Saturday, 16 January 2016

Temporarily Out Of Action!

Aye, the roaming Mackem is on the sick list at the moment after a recent fall down the stairs at home. Been in a lot of discomfort for over a week now and the pain shows no signs of easing off. Still managing at work (just), with the help of pain killers, so after ten days of feeling like shite I think it's high time I was back to normal. Typically, I got an invite to travel to Glencoe for yesterday's sunrise, with Alan Cook and Mike Ridley. It was to be a start from the north-east, travelling through the night and climbing a mountain to photograph the sun rising. I can't seem to sit in a car for more than five minutes, never mind climb a mountain, so I had to turn down that opportunity. Impeccable timing, as per. Oh well, no time to sit and mope around - I 've done enough of that over the last few days. It's time to look forward to getting my back back, if that sounds right??? Jeez, these pain killers av got me heed spinning!

As for the accident - my heel slipped forward off the top stair. That's right folks, the TOP stair. I went down like the proverbial bag of shite and took a right old whack to the upper back, before sliding down on my arse with my head braying up and down off every stair. After what seeme like an eternity I reached the bottom, in a pathetic heap, buckled and almost in tears. I was winded and in shock. I even told the wife to stop laughing. Best part was...she wasn't even there, she was out shopping!!!  Maybe I said it because I'd done the same thing ten years previously as she stood over me laughing her titties off. Aye, there's nee sympathy for the Roaming Mackem, not a jot.

And on that note I shall leave you with a smile on your face. Me? In the words of Gloria Gaynor...I will survive.
At least for now.
Back soon, says he...


Friday, 15 January 2016

Facebook Photography Page Banners x2

A quick post on the subject of Facebook photography pages and their header banners. The photography pages I regularly visit often rotate their banner images every couple of weeks, usually with images captured by its members. Often the banner image is chosen as the winner of a competition on a chosen subject or theme. I've never had an interest in submitting my work in the past, nor do I feel inclined to do it in future. I'm more than happy to visit pages to browse the content, add my own and more often than not, leave my own comments. I was surprised recently when two of my images appeared on separate Facebook pages as banners. Obviously they were chosen randomly, as my shots caught the eye of the page admins, which is nice to know. Ah well, never a bad thing. That's all really - just a feeble excuse to update my blog once again as I'm trying to restore it to former glories by hitting the '70 posts per year' mark once again. That's one more ticked off (wink).


Surfed Up A Treat (Part 2)

Welcome back to the Ashley Corr Photography blog page - a roaming Mackem in the North-East of England. Today's offering comes in the shape of 'Surfed Up a Treat (Part 2), the sequel to my recent blog entry which brought you all the action from Seaham Harbour, County Durham. The first instalment covered all the action on the day, so all that remains is for me to deliver the public reaction on social media to the set of photographs that I uploaded to Facebook. I actually thought twice before uploading any photographs at all, to be honest, as I didn't think the photographs were any better than my previous efforts on the coast in similar conditions. As 2016 was only a few days old I decided to post the photo's regardless, as it would have been my first post of the new year. As well as posting them on my own Facebook page, I also posted them to 'Seaham Have Your Say' and 'Let's Talk Photography North-East'. The reaction was quite overwhelming, with over 1,000 likes and many positive comments, so the decision to post them was in fact a wise one.
In addition to this, one of my shots was used as the banner image on 'Let's Talk Photography North-East', which came as a surprise and a nice one at that. The icing on the cake was the appearance of the same shot on Tyne-Tees Television the following day - not bad for one hours work on the coast. I'd like to thank everyone again for the great support on social media, which is building as each day passes. THANK YOU!

Two weeks later and I'm still receiving orders for photo prints and canvas, all featuring the Seaham Waves. It's all good stuff! Right now I'm suffering from a bad back after a recent fall down stairs at home. Haway...don't laugh! It feels like I've been kicked all owa off a horse. Oh aye, can barely move at times. Can't be on with this. Had an invite for a night trip to Glencoe, Scotland today, which I've had to back heel because of my gammy back. Typical eh. Oh well, no time to cry over spilled milk. Onwards and upwards. Hopefully it won't be too long before I'm brushing the cobwebs off my camera. Now, there's a first!


