Let Me In

Let Me In

Let Me In | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

The Welsh Pony and Cob are closely related horse breeds including both pony and cob types, which originated in Wales in the United Kingdom. Welsh ponies and cobs are known for their good temperament, hardiness, and free-moving gaits.

Evidence suggests that a native Welsh-type of pony existed before 1600 BC.  The original Welsh Mountain Pony is thought to have evolved from the prehistoric Celtic pony. Welsh ponies were primarily developed in Wales and their ancestors existed in the British Isles prior to the arrival of the Roman Empire. Bands of ponies roamed in a semi-feral state, climbing mountains, leaping ravines, and running over rough moorland terrain.

They developed into a hardy breed due to the harsh climate, limited shelter and sparse food sources of their native country. At some point in their development, the Welsh breeds had some Arabian blood added, although this did not take away the physical characteristics that make the breed unique.

On our way up to the Aber falls a herd of ponies were waiting by this gate which separates the moorland from the meadows. It just struck me as funny seeing the sign saying don’t let them in.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Falling Water | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Dreaming! As a photographer, albeit an amateur one, I always dream of getting the perfect photo. The one where the lighting is exactly right, everything that I want to be in focus, is in focus, from front to back of the photograph….and the subject is exactly where I want it. Ansel Adams once said;

You don’t take a photograph, you make it.

With today’s modern cameras and software it is so much easier to correct many of the mistakes we make before we press that shutter. We can correct the exposure, adjust the sharpness, increase or decrease the saturation, in effect, making an image that we like. However, I’m not so sure that’s what Ansel Adams really meant?

With Fred Archer, Adams developed the “Zone System“as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs and the work of those to whom he taught the system. Adams primarily used large-format cameras despite their size, weight, setup time, and film cost, because their high-resolution helped ensure sharpness in his images.

Adams preferred to work in Black and White because he felt color could be distracting, and might therefore divert an artist’s attention away from achieving his full potential when taking a photograph. Adams actually claimed that he could get “a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than he had ever achieved with color photography”.

However, unknown to many, Adams did not work exclusively in black and white—he experimented with color, as well. A few examples of his color work are available in the online archive of the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. His subjects that he shot in color ranged from portraits to landscape to architecture, a similar scope to that of his black and white work.

Another reason why Adams preferred Black and White was, he was a “master of control”. He wrote books about technique, developed the “Zone System”—something which helped determine the optimal exposure and development time for a given photograph—and introduced the idea of “previsualization”, which involved the photographer imagining what he wanted his final print to look like before he even took the shot. These concepts and methods allowed for nearly total control of all the potential variables that factor into a final print. Because of his love for control, Adams disliked color since it lacked this element that he had mastered with black and white.

….and this is what I think Adams meant when he said “You don’t take a photograph, you make it”.

We can’t all be like Ansel Adams or any of the great photographers but we can certainly strive to get the best photograph we can. How we achieve that is up to us but I know it doesn’t need a big expensive camera to do so.

 Buying a Nikon or Canon doesn’t make you a photographer.  It makes you a Nikon or Canon owner.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a DSLR, most of my photographs are taken with it. I’ve had the camera for about five years now and I know it inside out. I know it’s capabilities and I know it’s failings. I’m going to be upgrading it this year to one with newer technology which will iron out most of the failings of my current camera. But some of the best photographs I have taken have come from a simple Point and Shoot that my wife bought me for my birthday last year. Yet, despite this, I’m still dreaming about that new camera which is going to be released in exactly six days time. I won’t have it for the next Weekly Photo Challenge, but maybe the next.

Bridgewater Place

Bridgewater Place | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Bridgewater Place, nicknamed The Dalek, is an office and residential skyscraper development in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It is the tallest building in Yorkshire, and has held this record since being topped out in September 2005. It is visible at up to 25 miles (40 km) from certain areas.

It was first announced in 2000 and, following several redesigns and delays with the construction process, construction of the building began in 2004 and was completed in 2007. It became the tallest building in Leeds, by a significant margin, and Yorkshire (although this does not take into account structures such as Emley Moor). Bridgewater Place has a height of 112 metres (367 ft) to roof level. Originally the tower was to have a spire which would have extended the height of the building to 137 metres (449 ft), however this was never built.

Bridgewater Place has 32 storeys, of which two are used for car parking, ten for offices and twenty for residential purposes. There is 40,000 square metres / 430,560 square feet of floor space in the building with 200 flats and 400 underground car parking spaces serving both the residential and commercial areas of the building.

The atrium of Bridgewater Place hosts the 17.5 metre column sculpture called ‘Hello Friends’ by artists Bryan Davies and Laura Davies, which is possibly the tallest sculpture in Yorkshire. Created as a reinterpretation of Constantin Brâncuşi’s Endless Column from Târgu Jiu, Romania 50 years after the artist’s death, it houses illuminated photographs showing a science fiction narrative.

The building’s shape appears to be accelerating winds in its immediate vicinity to the extent that pedestrians have experienced severe difficulties walking past. These winds have led to some of the entrances to the building being closed for safety reasons.  To rectify these issues in the design may require the addition of ‘vertical fins’ to the facade of the building.

