Thursday, 27 September 2012

Guardian Angel - The Book Cover

It's always nice to see my photographs printed in publications, such as magazines, brochures and leaflets, so it was a nice suprise to be approached recently by someone who enquired about using my 'Guardian Angel' photograph on a book cover...

Dear Ashley Corr,
I'm an academic living in Durham, just about to publish a book based on interviews with families in the North-East around education and social mobility, with the publisher Sense. I've been searching for a relevant photo for the cover and came across your beautiful photo, called 'Guardian Angel' on the BBC Tyne website - under Northumbrian icons. Is there copyright on this photo? Will I be able to use it as a book cover? I preferred your image of the Angel of the North to any of the ones on the free photo databases because of the family in shot. It also captures the Angel at a great angle. Since my book is about family narratives of education in the north-east it will work really well I think.I'm happy to send you further details if you'd like and a mock-up of the cover when it's produced. I can also talk to the publisher about mentioning you as the photographer.

Let me know what you think.
Many thanks, Laura

Dr Laura Mazzoli Smith
Visiting Fellow
Institute of Education
University of Warwick
After further correspondance with Laura, I then sent her my 'Guardian Angel' photograph, which was in turn forwarded to the publisher (Sense), who are now in the process of putting the whole project together. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy, soon!
I'll keep you posted on any developments.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Weekend Photographs

A mixed bag of photographs that were taken this weekend. I had a bit of spare time and took the opportunity to get out locally and visit some of my favourite locations. The first shot (shown below) was taken on Friday evening at Rainton Meadows, Houghton-le-Spring, and features a pair of Mute Swans at Sunset. The weather on Saturday afternoon was ideal so I paid a visit to Penshaw Monument, followed by Lumley Castle near Chester-le-Street. Then, just before Sunset I visited the Angel Of The North, where I managed to catch the last colours in the sky as the light began to fall.

Here are the results - click to enlarge.
Back soon,

Thursday, 20 September 2012

West Coast Of Scotland - Part 4

Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle Of Lochalsh

The final instalment of my recent trip to Scotland comes in the shape of one of the countries most famous and much photographed castles - Eilean Donan, near Dornie, one of the focal points of the Kyle Of Lochalsh. To familiarise yourself with the exact location of this castle, click here for a map. You'll get an insight as to how many road miles I covered to reach my destination, but it was as picturesque as I could have imagined as I made the 66 mile trip north from Fort William to Dornie. A few stop-offs on the way broke up the journey - these being brief photograph opportunities at such places as Spean Bridge, Glen Garry, Loch Cluanie and Morvich. The weather was kind, so I intended to take advantage - my first real visit to Scotland and there wasn't a hint of rain in the air. Infact,  by the time I reached Morvich, which was only 7 miles from Dornie, it was sun all the way, and big temperatures! I entered the burial ground, briefly chatting to an American couple on my approach - the place was silent - just the sound of occasional traffic on the main road nearby where I parked up. Morvich Burial Ground, or Clachan (klockan) Duich (duhie) is the ancient church and burial ground of the MacRaes of Kintail. Located near the banks of Loch Duich, and a few miles south of Eilean Donan Castle, Clachan Duich has been in existence for at least 1,000 years and probably was in use three centuries earlier. Surrounding the ruins of the old church lie MacRae ancestors in graves marked and unmarked—some of them clan heroes and warriors, some of them simple folk of the Highlands. Clachan is the Scottish Gaelic word for “stones” and is used throughout Scotland to describe a village built of stones. Duich is name of the nearby Loch and is derived from the Scottish Gaelic term for St.Dubhthaich, or St. Duthac, a venerated religious figure. To view a selection of 'Morvich' photographs, click here for my West Scotland Slideshow - you'll find a few in there, with accompanying music written by Mike Oldfield. 

Out of Morvich and back on the road, I made the relatively short journey to Dornie, home of Eilean Donan Castle. This was the highlight of my short tour of Scotland, and a location that I'd waited a long time to visit. I drove through Dornie and the excitement level increased as I caught my first site of the castle. There it was, sitting on an outcrop at the edge of Loch Alsh, with the Isle Of Skye in the distance. It was a landcape scene that was just waiting to be picked off, and I was ready to park up and hit the ground running, so to speak. There were dozens of like-minded tourists, snapping away and taking in the scenery as the sun shone hard. A free car park! Bleedin 'eck - who said the Scots were a mean bunch? Lots of foriegn folk around, standing mesmerised next to a lone piper, who was busking near the bridge entry to the castle, and raking in the coin judging by the contents of his leather case! I threw in 50p, a kind of 'Thankyou' for letting me fire off a few frames, with the castle as a backdrop. I got my 'Ten Bob' worth - too right, no short change for the roaming photographer!

