Saturday, 26 March 2011

On the Beach

I guess the posts are a bit out of order because all of these photos were taken on the way from Seahouses to Bambrugh but I had processed the Bambrugh Castle ones first so they were ready to post.  The other reason why I haven't rushed these ones onto the blog is that I don't know how interesting they're going to be to anyone else.  I like them because I was there, but the majority are pictures or waves and rocks and there's not that much to say about them.

As we left Seahouses we found a way down onto the rocks, but this was a bit of a mistake because they were very wet and slippery.  The seaweed and moss made the going very slow and treacherous. However I did manage to get a shot looking back to the harbour which I quite like. On the horizon there was still that narrow band of clearer sky which I had photographed earlier in the morning at Low Newton.


The beaches in this area seem to have nice stretches of sand with outcrops of rocks reaching out into the sea. It's quite pretty in March so I guess it will look even nicer duding the summer months.  I think for photographs the sandy bits are quite boring so most of the photographs are of the rocky bits.  The next photo of rocky bits was a bit further up the beach and this is the first edge we reached which was sheltered from the waves.


Whereas at the other side of this outcrop of rocks the waves were rolling up the rocks.  The rock formation is a bit strange because it looks as if it was a flat stretch of rock that been tipped up about twenty to thirty degrees.  I didn't get a lot of depth of field on this shot, I guess I must have focussed on the seaweed on the front rock and then everything else it very soft. The harbour is in the background and the narrow band of pink sky is showing up a bit more in this shot.


 This is another shot from the same place but this time I've concentrated more on the waves rolling in.


And again the waves breaking onto the rocks and spraying foam into the air.


In the next shot I had moved off the rocks and back onto the beach.  Again I'm looking back to the harbour at Seahouses and this time seeing a bit more of the town.  From here you get a better view of how the rocks slope out of the beach and form lines going out into the sea.


This next shot was taking a lot further along the beach and this time the rocks are stood a few more feet out of the water. Again the water at this side of the rocks is very calm but the waves are battering the other side.


This next photo was between two bigger sets of rocks and here there was a narrow line of rocks which are wavy along the top.  It looked a little bit like a piano keyboard to me. I tried to walk along the top of them out into the sea but big waves kept coming up and covering them.


This next photo is where there was a little stream coming off the land and down the beach.  I tried to capture a leading line starting at the bottom left and curving around to the right and then away over the wave that's starting to beak and on towards the island.  By this time the narrow band of pink sky that had been on the horizon had gone so we had wall to wall cloudy skies.


Onto the next rock formation and another wave breaking over the rocks.


Here's another shot of a big wave heading towards the rocks.  I quite like the colours in the wave on the right hand side with the yellowy brown sand and the bluey green of the sea merging together.


Here's a closer up shot of a wave about to break.  Again the brown and green in the wave and then the white foam looking a bit like melted candle wax below the crest.  I cropped a bit of beach out of this shot so the emphasis was more on the waves.


In the next shot I've done a black and white conversion because there wasn't a lot of colour anyway and it allowed me to push the contrast a bit more.  The sea looks to be boiling and shooting foam up into the air like like fireworks.


In the next shot a big wave had crashed over the rocks and then as the sea went back down the water was running off of the rocks. Again the foam looks a bit like candle wax especially at the very front of the photo where camera has frozen the foam in waves and the oddly arcing globule in the middle.


 Most of the rocks along the beach were very igneous looking but every so often there were small areas of sedentary rocks which were almost slate like.  This particular slab looked a bit like a contour map of the Himalayas and was very colourful with the oranges at the front and the greens at the rear.  I was also intrigued by the straight lines cutting through the layers as though it had been broken and then glued back together.


On the way back from Bambrugh to Seahouses the tide had come all the way in and almost all of the rocks had been completely covered by the sea.  So the journey back was a lot quicker because I didn't take as many photos and the only ones worth posting have been included in earlier post.

