Light, Camera, Action.

Added on by valerie dalling.

Just how many of us are there in this relationship?

I have always thought of myself as a visual artist, and I guess that’s what three years of studies concentrating on the image has done for me, with the technical bit coming later, as I kept hearing. That was eight years ago now, and yet I still struggle with that ‘technical bit’, to the point of frustration not only for me, but I’m sure for others who know me as well.

There are three cameras in my life, my most treasured being my beautiful Mamiya medium format 645 which I got to know and fell in love with during those three years, where film ruled for me and I felt reasonably happy with the work I was producing in the darkroom.


© valerie dalling   Mamiya Medium Format 645

Apart from bringing it out for a dust occasionally, the camera sadly now sits in a cupboard waiting to be loved again. It has played a big part in my photographic life and I wouldn’t let it go unless I had very good reason to do so. Besides, I have everything I need for my own darkroom now, so who knows, one day I may even get to know it again.

So I came to realise that it was time to teach an old dog new tricks, as the cost of those three years working with film took its toll, and digital would have to be the way forward for my art.

I have two digital cameras, a Nikon D80 and a Panasonic Lumix G3.

The Panasonic was only bought three years ago for a trip to Italy. I wanted something compact that would be an easy travelling companion for me, and I had only given myself a couple of weeks to get to know it, so to be sure I came home with some decent photographs, I admit that it was on auto for most of the holiday. 


© valerie dalling   Panasonic Lumix G3

I think the G3 and I have quite a good understanding of one another now, and although I’m still discovering new things about it, I know I can trust and rely on it to serve me well.

Finally my Nikon D80, which I bought in 2006 when it was launched, and of course it coincided with the end of my studies. We seem to have a ‘love hate’ relationship as although it is constantly by my side out in the field, I have never really understood it.


© valerie dalling   Nikon D80

Despite ‘counselling’ I do wonder whether there is a future for us, but I don”t like to give in without fighting for something I feel is worthy. I’m steadily working my way through all its good and bad points and trying desperately to reach some kind of compromise before making any decisions as to whether I finally say goodbye and move on. 

All the photographs I have made and chosen as examples in this post I am very happy with, and particularly the final image ‘Flow 1’ taken with my Nikon, so you see I feel there is hope for us yet, despite my doubts and ever nagging thoughts of a possible change in allegiance.

Drive Time - 3rd May

Added on by valerie dalling.

Getting to know the wildflowers of the Peak District

Whenever the camera and I set off on one of our Peak District Drive Time journeys together, I never usually know quite where we will end up, as in a nutshell, this project is all about personal discovery.

I am beginning to find it will be easier for me to try and write about my days out in a blog, which I’m hoping will eventually become incorporated in a website about my travels…I suppose this is all part of the learning process for me, and as the project develops then so will I, so please bear with me.

Yesterday was slightly different in as much as I knew before I left home that I was going to spend the day in search of wildflowers, well it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, and it seemed the perfect way to spend a quiet day with nature.


I take different routes up to the Peak District and yesterday I went via Middleton by Wirksworth where I stopped to take this photograph. I have always found it to be a welcoming sight, an invitation if you like, despite the fact that I’m actually leaving the village rather than just arriving. 

Continuing on my journey it wasn’t long before I reached the turning for Stanton in the Peak. I have visited this hilltop village only once before and that was for a beer at The Flying Childers, a great traditional village pub with plenty of history, particularly in the name so it was nice to take a leisurely drive along the lanes this time, taking in some beautiful distant views on my route. I made a couple of stops for photos before having to make a decision whether to turn left or right. Left it was and as I slowly started to descend I spotted a lovely bank of trees…


I wanted to get closer so taking the road towards Rowsley I soon found myself parked by the side of it. I have to be honest and say I’m not sure whether I should have walked into the field or not, but the gate was open so I took my chances as I really couldn’t resist my findings…bluebells! I hadn’t seen them from the top lane but there they were, an absolute delight, so that was the next couple of hours taken care of!


Eventually after some 200 photographs later, I left this pretty new found location and headed for Peter’s Stone, Wardlow Mires, an area I was already familiar with and where I was first introduced to some particularly beautiful wildflowers of the Peak District.  I have yet to photograph an orchid I feel completely happy with but it would be wrong of me not to include one from my day along with a personal favourite of mine, the cuckooflower. 

Again I had parked within sight of my destination, where a short walk took me to a little dip in the landscape and these tiny but beautiful flowers. The occasional walker passed the time of day with me as I enjoyed a picnic and sat writing for a while, before finally putting my camera into action.



I decided to finish off my day with a drive to Froggatt Edge before starting to make my way home, as the light was beginning to fade.

So until the next time…

All my images were handheld and taken with my Panasonic Lumix G3.

Seeing the landscape through photography and painting

Added on by valerie dalling.

I had a fabulous walk in Edale recently, with the very talented artist and tutor Jenny Oldknow. It was very much an experimental and fun day for both of us, as we spent time enjoying our surroundings, talking about the landscape and taking photos along the way, Jenny used her mobile phone, I had my Lumix.

Back in her studio a couple of days later it was equally as fun turning the tables as I had a go at painting my very first Derbyshire landscape through Jenny’s photograph, and I was pretty chuffed with the result.

It wasn’t until I started to think about the landscape some more and look again at my painting, that I decided to ask her to send me the photo and at the same time explain her focus to me when she made the picture…

I loved the twists of the land and how the river suddenly appeared around the bend. The image is easy to look at as the curves in the landscape lead the eye through it. My focus was primarily on the water, showing how it flowed through the landscape, both a product of the geography as well as the creator of it” Jenny

Although I had in mind an abstract painting, for me I was surprised how much detail I had still included, as this isn’t always the case with my photographic work. While Jenny’s photo was at hand and the paper  had been prepared to help guide me, I still wanted it to be my own interpretation, my memory of the day.

Like Jenny, my focus was also the water, as I do tend to spend so much time by it, and I think this is why I wanted it to dominate, and yet what’s really interesting for me, is that although I still chose to include the skyline in my painting I didn’t include The Woolpacks which can just be seen on the horizon in her photograph…it never even entered my head.

Should I have included these rocks, as they are after all an important part of the landscape? What effect if any, would this have had on my painting? I am always quite conscious when making photographs of what lies within the frame before pressing the shutter release, making sure everything within it is important and relevant to my picture…so what about when painting from photographs even if they are only for reference? What’s different? Do I see or think differently when I have a paintbrush in my hand rather than a camera?

Interesting thoughts to ponder…I look forward to the next time I pick up the paintbrush with Jenny.