Tag Archives: wide-angle

Urban landscape

Ginnel, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

The good news is that the PC is back and fixed but I am less than motivated in terms of setting everything back up and then starting to process some new photos. So…. This is another old photo and I promise to get back on he ball tomorrow. Besides I like this picture as I think it proves how black and white photography can add detail and bite to a pretty everyday scene, such as this alleyway near my house. The lines to the horizon are pretty sharp; its definitely an image that leads you in. I also like the crumbling brickwork to the sides. The trick to this photo was lying on the floor to take it. I have said it before and no doubt will again but sometimes the best angles are to be found by crouching low or shooting down from on high; certainly I try and avoid eye level where I can.

This week without the computer has given me an idea of how I will be able to blog when on holiday to keep the postaday2011 flag flying. Also, posting direct from Flickr is very quick, pain free and surprisingly simple – a godsend when you are typing on a phone touchscreen.


Above us only sky

Liverpool, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

Hopefully, this should be the last of these on-the-fly blog posts. PC is fixed and I can pick it up tomorrow. Apparently an important file had been inadvertently deleted. Neither child is owning up. But, given that I once found fridge magnets attached to the computer casing then anything is possible. So, an old seascape for you. This is the city of Liverpool, my university city, and the nearest major city to my home. To the right is Birkenhead. Obviously taken with a wide-angle lens (Sigma 10-20), this image was taken from atop the concrete tidal defences on New Brighton beach as the tide was coming in, which is why it looks as if I am hovering in mid air above the sea. The clouds are pretty special in this picture and the blog title is self explanatory. Hopefully back properly tomorrow…

Choppy waters

Shipping lane, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

OK. Many apologies but the blog may have to be short and sweet for the next few days. They say that old people and computers do not mix but the same can be said for inquisitive children. Got home today to find that the computer is kaput after the kids have been using it… This will necessitate repairs as it won’t boot at all or, in a worst case scenario, a new PC. Not ideal. Thankfully all my pictures are backed up and I can upload to the blog via Flickr using the phone, but it’s unwieldy and I can only access old photographs that are already on there. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible but please bear with me and hopefully enjoy some pictures that you might not have seen before. Sorry!

Messing about with boats


There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

OK. It’s Sunday night. We’ve all got work in the morning. Shall I just make it brief? Although what you’ll all be doing now that Lark Rise to Candleford (or LR to the C as my brother calls it) has finished I don’t know. Tonight is definitely going to be an early night as I am absolutely shattered. The building of the garden fence took most of weekend and I have to say that working all week in an office followed by two days manual labour is not really how I saw last week panning out. Given that it’s Sunday and I’m pretty sure that no-one will be reading this I thought I’d do something a bit more avant garde today. Usually, when I play around in Photoshop the response is less than enthusiastic but in the absence of any real training I quite often like to explore and mess about. And to paraphrase the above quote there’s nothing quite like messing about in Photoshop for a photographer.

This is a photograph I took of the marina that leads onto the Pontcysyllte aqueduct. I thought that the life rings in the foreground made for an interesting image and liked the lines that the narrow boats made into the distance. However, when I viewed it on the computer it was a bit washed out  and no amount of processing could lift it ; the sky in particular was overexposed. Knowing me I probably forgot to change the camera settings… I am trying to get better at this. When a camera has such a huge amount of functionality you really do have to plan each shot. Often though I will take a picture and then forget to change the settings back. Thankfully most cock ups can be put right in the digital darkroom.

So for this image I decided to make it simpler using one of Photoshop’s ‘Artistic’ filters. This was the result I liked best. I suppose you could argue for hours over whether a photograph made to look like a painting is still a photograph but as far as I’m concerned the only  thing that matters is whether it works or not. I hope this does but you may of course disagree, as many of my reader’s quite often do; its certainly an improvement on a not particularly impressive photograph but you’ll have to take my word for that. Comments welcome is anyone is around to read this. But if you are slumped in front of the TV, glass of wine in hand, trying to blot out the fact that work starts again tomorrow then I don’t blame you if you haven’t got the energy. I know exactly how you feel. Anyone know a good remedy for blisters?

