Tuesday, 28 December 2010

An Angel At Christmas Time

I don't know what it is that draws me to the Angel Of The North. I usually get edgy when heading down the A1 towards Newcastle, especially if I've forgotten to get my jabs off my GP beforehand, he he.

This location is the gateway to the North-East of England, as thousands of motorists pass through it each day. Since spreading its wings in February 1998 Antony Gormley's Angel of the North has become one of the most talked about pieces of public art ever produced. Rising 20 meters from the earth near the A1 in Gateshead, the Angel dominates the skyline, dwarfing all those who come to see it. Made from 200 tonnes of steel, it has a wingspan of 54 metres. Getting up close and personal with the Angel is an experience you'll not forget in a hurry! Apparently, the Angel is as tall as four double-decker buses and its wingspan is as big as a jumbo jet. Ah well folks, ya learn summat new every day, eh.

Anyway, enough of the details. Today I made the relatively short journey to the Angel with my son Christopher, who is 9 years old. We done a bit of sledging at the site as the sun was about to set. A good laugh was had. It was back to the car for a quick snack in front of the heaters before returning to the Angel for some photography. The little fella shadowed me as I ran off a few frames, but I wasn't expecting much patience from him in such freezing conditions, so it was 'Job done' and back to the car once again.

This was my first crack at the Angel with my new wide-angle lens. Great stuff once again! The whole wide-angle effect is shaping up very nicely, ta. Some nice colours in the sky shortly after sunset, which gave me an opportunity to grab some nice shots with visitors in the frame. As cold as it was, it's always worth waiting for people to enter the frame as this lends a sense of scale to the whole 'Angel vs people' scenario. Also, I was metering off the highlights in the sky, which in turn threw the Angel and people into silhouette, which finished the shot off brilliantly...in my humble opinion, of course. The second shot (illustrated here) shows my son posing in an angelic fashion, he he, which is something he is very good at...but only on request! Anyway, you get the general idea of scale with this shot.

And that's about it for now folks.
I'll be back soon - Thanks for visiting!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Penshaw Monument - A Wider Perspective

More recent shots in the snow. Canon 7D, armed with a 10-22mm wide angle lens - ya know...the one I've been prattling on about for the last week or so. How about this for a dramatic angle - this first shot, taken from a position in one corner of Penshaw Monument, with big elevation to capture the columns like never before. When seeing this through the viewfinder for the first time it really does give an insight into exactly what kind of shot this lens is capable of producing, and I'm already acknowledging the fact that it has been money well spent. Attached to the lens is a Hoya 77mm Circular Polarizing filter, which was bought with the lens, and this will play it's part in pulling in new landscape images.

It's very cold at the top of Penshaw Hill, despite the bright sunlight. No-one else around, other than an owld wifey entertaining her dogs with a rugby ball at the foot of the hill. Penshaw Nursery and Tea Rooms look a sorry sight from where I'm standing. The greenhouses are caved in due to the the heavy snow! I spoke to Tony (the owner) a few days ago and he reckons a £20,000 repair bill is on the cards. Oh dear, I might have to drop the prices of my picture frames...then again...(wink)

Hey, fook this for a game o' soldiers. I'm off! Me little toes are numb and I can't be havin' this. Brass monkey weather once again, which, to be quite honest, I'm getting a bit fed up with. Roll on next Summer! Before I head off back home I'm already contemplating another outing today, especially as the sun is shining and the overcast skies of recent days have gone. I'm wondering how the new lens will shape up at the Angel Of The North. More dramatic angles I imagine - who knows...I might even get a nice sky at sunset. Yes, I think I'll give it a whirl later today. Sun sets at around 3.30pm, which is as early as I can remember, so I'll be setting off at about 2.45pm to get there with time to spare. Let's hope the A1
isn't too busy!

Speak soon, Ash

More Wide-Angle Shots

Hello again!
Hoping everyone has had a nice Christmas and looking forward to the remainder of the holiday period. Yes, it's been quite hectic here too and I didn't even get time to post a Christmas message on my blog. I must try harder next year!

While out and about in the region I managed to stop off at a few locations to add some more wide-angle shots to my memory card. Loaded with a blank 16 gig card, I set to work once again at the Copt Hill burial ground in Houghton-Le-Spring. This time it was early morning, shortly before sunrise, and I very nearly missed the action. Upon leaving the house and noticing some subtle colours in the sky near the Copt Hill, I had the task of scraping the ice from my car windscreen before I could even contemplate taking photographs. It took bloody ages to scape the windows, during which time the colours above were glowing even more. Better get a move on...

A kettle full of water later and I was soon driving to my destination. Within a few minutes I was parking up before dashing across the fields like a man posessed. A nearby dog walker looked across and was treated to some impromptu animation as I fell flat on my arse in the thick snow. What to do eh, other than get back up very quickly and pretend it never really happened, he he.

I was soon taking pictures though. A few here and there before the sun came up, then some more as the Seven Sisters were bathed in early morning sunlight. A nice orangey cast across the snow looked even better as it hit the trees in front of me. My new Canon wide angle lens is now giving me a huge advantage over the bog standard 18-135mm effort that I've been accustomed to, so I expect to take my photography on to the next level quite soon. Already this lens is thowing up some big advantages, with tack sharp images at very close quarters. Exciting times for the Mackem photographer!

