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Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is a wildly beautiful area of North Wales. Its vast number of peaks, lakes and quarries connected by trickling streams and rocky rivers create a photographer’s haven so it’s no wonder I love it! I first visited Snowdonia in 2013, and with my partner climbed the infamous Mount Snowdon. This spectacular mountain was our first stop in completing the three peaks (over the course of a year or so).

We took the Llanberis track, walking parallel to the mountain railway all the way to the summit. The scenery was stunning and thanks to the glorious sunshine, we were able to see for miles (I did, however, get sunburnt, even though it was extremely windy).

The track is reasonably steady, weaving around the mountain slowly but surely. It’s definitely suitable for beginners and offers spectacular views. The whole walk took us around 4 and a half hours to complete at a reasonably leisurely pace – with plenty of photography stops of course!

While in Llanberis, we stayed at The Royal Victoria Hotel, a little gem nestled within 30 acres of woodland and gardens. The room was perfect for a good night’s sleep after a long walk and there was plenty to see and do around the town. If you’re planning to climb Mount Snowdon, Llanberis is a great starting point and highly recommended.

As a keen landscape photographer, I will always remember my first trip to Snowdonia and because of its beauty, we have planned our next trip for the May Day bank holiday. This time we will spend a couple of nights in a farmhouse just outside of Bala. You’ll be able to read more about this trip once I’m back

 

Happy Nowruz!

Today at 4:15pm GMT Iranian all over the world celebrated Nowruz, better known in the Western world as the Spring Equinox. Nowruz, meaning new day is the start of the Persian year and signifies new life and fresh starts.

Celebrations start on the eve of the Wednesday before New Year, better know as Chaharshanbe Suri. Adults and children alike light bonfires and carry on the age-old tradition of jumping over them. With music playing and families singing and dancing, the celebrations go on into the night.

Haft Seen

The Noruz table is a significant part of the ancient celebrations. Called Haft Seen, the table consists of seven items beginning with the letter S, all of which symbolise different aspects of life.

1. Somagh (sumac) : symbolises the color of sunrise
2. Serkeh (vinegar): symbolises age and patience
3. Senjed (dried fruit from lotus tree): symbolises love
4. Samanoo (sweet pudding): symbolises affluence
5. Sabzeh (sprouts): symbolises rebirth
6. Sib (apple): symbolises health and beauty
7. Sir (garlic): symbolises medicine

Haft Seen tables often also include painted eggs and a goldfish!

Little boy peers over a counter behind the Iranian Haft Seen table at New Year
Haft Seen table at my mother-in-law’s home.

 

Haft Seen at the Tower Building Museum, Tabriz
Haft Seen at the Tower Building Museum, Tabriz
Iranian women stands behind her haft seen table for Nowruz
Latifa shows off her Haft Seen table.

 

The exact moment of Nowruz differs every year. This year Iran celebrated at 7:45pm local time. The day would have been spent preparing the delicious traditional dish of dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat) which is often left cooking as the new year passes. Last year I had great delight in preparing this traditional dish with my Iranian family in Tabriz.

Two ladies prepare dolmeh for Nowruz
My sister-in-law shows me how to prepare dolmeh the Iranian way.

 

plate of dolmeh cooked for the Iranian New Year, Nowruz
Dolmeh

After Nowruz, days are spent visiting family, eating great food and sharing stories. During my visit to Iran we spent many hours at our relatives houses and each time I was offered a vast array of sweets, nuts, chocolates and fruits. Every household wanted to display the best hospitality and it was a real treat to see how welcoming the Iranian culture really is.

Little boy sits cross-legged waiting for lunch
Elman waits patiently for his Nowruz lunch.
Hannah prepares a bowl of sweets for guests at her home.
Hannah prepares a bowl of sweets for guests at her home.
vibrant selection of treats available for Nowruz
Food offered at my partner’s Nana’s house.

If you ever get the chance to celebrate the Iranian New Year, please, don’t turn it down, you definitely won’t regret it!

blanket of heather on Edale, view from Losehill

Two Great Places to Visit in the Peak District.

The Peak District has some of the most stunning scenery in the Midlands. Wedged gently between Manchester, Sheffield and Derby it really is a true wonder to come across. It’s steep valley and rising hills make it a haven for anyone who enjoys spending a summer’s day walking through the English countryside. Edale, a small village in Hope Valley, marks the start of the 267-mile long Pennine way, stretching all the way up to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. I’m not going to promise that I will cover this route anytime soon but I can imagine it provides some lovely scenery.

