Mel had worked with a publisher to produce a coffee-table book of her images of Snowdonia. Copies of the book, signed on the spot by Mel, were available for sale at the exhibition. The contents were mainly photographs with a limited amount of accompanying text to describe the scene and state the settings she’d used. Jamie made sure to buy a copy for himself and Tony bought one for display in the shop.
The publisher had worked with her and one of his staff to produce the cover and the front and back pages. Otherwise, the main task had been to decide which images to include and in what sequence in the book.
Her dad had taken time out from his architecture practice to provide support, such as handing out leaflets about the exhibits and selling copies of the book, while Mel spoke to visitors about the specific images displayed on the stands around the exhibition hall.
In the relatively closed world of photography, Mel was now a celebrity.
March – A major achievement
It had been around the time of the exhibition that she’d entered the competition that would make one of her dreams come true. The theme had been “Travel”. It wasn’t the first time that she’d entered competitions with a travel theme – such as ones organised by regional tourist boards.
The prize for this international competition had been a high four-figure sum. There had been an entrance fee and there were strings about copyright and future use of the images, but Mel, hoping at best for a second or third prize had agreed without hesitation.
In mid-March, she heard that she had won. In addition to the cash prize, there had been vouchers for use with an international airline to be used within the following twelve months.
When she told Jamie, he immediately passed on the news to his mum and dad. Tony asked her permission to tell the local paper about her success. The week after publication she was approached by the regional newspaper and television companies for interviews. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to know what she would spend her winnings on.
Tony had framed a copy of the regional newspaper article and placed it in the shop window – as he’d expected, it brought in more visitors. The more that the shop became associated with top rank photography, the more likely it was to attract high-spending customers.
It took a while for Mel to finally settle on a decision regarding the prize. She talked it over with her mum and dad and also with the Hannays. Jamie had been upset when they’d discussed it but had known what Mel had in the front of her mind. In a way, Tony held the key. Eventually, after a few weeks of research and consideration, she approached him one mid-week morning in early April.
He was standing in the Gallery, looking out of the window at the rain.
‘Tony?’ she asked, ‘I know that it’s going to be the really busy time leading up to Christmas, but would you mind me taking all of my annual leave in late November running into December this year – and possibly a few days extra unpaid leave?’
‘Hmm!’ he said, ‘I bet that I can guess what this is about, Mel. Of course you can defer your leave. Tell me, what is it you’re planning to do?’
‘What I’d like to do is to book a flight to Auckland, New Zealand,’ she said, ‘spend two nights in Singapore to break the trip, spend two nights in Auckland then fly down to Queenstown in the South Island.’
‘Wow!’ Tony said. ‘I assume Jamie knows about this. Is it the first time you’ve been to New Zealand?’
‘No, you may remember that, at my interview, I told you about the first time, when I went backpacking, after university, with a friend for a year around both islands, before we moved on to Australia. Jamie knows what I want to do. I have discussed it with him. He’s sad, but he says that he understands why I want this so much. He also realises that it’s something that we couldn’t do together. Imagine him having to traipse after me, following me round like a lap dog while all my attention was on a shooting schedule.’
‘I’ve not been on any long-distance flights since,’ she said. ‘but I’ve been to a couple of places like Venice, Rome and Paris with my mum and dad. They were nothing like this trip will be. I’m factoring in a stay-over this time – to minimise jetlag and to do some photography there.’
‘So,’ he said, ‘What are your plans for when you arrive in Queenstown?’
‘Well, I expect to have taken quite a lot of photos in Singapore before then, plus some night-time shots across Auckland Harbour,’ she explained, ‘but, as I said, I want to fly to Queenstown from there and use it as a base for the rest of my stay. I’ve done loads of research and most of the shots I want will be in the south of South Island.’
‘Yes, I can see that doing it that way makes sense,’ he said. ‘How do you plan to get around though from Queenstown?’
I intend, other things being equal,’ she said, ‘to book and collect a campervan. That will provide both transport and overnight accommodation. At least, that’s what I’m planning for at the moment, subject to a bit more research – hire cost, fuel estimate, facilities included, refuelling costs and so forth.’
‘Not hostelling then, this time?’ he asked.
‘No, The campervan is just in case though – I’d prefer to use powered campsites, but there again, I need to check probable costs against my budget. At least a substantial part of my flight costs will be covered by the airline vouchers from the competition.’
He nodded. ‘Anything in particular you’re hoping to see?’
‘A lot will depend on weather,’ she said, ‘but I’m hoping to see the lakes south of Mount Cook and Lake Wanaka. Then there’s Queenstown itself and its lake, but I’m budgeting lots of time for being around Milford Sound and Fjordland.’
‘Is that to insure against weather conditions?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I’ve heard that you can get four seasons of weather in a single day down there. Poor visibility can either make or break a shot. Low morning mist over the Sound is one thing – thick fog, snow or dense cloud are something else.’
‘Okay, Mel,’ he said, ‘You’ve obviously done a lot of thinking already. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve no problems about you taking your leave November – Decemberish. I quite understand why. I’m sure that Lucy can arrange baby-minding cover with either my mum or hers to look after Elaine so that she can give Marcus a hand at the shop if needs be.’
‘That’s a relief,’ she said, ‘I can start booking then.’
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but listen. Just take two weeks of your leave. We can donate two week’s pay to thank you for all the extra business you’ve been bringing into the shop.’
She threw her arms around him.
‘’Thank you so much, Tony. You’re a real love,’ she said.
Today, I continue my series of photos taken in and around the Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge, where I spent a Saturday earlier in June.
This next shot is another scene from the canal that runs through the town. A young workman relaxes in the sunshine in his lunchbreak by the canal.
For all these shots, I used my Pentax KP 24 MP cropped sensor camera twinned with a Pentax 16-85 mm f/3.5-5.6 mm lens. The EXIF data for this photo were 1/400 secs @ f/10, focal length 16 mm, and ISO 400.