By the way, I still haven't bagged any wide-angle shots at Newcastle Quayside, as promised last week. What, with one thing and another at this busy time of the year. Rest assured though, as soon as time permits, with suitable weather conditions to boot, I'll be down there as quick as a flash. Now, this is one place I'm itching to get to, with the new lens of course. Sorry for the delay folks, but it's gonna happen soon.

In the meantime, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Canon Wide Angle - First Test Shots

It's been a couple of days since I first got my hands on the latest kit bag addition - a Canon 10-22mm EF-S wide angle lens. During this time I've been looking forward to getting out and giving the new glass it's first test in the field. Today, Sunday 19th December, I was up bright and early for some sunrise shots, but alas the sun didn't wanna play, so I attempted some mono shots as Plan-B kicked into action.

I stayed local, very local infact, at a location in Houghton-Le- Spring, where I live. A five minute car journey took me to the Copt Hill Barrow, an ancient burial site which overlooks my home town. Here is where you'll find the Seven Sisters - on a mound in the middle of a large field.

It's 8.10am and minus four degrees. Absolutely no colour in the sky whatsoever. Black and White seems the only route to go down, so let's give it a try. I've photographed the Seven Sisters on many occasions, from different angles on this plot. Today I've got the prized wide angle lens on my 7d body and what a dramatic difference it offers. I'm literally standing next to the tree's and as wide as I choose (1omm setting), I'm still filling the frame with my subject. Brilliant!

Great angles - something I've never seen through the viewfinder before. Two minutes in and I'm already loving the new lens and can only imagine what results this piece of kit will yield at other locations. Today's subject isn't the best for wide-angle photography, but I'm already noticing a massive difference between the 10-22 and my 18-135 lens that came with the Canon 7D. Infact, I'm already planning another outing today which will see me testing the new lens on some architecture along Newcastle Quayside. This place is tailor made for wide-angle shots! The results will be uploaded to a blog page near you...soon!

Thanks, Ash

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Dusk, Roker Pier, Sunderland

Early morning, 8 'o clock precise.
The location is Roker Pier, Sunderland and the temperature is minus five. The things some people do to get a good photograph, eh. I need me bloody head checking - NOT ARF !!

There's a clear blue sky with some decent colour on the horizon, so I waste no time in making my way onto the pier. It looks like I have the pier to myself, which is unusual as there's usually a few fishermen kicking about. I set my tripod up and wait for an improvement in lighting conditions. The fisherman turn up at this point and that's fine by me - let's see if I can include them in the shot!

Once again I'm running with long exposures, on the legs with a remote release - selective spot focusing on a 100 ASA setting, exposed in RAW format at 18 megapixels. The shutter trips. It's a good one - I'm happy.

Just before I wrap up this short blog entry - I've splashed out on a new lens! It's been on my wish list for a while and I finally got my hands on it yesterday. It's a Canon 10-22mm wide angle EF-S. These fella's don't come cheap so I'll be pushing it to it's limits and hoping to get a good return on it, starting tomorrow. I'll let you know how I get on.

Until then, stay warm!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Wearmouth Bridge, Sunderland

Another early start for this one. It's 7.30am and I'm travelling through Sunderland town centre on my way to the coast. As I drive across Wearmouth Bridge I look to my right towards Roker and notice some colour on the horizon, which tells me the sun will be up very shortly. I quickly shelve my original plan and quickly look for a place to park, opting to try some photography from the vantage point that is Wearmouth Bridge. Snow is thick and it's bitterly cold, yet I'm wrapped up and should be fine, but I'm not. Left me wooly mitts in the car didn't I - should be shot with shit for that one! Oh well, time to suck a lemon and get on with it...

Not a great deal of traffic crossing the bridge as I set up shop, but I'm going for a few light trails on a long exposure just to set the ball rolling. Not a bad shot to begin with. Just a few traces of red light from those tail lamps, but you get the general idea.

Turning to my left, I'm now looking out towards the North Sea, with St Peter's Campus and the National Glass Centre in the frame, along the banks of the River Wear. Not a soul about - they're probably tucked up in the fart sack and as warm as toast. One can only wish to swap places right now - it's bloody freezing!!

I run off a few frames before the sun comes up, then I beat a hasty retreat to the car. I drove along to Roker Marina and had a quick scout about before calling it a day and heading back to Houghton. Maybe next time I'll get to the coast once again - I fancy a few sunrise shots on Roker Pier.

I'll be back soon. Cheers!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Postcards - An Update

Visitors to my web site may be aware that there is an option to purchase postcards in the Store section. Each card features a local scene and at present there are seventeen cards in the matching set, with new designs earmarked for production in January 2011 and beyond.

The whole postcard thing came about purely by chance. I was asked by a buyer whether I had any postcards featuring my images. At the time I was only producing prints, but I promised to look into the possibility of producing one or two postcard designs just to see how they faired. I designed three cards, each featuring a different image from my archives of Penshaw Monument. In turn they were saved as PDF files before to going to print. I was rather impressed with the results!

The postcards double up as business cards as they show my website address on the reverse side (see picture below) and the front sides have a glossy finish. Measuring 114x117mm, my postcards are covered by a standard first class stamp, unlike the oversized formats which are not.

