Reims and its cathedral has already qualified for a post on my blog. So has one of the images. But much as the architecture, the stained glass, the stone carving of these mediaeval cathedrals inspires awe, I just as much enjoy inspecting what the stonemasons got up to often in more hidden areas. Instead of saints, characters from the bible, earthly donors who needed their memorial, those masons seem to have relished chipping away to celebrate the more characterful inhabitants of the planet. And such statues often get more weather-beaten than most. Stacked on pallets and away from public view, I found this little lot hidden in an outside corner, awaiting a spot of restoration. They made my day.
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.
That is the question posed by Patti, for this week’s Lens Artists’ Challenge #228. Well, not done for me exactly, but done for my photos. Have a photos diagonal lines invited us in, encouraged us to explore the picture, or to focus on some detail?
Let’s have a look, and have a bit of a trip out too.
We’ll start off close to home, one cold wintry morning as I went to get the paper. Those rays of sunshine enlivened the scene, and my mood.
Here are two more, from just down the road. A tree which instead of reaching skywards, leans across the woods to demand a place centre-stage for the whole shot. And ox-eye daisies splicing the image in half, showing us there’s countryside, not a garden beyond.
A trip to the seaside? Alnmouth in Northumbria?
This quiet beach looks dramatic when the tide’s out.
Brussels now. A bank of plate glass windows reflects the opposite side of the road to dramatic effect. Monochrome too, for Bren’s Mid-Week Monochrome.
Off to Spain now. All those dizzy hairpin bends in Cantabria invite us to explore.
Then two more scenes – one from Cádiz, the other from Valencia. Those diagonals pull us in to explore the cathedral in one, the reflections in the other.
This shot, from Alicante, uses the ropes on a yacht as a frame for the scene beyond.
I’ve hesitated over whether to include this last shot in what is essentially a light-hearted post. But this photo – not a particularly original one as so many others have taken similar shots – has stayed with me. It’s Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. These are the railway lines that brought so many thousands of Jews on their very last journey. I wrote about it here.
I decided on balance to include it, as the relative optimism I felt when I wrote that post five years ago has disappeared in the light of world events over the last couple of years: and we shouldn’t forget.
Yesterday was foggy. All day. Yesterday, when I took a photo – the header photo – at Fountains Abbey, it was so murky I thought it could pass for a sepia image. I’m going to chance calling it monochrome anyway. And since we could barely see ahead of us, we focussed on the ground below. And were rewarded. This is rather a fine tree trunk, I think.
And these Giant Funnel Fungi are rather fine too. Regular readers know that I am keen on foraged food, but I’m glad I didn’t bring these home. Here’s what the website Wild Food says: ‘A large chunky mushroom which can be found in fairly large numbers and is edible to most but can cause gastric upsets in some. This doesn’t really matter as the mushrooms are usually infested with maggots, even when young, making them more maggot than flesh. Not so appetising then … but look how huge they are! That’s a bit of my boot at the bottom of the frame.
This is the last day of November, a month in which Becky has been encouraging us to get out walking, whatever the weather. I’m glad I’ve joined her, and everyone who’s participated in Walking Squares. Thank you!
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?
Look out of the window any day this week, but particularly yesterday, and you’d have seen a scene in glorious monochrome. Leaden skies, rain tumbling from the skies, hour after hour. As the header picture shows. Monday hadn’t been as rainy. Instead we had fog. Monochrome fog.
Some of the pictures were taken as I spent time at Fountains Abbey out in said rain – and against expectations, enjoying every soggy moment of it.
These though are taken at various locations in North Yorkshire, and in fog rather than rain:
And here are three more, for Becky’s Walking Squares:
I couldn’t resist a few more (sodden) tree roots from Fountains, but the water shot, and the desiccated cow parsley come from walks – who knows where?
Today I’m taking you (again) to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. We’ll walk up the High Ride, through glades of trees, in relatively young maturity …
… before descending to saunter through the parkland of Studley Royal. I’ve got a lot of ancient trees to show you next week, but today I’ll show you just one. A cherry tree, or what’s left of it. It’s about 400 years old, which is unfathomably old for a fruit tree. I must say it looks its age. But isn’t it remarkable?
A newer branch has somehow grown from that ancient trunk.
Google photos has a happy habit of reminding me of what I was up to this day one year, two years, three years (and so on) ago. Today it pointed out that in 2020, just after the worst of Lockdown was over, we escaped briefly to Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. And there we discovered Mossyard Bay.
Let’s take a virtual trip: there’s not a fairground ride, amusement arcade or kiss-me-quick hat in sight. There’s not even a chippie. Just us, the rocky shore, and the sea, advancing or retreating with the tide. Happy memories, translated into monochrome.
For Bren’s Mid-Week Monochrome #106, and as suggested by Sarah, of Travel with Me fame. Bren herself takes us to the Nidd Gorge, my back yard when I lived in Harrogate: while Sarah, for her post, is in her favourite city, Paris.
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