Thursday 25 April 2019

More Map Birds

Tonight on the Blog, a look at another of Amy's projects, and another of her Origami Map Bird pieces that was produced last year (we're a bit deep in editing pics taken in Wales at the moment, so hopefully some slightly more up to date content will be in the next blog).

This was produced last year for an open call; this time the piece required the production of an awful lot more birds, upcycled from some very old and tatty maps found at Scouts.

The board this time was a piece of canvas, done with acrylics.

The start of a very long process of mounting the birds, which produced, eventually...

...the finished piece.  This was produced for an exhibition open call, and a matching smaller piece was shown at a gallery in Scunthorpe in the summer.

Friday 19 April 2019

The Snowdonian

Just a quick post tonight, actually from Wales.  A bit of a multi-purpose visit this, part family holiday, part photography jaunt, and part needing somewhere to get some articles written.  Anyway, the start of the week saw me (Ben) and Elder Child chasing "The Snowdonian" railtour on the Welsh Highland Railway...

This is an absolutely mammoth railtour, which does return trips over both the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways on the same day, with a variety of motive power.  For the WHR leg this year saw the use of two new-build replica engines, both Lynton and Barnstaple Railway machines, "Lyd" and "Lyn".

The weather was crisp and clear, the train was interesting and worth chasing, it was all terribly nice- which is why it was sods law that on the way to Wales the car was hit by debris kicked up by a speeding Audi on the M6 and the windscreen was chipped for the second time in two months.  Luckily we found the one local garage open at 8.30am to get it fixed, and the train-chasing could start.

Having got the train at Porthmadog, we decided the best spot for the evening where the light would be in the right place would be Pont Croeser, just outside Porthmadog.

We briefly investigated the station itself...

...and then the riverside, which is normally a reasonable spot, but the sun was in the wrong place (and the river too rough for a good reflection).

Decent view up towards Cnicht.

We'd arrived an hour before the train, to have a nice relaxed-setup, which was good as ten minutes before the train came quite a few other photographers rocked up.  One seemed a bit miffed we were in the spot he wanted, but then you snooze you loose I suppose...


The train stopped for a few minutes in Pont Croeser station, and we popped over for a few pics, even though it was shooting into the light.  We were happy with the main pic though (the shot at the top of the page), and it allowed me to tick off one of the photography tasks of the holiday.

Tuesday 16 April 2019


Another month, another open call for an exhibition.  This one is around the them of industry, and Amy decided to return to something she last did back in University, freezing objects, back-lighting, and photographing the silhouettes.

A hunt through the workshop produced some suitable random bits (mainly bike gear parts) for a trial picture, which seemed to be successful, though the light-box she used wasn't quite as bright as she wanted.

A hasty search on Amazon resulted in a much better light box- technology has moved on somewhat in the last few years, this one is about 5mil thick.  Combined with a box lid to protect it from the melting ice, it did the trick.

A wider selection of parts were gathered from all over the place, to give a bit more variety than just cogs and gear parts.

Overall the pictures came out as hoped- now just to see if the images are selected for the open call...

Sunday 14 April 2019

The Steampunk Jabberwock rides again...

The Steampunk Jabberwock...

Back in 2016 we took part in a big sculpture project to be displayed in the grounds of Rydal Hall in Ambleside, on the theme of the Alice in Wonderland books.  I (Ben) ended up making a sculpture of a self-propelled crane which became the Jabberwock monster- there's more back in the June 2016 part of the blog.

Sufficed to say it got built, a caterpillar-tracked monster monstrosity which was to a design which I'd arrived at via lots of experimentation, and which I was... vaguely satisfied with.  The original plan had been to have a narrow-gauge railway-mounted crane, but various limitations stopped me from doing that design.

Anyway; roll on to 2019, and an open-call for an art gallery gave me the opportunity to revisit the idea, and at least this time I wouldn't be restricted by having to make a 3/4 sculpture, but could make it as a model.

The prototype for this new version of the design was a vertical-boiler steam crane (ableit standard gauge) in a museum in Scotland; self-propelled steam cranes would be... unlikely, shall we say, in narrow gauges, but hey-ho, this is Steampunk.  The genre rarely makes sense.  I wanted a bit more of an atmosphere that this was a regular crane, slightly run-down and derelict, which looked sufficiently monster-like from certain angles.

I'll leave most of the detailed, nerdy step-by-step making-of for an eventual post on the Model Making blog, but I thought a couple of shots pre-painted would show the basics of construction.  The best thing is it actually runs, sitting on a radio-controlled Playmobil motor block.

By this point I'd actually come up with a more suitable idea for the open call, but was able to interest the editor of a model railway mag in the project, for an article later in the year.  I needed to get some decent photographs to show him exactly what mad thing I'd made though...

The original intention had been to shoot some spooky pics out in the woods at Saltaire, but then the model got so big that lumping it and a load of track half a mile from the car to a random clearing would have been impractical.  Luckily the in-laws have a bit at the end of their garden which was suitable for some shots.

So there is the model- I properly enjoyed making this, and taking more time over it than the concept ones I built so quickly for the original project.

I need to do some more shots of this model, to make it look spookier for the magazine article, so another post will follow later in the year, but overall this was a very enjoyable and stress-relieving build.

Monday 8 April 2019

Mini-Update... Published pics, open calls, sculpture builds, and such...

It's been a little quiet on here of late, but mainly because we've both been up to a lot of work which will hopefully come to completion shortly.

First up, a glimpse of a project Amy is experimenting with for an Open Call, freezing industrial objects, machine parts and so on before backlighting and photographing them- more on this in a future post...

Then there have been some more of my (Ben's) shots in print, two more pictures taken whilst on outings with The Childs... first, a shot of the preserved diesel shunter at Eureka! The Childrens Museum in Halifax...

...and a chance shot at the Worth Valley whilst on the school run.

Speaking of the Worth Valley, I managed a few shots at the steam gala, but the weather was very poor, and I was competing with about 400 other photographers as usual, so haven't got anything into the mags from it (the more established photographers got their shots in as usual- I tend to do better with diesel galas or industrial subject matter, so I'm not surprised or that bothered to be fair).

I've been working on some articles though to appear in the railway press, again more on that in a future post when they're done, but it's taken up a fair bit of time this last month.

The other big project which has been consuming my time is an open call entry- miniature sculpture and photography project combined, because I wanted control over the atmospherics and lighting, and because (with one exception which is a museum) I'm about 60 years too late to photograph in a real steam locomotive shed.

Much more on this in a future post, as I've got another shoot with it all coming up later in the week...