Saturday, 9 January 2016

Surfed Up a Treat (Part 1)

Welcome back to the blog page of the wandering Mackem photographer. So far 2016 has been a complete washout as far as the weather has been concerned, with overcast skies and rain in abundance, so I'm far from surprised at the typical English weather January has delivered up to now. Photography isn't all about blue skies and a red hot sun, as any decent tog will tell you, it's all about capturing the moment in all weather, which is the beauty of my hobby - every season has something new to offer. Sunday January 3rd typified a miserable cold and windy day in the North-East of England. Looking out the window at home I saw nothing to get excited about, so after sitting down to a lovely Sunday roast I decided to park my backside once again and out came the ipad. I had a quick browse through Facebook and noticed a set of photographs by a local press photographer, Owen Humphrey's, who'd captured some big wave action at Seaham Harbour, a 15 minute drive from my home. At that point I thought about taking myself across there to see if the surf was still kicking hell out of the North Pier wall. Although I'd missed high tide by a couple of hours I still expected the show to be gathering momentum, so off I went with my Canon and telephoto lens.

It wasn't long before I arrived at the coast, swinging right after the Seaham Hall turn off and seeing how rough the sea was at Vane Tempest. I was most definitely in luck. I headed straight down to the harbour and parked near the end of the North Pier - a front row seat as far as entertainment goes. Well I wasn't gonna bag the shots I wanted from the car window and I had no intention of staying off the sand, so off I went, with tool bag and tripod for company. There was a few people dotted about on the small section of sand in the Harbour. At first I set my camera up on the tripod and aimed in straight at the lighthouse, which was clearly the focal point of the composition and a subject that was clearly receiving major abuse from the cruel North Sea. This was Mother Nature at her best, or worst, whichever side of the fence you prefer. Kids ran around on the sand in front of me, adding some much needed foreground interest. Weather photographs, especially in adverse conditions, are most eye-catching with an added human element, so it was my task to pull in a few action shots to depict an aspect of fearless photography. More on that later.

I ran off a few shots remotely, observing the waves and pressing the button when the big boys gave the pier a back-hander. What a sight! Only two days previously I witnessed a fine Aurora display by Mother Nature and here I was, literally a few hours later, watching her carve out some magic once again. A Canon 5D3 was used to pull in the shots, combined with a 75-300mm lens, which was ideal and up to the task in front of me. Focus lock on was instant, as it should be, and when more people showed up on the beach I took the camera off the legs and shot handheld for the remainder of the hour or so I was on location. I got chatting to a fellow photographer, Alan Cook, who I 'd met previously at Penshaw Hill, Sunderland. Great bloke and we had a laugh in between shots. Still running handheld, it was ideal, swinging the camera here, then there, not wanting to miss a slice of the action. The gloves were still at home though - not sure what I was thinking about there, but I do know my hands were heading towards Numb Street, a very long street at that. I was friggin' freezing!!!! What to do eh, other than grit ones teeth and suck a lemon.

Then the star turn arrived. Now, this had to be seen to be believed. A pair of adrenaline junkies from a local kayak club decided to wade in and compete with the surf. Oh dear, surely this was a David and Goliath scenario, with only one outcome. Me and Alan gave each other an odd look when the pair headed into the water, albeit for a very short time before being tipped out and onto their arses. Surely they were risking their lives! And this is where the fearless photography comes in. Their determination was to be admired, but that was easily overshadowed by the thought in my head that these two blokes had mentally lost the plot. I wondered whether it really was two blokes out there, or John & Ann Darwin, in disguise - click here for the connection.  It wasn't long before they attempted another entry, only to be thrown over once again, resulting in the pair giving up the ghost completely. A blessing in disguise, if ya ask me. How on earth they thought they'd beat the adverse weather conditions is beyond me. God loves a trier, but this was just plain idiotic!

