#311 – Mechanical Engineering 2


After posting the last photo of rusting machinery, I remembered this one I took of the old steam crane in the Jumbles Quarry. I wish I’d tried some different compositions as I don’t think this is the best one, but it’s the only one I took like this, regrettably.

Whether a photo should have a focal point is a bit of a moot point. I don’t know if this photograph suffers through not having one or not. On the one hand, the mass of shapes, angles, lines and textures make up for it, as there’s plenty to look at, and by cutting off parts such as the nut in the bottom left hand corner and the hub at the top, there’s an element of tension about the image, as the eye and mind try to complete the missing bits.

On the other hand, it may lose something by having nothing for the eye to fix on.

#288 – Big Wheel


Ever since The London Eye brought Ferris Wheels back into vogue in the UK, they’ve been popping up all over the place in the UK. Manchester has had one semi-permanently in the Triangle for some years (although not this year), as have other large towns and cities, so I was quite surprised to see one pop up here in Chorley, a small town of no real significance other than one of its many rural villages is home to Olympian Bradley Wiggans. It was a great idea on the part of Chorley Council, just a pity they missed the opportunity to call it the Chorl-eye!


I love Ferris Wheels, I find them fascinating, elegant pieces of engineering design. This one is quite a small one, with open gondolas – not ideal in the wet and windy December we’ve had, but heck, at least there’s no windows to steam up.

These were taken on an unusually clear day, with a deep blue sky. The colour versions work really well, but I couldn’t resist converting to black and white as it struck me as being something that would work very well in monochrome.


#272 – Olympic Park Abstracts 2 – The Orbit

More Olympic fun. I found the Orbit fascinating to look at, just a pity that there were no tickets available to go in it. The red on blue here has worked well, especially as I have my Fuji X10 in ‘Velvia’ simulation mode, which really saturates the colours. I hop that the orbit will be preserved as part of the post Olympic rebuilding, it’s a great piece of modern architecture.

#271 – Olympic Park Abstracts 1 – The Velodrome

OK so they’re not really abstracts as such as you can probably tell what they are, but I took these like this as it was hard to get an interesting picture of the whole thing in many instances. All with the Fuji X10, the prospect of hauling an SLR round all day, as well as my two year old daughter was too much and in retrospect, the right choice!

#269 – Mechanical Funscape 2

These images are variations on the same theme as the image in the last post. As before, the black and white treatment has brought out the texture of the slightly corroded, painted surfaces of the steelwork.

By removing the distraction of colour, the shapes are now far more prominent as are things like the repeating pattern of the vertical girders. As the colours in the original were fairly muted and uninspiring, both in the sky and the framework, the straight out fo the camera jpeg was a bit flat, but by going to extremes in the contrast and image becomes a bit more dynamic, maybe even slightly ominous. The curves and diagonals break up the uniformity of the verticals and horizontals, and this disruption creates visual interest.

By leaving the composition uncropped, I’ve deliberately left it slightly unbalanced to create tension. The dominant feature is the girder on the left with the diagonal girders radiating out of it, but the curve sweeping up towards the top right hand corner helps to balance it out. This could manage a crop to the right hand side so that the curve finishes right in the corner, but there would be elements jutting into the frame that would be distracting. In retrospect, I should have framed it with a little more care.

#268 – Mechanical Funscape 1

Engineers have turned their attention to all manner of things, developing machines to serve us in many ways – for example, to feed us, transport us, clean us, kill us, and in the photograph above, to frighten the living $&%! out of us.

Camelot is Chorley’s own theme park, and about ten minutes from my house, but until last week I hadn’t visited since about 1988. The intervening years have seen some sizable additions, but the place is looking a bit tired. Faded awnings, faded and peeling paint, closed food outlets, weeds growing and dead leaves in rides – I’m sure it was all perfectly safe, but some of it was looking a little frayed around the edges. But despite this, people were there having fun, the sound of laughter and the screams of excited passengers on the massive ‘Knightmare’ ride could be heard as it swept across the park, tangling itself in a knot of track before emerging out again at high speed.

As I stood and watched it writhe around its mechanical maze, I became intrigued by the complex web of steelwork keeping the thing standing. Such are the stresses and strains, and the safety critical nature of the thing, it all appeared somewhat random, or even over engineered, but it will all have been carefully calculated by structural engineers with sizeable brains. I could have stayed there and studied it for ages, but my family couldn’t, so I managed four compositons and moved on to something more frivolous.

When taking the photos, I had in mind black and white conversions as the textures and shapes were interesting, it was just a pity the light was so flat. Compared to the others, the photograph above is possibly my least favourite, as the rails in the foreground are too dominant, but I’ve found that the more I look into it, the more I see. I’ve deliberately cropped it so that there are strong verticals at each side of the image to keep the eye in the frame, and I like the seemingly random jumble of elements juxtaposed around the frame – curves, diaganols, uprights, horizontals, they’re all in there.

Now take a look at a high contrast, high saturation version of the original. The points of interest change, and, to my eyes at least, the foreground railings seem to get lost and become less dominant, while the sky suddenly becomes a part of the picture, possibly because of the colour harmony between the blues and yellows.

#171 – Beamish Part 2 – Abstracts

I’ve recently been re-re-reading ‘How To Take Your Photography To The Next Level’ by George Barr. It’s an enjoyable book that I dip into every now and again, and while I’d describe the author as an accomplished rather than an inspirational photographer, I do enjoy his abstracts, particularly of mechanical stuff.

With that in mind, I decided to see what abstracts I could find, as I’d taken along my lightweight 28-105mm zoom which has a useful trick up its sleeve – the ability to focus really close up. Abstracts are something I enjoy doing, I enjoy the challenge of looking at something and thinking ‘what else could this be’, ‘how can I look at this differently’, ‘what would it look like close up’ and other such questions. Do the photographs always work? Hell no. But it’s nice to do something different as record shot of some of these things are rather dull.

Although I’ve a tendency to convert maybe too many of my photographs to black and white, I’ve decided to keep these in colour.

Hanging iron things. Not too sure what they were.


This looked like an iron trough, but that sounds somewhat over-engineered. I suspect it may once have been the shell of a boiler?