Grace darling

52/2013 Week 39

Grace darling
Made from the remains of a fallen beech tree, the Grace Darling can be found on the shore at Hoylake, near the lifeboat station

Grace Darling (24 November 1815 – 20 October 1842) was an English lighthouse keeper’s daughter, famed for participating in the rescue of survivors from the shipwrecked Forfarshire in 1838.

In the early hours of 7 September 1838, Grace, looking from an upstairs window of the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands, spotted the wreck and survivors of the Forfarshire on Big Harcar, a nearby low rocky island.

She and her father William determined that the weather was too rough for the lifeboat to put out from Seahouses (then North Sunderland), so they took a rowing boat (a 21 ft, 4-man Northumberland coble) across to the survivors, taking a long route that kept to the lee side of the islands, a distance of nearly a mile. Grace kept the coble steady in the water while her father helped four men and the lone surviving woman, Mrs. Dawson, into the boat. Although she survived the sinking, Mrs Dawson had lost her two young children during the night. William and three of the rescued men then rowed the boat back to the lighthouse. Grace then remained at the lighthouse while William and three of the rescued crew members rowed back and recovered four more survivors.

The Forfarshire had been carrying 62 people. The vessel broke in two almost immediately upon hitting the rocks. Those rescued by Grace and her father were from the bow section of the vessel which had been held by the rocks for some time before sinking. Nine other passengers and crew had managed to float off a lifeboat from the stern section before it too sank, and were picked up in the night by a passing Montrose sloop and brought into South Shields that same night.

Grace Darling died of tuberculosis in 1842, aged 26.


Vintage paper with plenty of copyspace for text

Digital Art

Vintage paper with plenty of copyspace for text

Way back in the dim and distant past I used to create a lot of images like this using backgrounds I had created and photographed. I would then add the subject such as the lighthouse and blend the two together.

In this one I have used a stock image from Fotolia and then blended in one of my photographs of Talacre Lighthouse.

I had forgotten how much fun it was, playing around in Photoshop to get the effect I wanted, blending layers and brushing in/out parts of the various photographs.

In fact I enjoyed it so much you might just see some more like this. But what do you think? Should I feature more digital art?

Tewkesbury Abbey Altar

Lines and Patterns

Regular readers will notice that I have not used Weekly Photo Challenge in this weeks title. The idea was first suggested by RJ Silva in his blog post An Unusual Point of View and having seen this weeks challenge title I’m going to join Rolando in doing the same. So to this weeks challenge.

Lines and patterns are everywhere it’s just a case of seeing them for what they are.

You are the conductor ~ Your orchestra are shapes, textures, stories, objects, patterns, emotions, design, moments, depth, focus, rhythm, shades, colour, movement and light. It is your performance. It is your vision. – Steve Coleman

Every morning and evening if the sky is clear I get to see lines of vapour trails from aircraft as they head across the Atlantic towards the USA and Canada. But I also see aircraft going to and from the UK and Ireland. On clear moonlit nights silver trails light up the sky.

Vapour Trails

As I’m talking about the skies I thought I’d ask this little question. Why do military aircraft have disruptive pattern on their underside? I can understand the upper part of the aircraft being camouflaged to look like the ground but surely the underside should look like the sky?


Anyway this is the last flying Vulcan Bomber As a part of the V-force, the Vulcan was the backbone of the United Kingdom’s airborne nuclear deterrent during much of the Cold War

The only combat missions involving the Vulcan took place in 1982 during the Falklands War with Argentina. This was also the only time V-bombers took part in conventional warfare. The Vulcans flew 3,889 mi (6,259 km) from Ascension Island to Stanley on the Falklands. On  the 1st of May, the first mission was conducted by a single Vulcan that flew over Port Stanley and dropped its bombs on the airfield concentrating on the single runway, with one direct hit, making it unsuitable for fighter aircraft.

Interestingly, in the early 1980′s, Argentina approached the UK with a proposal to buy a number of Vulcans. A letter from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ministry of Defence in January 1982 stated that little prospect was seen of this happening without ascertaining the Argentine interest and whether such interest was genuine: ‘On the face of it, a strike aircraft would be entirely suitable for an attack on the Falklands.

Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands less than three months later.