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Self portrait-ish

Self portrait

I don’t like having my photograph taken. This is because I always look awful. What I see in the mirror never seems to translate into what I would deem to be a good picture of me. In my head I still blonde hair and cheekbones; in reality these have long gone. I know a lot of photographers like to take their own picture and put themselves in their work. I do not. So, I’m afraid that this is the closest you are going to get from me at least.

However, do not fear! I have agreed (in a moment of madness) to have my portrait taken by another photographer for a project documenting bloggers and social networkers in the North West of England. This might be happening as early as next week. Hopefully, they will be able to achieve the unachievable and make me look like Brad Pitt (or George Clooney at a push) and if they do I promise to post the results here – I might even ask them to do guest blog about the project and how/why they chose their victims/subjects. As it won’t be a photograph by me, but  of me, this seems like a logical move. I don’t hold out much hope but we can but dream. I am hoping that props may be involved – a hat perhaps or maybe even a body double. Either way, its very nice to be asked and I’m looking forward to taking part.

I have spent all day today building a fence with my dad after ours blew down in the wind; its been a bit blokey and a bit too much like hard work but I do have a sense of achievement  – I’m not very good at building stuff. And I got to weald a sledgehammer! Yet, this task is not quite finished and more manual labour is planned for tomorrow. This is not how I usually like to spend my weekends.I toyed with the idea of photographing the fence but I feel that this would try the patience of even my loyalist readers. So instead I thought I’d do my version of a self portrait. No doubt when you see what I actually look like you will understand why. Until tomorrow…

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Get the abbey habit

Abbey columns

This week’s blogging is becoming a bit like a travelogue; the loose theme being that I have actually got out to take some pictures and that they are all pictures taken in and around Llangollen in North Wales. Yesterday’s pictures of Dinas Bran seem to have gone down quite well so thanks for all the nice comments via facebook, twitter and the blog itself. It really is much appreciated. I am staying in the 13th century for today’s blog post. If Dinas Bran was the political centre of the region then Valle Crucis (the valley of the cross) abbey was the spiritual centre. It was founded early in the 13th century by the Cistercians; the Cistercians arrived in Britain from France in 1128 and deliberately sought out locations that were in wild and lonely places – all the better for devoting your life to God. My degree is in Medieval and Modern History and I once wrote as essay titled ‘The role of the monk in medieval society’. Unfortunately I can’t remember much about it as a) it was so long ago and b) I was drunk when I wrote it. The fact that I remember it at all is because it’s the only essay that I ever got a first for. Go figure, I’m sure there’s a lesson there somewhere.

Anyhow, the ruins of Valle Crucis are still pretty impressive given how long they have been standing and are well worth a visit. Worth noting is that there is a charge to get it between April and September but it’s free in the winter months. Given that the Cistercians chose this location for its isolated location it’s disconcerting to see the fields around the abbey now contain static caravans and camping pods. However, I’m pretty sure that the abbey will still be there long after the caravans have gone. Like most Cistercian architecture it is built to last; they left a glorious architectural legacy as evidenced by today’s lead picture. This shows the vaulted ceiling in the abbey’s chapter house, the room attached to the abbey in which meetings would have been held. This picture was also taken using a tripod (it was pretty dark in there, despite the light coming through the windows from outside) and a very wide angle lens (10-20 mm). To take it, I got right into the corner and tried to get the whole room in, especially the flagstones and that wonderful ceiling. It is pretty astounding to think that this was constructed more than 800 years ago.

I processed two versions of this photograph; the colour one above and the black and white one below. I can’t decide which I like best as both work pretty well. I particularly like the green hues of the colour photograph, which I assume is due to lichen – there is no door to keep the wind and rain out.

