Stone Cubes Beside The Road

During our holiday in Northumberland last September, we spent a day on the tiny island of Lindisfarne, famous for being a place of holy retreat and for the mead and other drinks that it produces. Lindisfarne is connected to the mainland by a causeway that is only accessible when the tide goes out, and I made the area of the island around the causeway my focus for the day.

On the mainland, just before the causeway, sits a little car park with (or so it seemed to me on the day) maybe enough room for a dozen cars or so. When the tide rises, this car park is just above the high tide mark, and before it sits this strange row of solid cubes stretching north along the coast line. As the tide comes in, they’re a popular place to scramble up onto to watch – at least until the water reaches them! You can see them clearly from Google Maps, but I imagine most people drive straight on by over the causeway and never notice them at all.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Aneurin Bevin Statue

Statue on Queen Street, Cardiff, of the founder of the National Health Service.

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Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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Magical Elven Bridge

My wallpaper theme this week is the wonderful Northumberland waterfall at Hareshaw Linn, near Bellingham. It’s a wonderful waterfall, but looking at my Flickr stats this week, it’s today’s photo that’s repeatedly caught the eye of my visitors.

Move away from the modern media-fuelled amusements in 21st century Britain, and you’ll inevitably find yourself stepping back into the remnants of our Victorian heritage. The Victorians loved Hareshaw Linn, going so far as to build a picnic area and bandstand so that people could come here and listen to storytelling (an art that isn’t celebrated anywhere near enough these days!) They also built this very Tolkienesque bridge, which in Autumn light as the leaves start to turn must be stunning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s theme. Next week, I’ll be sharing some photos from Lindisfarne.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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Hareshaw Linn Up Close

My wallpaper theme this week is the wonderful Northumberland waterfall at Hareshaw Linn, near Bellingham.

One of the great features of Hareshaw Linn is the way the water of the burn runs down the rocks, breaking into hundreds of rivulets as it does. It’s a wonderful sight, and one well worth enjoying up close by bringing your camera with you.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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Hareshaw Linn

My wallpaper theme this week is the wonderful Northumberland waterfall at Hareshaw Linn, near Bellingham.

… and here it is, Hareshaw Linn, one of the fine waterfalls of Northumberland. The way the water splits into hundreds of tiny little rivulets as it flows down the rock face makes it mesmerising, and very different to the waterfalls we get down here in South Wales. We spent quite a bit of time here at the foot of the fall; it’s one of those special places you don’t just hike to, glance at, and then pass by.

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Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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Water Over Rocks

My wallpaper theme this week is the wonderful Northumberland waterfall at Hareshaw Linn, near Bellingham.

The path to the waterfall runs along the side of Hareshaw Burn up from where it flows into the River North Tyne. Along the way are several places where the burn drops a small amount over rocks, such as this one. If you ever visit Hareshaw Linn, when you reach these spots, just stop for a few minutes, and simply listen to the breeze through the trees, and to the waters of the burn gurgling over the rocks. Wonderful.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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This Way To Hareshaw Linn

After three weeks of illness (one week of my Mac being ill, and two weeks of me being ill), I’m delighted to be back with more desktop wallpaper to share.

This week, I want to share with you some photos I took last September of Hareshaw Linn, a spectacular waterfall in Northumbria National Park, starting with this simple shot of the signpost that leads the way there.

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Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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I published more photography blog posts in 2010 than in all the years before, making it extremely difficult to pick out just 10 photographs that I thought were the best. In the end, my choices reflect mostly the shift in my photography; the way I’ve deliberately tried to move from the documentary style of the Merthyr Road project to the more artistic style that I’m seeking for my Desktop Wallpaper project.

The Photos

Outside The Core

For myself, I still think that this is the single best photo that I published in 2010, and is the one of the very best photos I’ve ever taken. I only matched the quality here one other time all year, and that photo has yet to be published.

I love the colours, the framing, the focus, the depth of field … it’s a moment of simple beauty, and just like my shot of Calanais back in 2007, it was a photo that I put no effort into at all … just a random shot towards the end of a long and tiring day’s photography. There’s probably a lesson in there for me.