Blue Pillar

For a subject to be strong enough to be worth photographing, the relationship of its forms must be rigorously established. Composition starts when you situate your camera in space in relation to the object. For me, photography is the exploration in reality of the rhythm of surfaces, lines, or values; the eye carves out its subject, and the camera has only to do its work. That work is simply to print the eye’s decision on film. – Henri Cartier-Bresson

This stone pillar is located in Wells Cathedral, Somerset. The colour of the stone, forming those lines all the way to the roof with its intricate patterns, caught my eye the moment I saw it. Using a tripod I placed the camera at the base of the stone looking up. Rather than go straight up I decided to put the pillar at an angle. What do you think…good decision?

I was looking through my back catalogue the other day and found this photograph from 2009. Its one of those photographs.


I know I like it but I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the line of posts giving a feeling of perspective? Or maybe it’s the pale colours?

Time for some more patterns and these are from the magnificent tiled floor in Tewkesbury Abbey which is made with Encaustic tiles.

Tewkesbury Abbey Altar

These are ceramic tiles in which the pattern or figure on the surface is not a product of the glaze but of different colours of clay. They are usually of two colours but a tile may be composed of as many as six. The pattern appears inlaid into the body of the tile, so that the design remains as the tile is worn down.

In both medieval times and in the nineteenth and twentieth century Gothic Revival, tiles were most often made for and laid in churches. Even tiles that were laid in private homes were often copies of those found in religious settings. Encaustic tile floors exist all over Europe and North America but are most prevalent in England where the greatest numbers of inlaid tiles were made.

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is located in Glasgow, Scotland. The building houses one of Europe’s great civic art collections. Since its 2003–06 refurbishment, the museum has been the most popular free-to-enter visitor attraction in Scotland, and the most visited museum in the United Kingdom outside of London

Kelvingrove Art Gallery

It is built in a Spanish Baroque style, follows the Glaswegian tradition of using Locharbriggs red sandstone, and includes an entire program of architectural sculpture by George Frampton, Francis Derwent Wood and other sculptors. The centrepiece of the central hall is a massive Pipe Organ installed by Lewis & Co.

There is a popular myth in Glasgow, that the building was accidentally built back-to-front, and the architect jumped from one of the towers in despair, when he realised his mistake. This is only an urban myth. The grand entrance was always intended to face into Kelvingrove Park. I know when I was a boy living in Glasgow I thought it was back to front and in those day the entrance was what is now considered the back of the building, even although it faces onto the main road.


Talacre Lighthouse

That Lighthouse Again!

Talacre Lighthouse

Whilst I was on the beach on Wednesday I took quite a few photographs of the lighthouse including this one with the rectangular stones. I think they were to allow passage out to the lighthouse without walking through the pools of water and soft sand. But there again I could be totally wrong.

Talacre is a great beach, miles of golden sand and in the winter time you often don’t see anyone on it at all. However, it’s also very exposed to the elements and when the wind blows it really blows, whipping up sand, which stings like crazy. Get caught in the rain and you will get wet. Trust me I’ve been there when a squally shower blows in. There’s no cover.


Point of Ayr Lighthouse

52/2013 Week 38

Point of Ayr Lighthouse

Have you ever visited a familiar place and thought that something has changed but you can’t quite work out what it is?

Whenever I need to take a quick photograph either for test purposes or the Weekly Challenge I nearly always turn to my favourite lighthouse at Talacre Beach. The shape of the lighthouse never changes, but because the lighthouse is on the beach, tidal action twice a day, changes the sand and pools of water around the lighthouse. Meaning I can get a different photo every time I visit.

I was there yesterday. I knew something was different, but…

After a while I noticed a few things: there’s a new door, the silver statue has gone from the top of the lighthouse and more of the brickwork has been exposed by the weather.


Tewkesbury Abbey

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

Nowadays, cameras are everywhere and in March 2013 The Verge reported that Flickr had a total of 87 million registered members and more than 3.5 million new images uploaded daily.

I don’t take pictures for the sake of photographing. I take photographs to express what’s going on inside of me. Photography turned out to be the most handy tool.

- Rumio Sato

I wonder how many of those photographs uploaded to Flickr “express what’s going on inside of me”?

