Monday 30 October 2023

KWVR... Reference shots of the Railbus

I (Ben) tend to struggle a little with railway photography in the Autumn; most preserved lines tend to cut their services back to weekends (and frankly, the long hours of the Day Job mean weekdays off for photo purposes tend to be few and far between), and so I end up having to fit it in around the general freelancing, and family events. 

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Beer and Music Festival being a case in point; we made a couple of special trips out for night shoots, though struggling to fit those in, and I'd planned to get a couple of daylight shots on the Sunday whilst waiting for the shops to open, the only free time I had. 

Out bright and early, I was pleasantly surprised that the W&M Railbus was out on a turn; it wasn't rostered, but I needed some beauty shots of it for a model-build article I'm working on.

However... was an absolute pig.  Not being able to properly recce and plan where to shoot, just having to snap pics from nearby wherever I was during the morning, meant I wasn't in the spots with the best lighting.  The unit was only doing two return trips early doors, and there wasn't time to wait for the sunlight to hit the embankment here at Keighley.

My reserve spot nearer to home was also vexingly obscured by shadows cast as the low Autumn sun hit the trees.

It was a bit better up in the woods near Damems, though the shadows were still an issue.

Still, I tried to make the best of it.  Luckily I have some archive pictures of this unit (the W&M is a personal favourite, and I've snapped a lot of pics of it over the years), so they can go in the article instead.  The night shoots around the gala were rather more successful anyway, so we'll be posting those shortly.


Wednesday 25 October 2023

Inflate-Deflate... up in the Hills

Back in May, I (Ben) and Elder Child did a shoot where we were basically chucking beachballs around with a mountain backdrop, for an open call, and several of the shots were chosen for publication.  Anyway, another summer-themed call came about right at the end of the summer hols, and I thought I'd get some new shots (to avoid re-using the earlier pics, which are still technically in a running show).

There's quite the backlash in some circles against inflatables for the whole plastic-waste in the sea issue  (and I do get that); but whilst I use a lot of beach toys in my shoots, far from considering them disposable tat, there are toys in our props box which are older than The Childs.  Case in point, the selection for the shoots this holiday; Amy's lilo at the front is from 2003, the striped ball from 2002, the transparent ball for this shoot is from 2005...

When we tried this location last time, high in the hills above Prenteg, we had to abort as it was a bank holiday evening, and there were various teenagers heading up here to drink.  By contrast, this time was the end of the summer hols, lots of schools were back in, and consequently there was hardly anybody about.  At least, when we started...  Nice view over towards Cnicht.

Of course, people appeared as soon as we started inflating the toys, but more of the 'car full of farmers slows-down to glower suspiciously at the strange folks with inflatables' variety.

Slightly 70's looking shot, in the odd lighting.

This was the shot I wanted back in May; the combination of the reflection of the mountains, and the overlapping transparent colours, exactly what I was after.  With the benefit of hindsight, after getting the shot on the first go, we should have headed off at this point.

Bird of prey circling us, probably also wondering what the hell we were up to.

Attempt at a portrait shot, but the landscape ones work best.

These really are nice, photogenic props; courtesy of a nice chap in the US who trades as D&L Toys, I think he had these commissioned about 3 decades back.  I suspect I've bought the last of his stock.

For reasons mentioned a bit further down, we ended up breaking out the back-up toy, a more 'traditional' ball, not quite as big, also acquired from D&L (because it's very hard to buy toys in the UK that aren't covered in warning labels or cartoon characters).

Bit of greyscale, why not.

The only downside with the location, it was a little breezy, and also the ground was surprisingly slippy in places, as Elder Child discovered when she slid not very graciously down the hill after loosing her footing, and pasted herself with moss and mud.

And yeah, it turned out that of all the plants on the hillside, the beachballs would always end up blowing into the worst possible places.


A bit of a shame, but nothing a bit of sticky tape wouldn't fix.  That said, we didn't have any with us, but I reckoned I'd got enough shots for the open call.  A little annoying that we'd popped both beachballs, but we had the pictures I needed in the can, so we headed off after what will probably be the last 'summery' shoot of 2023.