I photographed from either side of the bridge, although the most photogenic of the two was where the sun was bouncing off, so I was quite lucky there - perfect timing upon arrival. Here is a small selection of shots, with extra's currently showing on my slideshow (click link above). And that just about wraps up my Blog of West Scotland. Hope you enjoyed the ride. Where oh where will I end up next?

Totty Bye,

Sunday, 16 September 2012

West Coast Of Scotland - Part 3

Castle Stalker, Appin
It was day two of my tour of Scotland's West Coast, and after a flat sunrise at Oban I drove north on the A828 towards Loch Creran. It was 8am and there was very little traffic to contend with, so I covered a lot of road, with no delays. I passed Benderloch and the Scottish Seabird Sanctuary, with Barcaldine now appearing to my right, and Loch Creran to my left. Once over the Creagan Bridge, Castle Stalker was right in front of me, appearing almost from nowhere as I negotiated a blind summit near Appin, North Argyll. I slowed down, not wanting to miss my turn as I looked for an access path to the castle, which was now to my left down a hill. Then, just ahead of me I noticed a signpost which directed me to Castle Stalker View Cafe, which had its own viewpoint - just what I was looking for. I pulled into the empty car park, and although the cafe wasn't open yet I took advantage of the access path to the viewpoint, where Castle Stalker could be seen from above the trees below me. Although it was dry the light was poor, offering very little to my photographs, but as this was my first ever visit to Stalker, I was just glad to be here and to see this typical Scottish scene unfold in front of me. And typical it certainly was, with Castle Stalker, the Island of Lismore, Loch Linnhe and the Morvern Hills in the distance. As I lifted the camera to take my first shot I could hear the sound of cackling Geese. I managed to capture their V-formation as they flew by, which was a stroke of luck and it certainly added a little extra to the shot (shown here). I stood for a while, wondering whether I should make an attempt to get closer to the castle, as I wasn't content with a handful of shots from one angle only, but there was a thick wooded area directly in front of me and down the bank, with no footpath or designated route to Castle Stalker. I decided to pack up my gear and head back to the car, settling for the shots I managed to pull in at the viewpoint.

Back on the road I drove in a North-Easterly direction, continuing my journey on the A828, with Loch Linnhe to my left. Loch Linnhe is about 31 miles long. It opens onto the Firth of Lorne at its south-western end. The part of the loch upstream of Corran is 9 miles long and only about an average of 1.2 miles wide. The southern part of the loch is wider, and its branch which lies to the south-east of the island of Lismore is known as the Lynn of Lorne. Loch Eil feeds into Loch Linnhe at the latter's northernmost point, while from the east Loch Leven feeds in the loch just downstream of Corran and Loch Creran feeds into the Lynn of Lorne. The town of Fort William, my next stop-off,  lies at the northeast end of the loch, at the mouth of the River Lochy. It wasn't too long before I dropped anchor at Fort William, grabbing a nice cup of coffee from McDonalds and supping it whilst studying my AA Road Atlas to see how much road I had covered, and more importantly, what lay ahead of me. A rough calculation told me I had covered 44 miles since I set off from Oban, but there was quite a drive ahead of me if I decided to travel further north to the Kyle Of Lochalsh, location of Eilean Donan Castle, near Dornie. I sat for a while - should I, shouldn't I? I 'd seen photographs of this famous castle on many a biscuit tin, amongst other things, but I wasn't sure whether to drive another 66 miles to grab photographs of my own. It seemed a bit daft to come all this way and not go the extra mile (or 66 to be precise) to see Eilean Donan for myself. I took one look out of the car window, seeing clear blue sky and bright sunshine - my decision was made! Off I went, feeling quite excited at the prospect of what lay ahead, including other places en route that I may discover, and that I did.

Eilean Donan Castle is now on my radar...
Coming next.
Cheers, Ash

Friday, 14 September 2012

West Coast Of Scotland - Part 2

Glencoe & Loch Leven

Welcome back to my Blog page - thanks for visiting!
The Scottish tale continues as I recall my recent travels across the border and share with you some of the photographs I captured on location. From Glen Etive and its forest, in Argyll & Bute, I headed the short distance to picturesque Glencoe.

