San Juan Islands, WA…

One of the trip I went on from Seattle was to see the Orca Killer Whales as they followed the Salmon run north through the San Juan Islands, which are just east of Vancouver Island. We did catch up with the K pod and enjoyed over an hour watching the whales breaching the surface of the water. Deception Pass had beautiful emerald green water, I think it was something to do with the algae that thrives in this tidal pass.

We stopped for a few hours in Friday Harbor and I enjoyed a salted caramel ice-cream and  watching the sailing boats. Then we sailed back towards Seattle, but not before viewing lots of sea lions sunbathing, an incredible sunset and that famous twinkling Seattle skyline as we finally sailed back into Elliot Bay.

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Deception Island
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Deception Pass

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Friday Harbor

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Seattle – the city…

The moment the airplane started to descend down into Seattle, I knew it was going to be a special city. My first impression was of millions of trees, a large archipelago, long bridges and even more evergreens, like someone dropped a city in a forest.

I only spent four days in Seattle, but got a really lovely feel for the city, in fact I loved it so much I’ve already booked a flight back here at the end of next summer. I have several posts to show you as I did a couple of amazing day trips during my stay here, but here are a few images of Seattle – the city.

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Looking towards Queen Anne neighbourhood Seattle
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Seattle News
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The Gumwall
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Pike Place Market
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Pike Place Market
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Nirvana – Bringing Punk to the Masses, at the EMP
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The Bench outside Kurt Cobain’s house
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Space Needle
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A quiet city centre – The Seattle Seahawks were playing
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The Space Needle from Kerry Park – only a few high rise buildings downtown.

A weekend in Dumfries & Galloway..

Last weekend I spent a few days just over the border in Scotland, in Dumfries and Galloway. I spent a lot of that time on the Pontoon at Kippford photographing the beautiful estuary; Urr Water with my friend the grey heron and on the last morning I went out at 5am I was rewarded with a lovely pink sunrise.

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Pre-Dawn at Kippford Marina
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Sunrise, Kippford
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Sweetheart Abbey (remains), New Abbey

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Creepy Gingerbread Cottage, East Loch Ken
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New Galloway. Lovely tea room The Smithy and Art Gallery CatStrand.

We spent a whole afternoon at the Red Kite feeding centre at Bellymack Hill Farm, West of Loch Ken at Laurieston. Red Kites have a wing span of about 70 inches, so imagine the sight and sound of approximately 60 to 70 birds arriving for their afternoon treat of chicken carcasses. They flew in circle formation and slowly dropped lower in the sky above our heads until in sequence they all dropped out out of the sky and dived to grab some food on the feeding platform. You can follow the Galloway Kite Trail around Loch Ken, which is signposted for tourists.

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Red Kites
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Red Kites diving
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Kippford
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Kippford Boat House
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Kippford Boat House
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From Port o’Warren looking south to The Lake District Mountains.
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Sandyhills Bay – Solway Firth.

Two years sitting on a Ridge..Part 2

The Autumn and Winter months up at Arthur’s Pike can be very windy, so windy and cold I cannot use my cameras at all, my fingers become so numb I have to pop my hands up inside my fleece sweater to bring back the circulation. The Bracken has completely died back after its beautiful russet colours in the Autumn and the open ground on Barton Fell reminds me of those wide American plains in cowboy movies.

The light especially during a weather change is truly beautiful. I have sat up here and watched huge black and furious weather move in from the west and I’ve walked back along the ridge and over the open ground before it even reached me, thats a really lovely thing to watch. The snow and ice up on Helvelln’s summit hang around until the end of May at least and I don’t dare go up onto Barton Fell without hat and gloves until early June. I really want to get up there during a very snowy period like we had back in the winter of 2010. I’m sure Ullswater and the surrounding fells would make a stunning image.

I dont tend to hang around much at the summit because of the cold sometimes, although star jumps help keep me warm if I want to wait out some time. I’m often visited by crows up here. I lost a lens cap up here once, it slid down the very steep side of the ridge and there it remains forever.

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The Spring and Summer months are much warmer and the colour palette changes to warmer hues. The thing I notice as soon as Spring arrives is the smells, a warm aromatic smell, the sweet smell of the yellow flowers on the Gorse. There are a few Cuckoos in Barton Wood below the ridge and I hear them call out especially in June. The grass smells very sweet and the purple flowering heather in August is delicious. I have to be careful laying in the heather as there are so many bees buzzing around too. I can sometimes hear the laughter from the people camping at the many campsites to the east of the lake, their voices carrying along the water.

The view as I sit on the south ridge of Ullswater is due north, so a brilliant panoramic view of the Northern fells and Blencathra from here. I always think it is a great vantage point for the long view up the lake and the recession of the fells around it. There are a few other vantage points in the Lakes where you get that lovely fading recession of mountains, but you feel so close to it up on this ridge. Blencathra has a small saddle shape on the top, hence its old name Saddleback. The small mounded shape hill in the near distance is Little Mell Fell.

