Technological Failures…..

A few years ago, doing some work in Manchester Cathedral, I had my camera on a tripod, with a wide angle lens attached – I was behind the main altar, with one tripod leg on the top step, and the other two on the step below.  It was a long exposure, and I was using a wired trigger, attached to the camera.  

I took the photograph, and then stepped back, forgetting that I was one step up – as I fell backwards, my arms flailed out sideways, and I didn’t let go of the trigger.  

I watched, as in slow motion, the camera, atop the tripod slowly fell over to my left.  The crash as it all hit the marble flooring resounded round an otherwise quiet and peaceful place….  The camera hit the floor, and the lens sheared off it – one part staying attached to the body, the other rolling across the floor and under a nearby table…. The door covering the memory card came off completely – the main body cracked, and all sorts of interesting electronics came into view, that I had no idea existed, never mind wanted to see.

So distraught was I, that I sat and tried to put the two halves of the lens back together.  Utter madness with hindsight.  

I managed to fit the card door back on – reinserted the battery, and put a different lens on – amazingly – the camera actually worked, though non of the buttons would do anything.  

I took a few more shots out of curiosity more than anything and left….

On the way home I dropped the lot into Calumet photographic, and they sent the lot off to Canon for repair or disposal, whichever.  Amazingly, after a few weeks, it was all returned to me in full working order.

Then, only a month or so ago, I had a major email catastrophe – self inflicted of course – I was sending my laptop off to have a new battery fitted, and so deleted all of the emails on there – forgetting completely that it was synced to the server. It wiped everything clean, and when I turned on my main machine, I watched in horror as all the emails fell off the screen. Operator error………

Why am I telling you this? ……. well, it reminds me that as photographers we are totally reliant on technology.  We remember to take with us spares of all sorts of things that we think might fail when we are out and about.  Always I have spare batteries, memory cards, and at least one other lens (just in case).    After all, if our technology fails in the field, we are bereft, there is nothing we can do – I don’t know anyone who can repair a digital camera, or computer outside a specialist shop. 

I even know someone who carries a spare tripod in the car….. just in case a leg fails on the one he uses most.

A friend I go out with sometimes, was upset the other week that he’d got to the venue only to discover that there was no card in the camera…..  I was able to assist – I had a spare… well what a shock….. 

Keep the Faith ! It’s not all bad news…

I was just starting to settle down into a lock-in routine – had just sorted out where my groceries were coming from, and begun an exercise routine, when I fell off my bike.  

I’d been to the shops, got some food in, and in an attempt to avoid some pedestrians, I hit a low curb going onto a cycle track, and as the bike went over, I got my ankle trapped under the pedal.  I was 5 miles from home, and no-one could help me. Lots of people ended up standing around me (6 feet away) asking if I was OK….  I wasn’t – (or didn’t think I was) but I said I was fine, and would sit ‘here’ for a bit and then just cycle home.

I did cycle home – I’ve no idea how – convinced I’d broken / fractured something.  Was too scared to go to A+E (thought they would have better things to do than mess with me) – but anyway, after 72 hours or so, the swelling was going down, I was getting around on crutches (for that read trekking poles) – and after a week, the bruising was making my entire foot look black……

So, three weeks on, and I’m back on my bike, and can walk about a mile – slowly… it’s been a bit of a trial.

What’s this got to do with photography?  Well, confined as I was completely to barracks, I had to find something arty to do….. 

All the jobs I’d been putting off had to be done – reorganise my Lightroom Catalogue, sort out all the rubbish from my computer, and take a second look at images I’d previously consigned to the ‘I’m really not sure what to do with this one’ filing system.

I also broke open the moth trap – it needed a good clean, but we had a few days of still, warm nights with a few insects to catch.  

The image below is of an ‘Early Thorn’ moth – no bigger than my little finger nail, but beautiful.  It flew off about 10 seconds after I’d taken this photograph.

Early Thorn

I’d also promised myself at the start of the lockdown that I’d work my way through some photoshop tutorials…. Didn’t do it.  However, with time to spare, and no way out, I sat down and watched some stuff on Scott Kelby, some on YouTube, and read some books.  Streaming tutorials through to the television set was a boon, and after nearly 3 weeks, I think I’ve learned some new tricks, which I’m pretty eager to try out.

