My photos are more often of castles, trees or making things rather than Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles, but as Cee was kind enough to choose my “Steps and Stairs” post from last week’s challenge as one of her Featured Bloggers, I thought I’d dig in my archives and create a response to this week’s Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles theme by way of a ‘Thank You’ 🙂
For Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week, we are looking at the ground. I often find the ground quite interesting because it is full of history.
The first image I’ve chosen shows an example of the Concretionary Magnesian Limestone on our North East England coastline. If you’re a geologist, you’ll certainly have heard of this well-known rock formation. The rocks were formed during the Permian period, over 250 million years ago, after rising sea levels flooded the adjacent sand dunes. The UK was still part of a large landmass at that time and lay just north of the equator. I always find it fascinating that we can just look down at the ground and look back so far into pre-history.
Another aspect of this particular spot that always strikes me as we walk across it, is the contrasts in texture. The sand is smooth, soft and usually cool, as the rising tide is normally casting its white foamy fingers across it. The Concretionary Magnesian Limestone is, by contrast, very rough. It really does look like concrete, with lumps of stone set into it, created entirely by the forces of Nature without any human help.
My second image is of the old road that runs through our woods. It still retains its old surface of local sandstone gravel, though some parts have been reinforced with newer limestone. Unsurprisingly, this road is known as the Stoney Road and a hundred years ago was the main road linking our village to a neighbouring one. We often walk along the old road when we go into the woods, to see the carpets of bluebells in Spring or the carpets of leaves in Autumn but it is also a cool green tunnel in high Summer. I’m sure this old road would have many tales to tell, if only the ground could talk!
As sometimes happens, I was browsing through some images looking for something entirely different when I spotted these two images I took when we were taking one of our regular woodland walks a few weeks ago.
The woods looked beautiful in their new Spring greens but what really struck me was the way the leaves and trees were casting their shadows in the bright afternoon sun. It was quite mesmerising to watch.
Cee has given us an open theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week so I thought I’d share my Spring shadows with you.
Textures appeal to our sense of touch as well as creating interest visually. I love natural materials and for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week I am sharing some of my favourite natural textures with you.
My header image shows the heavily textured bark of a Scots Pine tree. Tree bark is wonderful for touchable texture with different species providing us with everything from rough to smooth. This Scots Pine tree stands on one of our regular woodland paths so we can enjoy its textured bark as we pass by.
In our part of the country sandstone forms one of the geological layers and was used as a building material of choice for many centuries. The stone was normally quarried very locally to where it was needed, though often not much ‘quarrying’ would have been needed as there are many sandstone outcrops from where it would have been readily available. The sandstone in my photo has been hewn into large blocks and built into this fortified medieval manor house. Sandstone is another wonderfully touchable texture. For me, its rough surface speaks solidity and security.
Wood can have so many textures during its lifespan. In this decaying log the solid wood is gradually being broken down into soft and crumbly fibres. As it is decaying, the log provides us with lots of visual textures.
In Summer when we are out on a ramble and want a comfortable seat for our picnic lunch, we will often make bracken ‘cushions’ to sit on. As the year draws on into Autumn, the bracken turns brown and by Winter it lies on the ground like a cosy patterned blanket keeping the earth warm. In my image the light picks out the fronds of bracken that have been painted white with frost.
Seashore environments can exhibit a wonderful mixture of textures. Our North East coastline certainly provides a lot of interest through its flora and fauna and in its Magnesian Limestone rocks and geological features. The rocky coastline in itself has plenty of exciting visual texture but getting up close to some of those seashore rocks reveals more temptingly touchable textures … such as this smooth and leathery Knotted Wrack seaweed with its bumpy air bladders that clings to the rough limestone rock alongside the resting limpets hiding in their ridged shells and clamped firmly on the rocky surface waiting for the swish of the returning tide before they venture forth to feed.
To complete my texture tour I wanted to include a couple of my son’s images of fungi textures. He likes to be quite creative in his photography, so he often chooses unusual angles. I love the way he has managed to capture the texture in this worm’s eye view of the gills underneath the cap of this fungus.
