Friday 28 April 2023

Worth Valley in the snow... March '23

Just as it looked like Spring had sprung in March, there was a last drop of snow.  Not that we mind too much, as long as we can either get to work (or better yet, get given the day off work to enjoy the snow).

Happily the latter occurred as both our Day Jobs gave us permission to stay off for the day.

It also happened to be the second day of the Worth Valley Railway Steam Gala, so whilst I (Ben) focussed on the trains, Amy decided to get a few landscape and close-up shots around the local area...

Just showing how the snow had caught-us out, expecting a nice spring; loads of flowers were already out around the garden.

So yes, impressively 'proper' snow for a change; always nice to be able to get some new shots each year.


KWVR Spring Steam Gala; trains in the snow

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway held their steam gala in March- we booked tickets to ride on the Saturday.  In previous years I (Ben) have tried to attend on the Friday as well, line-siding for 'train in the landscape' shots... but I'd only a few spare days off from the Day Job free in 2023, and anticipating poor weather and generally bare, dead surroundings, I decided to skip the Friday. 

And then on the Thursday it started snowing, and kept on snowing.  Come Friday morning, and the road off our street was rather deep in the white stuff.  A phone call from work confirmed I'd be able to stay off and work the time back later, so in between snowball fights with The Childs and walks with Amy to get landscape pics, I was able to get some train shots near the house.  The first train of the day is seen above, between Damems and Ingrow.

...and later on, 1054 and 85 head a train with some of the lovely vintage stock past the same spot, as the snow stopped and the weather started to brighten.

By late morning it was beautiful in the valley.

Snow and blue sky more than made up for the bare trees; 52044 and 85 between Damems and Ingrow.

My favourite station, Damems, and "Leander" slows for a stop around lunchtime.

At the crossing.  By this time, more and more photographers were starting to appear, and we were starting to get a bit cold, so headed back for a brew.

By mid-afternoon, we were able to get off the street (albeit with some difficulty), and the roads had been cleared as far as Haworth.  We nipped up for a little stroll around the village, a few pics, and trip to the shops for some bread and milk.  52044 and 85 once again in Haworth.

The goods train hadn't run on Friday due to the snow, but I was up early to see it pass on Saturday.  

We then spent the day enjoying riding the trains; there were an awful lot of photographers about, as well as the general public, so we left them to it pictures-wise and just enjoyed the day as passengers.

Sunday saw me up bright and early once again, this time with Elder Child; she was after some wildlife shots, I wanted "Bahamas" putting in a rare turn on the goods train.  The weather was noticeably poorer, and there was less snow about by this point.

A nice and moody shot to end the weekend on; I didn't think I'd be able to top the bright and sunny pics from Friday, and was content to leave it at that.

I don't often get shots published from gala events (as there's about three-thousand photographers in the valley), but Heritage Railway happily went for one of my shots, from before the weather brightened up on the Friday.



Tuesday 25 April 2023

Ivor the Engine, and a location shoot in the Top-Left Corner of Wales

Somewhere in the Top-Left Corner of Wales...

This was one of those projects which came a bit out of nowhere, and was one of those occasions where the model-making can come in useful for our roles in Scouting.  We're both leaders with the Squirrel Section (aged around 4 years old) and needed a story-themed project.  Having had some success doing the Ivor the Engine tales with The Childs over the years, we thought we could work up a project based on it for Scouting purposes.

Basically the end point of a few weeks of games, crafting, and reading was a massive train set laid out in the library where we meet.  The Squirrels would be driving a model of Ivor around, collecting passengers and goods, and dropping them off at stations around the layout. 

I (Ben) will be putting more about this on the Model Making Blog shortly, on the background and details of it all, but thought I'd put a few of the more arty bits up on here.

We'd be needing various townsfolk as passengers, so I drew out a large cast of characters inspired by drawings in the books.  Holidaymakers, Choir, commuters, and more.  I then inked them up, scanned, and cut them on the Laser.

They were then illustrated with marker pens.

Meanwhile, I converted a Playmobil Radio-Control tank loco, designing and laser-cutting a new body.  Again, this rather major component of the activity will be given space over on the Model-Making Blog.

The layout in the Library, before the chaos of the kids operating session...

...also note the technicolour dream wagon; these were designed and cut on the laser as well in plain wood, and the Squirrels coloured one each.

I managed to interest Garden Rail magazine in the project, which meant I needed a few 'beauty shots' of the loco, the figures, and the buildings.  The evening in the library went rather well, but it was hard to get some nice shots of the loco (which was in an unfinished state anyway at that point).

All the buildings we used in the project were repaints of Early Learning Centre 'Happyland' toys, and between the library session and the shoot I'd managed to acquire one of the stations which could be used; I decided that rather than just photographing the loco on a plank, I could knock-up a simple diorama which would give a feel for the project.

Laying the bits out on a piece of board to test compositions.

The size was dictated both by time and transport constraints; we were due to go to Wales in the Half Term which would give me a location to shoot the pics, but only a few days to do the build.  The baseboard fitted in a small underbed storage box, and everything needed to fit into the box; we wouldn't have a massive amount of room in the car.

There wouldn't be time for any fancy scenic work; the rock formation was Playmobil, as were the retaining walls, the grass is hanging basket liner.  The trees were all cheapy plastic Bonsai trees from a discount shop.  Being short of model ballast, I used some play sand (and left the board on top of the radiator for 24 hours in the hope the watered-down PVA glue used to set it all would try).

Out on location; my sister's house on Anglesey, meaning that appropriately enough I'd be shooting the pics actually in the Top Left Corner of Wales...

Happy holidaymakers waiting for the train to the seaside.

In the end though I also took a simple plank, with some more hanging basket liner ground cover, just for a bit of variety for the shots.  The rather plain-liveried wagon is my version of the rather more disco ones the Squirrels did.

Trying to make the most of the 'real' features like the low hedges and telegraph poles.

Unexpectedly, Ivor saw another outing recently, in the snow which fell back in March; just some track laid on the roof of the car, with a couple of props for set dressing.

Annoyingly Ivor was sans his distinctive whistle, which I'd left in Wales by accident, but Ivor was the only loco I had in the house.

All in all, another rather fun little project; there's a possibility of a bigger magazine feature, more about how we did the Scouting activity night rather than the model-making.  In the meantime, Ivor should look good trundling around the garden railway this summer...


Sunday 23 April 2023

Stocks Lane in the Cold

Another short post today, and a few pics taken at Stocks Lane one cold evening a few months ago.

We were out in the snow and the cold for the Scouts, who were doing some cooking on stoves.  Without much else to do whilst we waited for their stiry-fry to cook, I wandered about getting some abstract shots to basically try and keep the blood flowing.


Security shutters.

I can't remember what the name of it is, when you see faces in random objects, but it is a recognised psychological phenomenon.

Inside the stove; at least it meant the Scouts kept warm, even if I was busy freezing my fingers off taking pics.


Friday 21 April 2023

Saltaire in the Fog

Just a quick blog today, and a few snaps taken on a foggy morning around Salts Mill, in Saltaire.

Shame about the tuppaware-lid sky.

Not much else to say really, it was a flying visit whilst out on a walk, and nipping in to get some art supplies from the shop on the ground floor.  Still, the preserved mill always makes a nice spot to get some pics.