Monday 30 November 2020

KWVR- Coughs and Sneasels, Big Diseasels...

It's that time of year again, the joy that is the HMRC Self Assesment.  Somewhat delayed this year by us having to return to Home Schooling during a period of Self Isolation, so whilst we're too busy to do any newer blog posts, here's some railway photography from September.  The month saw the return of the large diesel locomotives to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway for a day- in the past I've done quite well for pictures of heritage diesel locomotives, so I wanted to get out and take some photographs after the veritable drought of stuff to snap this year.  

Me and The Childs arrived in our usual stomping ground at Damems nice and early, and had a stroll, looking for suitable locations.  I was quite drawn to this, the pool in the former sluice gate controls for the old millponds.

It was rather nice in our usual location though, so I was a bit torn for where to go.

In the end, I figured it would be best to try a new angle, so we went back to the sluice gates.

Problem was, the angle didn't quite work out, as it happened.  Couldn't quite get the angle right for a reflection shot.

The steam service with the 2MT on vintage stock was snapped from the more usual spot, though the sun was starting to go in a bit at this point.

By the time it returned from Keighley, the sky was becoming somewhat cloud-covered.

Indeed, by the time of the next diesel hauled run, the sun and blue sky was irritatingly absent.

We headed up to the far end of the valley for a change.  20031 heading for Keighley.

We relocated again to Haworth later on.

Playing around with the long-exposures.

The 2MT again.  Thought I'd try this one in greyscale as it was getting a bit murky.  A colour version of this shot ended up getting used by the KWVR for one of their update/roster emails.

Back up on the Sunday, no diesels about but I wanted to try and get some better shots of the 2MT.  Lighting isn't quite right here in the afternoons, but we were busy in the morning.

We'd also been back to Damems.

Class 101 DMU on route-refresher duties for the staff.  Didn't hang around, some eejit has decided to start hooning it around the woods here on a scrambler bike.

Still, the weather might not have played ball, but it was nice getting out to photograph trains on a day where there was a service every half-hour or so.  Almost like being back to normal...

Sunday 22 November 2020

Fun in the sun, from under the water

"Inflate-Deflate" is one of those projects that I (Ben) have been working on, here and there, since University.  There's something appealing about doing nice bright, abstract, colourful pictures every now and again as a break from the more usual work.  And on a gloomy, cold Autumn afternoon, here's a post about a day at the beach.

Having started as a studio shoot, most of the recent shots have been out on location on deserted Welsh beaches in the middle of the night (or a more sociable early evening during the winter), such as the above, a prospective promotional shoot for the company that made those inflatables.  I was meant to be doing another of these shoots during the early spring this year for a competition brief/open call, but Covid put paid to that, because why have anything fun, bright, colourful or playful in 2020...

However, in 2019 I got some interest (and a publication) of the above shot, which was a daylight one taken whilst Amy was shooting some underwater pics with her new camera a few years back.  So this summer, we were back in Wales in that lovely gap between catastrophes, the weather was meant to be nice, and The Childs were desperate for a play in the sea with some toys, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get some more shots for the underwater part of the project.

The beach in question makes a lovely location for this shoot (and for The Childs to play in general, as the sea is ridiculously calm and shallow- seriously, you can walk about half a mile and the sea never gets above your waist).

We took a big bag of inflatables, bought cheaply over the years for various parts of this shoot.  Given there's environmental concerns about plastic in the oceans, and people discarding beach toys (a theme that this project addresses) it's fitting somehow to be using stuff that we bought 15 years ago as photo props for our Uni fashion photography/ still-life projects.  

As the above shows though, one of the problems with using the special underwater compact cameras is the focussing, as the kit tends to be a bit variable in quality (and our laughable low budgets certainly don't extend to buying an underwater-spec SLR).  Oddly enough it was the newer compact underwater camera that was less reliable, so we ended up switching to the older backup cam after an hour.

The other problem- the water is so shallow you can't actually get bodily down under the water to see exactly what you're shooting through the viewfinder... We've often talked about how nice it would be to have access to a private swimming pool for a few hours for this shoot (and other underwater stuff).