My first visit to the Peak District was in 2016. It’s a much shorter car journey than the one to the Lake District or Snowdonia and the walks are just as fantastic. I’ve put together a very short guide on two great places to visit while in the Peak District. I’ve only been a handful of times so this is by no means coverage of the two best places as there is still so much to explore but they are definitely a good place to start!

Castleton & Mam Tor

Castleton is a bubbly little village in the heart of the Hope Valley sitting in the shadow of the ruins of Peveril Castle. It’s full of great places to eat, quaint gift shops and spectacular walks. One of the most famous in the Peak District is the circular Mam Tor Ridge walk.

Starting in Castleton you walk west towards Winnat’s Pass a deep Limestone valley created after an old cave system collapsed. There is still evidence of these caves around the Pass including Speedwell Cavern that offers tours of the underworld.

You can climb the north side of Winnats pass and walk across the grasslands towards Mam Tor, also known as the shivering mountain, and the tallest hill in the High Peaks standing at 517m. Once at the top you are treated with spectacular views of Edale and the Hope Valley. The ridge takes you along the north side of Hope Valley towards Lose Hill and then you can drop back down into Castleton. It’s definitely one for the summer as the high ridge can get extremely windy! We visited at the end of August, just in time to see the blankets of heather that annually cover the fields.

Blue car travelling east through Winnats Pass

Flock of sheep on Mam Tor ridge

View of Hope Valley

Fence and path leading along Mam Tor Ridge

Path up to Losehill

blanket of heather on Edale, view from Losehill

Edale valley from lose hill

Padley’s Gorge & Stanage Edge

This circular walk starts at the Longshaw Estate, a National Trust property about 3 miles south-east of Hathersage. There’s easy parking and great walks around the estate if you don’t have a lot of time, it even boasts a lovely cafe if you need a pick-me-up. You can find out more about the Lodge here if you wish.

From the car park you can walk through the grounds of the Lodge and follow the path across the road to the Burbage Brook, this marks the start of Padley’s Gorge. Heading south through the trees you can follow the bank along the gorge down to Upper Padley. Turning left at the bottom of the trail will take you past the famous Totley Tunnel to the Gindleford Station Cafe if you need some refreshments.

Heading right will take you north along a trail past various cottages, churches and farmland. You may even see the beautiful cat we came across! We followed a route that took us north-east along the bottom of the Stanage Edge cliff. Taking the path to the top, we were faced with amazing views out towards Hathersage. There’s no coincidence that this place is also known as Surprise View.

We also visited Stanage Edge at the end of the summer when the heather was blooming across the moor creating a blanket of purple hugging the birch trees along the route.

autumn landscape shot of padley's gorge, peak district

fluffy cat and pair of legs

the view from stanage edge in winter.

birch trees behind a blanket of heather

Birch tree in heather

2017 was the year of the snow!

December saw England receive a lot of snow.

On Sunday 10th December, my partner was due back in the country after a 3-week trip away. On Sunday 10th December it snowed like never before (well at least more snow than I’ve seen in a good few years.) Since getting a car (almost 6 years ago) and moving out to the countryside nearly 2 years ago I’ve been longing for some decent snow to photograph. Mostly, we get a sprinkling overnight which has gone by the time I’ve finished work or had the chance to pick up my camera.

So after all this time it eventually snowed, on the day I was supposed to be driving to the airport.

After deliberating whether it was a good idea, I eventually set off with my mum’s partner who offered to drive me across the county to Birmingham. After over an hour of avoiding road closures, broken down vehicles and steep hills, we ended up back where we started – home.

It turns out my other half wasn’t in Birmingham after all, he was in Manchester.

Luckily, I managed to get a couple of phone shots while playing passenger in an extremely slow moving car!


So while the county was experiencing its first proper snow in the last 5 years, I spent the day trying to figure out how on earth Ross would get home. Eventually, at 4pm, we made it!

Luckily, the snow stuck around and on Monday 11th December I headed out into the fields to photograph the trees that had been waiting for me.

And a hare.



Happy with my shots I didn’t check the weather again as I’d captured the photographs I’d always wanted.

Come December 27th, we got another covering and I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss. Armed with my camera and a bright blue sky I managed to sneak in these shots before the warm weather melted it away.


I think we’ve had enough snow this winter, but if we get some more, I won’t complain!

 

I left my heart in Lanzarote.

After a long time waiting I was finally able to settle my travel excitement by hopping on a plane to Lanzarote. It was only a short 4 hour flight however, it felt like an eternity. All I wanted was to see some hot Canary Sun and take in another corner of the world.

This beautiful little island just 78 miles off the coast of Africa makes up part of the wonderful paradise of the canary islands. although windier than some of the other Spanish islands the all-year-round hot weather can draw a lot of attention.

