Friday, 17 March 2017

Jesmond Flint Mill

I walked from Newcastle's Freeman Hospital to Gateshead, following the valley of the Ouseburn.

Once this was a major trading route from the river Tyne northwards, the valley providing a steady incline for the horse drawn vehicles of the day. Years ago the burn was enclosed in a culvert, south of Armstrong Park, and material heaped above, so blocking off the road. You can still walk the route but it involves climbing over the substantial man made barrier that stands in the way.

I had to ask for directions as I approached the covered section and was fortunate to come across a local resident who knew all of the history of the area, and who drew my attention to the site of Jesmond Flint Mill, close to where he lives. Sadly I didn't get his name, but this information and photos are down to his kindness.

The flint mill was built to grind flint, carried as ballast by colliers on the London trade. The ground material was used in the local pottery industry, presumably including the nearby Malings factory.

Originally the mill was powered by a water wheel, supplied by a mill race dug alongside the Ouseburn to an upstream location near Jesmond Dene.

Later a stationary steam engine was installed, rumoured to have been engineered by a young George Stephenson, who was at that time employed as a colliery engineer nearby. The photo above shows the site of the mill and the plinth in the foreground might have been the engine base.

Further evidence of the mill seen in this stone wall built into the west bank of the burn.

The stone arch may have been the discharge from the water wheel.

Sony NEX 6, Pentax lenses.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Spectacles and Photography

In my late sixties I need reading glasses, but my distance vision is not too bad. How does this impinge upon my photography?

Well I find it difficult to read the control dials on the top of a camera, and data on the rear screen, without the aid of specs.

However my compact mirrorless Sony NEX 6 camera can be controlled almost exclusively from the electronic viewfinder (EVF), as that has a built in dioptre correction that enables me to see all of the necessary information without using glasses. I also find that I can manually focus using the 9.6x magnification that the camera provides through the EVF.

Moving from camera to computer screen it's a different story. I need to use glasses to clearly see what I am doing. Question is, what is the best solution overall?

I've tried bifocals and varifocals. My bifocals were setup to allow me to read at a close distance or see my computer screen, i.e. two distinct degrees of magnification. This worked well enough, but further deterioration in my eyesight has meant that I now need assistance for viewing middle distance objects, i.e. small road signs maybe 20 yards away etc.

Solution, a pair of varifocals, providing a continually variable range of magnification from close up to distant viewing.

Nothing is perfect, there are pros and cons.

They are great for reading, and using a small computer tablet, while in the car they allow me to read the Satnav clearly, and give an enlarged view of those middle distance objects. In the shops I can read the prices on the products etc. So far so good.

How about the negatives?

In order to best use the range of magnification, you need to look through different parts of the lenses. I.e. Lower down for close up and higher for distance. This involves moving your head.

They are not good for reading the large computer screens that I use for image processing. This involves far too much head movement to keep the required zone of vision in focus. Similarly they are not good for reading music, there I've enough to worry about without having to constantly adjust my line of sight! For distance vision they do provide a slightly enlarged image, but at some expense in the level of contrast and brightness. As a consequence I tend not to wear them when out and about.

The computer screen/music problem has been resolved by the purchase of a pair of specs of fixed magnification optimised for objects  18 to 24" away. They are far superior to the varifocals within their limited range of application.

Now everyone's eyes are different and what works for me won't necessarily work for you. Consult a qualified optician for advice!