Tuesday 18 June 2019

Articles and Publications

More railway-related publications today on the blog... recently I (Ben) was asked to write a couple of articles for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway for their mag, about walking in the Worth Valley, and using the train in conjunction with that fitness regime, as well as a kind of travelogue about an excursion me and Amy went on earlier in the year.  I'm not exactly setting myself up as the next Michael Palin when it comes to travel writing or anything, but they were still fun to do.  

Anyway I needed to get some pics, specifically of the Railcar Wednesday services.  The problem is that one of the editors I was writing for specified photographs with sunny weather and blue sky conditions if possible, and my free time for taking the pics coincided with a late Spring of awful, awful weather.

Being as I was writing a bit about some of the newer footpaths through places like the housing estates, I went to some trouble to try and get some odd angles, and make the most of the new housing developments and things.  Again, might have been better in better lighting and weather.

Trying to make the most of the moody conditions...

Then just before Easter, we went on the trains with The Elder Childs, and though the day started unpromising, the weather magically cleared and I was able to get a load of photographs in the sun...

The lovely viewpoint from the rear cab.

So, I managed to get some pics on a sunny day after several weeks of trying.

The article in the summer issue of Push and Pull, the KWVR mag.  They've split the article in two, so part two next issue.  

Earlier in the year the two of us took a rather last minute, spur of the moment decision to celebrate (slightly early by a few months) our 10th anniversary by going on an excursion being run from the railway up to Carlisle, where we first met (awww...).  Newly restored "Bahamas" was doing the honours, and I offered to write something for the mag as well as providing a couple of pictures.

So article two in the mag.

And yet more pics in the mag!  Two more of mine...

Adding to the list of pictures in print for the month, shots from the Diesel Gala on the Worth Valley from the mags.  The gala was superb, but as usual the KWVR seems to have been overshadowed by the big boys like the Severn Valley in the press coverage (who held their own gala, with many of the same visiting locomotives, just a week later).  Nonetheless, shots with that beautiful prototype HST made it into The Railway Magazine...

...Todays Railways...

...and Railways Illustrated.

So a busy month for getting stuff in print.  Lots of other more arty projects on the go, so a bit of a change from railway photography for the blog next post.

Friday 7 June 2019

What's that coming over the hill?

Is it a Monster?

Yes, the Steampunk Jabberwock.  Having had some interest from a model-making mag in the redesigned and rebuilt Jabberwock miniature, I needed to get some better photographs with a more spooky angle.  Then lots of other projects happened. And then Spring also happened, flowers bloomed, trees erupted into leaf, and I lost the spooky backdrops I'd need.  But then on the plus side, thanks to one of those distracting projects which had intervened, I now had three mini steam-generators to provide a bit of atmosphere.

A trip to Wales sans The Childs meant I'd have room in the car for the model (which slightly stretches the term 'miniature' by my usual standards, fully set-up it's about three foot long), and I reckoned the backdrop at our usual haunts would nicely set-off the model.

The problem was that, despite wrapping the model well for transit, winding Welsh B roads and potholes didn't do it any favours.  So out came the superglue and the hit glue gun.

Problem two; the model was built with working lights (for the lamp 'eyes' and the firebox), but typically, despite testing right through construction, they packed-in right after the model was painted, and there was going to be no way of dismantling to find the wiring fault.  Of course.  The solution for the shots were two micro-LED torches.

Did the trick.

Problem Three; the heavens opened ten minutes before I was due to start shooting.

The next day the weather remembered it was meant to be summer.  I got a few general, normal-angle shots for the model mag...

Then set-up something a bit more creative amongst the ferns and the slate, with a few suitable bits of set-dressing.

Then later it was back outside for a night shoot.  I improvised a bridge from a length of garden border edging, a bit of fencepost, and a chair.  There were a couple more problems though; during the day shoot, the back off one of the new mini LED torches had dropped off, and I'd lost the batteries.  Which wouldn't have been a problem, were it not a bank holiday Sunday and all the shops shut early.  Much improvisation with a bigger torch, the original mini lens, a ton of duct-tape, and some creative camera angles hid it.  Then there were the midges, but there didn't seem to be a lot I could do about that.

The mini smoke generators did the trick though- the only lighting I bothered with (apart from the eyes/lamps) was a single inspection light.

Overall very happy with how the pics turned out, just the effect I was after, and the first model of what is planned to be a range of Alice in Wonderland-themed garden railway items.  Hopefully this should all appear in print at some point towards the end of the year...

Monday 3 June 2019

Islanded in a Stream of Stars... night shoot in Wales at Easter

Sorry about the pretentious title... seemed an apt phrase, even if it was just in my head after watching too much "Battlestar Galactica" recently (where the quote was an episode title)...

With the railway photography having been a bit of a bust whilst we were in Wales at Easter, on the last night of our stay I (Ben) took off for the hills to get some night photographs as I was feeling a tad frustrated and melancholy.  We'd been watching the meteor shower earlier in the night, and once The Childs were in bed, I took a stroll up into the hills.

This is usually Amy's gig, but perhaps wisely she elected to be the one staying at home in the warm.  It's the first time I've tried doing this sort of shoot with the new SLR and I spent a good hour just messing with the settings and taking odd shots.

There is another reason behind this; I'm planning on doing some night-time long exposure shots with miniatures in the Autumn which need a starscape in the background, and I wanted to see how it looked at this location.

Porthmadog in the distance providing a weird glow.

A bit of messing around in post-production with the settings, giving a somewhat Disney-background sky.

As a head-clearing exercise the night was a success, and it produced some weird images, but I definitely need to play around a lot more with the settings on this camera.  Should provide what I'm wanting for the miniatures shoot though, I'll just need to wait for some crisp, clear nights in the late Autumn...