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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Street London in colour

Even though classic street photography tends to be presented in black and white, as a lover of colour and with all the colour of the Brick Lane area, it seemed a waste not to enjoy the vibrancy. These are some of my favourite images of the day.

I call the one above 'The Eyes to the Right'.

A group of young men were enjoying trying on hats in Spitalfields market:

Lost in his mobile world.. I think he may have been a food delivery cyclist waiting for his next call.

A lady in a hurry...

and an intimate moment on the dumplings stall in the food market.

I enjoyed my day out and I'm happy that I learned a lot and got a few images that are meaningful to me. I'm still not sure about the genre of street photography and its ethics, so it's not something I'll ever do a lot of.

Friday, 30 August 2019

London graffiti art

Near to Brick Lane, a railway embankment formed a blank canvas for the graffiti artists' expressions. It appeared to be a known and accepted venue where you can watch them at work. There seemed to be some kind of loose arrangement of divvying up the walls between different artists, and some of them were encouraging passers-by to add to the work with a spray can.

I wouldn't normally dare to photograph anyone painting graffiti (mainly for fear of the spray can being turned on me!)
Here, they seemed to welcome being watched and photographed. I enjoyed the verve and energy of the guy who was working barefoot

'Low on paint, high on life' says the artwork below. 

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Street London portraits

My real Street London challenge, as well as taking candid street shots, was to approach a few people and ask for a portrait. (As I've mentioned before, being profoundly deaf does not really help with that!) I happened, however, to fall naturally into conversation with this young man, who was setting up a market stall selling alpaca wool jackets. We chatted about alpacas and I told him about Saltaire and Sir Titus Salt's discovery of alpaca wool, from which he then went on to make his fortune. After that, it didn't seem too hard to ask for his photo. (It's arguably a better portrait without the mannequin in the background but I've left that in as that was his environment.)

A little later, I was standing on the pavement outside a shop, chatting to a few members of the photo group, when a young man came to the door. Without really thinking, I asked if I could take his photo "to add to my 'handsome men of London' collection"! That seemed to be a good chat-up line, as he laughed and posed readily for me.

Huge thanks to both of them for being so obliging and - yes - handsome!

The third portrait was a man drumming in the street. He was really friendly too, though I guess he's more than used to being photographed and I did feel I needed to add some coins to his bowl. So it doesn't quite count as a proper street photo, I guess.

I really wish I could engage in conversation more easily; there are some such lovely and interesting people out there. Mind you, I might get myself into trouble! 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Street London, candid mono

The street photography genre is usually shown as contrasty black and white photos, so I have chosen a few of mine and given them this treatment. You also need to find 'a moment' that lifts the photo a little out of the ordinary. Not easy!

The image above seemed to me to be 'made' by the pigeon strutting along. Those below were careful captures of 'the moment': when the man was just at the right spot with the graffitied 'angel wings' behind, and an intimate moment between lovers. I was smiling at where he has his hand!

I came across a pro photographer taking a model shoot, with the stylist watching. It seemed a good opportunity to catch a shot and I liked the triangle the three figures make.

I didn't quite get the focus right on the one below, but I like the 'meeting and yet not meeting' within it.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Street London

The London skyline, quite recognisable I think... I went there for the day recently, to meet with members of the online photo group that I belong to. Some of them I know, some of them I've only met 'virtually' before, so it was very good to put faces to names. Our aim was to try some 'street photography'. That is well outside my comfort zone and not a genre that I have any expertise in but I had a very enjoyable day and was a little braver by the end of it!

We chose the area around Brick Lane in East London, as it is lively, 'alternative' and multi-cultural. It is a well-known area for street photography so a bunch of people with cameras wasn't unusual and seemed to be very well-accepted. There's lots of graffiti - of the genuinely artistic kind, not just rubbishy scrawls - so that makes for some interesting photos too.

It was tempting to start browsing the shops and the many markets but that wasn't my objective and I did manage to resist! Just the general juxtapositions of old and new, lots of colour, buildings and graffiti, were interesting to my eye, so I took some shots like that in between trying for people pictures, if only to bring my stress levels back to normal!

I also enjoyed taking some window reflection shots, like this one into an indoor street food market.

Monday, 26 August 2019

It took me a while....

I was a bit flummoxed by this sign outside the Old Glen Tea Rooms up on Shipley Glen. 'Surely', I thought, 'that's a bit of an odd thing to say if you're advertising your wares....' 'There are better home made cakes than the Glen Tea Rooms.' Doesn't it need a 'no' in there somewhere? It was only after a minute or two that I twigged that the little chap illustrated is Pinocchio, famed for telling lies... Doh! I'm a bit slow! I guess the advert worked, up to a point, as I certainly took notice of it. I didn't try the cakes though, so I can't say one way or another whether the claim is true or not.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Top Withins

From the Brontë Falls, if you follow the rough track that climbs the valley side, you can walk on to Top Withins, the ruined farmhouse that is reputed to have been the inspiration for the Earnshaw home in Emily Brontë's novel 'Wuthering Heights'. It is spelled 'Withins' on OS maps and most signs but seems to have become 'Withens' in popular culture. Most of the online links I found spell it that way. It is a popular literary shrine. The signposts to it are in English and Japanese!

