Monday, 25 April 2011

Jaume Plensa at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

It's been a very busy Easter holiday so far.  With the weather being so great we've been doing lots of work in the garden but on Saturday afternoon we decided to have a bit of a break.  Lynne remembered hearing something on Pennine Radio about giant heads at Bretton Park so we thought we'd go and have a look.  Over the last few years they have loads of work at the park to make it more accessible including a massive amount of parking and a new visitors centre.  I've made a few trips here with the dog on early morning photo trips but we've not been together for a while.  Some parts of the park aren't open to dogs so there are areas that I haven't seen recently too.

When we arrived at after 3pm the car parks were full and we had to park on the grass near the entrance.  We walked down the hill from the car towards the lake and on the way saw the incredible tree.  The yellowy green leaves against the blue sky looked amazing.


Just a little way further down the hill, tucked away behind the trees was Bretton Chapel.  I've been coming to this park for years and years and I've never stumbled upon this building before.  I did suggest to Lynne that they must have just put it here but the notice board outside the gate to the chapel said it had been here for nearly 300 years so I guess I was wrong.


We walked down to the lake and I was pleased to see that they were working on the conservation area around the lake and preparing to open it to the public.  Until recently you could only see the lake from the bridge at the far end but now they've opened the bridge at the bottom end of the lake and there looked to be a path going around behind the conservation area and across the fields to the far end.  They were constructing paths through the conservation areas and I'm looking forward to being able to get near to the lake.

We decided not to go around the lake because it was getting late and we hadn't found the giant heads yet.  We walked along the near side of the lake and noticed they had thinned down the trees considerably so now it's possible to see more of the lake and the islands within the lake.  Next we went to the Orangery where they have a good display of Camellias including these next two photos.


I think I like the red one the best.  There were also some very nice white ones but none of them were in a good place to photograph and most of them had lost a lot of their petals.


After the Camellia House we had an ice cream from the stand outside the cafe.  The young girl serving there said "You're the last I'm serving today".  Apparently she was supposed to close at 4pm but it was after 4:30pm and she was almost out of of ice cream, only 3 flavours left.

We finally found the entrance to the area around the underground gallery and this is where we found the Jaume Plensa sculptures.  There was a display of three of these metal sculptures made of letters and chinese symbols.  These three were just a little bigger than life size but in the background you can see a very big one.


On top of the gallery roof were the big heads that Lynne had heard about on the radio.  They were made of what appeared to be a single piece of wire mesh in a head shape with the featured moulded into them. They must have been 10 to 15 feet high and were very impressive.  They weren't letting anyone into the gallery because it was getting close to to closing time so we couldn't see any of the work inside.  We'll have to come again a bit earlier in the day before the exhibition ends in September.


On the lawn in front of the gallery there were more sculptures sat hugging the trees.  There must have been eight of ten of these on the grass with people sat around them.  The letters on these ones were spelling the names of composers.


We walked across the front of the gallery and at the other end there is a path around the back of the gallery which takes you up the hill to where the big sculpture was.  As you can see it was possible to go inside and actually sit on ledges at the side.


From here you could look down the hill to the gallery roof and the big heads.  They look quite surreal with the trees and the rolling landscape in the background.  It was a bit hazy so the landscape doesn't show to well in this photo.


I took a few photos of the big sculpture at different angles and I think this one came out the best.


The path continues back down to the other end of the gallery where we first entered the area.  There were a few more of the smaller metal sculpture but these ones were kneeling rather than sitting.  In this photo I got the big sculpture in the background again.  A pity about the guy in the pink shirt, I had considered cloning him out but in the end I decided it would be too much trouble.  Maybe I ought to change the colour of his shirt to something a bit more subdued so it doesn't distract as much from the sculptures and trees.


By now it was getting quite late and the park closes at 6pm so we made our way out and went home.  If your in the area it's definitely worth a visit to see the heads.  If you are not in the area it's worth a trip to see the whole park, there's lots of other sculptures by other artists in the park (including Henry Moore) which are in other posts in my blog.  You could easily spend the whole day here, walking around the park and have a picnic in the grounds or have a meal in the cafe or restaurant.  Admission is free and the car park is just £4 for as long as you like.  In case your interested, full disclosure, I have no connection with Yorkshire Sculpture Park or the Bretton Park estate but here's a link to their site.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Spring Flowers

It's been a great weekend for the weather so I decided to grab some photos of the spring flowers.  On Saturday we went to a local park for a walk and this first photo is a lonely two coloured daffodil with quite an unusual flower.  We were in a wooded part of the park an it was a bit in the shade so the picture has come out a bit dark.


