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Monday, 31 March 2014

Street lights

The much-photographed Albert Terrace in Saltaire.  The narrow cobbled street forms the northern boundary of the residential sector of the village and it is one of the oldest streets, dating back to 1854. The lamp-standards are original but the gas lighting has been replaced by electricity. The white lights are on the adjacent railway station platform.

This could also be an entrant for my 'Beyond  a Second' photo theme this month - the shutter speed was 1.3 secs - but I prefer the previous two pictures.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

A pool of light

This is the other contender for 'Beyond a Second' (my photo club's March theme). It might have been improved by a smooching couple under the streetlight instead of a car but you can't have everything. Lockwood Street, named after one of Saltaire's architects, and its mirror image Mawson Street flank the Victoria Hall. They aren't the most picturesque of Saltaire's streets and I personally wouldn't want to live so close to the busy centre of the village, thronged with students during the day and visitors at weekends. But they are authentic, even more so in the twilight when you feel you are stepping back in time.

I'm torn between this one and yesterday's image for my photo club entry this month - you can have the casting vote!

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Even dustbins can be made to look atmospheric!  This might be a contender for my entry for 'Beyond a Second' - but whether anyone else will share my fondness for Saltaire's bin-lined alleys is anybody's guess.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Victoria Hall in three seconds

Saltaire's Victoria Hall looks splendid at night when it is floodlit.  This needed a 3 second exposure.

The hall was built as a community centre for learning and recreation, right at the heart of the village, for the 19th century residents of Sir Titus Salt's Saltaire. It still performs that function admirably in the 21st century, as well as looking rather gorgeous.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fading light

I wouldn't walk far along the canal towpath on my own when the light is fading, but it does look quite enticing with the setting sun reflected in the water.  Even the vandalised boat adds interest to the scene when the shadows hide its dereliction.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lights at dusk

Still not fitting my 'Beyond a Second' theme.... this was a shutter speed of 0.8 sec.  However, this classic view of Saltaire's New Mill across the weir is a favourite of mine and the orange lights and reflections spice it up a bit.

You'll have gathered we're having a twilight walk this week....

Sunday, 23 March 2014

On a quest

My photo club theme for March is 'Beyond a Second' - meaning a photo taken with a shutter speed of a second or longer. That is quite a challenge for me as it means working with my tripod and doing some experimenting. I have not done much low light photography and, whilst I understand the technicalities in principle, out there with my camera I never feel very confident and it's hard to translate the theory into practice.  This was my first attempt - and I think it's a pleasing picture but in terms of the theme it was a fail...the shutter speed was 1/8 second.

Most of you will recognise Saltaire's United Reformed Church, a Grade 1 listed Victorian gem at the heart of the World Heritage Site of Saltaire. Daffodils, grazing geese and a pretty sunset set it off nicely.

(It doesn't really matter with this photo but all of a sudden Blogger seems to be overexposing my uploads compared to how they look in PS or Flickr or Lightroom. Is anyone else noticing that with theirs?
Later: Fixed it! I had to sign up to a Google+ account to do it though. The blasted thing is automatically adding some kind of image enhancement - whether or not you've signed up for it. So you have to create an account and then find Settings and scroll down and uncheck the image enhancement box. Don't you just get sick of these faceless people messing about with things that work perfectly well as they are?! It's taken me two whole evenings to sort that out. I don't want anyone enhancing my images automatically, thank you. They are just as I want them to start with.)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

All bright and very breezy

A brilliant flash of yellow forsythia (even if not a brilliant photo). I didn't find any time to get out with my camera over the weekend so this was taken on my lunchtime power walk (!) today. I wonder how many times you have to do something before it becomes a habit?  That's my third 'make-myself-get-some-exercise' walk and I have to say I am really enjoying both the fresh air and the exertion in the middle of the working day. Not sure if it makes me less sleepy in the afternoon but it must be doing some good. I wonder too how long it will take the geese to learn that I have no food for them. They always make a beeline for me, living in hope...

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Gaggling geese

Just lately I feel that I am seizing up physically. I'm getting very little exercise during the day as changes to my job have made it more and more sedentary. At one time that perhaps wouldn't have mattered but now I can't afford to get stiff.  It takes longer to ease off!  So for the past few days, since we're having a spell of dry and brighter weather, I have made myself take a brisk walk at lunchtime.  I realise I am lucky that such a walk can be taken in such lovely surroundings. Not everyone gets to walk round a World Heritage Site in their lunch hour.