In 2008, Building Design, the architectural journal, shortlisted Bridgewater Place for its annual Carbuncle Cup, which is awarded to ‘buildings so ugly they freeze the heart’. The building has often been criticised for creating a dangerous wind tunnel and as of 10 March 2011 is involved in the investigation of a death caused by a falling lorry.

On 10 February 2012 the West Yorkshire Coroner Melanie Williamson halted her inquest into the 10 March 2011 incident saying: “I’m concerned having heard all the evidence there may be an offence of Corporate Manslaughter by one or more of the organisations.”

Looking At You

Looking At You | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

It’s Sunday again so time for another Sliders Sunday. For this weeks image I used a photograph of one of the many stone faces carved on the outside of  the Marble Church (St.Margaret’s Church), Bodelwyddan, which is a prominent landmark in the lower Vale of Clwyd in Denbighshire, Wales.  It lies just off the A55 trunk road and is visible for many miles.

The church was erected by Lady Willoughby de Broke in memory of her husband, Henry Peyto-Verney, 16th Baron Willoughby de Broke. She laid the foundation stone on 24 July 1856 and the new church designed by John Gibson was consecrated by the Bishop of St. Asaph on 23 August 1860 after construction at a cost of £60,000. The new parish of Bodelwyddan was created on 3 August 1860, from the communities of Bodelwyddan, Faenol and Pengwern, which until that date had been part of the parish of St. Asaph.

The church contains pillars made of Belgian Red marble, and the nave entrance is made from “Anglesey marble”. It also contains elaborate woodwork, and in the tower can be found windows of stained glass on the North and South sides, featuring Saint Margaret and Saint Kentigern, and is a popular tourist destination.

Immediately to the west of the church is Kinmel Camp, which was a military camp located in the grounds of Kinmel Hall. The camp was used by Canadian troops during the First World War. The churchyard contains the graves of numerous victims of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 in the camp. On 4-5 March 1919 a riot occurred in the camp when the ship allocated to return the troops to Canada was diverted to carry food supplies to Russia, and five Canadian soldiers were killed in the disturbances and four buried in St Margaret’s Churchyard, the firth buried, Gunner John Frederick Hickman, is located in Dorchester, New Brunswick. A common story is that they were executed for mutiny, but this has been denied by the Canadian Department of National Defence.

For those of you who might be interested in Sliders Sunday…..

Sliders Sunday is a Flickr Group devoted to having fun pushing those sliders in your digital photography program. Group rules are quite simple

  1. You are not allowed to post SOOC pictures
  2. You should have had fun experimenting with processing the picture you post
  3. You can only post on Sunday
  4. You must describe or tag your shot as intended for this group by either describing your processing or by tagging it HSS or “sliders sunday.”
  5. Please take a moment and comment on other group members
  6. One Shot per Week

First and Last House

First and Last House | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

Depending on your viewpoint this is either the first or last house in mainland Great Britain. Well according to the sign it is. The cottage was built in the 19th century for Gracie Thomas and it’s located on the cliff tops of Land’s End. Gracie Thomas ran it as a souvenir shop selling small pieces of granite with Land’s End stamped on them and even today it still functions as a souvenir shop.

Now call me cynical. Why can’t a house at the northerly end of Great Britain be classed as the First and Last house? Well there is! At John O’ Groats, considered to be the most northerly point of mainland Great Britain, although in fact it’s actually Dunnet Head, there’s a First and Last Souvenir shop. Guess who owns it?

Soviet War Memorial – Berlin

Soviet War Memorial.jpg | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

This is a test of the Press This tool available from within the WordPress. I want to use my images from my Flickr account rather than using the WordPress media library. However Flickr’s Share to Blog facility does not let you size the images to fit your blog profile. My thanks to Frank J Casella for reminding me about the Press This bookmarklet: a little app that runs in your browser and lets you grab bits of the web. You can use Press This to clip text, images and videos from any web page. Then edit and add more straight from Press This before you save or publish it in a post on your site. Press This is available from the Dashboard of your blog in the Tools section. Having looked at the way Press This works it might mean that I will have to change my them to suit the size of the image it sends to my blog. However that is something I can play with.

So what about the image? The Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten) is one of several war memorials in Berlin, capital city of Germany, erected by the Soviet Union to commemorate its war dead, particularly the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945. The memorial was designed by architect Mikhail Gorvits with the monument of the Soviet soldier by sculptors Vladimir Tsigal and Lev Kerbel.

The memorial is located in the Großer Tiergarten, a large public park to the west of the city centre, on the north side of the east-west Straße des 17. Juni (17 June Street) in the Tiergarten locality. This memorial was erected in 1945, within a few months of the capture of the city. Early photographs show the memorial standing in a wilderness of ruins, the Tiergarten having been destroyed by incendiary bombs and then stripped of timber for firewood during the last months of the war. Today, it is surrounded by the extensive woodlands of the reconstituted Tiergarten. Although the memorial stood in what was then the British sector of Berlin, its construction was supported by all the Allied powers. Throughout the Cold War, Soviet Guards were present at the memorial, sent out and changed regularly by Soviet occupying forces in the Soviet sector. In the early 80’s I was living in Berlin and have memories of the guards standing at the memorial in freezing cold temperatures. It was rumoured that they were standing on hot vents, which meant they kept warm despite the cold, but of course no one could get close enough to verify this.

