Night Time–Who’s Out There?

I am, at least I was on Wednesday night. After a busy day in Stockport I rushed back to get out with a group of photographers from the Prestatyn & District Camera Club for an evening shoot in Rhyl. If you want to look at some of the members photographs, just follow the link to our public Facebook page. But going back to that night-time shoot, “How convenient that this weeks theme is Glow”.

So let’s get on with it and show a few of my photographs from that evening. It was a cold night in Rhyl with the wind blowing off the sea. We were down by the sea-front, there’s no real shelter from the wind, so it’s a case of wrap up well, especially as you’re going to be standing around quite a lot.

Keep Still
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 with Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens – f2.8, 0.6s, ISO 200

Just to the left of this picture is the sea. That evening I could hear it but the light drops off dramatically as you get away from the promenade, I just couldn’t see it. With gulls crying out it’s quite eerie, even although I’m standing in a well-lit area. The blue shelters have changed to red now and the Sky Tower to purple.

Shelters
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 with Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens – f16, 60s, ISO 200

At the harbour it was just as cold. This is an area that has been re-generated so it’s well lit, but quite lonely. Not so sure that I would go down there on my own at night.

Rhyl Harbour
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 with Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens – f18, 13s, ISO 200

Whilst everyone stayed at the harbour I decided to walk up to the roundabout on the opposite side of the river. It’s only a short walk and it helps to keep warm. I was looking for something different; light trails from cars.

Roundabout Light
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 with Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens – f6.3, 1s, ISO 200 using Live Composite Mode

Just up from the roundabout is the bridge over the river, the harbour is to the right of this photograph, and it’s here I was really looking to capture some light trails. Luckily enough a bus came along whilst I was taking the photograph, adding some extra colour to the scene.

Light Trails
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk2 with Olympus M 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Lens – f6.3, 1s, ISO 200 using Live Composite Mode

So that’s it for this week, I hope you enjoyed the photographs.

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Olympus Image Space–Llangollen Railway

It’s 6:30 am, just getting light and there is torrential rain falling. That’s not good! I’ve got a photography day out with Olympus on the Llangollen Railway today and it looks like it’s going to be a total washout.

Olympus, the manufacturers of my camera, the magnificent Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark 2, regularly run photography events throughout the country. It’s a chance to meet other Olympus users, talk with Olympus professionals, get technical advice and even borrow gear to try out for the day.

So 9.00 am finds me outside Carrog Station and the rain is still pouring down.

Carrog Station

At this point I should maybe explain that the Llangollen Railway is a heritage railway, running older stock along a stretch of line that had to be rebuilt. The stations have the old British Railways look as does much of their rolling stock. So for a photographer, there’s plenty to photograph.

Our day was extra special though, as well as David and Chris from Olympus on-hand to give us technical advice and help, we also had Duncan from the Llangollen Railway to give us some great info about the railway and later escort us around the workshops. Something most users of the railway don’t get to see. More photography opportunities.

My thought for today was to keep it simple. With the rain lashing down I was going to stick just the E-M1 and the Olympus M Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 Pro lens. Olympus claim that “a clever system of seals makes the E-M1 Mark II splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof down to –10°C. So you can keep shooting in any weather and any environment”. And the same goes for the 12-40 lens, so now was a good time to test that out. Although I have to say I have used this camera and lens combo before in adverse conditions, but not for a whole day of working.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated, associated, authorised, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Olympus UK. I use Olympus cameras and lenses because it’s my personal choice to do so.

One of the great things about having Duncan with us was that we were allowed access to areas the public doesn’t normally get to and as a welcome respite from the rain we were allowed to visit in pairs the signal box at Carrog station. Modern railway systems in the UK are fully automated so it’s only on heritage railways that the old system of levers connected to wires along the track is still used. Using the levers the signalman could control the points and signals along the stretch of track that he was responsible for.

Signal Box

Our train arrives on time and we are going to get on and do the short run up to Corwen station.

