Category Archives: UK

The Gorgeous Yorkshire Dales

I’ve just got back from leading 2 back to back workshops in the Yorkshire Dales. What a fantastic place for photographers. Everything from dramatic gorges to waterfalls to quarries to dry stone wall and buttercup meadows. Truly, God’s County…

This is the birthplace of the Sublime in England (check out James Ward’s Gordale Scar from 1815). My recent picture of the same location is above. We even have example of the Industrial Sublime imposing on the landscape (below)…

But I think the Dales are probably more representative nowadays of the bucolic and Picturesque, certainly so in late May, early June. And it’s still deliciously beautiful, irrespective of the label…

 

 

 


Ruined, in Harris

Photographers can’t resist a ruin, especially one as decrepit as this on Harris. On a moody, rain-filled day, here is a place to escape the weather and get some images. Mind you, there were so many holes in the roof that the weather chased us inside…!

There is a strong sensation of ghosts in places like this. Not literally, but a feeling of lives lived here and now gone. Mouldering away, all quite eerie.

The goosebumps are certainly prickling when you spot that a sheep has wandered in, some time ago, not escaped, and left its skull as a decorative element in the kitchen…

Upstairs is empty and forlorn, silent apart from the curtain in the wind.

Whoever did live here just got up from their chair and departed. The last cup of tea left to go cold and stale on the sideboard. Ruined, in Harris.

(Ruined House found on Quest workshop trip to Harris, Lewis and Durness. 2019 brochure here)


Harris Colour

Inspired by Roy Essery’s cracking website (here) I thought it about time to upload some of my images from our recent workshop to Harris. The Outer Hebrides being so far north, and so far into the Atlantic, it’s no surprise that this is a world of contrasting weather and contrasting colours. It’s a wonderful place for black and white, but I’ll leave that for another day…

 

These colours are barely tweaked at all in PS. Vivid green, purple, blues and oranges, all very typically Scottish…, and all very photogenic!

 

 

 

 

There’s no Scotland trip planned for 2019 (check out the brochure here), but Harris pulls strongly, so we’ll be back there the following year. Now, to have a look at the monochrome images…


Judges’ Bait – the Blavatnik Building

Photo judges would not like these photos… Too much deep black shadow, slightly burnt out white highlights. Too empty. But so what, I rather like the atmosphere it creates, and atmosphere is what a photo should be about. So the blacks and whites stay…


Pics all from the marvellous new wing of Tate Modern, the Blavatnik Building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron. Concrete drama, all very striking!

Stairways are a fave of mine. Leading lines and suggested journeys. Up, down, travel round the corners. A sense of mystery…

Here’s to curvy stairways, emptiness and deep blacks and clear whites…

 


Help…., Can’t breathe.

Sometimes you just feel sorry for the animals. And that perhaps nowhere so much as in the market place. Pride and dignity gone. No escape. Dead eyes still imploring. It is all very final.

 

 

 


You can never tire of London…

“Why Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London” said Mr Johnson. And what goes for 1777 still stands for 2018. A fascinating city, even on a bitterly cold February evening outing with the camera club. The best was Tate Modern, full of vibrancy, youth, music, art and installations late into the evening. I could have spent hours there snapping away, agreeing with Mr Johnson’s dictum… “No Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…”

 

 

 

 


Zombies in Loughton

If you fancy a bit of trick or treating, then Loughton is definitely the place to go. And specifically the ghoulish, macabre, fiendish house of Wendy and David Greenhalgh, who are Halloweened up to the hilt. Every part of the house, and garden, and garage, and tree, and driveway, has turned into hell on earth for a weekend. Heaven knows what the lodger thinks….

When I was a kid, we did apple bobbing. Jeez – now it’s kids in the pot, corpses in the garden, and a trio of witches in the shed! Mind you, I checked out the kitchen and I could see some delicious looking toffee, so Thank God that hasn’t changed!

If you’re going to go over the top then do it properly, or improperly but extravagantly. “Extravaganza” might not actually quite be strong enough to capture the effect. Queens Road will ever quite recover, the Dementors have taken over…

Good luck for the party tomorrow. It’s going to be wicked!!!

For more on David and Wendy’s Halloween Extraordinaire, see Instagram: Halloweenwerewolf


Northumberland Castles, Seascapes, Big Skies and Roman Walls

Northumberland is a fantastic windswept rugged landscape. Big beaches, huge sky, imposing castles. A great area for photography, which is why I’m running a workshop there next year. I’ve just been on a quick recce to check out the locations. Here are a few resulting images.