Tewkesbury Abbey

I was lucky to visit Tewkesbury Abbey again last week. The internal lighting highlights the colour of the stone and I spent hours last week wandering around the abbey looking for unusual scenes.

The colour of the flowers against the more sedate hues of the abbey stone attracted me straight away.

In 1087, William the Conqueror gave the manor of Tewkesbury to his cousin, Robert Fitzhamon, who, with Giraldus, Abbot of Cranbourne, founded the present abbey in 1092. Building of the present Abbey church did not start until 1102, employing Caen stone imported from Normandy and floated up the Severn.

Virgin and Child

Wandering around the abbey I found this little chapel with an Alec Miller sculpture of the “Virgin and Child”. Alec Miller (1879-1961) trained as a wood-carver in Glasgow, my home town. Later he became a carver, sculptor, craftsman and artist. In 1931 he emigrated to California, where he had a successful career.
 Tewkesbury Abbey Ceiling

If you ever visit the abbey don’t forget to look up and you will see the beautiful vaulted roof, with its gilded Suns of York, which was commissioned by King Edward IV after the Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471.

The battle was one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses and after the battle some of the defeated Lancastrians sought sanctuary in the abbey. The victorious Yorkists, led by King Edward IV, forced their way into the abbey; the resulting bloodshed caused the building to be closed for a month until it could be purified and re-consecrated.

Abbey View

By now it was getting near time for the abbey to close for the night, apart from a few staff I had the abbey to myself and I was able to get this photograph looking down from the altar to the nave. As I was lining up the camera for the photograph I started to think about all the people who had walked on the stone floor of the abbey in it’s 921 year history. Can you imagine the number of people, who were they and had anything significant happened in their lives? Of course at the time I did not know about the massacre in the abbey after the battle.


52/2013 Week 37

52/2013 Week 37

Wildlife photography, you either love it or hate it. Most of the time I hate it. It can be so frustrating and most of the time I shoot quantity over quality.

52/2013 Week 37

But occasionally I get something I like, like this Meerkat. OK!  It’s shot in a zoo, but it can be just as demanding there to get a good one, You still get movement, but usually you can get a little closer, which helps a great deal. But is it wildlife photography?

52/2013 Week 36

52/2013 Week 36

Do you ever set yourself a project and then find you’re continually chasing to catch-up? That’s the way it been with this years 52/2013 Challenge. It’s not that I’m failing to get the weekly photograph, more the time required to process the photograph, post it to Flickr and then write the blog post.

52/2013 Week 36

It doesn’t help if you don’t have access to the internet like I had the last week. I knew I was going on vacation, I knew there was no access, but I still missed not using it. Maybe I’ve come to rely on it too much? What about you. Do you feel lost if you can’t get on-line?

Anyway for this weeks challenge, I took this photograph of Tewkesbury Abbey from the opposite side of the river. Most visitors to the Abbey never see this. What I like about it is the bench and tree on the river bank provide some good foreground interest.


Weekly Photo Challenge: POV

Weekly Photo Challenge: An Unusual POV

What’s the best way to show the beautiful features of the ceiling in a 12th century building?

I’ve just got back from a short trip to Tewkesbury and the Cotswolds. The abbey at Tewkesbury is one of the best religious buildings I have ever photographed and the Cotswolds is famous for its areas of outstanding natural beauty. But for this weeks challenge I’m going to show you a photograph taken in the abbey.

Weekly Photo Challenge: POV

The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, Tewkesbury, (commonly known as Tewkesbury Abbey), in the English county of Gloucestershire, is the second largest parish church in the country and a former Benedictine monastery. It is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Britain, and has probably the largest Romanesque crossing tower in Europe.

Walking round the abbey, you can find so much to photograph, I spent nearly 5 hours there. The artwork on the ceiling is very intricate, but, because the abbey is so tall you don’t half crick your neck trying to view it…

…and that’s where the mirror comes into its own. By looking in the mirror you can view the magnificent ceiling of the abbey easily.

Not the easiest thing to photograph though, I had to get a lens cloth out to polish the fingerprints off the mirror and for some reason I had difficulty getting the camera to focus sharply, but here it is anyway. A different POV for the ceiling in the abbey.

Have you ever seen anything like this? Or perhaps you’ve found something that helps to display unique features in a building?