Steer for the deep waters only

Robert Day's thoughts on his photography, his writing and his business


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Another enforced silence on the blog front, due to finishing off a stage in my book. I had agreed with my editor to deliver Chapter One plus some sample scans by the end of the second week in September, and this I duly did. In the meantime, I had a few shows to go to, and I’m pleased to report that sales of prints have picked up from their previous low level – instead of selling nothing, I’ve managed to sell something at each show I’ve been to recently! But don’t get excited: this isn’t exactly coining it.

I’ve also been working on a voiceover script for a video production company – not originating it, but doing some background research and a bit of editing. Other irons are in the fire.

I gave myself a day off to go to the Severn Valley Railway’s Autumn Gala a couple of days ago. I thought I’d go on the Friday, as it looked as if the weather would be the best out of the days that were available to me; and I reasoned that it might be a bit quieter. Not a bit of it! When I got to Kidderminster, both the SVR and the main line car parks were full, and there were lots of people around. It quickly became clear that many of the retired or otherwise Day Job-free population with a penchant for such things had thought the same as me. No matter, I thought, I’ll head to Bewdley. But that did mean negotiating the awfulness that is the Kidderminster ring road; and to make matters worse, there was white-lining in progress on the hill out of town, resulting in a massive queue of traffic. I eventually got to Bewdley to find the car park full there, too. I was just about to give up and head for Bridgnorth when some kind soul in an Alfa left and made room for me, restoring my equilibrium and frazzled state somewhat.

And so to train.

I timed things a bit badly: it turned out that nearly every engine I was able to photograph was running tender-first. Nonetheless, I came back with plenty of pictures, not so many of them of engines! Star of the show was undoubtedly the Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 No.828, visiting from the Strathspey Railway in Scotland, though Tornado was doubtless a draw for many (even though I find its current Brunswick Green livery less exciting than the original apple green it was first turned out in), and GWR ‘King’ 6024 King Edward I was also worth seeing especially following the court battle over its ownership in 2010.

I travelled from Bewdley up to Highley, where I briefly visited the museum there, the Engine House. My reason for this was to see if I could have a word with my editor, and indeed Peter was on the Ian Allan stand, so we were able to have a short chat. I doubt that qualifies the trip as tax-deductible, though! I then travelled back to Kidderminster, but late running meant that I had no time for a look around, just a cross-platform change to a north-bound train behind Tornado – the first time I’d travelled behind this engine. A run up to Bridgnorth was followed by a quick look around the yard, and then a return to Bewdley. There, the Caledonian engine was marshalling trucks for the demonstration freight train that was going to run that evening back down to Kidderminster.

By this time, it was beginning to get dark, so I went back to the car and collected my tripod, which I’d made sure I had with me. I secured a few nice shots, and then was able to assist a fellow photographer who was bemoaning the failing light and the fact that he’d only been able to track down the Caledonian engine in a good spot for a nice shot as darkness was falling!

All in all, a good day’s photography, even though I’d been able to photograph very few engines! Because of anticipated traffic loadings, the SVR was running trains with as many coaches as the track layout permitted, and this meant that on many occasions, the locomotives came to a stand in positions where they couldn’t be photographed easily in the time I had available. Obviously, the trick with these galas is to make a number of visits; one day to ride the trains – after all, that’s where the money comes from – and at least one more to lineside and take photographs.  However, I was struck very much by the number of people linesideing; in some places, especially near Bridgnorth, there were lines of photographers stretching out to twenty people or more. I’m sure they all got nice photographs, but they all got the same photograph!


Written by robertday154

September 26, 2011 at 12:12 am

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