I'm not sure what to do on my next blog so it'll be a surprise to everyone, including me.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bamburgh Castle

We had a good walk along the beach from Seahouses and went as far as Bamburgh Castle.  Next post I might show a few shots of the beach but for now here's a bit of what we saw in and around the castle.  This first photo is from the beach as we headed towards the sand dunes between us and the castle.  It doesn't look too much but the dunes were pretty steep and the sand was quite soft which made it very hard going to get to the castle.  Also there was a big ditch behind the first line of dunes where you had to go all the way down and then back up a bigger slope. With all the stuff I had in my back pack I was pretty worn out by the time I reached the castle walls.  I guess that would be how any attackers would feel if they approached the castle from the beach and had loads of armour weighing them down.


We went into the castle and then found a bench on the castle walls to have a drink and an apple to keep us going (this was our lunch after the big breakfast we'd had at the hotel).  While my wife sat on the bench I took a few shots from the castle wall.  This first one was looking down the barrel of a cannon which was pointed out to sea.  You might just be able to make out a couple walking with their dog down on the beach. In the hazy distance are the Farne Islands (I think).


Along the castle wall were a few more cannons pointing out towards the sea.


Looking over the castle wall is the view of the sand dunes which don't look as steep as the ones that we had climbed up, although it's quite hard to tell from up here.  The ones that we had come over are around behind the gatehouse but the dunes do look bigger over in that direction.


 This next shot was from the same place but looking more towards the castle. Here we can see some more of the cannons and also the inner wall of the castle, the second line of defence.


After we'd finished our lunch we had a quick look around the Armstrong aircraft museum which was in the lower part of the castle and then we headed towards the state rooms within the inner castle walls.  As we walked around there seemed to be lots of building within the castle where people are living today, which we thought was a bit odd.  This next photo is the outside of the great hall, on the left, and some of the living quarters on the right.  Remember the the shape of the windows in the great hall for a later photo.


On one of the topmost parts of the castle wall was this small turret with a big bell inside.  The weathering on the stonework is quite amazing and illustrates the variety of different stones that was used to build the castle.


We went inside the staterooms and the first room had this fantastic wooden model of the castle.  I'm not sure that the dues are as steep as the model suggests though.


There were a few rooms with lots of old bits and pieces in cabinets which were fairly interesting but not worth photographing.  We arrived at the great hall with had this lovely wooden roof construction. The hall had been completely rebuilt relatively recently which accounts for the incredible condition of the roof timbers.


The next pair of photos are of a very ornate clock which was in the great hall. The first one I took with the light from the windows reflecting off the clock face.  Remember the shape from the photograph of the outside of the great hall.  In the second shot I moved to one side so as to have no window light and therefore a better view of the clock face. I couldn't decide which version I prefer so I put them both here.

On a raised area at one end of the great hall was a random selection of furniture set out to appear to be a room setting.


In a later room was a dining table with this selection of glass bowls and decanters. The room was very dark but the light from the window lit up the glassware beautifully.


In the next room was this lovely fireplace with the glass screen in front.


The next rooms were the armoury where there was lots of displays of armour and weapons.  Then we went down into the cellars where there were more displays of weapons and armour. I quite liked this display of swords on the arch of the cellar.The light was very strange in the cellar so I converted it to monochrome to make it look a bit better.


The final display in the cellar was the dungeon, very scary.


After that we had a quick look around the shop and then back out into the fresh air.  Just before we set off to walk back to Seahouses I grabbed this last shot of an old cart near to the stables (and toilets).

Friday, 18 March 2011

Birds in Northumbria

As I mentioned in my previous post I managed to get a few bird pictures while we were on the coast.  The first few in this post were in the early morning at Low Newton by the Sea while it was still fairly dark so theres a lot of noise on the images.  Later in the day we went for a walk from Seahouses to Bamburgh Castle and back where I had some successes and failures with the photos.

 This first image was of one of a pair of Oyster Catchers which were feeding on the edge of the water.