With an abundance of wildlife coming into the shallow waters of Playa Blanca at Puerto del Carmen, there was plenty to do and see. Rocky landscapes, blue waters and sandy beaches were perfect for a bit of holiday photography. From sunrise to sunset and everything in between there was definitely plenty to get my teeth into.

The first few days on the wonderful island were filled with “100 things to do when it’s really windy on holiday”. Number one on the list: lie on the beach while sand blasts against your skin, giving you a free exfoliation. We were on our way to very smooth skin!

Once the wind had died down we booked ourselves onto a catamaran tour of Playa Blanca. I’ve never been on a catamaran before and it turns out when the waves start getting choppy you end up very very wet. They way down to Playa Blanca was fabulous. We had the fresh sea air billowing its way into our lungs, the great canary sun warming our skin and a large plate of Spanish paella to curb our appetite. It was heaven.

Once we anchored down, it took a while to decide whether our snorkels were going to have their fun. The sea was definitely cold.

We finally plucked up the courage to jump in and what a surprise. There were so many fish. It was truly amazing. Sadly, we hadn’t yet invested in an underwater camera so maybe next time I’ll capture some marine life. For now, the photographs are all above sea level.

The last few days were spent wandering around the town, buying tourist-focused gifts and eating ice-cream. We even had a go at the mini golf outside our hotel. Lanzarote provides such a laid-back way of life and Puerto del Carmen was the best place to have our first holiday. I’m so ready to travel again!

atlantic ocean crashing against lanzarote rocks

Playa Grande in Lanzarote looking back at Puerto del Carmen.

Rocky landscape in Lanarote.

Small coastal pathway leading between island villages.

landscape photograph of the Lanzarote coastline

Sunset in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Aeroplane wing in the sunset.

 

camera for the copyright of images blog

And copyright goes to… the photographer!

Who owns the copyright of a photograph is a major topic in the photography world. It comes up almost every time you take on a new job, contract or commission and many people out there don’t fully understand the concept of copyright.

A lot of the time, when I’m asked by a client, “Will you give me the copyright to my images”, I don’t get angry and start yelling about how they clearly don’t understand the value of my work. Instead, I take a deep breath and prepare myself for a well-rehearsed monologue.

Unfortunately, no, I will not give you the copyright for the images as this would mean I am practically signing my life away. I would no longer be entitled to all the lovely opportunities your portrait or wedding photographs may offer me. It would also mean that the client (or agency) would be free to do whatever they like with those images, without batting an eyelid.

Obviously, this isn’t the best idea as a photographer, however, after explaining that although they will not own the copyright but can sign a usage agreement that includes being able to print and share their photographs, many clients will agree, they don’t need the copyright. Or if they still want it, they are prepared to pay a hefty sum.

In simple terms, it doesn’t matter who set up the shot, who’s camera was used or even who edited the final photograph – the copyright belongs to the person who pressed the shutter. Copyright can get very messy when misunderstood, and maybe businesses and organisations ‘forget’ that crediting a photographer isn’t enough when copyright has been breached. Exposure can only get you so far, so when an image is used without an agreement, you can expect an invoice.

With the rise of image sharing platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram it’s very easy to get caught up in copyright arguments. Sharing and tweeting your favourite photographs from Google to accompany your post seems like a harmless venture, but be warned, someone out there took that photograph and wants credit for it and you can only assume, including their logo won’t be enough.

Luckily there are many websites out there offering royalty free images for personal and commercial use. www.pexels.com is just one of many offering fantastic photographs for everyday use.

There are, however, many Instagram accounts which ‘feature’ other photographers work. A lot of these will state in their bio a hashtag to use to get a feature. If you, therefore, use this hashtag, they will assume you are happy for your image to be shared for free in exchange for further exposure. This is a very easy way to get your photographs to a wider audience.

The thing that brought this subject to light for me today, was the news story:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-41235131

After a 6 year long legal battle, David Slater, eventually won copyright to the image taken by a monkey in the Indonesian Jungle. Since the beginning I backed the photographer, understanding the amount of work that would have gone into getting this close to these wild animals. Although I truly believe animals should be treated with kindness and respect, I was never in favour of the idea that they could own the copyright to a photograph. If a human didn’t press the shutter (similarly when using motion sensor technology) the copyright should belong to the person who had the most influence on the shot.

I’m glad Mr Slater decided to donate 25% of further profits to charity and believe this was definitely a win for the fight for copyright.

Until next time…

Natasha

P.S. The cover image was taken from Pexels.com

The Eynali Mountain Range, Tabriz

While staying in Tabriz, I was lucky enough to be situated in the Eram area, North of the city. From my balcony I could see the distinctive red sloped of the Eynali range, and couldn’t wait to climb the beautiful mountainside so I could look out over this wonderful city.