Bamburgh Castle, a classic dawn and dusk location. Great for big land, and seascapes, beach reflections and rocky lead-in lines…

Alnwick Castle, home to much Harry Potter castle filming…

 

Holy Island and its famous boat sheds. Normally this is a great shot with Lindisfarne in the background, but scaffolding on the castle put paid to that this time (scaffolding that will be removed before the workshop thank heavens!)

Pilgrim’s Way across the mud flats of the estuary to Holy Island. I kept my feet dry and resisted splashing around in the mud…

Abstracts and long exposure in Berwick upon Tweed…

A day away from the seaside checking out Roughting Linn waterfall

No trip to Northumberland should be without a visit to Hadrian’s Wall. The Roman soldiers must have shivered and longed for return to the continent when they were posted here…

And finally, the famous Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall. Much photographed, but stunning nevertheless. Great location!

If you are interested in a trip to Northumberland, the workshop is 6th – 10th September 2018. Contact me at thomaspeck1@mac.com for more details or to request a brochure.  Stunning landscapes guaranteed.


Birds on Sticks – the Judge’s favourite…

At the camera club we get to see a fair share of bird photographs – usually a bird perched on a stick. Easy to focus because it doesn’t move… Judges seem to love them. I don’t get it myself. This is one area of photography that flies straight over my head (ahem…)

 

But hold on! Before I get all snooty about avian snaps, maybe I should have another go myself…? So I did. And bloody hell, it’s hard. Especially if the damn blighter has taken off and started flying. Above is a Harris Hawk, and as you can see I haven’t managed to keep him very sharp in the image. A “fail” in the eyes of the judge.

The Peregrine is even harder (faster, a lot faster…), and that wall doesn’t do anything for the picture – nothing to set the bird apart from the background. Another fail…

What about some bird portraiture? A bit better this one (Lanner Falcon). Interesting face on shot, but what’s that blur in the bottom right? (It’s the handler’s shoulder…) Another fail.

Ooooh, getting better now with the owls (European and Tawny) In the eye of the Euro Owl you can even see my reflection… But hang on, this is bird on a stick territory. I’m trying to get away from that! (Self: Fail!)

Close up and semi abstract – now that’s more satisfying. And don’t those claws look sharp…

Here’s perhaps the most dramatic image. Great pose, half way between flight and stick (glove…) And the bird looks suitably Bird Of Prey-ish. Mmm, quite happy. But it’s not good enough for competition entry. I’m just going to have to leave that to the experts….

 

 


MoonWalk 2017: I wore my bra with pride…

Breast Cancer, it’s horrible, so how could I refuse to do my bit, get my moobs, along with my spare socks, stuffed into a bra , and walk a marathon overnight to raise some dosh for charity? Plus Mrs P has already done 3 (marathons that is, including a running one – she’s a toughie…). Time to man up, stick my chest out and get marching…

I’m not quite sure what black fur bras indicates about my predilections for sexy lingerie, and damned itchy it was too. How do the girls do it every day…? But here we are at the beginning, full of positive energy and slight nerves, given that I had done no training whatsoever apart from walking the dog…

15,000 women on the night (plus some men – not many, but a few plucky ones) Many, many, many bras on show and all of them decorated but functional. That’s a lady queue below – you know what for – one of the distinct advantages I had on the night being a bloke…

 

And we’re off! Decent pace and no rain. All smiles and chatter for the first few miles… (girls gossiping whilst walking, it comes naturally). Lovely support from good friends – Great to see you Sus and Jenny, “wooohoo!” (that was the tone of the evening…)!!! And we are still going strong by mile 10.

 

By mile 16 blisters are arriving, chit chat has faded, and trudge-drudgery has set in. Thank heavens for hot chocolate at Sloane Square plus a few swigs from my hip flask. The restorative powers of Brandy mixed with Grand Marnier are remarkable…

OK, I look a bit knackered at mile 25. But full of joy at mile 26! The end in sight, and an overwhelming feeling of relief… that I could get that damned itchy bra off at last!

So that was my first marathon: 8 hours of blister inducing walking, trussed up in a bra, surrounded by gaggles of women who didn’t stop chattering until the dawn chorus took over. Not bad for a Saturday night!

(I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored Mrs P and me. Your generosity helped push us over the line. If you read this and you would like to contribute – we all know someone who’s suffered from this cancer – then don’t hesitate to click on the link and do your bit. Thank you!)