Autumn in Glorious Black and White

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust

Suddenly, autumn is almost over. Those rich burnished leaf tones of copper, gold, brass, bronze and rust are all but gone, released onto the woodland paths beneath the trees. It’s that final burst of colour that we love to celebrate: so how odd of me to choose trees as my subject for Jude’s Photo Challenge this week, where she invites us to look at shadow and texture in black and white. I thought it might be fun to allow craggy, nubbled trunks and bark centre stage, and to contrast them with the leaves, glossy this autumn from the rain that’s so often beaten them to the ground beneath the trees where they’ve been since spring time. And at the end, just a couple of trees reflected in different ways, at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

The High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal

Two from the High Ride at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. The last image was taken a Kiplin Hall

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

2020 Photo Challenge #45

Squirrel in a Tizz.

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, National Trust, Wildlife

Walking in Studley Royal the other day, my interest was kindled by an odd yelping call coming from one of the trees along my path. It wasn’t from any bird I recognised. That’s because it turned out not to be a bird, but a grey squirrel. An alarmed and agitated grey squirrel. This one.

I don’t know what the problem was – nothing that I could see. But he was at it as I arrived. I watched him for more than five minutes, and he was still at it as I went on my way. This is what he sounded like.

YouTube‎ · ‎Jed Deadlock

#Kinda Square

A Window into the Past

Blogging challenges, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Ripon

I’m back volunteering at Fountains Abbey, and every time I’m there, I’ll spend time in the ruined Abbey itself.  I’ll gaze up at the voids which were once windows.  Any stone tracery has long disappeared, revealing views of the sky and trees beyond.  And I wonder what the monks saw, during their long hours of worship – eight sessions a day, the first at 2.00 a.m., when the night was charcoal-black and only smoky tallow candles lit the space?  The ascetic Cistercians had no statuary in their churches, little stained glass, so the monks probably glimpsed a barely-to-be-discerned landscape beyond, through water-greenish, slightly uneven glass.

In her challenge this week, Jude has invited us to compare the same scene in colour, and in black and white.  I thought it would be interesting to do this in a building in which colour plays little part.  Surely there would be little difference?  Well, apparently there is.  I find the black and white version a little too austere for my tastes. What do you think?

And here’s a view of the Abbey with Huby’s Tower, which was completed a mere 13 years before Henry VIII brought the Fountains Abbey community to an end in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  I’ve tried to show it more as it might have looked then, set in a wilder landscape than the manicured parkland we see today.  And when it came to the monochrome version – well, there’s black and white, and black and white.  Again, there are choices here ….

2020 Photo Challenge #34

Monday Window

A Solid Perspective on the Past

Blogging challenges, National Trust, North Yorkshire, Ripon

This really is a challenge. Photos demonstrating 3D. Showing the heft, the mass, the solidity of the main subject: putting it in the perspective of its surroundings.

I took myself to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. Here is an ancient Cistercian foundation, in ruins since the days when Henry VIII called for the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Here are Georgian water gardens, developed by John and William Aislabie in the 18th century. And here I found my subjects.

Glance through this arch to see where the monks came, eight times a day, for worship.

Huby’s Tower can be glimpsed through the mighty weathered arches of the now roofless Abbey church.

Much of what you find in the gardens is more playful. This balustrade overlooking the lake, shows icicles. ‘It’s summer now’, is the message. ‘Enjoy yourselves. Winter will be along soon enough.’

This young pheasant has found the Banqueting House. Outside is a lawn cut into the shape of a coffin. The message is similar. ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’*

And later, explore the woodlands of the High Ride and its ancient trees. Their roots are pretty solid.

2020 Photo Challenge #30

Square Perspectives

* from the Books of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah in the Bible.