Sunday, 7 December 2014

NE coast walk

A cold but bright December day was the occasion for a walk from Blyth to Whitley Bay

Approaching Seaton Sluice 

Fish and chips in the Harbour View cafe - that's the so called small portion!

St Mary's Island

Sony NEX 6

Views Zuiko 50mm f1.8, food Sigma 19mm f2.8

Monday, 24 November 2014

Gasometers - Hendon, Sunderland

Gasometers, or gas storage tanks, are a rapidly disappearing feature of the landscape.  I noticed that they are currently dismantling the tank at Wallsend, long a Tyneside landmark, and decided that I should photograph the Sunderland gasometers before they also go.

There are three surviving tanks on the Hendon site and they represent an evolution of the technology from early to late Victorian, and then 20th century. The oldest tank has ornate cast iron columns, the late Victorian tank has a riveted steel framework, while the most recent is self supporting.

The last time I looked at the tanks a few years ago, they were still in use, but today they look  sadly neglected and I suspect that their days are numbered.

I'd like to see the oldest of the three preserved, if at all possible.

The three tanks seen from the south, newest nearest to camera

The oldest tank with ornate cast iron columns

The riveted steel (or wrought iron?) framework of the middle tank dating back to 1895

Sony NEX 6

Friday, 21 November 2014

Fatfield, Washington last of Autumn Colour?

Went for a local walk yesterday. The morning started rather gloomily, but then the sun came out and there was still some colour in the leaves.

Reflections in Mount Pleasant Lake

Woods above the Wear valley on the south, or Penshaw, side

South View Fatfield - Perfect reflection in the river Wear

Sony NEX 6 Pentax 28 and 35 mm lenses

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

River Tyne Walk - Riding Mill to Corbridge

This is a walk from Riding Mill, along the south bank of the river Tyne, to Corbridge. It's not all that far, maybe three miles, but with strong winds blowing we wanted a sheltered walk with hopefully some views of autumn colour.

We parked in the railway station car park at Riding Mill, plenty of room despite commuters' cars left earlier in the day.

To access the riverside path you need to cross the railway by the newly restored footbridge within the station - beautiful varnished wooden rails topping the steelwork - and then head west along the eastbound platform. There is a small gate at the end of the platform that leads through a wood and down towards the river. After that you just follow the path.

We were out of the wind for most of the walk, but also out of the sun on the shaded north facing side of the river. Glimpses of autumn colour could be seen occasionally on the other bank, but the path is for the most part inboard of the river bank and you are looking through trees and branches. Nevertheless it's a pleasant stroll, and the far bank does become fully visible on a couple of occasions.

The railway line follows much the same route, but further south. At one point you pass the portal of an abandoned railway tunnel, maybe the rails were moved further from the river to avoid flooding?

The photos below were both taken just outside Corbridge. It's difficult to get a clean shot of the bridge because of the vegetation and the Tyne was running full, preventing any sensible photography further from the bank.

From the bridge looking north east

The bridge from the south east

You can of course walk back, but there is convenient bus from the town centre, or, should you wish, you can catch the train from the station on the north side.

Sony NEX 6 Probably Pentax 28mm f3,5 K

Edit 4-3-17  Got my geography wrong, north and south reversed!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tanfield Railway September Gala

I was working on Saturday so I could only get on the Sunday, when the sun did not shine!

Several of the locos sported a sprig of  heather on their smokebox doors, something to do with a referendum perhaps?

The star of the show was the Lambton tank No. 29, brought in from the North York Moors Railway

Seen with an appropriate Lambton Worm headboard!

Leaving Andrews House station

And here's one that I took earlier, about 45 years earlier, at the Philadelphia NCB works.

Interestingly, No. 29 appears to have its chime whistle at this time. The film was probably developed in my parents' bathroom; looks like reticulation has occurred due to temperature variation in processing. Digital is so easy!

Sony NEX 6 with manual focus lenses, not sure what I used for the B&W, possibly EXA 500.

Monday, 8 September 2014

North Yorkshire

With the prospect of fine weather south of Tyneside we drove down to Grosmont in the North Yorkshire Moors and had a ride on the North York Moors Railway. 

Two ex LNER steam loco designs, a B1 4-6-0 passes the loco shed while A4 pacific Sir Nigel Gresley stands beneath the coaling tower.

Driving back up the coast we called in to Staithes, a small ex fishing village with a sandy beach. It's rare, in my experience, to see the North Sea looking so attractive, but that's how it was on Sunday.

Sony NEX 6

Friday, 8 August 2014

Wallington, Northumberland

We try to get to the National Trust property at Wallington once a year, primarily to see the fabulous walled garden. Click on any photo to enlarge.