Built from stonework taken from the destroyed Reich Chancellery, the memorial takes the form of a curved stoa topped by a large statue of a Soviet soldier. It is set in landscaped gardens and flanked by two Red Army ML-20 152mm gun-howitzer artillery pieces and two T-34 tanks. Behind the memorial is an outdoor museum showing photographs of the memorial’s construction and giving a guide to other memorials in the Berlin area. A large Cyrillic inscription is written underneath the soldier statue, which is translated as “Eternal glory to heroes who fell in battle with the German fascist invaders for the freedom and independence of the Soviet Union”. The Soviets built the statue with the soldier’s arm in a position to symbolize the Red Army’s putting down of the German National Socialist state.

On the anniversary of VE Day, (8 May), wreath-laying ceremonies are held at the memorial which is a site of pilgrimage for war veterans from the countries of the former Soviet Union. It is also a popular tourist attraction, since it is much closer to the centre of the city than the larger Soviet war memorial at Treptower Park. The memorial is maintained by the City of Berlin.

Built in a style similar other Soviet monuments of World War II, there is a sign next to the monument explaining in English, German and Russian that this is the burial site of some 2,000 fallen Soviet soldiers. It is located in the heart of Berlin along one of the major roads with a clear sight of the Reichstag and the Brandenburg gate, both symbols of the city and it is built on a place which Adolf Hitler meant to devote to Welthauptstadt Germania. Besides the main inscription, the columns state names of only some of the Heroes of the Soviet Union buried here. It has earned some unflattering nicknames from the local population with references to crimes committed by Soviet occupation troops.

After the building of the Berlin wall in 1961 this monument was seen as a sign of communist provocation on West Berlin soil, having to be protected by British soldiers against being destroyed by the West Berliners. In 1970 a neo-Nazi, Ekkehard Weil, shot one of the Soviet honour guards at the monument, severely wounding the soldier. This led to baffles, like giant billboards, being strategically located in the woods opposite the memorial, thus not allowing a clear line of sight with the guards. In 2010, the monument was vandalized with red graffiti just before Victory in Europe Day celebrations with text “thieves, murderers, rapists”. This sparked a protest from the Russian embassy in Berlin, accusing German authorities of not being able to take sufficient measures to protect the monument.

Fleeting Moment | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Fleeting Moment | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

This is a test post to see how WordPress handles the changes from Press This to the actual blog. I will be experimenting with various thems and this post to see what happens. First of all though I need to change this post from draft to published and that is just a click away. Next I might have to resize the image I’ll see how that works. Maybe it will maybe it won’t but I won’t know until I have tried it…..



A car taking part in the annual Sandocross Competition on the sands at Weston-super-Mare

Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

A car taking part in the annual Sandocross Competition on the sands at Weston-super-Mare

This weeks photo challenge is Movement, so how do we convey that in a 2 dimensional medium where everything is static. As Dorothea Lange said;

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still”.

As photographers we have to take that instant in time that our camera catches and somehow convey movement. One possible way is to create some form of movement blur in the image by creative use of your camera.  Or, you can simulate movement by creating it in the Digital Darkroom like the one I created about two weeks ago http://mikehardisty.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/springburn-express/. But it’s not real. I simulated the movement using Photoshop.

So that brings me back to creative use of my camera. The shutter speed in the image above is fast enough to freeze the sand being thrown up by the buggy doing a sharp turn in the sand as it races in a Sandocross event. To me it looks dramatic but also serves to show that the vehicle is moving.

So what exactly is Sandocross? It’s a variation of Autocross and gives competitors the chance of experiencing speed, but it does require a slightly different approach when driving on wet sand which can be quite unforgiving.

Talacre Lighthouse

I Need Your Help!

Often as an amateur photographer I question my methods of taking photographs. Should I use JPEG, maybe RAW is better, does that work from a low angle, should I put something in the foreground. By questioning myself I hope to improve my skills and get the best photograph I can.

Now as my regular readers will know I have had trouble with my photographs being stolen, you can read about it here http://mikehardisty.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/no-more-cc-images/. Until the beginning of this year I was a supporter of Creative Commons Licensing but that changed after I found many of my photographs being used illegally in breach of my copyright and the terms of the CC License I had allocated.

For a while a used a great big watermark on my photographs but many of you said you didn’t like it and the watermark was just too distracting. So I decided to go with a frame round my photographs like the one you see in the image below.

As always though I continue to question myself, not only in the way that I take my  photographs but also in the way I present them, to you, my readers. Heres the same photograph but this time without the frame…..

…..and this is where I need your help.

What works better for you. Do you like the photograph framed? Or do you prefer to see it without the frame?

I really would like your help with this so please take time to place a short comment at the end of this article, Even if it’s only the words Framed or Not Framed