My Top 4 pictures of 2023

Looking back on my photographic year, 2023 was an exciting one and there were several achievements including making the Landscape Photographer of the Year book. Two pictures were featured and these are described in my blog. Therefore I decide to choose four pictures that summed up my activity over the year. I love sunrises and sunsets in the golden hour. I have included a few of my favourite locations including Moor Street Station, Digbeth (including the Custard factory), Normandy Hill in Houlton near Rugby and the Lake District. My photographs have strong themes in the areas of Cityscapes and Street Photography. I do like a good reflection and trying to be different with my pictures. Let us take a look at my selection of photographs.

Sunrise at Birmingham Moor Street offers many street photography opportunities. Arriving early to take a picture of the sunrise, I looked around for a good view. The first London train was about to leave and another commuter train was just leaving. This scene made me think of the KLF song ‘Train to Trancentral’. The man pushing the button to release the doors, the sunrise and the golden train in the distance all came together at once. A very fortunate capture at Moor Street Train Station. (Taken with my iPhone 15)

Sunrise at Moor Street Station, November, 2023
All aboard, all aboard, whoa.

Normandy Hill is near Houlton in Rugby. The area of Hillmorton is nearby and the canal runs along the foot of the hill. The place used to have wireless masts for Rugby radio. The masts have been removed and the remnants of the bases are all that remain. When the conditions are right the hill has spectacular sunrises and sunsets. There are also views of the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. On a barmy night in July, I set up my travel tripod for my Fujifilm X100V. My camera settings were f/11, s 1/250 ISO 160. The sun was setting low and was just on the horizon. I pressed the button and realised that I had capture three people and their dog passing through the picture. The result was pleasing with the line up of the men and the sun outlining the shaggy coat of the dog. The rays of the sun were captured too. The atmosphere of the shot provides a permanent reminder of all the pictures that I have taken on Normandy Hill.

Normandy hill, Houlton, Rugby, July, 2023.
The last rays of summer sun on Normandy Hill.

Our family summer holiday was at Lowfield House in Little Langdale. Arguably, this spot is the heart of the Lake District and is the starting point for several walks. A place I wished to visit was Cathedral Cave, which is a short 45 minute walk from Lowfield House. Cathedral Cave is an impressive chamber. As a former slate quary, the cave is atmospheric with an open window in the wall allowing light into the cavern. There is a large slate cylinder that appears to be supporting the ceiling. There is a pool of water to the back of the cave which provided many reflections allowing one to appreciate the grand space of the cavern. Needless to say, I, like many photographers who visit this place, just wanted to take lots of pictures. The picture of Jim, my son-in-law, at the mouth of the cave proved to be a popular post on Instagram. Taken with the iPhone13.

Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim standing at the entrance to Cathedral Cave. The surface water provided suitable reflections.

I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon wandering around Digbeth, Birmingham and came across @mr_h0spitalflip and his friends on the side steps of the Custard Factory. They kindly let me sit in and take a few pictures whilst they were skateboarding on the steps. I knew this was the best picture as soon as I viewed the result on the back of the camera. I was not using a burst on the shutter. Just one picture and I caught the skateboarder in the light doing the “Custard flip”. Taken with the Fujifilm X100v, ƒ/5.6, s 1/500, ISO 640.

Digbeth, Birmingham, October, 2023
The Custard flip

I also found my Top nine from Instagram and these show my most popular posts by the number of likes. The two UKLPOTY pictures feature heavily. There is a picture of Sandy and me. I was also pleased to see the blossom in Oozells square and my trip to the States feature in the high scores. All good fun!

My top 9 instagram posts in 2023.
My Top 9 Instagram posts in 2023.

Links to my Top 4 photographs of 2023. I realise that I do not have a blog about Normandy Hill and I shall write one up in 2024. I have also included my Top 4 ion 2022 for comparison.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023

Our holiday base was at Lowfield House in Little Langdale. Arguably, this spot is the heart of the Lake District and is the starting point for several walks. Slater’s bridge and Cathedral Cave are both accessible in a short 45 minute walk from Lowfield House. Setting off from the house we walked past the Three Shires Pub, down a country lane and then over the fields. We quickly reached Slater’s bridge which crosses over the river Brathay. Here the river is more peaceful than Colwith Force further downstream. This bridge is made entirely of slate and dates back to the 17th Century. With the back drop of the valley and the fells on either side, this packhorse bridge was built by miners to transport materials from the nearby mines. Several pictures were taken around the bridge before we headed off to the mines.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Slater’s bridge showing the walker’s path up to Little Langdale.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Another view of this wonderful packhorse bridge.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
A picture apportunity on the bridge.

We approached the slate queries where Cathedral Cave is located and missed the accessible entrance. Instead we moved up to the higher ground finding the entrance to the top gallery that looks down on the large chamber. My daughters were not impressed with my photographer’s instinct to get the best view possible. I was not allowed near the edge which was a sheer drop down into the cave. However, I still managed some good pictures of the cave from the rock gallery.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Entering into the upper part of the cave.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim shines a light in the top gallery with the larger cave behind.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Rob and Natasha with the beautiful view behind them.

We explored outside looking for the entrance to the chamber. There appeared to be a precarious entrance along the rim of the quarry but after watching some walkers finding the descent difficult in the damp conditions we decided not to follow. I was a little despondent as I would have loved to have found the cave. As Sian and I walked back in front of the others, we found the entrance to the Cave. I should correct myself and say that Sian found the entrance. The group was excited as we entered into the chamber.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
People passing through the cave provide an estimation of scale.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
The central cylinder of slate with other rock deposits reflected in the water within the cave.

I was so pleased to visit the Cathedral Cave. The impressive chamber is very atmospheric with the open window in the wall allowing light into the cave. There is a large slate cylinder that appears to be supporting the ceiling. The pool of water to the back of the cave provides many reflections allowing one to appreciate the grand space of the cavern. Needless to say, I, like many photographers who visit this place, just wanted to take lots of pictures. I hope you enjoy the journey through the series of photographs that I have taken.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Jim stands at the entrance to the cave.

On the way back we passed by a ford which would be fun to drive through if you had the right type of vehicle. We followed the path home but took a quick stop at the Three Shires Inn where I enjoyed a pint of my favourite beer named after the Old Man of Coniston. The pub is not of the same character as the Sun in Coniston and the only saving feature is the beer.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
The deep ford over the river Blathey

Postscript – We enjoyed the walk so much that we took the grandchildren along the same path. They so enjoyed the bridge and the visit to the cave. They will remember this visit for a long time in the future.

Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Walking towards Slater’s Bridge
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Group photograph on the bridge.
Slater's bridge and Cathedral Cave, Little Langdale, the Lake District, August 2023
Performing in Cathedral Cave.

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Links to the complete series of my blogs around our visit to Little Langdale in the Lake District in August 2023.

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