Mid September heralds cool winds and the arrival of Autumn here and the green bracken begins to explode into shades of russet. Sometimes when I walk off the Ridge at dusk, I swear it is the most peaceful and beautiful place in the world.

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Two years sitting on a Ridge..Part 1

I looked back over my photo catalog and realised I’ve been going up to the same ridge, walking out over Barton Fell, up to Arthur’s Pike since the winter of 2014. These images are from an evening back in late June of this year. In the next post I’ll show you my very favourite historical images from this ridge. As a photographer and nature lover I enjoy the repetition of going to the same vantage point high above Ullswater.

I start out near Pooley Bridge and walk out across the open fell, passing The Cock Pit, an ancient stone circle. The light is really beautiful here, even in the dead of winter I always love this part of the walk, It takes me about an hour to get to the foot of the ridge itself just by Barton Wood. Then a steep short climb up and I take the sheep path right on the edge of the ridge. I use the safer inside path during the winter months, when the wind can knock you over. There are always sheep here, sometimes they chase me along the path, stamping their feet at me.

Barton Fell is pretty boggy all year around but there is always lots of Bog Cotton here and on the ridge itself in August, the heather is in full flower. Sometimes I lay here and watch the Ullswater Steamer sailing up and down the lake. My objective is always the cairn by Arthur’s Pike, I looked this up on the OS map and its name is actually Whinny Crag. Sometimes I walk on a little bit further and watch the water pouring down Swarthbeck Gill.

In all the time I’ve been here, I have only bumped into humans on two occasions and that suits me just fine. It’s so rare to find very quiet fells in the Lake District. If I have my head torch packed, I will sit up there until the sun sets with my flask of tea and a warm blanket. I have started to take my Hasselblad up here to try and catch some of that lovely light and will carry on doing that through this coming winter for a project I am going to do.

 

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Nyhavn, Copenhagen…

It wouldn’t be fair to do a photo essay on Copenhagen and not cover Nyhavn, the beating heart of the City and for good reason, its extraordinary beautiful, colourful and lots of fun. We stayed a few streets away from Nyhavn and found ourselves here for an early breakfast, fantastic Italian food and one afternoon we sat in the small square at the end of the canal and listened to a busker with his electro-acoustic guitar and amp, entertain us in the sunshine while we ate a delicious tub of frozen yogurt from the international market across the street. It’s always busy here unless you arrive at breakfast time, just before the first canal tour begins for the day.

A great place to stay and enjoy fresh seafood, a glass of rose wine, listen to Jazz music and of course soak up some of that Danish Hygge. In the evenings the restaurant staff bring out patio heaters and warm blankets for patrons, I thought that was really nice.

Dug out by Swedish prisoners of war from the Dano-Swedish War around 1670, this canal leads out into Copenhagen’s greater harbour area. We took the canal tour a few times, it was a great way to get around the City. There is a large red house on the south side of the canal which was the home of Hans Christian Anderson (last image).

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The strangest person in the world…

I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, But then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too.

Well, I hope that is you are out there and read this and know that, yes, Its true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you – Frida Kahlo

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Paris on Film – Part 3

For my final set of images I’d like to show you a few shots from our visit to Le Petit Palais, we visited especially to see the temporary art exhibition of George Desvallieres 1861-1950. The exhibition and the permanent collections were beautiful and so was the Courtyard Garden in the centre of this magnificent building. All shot on my Nikon FM2n using Kodak Portra 400 film.

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Le Petit Palais – Courtyard Garden
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Le Petit Palais – Courtyard Garden
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Le Petit Palais – Courtyard Garden
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Le Petit Palais – Parquet floors
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La Galerie Vivienne, built in 1823
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Vintage Fiat 500 – The Seine Embankment
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Magasin de Chaussures – Pont Neuf

Paris on film – Part 1

I have just returned from a wonderful five day Spring break in Paris. This first set of images are a selection from the area directly around the hotel that we stayed in by the Palais Royal, between the 1st and 2nd arrondissement.

All photographs were shot using my Nikon FM2n, colour using Kodak Portra 400 and a few black & white images using Kodak Tri-X.

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An early Parisian sunrise from the Hotel Balcony
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The local bakery – Petit Dejeuner
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Le Pain
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Olive tree and pink door – Palais Royal
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A new red Fiat 500 at the Palais Royal
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Palais Royal
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Magnolia at the Jardin du Palais Royal
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Tulips at the Jardin du Palais Royal

Helvellyn…

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If you have been following my 365 Project, you will know that I have been out hiking all weekend. Yesterday was a much longer walk and I got up to the area at the foot of the Helvellyn Headwall near Red Tarn. I wanted to show you some of the images that I shot at the top. The snow was about three foot deep here and the windchill was incredible. It took me about four hours to get up and then back down into the valley in the fresh, soft snow.

