Thursday, 2 January 2020

The Ducket, Northumberland - A Hidden Gem Of All Gems

Not often do you stumble across a place that has you gazing in awe and amazement. Well, one dark night in February 2019 is exactly what I found myself doing, after taking a wrong turn whilst driving my car, in the sticks of Northumberland. It was meant to be an aurora chase, under a clear sky on a freezing cold night, but mother nature failed to put a show on, so I made my way home after yet another wild goose chase. But, not before I had stumbled across The Ducket - an 18th century stone tower looking out to sea. My wrong turn in the car actually turned out to be the highlight of an otherwise unproductive night. As I took the wrong turn, I stopped to do a U-turn and noticed the tower, on my right. Curiosity got the better of me, so I parked up and stepped out of the car. It was certainly a sight to behold, as the tower stood under a moonless sky, filled with billions of stars. Wow - that's all I could think! I stood for a minute or so, taking it all in, almost able to hear a pin drop. This place was definitely one to revisit, so the memory was placed in the bank, so to speak - one for another day...
 
The very next day I decided to do a bit of research on this 'Hidden Gem' and found that The Ducket is actually a holiday accomodation and available to rent all year round. You wouldn't have imagined this place has actually been restored to 5 star status. Within an hour of discovering this, I had made a booking, to visit for 3 nights in October, which was 8 months away. Seemed like an age, but it came around quickly enough. I mentioned to my wife, who was equally as excited about our weekend away, that it would be brilliant if we managed to get at least one night of clear skies, just like the one in February, when I made that wrong turn in the car. I'd mentioned to her how the night sky was amazing that night, so fingers crossed we would be treated to similar conditions again. As luck turned out, the moon phase over this particular weekend fell in our favour, as the moon would not be present during the earlier hours of darkness!
 
On our second night (saturday), the sky was clear and we found ourselves underneath the stars, taking it all in. What an awesome sight, but very cold at the same time. After a short while we headed back indoors. The Mrs began to watch 'Strictly' - not my cup of tea, so I headed back outside to shoot the stars. I set one camera away to catch a star trail, facing south-east. Then I headed into the nearby lane to point my second camera towards the north. What happened next was surreal. As I checked my first test shot I was amazed to see the Northern Lights, dancing behind The Ducket. I remember a shiver ran up my spine. This couldn't be happening, surely. Who would have thought this would happen, when I booked The Ducket weekender, 8 months ago!!!! WOW!!!  The light show went on for over an hour. I was completely gobsmacked. I rang the Mrs and told her what she was missing, lol. A night that will live in the memory for a very long time.
 
The Northern Lights experience was the icing on the cake of what was without doubt, one the best weekends we have had. As for The Ducket itself, well, this building is a complete one off. As quirky and as unusual as it may look on the outside, the inside was as impressive as you could ever imagine. Five floors of complete luxury, set in a peaceful part of Northumberland that is hard to beat. From first light, the surrounding pastures, covered in a thin layer of mist, made us feel like we were indeed in a very special place. The huge bulls in the next field, sat watching us, with not a care in the world. Crows flew around the tower, which was a sight to see from the indoor warmth of our surroundings. We never saw a single soul all weekend, apart from the farmer, who arrived on his quad, to check on the cattle. I was flying my drone around the Ducket, at the time.
 
And that was that - the weekend was over in a flash, but not before we'd enjoyed visits to Holy Island, Alnwick, Seahouses and Bamburgh. An amazing part of the world and a place that we'll be revisiting at some point in the not too distant future. Would I recommend The Ducket? Well after experiencing all we did on a weekend in October 2019, it would be impossible to say no. We had it all and more. Thanks once again to Outchester And Ross Farm Cottages for an amazing weekend in hidden Northumberland. Here's to the next one...
 
Coming soon...
Ash
 
 









Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Another Moonrise Attempt - St. Mary's Lighthouse

Hello again!

Another short write up, about my September visit to the outskirts of North Tyneside and another well known landmark - St. Mary's Lighthouse, near Whitley Bay.

It was another one of those full moon occasions, when you rely on those trusty smartphone apps to give you a few pointers regarding location, weather conditions, tide times, etc. It was a Friday evening and I headed off with good intentions of putting together a vlog (video blog), which is something I don't usually dabble in, but on this occasion I thought I'd give it a bash. I set up my GoPro in the car, en route, finding myself prattling on about the task ahead. The journey to St. Mary's lasted around 35 minutes. I parked up on the cliff top, near Old Hartley, which is a five minute walk to the rock shelf below, where I intended to shoot from. Only thing was, I hadn't given myself a great deal of time to prepare, so I ditched the GoPro and got myself down the steps and onto the beach, as the moon was about to rise. Ideally I should have set away earlier and gave myself plenty of time to continue my vlog as I set up my gear, but alas my planning was rather piss poor, so I stuck to the task of concentrating on my photography instead.