Next to them were a pair of birds which I think may be Bar-Tailed Godwits.  Of course I had to look them up on the RSPB Bird ID website because I really don'r have a clue.  For a while I did think they could Greenshanks but I think the colouring of the beak made me settle for Godwits.


I tried to get closer but of course they flew away.   First the Godwits ....


.... closely followed by the Oyster Catchers.


Further along the beach there were lots of smaller birds milling around the waters edge.  In this next picture I think these are Turnstones at the front and Sanderlings further back.


 The next image shows some more of the Sanderlings with some Oyster Catchers and a Godwit in the background.


I tried standing very still to see if any of the birds would come a bit closer and eventually a bunch of the Sanderlings started to head towards me.  The little fella in the next shot came the closest but then they started to move away again so I went back to the hotel for breakfast.


After breakfast we drove to Seahouses where we parked up, put on our walking boots and filled my camera bag with all we needed (including a litre of water, a couple of apples and some sweets).  We walked towards the harbour and there was a couple of Herring Gulls (maybe?) sat on the fence.  This one was watching me very closely as I got nearer to him to take this shot.


I think this may be some kind of Turn (Arctic or Common possibly) that was sat on a rock down on the beach.  It seemed to be looking out to sea.


A little further along the beach there was a couple of Turnstones sat on a rock and as we walked towards them I managed to get a shot of this one as it flew off.



As we were walking along the beach we could see a few large birds sitting out on the water between us and the islands (Farne Islands perhaps?).  We couldn't make out what they were because even with my longest telephoto lens they were still quite far away.  This image has been well cropped and when referring to my favourite Bird Id site I can identify this as an Eider (from where the feathers for Eiderdowns come).


Further along the coast towards Bamburgh we saw these geese at the other side of the seaweed covered rocks.  I knew they weren't Canadian Geese, they were too dark for Greylag or Barnacle Geese so again I had to resort to the Bird Id site.  So I am pretty certain they are Brent Geese.  The RSPB site show them mainly wintering on the South East coast of England with just a little spot on the Northumberland coast.


We visited Bamburgh Castle and had lunch which consisted of a sit down, and apple and a drink of water. We'd had a big breakfast at the hotel so didn't really need much to eat.  We had decided to dave ourselves for our evening meal.  

On the walk back to Seahouses there was a group of Oyster Catchers walking along the beach in front of us. At one point they headed towards these rocks and so we managed to get level with them so I managed to get this shot of them.


There were a few other people walking on the beach so the Oyster Catchers kept flying up and down the stretch of beach.  I was determined to try and get a good shot of them in flight, and I thought I'd got some really good ones when I looked at them on the back of the camera.  Unfortunately once I'd uploaded them to my computer I could see that they were mostly out of focus on the birds.  Which was a bit of a shame as one that I particularly liked had four of them in very close formation.  I realised afterwards that I should have had my cameras autofocus on the AI Servo setting so that it followed the birds as they flew.  Anyhow this was the least blurred of them all so it's going to have to do until I get another chance. 


When we got back to Seahouses we stopped to sit on a bench for a while and my wife was talking to my daughter on the phone.  I was taking a few shots over the cliff at the waves crashing against the sea wall as the tide was almost all the way in by now.  A Herring Gull kept flying overhead so this is a shot of it going by.


 We'd walked a few miles up and down the beach and also around the castle at Bamburgh so we were pretty tired, so we went back to the hotel and had a rest before dinner.

Next time will either be shots of the beach during our walk or Bamburgh Castle.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Low Newton by the Sea at Dawn

After we had been to Beamish we stopped at the Masons Arms at Rennington near Alnwick and the room was quite nice.  We had a lovely meal in the restaurant with a bottle of reasonable wine.  The people running the hotel and restaurant were very friendly and made us feel at home.

