Monday, 24 December 2012

Strong Winds Batter Roker - Sunderland

The weathermen called it the Pest from the West, following on from the Beast from the East. Strong westerly winds hit north east England, but the accompanying sunshine was a welcome break from the recent grey skies.

Swirling sandstorm surrounds dogwalkers

Blown spray over crashing waves before Roker pier.

Canon 5DII 70-200 f4

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Herrington Park - Sunderland

When the sun shines you can get some lovely shots of Penshaw Monument, seen across the various lakes in Herrington Country Park. But when it is dull, you need to adopt a different strategy, in this case some Photoshop gimmickry.

My eye was taken by this row of  terraced houses with the flags flying in the gardens. Sited not far from where the pithead once stood, presumably they were originally miners' dwellings.

I suspect that a supporter of Sunderland football club might live here.

The shot of the monument is available to purchase on Alamy D1CC1F

Canon 5DII

Friday, 14 December 2012

Floods in Durham City

Actually at the end of November, but I have just got around to uploading these photos

A police officer checks the depth of the water alongside the ministry building. Some members of staff had their cars within the car park - safely out of reach of the water, but unable to get out through the flood.

Flooding seen from the other side of the river

These and similar photos are available for purchase at Alamy

Canon 5DII 24-105 f4

Monday, 3 December 2012

Tynemouth Flea Market

The newly restored station roof at Tynemouth allows much more space for the weekend market that is held there.

It's worth going just to see the roof!

Exotic cheeses

Nice roof but no central heating!

Canon 5DII 24-105L

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Man walking dog at Seaburn

Sunderland in November. A man, walking along the beach at Seaburn, throws a ball for his dog to chase. The running dog is blurred, but the man sharp. If you look click to look at the enlarged image you can see the ball flying away to the right of the picture.

Canon 5DII 24-105L

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Durham Food Festival

German wine, Italian Chocolate, Paella and Thai cooking, all featured within the market stalls at Durham Festival of Food.

Canon 5D II 24-105L Nissin Di622 flashgun

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnel

The Tyne pedestrian and cycle tunnels are due for a major refurbishment, involving the closure of both tunnels for up to a year ( assuming the work goes to plan!). I've no idea what they will look like when the job's done, so thought it would be wise to record the present situation.

If you've not been through the tunnels you should give it a try. The noise made when a ship goes overhead is interesting, to say the least!

The escalators have all been switched off for a few months now, only the lifts are working.

Rumour has it that the wooden escalators, once the longest in the world, are to be replaced by a funicular railway. Given the number of cyclists using the tunnel, this can only be an improvement as the existing lifts struggle to take three bikes, while holding on to a cycle while descending those steep escalators is a scary experience! 

Canon 5DII 24-105L f4

Monday, 1 October 2012

Debris on Roker Beach, Sunderland

Following torrential rain and high winds the beach at Roker was covered with driftwood and other more unusual items.

A hay bale and what looks like a mattress amongst the debris, with Roker Pier in the background

From a distance this tree trunk with roots in the air looked like a modern art sculpture

Canon 5DII 24-105 F4

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Inside Souter Lighthouse

 Souter, the first electrically operated lighthouse, opened in 1871.

The spiral staircase

The rotating lenses, floating on a bed of mercury.

An auxiliary beam warned ships of the rocks through this aperture

Looking out to sea with the foghorn in the right foreground

Inside the lighthouse keeper's quarters

From the top of the tower there is a splendid view north. Here a Thompson's cruise ship leaves the Tyne. Just above the bow of the ship are the orange painted silos in Blyth harbour, and just to the right of them you can see St Mary's lighthouse.

A rainbow behind the lighthouse. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Wallington Hall and Gardens

We are fortunate in this neck of the woods in that there are two of possibly the finest National Trust properties within maybe 15 miles of each other.

Cragside, in Rothbury, Northumberland, has so much to offer with an interesting, if eccentric, house, thousands of azalea bushes and rhododenrons, extensive moorland walks, and the world's first application of hydro power to light a domestic building.

The house at Wallington is not quite so attractive, at least to me, but the walled garden is a real jewel. I have known it for years, but it seems to become more entrancing every time that I visit.

No visit to the North East of England should be without a trip to these places!

These few snaps show Wallington, I apologise in advance that I find it impossible to properly show the garden in a 2D photograph. You have to be there to enjoy it to the full.

First the house

Taken from the public road, this one is on sale at Alamy C4DN44 and will shortly be appearing on a calendar.

From the rear, showing cattle grazing. Taken from a public path, but not good enough to offer for sale!

