#397 – Library of Congress Images – Logging train


Although huge swathes of Britain were once forested, much of this was cleared in mediaeval times and before for use as fuel and construction materials (for buildings and ships). So by the time the steam railway came along, there wasn’t much left and there was no requirement for railway haulage out of the forests.

However, given the enormous size of America, and the development of the country happening at the same time as the development of the railway, it was inevitable that railways would be used for applications such as hauling heavy lumber.

As forested areas tended to be hilly, specialised geared locomotives such as the Shay type were developed,  however conventional 4-6-0 types were also used for flatter areas. Additionally, there were a number of railway companies that were dedicated to hauling lumber, either to railheads or to mills.

A good introduction to the subject can be found here http://www.american-rails.com/logging-railroads.html, and Wikipedia has some good links http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_railway.

Some interesting videos on YouTube as well, this is a good place to start http://youtu.be/_haZIk4GXzI.



#383 – Fiddlers Ferry Steam on the landscape


Driving back from Bolton Steam Museum the other day, I took the marginally more scenic route via Horwich. Chorley Old Road climbs quite high and is always a good spot for some pleasant views, but I was quite surprised to see the steam rising from Fiddlers Ferry Power Station near Warrington on the horizon. The freezing cold day was clearly causing some interesting environmental conditions in the Mersey area, and the still air meant the steam was rising straight up into the clear blue sky.

Unfortunately I was ill equipped for photographing it, with only a 50mm equivalent on my Fuji X-Pro, so this is a bit of a crop to compensate for the lack of focal length.

#341 – Reworked Images 7 – High and Dry


When I visited the Duke of Lancaster a few years back, I took the opportunity to take a lot of photographs, from as many different angles as I could think, on a variety of different lenses.

At the time, I only actually processed about 10 or 12 of them, but after a 3 years break I took a sift through my Lightroom catalogue to re-assess the images. This one showed the most potential for monochrome due to the vareity of textures, but required a slight crop at the bottom to improve the composition – I prefer the way the coastline intersects with the corner of the frame.


The original (albeit cropped) image, with minor adjustments.


Desaturated version, the starting point for all monochrome work.

I was fortunate that on my visit, the tide was low, so it exposed the sandbank on the right hand side of the frame, thus providing an element of balance to the image. But the inclusion of the estuary provides a little more context to the ship to other photographs I took on the day, hence my title ‘High and Dry’.

#340 – Reworked images 6 – Jumbles Quarry

DSC_4776-Edit Print-2

This was an image I’d scratched my head with in colour. I just couldn’t do anything with it, and I didn’t think it worked well in monochrome, so even though I liked it and thought it had potential it never really went beyond basic adjustments.

I’ve always thought it an intriguing image, but one that lacks something to make it a little bit special. That said, I’m not sure what I’d do to make a better one if I went back and re-took it – a lower perspective with a wider lens maybe, or possibly a longer shutter speed to blur the water more. That being said, I don’t know what the current state of the site is, it might be exactly the same, or it might all have been washed away, I’ve no idea!

DSC_4776-1-2 The starting point, an unprocessed raw image out of the camera


Desaturated file, the starting point for all work

Tonally, there’s quite a lot in it, and the challenge was to get it balanced, without over-emphasising any one particular area. The sky has always been a problem as there’s virtually nothing there (I’d have had to use a grad filter on the lens to have retained any sky detail, and I don’t actually own any). I did try cropping the sky out, but it just didn’t look right, so resorted to just darkening it using curves.


#334 – Reworked images 2 – Grove Rake

untitledThis is another problem image that I’d had several goes at over the years and never came up with anything that I liked. I think it’s getting somewhere now, although I’m not sure it’s there yet.

The problem has always been in balancing the tones. The light on the day was constantly changing as the clouds were being blown in front of the sun by the wind, and the hilly landscape meant that some areas were in shadow and others weren’t.

The photograph is about the derelict old mine and its position on the landscape, and using the tools in Colour Efex pro has enabled me to subtly focus attention on the mine, even though it’s only a small part of the sceen.

It’s certainly an improvement on the previous iterations of the image, I’ll probably come back to it again when my skills are at a higher level to produce the definitive iteration!

#333 – Reworked images 1 – Bridge of Doom


This was an image I’d struggled to do anything with in monochrome. As a colour image, it works quite well, but converting it to monochrome always left it looking flat. That’s not a problem as the initial conversion normally does look flat, but I could never get anywhere with it after that.

However, after my recent course with Martin Henson, I chose this as my first photograph to revisit. I’ve managed to change the mood of it quite significantly. It’s got some real ‘pop’ and is a lot more dramatic, which probably suits the scene – a length of railway track dangling precariously over a huge hole high up in a valley.

The reworking involved selectivelt adjusting different areas of the image to get the right balance of tones, before going into the Nik suite of tools to add some contrast and drama.


The original picture, pretty much straight out of camera. Your eye is drawn to the track as the colour makes it stand out amongst the other subdued hues.


One of the better black and white iterations. The problem seems to lie in the lack of contrast in the image, now that the colour has been removed from the image.

#316 – Little Mountains


Surrounding Lake Lucerne are a range of mountainous valleys, which open up onto the Lake. The lake itself is large, and criss-crossed by steamboats and more modern ferries. It is also home to fleets of gravel boats, as the lakebed is being dredged for the material that is then shipped to the shore.

I was enjoying a meal outside my hotel in Stansstad after a long day of meetings. It had a superb position on the shore of the lake, and I was impressed by the constant drama of the sky. The light was constantly changing, as clouds that had got trapped in the valleys were blown out onto the lake in front of the sun. The little gravel boats kept up their regular passage to the dredger, bringing back neat little mountains of gravel. I guess that at some point in the past, this stone was once part of a mountain range, like that which made a backdrop to the scene that was unfolding in front of me.