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Monday, 30 November 2015

New Mill chimney

Pale winter light on Saltaire's New Mill chimney seems to really emphasise the ornate design of the stonework.

I don't know if you can see them but there are always gulls perched on the roof of the Health Services offices. It must be warm up there.

The holly bush in the foreground is one of several planted at the bottom of Victoria Road. It seems the village founder, Sir Titus Salt, was a bit of a collector of them and there are a lot of holly bushes growing all around this area.  I note they have been threaded through with strings of lights recently, as part of Saltaire's Christmas decorations. I don't think they have been decorated in previous years. I must remember to go and see what they look like lit up. It might be rather pretty.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Faded forest

I desperately need to go out with my camera and get some photos. I'm running out of 'stock'. It's always a tricky time of year, when the evenings are dark by the time I get home and the weather often not conducive to walks and photography. I have been experimenting with a few processing effects on some images. I quite liked this faded forest, though it didn't really turn out the way I was trying to make it look.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Sulphur Tufts

Before the frosts come (and they are late this year) the woodlands are full of fungi. These pretty little mushrooms remind me of some kind of fairy village, the stuff of childhood fantasy books perhaps. (I always loved 'The Magic Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton.) In fact these are not so innocent and could cause a very nasty tummy upset and even paralysis, if you ate them. (As far as I can tell, anyway - I'm not an expert) they are Sulphur Tufts [Hypholoma fasciculare] whose purpose is to speed the decaying of old wood.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Pylon power

Mostly I try to avoid photographing the poles and wires that adorn our landscapes, preferring to paint a more idyllic scene. Sometimes you can't avoid them - and just occasionally they seem worthy of a starring role for themselves.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

An Amazing Circle

I love making these 'Amazing Circles'. They are really easy to do, using Photoshop's Polar Coordinates filters. (Lots of tutorials on the internet.) The effect varies every time you make a slightly different crop of the original photo. They end up looking like those beautiful glass paperweights you sometimes see. Beguiling.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I'm coming home from work in the dark these days... How I dislike the short days, when I don't see my house in daylight at all. It means I can't take the scenic route home via the canalside either. There was a good sunset one evening though, so I walked (briskly, it has to be said) round via Salts Mill's yards, slightly better lit than the canal towpath. My reward was this: the setting sun's glow prettily reflected in the wet pavement on Albert Terrace. I've added some texture, though the colour didn't really need boosting.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Route 696

Not quite Route 66 but National Route 696 is still significant. Also known as the Airedale Greenway, it is a cycling and walking route that connects Shipley to Keighley along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal towpath. There is the odd muddy puddle but on the whole it's a well-maintained route with a good surface and only gentle gradients. Sharing the towpath between cyclists (some of whom ride at a cracking pace!) and pedestrians can be a bit of a nuisance but most people are considerate of other users. I sometimes feel I need a sign on my back that says 'deaf' as I don't hear cycles or their warning bells coming up behind me; I've learned to walk on the edge of the path! But if I was a cyclist I'd feel far safer on the Route than on the roads. Added to which, the scenery is interesting and attractive.

Since I took this photo I noticed the post and sign have disappeared... Considered a hazard for cyclists,  perhaps?

Monday, 23 November 2015

Art, beer and curiosities...

It seems somewhat strange to me that as traditional pubs are closing down, new outlets are opening up that sell beer. This is one such: The Triangle on Bradford Road in Shipley. It's a small shop/off licence selling specialist craft beers, alongside artworks from local artists and a range of music including vinyl records. They have a gallery upstairs and host live music events, exhibitions, food and drink 'tastings'. They also sell goods from Edward Street Bakery - an 'independent craft bakery' that has recently sprung up in Saltaire. The bakery (which I think is just a small house in the village) makes bread, cakes and savouries that they sell from their garden shed on some Sundays, in Saltaire's monthly market, through The Triangle and from pop-up shops that appear in various places (such as Leeds rail station).

I can hardly begin to understand this new type of retail: local, community focussed, almost experimental, communicated through word of mouth and - crucially - social media to those in the know and 'on trend' (ie: generally, not 60-something grannies like me!) It is not, somehow, very graspable... But the retail model seems to work, for as long as people want it to, and it offers something a bit different and 'limited edition' - be that food, beer, clothes or whatever.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Advice from a tree

Advice from a tree:
Stand tall and proud
Think long term
Embrace with joy the changing seasons
Remember your roots
Drink plenty of water
Be content with your natural beauty
Be flexible
Enjoy the view

Taken from a poem by Ilan Shamir

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) is an abstract style of photography where the camera is deliberately moved during a long exposure. It produces an artistic effect that's a bit like Impressionist paintings. I've tried it a few times with my DSLR, with mixed results. Recently I found out you can get a 'slow shutter' app for smartphones that allows a long exposure and so enables the possibility of ICM. I enjoy playing with my iPhone and found it relatively easy to produce pleasing (to me anyway) images using the technique. Autumn is a good season for it as there is a lot of natural colour around.

