Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter


Wishing everyone a very happy Easter.  What does it mean to you?  It's the dawning of a new season. Here in the northern hemisphere it is the Spring, with all its symbols of new life and fresh hope: new-born lambs, eggs, chicks, spring flowers, lots of joyful, fresh colours - yellow, green, gold. At the heart, a cross.... death and resurrection. The power and love of the creator God triumphant, life pulsing through, a fresh start.

See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices...  ~ Charles Kingsley


Easter and spring seem so intrinsically linked for me. It's as though the spring is a visible sign of God's invisible grace, his promise of new life. Certainly a time for rejoicing. I have often wondered if Easter feels different to people in the southern hemisphere, where the season moves steadily towards autumn....

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Revolution

30 March 2013 is an historic date.... It marks: the death of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (2002); the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan (1981); an IRA bomb attack on the House of Commons (1979); the invasion of Austria by Russia (1945); the day the US bought Alaska (1867) and.....
the publication of this book: 'Britain's Industrial Revolution - the makings of a manufacturing people 1700-1870'. It's written by Barrie Trinder, writer, lecturer and consultant on industrial archaeology and social history. Cover photograph by jennyfreckles, amateur photographer and blogger!

Bearing in mind the recent musings on copyright, I have to quickly say that in this case the publisher (Carnegie Publishing) did everything perfectly properly and the photograph is used with my full consent. I'm actually really thrilled to see what a great job they have done with it, after they spotted a mono version on my blog (well, more likely on Google images in the first place).

This is not just a boast post (though it is that!) but I do think the book looks rather interesting for someone who, like me, is interested in Britain's social history. It explores the industrial revolution, one of the paradigm shifts in human history, which happened first in Britain. It changed forever the way in which goods were made: from small cottage industries, huge new factories and mills developed, using new inventions in machinery, new sources of power and new ways of transporting goods - our roads, railways and canals. New ways of working and living were needed: a concentrated workforce in rapidly growing towns and cities. It led to huge economic benefits, but it brought pollution, disfiguration of a green and pleasant country and increasing inequality between rich and poor. The industrial revolution created this country and the society we recognise today. What interests me too is that, though Britain and many other 'developed' countries are now in a post-industrial age (the death throes recorded by such as the photographer Ian Beesley, whose work I mentioned earlier this month), in other areas of the world (like China, India) the industrial revolution is still gaining pace. I'm not sure that the lessons we could have learned have been heeded....

Friday, 29 March 2013

Huh?


I spotted this newspaper billboard a couple of weeks ago and it really had me scratching my head.  I posted it on my FB page but have decided it merits a wider audience. I'm sure there are many bloggers out there who are quicker on the uptake than I was. I puzzled for a long time, wondering whose face got crushed.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Wall


RedPat, on her blog, Occasional Toronto, often features colourful murals from around her area.  We have one in Shipley too, though it is past its prime. It's on the wall of the carpark belonging to Shipley Baptist Church (where I think part of the old church once stood before being demolished). The jigsaw-like mural incorporates several Christian symbols and I assume it was probably painted by a church youth group or similar. It's nicely colourful even now, and certainly brightens up what would otherwise be a very dull wall. In the background you can see Shipley's modernist clock tower, just poking its head into the scene.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

I dream of...


.... dappled sunshine; hot days that smell of new mown grass, buzzing with insects; the gentle hum and splash of narrowboats gliding up the canal; the distant squeals of children in the park. Lazy days with not much to do except stroll or idle on a bench, watching the world go by and eating ice-cream.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Spring


Enough said really.... and a lot has been said about the weird weather patterns that the UK seems to be stuck in. This time last year we were having a heatwave! My own peculiar week, where I effectively lost four days to a feverish haze and then had another good few days not feeling up to much, was oddly capped off by the heavy snowfall on Friday/Saturday. I feel like I've been hibernating. I only ventured out to church on Sunday morning, snapping this Saltaire alleyway on my iPhone on the way home.  Snowfall here in the valley has been light compared with elsewhere in the area but even so we had a good few inches. It's back to work for me this week. What with one thing and another, I just crave a bit of rhythm and routine.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Picture window 2


There used to be a children's programme that started with a house with lots of differently shaped windows. The cameras would zoom in through one of them.... 'let's look through the round window'.  All the windows in the Hepworth, Wakefield, are uniformly rectangular but the view though each could not be more different. This is on the opposite side of the building from yesterday, looking through the graceful willow trees that someone commented on on my photo of the outside of the gallery. The River (Calder, I think) flows past and there is a small boatyard so the boats and buoys provide a bit of muted colour and interest.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Picture window