Diesel Train

This is a new stretch of line, about 2 miles, and currently there is a temporary platform. Although Duncan did tell us a new permanent platform was being built about 400 metres further up the line.

Corwen Station

What’s it like on the train. Well for a start the carriages are old but they have so many features that I can remember as a young man when I used to travel by train a lot. I mean, little compartments that seat about 6-8 people. Perfect for sleeping. Here’s a little story about this type of carriage. When I was just 18, boy that’s a long time ago, I was living and working near Bristol. About once a month I used to go home to Glasgow and catch the overnight sleeper. None of the luxury of a proper bed for me though. Right at the very front of the train, and it was a long one, with sleeper carriages and car transporters, there was one carriage like this, right next to the diesel units.

Compartment Carriage

The idea was to get on, draw the curtains and hope that no one was willing to walk the far length of the platform to get into this carriage. The overnighter only had a couple of stops, so if you were lucky you’d get a reasonable nights sleep, quite cheaply. Didn’t always work out like that though and then you glared daggers at the person invading your space. But that’s another age.

Of course. sometimes they didn’t put the compartment carriage on and then it was slum it in the upright seats and boy they were uncomfortable, especially overnight.

Rail Carriage

So let’s get on with it. It’s still raining and we’re back at Carrog now.

Wet Carrog

There’s a short delay whilst the diesel unit is transferred to the other end of the train, ready to make the journey to Llangollen, via Glyndyfrdwy and Berwin stations. During the changeover I was able to grab a quick photograph inside the cabin of the diesel unit.

Diesel Cabin

I should mention here, that all of the inside photographs on today’s post were taken using the HDR function of the E-M1. I used bracket sets of 3 photographs (-2, 0, +2 Ev), all hand-held without a tripod. No HDR software though. I mainly use Luminosity Masks now to combine my bracket sets.

No Smoking

Oh! This brings back memories. No smoking compartments. Unlike today, these were few and far between on trains. Heaven help anyone who tried to light up in these sacrosanct carriages. If I remember rightly it was also punishable by a fine of about £50 for smoking in the “No Smoking” carriage.

There’s a short delay at Glyndyfrdwy as we wait for the steam train to come up the line on it’s way to Carrog. Apparently there’s a large group of American tourists on this train, from a cruise ship docked at Liverpool. There’s also a wedding party.

Steam Train

Next stop is Berwin, You can get off here for the Horseshoe Falls. It’s a bit unfortunate but just as you approach Berwin Station there is a bright orange barrier which stops you getting a better angle for a photograph of both the bridges over the River Dee.

Two bridges

As soon as we reached Llangollen it was straight to the workshops for our tour with Duncan. For these next few photographs I was tempted to use HDR software and get the photographs really grungy but in the end I decided to stick to my resolution to wean myself off HDR software and instead use Luminosity Masks.

Workshop

It was hard, but I persevered. Now this is where I know I made a mistake. Even although I was using HDR brackets I didn’t compensate enough for the extremely bright light coming from those overhead skylights.

Big Engine

If I had been using a tripod I would have taken more time over exposure, ISO etc., but I was having to be extremely quick as we only had a limited time with Duncan.

At last, the sun has come out and the bride is giving that Canon photographer a strange look. As much as I was tempted to go and grab some quick photographs I didn’t want to be like Uncle Bob. We’ve all seen them at weddings. Got a reasonable bit of kit, fancies themselves as a pro tog and generally gets in the way. The E-M1 is capable of handling a wedding, inside or out, but let the pro get on with it and just sneak a quick one from the other side of the platform.

Weddin Party

It’s finally time to head back to Carrog station, this time riding on the Puffing Billy. We always called them that when we were kids. There’s something about steam trains that diesel ones just can’t match. It’s not the steam or lack of it. It’s the smell. Although to be fair my journey back to Carrog wasn’t as smooth as the diesel unit on it’s way to Llangollen.

Puffing Billy

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the photographs? If you get the chance come to Wales and get on the Llangollen Railway. Better still spend some time in the area, there’s some great countryside and Snowdonia isn’t that far away.

