Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

Vintage paper with plenty of copyspace for text

John and Harriet Arthurs lived nearly all of their lives in Sampford Peverell, Devon. In a previous Weekly Photo Challenge I used a photograph of John and Harriet’s gravestone to explain how I use a digital camera to record family history information such as gravestones, churches, places the family lived.

Born in 1817 in the tiny village of Uplowman, Devon, He married Harriet Dunster at the parish church of Taunton St. Mary in 1843. John and Harriet moved to Sampford Peverell where he worked as a farm labourer until his death in 1892.

Nothing remarkable here, but John and Harriet had four children, three of whom moved to the industrial north to work.

First of all Richard Arthurs, the eldest son, moved to Bolton to work in the coal mines. Think about it. Why would anyone swop fresh air and working in the open for the dark and dusty coal mines? Simple really, through necessity.

The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain signalled new manufacturing processes, using machines instead of the previous hand production methods. Increasing use of water and more importantly steam power meant greater demand for coal.

Agricultural improvement had already begun prior to the Industrial revolution and more and more farm labourers were no longer able to work on the land. As the revolution in industry progressed a succession of machines became available which increased food production with ever fewer labourers being required to work the land.

Richard had no choice, He had to work and the main employers of the time were the industrialists of the north.

Later Edward and Emma followed their brother, eventually settling in Manchester, one of the greatest industrial towns of the North.

Normally the photographs I use in my blog are mine, all mine but today I used a stock image as the background for the photograph of John and Harriet. The Terms of Use mean that i must notify you that the background image is © Sandra Cunningham / Fotolia 


Enhanced by Zemanta

Contrast – Week 3/52 of 2014

52 of 2014 - Week 3

This has to be one of the most confused challenge weeks. I know we are only at week 3 but what a subject; “Contrast, between colour, texture, b/w. or any interpretation that shows the difference between the lights and darks of an image”.

Alright here is my interpretation of that challenge. First of all I photographed a clock face from a 1930’s clock, which was cropped to just give a partial portion. After that it was quite simple. Apply a Topaz Labs Filter called Black and White Effects, specifically the Infrared False Colour Preset. this now gave me contrast between colours with some texture and although not quite Black and White it had lost a lot of the colour saturation.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

Dinorwig Slate Quarry was the second largest slate quarry in Wales, indeed in the world, after the neighbouring Penrhyn Quarry. It covered more than 700 acres (2.8 km2) consisting of two main quarry sections. At its peak in the late 19th century, “when it was producing an annual outcome of 100,000 tonnes”, Dinorwig employed over 3,000 men and was the second largest open-cast slate producer in the country. By 1930 its working employment had dropped to 2,000  and it kept a steady production rate until 1969, when the quarry closed.

Dinorwic Quarry

However, the Victorian workshops remain open to tell the story of the Welsh slate industry. Built in 1870, the workshops are patterned in a similar style to a British Empire Fort with a central courtyard, clock tower and marvellously detailed windows.

National Slate Museum

Now a Museum the Workshops and Buildings give us a window into the lives of the quarrymen and engineers who, seemingly, just put down their tools and left the workshops for home.

Lets start with the Chief Engineers House. Responsible for all of the engineering work in the quarry the Engineer lived in a house which was part of the courtyard.

The Engineers House

Right up until the closure of the quarry in 1969 Engineers and their families lived here. As we see it today it is furnished as it would have been around 1911, with red velvet curtains and the organ in the parlour reflecting a higher standard of living than the houses of the ordinary quarrymen.

The kitchen was more basic but even still it was far better than what the quarrymen and their families had.

The Kitchen

In the 1800’s demand for slate grew which meant the slate industry was rapidly becoming the most important in Wales and subsequently the main employer in Gwynedd. Workers started to move from the rural areas to the slate quarrying areas where the work was demanding, dirty and dangerous. But the pay was better than labouring in the farms. With the influx of workers the population of Ffestiniog parish grew from 1,648 to 11,274 between  831 and 1881. Unfortunately available housing did not grow as fast  and often two families would share the one house. In situations like this children shared a room with their parents, either sleeping on the floor or sometimes sharing the same bed as their parents. Always a problem, the houses suffered from dampness, poor water supplies and blocked sewerage. Consequently typhoid and tuberculosis were constant threats.