On Friday I had to run the gauntlet of the flock of geese that have made Saltaire their home these past couple of years. The collective noun is 'a gaggle of geese' - and I can only describe their attitude to me as 'gaggling': intense surveillance coupled with an odd little clucking noise that might have been goose laughter...

Friday, 14 March 2014


Not a 'Potts' clock! (See my blog last Friday)  The clock above the stables and coach houses at Dunham Massey has an unusual painted face showing the date 1721. (A year in which not much else seemed to happen, though Bach finished his Brandenburg Concertos.) George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington, inherited the run-down Dunham Massey estate at the tender age of 19 and dedicated his life to restoring its fortunes. The house that exists today was mostly built in the 1730s and it was George that planted the many beautiful trees around the estate. He married a wealthy heiress for her dowry but the marriage was very unhappy; when he died his only child, Mary, inherited the estate and had a better time by the sound of it, married to Harry Grey, Earl of Stamford. The house and estate then stayed in the Grey family for several generations.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Dunham Massey

I visited friends over in Manchester at the weekend and we paid a brief visit to Dunham Massey, a National Trust property in Cheshire. I'd never heard of it before and I would have liked time to explore a bit more. It apparently has lovely gardens around the house itself but we only had time for a short walk in the grounds. It is a deer park, though I didn't see any. They were no doubt scared off by the many visitors who, like us, had been lured out by the promise of a bright spring day and were sadly disappointed by the heavy cloud cover. I did, however, note the very many old trees that had been damaged by the recent bad weather.

The house itself is a Georgian property and, whilst not especially beautiful from the outside, sounds interesting nevertheless. During the First World War it was a military hospital.  2014 is of course the centenary of the start of the War, so parts of the house have been recreated as a hospital to show people what it was like. Judging by the queues it is a very popular attraction, and I think there are many similar re-creations around the country. I must try and visit some during the year. Although we covered topics like the war poets at school, we didn't really get taught a lot about WWI and nothing about WWII. I think when I was a child it was just too much recent history.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

February's challenger

This was the image I finally chose to use for my online photo club's February challenge - 'Through a Window'. It's another shot taken at Greenwich. It shows Sir Christopher Wren's wonderfully symmetrical domed design, now known as the Old Royal Naval College, framed through a window in the Queen's House. Behind are the modern skyscraper towers of the financial centre in Canary Wharf. One might see it as old money meeting new money.

Monday, 10 March 2014

All quiet in Saltaire

I've been looking out for shots that would fit the theme 'Through a Window', the February challenge for my online photo group.  This one was taken through a window in the stairwell of Salts Mill, looking out at the Saltaire Dining Room, the railway station and Saltaire URC's tower. It was a weekend but I happened upon a relatively quiet moment - no trains and few people about. The weak spring sunshine was pleasant but overall I didn't think it was an image with much impact.

Sunday, 9 March 2014


After my January photo challenge of 'Rust' you might have thought I'd have had enough of it. I am often drawn to these 'found still-life' subjects though. I liked the colours, shapes and textures here as well as that tendril of vegetation starting to creep through to reclaim the territory for nature.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

End of the line

The Leeds Industrial Museum didn't seem quite as 'tidy' and well-displayed as Bradford's Industrial Museum, though in a way that provided its own charm. Behind the buildings was an area of wasteland strewn about with old rusty things. I had no idea what most of them were, though this is recognisably a locomotive of some sort. I thought it was quite photogenic. Perhaps I will be too when I'm that ancient and rusty.

