Derwent Valley Essence

Posted on August 12, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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In building up to the imminent launch of my Crowdfunding appeal for my book project The Valley That Changed The World, I needed to provide a key photo to go on my crowdfunder.co.uk page.  I was advised to ‘choose a photo that captures the essence of your project.’  Tough challenge considering  the rich variety of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.  After a morning’s Photoshopping, I came up with this…  pic of me courtesy of my pal Paul Mellor of Photopiece.

Derwent Valley Montage - flattened with lines


Darley Abbey Mills Regenerated

Posted on July 28, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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Darley Abbey Mills 021-EditMy Derbyshire Life article in the July issue about the regeneration of Darley Abbey Mills is now online – on the Derbyshire Life site (see link below).

As I mention in the article: ‘The quiet industrial revolution at Darley Abbey Mills is pleasing because it has seen the revitalisation of historic buildings that would otherwise have gone to rack and ruin; and it has fittingly returned a hive of industry to its former glory, one that is buzzing with a wide and varied colony of workers…

If all of this country’s disused mills had been converted similarly, there would be fewer of those ugly industrial estates lined with concrete and corrugated iron sheds.  Furthermore, the ‘dark, satanic mills’ of Blake’s Jerusalem were far from my thoughts as I visited businesses with freshly designed interiors, many with light, bright, airy spaces, and some with attractive beams and high windows inviting shafts of sunlight.’

Click here for the article.


July in Milford

Posted on July 26, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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Milford Calendar 2015 - 07 July 001-EditThis is the July page of my 2015 Milford Calendar, a farmer working on the land at Chevin Green Farm.  I have a busy month ahead selecting photos for my three 2016 calendars – Belper, Duffield and Milford.  Actually, it’s not a simple matter of selecting: I have hundreds of unprocessed photos as a result of taking so many more pictures of the Derwent Valley in this last year for my book of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.  Not only that, but this week I will be launching my Crowdfunding appeal for the book, which will mean an even more manic month.  I really need more hours in the day!

Belper Food Fest 2015

Posted on July 13, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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Belper Food & Drink Festival 2015 037I spent the whole of Sunday shooting the 9th Belper Food, Real Ale & Craft Festival.

My pride in Belper soars with each passing year and, in spite of a cloudy day, there was still a substantial turnout and afternoon arrivals were eventually greeted by sunshine.

There were the usual 100 plus stalls, a remarkable figure considering the first event in 2007 attracted 24.

Mind you, we were fortunate to have a festival at all with the organisers Devonshire Markets pulling out of the event only about three weeks ago.  Click on their website and there is nothing there – just a block of colour.

Having Googled Devonshire Markets, I notice that June’s Artisan Market in Sheffield – which was being organised by Devonshire Markets – was called off, so Belper Town Council and team did well to go ahead.

Belper Food & Drink Festival 2015 001Indeed, if anything the festival saw a few improvements, like the introduction of a petting zoo, a bigger space for dance performances and banners at each performance stage displaying the line-up of acts.

Ironically, this may well have been down to Devonshire Markets – after all, they were engaged by the Town Council as professionals who worked in the food festival arena.

As usual, the festival saw food and drink retailers from across the East Midlands and beyond serving up a highly diverse range of produce.

There were also numerous craft and gift stalls with plenty of town shops supporting the day by opening for business, plus face painters, balloon sellers, and the usual array of musical acts and dance troupes to enhance the street party atmosphere of the day.

Belper Food & Drink Festival 2015 009Photo-wise, I aim to shoot a wide range of pictures for both a Derbyshire Life photo spread and a montage in my Belper Calendar.

As usual, my favourite shots had nothing to do with food or drink – there are only so many ways to photograph a trade stall and none of them sets the creative juices flowing.
This year, I’m torn between three shots: the one top left of a sequinned infant dancer from Splitz who seemed to love every moment performing – she will go far; a second one also of youngsters – three delightful young girls who posed around the festival banner; and a lovely decisive moment when I noticed four youngsters totally enraptured by the hard rock band on the Market Place stage.

