Valla Gård – a walk with the fisheye lens

One of the nice things about staying in Valla Folkhögskola is that it’s right next to lovely walks through Valla Gård – with all of its historic treasures of rural life in Sweden – and into the forest beyond. Of course, it’s also handy for going to conferences on the Valla campus of Linköping University which is why I was there last week.

I’ve been taking lots of pictures lately using the body cap fish eye lens for my Olympus.  I find that taking just one lens with me means I get used to what it will, or will not, do and here’s a range of the pictures I took with it.  The students were doing a group project and I bumped into them one lunchtime and asked if they minded me taking their picture.  As you can see, some of them had to be dressed as fictional characters.  The rest of the pictures were taken one evening and I experimented with different foregrounds beneath the interesting cloud formations.


Late and early spring flowers

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.


Some studies in sepia

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.



Valla Folkhögskola: snapshot

We have arrived at Linköping University on our latest Linnaeus-Palme exchange programme – collaborating with Tema Vatten (the Department of Water and Environmental Studies) – but more on that and LiU’s excellent international reputation in a later post.  Fortunately we came across a really nice place to stay right adjacent to the campus at Valla Folkhögskola.  So we are in a lovely semi-rural setting, our room looks straight out over the old farmlands, fields and and buildings.  The weather and light hasn’t been ideal for photography so I made a little text snapshot to go with these two pictures which were taken right outside my window.

Valla Högskola snapshot: 15.04.2013

There are 10 horses in the muddy paddock outside my window.  Their backs are covered in blue, brown or grey coats, they are picking over the mosses on a small rocky knoll which rises out of the mud.  Running in front of them are two red railed fences bracketing a well gritted gravel road.  Between the near fence and my window there is a line of bare fruit trees – perhaps cherries, without a single bud but dripping with rain drops.  I have opened the windows and doors to let some fresh air through.  It also lets in bird song: rooks cawing and finches chirping.  A blackbird hops and skips through the branches disturbing the rain.  Just out of sight is the large wet snow bank that was heaped up to clear the road.  It will be gone soon.