#355 – More Lucerne Paddle Steamers!

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A change from my usual hotel resulted in the opportunity to see Lucerne from a different perspective, so finding the highest point in the hotel I was legally allowed in, I took my camera, opened the window and snapped away unhindered!

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 In front of Lucerne’s vast railway station. The arch was from the original (very attractive) station building which burnt down in 1971

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 The Wilhelm Tell paddle steamer. Taken out of service in 1977, the ship is now a floating restaurant on the lakeside promenade.

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 All being well, a trip on the lake is in order on my next visit…………….

 

 

 

 

#354 – Crewe Works by Lili Rethi

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 I love old railway posters, anything done before about 1960 had so much style and panache. The railway companies used a variety of artists, from commercial artists, to fine artists, notables include the likes of Terence Cuneo who is one of my favourite transport artists.

I’ve loved this particular one since I saw it in a book of railway posters I got about 15 years ago, and have even managed to get a fantastically bad colour photocopy from the National Railway Museum. I imagine colour photocopy technology has improved over the past 10 years so I might see about getting another one.

A Google search has revealed that Lili Rethi did a lot of industrial and architectural artwork and with a meticulous level of detail. There appears to be no monographs of her work unfortunately.

I love the romanticised interpretation of heavy industry, and the energy in the photograph – there’s a real sense of movement and industrious effort. But I also like the standard of draughtsmanship as well as the use of colour – clearly the paint was the last thing applied to a locomotive in real life, but the artistic leap of faith has allowed what looks like a Princess Coronation to really stand out against the background. It’s almost like the use of selective colour in photography, while the use of a form of aerial perspective allows the background to fade away and be less prominent.

Marvellous!

 

#353 – The Factory Photographs by David Lynch

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It’s a while since I’ve seen anything by David Lynch, but I remember that he had a very odd way of seeing the world. Best known for films like Eraserhead, The Elephant Man and the weird Twin Peaks, he’s also had a number of solo art and photography exhibitions.

His most recent exhibition and accompanying book is titled Factory Photographs, a rather self explanatory title, and was at the Photographers Gallery in London early in 2014. Unfortunately, this was the only gallery it came to in the UK, and I didn’t make it to London to see it. However, I have managed to get hold of the book (£40 on Amazon or £25 if you look on their marketplace) to see how he sees the world I am familiar with.(2)-Press-Image-l-David-Lynch-Untitled-(England)-late-1980s-early-1990s

Reading the preamble in monographs is always interesting, not only to put the work into context, but also to understand how an artist thinks and where he is coming from. In this respect, I found a kindred spirit in Lynch, which I found heartening, as I thought that its nice to find that a serious artist appreciates the industrial aesthetic like I do. I should really make the effort to see some more of his films to discover whether that is a good thing or not!

From a style perspective, Lynch focuses on both the details and broader landscape and has what I would call a ‘snapshot’ aesthetic, although this may not necessarily be a reflection of his approach. Certainly the overall look is very dark, although this could be just the book printing – you can never tell until you see prints (which I’ve not) however I wouldn’t expect them to be too far away from the pages of the book. I like the fact that the shadows are very deep and at times blocked up, something I’m constantly being told is a bad thing in my own work. But sometimes you need that to create an effect, something not all monochrome photographers appreciate as a full range of tones seems to be paramount in many circles.

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The photographs were taken by Lynch on his film making travels, where he always took a still camera. However, the majority of those in the book were taken in Poland (and fairly recently too) although there are a few from Britain as well.

I enjoyed the book, although it’s definitely an acquired taste, and his interpretation of the industrial landscape (and the subject matter within it) is very different to my own in many respects. I’d definitely check out some of the work online before buying it – if you like the industrial scenes by the likes of Bernd and Hilla Becher, then you’ll hate the work of David Lynch!

#352 – Cwm Bychan – Another Get Carter Landscape – 3

 

And so to finish off this short series, a few black and white images. After lugging my tripod several miles to allow me to do some exposure bracketing, I realised in post processing that it probably wasn’t necessary, there was adequate information in the correctly exposed raw file. But as I’d gone to the effort of doing so, I thought I’d make the effort to use the three files (I had done 5 exposure brackets but that was totally unnecessary in the end). The problem is, is that there is almost too much detail in the sky, which makes it surprisingly difficult to get the right balance. This still needs work!