I got up very early the next morning because I wanted take some photos of the sun rising over the sea.  It's hard to tell when you get up when it's still dark to know whether the weather is going to be good to you so as I drove towards the coast I was just hoping I could get some good photos. Unfortunately I didn't have a map so I drove in the general direction towards Seahouses and looked out for somewhere I could find a beach.  I saw a sign that said Newton by the Sea, which sounded promising,  so I turned off and headed towards the town. I wasn't that close to the sea but another sign in the town pointed to Low Newton so I carried on until I could see the sea at the end of the road and I pulled into a car park.

It was starting to get light and I could see that there was just a narrow band of clear sky just above the horizon but lots of cloud above.  It wasn't looking too promising but I thought I'd persist and see what I could catch.  This first image was taken soon after I reached the beach, the tide was quite a way out and the sand was very wet. It was still quite dark and I had my camera on the tripod because I knew I was going to need some long shutter speeds to get enough light into the camera. There was a group of birds just on the waters edge and the redness of the sky was reflecting on the wet sand. The odd pebbles on the beach and the lines in the sand give the foreground a bit of texture. The focus is on the beach in the foreground so the birds and the rocks behind are a little soft but I thought it was quite a good first shot.


For the next image I had moved up to where the birds had been and had the camera low down near the sea. I closed down the aperture to give a greater depth of field and also slow down the shutter speed even further to six seconds. The effect it produces is to make the sea look very ghostly as the tide move in and out over the rocks and seaweed.


The next shot is a bit further along the beach and this time is over two and a half seconds so there's a bit more texture in the waves. I was thinking I could have done with my filters to cut down the light a bit more so I could get an even longer shutter speed.  Next time I will try and remember to bring them with me.


Here I got low down to a patch of big pebbles and a small pool behind the rocks. I've never been to this coastline before so I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to find on the beach. So far there seems to be a lot of variety.


It was starting to get a bit lighter now although there was still no sign of the sun on the horizon. In the distance I could see what looked like the remains of an old castle out on a peninsular so I took a slightly longer telephoto shot of it. When I got home and looked up where I was on google maps I discovered that the ruins were Dunstanburgh Castle which might be worth a visit next time we come this way.


I continued walking along the beach and the sun was trying to get above the horizon.  There also appeared another bank of cloud on the horizon so the narrow bank of clear sky became even smaller.  These next few shots were all taken in a very short time as the light from the sun behind the lower bank of cloud was reflecting off the bottom of the higher clouds.  In the first one I was trying to capture the texture on the underside of the clouds.


 In the second shot I pulled back and was trying to get more of the secondary reflection of the light from the underside of the cloud in the surface of the sea.


Very quickly the light was getting more defused so I moved along the beach to behind the seaweed on the rocks.  Here the light was reflecting on the seaweed as well as all across the sea.  I had slowed the shutter speed down again to lighten the scene and also smooth out the waves.


I moved along the shore a little more so that I wasn't completely behind the seaweed for this next shot. The light in the sky was getting more and more fuzzy.


In the next shot I swung the camera back towards the south to get another shot of the castle in the distance.  The sun was still coming up on the left and the light in the sky was even more fuzzy.


I took quite a lot of shots as the sun finally made its appearance above the clouds on the horizon.  I chose  the next shot because you can see nearly the whole disc of the sun in the ever narrowing gap between the cloud banks.


Shortly afterwards the sun started to disappear behind the upper cloud bank.  I liked this shot because of the line of light right from the horizon up to the seaweed on the beach.


Soon after this it started to get a bit lighter but the colours in the sky we becoming less vivid.  I took a few more shots but I felt they were becoming less interesting. I was also feeling a bit thirsty and ready for my breakfast so I decided to head back up the beach towards Low Newton.  There were quite a few birds on the beach so I put my long telephoto lens onto the camera so I could grab a few pictures of the birds. I might put some on the next post. I turned around and saw the castle in the distance and there was nearly enough light to see some detail so I took one last shot before concentrating on the birds.


As a set of sunrise photographs these weren't the best but they weren't a total washout, I'm quite happy.  I've had much worse days nearer to home but I was my only real opportunity on this short visit to the North East. We will no doubt come again and maybe I might have a bit more luck.