Still not well, though recovering, I have been looking over some of the photos I took in Wakefield. This is the view from one of the huge windows in The Hepworth. They are 'picture windows' in the best sense of the word. They give visitors to the gallery an extraordinary sense that the views outside are very much part of what one is meant to be appreciating, as much as the sculpture inside. In this case the framed subject is an old mill (which I think they are going to convert to residential use) and the oddly-shaped timber structure, which did not appear to have much purpose except possibly as a rain shelter.  It reminded me of a mammoth or some kind of huge beetle. Quite dramatic.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Rough hewn



Another random image, but one I like.  I came across an area of terracing laid with these rough hewn wooden blocks. They were wonderfully weathered to that soft grey tone that untreated wood takes on and a few bits of grass had started to infiltrate the gaps. I love the effect.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Two trees...in snow?


Someone suggested it would be interesting to see these two trees in all seasons.  I've shown them in spring and autumn.  Here they are in winter.

I'll bet they looked much like this this morning - yes, folks, it's snowy again in the frozen north of England.  But, as I'm still feeling too ropey even to trot out to the shop for some milk, I wasn't about to brave the blizzard.

I've cheated here ... I took the photo on a day when the grass was green and the sky white with cloud, converted the photo to mono (infra red) and added some noise - hey presto, it's snowing.  I created the image a few weeks ago; I haven't the energy for such tricks this week. But it proves the value of having a few random pics available for 'emergencies'!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Even more Distressed


Even more painterly than the first version (see here).... my photo of Salts Mill, given the DistressedFX treatment.

It's another weekend of awful, cold, wet weather here across most of the UK.  I'm tucked up inside but feeling a bit sorry for myself as I'm laid low with a vicious, flu-like cold bug. (There's a lot of bugs about, it seems.)  I ache from head to toe, even my teeth and my hands ache!  Hope it doesn't hang around too long. We all need some sunshine and warmth, it feels like it's been a longer than usual winter here. I was watching the Melbourne Grand Prix qualifying round this morning (in amongst naps). They had torrential rain, it didn't look very much like sunny Australia.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Distressed


Lately, the weather has been wintry and bitterly cold.  Somehow I haven't felt much like getting togged up and venturing out with my camera.  But I've been putting the time to good use, looking at other people's work and experimenting a bit here and there with some of my images.  I can't remember where I read about it but I came across a phone app called DistressedFX (only £0.69!) and decided to try it. I'm loving it!

Do you remember this photo in its original form? (See here). This is the same photo, exported to my iPhone, given the DistressedFX treatment and then reimported to my Mac. I really like the result. The program is simply a set of filters and overlays, that can be tweaked slightly for colour saturation, contrast etc. It's so easy and, I think, very effective. There are, of course, many sources of textures and filters on the web, or you can create your own. You can buy beautiful collections for a full size computer or tablet from the same 'Distressed' source (here), but they're much more expensive than the more limited phone app.

The textures themselves are created by Cheryl Tarrant - see her Flickr site (here) or her website (here) for some of her own creative images.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

All lit up


I'm doing well for treats lately. I had another evening at the theatre last night, this time at the Alhambra in Bradford.  I went with some of my colleagues from work to see 'Hairspray', the musical.  (Being deaf, I find I can cope with musicals in a way that I can't, unfortunately, with more serious plays.  Though there was some dialogue that I couldn't catch, it didn't really affect my ability to follow the storyline, such as it was.)  It was an enjoyable evening, nothing too demanding. The action takes place in 1962 so the production is full of lively music and dancing.  It's a 'feel-good' show, just right for a chilly, winter, midweek night.

It's a treat just to visit the Alhambra, which is an historic theatre (see link) that had a successful and visionary 'makeover' a few years ago and is able to stage some very big shows straight from London's West End. I always think it looks thrilling all lit up. Even my rather blurry iPhone photo captures the atmosphere. It's funny that the night shot I took in London a few weeks ago was really sharp but this one isn't. I put it down to the cold!  It was snowing at the time, so I was shivering. That's my excuse anyway.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Pinterest


Some time ago, a blog friend in the US asked me if I was OK about her 'pinning' photos from my blog onto her Pinterest board. At the time I didn't know anything about Pinterest and, when I looked into it a bit, I was somewhat unnerved by what I found out, as it didn't seem to me to respect people's copyright over photos. So I asked her not to 'pin' my images and she has, as far as I know, respected my wishes. However, a recent conversation with my daughter went something like: 'Mum, why aren't you on Pinterest yet? It's great, it's like having a magazine to browse that's full of all the things you're interested in. You should sign up and try it.' 