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All that being said, I couldn’t do this one on a tripod as I took it by literally hanging off the pylon, camera in one hand, clinging on with the other. Consequently, there was very limited detail in the sky as it was such a small part of the overall scene – there was a bit there, but not enough to do anything with. So I did something that I’ve never done before and dropped a different sky in. It doesn’t look too bad for a first attempt, probably because the section of sky that I used was from a photo taken about 10 feet to the right, looking in the same direction.

#351 – Cwm Bychan – Another Get Carter Landscape – 2

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Warning – equipment discussion!

A popular misconception is that an ultra wide angle lens is required for landscape photography, and while useful, it can often lead to hackneyed compositions and converging verticals. Used judiciously they are a useful tool, but not the only tool in the landscape photographers bag. I bought my Nikon 16-35 lens 4 years ago and by my reckoning this is the first time I’ve used it for landscape, although admittedly my concept of landscapes is different to most, and I’ve tended to use primes more often than not for the past 2 years or so.

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 In this situation, the 16-35 really came into its own, as there is little chance of converging verticals, little evidence of distortion (and Lightroom sorted that anyway), great depth of field, and wide field of view. And for a zoom lens, it’s really quite sharp, although not in the same league as my primes.

I also forgot how good the Nikon D700 is in these situations. Yes it’s supposedly an ‘old’ camera now (launched in 2008, and I bought mine in 2009) but its dynamic range still impresses me. Sure its been surpassed by the more recent full frame and even some crop sensors, but as an all rounder, Nikon have never really brought out a direct replacement for it.

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I hauled my tripod along the rocky Aberglasyn Pass and up Cwm Bychan so that I could take multiple exposures and manually merge the exposures in Photoshop (definitely NOT HDR in photomatix). And although I did this, quite honestly, I didn’t really need to. OK, maybe for one where the sky was such a small part of the scene that it burnt out 50% of it. Which makes me wonder when I do eventually replace the camera at some point how good the dynamic range and high ISO capabilities will be. The D4s is already better by several factors, but I really don’t need its incredible capabilities or for that matter weight. Neither do I want to spend nearly £5000 on a camera. But if I get another 5 years out of the D700, how much further on will technology have progressed?DSC_4585-Edit

#350 – Cwm Bychan – Another Get Carter Landscape -1

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If you’ve seen the classic film Get Carter, then you’ll recall the closing scenes of the film when Jack, against the backdrop of a clanking colliery ropeway on the bleak Durham coast, gets his revenge on the gangster who killed his brother. Watch it here if you’ve not seen it – it’s a tad violent!

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I’ve been intrigued by these strange contraptions ever since I first saw the film several years ago, but they’re virtually extinct now in the UK. They’re a bit like a ski-lift but with buckets rather than seats, and once the buckets and cable are gone, all that’s left is a chain of these peculiar pylons. I posted my first ‘Get Carter Landscape’ a few years back, a shot from the Claughton Manor Brickworks Ropeway near Lancaster. That is now the only one left in the country, and has recently resumed working after a break of a few years when the brickworks was mothballed due to a slump in demand for bricks.

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Cwm Bychan ropeway has been out of use since the 30′s, but what does remain is in surprisingly good condition. Given that the land is owned by the National Trust (and I read somewhere that the pylons are listed?), I suspect that they may be subject to a little bit of looking after every now and again.

 

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#349 – Bank Bottom Mill

 

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Bank Bottom Mills in Marsden are a vast complex of mills that continued in production until 2003. On my brief visit in 2007, the mills appeared to be mothballed and still full of machinery, but still partially occupied. I did think they’d since been stripped, but having seen a number of reports on the forums I’m not sure if that’s the case.

I took a few of the site from different angles but the photographs I had in mind never really materialised. This was as close as I got really.

 

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Colour original. I quite like this, it works well in colour.

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 Desaturated conversion of the original colour image.