Sunday 26 May 2019

Chasing Trains... on the Cambrian Coast

One of the tasks I (Ben) had set myself whilst in Wales at Easter was to get some pics on the Cambrian Coast line.  The operating company has recently changed hands, and a newly-reliveried unit is trundling around up there.

One of the mags had chosen a pic I took way back last summer in Barmouth for a publication, and I mentioned to the editor that I was going to be back in that area and that I'd try and get a shot of this repainted class 158.  I managed to see it from a distance on the first Saturday we were in the area, but couldn't get a shot, but reckoned a day out in Barmouth might do the trick.

I thought it should be fairly easy; due to being used for a signalling trial there are hardly any trains that can run on this line, so statistically I ought to see the 158 at some point, with a train every hour.

First stop was Barmouth Viaduct, and whilst I was happy with the slightly abstract shot at the top of the blog post, my hope to get another pic with the iron part of the bridge in shot was slightly foiled by a couple of old gents who could see me with the camera and leaned right into the shot, resulting in an awkward crop on the right.

It did show that the angle was too tight to see the side of the train anyway though so the livery didn't show up (even if it had been the one I was after), so once we'd had lunch we walked out onto the promenade, where once again I didn't get to see the unit I was after.

With the behaviour of The Childs deteriorating a row brewing, we left early afternoon, having seen 4 services in the town, none of which were the repainted 158.  Still, got a shot I've wanted for a while on the Barmouth level crossing.

Finally!  With the sun setting, we headed out after tea and managed to see the repainted unit down by the beach at Criccieth.

For a variety of reasons I don't want to go into, this was probably the last train photograph I was happy with during the whole holiday, and though I'd planned to chase this unit for a better shot in the middle of the day later in the week, it ended up being the last chance I had come the finish.  Oh well.

Sunday 19 May 2019

KWVR Diesels

Having found the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Steam Gala back in March a bit of a grey-sky washout, I'd been looking forward to the May Diesel Gala.  A bigger variety of brightly coloured trains, and (after the summer-like weather shortly beforehand) a promise of better weather.  Which naturally went to hell just before, when a cold front swept in, bringing frosts and rain.


The convoy of visiting locomotives arrived on the Wednesday (saw it, and not particularly successfully photographed it, whilst on the school run with The Childs).  Thursday though was a bit of a dry run, with one of the two visiting class 50's out on Driver Experience duties.  I was out for a bit of fresh air and heard it pass, so was able to get into a decent location for the return.  Shame about the flat white sky, I just had to hope it would be better on the Friday when I was free all day.


The day dawned wet and miserable, though I was anxious to get a shot of the visiting prototype HST at my new favourite urban railway photography spot in Keighley, and headed down there regardless.  I actually was rather happy with how the pic turned out, even with the wet and overcast conditions.

Deciding that the weather might improve later through the day (ha), I headed up towards Haworth, and got a gloomy pic of the Caledonian Sleeper class 47.  I really wanted to get a pic of the HST again at the tunnel; the rain was at least keeping the other photographers away.  I actually had time to walk up to Haworth, visit the station shop, and get back and there was still nobody lurking at this usually-busy spot.

I managed to get another shot I was after, but again, that bloody tuppaware-lid sky...

Walking up the valley, I tried another spot I'd found earlier in the year when the HST was coming back, trying to make the most of the greenery to hide the sky.

I think this shot really sums up the day; nice angle I was happy with, nice train... but so gloomy.

About the last shot I bothered with, the recently-repainted GBRF class 50 which was also visiting.  Another example of how I was trying to make the most of the greenery to try and disguise that flat white sky.  Soaked through and a bit depressed, I knocked-off after lunch and gave it up as a bad job.


A much better day, weather-wise, on Saturday, though less chance for photography as we were out riding the trains en-masse as a family.

Photography was generally limited to diving-off the trains at the stations either end, grabbing a snap, and sprinting back on.

Still, a chance for a shot of the visiting DRS class 88, the most modern loco to run up the valley I believe.

The railway was running late into the evening, so after tea we came back for the novelty of a trip up and down the valley as the sun was setting.


We were going to watch the Tour de Yorkshire pass Haworth (see the separate post), and with parking in Haworth being horrible at the best of times, even when the police aren't barricading the roads, we decided to be responsible and use the train.  HST arriving at Ingrow; the novelty of riding in a modern (well 40 year old, but looks and feels modern) train up the valley was nice and unusual.

Speaking of unusual, the evening saw probably the oddest train I've photographed in preservation.  American-built S160 "Big Jim", running with British Rail double arrow logos, piloting the HST and a class 50 up the line.  Shame about the lighting, but I didn't have time to go further up the line to get somewhere with the sun on the right side of the tracks.


Last chance for some photographs, and back to one of my favourite spots at the river at Ingrow/Damems, on a day where the weather was starting sunny but due to turn to hail and rain.

My other favourite spot, though it will be interesting to see how this changes later in the year when the bridge gets replaced.

