I try to have a couple of long trips away from home each year, one in spring, the other towards the back-end of the year. This year I planned 5 nights away starting off in north Yorkshire, moving on to Northumberland and finishing off in the Lake District.
In order to make the most of my time quite a bit of detailed planning takes place. It is necessary to have an idea of where I want to be at a particular time but of course in doing so I accept an amount of flexibility is essential.
So, what were my objectives? To visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and hope to capture some locos in steam, visit Scarborough for some stock shots, be on the cliffs at Whitby at dawn, have a look at the photogenic pier at Saltburn, make my way to South Gare at the mouth of the River Tees, actually stop and see the Angel of the North instead of just driving past, spend time on the Northumberland coast, on my way to the Lake District get to Sycamore gap on Hadrians Wall for dawn and finally whilst in the Lakes hope for some calm waters to enable some pictures including reflections of the surrounding fells.
Did I succeed? Yes, although ultimately sales of my creative and stock images will ultimately determine. In truth I think this trip was my most productive and memorable for a number of reasons.
I left home at 0500 aiming to get to the south end of NYMR at Pickering by around 1100. I did and was pleased to note that a Stanier Class 5 was due to arrive. Lighting conditions were excellent, bright with blue sky and white clouds. The station at Pickering is rather pleasant, set off by the lovely coloured stone and an overall train shed. I was able to get some stock shots whilst waiting for 45428 to arrive.
Satisfied with Pickering I set off across the moors to Grosmont where I arrived just in time to see more steam as well as a preserved Class 25 Diesel. I had to act quickly and was fortunate to find a space to park very close to the level crossing. I got what I needed and moved on towards Whitby.
Although I have been to Whitby before I had not been on the south cliffs overlooking the harbour entrance so I needed to scout out the location in readiness for my dawn visit. This done I headed for my overnight stop in Scarborough, a place of many happy childhood memories from the late 50's and early 60's. A long walk round South Bay took me to the harbour entrance passing a pleasure boat, 'Coronia' which I remember my parents taking my sister and I on over 50 years ago. Not sure I would like to put to sea on her now!
Leaving a cloudy Scarborough before 0400 I was hoping for clear skies at Whitby and my optimism was heightened as I could see clear patches during the 30 minute journey. Alas once there the cloud had taken control. Undeterred I got on making best use of the available conditions and although I was unable to produce what I had envisaged in my minds eye I was more than happy with these 2 images.
At this time of the year once the sun has risen the light very quickly becomes harsh and generally unsuited to my creative process but on the other hand picture editors love blue skies and bright colours so my plan was and had been to use the bright hours for stock shooting.
A brief visit to The pier at Saltburn was followed by an interesting time towards South Gare on Teesside.
I say interesting because living in the cossetted south east one is isolated from some harsh realities in this country and to see with my own eyes the scale of the redundant steel works at Redcar was really quite humbling. I can not start to imagine what it must be like for all those affected by the closure of this enormous industrial complex. My images, output in monochrome, are intended to portray what I felt at the time aware that very soon such images will not be possible as demolition was in progress.
En-route to the north of Newcastle....The Angel of the North....it really is rather prominent, an idea of scale measured by people around it.
My first evening in the north east involved a rendezvous with a fellow photographer Anita Nicholson who I had met through Twitter. We both have an image in 2014 LPOTY book. Locally based Anita produces some wonderfully evocative images captured in Northumberland as was well placed to give me some local knowledge. A thoroughly enjoyable evening was spent overlooking St.Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay. It would have been ideal for the tide to have been higher but we made the most of the conditions - setting sun and some rather prominent sand ripples - some rather pleasing images resulted. I decided that the start of my next day would be dawn back at St.Mary's. My hope would not be misplaced.
Some times it becomes difficult to concentrate on photography when nature produces a magnificent display of ever changing light and colour over a relatively short time. the morning at St.Mary's was one of the most uplifting I can remember and I will leave it to the images to emphasise why.
The rest of the day was to be spent shooting for stock working down the coast from Seahouses. I lived for 10 years in Newcastle in the 70's & 80's and have many happy memories so the coast was no stranger to me. I just wish I had realised my photographic capabilities when I was resident in the area.
I decided to have a night off in readiness for an extremely early start in order for me to first drive to near Once Brewed and then trudge my way to Sycamore Gap on Hadrians Wall in time for dawn. I made it but.....at my age....and then of course I failed in as much as I should have realised that the light in Sycamore Gap is better in the evening. Nevertheless I made it and did see and hear a pair of Whimbrel while I was up on the wall.
Heading to the lakes I made for Haweswater, one I had not previously visited. Some stock shooting before my by now ritual visit to Ullswater.
Evening was a drive to Crummock Water and Buttermere in order to decide my dawn shooting location. I was rewarded with some very bight but low light as the sun set, illuminating those trees at the south end of Buttermere. Those trees, I do love them.
0500 down on the shore of Buttermere facing those trees. I had a good feeling although a bit more cloud might have helped me feel even more positive. When I arrived the surface of the lake was like a millpond but as the light improved ripples started to appear and dampened my enthusiasm. I think someone must have been looking down on me because as the rising sun reached my optimum the surface had returned to a glass-like appearance. It really was heaven sent and I will be forever grateful. This was the third time I have been here hoping for such conditions and I was rewarded at last. To be honest I shot too many frames but I was of the mind that I might never again be fortunate enough to have such wonderful conditions and did not want to regret it later. Again you please be the judge.......
That really was it for my penultimate day. I returned to Hodge Close but the light was far too harsh and very un-Hodge-like, still nice to see it again.
A Search & Rescue S-92 briefly touched down while I was close-by in Keswick, what it was doing I know not but I had the chance to shoot a couple of frames. Red & white with blue sky.
My final evening was used to catch-up on my sleep in readiness for the long journey home, via Macclesfield. Why I chose a Friday......??
My parting shots were as the sun broke through cloud at daybreak on the shore of Ullswater. The peace and tranquillity were enhance by the sound of a Cuckoo drifting across the water from woods on the eastern side. A fitting end to my travels.
So there you have it. It was 3 weeks ago today when I got back home and due to various interventions I have only this week finished discarding, processing and editing my work. This includes loading new work on to my web site as well as uploading over 250 stock images to Alamy and doing whatever I can to promote me and my work.
I will not be doing any more Spitalfields Arts Market so for now my only other planned event to date is The Blackwater Country Show on 19th June near Maldon, Essex. Of course my work continues to be available for sale through this web site and by private arrangement, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
If you managed to get to the end of my blog, thank you & well done! I hope it helps give a better understanding to what is involved and how I go about capturing images for art and publication.