Glencoe Village is the main settlement near Glen Coe, Lochaber, Highland, Scotland. It lies at the north-west end of the glen, on the southern bank of the River Coe where it enters Loch Leven, a salt-water loch off Loch Linnhe. Glencoe is the most famous and perhaps most impressively dramatic of all Scottish glens, the perfect scenic match for its dark history of the massacre of the Macdonalds. For walkers, this is a true Mecca, epitomised by pyramid of Buachaille Etive Mor, the guardian at the entrance to the glen. The highest peak is the great multi-summited massif of Bidean nam Bian whose three great buttresses rise impressively above the road and are known as the 'Three Sisters', whereas the north wall of the glen is the turreted and notorious ridge of the Aonach Eagach. Just to the south is the much quieter and secluded Glen Etive, with its own ranges of impressive mountains (which I visited and wrote about on my last blog entry). North and east of Glencoe is Loch Leven, with the town of Kinlochleven at its eastern end nestled beneath the great mountain range of the Mamores. My visit was a rather short one, to be honest, as heavy rain was forecast, and judging by the deep grey skies above, it was going to hoy down at given moment! I'd heard so much about this place that it dawned on me that I wouldn't see it anywhere near its best, due to the lack of light, which threw a blanket of dullness over the whole landscape that sat in front of me. Nevertheless, this place had real potential for those stunning landscape shots, so let there be no doubt whatsoever that I'll be back again soon, hopefully in totally different conditions. Despite the fact it was early evening there was no-one around as I stood at the waters edge taking photographs. Just the noise from passing vehicles on the road behind me was all I could hear - this place was ideal to chill out. Water was calm, just a handful of boats were anchored on the loch near the jetty where I stood. I wasn't snap happy - just grabbed four shots before heading off to another location. Light began to fall, so it was time to head to my hotel in Oban and to start thinking about food (no surprise there then). Haggis and Chips was on the menu, inside my head - it was now time to do something about it. All this mileage and regular pit-stops equate to one rumble tum. Time to silence it.

That is all.
Next Stop, Castle Stalker...

Ta ta, Ash

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

West Coast Of Scotland - Part 1

Glen Etive

My first 'Real' visit to Scotland happened during the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2012. I say 'Real' because this was the first time I travelled past either Glasgow or Edinburgh - two major Cities, and a far cry from the Mountains and Lochs that represent true Scottish scenery. As far as the landscape is concerned, it doesn't get much better than this for a photographer in the UK, so my eyes were well and truly opened to the natural beauty that greeted me during my recent visit. Equipped with all the necessary tools, including a rather bulging Goody Bag (prepared by Mrs Corr), I travelled north, across the border through Otterburn and heading towards Jedburgh. The weather was awful, but the forecast had reassured me that later today I would see an upturn in fortunes, with much brighter weather ahead. The following day (Sunday) was the purpose of the whole weekend - a full day of sunshine, blue sky and broken clouds, just what I was looking for. But would the weather forecast be inaccurate, or on the mark, only time would tell. Heading west from Edinburgh the rain worsened and driving conditions were very poor, to say the least. My first pit-stop was a service station not far from Falkirk, at which point I began to ask myself whether this trip was a good idea, and maybe I should play safe and head back home. Conditions were so bad that I thought there was very little chance that the weather forecast was going to be right - the skies were almost black and it was typical 'Rain all the way' for a place like Scotland. I made the decision to drive on, making the journey further north towards The Trossachs and Loch Lomond.  

Some time later, as I passed through the town of Callendar, there was a very noticeable change in the weather. Temperature was up and gone was the rain - there was even a break in the clouds and the first blue sky of the day presented itself. Things were definitely looking up. Chomping away at the contents of the Goody Bag, I was soon driving past the banks of Loch Lomond, to the chill-out sound of Schiller - perfect soundscapes to match the landscape. By this time I had driven through some picturesque villages and towns, as well as great countryside, getting a small sample of what hopefully lay ahead en route to Argyll & Bute. Heading north on the A82, I ticked off Glen Falloch, Tyndrum and Bridge Of Orchy, before passing Loch Tulla and Black Mount, and by now I was ready for my first stop to unload the camera. The dominating, and rather intimidating site of Buachaille Etive Mor was directly ahead of me on a very long and straight stretch of the A82 - it was here that I took a left turn and followed the signpost for Glen Etive, a place that had been highly recommended to me by Beely Bootleg (Scottish traveller and music download guru - sells biscuits too!). The road I now found myself on was a single track affair, probably laid during the Battle Of Culloden, but it came with staggered passing places, which help the likes of me who was covering it for the very first time. There was barely a soul around. The place was peaceful and desolate as I drove the winding path through Glen Etive, towards the forest and the end of road at Gualachulain. I stopped to photograph a waterfall (shown here), before leaving my car for the second time to photograph a lone tree at the end of Loch Etive - this scene was calling out to be photographed, so here it is, a great example of the Scottish Landscape.

I was attacked by thousands of Midgey's whilst photographing my surroundings. It was now that I realised I forgot to bring the repellant spray, and how did I regret this as the weekend wore on! But battle on and stop being a pussy.

Next instalment - Glencoe...coming soon...