Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Monday 31 May 2021

The evening of the day

For the first time in many months I spent an afternoon with a whole crowd of people, albeit outside. A friend of mine, recently bereaved, decide to compensate for the very limited number of guests allowed at the funeral, by holding a garden party for family and friends, as our lockdown rules now permit that. There were about twenty adults and countless children - and two dogs thrown into the mix. It was a relaxed affair and, after many days of rain, thankfully the sun decided to show its face, even though it was still cold. It was pleasant chatting and lovely to watch the children racing around. Haven't we missed these ordinary but meaningful interactions?  

After a few hours spent standing/sitting around I needed a walk so when I got home I headed to Roberts Park. The sun was dropping down and, boy, was it cold! It was therefore a very brisk walk but I'm sure it did me good. This was a quick phone shot along the almost deserted promenade. I slightly regretted not having taken my big camera, as I could have captured a really nice sunburst through the trees with that! 

Sunday 30 May 2021

Sunday meditation: Smudge

What do you do when it rains day after day? Well... play, of course. So here is a phone shot of my car in the rain, taken through the window using a slow shutter app and then played with in the Snapseed editing app. It turned out quite funky and certainly colourful. If you look closely you can see the car wheels of another car in the street! 

'It is a happy talent to know how to play.'    Ralph Waldo Emerson

'The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.'  Carl Jung

Saturday 29 May 2021

Back to the Mill

Another super bookshop, after yesterday's Waterstone's... This one is an independent, not a chain. It was wonderful to be able to go back inside Salts Mill now our lockdown has eased somewhat. The rooms are so big and airy that it feels relatively safe. It wasn't crowded when I was there, though I may avoid it on the upcoming Bank Holiday Monday. The bookshop looked festive, with some brightly coloured paper decorations that I gather they have started to sell. I didn't buy a book this time as I have a few piled up waiting to be read. I did, however, make sure I bought some greetings cards on each floor and an OS map in Trek and Trail (ready for a short break I've booked). We must support our local businesses as they attempt to get going again after such a long, enforced break. 

Local folk might like to be reminded that it's the Saltaire Arts Trail this coming week. There are lots of things happening, mostly outside. This year there is a Windows Gallery Trail rather than the usual Open Houses. See HERE for info. 

Friday 28 May 2021

Wool Exchange Waterstone's

The café at the Media Museum was closed when I visited, so I called in for a cuppa at the coffee shop on the mezzanine above Waterstone's bookshop in Bradford. It's one of the most wonderful bookshops in the country (in my opinion and that of countless journalistic reviewers). It is housed in the main hall of the magnificent building that used to be Bradford's Victorian wool exchange, where the wool merchants gathered to trade. Designed by the same architects responsible for Saltaire, Lockwood and Mawson, it has a soaring hammer-beam roof, granite pillars, lots of wrought ironwork and some beautiful tiles. It was last used for trading wool in the 1970s, by which time the wool textile industry was in severe decline. It's a delightful place to browse books and take refreshment. Modern plate glass windows along one side now let in plenty of light, though it must have been a lot darker inside originally. 

Thursday 27 May 2021


 Is anyone else having difficulty adding photos to their posts? Blogger won't let me add new photos and tells me there is 'an unexpected error' in selecting my photos. Rather annoying!

Accepted and hung

This is me looking wryly amused that I have a photographic print currently on display at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Yorkshire Photographic Union, which is the federation of Yorkshire camera clubs, has an exhibition featuring accepted prints from the 2020 annual competition (which were not displayed last year because of Covid) along with the accepted digital entries for this year. It will no doubt be the first and last time I'll ever get a print of mine hung so professionally. They not only have the photos displayed but lots of interpretive boards and some interesting comparisons with old photos from their archives. There are some wonderful images and I am both proud to have one of mine there with them and delighted that my camera club (I'm the Co-President at the moment) was judged 'best overall club' this year. 

(NB: I was wearing a face mask as I toured the exhibition. Just removed it for the photo!) 

You may remember I featured the print on my blog some while ago, after a trip to London when I took the images that make up the layered photo. 

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Echoes of the past

I've been doing a lot of work on my family tree during lockdown and I'm finding it an absorbing and addictive hobby. I don't have anyone famous or obviously remarkable in my lines; they were mostly coal miners and agricultural labourers but their lives fascinate me nevertheless. It's odd how it has made me feel quite close to my ancestors, especially the women in the family. They had baby after baby and looked after their large families on a meagre income and through all sorts of privations. 

