Many would have you believe that the art of photography is a difficult game, one that requires skill, knowledge and can only be improved by experience. The reality is that while it can indeed be all of those things, the modern digital camera can make a shot that most people would be proud of. No longer is it about the skill of getting every setting on the camera absolutely right for the conditions. Most cameras have auto settings that will adjust extremely well to the light levels. Equally its not about the developing of the film in a dark room, a process that takes extreme patience and skill. These days the most basic editing software will be able to adjust your photo to take out any imperfections in camera settings and make your photo that much better. You can, if you want, go down the route of getting every setting perfect and using the best editing software but it's only as hard as you want it to be.
All the above said you still have to have an eye for a shot. Sometimes you also will have to have a few goes at a particular shot to get it how you want it. This is where you seperate those would be photographers from the people with a passion for it. In my case of photographing steam engines I will quite often attend so called 'Steam Galas' at various railways around the country, but most often in the North of England. I will quite often have, but not always, acquired the published timetable for the day, and plan a route on foot or with car or train assistance to get various shots from different locations thorughout the day. I don't like taking the same angle more than once because quite simply, I like variety. Whilst I publish these shots online for everyone to see the first reason I take them is because I enjoy it. I'm in this for the challenge and because I get entertainment from it. Both in the taking of the shot and looking back over them.
Now, over the day I can cover quite a few miles. Depending on the railway you can cover up to 10 miles on foot, as well as using other transport, and you will double back on yourself and cover the same terrain more than once. This is just due to prefering the Sun behind me when shooting, and the way tracks tend to curve.
Im babbling now. The point I'm really trying to get to is that if I don't get a particular shot how I want it, I very rarely try again that day. I want variety, not loads of the same angle. Also if you have one failure you risk doing the same thing again if the problem has been caused by something out of your control. The most comman issue is lighting levels. even with all the modern wonders we have, a bit of Sun goes a long way, as you will shortly see!
There is one particular shot I have been trying, off and on for a few years now. It's never really worked for me how it wanted it to, mostly due to lighting but also a few of my own mishaps. This particular shot involves balancing very close to a large river. The ground underneath of full of high weeds and if you get too close becomes very slippery. You are basically risking falling in. Perhaps a bit dramatic but in order to get the shot without loads of weeds creeping into it, you have to be very close to the edge. At the very least you are risking wet feet!
Mishaps over the years include slipping whilst taking the shot, a bird flying out as the train came, light levels disappearing on me at the last second (making my photo look like i'd taken it in the dark) and finally last year another photographer standing up directly in front of me as I took my shot. Frustrating but it does happen.
If I recall correctly I've only previously published two of my many attempts at this, which proves how annoyed I've been at the others. This year though I got it as good I could. All three of the published attempts are below. The location is Wansford bridge at the Nene Valley Railway. The River is the Nene, and the engines in order are Britannia and City of Peterborough from two points of 2013 (as you can tell by the different vegetation). My personal favourite is the bottom one, my success of the year so far. Not only did I finally get some light, but I got it with Tornado! What a difference the Sun makes!
Having just returned from the annual Winter Gala at the Worth Valley Railway, I feel the need to talk about the magnificence of the current Worth Valley home fleet.
Most preserved railways in the current era will hold events throughout each year where, for the purposes of attracting new visitors, they will hire in a headline engine, or two or three. This will most often help bring in enough people to make the event profitable, but brings with it the added risk of over investment. This can especially be the case if the weather turns and puts people off attending. The money has already been spent, so must be recouped!
For a railway not be bring in any engines is now incredibly out of the so called norm for these massive events. For one to put an event on with more than five engines, you would expect some to be visitors. The lines that tend to have the sheer amount of engines available for this sort of service tend to have a high mileage that needs covering. For a railway of a meer 4.5 miles to hold an event with no less than eight home based engines in full steam is nothing short of magnificent.