Abbey columns b&w

The most striking area of the abbey is the west front (see pictures below) with its still-visible inscription, which apparently reads ‘Abbot Adams carried out this work; may he rest in peace. Amen’

Valle crucis b&w


Valle Crucis fell victim to Henry VIIIs dissolution of the monasteries and it was dissolved as a ‘lesser house’ in 1537 when it was already more than 300 years old. After that it fell quickly into its current state of disrepair. One of the great things about living in the UK is that history is all around, pretty much wherever you live. Although I am not a religious man I can appreciate the beauty of what the Cistercians left behind and the dedication and skill that went in to engineering such a wonderful building in the middle of nowhere. It has a timeless beauty that gives us a unique insight into another world. As a place of solitude I found it remarkably calming. Please comment if you feel the need.

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Canal sunset

Canal sunset, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

Here’s one I prepared earlier… Been out all day taking photographs in North Wales. Just back, then tea, then The Killing on BBC4 so just time to fulfill my blogging obligations. I am hoping that this picture speaks for itself. An amazing sunset spotted on my way home from work last week. One of those ‘stop the car’ moments. Not only were the colours really vivid, the reflections in the canal were too.

Anyhow, enough material today to keep the blog going today including some pictures of the moon in daylight. It was really visible today, so I’m hoping these turn out OK. Hope you don’t mind these shorter blogs at the weekend but it stands to reason that relaxing comes to the fore. Plus I am usually less angry 😉

An oversight on my part

Sand ripples, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

This blog post is going to be very short and sweet for a couple of reasons. First, I am having to do it via Flickr as I have an Internet problem with the computer (doing this via phone). Second, I have left the camera at work, which contains the photos I was going to use for the blog tonight.

In other words, see this as a bit of a holding position. On the other hand I have only recently realised that there are a whole load of photographs that I took last year on a day off in New Brighton that I have never blogged, and of which I am quite proud of, this being one of them.

As you know, I love photographing the seaside anyhow but the reason I like this photograph in particular is because of the composition. In fact, composition wise I think it’s one of my better efforts. The sand ripples in the foreground lead you into the picture as does the reflection on the lighthouse on the water. I know lighthouses have been done to death but I like this image quite a lot for it’s clean simplicity. I hope you agree. Normal service will hopefully be resumed tomorrow, when I have stopped being such a klutz. It’s my age

Shepherd’s warning

Canal house

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
Red sky in morning, shepherds warning

Or so the old adage goes. Apparently there is a scientific reasoning behind this – its  something to do with the sun’s light is passing at a very low angle through a great thickness of atmosphere, the result of which is the scattering out of most of the shorter wavelengths – and this is, therefore,  one of the old sayings that actually holds true. Versions of it can be found throughout the ages from the bible:

When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.’
And in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.

through to the works of William Shakespeare:

Like a red morn that ever yet betokened,
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field,
Sorrow to the shepherds, woe unto the birds,
Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds

And it Italian its sounds pretty darn sexy:

Rosso di sera, bel tempo si spera,
rosso di mattina mal tempo si avvicina

And yes, all this quoting is a sign that I have not got much to write about tonight as I have too much to do this evening. So, its one of those quick posts where hopefully the picture will speak for itself. I took this photo on the way to work using a wide angle 10–20-mm lens. I think it works pretty well and the colours of the sunrise are pretty special. I also like the reflected clouds and the ice in the bottom right corner gives it a bit of depth.