Two contrasting photos makes the important point that without volunteers, this event won’t happen.  Earlier in the day, I snapped the Town Mayor Dan Booth in his regalia.  Hours later, there he was in jeans and high viz jacket directing traffic.

As usual, I took a photo of the heaving masses progressing up and down King Street.

If I wait long enough, I’ll see someone I know who can form the centrepiece of that picture and, appropriately, I saw Sam Jackson, the former Fresh Basil owner who conceived the idea of the festival.

Belper Food & Drink Festival 2015 025The reason I need someone to pose for this shot is that it enables me to get at least one person in the picture who’s smiling.  You would think that everyone would be smiling at an event like this but no!

As a bonus, Sam posed with his two delightful daughters Sophie and Jessica.  I then snapped a few more people and inserted them all into one composite image.

Please tell me you can’t see the joins!  I do wonder, however, if I have got the perspectives right.  if not, tell me, because those people at the front are all on separate layers in my Photoshop file so I can enlarge or reduce them at any time!

Here’s a gallery of my 50 favourite shots (well, 46 plus the four above):



Take A View…

Posted on July 8, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer, Uncategorized
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Your View 003 On The BeachThis image – On The Beach – was taken in Scotland, though you might think it’s the West Indies or similar.  This is a slice of the Caribbean on the Isle of Harris, overlooking Luskentyre Bay. The two figures, though tiny, really make the image for me.  This picture probably represents my best chance of getting an acceptance at the 2015 Take A View Landscape Photographer of the Year book & exhibition, one of the most prestigious photo competitions in the world.

Luskentyre Sunset 003I entered for the first time last year and although I didn’t get any images accepted, I thought I would have another go. The quality of the work that gets in is exceptional and the entry is huge: over 20,000, with only around 150 images chosen.  So, if I get even one picture in, I will be elated. My other best chances are with two other images taken in Scotland on a photo trip a year last May.  The image above is also of Luskentyre Bay where I returned for a spectacular sunset.  The shapes in the wet sand make this pleasing for me.

Classic View 003 Skye Mountain HatThe third image is strong on drama, I feel.  I call it Skye Mountain Hat because of that amazing cloud; and because it’s made the view unusual, it might give me an edge when being judged.

There are other images (see the rest of my entire entry below) that may have a chance simply because of the drama of the skies: the shot of Heage Windmill (I still can’t believe that sky), the spectacular cloud shapes above the workers’ cottages in Belper, and the approaching storm clouds above Haddon Hall.  The windmill and workers’ cottages photos will be going in my forthcoming book The Valley That Changed The World (a photo book of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site), as will all the other images taken in the valley.  I would be especially thrilled if I could get one of my Derwent Valley images in the Take A View book as it would be great publicity for my own book!  If I had to choose one local image to go in, it would probably be Heage Windmill as I’m a Trustee!  However, sentiment aside, I am especially pleased with the pictures of the  father and son artists Rex and Mark Preston.  Rex is small in the shot of him beside the Cromford Canal but that’s what I like about it.  Here is this great painter quietly sketching on the towpath and the beauty of the canal is there for all to see. The photo of his son Mark is quite different: here he is ‘en plein air’ and you can clearly see the scene that he is painting.


‘The Ultimate Art Gallery Above’

Posted on July 7, 2015 by Admin under The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer, Uncategorized
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As I build up to my Crowdfunding appeal for my book of the Derwent Valley Mills, here’s one of my favourite images – showing Long Row Belper – which will definitely go in the book. I like the fact that it’s so timeless, having cropped at the bottom to hide the parked cars, and if I removed the aerials and turned it to black & white, it could have been taken 200 years ago. I did convert to mono but preferred the de-saturated look. It’s the clouds that make this image for me – you can’t beat big, fluffy clouds for drama and dynamism. ‘The ultimate art gallery above’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Long Row Belper

Duffield Squash

Posted on July 3, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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Duffield Squash Club - Website - Sarah+Graham+Tomlinsons 009Here are some of the most satisfying photos I have taken recently: for my squash & racquetball club at Duffield.