We Will Exterminate You

Coming a close second is this fun shot of miniature Daleks on a shelf in the Doctor Who Exhibition shop down in Cardiff Bay. Not for the first time, I’d gone round the exhibition itself getting more and more frustrated at just how dark, out of date, and difficult to shoot the exhibition contents are, and if the truth be told, I’d almost given up hope of coming away with any pictures to share with you on Flickr and here on my blog. Spotting these little fellows in the full glare of a spotlight on the shelf was a real lifting of the spirits – not an emotion any Dalek would approve of! – and I was very relieved to pull off this shot.

Wet Lights

I’m the first to admit that this shot didn’t do so well when I published it back in June as my desktop wallpaper for the day, but it still does something for me. This was taken with the Canon IXUS 200 that Mrs H bought me for my birthday, and I don’t believe that my Nikon rig with all its lenses could have done a better job. This photo looks fantastic on a 24″ monitor. Give it a go; I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Merthyr Road In Mist

There were other photos I took of the snow in December that were more popular on Flickr, but this is one of those rare moments when I managed to take the exact photo I set out to capture. In November, when the first of the winter snow had arrived, I drove along here on the way up to Ludlow for the day. There wasn’t as much snow at the time, and it was a lot sunnier, but it was still an enchanting scene … and yet I never stopped to take the shot. This time around, I knew exactly what I wanted, and made sure I went out to the end of our street to get it.

I’m sure this one will return in 2011 as a 25×9 framing at some point.

Enjoying The Beautiful Mawddach

This is another photo where I managed to bag exactly the shot I’d planned in my head … and it also looks stunning on a 24″ monitor. We’d spent the day hiking up from Barmouth on a tourist path, and had finally broken out of the tree canopy to be greeted by this beautiful view of the Mawddach Estuary. I wanted a photo that conveyed the pleasure of this scene, and spotting the bench, decided that the best way to do this was to show people enjoying the view for themselves. It didn’t take long before the bench was occupied, and I really dropped lucky that the woman was wearing such an eye-catching coloured top. I think they make the ideal focal point for this shot.

Public Telephone At Heath Low Level Station

How on earth do you explore a 100-year old railway line, documenting station after station, and come away with something a little different? When I was growing up, the railways were full of character and local charm, but today’s world is the world of the sterile (even puerile) identikit station with the same lack of seating and the same style of CCTV tower compensating for the total lack of station staff. This dirty public telephone and the red wall that owned it was a godsend, and I made sure to take my time and take full advantage of the D300s’s live view feature to get the phone perfectly in focus.

Manchester Alleyway

You can be sure that if I don’t have my Nikon with me, I’ll go past a scene like this and say: I’ll come back for that … only I never do. This is one of the times when I did, and despite its many technical imperfections, I’m pleased that I did. There was just something about this alleyway that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I feel that I captured that mood accurately with this shot. I don’t think I could have done that a year ago.

Millennium Stadium Supports

This is one of the last shots I took with my Nikon 70-300mm lens before the 80-200mm f/2.8 usurped it in my camera bag (actually, I ended up changing camera bags specifically so that the 80-200mm lens could be my default lens …), and I think it’s probably the most underrated shot I took all year. This shot was a happy accident, as although it can be found right in the heart of Cardiff, it’s also very well tucked away down a side street that few people go down. If I’d gone down the street the other way, I would never have spotted it either.

Cathays Station Sign Behind Grilled Fence

I didn’t think much of this when I first took it, and if it hadn’t been very popular on Flickr thanks to being featured on the Guardian Cardiff website, I don’t think I would have given it a second glance. Looking at it again, though, it’s one of those one-in-a-hundred shots, a happy accident that I couldn’t reproduce if I tried, and the unusual (kooky?) choice of the fence as the focal point combined with the beautiful May light really makes the whole scene pop.

