Travel, Photography, Life and Death

I took a lot of photos this summer. We travelled, saw friends, saw some beautiful places. One of them was Whitby, famous for Jet and of course Vampires! It’s not hard to see why Bram Stoker was inspired when you go up to the Abbey and take a look around. Life and death appear side by side – opposite sides in fact, of the same town. A strange, thought-provoking juxtaposition to see. A cemetery right above a thriving town full of living people. Quite a picture.  But what a place to end your days!

Whitby life and death

The Abbey itself is an imposing structure.  It’s a very impressive image and very provocative for any writer. My partner writes Vampire and horror fiction, and he loved the atmosphere. He has visited Whitby several times in the past and doesn’t tire of it. You can see why. Perched high above the town, Stoker had the perfect breeding ground for a fertile imagination.

Whitby Abbey

It’s a wonderful old town, crammed with little shops and craftspeople. But the approach to the Abbey is a daunting one. We took our time climbing the steps, stopped and admired the view, getting our breath back at the same time.

Approach to the Abbey

Whitby Bay. A view from the climb

Here’s another view from the steps.

Abbey Steps View

Where have you been? What have you seen? Did you gain any new insights or inspiration from your travels?

 

Advertisements

Photos Make Memories

Roundhouse

I’ve been away for a while, photographing everything I could on my travels. Photos make memories! Now it’s time to share some of them with you. This is the best use of anyones photos! Memories to shore you up through the less enjoyable times are worth their weight in gold. In July I attended a pagan camp that only happens once a year. It’s the only chance I get to catch up with old friends who, ten years ago were like me involved in building a modern-day stone circle. The owner of the land I also now consider an old friend. He turned his farm over to conservation and has done a wonderful job of making wildlife welcome.

He also makes people welcome. Since the stone circle was built, volunteers have also built a roundhouse on site. It’s a wonderful space, perfect for gathering together on a wet day or cold night. In the photo above, you can see the weather was awful and the fire lit! Laughter and music was in abundance, though, so our gathering didn’t let rain and cold in July spoil our re-union.

The roof structure is a work of art in itself. I couldn’t help myself. The camera came out even when we were sitting listening to music. I looked up and realised these were views I wouldn’t see again for another year…unless… I shot away.

Roundhouse Roof

Inside, we were all cosy. This picture is dark, but I respect people’s privacy, so the photo I’ve used gives you the flavour of the space without compromising that privacy as the people in it aren’t recognisable. Isn’t it cosy, though? Certainly much better than sitting in a wet tent! The site is a farm, not a camp site, so there are composting toilets and fresh water. Other than that, the roundhouse is the best shelter from the elements.

Roundhouse Interior

Outside, the carvings make wonderful shapes in the dusky light, as I noticed when I emerged, camera in hand, just as the light was fading, here’s what I saw.

Roundhouse Gateway

The weather was of course a key feature, as it always is when you’re living outdoors, even for a few days. Storms make for stunning skies, and I had to capture them.

Stormy Sky

We also had gorgeous sunsets. How many times do we have a wonderful sunset and it’s missed because we’re indoors? When you’re living outside, the wonders of our natural world are much more obvious and more easily appreciated. My memories of these fabulous days are now captured forever! These shots may not be the best technical examples of award-winning shots, but they’ll preserve Summer camp 2011 for me and I can revisit whenever I want. Make the most of your camera and preserve your travels, events and good times to see you through the darker days we all have.

Sunset on Camp 2011

Busman’s Holiday for Photographer-the birthday

Well, you may think I’ve been off galvanting again and getting nothing done, but I’ve spent the weekend with a friend for his 65th birthday. He is also a fellow photographer. As it was HIS birthday, I did the honours with the camera on the night. It was great party and a lovely cake I couldn’t have, but never mind. I took some of my favourite dark choloclate and some Brandy. I think the shots are in focus! There’s a bit of blur on the action shots with the cake, but I didn’t want to use flash.

Happy Birthday

Yum yum!

He'll never see 64 again- and we won't let him forget it!

Birthday boy and his lovely wife.

In house entertainment from birthday boy.

Whilste we were there, a summerhouse was built – a family gift for birthday boy. I’m sure no-one will mind if I show you shots of the construction. The most I did was hold things for a bit and provide the odd joke, plus taking the shots for posterity and the giver, of course.

Tamping down the fun way

Lack of Light - No Problem!

No, you're not seeing things! A Victorian lamp. Perfect for the job!

Birthday boy and I went out and did a bit of photography once we’d recovered from the party, but I’ll save those shots for another day when I’ve had a chance to go through them. Thanks for your patience with me and my eratic blogs.  I can’t be here all the time or the photos would get really boring!

My Parent’s Garden. Photos at last

Well, my sister has done me proud. I asked her to capture some shots of my parent’s garden having spent three days in the rain working on it for them, only to finish as it was going dark. Today was lovely up in northern England, as it was here, so she popped down and has emailed me some shots I’m sure she won’t mind sharing with you. She is a singer and singing teacher, but has talent with photography too! Thanks, Pam.

 

Parent's garden in February. Photo by Pamela James

Parents Garden in Feb. Photo by Pamela James

In addition, I’d like to thank everyone for being so supportive with all your lovely comments and congratulations this week. It was exciting to be on Freshly Pressed, as well as an honour, and I hope the  people I’ve been visited by continue to visit and communicate with me. Your views and perspectives are always welcome.