I grabbed a couple of shots as the moon rose on the horizon, then I shuffled around for the next 15 minutes, positioning myself in the ideal spot to get exactly what I wanted. Obviously the main objective was to align the lighthouse with the moon, which I managed to do before the detail in the moon burned out. It was another one of those 'Blink and you'll miss it' moments, or so it seemed. These occasions fly by in no time.

Again, I 've uploaded a screenshot from my Photographers Ephemeris app, which shows the location and moonrise, in relation to where I was standing to land my shots. This app is worth its weight in gold for tasks like this!

Thanks again for visiting!

Ash



From North To South - Moonrise @ Groyne Lighthouse

Hello again!
Making the effort to revive my blog page with a few short entries to get things underway in 2020.

Kicking off with this one - a moonrise attempt from Fiddler's Green, North Shields, across the River Tyne, towards South Shields. It was Saturday 20th July, 2019 and a full moon was about to rise on a clear sky summer evening, around 23.15. Conditions were on my side, so it was a case of wait and see. The Sigma 150-600mm lens made another appearance, doing what it does best, on nights like this. The clouds were approaching from the west, so I was hoping to get this one done and dusted before they drifted across before the moon had risen. Check out my prep screenshot, courtesy of that trusty old app known as The Photographers Ephemeris. Earlier in the day I consulted TPE app to give me a clue as to where I should be standing as the moon rose. Yeah, I was hoping to catch it rise behind the little red lighthouse, on the south side, near Little Haven. I was in luck! Turned out to be a wise move and everything came together nicely. I'm getting a taste for these moonrises. Hopefully more to follow...

Cheers, Ash

Lumiere Light Festival, Durham - 2019

Once again the Lumiere light festival rolls into town. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the UK's largest outdoor light festival and once again, it didn't disappoint. Having said that, the poor weather conditions put a massive dampener on the event, as rain fell continuously on the first three nights, scuppering any chance of me repeating last years feat, when I attended all four nights. Sadly, this year wasn't going to be anywhere near as productive, as far as photography goes, as I managed to attend one night only. I certainly don't mind a bit of rain, but when you're trashing through the city with expensive camera gear, it's not a good idea to invite water damage, despite your best efforts to avoid it. Been there, done that!

And so to Lumiere 2019...
I was a bit late to the ticket office this year. Shoulda had my arse into gear earlier for this one, but I slipped up and only managed to get my hands on tickets for the Sunday night. Never mind, I'll get me'sel along nice and early to get into the main 'peninsula' as they call it. Around 4pm I parked up at the top of Claypath and made my way down the bank and into the Market Square, where I was greeted by the first installation of Lumiere 2019. And what an introduction, it has to be said - a giant inflatable snow globe, named 'I LOVE DURHAM' … that dominated the square. As dusk was almost upon us, I fired off the first shots of the event, as the crowds began to descend on the city. Once the snow globe was in full flow it certainly was an eye-catching installation and with the blue hour sky as a backdrop … well, the show was well under way!

From the Market Square I headed up towards Durham Cathedral, which traditionally, is the main focus of the Lumiere event, with large projection visuals on the fa├žade of this historic building. This years Cathedral light show was called 'STONES' a shapeshifting video mapped animation composed soundtrack that constantly evolved. Near where I stood was a small tent, where limited numbers of visitors were invited to manipulate the installation by interacting with the stones controllers. It was next to the tent that I set my gear up to photograph this visual light show. When I ready to begin, I noticed a few visitors had gathered either side of me, throwing some nice shadows onto the ground, which made for some fine foreground detail. The browny red wood chippings caught my eye too. The whole of palace green lawn was covered in them, to avoid it becoming something of a mud bath. The light show and soundtrack was very, very effective, so I filmed a short part of it, while taking stills at the same time. To view my Lumiere 2019 video highlights … click here.

Moving on once again, I headed down towards the Count's House & Prebends Bridge, taking in more installations - THE STARS BENEATH OUR FEET...BOTTLE FESTOON and GEOMETRICAL TRACES. From Prebends Bridge we were guided along the riverside towards probably the most eye-catching installation of them all … FOGSCAPE !!  The riverside, near Fulling Mill, was transformed by plumes of ghostly water vapour, creeping through the trees on the riverbank and onto the river wear, itself.

