A Mixed Bag, This Week

It’s been a week of contracts. New phone, car insurance, broadband, travel insurance, had to get that renewed as I’ve got some interesting trips coming up this year starting in March. Told the kids I’m going to take up SKI’ing, they thought I was mad. Anyway  bit of a mixed bag this week, photograph wise. So without further ado let’s get on with it…

First up is Valle Crucis Abbey, or to be more precise the ruins of the abbey. Although it is maintained nowadays. time has not been good to the structure and although it is safe to walk around the site, especially when the snow falls. One year when i visited that low wall was completely hidden, instant leg or ankle breaker.

Valle Crucis

A couple of years back I found this great little piece of artwork on the Wirral near Hoylake. It’s made from driftwood found on the beach and the structure is sound enough for kids to climb on it. It’s a great pirate ship, don’t you think?

Grace Darling

This bench sits at the side of a river in an area where the conditions are right for moss and lichens to grow. Not sure I’d sit on this bench because it looks as though it could be permanently wet.

Bench

Out on the Denbigh moors I found this building. Although it looks in disrepair and isn’t obviously habitable. There are official looking signs saying “No Entry”, and I have seen some plain unmarked vans parked right next to the door. Maybe it’s the entrance to a secret bunker. Or probably it’s just an old abandoned building out on the moors.

Abandoned

The only tree, honestly. You can see the ones down in the valley but this was the only one in view when I got to the top of the hill.

Lone Tree

My next photograph is a bit of a strange one. The structure in the background is the Point of Ayr gas terminal and I’m standing on the surface of the now defunct Mostyn Colliery. Lot’s of coal beneath me, but apparently it’s the “wrong type”. So they closed the colliery and flooded the mineshaft by opening a hole to one of the levels from the sea which is just behind me. At high tide, the sea rushed in and filled all the levels of the mine, which incidentally went out under the sea bed. Of course all this happened  a good fifty years or so and it’s unlikely they would ever be able to recover the coal now.

Tracks

A metal bar, left behind when the copper mine closed. I love that little patch of light as the sun broke through the clouds.

Steel Bar

I really am not sure what this was used for, but it’s at the side of the Menai Strait, so I assume it was used for winching something in from the water.

Winch

So that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed the photographs.

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Oops! I Forgot

It’s 4;30 pm on a cold Tuesday afternoon, here in the UK. I’m sitting at my computer when it struck me. I haven’t submitted anything for this weeks challenge. Although to be fair, I’ve been busy testing new software and working on a new project.

Now here’s the other thing, I haven’t taken any photographs, that I can use, since my visit to Budapest nearly a month ago. For me that is really strange…….So for this weeks challenge I’m going to have to rely on past photographs, taken from almost the same spot at two different times of the year.

I’m standing at Cwm Idwal, it’s January, the lake is behind me and I’m looking over the Ogwen Valley to Pen yr Ole Wen. As you can see, there’s been quite a heavy fall of snow and I remember on the day I took this photograph there weren’t too many people about.

Pen yr Ole Wen

It’s also the same day that I and another photographer, whom I met that day, got caught in a blizzard white out. At the time it was disconcerting because you can’t see much in front of you. But despite there not being too much shelter up there we decided to stick it out and see if it cleared. and fortunately after about five minutes it stopped snowing. Time to get off the mountain as soon as possible. It’s no great panic, we were both equipped to be there, but when you can’t see where you want to go, then it gets a little bit tasty.

Then we have this photograph, from nearly the same spot. Taken just over a year later in the February. Considering the month it’s surprising there’s now snow.

Pen yr Ole Wen

So that’s it for this week. It’s a quick one and I hope you enjoyed them – Mike

Architecture And More Architecture

During the time we were in Budapest we experienced some really dramatic weather. High winds, torrential rain, bitter cold days. But you still have to get out if you want to see the sights, These photographs were shot over several days and you can see that in the skies.

My plan with this set is to show you some architecture, both inside and out. Once again you can’t get away from tourists, hey I’m one myself, but in this set I decided in some cases to make use of them. So let’s get on with the photographs. This is the back-end of the Parliament Building in Budapest. It was the only place were there were very few tourists and it serves my purpose to show you the intricate work involved in the building’s architecture.

