So there I was just behind the barrier with a great view of the cyclists who were about to come – one by one – hurtling down the main street in Northallerton at the UCI’s 2019 Road World Championships Time Trial. Yes you have it, a nature photographer (a landscape photographer) about to attempt to get some shots of cyclists belting past at 40-50 km/hr!
I’d decided I would love to pan along with them as they went past to get some background blur. I discovered that a quick burst of the shutter (at 11 frames a second) to get one or two shots worked well – rather as it does for pictures of sugarbirds – but when they were cornering towards you that was really tricky as they went out of focus.
Anyway I was really pleased with the results my Olympus gave me. I was helped by the fact that the cyclists came along at regular intervals, not like the road races we went to in the rest of the week. Here are eleven of the participants in no particular order. The Australian rider Rohan Dennis went on to win it.
My friends know that I love taking sunset photos – and low light photos in general. A week ago I was still in Northumberland. On my last night at Warton I went out just before 11pm and looked north west to the after glow of the sunset above the Scottish border. It was really tranquil, there was plenty of late evening bird song with bats swooping past continually.
Sunset here in Grahamstown is just after 5pm at the moment – we are almost a quarter of the way around the world from Northumberland and so it is approaching mid-winter now and our shortest day. I went out with Jeannie and the grandchildren for a sunset walk yesterday and grabbed a couple of quick shots looking south-east from below the toposcope on Mountain Drive. The mountain bikers, runners and dog walkers will all recognise this cabbage tree. There were some beautiful clouds over the Indian Ocean glowing with the last of the sunlight.
My last post had two pictures taken when we were walking a short portion of the Northumberland coastal path. Now I’m back home in South Africa I realise that I should have included some pictures of the coast and the path itself. So here’s some typical coastal scenery of the stretch of path between Boulmer and Howick scar. You walk past a number of pretty little bays such as this one where the Whitefin Spring flows into the sea. There’s a natural spring that bubbles right out of the rocks on the far side of the footbridge.
Further north along the path there are dramatic castles such as Bamburg that look like something out of Game of Thrones. We didn’t see anything as spectacular but this lonely house near Howick lies right on the shore. There’s a good stone wall between the house and the sea but it must have plenty thick walls to withstand the winter storms as it is very exposed. Kate says that as a child she always fancied living there – she’s not so sure now she’s older!
The path itself is attractive because it winds along with the sea on one side and some lovely farmland on the other. Here’s a portion of it. You can make out the sea on the left hand horizon with the fresh green fields on the other side of the fence completing the scene.
The sky was getting dramatic when we walked approached the end of our walk at Boulmer. The raked patterns in this field definitely caught my eye and the fence post lying on top of the stone wall drew me into this last picture.
We’ve spent plenty of time outside in Northumberland this past week. It’s been rather cold and windy but with plenty of sunshine, showers and one big storm. The wind’s been a problem for photography but when you get into the shade of the farm garden or when you are walking on sheltered paths then there’s been a riches of flowers and landscapes.
Here are two flowers from the lovely garden at Warton and a spectacular inverted three sided hook that adorns one of the gate posts.
Out in the country Northumberland often has a big sky. You can see that in the picture with the silhouettes of the cows. These two photos were taken on the coastal path north of Boulder.
A couple of days ago we visited Kate’s sister at Harbottle. It’s an enchanting village, quite remote at the upper end of Coquetdale, where spring flowers are still to be found in full bloom at the end of May. I’ve never seen clematis look so enchanting. The air was full of their delicate blossom and they looked like jewelled ropes strewn over the grey stone walls. The beech and oak woods were full of bluebells: this made for a slow walk with the dog as we just had to stop for photographs.
It was the very start of spring (mid April) when we arrived in Sweden. Opposite our bedroom window at Valla Folkhögskola in Linköping there’s a south facing bank of wild flowers beneath an avenue of trees. One morning in late April the light was just perfect and, with the ground being dry, I just had to go out and lie down amongst the flowers to take some pictures. There were carpets of daisies, scilla, vitsipporna (wood-anemony) and gullvivorna (cowslips). I’ll never forget the vitsipporna blossoming in Vallaskogen this year: they looked like gentle drifts of snow.
Old buildings have always appealed to me. There something about their solidity and history that makes me want to picture them. This past six weeks I’ve been right in their immediate vicinity.
At Valla Folkhögskola in Linköping we were housed next to the ‘fritidområde’ with all of the old farming and railway buildings. We strolled out in the clear evening light to relax after a long day’s work and always found the environment stimulating. Just beyond, and through the forest, is a lovely walk to Gamla Linköping: you can see our sunset shadows on the cobbled square.
Once we’d left Linköping we had a few days working with colleagues in Turku, Finland. We stayed in Villa Hortus and so walked past the massive cathedral everyday. It totally dominates the old city area, looming out above the Aura River.
And now I am spending my remaining time in Europe with my fantastic relatives at Warton Farm in Northumberland.
The monochrome/sepia treatment transfers something of the feel of all of these splendid places.