Tuesday 30 October 2012

Boys' Day Out

Lots of clag as 60069 eases its load into the loop
at Westerleigh. More pics here! 
 Late last week as a break from toy trains I went on a jolly snapping trains with the good company of Tony Callaghan, Mark Bearton, Ian Chancellor, Chris Perkins, Richard Lewis and Tom Curtis.

The weather started off dull, misty and wet at our rendezvous of Pilning, but digital photography doesn't really get handicapped with this sort of weather, and if anything van produce more interesting results than sunshine.

After Pilning we nipped over to Westerleigh fuel terminal between the Bath and Bristol M4 junctions. It was hard to imagine that once upon a time the Pines Express and other long distance expresses thundered through here on this old Midland route on their way to Bristol, Bath, the Somerset & Dorset Line and beyond.

At Westerleigh the incoming train was running late which was delaying the outbound train, this presented us with the sight of two long trains at the terminal - double fun for spotters!

We then rounded up the day a mile of two north at Ram Hill, Coalpit Heath. This area historically was the centre of the south Gloucester coal field, with the last pit, Froglane Colliery closing just after the last war.

And now the photos from those of use that have websites:

See BREWHOUSE QUAY at Wycrail this weekend

Sunday 28 October 2012

Roving Camera #2: Brinkley

A heady mix of 1950's ex-LMS locomotive, GWR and BR blood & custard liveried coaches powers through Brinkley - Click on the photo to enlarge!

At the end of September I was invited down the clubrooms of the Glevum Area of the Scalefour Society to photograph Brinkley their beautiful S4 layout for Model Rail magazine. Whilst I have no idea what  Glevum AG stands for (it could be a foreign football team for all I know), I do know that it involves a fabulous group of highly skilled modellers who very much enjoy themselves creating some masterful and innovative layouts - which is about as good as it gets in my book! Clicking on the link above will show you what they're all about. Even though I don't model Scalefour, if these chaps were in my area I'd sign up and get involved with all the S4 bits that don't require a ruler!

I'll let the 'Glevums' describe the layout, they'll do a much better job than me, so here is an excerpt from their website:

'Brinkley was a small peaceful country town on the Northamptonshire/ Buckinghamshire border until, as a result of not being able to reach agreement on running rights over L.N.W.R. metals, the Midland Railway decided to build a direct link from Wellingborough to the G.W.R. at Oxford. In addition to providing lucrative cross country passenger and freight services, the line attracted business from the Northamptonshire ironstone quarries sending ore to South Wales steelworks and return traffic of Welsh coking coal to the local steelworks.'

I'll endeavour to update this page when I know which issue of Model Rail Brinkley is due to appear in.


Friday 26 October 2012

Canon G12

Photographing model railways is a bit of a niche subject and requires odd techniques to get the best results. For proper commissioned shoots I use professional Nikon DSLR gear and studio lighting, but sometimes a tiny camera is needed for those hard to get and low angles when the more usual DSLR is simply too bulky.

For some time for this purpose I've used a little Canon G9, which has lots of manual control, the all important RAW capture delivering results good enough for a published double page spread. But after 20.000 frame the little G9 has finally expired so a replacement was needed quickly in the form of the highly regarded Canon G12.

The little camera arrived about an hour ago so I thought I'd better quickly put it through its paces, and here are my initial thoughts.

The controls are the same as with the G9 so I was able to set up my custom own custom settings of self timer and other bits that waste time setting up from scratch; Macro, IS off, 80iso, RAW.

Observations are as follows.

The wide angle is good, it equates to a 28mm which gives a good depth of field without focus stacking at f8 and offers a wider angle of view if needed. It delivers a far greater depth of field than the old G9 at the same f-stop at the widest zoom setting (G9 equates to 35mm). This will save time in post prod much of the time and of course disk space storing all those RAW files used for making up just images if focus stacking.

Shooting RAW for maximum quality and processing in Adobe Photoshop CS5, image quality wise has maybe tad lower noise than the G9 at base iso (80), but the lens has greater diffraction at f8 than the G9, so a little more sharpening is needed which in turn ups the noise, thus negating any real difference. But it is very acceptable and should be OK for DPS with good technique.

High contrast objects towards the edge of the frame suffer quite severe chromatic aberration (colour fringing), but this can be totally eliminated at the RAW processing stage buy ticking the C/A tick box in the RAW convertor, one of the reasons for shooting RAW and converting to JPEG later. You'll need full Photoshop, not PS Elements to be able to do this.

Another tickbox in the Adobe RAW convertor gets rid of the barrel distortion seen on straight lines towards the edge of the frame, this is only really an issue with architecture and a feature of all small camera zooms.

Conclusion for those thinking of upgrading:

For G9 owners;The extra wide angle is very good, but that's the only real difference. Image quality wise the difference is not really apparent enough to justify an upgrade (unless the camera is broken!)