An initial run of 300 cards were delivered to Penshaw Garden Centre & Tea Rooms, by request, and sales went very well. At this point I designed three more cards featuring scenes from the Sunderland area, before offering them to the Tourist Information Centre in Sunderland. Interest was high and ten different scenes were commissioned, in batches of 200 each, totalling a massive 2000 cards. Initial sales went very well once again and the whole postcard thing was gathering momentum.

The postcards were quickly becoming an interesting sideline to my main production of prints, and more recently, Canvas Gallery Wraps. The Cafe Bungalow at Roker Terace, Sunderland (near Roker Pier) then chipped in with a request 400 cards, followed by a 'Big scalp' in the shape of Tyne & Wear Museums who ordered 11 different scenes totalling another 1100 cards! This batch was delivered to the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, although I doubt that's where they'd be going on sale as they featured scenes from the Sunderland area. The most likely destination being the Winter Gardens, Sunderland.

So, my postcards have been selling like the preverbial hot cakes - almost 4000 in just four months! More samples have been shipped to other venues, hotels and shops in the region - stay tuned for developments! Meanwhile, to view the full set of postcards - click here. Here are two examples of my postcards, including the reverse side which has it's own unique catalogue number. Click to enlarge.

Note : My website address appears on the images above and is for protection purposes only. It does not fot feature on the actual postcards.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Durham - Land Of The Prince Bishops

Durham City in the snow. The city centre is one of those places where a photographer can run riot after an overnight snowfall. As the place is steeped in history, the architecture around Palace Green makes for excellent imagery, so you're never short of photo opportunities. Here I have chosen to include shots of Durham Castle - one from unside the main gateway and the other from outside the castle walls. Friendly Robin's came very close, probably expecting a feed, but I had nowt to offer them in my deep pockets, apart from a lens cap and a mobile phone.

Palace Green was out of bounds. Large marquee's covered the entire grass - probably some event, but I haven't anything. It was a very quiet Sunday morning, apart from the scraping sounds from a workers shovel as he cleared snow from the pathway to Durham Cathedral. I kid you not, it was as cold as Siberia! It was minus 6 degrees when I arrived in Durham at 10.0am and I wasn't gonna hang around much longer.
After leaving Palace Green and heading down towards Prince Bishops Car Park, I grabbed one last shot of the Elvet Bridge with the Cathedral and Castle as a backdrop. For me, this viewpoint in Durham is one of the best. Last Winter I took a boat load of snow scene shots and my favourite one was very similar to the last shot shown here. I've shifted a few canvas prints of this one, which to me is a classic Christmas card shot.
The time is now 11.00am. Nice blue skies. Hung around for a few minutes, then toddled off back to the car. Switched the heaters on and sat for a few minutes while my fingers defrosted. Reviewed my new photo's on the camera a couple of times before packing it away in the car boot.
And that was it. Back to base - job done. Sunday dinner awaits - looking forward to that. Pork, stuffing and apple sauce with all the trimmings. Must dash.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Snowfall - Penshaw Hll (Part 2)

This is the second and last part of my visit to Penshaw Monument, which is perched on Penshaw Hill on the outskirts of Sunderland. Whilst taking in the stunning views from the top of the hill, I noticed that the greenhouses on Penshaw Farm were caved in due to the heavy snow. The steel framework has very thin plastic covering so it never stood a chance, so I imagine Mr Green and the boys have their work cut out to repair the damage. The nursery consists of two greenhouses, each around 100 feet long, and I imagine most of his stock is now wiped out. A real shame, although as I strain my eyes I notice the adjacent tea rooms are full of punters - hopefully eying up his walls that are covered with my framed prints, he he.

The main road that runs past the Monument, from Penshaw to Sunderland, is full of crawling traffic. Yes, the roads are a pain in the arse once again and drivers are going down the sensible route (no pun intended) by using their heads and not pushing their luck, like some of the idiots you occasionally encounter.

Me and my son Christopher (9) join in the crowds on Penshaw Hill as we enjoy some sledging. We each take tus and it's a blast. I temporarily lose control as the sledge deviates from its normal path and cuts across the snow cleared steps, giving me a very sore arse in the process. It was just as well that the little fella was next up, as it gave me a chance to recover as the 'Pain in the arse' subsided. Speaking of Pains in the arse, I must remember to call in at the Mother In Law's on the way home, he he, only joking, Norma!

The sledging comes to an abrupt end during my next ride! Yes, the sledge snaps in half and the little fella isn't too happy. The crowd enjoyed it and I laughed myself - what else can ya do, eh.

So that was it - back to the car and to grab some much needed heat. After a few minutes we were back out and I took a couple of snaps on a short path next to Penshaw Hill. Here they are.

Until the next time...

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Snowfall - Penshaw Hill (Part 1)

It's been almost two weeks since the first Snowfall of Winter 2010, and there's been no let-up since. Apparently, the last time we had snow as early as November was seventeen years ago, but I bet it wasn't as consistent back then as it has been this year. Snow has been falling almost daily since the last week of November and we've had almost two feet of it up until today, 7th December. Due to printing and delivery commitments at this busy time of year I haven't had many opportunities to get out in the snow with my camera. Mind you, I always try to arrange some 'Time out' between work and family commitments, and I did manage to get some photography in a few days ago. As expected, the local roads were awful and access routes to places I wanted to photograph were temporarily out of bounds, so I decided to play safe and stay much nearer to home.

