Walton Hall

My first outing with the camera. I decided to visit my wedding venue. Walton Hall is beautiful with its lake and moat around the listed building, elegant swans and fantastic geese gliding along. The grounds are bursting with colour at the moment with a range of flowers and shrubbery. It was a very bright day, so I had to really play around with the settings to get the right balance. It makes me laugh now because I know where I was going wrong, but my first shot came out pure white! Here a few of my favourites.

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This was on the way there, walking around the golf course. I like the colour of the hedging in the foreground and the way it leads us the trees in the background. I also like the way the hedging separates the larger tree. When taking this, I was thinking about ‘rule-of-thirds’, mentally sectioning parts of the image. I’m not sure if I’ve got this quite right yet. I still like the way everything is positioned here. The photo below, I wanted to try from a different position.

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I like this one because it shows the path this time still keeping the larger tree a part of the image. If I have another opportunity, I will centralise the path; I just feel it would create a better divide if the photo showed some symmetry.

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This one at the time, I didn’t like because of how dark the structure turned out, but after thinking about it – while not deliberate – I like how it becomes a silhouette against the blue sky. I’ll keep changing the settings to figure out how to get this effect deliberately in future.

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I will end on this pesky creature. My zoom wouldn’t reach her from the path leading up the hall, so in my naivety, I got a little closer – maybe a little too close for her liking (although I didn’t think it would be too close at the time, until she starting hissing that is!) Note to self: leave a nesting goose alone, or invest in a better lens. I’ll work on the latter, because the birds around here are too beautiful not to capture.

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Kick Start

To get started, I’ll be taking on small projects to practice new skills. Still unsure whether to take these on weekly or monthly just yet. These projects will come from photography magazines, websites, inspiration like the exhibition, or they can come from you. If you are a photographer (any level) or simply love to see moments captured beautifully, any ideas to get me started and learn new skills will be much appreciated. Last week, I went to my wedding venue to have a go with my first camera. Photos and my reflections will be up this week.

Project Sweetheart

During The First World War, soldiers were given a therapeutic activity which would help their healing process. As the nurses tended to their physical injuries, sweetheart cushions gave the soldiers a way to heal the mental and emotional scars of war. Once complete, they would be sent home to their loved ones.

Last year, a colleague and friend of mine, Olivia Young, began a project that she holds dear to her heart – a project that expressed her passion for both embroidery and The First World War. At the start of the month, she opened this project up to the public at her first ever exhibition. I was lucky and honoured to be invited to this remarkable event to celebrate Liv’s journey and begin my own in photography.

Fifty unique replica sweetheart pincushions were crafted to commemorate fifty soldiers – members of the Leeds Pals of Yorkshire – who fought and died on 1st July 1916, the first day of The Battle of the Somme. Each heart, made with love and care, has been dedicated to an individual Leeds Pal who lost his life that day.

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This one was my favourite that I reserved at the exhibition opening.

The exhibition was held at Rivers MEET in Methley where the sweetheart pincushions were on display for the public. It was beautifully simple and moving, carrying the theme of trench life and decorated with poppies. All hearts were carefully lined up along the burlap for everyone to enjoy. They were available for purchase after the event and a percentage of sales made have been donated to The Royal British Legion to help today’s veterans and families.

The exhibition truly showed Liv’s dedication to her craft and her passion for keeping the memories of the past alive. She is definitely one to watch with more commemorative sweetheart pincushions in the works as well as commission pieces requested by relatives of other soldiers who lost their lives in battle. This poignant event is the start of something truly special: the journey of a memorial textile artist.

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Olivia’s personal favourite.

You can follow Liv via her Facebook page ‘Liv & Sew: Memorial Textile Artist’ where you will find the full collection of sweetheart pincushions, along with previous work she has completed and future projects in the making.

*All photographs shown are my own and if edited will be stated in the captions below.

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