The RPS East Midlands Group is running some excellent Zoom talks, so I’m booked in for those too.  

So what have I learned, apart from how to bandage an ankle?  Well, I’ve started taking notice of 3D rendering, which I think is going to be useful – and I’ve been looking back at images I took in 2011 at Chester Zoo.  Compositing images together has turned out to be something I really enjoy doing, and I’m getting better at it.  Using textures in images too is working for me, and I’m looking forward to being able to enter competitions again once this ‘virus’ starts to abate… Hopefully I’ll have a selection of new work I can use.

This image is made up of five separate photographs.  The elephants themselves, at the zoo, the crane, separately at the zoo, the rock – Brimham, the background ‘mountain’ is in Buxton, and the water from a different elephant picture.  There is of course as an extra, the textured background.

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I’ve read a good selection of books – some photographic, some not – and realised more the benefits of Amazon Prime.  They have some pretty good free books for my Kindle, including the odd photography one.

I’ve done a bit of online judging, and have been booked to do some ‘Zoom’ judging, and a couple of talks over the next few weeks.  

So, as the ankle gets better, and a more ‘normal’ life resumes (will it ever be fully normal again?) – I’m looking forward to some more photography.  The redundant church down the road has been crying out for some photo attention for a long time – I need to get that done – and also take a second look at the things I see when I’m out on a dog walk.  The moth trap will get used some more once the winds drop later in the week, and I’m thinking a bit of light painting, once I can walk a bit further.    

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I’ve had the ‘trail cam’ out in the garden too, and done some badger spotting – deer also come into the garden, as well as the odd fox.

Don’t be bored, don’t think you can’t use your camera because you can’t get out – there’s lots to see and shoot out there even if you only have a tiny garden.

Try and enjoy your isolation time – it will be something to look back on in years to come.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay at home, protect our NHS.

Take Advice

Sometimes when you’re shooting – you might find that someone comes up and asks what you are doing…… it’s always tempting to give the sarcastic answer – after all I’m stood there with a tripod and a camera on top – what do they think I might be doing?

Anyway – whilst I was in Bath last year, someone stopped and said to me “it’s nicer down there”….   I think that I might have ignored the advice, but something inside me said I should at least go and look. I suspect I’m not as clever as I used to think I was, but I decided to go …..

I went – it was better, I stayed quite a while, enjoying the scene, and thinking what I could do with it later…

Later….. when I was showing the photograph to a friend who was with me at the time – he said “I didn’t see that”.

Let yourself be helped.  Your pictures will still be your pictures – there is no way they can be changed just because someone suggested another point of view, or venue.  The person stood right next to you will probably have a different picture anyway….

Bath

Where East meets West – Part 12 – Spalding

I’m nearing the edge of Lincolnshire now – and was thinking that Spalding would be the furthest point on my journey South down the Meridian Line.

I still have to re-shoot some of the places I’ve visited already, as I’d like to get some more sunshine into the pictures.  Also, I want to visit Greenwich, as this seems to be the place where it should end……

However….. yesterday we visited Spalding…. for the first time ever… so what is Spalding – what does the place name mean?

It’s both English and Scottish: a habitational name from a place in Lincolnshire, so called from the Old English tribal name Spaldingas ‘people of the district called Spald’. The district name probably means ‘ditches’, referring to the drainage channels in the fenland.

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The river Welland runs through the middle of the town, and it was at one time, the town was well known for the annual Spalding Flower Parade, held from 1959 to 2013. The parade celebrated the region’s vast tulip production and the cultural links between the Fens and the landscape and people of South Holland (the clue is in the name)…

Archeological excavations at Wygate Park in Spalding have shown that there has been occupation in this area from at least the Roman period, when this part of Lincolnshire was used for the production of salt. It was a coastal siltland.   At Wygate Park salt making seems to have come to an end by the mid-3rd century AD; climatic change and flooding may have made such activities difficult, causing the practice to die out.

The river was well used, and boats carrying all kinds of produce was moved up and down and out to the sea.  You can see the merchants houses still, though some have had major conversions on them.

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We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, so we moved a little further north to visit a memorial we had seen signed on a previous visit.  This was to the Pilgrim Fathers, just outside Boston.