G10/11 owners:Save the pennies and wait for the next model, or go for a G1x (but useless macro for model makers), or change to a DSLR.

General conclusionsThe multi-angle screen is a winner and will save bending necks too much.

Better video in the form of proper 16x9 which is compatible with TV set aspect ratios. 720p is not full HD, but will offer better res than SD and more than adequate for good online streaming. If you're buying just for the video, you'll be better with a bespoke video camera or DSLR which will offer far more control when recording.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Wycrail 3 Nov '12

nevard_120708_BQ_DSC_6785 by nevardmedia
nevard_120708_BQ_DSC_6785, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
It's exhibition time again as Brewhouse Quay hits the road for the first time since last May at Railex.

Since the last outing I have added some working DCC Concept lanterns. Whilst you wouldn't normally see them burning in the daylight hours, on model railways we always do have them lit for some reason, but of course if the new hall is dark then all the better because I'll turn the layout lights off to help the effect.

On the subject of a new hall; this year Wycrail is being held at the location below which should hopefully help with any over crowding.

Cressex Community School

Cressex Road
High Wycombe
Bucks HP12 4UD

For more information follow this link.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Roving Camera #1: Abbotswood Junction

It's the era of the Austin Allegro, flairs and to quote celebrity photographer David Bailey, 'the age of the long haired bank clerk', as a 'Rail Blue' liveried Brush type 4 thunders through Abbotswood Junction with a Class 1 passenger express. Click the photo to enlarge!
This post hopefuly marks the beginning of a regular series of tasters of what I've been photographing for Model Rail magazine over recent weeks. Whilst at such an early stage it's not always known which issue the featured layout will appear in, it will hopefully give you an idea of some of the wonderful model railways coming your way Model Rail.

Last week I popped over Gloucester way to photograph Phill Bullock's excellent Abbotswood Junction - a super OO gauge layout based the real location just south of Worcester in that rarely modelled era immediately after the end of steam. Then much of BR was still steam infrastructure with manual signalling, old style track layouts, but with a fascinating blend of BR green and Rail Blue diesel hydraulic and electric traction often hauling a similar eclectic mix of stock

Abbotswood is a proper crowd-pulling decent sized 'watch the trains fly by' kind of layout, it having no station as such, so the joy is pure action and a complete antidote to the plethora of shunting layouts that dominate the exhibition scene.

But that’s enough from me - I don't want to give too much away, in time you’ll have to buy the mag and read the article and see he rest of the photos, but hopefully the above photograph will give an indication as to a great layout Abbotswood Junction is.

I'll update this page when it's known which issue the layout wil appear in.

Monday 22 October 2012

About: Cement Quay

nevard_121018_CQ_IMG_0899 by nevardmedia
nevard_121018_CQ_IMG_0899, a photo by nevardmedia on Flickr.
I haven't done one of these for a bit, but Flickr allows one to highlight specific areas of a photo and add notes.

If you click on the link below it will take you through to a bigger version of the above photo where I have marked it up briefly discussing the various techniques used in the scene.


If for some reason you cannot see the little boxes that the notes lie within, place your cursor over the opened image and hopefully they'll be revealed.


Sunday 14 October 2012

Miniatur Wunderland

I must apologies for being rather elusive blog wise, it's been simply down to holidays and that thing we all suffer from - lack of time. The other truth is that toy chuffers and photography has taken over increasingly as the primary day job since the beginning of October, and because that puts food on the table the projects have to be under wraps until they appear in print. This is of course rubbish from a blog point of view but great in that the daily graft is something that I really enjoy. The problem now is that I'll need to get a hobby!

One thing I can chat about, is that earlier in the week I enjoyed the pleasure of a behind the scenes visit to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg as illustrated in the above snap. Whilst many will be familiar with what I believe to be the world's largest trainset, for those that don't - take a look at this link http://www.miniatur-wunderland.com/

Miniatur Wunderland really is something for all the family, and the huge number of people there enjoying the experience really confirming this. It's so popular that I believe it's now Hamburg's biggest tourist attraction, which is amazing when you think that here in the UK most keep quiet about their love of toy trains. In Germany they openly love their railways, unlike over here where we treat rather them as an illegitimate child that we'd happy brush under the carpet given the first opportunity. A visit to any German newsagent is further proof of their love of railways, with literally dozens of high quality magazines to satisfy that most wonderful of guilty pleasures (which in Germany is not guilty).

Beware though, Miniatur Wunderland is a HUGE experience, and the the 3 hours we had was not nearly enough with so much to see and enjoy. I was also astonished at the level of great modelling in places well out of bounds to normal viewing, and on top of that, the workshop must have the world's BIGGEST static grass tool I've ever seen! 

For UK readers, Easyjet do regular flights to Hamburg for less than the cost a Bachmann 0-6-0 steam loco and hotel accommodation is also great value. And of course there is plenty of great German beer to enjoy whilst reflecting on the experience afterwoods!