Parliament

And the same building from the opposite side of the river

Riverside

One of the places we visited, and we visited a lot in our 3 and a bit days in Budapest, is the Fisherman’s Bastion, high on the hill above the Buda side of the river. You can walk all round the bastion walls. But On the day I visited it was so busy.

Fishermans Bastion

We caught the bus up to the Bastion but if you’re fit enough and fancy the walk then you can always climb the stairs up from the riverside.

Passageway

You know I said it was busy the day I visited. I had sort of got this photograph all lined up, minus the young lady. It was pretty obvious what I was doing, yet she decided that her need to be photographed by her friend far outweighed my needs. Couple of seconds and I would have been finished. But no, she just walked right into the frame and sat down. Pretty girl, so I decided to photograph her anyway and feature her in this post. I’d waited long enough to get the photograph so if she wanted to add that little bit extra, fair enough. Come to think about it, it does make the photograph, so thank you.

Pretty Girl

Up on the hill again. Looking over the River Danube to the Parliament building and the Pest side of the river. Budapest is one of the cities that gets regular visits from ships cruising the river. That’s one you can see now. Floating hotels that sail down the European rivers making stops along the way at interesting places. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not complaining, I’ve been on two of these ships myself. The trip I did through France and one through Germany and the Netherlands.

Danube Panorama

So let’s get down closer to that bridge. It’s one of many that cross the river in Budapest. In another post I will show you this bridge lit up at night.

Chain Bridge

Whilst we were in Budapest we paid a visit to the Great Synagogue. It was a really grey and miserable day, fair bit of rain around so an indoor location was ideal.

Two Domes

Outside the synagogue is not that exciting but step inside and you’re in a world of fantastic architecture. Tripods weren’t allowed, but here’s a hint. Find a pew, and if you can rest your camera on it. Use a wide aperture like f2, set your timer for two seconds delay to avoid shake when you press the shutter and hopefully you will be able to get a reasonable photograph without bumping up the ISO too much.

Great Synagogue

During the WW2 the Great Synagogue formed part of the Jewish Ghetto and it was used as a shelter for may of Budapest’s Jews. In the courtyard of the synagogue is a cemetery in which over two thousand people, who died from hunger and cold during the winter of 1944-45, are buried.

Memorial Garden

OK! Lets go underground. The transport system in Budapest is fantastic, trams, buses, underground all link seamlessly and it’s my favourite way of getting round. As an added bonus, if you are an EU citizen and 65 or over you can travel for free. Just make sure you have a valid identity document with you at all times as the inspectors are pretty keen. I used my passport whilst we were in Budapest. Although there seem to be no checks don’t be tempted to not buy a ticket if you are under 65. The inspectors don’t wear a uniform, most are dressed very casually. First time you know they are there is when they put on a red armband and show you their identity card. No ticket, big fine. Not worth it.

Anyway the underground is pretty modern but some of the escalators are pretty steep and move really fast and they go deep, real deep underground. But on our travels we found this quaint underground line, where the stations look quaint and they’re just below ground. A few steps down and you’re on the platform. Even the trains are old and rickety.

Underground

….and this is where we ended up. At Heroes Square.. As usual you aren’t going to get a photograph without tourists so when these lovely ladies lined up for a photograph it was too good an opportunity to miss. So with a smile and pointing to my camera they nodded Ok and I took some photographs of them. The gentleman as totally unaware that I was there, that’s why they are laughing.

Heroes Square

Across from Heroes Square is Vajdahunyad Castle, which is now a museum. That concrete area in front of it becomes an ice skating park in Winter.

Vajdahunyad Castle

As you wander around Budapest you find many little hidden courtyards behind the facades of the big buildings. This one leads to a hotel. I love finding them and having a look, just to see what is there.

Secret Garden

Very often the doors are closed and then as you are walking around someone will open the door to come out. I’ve seen beautiful garden courtyards, stark concrete ones and even hidden shops.

