Sunday 28 June 2015

Welsh Landscapes

Wales always provides opportunities for nice landscape shots, even if traditional landscapes aren't the sort of thing we 'usually' go in for, except when we end up getting pics whilst out doing more project-based work.  To start with, a few shots taken around lovely Beddgelert, on the walk to a project location.  This is a nice path for a walk generally, but we've also used it for the "Home is..." project, and it leads to a nice bridge for railway photographs too. 

These pics were certainly not representative of the weather that week, nor even that day; within about ten minutes of taking these pics we got a total drenching.

Balancing precariously on a rock in the river Glaslyn...

The above illustrating how quickly the weather changed that day, clear blue skies turning grey within minutes...

A trip to Plas Newyd during the same holiday, and the ancestral seat of the Marquis of Anglesey, now in the care of the National Trust.  Some very nice gardens to explore here, in bright colours compared to the flat white sky.


And finally Criccieth, another oft-used location, and some shots taken again whilst doing a project (more on which soon).

Saturday 20 June 2015

RAF Cosford Airshow 2015

Something of a large update tonight, featuring as it does the RAF Cosford Airshow from last week.  We haven't done an airshow for a while, and this would be our first time with the foster kids, which we knew would limit photography opportunities somewhat.  Actually attending proved difficult enough, as tickets were scarce and we nearly didn't manage to acquire any.  But thanks to a family member searching around the local shops, we were able to do a mass outing.
The post is going to be quite long and a bit nerdy, so be warned.
Arriving early, we had a stroll around the airfield, we got to see a lot of the activities set up in the hangars (the kids having fun climbing in and out of fighter jets and land rovers, life rafts etc).  For me, the most interesting patch (from a photography point of view) being a set-up used to train personnel for active duty, with a large number of mothballed Jaguar aircraft (and the odd Harrier) parked up for the chaps to practise servicing etc.
A shame the Jaguar isn't flown anymore- I rather like these planes having built model kits of several when I was younger, and having seen what must have been one of the few left in service the year they were retired, flying low in Wales.
Token arty-shot of the Razorwire.
The only shot I managed to get of an aircraft on display on the ground; hard to get many shots with three kids to supervise.
The display opened with the Red Devils parachute display team, who gave an impressive (as usual) performance.
First aircraft in was an F-16 of the Belgium Air Force, which gave a slightly insane but very impressive performance.
A number of historic aircraft were used in the opening part of the display, but I didn't manage many nice shots.  I include the shot of the Catalina flying boat just because I've never seen one in person before, and find the planes a rather graceful bit of design.
The RAF sent one of their Typhoons over for the show, these planes are nice and noisy, and always give a good show.  Obviously wasn't needed over on the East Coast, where they've been much used recently chasing off Russian bombers near Scotland, according to some info at the show.
A poignant 'last', one of the few remaining rescue Sea Kings from RAF Valley.  These helicopters have been a regular sight since childhood, holidays spent in Wales usually produce a sighting of these machines, and the always entertaining vision of looking down into the cockpits of them from the paths, with them operating beneath you when they're practising on Snowdon.  As part of Government budget cuts the helicopters are being withdrawn with rescue work passed to a private company, which is a shame and a bit of an oversight by the ever penny-pinching Government.
A bit of impressive display work from the Wing Walkers... insanity, particularly when the aircraft whip past each other at high speed.  The kids were fascinated by this merry lot.
Not the most interesting shot, but included to show that at least for a few minutes there was blue sky...
The Red Arrows came barrelling in for another impressive show, though they are another part of the RAF rumoured to be facing extinction due to budget cuts...  As a result of this show, the youngest now has a kids-size Red Arrows flight suit, a large number of posters featuring the planes and pilots, and a blow-up Hawk jet in her room...
The Reds made a flypast with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which was nice, operating in formation with two Spitfires and two Hurricanes to commemorate the VE Day anniversary.
As can be seen above, the weather was deteriorating.  The Reds did their low-level display set, and even then were nipping in and out of the clouds, which can only have added to the stress of an already complex display.
I make absolutely no apologies for putting in a lot of photos of the next plane, the wonderful Vulcan.  This is a truly amazing plane to watch, a veteran of the Cold War and the only one of its kind still flying.

The Vulcan is due to be retired this year, as the plane is well over the service-life and operational hours compared to any other Vulcan that's flown, and the companies which maintained the decades-old machinery and complex engines are all being closed down, meaning no engineering support.

The Vulcan is a truly awe-inspiring jet and a beautiful bit of design work, and the announcement that it would never fly again after this year has led to the massive leap in ticket sales.  Apparently surveys have been done showing that the appearance of a Vulcan boosts airshow ticket sales, and in terms of aircraft at displays its apparently more popular than the Red Arrows.

It was rather poignant seeing the Vulcan on its last show at Cosford, as I was a visitor to the show in the 90's when it flew its last show in RAF service before its first retirement.  I've seen it a few times since it was restored and it never fails to entertain, and I shall be sad to see XH558 go.
The Vulcan was followed by this mad lot, the Blades aerobatics team, performing some frankly breath-taking stunts.

Perhaps the best display though for me was the Chinook, another aircraft I really like.  There's no mistaking one of these when they're flying around, the deep basso-rumbling and famous 'whoppa-whoppa' sound of those blades.  The aircrew of this helicopter were throwing their machine around the sky in some decidedly physics-defying manoeuvres which looked as if they should have been impossible for such a big helicopter.
By this point the weather had really deteriorated and the rain was starting, sending many people heading for the cars, us included... right at the point the British Army Apache display team roared in, complete with pyro effects.
Not a great shot from the car park, but the thumps of the explosions going off shook the ground even where we were.
Probably the closest either of us will get to combat-style photography... at points in our Post-Uni careers the pair of us have looked into RAF Photographer as a job.
Last shot of the day before we went, the menacing Apache gunships cruising through the smoke of the 'missile attacks'.
Overall a very good day; shame about the weather, and having the kids there meant less chance for taking photos, but the visit was worth it just to see one of the last flights of the Vulcan, and some nice shots resulted even with the rain and low cloud.  And the kids loved it.
Next, probably some shots from a recent trip to Wales.







Wednesday 17 June 2015

Back, with one new camera, one dead camera...

Another break in blogging, caused as ever mainly by real life, the day job, and a couple of commissions...  We have been doing a fair bit of photography lately though, including a couple of shoots in Wales, a few experimental projects with a new camera, and a visit to the RAF Cosford Airshow, so a lot to post in the next few days.
Just a few snaps to start with, making the most of the good weather to try out a new compact camera, in the slightly overgrown surroundings of the local parish church.

The purchase of a new compact was somewhat fortuitous; we saw it cheap and it looked good, so we picked one up mere days before our trusty example we've owned for a few years suffered a catastrophic fault.

  These two photos, taken by Amy, were the last shots taken on it.  To an extent it still functions, but the screen at the rear is ruined (it would appear one of the Childs has stood on it) which means reviewing shots, or even changing settings, is impossible.  It has been a useful camera though, and may still see some use in more experimental shoots so has been kept for the 'reserve' with all the other slightly malfunctioning gear we possess.

Next up, probably some shots from Wales, and a bit more on this new camera.