Yesterday I delivered some stock to Penshaw Garden Centre & Tea Rooms and returned to my car, grabbed my gear and headed towards Penshaw Hill. There were lots of people sledging down the hill and the cattle that were grazing nearby looked totally bemused. Ten minutes in and I wasn't exactly amused me'sel - me feet were like blocks of ice - maybe next time I'll not wear slippers!!

The snow was atleast a foot deep as I trudged a recently unused path up the hill. It was heavy going. I went over on my arse once or twice in pursuit of the summit, but it was worth it in the end. About two-thirds of the way up the path I entered a small wooded area, with thick snow on every branch in front of me. It was very picturesque. The sky was clear blue and ideal for the camera. Time to start photographing!

Once I reached the top of the path, I headed down an offshoot that led me round the back of Penshaw Hill until I emerged from the woods and made my way towards Penshaw Monument. From the top of the hill, just off the Monument, there were great panoramic views of the icy vista in front of me. It was a clear day and I could see for miles, with hundreds of snow covered rooftops across Penshaw and Washington. I stood for a short while and took in the view. By this time I had a two inch icicle hangin' from me sneck, so it was snapped off and discarded in the snow below, he he. Time to get moving...

I could see my car parked on the road at the bottom of the hill so I walked down the steps towards it, passing the sledgers en route. Nearly went on my arse again, a few times, but counter balanced the fall to avoid embarrassment in front of the masses. After a dodgy ten minute slow walk down the steps (walking like Bambi on ice) I was safely back to the car, so in I went. The heaters were blasting in a vain attempt to warm me through. I got there eventually.

Anyway, here is two more photo's from my freezing adventure in the field. Cheers!
Ash (still bloody freezing)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Sunderland - God's Country

God's Country, I hear you say. Well, I am biased of course, as Sunderland is the place where I was born and bred. A visit to the town centre at the tail end of Autumn 2010 was originally a business visit to the Tourist Information Centre, to deliver a large amount of stock in preparation for Christmas. No photography was planned, although I did have the Lowepro Trekker, fully loaded, in the boot of my car, just in case. It certainly came in handy!

On my return to the car, which, for the record, was parked in St Mary's multi-storey, I had a quick look out the top storey window towards the Stadium Of Light. What a view! A clear day presented a perfect opportunity to shoot digital across the River Wear, which flowed below the Wearmouth Bridge just in front of me. The Autumn colours were on display, adding some fine colour to the landscape and finishing the shot off perfectly. Panning from left to right I fired off three frames before jumping back into the car and heading for home.

Gotta admit, I love this panoramic effort. I have it printed, mounted and framed - ready for the Tourist Board in early January 2010. I think I might just sell one or two!
(click image to enlarge)

Cheers, Ash

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sunrise - Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn

Hello again!

A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry here. It was an early morning visit to Littlehaven near South Shields, for some sunrise photography. At the end of this particular blog I said I would be visiting Souter Lightouse the following weekend for more early morning low-light shots. Well, I did make a visit but forgot to write about it so here it is...

It was a very mild Saturday morning in early October and I was in position just outside the grounds of Souter Lighthouse, a National Trust property on the North-East coast of England near the small village of Whitburn. Conditions were ideal so I had my fingers crossed for some decent shots of the lighthouse, hopefully with a nice sun rising on the north sea horizon. The long whitewashed perimeter wall gave a good lead-in line to the shot, with the lighthouse and gardens in centre-shot and the calm north sea finishing off the shot as a backdrop. There was very little cloud cover on the horizon so it was a waiting game as I braced myself for the moment.

I didn't have to wait long. With my kit set up and remote control in hand, it was down to business again and time to bring in more sunrise shots on the coast. Again I was using drop-in Neutral Density grads to balance the exposure and after working out the difference in f-stops,
it was case of selecting the correct filter to achieve an accurate all round exposure throughout.
I managed to get there in the end despite a few mishaps with the lens and the IS (Image Stabilization) setting. After a few minutes I moved inside the perimeter wall and took up position near the vegetable garden, with it's well maintained plot that also offered some valuable colour in the foreground.
OK, time to shoot. It was back into the car, which incidentally, was parked on the main road where it shouldn't have been! Oh well, at 6.00am on a morning you're allowed the odd indescretion. Not many traffic wardens about at that hour is there? While the cat's away!
Until the next time, cheers,

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Far Flung Corners

Over the past two years I've had a lot of success selling my work to the Tourist Board in Sunderland, the town where I was born and bred. I originally submitted two framed prints back in November 2008 and both sold within their first week of display, so I was promptly invited to replace them with new offerings from my photo collection. I had more good fortune as my second batch sold shortly afterwards and by this time I was now beginning to establish myself within the organisation. A steady supply of new stock, including mounted prints and framed prints also sold quite soon after I submitted them and the trend has continued that way for the last two years. I have sold a variety of frame sizes, all of which carry 'Ashley Corr Photography' images that have been captured in the North-East of England. My finished work is all numbered and are offered as 'Limited Edition' products, and I have recently branched out with the production of 100% cotton canvas prints. This is a new line that I have recently developed and initial sales have started very well.