My head was full of these thoughts when I went on a reconnaissance trip up to the site of Milner Field, before a (planned but ultimately rained off!) camera club outing. For those that don't already know, Milner Field, half a mile or so up the valley from Saltaire, was the site that Titus Salt Jnr chose to build his family mansion in 1870. The house, designed by Thomas Harris, was a solid, heavy looking place, with towers, turrets and Gothic arches, designed as a statement of Salt Jnr's wealth and taste. It was full of innovative features, including an experimental telephone system linking it with Salts Mill.   

It had a large conservatory full of exotic ferns and plants, with a mosaic floor which can still be seen. 

The house, however, became linked to stories of bad luck. In 1887 Titus Salt Jnr, aged only 44, suddenly collapsed and died (in the billiard room -  reminiscent of a game of Cluedo - though thankfully he wasn't murdered!) Later residents (directors of Salts Mill) suffered family tragedies and ill health. By 1930 the house was empty and unsaleable. It was plundered for materials to repair the mill, vandalised and knocked about, left to decay gradually until very little was left of it. Even now there are piles of stones, the remains of cellars and all sorts of odd traces of the huge house, although the site is overgrown with trees that have taken hold among the ruins. It's rather an eerie place. 


Tuesday 25 May 2021

Two trees in Spring

I haven't visited my two favourite trees for a while. Here they are in their spring finery, with carpets of buttercups all around. I only had my phone with me so I ended up taking a wider angle shot than I normally do when I photograph them but it does show off the lovely clouds too. 

It's a pretty meadow, sloping down towards the canal near Dowley Gap. Here it is from a different angle: 

Monday 24 May 2021

Artist at work

Although Saltaire is quite an artistic and creative community, it's rare that I see actual artists at work, so I was both surprised and delighted to meet Mike the other day. He was hunkered down in the woodland at the side of the canal, painting a plant called Solomon's Seal. I think it is originally a cottage garden plant rather than a genuinely wild one. It apparently likes cool, shady conditions, so it seems to be thriving in this spot. Painting outside can't be easy but Mike had produced a charming and accurate rendition. It looked good to me; I hope he was pleased with his work. I'll stick to my photography though I do admire people who can draw and paint like this. 

Sunday 23 May 2021

Sunday meditation: Colour palettes

There are so many interesting videos about photo processing to watch. So many ways of playing. I followed one that taught you to make a colour palette, lifted directly from the tones in a photo. I rather like the results and it could definitely be addictive!

And here's a bluebell especially for Barbara Rogers (yesterday's comments) - though the reason I hadn't posted any close-ups this year is because most of the flowers, viewed closely, looked a little the worse for wear. A dry spell followed by heavy rains has not helped them to be at their best. Their colours, however, are always rather lovely. 

'Colour thinks by itself, independently of the object it clothes.'  Charles Baudelaire

'You put down one colour and it calls for an answer. You have to look at it like a melody.Romare Bearden

'Colour is everything. Colour is vibration like music; everything is vibration.' Marc Chagall

'I never met a colour I didn't like.Dale Chihuly

Saturday 22 May 2021

The last of the bluebells

These are the last of the bluebell pictures, I promise, though personally I never get tired of seeing these lovely woodland scenes. It was throwing it down with rain when I took these in Hirst Woods. Oddly, those conditions - rather than bright sunshine - seem to me to enhance the effect, saturating (both literally and metaphorically) the blues and the bright lime greens of the young leaves. 

Because April was so dry, the bluebells haven't been so thick and lush as sometimes. They're still a lovely sight though. 

Friday 21 May 2021

Dream on

Here's a 'chocolate box' picture if ever I saw one. Doesn't it look idyllic though? Having just descended the Dowley Gap lock (in the company of a larger narrowboat you can just see behind), this boatman looks quite at peace with the world as he steers his craft along the canal - even though it was raining! 

Thursday 20 May 2021

Elms and other greens

I love this time of year when the greens of the new foliage are so varied and so vibrant. I wasn't sure what species these serrated leaves and clusters of seeds pods belonged to - but, after consulting the Google oracle, I am pretty sure it's a wych elm, overhanging the canal. That's quite exciting, when so many of our elms have been ravaged by Dutch elm disease. 