Below are a few shots taken from the Friday of the Winter Gala. I think you'll agree the volunteers at both Haworth and Ingrow have done an amazing job turning these engines out! Find the full gallery here!
Over the last few weeks there have been a few small events on on the Western side of the country. As Winter turns to Spring and more of the railways get their seasons underway, events to mark the new season are set up to to show off what the respective railways love to do best.
While I myself am from the East Coast, a fan of all things Gresley, you would be misguided to think that the Great Western, as it was, and as it now is in preserved form, doesn't offer something a little special. With the 'Great Way Round' built by Brunel, the beautiful engines built by Swindon and designed to be at and look at home in the gorgeous countryside of Western England, you'd have to be blind (and in most cases deaf) to not appreciate what was created here.
Here is the best of the two events I managed to get to:
Ful galleries available at http://www.chriskempsterphotography.com/featured.html
Coming Soon - The North Yorkshire Moors Spring Gala!
I left you all last time with plans laid out to get to two galas in one weekend. Oh if only it were that simple. Everything started really well. I reached the Nene Valley Railway near Peterborough early on after a long drive from West Yorkshire. The morning Sun was just shining through creating what can only be described as perfect morning light.
As the morning went on I grabbed a train to Ferry Meadows for some shots around that area. Most of my recent shots on this railway are from around Wansford and I wanted to try something else.
As you may guess from the photo above this event marked the last steaming before overhaul of the railways flagship engine 'The City of Peterborough'.
Anyway, back to the story. After I had finished at Ferry Meadows I got the train back to Wansford. This is where the trouble starts. Forgetting for a moment that I'm now a grown man I did what every 10 year old on a steam train does and stuck my head out of the window. No sooner had I done this than a lump of soot wedged itself firmly in my eye. This created a lot of pain as i struggled to get it out. Upon reaching Wansford, still struggling, I washed out my eye with a bottle of water. Still no luck!
After failing miserably for around 10 minutes I took one last photo of the departing 'City of Peterborough' before I gave up!
Not the best photo I've ever taken but not bad for a half blind man!
Luckily for me my Mum doesn't live to far away from Peterborough so I called in for a better way of getting soot out of my eye, cursing my luck I'd had to cut my day so short (it was only around midday). Unfortunately, whilst she possessed proper eye wash, three attempts at this still wasn't getting it out!
So that was that! I drove home that afternoon, before it got dark, still in pain and not really able to see out of my left eye. It wasn't until the next morning I managed to get the soot out, with of all things, a dampened cotton bud (kids, don't try this at home).
Whilst I did attend the East Lancs Gala the Sunday of this weekend the combination of bad weather and a sore eye meant I didn't take any photos worth uploading!
Thankfully though, I've just written this blog whilst waiting for photos from the Worth Valley Winter Gala to upload. They can now be found here (Worth Valley Winter Gala). You'll be pleased to know my eye is better and the weather is much improved!
Till next time...................
Here is the end of what seems to have been a long break. This Winter I have used to have almost a toal break form my photography. Before February I hadn't picked up my camera in three months. Well, I'm glad to say that's behind me now.
At the start of this month we took a trip to Scotland for a quick getaway after the Christmas and New Year rush was finished with. This has originally been planned to get some proper snowy landscapes but alas, we missed the snow. Both the week before and week after we were there they had a deluge of it. But while we stayed across the border all we found was rain.
Despite the dampness of it all we found some quite spectacular views. They can be found in my 'Hints of Fairytales!' gallery. Here is just a small taste.....
This is the spectacular Inveraray Castle. More of this can be found here!
Anyway, most of you will be wondering about my plans with the railways. I'm pleased to be able to say that after the drought that I've put myself through recently we have a lot of Winter gala's on the horizon. Starting this coming weekend I intend visiting both the Nene Valley and the East Lancs Railways for their respective gala's, before two weeks later the Worth Valley get their season underway.
All three events promise a lot of action. Lets just hope for some sunshine and drier weather than we've had so far!