Saturday 17 April 2021

45212 in the spring sunshine, KWVR

With the Keighley and Worth Valley reopening this very morning, it seemed a good time to post these pics- 'Black 5' 45212 out on test trains a couple of weeks ago, prior to heading up to Scotland for a bit of mainline running.  I haven't seen much of this loco this winter; whilst owned by the KWVR it generally spends much of the year up in the Highlands operating excursions, then returns to Haworth for the winter, but between lockdowns and the loco receiving some mechanical attention it hasn't operated a great deal this winter.  Me and Elder Child saw it briefly on a grim, manky December day when it was operating services, then nothing.

Anyway, we'd been driving past Haworth and seen it in light steam at the start of the week, and I'd heard on the railway enthusiast grapevine that it was heading back up to Scotland, but I didn't know it would be out on test.  Then on the Wednesday of the second week of the school hols, whilst we were stuck in the house doing DIY, we heard the distinctive Stanier whistle as it trundled past to Keighley.  Not ones to miss an opportunity (honestly, as a railway photographer it is great living next to a preserved railway!), me, Elder Child, and Father-in-Law strolled out to get some pics of the return working.

This is a relatively new location for us, part of my quest to try and find lineside photography spots that other enthusiasts don't generally use (though we seen to have been the only people out getting pictures this day anyway as the runs weren't publicised).  And happily, just occasionally, I'm in the right place at the right time with the right weather, for a bit of railway photography.  

I was really happy with the shots from the morning, but with the good weather holding and the train making repeated passes along the valley, it seemed a waste to not go out and get some more pics in the afternoon in our regular spot at Damems by the river.

Really, it's been so nice being able to get out and photograph the trains again; and with them running again from this morning, we'll hopefully be able to ride them again soon.


Wednesday 14 April 2021

Happy Gerry Anderson Day!

I (Ben) make no secret of the fact that I'm a massive fan of Gerry Anderson shows.  I grew up with shows like "Thunderbirds", "Stingray", and "Captain Scarlett", and like many people who make models, I reckon I can attribute my enthusiasm for making things to spending hours watching intricate miniature spaceships and aircraft gratuitously exploding.  I've managed to pass on that same enthusiasm to Elder Child, who, getting into the spirit of the fact that today is officially Gerry Anderson Day, is presently sat watching "Captain Scarlet" in the other room.

People are showing their love and enthusiasm for the old shows, so I thought I'd do a blog post with some of my projects that have featured builds inspired by the various series.  This is the sort of thing I'd normally do for the Model Making Blog, but being as most of these are one-off shots from older projects, generally produced as props for photography shoots, it seemed worth putting the post up here instead.

Yes, the above model is a flying aircraft carrier, a deliberate homage to the Cloudbase from "Captain Scarlet", built for a never-completed graphic novel project (as I changed jobs and became too busy to finish it off). 

I can't even remember the name of this project, it was a collaborative thing with a graphic novel writer about 14 years ago I think.  I did some work to pitch for the art job.  It's inspired very much by the aesthetic of the Anderson shows, and the brilliant design work by the likes of Derek Meddings and Mike Trim.  These Chinook-esque machines were also Anderson-esque in that they're cheap, simple kit-bashes from very cheap toy helicopters.

I love how those miniatures designers approached their work; it's how you make something realistic.  Don't think its going to be all interactive holograms and flying cars, you take what exists these days and make it a little more advanced and different. 

Mechanical Spider sculpture for a show at Rydal Hall in the Lakes; directly inspired by the Sidewinder from "Thunderbirds".  I wonder if this piece is still there?  About 6 years ago I think it was still nailed to a tree somewhere in the woods as part of the trail.

A few years ago I applied for a concept-artist job with Citadel Miniatures, and ever so slightly shot myself in the foot with it.  They were leaning heavily into the Gothic aesthetic, I went more down the Anderson route once again, all extrapolations from existing machinery.  Still, a fun project to do.