Well, to be honest, I am definitely a late adopter of new trends and gadgets. But, since I do respect my daughter and she is way ahead of me on keeping up with trends especially online/mobile, I had another look, even signed up so I could explore it properly. I can't say I have fully understood this phenomenon, let alone fully embraced it yet.  But what I did discover was that there are LOTS of my images already 'pinned' on people's boards. (There are probably some of yours too.)

My daughter reckons it's fine, as they can all be traced back to the originating site (ie: my blog) and so they are not breaching copyright or even using my images, but instead just linking to them.  She says I should be glad people like them and that from a 'pin' people might move on to reading my blog. I remain a little uneasy, though I recognise that I can't stop it happening.  I'd be really interested to know what other bloggers think.... Are you using Pinterest?  Are people 'pinning' your images? Are you 'pinning' other people's?

It does remind me that as soon as anyone posts a photo - on a blog, on Flickr or Facebook, on a website - you are effectively losing control of it (or so it seems to me). Despite the copyright laws, it is actually almost impossible to 'police' whether someone else uses your work.  I have discovered a couple of cases of people pinching my photos and using them without permission and without attribution. In both cases I contacted them and they agreed to take them down.  I have also had numerous folks contact me to ask permission to use images in different ways (books, leaflets, websites, calendars) and in most cases I have agreed, provided they are acknowledged as mine.  I don't mind so much as long as people ask.

I started my blog, perhaps naively in the beginning, as a way of challenging myself. I didn't really expect anyone else to be interested or to read it and I have been pleasantly surprised to discover the (mostly) friendly community spirit of blogland. I've made some good friends and had countless hours of enjoyment reading other people's blogs and being inspired by their pictures.  But I'm not sure whether I'm comfortable with this new development.... Should I be flattered? Should I be worried? Should I just embrace it all freely and have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest buttons on my sidebar?  What do you think?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Observation


Brr, we had a cold, wet weekend here, grey and sleety. Luckily, I had booked to attend a Yorkshire Photographic Union (YPU) event in Pontefract on Saturday. The YPU is the collective of all the local camera clubs in Yorkshire, and holds various competitions and events through the year. On Saturday, they had invited two excellent photographers to show their work and I was really interested to go along.
I find that looking at other people's work can be very inspiring; I always hope something will stick with me that will enable me to improve my own photography.  I'm a member of a couple of local clubs, I subscribe to Digital Photo magazine and I enjoy going to photographic exhibitions and talks.  I'm lucky that I live close to the National Media Museum and Bradford's Impressions Gallery, both of which host regular exhibitions.
Saturday's guest speakers were Ian Beesley and Margaret Salisbury. Ian is a Bradford-born professional photographer I have long admired. Since the 1970s, he has been documenting the decline of Britain's industrial sector and its impact on community.  He is also course leader for the MA in Photography at Bolton University. He has published several books of his images and has pictures in the National Media Museum's collection.  His (mainly monochrome) work is gritty yet poetic; I find it haunting and strangely moving.
Margaret Salisbury's work is completely different, very varied.  She has a good eye for colour and composition and is quite adventurous in the way she presents her work.  Some of her photos were monochrome with certain elements picked out in colour, a technique I resolved to try (on better photos than the one above!)
So - a day of close and rewarding observation and learning.  And a small surprise... in the grounds of the venue, I found the Rosse Observatory, home of the West Yorkshire Astronomical Society whose aim is to enthuse the public by sharing their interest in astronomy. They hold club nights, open evenings and all manner of special events - recently linking up with the BBC Stargazing Live series. I guess I always thought that observatories were out on the moors, in wild, dark spots, and had huge dishes.  But this one is in quite a built-up area and had just this little dome. I'd have loved to see inside.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

On yer bike


This colourful marker is on the towpath of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in Shipley. It is a Millennium milepost on the National Cycle Network. (I don't know who painted it... The posts are mostly unpainted metal.) The canal towpath here forms part of National Route 66, which, when it is finally completed, will link Hull with Manchester.  Four different milepost designs were commissioned and this was the first, designed by John Mills. It's not, as I thought at first, a fish with its head in the sand.... It depicts an abstract tree with fossils, tracking time from the earliest primitive creatures up to 'the ultimate demise of fossil-fuel driven technology' - at which point we will all have to get on our bikes, I suppose.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Salts Mill - a painter's view