See how clean those squash court walls are?  In reality, there are marks everywhere. A squash club wall is only pristine for about a week following its annual facelift.   If only I had timed the photo session when those walls had been cleaned, it would have prevented my clone tool from crying out for mercy.

Duffield Squash Club - Website - Sarah+Graham+Tomlinsons 016




What also pleased me about these pictures is that they include Millie Tomlinson (above right) who is a great ‘local girl done good’ success story.

She hails from Duffield and graduated last September from Yale University in USA, winning the World University Championship and the British Under 23 National Championships.

Winning these and other titles has seen her climb from World no 141 to 53 in only 9 months.  So, she’s a great advert for squash.  It’s just a shame she won’t get the chance to compete in next summer’s Olympics as the Olympic Committee has three times in the last six years turned down the ‘fittest sport on the planet’ (Forbes Magazine) when it’s bid for Olympic recognition.

Duffield Squash Club - Website - Sarah+Graham+Tomlinsons 014The last time the squash fraternity bid, they lost out to golf.  It makes me wonder if the Olympic Committee has shades of FIFA.

Which sports-minded person in their right mind would turn down a sport that is played by 20 million people in over 185 countries?  Also, winning Olympic Gold should represent the pinnacle of every Olympic sport.  Yet if Rory McIllroy wins Gold in Rio, will he cherish it more than his US Open title?  Of course not.  Golf?  an Olympic sport?  Do me a favour.

OK, squash is not as popular as golf but neither is beach volleyball or synchronised swimming, so how did they get in?  American influence?  As I say, shades of FIFA maybe.

Anyway, off the soap box, back to the pictures.  Millie was joined in this photo shoot by her two sisters Mollie and Maddie who also play squash and I got three other squash club members – Sarah, Graham and Ollie – to pose for me.  I’ve seen a lot of stock image library photos of squash and I reckon these are more realistic because although they posed, they know HOW to pose with their racquet and stance in just the right position.

At some point, these images will find their way on to the Duffield Squash & Racquetball Club Website.  Have a look… and think about taking it up.  I’m of a certain age yet I’m as fit as a butcher’s dog through playing regularly.

Duffield Carnival 2015

Posted on June 29, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer, Uncategorized
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Duffield Carnival 2015 010Had a fabulous Saturday afternoon shooting the Duffield Carnival. It was wonderful to see, as always, a proper carnival with a parade and floats (remember those?) and so many from the community dressing up.

The Storybook theme of this year’s event produced two of the finest floats seen at the Carnival since I started photographing it in 2008.

The Meadows School went with Harry Potter and, splendid as that was, the William Gilbert School celebration of Alice in Wonderland’s 150th anniversary was a stunning winner, with a float and ‘supporting cast’ teeming with colour, variety and invention.

The sun shone all afternoon and I managed to get some great shots with the backdrop of blue skies and dramatic clouds.

Duffield Carnival 2015 023In the photo gallery below, you’ll see: celebrity auctioneer Charles Hanson who opened the event; Frumptam Guggen Band from Lancashire who fronted the parade and proved very popular with their unique mix of brass with punchy percussion; local dance troupe Vision Dance; Makeney Morris; and a host of revellers enjoying rides, Punch & Judy, Tug-of-War and a Climbing Wall.

All 150+ photos from the Carnival are available to buy as prints – or even mugs, key rings, fridge magnets and mouse mats.

25% of the proceeds will go to the Duffield Carnival.  To go the gallery on my website, click here

Please note: if you are in any of the photographs and object to your face being included in this gallery, please let me know and I will remove it.

Painting the Derwent

Posted on June 25, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer
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Colin Halliday 001For my forthcoming photo book of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, I decided to capture a hardy species which, if you’re lucky, you may find in the wild, namely pictor expositus aeris: the open air painter, armed with brush, easel and canvas.