Probably my most Anderson-inspired project in recent years, the "Observe to Preserve"/"Artist Health and Safety" project.  All science-fiction exploration vehicles and weird tower blocks.

Unlike some of the other work above, this body of work has been rather more successful, having been exhibited a few times and even featured in a model railway mag.

Hell, even when I design more conventional (relatively speaking) models for the garden railway, I manage to go a bit into the whole Anderson aesthetic- seeing all those weathered, realistic-looking vehicles, everything looking just that bit battered, with visible panel lines, running-dirt and so on just makes things look that bit more present.  Honestly, those 60's shows set a benchmark for model-makers- those chaps were doing things in the 1960's that became the norm, the whole 'used future' aesthetic of the later "Star Wars" and "Blade Runner".

One final one, another early project, a background for some photomanip work I did.  This is the only surviving image from the project, but with kitchen bits repurposed for a sci-fi building, the colander in the ceiling is very much a nod to the famous lemon-squeezer on the wall of Thunderbird 1's hangar.

There should be a directly Anderson-inspired project coming soon; sadly I didn't get chance to finish it in time as a couple of more pressing deadlines surfaced, but I managed to acquire a trio of the old Airfix Angel Interceptor kits from a local model shop just before the most recent lockdown.  Better get on and rebuild that flying aircraft carrier from the top of the page...

Happy Gerry Anderson Day!

Friday 9 April 2021

A return to railway photography! KWVR in early April.

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway are on the verge of restarting services after the latest lockdown, and have been running regular mid-week Test Trains in preparation.  These considerably livened up the Easter holidays, and as we live close to the line, it was great to be able to legitimately nip out and get some railway photographs for the first time in weeks.

Just to provide a bit of variety, alongside steam test trains, over several days locomotives from the diesel fleet were out running short goods trains.  Type 1/Class 20 20031 was doing the turn on the 1st of April.

It was nice seeing a short goods train out on the branch, seen here near Damems in the morning...

...and returning later in the afternoon.

It was a shame the weather was a bit on the manky side, but the sun was starting to come out in the afternoon, and I really wanted a shot of my favourite loco, the S160 "Big Jim".  This engine was out of service for most of last year, but has been restored for the 2021 season.

Extreme low-angle, by pushing the camera under the level crossing gate whilst the loco was stopped in the station.

The weather was rather better on the 2nd, so throughout the day I popped out with The Childs a few times to get some pictures.

Happily, the sun was properly out when "Big Jim" was out and about again.

The W&M Railbus was also operating shuttle services between Damems and Keighley throughout these days, which meant that after months with no trains running, we had something about every 20 minutes on this section of the line.

Meanwhile, as Lockdown eased, I felt I could legitimately nip out to get some pics on the mainline too for the first time in months.  GBRF happily obliged by rostering their heritage British Rail-liveried 66789 on the Yorkshire quarry circuit, and the loco is seen at Utley, above...

...and my old commute to work, Hirst Wood near Saltaire.

Nice to be able to get out and take railway photographs again, and looking forward to getting back onto the trains too.


Sunday 4 April 2021

Spring Has Sprung... April 2021

We've had a break from posting on here for the last few months- we've been reasonably busy in Lockdown with projects, but not a lot we can show until some deadlines have passed.  There's not been much to photograph outside in the bleak start to the year, and especially with us being unable to really go anywhere in Lockdown 3, but with the recent nice weather, we've started getting out and about again.

That said, these shots, by Amy, were taken right outside the front door.  Nice to see a bit of colour coming up in the garden- hopefully this will mark a nice, relaxing re-start to blogging this Easter.

We've some stuff coming up soon, as we gradually swing back into action with the easing of Lockdown, including some model-making by Ben, some illustration work by The Childs, and a load of ceramics by Amy.  In the meantime, we hope everyone reading this has a happy Easter.