Because of my involvement with the Tourist Board this has attracted interest from the European Team who are based at Sunderland City Council. The European Team represent Sunderland and act on behalf the City to develop existing partnerships between other countries and to attract foriegn investment to Sunderland. The delegates regularly visit foreign shores and have been buying my work to exchange as gifts during their visits abroad. Consequently my work has very recently been shipped to Russia and China, with more visits to other countries being scheduled for early 2011. Naturally I'm very pleased that my work is now being recognised outside the UK and long may it continue.

I am currently in talks with representatives from other business which may well see an expansion of my work within the local area. Stay tuned for further developments!

Cheers, Ash

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Another Autumn Stroll

You may have read a recent blog entry of mine that was titled 'Autumn Stroll'. It was a blog entry that covered my trip into Durham City, finishing off with a brief visit to Lumley Castle in the neighbouring town of Chester-Le-Street. Well, the second Autumn Stroll of 2010 again found me in Durham City but this time it was around dusk that I was taking my photographs, from a spectacular viewpoint near the railway station. The station itself is perched quite high on a hill near Wharton Park, and as you can imagine, it offers some of the best views you'll come across in Durham City centre.

I planned this one a few days in advance but the weather conditions had me cancelling my visit at least three times before I actually made the trip along the A690 to Durham, Land Of The Prince Bishops. No overcast skies this time, plus there was little or no wind, even up a height. I arrived at my location a couple of minutes after the sun had set over to my right so it was now a simple case of waiting a few minutes until the sky darkened and the illuminated cathedral became more prominent.

It wasn't long before I was taking my first shots. The conditions by this time were as near perfect as I could have hoped for, so I wasn't going to waste my opportunity. Just in front of me stood a tree with it's golden-brown leaves - an ideal subject for some Autumn foreground interest. Even at low-light, the colours on the leaves were clearly visible and I knew a long exposure would capture them quite well so that was my intention as paired the shutter speed with a mid-range aperture. A very mild breeze ensured very little movement in the tree's so I expected very little blur in my finished shot. It was a good one - the leaves weren't pin sharp, but no more than you'd expect from a two-second shutter speed.

The second shot, shown here, saw me pulling in the Cathedral with manual zoom. Different settings, but once again I was running with selective spot focusing, magnified through 'Live View' and set precisely on the furthest point of Durham Cathedral. The Canon 7D has an excellent auto-focus facility and after zooming in the finished shot it was apparent just how pin-sharp the shot was, right across the frame.
Before packing my gear away and heading back to the car I panned the 7D across the rooftops of Durham City Centre, grabbing a series of staggered shots (portrait format) to use later in a panoramic stitch. Retaining identical exposures, I ran off six frames that overlapped approximately 30% which would make stitching a lot easier in post-processing as the details would be identified easier by the software - an important element in photomerge. Stay tuned as I will be uploading the resulting panoramic image in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I hope you like these two efforts, taken during 'Another Autumn Stroll'
Until the next time...see ya.
Ashley Corr

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tyne-Tees Television - Part 19

Presenting another video clip, taken from the local weather bulletin on Tyne-Tees Television, this is Penshaw Monument At Night. My son Christopher (9) accompanied me on this swift sortie up Penshaw Hill and he even found himself on the photo, and the television!

I've taken many low-light photographs at this location but very few with people in the frame. I think it worked quite well to be honest as it gives a sense of scale to the viewer who may not know how big the monument actually is. When Pip chose this photo it came as a big surprise to us when we were sitting watching the weather bulletin and there it suddenly was. It was a case of little fella - big smile. He cant wait to tell his mates at school.

Til the next time, cheers.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Northumberland Coast

Hello again to you blog readers - all 3 of you, he he!

What better way to brush off those cobwebs eh - a trek through the dunes on the Northumberland Coast near Dunstanburgh Castle. A favourite spot of mine for seascapes, the weather at Dunstanburgh Heugh's was quite mild today and the sea was very calm. You'll find a lovely sandy beach up here - a long stretch of it infact, before you hit the bolder field on your approach to the castle which is perched high on a crag behind Lilburn Tower.

This is one photogenic coastal spot! Negotiating the bolders is a tricky one mind, so tread carefully if you're thinking of retracing my footsteps. Taking a few risks may well bring in those hot shots though, so it's a case of 'Who dares wins' I suppose. Waterproof footwear is the way to go, especially with the incoming tide crashing against the rocks. No problem in that department today though, I'm glad to report, so it was back to the car and a trip back down the A1 to Amble Marina. A nice chippy awaits and a big box of haggis 'n chips, weshed doon wirra bottle of ice-cold coca-cola. LET'S GO !!!


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tyne-Tees Television - Part 18

One of the best sunrises I've ever witnessed was at Roker Harbour in Sunderland, just a few weeks ago when I dipped my feet into sunrise photography after a spell away. The colours that were present in the sky shortly before the sun appeared were spectacular and it was a great reintroduction to low-light work during the 'Silly hours'. You may also have seen this photo here on my blog at an earlier date - I'm sure it's here somewhere!

Anyway, I give you the same shot in a short video clip that was shown on Tyne-Tees Television very recently.

Thanks again!


Tyne-Tees Television - Part 17

It's another video clip folks.