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During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Protestant non-conformist religious beliefs flourished in England. One such belief was that of the Separatists, a group of Puritans with strong Lincolnshire links – Gainsborough was at the heart of the Lincolnshire Separatist movement, and another group was based just over the border at Scrooby in Nottinghamshire.

Separatists wanted the freedom to worship God away from the constraints of the Church of England. When Elizabeth was succeeded by King James I, there was a clampdown on such groups, it became illegal not to attend church and the Separatist Movement was banned in 1604.

Wanting to escape persecution, The Separatists decided to flee to The Netherlands, a far more tolerant Protestant country. In 1607, both the Gainsborough Separatists and the Scrooby Separatists travelled to Boston where boats were waiting to take them to Holland.

The Gainsborough Separatists successfully completed their journey and joined other English Separatists known as the Ancient Brethren in Leiden.

Unfortunately, The Scrooby Separatists were betrayed by their boat’s captain. Shortly after setting sail, they were intercepted at Scotia Creek (where this memorial stands),  a few miles down river from Boston.  They were arrested and all their goods seized.

The Scrooby Separatists were brought to Boston Guildhall where they remained in the cells whilst awaiting trial at Lincoln. After several months in prison, they were released and returned home to Scrooby penniless. Sympathisers eventually raised enough money to fund a second escape attempt, which this time was successful.

After living peacefully in Leiden for several years, the Ancient Brethren decided to sail for America in search of a better life in 1620. They hired two ships, the Speedwell, which was to transport passengers, and the larger Mayflower, which was to carry supplies, for this very hazardous journey across the Atlantic.

Unfortunately, the Speedwell started to take in water off the coast of Devon and it became obvious that the ship would be incapable of crossing the Atlantic. The passengers transferred to the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth on 6th September 1620 and landed in Massachusetts after an arduous two month voyage.

This small group of people became known as The Pilgrim Fathers, the founding fathers of America.

In the 1630s, another group of Lincolnshire Puritans left Boston for America. They founded a new settlement in Massachusetts and named it after their home town – Boston.

One of the most important of these settlers was The Reverend John Cotton, who was the very controversial Vicar of St. Botolphs’ Church in Boston. The Reverend Cotton made many enemies by preaching his non-conformist views and regularly found himself prosecuted at Lincoln’s Law Courts. In 1633, he sailed across the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts, and soon became spiritual leader of this church-dominated state.  His influence increased further when he helped to draft the fundamental laws for the colony that are still applicable today.

You are able to walk further along – past the memorial, and views of the Boston Stump can be seen on the horizon…

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A pillbox from WW2 still marks part of the estuary

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For the time being, this is where my Lincolnshire journey will end, but I think there will be a further post about Spalding.  We visited the parish church which is beautiful, and also the Alms houses there.

I shall revisit some of the places, and research some more, before finally completing the talk that will go with this exploration.

In the meantime… enjoy…

 

Boston – Where East Meets West – part 8

Boston and the Maud Foster Mill

According to legend, Boston is named after St Boltoph. It is said he came to the area in the 7th Century, and built a monastery and church next to an existing settlement. The settlement was renamed St Boltoph’s Tun (Town) and contracted to Boston.

Boston was not named in Domesday of 1086, but probably grew into a town in the 11th or 12th Century. At that time, international trade was booming, and Boston was well situated to trade with Europe, and became a busy port. It became a focal point for the villages around Lincolnshire, and slowly grew as the population expanded.

Once the church and tower (known locally as the “Stump”, was completed in the 15th to 16th Century it was a local landmark and used by sailors to find their way to the coast, and the town.

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It was the wool trade that made Boston important – and with a Royal Charter to hold a market – it became the place to see, and be seen.

The wool trade had almost stopped by 1500, but Boston continued to be an important trading town, with the import of spices and other goods.

In the mid 16th Century, work was started on the Maud Foster Drain.  Why this drain has this name is not entirely clear.

In History and Antiquities of Boston, Pishey Thompson states (p201) “Maud Foster herself  has ceased to be a myth, for we find frequent mention of her in the Corporation Records. But we cannot connect this person with the Drain, so as to discover any reason why it should bear her name. Tradition asserts, that Maud Foster was the owner of the land through which the new cut would pass, and that she gaved consent to its passage on very favourable conditions, one of which was that it should bear her name. Our readers must take this tradition for what it is worth, as we cannot strengthen it by any facts.”

The Mill was not built till 1819.