ICM is quite addictive at first. I think I'd soon get bored with it if this was all I did but like most 'techniques' it is fun to experiment and learn. Some photographers have made it their signature style and produce images with a lot of 'wow' factor.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Lucky strike

The top flat in the Victoria Mills apartment complex apparently won the lottery this day! A pot of gold anyway... We seem to be doing well for rainbows just lately. I spotted this one as I was walking home at dusk. I liked the way the sunset turned the windows into gold.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Purple harvest

Another photo assignment for my online photography group .... vegetables. I'm not that fond of turnips; they're pretty tasteless on their own. I thought they'd make a good subject for a photo, though. I love the purple tones and adding the red onion seems to bring the colour out even more. I arranged them on brown paper but a texture layer gave a bit more depth. It gave me pleasure to make something so humble look quite rich.

Confusingly, 'neeps'  - a traditional vegetable in Scotland and the north of England - are actually not turnips at all but the larger, yellow-fleshed swedes. They make up the dish known as 'Haggis, Neeps and Tatties', commonly served on Burns Night in Scotland.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Canoe see them?

Before the floods.... Walking home one day, across the aqueduct that carries the Leeds-Liverpool Canal over the River Aire, I suddenly noticed these jewel-bright canoes pulled up on the riverbank. The crews were having a refreshment break, sitting chatting on the bank. It was nice of them to leave their boats so prettily arranged, I thought.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I took these photos yesterday (Monday), showing the River Aire in flood. (Note helpful sign!)  The autumn was quite a dry one but the last couple of weeks we've had much more rain, culminating in an Atlantic storm (Abigail - they've started naming them now!) and the remnants of Hurricane Kate hitting our shores. Cumbria, Lancashire and this part of Yorkshire have been hit quite badly over the weekend. Ilkley and Otley towns have both been flooded by the Wharfe and the Aire has spread out into (designated) flood plains like Roberts Park (above) and adjacent fields in Saltaire, and the rugby club in Bingley. In fact the water had receded a lot by the time I took these pictures. (For some much better ones click here.) The tumult over the weir by the New Mill was still spectacular.

I wasn't able to go out with my camera on Sunday as I was helping to mop up floodwater and tons of mud in my daughter's house. Ironically, they live high on a hillside above Hebden Bridge, well away from the River Calder. But there was so much rain Saturday through to Sunday that the field drains above their house could not hold it and cascades poured down through their front door and flooded their hall, a sitting room and downstairs bathroom overnight. What a mess to wake up to! Their neighbour was similarly afflicted. They have lived there 30 years and say it has never happened before. So that is such bad luck for my family, who only moved in four months ago. The only saving grace is that they had not fully furnished that sitting room yet and it was still full of boxes piled high. The stuff in the bottom boxes was ruined but they managed to salvage a lot of the others. The insurers will have to decide whether the wooden floor is beyond redemption - and who knows what lies beneath... By the time I arrived the water had mostly seeped away through the floorboards but it left behind a thick layer of mud (thankfully not sewage). Dreadful.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Bingley's leafy avenues

The Bingley St Ives estate is on a hill and from some points along the perimeter paths there are good views of the surrounding valleys. Here, we are looking over towards the 'posher' residential parts of Bingley: substantial houses built along leafy avenues. The centre of this little town is further to the right. Up on the hillside you can just see several big buildings peeping over the trees. These were once the halls of residence for a teacher training college. The college closed a long time ago and the halls are now converted into luxurious apartments.

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Moments of peace in a world gone mad ...

Saturday, 14 November 2015


I took a lot of shots on my walk round Bingley St Ives, trying to capture the look of an English wood in autumn and mostly failing. I did manage to catch this stray sunbeam. I'm still not sure what conditions combine to focus the rays like that but they are certainly attractive to see.

'From the first opening of our eyes, it is the light that attracts us. We clutch with our baby fingers at the gossamer-motes in the sunbeam, and we die reaching out after an ineffable blending of earthly and heavenly beauty which we shall never fully comprehend.' Lucy Larcom.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Coppice gold

Most people visiting Bingley St Ives head for a walk around the Coppice Pond, lovely in all seasons of the year.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A glorious welcome!