After an hour of photography I called it a day and headed back to the car, where a nice cup of coffee was waiting. Very much needed. I sat in the car as I downed it and watched the last of the surf before heading back home. Later that evening I had a look through the shots on the back of my camera - they looked quite good, so it was mission accomplished. It wasn't until I viewed them on the laptop that I decided to post one or two on Facebook. I was a bit unsure at first, but decided to upload them as my first post of the new year. The response I received was very flattering and I was quite surprised, to be honest. I added a set of 5 shots to three different pages, which raked in over 1,000 likes, as well as many positive comments, which was very nice. The best thing though was witnessing such a spectacular show at Seaham Harbour. Mother Nature throws up some interesting events, with this being up there with the best of them. 2016 kicked off in fine style. Part 2 of this episode is coming soon. Stay tuned!
Thanks again for visiting my blog.


Friday, 8 January 2016

Welcome to 2016, Aurora Style!

Hot on the heels of my last blog entry is another Aurora experience to share on my blog page. The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, made it's last appearance of 2015 and a first for 2016, a spectacle that coincided with a firework display at midnight to see in the new year. And what an experience it was! Throughout the day of December 31st, Aurora prediction alerts were bombarding my mobile phone via an app, grabbing my attention once again. Being New Years Eve and all, any chance of getting out with the camera would usually be a bit tricky due to other commitments, but this time round no plans were made in advance, so a couple of hours were spent on the causeway at St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay, in anticipation of seeing a show that was worthy of a New Year's Eve/Day spectacular. And it certainly didn't disappoint. What a way to see in the new year. Does it get much better than this?

Well, once again it was a case of 'Suck it and see'. My last blog entry covered the 'Dunstanburgh Aurora Chase' that never really materialised, despite the KP8 predictions and the BZ reading hitting South in a massive way. So would the New Year;s Eve bash follow suit? Time to find out. Upon arrival I was amazed to see the car park almost empty, but when checking out the night sky it quickly beacame apparent as to why that was. The clouds were calling all the shots once again as the weather front ruled. At this point I'm thinking ' we go again, Dunstanburgh part 2'. The wind was strong too, as I stood at the causeway at high tide, looking across to the Lighthouse. A northerly direction held no clues at this point as to whether the Aurora was about to kick off. Above the horizon it was completely clouded out and I wasn't too impressed. another photographer showed up at this point - Jake Cook. We chatted for a while, which was the only option, before heading back to our cars to play the waiting game. It was nice to get out of the cold for a while, with the heaters on full pelt, checking Facebook for any Aurora sightings in the area. Twenty minutes passed and suddenly there was a loud knock on my car window. Why man.....ah neely shat me'sel!!!!!!  It was Jake Cook, I rolled the window down and he showed me a photo on his camera that he had just taken. The Aurora was showing. That was it. Leaving our cars behind we were back on the causeway within a matter of seconds!

Within twenty minutes a green glowing arc could be seen on the horizon, stretching across the sky behind the lighthouse. The camera was working at this point. Can't be missing any of the action eh. The word Aurora must have spread quickly, as car after car arrived at St. Mary's. It wasn't long before the place was crawling with photographers, all keen to bag a slice of the action. A few of them joined us on the causeway, including Alison Leddy, who I hadn't previously met but had seen many of her fine photographs on the TV and internet. I did have one previous 'encounter' with Alison back in 2014 - click here to find out all about it.

On the stroke of midnight the sky was filled with fireworks and everyone around wished eachother a Happy New Year. The noise from the fireworks added to the atmosphere as well as the obvious colour in the sky behind us. However, the midnight firework spectacle that was got out played by the Aurora to the north. What was the chance of that happening? This was undoubtedly the most eye-catching Aurora chase I've been involved in during my relatively short 18 months involvement in the game. It doesn't come any better than this - does it? And on that note I shallwith everyone a belated Happy New Year. All the best!