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

Come With Me To Arles, France

I’m in France, well to be more accurate, I was. I’m home now but I did take a lot of photographs whilst I was away.

Arles is situated on the River Rhone at the point where the river starts to become a vast natural delta. As such it was an obvious site for a Roman city. Founded in the 2nd Century BC, Arles became the effective capital of Gaul, until it’s fall to the invading barbarians in 471 AD.

In modern times Arles is associated with the tragic life of Vincent van Gogh and therein lies a problem. Most of the photographs have people in them, because so many tourists want to visit this classic Provence destination.

So let’s get on with the photographs. If you want to see any of them larger just click on the photograph. By the wonders of modern technology you’ll immediately be whisked to my Flickr profile to see the larger version. I am considering a theme change to get larger photographs shown.

I suppose it’s only fitting to start with a photograph of an artist painting down by the river. But here’s the thing, he wasn’t painting a scene of the river. No, he was knocking up a quick painting of a typical Provence house with lavender and a few trees outside it. Dress to impress and hope you can sell to the passing tourist trade.

Street Artist

Arles has lots of narrow streets, which is great. For one it keeps you in shade, temperatures were starting to rise to about 28oC (82oF), not too hot, but little did we know that it was going to get a lot hotter during the week. Secondly you get to photograph lots of light and shade.

Shuttered Street

It’s Sunday morning and the town is quiet as we wander around. I’ve had a good breakfast but I’m starting to get tempted by all those pastries that are on display.

Quiche, Anyone

Or perhaps a meal or coffee in a pavement cafe, they’re everywhere. Turn into a narrow street and you’ll find a few tables and chairs outside a cafe.

Street Cafe

Like I said, “they’re everywhere”……….

Street Scene

…….and just around the corner, there’s another one. Spot the pink umbrella in both photographs.

Brasserie L'Aficion

What about those Romans? Did they leave anything behind. Well yes and no. Probably the biggest structure is the amphitheatre. Nowadays it’s used for events, including bull fighting.

Roman Amphitheatre

More cafe’s but this one is especial. Remember I mentioned van Gogh. His first painting featured the cafe shown below on a starry night.

Le Cafe La Nuit

So let’s finish our journey in the centre of the city, at the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall). On the ground floor I found this wonderfully cool area. By the looks of it the area feature in wedding ceremonies because there are lots of confetti on the floor. Dis you know that weddings in France are celebrated by civil partnership first. You can’t have a religious wedding until you have done the civil, which is the official ceremony, first.

Hotel de Ville

And so to the Place de Republique. The Hotel de Ville is to the left of the photograph and the Church of Saint Trophime to the right. The church was built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles

Place de Republique

I hope you enjoyed your journey with me around Arles? Coming later in the week “Sous le Pont d’Avignon”

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