Again it sort of illustrates why I think landscapes are my strong suit, although a lot of you have been very supportive of my recent forays into other territory. By the way, I am reliably informed that the purple flowers from yesterday’s post were verbena bonariensis (just in case you were wondering)

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Urban decay

Kirkton house

Until yesterday I did not realise that urban decay is a recognized socio-economic term. I thought it was just a turn of phrase. That said, I didn’t know it was the name of a cosmetics manufacturer either (not sure it works – likening your client’s faces to crumbling buildings that have seen better days). According to Wikipedia, so it must be true, urban decay is:

“the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature deindustrialization, depopulation or changing population, economic restructuring, abandoned buildings, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate, inhospitable city landscape”

Now my home town hasn’t quite got to this point yet, this is leafy Cheshire after all, but there are certainly areas that fulfil some of the above criteria. Plans for the regeneration of part of Chester’s city centre, the Northgate Development, had originally promised a 2007 end date. Buildings were knocked down, areas were cleared, the theatre and cinema were closed. And then… well, nothing to be honest. The credit crunch/downturn hit and we were left with empty buildings and piles of rubble.

Fresh new plans for the Northgate development are due in front of the city council in May 2011; we wait with baited breath for the outcome. In the meantime an area of the city, which by no means was that attractive to start with, has become even more of a wasteland. I took this picture on Sunday morning, just a few hundred yards from the city’s Victorian town hall, the Roman walls and the Tudor shopping streets. I have no idea how old Kirkton house is, my guess would be Victorian or Edwardian, nor how long it has lain empty. Prior to falling into its current state it was obviously a solicitor’s office. To be honest I came across it by accident; I was taking a picture of the empty art deco Odeon cinema (which may well feature in another blog that I am formulating) when a traffic warden (!) asked me if I was interested in architecture and that was a ‘really good’ old building just down the road, opposite where the bus terminal used to be. This is the heart of where the Northgate development was supposed to be; no doubt Kirkton House is scheduled for demolition once the building work starts again. It stands next door to a 70s tower block, also empty and crumbling, that looks like something out of the BBC series ‘Life on Mars’.

Life on mars

To my eyes, Kirkton house is a lovely building but I think it appeals to me in its current state of disrepair. It feeds in to my love of creaky old houses and ghost stories. I can imagine a team of paranormal investigators, no doubt led by Roddy McDowall or Jane Asher, spending the night there before fleeing in terror. It has an imposing front and the dead ivy adds to its menace. I took quite a few pictures and think it might be fun to go back one night and get some pictures of it in the dark. Since the gate was open, I decided to walk around the side of the building to see if I could find anything else of interest. Which is where I took this picture.


OK it’s only a dumped mattress but given its location, hidden round the back of a large crumbling Victorian house I thought that it cried out to be photographed. It defines seedy. It is quite easy to imagine what it might be doing there.

As I’m a landscape photographer, if I’m any sort of photographer at all, it’s probably a good thing to counterpoint natural beauty with more gritty, realistic subjects. I do live in a city after all. All the above photographs, and yesterday’s green door, and maybe a few to come were taken on a Sunday morning walk 10-20 minutes from my house. In my mind I am forming a rough idea of a series of pictures showing the seamier side of a popular tourist city. Not sure it’s a goer in terms of selling any prints, not that I do a lot of that anyway, but when a city is photographed to death maybe this is the way to go? I know that photographs of Manchester and Liverpool’s industrial heritage sell but these feed into the whole ‘it’s grim up North’ ethos.

My city’s heritage harks back to the Romans and it’s unbroken walls marked it out forever as a tourist city rather than an industrial powerhouse like it’s illustrious neighbours. It’s a very insecure city too. We consider ourselves part of the North West of Coronation Street and Joy Division and Boys From The Black Stuff and Wigan Pier yet we are in Cheshire, home to gentleman dairy farmers. We are also within a stone’s throw of the Welsh borders. My television signal at home veers between BBC Wales and BBC North West literally depending on which way the wind is blowing. It was a Tory stronghold for years (Gyles Brandreth was once our MP), went red during the New Labour years and is now Tory again. It is such political swings that have led to decisions not being made and developments being started and not finished. So like Kirkton house my city awaits its fate. Imposing. Full of history. Living on past glories. And waiting for redevelopment to start.

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