When we were finally blessed with a warm, sunny day (it had been cold and wet for a week or so!) we decided to start our voyage. From Eram, we climbed the steep slopes up to the main highway and then caught a taxi to the main tourist entrance of the range.

From here we could have caught the telecabin up to the summit, however, decided a short hike would be the best way to see the sights. It wasn’t long before we reach the top and it was definitely worth it.

The blue skies and red landscape were something more akin to another planet. I probably would have believed it if I was told I was on Mars. For the return journey to ground level, we took the famous telecabin ride, definitely not for the faint-hearted! We drifted along canyons and caverns taking in the most wonderful landscape.

If you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful city, go and experience Eynali for yourself, it’s not one to miss!

 

Dand, highest peak in the Eynali Range
Dand standing at 2,378m.

The Eynali cable car line looking over Tabriz
The Eynali cable car line looking over Tabriz.

Yellow perimeter fence contrasts against red rock and blue sky
Perimeter fence for the nature conservation area.

An old watch tower sits against a dark blue sky
An old watchtower.

Cable car suspended against a blue sky
Telecabin ride.

Looking out over the tabriz landscape from the Eynali mountain range
The view of Tabriz from the telecabin station.

winding road leading out into the Eynali mountains
A long, winding road through Eynali.

deep valley of red rock in the Eynali range
A deep valley of red rock in the Eynali range.

Rock formations on the way up Eynali
Rock formations on the way up Eynali.

The start of a travel sensation?

Travel is always something I have loved. The thought of exploring foreign lands, immersing myself in ancient cultures and experiencing incredible natural wonders, follows me every day and every night.

I recently had the opportunity to visit somewhere not many people would consider for their first adventure. Iran. The ancient Persian country has a lot of bad press but what people don’t understand is the media probably wants us to hate every country that isn’t England or America. To be fair they probably don’t want us to like ourselves either.

Anyhow, I decided a trip to Iran would be the best way to immerse myself in a culture unknown in the western world. They are a first world country with third world values. Family comes first, no matter what. Technology is great, but it doesn’t rule their lives as it does here. Boys and girls still play outside, teenagers enjoy studying for a better future and adults do everything they can to make sure their family, brothers, sisters, children and parents, have everything they need to be successful in life.

Responsibility of their children doesn’t disappear when they hit 18 and leave for university. Parents will provide for their children for as long as they can, regardless of their age, marriage status or job.

Similarly, children spend more time with their parents. Family doesn’t just mean your siblings. It means cousins, aunts, uncles, your parents cousins, their cousins and even their cousins. If you are introduced to someone, there is a line of relation connecting your friend and the person in front of you, even if you are in a different town, city or village.

Ok, so lets relate this back to my trip to Iran. I stayed with my partners family. While I was there I must have greeted over 100 family members, all of which my partner knew by name and easily gave me a brief outline of his connection to them. (This is my cousins, uncles, grandmothers, daughter). It was incredible to be amongst such a large and loving family.

Ross and Ali cooking BBQ in the Garden

The scenery in Iran, especially in Tabriz, is absolutely, incredibly out-of-this-world, amazingly, beautiful. I was in Iran for a little over three weeks and I cannot wait to go back! Keep checking back for my next few posts which will highlight even more beautiful areas in Iran such as Sahand, Dik Darak and The Colourful Mountains.

Apologies…

I understand it has been over 2 months since my last post but sometimes life just gets in the way, right? 

In October 2016 I was asked to capture beauty of newborn Ella. At just 1 week old she was already interested in the camera and kept looking around to see what was going on.

Ella, newborn, 1 week oldElla, newborn, 1 week old
This week I was asked to photograph her again. Celebrating just 6 months of life and she is already picking up so many skills! This gorgeous little girl sat so well while I photographed away making precious memories for the whole family.

I really look forward to watching her flourish! Photograph of baby sitting Photograph of baby close of up eyes and face

Time flies

Yesterday marked the 6 month anniversary of the birth of my little nephew. The thing I love most about babies growing up is the crazy amount of special moments you can get away with celebrating. As an adult you have a birthday every year, you might get a new job every couple of years, buying your first house, having your first child. 


As a baby everything deserves a celebration. We celebrate when you are a week old, a month, six months, a year. It definitely doesn’t stop there. We have smiles, laughs, rolling, sitting, crawling, grabbing, eating, walking and the list goes on. All of which happens in the space of one very quick year. In fact more seems to happen in that one little year than it will in the 80 to follow. Isn’t that something to think about?