Walking along the towpath beside Hirst Wood is like swimming in a long green tunnel. 

At certain points the bluebells come almost down to the waterside. I love that narrow line of blue reflected in the water. 


Wednesday 19 May 2021

A demolition job

Not the most beautiful of photos, I grant you, but it’s important to document the changes that gradually alter the local area. Beside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal down in Shipley, off Victoria Street, they have started to demolish an unused industrial unit. It will, I gather, be replaced by a care home and housing for older people. The Victoria Mills buildings in the background were converted to apartments a few years ago. Adjacent to them is the site for a new Lidl supermarket and a drive-thru Costa, currently under construction. Those will be convenient for all the residents in the area, though it remains to be seen what all these developments will mean for the town centre of Shipley half a mile away. 

Tuesday 18 May 2021

Bridging the gap

A wonderful collaborative effort between the Aire Rivers Trust, Hirst Wood Regeneration Group, Saltaire Angling Association and the Wild Trout Trust has seen two new footbridges constructed in Hirst Woods. They replace a sweet little bridge that was swept away in those terrible floods of 2015. (See HERE for my post about it back then.) It connected an island, formed by the curve of the River Aire and the old goit that served the now demolished New Hirst Mill, on the edge of Hirst Woods. In an effort to access the island and the seven arches of the canal aqueduct, people had made stepping stones, but they formed barriers that prevented young fish (swept into the goit when the water is high) from making their way back into the river. Thanks to the work done, the goit is now flowing freely again and people can access the quiet little wooded island, which is rich in birdlife. So much is made possible when people work together! 

A shout out to the lady I met collecting litter there too. It's heartwarming to meet such public-spirited people. 

See HERE for a video about the project. 

Monday 17 May 2021

And then it rained...

April this year was an unusually dry month in the UK, though also very cold. The usual 'April showers' simply seem to have transferred themselves to May. I'd arranged an outing for a small group of fellow camera club members on Saturday to explore Milner Field and the bluebells in Hirst Woods. It was dry when I left home but, at the very moment we set off as a group, the heavens opened and we were drenched by torrential rain and hail! We only got as far as the rowing club where we took shelter under their (leaky) awning and then decided to abandon the attempt. 

Sunday looked better, so I set off in sunshine again on a solo mission to capture the bluebells. Half an hour later it looked like this! Drenched again. Sigh... 


Sunday 16 May 2021

Appealing paint 2

I'm sure it must seem strange, at least to non-photographers, that a tatty weed against a peeling, painted wall should cause me to stop and whip out my phone for a photo. I just loved the colours: yellow and blue, opposite each other on the colour wheel and therefore complementary colours. Add in the touches of green and the wonderful textures and it's a winning combination in my view. I might be odd... I'd only gone out to post a letter!

Saturday 15 May 2021

A sense of humour

Every now and again on my rambles around the village, I spot something quirky that amuses me. One of the houses where I deliver newsletters has this cheeky chap by the front door. Wonderful how a bit of plaster can have such animation! 

A small garden in Saltaire has, for some reason, been decorated with a sea theme. (Odd, given that we're about as far from the coast here as you can be on this island!) There are old nets, ropes, and a plethora of fish, shells and other marine ephemera. 

At the other end of the village, flamingoes seem to have taken up residence!

Friday 14 May 2021

Upside down

During lockdown, I caught up with all four series of 'Unforgotten', the TV crime drama starring Sanjeev Bhaskar and the wonderful Nicola Walker. I really enjoyed it. For some reason, it came back to me when I was looking at this photo of Salts Mill reflected in the canal, in lovely warm evening light. That's largely because the haunting theme tune: "All We Do", written and sung by the duo Oh Wonder, has the chorus:

'I've have been upside down; I don't wanna be the right way round; can't find paradise on the ground.'

(Listen HERE).

There's been a bit of a thing in my camera club recently about experimenting with 'flipping' reflection photos. As you can see, it produces a somewhat weird effect. Upside down...right way round...who knows?

Thursday 13 May 2021

Appealing paint

Peeling paint on a door seemed to offer itself as an interesting study - appealing paint, I suppose. 

The door was part of a small run of workshops or garages behind the shops on Gordon Terrace. You approach them down a footpath and I rather like this little view. It somehow has quite a rural feel, despite being firmly in the urban jungle. 