A little further along there was a few more of the same type of daffodil and this time they were basking in the sunshine.


Quite close by were some more unusual daffodils with very spikey flowers.  There were much smaller than the first type and were getting a bit past their best so it was hard to find any decent looking specimens.


Towards the centre of the park there were some of the more traditional type of daffodils and I contrasted these ones with some white flowers in the background.


I had actually wanted to find some bluebells to photograph as the news had been going on about how they were all out two weeks early because of the warm weather.  So we headed back into the wooded area but none of the bluebells had started to flower yet.  I guess the news people must have been further South.  However we did se a few small clumps of these blue flowers which look as though they must be related to bluebells but have very tightly paced flower heads.


Back to the daffodils and here there were some white ones with yellow middles and some yellow ones with orange middles behind.  The white ones all had double heads and the yellow ones had tripple heads.  I really hadn't realised how many different types of daffodils there are.  I think the gardeners must be specialising in having different types of daffodils scattered around the park.


The next type of daffodils were very small and also had multiple heads on each stalk.


Finally for the daffodils back to the more common yellow ones, although the trumpets on these look a bit more fancy than the ones we'd seen earlier so maybe these were special ones too.


Near the entrance to the park was a couple of beds with a lovely mixture of yellow, white and orange blooms.


I took quite a few close ups of the flowers in the beds and I think this was the best one.


On Sunday morning I got up early to take my daughters dog for a long walk and on the way back I went through the woods close to our house.  Here I found the bluebells that I hadn't found in the woods next to the park.  There was still a load more that hadn't started to flower yet but there were certainly a good number already out.  The first ones I saw were a bit sparse so I got some close ups of these.


A little further along the path there was more of a carpet of the bluebells in a patch of sunlight between the trees.


Again I tried for some close up shots and this time there are more bluebell flowers in the background.  I was being very careful not to stand on the bluebells as they had been saying on the news that they are very tender and can be easily damaged.


Another patch of bluebells were enjoying the early morning sunshine.  I will check back next week to see how many bluebells are out over the Easter weekend.  The weather forecast is for some sunshine and warm weather this week so there should be a lot more to see.


When I got back home I thought I'd take some photos of the few flowers in our garden before I went in for breakfast.  There were some nice pinkish red flowers in the front garden ...


... and next to them some lovely purple alpines growing over the rocks.  It looked a bit odd because the part of this plant that was in the ground had't started to flower yet.  I wonder if the rocks retain more heat and allow the plants to thrive better?


Also in the front garden the cherry tree had finally started to blossom.  The cherry trees in a neighbours garden had flowered weeks ago and all their flowers had gone.


In the back garden we have this bush with lots of little white flowers that smell very sweet as you walk past them.


And the last photo is the flaming pieris which isn't a flower but is quite colourful all the same.


I took a few other photos while out and about so I might put some in a post a bit later in the week.  Looking forward to the Easter holiday, with the Royal wedding and the bank holidays I've just had to use 3 days of annual leave to get 11 days away from work.  I have quite a few jobs around the house and garden to do but hopefully I should get plenty of time to take lots more photos.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Black Headed Gull

Since we came back from the North-East I haven't had much in the way of successful photo expeditions so I thought I'd bring up some images that I made during my winter doldrums.  I think it must just be the time of year because when I looked back at last year I had a long break from blogging at the same time.  Anyhow less of my winter depression and on to the images.

It's been very cold this winter, we've had snow, we've had ice and in the second week of the year I went for a walk around one of the local reservoirs.  The surface of the reservoir was almost completely frozen over so the ducks and geese were either skating along the ice or dipping in the water near the edge.  Here's a wide angle shot of the ducks and the reservoir.


There was a single black headed gull (in it's winter plumage) out on the ice so I got my long lens out to take a couple of shots.  He looked quite a gentleman strutting across the ice and glancing over at me as if to say "wot you looking at mate?".


The he decided to take off and fly around.  It was quite windy so he was hanging quite nicely in the air overhead.  I thought I'd try to get some shots of him up in the air. I pushed the ISO setting up to 800 so I could get a shutter speed of 1/4000 second and hopefully get some decent shots.


I took lots of shots but on the first ones my focus was a bit out and there there were quite a few where he was flying away from me or his wing was covering his head.  In these shots I managed to get him with a little catchlight in his eye which always makes the photo look a bit better.


In  the last shot he was coming back down to land on the ice and he'd brought his undercarriage down to meet the ice.  I just had a bit of motion blur on this last one but hopefully it doesn't spoil it too much.


Hopefully I'll find something for next time or I might get inspired enough to make some new photos.  It'll be spring soon and maybe more opportunities will come up to be creative.