All Saints

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It was a picture perfect scene – the night before!
The full moon, hanging low in a star laden sky, reflected perfectly in the water; the balance of light, colour and detail was spot on.

On this night – it just wasn’t quite there …. moon rise was an hour later, the sky was too dark and the stars were obscured by clouds and the light they reflected from nearby Salisbury.
All Saints Church Steeple Langford at night with reflections in the river

As I waited I listened to the gurgle of the river in the reeds, the haunting sound of tawny owls calling across the fields and the occasional ‘plop’ as water voles dropped into the river whilst the fleeting shadows of bats raced by.

Maybe not picture perfect – but a perfect night nonetheless!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

 

Who’d have thought it?!

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Apparently I’ve been blogging for five years now. I’m amazed …. I’m always complaining about not having enough time – but seriously – where did that five years go?!

WordPress’ notification has come at rather awkward time – I logged in to publicise my shiny new Instagram feed and now it seems a little churlish! Ah well ….
Thank you to all those who have taken time to look at my photographs and/or read my waffling; I hope you’ve enjoyed some of it enough to carry on …. and maybe see what I’m up to on Instagram too – or is that pushing my luck?! 😀

Noeline Smith Instagram launch

It’s taken a couple of false starts and I’m still muddling my way through with one or two issues still to resolve – not having a smartphone being one of them … I know, I know … ☺️

This first batch of photographs were taken last year but I never found time to do anything with them – there I go again!!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Farquharson evoked

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Joseph Farquharson (1846-1935) was a Scottish landscape painter whose evocative winter rural images are perhaps best known from Christmas cards. His many depictions of cattle and sheep in snow earned him the nickname ‘Frozen Mutton Farquharson’ and, to be honest, as I headed out recently he was the last thing on my mind!

Thick fog lay heavy in the valley, reducing my world to a circle of a few metres before blurring and disappearing altogether. The air, still and breathless, muffled the splintering of grass underfoot as indistinct rounded shadows slowly ghosted into sheep shape and dark ovals in the grass marked where they had lain before silently moving away to maintain a cautious distance and wary eye. Farquharson style image of sheep in a frosty field and sunrise through the fogAlmost imperceptibly the eastern sky began to flush a burnt orange as the sun crept into view. A blank, featureless disk, it slid through the trees and on upwards, bleaching all colour from the sky; as far as I was concerned it was still a perfect day but those few fleeting moments were magical – and worth missing breakfast for!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Winter harvest

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The holly tree in our garden has been a hive of activity recently, alive with birds making the most of the berries and, holding their own among the usual garden gangs, was a flock of redwings – one of our less common visitors.High key portrait of a Redwing eating berries in a holly tree

It has the dubious honour of appearing on the IUCN Red List. Created by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, this list identifies ‘near threatened’ species; their population having declined by more than 30% in the last ten years the redwing is considered to be at risk of extinction in the near future.

On a more cheerful note – this time last year I was lucky enough to spot a few tiny goldcrests ….

Goldcrest in a holly tree with berries

…. re-posted for no other reason than I like the photograph! 🙂

‘Tis the season of goodwill so here’s to a little more peace and understanding in this mixed up world ….

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Alhambra

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In 1832 Washington Irving wrote of the Alhambra: “How unworthy is my scribbling of the place?” – and the same rings true for me today.

Its potted history reads like a tragic romance; small fortress flowers into exquisite palace, suffers under the heavy hands of a Renaissance king and marauding army, descent to a den of iniquity before recognition of its worth and finally the relatively safe haven of UNESCO 1000 years later.

Now the most visited site in Spain it somehow rises above it all; the passing of centuries still whispering in the shadows as the crowds throng the courtyards and corridors. Trying to capture something of the beauty and atmosphere without the intrusion of selfie stick wielders proved quite challenging ….

Cobbled stone roots at the Alhambra

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Super moon

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A day early and at the eleventh hour I found myself with the only opportunity I was likely to get to photograph the super moon; ill prepared, ill equipped and short of time (not ideal!) I raced off to a nearby nature reserve. Any loosely laid preconceived plans were impossible and limited viewpoints forced a different approach whilst the moon was low in the sky …

Spider silhouette in front of the super moon

Super moon reflected in a lake

As it rose, the peachy colours faded, broken cloud moved in and a soft serenity settled in …

In reality these pictures could be of any full moon so, having been inspired, I’ll probably try to implement my loosely laid plans another time!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Exploring Jerez

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In the harsh light of day the back streets of Jerez can be a little unassuming, appearing to not offer much although there is always something there for the curious. At night they are transformed to a world of mystery and intrigue with time worn cobbles reflecting rippled pools of lamp light and each corner beckons you on.