Shoe Shops

Well that’s it. I enjoyed my visit to Budapest, despite the weather and the inability to capture photographs without tourists. It’s one of those things about travel nowadays, everyone does it and unless you are prepared to get up at dark o’clock you are not going to find any popular location without people. On this trip I decide in the end to embrace people, not literally, and use them with my photographs.

So I’ll leave you with this photograph taken at Fisherman’s Bastion. The young lady was standing there looking out over the city. I quickly changed to spot metering and exposed for the sky which more or less pushed her to be in silhouette. I quick touch up in Lightroom to complete the darkening down and there you have it.

Silhouette

It’s unlikely that I will visit Budapest again, which is why I was so determined to get out and about no matter what the weather. We walked miles, got drenched by a heavy downpour at one point, not much you can do when you are stuck on an exposed bridge halfway across the river. Travelled extensively on the public transport system and I took over 1000 photographs in the 4 days that we were there. Admittedly I was in tourist mode and knowing that I most probably wouldn’t be back I was determined to record as much as possible. Quantity over quality, probably, but it’s a one time shot. Better to have something to work with than nothing at all. At least that’s the way I see it. How about you?

Does this post meet the weekly challenge, probably not, but there again it’s all down to interpretation……..

Underground, Did I See Anything in Budapest?

I’ve just got back from a short trip to Budapest and am still looking at all of the photographs I have taken there. But as this is Wednesday and it’s almost time for a new challenge I’ll just include a couple of quick photographs from the trip.

First up is this one of a tunnel under the main road on the approach to the Chain Bridge. It’s used by trams which run along the riverside.

Grafitti

Second is this pedestrian tunnel under the same road.

_.jpg

That’s it for this week. But look out for my post of night shots from Budapest and if I have time this week I’ll be writing about the Great Market Hall as well.

Hôtel-Dieu, Beaune

Once an alms-house for the poor, the Hotel Dieu is now a museum and at last I have found an ancient building in France that is not bare of furniture and fittings. Right from the start I knew there would be some good photo opportunities and it really was a shame that the sun wasn’t out. Instead i had to contend with gloomy grey skies throughout the day. But it’s a one-off visit so I had to make the most of it, stop moaning about the light and get on with it.

Courtyard

Of course like all museums and tourist attractions you just can’t get away from the crowds and this particular group always seemed to be just in front of me. But ignore the people and look at the ceiling. How beautiful is that?

The Ward

Those beds are were the sick and poor were quartered. Privacy, of which there is little, comes from drawing a curtain across. But when all’s said and done, it must have been a lot better to be in here, rather than being out on the streets.

Beds

So I finally had a stunning plan. Jump ahead of that group and stay ahead of them whilst I got my photographs. there were other people about but I could work around that. meanwhile I’m impressed with the level of fittings that are here in the museum, even down to the mannequins dressed as nuns. Although more on that later……

Private Ward

….and here’s where I think the mannequin doesn’t work. Red lipstick, beautifully shaped eye-brows, any nuns I’ve seen, and I’ve seen loads, having once lived very near Rome and the Vatican, just didn’t look like that.

Kitchen

But the museum is well equipped and although I photographed a lot of rooms there’s only so much I can include here. Which takes me to the Apothecary. I could spend time in Photoshop cloning out the ropes and the sign with the number but I wanted to get this post out. Besides which you get to see the room as I did and that’s how it should be.

Apothecary

Anyway after a while I left the Hotel Dieu and went for a wander around Beaune. Such a nice little town, Narrow cobbled streets to walk around, not too much traffic and a lot of building associated with the wine industry, including a free museum you can walk around.

Streets

And of course, there’s always a church. As I had time to spare. I had a quick wander around

Basilique Notre Dame

It’s a typical French church, pretty ornate inside, with high vaulted ceiling and lots of stained glass.

Dome

Like most French churches, there are lots of private chapels, some very ornate, some quite simple.

Stained Glass

Well that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this quick tour with me – Mike

Château de Tournon

Once again I am disappointed by a French historical building that promised much and delivered so little.

Tournon Castle

Perched above the town of Tournon, the castle has views over the town and river.

View From

Inside though another historical building has been stripped of much of it’s original fixtures and fittings, only to be replaced by modern works of art.