Once again I've been hogging the weather slot on regional television - I must give it a rest, eh. Maybe not. This time it's a recent sunrise shot of mine that you may have seen earlier on my blog page, it's Roker Pier in Sunderland, gods own back yard. A fisherman takes up position just I'm ready to trip shutter, adding a presence to this dramatic sunrise on the north-east coast of England.

Jobs a good 'un!


Autumn Stroll

After my recent outings at the crack of dawn to bag some low-light shots, it was nice to return to some afternoon photography on a mild Autumn day in Durham City. Not that much cloud kicking about to begin with, but very typically that would change as the afternoon turned into early evening.

Durham is a great place to visit during the Autumn season and the riverside pathways and walks are quite picturesque, offering plenty of colour when the sun hits against the trees. From a vantage point on Prebends Bridge overlooking the River Wear I spotted a break in the trees ahead of me, just off the river bank. I was drawn to this spot immediately as the ground was covered in golden brown leaves and I noticed a wooden bench in the middle of the plot. I suddenly imagined what view I would get if I were standing on that spot, looking towards Prebends Bridge where I was actually standing at that time. Only one way to find out so I got my arse into gear and headed across, passing a couple of elderly ramblers on the way. After reaching the spot the first thing that struck me was how quiet it was. I sat on the wooden bench for a minute or two and adjusted my camera settings, priming the toy for action. As I took my first couple of shots I was distracted by some movement to my left - a young couple walking along the path towards the bridge. They stopped behind me, looking straight ahead into my field of view and admiring it for what it was. A few whispers were going on and I got the distinct impression they fancied a bit of action - photography, that is!

Well, I got the shot I wanted so it was time to make tracks and head up towards Palace Green and the nearby Durham Castle. As I walked along the riverside path I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the young couple had nicked my position to take photo's of their own, he he. Aye well, it was worth it. I was probably one in a long line of folk who had been at the exact same spot at some point this Autumn, and no doubt not the last.

Ten minutes later I was amongst the people at Palace Green, a grassy area directly in front of Durham Cathedral. This was my main reason for visiting Durham today as I was after one particular shot of Durham Castle. Some idiot had parked a builders skip exactly where I wanted to take up position, so it was a case of pretending it wasn't there and simply working around it, compsing my shots the best I could . The house in the castle grounds was almost covered in red leaves, giving it that typical Autumn postcard appearance, but there were a lot of visitors kicking about, spoiling the shot. You need a lot of patience in these situations and especially when a pair of fishwives spark up conversation in the place where you least want them. Jesus, I must have waited a good fifteen minutes before they ran out of gas and buggered off, and when that eventually happened the sun went back in!!! Patience kicked in again as I noticed the clouds moving rapidly south - the sun would be out again within minutes. Whe-hey!

And it shone brightly, folks. I was just about to raise camera to eye when I noticed the pair of gasbags were walking back down towards the castle and bang-centre of my frame!!! I won't tell you what I was thinking at this point, he he. I quickly fired off a few frames and got out of there - relief - JOB DONE.

Before I knew it I was travelling back along the A690 towards Houghton. Although the sun was still quite high at this point I decided to pay a quick visit to Lumley Castle on the outskirts of Chester-Le-Street. The castle is tucked away in it's own grounds and is surrounded by tree's of all types, many of which have changed colour as Autumn reached its peak. I parked in the overflow just off the main drive and looked around for a spot to photograph from. I was drawn to a tree near the main lawn which was covered in golden brown leaves, just like the floor beneath it. Seconds later I was lying on the grass underneath said tree and focusing on the castle facade. The shooting angle was critical to the shot and the result I was aiming for - it worked well, as you can see here in the third shot.

As always, click on an image to reveal the enlarged version of it.

Thanks again for reading. I'll be back soon...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tyne-Tees Television - Parts 15 & 16

It's another video clip folks!
This is my fifteenth and sixteenth appearance of 2010 on Tyne-Tees Television's weather bulletin. This time it's a seascape, taken on the rocky foreshore at Dunstanburgh Heughs on the Northumberland Coast. Although it was a sunny day the conditions on the rocks were anything but ideal - I'll get swept away one of these days!

My photo appeared on TV the day after I submitted it, but it had been cropped (see clip one). Strangely enough they showed my original uncropped photo a few days later, which you can also see in the second video clip below.

Without further ado...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Sunrise, Littlehaven, South Shields

After my recent comeback in sunrise photography I was so pleased with the results that I just had to get out there again and get some more under my belt. Again it was decided that a visit to the north-east coast of England would be my best bet, so off I went. This time I shifted further up the coast from my previous sunrise shoot to a location in South Tyneside, a place called Littlehaven near South Shields. The harbour mouth is situated here and this is where the River Tyne meets the North Sea, with Tynemouth Priory sitting on the cliff edge directly opposite.

My visit wasn't a fruitful one to be honest. The sun was nowhere to be seen because of the thick cloud cover on the horizon, so I took a few shots just for the hell of it. The first shot (shown here) was one of my favourites from a half dozen half-decent ones. I used an ND grad to slow down the motion of the incoming tide, which is something I'm getting into a habit of doing more and more recently. Mind you, it seems to work quite well.