Monday 23 October 2023

Underwater at Llanbedrog

Making the most of the nice weather, as mentioned in the last post, we went in the sea for a bit of a play, a bit of a swim, and a bit of photography.  Having shown Ben's shots last time, here are a few of mine (Amy's).

There's two types of shots I like going for at the coast, one is the shot that focusses on the shingle or sand, especially with the light glinting on the wet pebbles...

The other type is the dramatic close-ups on the waves, a little further out.

Some interesting reflections looking back towards the beach huts.

This is what we like about this beach, the sea is amazingly calm here.

All in all, a very nice morning out at the sea, and a few more shots for the collection.


Friday 20 October 2023

Inflate-Deflate...underwater, in August

With the weather improving markedly for the end of our holiday to Wales, it was a perfect excuse for a trip to the beach.  And whilst, for many people, that might mean "sit on the beach and sunbathe", for us it meant underwater pictures, and combining a photography open call with, basically, an excuse to muck about with inflatables again.

The sea is gloriously shallow and clear on our usual beach, which makes it safer for using floats.  That said, we always check the tides, we're swimmers, and we're damned careful; we know using floats and things is very much frowned upon these days (though the world and his dog had those inflatable paddle-boards this year, we counted 14 of them in the three hours we were on the sand).

Initially the idea was Amy did her underwater pics, whilst I (Ben) took some new shots in the series I did back in May, with the ball centrally in the composition over a landscape background.  However, my two assistants (Middle Child and Younger Child) were less than enthused, naturally wanting to go play in the water instead, and with the tide so close and the beach busy, it was difficult to get far enough back for the shot I wanted.  Middle-child accidentally bouncing the ball off one of those spiky bits at the front of the huts didn't help (the ball survived but we decided not to push our luck), so we decided to switch to underwater pics with the inflatables instead.

For all the clarity of the sea, there was a fair bit of seaweed floating about, which mucked-up some of the shots.

We mainly used the bag with the plastic lens aperture again for the pictures, holding the compact camera, as Amy had for the river shots on the Glaslyn

Taking shots out of the water gave it a weirdly hazy effect, which Younger Child reckons looks like a still from an Anime.

Compared to last time I tried this, the sun was nice and strong, allowing the light to shine through the transparent toys in just the way I was after.

After an hour or so of photography and play (OK, mainly play) the beach was getting busier, and it was getting harder to keep people out of shot.  We knocked it on the head and went back to the sand.

Still, time for a couple of last shots, to bulk-out the similar angles I took earlier in the year.

Much as I enjoyed getting the pics, they weren't quite right for the Open Call I was going for, so I decided to head out again in the late-afternoon to get some more pics... of which more in another post, after we show some of Amy's underwater pics in the next one.


Monday 16 October 2023

...and the Welsh Highland Railway in August, too.

Even though it runs past where we stay in Wales, we don't have as much to do with the Welsh Highland Railway when compared to the Ffestiniog.  There's fewer trains, and whilst powerful and impressive pieces of engineering, they're less photogenic from most angles.

Elder Child wanted an afternoon birding down at the excellent Osprey site and bird hides at Pont Croeser, so after dropping her off, I (Ben) strolled around the site, getting some reference pictures.  The level crossing is looking a bit battered.

A nice little station, though little-used.  

I thought I'd get some shots, as reference for making something similar for the garden railway.  I've a special roller-tool for making corrugated metalwork.

When we did the Glaslyn Pass, I tried to get a shot whilst Amy was doing her underwater pictures, but the lighting was poor.

In the search of somewhere out of the rain, we had lunch up at the station, where the train was waiting to pull out back to Porthmadog.

Sunday was markedly improved, weather-wise, just as we were leaving for Yorkshire, but there was a last chance of some pics whilst we were having a cold drink at the station.

I've been wanting to do a shot like this for a long time; nearly scuppered however, by the stupidly-placed bin ruining the composition, and a couple of chaps from the brass band who ran right in front of the camera just before this shot.