The interior, no flash or tripods allowed, so only the advent of cameras that work well at an ISO speed of 1600 or above will adequately record what's on offer.

The glorious mural within the main hall, the original painting for the scene on the right is hanging within the Laing art gallery in Newcastle.

How the other half lived. My 24-105 lens shows considerable distortion at its widest setting, and, although  Canon's DPP program provides a fix, it comes at the cost of sacrificed sharpness.

The servants would have to hump the hot and then cold water back and forwards so that their betters could bath in comfort.

The knife cleaning machine within the kitchen.

That fabulous garden!

Canon 5D 24-70L and 5DII 24-105L and 70-200L lenses

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Sedgefield, Co. Durham.

Posh place Sedgefield, but they still need dustmen.

Nice floral displays throughout the village

The pub where Blair ate with Bush

Circular window in brick wall.

White dog with pint
Canon 5DII 24-105L

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey and the adjoining Studley Royal are properties owned by the National Trust. We have been members of the trust for longer than I care to remember, and are generally supportive of their work, but their policy on commercial stock Photography is regrettable. 

First let's praise the good. They have recently lifted their ban on photography within the buildings, except in those cases where a private owner is involved or other factors make it undesirable. You can't use flash, but I can live with that, well done the Trust.

However their policy on stock photographers is in need of review. I, and many other amateur photographers, help to pay for their photo gear by selling their better images using stock agencies. 

Once upon a time you could make a decent living, or boost your retirement income, out of stock photography, but a number of factors have combined so that this is no longer the case. 

Firstly digital photography has made the technical side of the game much easier, anyone who is not a complete idiot can take a technically perfect photo using today's automated cameras. The result has been a flooding of the market with stock photos. 

Then we have the move from printed media to the web, and the easy pilfering of copyright images. There can't be a decent photographer who has not suffered in this way, and the cost of redress generally far exceeds the likely settlement. British courts will not impose punitive damages, so photographers may well  end up out of pocket if they pursue media thieves.

Then we have the recession, nuff said.

While, a few years ago,  images would typically sell for a few hundred dollars, they now go for tens or less. I have sold photos to a National newspaper and my agency has received a payment of $6, from which they take their reasonable cut.

In contrast, the cost of remaining competitive by keeping up to date with the latest digital equipment is a major burden. In the days of film progress in camera technology was relatively slow and a good camera could last through a person's career. Now you have to buy a new camera body every 3 or 4 years if you want to match the resolution and image quality of the latest equipment. My kit is all second hand, but it cost me £1700 to buy a camera and lens last year. I have registered with the taxman as a sole trader, but I need not have bothered, as I will never show an operating profit!

Now some of the most photogenic locations within the country are owned by the National Trust, and, in the past would have been bankers for stock photographers as calendar and travel shot locations. Not any more however, as the trust will not allow stock photographers to sell images taken on their properties. They do offer a deal, but it is open only to full time professionals and costs £70 per year for the privilege.

In stock photography you don't work for a client, you take photos and offer them for sale on the media marketplace. The chances of any one photo selling are slim. I have approaching 3000 images on sale and I sell around 2 per month. Some people do a lot better, some a lot worse. Paying money to take a photo that may or may not sell is clearly a non starter!

The Trust holds properties and land for the benefit of the Nation. That includes Joe Public, it is not private ownership, and Joe Public includes photographers.

Think again National Trust, there is little money to be made from stock and your restriction is an unreasonable one. You would earn more money from the entry fees and membership payments of budding stock photographers if you allowed them to try their hand. I would willingly pay 10 % of any stock sales that I made of NT properties, but, given the current rate of return, it would not be worth collecting!

Photographs sold by the stock industry would provide free advertising for the Trust. How much does the Trust spend on this I wonder?

The NT can keep a tight grip on UK stock agencies, but what of the world situation? How many foreign stock photographers are able to sell their NT images worldwide without hindrance while we UK taxpayers cannot?

Enough of this dark mumbling, here are some photos of the beautiful Fountains Abbey, and, by the way, they are not for sale!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hexham Big Dance 2012

Big Dance is described as the UK’s biggest ever celebration of dance, with thousands of events taking place throughout the UK.

Given the weather this summer, the gods were reasonably kind, with only a limited amount of rain during the evening, not enough to spoil the proceedings!

Local schools were involved.
People were encouraged to join in.
Appalachian fiddlers Ron and Colin of the Bones Creek Band.
Step this Way Appalachian cloggers
Northumberland Pipes and clogging.