Friday, 7 March 2014

In times past

The exhibition I actually set out to see at Leeds Industrial Museum commemorates a renowned firm of clockmakers in Leeds, William Potts and Sons Ltd. After an apprenticeship to a Darlington clockmaker, in 1833 William Potts, aged only 24, set up his own business which originally made domestic timepieces. It expanded and became famous for making and installing public clocks in cathedrals, churches, town halls, schools, railway stations and businesses. There is hardly a town locally that doesn't have a Potts clock somewhere and it is claimed there are over 1600 in England and some abroad too. Queen Victoria awarded the firm a Royal Warrant in 1897 and the clock above, inscribed with her cipher, was probably made for an office or a school.  (I'm sure we had one very similar in the hall in my first school.) There is even a "Potts Clocks" heritage trail around Leeds city centre, which takes you past some of the best examples in the city - the Grand Arcade, the Old Post Office and the Corn Exchange among them.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Drum Machine

The most unexpected and best bit of my trip to Leeds Industrial Museum was stumbling upon a performance by Drum Machine.  (See also their website here.) There were at least 30 drummers and the sound they made was amazing and utterly infectious. (Turn your volume up and go full screen to watch the video!) Such fun. You could feel the beat vibrating right through your body, as well as hearing it.  I've never quite experienced anything like it before. The guy at the front was the conductor/director and seemed to have an elaborate sign language for what was to happen next, bringing in different types of drum at different times, varying the rhythm, rising to a crescendo and then falling quieter again. They played without a break for what must have been a good half an hour. Brilliant.

I took several still photos but none of them really came out well as it was very dark where they were playing. Luckily this quick video I took on my phone turned out good enough to give an idea of their performance. I've spent all evening trying to work out how to get this few seconds uploaded from my phone and onto my blog! I hope it works for everyone to see, though it's a pale imitation of what it was like to be there.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Steampunk trio

Don't they look splendid?  This trio of steampunk enthusiasts kindly agreed to pose for a photo. I didn't catch all their names though I am sure the lady in the middle is Adele, who I've met before in Saltaire.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Leeds Industrial Museum was advertised as being open from 13:00 so I was rather surprised to find the car-park full to overflowing when I arrived on the stroke of the hour. The reason soon became apparent. The museum was hosting a 'Steampunk Market' with lots of stalls selling clothes and all the paraphernalia associated with the steampunk movement. So it was full to bursting with hundreds of people. In fact it was not a good time to see the museum itself (I will have to go back!) but nevertheless there was much to be interested in.

Regular readers will recall that there have been steampunk gatherings in Saltaire (see here and here). It seems to be a growing movement - an odd but beguiling fusion of sci-fi, fantasy, Victoriana, engineering and lots of individual creativity. Those dressing up and taking part span all ages and all sorts, and they all seem to have a great deal of fun in the process. The stalls were selling clothing, jewellery, pocket watches, books, posters, hats, wigs and an eclectic selection of ephemera and small machine parts - cogs, chains, watch parts and other bits and bobs that people use to decorate themselves (and their homes too possibly).  The young lady in my photo had the most unusual accessory that I saw - a hawk!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Lured to Leeds

It was a dull and drizzly Sunday but I needed to escape and do something interesting, so I headed to Leeds to the Industrial Museum at Armley Mills. Like Salts Mill, the buildings are located close to the River Aire and the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Salts Mill and Bradford's mills mainly produced worsted cloth: a fine cloth made from long fibres of wool combed to lie parallel. Leeds' mills on the other hand tended to manufacture woollens: stouter cloth mainly used for coats and blankets. Armley Mills was once the world's largest woollen mill. Originally powered by waterwheels, a steam-engine was introduced in 1850. The mill closed as a textile business in 1969. It's a much more utilitarian building than Salts Mill, but nevertheless it is good to see it still being well used. The museum now tells the history of manufacturing in Leeds, including textiles, clothing, printing and engineering.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

There were crowds of tourists on the hill where the Royal Observatory, Greenwich is situated. The views over London are stunning and the area is very interesting. The Greenwich Meridian runs through the site. This is a line of longitude that was selected in 1884 by an international conference to be the common zero of longitude and the standard for time reckoning throughout the world - hence Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. A red ball (which you can just see in the top and bottom photos) still drops at precisely 1pm every day. The observatory was commissioned in 1675 by Charles I (to carry out work to assist the navigation of ships) but today the buildings are kept as a museum and the scientific work goes on elsewhere.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Cutty Sark

Greenwich is also the home of the recently restored Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper, one of fastest and greatest ships of her time. The ship has been displayed there in dry dock as a tourist attraction since the 1950s. In 2007 it was closed for conservation work to be carried out when fire broke out, destroying some of the timbers and necessitating a much more comprehensive restoration. The hull is now (controversially) supported by a steel frame and a glass apron provides room for a shop and café.