Another quiet week …

… in Beaufront Woodhead.  The weather has alternated between dire and freezing, neither any good for getting out and about, especially on two wheels.  A couple of storms have passed through and trees have been lost.  We have had a couple of regular visitors to our garden and then, yesterday, they took the liberty of inviting all their friends.  The image from our rear bedroom window shows a handful but, just around the corner, there were twenty or so more – they have kindly, liberally, fertilised the lawn.

One bright spot, I have replaced the levers on my Triumph Scrambler – I get a disproportionate amount of pleasure out of such fettling – verb (used with object), fet·tled, fet·tling – Ceramics to remove mold marks from (a cast piece).  That may be the official definition but, in Manchester and probably elsewhere, it means to fiddle about with machinery – ideally in a relaxed and time-wasting fashion.  An alternative would be ‘ferkle’.

“Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you”  –  Dave Allen 1936-2005

… all are welcome, apparently.

… before and after

… super-wide – the 8mm Samyang on the X-Pro2

… winter moon over Beaufront Woodhead

… and Hard Rain along the Tyne.

… another tree down along the Tyne

… afternoon light, Beaufront Woodhead

A Resolution …

… and one I might struggle to keep – to post on WordPress at least once per week.  Not that I will necessarily have anything illuminating to say but, as I post on Blipfoto everyday, there should be no shortage of images.

It has been a quiet week in Beaufront Woodhead.  The hard frosts have disappeared, to be replaced by a gloomy light, plenty of rain and high winds.  Occasionally the sun has slid through a gap in the clouds and then it is a few short paces from the front door to grab the light.  This is a series of local images from the last few days rounded off by my middle son eyeing up his inheritance – we took the Elise 117 miles into the Borders because we could and because driving that machine is always a joy.  Thanks to the bikes I am very familiar with all the routes heading north from Carter Bar, to Newcastleton and south via Keilder:

The sun going down across the Tyne Valley

Taken before the sun disappeared for the day

The view from the trees back to Beaufront Woodhead Farm

A brief moment in time, the sun shining on Keith’s house – earlier today, 7th January.

Those trees again – again, 7th January

Matt, eyeing up his inheritance

Last sunrise …

… of the decade.  Yesterday I journeyed 94 miles on the F850 GS, riding into the sullen Scottish Borders – drizzle and heavy mist over the hills, having left the Tyne Valley in bright sunshine.  This morning brought a heavy frost and removed any temptation of venturing out again.  Ice and two wheels don’t mix.

… last sunrise.

… and a heavy frost.

… just north of Kielder

Riding the bike into distant empty roads focuses the mind, clears the head and banishes dark thoughts about the year gone by – it has not been a good one.  A new decade begins, turn, turn, turn

My big sister: 1944-2019

Harvest

I have been waiting for this for a while.  Driving up from Hexham, tell-tale dust was blowing across the road.  Armed with the X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 18-55mm zoom I was back to the field in minutes hoping to catch a monster in action.  It did not disappoint – a Claas harvester was lumbering around in ever-decreasing circles throwing up vast dust clouds to confuse the enemy.

It was a super-heated afternoon with a hot sun piercing high dark clouds – it was very ominous.  Within an hour biblical rain was falling on Hexham, the harvester and all souls beneath.  It seemed unlikely that the harvest has been completed in time and, sure enough, this morning there was still a large patch of uncut oilseed rape and an abandoned combine harvester.  The dust in the air had been replaced by expletives:

Will I see you give more than I can take

Will I only harvest some?

As the days fly passed

Will we lose our grasp

Or fuse it in the sun.

Northumberland in mono …

… by now these images should show hints of springtime colour but Northumberland, for the most part, remains determinedly black and white.  To quote Joan Didion, we live entirely by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.  Put simply, March, and now the beginnings of April, do not fit my narrative line.  I have put 498 miles on the Yamaha since January 1st and squeezed five rounds of golf between the snow showers. Every mile and every fairway I have been clobbered up to the nines with multiple layers and thermals.  Enough is enough – let’s skip spring and go straight to summer:

Sandhoe in the snow

Snow and frozen puddle – on the road to Fawcett Hill

Afternoon light, Beaufront Woodhead

Up the hill to Beaufront Woodhead

Under March skies

The wrong line

St John’s, Whitfield

Misty morning, Beaufront Woodhead

Misty morning, Beaufront Woodhead

Hexham in heavy rain

Stublick Chimney

Towards Branchend

To emphasise the point, these last two images were taken today, 1st April. I was on the way to Allendale Golf Club to take part in the first competition of the year – it soon became evident this was not a practical proposition. I turned around 😦

Winter-misted Hills

Beyond our neighbours’ frosted washing lines,
Their silvered slates and chimney-pots,
Our borderland begins …
Make what you can of it, for no one knows
What story’s told by winter-misted hills.

Douglas Dunn – Northlight 1988

Fawcett Hill

Looking west from Fawcett Hill

Towards Beaufront Woodhead from Fawcett Hill

No way through to Beaufront Hill Head

Cabin crazy

This is the sort of thing that I find interesting, particularly when I have been cooped up for too long.  Anyone who uses a Fuji X camera appreciates the remarkable jpegs it is capable of producing straight out of the box.  However, as a ‘serious’ photographer, I feel obliged to shoot in RAW to provide maximum scope for adjustment – change to exposure, recovery of highlights, adjusting shadows etc etc, the possibilities are endless.  Consequently, I spend happy hours post-processing an image to the point where sometimes it is almost as good as the film simulated jpeg produced by the camera.

There are other options – Photoshop Camera RAW camera calibration contains all of the film simulation profiles which, at the click of a mouse, supposedly provide immediate conversion to the preferred profile – except that, even to this amateur eye, they don’t look as good as those produced in camera.

Enter Fujifilm’s X RAW Studio – I don’t know if this approach is unique to Fuji but it seems a very neat solution. This isn’t just another RAW processor, instead it enables access to the image processor inside the camera.  Consequently, what you get is exactly what Fuji intended; not only that, it is non-destructive so you can generate as many film simulated versions as you like, all from the same original RAW file i.e. if you are shooting RAW + a simulated JPEG, you are not constrained to one version of the JPEG.  There are detailed explanations of the set up and conversion process on Youtube – this is a good one.

If my ramblings are clear as mud, perhaps this will make more sense – this is the same image – shot in RAW and Acros + Red filter JPEG and these are four versions of the same image with four different Fuji film simulations:

  • Top left is Vivid/Velvia with strong grain;
  • Top right is Acros+Yellow filter with strong grain;
  • Bottom left is Sepia with no grain;
  • Bottom right is Classic Chrome with no grain.

Not only are these none destructive edits to the original RAW file, the subsequent JPEG edits are also preserved in *.FP1 files so they can be reloaded and amended further.  All of this done with the convenience of a large monitor, rather than peering into the camera’s LCD.

How often I will use X Raw Studio I am unsure, given that I am already post-processing with Photoshop CC, ON1 2018 RAW and occasionally ON1 B&W (this remains a very effective mono engine even though replaced many releases ago).  Nevertheless, it is good to know the option exists.

Anyway enough of that.  The reason I am going cabin crazy is down to the endless hours in front of this screen.  The Siberian snow has now been replaced by a dull wet slushy thaw and I can find no enthusiasm to go outside – unlike the previous few days.  This has been the weather in and around Hexham:

Our under-used postbox – we haven’t seen a post person in days.

Egger from Oakwood – on a smartphone – too weighed down with shopping, even for the diminutive X100F.

The view from Hexham Bridge using a smartphone – as above.

The road down to Hexham

A flock of sheep ane behind, a Flock of Seagulls