Trying to make the most of the new houses as a photography location, as a bit of an experiment.

Another odd combination shot; the visiting research livery Class 31, being piloted by the resident 2MT.

At least by the Monday I managed a shot I was happy with of the 31, before the weather turned.

All I can say is thank goodness I had chances to take pictures on all 4 days of the gala; it reminded me too much of trying to combine railway photography with the job I had about 8 years ago, where I'd only have the Friday off and the weather would be invariably poor.  The KWVR put on a very good show, the trains were interesting and eccentric, we rode the railway for 2 of the 4 days and it was a really good atmosphere.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Recently Published Pics- book, web, and mags...

I (Ben) have had a few more railway pics published recently; there's a bit more in the works, and a couple of larger articles on the way but I can't put a lot on the blog until some deadlines have passed, but here's a few other bits for now.  

Anyway, the above pic was a bit of a chance shot; a good resource for modern railway photographers is the website Real Time Trains, with anything unusual-looking on the timetable for that day generally being worth a look.  I had a couple of hours free which coincided with an odd working appearing, and I was pleasantly surprised by this class 50 on a single-wagon freight.  It hasn't been picked up by a mag (yet), but...

...another shot from the set made it as the Picture of the Day on the

Bit of a first for me, this- my first pics in a book rather than a mag.  

Showing what I tend to get noticed for, pics of industrial prototypes or smaller railways.  A shot from last summer on the wonderful Aln Valley Railway at Alnwick- that's actually my Father in Law having a go driving the class 04 look-alike loco.  Myself and Elder Child had a go driving it a bit later in the day too.

The other pic was from the Middleton Railway, and their gala last September.  That makes Five shots published in various mags from that gala.  We'll be going back to this friendly little line for another couple of visits this year, so hopefully the success will be repeated...

Finally, another pic not in a magazine as such; this time in a guide published by Todays Railways with guides on different ticket types, and a shot I got last summer whilst on one of our jollies to Wales.  Sprinter at Barmouth, having just come off the viaduct.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Tour de Yorkshire in Haworth

Last week the Tour de Yorkshire rolled through our neck of the woods; a quick train journey up to Haworth on the KWVR had us there in plenty of time to get a decent spot on the climb up from the bridge near the engine sheds.  We decided not to go for the cobbles, as we reckoned we'd have a better view lower down the hill.

This was the first chance in a while for Amy to get some bike photographs (she used to go watching the cycling quite a lot), and this really was a chance to experiment with the new camera, and also the phone.

Standing on the wall gave a reasonable elevated position...

...but hopping down to road level had better results.

Amy also did some shots trying to pick out individuals like Cav and Froome as the pack was racing past.

A nice little afternoon out anyway, and good to be able to nip out to see it by public transport.  Hopefully we'll be free to do a bit more of this next time the race comes our way.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

KWVR Spring Gala

Earlier in the year, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway held their winter steam gala.  I was free to take some pics here and there over the weekend, but frankly the weather looked like being a bit manky (to use the technical term), the greenery in the valley was still dead, and it didn't fill me with too much enthusiasm.  Plus, I rarely manage to get train photographs from the steam galas into print as I'm competing with far more of the old hands.  Still, I thought I could keep my hand in, and find some locations for the more promising May diesel gala.

I'm still trying to perfect this low angle at Damems, shoving the camera under the level crossing gate, but it's a bit tricky and I get lots of odd looks off the station staff and other photographers.  I have had a shot from this angle printed last year in the KWVR's own mag, but I'm not too happy with it.  I probably won't bother with it during the Diesel Gala.

A pic which sums up the Friday- interesting train but dull lighting, dull weather.

The horrible weather meant that I had some usually busy spots to myself, such as Mytholmes Tunnel where "Bahamas" put on a spirited show.

Going for the arty shot back in Keighley- I've been writing an article for the railway on the lineside footpaths, and thought I'd have a go at getting some pics from them.  This is another of those shots I've been trying to get for years, I just wish the sky was a bit more dramatic.  And I couldn't get the theme tune from "Peaky Blinders" out of my head either whilst I was shooting the pics.

My new favourite angle- not trespassing, involves a bit of climbing and standing looking a bit of a buffoon to passers-by, but a nice pic (if it wasn't for those bloody telephone wires).

I liked it so much I went back for the demonstration freight on the Saturday morning.  What the shot cannot convey is the sheer brass-monkeys cold standing here exposed in a gale, with hands almost too cold to work the camera...

Sunday was a bit better, though in the space of an hour we had sun, rain, hail and snow.  Standing with the Gallery at Keighley, a spot I usually avoid because I don't like standing with 40 other people to get the same shots...

Ah, "Big Jim", always reliable for an unusual pic.  I needed plenty of reference pics of this beast, as I'm building a model of the loco for a photography project.

Back to the new favourite spot for the last shot before getting absolutely belted by a hailstorm.  Hopefully better weather for the Diesel Gala in May.
(EDIT- it generally wasn't.)