This image was taken on my iPhone one morning on my way to work last autumn. At certain times of year, the rising sun illuminates Salts Mill whilst leaving the foreground in shadow. Sometimes it really looks amazing. I thought this scene was somehow reminiscent of an oil painting... Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot perhaps?  I played around with it a bit in Photoshop and added a texture to it, though you can't really see it in this small web version.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A grand entrance


There are two main entrances to Salts Mill, one off Victoria Road (see Monday's post) and the other on the south side, from the car park.  I would say many more people use the Victoria Road door, but perhaps in an effort to reverse that and encourage people to use the mill's designated car parks, the south side entrance has been considerably improved. It used to have a wooden ramp. There does not, at first glance, appear to be any disabled access now... but I went for a second look.... The disabled access to the lifts requires you to go through the open archway alongside this entrance, to the other side of the building. I didn't investigate further but, if you use a wheelchair, as long as you have strong arms or a strong chair-pusher prepared to go the extra distance, you should be OK! This new door does look a lot smarter, though the glass canopy appears to need scaffold poles to hold it up.  It needs better signage too. Perhaps it isn't finished yet after all - let's hope not.

Monday, 4 March 2013

A novel question


It's interesting what crops up when you're a blogger... I had an email recently from a lady called Marlene in Santa Cruz, California (just the name of that place made me excited!) and she said:

'My dad went to Saltaire School, and several of my aunts worked in the mill in the 1920s and 30s.  We emigrated to the US in 1949, but I have always been fascinated by Saltaire, have even rented a house on George St on a few occasions to get the feel of the place, and I'm writing a novel that is set there.  (Don't plan on running right out to buy it -- I've been working on this story for years, and I don't seem to be making much progress, but I'm retiring from work in August and will be able to put much more time into my writing then.)

I have a rather odd question -- does the mill really have six storeys as the World Heritage documents indicate or four as some of the more recent documentation says . . . or perhaps has it been modified from six to four or two of the floors are unused?  For the purposes of my story, I want to to have the action take place on the top floor, and I remember being winded just getting to the third floor last time I was there, so it would be much more dramatic if she had to walk up six storeys, especially if it was twelve separate flights of stairs.  But am I imagining that?

I am writing a scene when a women walks up the stairs for the first time, imagining her grandfather running up the stairs as the morning buzzer rings, but I can't visualize the steps very well.  I remember they were dark grey stone, somewhat more worn in the middle than the edges, and that they turned half way up each floor.  Would you be willing to take a set of photos of the stairs to help my memory?  I hope you can help me visualize my characters in that stairwell!'


Well, how could I resist that plea?  So here you are Marlene, the stairs at Salts Mill.



As it turns out, Marlene has a very good memory - her description of the stairs is pretty much spot on.  And yes, there are six storeys to the Mill, though the Victoria Road entrance enters at the first level.  There's a basement (currently a store selling textiles for the home), the first level (the 1853 Gallery), the second level (Pace plc and not open to the public), the third level (where the bookstore and Diner are), the fourth level (restaurant and galleries) and the roofspace, usually closed to the public.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Lightbox


Another composition in shades of grey - this is the light-well above the staircase in The Hepworth, Wakefield.  Again, more or less straight out of camera, just tweaked a little to get rid of a slight yellowish tinge from the lighting.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Fifty shades...


The inside of The Hepworth is, to me, even more beguiling than the outside - stark and minimalist, clad in fifty shades of grey. This is one of the stairwells, more or less straight out of camera. The walls are lined with smooth grey slate. Perhaps people thought I was a little odd, taking photos of the stairs... but I was reminded of our innate British middle-class politeness, as time and again people hung back so as not to get in the way of my picture. (They don't realise how long it takes me, faffing about to get it right!)

Friday, 1 March 2013

Brooding across the water


The Hepworth, Wakefield, is a series of trapezoidal blocks, lit by a few huge windows in the walls and skylights in the roof. It is clad with self-compacting pigmented concrete and is designed to look very sculptural itself. I think it's one of those brutalist buildings you either love or hate, and to be honest I'm not sure whether I like it or not. It's a very minimalist building, quite dour on a grey winter's day. Yet as a photographer I was drawn to it... it asks to be photographed, and presents a challenge. I felt I wanted to go back to it several times in different lights and seasons. The backlight was all wrong for this view, resulting in the facade looking quite flat when it is actually very angular. But, even so, it has a mood...