I was doing star jumps at the top waiting for the sun to burst through the clouds and illuminate the snow.  My favourite image was the one at the top of the post at Hole-In-The-Wall, with the moody sky brooding over Ullswater.

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Striding Edge to the left, Catstycam to the right
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Raise
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Looking towards Raise
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Hole-In-The-Wall
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Working my way back down into the Valley

Drive thru Photography…

20160102-DSCF4658I wanted to show you these images which were shot from a moving vehicle as we drove towards Thingvellir NP. I’m sorry that on some of the shots there is window glare, but not to show you the beauty of the Icelandic tundra would be a great pity. The image above has a little story; the farmer who had just bought this land and small farmhouse awoke to find a hot spring on his land, such is the active nature of this volcanic Island. This in Iceland is akin to winning the lottery as now he can sell the energy to his neighbours and earn an income from his land. I loved the recession of the telegraph poles and blue & gold is such a beautiful combination in shots.

There was sadly no chance of stopping along this route, the snow was at least 6ft deep as you stepped off the road and we came upon dozens of cars here which had simply slipped from the road into deep snow. Pity…

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Trapped in a Perfect World…

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Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

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South Coast, Iceland…

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During My trip to Iceland I went out as far as Vik on the South Coast, about 110 miles east. The weather was terrible as we headed through a blizzard out of Reykjavik across the Mountain Pass and onto Highway 1, the tail end of Storm Frank. The wind was so strong that the famous waterfalls were blowing water up into the air instead of the usual stream of water coming down to earth. We drove to Vik and ate lunch, later walking along the black beach at Vik and enjoying a view of the Troll Rocks. I love the contrast of the straw coloured grass and the black sand, its very striking. Then a short drive over to Reynisfjara Beach, the weather was now considerably better and I got some lovely warm crepuscular rays across the Atlantic.

Our hike across the Sólheimajökull Glacier had been cancelled on this day due to the adverse weather, but I still took a short walk up to the glacial tongue, this is a very beautiful area and if you have the opportunity to visit Iceland, it would be a pity to miss out on such a awe inspiring natural wonder. It’s a very quiet area, with only the occasional creaking of the ice.

A quick stop at Skógafoss Waterfall and by now the light was fading. My last shot of the day was a wild horse standing in the snowy shadow of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Despite the ever changing weather in Iceland, it was a wonderful and memorable day out.

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Thingvellir N.P. Iceland…

Then little Gerda said the Lord’s Prayer; the cold was so intense that she could see her own breath; it came out of her mouth like smoke. Her breath became thicker and thicker, and took the form of little angels who grew larger and larger as soon as they touched the ground and when Gerda had finished her prayer a whole legion stood around her. The angels stroked her hands and feet, so that she felt the cold less, and she hastened on to the Snow Queen’s castle.

― Hans Christian Andersen, The Snow Queen

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I’ve gone to the Dark Slide…

I still have my 35mm film camera and a Fuji Instax mini for taking instant film at parties. I love my Fuji’s (three), I love their film simulation abilities. So it was only a matter of time before I took a peek over the fence again at film photography. I’ve bought a beautiful 1977 Hasselblad 500 c/m with Zeiss 2.8/80mm lens.  Despite its 38 years it is in perfect working condition.  I’ve given it a really good clean and even found a Hasselblad lens cap and leather neck strap on eBay. Immediately the following morning after its arrival I went out into my garden after the first snowfall of the year and began taking shots.

Hasselblad Hasselblad.

These are my first ever four shots. As well as setting the aperture, you have to dial in a EV value, so I downloaded a light meter onto my iPhone. This works very well and the exposure turned out much better than expected. It may take a little time to get used to the split prism focusing. All shots taken on Kodak Portra 160 and scanned by the lab – No digital editing on these images. The quality of film is just so dewy and creamy – I cannot wait to get out again with my Swedish lovely.

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A walk in the Woods…

I wanted to share these images with you, I take my pup here for her exercise. You can see a picture of her (last one). This Forest is a five minute walk from my home. I don’t usually share such day to day photos, but the changing colour of the bracken and the beautiful soft light was just to good to keep to myself. I have some really good presets from Lightroom which are from an online company called Pretty Presets. This preset is called Milk & Honey. It adds a touch of warmth and knocks back the contrast a little. It was perfect for these shots. I’m lazy in post, I enjoy being out with the camera more than processing.

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I love shots like the one below, that moment of quiet sunlight. I just love images like these.

Beacon Forest

This is the apple of my eye – My pup Honey. She is Cocker Spaniel (orange roan)…

Honey

The most important piece of camera gear….

So many people think cameras and lenses are getting better.

They are.

But cameras are stupid no matter how ‘great’ they are.

They know nothing, they see nothing, they don’t come with vision.

There isn’t a Decisive Moment indicator light in the viewfinder.

There is no Avedon button on the back.

The most important piece of gear for a photographer is their brain.

– Zack Arias

Ullswater