New Years Day 2015 was quite dull, weather wise, but was brightened up by a visit to the Didcot Railway Centre. Although I only live a few minutes walk from the Centre this was only my second visit.
It was lovely to walk around and see the trains on display and even ride on a couple of steam trains going up and down the track. From a photography point of view the Centre offers rich pickings, whether outside amongst the rails and trains, or inside the buildings and sheds getting up close to the engines and carriages.
I took Olympus OMD E-M1 and shot with my Olympus 25mm f1.8 lens and the Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye. As the weather was so dull, most of the photographs came out dull too… and so for the first time I processed the photos into black and white. It’s great that the black and white grainy photos reflect the dirt and grime associated with the engineering of the steam age.
From one steam train to another.
The Drysllwyn Castle nameplate.
GWR - Great Western Railways. An iconic name in British railways,
Shovelling coal into the steam engine. I love how the black and white brings out the gritty dirt.
Massive train wheels rolling along the rails.
Coal, the food of steam trains.
Not to be moved.
I have no idea what this gauge is for but it's beautiful.
Last weekend, after I’d visited the World Pooh Sticks Championships, I went on to the Pendon Museum. Pendon is just five minutes drive from the Pooh Sticks site and houses three large miniature landscape scenes, a small shop, and a tea room.
The museum was founded in the 1950s by Roye England, and although I’m new to the world of modelling the thing that makes it stand out to me is the attention to detail in the models. I got chatting to some of the friendly volunteer staff who told me that alongside some of the commercially available models there’s a lot of custom built models. Not only do Pendon build their own models, they also run workshops on modelling techniques. One day an American clay sculptor visited and was so taken with the place that she hand made several of the figures exactly to the requirements of the Pendon scenes… you don’t get much more unique than that!
From a photography point of view there’s so much to shoot, and with the relaxed atmosphere, tea and coffee on tap, and protection from whatever the British weather is doing, I could easily spend an entire day here. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a maximum of ten photos from a collection to blog, and this is one of those occasions… even after a couple of rounds of culling I still had 33 photos to choose from, so I hope those I’ve settled on give a good feel of the Pendon Museum.
I’m a big fan of macro photography – taking photos of really small detailed things, generally insects, flowers, and the like. I’ve often seen people use these techniques with Lego mini figures to create fun photos and scenes – a friend of mine, Al Power, seems to have hundreds of the figures and often amazes me with some of his photos. Recently I spotted some photos from Matt Lincoln advertising a Jisc event, which were taken using a different type of mini figure (see examples here and here). It took me a while to realise that these were actually figures from the model railway world.
I browsed a few model shops and a whole new culture opened before my eyes. I expected model trains and railway-related figures, but there’s so much more variety available, even including some adult themes – something I wasn’t expecting to see! So I’ve bought a few figures and some time soon I’ll blog some photos with them.
To capture the photos below I went armed with my macro lens (Olympus 60mm), fisheye lens (Samyang 7.5mm), and walkabout zoom lens (Olympus14-42mm), and a Lens Skirt. The Lens Skirt is basically a flexible fabric pyramid with no bottom and a hole for the lens at the top, it allows me to cut out any reflections when I’m taking photographs through glass. I bought it for taking photos at aquariums and have also used it to take landscape shots from the top of tall buildings. It’s very simple and very effective.
The main railway landscape - it's quite a substantial size.
An example of how scenery is built up.
A close up of one of the figures - is it a scout, a postman, or other person?
The attention to detail is amazing, it looks so lifelike.
A train rushes past a station.
A guard by a Great Western train.
More figures which bring the scene to life.
The main control box.
The scene features a valley and tunnels.
Another life-life scene, with a figure by a river.
It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged some photos – I’ve been away on holiday in north Wales, and the next few blog entries will be about that trip.
North Wales is a beautiful part of the world, with a rugged mountainous terrain which drops to some stunning coastal shorelines; an ideal place for photography. I’ve been to north Wales many times and have experienced the rainy climate the mountains bring, but on this holiday I didn’t see rain once. I wanted to walk along the Aberglaslyn Pass whilst I was there and deliberately chose the coolest day of the week. Unfortunately the cloudy skies don’t make for a great backdrop in some of the photos.
My walk started at the National Trust car park at Nantmor (grid reference SH597462 – where you can park for free if you’re a member), taking me to Beddgelert and back. The majority of the walk is alongside the river Glaslyn, which gives great opportunities for some photos of the river and its surroundings. The river is home to some otters, but I didn’t spot any on this walk. Close by the river is the railway track of the Welsh Highland Railway, a heritage railway that runs between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. A few years ago I spent a weekend helping to lay track for this railway before it opened, and it’s great to see and hear the trains in action and smell the steam engines. The river path crosses the railway track and eventually reaches Beddgelert, a village with a lot of history.
As well as some shops and pubs, Beddgelert is home to the resting place of ‘Gelert’, the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great. The story, as written on the tombstone reads:
“In the 13th century Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, “The Faithful Hound”, who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn’s return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The Prince alarmed, hastened to find his son, and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but near by lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The Prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here.”
After stopping for some lunch at Beddgelert, walking up to the station for the Welsh Highland Railway and onto Gelert’s Grave, it was time to walk back along the river.
The path runs alongside the rocky river with really clear water.
Gelert's grave under a tree, with Beddgelert village in the background.
The grave stones - one in English and one in Welsh.
Outside one of the craft shops in Beddgelert, a dragon.
A lovely gift shop next to the bridge.
At the start of the walk, the footpath leads into the trees.