LR66

Finally, I want to share with you once more this shot of the beached trawler in Morecambe Bay, taken back in January. I’d only had the Canon IXUS 200 a week, and was fumbling with it out on a cold and inhospitable winter’s morning when the light offered up this marvellous scene. I wasn’t there for photography, but it’s one of those photos that makes a trip worthwhile just in of itself.

Looking Ahead To 2011

There were many other photos I published in 2010 that I really liked, and many more that were popular with my readers. There isn’t room to feature any more of them here, sadly; I must move on to a new year with new photos to share with you.

In 2010, the standard I’ve set myself to go forward is to create (or dig up out of my archives!) some 250 photos to publish … and that’s just for my Desktop Wallpaper project alone. There’ll be more travel photography too, I’m sure, and also more Merthyr Road articles to complete and share.

I’m in danger of being better remembered for my photography than my skills as an engineer, and I’m currently not sure how I feel about that. With photography, there’s just me and the camera, and thanks to the digital age, there’s also near instant results. (It would be instant results if Apple ever fixed Aperture’s appalling performance). I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to complete things quickly, and from being able to publish new works so regularly and in volume. With software, that satisfaction doesn’t come so quickly.

I don’t want to be a professional photographer; I just wish I was a bit better at it.

So, for 2011, I’ve decided to set myself three challenges.

  1. I’m going to humiliate myself by taking part in the prestigious Amateur Photographer Of The Year competition. In such a rich field, there’s no possibility of me doing well, but it will give me a benchmark of where others see my photography in comparison with other photographers in a way that you just can’t get on Flickr.
  2. I’m going to join the Royal Photographic Society, and work towards achieving an Associateship Distinction, with my eventual goal to see if I can reach their Fellowship Distinction standard one day.
  3. I want to reach an average of 500 views a day on Flickr by the end of the year, with my eventual aim being to reach 1,000 views a day on average. I see it requiring a mixture of improving the average quality of my published photos combined with publishing my photos a little smarter and doing a better job of finding an audience for my hobby. The best advice I was given in 2010 was to learn to be utterly ruthless in choosing photos to publish. Looking back at my stats for the year, I can see that if I was publishing more topical photos much more of the time, I could probably pull it off … but the real challenge is to do this whilst still taking the photos that move me first and foremost.

Oh, and it would be nice to get more people commenting on my photos, either here or on Flickr 🙂

What are you going to do with your photography in 2011?

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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It’s that time of year again, when I look back at 2010 through the lens of my camera … covering November and December.

Stu’s Reflections

November I remember mostly as a quiet month for my photography. The event that sticks strongest in my memory was an evening shoot in the beautiful city of Bath, where I work. I’ve promised myself a whole day in Bath with my full camera rig in 2011 when the light improves, and I’ve promised my colleagues in the office (several of whom are excellent photographers) that we’ll organise a group shoot too. I also had a fun day in Cardiff when our mad Canadian friend Naomi came to visit for a weekend from the States, sneaking shots whilst showing her around Cardiff Bay and its collection of Daleks, and this year I took the camera with me during my annual trip up to Gregynog as a visiting industrialist. Sadly the light didn’t co-operate as I would have liked, and there wasn’t really the time to relax and get into the mood.

The odd thing for me was that, despite publishing less photos now that the Merthyr Road series had stopped, my photography increased in popularity on Flickr.

And then finally came December. I spent most of December working or sleeping, but still managed to end the year on a high, with a very popular collection of photos of the unseasonable snow that arrived mid-month. A mad-cap trip to Manchester on business earlier in the month also gave me a great opportunity to try something different. I’m not sure the resulting shots are to everyone’s taste, but I came away with several in particular that I enjoyed.

The Best Of The Photos

Three Swings

Aerial Photography by the Abbey

Staircases

Side Of The Millennium Centre

Girders For Wales Rally 2010

Ribs Of A Ship Sculpture

We Will Exterminate You

Gregynog Hall

The Library At Gregynog

Gate In The Hay

Duddo Five Stones

Poor Driving Conditions

Merthyr Road In Mist

Big Wheel And Arndale Centre

175 Years

Manchester Alleyway

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

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