 

 

Pride, colour, pattern and the photograph

Whistles

It was Nottingham Pride last Saturday. I thought I’d go along again this year. So we packed up a picnic, and of course my camera, got on a train and spent a lovely afternoon at Forest Fields. It’s one place you can get out  a camera, start shooting and get tapped on the shoulder by strangers. They’re not complaining, not confronting the photographer, but asking for their photo to be taken. What a refreshing change! Lots of smiling faces, colourful sights and music. Lots to get creative about. I took 176 photos in a few hours, ran my camera battery down and flattened my own battery. I fell asleep on the sofa when we finally got home, exhausted but very happy with my busman’s day out.

I wanted to get the essence of the event. What makes a good iconic shot? I don’t know, but I try to find something a little different from the standard shots most people would point and shoot. I don’t know if I have managed to capture anything special, but I hope so. Having a good camera is all very well, but in the end, it’s the idea, the concept that I want to ‘bag’ at events like this. They’re not shots I would market on my website, but life moments I want to remember when I’m in my dotage.

Balloons at Pride

The lovely man selling balloons approached me at the end of the event. He wanted some pictures to help sell his wares. He explained he’s illiterate, yet he’s made a business, and his wife handles correspondence. Good for him! That’s what life’s all about. Of course, he can have copies of the shots, I told him, no problem. I came home on the train with a balloon he gave me, and had matched to the colour of my dress. Bless him. I just thought they made great abstract shots that would give me my memories!

Wave That Flag!

The flag, the balloons or the whistles? I don’t know which shot says the most about the day. There was colour, smiles and fun everywhere, despite protesters trying to stop the event, trying to put the LGBT community down, but look at them. Part of life, ordinary people, just different, as we all are, thank goodness. Diversity is absolutely essential to life. We couldn’t have evolved without it. Life is and should be colourful, happy and eventful if we look hard enough. Pagan Pride followed in Nottingham on the Sunday, and I would have attended that, too if I’d had the energy. It’s such a pity that we have to fight for the right to be different. Who wants to be a clone anyway? And who would decide what a clone should be? Which religion? which looks? what skills? Don’t we need them all, provided by different people?

Walk Tall whoever you are!

Moving from showing to selling. A photographers dillema!

The photo reflects my moods as I try to sort out my dillema .

It’s a problem. I did work in retail many years ago. I ran a health shop. It was easy then to work out costings, because there is already a working model out there to use in that kind of retail environment. You buy at one price, add in running costs of the shop, (at a standard rate), VAt etc and sell at a standard mark up price.

This is different. Not only was running retail for me now more than ten years ago, but the variables here are very different. I work from home. I spend lots of time on taking photos. I travel sometimes to get shots. Then there are all the costs of getting the precious print in your hands, obtaining the order and payment and sending it out to the customer. So, you have paypal costs, printing costs that vary depending on how many prints you order and what size they are, pricing, packing and postage costs incurred in sending to the customer, not to mention electricity, upkeep of equipment and time, website costs etc. How on earth do you start to make sense of that and come up with a pricing structure that makes a profit AND is going to tempt people to buy?

All this assumes my prints are up to quality of course. I’ve done this by exhibiting locally and selling framed prints, but as I’m limited to what I can do in this way I want to sell online. Hence, I’ve ended up with this set of questions from which my head is still reeling. Unfortunately I’m not that business savvy (not online anyway). It was different in retail. People come to your shop and you have a captive audience. Online, people look and don’t comment, and there’s obviously no feedback if they don’t. In a shop you can ask the customer why he buys or doesn’t buy certain goods, and adjust stock accordingly.

Prints vary enormously in printing costs. So do you buy in a stock of prints to keep costs down and hope they sell, or only order a print when it’s ordered by a customer, thus making each one more expensive?

Arghhh. Your comments/ideas would be more than welcome. I think I need a cool drink and a lie down in a dark place!

A UK Farm Celebrating the Past

A happy pig that enjoyed having his ear scratched

A happy pig that enjoyed having his ear scratched

A happy pig with her new family

A happy pig with her new family

I thought I’d digress from my usual meanderings today. Looking at the shots I took on a small farm visit made me quite nostalgic. I’m sure the modern equipment farms use today are essential to keep us all fed, but doesn’t all the old stuff look great? It made me think about what we’ve lost in our countryside due to the pressures of so many people to feed. We can’t blame the farmers, as they simply had to follow policies government set for them to increase production. But having been back to a conservation site trying to redress the balance (see previous post), I simply feel whistful about what we have lost. The meadows full of butterflies and bees (their plight has been well publicised), the cornfields dotted with poppies, and people’s connection to the earth. In my own area, which is mixed private and council housing the kids watched me sprinkle poppy seeds over the grass verges. ‘What’ya doin?’ they asked me, so I told them. ‘Huh, they won’t grow round here.’ Was the reply. How sad that young people have given up before they’ve started, and have so little connection to the planet that supports them.

When I was a kid, I played in hedgerows, brought new ‘pets’ home in the form of caterpillars and watched them grow and change into butterflies. I visited my aunt’s farm at the weekend and fought the hens for their eggs. Now the latest game seems to be all young people are interested in. So my photos for the day look back to a time when less damage was done to the land and machinery was on a more human scale. Animals were treated well and the smithy was an important part of the scene. What do you think? Am I just a sad, aging hippy or should we all be taking more notice of what’s around us?

An old fashioned Smithy

An old fashioned Smithy

Elderly, retired farm tractor

Elderly, retired farm tractor

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: