Spring in Black and White

This amateur snapshot-ist has just joined a photographic club, and it’s been a smart move. Although the group has got its share of real talent, members are just as welcoming to those of us who bumble about in the shallow end. There are talks from well-travelled and accomplished photographers: but in between, there are workshops. Last week, a member shared his enthusiasm and lots of tips for monochrome photography, and left me with the resolve to keep my camera strictly on black and white for at least a week or two.

So now I’ve got a bit of a job: This week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is all about Spring. Spring – that season when colour returns after the sombre tones of winter, with bright yellow daffodils, celandines and marsh marigolds; the soft pink of blossoms; vivid grassy greens from leaves that push through the ground or from the swelling buds on twiggy branches, and newly-blue skies. And I’ve gone and made monochrome my rule-of-the-day.

It didn’t help that Sunday was a bit cold, rather grey, somewhat windy and really not very spring like. But rules are rules, even if they’re totally self-imposed. Here we go …

Out of the back door, guarded by spring-time pots, along the lane, edged with tree-blossom, still-wintry trees, and passing a bank of white violets .

The sheep know it’s too early to lamb here. They’re still relying on winter feed.

I wander through the grounds of Old Sleningford Hall, and then along the river bank. There’s twisted hazel thinking of bursting its buds, young wild garlic.

Nearly home. How does this ancient tree, almost completely hollow, continue to live, to sprout new growth?

Back in the garden. The hellebores are – apart from the daffodils – making the best showing. We’ll end our walk by enjoying those.

As well as Sophia’s Lens-Artists Challenge, I’ll pop this post in for Bren’s Mid-week Monochrome. And Jo’s Monday Walk. Why not?

Five at Five – Margaret of From Pyrenees to Pennines

Oh look! Bren, of Brashley Photography fame has interviewed me for her weekly series of posts about fellow bloggers – Five at Five. Read all about it – here. And thank you Bren: I feel very honoured.


This week’s Five at Five Intro features Photographer Margaret. Margaret says in her About Page of Pyrenees to Pennines blog.

We live in Yorkshire. Until March 2014, we had lived in the Ariège, southern France, and we spent six and a half years there. I shared many of the experiences we had there in this blog, which was then called ‘Life in Laroque‘.

The beach, a favorite place to be.

Five at Five Questions – Photography

  • When and how did you start on your photographic journey?

Two things happened in 2007. We moved to live in France; and I went on a largely solo trip to India. Both seemed to require the services of a decent camera and an inquisitive eye.

  • What subject do you like photographing the most?

I don’t have a niche. I like to gather impressions of the landscape or townscape that I am in, particularly if…

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Colour? Or Black & White?

I would like to try an experiment today: and I’d like your help. This week, Jude, of Cornwall in Colours, has set the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #226, and has asked us to focus on illustrating texture. I started browsing through my archives, and then I read Sarah of Travel with Me‘s contribution. She had decided to showcase her choices in monochrome, which she felt highlighted texture better than colour. I immediately agreed with her.

And then. I wasn’t so sure. Here are my choices, shown both ways. I’m not using WordPress’ Image Compare feature, which irritates me, as I can never see either image properly. Click on any image you would like to see full-size.

Let’s try a typical North Yorkshire landscape. It’s the drystone wall that interests me.

Near Grimwith, North Yorkshire

Or some grasses…

A field somewhere near home.

What about a slightly dilapidated farmyard shed?

Near Hovingham, North Yorkshire.

Or a farmyard hen?

A friendly neighbourhood hen.

Or a weathered wall in Newcastle?

Or an even more weathered olive tree in Greece?

One of the ancient olive trees of Agios Achillios

And then there’s the featured image of course, not shown in colour. Any guesses?

I’m offering this post to Bren too, for her Mid-Week Monochrome #115

And just one more final offering. Becky, for her #Walking Squares, has been out in all weathers. Let’s offer her the makings of a roaring fire.

We’re going on a Treasure Hunt

Well, this week, in all this rain, Tina’s sending us out on a Treasure Hunt for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #219. Here’s what she wants us to look out for …

A pet … , that’s going to be the dalmatian, Brian, who used to take Ellie, and sometimes us, for walks

The moon or the sun. I’m going for the moon, gently rising above the clematis crawling up the garden wall.

Clouds? We’ll choose an evening in l’Albufera, near Valencia.

A reflection. My favourite shot was taken in Strasbourg. Not in the fabulous old city centre, but on a piece of waste ground near a municipal car park.

A child? Well, I think I’ll keep the family out of this, and instead go for two girls in Pondicherry, making their way to school.


An umbrella? I’ve got several here, pressed into service at a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago. Well, as the French say: ‘Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux’.

A truck. This shot was taken in a lorry park in Les Hayons in France at 5 o’clock in the morning, just before the truckers got on the road.

Autumn foliage. Any child will tell you that autumn foliage is best on the ground, where you can have a satisfactory walk kicking your way through it.

And the inner child is always looking for something interesting to find on a walk. Here are two things: a discarded blackbird’s egg, and a toadstool of the kind beloved by fairies and elves everywhere.

Just to wrap things up, and remind us that The Rainy Season has arrived, and not before time, I’ll pop a few raindrops into the featured photo.

Wipe them on the mat shoes?

When my children were small, this poem by Frida Wolfe was a favourite:

Choosing Shoes

New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they’d let us buy?

Buckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let’s have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That’s the sort they’ll buy.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week invites us to look for shoes, boots and slippers. I wonder if I can find anything?

It turns out I can find shoes, boots … but no slippers. Will sandals do instead?

There’s always Zoë …

… and …

Watching the Tour de Yorkshire pass by
Happy hikers

For Cee’s CBWC Shoes, boots and slippers

And for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday

A Tarmacadamed Road? Or a Canvas for a Picture?

This week, Jude’s Photo Challenge invites us to look at texture again – but as the subject for our photographs, the focus of our interest.

I took my camera out for a walk (while I still can …).  Several ideas presented themselves, but nothing quite worked.  Back to the archive.

I’ve chosen some shots taken on common-or-garden asphalt roads.  Those roads are not themselves the subject, but they provide a grainy, characterful canvas.  Imagine those same shadows projected onto a large sheet of smooth white paper.  I think they’d be less interesting.

Three are taken on a small road near here, edged with a dry stone wall. One was frosty road in January.  One was taken at Masham Sheep Fair, with not a sheep in sight.  One is not a road, but a wall.  It’s the walkers who are on the path.

2020 Photo Challenge#11

Background? Or Part of the Story

Jude over at Travel Words has an ongoing photo challenge this year. Every week she asks us to consider a different aspect of photography, and look at ways of addressing it. I’m a bit late in my response, but … here goes.

How to photograph a subject using a background which is a pattern without distracting from the subject.

I chose three photos in the end, and in the case of the two taken at the Albert Dock Liverpool, I think the pattern becomes part of the story.

Here’s a double decker bus. A double decker bus which has been re-purposed as a diner. I could have gone in close and taken a ‘portrait’, but decided I wanted to show the bus as part of this community, serving among others perhaps, those unseen office workers in the geometrically-windowed building behind. Or even the deck hands in that ship.

Here, I was just inside a building near Tate Liverpool. All the action is outside. So this picture is back-to-front. The background is in the foreground, and behind it, the couple, waiting for … who knows? But they, more than the pattern, are the subject.

Finally, some street art in Hither Green, London. But which is the subject of this picture? The reflected light cast from an adjacent shop? Or the pattern-costumed whooping crane?

This has been fun and has made me start to think a bit more about my photos and how I might improve them. So thank you, Jude.

Patterns Through the Window, on the Wall

Look out of that window.  Who wants to go out unless they have to?  Instead, I’m inside and cosy, seeing if I can find photos that fit Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge for February, Patterns.

I decided to go with the built environment.  I looked not for deliberately created architectural motifs, or applied ornamentation, but for reflections, distortion, or for other elements that weren’t intended as the main event.  Except in one case, where reflection and baffling the eye was definitely the main story.  Which one was that do you think?


This challenge was provided by Jude, of Travel Words.  

Framing North Yorkshire

There’s an invitation  this week, in Amy‘s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, to consider Framing the Shot.

Walking in the Yorkshire Dales gives so many photo opportunities that I thought I’d stay right here, on my home patch, to give this a go.

Here’s a wintry shot from just outside my own village. Trees provide a traditional frame.

Over in Reeth, I  made use of some less-than-attractive wire fencing to frame the distant hillside.

Harlow Carr Gardens provided its own frame above a pond.

While at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (in West Yorkshire, this one) Henry Moore  provided a frame through which to view the landscape.

But there’s no need to take framing so literally.  There are other ways of a picture inviting you in.

The Pennine Way, near Gargrave North Yorkshire.

Those fields of rape plot the path we may take over the hills.

While these two suggest the limitless landscape lying beyond the dry stone walls.

And these sheep, this cormorant, highlight the vastness beyond them, just as the tree below, utterly unframed, suggests the famous bleakness of the Top Withens moorland near Hawarth, home of the Brontë sisters

Let’s finish with typical Yorkshire weather.  A view taken in the Crimple Valley one very dismal day in May.


Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #60– Framing the Shot





I’ve never been much good at twiddling with the controls on my camera.  I even joined a photography course recently, in an effort to get to grips with apertures, shutter speeds and ISO controls.  But it just made my head hurt, and I reverted to ‘Automatic’ as my default modus operandi.  I decided I’m a snaphot-ist, not a photographer.

d having an hour to spare, I turned to the ‘palette’ settings and took an identical shot using every single one. Though I forgot to take one on ‘Automatic’, so the tale isn’t quite complete. Can’t do it now. This little twig of blossom (cherry?), a chance discovery found in the road, wilted in the night.

Which do you like best?  As ever, click on any image to see it full size.  They’re in strict alphabetical order – no favouritism here.

Bleach bypass.

This is my entry in today’s Ragtag Challenge: identical