Or was I influenced by an earlier visit to the Bodegas Tio Pepe?! 😀

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Shooting from the hip

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The September End to End trip we had planned was, for one reason or another, fated not to happen – as it seemed were the couple of hours photography I had in mind as we cruised through North Berwick late in the afternoon looking for somewhere to stay. The photographic opportunities were many and varied and, having lugged my unused kit for hundreds of miles, I was looking forward to putting it to some use in the busy little seaside town.

The anticipated spare time rapidly dwindled as we searched in vain for lodgings until finally striking lucky leaving town. With about 45 minutes to spare I grabbed my kit and rushed off towards the unseen stretch of coast – across the golf course and through the dunes to be greeted by a distant tide and jumbled mass of seaweed covered rocks; not quite what I had in mind! Denied the luxury of time that I usually prefer I was forced to make some quick decisions and ‘shoot from the hip’ – Craigleith Island caught my eye ….

Square format fine art image of Craigleith Island through the dunes

Square format fine art minimal image of Craigleith Island in the Firth of Forth

Surprisingly the hastily taken images turned out better than I could have hoped for – maybe every now and then we need to force ourselves to approach things differently ?!

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Millau Viaduct

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Life has been pretty chaotic recently; a few weeks ago we returned from a brief tour through France and Spain and I’m still struggling to find the time to sort through my photographs 😦 Apart from too many photographs (!) one of the downsides of touring is that you’re never in the right place, at the right time, with the right light – and our visit to the Millau Viaduct was a case in point.

From afar, the viaduct had the delicacy of a cobweb spanning the Gorges du Tarn and lost nothing, in spite of its enormity, as we approached. The piers soared effortlessly into a flawless blue sky carrying a thin ribbon of tarmac on fans of gossamer threads and, whether traffic or an unfelt breeze through the higher structure, I couldn’t tell but I realised that it hummed gently when I stopped to listen. With my photographic opportunities limited by time and light I struggled to capture its enigmatic beauty and have been left with a mass of unfulfilled ideas running through my mind ….

High contrast, fine art B&W photograph of the Millau Viaduct

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

Behind the image …

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I was recently introduced to Light; founded in 2013, their raison d’être is the approach of camera technology from a new perspective, aiming for DSLR quality from a compact camera through the innovative use of 16 lenses and folded optics. I was asked if I would write about my favourite photo for inclusion in their Vantage Point project. Now that’s a challenge! How to choose your single favourite photograph …. it got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that our favourite photographs aren’t necessarily our best and often aren’t even necessarily the photographs themselves but the events surrounding their making and the memories they hold.

So – to the story behind the image ….
Stonehenge is arguably one of the most famous monuments in the world, seen by millions of people, either in ragged groups encircling the stones or as part of the interminable traffic crawling by. For many it probably doesn’t live up to the hype but I have a soft spot for the stones and, living close by, always have an eye open for new photographic opportunities. Such a chance came about six years ago when the UK had its coldest December since records began and heavy snow blanketed the country. Apart from an occasional abandoned car the snowbound A303 was empty and Stonehenge was deserted, closed until further notice. Without the belittling ring of day trippers the stones were magnificent; their presence dominated the landscape and beneath the shawl of snow draping their shoulders they revealed their true colours – shades of pink, purple, blue and green. I circumnavigated the site looking for alternative perspectives, pushing through drifts and stumbling into unseen hollows; the carpet of snow transforming the wider landscape, revealing subtle shapes and textures usually lost in a collage of green. With a little poetic licence I found myself lost in a simpler past, the sense of the unknown, the magic and mystery sending a thrill down my spine and the photos I took still rank high among my favourites; their quietness and graphic simplicity standing the test of time. Having to choose only one for this post I didn’t go for the obvious option of Stonehenge itself but rather the more quirky ‘Bird on a wire’ ….

Musical score written by birds on a wire in the snow
Joni Mitchell sang of the song outside her window where the traffic wrote the words; the A303 is less of a song, more a droning druid like incantation that drowns all other sounds but on this day it was silent, outdone by the crackling, guttural calls of these rooks, dotting the fence like a music score. Their fractured voices, carrying clearly across the snow, embodied the singularity of this day. This was an impulsive photograph of a chance encounter that I was lucky enough to capture and more so to experience, that lives with me still and instantly takes me back to that day.

And I guess that’s where Light is positioning themselves; a DSLR quality camera always to hand for those chance encounters that ultimately are so much more than an image.

(All images are copyright to Noeline Smith)

EXIF data: Nikon D700, ISO 200, 1/60s, f14 at 300mm, RAW