A NT gardener told us that the pink flowers are lobelia, but they don't look like lobelia to me

He might have been referring to these small pink flowers?

Fuchsia in the greenhouse

Butterfly on Buddleia - infinite patience required for this shot!

The water lily lake, seen on the walk to the garden.

Sony NEX 6 Manual focus lenses

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Redcar and Saltburn

We drove to the outskirts of Redcar and cycled through that town and on to Saltburn. A warm day, but overcast, with the sun occasionally peeking through the clouds

Fishermen launching boat with offshore wind farm in the background

Not sure if you would see this scene anywhere else. A large wooden boat being towed by an aged tractor stops at a garage to buy fuel while a Rolls Royce car is being repaired on the forecourt.

Redcar lemon top ice cream with the steelworks in the background.

The funicular railway control cabin at Saltburn

Wavy shadows

Sony NEX 6 various lenses

Monday, 28 July 2014

Seaton Deleval Hall - Northumberland

A relatively recently acquired National Trust property, now undergoing restoration.

The hall gets a face lift, clad in scaffold, but you can still go in

Work is in progress to provide cathodic protection to the corroding iron supports of the statues around the hall.

The garden looks better each time we visit.

 Bees enjoying the fragant lavender

I took this photo a few years ago, I'm not sure if the architectural plans are still on display.

Sony NEX 6

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cragside Rothbury

We try to get to the National Trust property Cragside at Rothbury every year at this time in order to see the rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.

There was something new to see this time, an Archimedes screw used as a water powered turbine to generate electricity. It was not working, but the installation looks to be complete.

I assume that the blue thing in the cabinet is a speed increasing gearbox, driving 
a generator mounted above the axis of the rotor. (Pentax 50mm f1.7)

They are also installing one of these machines in the river Wear 
as it passes through Durham City. (Pentax 28mm K f3.5)

Now for some flowers. Ideally you should use a tripod and a reflector to get good crisp and contrasty flower shots, but Cragside was very busy on Bank Holiday Monday and some of the paths quite narrow, so I made do with hand holding the camera. Samsung 35mm f2 (rebadged  Pentax) at f11.

View across Tumbleton Lake looking towards the Visitor Centre.

View from the Iron Bridge towards Tumbleton Lake

For more Cragside photos see here and here.

Sony NEX 6 manual focus lenses.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Step This Way at Darlington 2014

Appalachian dance team Step This Way with musicians from the Bones Creek Band performed within the market place as a part of Darlington Arts Showcase.

Audience participation is always popular!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

50 mm lenses on Sony Nex 6

Over time I have compared the performance of the Sony 16-50  kit lens supplied with the NEX 6 to that of old manual focus prime lenses that I have in my collection.

Is this a fair comparison, an image stabilised zoom against a manual focus prime? Well the zoom was designed and manufactured in the 21st century and the old primes in the 1960s. Possibly 50 years between them.

Judge for yourself.

The overall view taken at a focal length of 50mm 

Below are 100% crops of the sign to the right of the lion.

Sony 16-50 at  f5.6

Zuiko 50mm f1.8 at  f5.6

Sony 16-50

Zuiko 50mm

Further testing - to investigate the influence of auto focus error on the results of the tests I conducted further experiments with the following parameters. Manual exposure, camera on tripod with 2 sec shutter delay. 3 shots for each situation, best chosen for comparison.

1) Sony at f8 autofocus 
2) Sony at f8 manual focus at f5.6 ( wide open)
3) Zuiko at f8 manual focus at f5.6 ( to match Sony)

Default processing in LR and PS. No adjustments made. Actual pixel crops from top left hand corner of image.

Sony f8 - manual focus (137kb)

Sony f8 Autofocus (137 kb)

Zuiko f8 (196 kb)
The manually focused Sony result is slightly better than that achieved by autofocus, but the Zuiko is clearly superior, both in terms of the JPG size, but also visually. Actually you don't need to do any of this testing as the Zuiko looks far better in the EVF!

More comparisons, Sony 16-50, Canon 24-105 and Pentax 50mm f1.7. Default conversions in LR and PS, no adjustments. Forget the colour temperatures, they can be adjusted easily enough, this is a test of sharpness and contrast.

Overall view ( Canon 24-105 on 5DII)

Actual pixel crops of top left corner. (Click for full size)

Pentax 50mm on NEX  (JPG size 187 KB)

Sony 16-50 on NEX (JPG size 142 KB)

Canon 24-105 on 5DII (JPG size 179 KB)

My pecking order would be Pentax 50mm f1,7, followed by Canon 24-105 with the Sony a poor third, but judge for yourself.

This test demonstrates quite nicely why I prefer to carry a lightweight Sony NEX 6 rather than have the Albatross of a Canon 5D11 around my neck!