Chorley. Astley Hall All Lit Up.

Astley Hall is a historic manor house on the outskirts of the Lancashire market town of Chorley. It’s favourite place of mine, I like to visit it with my camera as the seasons roll and change through the year.

It has a changing sequence of events taking place through the year which always add to the pleasure of any visit. A more recent attraction is Astley Hall Illuminated, a light show that takes place in the grounds on one night in November and I was able to make it to this years performance. As well as the lights there were other attractions, living Christmas Trees walking around, children being terrified and intrigued in equal measure and a Brass Band from the Lancashire village of Tarleton played Carols throughout the evening.

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SPARK Line up outside the Hall

The highlight for me though was a drumming troupe by the name of SPARK. Their appearance was completely other worldly. They wore illuminated costumes, the colours changing as the beats of their drums changed. Throughout the evening they marched in formation around the Hall and it’s grounds like ghostly Pied Pipers with the crowds following in their wake. It was a truly magical experience.

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SPARK attracts the crowds.

I’ve already made a note to check out the date for next year, a tip if you go wrap up warm, it’s Lancashire and it’s November. I warmed up afterwards with a hot chocolate from the Hall’s Cafe Ambio, a lovely end to a great evening.

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Drums and lights in a circle from SPARK. 

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Edinburgh, The Quickness Of The Hand.

 

 

Watch carefully, is it here, or is it there? The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. This is Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile by St. Giles Cathedral and the Festival is at it’s height. This event is in my top five of locations for candid street photography. You just have to pick a spot and it all unfurls before you like a tapestry of a carnival. Here a magician was working the crowd with an assistant picked from the crowd. Time and again the young lad carefully followed the action but at each reveal that darned magician had done it again.

For candid images I always think that monochrome is the only way, colours can distract from the action, plus for me the black & white tones always add a timeless quality.

I like to get in at least one visit to Edinburgh each year and timetables are being consulted as I type this.

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Down The River Clyde.

 

 

 

Send In The Clowns

Today’s image was taken at the Edinburgh Festival in 2013, the show being promoted was ‘The Greatest Liar In The World’, I think it may have had political connotations……….. The Edinburgh Festival is alway an event I try to get to, I’m generally in Scotland for a couple of weeks during August, if not I take a day out and go up by train for the day, make an adventure out of it. I’m lucky to have an excellent rail service to the north and the unfolding adventure of the day is something I like to revel in. The early morning on the station platform waiting for the train to arrive. The other passengers some very relaxed, others nervously clutching all the necessary tickets and reservations. It’s a part of the day that can provide at least one or two candids. Once on the train and sat in my seat I can switch off and let the world roll by the carriage window. Over time I have learned to strip back the  amount of equipment I take on these journeys, my bag of toys, one medium rucksack holds a camera bag with Sony SLR plus notebook, flashgun and small tape recorder. Plus there is a compact tripod, everything neat, tidy and where I can find it. The rest of the space is usually taken up with chocolate bars and fruit so I can have a quick pit stop as I walk around. There’s also a compact camera for the shirt pocket as a back up.

Arriving at Edinburgh is an event, if I have got myself on the first train up of the day, generally 6,30 am, I am walking off my train at about 9.15 am into the bustling anthill that is Waverley station. The station sits low in a small valley below the castle, the valley was once a small loch, the Nor’ Loch which after many years as  a dumping ground was cleared out with the arrival of the railways. There is a choice of exits from the station, if you leave by the main ramp you rise up and as you exit you are faced by Prince’s Street Gardens in front of you, with the old town and castle to your left, while to the right is Prince’s Street and the New Town, it’s not actually that new, the fine and grand Georgian buildings date from the 18th century and were an architectural response to the cramped midden of streets that cluster around the axis of the Royal Mile, itself topped and tailed by the castle and Palace of Holyrood.

During the Festival,  that’s the festival proper, the fringe and the art & music festivals almost every building, corner or open space takes it’s turn as a venue.  The clown shot was taken on the Royal Mile, or Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate for the Edinburgh purists, the stretch by St. Giles’ cathedral has preview stages along it and this is where the festival madness can be at it’s highest as each act tries their hardest to be noticed. If you like collecting flyers this is the place for you, it’s impossible to walk more than five steps at a time without having at least three thrust into you hand. I put together two collages of flyers from my last trip, the acts and performers range from the mildly amusing to the seriously odd. This is one of my favourite areas for candids, I normally walk around  to get a feel for the atmosphere then pick a spot to watch what goes by. I have found that it doesn’t pay to stick in one place for too long or you can find yourself being dragged into someone’s act or improv session. I tweet some pictures as well, referencing the particular act, it’s a courtesy, it’s their livelihood  after all. When the mayhem gets too much I make my way to either the open spaces of the Meadows, they lie to the south of the city centre or down to a favourite cafe, Clarinda’s,  at the bottom of the Royal Mile. Recharged I’m ready for another round. By the late evening the crowds are still there but the atmosphere is different, crowd are making their way from the first performances and the chat is all about the show or the act that been seen. If it’s been a day trip for me It’s the last train out, in the past I have tried to do a rough edit on the train back but these days I much prefer to do that once I’m home, the train journey is part of the day so I just sit back and enjoy it.