Monday, 21 January 2013

Last Chance Tempete

Although we had chatted for some time about doing some aerial photos of G-ASUS, one of only two Jurca MJ-2 Tempetes on the UK register, we only finally achieved it with minutes to spare.

Roy, owner of the Tempete, had stated in mid 2011 that whilst he really enjoyed the MJ-2 the time had come to sell it, so that he could buy a two seater that would enable him to go flying with his son. Like alot of things with distant deadlines, though we talked regularly about doing some Air to Air photos there appeared to be no urgency as there was plenty of time!

As the second half of the summer of 2011 passed by, the non existant nice evenings were replaced by shorter days and less opportunities to get airbourne. Everytime we tried to arrange a sortie either the poor weather, pilot or aircraft unavailability put a stop to the proceedings.

Before we knew it, we were in late May 2012, Roy had just struck a deal to sell the Tempete but had already been invited to display the aircraft in the static at the RAF Cosford show. The new owner had kindly agreed to let Roy honour the Cosford booking, but would be collecting G-ASUS on the Monday after the show.

With time now rapidly running out we tried to arrange a flight on the Friday before ths show, but busy diaries meant that this wasn't going to happen, there was only one thing for it, Roys last flight in the Jurca Tempete back from Cosford to Halfpenny Green on the Monday following the show.

The weather wasnt the best, but, at last everything else fell into place and Roy enjoyed a fitting end to his association with G-ASUS, a photographic sortie on his last ever flight in the aircraft.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Light It Like Daylight !! (Frustrations Of A Night Shoot)

2012 had been a busy year with very little time for 'leisure' photography but following on from previous visits to the Severn Valley Railway Autumn Gala I was determined to pop along in September to do a little bit of after dark photography.

Unlike 2010 and 2011 my 2012 visit would be limited to a shorter single night trip, so I decided that I would probably stick with one location, Bewdley Station on the Friday night, at least there was always the chance of an engine or two being parked up on the rock sidings.

' The Rock ' at Bewdley Station SVR
Arriving around 9pm, later than planned three things struck me, there seemed to be less passengers / general enthusiasts present, there seemed to be a lot more photographers around and it was pretty overcast and damp compared to previous years.

A nightime after dark view of Bewdley Station looking North from the centre platform back towards the station building and footbridge
A Quiet Bewdley Station Taken In 2010
Making my way across the footbridge to the centre platform many of the photographers were busy shooting the two engines that were already parked on the sidings. Now there were obviously quite a few different techniques being used, flash, long exposure with flash, painting by flash and painting by torchlight but my personal choice over the last two years has been to simply rely on ambient light, be it artificial or natural and long exposures.
As the number of flashes diminished I had a quick walk along the platform to get a feel to see if people had finished for now, most had or at least they indicated they had.

'Hot Spots Galore'
Right, set the camera up and lets get on with it. Bang, forty seconds into a two and a half minute exposure and I suddenly feel like I’m in the middle of an electrical storm as the 'mad flasher of Bewdley' races past me apparently firing his flashgun off in any and every direction feasible. I close the shutter early and review the image, as I suspected the engine in question has a number of hot spots along its tank, like white polka dots where the undiffused flash has reflected.

Well I thought, its a free world, everyone to their own and at least its only pixels and not film I’m wasting.
So I waited for a good ten minutes to see if there was any repeat activity, nothing, so I tried again. This time it felt like the shutter had only been opened a few seconds when a torch came on and started to sweep across my subject. This wasn't so bad as the torch appeared to be moving across the engine in even sweeps, quick guesstiamte and I thought Id simply close the exposure about 20 seconds earlier than intended, a bit of painting by torch wouldn't hurt. With about 15 seconds of the exposure left to run the 'mad flasher of Bewdley' made his return, another one ruined.

Severn Valley Railway SVR 0-6-0 Pannier Tank 1501

I don't know if I was now starting to get paranoid and feel I was being targeted or if my timings simply coincided with these other photographers but over the next hour a pattern seemed to emerge, no activity, then as soon as I started an exposure, pop, and the flashes would go off. Despite getting quite frustrated I didn't say anything as I had no more right to be there than anyone else and in fairness I did manage a few half decent exposures, but I think this was simply because 'Hot Spot Billy' had run out of batteries.

Severn Valley Railway Bewdley Platform At Night
Bewdley Platform In 2010

Sitting on the platform taking a break and waiting for everyone else to get bored I noticed the group who had been using the flash were putting their kit away, an opportunity at last. As I was getting the tripod into position my viewfinder was filled with goods wagons, a train was now parked between myself and the rock siding, blocking the view of both the parked engines and an engine taking water...ahhhhhh. To make matters worse the mist was dropping and condensation was now starting to form on the camera, at this point I decided to call it a night and head back to the car.

As I headed back to the carpark I got into conversation with a guy who was obviously a train nut as well as an enthusiastic photographer. After a comprehensive lesson on what the different engines were he asked me how I had got on with my photography. I explained that it was the night photography that was the attraction for me and told him my frustrations of long exposures and the number of missed shots.
"Well, you know the answer to that" he said, "get your ISO as high as it will go, fire a flash off on its maximum setting and like it like daylight, you won't miss any shots then"
My scream was silent but I bet it could still be heard in Bridgnorth.

With the lack of reaonable shots in 2012, Ive added a further three from a moonlit night in 2010.... 

Severn Valley Railway - Bewdley Station Platform at Night
Severn Valley Railway - 4-6-0 GWR 7800 Class Engine 7802 Bradley Manor at BridgnorthSVR Severn Valley Railway 'Flying Pig' 2-6-0 Ivatt Class 4 Engine 43106 at Bridgnorth

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Sparklers & Orbs

Its not Christmas Eve, its not New Years Eve night and for once its not raining, so I deceided to head out with the camera for an hour or two after dark.

After much messing about and driving around (I hadn't scouted a location in daylight) I finally found a point where I thought my antics with the camera and steel wool wouldn't be disturbed. I know its all been done before but after a couple of hours up a dark country lane miles from anywhere, I came away with a couple of results I'm quite happy with.

There Is Something Hot Down The Back Of My Neck !!!