So far, I have photographed a few of Derbyshire’s finest landscape artists actually painting en plein air, including father and son Rex and Mark Preston and Andrew Macara.

My latest capture was Duffield artist Colin Halliday, painting by the Derwent near Peckwash Mill towards Little Eaton.

As Colin favours big canvases and uses a camping table as a makeshift palette, it makes for a very photogenic image and although I had to squeeze behind him by the lapping water, my wide angle lens opened up the scene so that you could see what he was painting.

There’s something I love about Colin’s work… As I stood a few feet from his painting – which is almost finished – I could see the detail.  However, get close up, and you lose yourself in a different painting: a beautiful, colourful abstraction of thick brush strokes.

I suddenly wondered how Colin would transport his painting to and from the river.  It would be still wet, of course – in fact, when finished, he says it can take up to six weeks to dry – so Colin has no other option but to walk with the canvas on his head, the artwork pointing to the sky.  I didn’t dare tempt fate by asking him what we would do if suddenly the heavens opened.  What’s more, Colin has to then go back to his painting spot to carry away his camping table, oils, flask etc.

Mark Preston - Painting at Cromford 002-EditMark Preston – seen here also by the river (at Cromford), says that sometimes the rain has actually helped his paintings by mixing in with the paint and ‘creating a more mysterious and abstract effect.’

Mark has just sent me a photo of the completed painting and, at the moment, including the finished work in my photo as an inset is the way I want to present the final photo image in the book – and the same will go for the image of Colin.






Rex Preston 001For the image of Rex Preston, I felt I had to include both his sketch and finished painting because Rex – pictured sitting on the towpath at Cromford Canal – tends to sketch in situ and do the painting back in his studio.  His sketches appear quite, well… ‘sketchy’ and basic but he obviously retains a clear memory of the scene as the finished paintings always look evocative and true.


Andrew Macara 001The other photos show Andrew Macara, also by the Cromford Canal, and Jen Aitken beside the Derwent at Cromford.  Look closely at both those images and you will see painterly splodges of colour.  This is because I took both images into a piece of software called Topaz Simplify where one effect – with the click of the mouse – turns the photo image into an oil painting.  The full effect is always too ‘splodgy’ so I have to adjust various sliders to retain more of the integrity of the photograph but I thought it would look effective on images of artists with their work.  DOES it work?  I’m not sure yet!

Jen Aitken 001


Isabella Art Sale

Posted on June 13, 2015 by Admin under Derbyshire, The Life of a Derbyshire Photographer, Uncategorized
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Isabella Art Sale 002I was delighted to offer one of my photo art prints (of Belper Mill) to help the Isabella Peatfield Memorial Fund.  My friend Louise Dunning, a visual arts curator, is goddaughter to Isabella who died when she was just five years old, ten years ago next Boxing Day, in the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and other Asian countries.

Isabella’s parents Kim and Tristan were also swept up in the waves but survived and set up this Fund to support children in Sri Lanka.  The money they raise provides playgrounds, libraries, books and clothes for children and for orphanages in Sri Lanka.  You can visit the website for more information: www.isabellapeatfield.com

Isabella loved drawing, something she inherited from Tristan, who is a film and TV production designer, so her parents thought it would be fitting to hold an art trail and sale at their house and garden near Ashbourne, to raise money for this cause.

Kim Peatfield with Louise Dunning with some of the artwork in the Isabella Art Sale

Kim Peatfield with Louise Dunning on the day of the art sale

I was thrilled to have my work on show alongside celebrated, award-winning artists like Lewis Noble, Kerri Pratt, Deborah Allitt and Nick Hedderly, as well as two photographers whose work I so admire – Nick Lockett and John Tunley.  Better still, my image of Belper Mill was sold and the sale overall raised nearly £5000 which will go directly to funding a new library and employing a librarian in Sri Lanka.