Corwen Station

Unit the next time – Mike

It’s Saturday–Time For Black And White

The last three weeks have been pretty hectic with not much time for photography. A quick trip to Big Pool Wood and Talacre lighthouse to test the new camera and last Saturday I managed to arrange a day In Chester to take some photographs….and as usual the best laid plans etc. It was raining, dark grey skies, really overcast, but “plans is plans” and off I went. A good few weeks back I did a post about Chester Cathedral and Saturday was supposed to have been the architecture, Chester has some amazing Black and White buildings and covered walkways, called The Rows. The E-M1 Mk2 is weather-proof, so rain doesn’t really matter too much, apart from getting spots of water on the lens front, guaranteed to happen if you are shooting architecture, so Plan B, I always have a plan, was dusted off and brought into action. Street Photography.

The lovely thing about street photography is the best of is absolutely no way you can stage or even think of – it just like – it happened and isn’t it weird and it is gone.. I think the crazies stuff is the stuff that is generally real and the stuff you can make up is less impressive. – Matt Stuart

If you understand what Matt was saying, let me know.

Wet Chester

See what I mean about those lovely Black and White buildings, another day, maybe. I found a good spot to stand, it’s directly opposite me just to the left of the steps and two windows in. One it was out of the rain, you can see the dry spot on the street, and two it was ideal for catching my victims unwilling subjects as they came round the corner.

No matter what city you are in, at least here in the UK, Saturday is always good for Hen and Stag parties as the next two photographs show.

Strange People

Here comes the bride, can’t understand why she has shut her eyes, maybe it’s a surprise

Bride To Be

Chester is one of those town, they see so many tourists and photographers that they really don’t pay that much attention to another fool with a camera…..

I'm On The Phone

…..and those Black and White buildings are really fantastic to photograph. Just a shame people get in the way.

Friends

I’ve heard of The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, even been and visited it, but this is some serious lean. Ooops! It’s me. I haven’t got the horizon straight.

The Tower

Coffee time, at this point in the day I could do with one myself. This is another nice spot to take a photograph. People seem totally unaware that I’m standing there.

Coffee Time

On the same street, just a little bit further up and another convenient spot to take photographs.

Street photography is a renewable resource. If you don’t like what you see wait 5 minutes or walk a hundred feet. – Craig Coverdale

The Two Of Us

Watch out! They’re coming. On a wet day like Saturday he was doing a roaring trade in selling umbrella’s.

Smoke Time

….and there were lots of them about. Big ones, small one, all designed to poke your eye out. I’m tall and when I walk about in areas where there are lots of umbrellas I have to keep a constant eye, excuse the pun, for someone with their head down, scurrying along, underneath an umbrella.

Tourists

In Chester, there is a great area called The Rows. It’s a series of covered walkways with shops on one side that allow you to get about without getting wet. Well that’s how I look at it….

The Rows - Chester

Of course there are those who don’t mind getting wet, I other the other hand do like to keep dry, so this was taken from that nice little sheltered spot I mentioned earlier.

Happy Clappy

My final photograph for this week . I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did taking them – Mike

The Two Of Us Again

Upstairs, Downstairs Part 2

Better late than never as they, although due to circumstances beyond my control I had to delay writing this post. Now that I’ve finished the unexpected re-decoration of our bedroom at home I can finally get around to writing this post. Sage green, nice colour, once you get used to it.

Continuing the story of Attingham Hall, In later years Attingham Hall was used as a hospital between 1914 and 1918 for wounded soldiers from World War 1. After the Second World War, Attingham was used as an Adult Education College for 23 years so not a lot remains of the downstairs furnishings. Room that you see are typical of the time but I’m not sure how accurately they reflect actual life below stairs. So let’s get started.

This is the kitchen and of all the rooms below stairs this is probably the most truest representation. The lady was actually putting together the ingredients for a carrot soup when we visited.

The Kitchen

The smell of fresh lemons permeated this room. Attingham has an education program for school children and it looked like they had just finished a lesson in cooking. Pancakes I think….