My second visit to Littlehaven was one of 'Unfinished Business' in a way. Not content with colourless photo's from my last visit a few days ago I was at it once again at the same spot. Today was a different ball game altogether. The sun came up shortly after 6am and it cast a brilliant orange hue over the water towards me. I was the only person on this stretch of beach near the Groyne Lighthouse which was a bit surprising considering what a lovely calm morning it was. Quite often you'll see dog walkers on the sand but today it was desolate. Never mind, I wasn't complaining.

Anyway, the second and third photo's on this blog entry were taken during my second sunrise shoot at Littlehaven and once again it was worth the effort in getting up very early to make it happen. I'm already planning another early start next week for more sunrise shots at Souter Lighthouse near Whitburn, Tyne & Wear. Let's hope I get another good one, eh.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Angel Delight

Hello again.
All of my recent photography has been either sunrise or sunset efforts, mainly due to the more convenient times when the sun appears and disappears at it's best. I'm not one for getting out of bed during the summer months at 3.00am to catch a sunrise - opting for a more sensible start during the later months of October onwards. As for sunsets, these times also vary, but at least you don't have too much inconvenience if the sunset isn't a good one.

It was early October 2010, Sunday evening and I was toying with a visit to the Angel Of The North, hoping for a decent sunset. I always tend to check the sky before making a final decision as this offers clues as to whether a potential 'Good one' is round the corner. A clear sky doesn't bode well for a dramatic sunset, although I've photographed a few decent ones - like this one.

Tonight there was a fair bit of cloud kicking about and I had high hopes of a visit that would be well worth the effort. The Angel Of The North is often the first place I visit when anticipating a good sunset. The location is entirely dependable on a good sky and a few visitors to include in the shot. I say this because everything else stays more or less the same during each visit. The static Angel obviously doesn't affect the shot but a sense of drama can be included by simply shooting from the best available angles. Being close up to the Angel and almost underneath it gives an impressive and dramatic angle to work from. I've found a couple of great spots to capture the sculpture and seeing the results in print just adds to the drama as the Angel towers above the lens.

During the year the sun sets in different positions along the horizon behind the Angel. This is ideal for photographers who can then capture the best angle of the Angel with the setting sun included in the shot. Because of the bright backdrop it's virtually impossible to balance the exposure and picking out detail on the sculpture itself, so a silhouette is normally the route to go down in such low-light conditions. From my main viewpoint I also had the silhoutted leaves on the nearby trees to add another dimension and these also 'Framed' the subject which was central in the finished shots.

Moving on to the subject of people - another important element in the shots. If you haven't visited the Angel Of The North you may well be unsure of its size. Scale is important in this type of shot as it answers the question by simply glancing at the photograph. Of course you don't get an exact size by comparing a persons size to the Angel itself, but you get a rough idea of what we're talking about.

There's been the odd occasion when I've visited the Angel and there's been hardly anyone else around. Not exactly ideal if you're wanting extra's in the shot. I was lucky tonight though as people were coming and going at regular intervals so all I needed now was that bit of drama in the sky - the main event, so to speak. The sun was very low as I took my first shots in continuous shooting mode and this gave me a batch of shots that I could cherry-pick from, singling out the best ones. A couple of lads passed me as they walked the path towards the Angel - I was now off and running.

Once the sun had set it was then a waiting game. The clouds above started to change colour and within a few minutes the sunset I had hoped for was right in front of me. Everything was in place by this time and the visitors were still offering that bit extra to my shots. The silhouetted extra's came in the shape of people, bicycles and dogs, but my favourite shot of the Angel included a young mother holding her young child, beneath the Angel itself. The silhouette was captured just as I had intended, with the mother looking at her young child during the dramatic burst of colour that lasted around ten minutes in total.

This was without doubt the best sunset I've witnessed at the site of the Angel Of The North. I'm now looking forward to sending some of these images to print and displaying them at their best - probably on A2 canvas.

I've lost count of the times I've made the fifteen minute car journey to the Angel Of The North, hoping for a dramatic sunset and not seeing one. The law of averages would probably state that I would eventually get my wish one day. Today was that day!
(click image to enlarge)


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Alarm Call - Time For Sunrise

Due to one thing or another I didn't attempt many sunrise shots last year, or the year before, as it happens. I remember a 5am start in Whitby not too long ago, in the hope of landing a few sunrise shots over the harbour, but that was about it.

It was time to put that right in 2010 as I tested my Canon 7D at low light once again. It had passed the test after dark on numerous occasions so now I wanted to get my first sunrise shots off my trusty little toy. Out came the tripod, the ND filters, the remote control...oh, and that big warm coat to keep the chill at bay. Having said that, it isn't even Autumn yet so the early morning temperatures aren't too bad compared to later months when Winter properly takes a hold.

The alarm clock went off at 4.45am, but who wants to get out of a warm bed at that time of morning eh. Aye, you've guessed it. A quick wash and a gob full of coffee then it was out of the door and away. The destination was local, very local, and twenty minute drive to the coast of Sunderland saw me parking up near Roker Yacht Club. The north sea was very calm and a mixture of clear sky and cloud cover gave me an indication that it might be a good sunrise. Of course, it was still early as I always set off with plenty of time to spare - there's nothing worse than turning up during a dramatic sunrise/sunset and missing the action by the time you've set your gear up.

