Late summer photo potpourri

Late summer photo potpourri

I’ve not managed to come up with a particular theme for this post so instead I’ve put together a selection of of images I’ve taken from mid-August through September. Hopefully it still proves interesting! The image above shows Midgley Moor in Calderdale, West Yorks with the heather blossoms at their peak. Quite a magical sight, especially around sunset.

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Sunlight through stained glass always looks beautiful, I like the symmetry of the little windows here.

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A lovely saddle tank engine pulling out of Bolton Abbey station.

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Another shot from Bolton Abbey station, this time of the slightly grungy side of an old diesel, proudly showing its old British Rail logo.

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This was a lucky shot. I’d just sat down to have a cup of tea and scone with a friend, when this little visitor settled on the wall beside our table. Luckily I had the camera out on the table with the 60mm attached and was able to snap a few shots including this one before the robin flew away.

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2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1st World War. A local commemoration was this sand statue at the Hebden Bridge town hall titled “Grief is Eternal”. Showing a weeping widow who has received the news of the loss of her husband in the war.

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A line of old grouse shooting boxes up on the moor with a sea of heather behind.

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A cairn (stone pile) overlooking the valley from the edge of Midgley Moor.

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One more shot from Midgley, this one showing a curious tiny little reservoir at the far side.

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September saw a weekend getaway to my old hometown of Aberystwyth in mid Wales. This shot was taken wandering around the marina, an area I’ve always found fascinating.

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A lovely little narrow gauge heritage railway runs the hills from Aberystwyth through to Devil’s Bridge. This is a detail of the bumper at the front of the engine.

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Finally here’s a night shot of Hebden Bridge, taken from the old packhorse bridge looking towards the town hall and Innovation Mill.

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Autumn in the Valley

Autumn in the Valley

The seasons are distinct here in Yorkshire, during autumn the valleys become full of a beautiful array of hues as the leaves and moors change colour. The images here are all from my X-E1, mainly using either my trusty 60mm f2.4 or newly acquired 18mm f2. There are a couple shot with my 50mm Takumar as well.


X-E1 60mm, f6.4, 1/105 sec

The grasses and reeds on the moors change colour throughout the seasons, here augmented by drifting clouds of mist. It’s amazing quite how quickly the mist moves and changes, in the time it takes to walk a short distance to recompose a shot the mist can have completely cleared an area.


X-E1 50mm Takumar, f5.6, 1/300 sec


X-E1 50mm Takumar, f5.6, 1/250 sec

This shot and the one above were taken in Cragg Vale which had just seen its first light dusting of snow for the winter up on the hill tops. The densely wooded hillsides positively glowed in the bright morning sunshine.


X-E1 18mm, f8, 1/125 sec

The low winter sun can make even mid-afternoon feel more like golden hour. The long shadows it creates can also be a nice element in your photos. I liked the contrast here between the increasingly leafless trees and the almost spring-fresh look of the grass.


X-E1, 60mm, f5.6, 1/110 sec

Some interesting trivia here, in the shot above the walled area with the railing is actually an old and long forgotten graveyard. Once attached to Mount Olivet Baptist chapel. It contains a small jumble of overgrown headstones from the late 1800’s.


X-E1, 18mm, f8, 1.8 sec

Many of the valleys around here used to have their rivers harnessed to power mills, as such you’ll see many weirs, walls and mill ponds about. Sadly the mills themselves are in most cases rarely evident anymore save for the odd wall or chimney left standing.


X-E1, 60mm, f5.6 1/950 sec

Heptonstall Festival 2013

Heptonstall Festival 2013

On September 21st the West Yorkshire village of Heptonstall hosted a fantastic festival with various live acts and stalls selling local food. With my pro photographer friend Craig Shaw, I spent about 8 hours walking around taking photos armed with my X100 and X-E1. My go to lens for this kind of event is Fuji’s fabulous 60mm f2.4. It’s often maligned as being too slow to focus but I generally find it works a charm, especially with the most recent firmware update making it far faster. With its lovely smooth bokeh and decent reach, it’s ideal for capturing portraits. I’ve also been trying out the fabled 35mm f1.4, although I’m still not sure if it will earn a permanent place in my gear bag.

DSCF1819X-E1, 35mm f5.6, 1/640 sec

Heptonstall is the quintessential little Yorkshire hill-top village, with beautiful old buildings and narrow cobbled streets. Yet it has thus far managed to avoid becoming overly touristy like nearby Haworth. At the centre are two large churches, the oldest of which is now a well preserved ruin. That ruin formed the main stage for the days events.

X-E1, 35mm f2.8 1/850 sec

With a strong family element to the festival, an Alice in Wonderland themed parade and Mad Hatter’s tea party were part of the lineup. There were performances from  local school children and CBeebies TV celebrity Mr. Bloom. Two actors enthusiastically portrayed the Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit.