Towards the rear of the museum stands a row of 4 terraced houses, which originally stood near Blaenau Ffestiniog at Fron Haul in Tanygrisiau. Condemned by Gwynedd County Council because of their poor condition they were moved In 1998 to the National Slate Museum. Cramped and not very luxurious the houses are typical of the terraced housing to be seen all over the quarrying areas.

Quarrymans Cottage

When you visit the workshops there is a large variety of machinery on display. The quarry and workshops were, in the main, self-sufficient due to the technical abilities of the staff. In the repair workshops you can see a riveted boiler for a narrow gauge engine which was built in the company’s boiler workshops at Port Dinorwic.

Machine Shop

In the machine shop there is a lathe dating from 1900, used for turning all sorts of things — from the incline drum’s wheels to turntables. There is also another lathe, 6.4 metres long, used to turn the transmission and propeller shafts for the company’s fleet of steam ships.

National Slate Museum

The slotting machine, on the other hand, was used to cut keyways in gear and pinion wheels, sprockets and drive pulleys.

Most of the machines to be seen in these workshops could still do a good day’s work, and indeed some of them are still used from time to time.

Repair Shed

An area that really fascinated me was the Pattern Loft where patterns for metal objects were carved first using softwood. Although much was done by hand sometimes the pattern makers used mechanical equipment, pillar drill, fretsaw, lathe and whetstone.

Light and Shade

The pattern makers carved cogs, parts for steam engines, even the bell for the clock above the gateway. Although some mechanical tools were used the detailed delicate patterns were all carved by hand. Other workers were not allowed in the Pattern Loft in case they distracted the pattern makers attention and, if his hand slipped he ruined the pattern.

The Pattern Loft

Today you can still see some of the 2000 different, fantastically intricate, patterns in the pattern loft all of which were carved by candlelight:

Administration of the quarry and workshops was carried out from the Clerks Office and Stores. In the office was a telephone which connected various parts of the quarry to the workshops.

The Office

In the Clerks Office, just inside the door, hung a Tally Board. Every one who worked at the workshops had their own tally, which had to be presented at the end of the day. Today you can see the Tally Board hanging in the window as you enter the Slate Museum.

The Tally Board

This weeks challenge was about windows and hopefully this short article has given you an insight, or should I say window, into the support services for the quarrymen who worked in the dangerous and difficult environment of the quarry. Their life was hard, especially in the 1800’s and early 1900’s but the skills of the craftsmen in the quarry workshops produced machinery which helped the quarrymen work the slate from the mountain.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Easy commenting

I need your help…again. At the beginning of this year I refreshed “Say It With A Camera” by changing the theme to Parament.

Since then I have noticed that the number of comments on blog post has dropped quite substantially.

So a quick question. If you wanted to comment do you find it easy enough to leave a comment?

Thank you in advance for taking the time read this and hopefully comment.

Bokeh – Week 2/52 of 2014

Bokeh - Week 2

I must be crazy. Not only have I taken on another 52 challenge but last week I decided to revive Highlights and Shadows, which is devoted solely to HDR photography.

Wikipedia describes Bokeh as,

In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ boh-kay — also sometimes heard as /ˈboʊkə/ boh-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. However, differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas. However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image.

Far too technical for me. For those interested, this is how I did it. The lights in the background are from a set of hazel branches which have LED’s attached to them and were about 4ft away from the Rose, which is in the foreground. Natural light was flooding the rose from the left hand side and I decided not to use flash or any other form of lighting.

Camera was the Pentax K-30, lens the Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3, focal length 93mm, Aperture f5.6, ISO 1600, shutter speed 1/20 second. Image Stabilisation was on, I didn’t use a tripod.