Visitors to Bingley St Ives, a local estate popular with dog walkers and families looking for an afternoon's ramble, are greeted by these magnificent trees at the entrance, resplendent in their autumn foliage. When I visited there were enough leaves left on the trees to give some wonderful colour with enough on the ground for little children to kick through - perfect! (A bit of wind and rain since then has dashed the leaves, of course.)

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


I am really enjoying experimenting with textures and layers these days. This is the same photo that I showed yesterday, with an added texture that gives it a painterly quality and a sense of timelessness.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Salts and light

My habitual lunchtime walk a week or two ago yielded a photo of Salts Mill that I am quite pleased with. It was taken on my iPhone so the quality isn't perfect. However, the light was beautiful, with sunlight glancing off the mill's stonework and a brooding storm cloud behind.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Autumn woods

Closer to home, the colour isn't quite as spectacular in Hirst Woods as it is at Thorpe Perrow. Those vibrant red maples that add so much punch to the mixture are absent from the native woodland, which is mainly oak, beech and birch. It's still looking very attractive this year. I was struck by the difference in the shapes of the straight trunks and then that wonderfully dark and twisty tree just behind. Isn't nature wonderful?

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Remembrance - For the Fallen

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

'For the Fallen'
1914 - Robert Laurence Binyon 

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Red glow

Backlit by the sunshine, there is such drama in these maple leaves.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Paintbox colours

More stunning colour from Thorpe Perrow Arboretum.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

I'll do anything for food....

A couple of times a day at Thorpe Perrow they do a display using their birds of prey, sometimes falcons and sometimes owls. Star of the show in the one I saw was this beautiful Turkmenian Eagle Owl. It seemed to be a cross between an owl and a golden labrador - a real softie, following the handler around like a pet dog would. In some ways perhaps one might consider it cruel to keep such magnificent birds in captivity, but they all seemed very well cared for and happy. They are threatened in their natural habitat so keeping some in captivity aids conservation and breeding efforts, enabling people to learn more about them and admire them, which in the long run can surely do no harm. The handler was very calm and respectful of the birds.

The raven below was a real character too and, having gobbled up a few cheesy puffs that a little girl had dropped on the grass, it seemed less interested in the dead chicks its handler was trying to entice it with! Indeed, it wasn't very keen to be led back into its aviary at the end; you could see it playing quite a calculated game with the handler. Ravens are hugely intelligent birds. They famously keep them in the Tower of London; superstition says that if they ever leave, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Meerkats and wobblies

It is possibly only aired in the UK but we have a series of rather silly TV adverts for an insurance-comparison website (comparethemarket.com), called 'Compare the Meerkats'. It features anthropomorphic meerkat puppets and by using the site you can claim a meerkat toy, should you desire one! As a result I can never see the creatures without thinking of it. I'm sure I'm not the only one!

Thorpe Perrow has a Birds of Prey and Mammal centre, mainly to increase its appeal to families and children, I suppose. The meerkats provide endless amusement and there are wallabies too. I can't see them without remembering that my daughter used to call them wobblies.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Nature's artwork

I'm a useless gardener but I can still appreciate the skill that goes into planting a border like this, with such a rich variety of shapes, textures and colours - and mostly colour from foliage rather than flowers at this time of year.

The reds in this shrub made my heart sing.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Watch out!

Thorpe Perrow Arboretum is one of the finest private collections of trees and shrubs in the UK. It was created by one man, Colonel Sir Leonard Ropner (1895 - 1977), whose fortune came from the family shipping business and who served as an MP for many years. The estate is now owned and managed by Sir John Ropner, his son. I believe the family still live in the big house across the lake. Casual visitors are deterred from swimming across by the shark and crocodiles that inhabit the lake (ha!)

Young visitors could follow the Halloween Trail through the trees. Spooky! Rather too realistic for my liking.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Thorpe Perrow Arboretum

A couple of weeks ago, as the autumn colours started to appear, I noticed that the reds this year seemed particularly vibrant. They mainly seem to be on the more ornamental trees - acers, rowans and suchlike. It encouraged me to revisit Thorpe Perrow Arboretum, which holds a vast range of native and exotic trees, with some very showy specimens. Many of our native trees were still green at the time (going brown now though) but there were some beautiful, jewel colours against the green backdrop.

I love the combination of colours below - it looks like a burning bush, ice and fire.