The highlights on the horizon gave very strong clues as to where the sun was going to rise so it was then a simple case of picking my spot, and a foreground including Roker Lighthouse seemed the best bet all round. Anyway, I headed out onto the rocks to take up position as the incoming tide calmly swirled around my feet. I managed to get onto a concrete ramp but it was rather slippy and I didn't fancy going 'Arse over tit' so I stopped for a second and dropped the legs on my tripod. It comes in handy and doubles up as a walking stick now and again - I think it's known more commonly as improvisation, he he. And it certainly did come in handy, as I needed to get off that ramp quickly because the colours in the sky were now starting to show. I was now walking slowly to a spot just in front of me near the rocks - it was just what I wanted. I was stepping across the rocks that were covered in sea weed but it gave me extra grip, which helped a lot.

So, here I was and my gear was set up as the pinky-red hue in the sky got brighter and more colourful by the minute. Mirror lock, a four second exposure at f16, followed by a remote trip of the shutter and I was up and running. It was a good one alright - a mixture of warm colours with those dark rocks in the foreground. A few night fisherman were in position on Roker Pier in the background, especially near the lighthouse, and were seeing a fine sunrise in front of them.

Once the colours had burned out it was time for the sun to rise on the horizon behind the pier. I fired off a couple of quick shots before packing up and making the short walk back towards the yacht club. It was near here that I switched lenses, opting for a 70-200mm affair to pull in the subject. The lens was on loan as it happens and I only had use of it for a couple of days so it came in very handy just when I needed it. A small boat headed out into the harbour and was tethered to an anchored sailing boat. A few minutes later the sails were set and it was on the move. This time, facing the bright light of the sun, the camera was hand-held and I was off and running once again, grabbing a few shots of the boat as it left the harbour.

I must have grabbed around fifty shots in total from various positions. Here are some of my favourites from my first sunrise session of 2010. It was great to be back!
Hope you like them.
Thanks for reading,

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Website Update (ashleycorr.com)

Hello again!
Just a quick one to let you know I'll be updating my website with new images over the next few days. During recent weeks my updates have mainly been in the form of new blog entries, right here, but that is about to change as I have a backlog of images that are ready to be uploaded.
So, stay tuned to recieve the upcoming updates over at http://www.ashleycorr.com/
My blog will still have its regular updates but my main website galleries will now take priority, and about time too. That's all folks!
Cheers, Ash

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Tyne Tees Television - Parts 12, 13 & 14

Yes, I warned you of a backlog!

Here's is the last bunch of weather clips for now. Cheers, Ash

1. Sandgate, Whitby, North Yorkshire
2. Before Sunrise, Roker Pier, Sunderland
3. Conversation Piece, Littlehaven, South Shields

Tyne Tees Television - Parts 9,10 & 11

And there's more...

1. Whitby Sunrise, North Yorkhire
2. Banks Of The Wear, Sunderland
3. Hawkshead, Lake District

Tyne-Tees Television - Parts 7 & 8

It's time to catch up witha backlog of Tyne-Tees TV weather clips which recently featured my photographs. There's quite a few to get through, dating back to Spring 2010, so I'll kick off with a few now to get the ball rolling.

The first clip features a night time shot of the 'Angel Of The North'. This was the very first low-light effort with my 'Then new' Canon 7D. The second shot is another low-light exposure, taken near the Blacksmith's Needle on Newcastle Quayside. Hope you like them.
Cheers, Ash

Broadway, The Cotswolds

Broadway is rightly proud to have gained the reputation and recognition for being ‘The jewel of the Cotswolds’. This picturesque village nestles beneath the Worcestershire hills of the Cotswolds. Today, Broadway attracts visitors from across the world – all drawn to the beauty and attractions of this quintessential English village. The wide main street (the ‘broad way’) is lined with red chestnut trees and historic honey-coloured buildings many of which date back to the 16th century. As well as it's wide street, Broadway's majesty is also a delightful mix of Tudor, Stuart and Georgian buildings. Broadway has a long and interesting history and there is documentary evidence of a settlement in this region dating as far back as Roman Times. This famous street was also voted the most beautiful street in the UK and on arrival it is clear to see why.

Broadway is lively and vibrant with an excellent range of unique shops and designer boutiques, restaurants and hotels but is also steeped in history. Over the centuries it has made its mark in many different ways. In the 1600's it was a major stopping place for the stage coaches that travelled between Worcester and London – with the world-renowned Lygon Arms remaining popular with travellers and visitors.

After parking up we walked through a small arcade which brought us out onto Broadway. And broad it certainly was! Olde worlde architecture greeted us as we made our way up the street before crossing the main road and heading back down the other side. The place wasn't as busy as expected, although quite a few coach trips were coming and going during our one hour stay.

Broadway Tower, which stands at 65 feet tall, watched over the main street and green
below. At 1024 feet above sea level this is the second highest point in the Cotswolds. From the top of the tower is one of England's finest viewpoints with 13 English counties to be seen on a clear day.

Ground level was the location of my photography today though. A wide lens would have suited me down to the ground today (no pun intended), but I had to settle with a standard 18-135mm job. It was up to the task, but photographing at closer quarters might have upped the game slightly, especially when getting close up to the fine detailed architecture itself. Here is a selection of shots from my debut visit to Broadway. A bit of mix n' match.