Jelly Ear Fungus is a strange and fascinating fungus that we find growing on elder trees. When this fungus is freshly grown it is pliable with a slightly squishy texture and a soft downy covering. Its shape is often reminiscent of an ear with prominent veins … though perhaps an ear from some alien life form rather than a human!
We certainly experience lots of weather up here on our hillside overlooking the valley. Fascinating cloudscapes are a regular feature of our landscape. I love cloud-watching – I could watch them for hours. Big fluffy cumulus clouds often fill our Summer skies. I loved the light and shadow patterns falling on this cloudscape from the evening sun as the clouds sailed off over the woods. We sometimes spot dragons or dogs or mice chasing through the cumulus as it coasts across the sky. One day last Summer, an elderly neighbour pointed out a peacock with its tail feathers streaming out behind. It’s amazing what we can find in the clouds.
The low Winter sun is behind me in this photo, shining across the snow-covered meadow and up to the houses on the hill. I love the way the sun catches the undulations in the soft foreground snow – it reminds me of warmer days on sunny beaches.
We often complain about rain here in England, but a rainy day Springtime walk through the woods to the river is an absolute joy to the senses. The delicious earthy smell of wet woods combines with the sweet scents of rising sap and trees in flower. The rain awakens the river from its sleepy state and stirs it into urgent action. I love to watch the patterns in the swirling water and here the falling raindrops add their own perfect circles on the surface of the river.
Mist lends an air of mystery to our everyday landscapes. Our regular walk through the beechwood looks so different when the woods are cloaked in mist. I also find, with our view being shortened, it makes us focus more on those things close at hand that we can still see clearly, so sometimes we spot things we might otherwise have missed. We gaze into the murky distance and our imaginations create all kinds of imaginary shapes that vanish into the mist when we walk nearer. Misty day walks can be creatively inspiring, stirring ideas that lurk shrouded in mist in our mind’s eye.
We were delighted to be chosen by Cee as featured bloggers for our black and white challenge entry last week and when I saw Cee’s theme for her Black and White Photo Challenge this week was ‘glass’, I immediately remembered this very interesting visit we made to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.
The city of Sunderland in north east England has a proud heritage of glassmaking. The National Glass Centre stands on the banks of the River Wear at Monkwearmouth. On our visit to the National Glass Centre we were able to watch a demonstration of glass blowing.
The molten glass is held on the end of a metal rod and then skilfully the glass blower blows through the metal rod to inflate the glass globe. The glass globe is reheated and gradually shaped into its final form – in this case a vase. The glass vase being blown has a swirling pattern within it.
Lines and angles abound in the our built urban environments. The above urban ‘still life’ was captured by my son – he loves to spot quirky geometrics. This shot is packed full of lines and angles – from the intersecting lines of the paving stones and the edging angle of the grass, to the strong parallels of the bench and the deep toned angled shadows.
This is a fairly typical street scene in Newcastle upon Tyne city centre. The street and its lines of perspective lead your eye to Grey’s Monument in the distance. The buildings lining the street incorporate many lines and angles in their designs. The road itself offers its own take on lines, with the painted ‘No Parking’ and bus lane lines. The shadows add their individual angles to the scene.
The Stephenson Works here in South Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, are the preserved part of George and Robert Stephenson’s historic engineering workshops. It was in these Victorian workshops that their famous locomotives, “Locomotion” and “Rocket”, were built. The careful brickwork of the building and the uniform windows with their many small panes create a pattern of lines and angles. The steel chimney provides a focal point as it climbs the wall, developing its own angles as it goes. The fencing, ventilation grating and signage add further lines and angles to the scene.
The iconic arches of the Tyne Bridge span the river, linking Newcastle and Gateshead. This detail shot shows the lower stretch of the arch on Newcastle’s Quayside, as the steel structure dips below the road level. The Tyne Bridge design incorporates many lines and angles.
The natural world is so rich with patterns, from tiny patterns on leaves or insects to patterns in the landscape or even skyscapes. I have chosen a few of my favourite kinds of pattern for Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week.