Wednesday 12 May 2021

Park life (evening)

The stretch of river just beyond the cricket pavilion in Roberts Park always looks so peaceful and rural. As dusk fell and the shadows intensified, it took on a rather mysterious air. 

Across the other side of the cricket pitch, the lights were coming on around the bandstand and the Half-Moon Café. There's such a huge variety of mature trees at that side of the park, and the different colours and textures are really pronounced at this time of year. At dusk, the white cherry blossom had a ghostly quality and the new leaves of the copper beech were a rich, plummy maroon.  

Tuesday 11 May 2021

An evening stroll

I made a late decision to pop out for a short stroll round the park the other evening, to stretch my legs and clear my head. There wasn't much of a sunset but the clouds were tinged with pink. The familiar scenes are rendered slightly different with every change in the light and weather and I love that. 


Monday 10 May 2021

More bluebells

I know I'm not the only photographer who gets seduced into an endless quest to capture 'the definitive' picture of bluebells. I enjoyed a walk with a few friends from the camera club in some woods in Bramhope, on the outskirts of Leeds. The bluebells were wonderful there, and just about at their peak. Try as I do, I can never seem to satisfy myself that I have captured the beauty that you actually experience for real. I know that's not just me either, as my friends all say the same. What I do like about these two images is that the colour is just about true to life - and that's not always easy to achieve either, as they sometimes look too pink and sometimes too purple. En masse they have this wonderful blue-mauve cloud effect. Individual blooms often look rather more of a vivid, darker blue when closely viewed. 

In addition to the bluebells there was masses of wild garlic in the woods, just beginning to flower with its attractive white star clusters. The garlicky aroma rather drowned out the more delicate fragrance of the bluebells, but garlic has an earthy scent that's not unpleasant. 


Sunday 9 May 2021

Sunday meditation: Rose

“There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend gave me some roses at Easter. As I wasn't inclined to go out much then (still freezing cold and rather windy) I spent some time playing with Photoshop layers and textures. A rosebud made a pretty subject. I've still lots to learn and need to continue to develop my creative eye for this kind of work but it is an absorbing way to pass a few hours. 

Saturday 8 May 2021

A surprise visit

The monthly theme in my online photo group for April was 'Surprise', to be interpreted however we chose. I happened to sign up for a tutorial on creating composite images during the month and, rather than use the supplied mythical drama-type images (which weren't really my 'thing') I hit upon the idea of using an old family photo of my grandparents, originally at the seaside.  So this is them making a surprise visit to Saltaire! 

Grandma sadly died just before I was born, so I never knew her. My grandfather was at one time a coal miner, until ill-health forced him to quit, after which he became a coach driver. He was well-used to driving to England's beauty spots, though I doubt he ever came to Saltaire, which was a working mill and not a tourist attraction in those days. But I think they enjoyed their 'day out', judging by their smiles. I felt weirdly happy when I'd finished the image, as though I'd actually shown them round my neighbourhood. 

Friday 7 May 2021

Playing on...

Here's another park with a bandstand. This is Myrtle Park in Bingley. The bandstand is a good deal older than the one in Roberts Park (where the original had been demolished and was replaced a few years ago). I think this one is Edwardian, apparently manufactured in a foundry in Glasgow, before being installed in the park in 1913. It is still sometimes used for brass band concerts, though it has been subject to a few incidents of vandalism in recent months. 

Thursday 6 May 2021

Ilkley bridges walk

I had a short walk along the River Wharfe in Ilkley. There are three bridges within about half a mile of each other. The old packhorse bridge (above), dating from 1675, is now pedestrian only, being very narrow. It has high arches and large buttresses. The river was very low when I was there but I imagine in flood it can roar down with a lot of force so the builders were obviously playing it safe with a sturdy construction. 

Looking down on the buttresses they look like rock gardens, covered in mosses and wild flowers. 

The Three Bridges walk takes you on scenic paths through Ilkley's riverside gardens. There were numerous blossom trees brightening the view. The central bridge is a road bridge (not special enough to tempt me to a photo!), cutting across the river in the middle of Ilkley. 

The third (below) is another pedestrian bridge: an elegant suspension bridge. The river here is a popular picnicking and bathing spot. Local pressure groups have recently succeeded in having the area declared a designated bathing site, which forces the Environment Agency to regularly check for pollution. There has been uproar about  sewage in the area, released as part of 'storm overflow discharges' from a nearby treatment works.