We were swiftly moved along by the over keen event staff, who were adamant that no-one was going to stop to take photographs. Well they got that one wrong ha! Moving along the riverside at a decent pace, I found myself heading along towards Pennyferry Bridge, near the Radisson Hotel. It was here, on the river, where another popular installation was situated. MYSTICETE, a life-like 3D water screen projection of a colossal Baleen whale in an enexpected environment. As the crowds gathered along the waters edge, it wasn't easy to command a good spot to photograph from, so I had to wait until the next projection to get my opportunity. The water spray from the installation tried its very best to soak my camera's, but I was equipped with a plastic bag to fend off any chance of water damage. I think I done reasonably well, ha!

To end the night, I headed into Walkergate and over the Elvet Bridge, towards Old Elvet and the County Court area, taking in the following installations ...END OVER END, THE FRIENDSHIP TREE, HERON, CLOUD, WAVEFIELD VARIATION H and LIGHT TUNNEL, plus HELVETICTOC, THE NEXT PAGE, WASHED UP, FOOL'S PARADISE and THE STARS COME OUT AT NIGHT.

Considering I only had one crack at it, I was well happy with how much I actually managed to photograph. I didn't even stay till the end (11pm), as I had to be up early the following morning for work. I clocked off around 10.15pm. There wasn't even time for a bit to eat, which is always part of the game when I 'm out with the camera. No Bell's chippy this time round - the Q was out the door!!

So that's it for another two years, when the Lumiere bandwagon rolls into town once again. Was 2019 as good as previous events? Well, pretty hard to judge. There was, as always, the highlights of the event - plus the odd installation or six that made up the numbers, but all in all … can't complain - it is a FREE event, after all. I'll be back in 2021, no doubt. The moth is always drawn to the lights!

Catch u next time (wink)

Ash












Sunday, 6 October 2019

Ashley Corr Photography ~ 2020 Calendar

Welcome back!
I must stop going under the Blogger radar, as I notice my last entry was way back in March of this year. Same old story - not enough hours in the day! Even camera time has taken a hit this year, plus my website updates at www.ashleycorr.com … and don't mention the amount of images and video I've got queued up. Although it's a nice problem to have, I've got more than enough to keep me busy during the fast approaching dark winter nights. Now that I've got that intro out of the way, (a.k.a - poor excuse) I'd like to announce that finally, after being an amateur photographer for almost 40 years, I actually got my arse into gear and created my first ever wall calendar. In the past I've regularly contributed to charity calendars, including St. Benedict's Hospice, Sunderland, amongst others, so it's nice to finally produce my own creation, for 2020.

A couple of weeks back I done some online research, to find out who would be able to print my calendar. I stumbled across 4 potential targets, one of which was Colour Calendars. After a very brief visit to their website I made my mind up instantly that this was the path I was going to go down. They had online design templates, which you could add your images to, as well as company log, contact information, etc. The toolbox was very straightforward and within an hour or so, my calendar was complete. Yeah, it was that simple. I made one or two last minute amendments before I submitted my proof and waited for my free calendar, to check the quality and colour accuracy. Within 48 hours my free proof was in my hands and I was more than impressed with the finished article. I went ahead and ordered 200 copies, which arrived 2 days later. They were individually shrink wrapped and Colour Calendars even added 8 extra copies, free of charge!

Once in my hands, I set about the task of advertising my 2020 calendar through Facebook. I was almost immediately inundated with orders, which was brilliant. Most of the orders were multiple purchases, which was even better. Within 48 hours I had sold 76 copies. I certainly wasn't expecting that!

Here is a few images of my calendar. If you would like to purchase any, please email me at sales@ashleycorr.com. I offer discount for multiple purchases. The calendar is priced at £10.00 plus £2 delivery.

Thanks for dropping by...
Ash

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Work, Rest & Play (Part 1) - Alice In Wonderland

Now then!

With another working week behind me it's good to look back on it in terms of perks. By this I mean the added benefit of slotting in some photography at the end of a late shift (3.30pm - 11.20pm). It's been quite some time since I done any after work shots - in fact, almost 4 months. I could rattle on about the reasons behind it, but I'd be writing all day and night, so best give it a swerve. Bottom line is - it's was great to get back on the horse, so to speak, and to take advantage of a couple of clear night skies for more of that thing that is known as astro photography. When conditions aren't ideal I usually head straight home after work and chill out in front of the box for an hour or two, before heading off to bed. When the skies are clear, there's no such luxury, as I head off into the night, which is usually cold and all things considered, I question my sanity haha!! But this photography lark has a way of getting under your skin, especially at night under the stars, when the creative juices start flowing and the fingers and toes start freezing! It's all part of the fun though.

