Having moved home in the last year I have a new area to explore and of course that includes some new National Trust properties that I’ve visited before, and even despite my disagreement with their drone policy two of the houses in North Yorkshire won me over with some special exhibits.
The first was Nunnington Hall; a largely 17th Century country house which was hosting a display of work by the finalists in the British Wildlife Photography Awards – how could I resist? The images are all copyright of course so I can’t show them here, but they gave me some impetus to explore a new area of photography which I shall expand upon in the second part of this post.
Many of the shots were captured by the intrepid “camp out all night to see hares in the dawn mist” type, who must surely be professionals with bottomless pockets to fund the long telephoto lenses used in most of these shots. I’m not denigrating their skill or commitment, but as these are shots that I don’t envisage myself ever taking I was happy to admire them but not inspired to follow suit.
In contrast the category that really did impress me was macro photography with incredible close up shots of insects revealing incredible detail but seemingly achieved with quite ordinary equipment. I went straight out into the ground to shoot close ups of their flowers!
My second “new” discovery was Beninbrough Hall; a much grander Georgian mansion set in sprawling ground where cattle and sheep graze freely. Beningbrough has a close relationship with the National Portrait Gallery, and so continually displays pictures from that collection, though these change in line with important themes. In timely fashion this year is focusing on creative women, and so there are paintings and photographs of the likes of Judi Dench, Darcey Bussell and Amy Winehouse, though my personal favourite had to be one of the smaller works; Neil Wilder’s photographic portrait of JK Rowling.
With no opportunity to take that inspiration outside and begin photographing famous authors I was off to the gardens in close up mode again, but with one exception and act of rebellion.
A walk along the River Ouse gives an opportunity to view the Hall in the context of it’s grounds, though even at some distance it is difficult to capture a truly representative shot because of the many trees that can obstruct the view. Time to get airborne again!