Sunday 26 January 2014

"Home is..." near Bridgenorth

After a little gap in proceedings caused by the appalling weather recently, we're back to shooting pictures for the "Home is..." project.  Whilst its all well and good rolling up to some deserted hillside or beach at daft-o-clock in the morning in the summer to get a shot in an empty location, there are some places which would be perfect to shoot in, where you need to ask permission.
This leads us to this location, Eardington, on the Severn Valley Railway.  We spotted this station on the way back from the recce at Christmas, around the Country Park.  We decided it offered some decent backdrops for the project, wrote off to the Severn Valley, and they kindly agreed to let us come and use the location.

The location in question is Eardington Station, just south of Bridgenorth.  In the early days of the SVR it was a public station, but its closeness to Bridgenorth means it is now closed to the public and is used just by the engineering staff.  For us, that means a well-kept platform and buildings, parked train of goods wagons, no public to stroll into the shots, and because the railway is closed to the public at the moment, no chance of being run over whilst taking pictures.

The site gave us three suitable, distinctive backgrounds in the end, which was fantastic as we've been trying for a railway-themed shot since the summer, without success. 


This is Steve, who basically gave us free reign of the site for the morning, provided us with cups of tea (an essential feature of location shoots), and was an all-round good chap with us.  We even got him to model for one of the shots, which was very good of him.  A word of thanks also to Phil, the first person we spoke to at Bewdley (the main offices for the railway) who helped arrange all this and made our visit possible in the first place.
We did two of the chair pics at the site, and also the first of the different room sets, in this case a hobby room (model railway), which will be followed by similar set-ups elsewhere shortly.  We've been building other sets, portable bedroom, office, etc to use, and these will crop up in blog postings shortly.  There's going to be more about the above set in a separate post on the model-making blog shortly.

We ended up being very lucky with the weather- having travelled down on the Friday in torrential rain, we got about four hours of beautiful blue skies and sunshine to do the shoot; within a couple of hours of us packing up, the midlands was hit by a thunderstorm with hail, rain, the full works.
So a big thanks to Steve, Phil, and the Severn Valley Railway for letting us shoot the pics at Eardington, and letting us work at such a fantastic location.  Coming soon, with luck, Ribblehead and the Pennines...


Thursday 9 January 2014

"Home is…" not going to be in the Severn Valley...

More recce visits for the "Home is…" project from our trip to the West Midlands, and a lesson on the importance of doing these trips out to the intended spots rather than just turning up somewhere with a boot full of furniture.  One thing I can say about this project is that just about every 'favourite' location from a past project that we've tried to revisit has been rendered unsuitable in the last few years.

We set out for Northwood, near Bewdley, a spot I used to go to loads when I was younger, as a starting point for walks along the Severn Valley up to Arley.  At the end of the long and winding Northwood Lane there is a car park, an aqueduct, railway crossing, and nice views across the River Severn...

…or used to be, before Severn Trent sealed off the car park.  The lane was a lot longer and windier (if thats a word) than I remembered too, and there are now a lot more chalets and static caravans full of people who look at you a bit suspiciously if you park up on 'their' road.

Deciding that the perimeter fences would make for a bit of a dull backdrop, we proceeded up the valley to Highley, and a spot used for several past projects.  After about 40 mins of driving round and round the village trying to find the right road, we at last reached the intended location...

…which was also now unsuitable.  

The access to the golf course was blocked, and furthermore the track to it looked like a scene from the western front, definitely not one to do with a load of furniture in tow.

There was also nowhere safe to shoot a pic near the crossing either which had a flat enough surface.

On the positive side though, on the way home we spotted a couple of potentially better locations, so we're asking the requisite permission to shoot at the newer spots.  So not a total waste of a trip with a bit of luck, but it has reminded us why we need to check a location before just rolling up there...

Thursday 2 January 2014

"Home is…" in the West Midlands. Bostin.