X100 23mm f5.6 1/170 sec

Various musicians played for the crowd including several bands. The nice thing about small festivals is that you’re often able to get very close to the performers so you’re not reliant on monstrous zoom lenses or a press badge to get some of the action.

X100 23mm f2, 1/320 sec

The X100’s 23mm  lens feels incredibly wide after you’ve been shooting with 35 and 60mm. It forces you to get much closer to your subject which can lead to more interesting compositions. I’m quite pleased with how this shot of guitarist James Paul turned out. The X100 actually performs very well wide open at f2 for portraiture.

X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/320 sec

X-E1, 60mm f2.4, 1/1600 sec

The 60mm has lovely bokeh and avoids the fringing you see around highlights on the 35mm wide open. The 35 comes into its own in darker conditions like inside the White Lion pub where I took the shot below.

DSCF1926X-E1 35mm f1.4  1/100 sec

X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/70 sec

Dull lighting on the main stage during the day meant a bit of post processing was required to lighten performer’s faces and make things appear less flat.

X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/125

X-E1, 60mm f2.4 1/100 sec

Nizlopi gave a rousing performance as it began to grow dark – a true test of the 60mm and X-E1’s autofocus system. Both performed well. The fairly dim LED spotlights didn’t do much more than add a bit of colour to the performers so quite a bit of brightening was required in post to make things pop. When shooting in these kinds of conditions I recommend switching over to manual or shutter priority and choosing the minimum shutter speed you feel will deliver you sharp results. With the 60mm I try and stay at 1/100 at a minimum.

Project: Alexandra Shed

Project: Alexandra Shed

Shed is rather a diminutive term, but Alexandra Shed was the last remnant of Hawksclough Mill. A large cotton (or woollen) mill on the edge of Mytholmroyd on the bank of the Rochdale Canal in West Yorkshire, that had stood there since the mid-1800s. When I saw it was starting to get demolished I realised I had a unique opportunity to preserve a little bit of West Yorkshire’s industrial heritage through my photography. All shots taken from public rights of way.

X-E1, 18mm f5.6 1/550 sec

The mill from the canal side, showing the oldest part of the remaining mill building. The part demolished chimney just pokes up above the roof at the rear. The old mill chimney had been taken down while the building was still in use, presumably for safety reasons.

X100, 23mm f4 1/80 sec

From the road side you could look in on the part of the building that saw the most recent use with what appears to be a little old stock left behind from the former blenders and slitherers.

X100, 23mm f5.6 1/90 sec

X-E1, 60mm f5.6 1/40 sec

The view further back in the building is revealed as the demolition crew work back from the road side. That rear wall is part of the original 1800s mill building. Note the old windows and doors had been blocked off.

X100, 23mm f5.6 1/40 sec

From the canal side at the base of the chimney where part of the rear wall had collapsed. Note the old pulley wheel on the collapsed wooden framework.

X-E1, 60mm f5.6 1/240 sec

I’d hoped they might repurpose the old mill building once the more recent part had been stripped away, but sadly it too came down brick by brick.

X-E1, 8mm f8 1/150 sec

The building had been derelict for quite some time and part of the back wall had collapsed, allowing nature to start to reclaim the land.

X-E1, 60mm f5.6 1/125 sec

X100, 23mm f5.6 1/90 sec

X-E1, 60mm f5.6 1/125 sec

With the middle of the building ripped away the well worn staircase is in plain view. Note the fold down side boards that presumably made it possible to raise or lower carts without needing a lift. You can see a mangled cart in one of the early shots above.

Today nothing of the old building remains apart from a 1 story high wall composed of the old mill’s rear wall. Where it had collapsed its been repaired with reclaimed stone. The old windows and doors all bricked in. Now Alexandra Shed is just a memory for those who once worked there and who passed it in their daily travels. If you know anything more about this old mill I’d love to hear from you, get in touch.

Armley Mills

Armley Mills

Spinning Mule, 23mm, f4, 1/20 sec

 This past weekend I had the opportunity to explore Armley Mills, an industrial heritage museum on the outskirts of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. With a plethora of old machinery preserved inside including the amazing spinning mule, pictured above, the mill is a treasure trove. It was fairly dark inside and with bright sunlight streaming in through the windows, exposure was a little challenging, that said the overall light was wonderful. The muted colours inside and strong contrast lent itself beautifully to black and white. All pictures were captured with my X100.

Bobbins, 23mm, f2, 1/125 sec

Working the Mule, 23mm, f2.8, 1/125 sec

Empress Works Pully, 23mm, f2.8, 1/60 sec