A return to ‘straight’ photography this week. This magnificent tree grows within the shell of Newark Castle, which was turned into public gardens by the Victorians. As usual at the moment not much colour around so a black and white conversion it is.
I’ve got a bit of thing about gardens inside the shells of old buildings. My favourite place in London is St Dunstan’s Church, in the City, which is just that. In the days when I visited London regularly it was one of my go-to places for photography, and I loved the contrast between the peaceful green leaves of the garden inside and the hurry and scurry of the city workers on the outside. So, two for the price of one this week, as I’m feeling nostalgic. (And also a nice reminder of summer)
A year ago I was loving winter’s skeleton trees and couldn’t get enough of them – this year, I’m longing for the soft greenness of the leaves to appear. Last winter the starkness of the trees suited my mood – we’d just had a depressing Christmas and were heading into another year of Geoff’s search for work. We’d had to borrow money from family to help pay the mortgage, and although I had some irons in the fire they weren’t yet producing anything. I’m so glad we didn’t know then that he’d still be out of work a year later, or our gloom would have been even deeper. As it was, he did get a short but well-paid temporary contract that helped us to keep going, I managed to develop enough of an income to make a difference, and somehow we survived the year.
For a while it was looking as if this Christmas would be even worse than last – all our savings were gone and we knew we couldn’t go on as we were. But, as often happens, we had a sudden turnaround and Geoff starts a brand new job in February – suddenly the future seems a lot brighter and we’re moving out of the limbo we’ve been living in for so long, and maybe that’s why the Gothic severity of the bare trees doesn’t appeal so much any more. Looking up through them, however, it seemed to me they were reaching for the light just as we are – a little dim at the moment but knowing growth and abundance is on its way to us.
I’m finding it difficult at the moment to come up with much variety in these shots, especially as I was knocked out by a very nasty chest infection for about two weeks over the Christmas break and I haven’t been able to get out much. I’m feeling the need for fresh inspiration – to go somewhere new, or at least somewhere different from my usual walk round the cemetery/lake – but the virus has left me feeling too tired for an outing right now. However, I did like the way that this low winter sun peeked through the mass of skeleton trees in the cemetery.
After I made my Christmas tree post live, I realised I’d missed a week! – not sure how that happened. This was the tree that should have gone on before the Christmas post.
I’ve always thought of myself as very much a colour photographer. Colour is my passion – it excites and energises me. What I used to find, though, was that my interest in photography would diminish to almost nothing in winter when there was little or no colour around, and I’d go for months hardly picking up my camera. In the last year or two I’ve become much more interested in black and white photography, and while colour is still my thing, I’m beginning to enjoy playing with monochrome as well. My winter photography has been revitalised by this, and even a grey day can offer exciting possibilities of line and pattern.
These birds in their winter tree have a bit of an oriental feel to me. I love the fact that, although I’ve converted this image to black and white, it really didn’t change it much as there was very little colour there to begin with. What I did do was boost the contrast up to give a cleaner, more graphic look to it.
HAPPY SEASONAL GREETINGS TO EVERYONE, AND WARM WISHES FOR ALL GOOD THINGS TO COME TO YOU IN 2016
Well it had to be a Christmas tree this week, didn’t it! Unfortunately I haven’t had time to get out and take something new, so this one dates from last Christmas. Every year the Town Hall, which is housed in the Georgian Buttermarket building in Newark’s market square, places a huge tree on the balcony and floodlights it in different colours. The market square itself has an enormous canopy erected over it, made up of strings of twinkling white lights. It’s quite magical at night and I hope to get some shots of it once I get some time to go out there.
I’m going to take a break over Christmas week, and hopefully play around with a new blog design that will allow me to post much larger images. So if you turn up here and it’s all gone a bit haywire, don’t worry, I’m working on it. I’ll be back again on 6th January.
Something about this group of trees intrigues me -the way they’re grouped and the various angles at which they lean. You might well be seeing more of these, especially if it snows this winter (I’d love to see these with a covering of white on them). This time, though, it was the perfect reflections that made me press the shutter.
Here’s an example of breaking all the rules and still getting something that (I think) works. The sunlight was blindingly bright – far too bright, when shooting straight into it, to get a fast enough shutter speed to prevent over-exposure. The resulting image was interesting in some ways but too washed out to be usable as it was. I duplicated the original layer, blended the two together using Multiply, et voila! I like the way the sky has blown out, making this look more like a wet-into-wet watercolour than a photograph.
I always feel it’s a bit of a cheat to photograph other people’s artwork – like all the hard work’s been done for you. The only time it becomes satisfying is when you can add something more to the original. I loved the subtle colours in this Henry Moore sculpture in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, particularly the warm bronzy red patch in the bottom curve, and then I noticed how the autumn trees in the distance picked up and reflected the sculpture’s colours. Moore’s beautiful stone curves, and his trademark ‘window’, became a wonderful frame for the trees.