Art Work

Nice as some of them are to look at, you can soon get bored wandering from room to room and finding only these. Where is all the magnificent furniture, the drapes, ornaments etc. I mean you only have to read about some of the historical homes I have photographed in the UK to see the difference. Despite being built during the 16th century the Castle at Tournon has so little. Even Wikipedia in it’s description of Tournon Castle strips it down to one lineittle. Even Wikipedia strips it down to one line.

The Château de Tournon is a listed castle in Tournon-sur-Rhône, Ardèche, France. It was built in the 16th century. It has been listed as an official historical monument since March 28, 1938

Anyway let’s have a look around the castle. After paying your entry fee the first thing you get to see is the courtyard. Like all museums there is a sort of suggested route and entry to the rooms of the castle are through the small door. We struggled to find the light switch at this point and you do need it, especially as you are met with a winding staircase. Also coming in from the bright sunlight to this dark area, you are at first as “blind as a bat”.

Castle Courtyard

First room, mind the step, you have to step down into the room. Lots of shields on the wall.

Shields

Through the door into the next room. There’s a table and two chairs. Moving on quickly….

A Room

At this point I stopped following the plan. Up until this point I was by myself and could take my time taking photographs. But suddenly a part of people turned up so I jumped ahead to other rooms to get some peace and quiet to photograph. Later I can double back once they have passed through. It’s one of those things, you can’t expect exclusive access when visiting buildings…..but there is always one who wants to linger and look at the carving on the clock. I mean ten minutes just to look at it, c’mon give me a break.

Furniture

Another table and chairs……

Desk

….and here’s some more

Table and Chairs

viewed from another angle.

Table

In one of the rooms, there was a large glass case with what looked like some remains of a bridge. Remember Marc Seguin? I couldn’t photograph it, because there was a party of people there being given a lecture by one of the museums curators so time to move on. I found the church. Yep! That’s it below. Enough said.

Church

That’s it for Tournon Castle. Another disappointment, although that’s not strictly true. I did enjoy wandering around, especially as it got me out of the heat of the day.

Macon, Is That It?

Wander around Macon in France and you’ll soon come to recognise that it does not offer a lot for photographers. Maybe I’m doing the town an injustice but without stretching to a bit of street photography I was really struggling to get a photograph. Now half of the problem was cars. They were parked everywhere and any building that was worth a click of the shutter had the inevitable car outside it. So I became a bit selective, maybe too selective, but it is what it is so here’s the photographs.

Chamber of Commerce

The first building I came across was the Chamber of Commerce, which seemed to be shut up. Getting low and close to the waterfall allowed me to get all of the building in, but I did have to do some perspective corrections in Adobe Lightroom to straighten the building.

Quite a few of streets are closed to traffic or so I thought. When I nearly stepped into the path of speeding moped I soon realised, there’s traffic and there’s traffic. But eventually I managed to negotiate my way to the Town Hall and those crazy but colourful plant pots.

Hotel de Ville

And right behind me was the Eglise St Pierre. I couldn’t get all of the building in with one shot. It was just too tall. So in the end I photographed the church in three sections, making sure each section overlapped by quite a bit. Then It was a simple task to combine the three sections using Adobe Lightroom’s “merge to panorama” module.

Eglise St Pierre

Inside the church, like many French churches, it’s quite ornate. Far more so than many of the simple churches I find in North Wales. There again, the churches in France are so much larger, almost cathedral-like in size.

Columns

Here’s a close-up of the area around the altar. Before you ask I have no idea of the significance of the green cloth. From a photography point of view id does add a welcome splash of colour.

Green Cloth

Sorry about this, but talking about cathedrals, Macon does have one. Well actually it has two. The 13th century one was demolished in 1799 leaving only two distinctive towers. Lot’s of cars parked outside so not worth a photograph. Then there’s the new cathedral of St Vincent.

Cathedrale St Vincent

Now if you want ornate, this is the place to go. All marble, lots of stained glass, well just look at it.

Ornate

So that’s Macon. No doubt I missed loads that I could photograph but to be honest as a town it didn’t really inspire me