When we visited the windmill in February of this year – there was some construction work going on in front of it, but the current miller was talkative, and I was able to purchase some of the flour, ground there.  He sells a good variety, and I purchased both seed and plain strong bread flour – since made into a loaf.  You can also purchase porridge oats.

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I appreciate that there has been quite a jump from the last location to this one – and I intend to fill in the gaps as time goes on.

On the same day that we visited Boston, we also went to East Kirby Airfield, which houses not only the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’, but a stone which deliniates the East West Meridian.

I think that East Kirby deserves a post all to itself, but I think I need a return visit for more photographs.

Old Bolingbroke – Where East Meets West – Part 7

It was a gloomy day when I set out with the intention of covering Old Bolingbroke, East Kirby and Snipe Dale.  The weather was really not conducive to photography, and it was very cold.  The water in the moat round the castle was frozen, and so I made the decision to return home after only visiting the castle and church.

The village of Old Bolingbroke lies in a broad valley of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and is not far off the Prime Meridian.  It is three miles West of Spilsby, and has one church – that of St Peter, and St Paul.  It is also the home of Old Bolingbroke Castle.  To the southwest a hill known as Kirkby Hill is topped with a former windmill, that sits just within the parish boundary.  So much for an introduction….. Castle First

Bolingbroke Castle was one of three built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire).  After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  It is now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

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John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche, lived at the castle during the 1360s. Their son, Henry of Bolingbroke, was born there in 1367.

Henry had a tempestuous relationship with Richard II and was exiled in 1397. He returned to England after the death of his father in 1399, enraged that the king had seized the estates he had inherited. Richard was in Ireland, attempting to quell a rising, when he heard of Henry’s return.

These events marked the end of Richard II’s reign. Henry of Bolingbroke was encouraged to claim the throne of England from his unpopular rival, and Richard was imprisoned. Soon afterwards, Henry was crowned king as Henry IV.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Henry IV ever returned to his birthplace.

The main function of the castle during the 15th and 16th centuries was as an administrative centre for the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. The current names of the towers, for example the Auditor’s Tower and Receiver’s Tower, refer to their use during this period.

Surveys undertaken at the castle in the 17th century show that only a few of the towers then remained in use and that the enclosing walls were extremely dilapidated.

Bolingbroke Castle is a prime example of 13th-century architectural design and is described as an ‘enclosure’ castle. Such castles are characterised by curtain walls with towers enclosing a courtyard. Within this courtyard there would have been timber-framed structures, including a great hall and service buildings, evidence of which was found in excavations during the 1960s.

The south-west tower, which is now known as the King’s Tower, was rebuilt between 1444 and 1456 on an octagonal plan. By this time, the castle was more than 200 years old, and this remodelling represents an attempt by the owners to express their wealth and importance.

From the Auditor’s Tower can be seen the Rout Yard – the field to the south of the castle – which contains several earthworks, including a rectangular enclosure.

Debate continues as to the original use of this earthwork, which may have been a fishpond, an animal compound or a 17th-century fort.

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The Church of St Peter and St Paul – Old Bolingbroke

Seating about 250 people, the church was built of traditional Spilsby sandstone c1363 by John of Gaunt and was originally three times its current size.

The church suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and fellow parliamentarians as they laid seige at Bolingbroke Castle in 1643 and was restored and the north aisle added in 1889.

In the centre of the village is a rose garden, and is depicted the Shield of the Duke of Lancaster.

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The Royal Village of Old Bollingbroke. The shield bears the arms of Edmund first Earl Of Lancaster. These are the arms of theDuchy of Lancaster who presented the sheild to this village on August 4th 1966 in commemoration of the birth in Bollinbroke Castle in 1366 of Henry Bollingnroke Duke of Lancaster. King Henry of England. The Roses are the original rose of Lancaster grown in Provins and adopted by Edmund as his emblem in 1280. They are a gift to the village from the mayor and people of Provins. March 1967.

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The text from the above plaque is shown inbetween the two images.

Next time – East Kirby Airfield – home of ‘Jane’, the Lancaster, and site of a Prime Meridian marker stone.