And don't they print a lot of health and safety info on stuff these days?

A lot of sand and things drifting around in the water too.

I was aiming to get some nice, abstract shots.  Shame the sunlight wasn't brighter (it was at least a nice hot day).

The shoot kind of worked; the problem was that the better, more colourful props had been leant to a fellow photographer last year, and Covid meant he hadn't been able to post them back.  What toys we did have for a family day at the beach were based more around play value to The Childs than their aesthetic properties for this shoot.

Honestly though, the other people on the beach must have thought we'd looted a toyshop, we were in and out of the sea so frequently with half a dozen rings, a couple of beach balls, three inflatable unicorns and a lilo...

Not sure about the fad this year for glitter-filled stuff, even more waste and mess when the toys pop I'd imagine.  Still, it's not about practicality, probably more to do with vacant-eyed teenagers posing for poolside selfies on insta.

The pics seem to work best with a little tweaking of the contrast afterwards in post-production.

Having only managed the odd experimental shot in the past, this session at least meant that I was able to get enough pics to form a decent selection for future open calls (there's one on the cards as I type this in November).  Sadly we didn't get chance to go for a second shoot, as the weather turned, and we thought 'ah well, maybe when we go back to Wales in the autumn'.  Then Drakeford started channelling Owain Glendowr and kept the borders shut.

Maybe next year.  At least there's a few shots for a potential open-call that's coming up.


Wednesday 18 November 2020

Last Day of the Staycation Express

Going back to the tail end of summer/early September, and some railway photography, for the blog tonight.  I (Ben) have mentioned about the trials and tribulations encountered photographing the Staycation Express (the special trains 3x daily from Skipton to Appleby) this summer; with time running out before it stopped running, I was anxious to try and get some shots at Ribblehead (having failed earlier in the summer).

I haven't managed much in the way of mainline photographs this year what with Lockdown, Home-schooling, and what-have-you.  Indeed most of the local excursions these days are only run with steam locomotives between Hellifield and Carlisle, but getting up to Settle has been tricky.  The above one of the last of the 'regular' runs, seen near Stainforth.  Not a great angle in the sunlight, but at least there's a carpark nearby, and it avoids joining the non-Socially-Distancing scrums at the more 'classic' locations.

As a treat to enthusiasts (and the railway photographers were certainly out in force), LSL had provided a class 40 for the final day of services, excuse enough for us to head out to get some piccies.  We headed out en-masse to Ribblehead, planning to get a bit of walking in too.

This is the northbound run (first of the day).  Shame about the weather.

We had intended to do the walk up to the waterfall again, or at least go as far as Blea Moor Signalbox, but it was cold and windy and coming on to rain, so we bailed.  I'd got a few shots on the viaduct, so I was a happy bunny.  Only took four attempts over the summer...

We decided to head into Settle to eat the picnic (at least there were some facilities open there, and it was sheltered from the worst of the weather).  We saw the return train coming through Settle Station- managed a few shots, but there were a lot of other photographers we were trying not to get in the way of.

Stupid lens-flare.

A postscript to the shoot, on the following Monday I was able to get a snap of one of the regular locomotives from the Staycation Express as it headed through Utley for its next job.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Little Birds

Not much to say about todays post; we built a bird feeder outside the front of the house last year, and it's been visited by flocks of fledglings a couple of times this summer.

It's nice to be able to get some pics of the wildlife- the only shame is that every second house on the street seems to own at least one cat, so we're constantly having to chase cats off the birdfeeder.

Also nice, during lockdowns, to be able to get wildlife photographs from the comfort of the front room; I know it's not very Autumnwatch doing wildlife shots whilst sat next to a radiator, and within 12 feet of a constant supply of cups of tea, but it does beat sitting in a camouflaged tent in a forest for days waiting to photograph something.

A surprise visitor a little later in the summer; a nut-hatch.  Only seen these before whilst we've been in Wales.

Nut-hatch back again a little while later.  It's still visiting us as I type this (November).