There are plaques explaining a little of its history. The land here was farmed for at least 400 years, until the 1890s. In 1591, William Bentley divided his estate between his three sons, and that probably led to the origins of the three farms: Top, Middle and Lower Withins, all now ruined. This kind of divided inheritance was common in the area and meant that families were forced to support themselves with ever dwindling parcels of land, resulting in much poverty and distress. The land was hard to work anyway and only supported a few dairy cattle, sheep and small fields of oats. Families supplemented their income by hand loom weaving and the men worked in the many stone quarries on the moors.

The views from up here are bleakly beautiful. It's rarely warm, with keen winds sweeping across the moors. It must have been a difficult place to live, even though in those days there was a lot more activity, with people living and working on the moorland.

There are a few hamlets and villages nearby but Haworth, the nearest place of any size, is about four miles across the moor. In my photo below, it lies in the dip beyond the trees on the hill. Although the area looks rather flat in the photo, that is deceptive. This is a high moorland plateau, dissected by deep V-shaped valleys cut by small streams and sloping gradually down in the distance to the broad valley of the River Aire, which was originally gouged out by a glacier 12,000 years ago. The steep and narrow gorge where the Brontë Falls is situated is the zig-zag, bracken-filled line on the right. 

Saturday, 24 August 2019

The Brontë Waterfalls

A couple of miles from Haworth, as the moors rise up, there's a pretty spot, nowadays called the Brontë Waterfalls. It is described in some of the writings of the famous literary sisters, who lived in the parsonage in Haworth, so it is known that they visited it. Charlotte described the water as 'a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful'. Sometimes when I've been it's been a mere trickle but, as we'd had recent rain, there was a cascade of peaty water, if not exactly a torrent.

The stream that tumbles down off the moor over the falls joins a slightly larger beck at this point, spanned by a little bridge (no longer the original clapper bridge, which was washed away in a flood some years ago). The Brontës called it 'the meeting of the waters'.  It's a popular spot for picnics and there is always someone sitting in the most photogenic location. At least this couple's clothing blended in with the scenery!

If you have the stamina, you can walk on from here up to the ruined farmhouse at Top Withins. You can perhaps just see it in the photo below, under the lone tree on the skyline. It's not that far, perhaps a further two miles from the falls, but it is not the easy stroll some people imagine. In fact, the route from Stanbury along the Pennine Way is rather easier, with a wider, flagged path.

Friday, 23 August 2019


After seeing the heather in bloom at St Ives, Bingley the other day, I decided I'd take a walk on Haworth Moor, where there is more of it - or so I remembered. In fact, it seems to me to be declining even there, taken over by bracken and grasses. I don't think it's just my memory. I'm pretty sure there was a lot more of it ten or fifteen years ago. Climate change? Or the way the moors are managed now, perhaps. There is still, however, enough of it to give that lovely purple haze effect and the scent was gorgeous - a kind of soft, honeyed fragrance.

The moors are grazed by a few hardy sheep: the Yorkshire Swaledale breed, I think. For some reason, this little flock formed a (fairly) orderly queue as I approached. Sweet.

The land around Haworth Moor was quarried for stone and there are lots of dry stone walls, of a slightly different character to those higher up in the Dales. Many of them are collapsing, and don't seem to be maintained. Sheep-creeps or cripple holes are square holes in the wall that allow sheep to move from one field to another. In the photo below, the lintel has broken and the hole is no longer useable - but there were open spaces in the wall nearby anyway, so the sheep could move freely around.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Macro experiments

There are more boring and sensible things I should be spending my money on but I splurged on a macro lens. I've been hankering after a 50mm prime lens for some time and came across a Zeiss 50mm macro lens, secondhand, for a reasonable price. (Not that any photo equipment is 'reasonable' really. It's an expensive hobby!) Its first outing was to Harlow Carr gardens. I have such a lot to learn... The vast majority of my attempts were incorrectly focussed. Here is a selection of a few that came out halfway decent. The alpine house proved to be a happy hunting ground for macro shots (lots of miniature plants and no wind!).

Wednesday, 21 August 2019


Another photo montage using layers and blends. 'Salty Pumpkin' asked yesterday about flowers. so this is a flower one. I quite like its delicacy. I'm a great fan of alliums anyway, and these white ones (at Burton Agnes Hall) were so pretty.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Too much red wine?

I bought myself a book on creative photography techniques recently and have been trying out a few ideas. This was my first attempt at an impressionistic multi-exposure. I think I need to be even bolder with the technique to avoid it looking like camera shake, an earthquake or too much red wine. (I hadn't touched a drop, honestly!) Still, it's such fun trying out these ideas.

It at least gives a slightly different view of the much-photographed stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal between Saltaire's two huge mills: Salts on the left and the New Mill on the right. The boat was nicely placed for a photograph too. You have more chance of seeing one in the short-term day moorings here in the summer, when there are more hire boats around. People often want to stop and explore Saltaire.

Monday, 19 August 2019

City dusk

In Leeds it proved hard to get a good composition at sunset. My best effort was a railway gantry, softened by a rogue buddleia bush along the track. I liked the juxtaposition of hard lines and the more delicate tracery of the branches.

One of the many cranes on the skyline also provided a focal point. Leeds is a big, metropolitan city and is still growing, with lots of new offices and urban residential properties being built,

I quite liked the hard edges of this block of apartments against the soft clouds too. It was not, anyway, a very spectacular sunset in the end, though the colours were pretty.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Around Leeds station

There were several of us photographers, with cameras on tripods, clustered around the escalator. I lost count of the number of passers-by who stopped to enquire if a celebrity was expected. We must have looked like paparazzi!