Training

This room could have been the scullery it’s very close to the kitchen and would be where the pots and pans would have been washed and cleaned. No modern aids in here. Hard work and elbow grease was the only way to get anything clean.

Scullery

This room was laid out as the staff dining room. The plates you see on the table explain who would sit where. For instance on the nearest plate is the inscription

Head Coachman Frederick Nash, the highest ranking servant wearing livery. Employed for his skill driving and caring for horses. 35 gns per year.

A guinea was worth 1 pound and 1 shilling in old UK currency before we became decimalised. Nowadays that would be 1 pound and 5 pence. So in todays currency GBP £36.75 (USD $46).as an annual salary.

Staff Dining Room

Just behind and to my left from where I was standing, there is a set of stairs that lead straight up to the front door of Attingham . The dining room windows also face the driveway and the front of the hall so staff would be able to see any callers to the great house.

Right that just leaves the Silver Room which has a large vault like door to secure the house silver which you can see in the cabinets

Silver Room

That’s it. The rooms are not as ornate or decorative. Plain and functional as you would expect for an downstairs in a great house.

Upstairs, Downstairs Part 1

The year is 1812, Thomas Noel Hill, 2nd Lord Berwick of Attingham, aged 42, has brought his new wife Sophia Dubochet, a courtesan, aged 18, to his stately home Attingham Park in Shropshire.

Attingham Hall

Like many large houses of the time there was a fashionable distinct split of the state rooms into male and female sides. In part 1 of Upstairs Downstairs I’ll show you how Thomas and his wife Sophia lived, followed by part 2 later this week, looking at life below stairs in the servants quarters and kitchens.

So lets begin with the lady of the house and her boudoir.

Attingham Hall - Boudior

The room is circular in shape, even the doors are cut and shaped so that they fit the round walls. Look at the bottom of the door on the left hand side, you can see the curve. The lady you see, dressed in period costume, is one of the many volunteer guides who help out at Attingham Hall.

Next to the Boudoir lies the Sultana Room. The room takes it name from the sofa or “sultane” which you can see in the alcove.

Attingham Hall - Sultana Room

The final room from the lady’s side of the house is the Drawing-Room which is situated between the Sultana Room and the Dining Room. Interestingly there are no State Bedrooms to view on the upper floor, at Attingham. The ground floor does have a huge collection of Regency furniture, paintings, textiles, porcelain and silver as you can see from the photographs in this post. Unfortunately, Thomas and his wife Sophia spent nearly all of the family fortune and ended up being bankrupt in 1827. The bankruptcy sale lasted 16 days and two years later there was a further sale.

In later years the 3rd Lord Berwick, who became Britain’s Ambassador to Italy, managed to re-furnish the house with French and Italian pieces which he acquired during his time as Ambassador. Much later the 8th Lord and his wife, who had no heirs, added to the collection before securing Attingham’s future with the National Trust.

Attingham Hall - Drawing Room

The Dining Room was more of a male preserve. After dinner the men would stay here drinking port and talking, whilst the ladies retired to the Drawing Room or the Sultana Room. As an aside. this room was so dark, illuminated only by those artificial candles, it was hard to photograph because I wasn’t allowed to use a tripod. But the Olympus Image Stabilisation performed well, allowing me to hand hold the camera at very slow shutter speeds.

Attingham Hall - Dining Room

Next door to the Dining Room is the Library. Just look at the furnishings and compare them to the Drawing Room.

Attingham Park - Inner Library

From the Library we pass through another small room, also was being used a library, and from there we reach the Octagonal Room, used as a study by the 2nd Lord Berwick.

The Octagonal Room

The last room I would like to show you from the Upstairs Tour is the Picture Gallery, or at least, one end of it.

Attingham Hall - Picture Gallery

Now you might be thinking “what has this got to do with this weeks challenge”. Think of it from the servants point of view. Wouldn’t you wish to live in opulence like this?

Each week I like to visit other bloggers and see what they are saying about this weeks challenge. If I find the subject interesting or I like the photographs then I’ll always leave at least a like. Here’s some that might be of interest to you.