The header image to my post is something I love to look out for on snowy winter walks. I love the way soft snow settles on every branch and twig and creates a snow image of the tree. This hazel has many slender branches creating a classic outline to this coppiced shrub. The criss-crossing twigs coated in snow are like sugar strands decorating a giant cake.
Ferns are fascinating in Spring. I love the way they gradually unfurl and stretch their out fronds. I can imagine them as circles of delicate ballet dancers dancing on the Springtime woodland floor, creating graceful patterns against the darker trees.
Shadows are another favourite of mine. I love the way light and shade create their own shapes and patterns. The angle of the sun here in early Autumn creates longer shadows and draws exaggerated patterns of the trees upon the path as we walk through the woods.
Sometimes we spot very striking patterns that have been built into our landscape. This wrought ironwork forms the fencing along either side of a narrow Victorian railway viaduct. I love the simple classical elegance of this pattern as it recedes into the distance. I think the Victorians were good at creating designs that were very practical yet aesthetically pleasing too.
Clues to an industrial history criss-cross our now-green-and-peaceful landscape in the form of old railways and waggonways. These old transport tracks now serve as walking and cycling trails by which we are able to explore a significant amount of the north east region and also further afield. Throughout much of the nineteeth century railways and waggonways abounded in our region, particularly to enable the transportation of coal. Many bridges were built either to carry the tracks across the steep-sided streams that are a major feature of our valley, or to allow established roadways to cross the newly-built railways. Some of these bridges were lost during the later decades of last century when rural railways were abandoned on a huge scale here in the UK, but fortunately many bridges survived and now form historical features of the walking and cycling trails.
Thinking about black and white for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week led me to remember and seek out images of some of these bridges I had collected a few years ago for another project.
The bridge in this first image carries the old road over what was the mineral railway line that carried coal from our village ‘pits’ down to the River Tyne. We often walk this way so we have seen it in all weathers. I think the snow seems to add something to the ‘by-gone era’ feeling of this Victorian stone-built bridge.
Only a short distance away on this same old railway there is another stone bridge, built in a similar style to the first. This one carried the single-track railway over a farm track that provided access to the fields and woods beyond. Now the bridge arch is largely filled with earth underneath, as on this stretch the old railway forms the boundary to a golf course. Unlike the first bridge which stands as a well-known landmark and proud historical reminder, this one is almost hidden away and overgrown.
It’s not a railway bridge, I know, but it is a nineteeth century construction and it was built to aid travelling, so I decided to include it in this post. There are several of these arched stone-built or brick-built culverts dotted around our woods. As with this one, the culverts were used to carry the streams underneath paths and tracks. Earth would have been embanked on top of the culvert to help level out the path as it passed over the steep-sided stream, making it easier to walk, ride a horse or transport goods by cart through this part of the wood.
Another Victorian railway line and another Victorian bridge. This lop-sided bridge still carries a farm road over the Derwent Walk Railway Path. No, it isn’t your eyes, or my dodgy photography [not this time!] … the bridge does slope downhill from left to right. This railway through the picturesque Derwent Valley formed the Consett branch line of the North Eastern Railway. Opened in 1867, it was a busy railway linking Consett to Newcastle, carrying passengers and goods. There are no rails on this track any longer but it remains busy as part of the C2C route of the Sustrans National Cycle Network – the C2C literally crosses the UK from coast to coast, east to west … or west to east depending on which direction you choose to cycle!
I’ve saved the biggest bridge until last! The Nine Arches Viaduct is one of those marvels of Victorian engineering at 500 feet long and rising 80 feet above the River Derwent. One of four viaducts along the Derwent Walk Railway Path, the impressive Nine Arches Viaduct only came to be built because the Earl of Strathmore refused to allow the railway to cross his land at Gibside on the south side of the valley. Looking underneath the arches of the viaduct, you can see where a ‘second’ bridge has been added to allow a second track to be laid along the route. There are some marvelous views to be had from this vantage point – perhaps I can show you another day.