Having somewhat exhausted locations in Wales over the summer, we took the opportunity of visiting family in the West Midlands to scout-out some locations in and around Birmingham.  First stop was at the new City Library, which was mainly a nosy visit to see what the place was like (having seen it on the Culture Show).

The roof terrace at the front of the Library offers a nice view out over the city, which would be nice as we fancied having a big dramatic cityscape to contrast with the countryside shots we've done so far.  No idea who we'd have to ask for permission about this sort of thing, but might be worth a look.

Not a bad skyline, nice mix of architecture...

This was followed by a morning scouting around in post-apocalypse Langley Green.  The poor weather didn't help, but frankly this area is a bit of a tip.  It was somehow much nicer when I (Ben) was growing up here, when the industries were still active.  The scene above is from a road which ran between metal-working factories until a few years ago.

This is the old Langley Maltings, which would make a good location.  Its a listed building which, like all listed buildings standing empty on potential housing land, suffered a slightly suspect fire, and is awaiting demolition. 

 Again, would be a good location, but would need permission to be on-site.  I know the cool urbex-photographer crowd would sneer at asking permission, but there's a difference between sneaking in somewhere with a camera and trying to navigate around a slowly-collapsing factory with a living rooms worth of furniture.  All these shots were taken through the fence, from the road.

Round the corner from the Maltings is the still-active chemical works of Solva, Langley Green, which will forever be Albrights and Wilsons to anyone who lived here.  The site is massively reduced from what it was when I was little, and some of the outlying parts of the site are abandoned, including the railway loading dock on the truncated Oldbury Town branch line.

This is handy, given our lack of success in finding a derelict railway line in Wales (which was there, but inaccessible by foot from anywhere with handy parking).  This line has been abandoned since the early 90's and is now completely severed from the main line so no chance of getting run over.  And happily its all on the public side of the fences.

Alongside the railway, and slightly more photogenic, a rather nice stretch of the canal, with decent views in both directions.

And the final location, this rather fantastic spot under the motorway, which I visited for a project a long time ago whilst at University.

Definitely some decent locations, and a nice contrast with the beaches and mountainsides, so we'll be coming back later in the year, maybe around Easter…

Coming next, more location scouting in the Severn Valley. 

Wednesday 1 January 2014

"Home is…" in the lakes, potentially

Christmas saw us up in the Lake District, and a chance to do some general landscape photography as well as looking for potential locations for "Home is…"

First stop (for breakfast), a lay-by on a B-road at a location that can best be described as "Somewhere near Cartmel", because I didn't make a note of the exact location.  Mainly a chance to have a bit of a play with long-exposure shots of water, in the low lighting conditions.

We then headed for the coast, and Ravenglass, a nice, small little village we visited a lot during Amys Cumbrian Coast Railways project when we were at Uni.  Decent weather, and the place was deserted.  Potential for some locations here for "Home is…" with the wide open spaces.

Though care to be taken, on those wide open spaces, and no picking up souvenirs whilst we're doing shoots out there...

Another potential location here, at the yard of the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, but would need permission asking.

Lunch was a picnic at another good potential spot, at the summit of the Hardknot Pass.  Might need a 4x4 though rather than our little car...

On the way back, and not for the first time whilst doing recce runs for this project, we found our way blocked by animals…

So some good spots; we will be returning in early 2014 for the actual shots, perhaps with some of the different room sets rather than the living room we've used so far. 

Coming up in the next posts, some location hunting in the West Midlands.

The Christmas Invasion

Well, we have been a little quiet over the last couple of weeks, due to Christmas/New Years (fun) and Self Assesment (less fun, needless to say).  So over the next few days, a bit of an update on what we've been doing.

We did this activity with the Scouts, making Christmas Tree decorations.  Basically, you put the plastic beads on the template board, cover with baking paper, then melt them all together with an iron.

The activity having been successful, it led us to wonder what we could do ourselves with it...

Naturally, being a nerd, I thought of the obvious possibilities of making Space Invader tree decorations :)

So yeah, just a silly, fun little activity.  More updates coming regarding the "Home is…" project.