And so to Part 1 of my Work, Rest and Play blog...

Work - that thing where I build cars for 8 hours
Rest - aye, all 15 minutes of it - driving from work to the shooting location
Play - yeah, the best bit, when the camera comes out to play

A giant image, based on the Lewis Carroll book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, has been created on the side of the old science block at Chuter Ede Community Association in South Shields.
The mural is unique in that it is the first outdoor UV piece surrounded by lights and timers to ensure it gives off an ethereal blue glow at night. This exciting development in site-specific street art references Lewis Carroll’s frequent visits to South Tyneside and the street in Biddick Hall named after him, Carroll Walk, is augmented by special UV lighting at dusk. “In a world first, UV paint is illuminated at night. bringing up the detailed portrait of Alice by artist Irony and the calligraffiti by locally-based Frank Styles.” The work shows a giant Alice trying to break out from the surreal work surrounding her. The text around her is a letter about a missing part of the story cut out of the book because the illustrator didn’t want to draw it. Mr Styles said: “Irony had created a few indoor works of art using UV paint, but this is the first time one like this has been made outside. Due to the weather conditions, we were there for a week."


I made the 15 minute journey by car, from the Nissan Car Plant in Washington, to Chuter Ede and made my way inside the grounds, not really knowing where the wall art was located. I found myself walking round and eventually finding 'Alice', tucked away in a shaded area, away from the nearby street lamps. I eyed up the North Star immediately, with star trails in mind, but its position in relation to the nearby light pollution and wall art made it a no-go. I eyed up
plan B in no time, opting for a head on shot up close, with the stars raining down on Alice. I thought this would work well, especially as Alice looked like she was reaching for the stars. I went with this idea.

Pleased with the results! Part 1 ticked off, with part 2 to follow...

Stay tuned, Ash



Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Good Morning Seaham!

A rare sunrise outing for Mr Corr, on a chilly February morning in the north-east of England. I'd just finished a week of night shifts at the Nissan POW camp and my body clock was again out of fettle, as I woke at 5am and joined the wide awake club once more. With hindsight, I suppose it worked out quite well, as I bagged a decent shot or two - the first shots I 'd actually taken for a number of weeks and my first of 2019. I'd been out of the loop, due to illness and one or two other personal issues, so it was nice to get  back on the horse, so to speak, although I did feel quite rusty and almost had to remind myself how to use my camera ha!

So off I went, slipping back into the photography loop, with a ten minute journey eastward, to Seaham Harbour. I had no real plan, to be fair. It was another one of those 'Suck it and see' affairs, where I drive, observe, then choose. The choice wasn't a great one either, as I had two locations on my radar. My first choice was the harbour beach ... the second was the Tommy artwork, on top, at The Green. With sunrise in mind I checked out the sky for inspiration and a clue as to which location to plump for. The harbour won the day, so I headed down the bank and through the overflow car park - eventually reaching the pier parking area, where I dropped anchor. The tide was almost high and with the sun about to rise, I wasted no time in getting sand on my wellies and into position. A lump of driftwood drew me in immediately. It was ideally placed and looking very photogenic, for what it was. I began to feel that things were already piecing together and the prospect of some colour appearing in the sky was very promising. It was now a short waiting game...

I didn't have to wait long to be rewarded. It was a great start to the morning and the pastel shades suddenly appeared in the sky, with the incoming tide lapping against my driftwood prop. To my right hand side I was distracted by a man with a dog … and a short rake. Ah well, he obviously likes his props too, eh. It's just … he wasn't a photographer as such, just a man walking a dog. So why the rake, I asked myself. Not to be distracted any further, I turned away and fired off a couple more shots. The scene unfolding in front of me was rather special!

I looked across to my right once again and noticed said dog walker crafting something in the sand, with his beloved rake. From the angle I observed from, it wasn't easy to see exactly what he was writing, but all became apparent as I stood and watched him taking a photograph of it on his mobile phone. GOOD MORNING … was his greeting in the sand. Well, as I packed up and headed back to the car I grabbed a quick shot of his work, just for the record. I really do need to thank him, as my photo of it appeared on the Tyne-Tees Television weather bulletin later that day!

All things considered, this morning was a return to my photography after a four month exile. I have to say … it was a nice return, which yielded a decent shot or two. I really need to get back into the seascape scene... especially sunrises. If only there was a way around the early morning alarm calls, eh. Now, that would be ideal. I'll just have to make more of an effort to drag me jaxey out of the fart sack more often. Until then …

Catch ya sooner, rather than later.

Ash