As post-processing is allowed for the 52 challenges I re-coloured the image using Topaz Re-Style.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

I was thinking about this challenge and deciding what photographs to use this week. So I’m going to take you back to 2004 when I first bought a digital camera. A little Fuji S304, cost me an arm and a leg, but it opened up so many new possibilities for my photography. It’s still in working order and this is one of the first photographs I took with it. (I never throw anything away)

John Arthurs

I wasn’t experimenting. I took this photograph for a purpose. My wife was working on her family tree and by recording this digital photograph of the gravestone of John Arthurs, her great, great-grandfather, we were able to share it with other family members.

Digital opened up a whole new world, we were able to visit locations where past generations had lived and instantly record grave stones and their location for future use in the family tree.

Saint John the Baptist - Sampford Peverell

This is the beautiful church of Saint John the Baptist in Sampford Peverell, Devon and it is where John’s grave is located. I am standing almost next to his grave and by recording this viewpoint it allows others to find the stone should the churchyard get overgrown, as many do nowadays.

Finally I’d like to mention the decision by WordPress to drop the Zemanta Plugin since the start of 2014. For a good few years I have been using Zemanta to point to other bloggers who were taking part in the Weekly Photo Challenge, or articles from the web that were relevant to my post. Suddenly we have lost the facility. No notice, just an arbitrary decision. I am not happy to say the least. The folks at WordPress say that their new in-house Related Posts is far better. I disagree. In fact I would go so far as to say it is totally useless as i only points to posts from my blog and i have no control over what is considered related. At least with Zemanta I could select how many related posts to add and choose what i consider related.

However there is some form of workaround. You can install a plugin for Zemanta into your browser which seems to work except for WordPress related posts. So far I have been unable to get Zemanta to find any related posts for this weeks challenge.


Enhanced by Zemanta

Abstract – Week 1/52 of 2014


Why do I put myself through it? In 2012 and 2013 I successfully completed a 52 challenge and I vowed that this year I would take a break….and yet, here I am again. Only this year I have made it more difficult because I am taking part in a themed challenge.

This weeks 52 of 2014 theme is Abstract and hopefully this photograph will fit the theme.


Rhyl Seafront 4

Today we had another high Spring Tide and with strong winds it was predicted that the sea defences would be put to the test again. Fortunately the winds were blowing from the shore out to sea unlike last time when they were the opposite way around.

It still made for some dramatic seas though and I thought you would like this one. I wasn’t that close as it seems in photographic. That would have been really stupid. So I stood off with my 500mm lens and zoomed in to get this close-up.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

At the time I am writing this I think everyone, no matter where they are in the world, should have joined me in 2014. So I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and as we say in Scotland.

“Lang May Yer Lum Reek”

It used to be an old Scottish tradition at Hogmanay to take a piece of coal when visiting friends and family on New Year’s Eve. The coal would be put on the fire to keep it burning. The literal translation of Lang May Yer Lum Reek is “Long May Your Chimney Smoke“, thus in effect we are wishing our hosts long life and prosperity.

Street Musicians

Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy

Bit of a difficult one this week as I don’t have too many photographs of people enjoying themselves.  Just about every photograph I have in my back catalogue has landscape, architecture or nature as the subject. It’s in these fields that I feel most comfortable and where I think my best work comes from.

A photographer’s best pictures are from deep inside him, and also some of the worst. Some photographers enjoy distinguished careers without ever taking personal photographs. Others, audaciously and arrogantly and courageously discharge their most private feelings through photography. Trouble is, sometimes it all adds up to baloney. – Burk Uzzle


Street Musicians

And so to this weeks challenge photograph. I had to go way back to 2008 to find this photograph I took on a business trip to Cape Town, South Africa. After rounds of  meetings, which seemed to go on and on I managed to sneak away for a bit of sight-seeing.

Walking down a side street near the Victoria & Albert Shopping Mall I found these three guys belting out some great Jazz. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I sat down and listened to them for the rest of my brief escape from the meetings.