely perfect to photograph.

Bamburgh Castle

Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
First thing in the morning, before heading out from the B&B for the day, I did a little walk about the little town we were in, and make the above image of a lovely church at the end of the parking lot.
Digital infrared original
The main focus for this day's photography was Bamburgh Castle, which was just a mammoth place - at times it was hard to know which way to point the camera, there was so much to photograph. This, coupled with a perfect sky for working in infrared, made the visit incredibly visual.
Digital infrared original
This image takes full advantage of my tilt-shift lens; when composing it, I was centred on the windmill tower, but before making the image, I shifted my lens all the way to the right, moving the tower off-centre, an creating a more pleasing image.
Digital infrared original
Once finished with the castle, I took a walk down onto the long sand beach below the castle, and made the above image - it made me think of a moustache!

June 27, 2011


Digital original, 3 frame stitch

Digital original, 7 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch

Digital original, 3 frame exposure blend

Barnard Castle

Digital infrared original
Barnard Castle is a ruined medieval castle situated in the town of the same name in County Durham. Around 1300 Edward I granted it to the Earl of Warwick. In the 15th century the castle passed by marriage to the Neville family. In 1477 during the Wars of the Roses, Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) took possession of the castle, which became one of his favourite residences.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
Within the castle's round tower was this great view of a back-lit stairway coming down into the room; it provided a great sense of depth in an otherwise flat wall.
Digital infrared original, 4 frame stitch
The view across a river towards the camera worked really well in infrared - the dark stone of the castle really separated well from the foliage and trees around it.

June 26, 2011

Richmond Castle

Digital original
Made from the top of the keep at Richmond Castle, I love the chaotic lines and colour of the roofs below. I made perhaps 15 compositions of the scene, but the above, with two carefully planned corners, is by far the most pleasing.
Digital original, 2 frame stitch
As a child, when I lived in York for a time, Richmond was my favorite castle to visit - something about the mix of the Victorian restoration of the gatehouse and keep, and the battered, ruined walls around the rest of the castle spoke to me on a visceral level. It was cathartic to return as an adult, and be able to make images of the space that portray some of the awe I hold for the castle.
Digital original
On the walk back to the car, I passed by this lovely little door...with no hinges. The irony of the scene is weaker than the delicate mix of colours...but I pity the person who next opens the door!

Clifford's Tower to Middleham Castle

Digital infrared original

Digital infrared original
Drive drive to the north across the vale of Yorkshire provided some really lovely views of the rolling hill of yorkshire. I don't often like landscapes made in infrared, but in this case, the emphasis placed on the stone walls by the infrared worked well.
Digital infrared original, 4 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
The second destination for the day was Middleham Castle, one of my favourite sites from when I lived in York as a child. Middleham Castle in Wensleydale, in the county of North Yorkshire, England, was built by Robert Fitzrandolph, 3rd Lord of Middleham and Spennithorne, commencing in 1190. It was built near the site of an earlier motte and bailey castle. In 1270 it came into the hands of the Neville family, the most notable member of which was Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick, known to history as the "Kingmaker", a leading figure in the Wars of the Roses.

The National Railway Museum, York

Digital original, 2 frame stitch
One of the most previous moments a photographer can have is one where they know the image they just made works; it is usually the case that one hopes things are working, and that the images that are being created are strong, but there is a distinct difference between hoping, and knowing. When I made this image in the National Railway Museum in York, my heart literally sped up as it came together in the camera.

June 25, 2011

An Evening Walk through York

Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
After a fabulous pub dinner, I headed out with cameras to walk around York, exploring the evening and twilight light. I started out walking along side the River Ouse, and made this image of some wonderfully lit trees reflecting in the river.
Digital infrared original, 2 frame stitch
All through the walk, I was simultaneously watching the city around me, and the sky above - as sunset drew nearer, the sky became more and more interesting. At one point, rounding the city walls by the Train Station, I managed to make a plume of cloud emerge from the medieval defences.
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The final images of the evening were made of the city walls, and York Minster. Bootham Bar (above) was the last gate I photographed before walking back to the B&B at nearly midnight.

June 24, 2011

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Park

Digital infrared original
Fountains Abbey is the ruin of the largest Cistercian Abbey in Europe; as you come down from the path, the large arched west window at the end of the ruined nave greets you, looking down on a manicured lawn (the black dots on the lawn are floodlights)
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Within the abbey church, the heavy, solid Norman arches run in two colonnades along the central nave; it is no challenge to imaging how majestic the building looked in its original condition.
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The 800 acre park has some wonderful water features, including a literal sea of water lilies.
Digital infrared original
On the walk back through Studley Royal, I made the above photo of a greek temple folly, almost lost in the sea of trees.

June 23, 2011

The Purple Man, York

Digital original
As soon as I saw the Purple Man busking in the winding streets of York, I wanted to make an image of him with a long exposure. After a short conversation and payment, I set up my tripod and used a 6-stop (64x/1,8) neutral density filter to make the image over 6 seconds.

York Minster

Digital original, 21 frame exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
While my Symmetry in Stone Exhibition focused on Gothic Architecture, I am by no means done the project; to date I may have photographed 14 or so of the dozens and dozens of religious gothic buildings in the UK. Without a doubt, the most obvious building missing was York Minster; having lived in York briefly as a child, I have a strong emotional connection to the building - and it is one of the most majestic gothic buildings in all of Europe.
Digital original, 18 frame exposure blend, 3 frame stitch
My favorite image from this day is the above photograph of the Chapter House ceiling; there is no way to convey how stunning the room is in real life, but the photograph captures some of the energy and majesty of this elegant ceiling
Digital original, 23 frame exposure blend, 2 frame stitch
York Minster is one of the few cathedrals in the UK to have a Lantern Tower (with windows that light the crossing below); the frustration of making this image was that nothing lined up; The centre of the choir screen was off centre to the organ, the organ was off centre to the arch above, the centre of the tower was off centre to everything...in the end, I just gave up on "perfection" and tried to make an image that looked good.
Digital original
On my last walk through the Minster, I caught sight of the wonderful detain on a door - one of the few long-lens images I made in the entire day.

June 22, 2011

Whitby Abbey

Digital infrared original, 2 frame exposure blend
Whitby Abbey has long been a favorite place of mind; I remember romping around it as a child, and when I discovered it was central to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, it was forever a favorite. The classic view over the pool to the south of the ruin is made a little more dramatic due to the use of infrared.
Digital original
Having not been in the ruins for over 30 years, I can't clearly recall what attracted me as a child, but with a camera in hand I was enthralled with the weathered stone...looks almost organic.
Digital original
I really enjoyed exploring the compositional potential of Whitby Abbey - lines going into corners going into crevices all came together over and over again s I photographed.