Wednesday 27 December 2023

Clockwork Trains and pizza.

This project has been ticking away quietly in the background for a big chunk of the year.  The Micro Model Railway Despatch (an excellent online model railway mag) runs a competition most years to build a micro layout, within certain restrictions of size, shape, and format.  For 2023, it was a 'pizza layout', that is a generally circular run of track, fairly simple, in under 2ftx2ft.

I (Ben) had planned on entering an earlier take on the contest in 2022, but a hospital visit knocked a hole in that plan.  This year I was determined to do it, but struggled for a concept, until I realised I could use it as a home for my little clockwork of vintage, tinplate, O-gauge clockwork trains.

I'll go into painful detail on the model-making blog at some point, but in a nutshell, Amy scrounged some wood from her work, and used cutting it to circles as way to practise with their band saw.  Scenery was planned to try and make this little layout look a bit bigger in the photographs, so it would be as varied as I could make it (river, overbridge, cliffs, level crossing, station).

I was struck with a bit of a dilema, anyway, in that 'classic' toy train layouts were a bit bare, but the modern scenery techniques didn't really match the clockwork trains.  I settled for going suitably retro with dyed sawdust and papier-mache scenery.

For the shoot for the competition entry, I needed a suitably retro backdrop for the photographs (more retro than our little 2000's-built end of terrace).  I borrowed the lounge at the in-laws suitably historic house instead.

Good as the pics looked, I thought I'd get a few more with the blue sky backdrop I tend to use for my Hornby Collectors Club shoots... a few days later, I set it all up again on our table, borrowing a studio light.  Always a bit tricky doing these projects in the bleak midwinter...

This was a really enjoyable build, and this is definitely one which won't be getting broken up for parts.  I'll probably be doing a few more shoots with this set now it's built too, and maybe one day we'll have a house big enough to display it properly.


Monday 25 December 2023

Daleks Revisited

Well, Dr.Who is back on at Christmas, so it seemed appropriate to drop this on here today.  With it recently being the 60th, I (Ben) wanted to do a project on the theme, but typically work was stupidly busy.  Stuck for time, I decided to revisit the old Dalek Corridor shoot I did back in lockdown, with my custom rebuilt Radio Controlled Dalek model.

Here's that first shoot, with my other Dalek (yes, I have several, nerd-alert).  The corridor was our laundry basket, with a few accessories cable-tied in place, and I was never totally happy with it; lockdown prevented me buying anything else though, so it was all a bit improvised.

No such restrictions this time, so I dug out the original floor for the corridor (repainted Scalextric track) and the LED strip lights, and bought a new laundry basket; a slightly different shape this time, but seemed to better fit the Daleks.

This one I could properly rebuild a bit, so I glued in parts, added pipes, details from the scrap bin, and dusted it all with paints.

All glamour, once again, these shoots.  USB-powered humidifiers for special effects, and a lot of precarious balancing of the sets on a slightly rickety folding table.

Still, it was worth it, giving much more the effect I was after.

Creative lighting with some bike lamps.  The extermination effect was done by replacing the moulded blaster with a micro LED torch, with a plastic drinking straw for the beam.

Playing with the different lenses on the phone, as opposed to the SLR.

The drifting steam really added to the atmosphere of the shoots; those humidifiers are great fun!

The main shot I was after; I'd set out to do as much as possible in-camera, so the poor bugger getting zapped was a 16-inch-high plastic, posable skeleton (a Halloween decoration, being sold off cheap), sprayed black and wrapped in clingfilm, before being backlit.

A small, but successful shoot which lifted a bit of the gloom from a busy patch at work.  I'm hoping to get the chance to do a bit more of this sort of project next year.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!


Friday 22 December 2023

KWVR; trains in the snow, December 2023

A flurry of snow the other week prompted me (Ben) to pop out and get some pics on the railway, my first for a while.

The snow rather caught me by surprise on the Wednesday night; not a vast amount of it, but enough to make the valley look pretty, and it was cold enough to hang around for a few days.

In between other jobs and chores at the weekend, I nipped out a few times, just local hops.

A walk up to the woods at Damems...

...and my usual spot, down by the river, in time for the morning 'Elf Explorer' with 75078 on the front.

37075 on the back.

144011 heading north straight after, the shot I was happier with of the three.

After a walk back to the house and a trip to the shops, I ended up back in the woods.

This time, via the cunning use of a pair of wellies, I crossed the river, and took advantage of the winter die-back of the undergrowth to get a lineside shot.  This one achieved by shoving the camera through the fence, but then I've been struggling to get shots along this line that other photographers, or even myself after nearly two-decades of photographing around here, haven't done to death.

Looking for angles for the Pacer coming past next, I struggled a little with this embankment.

A bit of handy tree-climbing however gave me the elevation I needed.  A lot of photographers these days use poles to elevate the cameras, or even go to the extent of using drones, but nothing quite so high-budget for me.

Definitely something to try again on a less-manky afternoon.

And with that, a walk back to the house.

Wednesday 20 December 2023

Gears and Cogs

A little post tonight, and some close-ups, slightly abstract shots from The World Museum, Liverpool, and their collection of telescopes, clocks and timekeepers up on the top floor.


Sunday 17 December 2023

Work, in the snow and the fog

Whilst I (Ben) don't have as much chance for photography with the day job, there are odd occasions when it's worth snapping some pics.  Walking into work the last couple of weeks has thrown up some interesting contrasts with the winter weather...

Up on D-floor, looking out towards Bradford,

trails in the snow...

And then, by contrast, a very foggy morning last week.

Slightly spooky atmosphere.

Into the grounds, which were oddly quiet considering it was only half an hour before shift.

So yeah, always nice to have the chance to get a few pictures here every now and again, even if it is a place I take granted after all this time.