Friday 30 January 2015

More Worth Valley Railway night abstracts

A further update on an on-going project, doing long-exposure pictures on the KWVR at night, to get some deliberately abstract shots.  The original few sets were taken around a point where the Worth Valley were running specific night-time services, but having established the sorts of images I wanted to take, I ended up having no chances to get out and photograph the trains, until the combination of the pre-Christmas services and the shortest days of the year gave me the chance.  Locations of choice this time were around Haworth/Oakworth, spots I've often used in the past for 'traditional' daylight pictures of trains, but these days there tends to be too many other photographers around getting the best spots...  a little annoying, but then there's a limit to how many viewpoints there are on such a short, well-known line.
First stop, the public footpath running alongside the line looking towards Mytholmes tunnel.  I managed a shot here in the first block of shooting, resting the camera on the top of the wall for stability (no room for a tripod), and went with the same approach this time.  Annoyingly, the light was rather too bright for the first of three evening services (DMU to Keighley, Steam to Oxenhope, DMU returning an hour later).

I ended up playing around a bit with the shot of the DMU passing, in post production, as the light-sky was annoying me.  Still, the resultant image looked nice.

The next night, it was back to the same location, and this time on the bank above the path.  Again, the sky was that little bit too light...

But another reasonably abstract shot, mainly caused by the tail-lights of the DMU.

What would have been a reasonable shot of the steam-hauled service ten minutes later, were it not for an inexplicable failure of the focussing on the camera which ended up losing the focal distance that I'd pre-set.

Lens-flare-o-rama shot with the oncoming DMU in the dark.

A week later, and an attempt a bit further down the path, to replicate the earlier shots which featured a river.  Once more, even this close to Christmas, the light was rather too bright.

For the steam service, I moved to another favourite location nearby, and the seemingly-abandoned nature reserve the other side of Ebor Lane Bridge.  By this time a fine, misting rain had set in, which required cleaning of the camera lens every minute or so.

But a dramatic shot when the train, a Santa Special, came hammering past.  It was travelling far too fast for me to identify the loco, and the ground-shaking pass ruined the later shots with vibrations, but I love the sparks curling from the chimney.


Final location was at Oakworth.  This is a spot I've not used often in the past, as the public footpath was somewhat blocked-in with trees, but these have been cut back in the last year by the look of it.  I was only in time to photograph a DMU here, on the very last train of the Christmas weekends.

Nice sky, lit by the streetlamps of Keighley and Ingrow.

Bored waiting for the train, and some playing around with zooming and waving the camera around.

The DMU eventually passed, and whilst I was happy with the location, I wasn't happy with the shot.  Or the local who wandered up in the dark, and stopped about ten yards away to urinate in the dark, then expressed shock and annoyance there was a photographer lurking.
So what now?  I'm reasonably happy with the shots, but feel I need to work out the project a bit more to establish the theme and look I want.  We'll see where it leads in the future, though with the nights drawing out and the clocks shortly to move, I may end up leaving it for a year.  I am however planning something on a similar theme with miniatures, if I get chance...

Sunday 18 January 2015

Winter on the KWVR

Time for some more railway pictures... winter produces the best conditions for photographing steam engines, and with the KWVR right on the doorstep, there's been a few chances lately to get out and take some shots.
Whilst passing Haworth a couple of weeks ago, I decided to stop off and photograph the 4F at the deserted nature reserve at Ebor Lane.  Couple of other photographers about too.
Last weekend, the Vintage Carriages Trust had this rather nice ensemble running between Ingrow and Keighley, the glorious piece of Victoriana hauling the first two carriages to have arrived on the railway back in the 1960's.  The location is a spot I've been favouring lately, as the 'country' end of the line tends to fill up with photographers.  Normally though I'd avoid this spot in the middle of the day as the path is in poor condition and I've run into some dodgy types here, but the only other person I saw this day was a film bloke, who it turned out was the official recordist for the day.  I don't think I ruined his shot, but he didn't look too pleased to see me when he turned up with his video camera and found me hanging over the wall.

And so on to today, and a little dusting of snow on the patch of line near our house.  We were walking back from the shop when we heard the train in Ingrow Station.  I managed to get into a position to get a shot, but the camera wasn't coping with the cold.  Arty shot, but not really what I was after.
The steam heating seemed to be working overtime, as the train climbed past the mess of fencing on the building site.  Skipton Properties typically did half a job of demolishing the last of the old mill, and have only been back once, to rip down and replace the solid-metal fencing which blew onto the railway last weekend with the 80mph winds...
A chance a short while later for a couple of photographs of the rather nice W&M railbus, which always gets a lot of use at this quiet time of year.
And finally, the 4F returning.

Probably wont get chance for any more train pics now until the gala towards the end of feb, but nice to snap a few shots anyway, particularly whilst Amy is throwing herself into a sculpture project for an open call- more details in a future posting.



Saturday 17 January 2015

Dudley Zoo

Nicey Nicey, Zoo Zoo... the last lot of pics from the Christmas hols, and another family trip out to an old childhood haunt, Dudley Zoo.  More beautiful cold clear weather, but so cold in fact that for much of the morning the zoo rather bore a resemblance to the Nicey Zoo from the Mighty Boosh, in that it was a zoo with no animals...
As the morning wore on and the sun got a bit stronger, the animals thankfully started emerging.

A lemur walk was a new feature since the last time I visited, meaning we were able to walk amongst the animals.

I always liked the tigers, and there is a nice observation window near their enclosure, and the above character obligingly posed, having photobombed a shot of the kids.
The zoo is set in the grounds of Dudley Castle, which is a landmark I always look for on the skyline in the Midlands.  Its just been a feature of so much of my life living there, but I've never really bothered to photograph it until now.
Lens-flare o-rama again in this light.  Also, annoyingly, visitors are no longer allowed to climb up the keep, which seems a shame.
All in all a nice day out.  I last visited the zoo in about 2006 for a photography project, and got quite depressed by how run-down it had got.  Pleasingly it seems to finally be getting funding, including the listed concrete architecture (identical to buildings in London Zoo, but where those buildings get funding, Dudley has spent decades waiting for money to restore the historically significant structures).  A keeper we spoke to was very pleased to talk about how the place is improving and gradually smartening up the enclosures, and I wish them every success.
Right, that's finally all the shots from the Christmas period.  Nice to have been able to get some shots done.  A few actual projects on the go at the moment, more info coming soon...


Monday 12 January 2015

Winter in the Severn Valley

The photography over the winter breaks conclude with a couple of days visiting the Severn Valley, in more glorious weather.  The first day we were around Country Park, near Highley/Alveley.
This is an area we know well; several of Bens photography projects have been shot around here over the years.
A combination of nice frosty conditions and strong sunlight created some nice effects,
Its been a little while since we've taken some straightforward railway shots, and the cold weather created some nice opportunities.  The visiting 9F is seen storming through the woods near Hampton Loade.
Of course the downside to the weather was lens-flare-o'rama...

...but also a chance for some moody greyscale images. 

Onwards to Hampton Loade.
And then back the way we came, and a chance for another few train shots, this time of the DMU.

The next day saw us at Bewdley, a bit further down the Severn.  More of a nice day out than a specific photography trip, but a couple of opportunities for shots nevertheless.