Belper Blooms, Burgundy Displays, The HDR Way and the Heritage Way

Posted on November 12, 2012 by Admin under Derbyshire


Belper Blooms, Burgundy Displays, The HDR Way and the Heritage Way


Belper calendar

We all like to say we live in the best place in the country. I can now say it with confidence because it’s official: my home town of Belper, which has won Best Large Town for three consecutive years at East Midlands in Bloom, has now been crowned Best Large Town at Britain in Bloom. What makes the award significant is that it’s not just about having pretty blooms in flower beds; it’s as much about cleanliness and conservation as it is colour. It’s also about community spirit, which you need in spades to keep a place looking good.

Belper calendar

This award has come at a good time for me: my Belper Calendar is out and the town’s jewel in the crown – its River Gardens – is on the front cover.  My calendars of Duffield and Milford are also out. All three are the best I’ve done which is how it should be really. One should always look to improve; if I had to admit that my latest calendar wasn’t up to the standard of the previous one, I shouldn’t be publishing it.

derbyshire calendars


One good reason my calendars are an improvement on last year’s is my increasing use of HDR – High Dynamic Range –  photography.  Essentially, you take three shots of the same image, one as the camera meter reads the scene, one under-exposed, and one over-exposed.

Blend the three frames together in special software – I recommend Photomatix – and abracadabra. It IS like magic, too. The resultant image brings out all the detail in the scene.  It’s not an image as the naked eye would see it: it’s better.  It’s painterly and dramatic.




The Belper calendar cover is HDR, and so are these images (above) from Burgundy.  I visited two ex-Radio Derby friends Christine and Graham Battye who, ten years ago, set up home in Montreal near Dijon. They offer gite accommodation and B&B – and an art gallery, which is where I come in. They’ve invited me to exhibit, and as ‘international exhibitor’ would look rather good on my CV, I’ve accepted, especially having done a recce of the area. It’s a glorious part of France – it’s quite flat but that means big skies and as well as being rural and verdant, it’s beautifully unspoilt, and almost medieval. Montreal is a delightful village with 18 turrets – and Christine and Graham have got one of them as you can see in the picture below.


As I say, All the Burgundy pics you see are HDR. I am a confirmed HDR addict and will get a further fix next Spring when I return to complete my photos for the exhibition. I recommend a stay at C&G’s place.  It’s called Maison Crème Anglaise which translates as Custard House  – a nice English touch.  They have even got a dog called Custard – and a cat called Rhubarb.  Here’s their website which will soon include lots of pics from me as I sang for my supper by photographing their accommodation.


By an extraordinary coincidence, I renewed my friendship with Christine when she asked me to help promote her new book Walking Back to Happiness.  It recounts Christine’s journey from southern France to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.  It’s a light, lively, amusing, personal and poignant read which I would warmly recommend.  Here’s the link to the book on Amazon.

Why an extraordinary coincidence?  Because my next book is also about walking. Since 2006, Derbyshire Life has been publishing my articles on a series of new circular walks along the Derwent Valley Heritage Way, all devised by my walking pal Mike Warner.
We were hoping to see all 19 walks published in consecutive months and a book to swiftly follow.  However, six years on, we have just completed the last walk.  Look… I’ve been busy, ok?  As it turns out, April 2013 sees the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way so that’s a perfect time to publish our book.  This is where you come in… We need to fund the book.
We’ve come up with the brilliant idea of publishing a limited edition, subscription copy in hardback.   If sufficient people pledge to purchase this advance copy, it will enable us to print not only 250 hardback books but also between 750 – 1,000 paperback copies for selling in the shops.
The book’s working title is an indication of the tone of the publication: it’s Derbyshire Ramblings – Walking in Circles down the Derwent Valley.  This is no dry, dull walks guidebook with a few pencil illustrations.  It’s a lavishly photographed and rip-roaringly entertaining journey taking in the fascinating history of the Heritage Way, mixed with my musings on the stuff of life and the way of the world – a world where Two Grumpy Old Men meet Three Men In A Boat.

derbyshire photographer


So what do you get for your subscription copy?  Well, the hardback will be just under A4 size – bigger than the softback copy – and will include your name printed along with the other subscribers on a special page.  This hardback will only be available privately and limited to 250 copies.  Although the published price is £25, your advance copy is available to buy at £20.  It will be available just prior to the publication of the paperback in April 2013.

If you can help, please email me your pledge at info@ashleyfranklin.co.uk  Hopefully, the next email you receive from me will confirm publication of Derbyshire Ramblings and then an announcement of a special Champagne and Twiglets launch at a venue along the Heritage Way (when you can come and pick up your book and save us postage).  By the way… you can order more than one copy if you wish!