Precious wish – Lipstick & Miracles
Weekly Photo Challenge- Wish – Novice Photographer
This is Another Story The Wishing Tree
J9 Pictures Life WPC – Wish
The Difference Between Wishing and Making It Happen – Nes Felicio Photography
Half a photograph Wishes and Wells
Getting the Picture Weekly Photo Challenge – Wish
WPC-WISH – Clicks ‘ n’ Arts
Do What You Wish Twinkle, twinkle
Alba10 I wish – Weekly Photograph Challenge

Against The Odds – I’m Struggling

An ideal subject for this weeks challenge would be the Kingfisher I captured some weeks back and featured in It’s A Kind Of Magic. But I don’t want to show you that, instead I’m going to show you, nothing. Let me explain, at the time of writing this, Saturday 12:07 pm UK time, I’m sitting in my office thinking of what I could show you this week. And my mind’s a blank. I can’t at the moment think of anything that would fit the bill. Mainly because I plan my days out, taking photographs. I know where I’m going. If I’m on the coast, I’ve checked the tide times. In the mountains it’s the weather. I don’t really do spontaneous, instant capture type of photography, even when I’m out on the streets. So this really is going to be a challenge this week, unless I go out with my camera and wait for something to happen…..is that really “against the odds”.

Of course I could just throw some photographs in, write a story around them to make them fit the theme…..now that’s an idea.

Right Fast Forward to Monday 20th, it’s 15:44 UK time (that’s 3:44 pm) and I’ve got my photograph.

Breeding Common Toad

Against All The Odds, sure was. I nearly stood on the pair of them as I was wandering by the river looking for something to photograph. This is a pair of Common Toads, the female is the larger of the two. Now the male is smart. He’s “piggy backed” on the female as she makes her way to the breeding ground. But he may not be the one to finally mate with her as more often than not there are more males than females. If he manages to stay with her for the several days required then that definitely is “against all the odds”

Here’s what other bloggers are saying about this weeks challenge

Photography Journal Blog Weekly Photo Challenge- Against the Odds
Crafting Photolog Weekly Photo Challenge- Lucky Against the Odds
Hot Dogs and Marmalade Play Your Game
Against the odds- The Photo Challenge – I scrap 2
Spirit of Dragonflies WPC – Against the Odds
Photo Challenge- Against All Odds – Tricia T Allen
Ed Lehming Photography “Against the Odds”
Following Him Beside Still Waters Fortuitous Frog Find
Smith Creek-Against the odds photo – Thoughts from an Alabaster Beach Girl
PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS Against the Odds

Another Place

Spent all day at the beach yesterday with a bunch of photographers photographing the amazing sculptures of Sir Antony Gormley. The day out was organised by ShootMirrorless.com with the view to getting photographers together so we can share and discuss our art and techniques.

Another Place

Another Place is a piece of modern sculpture by Sir Antony Gormley. It consists of 100 cast iron sculptures of the artist’s own body, facing towards the sea. After being displayed at several locations in Europe, it has become permanently located at Crosby Beach in north-western England. The work was controversial in the local area due to issues such as possible economic gain or environmental damage from tourism. A meeting on 7 March 2007 by Sefton Council accepted proposals that would allow the sculptures to be kept permanently at Crosby Beach in place of being moved to New York.

The cast iron figures face out to sea, spread over a 2 mile (3.2 km) stretch of the beach between Waterloo and Blundellsands. Each figure is 189 cm tall (nearly 6 feet 2½ inches) and weighs around 650 kg (over 1400 lb). In common with most of Gormley’s work, the figures are cast replicas of his own body. As the tides ebb and flow, the figures are revealed and submerged by the sea.

The figures were cast at two foundries, Hargreaves Foundry in Halifax, West Yorkshire, and Joseph and Jesse Siddons Foundry[4] in West Bromwich. Another Place was first exhibited on the beach of Cuxhaven, Germany, in 1997 and after that in Stavanger in Norway and De Panne in Belgium. – Source Wikipedia