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Where East Meets West – Part 5

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Continuing on my journey – following the Meridian (or as near as – as the mood takes me) – we wandered over towards Tetford.  We parked up, after noticing a disused chalk quarry with lots of signs warning us of the dangers therein, so of course we had to take a quick look.  I hasten to add at this point, that we didn’t actually trespass, or climb over the wire – but there were photographs that we could take from the roadside.  I didn’t much fancy falling over the cliff edge.

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The site must have been a very busy one in the past, and we could still see the weigh station scales by only scrambling up the grassy bank.

I did a bit of a seach about this site, but could only discover that it was still in operation in 1970, but  not when it closed.  It was worked by Singleton Birch Ltd for the cretaceous Chalk to be used for industrial chalk and lime.

So, with the weather looking like it might get better – we pressed on towards Sumersby – the birthplace of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The whole area round Somersby is quintessentially English.  The sort of place the J R R Tolkien would have felt at home in – and with village names like Bag Enderby – even more so.  I think that Bilbo Baggins should have set up home here.

Somersby

There has been a church at Somersby since the 1200’s, and this one is built of local Splilsby Sandstone. Alfred Lord Tennyson was born – and spent the first 28 years of his life here in Somersby.  His father George Clayton Tennyson was rector of St. Margaret’s, Somersby and of its namesake in the neighbouring village of Bag Enderby for 23 years until his death.  Pictures of that later.

Inside the church belfry was discovered  graffiti which simply says ‘AT 1837’. Was this Alfred signing off? The family left that year and he never returned.

Somersby

The statue of Tennyson is to the West end of the Church, and I was able to capture this silhouette as the light came through the window.

St Margaret’s sister church and namesake in nearby Bag Enderby, is also of greenstone and has several interesting features such as segmental window arches of note and a perpendicular octagonal font.  Alfred Tennyson’s father was rector of both churches and would walk between the two, and deliver long and impenetrable sermons at both.

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Tennyson himself spent many years wandering through this idyllic landscape composing his poetry as he went.

On the way home we decided to visit Ashby Puerorum – the name caught my eye on the map, and it’s not far off the Meridian Line, so although the light was fading, and it looked like rain – we went for a look……

Ashby Puerorum owes its unusual name to a 13th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Oliver Sutton, who renamed the village when he decreed that all profits from the living here should go to support the choirboys of Lincoln Cathedral. The name ‘Ashby Puerorum’ translates loosely as ‘the little boys’ Ashby’. The connection is remembered over 7 centuries later, for the choir still sings at St Andrews church occasionally.

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The village dates to at least the late Saxon period and was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was owned by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. At that time it was called Ascheby, meaning a farmstead where ash trees grow. It supported a population of 9 villagers, 2 smallholders, and 14 freemen.

In the church tower are a pair of early medieval bells. The oldest bell is said to date from around 1150, which would make it the oldest surviving bell in the county. The church is set beside a farmyard and from the churchyard there are excellent views out over the Lincolnshire Wolds.

We ended our day, as the rain started at Brinkhill –

The church  is dedicated to St Phillip  and is a Grade II listed building dating from 1857.  In the churchyard stands an ancient listed churchyard cross, the base of which dates from the 14th century, with a 19th-century alteration.

The Greenwich Prime Meridian line passes through the village.

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I hope you are enjoying the Meridian journey.  I’m hoping for better weather as time goes on, and hopefully at the end of it all, I can put together a talk for camera clubs, and anyone else who might like to see it all.

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Waithe – St Martin’s Church

Yesterday, we played truant from the camera club!  Instead of going there, to the AV session, three of us bunked off, and went exploring….  We visited a church that is still consecrated, but no longer in use.

The building originates from the 10th century, with additions and alterations carried out in the 11th and 13th centuries. It was restored in 1861 by James Fowler of Louth, for the Haigh family, local landowners By the time it was vested in the Churches Conservation Trust in the 2000s, the building was in a state of decay and it had been vandalised. Some of the bell openings were near to collapse. The site was overgrown and the interior contained debris and bat guano.  Repairs started in October 2005 and cost nearly £350,000.

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It’s an unassuming building, and visitors are made welcome with a note to explain where the light switches are, and notes on each part of church interior.  We didn’t put the lights on at first, as the sun came through the glass, making fantastic colours on the stonework.

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All in all, it’s a lovely tranquil place to visit, and it has been very well looked after.  I signed the visitor book, and look forward very much to a return visit, with a tripod.

So here’s just a few of the images I took on the Fuji.